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Interview Interview with Chris Avellone at Scripts & Scribes

Discussion in 'RPG News & Content' started by Infinitron, Sep 26, 2014.

  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: Chris Avellone; Obsidian Entertainment; Torment: Tides of Numenera; Wasteland 2

    Here's an interesting new interview with Chris Avellone, over at a writing-focused website called Scripts & Scribes. As you might expect, much of the interview consists of general information about MCA's career and his work as a narrative designer, but there are also a few juicy tidbits about the development of both Wasteland 2 and Torment: Tides of Numenera. Furthermore, Chris also reveals that Obsidian has two unannounced projects in the works. Here are the relevant quotes.

    On his current activities at Obsidian:

    For example, in the past month, I was doing core writing work on one of our internal projects, now I’m illustrating cartoon Kickstarter backer rewards, and also doing creative lead duties on another of our unannounced internal projects scripting lore and world sourcebook material. It’s a lot to juggle, and it hasn’t left a lot of time for much else – although it’s one interesting aspect of our studio that the owners themselves don’t hesitate to pitch in to help with a product’s success, whether interface, optimization, writing installers, setting up the website and backer portals, or even doing what I am usually enlisted to do: design, usually narrative.
    On his contribution to Wasteland 2:

    The project got backed, I got on board, and was responsible for several things:

    - Providing what templates and design formats I could for area design and reactivity.

    - Writing the vision document for the game (which we shared with the public) incorporating all the design pillars that Fargo and inXile wanted the game to embrace. This was pretty terrifying since I wasn’t sure how it would be received.

    - Pitching in on the story design meetings.

    - Organizing a small area design team (Team Tony) composed of a former programmer I worked with, Anthony Davis (and now work with again at Obsidian), and a former co-designer, Tony Evans, who I worked with on Knights of the Old Republic II, NWN2, NWN2: Mask of the Betrayer, and more… including Torment: Tides of Numenera (which I’ll go into more depth about below) to help develop the southern ruins of Los Angeles.

    - Designing the maps, quests, monsters, and encounters for several locations (and sometimes variations of the same location depending on reactivity): Highpool, Agricultural Center, Seal Beach, and an additional area. To give credit where credit was due, the actual dialogue for the first two areas were done by two designers: Nathan Long (who I am also working with on Torment: Tides of Numenera) and Patrick McLean – I was responsible for doing a great deal of what I did in Fallout 2, which was to design isometric areas, quests, etc. Nathan did dialogue for the Ag Center, and Patrick did Highpool.

    - Also, writing a WL2 novel as well. Phew.

    So there was a lot to do, but for the chance to work on one of my favorite franchises of all time? Totally worth it.
    On the development of Torment:

    It draws a number of things – the game makes the examination of themes through character interaction and narrative one of its pillars (which is rare in a title), there is a cast of companions with at least the same level of depth and complexity as the original, and we have a deep, no-holds-barred story like the original that you can sink your hands into. The development team also consists of a number of the key people from the original – Creative Lead Colin McComb, and programmer Adam Heine as the Lead Designer (Adam writes better than me, btw, so he basically does everything better than me), and Aaron Meyers, who did environment art for the original Torment.

    In addition, developers from Obsidian who developed Mask of the Betrayer (commonly held as a fantasy RPG with the same depth as Torment) are present on the team as well: Tony Evans, George Ziets, and Kevin Saunders and more. They understand the heart of the license, and they know how to make it even better.

    That said, Torment: Tides of Numenera differs in significant ways – combat is much improved, there is a non-judgmental alignment and development system (called “the Tides,” colored variations of psychic physics the player can mold and be molded by) and the context of the world, while sharing some hallmarks with Planescape in terms of richness, is notably different in that it takes place in the Numenera pen-and-paper game world, a world that’s built on the technological wreckage of nine worlds. This mess of technological ruin forms the principal of magic, exploration and areas in the game… with the guiding premise being that technology, when it reaches certain heights, becomes indistinguishable from magic.

    [...] Torment: Tides of Numenera got much of its lore start by having five of the designers each writing a novella set in the world of Numenera. These lore pieces factor into the game’s area design, in some respects acting as narrative lore pieces for designers to build on in when doing level design. The first area, the Bloom, has ample evidence of this – it draws from one of the first Torment: TON novellas by Mur Lafferty for much of its foundation, which allows readers to see key insights that other players may be unaware of.

    In terms of other outlets, Numenera itself is already a setting that was developed for pen-and-paper games by Monte Cook, and it was leveraged for the Torment: TON game much in the same way the original Torment game leveraged Dungeons and Dragons’ Planescape license. So in essence, both iterations of Torment were born from pen-and-paper gaming… from there, prose works are part of that process, and there has been discussion concerning other media aspects (graphic novels, for example).

    Time will tell, but for now, the focus is on making a great title.
    I wonder why they didn't ask him about Pillars of Eternity.
     
