Chris Avellone Interview

Grupo97 has published a pretty good interview with Obsidian's Chris Avellone, covering such topics as Alpha Protocol, plot complexity, video game scripts, and more. A sampling:
You're a big fan of RPGs, not only as creator but also as a player. What's your feeling about the genre nowadays?

It depends on the presentation, really, but I think we're seeing a lot of good RPG content coming out consistently from RPG developers over the world (BioWare, Bethesda, CD Projekt, just to name a few), that I have a lot of faith in the genre. I think BioWare's Dragon Age and their way of taking the genre conventions and giving them a twist (elven slavery) is pretty good, and Bethesda's really driving home exploration and open worlds in their games.

I think there's a lot of promising stuff being delivered in the action RPG market as well - Borderlands and Torchlight seem to be generating a lot of positive buzz. I haven't played Borderlands yet, but I'm really looking forward to Torchlight (and eventually Deathspank), if only because the art styles of those games really strike a chord in my nerdly cartoony heart.


You said that the moral ambiguity of Alpha Protocol will be closer to Fallout 1 and 2, which is very promising. Could you please explain how is this system being developed?

Alpha Protocol doesn't attach a moral absolute to the main character - instead, we track the player's attitude and individual NPC's perception of the player's morality and ethics. Basically, the player gets judged by the NPCs, but his morality isn't a number or scale attached to him personally.

Basically, the world paints you as a saint or demon - but even that's too simplistic for people's attitudes in AP, since each of them has a different perception of right and wrong. Each NPC brings their own morality judgments to the table - so saint/demon can translate into sympathetic, worthy of respect, friendship, object of romance, aggressive shithead, etc., but in terms of you judging yourself? Hell, you're just doing a job. You know why you did what you did to get the job done, the world be damned.