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Thread: Chris Avellone interview

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    Chris Avellone interview

    Industry Gamers interviewed Obsidian's creative director Chris Avellone, whose latest work has been most of the Fallout: New Vegas downloadable content, with questions on subjects such as his duties, advances in RPGs and the gaming industry at large. Here's a snip:
    IG: What's the most important advances in RPG design in the last few years?

    CA: That's tough. I'll say the "advances" have been more for player convenience, sometimes good, sometimes bad, in my opinion. Journals, quest compasses that point directly to the goal and show you the route, auto-maps, etc. are helpful; at the same time, I think it undermines the thrill of victory and discovery and a lot of what makes an RPG an RPG (exploration, notably). In terms of non-interface elements, I feel the idea of morally gray choices and more focus on actions and consequences has been great for RPGs across the board. Lastly, fully voice-acted characters has been something to adapt to since Knights of the Old Republic 1, and the amount of localization, recording and audio work that requires is substantial, but I feel it's a net positive for the player.

    [...]


    IG: What do you enjoy most these days about the game industry, and what annoys you the most?

    CA: I enjoy the fact that role-playing game mechanics are bleeding into other genres, and the "genres" aren't as clear-cut anymore developers are seeing the worth in customization, leveling, dialogue, choice and reactivity and other elements that would normally be considered RPG mechanics and introducing them into multiple titles. As for challenges in our line of work - I do get concerned sometimes that for the majority of my job, it's difficult to iterate on voice acting once it's recorded and localized, so there's some stress there in fixing bugs or fixing level flow when you absolutely have to get it right the first time. Still, there are ways of planning ahead to prevent the larger obstacles (recording generic lines, making sure journal and quest objectives are never voiced text, etc.), so it's not a big deal. You just adapt and move on.
    YOU WANT DEAL?

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    CA: I love digital distribution... I hope digital distribution stabs the used game market in the heart.
    Haha! That's one of the few reasons I don't like digital distribution. I can't share my games with my little brothers when I'm through with them. I definitely understand from a developer's viewpoint, however. If most developers were swimming in money, resilient to the threat financial demise, it'd be a different story.
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    Used games have a surprising culture around them, well back in the 90's early 00's when indie game stores still existed.
    On the one hand I can see it from the devs view of making more money but it is also great marketing, borrowing games or buying old ones.
    More so than ever now the shareware scene is dead and demos are once every blue moon.
    ''You have the right to remain inconspicuous."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Makagulfazel
    CA: I love digital distribution... I hope digital distribution stabs the used game market in the heart.
    Haha! That's one of the few reasons I don't like digital distribution. I can't share my games with my little brothers when I'm through with them. I definitely understand from a developer's viewpoint, however. If most developers were swimming in money, resilient to the threat financial demise, it'd be a different story.
    Yeah because people don't always want more?

    People are petty greedy fucks, nothing is ever enough.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Makagulfazel
    CA: I love digital distribution... I hope digital distribution stabs the used game market in the heart.
    Haha! That's one of the few reasons I don't like digital distribution. I can't share my games with my little brothers when I'm through with them. I definitely understand from a developer's viewpoint, however. If most developers were swimming in money, resilient to the threat financial demise, it'd be a different story.
    Digital distribution is great for developers in a lot of ways. Obviously cuts down the second hand market, from which developer basically no profit (obviously this isn't as good for gamers as it is developers). It also cuts down overhead costs like distribution and packaging. It also created new markets for discount and lower budget priced games and has made publishing and finding a market this types of games much easier, as they are not longer competing for shelf space at store with higher cost, more heavily promoted titles.

    Also in the case of the New Vegas DLC the lower budget and risk involved in the titles allowed Avellone to experiment more with gameplay and narrative ideas, in ways that we wouldn't have seen in the main game, adding some nice variety in an industry that at times to seems to pushing toward safer and less varied content for its bigger budget, higher profile games.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Token-not-found
    People are petty greedy fucks, nothing is ever enough.
    I'm assuming you're not a fan of professional movie stars or athletes? That's just a wee bit more ridiculous and commonplace than the greed associated with video game developers.

    Quote Originally Posted by ramessesjones
    It also created new markets for discount and lower budget priced games and has made publishing and finding a market this types of games much easier
    Yeah, I believe digital distribution is much more efficient and love that it opens the market for little gems like Terraria or Killing Floor.

    EDIT:
    About Token's comment - I might be saying the same thing if I didn't have some of my favorite gaming studios shutting down after releasing critically-acclaimed titles.
    The world is a dick.

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    I'm assuming you're not a fan of professional movie stars or athletes? That's just a wee bit more ridiculous and commonplace than the greed associated with video game developers.
    I'm not a fan of people , period

    Wasn't talking bout game devs, just people in general.

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    Oops, I should've guessed from your signature.
    The world is a dick.

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    @Used game stuff: Well, I find it a bit silly to compare second hand sales of games with second hand sales of cars, etc. After all, the cars are getting older and (in most cases) more and more rundown, up to the point that it's ready for the junkyard, while a game would always have the same quality (except maybe the box).

    I can totally understand, why the industry does wants this to go away and really-- If I look at my history, the only times I bought second hand games, was 1. when I bought boxed copies of very old games, which aren't produced anymore today (MDK, Jagged Alliance, etc.) and 2. if there was no other way anymore to get some game at all (like the Resident Evil Remake for GameCube).

    I only wanted the boxed versions of the games, because they had been damn cool. Nowadays, boxed copies of games are usually not cool anymore and just some dvd plastic package. If this wouldn't have been the case, I would have bought them digitally only.

