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Monday, November 24, 2008
 
Jeff Vogel Discusses Avernum Series, Indie Gaming
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Reason Magazine has posted a new interview with Spiderweb Software's Jeff Vogel. The interview covers a variety of topics related to Spiderweb's indie RPG titles including the plot of the Avernum series, and the chances of an online multiplayer title from Spiderweb.

reason: The Avernum series doesnít have simple cookie-cutter outcomes. The adventures carry ethical overtones, both positive and negative, no matter what options you select. Is there something about that ambiguity that appeals to you?
Vogel: Yes. Iím fascinated by politics, and Iím fascinated by the process of how things get doneóhow ugly and compromised pretty much any dream can become. I have very little patience, in general, with ideas of some people being absolutely good or absolutely bad, or some race of creature being absolutely good or absolutely bad. In The Lord of the Rings, there are these things, and theyíre called ďorcs,Ē and theyíre all bad, and theyíre all evil, and their only purpose is to be killed. I find that to be extremely boring. Whenever I watch The Lord of the Rings, I find myself wondering, ďSo what are orcs like? Why are they like that?Ē
Obviously, there are some cases in real life where people are doing things that are all wrong, like the Nazis, or the genocide in Darfur. But most of the time, once you get under the surface, there are a lot of contests between people where either side isnít absolutely right or absolutely wrong, and I find that a lot more interesting.
So in the Avernum and Geneforge games, I like to give the players choices. No cut-and-dried solutions, but instead situations where they have to go, ďWhat do I want to do here? What side, what faction, do I think really has more of a point?Ē If I get to the point where the player has to actually stop and think about it, then I think Iíve made an interesting game.

reason: Do you plan to move toward online play?
Vogel: There are a lot of reasons why weíre never, ever going to do that. First off, Iím not a very good programmer. Iím a pretty good game designer, but to create an online sort of game requires a frightening level of resources far beyond what our tiny shop can manage.
On top of that, itís not really our niche. When youíre a small indie company, generally, to survive, you have to find some small area where you donít have to be constantly fighting with the big guys and write games to fill that area. You step out of that niche at your peril.
Weíve been writing single-player role-playing games, so Iím competing with practically nobody. There are only one or two decent single-player role-playing games that come out in any given year. If I write a massive multi-player game, Iím competing against people with $50 million budgets, and they will kill me.
Indie game development is a big, growing thing. Itís a chance for people who live in their basements, small people with a dream, to create something, and thatís really catching on. But if you want to do that, you have to know your limits.
Check out the full Q&A at the link provided below.

Reason Magazine: Jeff Vogel Interview
Spiderweb Software


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Archives  News  Jeff Vogel Discusses Avernum Series, Indie Gaming