Interview: Obsidian’s Chris Avellone on Wasteland 2

It’s happening. An astounding $2.1 million later, Obsidian Entertainment is getting the Black Isle band back together with Brian Fargo to make Wasteland 2. It’s like some kind of Cinderella fairytale comeback story, only everyone dies in a radioactive pain puddle at the end. Or the beginning, really. But anyway, happier things! Shortly before the big news broke, I had a chat with Obsidian chief creative officer Chris Avellone about what sort of hand he and his team of burly brained wordsmiths will have in the game. Also, Kickstarter, nostalgia, and bugs and glitches – because those are sort of a thing for the Fallout: New Vegas, Alpha Protocol, and Dungeon Siege III developer.

RPS: How did the Wasteland deal come about? Did it start with that much-publicized Ripten interview, or were the wheels in motion beforehand?

Chris Avellone: Wheels were in motion beforehand, we just couldn’t say anything publicly. Brian approached me, then Feargus, and we all worked something out. My motivation? I just wanted to work on it.

RPS: In the basically inevitable event that Wasteland raises $2.1 million [Hey, look – I was right!], how will Obsidian fit into the picture? What will you personally be doing? How much of Obsidian will be involved, and in what role? How will revenues be split? What sort of game do you envision it becoming?

Chris Avellone: It’s up to the goals of the project. Brian’s leading the charge on that. I’ll be the one from Obsidian contributing, and as such, most likely in area/narrative design capacity. In addition, we’d be sharing our knowledge of conversation tree mechanics and layouts with InXile to make conversations in the game as good as they can be. We’ve had a lot of victories over the years that we’ve incorporated into our designs, and we’re eager to share them to make Wasteland 2 even better.

Furthermore, if there’s elements of the tools or other functionality that might help with Wasteland, we’d be looking into those aspects and sharing that knowledge as well (Here’s how we structure dialogue systems, here’s how we’ve set up the tools and editors to do X, Y, and Z, here’s some things that aid with script tracking reactivity, etc, etc).

Ultimately, it’s still early and we won’t know the logistics for a short while longer, but we’ll keep folks updated. Right now, we’re definitely on board in a design capacity, which is one of Obsidian’s strengths.

RPS: Recently, word got out that Fallout: New Vegas missed its Metacritic goal by one point. What do you take away from that, though? What parts of the developer-publisher model, in your opinion, need fixing? On general terms, where do things break down?

Chris Avellone: At most places where every other pipeline breaks down – money and resources. And to be fair, they don’t always break down at all. There’s plenty of instances where having the larger backing and the larger resources ends up being a plus – if a game is delayed or needs more resources, more quality assurance, an extra month or two to cook, some help with middleware, etc. The publisher can often get those resources. It’s their choice if they want to make the expenditure. Overall, having to answer to someone holding the purse strings on all fronts is something that’s going to be similar across models, although I prefer players paying directly for content and removing the middle man.

RPS: That in mind, then, is Kickstarter just what the industry needs? Something that gives developers options beyond the traditional developer-publisher model?

Chris Avellone: I’d argue Kickstarter isn’t what the industry needs, it’s what players need. Who’s to say “dead genres” are dead? Are they? Who made this decision? And worse, who decides that those games won’t be financed? Publishers have every right to watch their bottom line, but for a long period of time, that was largely the only financial model developers had – and the only way most players were going to see games get produced.

Kickstarter changes that, and asks the players what they want. You’re not asking a publisher about an R.O.I. You’re asking players if they’d pay to see a genre they love be produced. It’s voting, it’s targeted people directly. It’s a fresh perspective, and I think it’s a great agent for change for games that often wouldn’t make it past a publisher pitch stage – adventure games, for example. As such, assuming there’s a demand, and there is, then suddenly you’re able to meet that demand. Sounds like everyone wins. Publishers don’t have to worry about returns, and developers have an outlet for their games.

Not to say the traditional model should be discounted. It’s a different beast with different expectations, and there’s definitely a core audience that supports it. Comparing the two models, I don’t feel Kickstarter is at the level yet where it could fund an Uncharted 4 or the latest Call of Duty with the same production values, for example, but those two titles are still something the public will want that only a publisher can deliver on.

I do feel that when Double Fine achieved the success it did, a number of business development and managers in the game industry took note. While it may not change their practices, it was significant enough for them to take notice.

Personally, the arena outside of gaming interested me as well. My girlfriend summed it up simply by saying, “I wish they’d do a Kickstarter to resurrect Firefly.” If money’s the only object, then possibilities like that begin to come to mind, which I find very exciting. As much as people would pay for adventure games, think how many people would donate to Nathan Fillion or Joss Whedon to take back Firefly. I’d pay a LOT.

RPS: Do you think Kickstarter games will continue being able to achieve multi-million dollar success stories? Do you think Wasteland and Double Fine Adventure are the first of many, or are they exceptions to a system that, in truth, has been funding smaller indie games for a couple years? Do you think Brian’s Kick It Forward idea stands to push things in the former direction?

Chris Avellone: Yes, but not consistently. I feel Kick It Forward is a great model to keep the frequency more in the “yes” direction.

RPS: How much of a role do you think fans should have in the decision-making process on games they’ve funded? How much do you think they have a right to know — if any? Are you worried that this could compromise artistic integrity? Or do traditional standards of artistic integrity as defined by books, film, etc not apply to games?

Chris Avellone: We already have to be aware and meet player expectations in the industry already – it’s our job and our responsibility. Having fan input earlier on helps you do both, and makes it more relevant. I think the fact developers are forced to distance aspects of their game and its features from the public from the outset as part of the current model is a strike against it. To use our example from FNV: Old World Blues, a lot of the strength of that DLC came from fan feedback, ranging from inadvertent (hey, there sure are a lot of homebase mods on the Nexus) to purposeful (open world structure, humor).

On art – I feel games can be art. I want games I work on to be fun and entertain first, with art being second, but I’m going to shoot for both and have always tried to do so. I feel that players also want this, and they’ll support efforts in that direction.

RPS: The whole “getting Black Isle back together” news story set off a chain reaction of nostalgic comments, tweets, Facebook posts, and probably a few extremely meme-able YouTube videos. Meanwhile, Baldur’s Gate is coming back via Beamdog. There’s this giant contingent of RPG fans who constantly pine for the “golden age” to return, and now they’re getting their wish. Is that a good thing, though? Or is there a risk of pushing the genre backward — looking back without moving forward?

Chris Avellone: It depends what you mean by “backwards.” I still consider a lot of innovations that occurred with Fallout 1 and Wasteland to be unmatched in today’s RPGs. I feel true innovation often gets lost beyond features that require new engine tech and the latest video card when we can achieve more interesting game mechanics in tighter constraints.

I don’t think anything involving Kickstarter would stop future RPG iteration across the major franchises in the slightest. There’s still a market for those huge budget RPGs that people want, and they’re fun to play, so no harm there. I also don’t see the harm in the industry going “backwards” and forwards – again, I think there’s a lot of gameplay elements that can be learned from working on “old school” titles that are just as applicable in current titles and can push both genres forward.

RPS: Do you think Kickstarter is at risk of becoming a tool for resurrecting much-beloved series and genres that have been collecting dust? Do you worry that gamers are — at heart — just as risk-averse with their money as publishers?

Chris Avellone: Not after Double-Fine and InXile’s Kickstarter efforts. The response we got at Obsidian for a Kickstarter was 1000 hits/sec on our website followed by a flood of support. I’m not worried.

RPS: Speaking of that, will you still go forward with your own Kickstarter if the Wasteland Kickstarter passes $2.1 million? Do you have a planned start date for it yet? Or is it just an idea right now?

Chris Avellone: Yep, always in the cards. Our hope with Wasteland 2 is three-fold: First up, we want to support this publishing model. After being in the industry for over 16 years, the Double Fine foray into Kickstarter feels like a change for the better. Suddenly there was absolute proof that people do want adventure games just like I do, and they’re willing to support them. Same thing with Wasteland – there is a market for old-school turn based RPGs I love, and people will support that as well. There’s no way to get a publisher to bite on a pitch like that. You’ll lucky if they’re even listening after the first sentence.

We also plan to learn from Brian’s efforts. Brian positioned himself strongly in the Kickstarter model, made a lot of smart decisions, and he’s going further, by advocating it not just as a model for his game, but working to make it more industry standard. I want to support this, be involved with this, and learn from it. Wasteland 1 is in my top 10 games of all time. If I could travel back in time and tell younger Chris he’d have a shot at it, I probably wouldn’t be here today because he would be dead of a heart attack.

Also, Brian’s been really supportive of other Kickstarter projects, and he’s been great with us on this. My hope is that when we toss our hat in the ring, Brian would be willing to help us out, and I don’t doubt he will based on his actions with the community already.

RPS: Recently, Obsidian had to lay off a large number of people, which was absolutely devastating to hear about. Can you discuss, at all, the circumstances behind that? How many projects is Obsidian working on at this point?

Chris Avellone: A project was suddenly canceled. It happens in the industry – in this case, it affected a large number of employees. We’re working hard at finding them jobs, and friends and developers in other companies also were great in coming forward and helping us out, so many thanks to them. We’re still working on two projects: South Park, and a team focused on pitching our second project that we put on hold for North Carolina.

RPS: I’ve seen an interesting trend in fan responses to the Wasteland-Obsidian probable partnership: “YES, IT’LL BE JUST LIKE FALLOUT 2.” Except that Wasteland and Fallout 2 are very different games — especially in terms of battle system, etc. How do you cater to Wasteland fans and Fallout fans while also making something that gamers who’ve never experienced either will dig?

Chris Avellone: I don’t think “modern gamers” want Wasteland 2. I think the people that remember and played these games want the Fallout 2/Wasteland experience which is a different target audience. Now, you could argue that they still don’t know that they want that and that they may have unconsciously become used to modern game mechanics or features like voice-acting.

Still, I have faith they don’t need the more expensive trappings that I often feel can hinder the experience as much as it potentially helps it. It may be the section of fans I interact with, but all of them are old-school turn-based RPG lovers, and they know what they’re getting into.

Lastly, this is my opinion: it’s Wasteland 2. It should be a Wasteland game. While there were differences between F2 and WL, there’s a lot of similarities as well: open world, open exploration, skill-based solutions, stat-based solutions, enemy types, coping with radiation, etc. I’ll be honest, we worked at playing around with Wasteland elements in Old World Blues, and people never felt the difference – they loved it all the more for those elements.

RPS: Obsidian has kind of a dubious reputation for glitchiness in games, but Dungeon Siege III was pretty stable. Have you finally exterminated your bug problem? If so, what’s changed? 

Chris Avellone: That’s a good question, and Dungeon Siege III is a good answer to it. Dungeon Siege III was developed internally. We had the tools team a few doors down, our tools guys understand why we ask for functionality in the editors, and Onyx was set up to do what Dungeon Siege III’s mechanics required. From a narrative standpoint, scripting a conversation in “Obsidian style” for DS3 took far less effort than any other game we’ve worked on, including our own Black Isle titles. Also, I feel Square was encouraging with Quality Assurance, and we had time and support to address issues as they came up. I feel Treasures of the Sun, the DLC, also makes the core game even better. All of these factored into development, and it shows if you found the game a stable, fun experience – that’s every developer’s goal and no developer I know of sets out to ever do anything less.

RPS: Alpha Protocol 2. Please? Somehow? Kickstarter? I’ll totally fund it with my sexy, sexy games journalist money. How far will a month-old brick of ramen and a leftover Canadian five dollar bill get you?

