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Interview Chris Avellone talks about Kickstarter games and New Vegas at Strategy Informer

Discussion in 'News & Content Feedback' started by Infinitron, Jun 28, 2013.

  1. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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    RPG Wokedex 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 Pathfinder: Kingmaker
    Tags: Chris Avellone; Fallout: New Vegas; Obsidian Entertainment; Project Eternity; Torment: Tides of Numenera; Wasteland 2

    RPG Codex superfan Chris Avellone seems to be on a publicity blitz these days. In an interview for Strategy Informer, Chris talks about the three Kickstarter games he's working on, and also a bit about Fallout: New Vegas. Have a snippet:

    Strategy Informer: How involved were you with Wasteland 2?

    Chris Avellone: I was one of the early designers involved with the first third of the project, in terms of getting the areas and the characters set up. A lot of my role was doing area design. I covered about four areas in total, although some of those areas could change in extreme ways and it felt more like designing six areas! But that was really fun since I hadn’t had chance to do area design since Knights of the Old Republic II. I felt Wasteland 2 was a good project to do that again, it felt like I was back doing Fallout 2 area design, which was absolutely wonderful.​

    Strategy Informer: Have you thought up a title yet for Project Eternity?

    Chris Avellone: No! I believe that is in Adam [Brennecke] and Josh [Sawyer]’s court, but currently it is just Project Eternity.​

    Strategy Informer: Will we ever get to an “original Xbox” type scenario where everyone knows it so well by the codename you just say “screw it, let’s just call it that”.

    Chris Avellone: I don’t know about that! I don’t know if we want to decide on a title until or after pre-production and we have a good sense of the game, have written a whole bunch of dialogues, and we’ve got even more fleshed out with the themes. Sometimes as you’re doing game development the perfect title will just come to you as you’re scripting out an area or a quest, or you just start noticing a certain phrase or question that keeps popping up and you realise “hey, that’s the hook that’s being evolved here, why don’t we try to turn that into the title?”. I think that it’s important to have that larger context before we choose the title. Having the title first, it’s kind of like putting the cart before the horse!​

    Strategy Informer: You’re done with Wasteland 2 now, how are you dividing your time between Eternity and Torment?

    Chris Avellone: Eternity is full-time during core work hours, and then when I get home and at the weekends I deal with review and design documents for Torment, as well as talking with Kevin [Saunders] and Colin [McComb] and going back and forth with them.​

    Strategy Informer: Was it flattering to be a Kickstarter stretch goal for Torment?

    Chris Avellone: Yes it was! I was flattered and then I was really happy, because I just wanted to work on it. Colin sent out this video once he heard that I was coming aboard and I got excited and into a cycle of enthusiasm.​

    Strategy Informer: Must be double flattering for George Ziets [creative lead on the respected Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer expansion, who was a stretch goal for both Eternity and Torment]!

    Chris Avellone: Yeah, I don’t think he minds! Also I think that George deserves much more attention than he normally gets, he’s just a quiet, reserved guy and his writing is excellent. He’s one of the best writers in this industry, when I read his stuff I don’t have any comments on it and I walk away from the dialogue that I just read thinking about it, going “oh that’s interesting”, and George’s dialogue is just awesome. When he was working on Mask of the Betrayer it was the same sort of thing, the dialogue was just cool and he had his themes down, he had a compelling hook for the player, and I was like “George gets it”.​

    Strategy Informer: How free-roaming is the world in Project Eternity? Is it like Baldur’s Gate with large box-areas where you go off the side?

    Chris Avellone: Yeah, it’s going to be set up like that, and then you can hop to locations like you could in Icewind Dale, where dungeons and communities would open up.​

    It's a good interview, although as you will see when you read the full thing, the interviewer's oldschool credibility is...questionable.
     
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  2. Lonely Vazdru Pimp my Title

    Lonely Vazdru
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    :lol:

    Also :
    Fixed. Difficulty has nothing to do with this.
     
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  3. KithKanan Novice

    KithKanan
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    I think he meant 'much harder to sell' the project idea to a publisher, not the final game to consumers. Well, okay, it's also hard to sell a final game if you can't get any money to make it in the first place. :(
     
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  4. Azrael the cat Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Azrael the cat
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    Depends on whether you're talking from the perspective of a developer or a publisher.

    If you're a developer it IS actually much harder to sell, because you're essentially selling your product to a publisher, and the publisher only cares about the profits (...and the gaming industry publishers have managed to maintain an extremely uncompetitive oligopoly, that's allowed a mass market mentality that would be considered incompetent in a genuinely competitive market where you have to strive for every possible dollar. That's ESPCIALLY true for the big players in most developed markets - if you've got limited funds, then in makes financial sense to sink them where there's the biggest return (though in that case you probably can't afford to enter the middle market segments anyway and would usually get a better return in a niche market). If you're a large multinational where borrowing capacity and debt levels aren't as big a problem, then if there's some market somewhere where by sinking 3 million dollars in you'll get your money back plus a pathetic $200,000 net profit, then heck you better scrap for it because you've long since tapped the big markets and you need to tap as many little markets as possible so they add up tomething significant (and deny them to your competitors - or worse yet some startup niche could use that market as a springboard and become a serious competitor in your main market segments 10 years down the track. Do you seriously think that Walmart - a retail business with a model structured around using an almost entirely unskilled workforce - would have made much 'first five years' profit from going into car servicing, when you into account that none of their existing staff - including management - nor any of their business models, intellectual property, designs or even their material assets could be used in that market? And that their branding would actually be a liability that would put them at a disadvantage? I suspect they'd have gone into it thinking that it would be an astounding success if they could even START making their money back in the first 10 years).

    But yes, if you're a developer then it is quite literally harder to sell.
     
