It Lives! – Project Eternity In Motion

By Nathan Grayson on April 10th, 2013 at 10:00 am.

Now with infinity percent more stuff actually happening!

My old-school RPG gland’s been engorged with excitement for many reasons lately, but the past few weeks have seen Torment race to the front of the pack – and not just because it’s chock full of twisted sights and sounds not of this world. In something of a revolution, it also moves. Like, its pictures just sort of do things, without the assistance of a flip book, finger puppets, or any of the other traditional methods. So imagine my elation when I discovered that Project Eternity will, in fact, employ similar motion gremlins to sow the glorious song of movement into its lush mountains, valleys, and plains. See everything dance, wiggle, and jiggle after the break.

I want to go live under those waterfalls. I’m not sure if that would entail seeking refuge in nearby caves or simply sprouting gills and an incredibly hardy spine, but I’m feeling up to the challenge regardless. They’re just so foamy and inviting. If only all bodies of water made me feel so desired.

It’s all quite striking, though – and certainly akin to what my brain wants to remember old Infinity Engine games as looking like, free of the wrinkles and warts that age inevitably cleaves into skin. That, unsurprisingly, is exactly what Obsidian’s going for. Project director Josh Sawyer explained:

“The Infinity Engine games were known for their art, and we wanted to hit the high standard of visual quality established by games like the Icewind Dale series. We also wanted to introduce dynamic elements into the environment that were mostly absent from the classic games, like dynamic water, movement in foliage, and dynamic lighting of the scene.”

“In a 2D game, this required our programmers and artists to come up with some creative solutions. What they came up with surprised us initially and it continues to amaze us. While we are still working on refining some of the dynamic elements, we’re very happy with the progress we’ve been able to make and hope you feel the same way.”

Waterfalllllllll. Aka, yes. Admittedly, however, these are pretty standard fantasy environments, but that kind of seems to be Eternity’s shtick. Its wheelhouse doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but its roots are so firmly wrapped around the pounding pulse of nostalgia that I’d be shocked if it did anything differently. I see no problem with that, though. It’s what people paid for, and Obsidian’s chops in this area are second-to-none.

How about you, though? Are you still chomping at the bit for Eternity? For me, Torment’s taken away a bit of the sheen (so much weird stuff and completely out-there lore and grossness and and and), but there’s more than enough room for both. Now it’s just a matter of patiently waiting, which is total cake when you’re someone who’s the exact opposite of me.

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88 Comments »

  1. Strabo says:

    As someone who has backed both Eternity and Torment (and Wasteland 2) seeing this makes me very happy. Only because Torment looks equally impressive doesn’t make me less happy with Eternity, just as PS:T didn’t diminish my enjoyment of BG. More great RPGs is better than fewer great RPGs.

    • Shaz says:

      I know, I know! I’m SO excited. I look at my Kickstarter Backed list, and I am overcome with a powerful wish to either rub my hands together and MUAHAHA like some evil archvillain or just bounce up and down in my chair and giggle with unabashed glee.

      Thanks to Kickstarter, I am well and truly excited about gaming in a way I haven’t been for a very long time. I no longer feel like I’m shouting futilely into the wind with regards to my gaming wishes; I can finally ‘put my money where my mouth is’ and support the things I want to happen.

      More great RPGs, please!

  2. MuscleHorse says:

    This makes me feel warm inside. BG style games are finally coming back, aren’t they?

    • zeroskill says:

      It looks absolutely stunning! I hope very much that they can nail the Baldur’s Gate style of gameplay, they already nail’d the looks and it looks much better then I would have imagined. If they can nail the combat mechanics, story interaction, meaningful choices, then this is gonna be a winner on a large scale in my book.

      Even if they can’t (which I don’t hope) I will still buy it and just look at it.