Chris Avellone: We would love to work on an Alpha Protocol 2. We had a lot of high hopes for the sequel. SEGA owns the IP, however, so a true sequel would be unlikely. A spiritual successor using what we’ve learned and what more we wanted to do in that world – both narrative and game mechanic-wise – would be pretty exciting. Still, doing an AP2 would be an expensive prospect, so Kickstarter may not be the avenue for that at this time. We’ll see.


  1. Zarunil says:

    Exciting times for PC gamers.

    • Stevostin says:

      Really ? It’s always good to have a post apo game by those guys but seriously… I don’t care how some journalist (including, sadly, the ones here) missed the opportunity to realise how good FNV was, hence a “failed” meta critic score. A new first person, bethesda styl Fallout is by a long shot what I’d really like to play. Because when it’s about going to a fictional world, first person view beat the crap out of top down view any day of the week, because just having every bloody thing you see actually having a name, a weight, a value make a huge difference too to that regard, and because no matter how good turn based combat can be, Obsidian / BI never made any good one (by good one I mean half as interesting as X-Com, Jagged Allience, HOMM or even MM…) anyway, so that’s in no way a selling point to me. The good Obsidian stuff is in the writing, the decisions, the consistency of the world – and the lore. So Hurray for Wasteland 2 but what’s missing from this interview is a new Fallout. What is Bethesda thinking ? We need a new Fallout every year, FFS ! I sure love my Skyrim but the world isn’t half as sexy ass Fallout’s one.

      • Wizardry says:

        Dude, Wasteland is pretty much a multi-character Fallout. What’s your problem?

      • Eich says:

        Jesus Christ where came that one from? Then just don’t support W2… ^^

        • Stevostin says:

          It comes from the fact that the real info from this interview for me is that while FNV sold even more than F3 (nearly twice as much as Oblivion), there is no Obsidian Fallout on rail. There is no way a Wasteland 2 can make up for such a sad news.

          Also Wasteland 2 is basically party based, which is not good in my book (single or companion but I do need a lead character) and top down view (really not good for immersion) and turn based (which is only good when done nice, which they never did so far).

          So when he says “Exciting times for PC gamers.” I, as a PC gamers, says “not that much” :-/

          • Eich says:

            Well as much as I enjoyed FNV it couldn’t hold a candle to Fallout 1. So you may have to accept that there are people out there which love slow and tactical combat.
            I also think that the Beth Engine can’t do Fallout justice. The world is so crowded because there is no map travel, you think that there never was an atomic war. The population density is too damn high!

          • Beelzebud says:

            I’d like to punch whoever at Bethesda decided “immersion” was a valid complaint about isometric style games. I was more immersed in Fallout 1 and 2 than I ever was in Fallout 3, thank you very much.

            Stop parroting that damned word, as if were an objective truth.

          • LionsPhil says:

            @Eich: Well, it is 200 years later in Bethsda’s setting…

            …which kind of makes a mockery of everyone still getting resources by “scavaging lol” and nobody having ever bothered to have cleaned the masonry out of buildings they are actively using, but if you pick too hard at the worldbuilding it’ll just unravel in your hands.

          • Eich says:

            @ LionsPhil,

            true that. One aspect I really didn’t like about NV was that Cowboys and Praetorians were duking it out. In the year 2270ish. In my opinion a total immersion killer. I always had to think the ‘Fallout’ in front of ‘New Vegas’ away to like it ^^

          • Ironclad says:

            @Beelzebud: The ‘immersion’ argument was a smokescreen. Bethesda’s target audience plays first/third person action (R)PGs. That’s the crowd they were catering for, the gameplay they wished to build, and nothing more. They wanted to make Oblivion with guns, and they succeeded in that respect, warts and all.

          • Stevostin says:

            Eichs said “So you may have to accept that there are people out there which love slow and tactical combat.”

            I do – I am truly happy for everyone wanting Wasteland 2. I’ll probably play it. I even like slow and tactical combat when it’s good. Fallout 1 (which I am currently playing) is really poor to that regard. Can you really look at me in the eye and say Fallout 1 fight really compares in any sort of way to real turn based combat game such as X-Com or Jagged Alliance ? Don’t you think you very… very… quickly see in nearly every case a clear optimisation that really can’t be beaten, so basically it’s really a bit retarded ? (I am currently playing F1, so it’s pretty fresh in my mind).

            “The world is so crowded because there is no map travel, ”
            This is typically the kind of nonsensical claim made against Fallout 3 that has been parasiting a lot of debates about that game.
            1) there are hardly 1K NPC, 2 at best in a game that is covering Washington DC + suburbs.
            2) it’s 200 years after Fallout
            3) Shady Sands has actually far more NPC than Megaton. Actually it possibly has more NPC than Rivet City. If you meet a caravan, you have at least 5 mercs following it. That’s one in F3.
            4) the rhythm of encounters with human while traveling is roughly the same than in Fallout 1.
            So really this argument doesn’t stand whatever way you take it. Not to say there isn’t valid thing to say against F3 (scavenging centuries after the war for instance)

            Beelzebud “I’d like to punch whoever at Bethesda decided “immersion” was a valid complaint about isometric style games. ”
            It’s not Bethesda who decided this. It started with game like Dungeon Keeper. The dream of every gamer at that time was to explore fictionnal worlds in a first person view. Ultima Underworld took care of that. I already played that game who basically was besting Fallout by a long shot in every possible ambitions an RPG could have, and Fallout going back to the retarded top down view was a huge disappointment at that time (Bethesda hardly existed back then). Again, with good combat mechanic, at least there would have been a justification to it rather than “just because we can’t do it”. One thing if found especially interesting was to play back Fallout’s intro. Oh wait ! Pre rendered person view… then the game begins. Somehow it tells it all.

            So I perfectly admit that you like for some reason the top down view better than the first person view. But stating that first person view is more immersive is really not an opinion. First person view can make you sick up to the point it put you out of the game, but when it’s time to list what games feature helps feeling being “here and then”, First Person View is clearly in one column, and everything not first person view in another. And that’s why video games history is the way it is : full of first person RPGs.

          • Wizardry says:

            And that’s why video games history is the way it is : full of first person RPGs.

            …and top down RPGs…

          • Baboonanza says:

            And 2D platformers. And adventure games.

            The immersion argument is also bogus, as any strategy gamer who has stayed up to quarter to three in the morning having ‘just one more turn’ will tell you. If anything an inability to engage with anything not in first person indicates a lack of imagination rather than any inate superiority of the form.

            Besides, there are valid reasons for preferring a less expensive form for an RPG. Fps game assets are expensive to produce and that means less dialogue, less unique locations, less characters. Especially if you don’t have a Bethesda sized budget.

            Don’t get me wrong, I love fps RPGs, but I also like variety.

          • Wizardry says:

            What’s especially funny is that Wizardry was first-person and Ultima was (mostly) top-down. And guess which one aimed for “immersion”? Yes, Ultima.

          • Bobby Oxygen says:

            First person perspective does nothing to enhance immersion when the world you’re exploring is populated by lifeless mannequins spouting terrible dialogue and filled with copy/paste dungeons. If anything, it just makes all those mistakes more glaring. And Bethesda’s core rules framework is just terrible. It’s the worst of both worlds, a lame hybrid of action and RPG that doesn’t do either right.
            I managed to enjoy FO:NV in spite of the Bethesda stuff, but every fucking time I had to open that travesty of an inventory/quest log system, I was pulled right out of the experience. Bethesda are clueless when it comes to building immersion, they are pathologically incapable of writing decent characters or adding those little flourishes that build up the atmosphere and makes the game world come alive, relying instead on quantity over quality with acres upon acres of dead, uninteresting landscapes. That’s why we get excited about WL2, the group that built the most atmospheric and unique RPG game worlds are getting back together to do another game. And while I must admit that the combat in the two first Fallouts wasn’t stellar even by contemporary standards, they got just about everything else right.

            I’ll pick good dialogue, well-crafted characters and worlds dripping with atmosphere over Bethesda’s iron sights and square miles of boredom every time.

          • ffordesoon says:

            @Bobby Oxygen:

            I agree, but I will say that there were times in the first Fallout where I was like “JUST LET ME DO IT, GODDAMMIT!” Mainly the lockpicking and the stealing. But that has more to do with that one game than the intrinsic immersiveness of any one mechanic or perspective.

          • Bobby Oxygen says:

            Has there ever been a decent stealing/pickpocket minigame? I can’t think of one.

          • Wizardry says:

            No, but that’s because mini-games suck.

          • ffordesoon says:

            @Bobby Oxygen:

            Not sure what you mean. I can’t think of a pickpocketing minigame period.

            If you’re asking if there’s ever been a good pickpocketing mechanic, I’d argue that Skyrim’s is the most successful yet, at least in terms of pure fun factor. But even there, it’s only super-fun once you can do the bizarrely overpowered stuff like steal people’s clothes. When you’re starting out, it’s just an annoying save-scum-a-thon. At least, for me it was. I suppose you could just live with the consequences, but it’s still just kind of a hassle more than anything.

          • Slinky MCPunchfist says:

            I played fallout 1/2 after fallout 3 so there was no nostalgia involved. They are much better games and far more immersive despite their third person view, the world was just much more alive and the writing is leagues better, The combat was also much much better in that it actually had substance fallout 3 had crap fps mechanics and it’s vats mode was basically autowin there was nothing to it. New Vega’s corrected it to an extent but it still wasn’t as good as fallout 1/2 combat…

          • Bobby Oxygen says:

            I didn’t play Skyrim. I learned my lesson after Morrowind, Oblivion and FO3.
            But I gotta say, if this is what you meant, it actually is pretty cool.

          • Stevostin says:

            “…and top down RPGs…”

            Actually the more you’re reach era and platform that can handle first person view the more you reach the point when zero (am I forgetting any ? I can’t find one) top down RPG are produced until a few people give quite a lot on kickstarter for it to happen. What we have now is either FPV (yeah) or TPV. I’ll happily trade any TPV against even a TDV BTW, but that’s another thing.

            “The immersion argument is also bogus, as any strategy gamer who has stayed up to quarter to three in the morning having ‘just one more turn’ will tell you.”
            Immesion doesn’t mean the ability to catch you’re attention. It’s just about creating the illusion that you actually are in the game’s world. No more, no less : you can have a game that is very immersive but pretty boring and as you said, the opposite. There are no correlation.
            Now my point is that if you create a world to visit, immersion is something you should run after.

            “First person perspective does nothing to enhance immersion when the world you’re exploring is populated by lifeless mannequins spouting terrible dialogue and filled with copy/paste dungeons.”
            Top down view neither. Now you can have, and should ask for both. You have both in Vampire Bloodlines. Despite what some says, there are some really good moment in Fallout 3 and of course in Fallout New Vegas.
            Also IMO the real reason why Bethesda are doing better and better is that their dungeon are actually constantly entertaining. It’s really the best on the field for me. Seriously, did any of you really enjoyed any exploration of an hostile zone in Fallout ? There is a mood, but nearly no decision to make at all unless you really don’t get the game mechanics.

            “Bethesda are clueless when it comes to building immersion”
            They are more or less the only one those days actually providing immersion in their RPGs (although there is a strong trend of immersive action adventure FPS going on). All this trend of “immersion matters” games are selling more & more BTW (and get metacritics succes as well). Now of course everyone has a right to his/her opinion but who makes immersive RPG except them ? Because I am a sucker for immersive RPG and not having to wait (and cope with typical failures) of Bethesda’s RPG would be great.

