We are the leads on Wasteland 2 (currently the #1 PC game), the godfather of the post-apocalyptic fallout series. Brian Fargo, Matt Findley and Chris Keenan here to discuss all things crowdfunding, game-making, and escaping the grasp of publishers.
Wasteland 2 was funded on Kickstarter over 2.5 years ago with over 70,000 backers. We had a very transparent development process and released our vision document early while getting feedback from our fans. This was certainly a new process for us and while not without snags, it was an unbelievable way to develop a video game. After working with the crowd to get to this point, we just released Wasteland 2 on Steam, GoG and most other digital distribution sites.
Wasteland 2 is a throwback to isometric style tactical, turn-based combat. At last check, the game has more words than the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Our trailer can be seen here : Wasteland 2 Trailer
Brian is a long time industry veteran, CEO of inXile, and Executive Producer on Wasteland 2. Matt (president) and Chris (project lead) designed and directed Wasteland 2.
Finally, as today is talk like a pirate day, one obligatory pirate joke to start us off.
What did the pirate say when he had a steering wheel attached to his balls? Arrrgh….it’s driving me nuts. Now on to the show!
edit 1: Proof So this image we're holding is a litho from the original Wasteland box. There were a small amount made. Brian accidentally signed it to a non-existent Dustin. So if your name is Dustin and you can prove it through a PM, we'll be sending it to you, free of charge!
edit 2 : Back!.
Thanks for all the questions! Heading to get lunch real quick. We should be back around 1PST for another hour.
edit 3 : Thank you all for your questions. It was fun talking about what we've spent the better part of the last 3 years on. Hope you all enjoy it. Looking forward to seeing a picture of Scotchmo when you get him/her.
I fucking hope so.
How worried were you when Steam went offline just before you launched Wasteland 2?
That was crazy. It felt like that moment where you have a sneeze ready, then at the last minute, it halts. I tried looking at the sun but it was almost midnight so no luck.
Saw that they might have been DDOS'd but unsure. Good times.
How much copies\money do you need to sale to break even? BTW, how much W2 totally cost?
The game cost us around 5 million to create, all said and done. We raised just over 3 million between Kickstarter and paypal during our drive, then had some residual and early access sales. Brian put a chunk of his own cash into it as he wanted to get it right.
We don't need HUGE sales to be a success. One of the benefits of being a small to mid size dev team is we don't need to sell 5 million units to break even.
I'm proud to say yours is the first and only Kickstarter project that I've helped to fund.
What suggestions do you have for me to have the most fun in the wasteland?
Thanks for delivering such an awesome product!
I think one of the greatest things about this game is how different scenarios can play out. It's perfect for replayability. Sometimes, that's hard to communicate in a single playthrough though.
Select different CNPCs and see what happens in the world around them. There are some hilarious and dark scenes based on which CNPC you have with you.
Is there a Linux port?
Yes. It was released as PC, Mac and Linux
How smooth was the development in Unity? Did you have to make some your own tools for something? Were there any obstacles in the ide?
Overall, it went great. When you break down the positives and negatives, it was overwhelmingly in the right direction. The asset store allowed us to purchase art and script that got us prototyping right away. We easily saved a few hundred grand just getting our initial gameplay up and running through purchased assets.
That said, we certainly stretched it to the max. We had some framerate issues that were hard to track down and are continuing in some areas.
I'm curious if Unity 5 will help prevent the same type of issues with Torment.
Torment is a completely different beast. Whereas Wasteland was full 3D environments, Torment is heavily focused on 2D, with 3D elements added to them.
Part of the issues was us learning a new engine. If I were to do it again in Unity, I'd set some different restrictions for scene sizes.
What are the future plans for Wasteland 2? Will we be seeing DLC content or something of the like? Where are you guys going to be taking the Wasteland series after this?
I'm really excited that its out now! Atleast I know what I will be doing for the next few weeks...
-one of the backers :)
Well, we do have the red boots DLC already in for the low, low price of $49.95. Personally, I think that's a hell of a deal.
In all seriousness, we've certainly discussed ideas that would fit into another Wasteland, but each time we do, it feels silly since we were so focused on this one.
We are going to continue to do updates for a while. We've had good success in reading the patterns of feedback and reacting to them. The team is working on an update as I write this.
FYI, that red boots DLC button is still broken. When will you fix it? This $49.95 is burning a hole in my digital pocket.
It doesn't work?!? One minute, need to go yell at our monetization engineer.
What are some cut features you would of loved to have in the final game? Also, any hints for post-release support? And finally, what contributions did the old Wasteland team make to Wasteland 2?
A few things that would have been nice to have were stealth and more of an aimed shot mechanic.
Stealth is a beast in itself. There is so much to think about to do it right. We had it in and working, but the amount of issues we were finding with it made us rethink whether it was a good idea or not. While it is great if you do it right, not so much if it's half-assed.