  3. Crosmando says:

    How the heck did they manage the water raising trick with no depth, that’s what I want to know…

    • Zwa says:

      I think the whole ‘not 3d’ thing is a bit misleading. While it’s not traditional rasterized vertices/polygons 3D, quite clearly there is a lot of 3 dimensional data stored about the scene in order to generate the dynamic effects. The catch being that this data is only valid from a single viewing angle.

    • TokPhobia says:

      From the look of it I’d guess they’re using a black-and-white texture as a mask and then changing the threshold at which they determine if a water effect pixel is drawn or not.

      In other words, they have another version of the image in which the highest areas (tip of boulders) are white and the lowest areas (the actual ground) is black, with all intermediate heights as shades of grey. They can then mask the water effect by saying things like “the water effect is only visible at shades of grey darker than _this_ value”. By varying that parameter over time you can make the water go up or down.

      It’s just a guess but it seems plausible. It’s probably more complicated than this if you’re trying to get the water to splash at the edges and things like that.

      • RobinOttens says:

        A z-depth render for the height of those boulders and a normal map + specular map for that shiny dynamic lighting. Is my guess. Still, it blows my mind to see it, why did no one else think to do this before? Oh wait, probably because pre-rendered graphics died before normal maps and stuff became standard. Can’t wait to see what shiny trickery they have in the final game, since this is only their first prototype attempt at final graphics.

      • JamesTheNumberless says:

        The techniques behind this kind of stuff have been tricks of the trade since the 90s – even the dynamic lighting. Graphical fidelity has improved but there’s little they’re doing here that they weren’t doing in adventure games 20 years ago. And I think that’s awesome :)

        This kind of stuff in 3D, is a different skill-set, and most people who’ve learned to make games in the past 10 years have only really briefly touched upon what’s possible in a purely 2D environment, before moving on to learning 3D. It’s great to see people being impressed in 2013 by what most people in 2005 (including, and perhaps especially, publishers) would have written off as an irrelevant, dated, style of game. 2D has been back with a vengeance, for a few years now, but not often in a way that pushes, graphically, what was achieved in the past – except in terms of resolution. I have high hopes for where Obsidian are going with this.

        However, I also hope we’re going to see similar polish on the player characters and NPCs. One of my favourite things about the original Torment is the zoomed-in view and the larger-than-life characters. As somebody else said, the way the characters interact with the environment needs to be right too. You can’t have ultra-realistic backdrops with cardboard cutouts wandering across them :) I would also love to see actual animations for things like opening doors and pressing buttons. Then again, the absence of that never bothered me in the past and I wouldn’t want there to be too much focus on these things at the expense of story and characterization.

    • pacificator says:

      It’s most likely something similar to this:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Q6ISVaM5Ww

    • Voxel_Music_Man says:

      Each pre-rendered pixel probably also has z and normal data associated with it. If you have that your 2D scene can interact with 3D objects, lights, etc.

  4. MeestaNob says:

    Looks fantastic.

    It really does look the way I ‘remember’ the old games looking at the time.

    • RedViv says:

      That’s really the best way to do this, isn’t it? Use the best available tech, but go for the same aesthetics.

    • goosnargh says:

      What a difference it makes designing for computer monitors rather than televisions.

    • sonson says:

      ReallY? It looks nice, fine, fit for purpose like most Obsidian game’s graphics. I’m very much looking forward to it, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t see how this looks any different or more impressive than most post 2008 ARPG’s. I know it isn’t an ARPG, but there’s been plenty games looked like this for a while now is what I’m saying.

      • UncleLou says:

        I don’t know, even then, compared to the latest ARPG games, it does look particularly pretty, in my opinion, and with the right dose of high fantasy kitsch.

  5. Kaen says:

    I am so glad i backed the big 4 projects, this, planescape, wasteland and star citizen. it really is a great time to be a gamer.

  6. Rinu says:

    Another trailer of one of KS projects I have backed which makes me feel very happy :) *drools* Next two three years looks very promising to me as a gamer.

  7. Dowr says:

    Oh piss, I forgot to pressurize my room.