            ” But even there, it’s only super-fun once you can do the bizarrely overpowered stuff like steal people’s clothes. ”

            It’s fun before that if you read on a wiki about the rule that matters in pickpocketing and play without quicksave. Very fun actually. When a master the fun gets old quickly, especially if you’re a Bethesda veteran who killed hundred by reverse pickpocketing grenades (THAT is a fun thing to do, actually)

            “I played fallout 1/2 after fallout 3 so there was no nostalgia involved. They are much better games and far more immersive despite their third person view, the world was just much more alive and the writing is leagues better, The combat was also much much better in that it actually had substance fallout 3 had crap fps mechanics and it’s vats mode was basically autowin there was nothing to it. New Vega’s corrected it to an extent but it still wasn’t as good as fallout 1/2 combat…”

            It’s hard to discuss when all you say is just conclusions with no sustained argument but I played 300h F3, 300h FNV, Fallout 1 & 2 and now Fallout 1 again. According to me Fallout 1 is a mix of typical F3 dialogs (archetypes&cliche done fine but cliche, really) , some nice lines and a heap lot of pretty dull dialog that you read several times because like in FNV they have this habits to make info redundant in dialog which is pretty boring when you’re a dialog completionist. Bethesda handled that better in F3 IMO. The real thing with Bethesda is that it’s pretty impossible to enjoy their writting if you’re allergic to their dialog cams. I am not, and all in all F3 is more fun but less consistent than FNV or Fallout. But it’s really more fun. It’s one of the few games that made me laugh.

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      • Dariune says:

        Dude, story based FPS games are not exactly rare these days. SOmeone says they are making a tactical party based RPG and you whinge about it? Just because you think its better coming from a First person view doesnt mean we all do!

        I for one find the slow tactical thinking involved in turnbased isometric RPG’s incredibly engaging. And there hasnt been a decent one in years.

        How about you go back to ME3 or FNV or Skyrim or whatever floats your boat and be happy that people who like games that make you think tactically are finally having a chance to play a game they like?

        Cool. Thanks.

        • Stevostin says:

          Can you reread please ? One said “exciting time for PC gamers”, I said “not for me”. Now you make me say that everyone should share my view. I didn’t say or thought that. It’s rather the other way around : I am just bringing points to remind there are valid reasons not to jump trough the roof when Obsidian is doing a certain project and not another. Now of course it’s a matter of who wants what. Having 0 (null) (nada) nostalgia for Fallout I (or Wasteland), who I thought, and reviews back then approve me, was good but not instant classics, I do prefer games like Vampire Bloodline or Fallout New Vegas and I’d rather see them doing more of those. I claim that right =)

          • kud13 says:

            yes, but those games have been trickling in throughout the years, however. not many of them, but we’ve had Boiling Point 1+2, FO:NV Precursors, DXHR, and upcoming Dishonored and Prey 2.

            really deep old-school TBRPGs have been neglected for over a decade. I don’t see why the two genres can’t coexist, if there’s appropriate demand for both.

            I’m excited about Dishonored,a nd I enjoyed DXHR, but i’m also supporting Wasteland 2 and Shadowrun, which promised me turn-based, X-com style combat, in a fantastic setting with an engaging story

          • Stevostin says:

            Ok, that’s a good point. I agree with that – although I would like more of Fallout Beth’s style, Betheseda is up and running and with Skyrim huge success I think we’ll see competition coming at last in the open world fpv field (RPG or not, anything STALKER I am craving for). OTOH there certainly isn’t enough top down tactial stuff. Although again, Fallout was never even remotely good to that regard so I am puzzled : what do people really hope their ? Wait for x com, play Jagged Alliance. But Wasteland II ? I really hope they rework entirely their game mechanics. Or actually hire someone who can do that because FNV game mechanics are not as solid as F3, Alpha Protocol action is it’s weakness, Fallout 1&2 offered retarded turn based strategy so basically when did those guy prove any ability to create good gameplay ?

      • Havok9120 says:

        Keep in mind that the Metacritic score thing is a big deal not because it proves the game was bad but because ZeniMax supposedly based Obsidian’s bonus off of the score. Because the game missed, Obsidian didn’t get their bonus.

      • Ruffian says:

        I’m pretty sure he brought the metacritic score up (I could be wrong here) because the New Vegas team was supposed to get a bonus if it hit a certain metacritic score or something. (again I’m not 100% sure on that I could have just completely misread something somewhere)

        edit: oh, guy above me beat me to it.

      • MattM says:

        At release FNV had some showstopper bugs. On my rig, water coming on screen caused major stuttering. A lot of the reviews reflected this. They did a good job with patches and after a month or two I was able to play a really great RPG (with tons of great mods). If review scores were so important to the developers bottom line, they really should have fought their publisher for more testing.

    • KevinW says:

      Lets set the record straight.
      Chris Avellone was not part of Fallout 1 at all!

      At the time he was on “Descent to Undermountain” which was a complete disaster.
      (Plus my buddy Chris Farenetta along with friend Rob Holloway were on the D2U team too).
      I should know because I’m one of the original Fallout programmers.

      For that matter Feargus Urquhart takes a lot of credit for Fallout 1, but he really wasn’t so much a part of it. At least not what I saw (again I was there). He just happened to be the title-less Interplay RPG division director at the time. You would actually see him in meetings some times. I suppose he made executive decisions behind the scenes that I wasn’t privy too, but certainly by no means was he part of the day to day creation, decision, and build process.
      Also Brain Fargo was “the man” of course, but you saw even less of him as the “associate producer”.

      The key creative people behind it where mainly Tim Cain and the lead designer Chris Taylor. And of course a few other designers and some fantastic artists as well that I leave out.
      Incidentally, IMHO Chris Taylor (the lead designer) deserves a lot more credit for what Fallout turned out to be.

      Interesting how some people like Avellone, Feargus, etc., glom on to the success of Fallout (at least #1 anyhow) but had very little to do if anything with it..

  2. JackShandy says:

    Speaking of Alpha Protocol, is there anywhere in particular I can get it cheap online? Seaching “Alpha Protocol Download” just brings up a bunch of cracks.

    • povu says:

      It’s on Steam, but not very cheap.

    • mcwizardry says:

      Gamersgate has it as well, same price as Steam.

    • Cinnamon says:

      Steam sale prices for it have been very reasonable. Dunno if we are getting an Easter sale this year but I would hold off on buying it for now.

    • JackShandy says:

      Ok, thanks, I’ll just go for it on steam.

      What’s the best way to play this game? I understand a gamepad’s necessary, but what’s the most fun build?

      • malkav11 says:

        Firstly, a gamepad is not necessary for everyone. Try it with mouse and keyboard. If it’s not feeling right and you’re getting frustrated, sure, break out the gamepad. But I played the entire game through and then some with mouse and keyboard and never encountered the issues some people talked about.

        As far as most fun build, that’ll depend on your personality. The most -effective- build is probably pistol/stealth, which is ridiculously potent to the degree that some people feel it breaks the game.

        • Ringwraith says:

          Although mostly just getting any particular skill maxed out tends to break the game by itself.
          It’s a game where you’re encouraged to diversify, so go and do just that.

          • JackShandy says:

            Diversifying won’t get me into a Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines situation, where it turns out all my skills are useless, will it?

            I’ve heard the combat’s pretty awkward, too, so I might just go ahead and break the game.

          • LionsPhil says:

            According to Yahtzee, it’s specialising that can knobble you.

          • Drakengard002 says:

            If you’re looking to get the most enjoyment with the least “tear your hair out” moments, you’ll want to use Pistols, Stealth and Sabotage/Hand-to-Hand (Sabotage is better, but not essential unless you play on Hard).

            I will suggest you don’t play on Hard because the hacking mini-games become insanely hard once you’re through the initial Saudi Arabia missions.

            And before you ask ‘Why Pistols?’ it’s because they’re the best weapon. Period. Chain-shot turns Michael Thorton into Splinter Cell: Conviction Sam Fisher headshot insta-kill machine (insert traq-ammo if you want to be nicer to the poor mooks).

            The problem with the other weapons is that they’re just plain terrible against the bosses. You can deal with everything else just fine using an AR, SMG or Shotgun, but against a boss you need the accuracy and precision of a 5 chain-shot burst hitting their skulls.

            You’d probably be alright so long as you carry a pistol with you as a secondary boss necessity weapon and only have it trained up to the first chain-shot level. Not ideal, but you’ll at least not get stuck.

          • Ringwraith says:

            Shotguns do alright I found, mostly due to putting people on their backsides or at the very least stopping them in their tracks momentarily.

          • Phantoon says:

            Do take Yahtzee’s reviews with a bathtub sized container of salt, though. He’s an entertainer first, reviewer second.

        • ffordesoon says:


          I know, right? I played that thing twice, and never even thought about touching a gamepad. Matter of fact, I can only see it hurting the experience. And I’m absolutely fine with using a gamepad! That said, the way the hacking minigames control with the mouse and keyboard is goddamn bizarre, and incredibly difficult to explain to people. They get it eventually, I find, but it’s tough to get them to take the time.


          Level up your pistol skill. You may not need stealth, but it is more fun in general, I think.

          Failing that, play on easy, because the bosses are like Human Revolution’s if the aiming in those was as bad as the original DX when you were Untrained in Pistols. Which is to say, they’re some of the worst boss fights ever created.

          Brayko… *shudder*

          • Saarlaender39 says:

            Aah, the bossfights…now, at that point AP sucks (just mho).
            That game is set in a (relatively) realistic world, and then there come the indestructable and “bounce like Flubber” -endbosses – that was something I would prefer NOT TO SEE in a sequel.

          • Ironclad says:

            Brayko was the second best thing in Alpha Protocol.

            Steve Heck was the first.

          • ffordesoon says:


            Brayko himself? Sure.

            The fight with Brayko? Noooooo.

          • InternetBatman says:

            The Brayko bossfight was an awesome idea. It was freaking unplayable and an argument for quicksave as a CQC build. His knife was waaaay too powerful.

          • Ironclad says:

            @InternetBatman: I played with pistols first time, shotguns second time through the game. Pistols made it stupidly easy (quickshot), shotgun was also fun (though tougher). I guess I just got lucky with my build…

          • kud13 says:

            people make WAAAAY to big a deal about Brayko.

            I played through the game 5 times. I usually fight him with an AR + stealth, but one of the times I tried a hand to hand build on him. With the hand to hand combat maxed, if you have the super-skill, you can actually BREAK his so-much-maligned knifing sequence, making him run vulnerable to gunfire, and then having him run off.

            Not to mention that if you prepare properly (speak to Heck first, then ask him for a favour), Brayko basically kills himself.

            best build, imho, is stealth+sabotage, with points spread out in weapons (did not invest in chain shot), hand to hand, and medicine.

            Minigames get ridiculous on Hard, especially towards the end, but playing on Normal, even the hardest hacks don’t require a gamepad.

          • ffordesoon says:


            If that was your experience, I’m glad.

            For me, Brayko on Normal was just about the worst boss fight I’ve ever had to suffer through.

          • kud13 says:

            it’s another peculiarity of AP which makes re-plays fun–the game scales based on progress. no mater which order you do the hubs in, hacking/lockpicking/bypassing gets harder the further into the game you are. I”m pretty sure bosses scale, too.

            which leaves as interesting decision to the player–do you tackle a boss like Brayko earlier, before you are sufficiently skilled, or do you wait to max out your own skills, dealing with other bosses first , but risk a more difficult fight?

        • mr.ioes says:

          Just make sure to have some points in melee combat before you enter rome.

        • Nick says:

          Pistols, stealth, stuff that helps with hacking and lockicking. You can replace pistols with any weapon type really. Oh and make sure to take some unarmed combat, not too much but some.

          I didn’t find combat awkward at all, or the mouse control bad (an ini edit helped me), the only issue with mous andkeyboard is knowing how the hacking minigame works and which bloody keys you are supposed to use, after you get that down its fine.

