Mega-Impressions: Obsidian’s Pillars Of Eternity

By Nathan Grayson on December 10th, 2013 at 10:00 pm.

It’s official! Project Eternity finally has a real big boy name: Pillars of Eternity. On its own, that’s hardly the most exciting news in the world, but it also means that Obsidian is finally ready to take the wraps off more than, like, three screenshots and precious little else. I had the good fortune of traveling to Obsidian to witness plenty of gameplay and conduct multiple eternities-long interviews, and The Artist Formerly Known As Black Isle sent me away with some video to boot. See, hear, read, and – I guess if you want – taste and touch so very, very, very much of the newly rechristened Kickstarter darling below.

I get the feeling that everyone at Pillars of Eternity developer Obsidian is very, very busy. I walk through the gently sunlit office, which is made up of wooden floors and – naturally – copious black surfaces, conducted by the melodious hum of tens of purring computers.

And pretty much nothing else.

It is eerily silent. Everyone’s cracking away on various projects, not a moment to lose. Time, even when you’re dealing with something titled Eternity, is of the essence.

There’s much to be done. It’s nearly time for the Big Update. Everything must be perfect. And what exactly is the Big Update? Well, in part, you’re looking at it. The first real trailer. A new backer website. Press impressions. And, of course, a shiny new name. Project Eternity, after all, sounded so clinical, so tentative, so stitched together on a dingy laboratory gurney by a haggard Chris Avellone screaming, “It lives! It liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiives!” Pillars of Eternity, however, is much more fittingly fantastical. But of course, there’s more to it than that. Project director Josh Sawyer, tattooed forearms resplendent in their natural habitat (a shirt with the sleeves pulled up just so), explains:

“It ties into something players will see a lot in the game, even very early on, which are these pillars that are spread all over the wilderness of the Dyrwood, which is the area that they first come into, and also Eir Glanfath, which is the more wilderness-y area of the game. As for why it’s Pillars of Eternity, that’s kind of more of a plot-connected thing. It ties into the specific story, but also how the world works in general. The meaning of it will become clear as people play the game.”

Vague! Mysterious! Arguably insubstantial! But that’s just the beginning…

A Whole New World

Pillars of Eternity might be a spiritual successor to Black Isle classics like Baldur’s Gate, but its fantasy realm is cut from a cloth all its own. At the heart of it all is the concept of souls. In Eternity, everything has a soul, and people are starting to figure out how to control them. A potent ability? You bet, but also one with cavernous room for catastrophic consequences. Sawyer and co describe it as “the beginning of a golden age,” but it’s not all roses, dandelions, and dandy lions. Discovery begets questions – both of scientific fact and of human nature. What’s ethical? Where do we draw lines? Are we toying with forces far bigger than ourselves, tickling the ginormous piggy toes of the gods themselves?

“The traditional fantasy thing is, like, the ancient empire that figured out everything, and somehow they had a great cataclysm and everyone that follows is nothing compared to these dudes,” Sawyer points out. “We wanted to make this more of a golden age, where now people are just starting to understand the details of how souls work. They’re asking all these important questions, like do animals have souls? How are their souls different from our souls? How do our minds, our actual physical brains, interact with the soul that is in us? If we put an animal soul in a human’s body, or a human soul in an animal body, how does that change those things? And in this world, a lot of people have big ethical problems with that.”

“The conflict is, because they’re in a golden age, they’re moving very quickly. So when animancers, the people that study souls, find out, ‘Hey, if we use this machine this way, we can splice off pieces of a person’s soul, and we think that if we were able to do that, we could take someone who’s a serial killer and splice out the parts of their soul that make them do that. We could reform them that way. Let’s give it a whirl, guys!’ A lot of people are saying, ‘Whoa. You just figured out how to do this. Maybe we shouldn’t go that quickly into doing that sort of stuff?’ There are solutions for doing this. But they’re unproven, untested.”

