Kicking Up The Dust: Fargo On Wasteland

By Adam Smith on February 27th, 2012 at 2:20 pm.

Wa2teland or Wastelandier?

Brian Fargo has been talking about the past and future of the Wasteland sequel that he hopes to fund through a Kickstarter campaign, and as many suspected he hasn’t suddenly decided to put forward the idea because his eyes sprang out of his head and turned into dollar signs after seeing this action. Nothing of the sort. In an interview with No Mutants Allowed, Fallout’s co-creator explains that the design was already coming together but “publishers just had no interest in a party-based RPG and they felt like they would need to go up against the production costs of BioWare which are in the tens of millions of dollars.”

Thankfully for the economic security of Wasteland fans, Mr Fargo is not hoping to create a game with six million hours of voice acting and a world so pretty that Hollywood will immediately assume it would make a good series of movies. Instead, he promises something old-fashioned, although not without “newness”.

“It needs the right combination of nostalgia and newness to shine and we have much of that content created.”

How to model all the different outcomes possible in an RPG that allows freedom though? Surely every choice that a player makes costs the developer at least ten million pounds? Not so! With a top-down viewpoint rather than an every-angle-you-can-possibly-conceive-of cinimmersion appearance, Fargo reckons the team can “[save] tremendously on the art creation which in turn allows us to script out numerous outcomes without the concern of creating graphics for every possible situation”. Hurrah!

Fargo also talks about how he’ll be approaching the design of this project in the early stages.

“We need to design out every locale, conversation, item and NPC before we start coding… and I mean EVERY detail. This way the game is ensured to be deep and production is kept efficient and focused. We will also use that time to solicit feedback from key hardcore players…changes are free at the writing stage so ideas can be changed and incorporated without fear of making the budget become impossible. Also the original Wasteland team was pretty small so efficiency was key then also.”

Jason Anderson, previously of Interplay and Troika, was involved in the early writing and design, and although he has since left inXile, Fargo reckons that his work will be used in the game. The Kickstarter campaign begins soon, as does a bold and dramatic new era in an industry where YOU are the publisher. Maybe.

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65 Comments »

  1. Lars Westergren says:

    Chris Avellone on Wasteland’s influence on him, and Kickstarter.

    http://forums.obsidian.net/blog/1/entry-160-kickstarter-and-wasteland-2-thoughts/

    I’m eagerly awaiting this Kickstarer, as well as any further news about the possible Obsidian one.

  2. MrMud says:

    Except we are not publishers, we are people who are either buying the game before it is developed or simply giving money to a developer.

    The really cool step would be to actually crowd source investing.

    • trjp says:

      That would require those running it to be properly accredited investment broker types – which, as we all know, would result in their taking most of the money and leaving the entire industry broken…

    • Shuck says:

      Even if it were legal, which in the US at least, it isn’t, I rather suspect the extra costs would make it a very unattractive option for developers, so we’d never see it done.

    • ExplosiveCoot says:

      Why wouldn’t this be legal in the US if the terms were very clear from the beginning? How would an investment in a video game be different from any other microfinance investment?

    • apollyonbob says:

      @ExplosiveCoot: Because, quite frankly, the US gov’t has so many regulations in the company financing space. At an indie conference I went to, we were advised to not even advertise that we were looking for funding. Apparently if you publically say that, you then create hassles for anyone who actually wants to fund you.

      They didn’t really get into details as to why, but that tells you the kind of minutae one has to deal with when financing. That’s why there’s so many indie financing organizations that have come up the last few years – precisely because you need to make sure you’re not doing anything illegal, especially when it comes time to file with the IRS. And these groups help you avoid those kinds of pitfalls.

      When asked about Kickstarter, the panel at this conference pointed out that Kickstarter was an exception to many of these regulations specifically because they promise product in return, not a share.

      So yeah, sadly, it’s not necessarily just “is it legal” but “what and how many regulations are there, which agency of the gov’t keeps track of which regulations, how does this change depending on the organization of the company” etc etc.

    • bill says:

      It’d be nice to be able to actually be investors, even if the potential return on a $20 stake probably isn’t that much.
      Otherwise it slightly feels like a no-obligation option for the developers.

    • ExplosiveCoot says:

      @apollyonbob

      Was it the case that the group telling you about all this was willing to sell you training about how to deal with all the “difficult regulations”? It seems like there may be some other interest at work there.

      It still isn’t clear to me how attracting investors for a video game project would be different from attracting investors for any other business, something Google has reams of information about (not to say it is an easy process, but the difficulty comes in terms of generating interest, not in terms of regulatory hoops.)

