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Codex Interview RPG Codex Interview: Chris Avellone at Digital Dragons 2016

Discussion in 'RPG News & Content' started by Infinitron, Jun 5, 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: Chris Avellone; Fallout 3 (Van Buren); Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 3; Wasteland 2

    On his second day at the Digital Dragons convention in Cracow last month, Codex representative Jedi Master Radek met up with former Obsidian creative director and current freelancing man of mystery Chris Avellone, who was there to give a talk. He arrived with a big list of questions contributed by our users, and in the resulting 54 minute interview, Chris answered every last one. There's a lot to unpack here, including new information about the unique mechanics in Black Isle's cancelled Fallout 3 (AKA Van Buren) and about Obsidian's unsuccessful pitch for Knights of the Old Republic 3. I'll quote those parts:

    JMR: What was the storyline for the third KotOR game? What would the player do in the Sith Empire? Was it going to be structured like the first two KoTORs: prologue, four planets and then the ending? Or something else?

    MCA: So it was gonna be a little bit different. So basically, I think I've said this before, but the player would be following Revan's path into the Unknown Regions, and he goes very, very deep into the Unknown Regions and finds the outskirts of the real Sith Empire. And that's a pretty terrifying place. The intention was that it would be structured on a basic level like KotOR 1 and KotOR 2, but what would happen is you'd have a collection of hubs, but every hub you went to had an additional circuit of hubs, that you could choose which ones you optionally wanted to do to complete that hub, or you could do them all. But ultimately there was just a lot more game area in KotOR 3, just because the Sith Empire was just so fucking big. But yeah, so, on some level it was a similar structure, but it was intended to... so one of our designers, Matt MacLean, had this idea for Alpha Protocol mission structure, where what would happen is, you'd sort of go to a hub, but it wasn't really a hub, it was like a big mission you had to do as an espionage agent, but then there were like six surrounding missions, that central mission, and you didn't have to do any of them, but by doing some of those, you would cause a reaction in the main target mission that could even make your job worse or easier. Or you could choose to try and do all of them, and he let each of them like cater to like, a speech skill, or stealth mission, or shoot 'em up mission, and that would cause different reactivity. And I always liked that, because I felt like you were being given a larger objective, but you were getting a lot more freedom in how to accomplish it and how to set the stage, so it was easier for your character. And that's kind of the mission structure I would have liked to have bring to KotOR 3, because I thought it was much more intelligent design.

    JMR: When you worked on Van Buren, what aspect of it did you like the most?

    MCA: I liked the idea that the interface was kind of like a mini-dungeon you could explore. The idea when Van Buren was... your Pip-Boy actually didn't start out with all its functionality. Like you had some basic programs, so it acted like a normal interface, but the more you did certain things in the environment, like if you discovered, like, how to set off a fire alarms or you set a fire in a building and the fire alarms went off, suddenly a new functionality of your Pip-Boy, ”Here, let me find all the emergency exits for you!” And then suddenly all of those would be lit up on the map. And you're like, “Oh, wait a minute, I can use this as like a tracking mechanism to figure out where all the exits are.” And you could do that for things like fire suppression system, things like... like where the power sources are in buildings. You could use it to do autopsies on robots and steal their programs, and suddenly your Pip-Boy sort of became like this arsenal that you could use to sort of like navigate the environment. That was cool. And the other thing was... the adversaries in Van Buren could also use your Pip-Boy against you to both cloak their location and track where were you going, so you could actually end up in like a Pip-Boy war, where you're trying to track down each other using a Pip-Boy. So we tried to do a little bit of that in Fallout: New Vegas - Dead Money, where the Botherhood of Steel guy was trying to use the... which basically could have taken over your Pip-Boy, but that was axed, and they were like, “No, you can't do that”, so like, “Oh, shit.”

    JMR: Van Buren was supposed to have another party in the world that would wander around and complete quests. Can you tell us how that was supposed to work?

    MCA: Yeah, basically what they would do is they would go to alternate locations, and they had their own agenda path they were trying to follow to accomplish certain objectives. And the trick with them is each one of the rival party members actually had a separate agenda, which they didn't fully share with everybody else in the party. So sometimes they would do certain things at locations where it worked with one of their agendas but nobody else's, but the other guys wouldn't know about it, so you could use that against them, where you're like, ”Well you know that guy in that location left a note for us to follow you”, and they're like, “Oh my god! Are you a traitor?” [shooting sounds] But... it was basically a very heavily scripted NPC mechanic, where we were like, we're trying to increase reactivity and the sense the world was moving on. So, when the player characters would go to one location and do a bunch of stuff, they would be notified that something else was happening in the location and those guys would take care of the quests in an area or conquer that location, and you were like, “Oh, shit”, like, “We gotta move.” But it was all intended to give the sense that something else was happening in the world without waiting for you.​

