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Default Obsidian Entertainment - MCA Interview @ Eurogamer

March 17th, 2010, 19:55
Eurogamer have an extensive 4-page interview with Chris Avellone. Topics include Alpha Protocol, Planescape Torment, why he can't say anything about Fallout: New Vegas and much much more.
Here's MCA's take on what makes a good rpg:
Eurogamer: Right. Well, anyway, so here's a big one: what defines an RPG these days? It seems to change a lot.
Chris Avellone: Well, I have a personal definition. Of the RPGs I've played recently, I'll be honest: I've been pretty much immersed in Fallout 3. But it seems to me that the most important parts of an RPG are that, in terms of all the character-building you can do in the opening screens, all those skill choices and background choices need to matter in the gameworld.
That may sound kind of self-evident, but there's a lot of game balance that needs to go into making sure that each skill, trait, and attribute score is valuable, and an RPG has to deliver on that. If you're going to give the player a chance to specialise in or improve a certain aspect of their character, there needs to be value for that in the gameworld.
The other thing that's important is that there has to be a lot of reactivity to the player's actions within the environment, either in terms of quests, faction allegiance, even physical changes in the environment. The player making an impact is incredibly important.
Do you agree with his statement?
More information.
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March 17th, 2010, 19:55
Or you could just "streamline" … Get's rid of all those nasty problems and after all, it is the natural evolution of rpgs.

Edit: Sarcasm aside, it's nice to hear a game developer say something like this. For me, one of the top things I look for is meaningful character development and choices in development that truly affect gameplay (e.g. the way you approach encounters and solve problems).
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March 17th, 2010, 23:17
There's some great stuff in this interview.

I think Alpha Protocol, however, takes a little bit of a different track in terms of exactly how you approach conversations. We tried to make sure that it didn't follow the RPG convention of always being able to go back and ask everybody everything. It was very much, like, "You're going to have one conversation; the timing of your responses is very important, and the attitude you take with each person is important, too."

You will want to have done your research, and you're going to want to pay attention to everything they're doing in dialogue, so you can figure out what their motivation is, so you can basically play them to get your mission accomplished.
That all sounds awesome. I've always thought it would be cool if there was more opportunity to sort of try to gather intelligence on characters and situations, as an optional thing, and have that be a major feature of a game. But then maybe if you're not discrete enough, the people you're trying to dig up info on will find out you're coming and prepare appropriately, making the mission all the harder.

Chris Avellone: In Alpha Protocol, you can get through the game without killing anyone. And I want to make the distinction there that there may be times where you can use non-lethal gadgets to subdue people, or to distract them so you can move around them.
This is good. I think that in an RPG it's important that the player be able to keep the killing of people to a minimum. I don't mind slaughtering hordes of monsters, but I don't like it when you end up killing hundreds of people though a game, and that has no real impact. In an RPG, that sort of thing should be handled more… realistically, say. If, in the course of my missions, I go around slaughtering everyone in my way, I want to get a rep as a butcher, and have people react to that, maybe have an impact on the PC.

Also MCA reads RPG Watch regularly

Obsidian could really have a breakout year in 2010. AP and F:NV are both sounding awesome. I think AP could really benefit from being delayed, that extra coat of polish could make it a true classic.
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March 18th, 2010, 07:12
Originally Posted by aries100 View Post
Do you agree with his statement?
I think he dodges the question of what defines an RPG, and instead talks about what he thinks makes a good RPG. I mean, yes an RPG does have to do a lot of work to make sure skills are balanced or at least that each skill brings something to the table. But would you really say that a game with wildly imbalanced or useless skills is less of an RPG than one which gets this facet right? It's absolutely a question of quality, and absolutely not a question of genre.

But I can't blame him for dodging the question. Because what really defines an RPG is character development, plain and simple. Nobody wants to hear that, despite the fact that the entire industry knows exactly what one's talking about when one says "RPG elements".
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March 18th, 2010, 12:16
Hmm, he pretty much defines an RPG right there? I don't see him dodging the question. According to him, you need two components: The character building, and choices with consequences (factions, quests, environment, etc).

If you have both, you've made an RPG. If you don't, it's something else.

As to whether or not I agree with his statement - yes, pretty much.
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