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Arcanum - Interview with Leonard Boyarsky @ RPG Codex

by Aries100, 2012-05-07 23:15:57

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 hadn’t made it into the game. I remember specifically that there was nothing in the Brotherhood of Steel apart from the NPCs with talking heads – 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 – was there ever – a place for this kind of idealism in the industry, or should pragmatism have ruled the day?

I don’t 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 – you definitely need to have passion for what you’re doing to be successful. Without the passion, you’re 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 don’t think there is one set of criteria for what makes a good role playing game—it depends on what type of RPG you’re 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 it’s great. It’s wonderful that old school games are being funded this way. I don’t know that it will have much of an effect on the publishing industry, though, unless one of the games is a huge hit.

And I’m happy working at Blizzard, so I don’t see crowdfunding in my future—especially since I have no desire to run my own company again.


Thanks Crooked Bee!

Information about


SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: RPG
Platform: PC
Release: Released