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Interview Interview with Chris Avellone

Vault Dweller

Commissar, Red Star Studio
Developer
Joined
Jan 7, 2003
Messages
28,017
Tags: Chris Avellone; Obsidian Entertainment

Chris Avellone, peace be upon him, has answered a few questions about games he has worked on.

I take no offense to your honesty. But stay right where you are, a missile is arcing its way toward your home right now, and there is a lightsaber-wielding Jedi on top of it.

Okay, so character resonance - I do think Kreia was a deep character, personally, but I can see how you would feel that way with some other characters... people were strangely divided on Bao-Dur, for example, and G0-T0, while I enjoyed him and I thought his voice actor was awesome (Daran Norris from Team America), he never really clicked, and that's my fault. I also tried to add more personality to T3, but I'm not sure how well that turned out, either.​

Enjoy the interview.
 

kris

Arcane
Joined
Oct 27, 2004
Messages
8,822
Location
Lulea, Sweden
I am worst of all, for some reason I ended up never playing PST. I have to kill my brother and take it from him.

I would say the difference between Kreia and the other characters was much about how fast you talked out all dialouge from the others and Kreia you could find more troughout the game. I think the system where you could talk out to much at the same time and not have it locked to come up later in the game (as in the Bioware version) made their stories seem like reading a little book and then have nothing left to learn. Especially when it came to Visas you got that, talked with her a bit, suddenly she was lightside, but still sounded dark side.

Also, I am a bit surprised CA didn't push on the worst part of influence that so many mentioned. you never influenced the others (more than superficially dark/light side), it was them influencing you since you always had to tell them what they wanted to hear. No persuading there. Which could make it strange when you influenced someone by telling them something about how you agree the light side is good (even get a lightside point) and then in the same breath influence them to become more darkside like you are...
 

Quitch

Novice
Joined
Mar 8, 2006
Messages
4
Excellent interview, I very much appreciated the blunt style. I have to say though, it sounds rather like he got burned by his experience at Black Isle and he's learned the wrong lessons... especially about expressing text through graphics, that's a huge mistake, partly because graphics aren't up to doing expressions the justice text can, and also because it puts the burden on me to notice and thus renders my character redundant (doesn't matter if he's a master of observation if I can't see past the end of my nose).

In my opinion, Planescape Torment was the best RPG ever released. I'd like to see better combat, but moving the emphasis away from text is a mistake. It's not like there's a lack of combat RPGs, hell there's an entire decade of them. PST was special because it put you in a powerful story and made you care about the people around you. You can't do that via a tactical simulation and one-liners.

I haven't played the KOTOR series yet, but I intend to, I'm just not a fanof this whole 3D camera thing. It's like the RTS genre at the turn of the century, still trying to find its feet with 3D.
 

JanC

Liturgist
Joined
Jul 30, 2003
Messages
156
Quitch said:
I have to say though, it sounds rather like he got burned by his experience at Black Isle and he's learned the wrong lessons... especially about expressing text through graphics, that's a huge mistake, partly because graphics aren't up to doing expressions the justice text can

I agree. Every computer game I've seen that has tried to do facial expressions looks very bad. The characters faces and bodies don't have the mobility of real people, so the expressions look distorted and artificial, like grinning robots. It unnerves me.

But it is true that most gamers do not want to wade though a whole book of text in order to complete a game. So a game like PST will not come along very often because it is economically counter-productive. I don't think facial expressions would have helped much with the sales of the game either, because if a gamer is bored with the 'emotional crap' and wants to get to the action, he won't care if the 'emotional crap' is expressed through text, facial animation, or interpretive mime. It's all getting in the way of the hacknslash.
 

Quigs

Magister
Joined
Sep 16, 2003
Messages
1,392
Location
Jersey
I liked most of the interview, until the PST RULZORS, COMPARE ALL ELSE TO IT. started happening.
 

