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Interview Brian Fargo and Josh Sawyer Mega-Interview at PC Gamer

Discussion in 'RPG News & Content' started by Infinitron, Apr 10, 2016.

  1. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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    Grab the Codex by the pussy Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker
    Tags: Bard's Tale IV; Brian Fargo; InXile Entertainment; J.E. Sawyer; Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity; Torment: Tides of Numenera; Wasteland 2

    PC Gamer's Wes Fenlon met Brian Fargo and Josh Sawyer at GDC last month. Somehow, he managed to get them together in one room (along with Gordon Walton, the executive producer of the indie MMO Crowfall) to do a massive six page interview about the history and future of the RPG genre. It's a hell of a read, but the third page is probably my favorite:

    How do you compare designing games today, when you have these communities online, either your Kickstarter backers or just people on forums and your own website, constantly giving you feedback on the game as you’re developing it somewhat openly, versus ten, 20 years ago when it was kind of, you made the game and then you put it out there?

    BF: I would be scared out of my mind to do it the way we used to do it today. Think about it. Like, think about Fallout, right? We work on it, we give it to a QA department, which are a bunch of people that we’re paying to play the game, so it's not exactly gonna be the most objective feedback as much as you beg them to give it to you, right? And then you just ship it out and keep your fingers crossed and hope they like it. That’s scary as hell. Right now we’re able to take their temperature all along the way. I wouldn’t replace it for anything.

    JS: A lot of the guys that post on the Codex, a lot of the guys that post on our forums who are our backers, they were posting when I started in the industry in ’99. So it’s different in that many more people are on these forums, it’s much more active, social media is much more widespread. And I will say that the best feedback, I think, is from people actually playing the game. And you’re right [Gordon], even in beta they won’t necessarily play it the same way, but it is useful because we get folks that will put up YouTube videos of, ‘Here’s how I broke your stupid AI,’ or, ‘Here’s how your pathing sucks,’ or whatever, and that’s actually good. No one likes to hear people saying, ‘Haha, you suck.’

    It’s a little trickier in the early phases of design. With crowdfunding it’s gonna be a while before people get their hands on it, and so there’s lots of theorizing and paper design and analysis, and that can be frustrating because until people actually play it you’re talking in very theoretical terms, and obviously you still want to have those conversations but sometimes they’re not as productive as you want to be, because it’s like, ‘No, no, no, just wait until you get your hands on it and then if you still hate it, great.” But overall though, I agree that the process, getting feedback, I’d much rather get it earlier than later, because earlier you have so much more opportunity to think about it and course-correct.

    I think it’s also probably hard for a lot of gamers to visualize that games sort of get built UP instead of beginning to end, and so if there’s parts of the game that are there but not all of it.

    BF: In the past, people had this preconceived notion that we were organized making these games, that it wasn’t fucking chaos all the time, and you know what? I’ve never had a product that I’ve ever worked on that somebody didn’t say, ‘It’s completely screwed up.' Ever. Fallout on down, somebody was saying, ‘It’s messed up.’ Nothing’s ever gone according to plan in the history of my business, so when they’re seeing this they’re thinking, ‘Oh my God,’ right? They’re hitting the panic button. But the reality is, ‘Welcome to software development.’ It never goes smoothly. You look at Blizzard, you look at Microsoft. They’ve got more money and more brains than all of us, and guess how late are their projects?

    JS: It’s not that we don’t plan this out and we don’t try to be thorough, but it’s full of complications. Stuff always comes up.

    BF: On Bard’s Tale, my crowd wanted to know exactly how saving was gonna work. ‘Am I gonna have save points? Can I save anywhere? Before battle? After battle?’ How exactly we were gonna do it. I refused to give them an answer, because I wanted to experiment with stuff. I’m not gonna be pushed into a corner early on. It’s like a political promise. I’m not making one. My social media guy is like, ‘You’ve got to do a YouTube video telling them how you’re gonna-’ I said, ‘No, I refuse, because I want to leave myself latitude to experiment. Maybe I’m gonna have you come back in ghost form. I don’t know what I’m gonna do, but I’m not gonna be forced to think about it now.’ But they think we should know all that now, and I think that’s a learning cycle that our audience is having of the imperfect science of it all.