  3. caddyB says:

    I suppose I should go ahead and start a kickstarter for my star wars – star trek crossover slashfic book. Ride the wave of free money, so to speak.

    • FataMorganaPseudonym says:

      Except that nobody in their right mind would pay for that, unlike a Wasteland sequel.

    • Matt says:

      C-3PO x Data… awww yeeeeeah

    • Jim9137 says:

      He ain’t called golden rod for nothin’!

      chika-chika

  4. Bhazor says:

    “publishers just had no interest in a party-based RPG”

    Still not learned their lesson from Dragon Age huh? Or the billion odd tactical JRPGs floating about.

    • Wizardry says:

      You don’t create a party in Dragon Age. You do in Wasteland.

    • Malk_Content says:

      Sadly not many western publishers want to fund tactical JRPGs, and most Japan based publishers aren’t that interested in funding western products, almost as though the J in JRPG stood for something.

      The tactical options in Dragon Age were severely limited and not modelled towards the top down style of game play (for instance the inability to scroll far away enough from your party to actually start engaging at your maximum bow range such that to do so you would have to scroll down into over the shoulder view.)

      Not saying that cinematic and tactical gameplay are mutually exclusive, but often in terms of budget one will have to be less focused upon.

    • Unaco says:

      @Wizardry…

      Doesn’t say “player created party”. It says ‘party based’. Dragon Age is party based, even if only 1 character is player created.

      Edit: Also, didn’t Wasteland have pre-created NPCs that could be encountered and could join the party, similar to those in Dragon Age?

    • Wizardry says:

      @Unaco: Read the RPG Codex interview.

      To be a little more specific this is going to be a top down, party and turn based game which has always been a great formula. It will also be a larger party most likely following the same vibe of the first Wasteland with 4 player characters and 3 NPC’s in your group. I always thought having just 3 players in a group didn’t feel like a real party based game.

    • Unaco says:

      Ok, from that quote I see the difference, but just in the number of player created members of the party. Both Dragon Age and Wasteland (and this) are party based RPGs. From the quote…

      “publishers just had no interest in a party-based RPG”

      … it doesn’t make the distinction between there being 1 or more player created characters.

    • Wizardry says:

      Use your brain. BioWare are probably the biggest “RPG” developer and they make what you would call party-based games. But would publishers fund a Dragon Age: Origins type game where you create your whole party yourself? Considering a hefty chunk of Dragon Age’s appeal is the pre-written companions, I doubt it. So I know where Fargo is coming from.

      In fact, what was the last non-indie “create a party” RPG anyway? The Temple of Elemental Evil from 2003 perhaps? That’s almost a decade, that is.

    • Unaco says:

      What? Why “use my brain”? For what? I’m not trying to argue with you… Just you said “you don’t create a party in Dragon Age. You do in Wasteland” when the quote Bhazor made was referring to Party based RPGs, which both DA and Wasteland are. Different in the number of player created characters, in Wasteland you create your party, in DA you don’t (you put it together), but both are party based.

      I’m not wanting to get into whether a publisher would fund a top down, turn based RPG, or an RPG allowing multiple player created characters (or a mix between the two, like Wasteland and this I assume, if it’s going the Wasteland path). Just the quote that Bhazor made, and your reply, were a little confused… I don’t think Bhazor was referring to Party creation, just party based RPGs.

    • Wizardry says:

      Oh right. Well what I meant was that you don’t fully “role-play” all of your characters in Dragon Age*, where as you “role-play” all four of your Wasteland characters equally. There’s no single protagonist. All four of your characters are protagonists.

      * Apart from that bit where you’re imprisoned in Denerim, as you can sort of play a little without your own character.

    • ffordesoon says:

      @Wizardry:

      Not to go off-topic, but regarding TOEE, you mentioned in another comment a while back that its combat system was pretty much the best ever. I’ve made it a bit of a project this year to play through the great cRPGs (those available on GOG, anyway) and see what I make of them, and I got TOEE as part of that effort, along with the Co8 mod that apparently makes it brilliant. I haven’t played much of it, but I think I agree, or at least see where you’re coming from. The radial menu thing is just astonishingly brilliant. It’s a shame the game as a whole is considered (justly, based on what I’ve heard of the non-Co8 version) such a failure; I’d love to see the system adapted and made better for a modern title. Speaking as someone who loves Dragon Age, I would kill for that sort of combat in DA.

      Anyway, return to the Wasteland discussion. I was just saying.

    • Khemm says:

      ToEE is not a failure, it’s just the opening area is a bit boring, the game really starts to rock later on. Combat encounters could be more varied and challenging is the primary complaint.

