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Default Obsidian Entertainment - Interview @ The Critical Bit

April 19th, 2012, 06:34
Chris Avellone has an interview at The Critical Bit, discussing Obsidian's approach and their expererience with publishers, cancelled projects, Wasteland 2 and more. Here's a great question:
You’ve mentioned that you are often inspired by RPG conventions that bother you. What about RPGs has been irking you lately?
Let’s see. The concept of High Fantasy bugs me. I’d love to take a high fantasy game, fuck it up and then dump the wreckage in a player’s lap to experience. This probably also explains my desire to knock cupcakes and ice cream cones out of kid’s hands.
Conversation mechanics also bore me and frustrate me. I feel like dialogues have been devolving as time goes on, and the idea of being placed in a paralyzing face-to-face conversation with limited interactivity doesn’t seem to be the way to move ahead with this system. I keep looking at shows like Sherlock for inspiration, or even mull over ways to implement interactions if you had to do it for Half-Life and keep the feel of the game, and I feel there’s a better way to do it without going the full-on cinematics route… no slam on that presentation, but that’s BioWare’s territory, they’re masters at it, let them do it best, and the rest of us should find other ways to approach it that might yield an equally cool system with less resources. I felt we had a good system going on with Aliens that didn’t take you out of environment, and I did like the time pressure that Alpha Protocol provided because it fit the spy/24 genre (not my idea, that’s all Spitzley on programming and Mitsoda on design).
Next – dialogue morality bars tied to your character’s power with no middle ground that gives you equal empowerment. It removes any interest or awareness of the conversation beyond trying to hit the button that says “choose Good side or Bad side.” When that happens, I feel like you’re in danger of losing the RPG experience because you’re not reacting like you would naturally based on the context of the situation, you’re “gaming” the system instead of role-playing it.
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April 19th, 2012, 06:34
Interesting interview.
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April 19th, 2012, 10:02
Good reading

AP’s owned by SEGA, and they’ve already said they won’t do a sequel, which is too bad, because we had a lot of cool ideas for AP2.



C
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April 19th, 2012, 10:18
"personally, I’d like to set up a Kickstarter as well and start resurrecting some of the old franchises (or at least spiritual successors) to titles that got put on the shelf or weren’t considered good fits for pitches and publishers"
Planescape.
Baldur's Gate
Here.
Now.
PLZ.
or at least spiritual successor (not in direction of DA:O->DA2 tho!)
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April 19th, 2012, 10:47
Next – dialogue morality bars tied to your character’s power with no middle ground that gives you equal empowerment. It removes any interest or awareness of the conversation beyond trying to hit the button that says “choose Good side or Bad side.” When that happens, I feel like you’re in danger of losing the RPG experience because you’re not reacting like you would naturally based on the context of the situation, you’re “gaming” the system instead of role-playing it.
This is what bothers me about BioWare's retarded wheel-dialog system. That's a binary system with nothing interesting about it. Up is for the ultimate good, down is for the BioWare's notion of ultimate evil (which in fact, is good, but a very rude kind of good), and middle is for the jackass, which is basically a good guy who is trying to be funny.

This dialog system has been designed to serve a certain group of people: the people who don't like to read dialog and don't care about it. Playing Bioware games is easy for them. They point to top-right and they're the good guys. Point to it bottom right and now, they're the tough guys. They don't have time to read and they don't like to think, so BioWare makes it easy for them.

For the players who actually enjoy dialog, and think meaningful dialog and important decisions are an integral part of RPGs… BioWare has a nice label for them. The haters. I sure hope Avellone will not be labeled a hater.
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April 19th, 2012, 11:31
I feel that same way.

I hate the shift towards this repetitive dialogue structure. In Dragon Age Origins it was a pleasure in reading and absorbing each dialogue option.

But in DA2 it is just a repetitive structure of tones throughout the whole game. I felt so unengaged from it. I don't understand why it is so popular. I prefer the nuance and feel of natural conversation. Rather than going through hundreds of conversations choosing diplomatic, witty or aggressive.