      • Infinitron says:

        Learn to use a weapon. You will need it for boss fights. Don’t overdo the stealth – it’s simply not very fun to play that way.

        Focus on the plot and the roleplaying, and resist the temptation to “save scum”. The game isn’t very long and it’s meant to be played through several times to explore the myriad choices and consequences.

        • Ringwraith says:

          It’s difficult to actually save scum, as you have to plan it way in advance, as it auto-saves after everything, including every conversation. It’s much better to roll with it, and see how good or bad things turn out, and they will mention it, it’s that kind of game.

          • Infinitron says:

            That’s why I put “save scum” in quotes. Checkpoint-scum would be more accurate.

          • Malk_Content says:

            I felt so bad after the first mission when the game told be how many orphans I made that I played the rest of the game entirely non-lethally. Poor orphans.

        • Wizardry says:

          What does “focus on the role-playing” mean?

          • Infinitron says:

            LARPing, Wizardry. Choose-your-own-adventure gay romance LARPing.

            Don’t make this into an issue, I’m just telling the man to play to the game’s strengths, which are the reactive dialogue sequences.

          • Unaco says:

            “Focus on the Role-playing” is an American evangelical tax-exempt non-profit organization, dedicated to promoting and extolling the virtues of turn-based, stats heavy, roleplaying games. They oppose the introduction of any real-time elements to RPGs, as well as the use of player skill over character skill in such games.

          • ffordesoon says:



            Wizardry: “I’m not just the president. I’m also a member.”

          • Fumarole says:

            That made my morning gents, thank you.

      • Saarlaender39 says:

        Gamepad isn`t necessary – but it can make the minigames a bit easier.
        But what no one else mentioned so far: there are issues with the mouse control…
        I (and I believe many others, too) had to fiddle with a config file, to correct this.

        Here`s what a quick google brought up:

        in APEngine.ini ( C:\Users\\Documents\Alpha Protocol\APGame\Config)
        change this values to this:

        Hope, you enjoy AP

    • monkehhh says:

      Cheap on Get Games (owned by Eurogamer) – link to

      • JackShandy says:

        Damnit! I shouldn’t have been so hasty.

      • ecat says:

        Get Games, horrible ‘Create Account’ procedure.

        I clicked the link to Get Games, not for AP which I already own, just for a quick look around. Kings Bounty: Platinum for £7.49 was an offer I could not refuse.

        So, create account and the usual name, address, email, password stuff appears. Next, billing address, ok, but also an apparently unskippable requirement to enter my card details. I’m not intending paying by card, they say they take PayPal and the whole point of using PP is to protect your card details.

        Look for PP option. Nope.
        Click ‘Back’ and look for PP option. Nope.

        There is no way I’m giving my card details to a site that offers PP but wont let you select it – too fishy, and especially to a site that stores the card details by default. Grrrrrr.

        I wonder what happens if I just ignore everything and click the Buy button? Shit! Enter card details again! Still, it appears to recognise my account even if I left the registration half complete in another tab.

        I wonder what happens if I click that Back button? Wants my address again (I think this was the order things happened in), okay, address and Save Details.

        Oh, another Back button and … Yay! There’s my order and there’s the good old PP button. Success!

        Downloading now, but what a rigmarole. Heh, maybe I missed something.

    • cassus says:

      I got it during the christmas sales on Steam for something like $2.50 or $5, can’t remember. At that price I just had to buy it. Also bought DS III a few weeks back for next to nothing. Felt bad about it once the news of the layoffs hit the news, though.. Felt like I ripped them off, somehow, even if I’d never pay full price for them. Paid full price for FNV and bought lots of DLC though… I want them to do another Fallout game. NV was amazingly good. I played it after they fixed the bugs. Wonderful game.

  3. povu says:

    If they do start making Alpha Protocol 2 I hope they’ll look at Deus Ex HR for some inspiration. It would be nice to have some alternate routes, or at least the ability to jump, instead of linear paths with some jumping points.

    And you probably shouldn’t be forced into combat so often when you allow the player to focus on stealth, it was worse than Deus Ex’s boss fights in that respect. The AI often seemed to cheat too, knowing where you are when they couldn’t possibly know.

    The concept of Alpha Protocol and especially the way it handled the narrative were great though, so I’d love to see more.

    • El_MUERkO says:

      Combat could be improved some however Alpha Protocol had a far more interesting ‘decision, cause, effdct’ based story. Deus Ex ended with a ‘which button should you press’ scenario.

      • Tyrone Slothrop. says:

        It had more choice in terms of how the plot progresses but the plot and the game generally were profoundly disappointing, especially considering the pedigree of the people involved. Walking, just walking on the PC, let alone the hacking/lockpicking mini-games or the combat, level design, art design or the A.I, but even the walking was just incompetently executed.

        Don’t think that I don’t respect the fundamental concept of the game, I adore it… but the disparity between how much I loved the potential and was dismayed by the execution is the greatest of any game I’ve ever played (note, I haven’t played any Derek Smart games). I only wish that Square-Enix or another decent publisher would fund a spiritual successor to it, and I explicitly call for a spiritual sequel since to me the plot was a mess of tonally inconsistent 24-tropes and the most awkward and embarrassing dialogue category ever; “suave“.

        Sorry to go on a rant here, that experience just really rustled my jimmies, I keep wanting to reinstall it on steam… but then I remember the walking, the weird stuttering and mouse sensitivity issues, the controls generally, the lack of a quicksave function and the FOV.

        • Cerius says:

          I don’t really think you “got” the suave responses. (Apart from other things)

          It was basically what cheesy movie lines would result to in real life. The charachters even react to it with nearly everyone being instantly annoyed at you except for certain situations where its halfway a joke and even then if you continue they get annoyed again.

          It’s perfect.

          • Tyrone Slothrop. says:

            That doesn’t excuse their writing… nor the voice actor’s horrendous performance throughout.

        • ffordesoon says:

          I love Suave! It’s kind of like watching Hawke in DA2 try to romance people, except everyone realizes you’re a creep! It’s hilarious!

          I son’t blame anyone for not liking the way the game actually turned out, though, or for thinking the plot was trope city. It’s a game made for people like me, who can squint and see the masterpiece the game was trying to be, and who care more about characters than plot.

          You have to have at least chuckled at Steven Heck, though.

    • Asyne says:

      The design change I think they would benefit most from is is trying to be more Splinter Cell-ish while still having that RPG statistical core. Myself and quite a few people I know were thrown for a loop when a game touted as “spy action” had minimal penalty to visibility for being in a well-lit area, unconscious/dead bodies unmovable and deleted in mere minutes, and few penalties for completing a mission without being seen (or touching a single guard). Silent movement for a while is okay, placed shots are believable, minimap radar without tagging is excusable – but complete invisibility for half a minute? I think we can ask secret agents to put a bit more thought into “secret.”

      Partially or wholly conflicting secondary objectives (harm no-one, kill as many as possible; don’t be seen, be as fast as possible) could also add something, encouraging but not requiring the multi-role playstyle AP seems to push for. The results of choosing between secondary objectives could also make field actions more important, so a poor-spoken but technically skilled agent (Leon?) could gain influence through action in lieu of banter.

      • bill says:

        I don’t think real spys do much sneaking around though, do they? I think a lot of people thought “spy” meant stealth, but it meant 24/Mission impossible.

        Not that decent stealth wouldn’t be a welcome option.

  4. Vorphalack says:

    Will be nice to see an RPG conversation system that dosen’t take you down a single pre-scripted path, and end with the modern tri-fork:

    – Good
    – Jackass
    – Evil

  5. El_MUERkO says:

    Alpha Protocol 2 would definitely result in a “Shut up and take my money!” situation for me.

    I can understand why a Kickstarter couldn’t fund the whole project but like Takedown it could be used to get support from venture capital firms.

    • malkav11 says:

      It could, but I wasn’t happy about Takedown doing that, and I consider it an abuse of the Kickstarter system. If I’m going to back a Kickstarter project, I expect it to be completable at the point at which it funds, not require outside capital infusions that may or may not happen. I suppose technically the Takedown project was explicitly for funding an alpha/prototype build, but I would never back a project like that.

  6. golem09 says:

    I think the best thing that could come from this is publishers considering to fund smaller projects like these themselves. I mean if there is even little demand, and you have an independent team who only needs like 2m instead of the usual 30m, publishers can squeeze in more little projects between the big ones, without much effor or anything.
    If it stays on kickstarter there is always the danger of developers being less than they and their supporters dream to be.

    • Infinitron says:

      The problem with that, is that if a “small” project is unexpectedly successful, there’s a good chance the sequels will be taken over and perverted by the big boys.

      If you want your games to stay loyal to their vision no matter what, you need to keep them away from publisher money.

  7. Bloodloss says:

    I want to marry this man. He’s worked on some of my favourite games of all time such as Planescape: Torment, *and* he loves Firefly?

    Hopefully if he ever does his own kickstarter project, it’ll be sci fi and inspired by Firefly in some way.

    • ffordesoon says:

      An Obsidian riff on Mass Effect is one of my dream games. An Obsidian riff on Mass Effect with a Firefly-style ‘verse is…

      Good job. You’ve actually managed to make me genuinely angry that that doesn’t exist yet.

      Chris, if you’re reading this, I do not care who you have to kill – make that happen.

      Incudentally, I believe murder is a viable advancement strategy at Fox.

      • RedViv says:

        They murder good shows already. Probably feed their life force to the shambling yellow corpses.

  8. karthink says:

    Nathan, thank you for asking several pointed and probing questions about Obsidian and Kickstarter that I’ve been wanting to know Obsidian’s responses to.

    As for Alpha Protocol, I’m all for an isometric Alpha Protocol 2 with more timed dialog, more choices and more routes through maps. Better stealth and the ability to jump knee high walls will require this to be in 3D with a lighting engine, but pretty much the only AAA component it can’t do without is full voice acting.

    The drive to make games cinematic at the expense of everything else is, well, screwing over everything else.

  9. LionsPhil says:

    To use our example from FNV: Old World Blues, a lot of the strength of that DLC…(open world structure, humor).

    Oh god.

    Get this man away from Wasteland 2.

    • RedViv says:

      You’re good at taking quotes out of context. Ever considered a career with the tabloid press?

      • LionsPhil says:

        There is nothing out-of-context about Chris thinking NV DLC had strengths, of which humour is amongst them.

        Your expertise with ad-hominem attacks serves you well on the Internet, though.

        • RedViv says:

          I was concluding that you implied that Avellone wanted to include those aspects in Wasteland 2. The comparison was drawn because of the rather strange logic behind that implication, and not for any attack on a personal level.

          It was either this, or a strange reaction due to differing tastes in humour, which are never a good foundation for any kind of discussion, seeing how one can hardly argue about this.

          • Crimsoneer says:

            OWB was an incredible piece of DLC. It was fresh, different, and sandboxy. The characters were ridiculously excellent. All glory to robot scorpions and penis tipped feet.

          • Bhazor says:

            OWB is probably one of the few pieces of DLC I’d recommend people to buy on its own. The list in its entirety is now Old World Blues, Mirror’s Edge time trials and Mask of the Betrayer. It really is very very good.

          • InternetBatman says:

            MotB isn’t really DLC. It was sold on a separate disc.

        • Bhazor says:

          Oh you didn’t play it? Thats a shame.

          • LionsPhil says:

            The great thing about dialogue humour in computervideogames is that you can watch “LOL EPIC FUNNAY” clips of it on YouTube and get all the same effect.