Questions of religion, too, are wrapped up in the burgeoning conflict, traditions that are equal parts circling the drain of obsolescence and proving more relevant than ever in a world where the existence of souls is known fact. Sawyer and co are not shy about noting that there are many direct allegories to our own modern world buried beneath all of Eternity’s spell-slinging and soul-severing. Golden ages of science and technology, rapid cultural and technological advancements, tradition vs progress. These are familiar tunes, but they’re being played against a very different sort of backdrop.

Also unique is the game world’s geographic setting. This is no mighty empire or crumbling, er, empire again, but rather a series of liberated colonies. The game’s regions are cultural and ideological melting pots, the ecstasy of fresh freedom fueling revolutions of all sorts. But a melting pot stirred without care is a civil war just waiting to happen, and while Obsidian makes no mention of things escalating to such a level, there is certainly conflict brewing.

“The Dyrwood and Eir Glanfath, it’s a colonial land,” Sawyer says, practically looming from his seat like a proud tabletop DM. “It’s like America in some regards, in the sense that it’s been colonized by people who’ve left another country and declared their own independence. Animancy wasn’t allowed to be practiced in a lot of these old countries, because of religious beliefs or ethical concerns. Now this is the land of freedom and independence, so you have a lot of these groups that are saying, ‘Let’s go buck wild. We’re free to do this. We don’t have to follow the religious prohibitions that existed in the old world. We should feel free to do this as far as we think is sensible.’”

Religious conflicts, class warfare, and issues of independence vs the need for some sort of structure are all mentioned. This melting pot is nearly ready to boil over.

Totally Not Dungeons And Dragons

We fire up a demo, which plants a party of five (though the plan is to set max party size at a higher number) in a small ramshackle village. Before long, we stroll inside a tavern, which includes many of the usual suspects. A lord looking for his daughter, a bartender with goods for sale, etc. For the most part, it’s a nicely idyllic fantasy setting. Warm and inviting with only a hint of foreboding.

So I ask if it’s possible to kill everyone, because I am a well-adjusted individual.

“Theoretically, you could,” replies senior producer Brandon Adler, chuckling. “Normally if you attack a villager, they would all go hostile and kinda fuck you up. You can kill [important quest-givers] too. It’s possible that we could change that, but right now, everybody is fair game. So if you kill somebody that’s key to a quest, you’ll probably get a screen pop-up saying, ‘You killed an important NPC’ or something like that. But there’s only a few people in the game that are that important where if you killed them you’d just kill the entire quest line. And for the most part, we’re getting around that. If you kill someone, we might just divert the quest in a different way. We’re trying to handle it pretty gracefully.”

For the time being, however, we choose to pick on somebody our own size. Adler guides the party to a location called Heritage Hill in the larger city of Defiance Bay. It’s spooky and dilapidated, a graveyard twisted and defiled by souls that – for various reasons, some of them presumably caused by the living – cannot find rest. A mysterious old woman greets us under the auspices of needing assistance, but her true colors show seconds later. She lashes out with an icy, ethereal hand and does a serious number on Adler’s party. They win narrowly, but at what cost?

That question, facetious though it might be, actually yields a rather complex answer. The party, you see, immediately springs up as soon as battle concludes. In a departure from traditional D&D rules (for Eternity, Obsidian has developed its own completely new system), health and stamina are separate stats – the former long-term and the latter short-term. This decision, Sawyer elaborates, was made in the name of minimizing frustration on lengthier journeys.

“They’re separate resources, but every time you take stamina damage, a quarter of that you also take as health damage,” he says. “The reason we do it this way is because previously in D&D games, it was easy for parties to be severely limited purely by healing output. Do you have a cleric? Do you have a druid? How many do you have? That limits how far you can go before you have to stop and head back to wherever you came from. Stamina and health, health is kind of like your long-term ‘owie’ zone. So the easy way to think about it is, you can get knocked the fuck out [and then get back up when battle ends] four times before you will die. You don’t need a cleric come and heal you to keep going. You need a cleric to keep you in a fight because they heal your stamina.”

