Why he's excited to work on Wasteland 2, Obsidian's past hurdles with publishers and project cancellations, the franchises he'd like to work on, and the future of Obsidian Entertainment are only some of the subjects that have been tackled by The Critical Bit's in-depth interview with Chris Avellone. Here's a snippet:
You’ve mentioned that you are often inspired by RPG conventions that bother you. What about RPGs has been irking you lately?
Let’s see. The concept of High Fantasy bugs me. I’d love to take a high fantasy game, fuck it up and then dump the wreckage in a player’s lap to experience. This probably also explains my desire to knock cupcakes and ice cream cones out of kid’s hands.
Conversation mechanics also bore me and frustrate me. I feel like dialogues have been devolving as time goes on, and the idea of being placed in a paralyzing face-to-face conversation with limited interactivity doesn’t seem to be the way to move ahead with this system. I keep looking at shows like Sherlock for inspiration, or even mull over ways to implement interactions if you had to do it for Half-Life and keep the feel of the game, and I feel there’s a better way to do it without going the full-on cinematics route… no slam on that presentation, but that’s BioWare’s territory, they’re masters at it, let them do it best, and the rest of us should find other ways to approach it that might yield an equally cool system with less resources. I felt we had a good system going on with Aliens that didn’t take you out of environment, and I did like the time pressure that Alpha Protocol provided because it fit the spy/24 genre (not my idea, that’s all Spitzley on programming and Mitsoda on design).
Next – dialogue morality bars tied to your character’s power with no middle ground that gives you equal empowerment. It removes any interest or awareness of the conversation beyond trying to hit the button that says “choose Good side or Bad side.” When that happens, I feel like you’re in danger of losing the RPG experience because you’re not reacting like you would naturally based on the context of the situation, you’re “gaming” the system instead of role-playing it.
What else: Handholding. Quest markers that point you right to the solution, especially. At least try to make the quest markers and objectives a game (Ghostbusters did it by having you literally “hunt” and play hot and cold with your objectives, Far Cry 2 did it in a similar method with triangulation for diamonds). I realize that you are in danger of frustrating players with mechanics like those, but I feel like the level we’ve stripped out challenge for the player is perplexing sometimes.