  8. JimboDeany says:

    Wish I’d backed some more of these in Kickstarter, I will most certainly be buying.

  9. Wurstwaffel says:

    That dynamism stuff is some high level tech they’re making. I’d never have imagined you could do that in unity

  10. elderman says:

    Lovely!

    The problem with such an immersive environment is that it’s fragile. They need an animation for characters walking with unstable footing, so when they trudge over rocks it doesn’t betray the fact that they’re walking over a flat world, and they need to be able to apply these cool lighting effects to the waterfall too.

  11. stkaye says:

    Speaking as a backer of both games, I’d say I’m a little more excited about Eternity than I am about Torment. I think their kickstarter was extraordinarily well-handled, and I’m really ready for some new Infinity Engine-style fantasy after BG:EE. Torment’s stretch-goals felt a teeny tiny bit cynical, and a bit vague. As an exercise in world building, Numenera has a huge head-start, of course, but I find that I like and trust Obsidian’s team somewhat further than I do inXile.

    That’s just nitpicking, of course. Both projects are so promising.

    • BatmanBaggins says:

      I feel pretty much the same way. I backed both and am looking forward to both, but I don’t feel the slight undercurrent of uncertainty about Project Eternity like I do about Numenera. If Wasteland 2 turns out amazing I’ll feel a lot more reassured.

      • InternetBatman says:

        That’s exactly how I feel. I thought Wasteland 2 looked pretty good in the demo, but wasn’t crazy about the writing. Torment’s writing team has a lot of potential.

        • karthink says:

          The writing in the Wasteland 2 video was very uneven. The text descriptions were great, especially if you like bad puns. There was something off about the dialog, though.

      • wererogue says:

        I’d be worried if I weren’t worried about Numenera. It’s got a lot to live up to, and so many pitfalls.
        Eternity only has to be a fantastic fantasty RPG – Torment has to be philosophical and thought-provoking, surreal, unique, surprising, compelling, emotional, gripping, dynamic, reactive… the whole package.

      • stkaye says:

        Yes, Torment feels much more like a genuine gamble, doesn’t it? Which is strange, seeing as it made even more money than Eternity.

    • Drake Sigar says:

      Agreed, really looking forward to Project Eternity.

      Plus… I didn’t like Planescape Torment all that much. *Runs away*

      • JamesTheNumberless says:

        You wot?

        Actually, I sympathise. I’m a massive Torment fan and think it’s far superior to every other isoRPG game (except Fallout 2, to which it is only a bit superior) – however, I’m also one of those people who prefer Oblivion to Morrowind – which seems not to be the opinion I’m supposed to have – as a CRPG fanboy :)

        • Drake Sigar says:

          I might prefer Oblivion over Morrowind if it weren’t for the gates. :/

          As it stands I maintain the unpopular opinion that Skyrim makes them both look like crap.

        • wererogue says:

          I’m replaying PS:T now – again – and as always I’m struck by how frustrating the combat is [miss, miss, miss, miss, hit, miss, miss, miss, hit... target dies, use spells and abilities on the next one using annoying right-click thing, figure out how to unpause depending on if you right-clicked, pressed space, or auto-paused...]

          But the choices are still so broad, so meaningful. My wife is making all the decisions this playthrough and it’s great to see her agonize over whether to be nice and helpful or cynical and helpful, whether this person needs our charity or is trying to trick us…

      • Lemming says:

        Playability-wise it’s a bit of a bear. Writing and art-wise it’s pretty unquestionable though, I would’ve thought.

      • stkaye says:

        That’s okay. Planescape was a superb novel trapped inside a deeply frustrating videogame.

  12. b0rsuk says:

    I don’t understand: why do other devs bother with 3D if 2.5D looks strictly better ? Is it because you can’t do over-the-shoulder camera for cutscenes ?

    If Obsidian can make environments like this at reasonable speed, WIN

  13. Ansob says:

    Good gosh, that’s pretty. Here’s to hoping Torment manages to be even prettier.

