There are a lot of great gestalt metaphors: “getting the band back together,” “letting our powers combine to call Captain Planet” and, my personal favorite, “forming Voltron.”
In the gaming world, we don’t often get to see the equivalent of a superband or reunion tour, but our collective heart cries out for one. Out of all of the possible mix-and-match combinations of industry minds, a reformed, resurrected Black Isle Studios is at the top of many old-school RPG gamers list. The studio, which had a hand in Fallout, Baldur’s Gate, Planescape: Torment, Icewind Dale and even the brilliant action-RPG take on Baldur’s Gate, Dark Alliance II, was known for making RPG games for RPG gamers. There was always lots of interesting dialog, branching paths and truly ambiguous causal relationships that had a knack for surprising players by haunting them with the consequences of seemingly minor choices.
Brian Fargo, now CEO and Leader in Exile of inXile Entertainment led Interplay and helped create the Black Isle label, which was largely responsible for internal development of RPGs, as well as publishing those from other developers. One of the biggest successes, often heralded as a defining title in the genre, was young BioWare’s Baldur’s Gate, published by Black Isle Studios.
When we spoke with him this past weekend, I asked about whether he would consider putting the team back together, or working on a collaboration with his friends and former co-workers, Feargus Urquhart, head of Obsidian Entertainment and Chris Avellone, that studio’s Chief Creative Officer and co-founder. Here’s what Fargo had to say:
MF: You mentioned Obsidian. Have you spoken with them?
BF: I talk to them all the time.
MF: Would you consider working with them, especially given their current troubles… maybe reform the Black Isle Voltron?
BF: (Obsidian) are still working on projects. It’s not like they are going away. I have a lot of love for those guys.
MF: What about the people from Interplay? Honestly, us old guys would love to see Black Isle reborn in some form.
BF: Well, if (Wasteland 2) works, it will give me a platform for doing things again. I haven’t had an engine… or I’ve had an engine with no gas. If this continues to work, and certainly we’re off to a great start—this game has got to be great—if I deliver that, I think there would be a chance to build it up again. Nothing would make me happier.
After hearing that from Brian, I reached out to Chris Avellone for his take on things. The answer should please diehard RPG fans.
Brian gave me my first job in the industry, I loved being at Interplay while he was there, and I love Wasteland. If there was a way to work both with Obsidian and work with Brian and InXile, I would do it.
Hope springs eternal and, while Wasteland 2 is still about 18 months away (and the Kickstarter isn’t even complete yet), our dreams of a return to the glory days of Black Isle’s heyday aren’t dead yet.