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Chris Avellone Interview

An interview on Gamasutra chats with Chris Avellone of Obsidian Entertainment about their upcoming Project Eternity, as well as some of the old school RPGs that inspired this upcoming release and the successful Kickstarter that got the project underway. He offers the following outlook on what RPGs like this fell out of favor with publishers:

I don't know if I have a good answer for that. I do know that there's one technical limitation: when you're developing an RPG for the consoles -- which most publishers want because it generates the most revenue -- it's often very difficult to control a party of characters, with either the PlayStation controller or the Xbox controller. So that immediately causes you to change the dynamic of how you design the RPG. You can have two party members with you [the player], but you've got to recognize that that consumes a lot of memory right then and there. And you also have to set their AI states -- you're not really controlling them.

A lot of those [Infinity Engine] titles were PC-only, and that's not really an appealing pitch to any publisher. They don't really want a PC-only title, because that's not going to maximize their revenue.

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3. Re: Chris Avellone Interview Dec 2, 2012, 17:54 Eirikrautha
We have the classic case of economic dissonance here. As a business (or industry) grows, more oversight of the company financials are necessary. The business gets too big for just a few people to keep track of the "money" side of the business, especially when the "production" side of the business is peopled by folks who are very good at producing their product (which is why the business becomes successful in the first place) and not financial whizzes.

So what does a company do? It hires financial "professionals," people whose expertise is in leveraging the money, rather than making the product that generates said money. As the company grows, so does the role of the financial guys... until most of the people making the decisions are money-men, not product guys. Then you see the slow slide from relevance that has plagued companies since time immemorial (see IBM for a perfect case study).

The same thing has happened to the games industry. At this point, the money-men run the industry, so, like Avellone says, the publishers start looking at the rate-of-return documents rather than the actual products (i.e. games) they are creating.

That's why Kickstarter and the indie scene are so refreshing. Here's hoping the big players can't find a way to stifle these new outlets for the actual creators (as the most common response of a dying industry is to try and destroy the competition by using its finacial clout to buy laws and regulators... see the **AA groups for the case studies on this)...
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