          • Bhazor says:

            So you’re saying you didn’t play it then? Really don’t know how to respond to that,

            Also you’re saying Monkey Island, Portal, Psychonauts, The Larry series, Ben There etc. None of them are funny because you can watch them on youtube.

          • bladedsmoke says:


          • Zeliard says:

            Yeah, watching entirely out-of-context youtube clips certainly has the same effect.

          • LionsPhil says:

            Also you’re saying Monkey Island, Portal, Psychonauts, The Larry series, Ben There etc. None of them are funny because you can watch them on youtube.

            I can’t even begin to work out how you read that into the previous post.

          • Bhazor says:

            Yes where ever did I get that idea.

            “The great thing about dialogue humour in computervideogames is that you can watch “LOL EPIC FUNNAY” clips of it on YouTube and get all the same effect.”

          • LionsPhil says:

            So are you thus implying that this isn’t funny because it’s gone through YouTube (if you can ignore the doped-up idiot talking over it, anyway)?

            I mean, yes, context matters somewhat, and it loses that. (In particular, if you transplanted Sam & Max straight into Fallout, they’d be badly out of place, since they are kind of offbeat cartoon humour! Just going to pre-empt that little “but you like THIS zany”, if you don’t mind.) But I have played NV in general, and the superior Fallouts before it. And every time NV has tried to joke, it’s fallen flat. OWB does not seem to fare any better.

            I’m not exactly going to go out and buy it given all impressions I have of it are negative, now am I?

            So. Subjectively, I do not find its attempts funny. At all. You are welcome to differ on this. That’s why it’s an opinion.

            Less subjectively, they do not generally fit the tone, which weakens the game. For Fallout post-3, that tone slips further into “hodge-podge of things the developers thought would be funny” the more they do it, and they’ve done it a lot by now. I would quite like Wasteland 2 to not turn into the same messy soup, although I outright admit, again, to the gasps of an astonished Internet staring upon my eternal shame, that I didn’t get very far into Wasteland 1. Maybe one of you geniuses would like to point out that this kind of thing is entirely in keeping with it and I’m barking up totally the wrong tree here.

          • Bhazor says:

            That would be fine if you weren’t claiming people that liked it were “LOL RETARDZ!!!” and then complaining when others defended it by going “LOL INTANETT discusshionS!”.

            Rule 1 of discussion.
            Don’t. Be. A. Dick.

            Also you seem to be forgetting how wacky zany Fallout 1 and 2 were.
            “The tree’s name is Bob”.


            Oh my goodness. You haven’t played Wasteland and are complaining that wacky humour goes against it. Thats really really something special right there. I’m done here.

          • LionsPhil says:

            The closest I’ve come to calling anyone retarded for liking it is that it’d be on YouTube under “LOL FUNNAY”, which is more an indictment of YouTube than anything. Oh, and the minigun dog is dumb wacky overblown humour.

            Dumb wacky overblown humour has its place (christ, HHGTTG is pretty darn silly from start to finish, as is Python, and are enjoyed by people who are decidedly not all stupid), but I’d say that place isn’t Fallout.

            It’s “lol Internets” because only here can “get this man away from [game]” baloon into such a mountain of raging stupid. I’m bothering to reply to you (and few others) because you’re trying to actually reasonably discuss this with me, but look at some of the surrounding posts. Yeesh.

            FO1 was a lot more deadpan in its delivery, if only for technical reasons of a line just appearing in a corner of the screen when you inspect something rather than someone saying it in a silly voice as part of the main quest line. Crucial difference. And even then, yes, FO2 (which Avellone was a designer on!) started turning sillier.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      What are you objecting against? Wasteland was very much an open world game. You were given hints where it was good to go next, but you were completely free to run north from the ranger camp until you died from radiation outside Darwin (as I did on my first playthrough). Also it had a lot of dark humor. Hobo Burger?

      Also Old World Blues is considered the best of the F:NV DLCs by many.

      • LionsPhil says:

        The “humour” in New Vegas misses the mark by so much that it could be nuclear-tipped and still wouldn’t cause a light breeze of a shockwave in Funny, NV.

        • RedViv says:

          It’s good that humour is such an objective thing then. Otherwise this statement would be totally ridiculous and toff.

        • ffordesoon says:

          Half of humor is delivery. NV’s voice acting (haven’t played the DLC) generally kind of sucked, which means its delivery generally kind of sucked.

          That, at least, wasn’t Obsidian’s fault.

          • RedViv says:

            The acting in OWB was just right. Much better than the admittedly occasionally mediocre acting in the main game. Really though, I think most of the problems with the acting in games with this engine is due to how disconnected it is from the actual in-game models. Even Skyrim has barely more than much prettier Muppets. Once they open their mouth and look at you, it all falls apart.

          • LionsPhil says:

            This is a pretty good point, really.

            It’d also help if they fixed the AI to not spout the same “patrolling the Mojave almost makes you wish for a nuclear winter” line a million times, which presumably came from building on Bethsda’s tech. (MUDCRABS, MUDCRABS, MUDCRABS.)

        • Lars Westergren says:

          The original campaign was very light on hurmor – unless you count very dark jokes, like the relaxation film in Vault 11 for instance (IMO one of the best writing in a game ever, by the way). The Atomic Wrangler questline was one of the few outright funny ones.

          But we were discussing Old World Blues, which was brilliant, had me laughing out loud many times for the first time since Psychonauts. Did you play it?

          • InternetBatman says:

            I missed a ton of the Wacky Wasteland moments, so it had more than I realized. I did like the Indiana Jones skeleton in the fridge.

          • LionsPhil says:

            Actually, if they bury all of the “humour” under the Wild Wasteland perk like they partially did for NV, that would be a pretty good solution, unless it becomes too much of a resource burden to maintain an extra optional layer of content.

            I believe Sawyer even said that’s why it existed—differences in the team on how the game’s tone should be.

        • Mungrul says:

          Strange. I just got done playing Old World Blues, and while it got a bit grindy, I thought the characters were superb, with my hands-down favourite being Muggy, who was genuinely laugh-out-loud hilarious.
          I wouldn’t say it’s the strongest piece of NV DLC though; so far, the one I’ve enjoyed the most has been Dead Money. The story there was brilliant, and the characters equally so. Elijah’s one of the better villains in recent gaming history.

    • Nick says:

      Just jealous of a man more talented than he’ll ever be.

    • Bhazor says:

      I… don’t even…

    • Ironclad says:

      link to

      you have no sense of taste, kind sir.

      • LionsPhil says:

        While I must again state that I cannot fathom how anyone could be entertained by said stilted attempts at lol-zany, I must commend you on at least presenting an argument of “look, see, this is the good humour” rather than the usual Internet cockslapping. Most gentlemanly conduct.

        • Zeliard says:

          What argument do you think you’re putting forth, exactly? You’ve admitted you haven’t even played Old World Blues. You deride others for “Internet cockslapping” but the best you’ve had to say is dribbling LOLZANYFUNNYSTUFF sarcasm in response. You lack self-awareness to a fairly hilarious degree.

          • LionsPhil says:

            The one where I don’t particularly find “look, it’s a brain in the jar with a silly voice, and it’s bickering!” to be funny (rather, in fact, highly detrimental because it undermines any other tone like a pack of industrious badgers at an outdoor concert) and would rather this kind of thing were not prevalent in the game which I have backed.

            Naturally there has been a dogpile because Internet. It happens.

          • Zeliard says:

            Avellone never actually said that Wasteland 2 would be tonally similar, which I gather is your major concern here. He brought up Old World Blues and its various aspects as examples of a response to elements that fans were asking for, and what that sort of thing could entail.

            It was in the context of Grayson asking him just how far fan feedback could go and what part fans may take in the decision-making process during development. In OBW’s case, they looked at certain mods that people were developing and saw several homebase-style mods, and so they added that in. That’s one example of the sort of feedback they take into account and how they go about it.

            Now it may very well be that the humour will be similar, and in that case I don’t particularly think it would be very incongruous given that Wasteland had quite a bit of zaniness itself. But even then, Avellone never said anything about what style Wasteland 2 itself will go with, but was simply talking about forms of fan feedback, which has some particular bearing on a thing like Kickstarter.

          • LionsPhil says:

            True, he doesn’t say “I will try to be funny in Wasteland 2”. But he does think that humour was a strength of OWB. Not a generally competent point, but a stand-out one. That is alarming since I find it a bit like saying that a strength of mine is not getting into drawn-out Internet arguments. It leads to a concern that he will do the same again if he thinks it’s what people want.

            Of course, this thread has since demonstrated that, actually, lots of people do think it was a strength of it and, presumably, do want it. And they are welcome to go say that on the forum or Kickstarter comments or whatever as paid-up backers.

            For my part, I’m more skeptical about his involvement (no, it’s not purely from this one quote). And I expressed that in a short and somewhat throwaway comment. Several hours ago.

        • ffordesoon says:


          After watching a good long chunk of that, I must say, you are about as close to objectively wrong as it is possible to be about a subjective thing like comedy.

          I’m also surprised you like Wasteland, since the particular comedic sensibility on display in that clip is exactly what the original game provides, and what the new game requires. Harry the Bunny Master? Dodging giant catapulted tomatoes? The broccoli forest? The long descriptive paragraph of words all beginning with “P”? And that’s just one area.

          Sure, I suppose you could argue the timing’s a little off because of the way Gamebryo cycles through recorded lines of dialogue, but there wasn’t a lot Obsidian could do about that. Or I guess you could be one of those maniacs who finds Futurama and the like unfunny, but that’s your weird problem.

          • LionsPhil says:

            Last paragraph. I admit outright I may have misjudged Wasteland 1’s tone. It sounds like that’s the case!

            In which case, go right ahead Mr Avellone.

            (I’m utterly baffled at how you can compare that to Futurama, though.)

          • ffordesoon says:


            Yeah, Wasteland is decidedly not Fallout. I was honestly blown away by how dissimilar the two are in terms of tone. If you follow comics, this will make sense: if Fallout is American Flagg or, um, the Antony Johnston comic book called Wasteland, Wasteland (the game) is Tank Girl or Pat Mills and Mike McMahon’s The Last American. Which is to say, it’s far broader, far more surreal, and relies far more on absurd and surreal gags than Fallout.

            Thanks for at least admitting your confusion, though. Not everyone would. :D

          • Wizardry says:

            Yes. In terms of tone the games are worlds apart. I think I’ve expressed my worry before about nailing Wasteland’s tone with modern graphics, sound and music. Fallout is far more gritty and down to earth than Wasteland is. Wasteland’s colourful, vibrant, charming and outlandish in comparison.

          • LionsPhil says:

            colourful, vibrant, charming and outlandish in comparison [to Fallout]


            So what do you think of the piece of concept art they just released in the last update, tonewise? Looks like, from a tiny, tiny, tiny point sample, if anything it is actually leaning the other way vs. Wasteland 1.

          • Wizardry says:

            Yeah, I’ve just seen that. I’m not sure what to make of it. I guess it’s night time so it’s hard to reach a conclusion. However, compare that to the colourful green fields and the bright scorched deserts and it doesn’t really match up.

          • Chris D says:

            I guess it depends whether Wasteland was vibrant as a result of a deliberate aesthetic decision or because we only had 8 colours in those days.

          • Wizardry says:

            Never been to Finster’s brain?

          • LionsPhil says:

            Yeah, I was kind of discounting the graphics of the original because EGA is brutal on artistic intent, but on the other hand, I guess they did choose to make settlements green when EGA has a perfectly servicable brown and two greys.

          • LionsPhil says:

            Yeah, I was kind of discounting the graphics of the original because EGA is brutal on artistic intent, but on the other hand, I guess they did choose to make settlements green when EGA has a perfectly servicable brown and two greys.

