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Chris Avellone says Pillars of Eternity was too linear and that he had little impact on the story


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You can not only pick your stories, but you can literally just kill virtually anyone in PoE and the Elder Scrolls. In TES, if you kill someone essential to the primary storyline, the game allows it to happen but simply prints an on-screen warning, "you just killed someone essential to advancing the main plot"

 

Also, did you say that Fallout New Vegas is an example of non-linear story? cause...

 

 

Repetitive combat + copy-pasted rubble + no significant story = boring waste of time.

 

The exploration in New Vegas feels very repetitive and boring.

 

The game does have a main plot, just that it's a bit slow to get going. The main driving force is finding your dad and fixing the water supply. As for everything being copy and paste, that's just the wonders of the gamebryo engine.

 

http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-2209561.html

Why are you quoting a comment on Fallout 3? New Vegas is nothing like Fallout 3.

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You can not only pick your stories, but you can literally just kill virtually anyone in PoE and the Elder Scrolls. In TES, if you kill someone essential to the primary storyline, the game allows it to happen but simply prints an on-screen warning, "you just killed someone essential to advancing the main plot"

 

Also, did you say that Fallout New Vegas is an example of non-linear story? cause...

 

 

 

Repetitive combat + copy-pasted rubble + no significant story = boring waste of time.

 

The exploration in New Vegas feels very repetitive and boring.

 

The game does have a main plot, just that it's a bit slow to get going. The main driving force is finding your dad and fixing the water supply. As for everything being copy and paste, that's just the wonders of the gamebryo engine.

 

 

http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-2209561.html

Why are you quoting a comment on Fallout 3? New Vegas is nothing like Fallout 3.

Yeah mate totally agree with you. I wish people thought a little harder.

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I'm left with the impression that Avellone left, at least in part, because of creative disagreements over PoE.

 

But during the period immediately after the game's release, he seemed to be taking a pretty "glass half full" approach to Pillars of Eternity. For example, see him lavish praise on creative lead Eric Fenstermaker here: https://twitter.com/ChrisAvellone/status/583680931774373889

https://twitter.com/ChrisAvellone/status/582593216542744576

 

I think something must have happened afterwards.

Edited by Infinitron
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I think Avellone is one of those creative types who got asked to work on a bunch of fun side projects and slowly realized that at some point he became an administrator. And just like your ex becomes "that ****ing *****" the moment everything falls apart, there is probably some resentment, even though the relationship wasn't that bad.

Edited by Achilles
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"Art and song are creations but so are weapons and lies"

"Our worst enemies are inventions of the mind. Pleasure. Fear. When we see them for what they are, we become unstoppable."

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I think certain elements of the main plot of PoE were meant to be at least superficially evocative of PS:T. For example, it seemed obvious to me that Iovara was meant to be a take on the Deionarra role (although her relationship with the protagonist is ultimately very different - intellectual rather than emotional)

 

Although player has ability to define protagonist's past self's and Iovara's relationship as lovers, which closes some of the ending options away.

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Such a shame that beautiful things have to be compared and cannot exist on their own.

 

How would we understand the sublime nature of beauty without a reference point.  From my point of view, I could have done with far more Iovarra.

 

Yes. I can only decide whether or not I like chocolate if I also eat poop. And once I decide that I like chocolate, I must compare every other food I eat for the rest of my life to it.

 

 

It's worth pointing out that much of the world hates American chocolate because of the way it is processed.  If you only had poop to eat your entire life, chocolate may not be your bag of tea.  Or you could be a dog.  1 out of 1 dogs I tested preferred poop to chocolate.

Edited by anameforobsidian
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I'm left with the impression that Avellone left, at least in part, because of creative disagreements over PoE.

 

But during the period immediately after the game's release, he seemed to be taking a pretty "glass half full" approach to Pillars of Eternity. For example, see him lavish praise on creative lead Eric Fenstermaker here: https://twitter.com/ChrisAvellone/status/583680931774373889

https://twitter.com/ChrisAvellone/status/582593216542744576

 

I think something must have happened afterwards.

 

I have seen several places, his lecture etc, that he often doesn't mention PoE when he talks about his back catalogue. I'm not going into the speculation game here, but it's obviously not the title he is most proud to have worked on. He has however, since last time I saw his twitter, added the game to his list of some of the stuff he has designed.

