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Interview Chris Avellone Interviewed at GamesIndustry

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Tags: Chris Avellone; InXile Entertainment; Obsidian Entertainment; Planescape: Torment; South Park: The Stick of Truth; Wasteland 2

GamesIndustry.biz has interviewed Obsidian's Chris Avellone, focusing on the usual list of topics including Wasteland 2, Kickstarter, South Park, and Planescape: Torment. Have some tidbits:

You've said that you're really enjoying the project, and that you're a big fan of Wasteland and know Brian pretty well - I presume you've got a fairly collaborative ethos when it comes to working?

Chris Avellone: That's pretty much how it's panned out so far. It's been pretty free-form with the story design, the area division, the flow of the adventure. Everyone's in a very collaborative mood - we just bounce ideas off each other, there's not much "we don't like this."

Brian knows Wasteland better than anybody, so I do defer to him on direction and feel of things if there ever is any doubt - he knows the product better than I do. I'm a huge fan and I enjoy designing for it, but at the end of the day it's Brian's original vision for Wasteland that made it so well received so I listen.

It must be odd working on Wasteland 2 after the modern Fallout - how do you keep Fallout ideas from cross-contaminating?

Chris Avellone: I actually discovered that Fallout was much more limiting than working on Wasteland, for a number of reasons. One is that the production pipeline is much more limiting now, in terms of what you can do, the second is that Fallout comes with a number of genre limitations. It's very important, for example to maintain that '50s sci-fi vibe. You can't lose that or you lose Fallout. In Wasteland, that's one of the parameters that's removed, you can do a fun post-apocalyptic game and have a lot more freedom with what you want to do. Wasteland 1 was full of crazy, fun stuff to do. I don't know if you can do that in Fallout and get away with it.

One last thing. Tempted by a Planescape Kickstarter?

Chris Avellone: Yes! Very tempted.

It seems like a prime target...

Chris Avellone: Yeah - I think the challenges we've spoken about would all have to be considered and to be honest I don't know if I'd want to do it as a Planescape game - I think a better approach would be to ignore the D&D mechanics and respect what Planescape was trying to do and what the game did and see if you can do what Fallout did when it became the spiritual successor to Wasteland.

I think if you made a game using some of the concepts of Planescape, the metaphysical ideas and the plane travel, without using the D&D mechanics, you could actually come up with a much better game. With Torment, I'd argue that the D&D base actually, in places, got in the way of the experience. It was a lot harder to make a game with those ideas in it with D&D mechanics. So much that we had to break a lot of them. We had to ignore certain spells, change up the class mechanic so that you can switch at any time you like by remembering abilities.

That was stuff that D&D didn't allow for, it was to restraining in some respects. If we did do a spiritual successor, then I don't know if we'd use the Planescape licence or attach the mechanics, perhaps something that has a different feel to Torment.​

For the full share of MCA wisdom, just click here.
 

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Q: Will Obsidian get a share of any profits?

Chris Avellone: I don't know - that'd be a conversation for my boss and Brian. I think Brian is a big enough guy that if things turned out really well for Wasteland 2 then Obsidian would get some sort of compensation. But that's not contractually set in stone, that's more a gentleman's discussion to have later.

Somebody photoshop Feargus' face onto one of the jewgold (scotgold?) emoticons


Chris Avellone: Well, I totally agree with you, I think that there's a danger of nobody, or a small percentage of people buying it once it's funded. But at the same time the advantage comes from the fact that you've developed a project with funding, you've hit the goals that the players want, they enjoy the product - chances are that you can do it again, with Wasteland 3 or whatever.
The reward if people do respond to it after a kickstarter, and you sell shitloads and people really find it fun, suddenly things change in a different way - suddenly you don't need kickstarter to sort the next project but you've proven the idea is viable and that people will pay for it, and not just the original backers. It becomes more validating.

Has MCA been reading my posts?

Q: Do you think it runs a risk of encouraging a sense of entitlement? People feel that enough with classic games as it is, without them putting up their own cash...

:M
 

J_C

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Q: Will Obsidian get a share of any profits?

Chris Avellone: I don't know - that'd be a conversation for my boss and Brian. I think Brian is a big enough guy that if things turned out really well for Wasteland 2 then Obsidian would get some sort of compensation. But that's not contractually set in stone, that's more a gentleman's discussion to have later.

Somebody photoshop Feargus' face onto one of the jewgold emoticons


Chris Avellone: Well, I totally agree with you, I think that there's a danger of nobody, or a small percentage of people buying it once it's funded. But at the same time the advantage comes from the fact that you've developed a project with funding, you've hit the goals that the players want, they enjoy the product - chances are that you can do it again, with Wasteland 3 or whatever.
The reward if people do respond to it after a kickstarter, and you sell shitloads and people really find it fun, suddenly things change in a different way - suddenly you don't need kickstarter to sort the next project but you've proven the idea is viable and that people will pay for it, and not just the original backers. It becomes more validating.