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  2. 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
    :mca:
     
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  3. Athelas Arcane

    Athelas
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    :kfc:
     
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  4. Duraframe300 Arcane

    Duraframe300
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    We knew about that one already. Though lore and world sourcebook are strong hints towards original IP. Nice.
     
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  5. Crescent Hawk Savant

    Crescent Hawk
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    I am kinda curious about their Armored Warfare project, the last t80 vid was really professional. They really want to sip on that World of tanks honey, and if they are careful they can do it.
     
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  6. <3sRichardSimmons Arcane

    <3sRichardSimmons
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    :lol:

    I wonder how many favorite Avellone dialogues are just the result of a drunken ride home from the bars with an angry cab driver?

    Suddenly Lonesome Road is making a whole lot more sense.


    (I still love him though :oops:)
     
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  7. Sensuki Arcane Cuck

    Sensuki
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    Codex 2014 Serpent in the Staglands Shadorwun: Hong Kong A Beautifully Desolate Campaign
    Chris's contributions have never been in a big article or whatever, Josh has done most of the PE stuff. Whereas in comparison there was "omg chris avellone" big news about Wasteland 2 and Torment:ToN

    He did do a bunch of presentations, sure but I don't think they were as popular as the WL2/TToN news stuff

    It's rare that Chris talks about PE, it's usually about his past titles, what he wants to do or his inXile stuff.
     
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  8. joelofdeath Educated Patron

    joelofdeath
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    Serpent in the Staglands Torment: Tides of Numenera Codex USB, 2014 Shadorwun: Hong Kong
    Possibly he asked for no questions on it, cause it is a bit of a glaring omission. He doesn't seem to be one of the people with liberty to speak much about it.
     
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  9. Sensuki Arcane Cuck

    Sensuki
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    Codex 2014 Serpent in the Staglands Shadorwun: Hong Kong A Beautifully Desolate Campaign
    I've never really got the impression that he cared for the project too much, he seemed way more excited about all of the other kickstarter stuff he did. His involvement in PE was pretty minimal.
     
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  10. Duraframe300 Arcane

    Duraframe300
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    He does care very much.

    Chris not gloating about his own companies project is also nothing new. Thats not his charachter.

    Even on his other kickstarter projects he's like. Man its so great that a scrub like me is allowed to work with such talented people.

    Another example:Regarding South Park he didn't gloat about his own company either, instead being excited about Matt and Trey.

    You can add a million other examples. Point is. Chris doesn't gloat, especially prematurly.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2014
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  11. Roguey Arcane Sawyerite Sawyerist Sawyer's Bride No Fun Allowed

    Roguey
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    PoE also has that Frank Costanza-style no-spoilers policy. What could he talk about?
     
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  12. Zed Codex Staff Patron

    Zed
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    Codex USB, 2014
    I've watched Seinfeld 3 times. What is this?
     
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  13. Roguey Arcane Sawyerite Sawyerist Sawyer's Bride No Fun Allowed

    Roguey
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    GEORGE: Did anybody see Firestorm?

    MR. ROSS: Firestorm, that's a hell of a picture.

    GEORGE: Yeah.

    MR. ROSS: Remember when they had the helicopter land on top of that car --

    FRANK: Hey! Hey! Come on! Come on! I haven't seen it yet.

    MR. ROSS: It doesn't have anything to do with the plot!

    FRANK: Still! Still! I like to go in fresh!
     
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  14. set Cipher

    set
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    He's got every reason to be humble.

    To be perfectly honest, at this stage, I'd trust Volourn to handle PoE's fate better.
     
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  15. Volrath Arcane Patron

    Volrath
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    :nocountryforshitposters:
     
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  16. MicoSelva Prestigious Gentleman Monstroterratum Furiosum Patron

    MicoSelva
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    Codex 2012 Codex 2013 Codex 2014 PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Make the Codex Great Again! Grab the Codex by the pussy Serpent in the Staglands Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Divinity: Original Sin 2 Bubbles In Memoria A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker
    Reading/watching interviews with MCA always both cheers me up(1) and makes me depressed(2) at the same time.

    (1) because he always radiates this positive attitude
    (2) because he makes working in game development seem so cool, and my job sucks so much in comparison
     
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  17. TheGreatOne Arcane

    TheGreatOne
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    It makes me depressed that he has spent the last decade and a half making mediocre games that can't match the charm and quality of his magnum opus. Maybe MCA isn't enough and Numenera needs a touch of Guido in order to succeed.
     
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  18. MicoSelva Prestigious Gentleman Monstroterratum Furiosum Patron

    MicoSelva
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    Codex 2012 Codex 2013 Codex 2014 PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Make the Codex Great Again! Grab the Codex by the pussy Serpent in the Staglands Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Divinity: Original Sin 2 Bubbles In Memoria A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker
    Well, that is kind of the point of Magnum opus - being someone's best work. ;)

    Also, PST was conceived before he joined Interplay, and he had a year to do and improve all the writing for the game. This never happened again after that (and never will).
    You should not be surprised that MCA never made a game like PST again. You should be surprised that he was able to make PST in the first place.
     
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