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Codex Interview RPG Codex Interview: Chris Avellone on Pillars Cut Content, Game Development Hierarchies and More

Discussion in 'RPG News & Content' started by Infinitron, Apr 30, 2018.

  1. Anthony Davis Obsidian Entertainment Developer

    Anthony Davis
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    I don't think ANYONE at this company would claim it is perfect, it isn't. I have been vocal and consistent about problem areas here, and so have others - and btw, we weren't fired for voicing our opinions. In fact, one of the most true things I can say about this company is how hard they DO work to improve the process. They are constantly trying to improve it - if things were truly broken and hopeless, we wouldn't make it. Look at the facts, the average independent game studio doesn't even make it two years. Obsidian is about to celebrate 15 years, so clearly we are doing more right than wrong.

    It's not more complicated than that.
     
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  2. Fry Arcane

    Fry
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    Eh... a guy who walked away from an equity stake with empty pockets probably shouldn't be trying to run his own company.

    Good game dev and good businessman don't often mix.
     
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  3. Goral Arcane Patron The Real Fanboy

    Goral
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    So if it was all that great why did you leave in the first place? Or were you "let go" due to financial problems Obsidian had and returned ASAP?
     
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  4. Anthony Davis Obsidian Entertainment Developer

    Anthony Davis
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    I credit Avellone and Sawyer equally for saving that project - and I am eternally thankful for both of them because WITHOUT them, all of that suffering would have been wasted. They both truly salvaged that game.

    I have been at Obsidian for a total of... 12 years. Longer than even my time at Netscape.

    95% of the time, my time at this company is joyful and wonderful. I wake up excited to come to work, both because of the work and because of the people. I know the vast majority of the people here feel the same way.
     
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  5. Kem0sabe Arcane

    Kem0sabe
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    To be fair, Obsidian only made it because they begged random interweb strangers for money to stay afloat in the form of the PoE KS...

    Any company that has to beg to stay in business is not an example of good management.
     
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  6. Durandal Arcane

    Durandal
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    What can change the nature of Obsidian?

    Verstuurd vanaf mijn GT-I9301I met Tapatalk
     
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  7. Anthony Davis Obsidian Entertainment Developer

    Anthony Davis
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    It's a pretty simple story.

    I wanted to get married and start a family.

    California is very expensive.

    I asked for a raise, which my CTO said I deserved, but wasn't able to give me because of the layoffs we just had. Instead, he gave me a glowing recommendation and I took a job in Texas.

    When the time was right I returned, eagerly, to Obsidian, and at a higher salary.
     
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  8. Darth Roxor Prestigious Gentleman Wielder of the Huegpenis

    Darth Roxor
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    *sounds of Anthony Davis's health insurance documents being shredded in the background*
     
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  9. Maculo Prophet

    Maculo
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    That presumes that every issue was in management or the company's control. To me recollection, Bethesda was not easy to deal with on NV. Furthermore, owning a business is not a cake walk.

    What would be preferable? They just give up and run away? I have grown weary of kickstarter, but I find that preferable to just surrendering at the sign of difficult times.
     
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  10. Blaine Cis-Het Oppressor Patron

    Blaine
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    Grab the Codex by the pussy
    Feel-good stories about Obsidian cupping your balls and whispering into your ear that you're handsome and a good boy are nice, but is MCA lying about getting hosed when he left Obsidian, or isn't he?

    I've read all of the [​IMG] posts in this thread, to my knowledge, but I don't recall seeing an answer that specific charge, only protestations that Obsidian's corporate culture isn't as rotten as Chris lets on.

    Chris getting hosed is actually the main point of contention here, let's not forget. I'm sure it was totally his fault, he brought it on himself, etc., but that too is fairly irrelevant.
     
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  11. polo Liturgist

    polo
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    • Yes Yes x 3
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  12. Anthony Davis Obsidian Entertainment Developer

    Anthony Davis
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    That is not a completely accurate statement.

    We had Southpark, and shortly thereafter Armored Warfare. We were not in great shape, but we weren't in danger of closing.

    What PoE did do, was give us a way to create and own our own IP, and it saved the jobs of a lot people. I am not diminishing what PoE Kickstarter accomplished, it was amazing and it was critical for putting us on a road to successfully being more independent

    The PoE team are heroes (at least to me), their vision and their hardwork has been an inspiration to the rest of us and it inspires the Project Indiana team as well.
     
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  13. Azarkon Arcane

    Azarkon
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    Eric caught Chris at a bad time, is my guess. Read the response that led to Chris's reply. A lot of tension even in the original exchange and now it is obvious they didn't particularly get along after Eric's handling of the writing cuts, with Eric's defensive comments earlier making it worse. Unfortunate, but then again Obsidian seems to have a track record of getting its most talented writers to leave. Avellone, Ziets, Gonzalez, Fenstermaker, and according to Chris, Travis Stout. Now they've just got Sawyer, Carrie Patel, and ? Been noticing that for a while and it's what made me think they're going to have a hard time going forward selling themselves as story people.
     
