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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Polygamer Interview: Translation

Polygamer Interview: Translation

Polygamer went live with an interview I did for them a while ago (Polygamer Interview), and here's the English translation for those who don't know much beyond their high school French... like me.   1] At Polygamer we ask ourselves many things about videogames, for example why it

Chris Avellone

Chris Avellone

Kotor II Questions

Kotor II Questions

Knights of the Old Republic II: Sith Lords questions from Joakim... some spoilers follow.   1. K2 pretty much changed on how the force, the galaxy, the Jedi are portrayed. How did that work in terms that you were making a sequel to a very typical Star Wars game? (KotOR1, we have this evil dude who wants to blow up the galaxy just for the hell of it).   A lot of it came from deep-rooted feelings and opinions about the Star Wars franchise, both positive and negative, and especi

Chris Avellone

Chris Avellone

Video Game Writing vs. Writing

Video Game Writing vs. Writing

I get a lot of questions from folks regarding narrative design and getting into the industry (especially after the Trzynasty Schron interview).   When possible, I'll be posting the answers here as well in case anyone else has the same questions (or wants to comment or add to any of these answers).   To start it off, here's the 1st of 3 questions from Joey 😄   Do you feel that video game writing, and video game story creation differ from other forms of creative writin

Chris Avellone

Chris Avellone

Blog o' Romance

Blog o' Romance

So, I generally despise writing companion romances (I think unrequited and/or doomed ones are ultimately more dramatic), but there are some techniques I've accumulated over the years that I try to incorporate into writing and designing romances in RPGs.   A lot of these things came out while writing Gannayev-of-Dreams in Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer, and I suppose it could hold true for other inter-party romances in games. What follows is a summary of some points we kicke

Chris Avellone

Chris Avellone

Star Wars EU Interview up!

Star Wars EU Interview up!

Thanks to Andrew (Son of Skywalker) and EUCantina.net, part 1 of writing/designing Star Wars comics/games is up at:   Star Wars Expanded Universe Interview Part 1   Clone Wars Adventures (Issues 7-10) is also nominated for Best Children's Comic in the 2008 Eisner Awards! I feel incredibly stoked (I contributed stories for issues 7, 8, and 10).

Chris Avellone

Chris Avellone

Awards for video game writers... but not designer-writers.

Awards for video game writers... but not designer-writers.

I have to confess, I was pretty happy to hear the Writers Guild of America, West was giving awards for video game writing.   Award Criteria and Submissions   Then the fine print came out, which basically invalidates all the writing work we did at Black Isle and Obsidian for the past ten years, including:   "Submitted games MUST have separate credit for writing (i.e. Written By, Story By, Writer, Story Designer, etc.). Writing credits must be verified by their inclus

Chris Avellone

Chris Avellone

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