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ObsidiLeaks: The Chris Avellone May of Rage Archive
People News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 10 May 2018, 00:57:39Tags: Chris Avellone; Obsidian Entertainment
May 1st, 2018. A date that shall forever be remembered in the annals of the RPG Codex. It all started that morning when I received a private message from Eric Fenstermaker, former Obsidian writer and lead narrative designer of Pillars of Eternity, requesting that I post some of his remarks in reply to our recent interview with Chris Avellone. Little did he know what firestorm he was about to trigger. On the evening of that day, Chris replied for the first time to the interview thread with this absolute whammy of a post:
Realizing my family issues and the debts therein, however, they did make an attempt to leverage that into a far more confining separation agreement that would remove my right to work on RPGs, and my silence on all issues that could pertain to Obsidian or any other company they were involved with or the CEO had a % in (Fig, Zero Radius, Dark Rock Industries, etc.). This included an inability to critique games I’d worked on – much of my critiques on my own games tend to be blunt, and not being able to speak to them felt unnatural to me.
The company involvement silence worried me more, however, as it meant that if anything illegal happened with any of those companies (these could include serious charges like accounting issues, silence on harassment issues with regards to employees, perjury related to company documents and payments), I couldn’t speak about the issue, even if I felt strongly against what was being revealed.
While all this is good for Obsidian's upper management and is what is sometimes considered "good business," I did feel it showed a lack of ethics.
Still, that attempt at leverage did cause me to re-evaluate aspects of my life. Realizing debt was affecting my decision, I instead focused on working as hard as possible to make up for the amount Obsidian tried to use as leverage to force a signature – and succeeded.
When that happened, I realized I was free of the situation – completely free, for the first time. Feargus and the owners had no hold on my voice, my time, and my creativity any longer. And it was great.
When they made me an offer to contract me to write for Tyranny (which might seem to be an olive branch, but it turned out to be something they needed for contractual reasons with Paradox, but no one had ever communicated it to me), these were the reasons I refused – I didn’t wish to be part of Obsidian’s upper level development process and their pipelines any longer, as these processes were coming from a bad place, and it showed.
Also, realizing there was no restitution for the issues mentioned, I made a promise to myself that nothing I would do would ever cause Feargus and the owners any further financial gain. If my silence was that important to them, then there's no need to be silent because that right hadn't been signed away. Simply put, I like the developers at Obsidian very much, I work and correspond with many of those who are there or have left, and I would work with the developers again. I do feel upper management at Obsidian has serious flaws that need to be addressed, and I stand by that statement.
Fortunately, Codex user TT1 has thoughtfully collated all of Chris Avellone's posts into a Google Doc, so that no one need go without learning about this historic event. (Psst, that includes you, mainstream gaming journalists who have conspicuously avoided reporting on it.) Chris seems to be taking a break from answering questions now, so it's a good time to catch up. Enjoy!