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  14. Prime Junta Arcane

    Prime Junta
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    Truly broken and hopeless is one thing. The CEO pressuring Chris to sign an NDA and non-competition clause forbidding him from working on cRPGs is another thing altogether. That shit just wack, yo.

    If there's one obvious thing about this whole mess is that it's taken years to fester, and there are going to be as many truths about that process as there are people involved in it. I stand by my conflict-avoidance theory until somebody comes up with a better one. Usual everyday workplace shit happened, then built up as everybody tiptoed around it, eventually leaving Chris was in a corner by himself doing his own thing, and when realities collided things got ugly. That's what really tests your mettle though, and there Feargus faceplanted big time. No doubt some or all of it could have been avoided earlier, but them's the breaks.

    I also do feel that a company as big as Obsidian -- what, 200 and counting? -- does need clear, transparent, and enforced policy about how employees are treated: what are the criteria with which their performance is assessed, what's the expected career progression, what are the perks and expectations, and so on. If it's all down to individual bosses being humane, it'll never be applied equitably, and that leads to all kinds of hidden resentments and other bullshit. How are things there in this respect?
     
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  15. J_C One Bit Studio Patron Developer

    J_C
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    Anthony, I'm sure you can't divulge details, but just tell us. Is this topic, and Chris' comments are a hot topic right now at Obsidian? Just a yes or no answer will suffice. :) Or a Yes or disagree rating of my post. :D
     
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  16. Anthony Davis Obsidian Entertainment Developer

    Anthony Davis
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    And I'm not going to talk about it. I try to be a positive person, and most of the time I think I succeed.

    I am also not a founder, nor am I privy to founder happenings.


    But culture flows from the top, and this is overall, a very positive place to work. Not perfect, but very positive.
     
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  17. Blaine Cis-Het Oppressor Patron

    Blaine
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    Grab the Codex by the pussy
    J_C They're not gonna show you the Big Board, dude.
     
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  18. Lycra Suit Learned

    Lycra Suit
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    Yeah because they suck.
     
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  19. Kem0sabe Arcane

    Kem0sabe
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    Thats not the doom and gloom image that transpired in the PoE documentary.
     
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  20. Anthony Davis Obsidian Entertainment Developer

    Anthony Davis
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    Honestly, no. At least not at my level (the trenches).
     
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  21. Anthony Davis Obsidian Entertainment Developer

    Anthony Davis
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    That doom and gloom was around the Stormlands team, and that was VERY real. The Stormlands team essentially became the PoE team.

    The rest of the company was working on their projects.

    Not that the other teams weren't worried or concerned.

    The PoE Kickstarter really reinvigorated the company and I credit Adam and Sawyer for that 100%. EDIT: I should be more clear. I credit their VISION for the PoE and the Kickstarter. Obviously the owners signed off on it too.
     
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  22. FreeKaner Prophet of the Dumpsterfire

    FreeKaner
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    A positive environment is not necessarily a successful environment. In fact it does seem that a lack of appropriate negativity regarding the mismanagement and miscommunications led to the situation we are in now. A lot of pent up negativity that's lost by a top down undeserved positive approach that does not acknowledge employee concerns and conflicts.
     
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  23. Shadenuat Arcane

    Shadenuat
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    That doesn't contradict rumours of nepotism. You've been there 12 years, so you're part of the family and get treated well?

    And one of the lead heroes thinks that traditional games and working on them sucks.
     
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  24. Blaine Cis-Het Oppressor Patron

    Blaine
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    Grab the Codex by the pussy
    I believe you, but people's perceptions also change based on circumstances. What feels positive to you might not to someone who is disillusioned for what may (or may not) be completely legitimate reasons.

    The crew of the ship are usually happy when the sailing is smooth, but what happens when it gets rough? I'd say that's the true test of a company's character. Is it a positive place to depart from, for that matter?

    If you all choose to keep mum about the circumstances of Chris' departure (and I have no doubt you have to, otherwise you'll get the rope there at the office), then all we've got to go on is his statement. Personally, I'm still heavily inclined to believe he isn't lying.

    In other words, it's entirely possible to believe both of you.
     
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  25. AwesomeButton Cut a deal with the authorities Patron

    AwesomeButton
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    PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Make the Codex Great Again! Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    Hold on, hold on! Does this mean what I think it means? Does this mean that Feargus has an answer to the question we've all been after, all these years?

    "What is an RPG?" Chris could have just stared at him with a straight face and asked him.
     
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