Official Codex Discord Server

  1. Welcome to rpgcodex.net, a site dedicated to discussing computer based role-playing games in a free and open fashion. We're less strict than other forums, but please refer to the rules.

    "This message is awaiting moderator approval": All new users must pass through our moderation queue before they will be able to post normally. Until your account has "passed" your posts will only be visible to yourself (and moderators) until they are approved. Give us a week to get around to approving / deleting / ignoring your mundane opinion on crap before hassling us about it. Once you have passed the moderation period (think of it as a test), you will be able to post normally, just like all the other retards.
    Dismiss Notice

Interview Someone Wants to Pick Warren Spector's Brain

Discussion in 'RPG News & Content' started by VentilatorOfDoom, Oct 8, 2010.

  1. VentilatorOfDoom RPG Codex Staff

    VentilatorOfDoom
    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2009
    Messages:
    8,136
    Location:
    Deutschland
    Tags: Fallout: New Vegas; Obsidian Entertainment

    <p>... and with "someone" I mean Eric Beaumont from Obsidian Entertainment. The <strong>Fallout: New Vegas</strong> release date is drawing near and another <span style="text-decoration: line-through;">Bethesda</span> Obsidian developer <a href="http://bethblog.com/index.php/2010/10/07/inside-the-vault-obsidians-eric-beaumont/">gets an introduction</a> at the Bethblog.</p>
    <blockquote>
    <p><strong>As a game gets closer to release, do you have any tips for breaking in? Did modding games help you get started?</strong></p>
    <p>I got into the industry the hard way&hellip;or the dumb-luck way maybe, so I might not be the best source for tips on this. I do have one bit of advice I might be able to pass along that came from one of my old leads (that I&rsquo;ve since adopted into my own approach when interviewing potential designers): Only hire people whose work you won&rsquo;t have to go back and fix later. The actual quote is a little more colorful (and a little less printable), but that&rsquo;s the essence. What that should mean to anyone who&rsquo;s trying to break into the industry is that you should be able to talk about the finer points of design and you should be able to demonstrate that you can design. Don&rsquo;t just talk about games that you like, but be able to say exactly why you like them. Don&rsquo;t just say you hate a game &ndash; say why you hate it and what you would do to fix it. (You also might want to do your homework and make sure that you aren&rsquo;t tearing apart a game that your interviewer(s) worked on!) Bring a working level you made, preferably built with a popular, modern game engine/editor (bonus points if it&rsquo;s from the same genre as the game you&rsquo;re applying for). Degrees in relevant fields and/or from a game design college don&rsquo;t hurt either, but they&rsquo;re also no guarantee if you can&rsquo;t survive the interview.</p>
    <p><strong> </strong></p>
    <p><strong>If you could pick someone&rsquo;s brain in the game industry, who would it be?</strong></p>
    <p>Warren Spector. I love the games he&rsquo;s done and I&rsquo;ve always been inspired by his design philosophy. I read an article he wrote about how dialogue-trees in role-playing games haven&rsquo;t really changed or evolved since the beginning of the industry. At the end of the article he issued a challenge to everyone working in the industry to find a new way to convey dialogue in games. I&rsquo;ve spent the last few years struggling with that issue in the games that I&rsquo;ve designed. I don&rsquo;t have the magical answer yet, but it&rsquo;s led me to question the basic principles of design that I always took for granted before and for that I&rsquo;m grateful.</p>
    </blockquote>
    <p>Spotted at: <a href="http://www.rpgwatch.com/#15912">RPGWatch</a></p>
     
    ^ Top  
  2. 1eyedking Erudite

    1eyedking
    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2007
    Messages:
    3,559
    Location:
    Argentina
    Warrren Spector? Moar liek Warren Specturd. All the Jew did was copy Thief's design philosophy.

    Whatever. On topic, I'm p. sure Fallout 3: New Vegas will suck.
     
    ^ Top  
  3. ghostdog Prestigious Gentleman Arcane Patron

    ghostdog
    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2007
    Messages:
    9,883
    1eyedking ? Moar liek 1eyedturd.

    Whatever. On topic, I'm p. sure Fallout 3: New Vegas will suck.
     
    ^ Top  
  4. Arcanoix Scholar

    Arcanoix
    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2008
    Messages:
    574
    What if I was asked what changes I'd make to a game and I had to choose a game from the developer I'm interviewing with?

    Just saying, it happens.

    And why doesn't anything this guy say work for guys like - say - Qwinn, and Drogg? :/

    Eh, too tired to really delve any deeper than that. I mean it's not rocket science - if anything it's the exact opposite - as you can be a complete twit (Todd Howard) and still somehow reach producer status.