    JS: For Pillars of Eternity we were victims of our success in the sense that we were like, ‘Yeah, I think we can make $1.1 million.’ That was really our belief. And within 27 hours we hit that goal and we're going past it, and so we were like, ‘Holy shit, stretch goals, stretch goals, stretch goals, these new classes, this new stuff, new lore update.’ And people were saying, ‘Hey, it sounds like you’re making this up as you go along,’ and we’re like, ‘No shit, dude. I am making it up as I go along. That’s why we had the Kickstarter. I wrote as much as we thought we would need to do this $1.1 million thing. If we’re moving towards $4 million, yeah, we’re making it up.’ But every project is really like that. It’s just that Kickstarter accelerates the backers’ exposure to that process. So they’re really seeing, as we’re making it, that it doesn’t just spring forth from my forehead fully formed. This is a process.

    BF: Pixar talks a lot about their movies, and they’ll tell you every Pixar movie starts off horrible. And they know that basically they’re saying pre-production is folly. You’re not gonna get perfect pre-production. They’re even closer to doing the same thing twice than we are, right? We do whole new experiences, and whenever they try to nail it down into perfect pre-production, it gets them nothing.

    JS: Pre-production has to allow for failure. The idea is that you’re gonna try things. You’re gonna say, ‘How do we author this? How is it gonna look?’ And half the time, for example in Pillars, initially we wanted to do dynamic foliage, and we didn’t do it. We were like, ‘Shit, we can’t move forward with this. We need to go into production. We have to decide, are we gonna keep doing this or not?’ And we didn’t. And people were disappointed, but pre-production has to allow for you to go, ‘Well, it didn’t work out. We’re gonna do something else,’ or, ‘We’re not gonna do this.’
    Read the full interview to learn about Brian and Josh's thoughts about releasing major updates for their games after release, difficulty and the supposed need to make games more casual, making shorter games, what they've learned from non-RPG genres and more. There's even a little hint about what Obsidian's next game is going to be at the end (as if we don't know).
     
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  2. Excidium II Self-Ejected

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    CRPG renaissance is well represented. A hack designer and a copyright troll.
     
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  3. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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    P.S. Crooked Bee Josh likes notgames.

     
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  4. Crooked Bee wide-wandering bee Patron

    Crooked Bee
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    Codex 2013 Codex 2014 PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire MCA Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    Grogs gonna grog.
     
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  5. throwaway Arbiter

    throwaway
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    Que?
     
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  6. Blaine Cis-Het Oppressor Patron

    Blaine
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    Grab the Codex by the pussy
    THIS is the essence of Josh Sawyer, ladies and gentlemen.

    "I hear what you're saying, and that's totally valid, but that's not the right solution. Let me tell you the solution. I, Josh Sawyer, know what you want better than you do."
     
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  7. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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    Grab the Codex by the pussy Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker
    Brian Fargo on the RPG Codex:

    (not really but it's fun to think so)

    Well, he says:

    So not exactly.
     
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  8. vonAchdorf Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    vonAchdorf
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    Clique.

    Two Codex mentions in the interview.
     
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  9. Crooked Bee wide-wandering bee Patron

    Crooked Bee
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    Codex 2013 Codex 2014 PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire MCA Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    Any industry is clique-based, especially a relatively small one - for better or for worse.

    I wish he'd analyze notgames instead of simply calling them cool, but, just like with notgame haters, that's probably too much to ask. Especially when you're part of the industry.
     
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  10. Blaine Cis-Het Oppressor Patron

    Blaine
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    I read that part too, and yet his gestalt solutions were often no better than implementations during the IE years; sometimes, they were worse.

