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School Stuff, FNV, Austin, Contact.

Chris Avellone


Some questions from forum goers/emailers: TheJokester


Do you have any recommendations on what schools would be good to go to for game development?


The Guildhall's pretty solid (a few of our designers on Fallout New Vegas were hired from there). They usually have strong portfolios based on classwork they've done, which they can usually use for quick submission in designer tests, too.


If you end up going to any gaming school, just make sure they put you in group projects, as no game developer works alone, so the team experience is important.


I've mentioned this before, you don't need school - more often than not, it's what you do outside of school and the results you get on your own that really end up giving you the experience you need for the gaming industry. For example, working on mods, making your own Neverwinter modules, doing Oblivion/Fallout mods, writing for magazines, compilations, web sites, mod communities, characters for mods, comics, game strategy guides, etc. The important thing is that you do something and have results of your efforts to show others.


Finally, having something folks can play rather than just documentation of what they can play is preferred. If your submission shows you've built it and played it and others can play it, that makes your submission stand out.


And same question, for art schools.


I polled some of the designers here at work, and the following schools they endorsed were:


Ringling College of Art and Design in Florida (one of the artists on AP and our unannounced titles went there, and I believe the founder of Massive Black, whose company did F3/FNV concept art went there). One of the school's strength is in 3D animation and illustration.


If you're in the SF area, our interface artist on FNV recommended the Academy of Art in SF, and he strongly recommends the computer art program there, and he has friends that teach in Art Institute of California in SF and recommends the program there as well.


One of our environment artists on FNV recommended the Rio Hondo Community College and she went to Cal State Fullerton, and she thinks it has a pretty strong Animation/Art program.


One of our animators on FNV, however, says **** it and just make sure you develop a good portfolio, regardless of the school.


Some other general stuff:


I have an idea for an FNV game system or perk, and it's X.


If you have an idea, my suggestion is to post it on the forum for discussion and send us a link - while our opinion is great, having the opinion of 20+ folks to it may help refine the suggestion and get more feedback on it.


This applies to song suggestions as well, but those are okay to send at any time.


How do you set up technical constraints for dialogues for your titles?


We're actually giving a talk at GDC Austin (it's on the Narrative/Writing track - the actual name of the conference is GDC Online now, I believe) on the dialogue standards we set up individually for our titles - the standards depend on the genre (D+D is different than Star Wars which is different than Alpha Protocol which is different than New Vegas which is... well, you get the idea). The standards encompass the amount of text on screen, formatting for skill placement, how to set up item description text, quest logs, quest log entries, clarifying objective text, amount of voice-acted dialogue players should see on screen, how the game mechanics of the dialogue and the dialogue systems work and how they should be paced (alignment shifts, reputation shifts, Light Side/Dark Side gains and how to communicate that to the player), and more. With any luck, John Gonzalez (our story lead and creative lead for New Vegas) and George Ziets (Mask of the Betrayer story crafter and designer) will be joining me up there. Hopefully, we can talk about our unannounced title then and the work George has been doing on it, even if he's modest about it as always.


For any aspiring narrative designers, Austin GDC's a great place to meet narrative designers in the industry, too, highly recommended.


Obsidian should be at Comic-Con, too, although more on that in a bit.


Your Messenger Inbox has been full for years and I want to send you a message.


Send any emails to CAvellone@obsidian.net - that account never fills up, much to our IT department's chagrin. I've tried clearing out the Forum Messenger Inbox in the past, but history has shown I can't keep up with the flow, especially across multiple email accounts and still stay sane. So when possible if you have something you want to ask or is really urgent, drop me a line at that email address and I'll do what I can to help you.


The only thing I'd ask is understand that we're working hard on Fallout New Vegas, so it might be a while before I can respond to you if your email has a lot of questions. Regardless, I will try.




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