Christopher Frederic "Chris" Avellone (born 27 September 1971) is an American video game designer, comic book writer and short story author, who worked extensively on Planescape: Torment and worked for Interplay from 1997 to 2004, he then resigned after the Fallout title, Van Buren, was canceled on which he was lead designer, he then co-founded Obsidian Entertainment.
He has designed several very popular RPGs such as Fallout 2, Planescape: Torment, Icewind Dale, its expansion pack; Icewind Dale: Heart of Winter and its sequel; Icewind Dale II, Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, Neverwinter Nights 2 and its expansion pack Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer.
Christopher Avellone was born in 1971, September 27 of parents of Sicilian descent. He attended the renowned Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology from 1985-89 in Alexandria, Virginia and graduated and received a high school diploma there. He then attended Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University from 1989-91 in Blacksburg, Virginia and gained a bachelor's degree in architecture. He then attended College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, from 1991–94, along with future Executive Producer of Bethesda Softworks, Todd Howard (1970), and achieved a bachelor's degree in English.
He was an avid writer of short stories and scripts for RPGs (Role-Playing Games) and was published several times in the D&D (Dungeons & Dragons) magazine Dragon. He wrote a book for the role-playing game Dark Champions through the editor of Hero Games, Bruce Harlick and published several publications with Hero Games which led to his becoming a game designer.
Designing in Black Isle StudiosEdit
After deciding to become a game designer, Steve Peterson (one of the founders of Hero Games) provided Avellone with an interview with Interplay Entertainment Inc, which was a large game publisher at the time, he was offered a position as a game designer because of his impressive knowledge of Role-Playing games. In 1997 he moved to Irvine, Orange County, California and continued to work there for the next 8 years.
The first game he worked on (briefly) was Star Trek: Starfleet Academy (1997) and very soon after took over development of Descent to Undermountain (released 1998), which he later stated that he was disappointed in. His first major success was Fallout 2 in which he is known to Fallout fans to have designed the town of New Reno in 1998 and he continues to show his dedication for the Fallout series up to this day.
In 1997, the game designers produced a 47-page document that outlined the game's premise and vision statement and was used to pitch the idea to management at Interplay. They accepted and once Interplay acquired the necessary rights to produce a role-playing game set in the Planescape campaign setting of Dungeons & Dragons, Avellone was chosen as lead designer of Planescape: Torment and it is possibly the game he is most famous for to date.
While working on Planescape: Torment, he was simultaneously working on Fallout 2 and he is quoted to have said that Fallout 2 helped him rethink the possibilities of dialogue in Planescape: Torment. He also remarked that many of the ideas in the game "Could only be communicated through text, simply because no one would have the budget or resources to fully realized many of these fantasy works through TV or movies".
Avellone has expressed some regret on the game's heavy focus on dialogue as he feels this interfered with the overall game mechanics, such as the combat system, noting that the game's script contains over 800,000 words after previews had indicated that the game would be only 20 hours long.
After he had finished working on Planescape: Torment, he started working as lead designer on the renowned Icewind Dale franchise in 1999 and it was released in 2000, he also worked on the expansion pack, Icewind Dale: Heart of Winter, which was released in 2001. He would later work on Icewind Dale II in 2001, which would be released in 2002 but completed Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance in 2001.
He then worked on the poorly received Lionheart: Legacy of the Crusader in 2002 and 2003 and the Champions of Norrath in 2004. He also compiled the Fallout Bible in 2002 on a sporadic basis, which was a collection of information about the Fallout universe.
Later, he became the lead designer of a project codenamed Van Buren, which was canceled in 2003 and revealed to have been Black Isle's attempt at developing Fallout 3. After its cancellation, Chris Avellone resigned from Interplay and in 2005, founded Obsidian Entertainment along with Feargus Urquhart, Chris Parker, Darren Monahan and Chris Jones and started working on the RPGs Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II (2004) which was his first published game with Obsidian.
He then worked on Neverwinter Nights 2 and its expansion, Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer (2007). Avellone is currently working on the upcoming action Role-playing game Alpha Protocol and as senior designer on Fallout: New Vegas. He is currently co-owner of Obsidian Entertainment Incorporation at Santa Ana, California in the USA.
- Star Trek: Starfleet Academy (1997)
- Fallout 2 (1998) - Level Designer
- Descent to Undermountain (1998)
- Planescape: Torment (1999) - Lead Designer
- Icewind Dale (2000) - Level Designer
- Icewind Dale: Heart of Winter (2001) - Level Designer
- Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance (2001) - Senior Designer
- Icewind Dale II (2002) - Level Designer
- Lionheart: Legacy of the Crusader (2003)
- Champions of Norrath (2004) - Level Designer and Script Doctor
- Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords (2005) - Lead Designer
- Neverwinter Nights 2 (2006) - Senior Designer
- Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer (2007) - Senior Designer
- Alpha Protocol (2010) - Lead Designer
- Fallout: New Vegas (2010) - Senior Designer
- Baldur's Gate III - Senior Designer
- Fallout 3 (Van Buren) (2003) - Co-Lead Designer
- Aliens (2006) - Creative Lead Designer
- Chris is a great fan of all types of music except for opera and is a Star Wars enthusiast.
- He has worked with such companies as Interplay, Reflexive, Snowblind, LucasArts, Atari, and SEGA.
- He has written magazine articles for Dragon, Shadis and Adventurer's Club.
- He also does illustrations for comic books such as the Role-Playing Gamers Bible and Knights of the Dinner Table.
- He was once threatened by Ron Perlman during the voice overs for Fallout 2.