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Obsidian’s Josh Sawyer misses having Chris Avellone around: “He’s a machine”

Pillars of Eternity 2 graphics

It’s been a year and a half since Chris Avellone left Obsidian, the RPG studio he co-founded and helped guide to genre-defining glory, to become a full-time Kickstarter stretch goal. In the time since he’s been attached to Divinity: Original Sin II, Torment: Tides of Numenera, and even Arkane’s Prey reboot. But what of the vacuum he left behind at Obsidian?

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In conversation with Josh Sawyer about Pillars of Eternity II, we asked what the designer missed about Avellone’s presence in the studio.

“Chris always gave very good feedback,” Sawyer replied. “I think that one of his greatest assets is his ability to look at a character or storyline and give just really insightful feedback.

“It wasn’t always stuff that everyone agreed with, and he was usually pretty cool – like, if someone said, ‘Ah, there’s another direction I wanna go with this’. But he’s very, very good at analysing a character, their dialogue; he can just see flaws very quickly.”

During the development of Fallout: New Vegas, for instance, it was Avellone who pointed out that the companion line-up was missing a representative from Caesar’s Legion. From that suggestion came Ulysses, who went on to precipitate the story of New Vegas’ concluding Lonesome Road DLC.

“That was an extremely astute observation,” said Sawyer, before adding: “Of course, Chris is extremely prolific as a writer. I don’t actually know if I’ve ever known a writer who’s as prolific as Chris is. So yeah, you know, he’s a machine.”

At the time we interviewed Chris Avellone – shortly before his departure from Obsidian – he spent the average day working on a novella, drawing avatars for Pillars backers and acting as creative lead on a project. It doesn’t sound like his schedule has quietened since.