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Vampire: Bloodlines’ Brian Mitsoda: “It would be nice if there were more unique $500,000 projects.”

By on September 1, 2010
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This is a guest post by freelance narrative designer, Tom Jubert. Check him out at http://www.tomjubert.com/

Interactive writing and narrative design is one of the fastest growing areas of game development. This positions it – potentially – at the cutting edge of our medium, and in constant need of discussion, analysis and re-evaluation. I set up my blog, Plot is Gameplay’s Bitch, three months ago so that content like my recent interview with Brian Mitsoda – whose career has included time at legendary writing houses like Black Isle, Obsidian, and Troika – would have a home.

In the interview I try to avoid the usual topics (eg ‘Your new zombie RPG Dead State looks amazing; can I take someone’s arm off with a shotgun?”) and discuss interactive writing and the business of making games in more depth. We cover the issue of indie risk/reward, the drawbacks of working on AAA, and the reasons game writers have yet to remove their training wheels. Excerpt below, and the full thing over at Plot is Gameplay’s Bitch.

TJ: Bloodlines embodied, for me, a very Fallout vibe, in so far as it took the now entrenched western RPG template and without drastically changing the mechanics pushed the boundaries beyond what they could arguably handle. As anyone who played the game out-the-box will know, it was a rough edged diamond. I know you’ve said that game overpromised, but would you really rather be working on a Dragon Age where arguably the biggest advancement over the past decade has been the engine?

BM: Well, working on successful games is nice because you have the money to keep the lights on for the next game, but I loved working on Bloodlines, despite all the problems and challenges we faced and its lack of (immediate) success. It was a smaller team and I think we felt real ownership over our contributions. That’s something you don’t really get on larger teams and it’s somewhat a trade-off for large scale projects – you either get better compensation or more control, but rarely are you going to get both. Some people want stability and a small piece of a gigantic machine to work on, and that’s fine. I’d much rather work on projects where everyone knows everyone and where we don’t have to have several meetings to decide on the color of the hero’s shoes. I don’t necessarily think every project should be the most ambitious ever, but it would be nice if more games took some risks. I completely understand when projects with $50 million+ budgets play it safe, though it would be nice if there were more $500,000 projects that made you felt like you were playing something unique.

Read more here.

About Tom Jubert

Tom Jubert is a freelance games writer / narrative designer, best known for his work on the Penumbra series, for which he was nominated for a Writers' Guild Award. His upcoming releases include Lost Horizon and Driver: San Francisco. He was previously the Managing Editor at GameShadow.com, and has also spent time in production.