            (Apologies if this shows up twice, I think the comment system is starting to overload.)

          • LionsPhil says:

            Yeah, I was kind of discounting the graphics of the original because EGA is brutal on artistic intent, but on the other hand, I guess they did choose to make settlements green when EGA has a perfectly servicable brown and two greys. (I’d link a Mobygames screenshot, but I think it’s being considered spam.)

  10. Raziel_Alex says:

    Chris, please bring on Planescape 2.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      They don’t own the rights, and the people who do own the rights have more or less deprecated that setting. So I’d say it is highly unlikely.

      I want to see Obsidian create their own setting, that they and no one else own the rights to.

      • Ringwraith says:

        They did with Alpha Protocol, and I thought they owned that, but apparently they don’t.
        Which is odd as I could’ve sworn seeing articles to the contrary.

  11. DogKiller says:

    Wasteland was way before my time as a gamer. I have heard people call Fallout its spiritual successor. Is this true? In any case, this all sounds very, very exciting. Obsidian and their staff have had their hands in some of my most favourite games ever.

  12. scut says:

    Want to make Alpha Protocol 2? Team up with Adult Swim and make ‘Archer: The Game (DANGER ZONE)’. The dialog trees would be a goldmine of replay.

    Best wishes on Wasteland 2. I’m really looking forward to seeing what the assembly of veterans can produce.

  13. Wizardry says:

    In addition, we’d be sharing our knowledge of conversation tree mechanics and layouts with InXile to make conversations in the game as good as they can be.


    • Infinitron says:

      Every time you make a combatfag cry, Avellone kills a kitten.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Also, second that. If nothing else (like, say, Wizardry’s general disapproval of prescribed dialogue trees), what knowledge and victories? Both FO2 and FO:NV—Avellone’s babies—are riddled with horrible, horrible bugs in conversation trees with options appearing when they shouldn’t and not when they should, to the point that if you hit a random NV quest article on Fallout Wikia and look at the bugs section you’ve got a good chance of finding “sometimes talking head X won’t mention Y if you’ve done Z, making progress impossible; on PC you can fix this by resetting the quest with the console…”.

      • ffordesoon says:

        …That is actually a fair point. Though I’ve never encountered a particularly noticeable bug in a conversation tree in any of Avellone’s games. I guess I’m just lucky?

      • mouton says:

        I played F2 a lot and I have no recollection of those “horrible” dialogue bugs you mention.

        • LionsPhil says:

          They’re not as prevalent as NV, but IIRC there are quite a lot of badly broken scripts around them. Generally subtler, like skill checks being the wrong way around so they’re easier to pass the worse you are at the skill, barter discounts being applied backwards, payments not being taken when you offer them…IIRC personally I got hit by something around the Ghost Farm area that meant I had to reload a previous save to be able to tell someone something my character should have known, but it’s been a long time and I could be a mile off on that.

    • ffordesoon says:

      I was wondering who could possibly take issue with that idea, and then I saw the poster’s name, and then it made sense. ;)

      Why exactly you thought conversation trees weren’t going to happen is bizarre to me. I mean, they’re a seven out of ten as a system at best, but that’s worlds better than typing in “NEIL” to ask about Neil. It takes me out of the game to imagine my dude going “NEIL!” like Matt Damon in Team America. It’s also better than picking from a list of three “good/neutral/evil” responses and then watching your screen-man say roughly the same thing all three ways.

      I’d certainly be fine with Fallout’s hybrid system, though.

      • LionsPhil says:

        I dunno…the only real functional difference between Fallout 1-esque “type a topic” and having a list of topics to mention that populates as your character encounters things is that the former requires you to remember keywords yourself. As game mechanics go, it’s up there with manually mapping out mazes in “things that were fun once but I find it hard to have time for these days”.

        I guess one of them allows for uncertainty on if a topic is important, whereas with dialogue trees if you can see it you know to click on it.

      • Wizardry says:

        Nah. I don’t want a text parser as that allows you to ask characters about things you know from previous play through but your character doesn’t know. It’s way too adventure gamey and reminds me of an Ultima game in that you can complete the game without talking to anyone after you’ve played it through once.

        Even a simple wiki-like system could be interesting. “Ask about” expands out to a few options like “Locations”, “People”, “Establishments”, “Factions” or something, and then “People” could expand a list of all the characters you’ve already learnt the name of in the game. The early Elder Scrolls had a system like this, but it wasn’t particularly in depth. The conversation could be narrated like in many old-school RPGs. “You ask about SUBJECT and HE/SHE stares at you blankly.” The good thing about this simplistic system is that:

        1) You, the player, have to take the lead in playing the game. You can’t merely choose an option that’s offered up to you in dialogue tree games. You have to be actively involved in finding the information yourself. You’ll have the same set of options with each character, but different characters have different knowledge and ability and is therefore something for you to figure out and make use of. You have to decide what to do in a game to progress rather than the game offering you a few choices, each one leading to success.

        2) The developers don’t have to write lots and lots of unique dialogue infused with the personality of each speaker with their own mannerisms and so on. Largely narrated conversations prevents the actual characters from feeling copy pasted as two characters saying the same thing invokes all the wrong feelings. Having the game respond with “CHARACTER knows nothing about SUBJECT.” is less “immersion breaking” than all characters saying “Sorry mate but I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

        3) You can tie statistics to everything you say is a non-scripted way! Information an NPC could know about can be categorised as things they don’t know about, things they know about but won’t tell you and things they know about and will tell you. Your statistic in persuasion can affect the ratio of items in the last two categories, effectively meaning that each stat point matters without any extra dialogue. This is just a drop in the ocean of possibilities and a system like this can be expanded into a full blown conversation system with as much depth as tactical combat.

        • Bhazor says:

          So you’re plan to replace dialog trees is to make a bigger dialog tree filled with potentially hundreds of “I don’t know about that” responses?

          • Wizardry says:

            That’s not a dialogue tree and they aren’t filled with hundreds of different responses.

            Also, replace what? Dialogue trees replaced systems where you could try and ask characters things. This isn’t a revolutionary idea. It’s merely putting character interaction back on track.

          • Bhazor says:

            Correct, they’re filled with the *same* “I don’t know anything about that response”.

            Not to mention the amount of work required to make it believable. Take a tiny settlement of 10 people.

            Every character will need to have it’s own unique response to being asked abouth every other character or else you’d have to assume they never met. When they’re standing right next to each other. Thats one hundred responses right there.

          • Wizardry says:


            Also, 100 simple and informative responses beats the hell out of 10 modern dialogue trees full of crap about emotional troubles. Confronting a stranger in real-life doesn’t usually result in a quest to heal their mental scars.

          • malkav11 says:

            Dialogue trees are a mechanic. They do not imply any particular type of content.

          • jaheira says:

            “Confronting a stranger in real-life doesn’t usually result in a quest to heal their mental scars.”

            Quite a lot of things happen in computer games that don’t happen in real life. I’ve hardly ever killed an orc, for example.

          • Wizardry says:

            No, they aren’t a mechanic. They are a sequence of content that at best branch on a couple of statistics. Each dialogue tree tends to be entirely unique with its own set of branches, loops, end points and so on. At best you could call each dialogue tree an individual mechanic, but that’s basically the same thing as calling each NPC or each item in a game a mechanic.

            The difference between a system like this and dialogue trees is that with the former you actually use conversations as a tool to progress. You strike up a conversation for a purpose such as to gain information. In the latter you go into a conversation because you want to be fed every single piece of hand crafted content in the game. You walk into a town and tick off each conversation with each NPC one by one on a check list until you’ve “completed the town”. This isn’t rewarding or challenging gameplay. It’s not even “role-playing” if you want to put it that way.

          • Bhazor says:

            In your system you’re doing that. But with hundreds of responses.

            When meeting a stranger they don’t usually spend twenty minutes talking about the blacksmiths daughters ex husband in the village 150 miles away. The system you’re discussing is far more mechanical, less realistic, requires much more work and is much easier to break.

          • LionsPhil says:

            You walk into a town and tick off each conversation with each NPC one by one on a check list until you’ve “completed the town”.

            Now now. If it’s a Bethsda game, you also have to grind through a few thousand identikit random dungeons.

          • Wizardry says:

            Actually, Bethesda games are better for this than most others even now. It’s not quite a Daggerfall or a Morrowind but I’m still not compelled to speak to everyone I come across, unlike say BioWare or Obsidian games.

            @Bhazor: Wrong. But how would you know when you’ve been force fed dialogue trees for over two decades? Did you ask every single sprite in Daggerfall everything you possible could?

            The more mechanical the better. The more mechanical the more your statistics can influence things. You end up with a better CRPG.

          • ffordesoon says:


            Even though I agree in general with Bhazor, you are correct that talking to absolutely everyone in a town does feel rote.

            I just don’t see how your system, in practice, would do anything but make that take longer.

          • Runs With Foxes says:

            I just don’t see how your system, in practice, would do anything but make that take longer.

            Because you wouldn’t view every town as a Quest Hub where you must talk to everyone to make sure you’ve collected all the sidequests, in the process of which sitting idly for 1-2 minutes as each NPC with godawful voice-acting reads their lines to you. You would be active, in other words, not a passive receiver of whatever unnecessary information the developers feel the need to burden you with.

          • bill says:

            But the reason you don’t have to talk to everyone in town in Daggerfall is because none of them have anything to say. daggerfall was great, but the conversation system was terrible… it was like looking stuff up on wikipedia… not like actually talking to someone.

            I know characterization and story aren’t your priorities, but surely even you must have felt that the daggerfall conversation system was completely soulless and dull.

            There may well be something better than conversation trees (like radiant AI?), but i’d take a town with two bioware conversation trees over a town of 1000 walking wikipedia entry points.

            Of course, we could have lots of walking wikipedia entry points and then have the main characters with character and conversation options…. but then we’d have to pout arrows over their head so you could find them…

          • Wizardry says:

            No one said Daggerfall did it any good, but at least it tried. There’s nothing technically challenging about it.

          • malkav11 says:

            Instead you would have to talk to every NPC in town, receiving the same useless garbage over and over, because one of them could conceivably have something useful or relevant to say. Gosh, what an improvement. (Daggerfall NPCs were skippable because none of them were actually characters in any meaningful sense, and you could easily identify the classes of NPC that acted as dispensers of information, quests, gear, and so forth. That’s not a model I personally want to go back to.)

            Like it or not, players -will- treat towns as quest hubs and go door to door. There are certainly ways to make it obvious who’s worth talking to and who’s not, but those methods don’t really have anything to do with how you handle the conversation system with people who are.

          • Wizardry says:

            No they won’t, just like how players don’t fight every single character in a game to see what the battles are like. With a proper conversation system it’s impossible to try every possibility anyway, just like how it’s impossible to try every single permutation of combat in any tactical RPG. You don’t see players reloading battles again and again until they’ve tried out every single possible way of beating it, just like how you won’t see players redo conversations again and again until they’ve exhausted all possibilities.

            The problem is that you are thinking in terms of having one giant list of things you can ask each character, with each character not being able to answer all the questions. This doesn’t have to be the case at all. It’s like saying combat in video games is a bad idea because the first video game to feature combat has a system where all you can do is swing for fixed damage.

            How about the order of what you say playing a part in further dialogue? This way you could butter characters up. How about using different party members to initiate the conversation based on their statistics and even race? How about using spells such as charm to make characters more receptive to persuasion? How about choosing a harsher tone with more fragile characters?