We've been playing around with a more in-depth aimed shot/special attack system that will likely see the light of day in the future.
Yeah, cutting things is always annoying. Especially since I can understand that "it sounded good on paper, but it really didn't work out in-game".
Also, if I knew you had a reddit account, I wouldn't of stolen your karma for that advice hehe.
(http://www.reddit.com/r/gamedev/comments/2gnf4f/i_got_a_nice_piece_of_advice_from_the_project/ for those curious)
It's all good. Enjoy it. I've been on reddit for about 5 years and am a serial lurker.
In all honesty, when the crowdfunding campaign first kicked off, how confident were you guys that it would work?
We honestly had no idea how it was going to go. After 2 months of impacted planning, we had to just push the button and hope it resonated. That first day of our Kickstarter was easily the best day of my career.
It trumped getting hired in QA at Interplay at 15 years old.
Greetings Wasteland 2 creators!
I have an interesting question. Do you have the numbers of how many bug reports and ideas were submitted in your open beta in the first week and how many were submitted overall? How many were duplicates? How many submitters? How many ideas were implemented? Etc...
I can only imagine your developers on the first day of the beta release seeing the massive traffic and bug reports. What were your reactions to the insane participation?
The toughest part was having someone dedicated to pruning the list. There was so much good feedback that pairing it down into actionable items took a while. Next time, I think we can work out some of the kinks to make it run more smoothly.
Do you guys plan on releasing any major updates/patches to the game like Larian is doing with D:OS? I mean stuff like new companions, balance passes, possibly new quests and features, etc.
Absolutely. We're looking at all of that. While the game was released today, it doesn't mean we don't want to keep improving it. With the popularity of digital distribution, it makes it much easier for us to continue to improve the experience than in the past. We don't have to worry about mastering new discs...just hitting a "go live" button on Steam.
What type of skills will each of you put together for your party in the game?
I try to switch it up as much as possible. Sometimes I'll role play a team of 4 and go with what I'd imagine them being. My latest was the crew from Saved by the Bell. Zack, Kelly, Slater, and Screech.
No matter what, a field medic/surgeon plus a back-up is mandatory. Sucks when you have your only surgeon go down in the middle of combat.
What's your Toaster Repair skill?
That's silly. Why would you need to repair a toaster in the Wastelands?
How is Wasteland different from Fallout from your perspective?
Much less bottlecaps
Brian, which games you've been working on directly as a game developer are you most proud of?
He said "any games with Chris Keenan". I just asked him.
With so many much hyped successful kickstarters turning out to be disasters, cancelled etc.. (Clang, Yogscast, etc) Do you think that kickstarter is still viable, or have a handful of really bad games poisoned the well?
With such an open system, you're going to get the good and the bad. It's easy to jump on the medium when a few teams screw up, but overall, I think it's not only viable but much needed for the games industry. If it blows up and there isn't anything else to take its place, "niche" games won't make it into your hands.
I think the community is getting smarter about where their money is going. At first, there was a bit of a "toss money into everything" mentality but that's worn off.
Brian, how do you remember producing The Lost Vikings? Any stories?
I have good memories of Lost Vikings. Was one of the first games I was a tester on at Interplay. Was a 15 year old punk back then...
When did you realize that the kickstarter would become a success?
Hey guys! I'm going to buy a cat, but I don't have a name for it yet, so could you name it for me, please? :)
P.S. Wasteland 2 is really outstanding!
First question, are you getting an alcoholic homeless cat with a good sense of humor? If so, then definitely Scotchmo.
He's gotta be one of the best CNPCs in the game.
Did you ever see the documentary film Indie Game? What are your thoughts?
I did see it a little while back. I remember it being so interesting to me seeing teams of 2 guys working on a project. It definitely shows the trials and tribulations of doing your own creative work.
So, Wasteland 2 is a revival of the classic CRPG, bringing back a lot of forgotten features that seem fresh and new, and adding some new spices to the mix.
In future RPGs, do you think you'll be a bit more experimental with RPGs, and really push the medium? Or do you see future games more like Wasteland 2, but in a different setting?
(Thank you for the amazing product, I can't wait for my shipment!)
I think we'll evaluate each game on it's own. For Wasteland, the "genre" had been ignored for so long, our backers wanted us to not try to get too fancy with the mechanics. There was a romantic memory of the original wasteland and fallout that is tough to mess with. Also, we were on such a tight budget and deadline, we didn't have a ton of time to experiment with random non-essential gameplay elements.
Could you reduce the clicks needed to use a skill? Why not use automatically the highest skill number in the party for skill usage? I'm talking stuff like toster repair, lockpicking, smart ass, computer science, etc, that way you don't have to shuffle your party members searching for the trapper guy to disarm a trap.
We tested that internally and it completely changed the feel of the game. It turned into easy mode. Our backers specifically didn't want that.