    And for the geniuses, i.e. Chris Metzen (pre-Knaak partnership), Tim Cain (pre MMO designer), Richard Garriot (pre-EA/Origin fallout), Rick Parks (Rest in Peace), Peter Molyneux (Bullfrog era), etc. and they get brainwashed and transformed into something they're not. And it pisses me off.

    /Codexian on

    give them valium. Lots of valium. HERP DERP. :smug:
     
    ^ Top  
  5. zeitgeist Augur

    zeitgeist
    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2010
    Messages:
    1,422
    Does anyone have a link to that article? I'd really like to read it, the premise sounds pretty silly.
     
    ^ Top  
  6. Roguey Arcane Sawyerite Sawyerist Sawyer's Bride No Fun Allowed

    Roguey
    Joined:
    May 29, 2010
    Messages:
    24,348
    Apparently around 2007 he said "Branching tree conversations are still the state of the art, and that's pathetic." in a GameInformer print article and there's also this thing he wrote back in 1999: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/3 ... php?page=1

    I also particularly like the Codexian-before-it-existed sick burn that starts the article:
     
    ^ Top  
  7. Azrael the cat Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Azrael the cat
    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2007
    Messages:
    6,207
    Location:
    The island of misfit mascots
    In fairness, Spector is still sitting better than any of those folk. His 'decline' run only consisted of one game. The 2nd last AAA title he made was Deus Ex:). With System Shock 2 and Ultima 7 part 2 coming before that, I'd say his past 4-5 games have been pretty awesome.

    And at least with Invisible War, he didn't react to the criticism by going 'damn, we need to dumb things down even further'. Sure, he cut a pretty pitiful figure with his 'I just want people to recognise the scope of what I tried to achieve on that game, and I'll acknowledge that we got a lot wrong', but most developers don't even go that far.
     
    ^ Top  
  8. J1M Arcane

    J1M
    Joined:
    May 14, 2008
    Messages:
    9,053
    Got into the industry the "old fashioned way". Does that mean blowjob or brother already employed in it?
     
    ^ Top  
  9. Archibald Arcane

    Archibald
    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2010
    Messages:
    5,854
    Roots of decline.
     
    ^ Top  
  10. Jaesun Fabulous Moderator Patron

    Jaesun
    Joined:
    May 14, 2004
    Messages:
    36,922
    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    Torment: Tides of Numenera Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech
    He was only the Studio Director on IW, he was not the Producer and Project Director like he was on Deus Ex.
     
    ^ Top  
  11. Lyric Suite Converting to Islam

    Lyric Suite
    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2006
    Messages:
    36,790
    As far as i know, Spector is a producer, not a developer. So while he can be praised for bringing up talented people together and successfully release ambitious projects, i'm not sure why everybody considers him some sort of authority on game design.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 1
    ^ Top  
  12. AnalogKid Scholar

    AnalogKid
    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2005
    Messages:
    291
    Location:
    SoCal
    You mean the magical answer isn't "streamlining" dialogue with "emotional stance" quick-time events where the player doesn't even know wtf he's about to say? How can that be? I thought for sure the ultimate answer to everything in modern games was: streamliner it!
     
    ^ Top  
  13. fizzelopeguss Arcane

    fizzelopeguss
    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2004
    Messages:
    12,046
    Location:
    Equality Street.
    http://www.mobygames.com/developer/shee ... perId,127/

    i imagine he did a lot of donkey-work when he was first starting out.
     
    ^ Top  
  14. Sceptic Prestigious Gentleman Arcane Patron

    Sceptic
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2010
    Messages:
    10,494
    Divinity: Original Sin
    Because the former (bringing talented people together and releasing ambitious projects) require a very good eye for design, something Spector demonstrated many times in the 90's. See Ultima Underworld, the bastard child that no one at Origin cared about... other than Spector. He did this kind of thing several times with projects that were very bold and that more conservative or less gifted producers would've killed or ruined (System Shock and Thief most prominently).
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 1
    ^ Top  
  15. Lyric Suite Converting to Islam

    Lyric Suite
    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2006
    Messages:
    36,790
    Point taken. And that's a pretty impressive track record there. I wonder if the reason why he hasn't produced anything of note since Duex Ex has something to do with the lack of talented developers and increased corporate control more then any personal decline on his part.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 1
    ^ Top  
  16. ArcturusXIV Cipher

    ArcturusXIV
    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2003
    Messages:
    1,894
    Location:
    Innsmouth
    'Scuze me? Someone should pick Warren's brain OUT. He obviously thinks dumbing down games IZ TEH GOODZ DESIGN SKILLZ. Paul Neurath was the true brains of Looking Glass studios! But hey, those who think marketing > art get theirs! He's now doing EPIC L33t Design on Epic Mickey.
     