By default, losing all of your health will result in characters being maimed, a temporary stat reduction until you can get them to a place of rest or more permanent healing. However, a quick flip of a menu switch can enable a more permanent death or put you into Expert Mode, so you need not worry about easily unraveled threads in combat’s tapestry of challenge. Difficulty is there for those who want it, and different difficulties don’t just buff or reduce stats. If you want a sterner test of your abilities, monster sets and their respective combat strategies change entirely, becoming more about positioning, mitigating buffs and debuffs, singling out especially key enemies, and things of that sort. Good luck.

It is, however, natural to worry that general encounter and system design will be skewed in one direction or another. Could this hardcore golden age RPG treat players like recently thawed remnants of the stone age? Obviously, Obsidian claims there’s nothing to fear – that everyone will feel challenged if they so choose – but it’s still something to be wary of.

But what about the graceful art of battlemaimkillblarrghfighting itself? Once again, Obsidian’s approach is to keep the complexities of older D&D-esque systems while carving off the fat. Classes, for instance, might occupy traditional rolls, but they can evolve in all sorts of directions. Want a multi-rogue party? Go for it. So long as you get clever with your character builds, it’ll be entirely viable.

A lot of that stems from serious house-cleaning on combat mechanics. Sawyer practically beams as he tells me how redundant many old D&D systems were, pantomiming as though ripping the rotten entrails from some ancient machine.

“I think the fewer unique mechanics you have to teach to people, the easier it’s going to be for them to understand things. Second edition D&D has To Hit Armor Class 0, THAC0. First off, what the fuck? You have skills that only exist for certain classes, and they’re on a percentile scale for some reason. Almost every other die roll is on a D20 scale. Sometimes high is good, sometimes low is good. Some rolls always succeed on a 20, fail on a one. Some don’t. You have six different types of saving throws. You have abilities that scale at different intervals. You have all these things that are completely unique mechanics, not shared anywhere else.”

“For Eternity, we’re approaching it from a perspective of… Unless there’s a really compelling reason to have a mechanic be fundamentally different from similar mechanics, make it the same mechanic. Your accuracy is this, their defense is that, the difference is this, that shifts your chance to hit, graze, and crit by this amount. Always. Everywhere. We try to be very consistent and up front about that. The number of damage types we have is very clean and simple. An attack from a sword is a different damage type from a fireball hitting you, but the way the damage is ablated from it, resisted, whatever, it’s handled in a similar mechanical way. It’s very up front. Once you understand the way one element works, you understand the way all of them do.”

Things are, as a result, also much easier to learn. Strategic depth is still available in plentiful quantities (Sawyer offers that both Monks and Ciphers have their own unique combat resources, for instance), but the unification of systems allows for greater elegance and classes that can branch into a much greater variety of skills and tactical options.

Everybody wins, in theory. Unfortunately, the implementation of combat I’m actually shown is still very basic and quick. I like what Obsidian is going for on paper, but there’s still plenty of room for error. For now, my eyebrow is raised with tiny bristled blades of skepticism held aloft. That said, I’d very much like to see Obsidian succeed here.

Choice, Consequence, And Talking To The Monsters

Our next stop takes us to another region of Defiance Bay, the gorgeously haunting Engwythan Tower. Its walls are covered in a green-gold ore streaked with shimmering veins of pure soul. Ornate runes dot dampened soil as a gray sky looms overhead. This is a place of powerful magic, but a curse stirs beneath it all. Mankind’s clumsy fingerprints are all over the ancient structure – evidence of a crime some long-dormant force did not like one bit.

Inside the tower, Adler’s party comes across a ghoul-like creature who turns out to be a once-human victim of the curse. The former animancer is trying to set things right (perhaps not entirely for selfless reasons), and we have the option of aiding him or striking him down. A fairly simple and immediate binary in the grand scheme of game choices, but Obsidian promises things will get more complex and varied the further into the game we go.

“For every choice, we want to have a reaction to it,” says executive producer Adam Brennecke. ”We have immediate, noticeable changes, where you get a sense of, ‘Yeah, I did change the world, I did change this quest.’ But then we also have longer-term impactful things, where you might not know right away that you changed something that time. Those come out of you just playing the game, and then maybe two hours later you’ll notice that something you did changed something you’re doing.”

