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On one hand, obviously, a lot of lessons from RPGs are spreading out. Do you see hard core RPGs as a lot more mainstream as they used to be? Do you think, to a certain extent, it is and always will be more of a niche than some other game genres?
FU: That's a tough call. It's sure your choice in what kind of game you want to make. As a game maker, do you want to go make something that five to 10 million people are going to buy, or are you okay with two to five million people buying it? I think that one of the things is that if you get to where you want to sell five to 10 million units of every game, you have to start making a lot of decisions... In essence, you're trying to make a game that's going to appeal to everybody, right?
So, it's sort of like the difference between... I'll use stupid examples, but there's Ivory Soap. "This is for everybody. It's not special. It's not anything, but it's soap, and it's cheap and for everybody." And then you have something like Dove, which is much more expensive and it smells funny, but it's made for a particular kind of person. I think what happens, though, and maybe the analogy is that Ivory is very generic, Dove is not.
And so, I think a lot of thing is that -- and not that you can say Gears of War, Call of Duty, or any of those things are generic. They're great games and a great experience, but they've been funneled down a line of "How do we sell as many units as possible?", you know what I mean?
And which is the right line? I mean, this is a business. If you're going to spend 30, 40 million dollars on a game, well then you gotta get that many people to buy it. It just makes sense. There's no reason to make a movie, a very niche-y indie movie, and spend a hundred million dollars on it. You can still make money.
It's like the difference between Fox Searchlight and Fox.
FU: Yes, absolutely. When it comes to niche-ness, RPGs, and stuff like that, it depends on what you want to do. You look at Mass Effect and... I mean, Fallout has been very successful, and a lot of people think it's very niche. Mass Effect, again, has been successful, but niche. Though niche might be the wrong word.
In other words, what they've done, they've pulled more players in by making it on console, making the numbers less in your face. And I think that's attracted people. This is a conversation we have at Obsidian all the time, but you have to be careful about receding the numbers too far into the background because now you might lose your RPG players.
Microsoft/Lionhead Studios' Fable II
I had a debate I did with this freelance writer, which was like Fable people versus Fallout people. Like, I love Fable, and I don't like Fallout, and the reason is the numbers, to me, are too much. But for him, he finds Fable boring because they're so in the background that you don't get to design it yourself.
FU: But there are numbers even in Fable. You have to choose a weapon.
Yes, you have to do that.
FU: Right, and how you tell the difference whether the weapon is good or not is a number. You can buy property. So, there's a certain amount of numbers there.
I realized that I don't like Fallout. And then all the criticisms that I could come up with, I was like, "Anybody can say that about Fable."
Then I was like, "I have no good reason anymore. It just somehow appeals to me. I can't come up with a good reason."
FU: Right, right.