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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fallout Fan Question

Fallout Fan Question

Alex Nistor:   Concerning Fallout 3 , I really was curious to hear your more in-depth opinion about it.   So you said you had a similiar opinion on it to Sawyer, but what was missing from that, in my opinion, was a breakdown of your pro's and Con's for Fallout 3.   Considering Bethesda made it in a similiar style to Oblivion, I just wanted to know specifically, how was the transition?   And like I said in the above comment, what did you like and not like.

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

Un-Ravel-ling Torment.

Un-Ravel-ling Torment.

Some fan-based questions I answered recently, posting them to share - it's about Ravel Puzzlewell from Planescape: Torment and some of the thoughts behind her creation.   What was the origin of Ravel?   We had a number of physically powerful enemies in Torment, and I thought a night hag would be a good adversary, especially if she was a cryptic, deadly puzzle maker. As the game went on, the idea that Ravel was a branching creature whose life resembled a great tree (or bramble

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

How much character backstory is enough?

How much character backstory is enough?

Next question about game writing is from Jonas...   WARNING: This blog is a spoiler, so if you haven't played Knights of the Old Republic II you may want to stop reading here.   Hey Chris,   I'll try to keep this short out of respect for your time. I just found myself with a deep desire to know how much background material you tend to write for an average companion NPC in the party-based games you've worked on. I'm trying to get a feel for how much background mater

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

General Design Questions, Part 1.

General Design Questions, Part 1.

Got some general questions from Joakim, and wanted to post them in 2 parts in case folks were interested. If not, that's fine, too. Joakim had some Knights of the Old Republic 2 questions as well, and I'll post those in a few days.   1. If you couldn't be a game designer what would you be, and why? (in the game industry of course)   I would either be cartooning (I still do one-shots for the comic "Knights of the Dinner Table" from Kenzer & Co), writing game supplements (C

Chris Avellone

Chris Avellone

Morality in Games, Part 1.

Morality in Games, Part 1.

I recently did an interview regarding morality and games for a student's Master's Thesis, and I wanted to share in case anyone was interested. Or wanted to quote me in or out of context for fun.     What is your name and professional title? My name is Chris Avellone, and I'm Creative Director (and Lead Designer on our Alpha Protocol CIA RPG) here at Obsidian Entertainment.   For how long have you been working in the computer games industry? Over ten years

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

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