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About this blog

Musings and uh, Stuff.

Entries in this blog

Project: Eternity and Characterization

Project: Eternity and Characterization

Character building for games isn’t easy, and it requires a lot of effort, especially when it comes to companions. I’ve had the good fortune to work on a variety of titles with strong support characters over the years, and I enjoy writing them a great deal. I still can’t believe I get paid to do this (don’t cut me off, Feargus).   There are a few guidelines I try to follow when designing companions (some of these are dependent on the engine and franchise).   - Combat/Challenge

Chris Avellone

Chris Avellone

Home is wherever I'm with you

Home is wherever I'm with you

It's been a while - aside from Obsidian work, I've been doing quite a bit of talks here at Dragon*Con and across the sea in Spain at Gamelab on a variety of subjects, from advice to getting into the industry, to Kickstarter, and even our approach to designing characters for video games. Even better, I'll be doing the same coming up here in October at Austin GDC's narrative track concerning Obsidian's narrative approach - and going through our design process at the end of the month overseas conce

Chris Avellone

Chris Avellone

Challenge vs Frustration: Bloggin' on Time Limits

Challenge vs Frustration: Bloggin' on Time Limits

So a designer's job is to make jumping through hoops fun, and calibrating the challenge/frustration ratio of jumping through said hoops.   This blog post stems from a question from the AMA Brian Fargo and I did on Reddit (long ago) concerning the issues with this in regards to one infamous piece of game design: time limits, and how two different games dealt with the challenge.   From a gamemaster/game designer perspective, the idea of time limits is appealing. It creates pres

Chris Avellone

Chris Avellone

If you're heading up a Kickstarter, let us know if you want help.

If you're heading up a Kickstarter, let us know if you want help.

Obsidian gets applicants for internships all the time from schools across the States, and it may be that if you're forming a Kickstarter, you may need a lot of technical, production, and development help for tasks that students and juniors would love to do to contribute to their careers and education.   If you're running a Kickstarter and would like to consider a pool of applicants to help you hit your game's mark, let us know - there may be interns/juniors in your area or could assist

Chris Avellone

Chris Avellone

Some additional narrative designer advice.

Some additional narrative designer advice.

In the last profile, I ended up giving general advice on seeking out development jobs, here are additional suggestions for narrative designers:   - If you have the time or resources, I'd recommend attending the Game Narrative/Writer's Track in Austin GDC, TX in October (I

Chris Avellone

Chris Avellone

Torment and Character Agency

Torment and Character Agency

Some Planescape: Torment questions from Joe Hogle, an undergrad at the University of Pittsburgh, posting the reasons for some design choices.   (BTW, if you guys ever have questions you want to answer for research papers or just because you want to know, feel free to email me at CAvellone@obsidian.net, let me know when you need them by, and if it's okay to blog the answers.)   In many RPGs, including the Fallout games you

Chris Avellone

Chris Avellone

Old World Questions

Old World Questions

Some Old World Questions from Rocky Justice (thanks, Rocky):   1. What is your official title? I know in the credits it says you're a writer, but I was wondering if there was a more specific title for your job. Also, how'd you get in to your line of work? Did you study writing in college, or was it something you discovered later on?   I'm Creative Director here at the studio - I'm involved with the design department, giving advice on best practices, design methodology, and he

Chris Avellone

Chris Avellone

Why did NCR ask the player/Courier to bring the package to the Divide?

Why did NCR ask the player/Courier to bring the package to the Divide?

Because Twitter would make this too fragmented:   (Spoiler alert)   NCR sacks Navarro in the West, recovers a bunch of tech they don't understand, as history has proven.   They do, however, recognize the symbols (American flag, silo stencils, etc.) and recognize it might be tied to the same symbols and markings the NCR found at the Divide.   NCR hires a Courier to take the item there. They don't for a second think that anything bad will happen as a result,

Chris Avellone

Chris Avellone

Old World Blues Contest Winners.

Old World Blues Contest Winners.