            The idea is not to create a system with a flat one level deep tree of things to say to every character. Instead the idea is to create a system that actually flows. Numbers should be modified underneath at every single point in the conversation so that the idea isn’t to just exhaust a list in a linear fashion. You’ll have to think about what to say or do at each and every chance you get. It’s like how a real conversation works. You can’t just go for the throat straight away and expect to get what you want out of it.

            The whole process would be mechanical in that the rules for conversation would be consistent for every single conversation in the game. This is similar to how just about everything else in a CRPG works, other than dialogue currently. What options do you have on a door? You can blow it up, pick the lock, use a key or use a spell. What options do you have with your mage in combat? Move, cast a spell, swing a staff. What options do you have on an NPC? Well, you can pick pocket every single NPC in the game. That’s consistent. In a game like Fallout you can even trade with (almost) every NPC in the game. But the actual talking? The actual dialogue? With a dialogue tree system it’s often 100% unique for each character with completely different skill checks and completely different options.

            In other words, there’s no ability to actively use your skills in dialogue. An option might present itself to use a persuasion skill or a science skill, but those are put in there specifically for you to use and are offered up to you on a plate. Role-playing games aren’t about choosing options that are presented to you by someone else. It’s about making choices yourself, and this just isn’t possible with dialogue trees.

            Just ask yourself whether dialogue or combat tends to be done right. Imagine if the dialogue tree approach was expanded to all elements of an RPG. Each door has its own unique options for getting past it, with each option presented to the player upon clicking on it. Each combat encounter has its own set of options for beating it, completely unique for each one. Some NPCs are allowed to be pick pocketed while others can’t, meaning you know that all NPCs you are allowed to pick pocket probably has something good on them. Not only would all this result in a far worse RPG with far less options, but it would massively increase the development time and development cost. On top of that, the developers would need to balance every single piece of content in isolation without being able to balance a universal set of systems.

          • malkav11 says:

            I’m not seeing how any of what you describe is impossible with a dialogue tree. Again, you seem to be objecting to specific ways they’ve been implemented in the past, rather than the format, which does not require any oof the things you object to in an intrinsic way. But to be fair, I was definitely hearkening back to Daggerfall and Morrowind with what you were saying, and I found those games dramatically insufficient in terms of NPC interaction. It doesn’t sound like that’s really what you meant, though.

            That said, I think the issue with treating conversation exactly like any other system in an RPG is that what I want, ideally, is for every NPC to be a unique individual, which as far as I can tell essentially necessitates special case dialogue. (Of course in practice it’s usually not practical to flesh out every single NPC in an entire open game world unless you’re okay with it seeming severely underpopulated, so having generic NPC villagers or guards or whatever wandering around with nothing much to say is likely to be necessary.) And just about the optimum format for that that I’ve played is the dialogue tree. It’s not pretty, but it’s a lot more natural than keyword systems or the like (not to mention much less frustrating), and being able to tell what I’m actually going to say is a hell of a lot better than Mass Effect style dialogue wheels.

            About the only system I miiight be able to see working better was in Exile III and Blades of Exile – each character interaction started with a block of text describing what the character was doing, there were a couple of default interactions as buttons, and then keywords were clickable throughout, each producing another block of text. And then there was an option to enter your own keyword, which allowed secret passwords, or questioning a character about something they don’t themselves bring up, but which you have reason to think they know about, that sort of thing. But Vogel switched to dialogue trees after that, so he apparently didn’t think it was the right way to go, or players complained or -something-, I dunno.

          • Wizardry says:

            Well you seem to want different things than I do. Am I right in saying that you play RPGs for the NPCs you meet and their personalities? To me NPCs are there to use your character’s skills on. They are there to form a challenge and to provide you with options. It seems nowadays that NPCs are in a game to provide you with goals. They are basically quest dispensers. The act of completing or achieving those goals are usually done using all the other systems in the game such as stealth and combat. I believe that conversations should be just as much an option and just as much something that is player driven than these other systems, and developer created dialogue trees for every individual in the game is not an effective method to achieve this.

          • malkav11 says:

            I enjoy good NPCs, but it’s more that I enjoy the illusion of a coherent world, which in most cases requires NPCs to at least vaguely simulate being an individual person. I don’t see this as necessarily incompatible with applying character social skills in a goal oriented way.

          • Wizardry says:

            Can you tell me how dialogue trees can be used in an emergent way and how “low intelligence dialogue” can be expanded to dialogue for every single point in intelligence from 1 to 10?

          • Bhazor says:

            @ Wizardry

            So basically you want to replace every single conversation with this?

          • Wizardry says:

            Of course not. That’s just a mini-game. The effects of it are determined by speechcraft, but the act of playing the game is nothing but player skill with only one interpretation of a best solution in all cases.

            Why do you think I want to turn conversations into a mini-game? Is combat a mini-game?

          • ffordesoon says:


            Well, I’m not sure you’re communicating your system effectively, then, because it sounds very annoying to me. There’s stuff that works, and then there’s stuff that sounds good on paper. I think there’s more to be done with the “list of things to ask about” system, for sure, but I just can’t see how your system is beneficial to those of us who like NPCs to be distinct characters. It takes me out of the game if they aren’t. As far as I can tell, just adding more reputation and skill checks to the dialogue tree system would accomplish what you’re proposing without taking me out of the game.

          • Wizardry says:

            You can’t add skill checks to a dialogue tree system. You have to add skill checks to individual dialogue options in individual dialogue trees. To make intelligence affect everything you say, that requires the developers to add skill checks to every single conversation point in the entire game. That could be over 50,000 in some games. And then you might have to add charisma… and then if you want to make any changes that requires a complete rewrite of dialogue. It’s not a system you can tweak to balance things out. In fact, it’s not even really a system at all.

    • Vinraith says:

      Yeah, that’s unfortunate. It’s also an important reminder, personally, of why I haven’t pitched in on a Kickstarter project. You don’t know what you’re getting, partly because the developer themselves doesn’t really know what they’re making yet. Preordering a game at the “concept” stage is just insane, you never know when the whole thing’s going to skew off in some totally different direction in which you have no interest.

      Don’t get me wrong, I wish many of these projects all the good fortune in the world, and I’m still likely to buy Wasteland 2 when it comes out, but I’m relieved I didn’t follow my original instinct and chip in $50 now.

      • TillEulenspiegel says:

        For $15, you can get a game that’s guaranteed to be reasonably faithful to the original Wasteland (with X-COM style combat, as mentioned in the latest video), much closer than any modern RPG.

        For me, it would take a pretty bad worst case scenario to wind up with a game that’s not worth the $15. Sure, there will inevitably be disappointments and flaws. But it’s a massive step in the right direction.

        • LionsPhil says:

          Well…when you factor in time, “$15 worth of game” can be indistinguishable from $0’s worth if the problem is that it is long but constantly disappointing, since you won’t bother getting very far into it when you could be playing something else (c.f. a short and sweet game which you will finish and enjoy—think Portal 1).

          That said I don’t think Fargo’s dropped enough balls quite yet. We’ll see, I guess.

        • Vinraith says:

          “For $15, you can get a game that’s guaranteed to be reasonably faithful to the original Wasteland”

          Actually you don’t have any guarantees, which is my whole point. Is Fargo going to refund my money if I don’t feel that the resulting game is “faithful to the original Wasteland?” Should he, even? I’m not sure giving pre-orderers that kind of creative veto is even wise.

          I’ll wait and see what comes of this with interest, but I don’t see it as a good investment, or even a good gamble, at this stage.

      • malkav11 says:

        Every one of these Kickstarters I’ve backed has said enough for me to know I want the game in question. They’ve already committed to certain design principles that are key for my interest. I guess it’s theoretically possible they could still stray far enough within those bounds for me not to care anymore, but it’d be really really tough.

        For example, the only ways Wasteland 2 could have lost my interest would be words like “real time”, “multiplayer” (especially “PvP multiplayer” or “MMO”), or “first person”, and they’ve already specified that none of that would be the case. Double Fine could have said “Xbox Kinect”, “for children” or “Wii”, but that’s about it since I’ve already followed them through just about everything else they’ve done and enjoyed it.

  14. Paul says:

    This was a *fantastic* interview.
    I cannot wait for Obsidian Kickstarter.

  15. Hoaxfish says:

    I just hope this deal helps keep Obsidian going, rather than being done in by metacritic scores.

  16. Beelzebud says:

    I love the resistance you see in these comments. Gamers that have every twitch need catered to just have to complain because an old school RPG is being made that doesn’t appeal to them. Guess what guys, you don’t have to play it, and with the way it’s being funded, no one really cares if you don’t.

    That’s the beauty of this project. It isn’t being made for the mainstream twitch gamer.

    • ffordesoon says:

      …Buh? The only resistance I’ve seen in the comments on this particular post has been from avowed “old-school” people. That one guy at the top of page 1 fits your criteria, I guess, but…

  17. InternetBatman says:

    I don’t know why people are so crazy about Alpha Protocol. It had the brilliant idea to give every NPC their own reputation system, and branched hundreds of different ways. Everything else stunk. The way you interacted with the environment, the graphics, the combat, the checkpoint-system, stealth, the dialog system (which was not much better than Mass Effect). They all stank.

    For me its flashes of brilliance were too few and far between to make up for its clear lack of direction. This is not a VtmB situation, where the innovations outweigh the bugs.

    • ffordesoon says:

      No, the dialogue system was also brilliant.

      Besides that, I’ll give you all of your points. The reason people like me like it is because the flashes of brilliance you mentioned made up for the rest of the game, and the rest of the game was not so aggravating for us that we couldn’t forgive it its general below-average-ness. You had the more common reaction by far, RPS comment section love notwithstanding. That’s absolutely fine.

      • Wizardry says:

        Timed dialogue is rubbish. It’s like introducing real-time combat into an RPG. You’re basically needlessly punishing the player for not being a quick reader/thinker.

        • ffordesoon says:

          I thought it was pretty nifty in AP. It added to the “an episode of 24 you play” feel of the game.

          I certainly wouldn’t want it in Wasteland 2, but there’s more to be done with the mechanic.

          • Wizardry says:

            Well you’re right. It was good in Alpha Protocol because Alpha Protocol was an action RPG. What I’m saying is I hope it doesn’t creep into any full RPGs…

            …like Wasteland 2.


        • Zeliard says:

          The dialogue choices in Alpha Protocol are purposefully single words reflecting a mood so as to be able to choose them quickly and more instinctively.

          • Wizardry says:

            And if you want to “role-play” (I hate using that term) a character who is so far removed from yourself that you find it difficult to get in character and to adjust your mind to think like they would? Why should you be punished for that by having a time limit?

            Like I said, I do understand it in Alpha Protocol because it’s not a full on RPG. It’s also an action game. All I’m saying is that I don’t like the system and I wouldn’t want it in a game like Wasteland 2.

          • LionsPhil says:

            I’m not really sure where such a concern has come from, since Fargo has already cemented turn-based combat as a design decision. What would make him go for action conversations, and who is even advocating that he should?

          • ffordesoon says:


            Based on my conversations (and outright arguments) with people on the backer forums (where I finally seem to be gaining a bit of traction, thank Christ), I empathize with Wizardry, actually. He’s part of a group of people who have basically been outright scorned by developers and publishers for, gosh, at least ten years? And people in that group are – rightly or wrongly – pinning all their hopes on this game.

            I mentioned Bioware and romance in the same sentence without appending the required “BOO, HISS!” to it, and a two-page thread about maybe having some gay characters in Wasteland 2 metastasized into an epic sixty-page deluge of hate for me and a few other people who thought it might be an okay idea. There was even a long thread on the RPG Codex putting us in the Codex’s official Hall Of ‘Tards (which was later taken down, and is still down as far as I know. That was fine with me; I thought it was delightfully funny, actually.

