Brian was on stage at MCM London earlier today showing the Wasteland 2 opening movie and talking about the game and crowdfunding (you can watch the presentation onResero Network’s twitch through this link).
Of course we’d like all our backers to see this opening movie, so we put it up on Youtube for you. Enjoy!
In the mid-90 Interplay was home for biggest RPG franchises - Stonekeep, Baldur’s Gate, Planescape Torment, Fallout. Do you think it was a golden age for the computer RPGs?
I think you are about to see the golden age of RPGs come rushing back in the next few years, with what I’m seeing from Obsidian, CD Projekt and of course what we are working on. But most certainly there was a purity to the development of RPGs in the 90’s in which we were very attuned to our players. You could not make nearly the money on a game back then as you can today, and the budgets were a fraction of today’s big spends. The risk factors changed greatly as we left the 90’s and the pressure ramped up and created a lot of craziness. But I honestly see that purity and being in sync with the RPG players coming back full circle – in fact it is even stronger than ever.
How modern video games can affect Torment experience? I mean checkpoints, lowered difficulty, radar, arrows showing where to go etc.
I think we have been very clear that the experiences we are creating have more in common with the old school games but take advantage of modern elements like configurable UI. The handholding aspects of some modern games are exactly what our backers don’t want to see, so people shouldn’t expect much help there. Discovery is a large part of the experience with these kinds of RPGs and too much sign posting can ruin that aspect.
Random game art: the cover of The Demon’s Forge, Brian Fargo’s first official game release, a text adventure from 1981. I’ve always liked this cover, despite the trite. cliche use of the woman tied up as some sort of sacrifice. Something about riding a huge battle-snake into combat against an armored warrior jousting from a massive hawk is really cool. I only recently discovered that this art wasn’t commissioned for the game, but was instead taken from Vincente Segrelles’s comic series El Mercenario, aka The Mercenary. After some confused searches, I found that this isn’t even the cover of a comic, it's an interior panel. Every page of The Mercenary comics are painted in oils. Wow.
While searching online to make a definitive connection between the game and this art, I came across a Gamasutra blog article interview with Brian Fargo from last year which talks about marketing for his first game. It paints the starkest possible contrast with game publishing today:
Brian Fargo: As far as attracting attention, I had a budget of $5,000 for everything. My one ad in Soft Talk [magazine] cost me about 2,500 bucks, so 50 percent of my money went into a single ad. One of the things I did was I would call retailers on a different phone and say, “Hey, I’m trying to find this game called Demon’s Forge. Do you guys have a copy?” They said, “No,” and I said, “Oh, I just saw it in Soft Talk. It looks good. They said, "We’ll look into it.” A few minutes later my other line would ring and the retailer would place an order. That was my guerrilla marketing. I was selling to individual chains of stores. There were two distributors at the time that would help you get into the mom-and-pop places. It was a store-by-store, shelf-by-shelf fight.
Sometimes I wistfully miss the days when computer gaming was that small.
This is more of an insider’s guide on how to run a Kickstarter, but this interview by American McGee with Brian Fargo may still be of interest to some of you.
AJM: “DRM-free” is committed to with both your Kickstarter campaigns. Can you talk a bit about the math behind this commitment? Is there any chance the games will generate meaningful revenue after release (outside of the money raised via Kickstarter)? Do they need to in order for you to be “successful” with them? And what’s the definition of success in this context?
I’m not sure of the math but putting DRM on a game ends up pissing off the legitimate users of the game for an impossible battle against pirating. What’s the point? In general I believe that people who were going to buy your game will most likely do so if you get it in front of them somehow. During my days at Interplay we used to do a fair amount of business with the hardware manufacturers bundling our games with a hard drive or a PC in which they paid us only a few dollars for our games and then they could advertise “Comes with $150 of free games.” Well they would sell hundreds of thousands of units with our games and no matter how much volume they did our retail sales never dipped. There are just audiences of people who are buyers and others that won’t pay or weren’t going to buy it anyway. And beyond that we have been pre-paid to make this game so it would be doubly outrageous to then add DRM to the very people who made it possible. I’m not entirely certain what is possible from a sales perspective outside our backers but I feel pretty strongly that when we deliver the epic, moody and reactive game that we promised that its sales will match that of other games of scope, scale and excellence.
I can hardly believe that it has been two and half years since I stood out in the Mojave Desert and started the filming of my Kickstarter campaign. All the while knowing it was the last and only hope for a Wasteland 2.
