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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » Arcanum - Interview with Leonard Boyarsky @ RPG Codex

Default Arcanum - Interview with Leonard Boyarsky @ RPG Codex

May 8th, 2012, 09:18
RPG Codex has done one of their retrospective interviews - this time with Leonard Boyarsky, the man who worked on Arcanum, Fallout, Fallout 2 and currently working at Blizzard Entertainment on Diablo 3. It's rather interesting….
A quote about how Boyarsky got into the business
How did you find your way into role-playing video game design? Did you come from pen & paper RPGs?
I did not have a lot of experience with pen and paper RPGs, unfortunately. I was fascinated with DnD and other RPGs when I was younger, but I never found a good group of people to play with. My first PnP experiences were at Interplay with Tim Cain running a Conan campaign. He also ran a pretty cool GURPS Space campaign, if I recall correctly.
The fact that I ended up a game designer was purely by accident….. However, once we finished the art for the game and had the time to start playing it in earnest, we found that a lot of our original area design and philosophy somehow hadnít made it into the game. I remember specifically that there was nothing in the Brotherhood of Steel apart from the NPCs with talking heads Ė and we were supposed to be shipping soon. So Jason and I, with the unbounded arrogance of youth, decided we were going to start writing and editing dialogues and adding quests for the game. And so I became a game designer.
And a qoute about a business decision:
In the book Gamers At Work, Tim Cain mentions that Troika might have kept itself afloat by taking on various non-RPG projects, but that he was unwilling to sign on to games he "had no interest in playing." How do you feel about this kind of decision today? Is there Ė was there ever Ė a place for this kind of idealism in the industry, or should pragmatism have ruled the day?
I donít think it was idealism. If we had no interest in playing a certain style of game, we would have no passion for making it. Making games is not easy Ė you definitely need to have passion for what youíre doing to be successful. Without the passion, youíre sunk.
A quote about on what he sees as defining the rpg genre:
In your view, what makes a good role-playing game and what are the defining elements of the genre?
I donít think there is one set of criteria for what makes a good role playing gameóit depends on what type of RPG youíre making. There would be a whole different list of criteria for a Mass Effect style game than there would be for Diablo III, for instance. It just depends on what the goals of the game are. However, one thing all RPGs do need to have is the ability to choose how to play your character in terms of skills and abilities.
Lastly, Boyarsky's views on Kickstarter:
Given the recent Kickstarter success stories of Tim Schafer and Brian Fargo, what do you think of crowdfunding as an alternative way of video game publishing? Do you believe it can significantly change the landscape of the industry, and would you consider turning to crowdfunding yourself in the future? (For a Troika reunion maybe?)
I think itís great. Itís wonderful that old school games are being funded this way. I donít know that it will have much of an effect on the publishing industry, though, unless one of the games is a huge hit.
And Iím happy working at Blizzard, so I donít see crowdfunding in my futureóespecially since I have no desire to run my own company again.
Thanks Crooked Bee!
More information.
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May 8th, 2012, 09:18
yeah .. sad, but who knows, maybe there will be a collaboration for a kickstarter.

Talking about passion, not sure what passion he found in blizzards den, heck all people are hypocrites
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May 8th, 2012, 09:27
Originally Posted by aries100 View Post
Leonard Boyarsky, the man who worked on Arcanum, Fallout, Fallout 2 and currently working at Blizzard Entertainment on Diablo 3.
What a waste
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May 8th, 2012, 10:24
Originally Posted by JonNik View Post
What a waste
I agree. From working on award winning rpg's to making watered down action rpg's at blizzard.

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May 8th, 2012, 10:48
Some would consider diablo an award winning RPG
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May 8th, 2012, 10:55
Originally Posted by xSamhainx View Post
Some would consider diablo an award winning RPG
Really Who? They must have poor taste.

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May 8th, 2012, 12:03
Seems very level-headed and down-to-earth. I like that.

I think it will be interesting to see if Diablo 3 will benefit from having him on board. I agree it might seem like a wasted effort - if they don't structure the game to take advantage of storytelling and lore building.

As he himself pointed out, you can't do much if you're not passionate about it (which is why so many AAA games feel so bland) - and as such, Diablo 3 will be a sort of test for Boyarsky. If the stuff he's doing ends up being somewhat bland and uninspired - then I guess we'll know what he really thinks of the Diablo genre.
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May 8th, 2012, 12:56
He specifically mentions he likes it at Blizzard, though. But of course no Diablo Game will ultimately be story-centric. Still, a good, integrated visual and story design can make all the difference.
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May 8th, 2012, 13:13
Originally Posted by GhanBuriGhan View Post
He specifically mentions he likes it at Blizzard, though. But of course no Diablo Game will ultimately be story-centric. Still, a good, integrated visual and story design can make all the difference.
Yeah, but is it realistic to expect him to publically announce that he's not really passionate about Blizzard games - if that was the case?

I'm pretty sure it wouldn't go down too well with HQ.

That's really the issue with speaking in public like that, because I don't think I've ever heard ANY developer speak negatively about their place of work - until AFTER they left it.

It's kinda like those Hollywood interviews where all the stars love and respect each other ever so much.
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May 8th, 2012, 17:13
If this was about BioWare, mobs would start shouting "haters, off with their heads". It's Blizzard, so it's OK to bash it no matter what, huh?

Diablo IS a multi-award winning game. And that's a fact. It doesn't have anything to do with taste, really. I am not going to say multiple awards mean much, DA2 won multiple awards and it was a messed up game, after all.
But Diablo is not simply an award winning game. It's an innovative, high-quality and highly influential game which affected gaming world in multiple ways. That doesn't really have anything to do with peoples' taste either, because that IS also a fact.

