Interview with InXile’s Brian Fargo on Wasteland 2
Would you say that Kickstarter is a viable model for game development? Where do you see the industry headed over the next few years?
Crowdfunding in general continues to get bigger on a global basis so I see no reason why it should stop for games. The rules and expectations will continue to evolve but clearly a direct relationship is here to stay. It seems that anytime someone guesses where the industry is going these days they end up surprised. What I am hoping for is that the playing field gets leveled out a bit with the money making its way towards more developers so more interesting projects can be created without constant fear of shutdown or layoff.
No one can deny that sexism has become a heated topic in the game industry. Some studios, like BioWare, have made a decent effort to making women and non-“straight white male” gamers feel welcome in the games they make. What options are there for player representation in Wasteland 2?
I think it’s great to see an effort to make sure people don’t feel alienated from our medium. I don’t personally feel that we need to tackle sex in every game no more than every book, movie or TV show needs to but we should be sensitive. With Wasteland the players create any kind of character and party makeup they wish so it is a level playing in that regard. The party can be mix of any gender and race they wish and we will use that information as part of the reactivity in the game. At the same time we try to avoid stereotypes of any kind be it sexual or racial. It was important to me that the NPC’s you meet in the game vary across any number of races and genders and in all positions of power and control.
Beyond the games themselves, do you think it’s within the ability of game makers or the media to influence the culture surrounding our beloved hobby to make it more inclusive? If so, what can we do?
I think the real question here is whether we managed to make our medium more inclusive over the last few decades. Years ago I used to constantly be asked why we don’t make more games for girls and I always questioned what that meant. It seemed like their version of that statement included games about shopping or vanity which I found ridiculous. My assumption is that women too want to run a city, manage an army, gear up for a romp in an RPG or solve puzzle physics games. There is so much variety to choose from in gaming these days. I would say that things have improved when you look over the last 20 years, but one of the things we can do now is to avoid the offensive stereotypes.
Games have the potential to address serious issues. BioShock addressed libertarianism and Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism, while Spec Ops: The Line painted video game violence in a completely different light from normal, run-of-the-mill first person shooters. Is Wasteland 2 going to approach any difficult, or even political, topics?
The main purpose of Wasteland 2 is not to tackle the big questions. It’s primarily a game about having wild and dangerous adventures in a post-apocalyptic world, and, in the tradition of the first game, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Having said that, post-apocalyptic worlds have always been great venues for satire of the contemporary world, and we can’t resist taking broad potshots at our society’s obsessions and foibles as we create the various towns and people our rangers meet along the way.
The residents of the wasteland are rebuilding society from scratch, and because they don’t know much about the past, they’re pretty much making it up as they go along. Just about every form of society is being tried out, from theocracy to meritocracy to dictatorship to democracy to the-one-with-the-biggest-gun wins. What could be more fun than poking every one of those systems with a sharp stick?
Beyond Wasteland 2 and Torment, what’s next for InXile?
We need to start delivering against our promises before we spend two seconds wondering about what’s next. For now it is all about focus.