I got no pleasure out of anything Hawke or Shepherd said. I only liked dialogue from the other characters like Mordin. They did not have that rigid structure to their thoughts.
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April 19th, 2012, 11:38
Having the game decisions be made with simplistic dialog choices seems wrong to me.

Actions should matter more.

I approve his message. Dialog is not going the right way atm. > story > immersion
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April 19th, 2012, 12:08
I particularly like this bit:

You’ve had the chance to work with some big IPs. Star Wars, D&D, and Alien spring to mind. What are some other IP’s you would love to work with?

Wasteland’s already happened. The Wire, Archer, Doctor Who, Torchwood, and an IP of our own. Deus Ex or Ultima would be rad. Doing an X-Com RPG or a high school RPG would also be cool.
There are so many other options than high fantasy.
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April 19th, 2012, 12:39
TL2 is the perfect example. If they chose a different setting/theme, I might have been interested, but going in the same place as others, and failing on immersion is just stupid.

We need more contemporary games (non war, SWAT, RACING, SPORTS)
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April 20th, 2012, 00:43
Let’s see. The concept of High Fantasy bugs me. I’d love to take a high fantasy game, fuck it up and then dump the wreckage in a player’s lap to experience. This probably also explains my desire to knock cupcakes and ice cream cones out of kid’s hands.
Hey! What's wrong with High Fantasy setting?

Conversation mechanics also bore me and frustrate me. I feel like dialogues have been devolving as time goes on, and the idea of being placed in a paralyzing face-to-face conversation with limited interactivity doesn’t seem to be the way to move ahead with this system.
I agree with that though. I'm really getting tired of Bioware wheel mechanic. Same goes with full voice acting of protagonist/companion. Those really limits the dialogue options. Wheel mechanic not only limits number of dialogue options but its vague as hell, I'm so annoyed of my Shep/Hawke saying things I didn't expect them to say. And full voice acting…. it sometimes really takes away imagination from you (although, I love Jennifer Hale's voice acting) and it really limits number of dialogue options available. Can you imagine game like Torment being fully voiced? Not a chance.

What else: Handholding.
Hmm… this one is tough for me. I hate the roaming around big world without much clue of where to go but I also hate marker flashing telling me exactly where to go.

I’ve been part of at least three that have been canceled (Van Buren/Fallout 3 at Black Isle, BG3 at Black Isle, and the most recent game at Obsidian, although I wasn’t working directly on that outside of reviewing design elements).
Thank God BG3 was cancelled then… and I still don't want BG3 *sits down with stubborn expression*

BG2 fan girl
BG2: Eowyn & Anomen
IWD: Orhlanna & Korin
ME: Shepard & Garrus
Last edited by purpleblob; April 20th, 2012 at 07:05.
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April 20th, 2012, 02:07
Originally Posted by purpleblob View Post
Thank God BG3 was cancelled then… and I still don't want BG3 *sits down with stubborn expressiosn*
I agree with everything you wrote up to this. Those are fighting words.

I was looking forward to both Fallout 3 and Baldur's Gate 3 sadly interplay and blackisle had money trouble and shutdown the projects.

Instead we got Bethesda's version of fallout and Bioware's supposed Baldur's Gate successor DA.

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April 20th, 2012, 03:38
I can't see how we came out in front by *not* getting BG: The Black Hound.

-= RPGWatch =-
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April 20th, 2012, 04:03
Originally Posted by purpleblob View Post
Hey! What's wrong with High Fantasy setting?
Beyond the fact that it's been done to death 1000x over, not much!
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April 20th, 2012, 07:36
Originally Posted by Drithius View Post
Beyond the fact that it's been done to death 1000x over, not much!
I never get tired of the fantasy setting. I would love some cyberpunk or steampunk rpg's. Hell maybe even more modern settings like alpha protocol but better.

I can picture it already the clock is ticking the world is falling apart how will you survive the fall. Resources dwindling,virus's spreading, and food is becoming scarce. The world is falling into chaos as nations fall and crumble. No hero business just survival. You are not the destined one.

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April 20th, 2012, 10:19
Originally Posted by Drithius View Post
Beyond the fact that it's been done to death 1000x over, not much!
I agree, but there is one thing much worse than traditional high fantasay and that is traditional high fantasy with D&D rules .
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