    • karthink says:

      Torment has a different aesthetic, but I’m already blown away.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Is2T5ue5d8

      They haven’t begun work on integrating 3D characters into the environments, of course.

      • InternetBatman says:

        To be fair, they’re using the same tech, and sharing pretty liberally.

        • zeroskill says:

          Well, I think it’s great they are sharing tech. The tech behind Project Eternity looks really great, so if they are using it too for the new Torment game, then that’s even better!

          • Bhazor says:

            The amount of sharing and cooperation between InXile and Obsidian has been strangely touching. It’s only a matter of time before they form up like the Megazoid and announce the true Fallout 4.

          • InternetBatman says:

            I know. It’s like games are a creative process where collaboration helps everyone and not a soul-sucking money grab. This’ll never catch on.

          • karthink says:

            @Bhazor: Avellone’s comment on the collaboration between them was that “Obsidian and InXile are casually dating, maybe. We don’t want to label the relationship just yet.”

            :)

          • jpvg says:

            @kartink -> It’s complicated.

  14. Paul Bryant says:

    Wot an unbelievably fantastic time to be a gamer. The recent resurgence of wot I call “real games” is like finding a long lost lover, qualifying for Social Security Disability, getting bonded out of jail or if you will discovering I’m not your father.

    In short, I find myself back in 1977 eating Count Cocula on the living room floor watching Kawasaki commercials. Let the good times roll!

    • BobbyKotickIsTheAntichrist says:

      “In short, I find myself back in 1977 eating Count Cocula…”

      Sounds nasty to me. xP

    • Ansob says:

      qualifying for Social Security Disability

      So it’s like having a serious disability for life that prevents you from working and getting barely enough money to survive in exchange?

      That doesn’t sound very fun.

      • Paul Bryant says:

        Beats the hell out of being homeless with zero income. Ask me how I know.

        • Samwise Gamgee says:

          How do you know?

        • JamesTheNumberless says:

          Perhaps the complete lack of social responsibility makes games more enjoyable… Actually, thinking back to my own student days (when I originally played Torment and Fallout) , it certainly does! You have more time to play and worry less that you should be doing something else.

          • Paul Bryant says:

            Actually I was a Project Manager for large construction projects running several 10to 30 million dollar projects simultaneously. Very stressful and Socially responsible. I find myself a LOT more stressed and certainly poorer now as opposed to then.

            As far as lack of social responsibility, that’s a complete false statement. For the record, I payed in MUCH more than I’ll ever hope to “collect”. Even if I do live to the average life expectancy.

            At the peak of my career with four children I still played PC games. Admittedly much less than I do now but, will my peers played golf and other leisure activities I enjoyed what I have since my youth, PC games.

  15. Bhazor says:

    Only complaint is theres no wading/difficult terrain animation, it looks like the character is just walking on an invisible bridge. I don’t mind the lack of animation but walking through water like that should at least slow you down, seems like an important tactical idea being overlooked.

    But still its a year from release and not even at the alpha stage so I can’t be too critical.

    • b0rsuk says:

      Few 3D games implement this, actually. Maybe some single-player third person games, but it’s rarely seen in FPS games. Neither is it present in DOTAs or MMOs I know about.

      • Bhazor says:

        That’s exactly why I want it.
        It wouldn’t be hard to implement in this case just “paint” areas of the floor at different levels of difficulty. So normal/unpainted (say a paved path) would be 1, mud would be 0.8 and wet rocks would be 0.4. Multiply walking speed by terrain difficulty, tidy up the animation and maybe add a “sure footed” perk that reduces terrain difficulty and you’re done. This is a simplified version of the D&D system which would include stumbles and falls but could require a tonne of re-balancing.

        In first person or more hi fidelity third person it could be a lot of work but in this engine it would be easy and in my opinion would really add to the tactical element.