I’m very proud that we have delivered on our promise of the deep and nuanced CRPG that you had all been hoping for. I’m also quite proud of the team at inXile for their hard work and passion to deliver something special. It was the highlight of my career when you stepped up to support the development of this game. Having your trust meant everything and there was no way we were going to let you down.
I am really looking forward to seeing all of your comments and the unique experiences you’ll have. So much of the detail is not obvious at first as you will carve a natural path through the world, there are so many numerous ways to handle situations. If you ever think you are stuck, there are probably 2-4 more ways to handle it. In fact, we’ve re-visited the concept of where and how a game can end so some of you will find vastly different endings that don’t all take place at the same point in the story.
The power of a great RPG to me is that the memory of the time I spent playing stays with me long after I finished the game. I hope this has the same lasting effect like the classics have done prior.
If you are loving the game, feel free to shout it to the rooftops. We just want to keep making RPGs for decades to come and your support in every way helps make that a reality for us.
If you reading this that means the game has gone live! Jump in and experience the world of Wasteland!
Brian Fargo talks to Games Radar about Kickstarter, the industry and how reactivity is at the core of both inXile’s projects.
Despite being very different games, Torment and Wasteland 2 share several unifying themes, the most significant of which is choice. “Player choice–or as we sometimes call it ‘reactivity’ - is everything,” explains Fargo. “It’s what makes our narrative so different because, if you want a simple, linear story-telling device then you’d just read a book. It’s your ability to change the story, to say “I wonder what would happen if I did that;” which makes our games so intriguing and exciting. We want players to be excited about going back and replaying our games, thinking “Wow, I wonder what would have happened if I’d done this thing instead of that”. For all games that offer choice, I’ve always found that the journey - what you do along the way - is really the greatest reward.
Fargo’s journey in crowdfunding Wasteland 2 started long before the actual Kickstarter campaign began. Fargo looked at the usual approach of “If you build it, they will come” and twisted it to “They will come and help us build it.” The team began reaching out to fans on forums and other social channels, going over the ideas behind the crowdfunding campaign. They asked the fans if they would back the project and what they should offer as rewards. Fargo’s team took the feedback to heart, learning about their fanbase at the same time. Fargo mentioned how the team wanted a special power-up only available to backers, but the fans were insistent that the game should be the same for everyone, regardless of backing.
Fargo told the crowd, “Success is based on how well we listen.” Listening is what inXile has done best since closing the successful Wasteland 2 campaign. Fargo explained the team’s decision to use the Unity engine. It wasn’t because the team enjoyed the engine, but because of the resource shop. By utilizing the resources, inXile was able to quickly make something to show their backers in order to receive feedback as soon as possible.
These resources don’t just stop with feedback. Fargo and his crew are continuously reaching out to their backers and supporters in unique ways. One example Fargo used was with screenshots. Opposed to releasing images when the game is near completion, they showed off their progress in visual form and listened to the opinions of the crowd. In doing so, some supporters created design and layout changes. The team didn’t just utilize these changes, they paid the individuals to officially make them. inXile has been constantly reaching out in this manner, from visuals, to animations, to voice acting. Their approach to building the game has been as crowd-centric as funding it was.
One friend of mine who worked with me there said recently he felt that in the beginning of the industry all the nerds were in charge, but then as the industry grew it changed, and now the guys that picked on the nerds got back on top. I think there was some great truth to that. We all hope this movement is bigger than just Tim Schafer or Brian Fargo as we want to get power back into the developers hands again. And the unbelievable Indie scene shows that there is momentum in that direction. The development community continues to pull itself together to ensure their success. They share tools, they share statistics, they share ideas, and the biggest donators in Kickstarter are always developers. All of this reminds me of the freshness the industry had in the late 80′s through mid 90′s in which creativity was being directed only by the gamers. The gamers will always rule at the end of the day.
Brian Fargo, creador de Interplay, quien mantuvo el grupo Black Isle dentro de su empresa, ahora vuelve para cerrarles el orto a aquellos que hoy en día, crean juegos que consideran fríamente RPG.
Kickstarter fué la solución para su plata, llegó a reunir, más que $900,000, unos $2,933,252 en aproximadamente 1 mes. Con esto, Brian, reunido con el team Obsidian (los que estaban en Black Isle), harán la continuación de Wasteland 2.