MF: There seem to be two halves of the gaming universe. Old guys like me who grew up on Fallout. I remember pouring over decisions and redoing combat, just because an NPC died. I loved that dog too much to let him go. The other half, though, are much younger. Their first introduction to the universe was Fallout 3 and New Vegas. How are they going to be able to relate to this game having no real frame of reference for these classic, wonderful RPGs?
BF: The thing about this project being fan-funded is that I’m not worried about this new group of people and how they might get it. This is being made for people like yourself that grew up playing Wasteland, Fallout and Fallout 2. These new people, who have never played these games, I think they’re going to check it out and have a great time. I’m simply not going to worry about how I get these console guys to come over and like it, because there is no reason to. We all know the experience that we grew up with. We all loved it and we’ve all been wanting one, so that’s what I’m going to bring. It’s not a putdown on the console product, it’s just that I’m not going to worry about how to get them.
MF: It sounds like that might be one of the big differences between the publisher-funded model and the crowd-sourced funding model. You don’t have to be all things to all people.
BF: That’s right. That was one of the big things, and you’ll see it in my blog. This thing is pre-funded. I don’t need to use buzzwords to get people excited. I wasn’t saying the word “social” to sell someone. It was probably a poor choice of words given the connotation it has. These people want an old-school RPG and, damnit, that’s what we’re going to give.
MF: Now that you’ve got Ken St. Andre and Michael Stackpole involved in the project, what are you planning for the combat system. Will it be identical to the original Wasteland, or will there be some modifications to make things more contemporary where it makes sense.
BF: We’re going to use the original Wasteland as the base and build upon it. Everybody liked the skill-based system of the world. We’re definitely going to stay with that and add upon it. We’re going to use a lot of the basics of combat, but because this is graphical in nature and you’ll be able to see your guys on the map, as opposed to just reading about it, it opens up to be more tactical.
MF: One of the things that Wasteland did, possibly because it was way ahead of its time and due to space issues, was the text for players to read separately…
BF: … and copy protection, actually, but yeah. That’s how tight space was back then. We couldn’t even put in all the text we wanted to.
MF: Is there anything like that, even just as a nod to the original game that you’re planning on.
BF: We’re kicking the idea around, because that paragraph book was quite fun. Whether we will really make you read or not, though? Probably not in this digital world. Might we do a paragraph book? Maybe, as a nod.
MF: I’m an Infocom guy from way back, having to search the manual for the right word for copy protection was great. Even the idea that there might be a big, nice manual. That’s a lost art.
BF: We’re definitely doing that. At the $50 level, you get a big, nice manual. I remember one time I tweeted a picture of my collection of a lot of games I worked on and someone said, “Gosh, I miss having boxes that I could put up on the shelf.” I thought, “You’re right. That would be a perfect tier.” One of the things I should mention, since you mention Infocom, is that one of the things that roleplaying games have lost over the past decade, looking back at the classics that we and other people did, whether it was Baldur’s Gate or Torment or Fallout, is the literary aspect. That prose and the writing have been lost, as things have gone more graphical. It’s something that people responded to, and I’m not talking about having to read a book every time you step on a square. It was about having interesting conversations and dialog, and nice descriptions. I won’t say that no one has done it right, but I think there is a literary vibe to those.
MF: I understand that it was Konami that held the license to Wasteland. Were they planning on doing something with the property?
BF: I read that somewhere, and maybe they had it, didn’t use it and let it lapse, perhaps. All I know is that it had expired, which is when I stepped in and got it. I worked a deal with Electronic Arts so I could use the copyrighted material.
MF: Gotcha. So, they own the rights to the original game?
BF: Well, I should say that they have the rights. I don’t want to get into the semantics.
MF: Have they contacted you since you started the project?
BF: They knew about it advance and they said, “that’s cool,” and struck the deal with me. I can’t say anything bad about them.