RPGamer Feature - Brian Fargo Interview
Wasteland 2
Platform: PC
Developer: InXile Entertainment
Release Date: 08.14

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Brian Fargo is a gaming industry veteran and founder of Interplay, who were responsible for RPG classics such as Fallout, Wasteland, and The Bard's Tale. He is currently bringing RPGamers more of what they love at InXile Entertainment, in the form of Wasteland 2 and Torment: Tides of Numenera. Brian answers our questions about the impending release and Early Access response of Wasteland 2, future game crowd-funding, and lessons learned that are being carried over into the development of Torment: Tides of Numenera.

Johnathan Stringer: How has the response been for the Early Access for Wasteland 2?
Brian Fargo: Very good. People liked what they were seeing and felt we were delivering on what was outlined from the start, delivering on the Wasteland 2 we promised and for the people we expected. But, itís also been good in the sense that we got a lot of quality, constructive feedback, and Early Access has given us not just a means to gather more of that feedback, but also the funds, so we can take our time to process and work with that feedback. Fans who have been in Early Access since the start will have seen how much the game has been improved, and the fans that waited will get a more polished and robust game thanks to it.

JS: Do you have any specific examples of gameplay mechanics or features that have been changed due to the Early Access feedback, or was it relegated more to bug fixing?
BF: There have been a number of changes. There are points of system balance, such as beefing up the usefulness of Charisma. There are points of level design, such as adding more instances where Alarm Disarm, or Demolitions for disarming traps are more useful. Or itís minor points, such as the fact that all Wasteland 1 followers were found in the gravesite in Ranger Citadel, and this came as a bit of a shock to players who had grown fond of them, so we changed a number of gravestones. In a broader sense, it also lets us know what features people really value and use frequently, so we can prioritize them, such as putting back in a local map functionality. This is important info to have both for now, and for possible post-release work. The beauty of this process is that we took all the feedback that normally comes post launch, and moved into production where we could react to it.

JS: Being one of the first big Kickstarter funding successes, do you feel any added pressure for Wasteland 2 to be successful, as many may use it to gauge the health and future of crowd-funding?
BF: Pressure? What pressure? On one hand, I have never felt more pressure to deliver ever before for both a certain kind of RPG, and for large Kickstarter funded games. This is why I decided to increase the budget two times over what was raised on Kickstarter. We want to over deliver to people's expectations. My pressure is fortunately greatly mitigated by all the positive feedback, and the beta process in general, as it allows us to ship a game with tens of thousands of hours already spent playing. Without this beta process, the shipping of the game would be harrowing.

JS: How difficult is it to balance making the game appealing to old-school Wasteland fans, while also attracting new fans to the series?
BF: To some extent, that balance is less relevant to us. This game was funded by fans of old-school RPGs and thatís our target audience; theyíre the people we want to make happy, and weíre not looking to appeal to a huge new audience. So, we do not shy away from hardcore tactical combat, or very wordy dialog. But, we do try to tutorialize and explain the game well, and give it an intuitive UI, so that new fans will find it easier to step into this game than if they try to load up an RPG from the 80s. My philosophy has always to focus on the real gaming crowd, and let the chips fall where they may. It wasn't like we were worried about attracting any kind of new RPG fans to Fallout when we shipped that.

JS: Do you have any plans for post release content in the form of expansions or DLC?
BF: No solid plans no; weíre laser-focused on finishing this game, and making it the best it can be. That doesnít mean we havenít day-dreamed about it, and we certainly plan to do significant post-release support, but what exactly thatíll be depends on a lot of factors, not the least of which being Wasteland 2ís success. Though, of course, we must not forget that we will have mod tools post release.

JS: Will there be any assets or aspects of Wasteland 2 that will carry over into Torment: Tides of Numenera?
BF: No particular assets or aspects. Torment is very much so its own game, with different design goals from Wasteland 2, and carrying over design concepts doesnít really work. The main thing weíre taking from Wasteland 2 into Torment is experience and lessons learned!

JS: What are some of those lessons learned from Wasteland 2?
BF: In the widest sense, itís about establishing a team and keeping it together. InXile had downsized significantly before the Wasteland 2 Kickstarter, but the money coming in allowed us to build a team up again, and because we planned ahead for Torment, we can keep that team together from project to project. Having an experienced team who have worked together makes a huge difference in how efficiently you can work on a project. Other things have to do with seeing the way people react to things, as we now have a baseline to work from for some things like the user interface.

JS: Will InXile still look to Kickstarter for future projects, or will you look to fund future projects off the success of Wasteland 2 and Torment: Tides of Numenera? Furthermore, would you be open to working with a big publisher in the future if approached, or do you plan to stay independent?
BF: We intend to go back to crowd-funding for future projects. From a consumer perspective, I think the offer becomes more like: "hey, you already know we can do this, now you jump in at the earliest point for a cheaper price and rewards, such as naming NPCs or locations, or get unique physical goods" with less of a risk involved simply because weíre less of an unknown. From our perspective, if you have a better starting point in funding to work from, additional money can always help make a bigger and better game. But, that is secondary to what we really like about crowdfunding, which is the very early contact with our backer base getting constant feedback as you show and explain things. When people are literally invested in the game, they also tend to be more passionate and keep you on your toes, which to us is a big positive. This whole process has been great, and we see no reason not to return to it. And we plan to stay independent.

We appreciate Brian Fargo for taking time from his busy schedule for this interview. We eagerly await the release of Wasteland 2 and Torment: Tides of Numenera.

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