Chris Avellone Interview

GamesIndustry is offering an interview with Obsidian's Chris Avellone, focusing mostly on the Kickstarter projects he's been working or started working on recently, Wasteland 2, Project Eternity and Torment: Tides of Numenera. Here's a snip:
Q: Is it difficult to make sure there's no bleed between projects when you're working across so many?

Chris Avellone: Yeah, I think that's a good question to ask. I think it's because the settings in Wasteland and Eternity and Numenera are all so different...I think that kind of makes it safe. Because ideas that fit really well into the new Torment game, like it's crazy how similar the locations can be, they wouldn't fit quite as well into Eternity. Eternity has more elements that, while not being like D&D, Forgotten Realms definitely has hallmark D&D bits about it. Numenera is much more free flowing, much more story focused, and Eternity is stuff like dungeon exploration, party team, how do you approach a problem, how do you approach an encounter. And then the games just feel a lot different in terms of aesthetics. I think prevents a lot of design bleed between the two.

One of the designers was talking about one of the areas for Torment and it's basically this big living dungeon that communities live in, and also monsters, and depending on what you feed the dungeon it opens up new portals to other dimensions and it moves around. If anyone attempts to ever quantify the dungeon, and say 'I'm going to try and measure how big it is' or what intelligence level it is they're mysteriously destroyed. And I'm like: this is the craziest and most awesome fucking dungeon ever, but that's not something we would do for Eternity. Eternity would be much more like: here's the architecture for a dungeon that was exploring soul mechanics. So I think the two aesthetics between them sort of help.

It's also good from the writer's block standpoint where I can go: this idea will work really well in Torment so I can really roll with that, but when I get writer's block there then I can switch over to Eternity and do something else. It actually works out pretty well.

Q: I get the impression Eternity is more like traditional D&D - how do you balance comforting fantasy tropes with breaking expectations?

Chris Avellone: There's a lot of hallmarks like dwarves and elves but I think the cool thing that the project director Josh Sawyer has done is he's made a conscious effort to make sure that even though the word dwarf and the word elf is there to bring you in and understand the general concept, then he does a lot of cool cultural twists and racial twists that clearly set them apart. I mean he's really good about that, and I'm sure he'll talk more about that in future updates, but he's really really good about that.

Q: There's a sort of pre-industrial revolution, flintlock feel to it...

Chris Avellone: Josh felt pretty strongly about exploring a tech level for the game and I think it was the right decision. And also the way that different fighters and combatants in the game use those bits of technology to sort of overcome typical arcane defences creates this interesting tension between wizards and fighters so it's kind of an interesting spin.

Q: Progress of South Park - THQ situation, any point where you thought it was over?

Chris Avellone: The most I can say about South Park in an official capacity is that the transition from THQ to Ubisoft was pretty smooth, and there weren't really any problems with that.