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.