Brian Fargo talks Wasteland 2, slams publisher/developer relations

Former Interplay supremo defends Obsidian and shares an inconvenient truth about the games industry.

Brian Fargo took time out from counting the $1.6 million dollars accrued by the Wasteland 2 Kickstarter (with 20 more days to go) to chat to Ripten about it in an interview, as well as deliver some inconvenient truths about the relationship between publishers and developers in today’s industry. According to Brian every major publisher turned down his pitch for a Wasteland sequel for the exact same reasons lampooned in his Kickstarter video and even the Farmville joke – though exaggerated – was something that actually happened. “I would be waiting for people to call me back to give me a response,” says Brian, “and they would send me Farmvillerequests all day long, but they couldn’t return a phone call.” The rest of Brian’s experiences with big publishers: meeting 19 yr old junior execs who’d never even heard of Interplay, a bloke who wouldn’t stop texting throughout the entire pitch meeting, and people expressing excitement only to flake three weeks later, sound like scenes from a Gen-X indie film.

Speaking of publishers Brian outright damns their treatment of developers, describing it as “abysmal”, and cites Fallout: New Vegas by Obsidian as an example. According to Brian the publisher is always in charge of Quality Assurance (QA), and since we all know Bethesda outsource their QA to the chimp enclosure at the Maryland Zoo (my opinion, not his) it’s easy to understand why Fallout: New Vegas had as many bugs as it did. It also suggests Obsidian have quite possibly the absolute shittiest luck in the whole industry, perhaps because of some grand cosmic balancing act engineered to keep their fantastic writing from the world. “So, (Fallout: New Vegas) goes out buggy and they didn’t do the QA, their ship date got moved up and they missed their metacritic rating by one point,” says Brian. “Did they get a bonus? No. Do you think that’s fair?”

No Brian it bloody well isn’t. So why don’t we hear more about this sort of thing?

“Because they are afraid to talk, because they’ll never get another contract if they do,” he says. “That’s why.”

Brian is similarly unapologetic about his intent to make Wasteland 2  a game for fans of the original, “people that grew up playing Wasteland, Fallout and Fallout 2”, while lamenting the disappearance of the “literary aspect” in games seen in such classics as Baldur’s Gate and Planescape: Torment. “We all know the experience that we grew up with. We all loved it and we’ve all been wanting one, so that’s what I’m going to bring”, he says. “It’s not a putdown on the console product, it’s just that I’m not going to worry about how to get them.” Brian also discusses how he came up with the idea for a voluntary initiative called Kicking it Forward, for developers using Kickstarter to help boost other Kickstarters using 5% of any profits they make after their game ships and expenses are paid.

The whole interview makes for an interesting and worthwhile read, and makes me glad venerable grandmasters like Brian Fargo are still around to remind us about some of the things we’ve forgotten or lost.

Source: Ripten

Matt

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Matt is the irresponsible degenerate behind bitscreed.com and the sarcastic writer, editor, director, presenter and tea boy of Pixel Burn.