    • Wizardry says:

      Yeah. The two biggest problems are the starting areas and the mediocre combat encounters (especially compared to the two Baldur’s Gate games). The combat system itself is just a very good implementation of 3.5E D&D. That automatically makes it much better than the vast majority of developer created combat systems because it’s based on a set of rules that has evolved constantly (and redesigned between versions) since 1974. Like BioWare could beat that.

    • D3xter says:

      Personally I always preffered the RPGs where you just make your main and other characters already have pre-defined roles and a personality. Especially since I like the party-based banter and character background stories that any characters you make yourself will lack e.g. Baldur’s Gate/Planescape Torment style > Icewind Dale or similar.

  5. JackDandy says:

    My money’s waiting for it.

  6. Wizardry says:

    The RPG Codex also did an interview with Brian Fargo here: http://www.rpgcodex.net/content.php?id=8005

    It looks as if a second part is coming too, as it’s labelled part 1.

  7. Lobotomist says:

    Yea, open the kickstarter. I have few bucks i want to invest ;)

    • sneetch says:

      Isn’t it more “spend” than “invest”? I mean, you’ll get a copy of the final game (probably, depending on the terms) but no possibility of a return on your investment.

  8. Jackablade says:

    Will be very interesting to see how this goes. inXile and Brian Fargo don’t quite have the same kind of recognition or fan devotion as Double Fine, Tim Schafer and Ron Gilbert and while it was obviously a precursor to Fallout, I’m not sure “sequel to Wasteland” is going to pull in the punters like “new classic-style adventure game”.

    I’d love to see this do well, and I’ll try to toss in some of my hard-earned cash, I’m just a little concerned that Mr Fargo is going to come out of this business disappointed.

    • Wizardry says:

      Brian Fargo has a lot of recognition among CRPG fans. He founded Interplay, for example. A company that made many of the greatest CRPGs.

    • Jackablade says:

      This is true, and I guess those are the sorts of hardcore RPG fans who would potentially shell out a sizable amount of cash to get what they want. It’ll certainly be an interesting one to watch.

  9. povu says:

    Kickstarter: You Are The Publisher.

  10. FLYBOY611 says:

    Never played the original game but I’ll gladly help with their kickstarter. Any word on when it starts?

  11. crumbsucker says:

    http://i.imgur.com/pRoHR.jpg

    You know it’s going to happen.

  12. eightbitrobot says:

    I never played Wasteland.. but goddamn that cover has to be one of the best out there, makes me want to pay loadsamoney just to have it on my shelf.

    • Apples says:

      It is amazing, isn’t it. I sort of don’t want to play the game because whatever I think of looking at that cover, there’s no way the game can really be that good.

    • Wizardry says:

      Why can’t it?

    • Weylund The Second says:

      I remember seeing that cover on store shelves, turning to my mother (I was about ten at the time), and telling her that no matter the cost, I wanted that game. I walked out of the store with the game, tore into the paragraph book in the car, and never looked back.

      It took me about a month to get it running properly on our Apple – it needed some specific settings with regards to floppy drives and the operating system – but just seeing that box art on my shelf (it was like an LP sleeve, actually, if I remember correctly) kept me going. I spent that month reading and re-reading the manual and paragraph book and never got frustrated, just more and more excited.

      The best part? The game was even better than I’d hoped. One of the best games I’ve ever played.

  13. Demiath says:

    Brian Fargo hasn’t produced much of interest during the last decade or so, but a top-down party-based turn-based RPG is exactly what I want in life. Haven’t bothered with the Double Fine Kickstarter at all, but I’m seriously considering spending money on this one. A lot of money, to be precise…

  14. makute says:

    Combine it with a remake of Burntime and I’m sold.

  15. zerosociety says:

    WASTELAND is the game that made me a gamer. It’s still my favourite game of all time, simply because of how influential and mind-blowing it was at the time. While nothing will be quite as impactful as playing this beast as a 10 year old on my c64, the announcement of an actual sequel is one of those things I’ve been wishing for my entire adult life.

    Which is to say, I’m totally fully prepared to forgo the next 6-8 AAA titles to put that money into a Kickstarter.

  16. Jason Moyer says:

    I would love to see inXile do an isometric Fallout/Infinity-style take on Wasteland just so maybe people would stop wanting Obsidian to do one. It would be an added bonus if it were actually a great game in its own right. I’d chip some money in to the kickstarter fund, but I think if the project failed it would be a huge blow to Brian and his company’s reputations.

