Eurogamer: Bond and Bourne films and TV shows like 24 are all heavily directed so they're exciting. Can a slow-paced RPG really emulate that successfully?
Chris Avellone: The trick with Alpha Protocol is that nothing in the game is actually slow, even the dialogue system - even that is timed. It's not like Neverwinter Nights 2. All the conversations take place in real-time. There's usually an urgency about the conversation as well so it keeps people more engaged in what's going on.
Eurogamer: James Bond famously has his charming way with plenty of women. Will Michael Thorton be doing the same in Alpha Protocol?
Chris Avellone: Absolutely.
Eurogamer: Are we going to see sex scenes?
Chris Avellone: There will be scenes of intimacy. Ha ha.
Eurogamer: Evidently you're pro-romance in videogames, then. But what are your thoughts about the issue in general?
Chris Avellone: I think it's a natural part of human relations, and as long as you present it tastefully I think there's ways to communicate it that it helps reinforce... I mean, it's part of the spy genre: it's part of James Bond, it's part of 24, it's part of the Jason Bourne movies. To not implement it would be to do a disservice to the type of game we're trying to create.
Eurogamer: So, to recap on the story of Alpha Protocol: players are Michael Thorton, who is a rookie spy whose investigation of a plane crash opens a whole can of worms (and maybe gets him involved in some hanky panky). What sort of character progression will he go through, both visually and mechanically?
Chris Avellone: Well, visually on the character we try and provide the player with a number of customisation options, like skin colour, tone, any sort of facial hair they want, hair styles, different clothing sets or armours sets that they want to wear. And that will extend to the mod upgrades for the weapons as well: you can visually see the mods on the weapons as you customise them.
For gameplay mechanics the evolution of the character takes a few routes. One is it being level-based and skill-based - you can choose to specialise in a number of different skills. In addition, after you're done with your first mission you have a chance to specialise to a number of other classes - I guess the closest analogy would be Prestige Classes in Dungeons & Dragons. So that helps you set yourself apart from other players playing the game and achieve extra skill levels and skills that other characters cannot.
Eurogamer: How do dialogue choices affect the world?
Chris Avellone: It affects the game in a number of ways. It usually affects the reputation level of the person you interact with and potentially other characters you're talking about in that conversation. You can get reputation pluses and minuses in those conversations.
The other thing that takes place is you can gain dossier pieces, and dossier basically represents the amount of research you've done on a faction or individual. Once you achieve a full dossier or you find out secret facts about a characters, that will also give you game bonuses as well.
Another aspect that comes into play is, depending on the choices you make during a conversation, you can gain new gameplay mechanic quirks. For example, if you take a very heavy Jack Bauer route through the game and you decide you don't want to leave any enemies behind you, if you'd rather not talk to people and shoot them in the knees and have them spill their guts to you - you really don't have time to figure out where the missile is - we allow you to do those options and we award you perks based on those choices in the dialogue choices.