Obsidian’s also a big fan of reputation systems, and the latest refinement of the role-playing powerhouse’s take on that infernal judgment machine will be present in Pillars of Eternity. This time, it’s not just about factions either. Your choices affect what sort of person people see you as – the public perception of your moods, habits, and tendencies. So yes, picking every snarky asshole dialogue option is great fun, but be prepared to answer for it sometimes, and not always in ways you might expect.

“We have a more nuanced reputation system in place to track the type of character you are,” Sawyer explains. “So beyond just, like, ‘Hey, I’m friends with these dudes and enemies with these dudes,’ we wanted to allow you to make dialogue choices that have attitude and personality to them, and not just throw those out the window. For example, if you keep picking dialogue options that are super hotheaded and aggressive, you start developing an aggressive reputation. That becomes a reputation that is tracked separately.”

“What I personally like about it is, in previous games, when you have these sassy lines or stoic lines or silly lines or whatever, they kind of were just good for the immediate response, and then they went out the window. With our personality and reputation system, it allows you to feel like you are developing a reputation for being that kind of a person in the world.”

Choices will manifest elsewhere, as well. While things like race and sex probably won’t matter quite as much as in, say, Wasteland 2, they’ll still come up. Physical options like bullying with a strength stat or stealing with dexterity will be available too. Perhaps even more prevalent, however, are quick, hand-drawn vignettes that offer options outside the typical realms of combat and person-to-person dialogue. They largely involve still images, but with written descriptions of activities and choices. No, we’re not talking the sort of pomp and flash one might associate with, say, Dragon Age, but this leaves room for arguably more options and reactivity. Sawyer offers the simple example of interacting with a statue, saying:

“Because this is all taking place in imagination land, it can be whatever we feel fits with that. The player could use their strength to push over a statue. Or there’s a lock. The lock is to move the statue out of the way. If you have a high mechanic skill, you can pick that lock. If you don’t, a guy with high strength can just take the statue and be like, ‘EAAARRRGH!’ and just shove it. We want to make it feel like, if you were sitting at a table with a DM, you’d say, ‘Hey, my dude has 20 strength. I want to fuckin’ push that thing over.’ That’s the great thing about scripted interactions or dialogues that allow you to do that. You can just say, ‘Sure, yep, okay!’ Because it’s more about the description and your imagination, not about, ‘Oh, we have to animate this.’”

I witness a cave section in which there’s a crevice to cross, and sure enough, a vignette pops up. Options include leaping it with brute strength, shimmying, or – if it’s been discovered – simply tossing a grappling hook and swinging across like a Batman who’s also an ethically debatable soul wizard (aka, The Best Batman). Really, though, it’s all about offering every potential option a player could conceive. No more mutterings of, “Ugh, this doesn’t make any sense? Why can’t I just…?” Or at least, that’s the idea.

Even when painterly vignettes aren’t in the picture, Obsidian still aims to offer plenty of wiggle room. Combat is sometimes avoidable entirely, both through dialogue and stealth. Sawyer, a professed fan of finely tuned sneaking, breaks it down:

“It varies from area to area, but [you'll be able to avoid] a decent amount of combat. You don’t have to fight everything. If you use your sneak skill and you bump everyone’s sneak, you can sneak around pretty darn well. There are places where you’ll find it’s pretty hard. There’s a guy right next to a doorway, and you’re probably not going to be able to get through the door without alerting him. But we also set up guys on patrols to make that more interesting.”

It all operates on a system of circle icons surrounding characters. Stealthy, roguish sorts (which can be any class, if you allocate points properly) will have minuscule circles while less subtle types’ increased obviousness will be denoted by much larger circles. You want interesting stealth-centric strategies? You’ve got ‘em, if that’s your thing.

“You can use stuff where you have a couple of characters go into a room, the melee guys, and they wait,” enthuses Sawyer. “The stealth wizard on the other side of the room comes in and says, ‘Fireball!’ He blasts it, and you have the other two guys on the side just rush in. Or if you have a character with a high enough stealth, you can sneak around entirely. You could have a character go off and open a door or something.”

