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Chris Avellone Interview Part 3
Interview - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Mon 19 September 2011, 14:20:16Tags: Chris Avellone; Obsidian Entertainment
WO: From a narrative point of view, what do you think the pros and cons are in regards to having an open world as opposed to the classic isometric angles for RPGs in terms of both atmosphere and limitations? And what challenges do these varying engines/in-game worlds bring when it comes to writing a game where, just with landscape alone, so much is already immediately visible and there isn’t as much of a mental, ‘filling in the blanks’ process?
MCA: Narration cannot be separated from level or system design, imo, and camera angles are a big part of that. As an example, there are certain vistas and moments in Fallout 3 and New Vegas that could not be accomplished without breaking you out of the isometric view regardless (REPCONN rockets launching). You can’t get the full impact of weather, day/night, seeing the moon over Vegas, seeing the two Ranger Statues in the distance at the Mojave outpost, seeing distant flames at Nipton, looking up to see the Goodsprings cemetery with the skyline of Vegas behind it, or seeing the storms of the Divide to complement the location (the last four of which I’d argue are strong narrative moments as well as superior level design touches that cannot be done isometrically). I feel isometric is great for multi-party (like, 5-6 individuals you’re controlling in combat), but when you’re the lone wanderer with one or two companions that take general orders, it’s not essential.
After Dungeon Siege 3 and FNV, I feel it’s important to add depth regardless of the camera view – by that, I mean all of the distant vistas and signpost objects (ex: the 2 statues of the rangers shaking hands at the Mojave Outpost you can see cutting the horizon) provide the sense of a larger world, as well as a goal to travel to in the game. In Dungeon Siege 3, the push came from the verticality in the locations: frequently, the camera view would allow the player to see many levels down into valleys, ruined canyons in caves, and even multi-tiered lit levels that really added to the level design.
My preference? If you’re shooting for immersion, keep the player out of the picture as much as possible and try to keep everything as if the screen is your eyes. If it’s a highly customizable game (as RPGs tend to be), I derive the most enjoyment out of 3rd person views that allow me to fully see what I’m carrying. When things get tactical and I need to know where everyone is on the screen at one time, iso’s the way to go.