RPG maestro and human stretch goal Chris Avellone probably isn’t planning to go solo but earlier today he confirmed that he’ll be leaving Obsidian. The studio’s most recent title was the superb Pillars of Eternity, on which Avellone worked as a narrative designer, but both he and Obsidian, the company that he co-founded, have a proud back catalogue. Obsidian is still home to some of the finest minds in the RPG business, not least Eternity lead Josh Sawyer, so my main interest here is not what happens to the studio he’s leaving but what Avellone does next.
Two of Avellone’s earlier projects, while at Black Isle, caught my attention when I saw this news – Fallout 2 and Planescape: Torment. Both games have successors in the works and while Avellone is already contributing to inXile’s Torment project, the possibility of him moving to inXile full-time doesn’t seem entirely out of the question. I also find the idea of Bethesda bringing Avellone on board for Fallout 4 appealing, partly because I want some new (old) blood injected into the Bethesda RPG formula.
But recent talk of the Van Buren trademark – linked to an abandoned Fallout spiritual successor – makes inXile seem like the strongest candidate if Avellone is set to join an ongoing project. Eurogamer spoke to Brian Fargo recently:
…he had more to say – implying he intends to make something Van Buren with Chris Avellone, if and when inXile has time. (Avellone retains close ties to inXile, having been involved in Wasteland 2 and, now, Torment: Tides of Numenera.)
I asked if Fargo was doing anything with the Van Buren trademark. “Not yet,” he replied. “But there were some things, some ideas, that Chris Avellone had for doing something that made the post-apoc – a twist on the whole what-was-being-done that we really loved. So we talked about it and we thought why not grab the rights so we can entertain this one of these days.
“But nothing now,” he stressed. “We have enough on our plate to be doing that right this second.”
Perhaps we should expect something new though. Avellone has confirmed his departure from Obsidian to Eurogamer, adding:
“…many well wishes to the folks at Obsidian. On the future, I’m off to pursue new projects, but I can’t say anything more at this time beyond life is short, and the ideas keep growing.”