    ^ Top  
  17. Sceptic Prestigious Gentleman Arcane Patron

    Sceptic
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2010
    Messages:
    10,494
    Divinity: Original Sin
    It could be this, or it could be that producers have less power than they used to, what with the hierarchy turning more and more towards the corporate side, so all big design decisions are handled by the suits and the producer has to live with it. Or... it could simply be that his skills have declined/adapted to the industry standards (redundancy, I know). Who knows.
     
    ^ Top  
  18. J1M Arcane

    J1M
    Joined:
    May 14, 2008
    Messages:
    9,053
    *ONLY* studio director? This is a joke right? He promoted the guy who was in charge of DX2 after mentoring him. But more importantly, he was the one who decided to split the good people who worked on DX into two teams and instead of working on a DX sequel he attempted to make DX2 and Thief3 at the same time. In a new engine. For a new platform. And instructed his team to rewrite large portions of the graphics and sound engines.

    It boggles the mind how you could think anyone has more responsibility for the failure of DX2 than him.
     
    ^ Top  
  19. ghostdog Prestigious Gentleman Arcane Patron

    ghostdog
    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2007
    Messages:
    9,883
    FFS stop the lies start the truths.

    Deus Ex >>>>>>>>> Thief.

    And that's 9 ">" FYI.
     
    ^ Top  
  20. spekkio Arcane

    spekkio
    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2009
    Messages:
    7,438
    No. Thief 1-2 are great climatic games with a little bit of "art" thrown in.
    Desu Ex is just great game.

    :smug:

    DX is great as an example of quality developing. But Thief is better as a game.
     
    ^ Top  
  21. spekkio Arcane

    spekkio
    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2009
    Messages:
    7,438
    You abandoned your TWO LPs so your opinion is invalid.

    :smug:

    Of course it is.

    But SS2 is EVEN better. :D
     
    ^ Top  
  22. ghostdog Prestigious Gentleman Arcane Patron

    ghostdog
    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2007
    Messages:
    9,883
    :(
     
    ^ Top  
  23. PorkaMorka Arcane

    PorkaMorka
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2008
    Messages:
    4,694
    Wait.

    Please explain how what he is saying is incorrect.

    These are indeed the big flaws of dialog trees and why as a gameplay system they are extremely shallow, compared to say combat resolution.

    If you can restart the conversation and try all options, then the smart play is to restart the conversation and try all options, to gather as much info as possible and/or find the key dialog option that provides something you need. This is technically "gameplay" but it's not particularly compelling, as you're just going through a process of elimination and reading/skimming some text. Frankly it tends to be something of a hassle.

    If you can't restart the conversation and try all options, then it becomes a guessing / puzzle game as he describes above. You're trying to read the designer's intentions and either pick the "right" choice which provides the most benefits, or you're trying to read the designer's intentions and guess the "right" response which gives the plot result closest to the one you want. Typically none of the responses will say/do what you'd really want to say/do and so you're left guessing which will give the preferable result between two options both of which may give results you didn't really want. The temptation to reload and try the other one can get pretty huge.

    At best you may have some to find some clues and analyze them to get a hint as to how this will turn out, but it's rare that you will need to put all that much thought into your dialog response. Typically either it will be obvious which response does what, or it will be quite unclear which response does what, so you have to guess.

    The above things he mentions are flaws present in PS:T, Arcanum, Fallout, Fallout 2 and VTM:B Bloodlines, to at least some significant extent.

    The catch phrase is choices and consequences, but in the absence of information, often you can't make an informed choice, only a guess as to the right dialog option to do what you want.

    More liek guesses and consequences, am I rite? :smug:

    Whereas with combat resolution, in a proper number crunching game, you know (or at least have some idea of) the equations used to resolve combat, you know what kinds of options are available, and analyze the information available and make an significantly informed choice regarding the game, not a guess.

    See for example building your party in IWD2 or TOEE for some informed choices and consequences.

    Read this for an idea of the thought that goes into building a party
    http://www.sorcerers.net/Games/dl.php?s ... i_jupp.zip

    Then imagine how much thought you put into picking dialog options.

    Warren Spector > Codex Storyfags
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 2
    ^ Top  
  24. Archibald Arcane

    Archibald
    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2010
    Messages:
    5,854
    This is always a problem and not exclusive to dialogues.


    Anyway, i think that problem is not with dialogues themselves. Problem is with NPCs. Once someone manages to make them "alive" and not some standing blobs of information then dialogues themselves will be better. Make them active, not standing around in one place forever, having jobs, hobbies, personalities. I wouldn`t like if some fag came to my work and started asking some stupid questions nor would i like if he asked same question 4 times in a row. Make non-static worlds. Tree itself, in my opinion, is prefectly fine.
     
    ^ Top  

(buying stuff via the above buttons helps us pay the hosting bills, thanks!)