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Interview Wasteland 2 Interview with Brian Fargo at Ripten

Crooked Bee

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Tags: Brian Fargo; InXile Entertainment; Wasteland 2

Ripten.com's Michael Futter has done a large interview with InXile's Brian Fargo on Wasteland 2, "abysmal" publisher treatment and having fun again. Have a generous chunk:

MF: There seem to be two halves of the gaming universe. Old guys like me who grew up on Fallout. I remember pouring over decisions and redoing combat, just because an NPC died. I loved that dog too much to let him go. The other half, though, are much younger. Their first introduction to the universe was Fallout 3 and New Vegas. How are they going to be able to relate to this game having no real frame of reference for these classic, wonderful RPGs?

BF: The thing about this project being fan-funded is that I’m not worried about this new group of people and how they might get it. This is being made for people like yourself that grew up playing Wasteland, Fallout and Fallout 2. These new people, who have never played these games, I think they’re going to check it out and have a great time. I’m simply not going to worry about how I get these console guys to come over and like it, because there is no reason to. We all know the experience that we grew up with. We all loved it and we’ve all been wanting one, so that’s what I’m going to bring. It’s not a putdown on the console product, it’s just that I’m not going to worry about how to get them.

MF: Now that you’ve got Ken St. Andre and Michael Stackpole involved in the project, what are you planning for the combat system. Will it be identical to the original Wasteland, or will there be some modifications to make things more contemporary where it makes sense.

BF: We’re going to use the original Wasteland as the base and build upon it. Everybody liked the skill-based system of the world. We’re definitely going to stay with that and add upon it. We’re going to use a lot of the basics of combat, but because this is graphical in nature and you’ll be able to see your guys on the map, as opposed to just reading about it, it opens up to be more tactical.

MF: One of the things that Wasteland did, possibly because it was way ahead of its time and due to space issues, was the text for players to read separately…

BF: … and copy protection, actually, but yeah. That’s how tight space was back then. We couldn’t even put in all the text we wanted to.

MF: Is there anything like that, even just as a nod to the original game that you’re planning on.

BF: We’re kicking the idea around, because that paragraph book was quite fun. Whether we will really make you read or not, though? Probably not in this digital world. Might we do a paragraph book? Maybe, as a nod.

MF: The new Bard’s Tale is still sitting on my shelf. I love that game.

BF: Well, the hard core aren’t too fond of it, but it definitely has its fans. Here’s how I explain that game. I had just left Interplay, I was kinda in a funny mood and I was playing other people’s roleplaying games. They were sending me to kill rats in a cellar and I was like, “Are you kidding me? They’re still doing this stuff?” So, I was fed up and Bard’s Tale was my parody of it. So, I set out to do a light RPG that was a parody. For that effort, I think I deserve an A. For the hard core, they wanted an absolute Bard’s Tale sequel, so for them, it was an F. In my defense, I accomplished what I set out to do. Just like with this Wasteland game, this is what we’re going out to do: old-school RPG, deep cause and effect, dialog, exploration, etc. We’re now going to execute that. I understand why people weren’t happy with Bard’s Tale, but if you look at iTunes, it’s one of the highest rated RPGs out there. So, people like it, but if you were expecting a hardcore RPG, you wouldn’t have liked it.

MF: Is tension between developers and publishers, especially around creative issues, normal?

BF: There is more tension than you can believe. You would not believe the stories you hear about how developers are treated by publishers these days. It is abysmal.

MF: Why don’t we hear more about it…?

BF: Because they are afraid to talk, because they’ll never get another contract if they do. That’s why. You cannot believe… it’s awful. It’s really bad. You should try to dig in and get some stories out there. Look at the most recent one with those poor guys at Obsidian. They did Fallout: New Vegas, the ship date got moved up and, who does the QA on a project? The publisher is always in charge of QA. When a project goes out buggy, it’s not the developer. The developer never says, “I refuse to fix the bug,” or, “I don’t know how.” They never do that. It’s the publisher that does the QA, so if a product goes out buggy, it’s not the developer’s fault. So, (Fallout: New Vegas) goes out buggy and they didn’t do the QA, their ship date got moved up and they missed their metacritic rating by one point. Did they get a bonus? No. Do you think that’s fair? I tried to get some of my publisher friends, who I used to make a lot of money for, to donate. Do you think they donated? No. Their employees did.​

Be sure to read the full interview. It's interesting.
 

Brother None

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Gee, I wonder what publisher in particular he has in mind on some of this "they kind of suck" stuff. I WONDER!
 

Oesophagus

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Because they are afraid to talk, because they’ll never get another contract if they do. That’s why. You cannot believe… it’s awful. It’s really bad. You should try to dig in and get some stories out there.

I hope W2 is commercially successful, so that inXile can safely give the finger to the publishers. Right now I think Fargo's still hedging his bets, so he won't go out and openly pour shit on them, but I sure would like to hear those stories.
 