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  5. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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    RPG Wokedex 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 Pathfinder: Kingmaker
    Azrael the cat Tell me, would you consider writing a full length article for the Codex on your "Walmart theory" of games publishing? It seems like something you've been thinking about for a while.
     
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  6. Lonely Vazdru Pimp my Title

    Lonely Vazdru
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    Well, I know MCA doesn't personally sell games door to door, so I got it. But whether you sell your game idea to the suits or your finished product on the market, it still doesn't make the "PC only games are harder to sell" vs "more money to be made with console trash" opposition less morally ugly or grammatically wrong.

    I was just nitpicking anyway, it's not like I don't know how greedy the society I live in is, and how PC games got sucked into the process after years of being only marginally touched by it.
     
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  7. Bulba Learned

    Bulba
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    Looks like azrael lives in some sort of dreamworld where developers give a toss about anything else but pfofits. It's not just publishers, but every business cares only about profits INCLUDING inexile and obsidian. if inexile could make diablo 3 and get away with the same shit as blizzard, it would the exactly the same game! obsidian mmo....
     
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  8. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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    RPG Wokedex 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 Pathfinder: Kingmaker
    I don't think you've understood what Azrael is trying to say.

    Walmart makes more profit than EA because they'll sell to any market and fill every niche, big or small, and not just the mass market.
     
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  9. Zeriel Arcane

    Zeriel
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    Film industry is the same way. Big studios invest in tiny films, because the cost to profit ratio can be really good. Independent studio imprints at the big studios, et cetera. For how much the gaming industry looks to ape cinema, it's funny how they don't pay attention to their business practices.
     
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  10. Jarpie Arcane Patron

    Jarpie
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    Codex 2012 MCA
    DVD and Bluray sales/rentals helps a lot of smaller films but yeah, it wouldn't be so hard to make profit on game costing 5-20 million, especially if they release five or six of them. I don't think any other industry works like game industry when it comes to making products of different value. Even in clothing industry same manufacturer will make very high end clothing and also very cheap stuff on different label because they have different markets and both are profitable.

    The game publishers doesn't also get it that if you release five smaller games on different target segments, there will most probably be some natural cross-market movement, and they have shut off lot of potential customers because they are chasing that illusive "wider market" when that doesn't exist except with COD/BF shooters.
     
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  11. Arkeus Arcane

    Arkeus
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    Same for the book industry (though there too the writers gets screwed over). Editors want a LOT of 'different' books even within genres and subgenres, and want to constantly put out lesser-bought style, because you never know when something you always thought could only get tiny money could get a ridiculous amount.
     
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  12. General Maxson Arcane

    General Maxson
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    That's why we can't have nice things. But maybe some devs/publishers will be content to have small budgets and have modest profits by catering to a smaller audience (like inXile is trying, nobody would be happier if W2 and Torment get stellar profits and sales because that would mean it will get even publisher attention and we could possibly have a new golden crpg era).
     
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  13. DalekFlay Arcane Patron

    DalekFlay
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    I love the interviewer's stupid ass "how accessible will this be to new players?" question.

    It won't be. Fuck off.
     
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  14. Gozma Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Gozma
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    Wikipedia "Long Tail"

    Hell I will do it

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_tail

    Note the link to a Wired article about it... from 2004. So at least the Infinitron formulation of Walmart Theory is a bit late

    Capital funding for actual development of new niche shit is what is being worked out now, not selling niche products.
     
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  15. Roguey Codex Staff Sawyerite

    Roguey
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    Josh is definitely trying to make Project Eternity easy to get into in regards to how they present information. They probably won't be able to bumble their way through it.
     
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  16. Excidium P. banal

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    Keep lying to yourself if it makes you feel good
     
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  17. DalekFlay Arcane Patron

    DalekFlay
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    I don't think there's anything really wrong with that. My core point was more that this game won't appeal to anyone who never played an RPG before Oblivion, I don't care how "accessible" they make it.
     
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  18. Roguey Codex Staff Sawyerite

    Roguey
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    There were quite a few young backers, I believe some even said they've never played an IE game before.
     
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  19. evdk comrade troglodyte :M Patron

    evdk
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    Codex 2012 Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign
    Which doesn't prove anything, except maybe that people tend to back some titles due to "me too" syndrome and are going to be unpleasantly surprised.
     
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  20. Gozma Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Gozma
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    There's Diablo 3 and all kinds of MOBAs and so on out there to get them familiar with the same basic Diablo pointing/selecting scheme IE always had. I don't see why they wouldn't be into it. I doubt dry stuff like the worldbuilding will be anything more than lore to seek out if you are interested rather than stuff that Obsidian will shove in your face.
     
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  21. Excidium P. banal

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    Most people that backed it probably at least played Dragon Age, they won't find anything terribly new.
     
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  22. General Maxson Arcane

    General Maxson
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    You forget how mentally handicapped today's "gamers" really are. Even some "game journalists and reviewers".

    I say fuck 'em.
     
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  23. himmy Arcane

    himmy
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  24. General Maxson Arcane

    General Maxson
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    How come? Today's games aren't marketed at retards mostly? And shit games don't get 10++++ GOTY grades? And mainstream reviews aren't useless unless you actually like today's crap?
     
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  25. himmy Arcane

    himmy
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    There's plenty of 16 year old today that are into or will get into IE games, for example. But because, unlike in the 90s, the gaming scene is not dominated by nerdy-types anymore and has attracted every jock and their mother, they are being drowned out. If anything, because of the sheer number of people who are playing games these days, there are far more people who would enjoy the kind of game that PE shapes up to be than 10 - 15 years ago.

    I myself first played Fallout and BG in the era of Need For Speed: Underground and Counter Strike or whatever, and had found the niche I was most interested in despite being bombarded, both from magazines and from my social circle with a completely different type of games.
     
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