    My point is that he's an egostist who believes he knows best. He may hear and understand the description of a problem, but his solutions to the problems he is presented with are utterly self-involved.

    I haven't taken the Codex's temperature regarding Pillars of Eternity lately, but in general, I'm fairly sure it's not considered a shining paragon of cRPGs even within the party-based RTwP category.
     
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  11. Roguey Arcane Sawyerite Sawyerist Sawyer's Bride No Fun Allowed

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    Unfortunately many people disagree and believe Wasteland 2 underdelivered. :) (not me of course)

    :hmmm:
     
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  12. Bubbles I'm forever blowing

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    Shouldn't you be happy about that? You predicted earlier that the final problems would have to wait for unofficial patches.
     
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  13. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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    Grab the Codex by the pussy Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker
    GDC 2016: March 14-18

    Patch 3.02: March 24
     
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  14. Roguey Arcane Sawyerite Sawyerist Sawyer's Bride No Fun Allowed

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    Balance things and content tweaks aren't bug fixes. :P
     
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  15. Thonius Liturgist

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    Well, its sounds like PoE 2 maybe shorter than PoE? (I kinda tired of grindy rpgs)
     
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  16. FeelTheRads Arcane Patron

    FeelTheRads
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    Actually he says:

    Is that individual person not part of "everyone"? He obviously seems himself as some kind of necessary evil. With Sawyer you might not be happy, but it will surely be better for you!

    A hack designer and deluded as fuck.
     
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  17. Excidium II Self-Ejected

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    Try releasing a game with 'Wasteland' anywhere in the name.
     
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  18. LeStryfe79 Deal Breaker Patron

    LeStryfe79
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    You attract more bees flies with honey.
     
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  19. throwaway Arbiter

    throwaway
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    Care to link to the incident you're referring to?
     
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  20. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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  21. Blaine Cis-Het Oppressor Patron

    Blaine
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    Nuclear Throne was hugely successful and is an excellent game by all reports, so I thought it was a bit of a waste that Fargo went after them for the name.

    Show Spoiler
    I tried Nuclear Throne myself, but it's locked to 30 FPS for technical reasons, so I returned it. If I have to aim something, the bare minimum is 60.
     
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  22. Excidium II Self-Ejected

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    There's that tweet about Fallout 4 DLC too. OFC he won't sue Bethesda but shows he's still watching.

    As if anyone wants to be associated with the garbage InXile made.
     
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  23. Tigranes Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    Serpent in the Staglands Torment: Tides of Numenera
    Yeah, so this is actually common sense for basically everything in the universe, except you people are just obsessed with Josh Sawyer

    You think a good writer just writes what the fans tell him/her to write, a good musician just says "OK" when fans say "make your songs longer/shorter", you think a good sociologist or therapist just takes people at their word?

    Every good professional listens seriously to the complaints, then thinks about the best way to solve that problem. It's the complaint that matters, not the amateur consumer's 5-second speculations about what might solve the problem. Users/consumers, for the most part, are experts at identifying the problem, because they spend all their time playing the game. The creators are experts at identifying the solution, and then all that matters is whether they're good at it or not. Josh Sawyer you might argue is just shit at finding solutions (and in fact, I do think it's not his strong suite at all), but if so the reason won't be because he is obeying a logic that every other video game developer with a functioning brain also follows.

    Also remember the 'fans' here aren't even limited to Codexers, so this would be Styg listening to Underrail complaints and adding quest compasses and maps, TOrment listening to complaints and cutting the word count in half. People have all sorts of stupid and contradictory 'solutions' that they usually thought about for 10 seconds based on their sample of 1 in ignorance of how video games are even made. Why would any sane person ever just do what they say?
     
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  24. Excidium II Self-Ejected

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    His solutions suck.
     
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  25. Hegel Arcane

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    Even if we were right on every account? 3 patches later and the game still doesn't feel right (an assumption on my part, haven't played the game since last year). Must apply more balance, I guess.
     
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