Chris Avellone Interview, Part One

The first installment to a multi-part interview with Obsidian Entertainment's Chris Avellone is up at the Will Ooi blog (and mirrored on Gamasutra, as Willooi's site doesn't function for various European locations), and as is usual with MCA Q&As, it's an excellent read from start to finish.  Topics include his current obligations, his career highlights, some of the decisions he made during the development of his earlier titles, and much more. A sampling:
WO: What are some of your favourite writing or design achievements in your career? A particular character or quest, perhaps?

MCA: I like the influence system (although not its first iteration in KOTOR II) as a way of making players pay more attention to a companion's philosophy and outlook rather than just Karma, although I prefer the individual NPC influence meters in Alpha Protocol as a more realistic and true-to-the-world feel for how others judge you based on your actions, not some internal player character moral barometer.

As for other experiments: The idea of disparate personalities being forced to cooperate under pressure when they normally would kill each other is something I've always liked. We used this in Fallout New Vegas, Dead Money, and it was an experiment I wanted to try ever since the Planescape days (although in Planescape, the idea would be that a group of hated enemies all had tattoos that prevented them from harming each other and straying too far from each other, and they had to cooperate to escape. sort of like the movie, Cube). Since Planescape wasn't an option, I switched it to a collar in Dead Money and went from there.

As far as characters, I've loved all the characters I've written for different reasons. I loved writing Rose of Sharon Cassidy (FNV, although Rachel Roswell voice-acted her and took her to a new level), Dean Domino and Christine from Dead Money (who shows up in more than one of the Fallout DLCs). For Christine, it was fun to figure out how to (write) a mute character, and the fact she switches voices over the DLCs is kind of interesting as well. I also have a lot of love for Ulysses in Fallout, only because I like the idea of someone hunting my player for reasons of his own, and then hearing the reasons why. and realizing how important even the smallest of my actions are for the people of the wasteland living or dead.


WO: Have you ever written a character who you personally despised, and if so is it a challenge to ensure that they aren't wholly unredeemable? For instance in Fallout 2, the Chosen One character could be offended by Cassidy's initial bigotry towards tribals, but then he turned out to be essential.

MCA: Well, Cassidy in point: Sure, he's a bigot. at first. When you confront him on it in his dialogue, he apologizes, backs off, and when you ask him about it again, he does a change now that he knows you and respects you, so you have to tip your hat to the man's willingness to change based on what life's shown him. And it's even better because you're the one who caused him to re-evaluate his perspective, so from a player standpoint, that's a double win.

I've never despised any character I've written there's usually always something about them that I find respectable. The Legate's pragmatic in Fallout New Vegas and his violent appetites border on poetry which I like even Leland from Alpha Protocol, there's pragmatic things I respect about his approach to the world climate and I call it out during the game's narrative and he calls it out if Thorton (the player) shows the same attitudes in carrying out his missions.