Arcanum is the best RPG I have ever played. I love it much more than any other game. Diablo I/II/III are not even on my top-games list. BUT, Arcanum's list of awards does not even come close to Diablo. And that's a fact, too. Some, would not consider it an award winning game at all.
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May 8th, 2012, 17:39
Originally Posted by blackcanopus View Post
and highly influential game which affected gaming world in multiple ways. That doesn't really have anything to do with peoples' taste either, because that IS also a fact.
Indeed! the quality/direction of said influence is certainly open to discussion though

Now, I'll leave you guys to continue bashing blizzard… They have stopped being relevant enough for me, to waste time bashing, years ago
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May 8th, 2012, 18:16
At least the Diablo games are finished. That's my biggest beef (well, among my many) with Arcanum; the further you get into the game the more you find that is empty and unfinished.
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May 8th, 2012, 18:26
Diablo 3 does appear to have a lot more lore and story to it then previous games. Obviously it's still a mindless hack and slash game, but from what I've seen, I felt that it did a far better job of integrating lore into the game then you would expect from a ARPG (granted the bar is not set very high).
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May 8th, 2012, 19:22
Originally Posted by JonNik View Post
Indeed! the quality/direction of said influence is certainly open to discussion though

Now, I'll leave you guys to continue bashing blizzard… They have stopped being relevant enough for me, to waste time bashing, years ago
I'm not sure I follow, I hope you are not trying to say that Diablo is open to criticism because the games it influenced went down in a bad direction? Say, Diablo is bad because Titan Quest was not a great game?
Good one, but I still fail to see it's relevance with a comment about Diablo not being an award winning game, though.
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May 8th, 2012, 19:56
Originally Posted by blackcanopus View Post
I'm not sure I follow, I hope you are not trying to say that Diablo is open to criticism because the games it influenced went down in a bad direction? Say, Diablo is bad because Titan Quest was not a great game?
Good one, but I still fail to see it's relevance with a comment about Diablo not being an award winning game, though.
Well I take no part on the silly award winning discussion.

But I consider Diablo a mediocre (if well made and balanced game) that created a subgenre of games I really find an unremarkable and overly streamlined offshoot, that somehow managed to become synonymous with RPG for the broader audiences in favor of more deep and involving games.

We had a discussion on the matter a couple of months ago on its influence on the genre iirc (spawned by an article lauding just that )… It was also followed by the even more mediocre (imo) Diablo 2 that further established repetitive grinding as a core gameplay element (elevated it to art I would say)… I can't comment on the games that followed because my 1/3rd through Diablo 2 totally and forever burned me off these games.

I hope it is clearer what I meant now
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May 8th, 2012, 20:35
Originally Posted by JonNik View Post
Well I take no part on the silly award winning discussion.

But I consider Diablo a mediocre (if well made and balanced game) that created a subgenre of games I really find an unremarkable and overly streamlined offshoot, that somehow managed to become synonymous with RPG for the broader audiences in favor of more deep and involving games.

We had a discussion on the matter a couple of months ago on its influence on the genre iirc (spawned by an article lauding just that )… It was also followed by the even more mediocre (imo) Diablo 2 that further established repetitive grinding as a core gameplay element (elevated it to art I would say)… I can't comment on the games that followed because my 1/3rd through Diablo 2 totally and forever burned me off these games.

I hope it is clearer what I meant now
Most certainly, and I actually concur with most of what you said. I my or may not agree with your opinions, but fair criticism is fair criticism, no arguments there.
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May 8th, 2012, 20:37
Diablo is the equivalent of book burning where people get convinced that it is a good thing but it is really bad. The people giving those rewards and everyone hyping it up are the equivalent of the people convincing people that burning books is good. They are both extremely destructive and both very bad ideas.
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May 8th, 2012, 21:57
Originally Posted by blackcanopus View Post
If this was about BioWare, mobs would start shouting "haters, off with their heads". It's Blizzard, so it's OK to bash it no matter what, huh?

Diablo IS a multi-award winning game. And that's a fact. It doesn't have anything to do with taste, really. I am not going to say multiple awards mean much, DA2 won multiple awards and it was a messed up game, after all.
But Diablo is not simply an award winning game. It's an innovative, high-quality and highly influential game which affected gaming world in multiple ways. That doesn't really have anything to do with peoples' taste either, because that IS also a fact.

Arcanum is the best RPG I have ever played. I love it much more than any other game. Diablo I/II/III are not even on my top-games list. BUT, Arcanum's list of awards does not even come close to Diablo. And that's a fact, too. Some, would not consider it an award winning game at all.
So another person who can't get a joke with added sarcasm. I'm well aware of the hundreds of clones that followed and don't need to be reminded.

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May 8th, 2012, 23:34
It's always nice to see human nature cooking up scenarios where their opinions are correct and superior, rather than merely different

(The book burning comparison was particularly amusing - thanks for that one!)

I love Diablo - but I have an easy time recognising why some wouldn't. It's simply not for everyone, and that's all there is to it.
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May 9th, 2012, 00:02
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
I love Diablo - but I have an easy time recognising why some wouldn't. It's simply not for everyone, and that's all there is to it.
Exactly!

I liked Diablo and Diablo II and probably will eventually get Diablo III. One of my buddies built a brand new game system totally in anticipation of it which is really weird to me but more power to him.
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