 

Even if his departure wasn't on the best of terms, both Obsidian and Avellone seems to be in pretty good places now. Let bygones be bygones, as they say. :)

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  • 4 weeks later...

http://www.gameinformer.com/b/features/archive/2016/01/02/chris-avellone-talks-games-obsidian-and-christmas-sweater-etiquette.aspx

 

Again he complains there is no clear hierarchy in Obsidian while developing games and he left Obs after Pillars which seemed like tightly developed game with JES being the clear lead...

 

But nvm, none of our business : d

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http://www.gameinformer.com/b/features/archive/2016/01/02/chris-avellone-talks-games-obsidian-and-christmas-sweater-etiquette.aspx

 

Again he complains there is no clear hierarchy in Obsidian while developing games and he left Obs after Pillars which seemed like tightly developed game with JES being the clear lead...

 

But nvm, none of our business : d

 

I think that's narrowing the interview a lot.  Considering that before that he says:

"I want to make cool games of any size, any genre with cool people. Anything else (example: money, the best company car) is not important to me.....  Obsidian had cool people, but there were a lot of projects that Obsidian wouldn't consider or couldn't consider – both internally and externally."

 

It's safe to assume he was feeling creatively stifled by the real world demands of game development.  

 

[i couldn't] enforce a design philosophy or even tell any other employee what to do, even project directors and lead designers.

 

Seems less like a complaint about lack of direction, and more a complaint of lack of control.

 

 

There's nothing worse than two owners telling an employee different things. It can snap a brain in half.

 

That could mean a clash with one of the other four founders, given the line above it could mean that someone consistently backed people other than Avellone.

 

 

So I don't know if enforcing that common design vision equates to freedom, but it's worth saying that most collaborative efforts require that degree of compromise, especially in games, and it's a group effort from top to bottom. The most freedom I've ever gotten in all the companies over the years is when no one above really cared much about the game I was working on until it was far along.

 

I never got into this industry to get rich, I got into it so I could live my hobby, and I'm content with that.

 

Take the whole interview together, it sounds like he was frustrated because he couldn't do what he wanted to do at Obsidian because of money.  And he couldn't force other people to do what he wanted them to do because the other leads / admin didn't have his back (probably because of money).  So he wasn't making stuff he was happy with.  Sounds a bit like Tim Schaefer, development should always empty out all bank accounts.  And that leads to great games, but it also leads to a lot of people out of work and unfinished games.

 

So.... I think that just confirms what a bunch of people are saying.  It was probably a bit acrimonious, but if I had to guess he was probably feeling this way long before Pillars.  The fact that Feargus was willing to let him work for InXile and then FTL could have been an attempt at a sabbatical, or it could have been a recognition of the growing distance between Avellone and the rest of the company.

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While i got the same impression as aname, i also read a few other things between the lines. It seems Chris enjoys the more hands on parts of game writing, with seeing an idea of his through development from start to finish. His work schedule puts heavy emphasis on the creative aspect of writing, which suites itself well for writing all kinds of stuff from companions, side quests or main storylines (or working as a living stretch goal). However, he seemed to only consider the more boring managing tasks in the evening, when is creative mind ran empty for the day. This seems to be contrary to how he describes his daily duties as creative director.

 

So to me it sounds like he realizes that it's the creative hands on tinkering with individual writing aspects of a game (or novel) that he enjoys the most. And he climbed the ladder too high at Obsidian to be able to continue to do it (and maybe got into a position where, despite being a founder, didn't allow him to force any of his creative ideas, for better or worse). This whole situation might indeed explain why we saw him a lot and joked about him appearing as a living stretch goal. He seems happy with his decision to actually follow that career. I'm eager to see what becomes of his new endeavors

Edited by Gruftlord
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So to me it sounds like he realizes that it's the creative hands on tinkering with individual writing aspects of a game (or novel) that he enjoys the most. And he climbed the ladder too high at Obsidian to be able to continue to do it (and maybe got into a position where, despite being a founder, didn't allow him to force any of his creative ideas, for better or worse). This whole situation might indeed explain why we saw him a lot and joked about him appearing as a living stretch goal. He seems happy with his decision to actually follow that career. I'm eager to see what becomes of his new endeavors

Does he have now some major role in writing for Divinity :OS 2? Will he write some parts of a main quest ?

He will create characters for sure. Can he stand out in Larian to implement his ideas in the game or he must do as the game was planned?

Edited by Cyseal
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Some people will insist that they are right, and whatever reailty says, they'll just work it into that. 