    However, as interesting as those answers are, I have a feeling they might not be the most commented on part of this interview. You'll understand when you read the full article: RPG Codex Interview: Chris Avellone at Digital Dragons 2016
     
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  2. Jedi Master Radek Arcane

    Jedi Master Radek
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    So how is the interview with MCA? Do you like it? :)
     
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  3. Fairfax Arcane

    Fairfax
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    If this one doesn't deliver...:mad:
     
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  4. Jedi Master Radek Arcane

    Jedi Master Radek
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    I think it does.
    Here are the prologue and epilogue which were cut due to time constrains on editing them:

     
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  5. Mustawd Arcane

    Mustawd
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  6. Ninjerk Arcane

    Ninjerk
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    I really enjoyed this one. I don't know if that's because I'm reading some kind of... backhanded comments (not compliments mind you) for real or if I'm imagining some of the angst I'm reading here. We're definitely on the same page with regard to reservations about PoE as well as desiring more player-centric narrative.
     
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  7. ZagorTeNej Arcane

    ZagorTeNej
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    :love:
     
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  8. Roguey Arcane Sawyerite Sawyerist Sawyer's Bride No Fun Allowed

    Roguey
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    Huh, guess that convo at the end where you define your motivations wasn't his after all.

    No follow-up on this is shameful. :lol:

    http://www.scriptsandscribes.com/2014/09/qa-with-chris-avellone/
    :hmmm:

    :smug:

    Interesting how he thinks it's good that people are interested in playing Bioware RPGs, yet people interested in Bethesda RPGs is good for them.
     
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  9. Mustawd Arcane

    Mustawd
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    Someone give this man a fucking medal.
     
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  10. ZagorTeNej Arcane

    ZagorTeNej
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    You mean this part:

     
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  11. 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
    I mean many parts.
     
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  12. Rahdulan Arcane Patron

    Rahdulan
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    That Copper Dreams plug. :incline:
     
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  13. Mustawd Arcane

    Mustawd
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    Wow. This 100% describes why I left my public accounting firm. 100%. Except it's more like "Why did you make us work so many hours for 'quality' only to shortcut a bunch of shit towards the end just to get it done in time. We could have just taken shortcuts from the beginning and saved me all the late nights, horrible stress, bad health, and family members ignored!"



    :hmmm:
     
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  14. Rahdulan Arcane Patron

    Rahdulan
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    Yeah, he got real jabby couple of times in the interview with some pretty clear call-outs to Pillars of Eternity and New Vegas. Condemnation of Bethesda QA department in particular.
     
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  15. Ninjerk Arcane

    Ninjerk
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    The really fun thing is that he's been doing this for awhile and with this I feel like it's just escalating. :love: based MCA.
     
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  16. Rev Erudite

    Rev
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    Great interview, Radek. Good work. :greatjob:
    Only one thing, though: you should've really asked him why he didn't want to be a lead writer at Obsidian. He would've dodged the question probably, but it would've been worth to try anyway.
     
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  17. 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
    So before I go to bed, I'm going to comment on one thing that stood out to me in this interview.

    I think this is something that sets Chris at odds with the modern trend, in western RPGs in general and at Obsidian in particular, to make games about "factions" and "lore" and "worldbuilding". The truth is that the Avellonian way of design is extremely well-suited to working with existing licenses and existing worlds, and when you have to create your own, it inevitably distracts from a lot of what he likes doing.

    What might be suitable for Chris is worldbuilding in the JRPG/Final Fantasy tradition. In those games, the worlds can be colorful and imaginative, but they also tend to be shallow and fungible, even disposable. They're really just a backdrop for more personal stories.
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2016
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  18. Ninjerk Arcane

    Ninjerk
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    :backawayslowly:
     
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  19. ERYFKRAD Barbarian Patron

    ERYFKRAD
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    Serpent in the Staglands Shadorwun: Hong Kong Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    Oh good we'll finally get those codex trolls.
     
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  20. Barbarian Arcane

    Barbarian
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    The part about the would-be aliens game at the end made me quite sad. It would have been a great game then? Shit, so many abortions done with that franchise and when we get the chance for a solid sci-fi rpg it aborts.

    To hell with you obsidian, to hell with you.
     
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  21. GarfunkeL Racism Expert

    GarfunkeL
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    Insert clever insult here
    Excellent interview!
     
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  22. Joni Odin von Hassenstein Arcane Patron

    Joni Odin von Hassenstein
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    Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    Really good interview!

    That's exactly the post I wanted to make regarding the same paragraph! Exactly! (Except I also wanted to add an :excellent:.)
     
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  23. Rivmusique Arcane Patron

    Rivmusique
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    Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    Arcanum LP?
     
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  24. Mustawd Arcane

    Mustawd
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    Damn...no one thought to ask him that!!
     
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  25. Jedi Master Radek Arcane

    Jedi Master Radek
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    Looks like I am responsible for one of those rare moments when Codex is enthusiastic. Achievement worthy of putting on CV :)
     
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