You will not, however, be able to pick and choose your way around every encounter. This is more of a spiritual successor to Baldur’s Gate than it is Planescape: Torment. Sometimes, push will invariably come to shove, and you’ll have to test your mettle (and metal) against some ghastly creature from the beyond. I’m disappointed that a full combat-avoidant playthrough isn’t an option, but it’s understandable given Obsidian’s goals. “Fighting is a core principle of the game, so you’re going to be doing a lot of it,” Sawyer chuckles. “We’re not designing it to be ghosted or pacifist.”

Old Habits Die Hard (Or Not At All)

Pillars of Eternity, relatively early though it still might be, is shaping up to be an impressive piece of work. I’m not quite wowed like I was when I went to see Wasteland 2, but so long as Obsidian sticks to The Plan, I think it’s got a good chance of pumping out another strong RPG. In many ways, Eternity is an evolution of its biggest inspirations – not a total reinvention – but then, that’s exactly what backers paid for. It’s big (Obsidian claims that designers can already spend a whole day playing and not even touch most of the content), marvelously attractive, and comfortingly familiar while spicing things up with a handful of new ideas.

That said, I still worry that aiming to remix familiar genre staples with new explanations might result in a predictable world, especially in light of the fact that I came across what amounted to a missing princess quest, an undead graveyard section, and – while I was told of others – a series of somewhat tame choices.

But if anyone can subvert tried-and-tired tropes, it’s Obsidian (see, for example, Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II’s series-deconstructing brilliance). The developer’s track record is uneven in places – especially in regards to technical troubles – but it’s also never been entirely free of a publisher’s suffocating yoke. Countless flashes of brilliance and a Black Isle pedigree ensure that Sawyer, Avellone, and co have plenty of talent and passion. Oodles, even. So then, is full control the missing ingredient from a perfect storm? I have no idea, but Obsidian (unsurprisingly) seems to think so.

“The funny thing is, you would think that with all the constraints with the Kickstarter, it would cause a lot of issues and problems,” Adler grins. “But it’s almost the opposite, to some extent. Because we have certain constraints, budgetary concerns and whatnot, we’re actually more lean and mean and efficient in what we do. We end up getting a lot more done, I think, because we’re taking special care every single time we do something. Does this fit in the game? What’s the best way to do this?”

“Let’s make sure we get it right the first time.”

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158 Comments »

  1. Premium User Badge MeatMan says:

    “And what exactly is the Big Update? Well, in part, you’re looking at it. The first real trailer.”

    I’m not seeing a trailer, just a large, empty space above that paragraph.

    • Sp4rkR4t says:

      Seconded. If that’s the Big Update then they have fucked up royal.

    • Premium User Badge tumbleworld says:

      Maybe you have to be logged in? Either way, I found it here:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFGW7J1rAEc

      Very interesting stuff all round, but I do rather wish that the write-up wasn’t so intrusively “humorous”.

    • SominiTheCommenter says:

      It works now, but it’s here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKoDTzea79Y

    • Big Murray says:

      The trouble is that whenever someone says “Oh man, looks just like Baldur’s Gate” there’s a part of me which is compelled to point out “Yeah. Or another way of looking at it is that it looks just like Icewind Dale”.

      That always brings a flicker of concern onto their faces. Even more so when they remember that Chris Avellone worked on the Dale games, not the Gate games.

  2. ResonanceCascade says:

    Boy, that looks like Baldur’s Gate in the best way possible. Almost brings a tear to the eye.

    SHUT UP AND CONTINUE SPENDING MY MONEY!

    • EddieNoPants says:

      Wow yeah, definitely that feel. I can’t wait.
      Oh man next year is going to rule.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      Yep, it’s starting to sound more and more like a successor to Baldur’s Gate 2. Great stuff, I’m really looking forwad to it.

    • Big Murray says:

      The trouble is that whenever someone says “Oh man, looks just like Baldur’s Gate” there’s a part of me which is compelled to point out “Yeah. Or another way of looking at it is that it looks just like Icewind Dale”.