Has MCA been reading my posts?
I don't think that's a danger. If the game is good, people who didn't want to fund a project blindly, or just heard about the game will buy it. And every sale will be pure profit, because the development costs were fully funded by the initial kickstarters. I think there are more than 61000 people who want a good cRPG, especially on a lower price point. They just don't like pre-funding a game, or -as I said - haven't heard about it.
 
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One last thing. Tempted by a Planescape Kickstarter?
Chris Avellone: Yes! Very tempted.​
It seems like a prime target...
Chris Avellone: Yeah - I think the challenges we've spoken about would all have to be considered and to be honest I don't know if I'd want to do it as a Planescape game - I think a better approach would be to ignore the D&D mechanics and respect what Planescape was trying to do and what the game did and see if you can do what Fallout did when it became the spiritual successor to Wasteland.​
I think if you made a game using some of the concepts of Planescape, the metaphysical ideas and the plane travel, without using the D&D mechanics, you could actually come up with a much better game. With Torment, I'd argue that the D&D base actually, in places, got in the way of the experience. It was a lot harder to make a game with those ideas in it with D&D mechanics. So much that we had to break a lot of them. We had to ignore certain spells, change up the class mechanic so that you can switch at any time you like by remembering abilities.​
That was stuff that D&D didn't allow for, it was to restraining in some respects. If we did do a spiritual successor, then I don't know if we'd use the Planescape licence or attach the mechanics, perhaps something that has a different feel to Torment.​

You know, a turn-based implementation of 4E akin to what TOEE did for 3.5E (but with less bugs) and avellonian writing could be pretty sweet. Say what you will about streamlining the fuck out of spellcasters, 4E DID make combat as a whole more interesting. And if the computer did all the book keeping with the clusterfuck of zones and status effects you might be able to resolve combat in a reasonable time frame too.
 

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I think if you made a game using some of the concepts of Planescape, the metaphysical ideas and the plane travel, without using the D&D mechanics, you could actually come up with a much better game.
Of course. Planescape could be a much better game by just scrapping the DnD mechanics and replace them with some Obsidian ingenuity, e.g. Alphaturd mechanics. Voila! A much better game.
 

commie

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I think if you made a game using some of the concepts of Planescape, the metaphysical ideas and the plane travel, without using the D&D mechanics, you could actually come up with a much better game.
Of course. Planescape could be a much better game by just scrapping the DnD mechanics and replace them with some Obsidian ingenuity, e.g. Alphaturd mechanics. Voila! A much better game.

Derp. But you are right in scrapping AD&D mechanics. Most of the whining about PS:T on these forums is about the implementation of these mechanics in the game.
 

VentilatorOfDoom

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Derp. But you are right in scrapping AD&D mechanics. Most of the whining about PS:T on these forums is about the implementation of these mechanics in the game.
Yes, but *most of the whining* on these forums is fucking retarded. Taking Planescape, removing the DnD and replacing it with whatever dumb shit Obsidian can come up with during development time sure as hell won't result in a better game.
 

Brother None

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I think if you made a game using some of the concepts of Planescape, the metaphysical ideas and the plane travel, without using the D&D mechanics, you could actually come up with a much better game.
Of course. Planescape could be a much better game by just scrapping the DnD mechanics and replace them with some Obsidian ingenuity, e.g. Alphaturd mechanics. Voila! A much better game.

It should, yes. If you take your time with the system and design it well, of course. AD&D is kind of shit in my view, anyway, but it was particularly shit in expressing what Torment wanted to do. What do you do with their stat and allegiance system in a game that depends so heavily on belief?

It seems pretty clear to me a Torment sequel won't have any Planescape in it. For numerous reasons, the least of which is not that you'd still have to deal with a video game publisher to get the license. Avoiding that and making the game with less constrictions in oversight and system are good things. Pretending they would then approach the character system the same way as they did Alpha Protocol is funny, but not exactly a valid point.
 

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Found this comment on Eurogamer: http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2...empted-to-do-a-planescape-torment-kickstarter

It wasn't just Eurogamer - I remember, at the time, a LOT of mags/online sites considered all RPG's to be passé - Baulder's Gate received a lot of criticism was when it was originally released (no one wants to play games with 2D graphics, no one likes RPG's any-more, multi-player games are the future etc) - Until they became successful - after which the same sites/mags started talking as if they'd always loved the games really (at least one site even amended their review after the fact).

Anybody know which site he's talking about?
 

Morkar Left

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I think if you made a game using some of the concepts of Planescape, the metaphysical ideas and the plane travel, without using the D&D mechanics, you could actually come up with a much better game.
Of course. Planescape could be a much better game by just scrapping the DnD mechanics and replace them with some Obsidian ingenuity, e.g. Alphaturd mechanics. Voila! A much better game.

