Wasteland 2: Kickstarter, Plot & Gameplay Interview
Kickstarter is changing the game development landscape. Wasteland 2 is one of the most recent crowd-funding success stories, helmed by InXile Entertainment founder Brian Fargo.
Why is this significant? Because Interplay’s 1988 RPG Wasteland was also the precursor to the Fallout series, so if you’re a fan of the modern instalments, you really have to check out the original and Wasteland 2 when it launches in 2013.
As you read this article, the Wasteland 2 project has made $1,867,227, utterly smashing Fargo’s proposed $900,000 target. Wasteland 2 is finally going to happen, and will continue the post-apocalyptic RPG trend that started with the original.
Now that the money is in the bank, Fargo and his team are planning the Wasteland 2 development roadmap, so we decided to catch up with him to discuss Wasteland 2, Kickstarter and what crowd sourcing means for the games industry.
Congratulations on hitting your Kickstarter target in just a couple of days. Why did you decide to go down the crowd funding route for Wasteland 2? Were you wary of pitching the project to big publishers?
I decided to go down this route for Wasteland 2 because it was the last and only hope of getting the sequel made that I wanted to do. I was not wary when I did pitch the game as I thought it seemed like such an obvious thing to do.
But I soon found out that there was no interest from any publisher I spoke of. I pitched the game on and off for almost ten years and got nowhere. I had pretty much given up until I saw what Kickstarter was capable of.
At a time where DLC lets gamers vote with their wallets, is Kickstarter the next step in this process? How beneficial will this format be in helping gamers truly express their opinions, and for developers to gauge gamers’ reactions?
Having the fans help fund the game creates a purity of development that is very powerful. I am not relying having to rely 100 per cent on instinct or a worse case of an external producers interpretation of what is important.
I think the feedback is most useful in broad strokes to help make sure that we spend our energy creating what people care about the most. When it comes to the details so to speak I let my experts do their thing. This is why I bring composers like Mark Morgan or writers like Mike Stackpole to fill out the world that gamers are expecting.
Wasteland clearly still holds a place in the heart of many gamers. Did you have any interaction with the license holders or the old team at Interplay when formulating the Wasteland 2 project?
For the most part I have put the old team back together. Besides me I have Alan Pavlish, Mike Stackpole, Liz Danforth and Ken St. Andre helping shape and create things. Anyone who enjoyed the original Wasteland or even Fallout 1 and 2 will quite enjoy stepping into the dark and twisted world of Wasteland 2.
Now that the Kickstarter funding has proven successful, what is the next step for InXile? Will fan feedback still have a large part to play in the project in a long-term basis?
My next step right now is to just work on Wasteland 2 and make it right. Never have I had more pressure to deliver than ever before so focus will be critical here. There are a couple of huge advantages to the production of this game in being fan funded is that I don’t have to create vertical slices and prototypes every 60 days to prove we are on track.
Secondly I don’t have to spend a third of my time prepping for the next game and pitching it to publishers to insure the team has a job afterwards.
The best games in the industry come from developers who have the power to get the distractions and the people with bad ideas to stay out of the conversation. Fan feedback will no doubt be frustrating at times but I would not have it any other way.
What can you tell us about your plans for Wasteland 2 in terms of gameplay, visual themes etc? Will it remain true to the original?
We are going to build upon all the elements that made Wasteland great. You control of a group of desert rangers in the southwest part of the states who are seeking to restore some law and order into a post apocalyptic world.
But despite their mission of restoring peace it is up to the players to decide the morality of their choices. We will not preach what behavior to take and nor will every negative thing you do necessarily turn into something bad happening to you.
The game will be party based like the original, feature modern day weapons for combat and use the skill system that everyone loved so much. Visual themes will run the gamut from desolate and bleak to cities that are attempting to recover from destruction.
What are the most prominent pros and cons of going down the crowd-sourced indie route for you as a developer? Should more, bigger studios consider this route to sound out new ideas and give fans what they want?
The pros are as stated above which is that we get to focus without chasing money or managing the politics of a publisher. We also have very clear direction of what the fans want thus taking out some of the guess work.
I can’t think of any cons that wouldn’t exist with a publisher or investor also. I would be quite surprised if a larger publisher tried to raise money from Kickstarter since they are the ones that have most the money in the industry.
I’m hoping that Kickstarter especially offers an avenue of financing for the endangered species of the mid size developer. I threw out the concept of sharing profits from Kickstarter projects via Kickingitforward.org and there are 12 projects signed up within days. That is a great sign for things to come.