      That always brings a flicker of concern onto their faces. Even more so when they remember that Chris Avellone worked on the Dale games, not the Gate games.

      • Prime-Mover says:

        I wasn’t aware of the consensus that Icewind Dale was a bad game? In fact, as I recall, it was quite awesome and well received. Certainly a different type of game than BG, and perhaps more in line with the DnD format, but certainly not a bad game.

        • EddieNoPants says:

          It was not a bad game, in fact it is quite a good game.

        • Zenicetus says:

          My wife and I played the Baldur’s Gate games and Icewind Dale in LAN co-op. It’s a dim memory at this point, but I seem to remember that Icewind Dale, while fun, felt like a much more lightweight, action-oriented game than the Baldur’s Gate series.

          IWD was still fun to play, and this was back in the day when any game that supported LAN co-op was appreciated. But it was basically just filler, while waiting for other games like that… which thinned out and eventually disappeared, after Neverwinter Nights.

        • Kentauroi says:

          Icewind Dale 2 is one of my favorite RPGs of all time. It’s definitely not as story focused as BG2, but I preferred IWD2′s class mechanics to BG2′s, as well as the fun of crafting an entire party instead of just a main character and choosing from specific companions. In BG2 I often found myself keeping characters not because I liked them, but because they were an important part of my group composition. I did miss the option for personalities though, so it was definitely a tradeoff, but with the Adventure Hall idea it looks like PoE will offer both options.

        • Big Murray says:

          Nobody’s saying Icewind Dale was a bad game, as such. But let’s be honest … people are expecting a game in BG’s mould. If the game turns out to be as action-orientated and story/character weak as Icewind Dale, this is going to be a major disappointment.

          • physicalist says:

            You should get your facts straight. Avellone is the guy behind PS:T, arguably the most character-centric of the Infinity-RPGs. Also, IWD1&2 both have no joinable PCs. Eternity will have plenty. It is certainly a lot more like BG than IWD.

      • Werthead says:

        “That always brings a flicker of concern onto their faces. Even more so when they remember that Chris Avellone worked on the Dale games, not the Gate games.”

        True, but he also worked (and was the prime mover) on FALLOUT 2, PLANESCAPE: TORMENT, KotOR 2 and NEW VEGAS (especially the OLD WORLD BLUES expansion, which is brilliant), which should take care of those concerns. Also, Black Isle did provide support on both BG1 and 2, and I think a bit more on BG2 when BioWare were pressed for time. Who helped and who did what is not known, but definitely BI contributed to the BG games as well.

        The three Infinity Engine games basically address different aspects of D&D: TORMENT was the deep, story and character-focused thematic game; ICEWIND DALE was the old-skool Gygaxian dungeon crawl and BALDUR’S GATE was inbetween, the LORD OF THE RINGS-style fantasy epic. All three I think brilliantly fulfilled those objectives.

  3. MercurialAlchemist says:

    It looks good, but very far away from Planescape Torment, which as far as I remember it was supposed to be a kind of spiritual successor to.

    • EddieNoPants says:

      Aren’t you getting them confused? https://torment.inxile-entertainment.com/
      Torment’s successor is by inXile

      • MercurialAlchemist says:

        Spiritual successor may be pushing it a bit, but if I quote from the Kickstarter’s front page:

        “Project Eternity will take the central hero, memorable companions and the epic exploration of Baldur’s Gate, add in the fun, intense combat and dungeon diving of Icewind Dale, and tie it all together with the emotional writing and mature thematic exploration of Planescape: Torment.”

        I see a lot of people running and casting spells, but my feeling from the update is that it’s much more a descendant of Baldur’s Gate/Icewind Dale (minus the terrible D&D rules) than a game with a strong focus on “emotional writing” or “mature thematic exploration”.

        And no, I’m not mistaking it for Tides of Numenara, considering that I backed that one.

        • Jockie says:

          It’s probably just that showing lot of tiny dialogue on the screen doesn’t make for a particularly exciting trailer. The KS updates have brought a ton of detail on the lore and background of the world and I’m pretty sure that will come out when playing the game, but the first reveal trailer isn’t really the right place for that.