It should, yes. If you take your time with the system and design it well, of course. AD&D is kind of shit in my view, anyway, but it was particularly shit in expressing what Torment wanted to do. What do you do with their stat and allegiance system in a game that depends so heavily on belief?

It seems pretty clear to me a Torment sequel won't have any Planescape in it. For numerous reasons, the least of which is not that you'd still have to deal with a video game publisher to get the license. Avoiding that and making the game with less constrictions in oversight and system are good things. Pretending they would then approach the character system the same way as they did Alpha Protocol is funny, but not exactly a valid point.

They should take the OGL 3.5 or Pathfinder license and tweak it to their needs. The basic rules are rocksolid and they can be easily changed. AD&D was more restrictive.
 

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There should be a moratorium on asking Avellone questions about a Kickstarter-funded game because I'm tired of seeing him just talk about it. World, shape yourself to my beliefs.
 

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Found this comment on Eurogamer: http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2...empted-to-do-a-planescape-torment-kickstarter

It wasn't just Eurogamer - I remember, at the time, a LOT of mags/online sites considered all RPG's to be passé - Baulder's Gate received a lot of criticism was when it was originally released (no one wants to play games with 2D graphics, no one likes RPG's any-more, multi-player games are the future etc) - Until they became successful - after which the same sites/mags started talking as if they'd always loved the games really (at least one site even amended their review after the fact).

The reverse happens a lot too. Some overly hyped game like Black & White will get all these 9/10 and 10/10 scores talking about how it's the best game ever. Then when people hate the game and the sequel comes out they talk about how it's fixed all the problems in the original - problems they never mentioned in their review. How many Mass Effect 3 reviews mentioned issues with the ending? But game magazines/sites are shit, I guess that's not news.
 
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There should be a moratorium on asking Avellone questions about a Kickstarter-funded game because I'm tired of seeing him just talk about it. World, shape yourself to my beliefs.

It's fun to imagine flying but terrifying to take the leap off a cliff :P
 

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The way I see it, removing DnD from any game would result in a better one.
It depends on what are you going to replace it with. I haven't seen any released good RPG systems after the computer D&D era. So maybe it's not that easy to replace?
 

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The way I see it, removing DnD from any game would result in a better one.
It depends on what are you going to replace it with. I haven't seen any released good RPG systems after the computer D&D era. So maybe it's not that easy to replace?

How about S.P.E.C.I.A.L.? :troll:

Games with S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stopped with Fallout 2, but if you are talking about S.P.E.S.H.U.L than yeah you won the argument. After fallout 2 there were still good RPG's released with D&D, while there were no good with other systems. Thing is that D&D is more than just a game system it's the lore, monsters, the locations and the setting. It's easier to create only a story in a built universe, than to built both the story and the universe.
Also D&D is very good for classes and that's very important for Planescape setting. I would prefer RT with pause in my Planescape, but I am not against new systems or TB combat. However, it usually ends up like this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSwlgoK1bmo and I don't want my Planescape to be sodomized. If MCA wants do to stuff like this he should just retire.
 

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It depends on what are you going to replace it with. I haven't seen any released good RPG systems after the computer D&D era. So maybe it's not that easy to replace?

How about S.P.E.C.I.A.L.? :troll:

Games with S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stopped with Fallout 2, but if you are talking about S.P.E.S.H.U.L than yeah you won the argument. After fallout 2 there were still good RPG's released with D&D, while there were no good with other systems.

Not sure what you mean by S.P.E.S.H.U.L, but number or age of released games shouldn't be relevant when judging a system.
 

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Not sure what you mean by S.P.E.S.H.U.L, but number or age of released games shouldn't be relevant when judging a system.

I mean Beth version of S.P.E.C.I.A.L. Well you see there aren't that many good examples of other good systems, but there are plenty of crappy ones, so I kinda think that numbers do matter.
 
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LOL he mentions the hypothetical possibility of a Wasteland 3 is W2 gets a good reception. I guess he forgot that Brian is only a licensee and the IP still belongs to EA. If W2 proves profitably, EA would be all over W3.
 

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AD&D is kind of shit in my view, anyway, but it was particularly shit in expressing what Torment wanted to do. What do you do with their stat and allegiance system in a game that depends so heavily on belief?

Eh? What about the PnP Planescape? All that belief stuff is there.
And what's the problem with bending the rules like they did in Torment?

It seems pretty clear to me a Torment sequel won't have any Planescape in it.

So what's the point then? He previously said TNO's story is done so no direct sequel. If it's not in the Planescape setting either, then what exactly is it? Game Written By Avellone The Kickstarter?
 

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LOL he mentions the hypothetical possibility of a Wasteland 3 is W2 gets a good reception. I guess he forgot that Brian is only a licensee and the IP still belongs to EA. If W2 proves profitably, EA would be all over W3.

Even if it's going to be relatively profitable, it doesn't seem to be the kind of profit EA would care for, though, no? (I.e., not comparable to Mass Effect or Skyrim.)
 

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