Was the turtle in the Rail Nomad's Camp a Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep/Blade Runner reference?
Follow the turtle...
First of all congrats:) and my question: While working on something so huge, was it difficult to get out of the constant stress or game wasn't letting you go even for a minute the whole way till the release? And now as it's already out do you like it better or you miss those long hard-working hours? Thnx
After so many late nights and panic modes we found ourselves shuffling around the office like zombies last night. I find the stress of making the games pales in comparison to the economic stress of how to fund. Obviously we are hoping for a fair success to determine our future liability to keep making these kinds of games,
That's funny cause I find the stress of funding the games pales in comparison to making the games.
What do you think about Sierra On Line making its comeback? Are you looking forward to the new King's Quest?
The early Sierra games were what sparked my love of video games. I remember playing the shit out of Kings Quest, Leisure Suit Larry (so dangerous at 12-13 yrs old!), Police Quest.
Congrats on the release! As a backer of both Wasteland 2 and Tides of Numenera, and as a lifelong fan of the Fallout series, I can't wait to get my hands on the game when I get home from work.
Quick question: How much bug fixing and optimization has gone into the final product as compared to the Early Access build of the game? I ask this because I have been hit with a couple of BSoD while playing the game (among a couple of other Steam games), which is odd because I never encounter this while playing some other games
Thank you for doing this AMA!
Weird. Hit up our support and we'll check it out. Might be a compatibility issue?
You and Virtual Reality. What do you guys think of Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus? Would you consider making any games for VR?
I'd love to work with VR. We've had some Oculus dev kits in the office for a while now and they're fun to play with.
I'm not fully sure on the feasibility of the tech with larger environments in the space that we're in right now, but it will come quickly. We haven't done any serious evaluation quite yet but it's the initial impression I get.
A "What If " question.... Bathesda release Fallout 4 at some point in the future, and ask inXile to do a follow on game in the same engine. (As New Vegas was to Fallout 3) Do you accept, or is the freedom from Big Publishers now too ingrained to go back?
I think that's highly unlikely.
What do you guys think about the MOBA genre and how it came to be? Do you guys play any?
Personally, I love MOBAs but I had to put them down for the last year as we finaled Wasteland. I started with Heroes of Newerth then moved on to Dota 2. There is something about seeing one of the best developers on earth continue to work on a game with a reasonable scope that is all about mechanics and balance.
Definitely not for everyone. If you're willing to invest 2 months into not sucking (while fending off many wishes of death to your mother), the game opens up beautifully. It reminds me of chess in that way...but much more hostility.
Is Wasteland 2 considered to be finished with by you? I backed Torment for $45 and got Wasteland 2 with it. Currently downloading it and am very excited.
I guess what I mean is, do you plan on releasing new content at all? Or are you satisfied with the finished product?
Thanks for reviving the genre!
Working in such a large creative medium, you'll never be completely satisfied. I could work on this game for the next 5 years and still come up with things to do. Ultimately, it's a bit of a tug of war between time/money/fan expectations and polish. Luckily, Wasteland is being released in a time where it's incredibly easy for us to put out an update and improve the game.
Hi Brian, Matt, Chris,
how did you celebrate the GA release within the circle of inxile?
This is our celebration right now. Followed by some champagne and a tight group launch party tonight at a cowboy bar. Seems fitting.
If the game is successful, what comes next regarding updates to the game? Also, if the game is successful, how will this affect other games you guys are developing?
We plan to continue to support the game. Some of the most helpful information for me is getting large amounts of feedback on things like gameplay balance. This game was a beast to balance. With so many play styles, character makeups and non-linear choices it makes it hard to set a baseline that works.
We knew early on that we wanted the character stats to matter. I can't tell you how many times I've received feedback that one person finds a fight incredibly easy while the other is dying multiple times. If you have a team full of snipers with a group of bladed enemies rushing you, unless you cap them early, you're gonna have a bad time.
How do I get a job with inXile? I live in Lake Forest and am extremely handsome.
Obviously Steam makes things pretty simple for updates, how will patches for the other distribution platforms be handled?
It depends on the distributor. Obviously, Steam has been around for so long (and is so popular) that they have a very seamless way of doing it. That requires a crazy back end to handle.
Some distributors want us to send them code and they will put it up, but we have less control over that.
Do you think wasteland 2 will influence creation of even more post apocalyptic games?
I certainly hope so. I love the genre and would like to see other developers interpretation of it.
hOW do i doi,t?
how doit how,,,,, how how;l
when did they go to get the i took it and when she l asdted i can't
no i don't li0ek that you cANT MAKNE ITI ANY BETDER I WANNED BUT U DON'T
WYH NO WHY
I'm not a doctor but you might have just had a stroke. I'm only partially joking.
At the time you write this ama, has WL2 made a profit for you?
We have a ways to go...
Is Wasteland 3 a possibility in future?
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