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Fargo's goal: Make an "unbelievable" game without a publisher

InXile's CEO talks about crowdfunded development and Microsoft's complete change in approach to indies

The [a] list daily sat down with InXile CEO Brian Fargo, long-time veteran of the industry, to discuss the pending arrival of Wasteland II and the changing game market.

Fargo wants to create a great RPG in the classic tradition, and from the appearance of the software in its current form he's succeeding. "I want to make it unbelievable," said Fargo. "I want to show that you can make an unbelievable game without a publisher." Fargo's lined up a top-flight team of writers and designers (including the team from the original Wasteland) along with experienced programmers and artists using Unity to build a game that looks like a very worthy successor to the original RPG.

Fargo believes there is still more to learn about bringing games to market through crowdfunding. "The process was already much more sophisticated on Torment than it was on Wasteland," Fargo points out. "Whatever worked six months ago might not work today. Who's to say if I did the exact same Torment campaign today I'd get the same amount of money? There's an emotional component to it. To me it's all about timing, and what your messaging is at the time. I bet you I would arrive at some different kinds of conclusions if I was doing it today."

"I want to show that you can make an unbelievable game without a publisher"

Brian Fargo

The console market is something that Fargo plans to think about after Wasteland II has shipped. Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo are all saying that indies are more important to them, but the details still haven't been fully revealed. "It's been happening, and I've heard from Microsoft," Fargo said. He recalls how it used to be when dealing with Microsoft. "I used to want to publish directly on the Xbox, and it was 'OK, how many retail SKUs are you going to put out?' I always felt there was there this huge disconnect. Why do I have to put products on a retail shelf in order to be on XBLA?"

Now the situation is completely different. "You're hearing Microsoft reaching out, they're saying 'Hey, we want you on the machine,' they're making the calls," Fargo said. "You can use the hardware as a development kit, making it more accessible, because indies can't afford to buy [development kits]. It used to be that if you shipped on Sony first you could never be on the Xbox. Now they're like 'Well, we're flexible, maybe there are features...' There's a different dialog there."

"They've come full circle in a matter of ninety days, on every part of it, including the ability to be on the platform at all. Sony was already there; they go one step further with their Dev Pub fund, where they actually give developers money upon delivery of a game. You're actually hearing executives at both those companies - and Nintendo, I should say - talk about why indies are important. Someone called it the Cambrian explosion of creativity, I love that phrase."

Read more of what Brian Fargo has to say about crowdfunded development at our sister site, the [a] list daily.

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Steve Peterson

Contributor/[a]list daily senior editor

Steve Peterson has been in the game business for 30 years now as a designer (co-designer of the Champions RPG among others), a marketer (for various software companies) and a lecturer. Follow him on Twitter @20thLevel.