          I’m pretty sure the original Planescape Torment trailer was just a load of really bad CGI.

          • karthink says:

            Here’s a Planescape: Torment trailer. I think it captures the spirit of the game quite well.

            I don’t know if it’s a fan-made trailer, though.

        • WrenBoy says:

          Given how many people claim that a Torment game is worthless without RTwP combat maybe this is the perfect Torment successor.

          • MercurialAlchemist says:

            Considering PST’s combat is widely considered its weakest point, it’s a strange attitude to have.

          • WrenBoy says:

            It certainly is.

        • EddieNoPants says:

          Fair, sorry. I guess its so long that I didn’t really remember them having that in the KS.

          My only counter point would be that: this teaser doesn’t reveal that the story does not carry an emotional impact and maturity as they attempted to do with Torment.
          Probably just too early to tell.

      • Jackablade says:

        Project Eternity was bandied about as a potential successor to Planescape: Torment during its campaign and for quite a while after that, long before there’d been any suggestion of Numenara. It was what convinced me to finally get off my bum and give them some money.

      • WrenBoy says:

        Well to be fair, the Torment kickstarter came out well after Eternity. Look at the Eternitys kickstarter and notice how long they linger on Plancescape Torment at the start. They hat tip PST at least as often as Baldurs Gate.

        But yeah, its now clear that its a spiritual sucessor to Baldurs Gate more.

        Its weird looking at it now actually. It looks the way I remember Baldurs Gate looking as opposed to how Baldurs Gate actually looks.

        Edit: Ninja’d

        • Lord of Lost Socks says:

          “Project Eternity will take the central hero, memorable companions and the epic exploration of Baldur’s Gate, add in the fun, intense combat and dungeon diving of Icewind Dale, and tie it all together with the emotional writing and mature thematic exploration of Planescape: Torment.”

          You’re right. We did see no writing and thematic exploration in this teaser. Fancy that.

        • nzmccorm says:

          It’s kinda hard to show off the influence it does get from Torment though. The reactive dialogue system, the fact that they’re going for narrower themes… that’s not something you can show visually, and they were honest from the start that this was never going to be weird like Torment.

          • MercurialAlchemist says:

            Well, you don’t necessarily have to show it with “in game footage”, I would have settled for voiceover and still pictures. But running around and killing things, while occasionally fun, does not qualify as “roleplay”.

          • nzmccorm says:

            @Mercurial Alchemist
            No, but the five different kinds of qualitative reputation (vs. local and faction rep) kinda do, and they’re not really something you can dramatize. Especially since one of the promised features is that you can turn off alerts and meters for them for a more old-school experience.

            That’s the kind of thing which, like the troubled relationships people have with gods, the science of souls, the Saints War, etc… you talk about that kinda thing in a preview. Which they have. In several previews. Both as part of this wave of previews and previous ones. Maybe you should read those?

      • S Jay says:

        In fact I can’t make up the difference between those two. Tides of Eternity?

        (Yeah, I know they are different, I just mix them in my head)

    • Serenegoose says:

      You’re thinking of the other one: torment: tides of numanumayay. This is more of a spiritual sequel to the entire 90s/early 00′s isometric genre of RPGs with baldur’s gate as its keystone. Hope that clarifies :)

    • JiminyJickers says:

      Wrong one, you’re thinking of Torment Tides of Numenera. This one is more Baldur’s gate and I can’t wait for it to be released.

      Edit: Double ninjad!

    • nzmccorm says:

      According to Sawyer, the Torment influence is more in the dialogue system, reactivity, and how the game approaches its themes and world-building. There’s some weirdness, people doing soul-lobotomies and that kind of thing to cure personality defects and psychopathy.

    • InternetBatman says:

      How so? The big difference I see is that Planescape Torment was more weird, but besides that its fairly similar.

      • MercurialAlchemist says:

        If you were to make a teaser trailer of PST showing mostly people fighting, this would be dishonest, as it doesn’t really represent the game.

