Mark: With your industry experience, how great an impact would you say publishers have on a game’s final design?
Chris: Publisher impact on a game design varies. THQ, for example, trusts us to handle the RPG elements in South Park. Bethesda trusted us to handle the Fallout franchise based on our experience. SEGA left the Alpha Protocol story and branching alone (and even agreed to let it be rewritten and re-recorded), but did have requests for the more action-based game mechanics and implementation – it’s our job to listen, digest, and if we disagree, we raise a critique, and if the critique is ignored or clarified with additional information, then you move forward.
Mark: Just for fun, if you had the means to make any kind of game you wanted, what kind would it be and what features would you implement?
Chris: There are a few things: Giving the player their own theme music they could customize from their own local computer soundtracks or grabbing them from the game’s music list – they could summon their theme music like a spell effect and gain bonuses while the theme music was playing (we did this in our Fallout pen and paper game at Interplay).
Also, I’d love to see more games that do design and gameplay with audio – one thing I’ve always wanted to try is have “audiomancers” who can collect SFX as audio weapons from the environment. As an example, they could attack or eavesdrop on a wolf, listen to its idle bark or dying snarl, record it, and use that SFX as pieces to create “audio spells” to attack other opponents. It would add to the exploration and sneaking in an RPG where you pay more attention to the wind rushing through the trees, the coughing/snoring of an unsuspecting guard, the crashing of the waves, or even the crunch of your feet in snow.
I’d also love the chance to do “true war” in a fantasy setting a la Black Company and the Malazan Book of the Fallen – both of those series showcase what “war” could be like in a fantasy setting in fascinating ways. The Deadhouse Gates in particular, still haunts me with some of the battles in that book.
Lastly, one of our systems designers, Matt MacLean proposed a “honeycomb mission structure” for Alpha Protocol a long time ago, and I’d love to do a game that used that structure for missions. The idea with a Honeycomb Mission Structure is that you’re presented with one central goal, and a number of satellite missions that you can optionally choose to take on that have impacts on each other and the goal mission as well, kind of like a hub of missions surrounding a central mission. You can pick and choose the missions that cater to your playstyle and then use those to achieve your objective.
Mark: Finally, what’s next for Obsidian Entertainment? How’s it been working with the South Park Team for the South Park RPG?
Chris: It’s going great. Never thought we’d get the chance to work on South Park – when we first got the call from those guys, we thought that Red 5 in the office above was punking us.
Then we wondered how a South Park RPG would work, Matt and Trey explained it with a simple cinematic, and it all clicked. Hope to have more news soon (by the time this interview hits, that info may have already been released).
I will say that there’s nothing better than being in a room with Matt and Trey and they start getting excited enough about a questline that they’ll start acting out the quest line in the character voices. Pure gold.
Edited by funcroc, 01 June 2012 - 09:29 AM.