        • xStahl says:

          Then go and tell them that, you never know they might actually listen which is the reason for such an open development so it’s very probable and I like your idea already and I’m sure many would support it.

  16. TheApologist says:

    “certainly akin to what my brain wants to remember old Infinity Engine games as looking like”

    This was absolutely my reaction too. I think they’ve nailed it.

    And I’m totally excited that both Torment and this are happening. It’s like this ‘market’ business is functioning well for once.

  17. The Dark One says:

    Rope Kid owns, this video owns.

  18. amateurviking says:

    Oh my.

    Nailed it. It’s like we’re living in an alternate reality where we iterated on 2D instead of abandoning it completely for a decade.

    • Zekiel says:

      YES.

      Excitied!

    • InternetBatman says:

      The sad thing is that I don’t think that the ability to do this was really that far away. I can’t wait to see a few more years on this tech.

      The real marvel is the multiplatform support that Unity grants.

      • Bhazor says:

        I have to say that Unity is becoming the unsung hero of Kickstarter. I was very skeptical when I heard InXile was using it but Wasteland, Project Eternity and Torment all look gorgeous.

  19. Electricleash says:

    Emotions = Icewindale – Kuldahar… That is all!

  20. jellydonut says:

    Just what we wished games would look like in the 90s..

    I’m sad Amazon fucked my backing money now.

  21. DrScuttles says:

    It has that same wonderfully warm, sunny and inviting feeling that Oblivion initially had on me where I see a virtual world I’d love to have a roam around in. Paddle in a stream, wander through the woods at sunset.
    Of course, it could just be that it’s finally sunny outside for a change and my brain is relearning how to process vitamin D and it’s making me feel a bit funny and anxious but in a good way only not that good. But this looks very pretty indeed.

  22. wuwul says:

    Are they seriously doing prerendered art?

    How does that work when you try to play it on a 2560×1600 or 4K monitor, or, say, a 6-monitor 7680×3200 setup?

    Why not use 3D renderinng like everyone else since we now have decent GPUs?

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      You’re confusing 2D with pre-rendered. This will actually look better on your superhuge resolution than most 3D games because most of the time when you play a 3D game you’re looking at an image that’s a composite of a bunch of textures that are comparatively low-res and not usually optimised to look their best from the angle/distance that you’re asking them, at realtime, to be drawn.

    • nzmccorm says:

      Basically, as I understand it, it won’t be supporting multi-monitors. Beyond that, there are two versions of every background. There’s a 1280 by 720 sized one for laptops and a 2560 by 1440 for regular computers. Everything above 1280 by 720 will just show a portion of the 2560 by 1440 sized one.

      And they’re not using it because full 3D areas tend to look, well, kind of crap in isometric games. Also it was one of hte major features of the Infinity Engine games, which this is supposed to be a spiritual successor to.

  23. dongsweep says:

    This makes me wish I could up my pledge. When I backed Eternity I only put in the minimum for the digital edition. Anyone know if it is possible to up it?

  24. Deviija says:

    Oh lawdy, this looks so gorgeous! I am so EXCITED! This is the kind of Infinity Engine-esque (hand-painted) design and game I have been missing since the IE era. Happies. :D

    Also, man, I love Josh Sawyer.

  25. NathanH says:

    Looks good! Hopefully their spell effects will be at least as beautiful as Baldur’s Gate 2, then this game will look pretty much perfect.

  26. Jimbo says:

    First thing that came to mind was the dam level in Commandos (??)

    Looks incredible.

  27. Emeraude says:

    Well, that made my day. Almost makes up for the rest.

  28. Grey_Ghost says:

    I like the way he does the videos. He is a good salesman, without really trying.

  29. Arkhivrag says:

    Hi
    Looks fantastic.
    I have a shader pack on unity asset store, which makes great flow effects and it can “add cherry to the cake”.
    http://u3d.as/content/davit-naskidashvili/flow/3vu

    Cheers

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