Wasteland 2 Interview with Chris Avellone and Brian Fargo
By Brother None
Can you tell us a little about how this collaboration idea was born? Who approached who, and where did the idea come from?
CFA: Sure - so it started out with Brian dropping me a line to see what I thought of Wasteland 2 as an idea and if I'd be willing to support a Wasteland 2 project. Initially, this was just a quote for the site and some social sharing, which I was happy to do because I loved Wasteland 1 (it's one of my 10 favorite games of all time), and I also elaborated on my Wasteland feelings in my blog.
Then, as we got talking, Brian asked if Obsidian and I would be open to more actively contributing to it, and I was "hell, yes." So Brian worked with our CEO Feargus Urquhart to see about the logistics, and it all worked out as of this past Saturday (4/7). It's nice not having to go through the publisher bullshit to strike a deal, that's for sure - we just want to work together.
Brian, between having Jason Anderson having written much of the story, bringing the old team back together, and now adding Chris Avellone, is there any "too many cooks" problem? How do you ensure a consistent vision?
BF: Wasteland 1 was created the exact same way in which I brought in a number of different designers to give their spin on an overall world. Jason provided some great ideas and detail on the world of Wasteland 2 and we will parcel out the areas to the different designers like Mike or Chris and they can design what they wish within those areas. We will detail out what we need for them to accomplish in their locale and it might be a simple set of variables like "make sure they get the proton axe, make sure they meet Mad Dog Fargo and they received a certain clue". As long as they get those points across and stay within the framework of the world then I want to see their spin on it. This keeps the world fresh and with variety throughout. This is a similar process as to when sci-fi writers collaborate on a book.
Are you looking to license the Onyx engine from them? Has inXile decided on an engine?
BF: We have narrowed it down to 2 engines (not Onyx) and are now running art tests to make sure it can accomplish the look we want. The other important factor is it needs to be set up so that we don't need high level programmers and artists to get the assets in. There will be SO many world states, quests and interactions for the player that we need to be able to throw enough scripters in to capture all the ideas and outcomes. This is critical.
Is that the extent of Obsidian's involvement, design and aid in tools, or will they be doing programming or other work?
BF: I just covered this in my latest KS update but the main involvement will be the efforts of Chris Avellone and the potential use of their tools to help integrate assets. 100% of the programming will be here at inXile as I like to be in charge of such things.
In the press release, you highlight the "spiritual sequel" connection between Fallout and Wasteland. With Jason Anderson and Chris Avellone involved, you're bringing in more people with Fallout roots. Can both of you comment on the exact relation Wasteland 2 will have to the Fallout games, both 1/2, Tactics and/or the new ones?
BF: I'm not sure how to comment on any exact relations other than to say that Fallout clearly took many of the elements from Wasteland even down to the rangers themselves. It is a gritty post apocalyptic world that relies heavily on music and sound to set a strong tone. It is a rough and ready world that has little morality and will clearly have adult tone to it. There will be many ways to accomplish getting by barriers or to winning the game itself. The use of a skill system is paramount to the Wasteland experience also. Wasteland 2 will make a bigger leap forward in UI and in audio design (this doesn't mean talking heads) over Fallout.
Chris, share some memories of Wasteland. What influence did it have on you when working on Fallout 2, and later on New Vegas and its DLC?
CFA: Wasteland was the 1st post-nuclear RPG I ever played, and as much as its influence was felt on Fallout, it definitely affected future design decisions. In Old World Blues, in particular, when the goal of the DLC was to reach back into history and answer questions unexplained, I wanted to make sure we were saluting Fallout's roots as well, which is the reason for some of the content: (Giant) Robot Scorpions, Proton weapons, and more. Only a few of the fans saw the homage for what it was, but getting that nod in there and supporting our history was important to me.
Chris, can you tell us what this means for your own Kickstarter plans? Do you still want to go forward with it, and does this delay it in any way?
CFA: I still want to go forward with future Kickstarter plans. There are a lot of games I'd love to make, and this isn't an obstacle, this is a boost toward that goal in a number of respects, not just from a gaming standpoint but from a game development standpoint:
1. I want to support this publishing model. This feels like a better way to deliver to fans (myself included) who I feel get sidelined by the publisher model that doesn't allow for adventure games, turn-based iso RPGs, or even get a Shadowrun game rolling because of the return on investment. I miss those genres and worlds, I grew up with them, and I want to play those games so much so I'd pay (at least) 5x the cost of a triple A game to do it. Furthermore, I support Kick It Forward, and I want to encourage other companies to use this publishing model as well.
2. I want to learn from Brian. He positioned himself very well with Kickstarter, and he made a lot of smart decisions on how to approach Wasteland 2 and interface with fans. Working with Brian has been great, and when the time comes to announce a project of our own, I'd love to have Brian's help with it, he’s been really pro-active in this whole process.
3. Selfishly, I also wanted to work on Wasteland 2. :)
Chris, is it true you have a terrible fear of clowns? Brian, has the office been made clown-free?
CFA: I do have a fear of Clowns. I wrote half an entire Dark Champions character source book about clowns. I am now tempted to put a clown-themed gang in Wasteland 2 because all this clown talk is freaking me out.
In all honesty, clowns made Stephen King's "IT" far more terrifying for me and the reason I carry clown repellant at all times.
BF: Chris knows me well enough to know the clown suit is never far away.