Outlander

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Brian Fargo said:
I’m not worried about this new group of people and how they might get it. This is being made for people like yourself that grew up playing Wasteland, Fallout and Fallout 2. These new people, who have never played these games, I think they’re going to check it out and have a great time. I’m simply not going to worry about how I get these console guys to come over and like it, because there is no reason to.

:love:
 

Aeschylus

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This is a great interview, and actually makes me feel even better about the project. Particularly the parts RE: how he is dealing with fan feedback, and how he hopes to move forward in the future.

Keep fighting the good fight Mr. Fargo.
 

TwinkieGorilla

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I know it's already been quoted but I just had to put it here so I could:

The thing about this project being fan-funded is that I’m not worried about this new group of people and how they might get it. This is being made for people like yourself that grew up playing Wasteland, Fallout and Fallout 2.

:bravo:
 

felipepepe

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When we did all of our directing, for all of our games, every project I had ever done, including Bard’s Tale with Cary Elwes, we directed the talent. We knew the material, so we could give them the context for each line. Well, the publishers would allow us to visit the studio, but we weren’t allowed to speak directly with the people doing the recording. They send some very expensive voice director in, and he directs them. We don’t even get to handle it. So, if the audio doesn’t come out quite right, the developer gets the negative mark, yet they aren’t the ones who get to be in charge of it. They aren’t allowed to. They aren’t allowed in the room.
If a product ships with bugs, somebody knew about them. So, if they aren’t getting fixed, I don’t think it’s because a developer refused to fix them. From my last project, I wasn’t allowed to do the cinematics.

:what:

FFS, the industry is even worse then I imagined!
 

Churrasco

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Wasteland 2
Brian Fargo said:
Because they are afraid to talk, because they’ll never get another contract if they do. That’s why. You cannot believe… it’s awful. It’s really bad. You should try to dig in and get some stories out there. Look at the most recent one with those poor guys at Obsidian. They did Fallout: New Vegas, the ship date got moved up and, who does the QA on a project? The publisher is always in charge of QA. When a project goes out buggy, it’s not the developer. The developer never says, “I refuse to fix the bug,” or, “I don’t know how.” They never do that. It’s the publisher that does the QA, so if a product goes out buggy, it’s not the developer’s fault. So, (Fallout: New Vegas) goes out buggy and they didn’t do the QA, their ship date got moved up and they missed their metacritic rating by one point. Did they get a bonus? No. Do you think that’s fair? I tried to get some of my publisher friends, who I used to make a lot of money for, to donate. Do you think they donated? No. Their employees did.


Bros, I cried
 
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scaled.php




AnG7v2TCMAAA1ci.gif:large
 

likaq

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MF: Is tension between developers and publishers, especially around creative issues, normal?
BF: There is more tension than you can believe. You would not believe the stories you hear about how developers are treated by publishers these days. It is abysmal.​
MF: Why don’t we hear more about it…?
BF: Because they are afraid to talk, because they’ll never get another contract if they do. That’s why. You cannot believe… it’s awful. It’s really bad. You should try to dig in and get some stories out there. Look at the most recent one with those poor guys at Obsidian. They did Fallout: New Vegas, the ship date got moved up and, who does the QA on a project? The publisher is always in charge of QA. When a project goes out buggy, it’s not the developer. The developer never says, “I refuse to fix the bug,” or, “I don’t know how.” They never do that. It’s the publisher that does the QA, so if a product goes out buggy, it’s not the developer’s fault. So, (Fallout: New Vegas) goes out buggy and they didn’t do the QA, their ship date got moved up and they missed their metacritic rating by one point. Did they get a bonus? No. Do you think that’s fair? I tried to get some of my publisher friends, who I used to make a lot of money for, to donate. Do you think they donated? No. Their employees did.​


Skyway will be very butthurt about this quote. :smug:
 

Spectacle

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It sounds like Fargo is now well and truly cutting his links with the publishers, so he's starting to say all the things everyone else in the industry is afraid to mention. :incline:
 
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I know it's already been quoted but I just had to put it here so I could:

The thing about this project being fan-funded is that I’m not worried about this new group of people and how they might get it. This is being made for people like yourself that grew up playing Wasteland, Fallout and Fallout 2.

:bravo:


I like the quote as it shows the old vs new aproach to making games. In the past it was "how to make the game the players will enjoy most", now it is "how to make game even the biggest retard will be able to coplete in one sitting. Mario and Megaman were more challenging than many games of today and they were meant for kids, not serious adult people like CoD.
 

sgc_meltdown

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It is not often that I read an rpg related interview that touches me all over with hope
QsJaA.png


I would be waiting for people to call me back to give me a response, and they would send me Farmville requests all day long, but they couldn’t return a phone call. It was beautiful. I would go into meetings and say, “Look, guys. I know you have probably never heard of Wasteland.” I made the assumption that they didn’t know. I explained, “Before there was a Fallout, there was a Wasteland. I tried to make a sequel all these years, couldn’t do it, so I made Fallout instead. Now, I’ve got the guy who co-wrote Fallout and the guy who co-wrote Wasteland, I’m the producer of both so, Wasteland 2!” It was like there was no reaction in the room. There was one guy who couldn’t stop texting in the middle of the meeting and I’m sitting there with Jason Anderson (game artist and designer that worked on Fallout and Fallout 2) and I was outraged.