 

As to the most important question, MCA in another interview answered that full-time writing, as say a lead designer, was not possible due to family reasons, which was part of his reason for his departure, and that this continues to be the case for now. So perhaps no "MCA Game" anywhere for the moment, and hence his willingness to do more piecemeal / advisory work.

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Truth is relative and reality is a matter of perception, so there is rarely a situation where reality "says" anything absolute. This particular topic is no exception.

 

One thing I noticed is this observation, "he couldn't do what he wanted to do at Obsidian because of money." A lack of money is no excuse to fail to dedicate ones talents and skills to a project or task. Yes time is money but if your passion must be bought minute by minute then good riddance, I say.

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Some people will insist that they are right, and whatever reailty says, they'll just work it into that. 

Well said.  I won't discuss my actual work on this forum but let's just say I had to give a guy a speech today to make him understand a core concept of his job.  Long story short, believing you are right when you are actually wrong does not suddenly make you correct regardless of how strong your convictions are.

 

As for Avellone.  People here will take this the wrong way but honestly... who cares?  Truthfully he isn't the greatest writer of all time and his reputation probably a bit undeserved.  Eternity could have been a better game but so could every other game released in 2015.  Experience tells me when two people have a professional break and one of them never comments again and the other makes slight pot shots here or makes noises there...  Well the one keeping quiet was probably the bigger professional and more in the right.  I don't see anyone at Obsidian taking pot shots at Avellone, and I feel like that is fairly telling. 

Edited by Karkarov
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I'm not sure the real issue is people deifying Avellone.  I know some people do, but the real issue is that he's one of the founder at Obsidian and it's jarring when one of the owners leaves the company with harsh words left behind.  I agree, reluctantly, with Karkarov.  I consider myself one of Avellone's fans.  I've enjoyed the work he's done and I'll always be grateful for the part he played in creating what is still probably my favorite all time game.  Nonetheless, I can't help but believe that there is something unsavory about bashing the project or damning it with faint praise, back handed compliments, or even jibes.  All this will pass.  Obsidian will hopefully make many more games.  Avellone will hopefully find something that helps him grow as a person and satisfies his creative needs.  I hope to be able to enjoy his work as much as Obsidian's.  In the meantime, it's too bad that his departure has gone from merely sad and nostalgic to sniping and bitter rancor.  That doesn't serve anyone, least of all Avellone.  Still, everyone has the right to vent embitterment and that venting has, I suppose, it's own therapeutic value.  I don't know.  I'm not a psychiatrist.

 

I've actually lurked here a long time and I respect Infinitron's journalistic efforts, but this story has always seemed too much like gossip column stuff.  I guess it really is news and deserves to be out there, but it just seems so seedy.  One thing I can say about Avellone, Sawyer, Fenstermaker, Cain, and the rest is that I wish I had even a small sliver of their talent.  To say I'm a talentless hack would be to give myself credit I don't deserve.  So whatever their inner turmoil or backbiting disputes, at least I can always respect their ability to create games that I enjoy.

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bother?

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At this point Chris Avellone is like a movie Executive Producer, which just means he is there to lend prestige to the game.

 

Having said that, I don't care, since this is a good game. I haven't played since beating it, but I will when they finish White March and I will start from scratch.

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  • 1 month later...

Chris Avellone did a really good interview with mrmatty. His respect for Fallout is great. I dont know how much he did on NV, but that was a fantastic game. His work on F2 was also very good.

 

Having said that he has written some complete garbage. Kreia in kotor2 is possibly the worst character i have ever seen in a video game (which says ALOT)

 

Also when he played Arcanum he acted really poorly. A game, made by the father of Fallout Tim Cain, that was superb. And he ran naked into wolves with a madame and just kept reloading and doing it over and over, and just making a joke out of it.

 

I dont know what drove him to leave Obsidian but if it wasnt for family reasons then it must have been a huge fight. You dont leave a company you founded for small disagreements etc

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I respect Avellone's work immensely. I'd even call him a genius. But sometimes geniuses have a hard time compromising their vision for the good of a larger project, which is my overall impression of what happened here. It doesn't sound like there was any bad-guy here just competing artistic(edit: and commercial) visions.

 

PoE was always going to contain some inherent design compromises due to the nature of the nostalgia-RPG market. Some people want a new Planescape:Torment, some people want a new Baldur's Gate 1, some people want a new Baldur's Gate II, some people want a new Icewind Dale, etc., and you're trying to satisfy all of them with one game.

Edited by Dr. Hieronymous Alloy
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