Fallout New Vegas DLC contest this time was to suggest research projects for DLC3: Old World Blues, taking you to the technological graveyard of the Big Empty, one winner:   I chose the one from Blinzler below, because like Old World Blues, it draws upon the history of Fallout and in this case, Blinzler's entry reminded me of the Burrows (even though the Burrows never existed, one of the goals of Old World Blues was to dig into the history of how certain inventions and critters in the

Chris Avellone

Chris Avellone

Honest Hearts FNV shirt winners + honorable mentions.

Honest Hearts FNV shirt winners + honorable mentions.

Here are my ruthlessly subjective winners for the most honest act in Fallout: New Vegas that made your heart hurt.   Of the 200+ entries, here are the winners followed by a lot of honorable mentions.   Next contest for Old World Blues should be up on Twitter soon. It'll probably involve experiments. Or captions. Or something blue-sy.   Warning: Spoilers below.   Winner ==============   KnotworkOrange Created my account just to answer. Though

Chris Avellone

Chris Avellone

Results of Fallout New Vegas Movie Script contest.

Results of Fallout New Vegas Movie Script contest.

We had a few winners with the Fallout T-shirt contest - the contest: do a one sentence Fallout movie pitch (in honor of the Fallout movie script being leaked).   Lot of submissions (and too much to do in a Twitter post). I finally decided to break it into 3 categories: Best Trailer Speak, One That Made Me Laugh, and the Most Honest. So without further ado...   (And forgive the formatting, this'll be the last time I experiment with size, color, or fonts).   First the

Chris Avellone

Chris Avellone

FNV Perk Contest Winners.

FNV Perk Contest Winners.

Couldn't fit all the entries on Twitter, so here's a selection of winners for the Fallout New Vegas perk contest.   Broke them into Most Useful/Interesting, Most Ennio Morricone-Inspired and Most Humorous. #FNV   Most Useful/Interesting: @ericsiry Six Million Cap Man, @Spartan3995 The New You!, @Spartan3995 Burden to Bare, @Soultaker696 Sole Survivor.   Most Thematic and Ennio Morricone-Inspired: @ericsiry Trick Shot, @gogukaizer Evil Eye, @amoebasoid A Few Caps Mor

Chris Avellone

Chris Avellone

Dead Money, Design Breakdowns.

Dead Money, Design Breakdowns.

With Dead Money coming out for the PC and PS3 this week, I got into a discussion about how I feel about its reception and some of the design decisions. In short, my feelings concern the context of the specific design elements. Some folks understand the "why" of the challenge elements even if they don't agree with them, which is fine, as long as they get why we did it the way we did - and that may not be apparent. So: If you play the adventure and want to dig deeper into the reasons behind the co

Chris Avellone

Chris Avellone

Concentrated Casting

Concentrated Casting

Quick question from Rafał Adamek:   I have a question: what types of characters do you prefer? Do you like to create a mass of different episodic persons who can gave you quest, have some background story but are not related to the main hero and don

Chris Avellone

Chris Avellone

Writing --> Studio

Writing --> Studio

Minor addition to the writing question list.   Also how is it like to write without having any idea how the character will sound?   When writing, most designers envision how the character sounds as they're writing - when the time comes for auditions, they provide a series of sample lines, a picture of the character in-game, breakdowns of the age, brief history, etc., and then the casting agency will run through auditions looking for someone who can deliver the lines as envisi

Chris Avellone

Chris Avellone

Writing, Cont.

Writing, Cont.

2 More:   How do you choose who writes each (major) character in a game, also who's allowed to do any writing?   Depends, sometimes it's just necessity (you have the most bandwidth, so you do X person, or you're already doing the main city where the character resides, so it's best if you write Y antagonist), other times we're able to purposely assign folks with skill sets to characters (which Josh did on Fallout New Vegas). For Fallout New Vegas, Josh broke down the companio

Chris Avellone

Chris Avellone

On Project Directors and Lead Designers

On Project Directors and Lead Designers

From a multi-part question on Twitter.   How do Project Directors and/or Lead Designers get selected?   To clarify the hierarchy at our studio, a Project Director isn't necessarily a designer, and at Obsidian, a Project Director is above all other disciplines except Feargus, who is all-powerful, even if he might debate that.   At the moment, we have four project directors - one from design (Josh Sawyer), another from design (me), one from programming (Rich Taylor),

Chris Avellone

Chris Avellone

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