inXile Files: Meet Brian Fargo

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Coinciding with the announcement of Hunted: The Demon’s Forge, we’ve got a developer profile with inXile Entertainment’s founder, Brian Fargo. If case you’ve been living under a rock, Fargo has been behind some of the greatest fantasy game franchises of all time including The Bard’s Tale, Baldur’s Gate, and the original Fallout.

You are the founding father of inXile. What does your job entail on a day-to-day basis?

The games business is one of the most challenging industries one can get into. But, in my opinion, the best thing about it is that no two days are rarely alike. In general I set the strategic direction for the company.

I also work with my production team to make sure that the game(s) we set out to create stay on track and that we are achieving the goals we have set out for ourselves. I am also the face of inXile, so I tend to deal with the outside forces of the company, like handling the press or negotiating contracts.

How did you initially get into the industry? Could you even call it an “industry” back then?

Our industry barely warranted being called as such when I first starting making games for a living. All of my hobbies — from collecting comic books (Heavy Metal being one of my favorites), playing Dungeons and Dragons, reading tons of fiction and programming the computer — really suited me well for what was to become the games business as we know it today. I think I started in the same way that many people do — with the simple thought: I can make a better game than the ones I’m playing. It’s hard to believe that I have been doing this for nearly 30 years!

What games have you been involved in since?

I have been fortunate to have worked on so many games in my career. I founded Interplay and now I have started a new company, inXile Entertainment.

My first big hit was the Bard’s Tale back in 1985. And, I either produced or executive produced Wasteland, Battle Chess, Castles, Stonekeep, Baldur’s Gate, Fallout, Redneck Rampage, the Interplay Star Trek games as well as many others during my career at Interplay.

inXile was formed in 2002 and we produced the Bard’s Tale re-imagining and helped popularize Line Rider, Fantastic Contraption and Impossible Quiz. We have also now revealed Hunted: The Demon’s Forge — a fresh take on the dungeon crawlers we grew up on — which we are developing with Bethesda Softworks.

If you weren’t making games, what do you think you’d be doing today?

It’s hard to imagine what I might be doing if I wasn’t making games. If not creating games, I could see myself in the creative field, perhaps working in film or television. I have always been fascinated by these mediums, and I am always interested in what people find entertaining.

Psychology and sociology are also quite interesting to me as both of these elements play a role in any kind of entertainment. Maybe I could have been a shrink.

Have you ever considered making a game based on Fargo? Brian Fargo Presents Fargo?

My life would certainly qualify as a book or movie at this point. My personal life has definitely not been a normal one and I am speaking to a few authors about helping to write a book on what has proven to be a very dramatic and interesting series of life events. But it would definitely not be a game…I need a game to take me to another place!

I remember when the movie Fargo came out and I was so afraid that there would someone named Fargo in the movie who was a serial killer or deviant, and I would have to hear about it for the rest of my life. Every time I met someone they would say “Oh, like the killer in the movie” or “oh, like the rodeo clown in the movie” or whatever.

Hunted: The Demon’s Forge is a modern take on dungeon crawling action. You’ve been around for a while; are there any other gaming genres you would like to update or bring back?

The social networking dynamics of Facebook offer some interesting angles on how to bring back some old genres. I’m still exploring ideas and thoughts with my guys but there are some things there that really interest me. I’m so thankful for the free-to-play, digital download, and social network game opportunities that have popped up over the last years. I love creating big games like Hunted: The Demon’s Forge, but it’s nice to be able to create smaller games with less pressure so we can experiment a bit. I definitely feel like I want to do more games in the RPG genre to help push it up to the next level.

Played any good games lately?

I’ve been playing a lot of smaller games lately seeing how they handle interface design or gameplay mechanics. Plants vs. Zombies is interesting in how well they balanced and tweaked the tower defense genre. I spent a lot of time with Guitar Hero and Rock Band so I could understand that genre better and I’ve played a lot of Wii Sports to feel the power of the Wii Remote. I tend to play games that I feel I need to understand so that my knowledge base continues to grow – helping keep my ideas relevant. I am always shocked when I hear about game executives not having Facebook accounts.

Favorite game of all time?

I don’t know if I can pick a best single game of all time as I have had so many great late nights engrossed by so many different games. The original Wizardry series was so addictive and rewarding. I loved the original Zelda series, Alone in the Dark, Realm of the Haunting, Rock N’ Roll Racing, Baldur’s Gate, Warcraft 1 and 2, and BioShock to name a few. The game that I put the most hours in by far and away was a game from Shiny/Interplay called Sacrifice. It was a first third person RTS and I loved the team dynamics and visuals of the game. To me that game represented the best of PC gaming.

What else do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

My main hobby outside the industry has been in building my dream home. My entire life has consisted of creating things on a monitor but nothing that was tangible. I spent the last 7 years building a house from the ground up, working on every detail from the overall design to picking out interesting antiques…even down to choosing the door knobs. Building a house and making a game have many creative and management similarities except when you build a house there is no hitting the ‘undo’ button!

I’m also a huge movie fan, so I spend times with my friends watching all kinds of movies that range from documentaries to Kurosawa to modern stuff.

Reader Comments

  1. When I got fallout for my win95 computer, I sent brian an email thanking him and his team.

    Brian, keep up the good work. I have been a fan of your work since wasteland (Faran Brygo!)
    Good luck with your future endeavours!