Other times they would send in these junior guys that were maybe 19 years old, never had heard of Interplay, hadn’t heard of anything. Then there were people who I’d get a room, they would jump up and down, act excited and three weeks later would tell me they were going in another direction. I would ask why they passed, so I wouldn’t bring them the same kind of project again, but they could never tell me why they passed. I really, honest to god, put the file away. Two weeks before Kickstarter I said, “I give. I don’t know what to do.”

KoLfX.gif
 

Brother None

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It sounds like Fargo is now well and truly cutting his links with the publishers, so he's starting to say all the things everyone else in the industry is afraid to mention.

Pretty much. He's mentioned some of this stuff to me before, as have other devs in private, but this is the first time I can remember seeing one talk this openly about publishers.

Pretty risky though. Burning some bridges, even if he's not being too explicit on who he's talking about. But everyone can read between the lines.
 

mindx2

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This was a very frank and informative interview. I was impressed with his willingness to discuss publishers and their negative impact on games today. I agree that it read as a "farewell to any future publishing contract" for Mr. Fargo. However, I was fascinated by what really goes on behind the scenes and was flabbergasted that he had ZERO input to an intro cinematic or voice direction for his own game! No wonder games today are crap as even the developers themselves cannot contribute to their own vision. How can an artistic/ creative person work in that kind of environment!

He did cement my enthusiasm for Wasteland 2 with his answers about old-school gaming styles and expectations. The social aspect also now appears dead in the water and the focus back %100 towards a larger, more in-depth world for us to explore. This interview should be front page on their Kickstarter page as it brought back the same initial excitement I felt when this thing began.
 
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Brian is back to kicking some serious publisher ass, it's what he's set out to do and you can't help but admire him for it. It's good to have a determined warrior well up in the industry fighting on your side.

:bro:
 
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This man deserves to be supported into the future just for taking the step that no on else could and speaking out against publisher conduct, and from a position of knowledge and authority, no less. I'm especially impressed by his specific mention of Bethesda and their terrible conduct with Obsidian. I hope Wasteland 2 is a resounding success irrespective of whatever weaknesses the game may have.
 

commie

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What is interesting is that it's Brian who is now a champion of the masses whereas Larian in their recent interviews actually have been downplaying the tensions between publisher and developer to the point where they have said that the big publishers are good guys and it's the middle level publishers in Europe that are the worst.
 

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MF: What about the people from Interplay? Honestly, us old guys would love to see Black Isle reborn in some form.
BF: Well, if this project works, it will give me a platform for doing things again. I haven’t had an engine… or I’ve had an engine with no gas. If this continues to work, and certainly we’re off to a great start—this game has got to be great—if I deliver that, I think there would be a chance to build it up again. Nothing would make me happier.
*slobber*
A Bard's Tale 3 that orients itself at Legend of Grimrock's graphics/sound and Wiz8's gameplay... Just a suggestion :)
BF: I don’t know why I would need to. Kickstarter and Steam allow me to bypass publishers and bypass retail. I think the world is going to go toward creative people carving out a direct relationship with their fans, and they are going to find a way to do business in their niche. It could be someone that makes model train simulators with their 10,000 fans or RPGs with millions of fans.
:bro: I want to believe. The problem I see with future KS projects is that they will not have many >500$ donations. If Fargo delivers, people will like to use KS (or a competitor) as a pre-order mechanic, but the current craziness can and will not last (past another 1-2 projects). And only when Fargo has to work with amounts of money that realistically reflect the market (that means pre-order-donations + eventual sales) for his games will we see if the concept is sustainable. That means, in the long run, the ~40k backers W2 will probably have by the end will not be enough and he really needs to tap the "millions of fans" even with cutting out the middle-men. Now this may be years industry-brainwashing speaking out of me, but I'm not sure there's such a market for "hardcore" RPGs. Still: *fingers crossed*


EDIT: But I don't agree with putting all the blame for buggy games at publisher's feet. The devs delivered the buggy game. And they chose their publishers. The responsibilities are shared.
 

grotsnik

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Best interview I've read from him so far. I don't know if he's right to believe we'll see a sustainable, fully-functioning niche industry without publishers (Kickstarter projects in particular seem to need active publicity drives and collective support, and sooner/later/already there has to be over-saturation and weariness, surely?) but a little insider candour and anti-establishmentarianism is probably the best way for him to go about generating goodwill, maybe even in the long term, amongst players right now.
 

Radisshu

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Who could have predicted this like a year ago? Brian Fargo returning with Wasteland 2 like the fucking CRPG messiah.
 

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