  17. Khemm says:

    So, party based and turn based? STFU and let me support you with my money.
    Someone please kickstart proper Fallout 3, too.

    • Bhazor says:

      But the turnbased combat in Fallout was crap.
      I mean really really bad.

      It was to turn based rpgs what Fallout 3 is to shooters.

    • Khemm says:

      The combat wasn’t the best part of Fallout, but it did its job nicely, it wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t BAD by any means and compared to crap in Oblivion with Guns, it was a masterpiece. How can you even draw any comparisons? Check Fallout Tactics and you’ll notice how solid the combat system is when you add additional controllable characters and crouching/going prone. TB combat in general shows its potential when there’s a party involved.
      The primary complaint with Fallout’s combat – always aiming for the eyes – was fixable, by the way. Besides, the entire character development system was built with hex-based tb combat in mind, opting for some CoD-ified realtime abomination in Failout 3 was a crime against humanity.

    • Wizardry says:

      Also remember that Fallout was originally going to use GURPS as its rule system, but ended up using a home grown rip off. A party-based Fallout using GURPS would have been the best RPG of all time in my opinion.

    • ffordesoon says:

      I’m about done with my first playthrough of the first Fallout, and I gotta be honest, Fallout 3′s a better game than the original in a lot of ways. Like, a lot. Fallout 1 is a better world and a better RPG, but Fallout 3 is a better game. That is no sweeping turn-based vs. real-time judgment; in fact, if anything, I’m actually slightly more of a fan of turn-based combat. Nevertheless, Fallout 3 is mechanically far superior to Fallout 1. If only F3 wasn’t so goddamn blinkered and stupid in so much of its plot and choices and situations and world design…

    • TCM says:

      The problem is that so many people will make reactionary judgements on the superiority of one game or another based on isolated aspects without considering how well the whole package works — Planescape Torment certainly has a better plot than 99% of all games ever released, but that alone can’t make the game superior to a game like Catherine, Metal Gear Solid, or Dragon Age, whose plots may not be as strong or filled with player choice, but whose gameplay is far beyond the slog of Torment’s combat sections.

    • Bhazor says:

      @Wizardry

      Thats like saying the combat would have been better if it had been good. As it is Fallout was terrible. Terminally dumb team mates, no feats/combat abilities, easily broken system (point blank burst fire, “Go for the eyes boo!”), no meaningful control on party member development, unbalanced perks, dull strings of trash fights, no tactics, poor encounter design, party members wandering off to start their own fights, surprisingly slim equipment slots, too easy to max out your character and all at an incredibly slow pace that meant killing a half dozen Radscorpions took ten minutes. Seriously, it’s combat was rubbish.

      @TCM

      I just finished Planescape and I really didn’t see any of the combat grind people complain so much about. If you mean the Fortress or the Pillar then you are flat out told to just run through them. I also never needed to explore the Modron cube or Undersigil which seem to be the two combat zones in the game. The only unavoidable fight I had trouble with was Ravel and that was actually a pretty fun fight to play as a mage.

    • Kasper says:

      @ffordesoon – did you play Fallout: New Vegas? The plot and world design is quite a bit better than in Fallout 3.

    • ffordesoon says:

      @Kasper:

      I have played it. I almost mentioned it, in fact. It’s a fantastic game, and you’re certainly correct about its superiority to F3 in both of the areas you mention. There are a few problems I have with New Vegas, though, almost all of which really have to do with the creaky old Gamebryo engine and the generally rather lame voice acting. The original Fallout’s engine has aged pretty well, all things considered, but Gamebryo already felt dated and janky when Morrowind came out, and by New Vegas, it was downright depressing. It’s hard to invest completely in a world where everyone has a potato face, you know? If someone(s) could do a total conversion of Skyrim that recreated New Vegas in the Creation Engine, that would be my favorite Fallout ever.

      Until that happens, though, I have a feeling Fallout 2 will end up being my favorite game in the series.

  18. bill says:

    I REALLY hope they do the whole game in the style of the cover.

    It’s a freakin awesome cover, but (like most games back in the day) the actual game bears no resemblance to it. (at least from the 20 odd minutes I played a few years back.)
    It was the cover that made me try it, and while it might be an amazing game in it’s own right, the old graphics and the disappointment of them looking nothing like the cover put me off.

  19. bill says:

    So, Brian Fargo is really rich right? How much of his own money is he going to put up?

  20. tentacle says:

    I’ve been waiting for promising news on wl2 ever since fargo showed up on the squeezins mailing list to tease us with the possibility. I doubt they can rake in as much money as double fine, but even so it might have made Fargo see that a low budget retro indie approach might be the way to go.