    And... I never ever sold a game so far, but I can understand if people want to get rid of shit games or games they would never replay anyway. Therefore that's the only valid argument (for me personally) to be against all this digital stuff. If there somehow would be a mechanic to sell a game you bought digital to another person, and x% of the money goes to the developer, I wouldn't mind that at all. In worst case, make it only possible to sell a digital game once... this would mean that only the second hand buyer is fucked, if he doesn't like the game. But hey, that's one person less who is fucked, hm?

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    Uhm, did anyone of you actually think about why Chris Avellone has this opinion in the first place?


    Because I reaaaaaaaaaaly doubt Chris cares about money he is never going to recieve.

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    Makes me feel sorry knowing a great developer is part of a video game company that constantly gets pressed by the publishers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Token-not-found
    I'm assuming you're not a fan of professional movie stars or athletes? That's just a wee bit more ridiculous and commonplace than the greed associated with video game developers.
    I'm not a fan of people , period

    Wasn't talking bout game devs, just people in general.
    You know, wanting cheaper stuff sounds greedy to me...

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    Quote Originally Posted by gumbarrel
    You know, wanting cheaper stuff sounds greedy to me...
    Don't bother. People like him are obviously the solution and the entire rest of humanity (99.999999999999999999999999% of which he has never met and never will) are obviously worthless subhumans who deserve to meet a violent end at his hands, so, there's not much point trying to make a point to such a pillar of what is good and right.

    Anyway, what the hell, MCA. Why the hate for the used game market? The used game market has nothing to do with why any game developer has succeeded or failed, ever. Only head-up-the-ass corporate clowns in suits (aka producers) should care about that because they might see an extra tenth of a percent in revenue from the tiny minority of people who buy on the used market that would otherwise actually buy a brand new copy of a game.

    I dunno when people accepted the bullcrap that our $60 entitles us to, essentially, rent the game and have no rights to transfer what we purchased to another party or seemingly any damn rights as consumers at all, but really. People decry the government getting more involved in business, but what the hell else can be done when businesses just go further and further into anti-consumerism so their executives can afford their 5th jumbo yacht to go with their 3rd summer mansion in freaking Cancun or whatever (not that I believe all government action benefits the consumer, but that's another tangential rant).
    "Bore, n.: A person who talks when you wish him to listen."
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    I have asked MCA about the topic per E-Mail. His hate for the "used game Market" is basically only the beef with the "company that can not be named if you don't want to be sucidial in the field". He's not accusing the entire market.

    Thanks, -----. I can understand the greed label by folks, and I appreciate your take on it. That's not my reasoning, although I admit that my reasoning and research stemmed from financial frustration.
    We're not independent, we run month to month based on the graciousness of our publishers and our deliverables, and we've had to let people go solely for financial reasons, not for performance reasons. I've had to let those people go personally, even after not being paid myself and other folks have taken pay cuts. It really makes you examine where the money goes.

    That said, the used game market is not to blame for this.

    In short, let me explain:

    - People are free to sell their purchased games whenever they want. They're like books, cars, your DVDs, etc. This is customary, accepted, and makes sense based on our market.

    - When I say "market," that's too broad for what I mean, and I should clarify. I'll refine that by saying that I wish people would be more careful of the market who they re-sell to, as some institutions I have no respect for and I don't believe they deserve the re-sell business that are given to them - not only because of their business practices with regards to used titles, but other practices those institutions are engaged in that makes me no longer shop there. That said, the concept of selling used games is not to blame and people are free to sell to whoever they want.

    - Lastly, I believe the end result is people want cheaper games. It's why you sell games back in the first place - to get some of the
    initial money back. I firmly believe digital distribution makes costs lower, based on my personal experience it makes the games better, and while this may be a PC/Steam-centric attitude, some Steam sales are pretty insane. Furthermore, digital distribution on Steam makes me play many more games than I would otherwise because of the exposure and how the market is organized on the menu screen.

    Anyway. Hope this helps. I'd be happy to discuss any of this further.

    Chris

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    The future looks bleak - no public library's - (borrowing a book instead of buying it is obviously hippy poo)...second hand cars, sporting gear, clothes, even lending a friend to your crappy DVD will be outlawed.

    Spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, then die.

    I can't stand this argument, if the games industry can't adjust then it deserves to fail. I wish there were an abundance of second hand computer games shops, stocked full of cool old titles in their original boxes, just like the second hand book shops.

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    Quote Originally Posted by .Pixote.
    The future looks bleak - no public library's - (borrowing a book instead of buying it is obviously hippy poo)...second hand cars, sporting gear, clothes, even lending a friend to your crappy DVD will be outlawed.

    Spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, then die.

    I can't stand this argument, if the games industry can't adjust then it deserves to fail. I wish there were an abundance of second hand computer games shops, stocked full of cool old titles in their original boxes, just like the second hand book shops.
    Future looks bleak when people have the inability to read through a 1 page thread. Especially its last post.

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    Future looks bleak when people have the inability to read through a 1 page thread. Especially its last post.
    But bitching about people and the state of society makes us look so smart!
    Shepard: Conrad... if you have a shrine to me, I'm going to be upset.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ilosar
    Future looks bleak when people have the inability to read through a 1 page thread. Especially its last post.
    But bitching about people and the state of society makes us look so smart!
    ^



    Cynicism is a symptom of being either

    A- a teenager who hates everyone because they call you a dothead in school

    or B- an adult that really needs to meet more people
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    I don't believe many of us had the dothead name calling problem. Doodoo head maybe


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    Quote Originally Posted by Farmerk
    Doodoo head maybe
    Or the, "Hey! You with the hair!"
    The world is a dick.

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