            But it does show you how worried the fans of the original are that it won’t be “right”, and how defensive they are of it as a result. And I get that, I really do. Publishers have basically told them they don’t exist for years now, and they’ve been left to sulk in their own little corner of the internet; even when they’ve been told they’ll be catered to, they’ve been burned. Now the Wasteland 2 project has come along, and they’ve been told once again that this game is for them by a man they all respect. But they haven’t been given more than Fargo’s word yet, and he has to do things like sleep and eat and work on the game, so he can’t be there to reassure them 24/7. In the absence of reassurance, doubts inevitably creep in, and when you’ve been conned repeatedly before, such doubts grow quite pronounced almost immediately. And when an outsider like me comes in and casually mentions things you would see in the modern RPGs they all loathe, and Fargo’s pretty much said that he and his team are going to “obsess over” every suggestion… Well, it tends to trigger a pretty vitriolic response, even when someone like me meant very little by it.

            So I get it. They want Fargo to not be lying like all the others lied, and they’re worried that all his promises will prove empty, because this feels like the last hope for change to them. Which is not to say it is the last hope, but when you’ve been treated as badly as they have for as long as they have, every hope feels like the last one, you know? They want this to be right.

            Bit longer and more sentimental than I intended, but I assume you at least understand roughly what I’m saying, yeah? :)

          • LionsPhil says:

            Uh-huh, and it doesn’t even require Fargo to be in any way dishonest: a very real risk of listening too closely to a fanbase “democratically” is that it’ll pull the design toward the most vocal majority. Pretty much the worst case would be a load of FO3 fans going “well, I like post-apoc RPGS, right?” then piling in and turning the game in a FO3 direction. (Regardless of opinions on it, it’d be a) a huge waste of the kickstarter project’s ability to be something other than mass-appeal and b) likely to fail because the budget is too small.)

            So while I can understand touchiness about “they should bring in modern thing X, that’s fun”, I’m not sure anyone really said it here. (And, like “make it first person like FO3”, it’s an X that seems fairly strongly ruled-out already. Worries of things like “deep and meaningful inter-character relationships” [read: Japanese dating sim in your conversation tree] are much closer to concrete concerns.)

      • InternetBatman says:

        For what it matters I disagree. The timed idea was an interesting experiment, but it was overwhelmed by the fact that you didn’t know what your character was going to say. If they had broken arguments up into more discrete chunks and shown it to you instead of two or three lines of dialog the timed system might have worked better.

  18. Catoblepas says:

    So was the canceled project the Wheel of Time RPG that Obsidian was working on with Red Eagle Games? I haven’t heard anything about it for an age, so I guess that would make sense. A pity, Wheel of Time has only gotten one game so far, and that was a shooter.

  19. bill says:

    “gamers are just as risk averse as publishers”.

    Not quite, but it’s a close run thing.

    It’s lucky we have Kickstarter so that we can get people to make sequels to games, otherwise the evil publishers would just keep pumping out sequels to games.

    • LionsPhil says:

      “At least we have kickstarter to fund sequels to games that publishers would never make sequels of (outside of FPS conversions like XCOM or Syndicate) rather than just evil publishers pumping out sequels to Call of Battlefield”.

      Fixed that for you.

      (Also Schafer isn’t sequelling anything, and is the bigun which kicked all this off.)

      • bill says:

        No, but he’s producing games in the spirit and style of the old games.

        I’m happy kickstarter is allowing more choice in sequels, I’m just a little sad that people get so much more excited about funding a well known developer to make a game like he’s made before, rather than funding an unknown developer to make a game like nothing before (which is surely the point of Kickstarter).

        I was a little sad that the immediate response to Schaffffer’s success was for people to clamor for Psychonauts sequels, Planescape sequels, wasteland sequels, etc…

        • Paul says:

          Actually, the point of kickstarter is that people can fund whatever the fuck they want. So if they want sequels to games that would never get sequels otherwise, that is what they will fund.


  20. Lord Byte says:

    Am I the only one who doesn’t like Obsidian in the mix? They’ve only produced flawed, buggy and weaker versions of popular games.
    – Neverwinter Nights 2 (still buggy as hell, much worse than the original)
    – Alpha protocol (weak title overall, interesting ideas, bad execution, and extremely bugged at release, still dread to play it today)
    – Kotor 2 (rushed, buggy, nonsensical due to dropped content)
    -Dungeon siege 3 (they’re doing it on PURPOSE)
    -Fallout New Vegas (buggy, weak, not a fallout, storyline is crap too)

    • LionsPhil says:

      Take a look at page 2 of the comments. And that’s for just thinking Avellone’s humour is bad (and ill-fitting, although apparently not so much for Wasteland).

    • InternetBatman says:

      That’s not true for most of those games.

      NWN is much better than the original. They restored party based combat, the characters (especially in MoTB) are better, the story allows you a small bit of choice on where you want to go (which is more than NWN 1 ever gave). I’m going to list party-based combat again, because it’s so important to a game based off D&D. I swear it’s like people played Hordes of the Underdark and forgot anything else existed.

      Fallout New Vegas was buggy. It was made in a buggy engine. Bethesda is on the fifth iteration of the same engine and they still can’t fix the problems. It was still vastly superior to Fallout 3, in every way. Every dungeon had a reason for being there. There were no terrible subway levels. The world design made sense. They fixed autoleveling enemies, instead going for the smarter geographic distribution method. If you didn’t like Fallout style humor they hid it behind a perk. The weapon systems were better balanced. They made the closest possible game to Fallout using Bethesda’s systems and mandates.

      Dungeon Siege III is better than DS 1 or 2 because the games were always mediocre also-rans to Diablo. The interesting parts of the games were overwhelmed by the sheer weight of the omnipresent mediocrity. DS3 at least has some interesting parts like Stonebridge. I also haven’t seen a single bug while playing it, which is rare for most video games.

      Alpha Protocol was a mess and Kotor II had brilliant flashes of potential that were hurt by dropped content.

      • FunkyBadger3 says:

        NWN2 is dreadful bilge – failed massively to live up a fairly average first part (Hordes of the Underdark was good fun though.

        FO:NV was buggy and boring.

        Alpha Protocol was at least trying to be something interesting.

    • FCA says:

      Neverwinter Nights 2 wasn’t a masterpiece, but the original one only was saved by being a good platform for modules. I could not stand the original campaign at all. And of course, the Mask of the Betrayer expansion for NWN 2 is very good.

      Kotor 2 was unfinished, yes. But still, what they did there (at least story-wise) was way more interesting then anything ever done in the Starwars universe after A New Hope imo.

      Dungeon Siege 3: didn’t play, after waltzing through DS1 by pressing the forward key. Why anyone has ever attached some value to the Dungeon Siege name is beyond me. Still, I gathered this was mostly a bug-free release, just not a very interesting one.

      Fallout: New Vegas: not a Fallout? Of course, it’s not Fallout 1 or 2, but looking at the original design documents, it’s pretty much a realization of the story and setting of Fallout: Van Buren in the engine of Fallout 3.

      • Lord Byte says:

        Imho the original was saved by the official expansions. There was too much schlock out there to have any chance of finding a half-decent module that wasn’t broken as hell. Both Shadows of Undrentide as well as Hordes of the Underdark were miles removed with regards to storytelling and interesting encounters.
        I just couldn’t dig the second NWN because of the horrid storytelling and many game-breaking bugs (I recently replayed it, after buying it all again on steam and AGAIN couldn’t make the story choices I wanted to because the game would break horribly. And still there were thousands of CTD bugs with no rhyme or reason.

    • jaheira says:

      Storm of Zehir wasn’t on your list and might well be the best thing that Obsidian have ever done. I liked the integration of the dynamic overland map, where the outdoorsy skills came in useful. Also the player generated all the characters at the start so you could have a nicely balanced team.
      I certainly preferred it to Mask of the Betrayer which suffered horribly from “ability creep” whereby all the chars have a million skills but only ever need to use about three. It also had that pointless Spirit Meter thing which didn’t amount to anything but some busy work now and again. Oh and one of the companions was Gann-of-Dreams who still holds the title of Smuggest Twat in Gaming.

      • InternetBatman says:

        Zehir was an interesting concept. I really dug the open world and the idea about rebuilding a land, but I think that it just didn’t have enough content. It expanded the game in interesting ways, but there just wasn’t that much to do and eventually you ran out of stuff to make and buy.

      • FunkyBadger3 says:

        You make it sound like the Gold Box games.

        Wonder why they went out of fashion.

  21. ABearWithAGun says:

    Gonna ROFL so fucking hard when they just fuck off with the $2 mil cause they aren’t legally bound to do shit.

  22. Cutter says:

    Come on! This is Chris the “Av” Avellone! Alpha Protocol 2? Pfft! How about another Planescape game first? Planescape Torment is still one of, if not, the best CRPGs ever made! Someone needs to get all those good IPs away from WOTC and start doing some good stuff with them!

  23. phenom_x8 says:

    And where the hell is my sunday papers??

    • pilouuuu says:

      I was wondering the same. Maybe they took the weekend off for the holidays…

  24. DrGonzo says:

    W2 is nice I guess. But having only recently played Planescape and Fallout 1 and 2 I realised what I want is the writing and better storytelling, choices etc, but without the absolutely shite gameplay.

    Give me interesting worlds and characters without grindy combat. A Skyrim with little to no combat set in Planescape that’s just about exploring, meeting people and working your way through a story. Anyone who thinks the combat or “gamey” bits from those games were fun is mad or simply opposed to progress in my opinion.

    • Vinraith says:

      I’m not aware of anyone who thinks Planescape has good combat (personally I think the game mechanics as a whole are pretty shit, it’s the worst implementation of D&D rules I’ve had the misfortune to play), and Fallout is usually recognized as one of the worst implementations of turn based combat out there (because turn based combat makes very little sense with only one character). Most people pining for the good old days of RPG combat are talking about older games than the ones you’re describing, which are kind of the awkward middle children of the genre in that respect.

      • malkav11 says:

        Torment had some awesome spells, but yeah, the combat was otherwise quite lackluster. I really enjoyed combat in Fallout and Fallout 2, though. About the only major issues I had were 1) the fact that they moved every single NPC in the area every turn, individually, even when they were way offscreen and irrelevant and 2) Fallout 2’s Temple of Trials, because it was slow (due to happening right at the start before skills and gear improved at all) and because it was an extended combat sequence before most weapon categories became available to you, rendering many builds ineffective.

  25. KevinW says:

    Lets get the record straight.
    Chris Avellone was not part of Fallout 1 at all!

    At the time he was on “Descent to Undermountain” which was a complete disaster.
    (Plus my buddy Chris Farenetta along with friend Rob Holloway were on the D2U team too).
    I should know because I’m one of the original Fallout programmers.

    For that matter Feargus Urquhart takes a lot of credit for Fallout 1, but he really wasn’t so much a part of it. At least not what I saw (again I was there). He just happened to be the title-less Interplay RPG division director at the time. You would actually see him in meetings some times. I suppose he made executive decisions behind the scenes that I wasn’t privy too, but certainly by no means was he part of the day to day creation, decision, and build process.
    Also Brain Fargo was “the man” of course, but you saw even less of him as the “associate producer”.

    It was more Tim Cain and the lead designer Chris Taylor (plus a few others and amazing artists I don’t mention to be breif).
    IMHO Chris Taylor (the lead designer) deserves a lot more credit for what Fallout turned out to be.

    Interesting how some people like Avellone, Feargus, etc., glom on to the success of Fallout (at least #1 anyhow) but had very little to do if anything with it..