Wasteland, Fallout and Bard's Tale Vet Brian Fargo to Hang Up His DM Screen

InXile's boss will retire after Wasteland 3 ships in 2019, with 38 years in games industry on his character sheet.

3

Brian Fargo has been in the games business for a long time. From his first self-published game in 1981 to running inXile Entertainment today, he has been part of some of the industry's most memorable RPGs. Fallout, Bard's Tale, Wasteland, PlaneScape: Torment, Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale, Neverwinter Nights ... all bear his name in some capacity or another. And now, after 35-plus years, Fargo is rolling the dice once again, but this time on retirement after his current project Wasteland 3 ships in 2019.

"Wasteland 2 and Torment both came out great," Fargo told Eurogamer. "The Mage's Tale's got a great buzz. The Bard's Tale 4 looks spectacular. Wasteland 3 is building on Wasteland 2. It seems like a good time to drop the mic.I love this industry, but I've been at this since 1981. I've been at it with Ken and Roberta Williams [Sierra co-founders], Trip Hawkins [EA founder], the guys from Brøderbund - I look at my friends, they have a lot more spare time than I do. It's a very intense business. It's all encompassing. It seems like I should relax for a little bit."

After self-publishing Labyrinth of Martagon in 1981, Fargo founded the RPG powerhouse Interplay two years later. Bard's Tale was one of the first projects for the developer, a critical hit with fans in 1985, with Bard's Tale 2 coming a year later. Bard's Tale 3 and Wasteland rounded out the 1980s for RPGs, along with a rather innovative game called Battle Chess. During that time, he also gave two young game developers from a startup named Silicon & Synapse their start. Allen Adham and Mike Morheim later changed the name of their company to Blizzard Entertainment. 

In the 90s, Interplay grew to more than 600 employees. Fargo worked on 33 different games, among them Star Trek, Castles, and Lord of the Rings. Under Fargo's watch, the developer created a pure RPG division known as Black Isle Studios, which added such titles as Baldur's Gate (with BioWare), Icewind Dale and PlaneScape: Torment to its portfolio. In 1997, a little RPG was released that became one of Fargo's trademarks, Fallout. 

By 2000, though, Fargo moved on from Interplay after management differences with majority shareholder Titus Software. He wasn't out of work long, as he founded inXile Entertainment in 2002. The flow of games slowed, but he still kept the love for his old RPGs. He acquired the right for the Bard's Tale name and published a console version in 2004. It also developed Hunted: The Demon's Forge for Bethesda in 2007.

However, where Fargo and inXile have really made their mark of late is on the crowdfunding scene. Fargo became an outspoken critic of the publisher based model and in 2012, announced Wasteland 2. It quickly became one of the most popular Kickstarter projects at the time. It hit its crowdfunding goal in two days, and by the deadline, had amassed more than $3 million. At a time when some Kickstarter projects began to deliver less than stellar products and mismanagement was a serious issue, inXile and Fargo delivered Wasteland 2 in 2014 to great reviews and some Game of the Year accolades.

Before Wasteland 2 hit digital shelves, Fargo went to the crowdfunding well one more time with the announcement of Torment: Tides of Numenera, a spiritual successor to the beloved PlaneScape: Torment. Fans went nuts, and shattered a then-Kickstarter record of hitting $1 million in less than 24 hours, while reaching two stretch goals. By the end, Torment had reached more than $4.1 million and set a new Kickstarter record. The game hit $4.5 million and its final stretch goal after all was said and done. The game again did not disappoint, launching last month to strong reviews from critics and fans alike.

InXile has continued with its success by crowdfunding Bard's Tale 4 last year, gaining $1.5 million and pushing for a 2018 release. The company also moved into the VR space with A Mage's Tale, a Bard's Tale spinoff set between BT3 and BT4, acting as a bridge between the two games. It will launch this summer on Oculus Rift.

Wasteland 3, announced late last year through new crowdfunding platform Fig, will be Fargo's last hurrah. "I started Interplay in 1983. I think I'm one of The Last of the Mohicans. Most, if not all of the old guard has gone on and relaxed. That's a long time, right? I should get an award just for survival."

He will stay focused on these last three games, determined to see them succeed, especially Wasteland 3. "It puts even more pressure on me to make damn sure that thing is stellar." he said.

(Top image courtesy of Riot Pixels)

Contributing Editor
From The Chatty