Chris Avellone Interviews

An interview with Chris Avellone where he talks about his involvement with Owlcat's Pathfinder: Kingmaker has popped up on Facebook. It's not overly long and mostly revolves around the Pathfinder universe and how it translates into a video game. A light, informative read. Here's an excerpt:

Why did you choose Kingmaker as the setting for the CRPG? Why the River Kingdoms?

It was the decision made before I came on the project (work had already begun using Kingmaker, and the companions were fleshed out as well – usually biographies and arcs). That said, I don’t have any issues with the setting or the adventure path at all, I think it was a good choice (further confirmed by fan feedback).

I like the Kingmaker adventure path, it makes for an interesting computer role-playing game, the Stolen Lands are a perfect place for building a kingdom from scratch, and even better, the adventure path format gives Owlcat and I “breathing room” to add more narrative and quests without disrupting the classic adventure path itself (for players that know it and love the adventure path, they’ll find plenty of the same characters, areas, and situations, but often with an added element we’ve been able to bring to it on the developer side).

The Kingmaker Adventure Path has its own story. How faithful will the plot of the CRPG be to the AP? Should we prepare for any surprise twists?

Players familiar with the adventure path will be pleased at seeing many of the characters and setting from the pen-and-paper version of Kingmaker, and while there are some changes, I think players will be pleasantly surprised by how these changes complement the existing material – especially the companion interactions and the ways companions interact with some of the elements of the Kingmaker plot.


Being the hero may be fun, but we all know the dark side has cookies. Will there be possibilities to be really, despicably evil?

Yes. And cruel. And cunning. I generally find “smart” evil (ex: talking two enemies into killing each other) to be more fun than demanding more money as a quest reward or being a mass-murderer.

Will our decisions and actions have an impact on the world? Does the story offer replay value, offer different outcomes and endings depending on how we play?

Yes, it’s one of the hallmarks of an RPG, and Kingmaker is no different. We’d like players to play it more than once and get a different experience each time. The companion arcs alone have several options that are shaped throughout the game, and that means the story can change considerably depending on your party composition.

How much creative freedom will we get with quests? Will most of our problems be solved with the sword or will there be alternate, more unorthodox solutions like in tabletop?

Speech and diplomacy (especially in your role in ruling your kingdom) are part of your arsenal, both in the court and on the battlefield. Of course, swordplay is still an option, but you may find other ways to achieve your goals with much different results.

Additionally, a few days ago, Chris Avellone also appeared on the Dev Game Club podcast. During an hour long segment, he talked about his magnum opus, Planescape: Torment and, to a lesser extent, the rest of his impressive career in gaming. Here's the full list of issues covered on the podcast, so that you know what you'll be getting into:

Issues covered: how the opening areas were designed, Hive as playground, leveling up along with the city, building an engine and Black Isle lacking skills to do so, licensing engine from Bioware, Interplay's financial woes, The Birth of Avellone, interview, the forehead of Zeus, turning tropes on their heads, having the franchise before you had an idea for a game, crafting a vision document, players being smarter than publishers give them credit, Fargo having faith in his developers, Fallout dev issues and Fargo's support, recording FF effects and using that to help, changing the death mechanic because it makes you stop playing, death as a tool, flexibility of alignment shifts, what kind of player are you?, not judging the answers, Chosen One vs Broken One, causing problems across the Multiverse, story/adventure/puzzle heaviness, IWD as a cash-in attempt, writing a story in a weekend, IWD a step back rather than a step forward, "an unconscious bad choice," working around the combat if you want, unbalanced combat system, gratification from dialog choices, using experience points as systemic reinforcement of story importance, chunky dialog options, balancing, building your own Fortress of Regrets, fearing for the end of your career, localization costs, Fargo sticking up for the writing, expensive localization because of all the writing, possible loss of the companion dialog, New Vegas companions not being tied to storyline, lost opportunities, attempt to trade versatility, conveying the spine of a story via companion commentary, doing more vs doing quality, allowing polish to shine through, memorable stories, trying to do one thing really well, System Shock 2, Avellone freelancing, XP on its head, how it came to be, companions wrapped in story, number of 2D companions vs 3D companions, taste test.