Vault Dweller

Commissar, Red Star Studio
Developer
Joined
Jan 7, 2003
Messages
28,017
It's not about PST ruling, it's about artist's development. I compared his earlier work to his later work, discussing the difference and reasons, thus giving you a glimpse of the future.
 

Quigs

Magister
Joined
Sep 16, 2003
Messages
1,392
Location
Jersey
I never played PST. I didnt see the need to aleinate me (or others who havent played it) by going into specifics about the game, and comparing them here and there. For the most part, it wasnt a problem, but it just got to be too much, like talking to someone really into magic, who keeps trying to tell you about their sliver deck. Yeah, you can sorta figure out what they mean, but you just lose interest fast.
 

Vault Dweller

Commissar, Red Star Studio
Developer
Joined
Jan 7, 2003
Messages
28,017
Well, it was interview about Chris and games he made. Some people haven't played PST, some people haven't played KOTOR 2, some people haven't played Fallout 2, some people have no idea who the fuck Chris Avellone is and why someone is interviewing him. It's kinda hard to pick a topic that everyone is familiar with.

The moral of this story is go play PST.
 

dunduks

Liturgist
Joined
Jan 28, 2003
Messages
389
JanC said:
Quitch said:
I have to say though, it sounds rather like he got burned by his experience at Black Isle and he's learned the wrong lessons... especially about expressing text through graphics, that's a huge mistake, partly because graphics aren't up to doing expressions the justice text can

I agree. Every computer game I've seen that has tried to do facial expressions looks very bad. The characters faces and bodies don't have the mobility of real people, so the expressions look distorted and artificial, like grinning robots. It unnerves me.
It might not be so bad, if they get the facial animations up to par with Bloodlines at least. BL showed that facial expressions can work, if you put enough into it. But otherwise I agree that text should remain, I'd rather see rich text/voiced dialog enchanced with animations, rather then simplifying/dropping text/dialog in favor of animations.
 

protobob

Liturgist
Joined
Dec 31, 2002
Messages
332
Location
USA
Nice interview. I'm a PST fan. I have to say PST is one of my top game playing experiences. I love all the text. Part of that is related to me being a book-nerd, and another to the fact I grew up playing games with text (Infocom, etc.) and later MUSH games on the internet. It's somewhat ironic how much PST borrowed from the console RPG style in certain areas.

Personally I prefered KOTOR2 over the first one, even though I felt the story was not as polished as the first. I thought Kreia was a great character. She was the only one that really stood to me.
 

Gambler

Augur
Joined
Apr 3, 2006
Messages
766
I have to say though, it sounds rather like he got burned by his experience at Black Isle and he's learned the wrong lessons...
I have the same feeling after reading most of the interviews with him. He created a legendary game, but he doesn't seem to appreciate (or even take notice of) the parts of PT that made it what it is.

Unique feeling of a huge city around you. None of the other RPGs I played recreated it so good. (Pathologic does remarkable job of making you feel like you're in an average-size town, though.)

Very fitting and interactive music. It's not good for listening on its own, but it conveys mood of the game perfectly.

High level of identification with main character, who has personality, history of its own and future. That's probably the most important thing in the whole game. You cannot make a main character that really 'clicks' with the universe if the character has no past and future, no acquaintances and no enemies.

Etcetera.

More “fun”? More combat? IMO, Mortuary was one of the best parts of the whole game.
 

KOTORN00b

Novice
Joined
Jun 1, 2010
Messages
6
It looks like some of CA's drawings now leave broken links. Any chance those pictures could be reposted?
 

Jason

chasing a bee
Joined
Jun 30, 2005
Messages
10,737
Location
baby arm fantasy island
VD made the mistake of hosting them at Imageshack, so the answer would be no unless he happens to have them on a drive somewhere.
 

denizsi

Arcane
Joined
Nov 24, 2005
Messages
9,927
Location
bosphorus
What amazes me more is that even after so many years of fail, people still use imageshack pretty often.
 

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