  4. CookPassBabtridge says:

    OK I’m being grumpy but I do wish companies wouldn’t try to go for the whole ‘cinematic tense build up’ thing with trailers. Its nearly 35 seconds before any gameplay actually shows up, in a video for which the one reason I clicked it was “what does the gameplay look like”. Just get on with it please guys.

    Grumble aside, once it does get going the environments look beautiful.

    • Serenegoose says:

      Bit grumpy, but not in an unwarranted manner :) I was a little disappointed in the ratio of fade to black/actual gameplay too.

    • Fry says:

      Well… original music and a choir singing in a language invented by the project director.

      Sometimes, foreplay is good.

      • Emeraude says:

        Foreplay is great, but for something dubbed *gameplay* teaser, I can understand people wishing for more gameplay…

        That being said, we’ve been thoroughly teased I guess.

        • Xiyng says:

          Well, it does say ‘teaser’ instead of ‘trailer’, so this is to be expected.

    • Caiman says:

      If it makes you feel better, edit out everything before the 35 second mark and after the 1:15 mark, and then you’ll have 40 seconds of pure gameplay.

  5. Alexander says:

    The gods are back.

  6. aliksy says:

    Since I really intensely like D&D, I hope their combat system is a lot nicer. Kind of a low bar to clear, but hey.

    Also I hope you’re not punished xp/loot-wise for sneaking or avoiding murder.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      “Since I really intensely like D&D, I hope their combat system is a lot nicer”

      Hah! That says it all, really.

      Although one interesting thing the D&D 2.5 games did was place less focus on endgame character builds. Feat progressions, perks and skill trees aren’t actually necessary for a sense of progression, something I think a lot of developers have forgotten.

    • acoff001 says:

      I could be wrong but I think I recall reading that xp is from quest completion, so you get the same xp from thumping all the monsters’ heads, ghosting them and taking their loot, or engaging them in philosophical debate as long as you complete the quest goal.

      • Premium User Badge ffordesoon says:

        It is.

        This has, of course, caused no end of consternation amongst the folks on the forums, because, uh, you can’t grind, I guess?

  7. McGuit says:

    Man!
    It really sounds like “been there…done that…”
    Glad I did not Kickstart this.
    Put me in wait and see mode.
    Hmmmm

    • JadedPrimate says:

      Let me guess, you are a “glass is half empty” kind of guy? Probably followed by “And it looks to be a dirty glass too!”.

      • McGuit says:

        I’m not a dirty or a half glass guy.
        Was trying to say that there are a lot of games that do “this” type of game and I really expected them to raise the overall bar. Even their film snippet looked very generic.
        If it really does not bring anything new to the party then why bother?
        You can spend your coin anyway you want.
        I’ll do the same with mine.

        • drewski says:

          I would suggest perhaps you misunderstood their Kickstarter pitch if you were expecting something new and different. This has always been Baldur’s Torment 2014.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      To be fair, the game is explicitly a nostalgic throwback to isometric rpgs from 15 years ago. “Been there, done that” is basically why it was kickstarted so successfully in the first place. If that ain’t your thing, you definitely made the right choice in not backing it ;-)

      • Opiniomania says:

        I liked those games in the late 90s, without them my Engrish no good, but I don’t want to see games wallowing in nostalgia and retrophilia. The medium is too young for that. Pillars of Eternity seems too much of a throwback, too much of a copy too soon. I don’t want to play remade BG2 in 2013. RPGs need to move forward, not back.

        • enyv says:

          I’m perfectly fine with more BG2 in 2013. There are enough Skyrims, Witchers, and Dragon Ages out there to satisfy your craving for new technological marvels. Don’t care for old school, don’t go to old school is my advice for you.

    • pakoito says:

      It’s more like “been there in 1994, wonder how it is now”. Could be better, could be worse.

  8. PopeRatzo says:

    Q4, Never.

  9. kdz says:

    Sweet Jesus what is it with you RPS guys giving me a TON of fantastic stuff to read every single day? Do you want me to spend my days reading about games instead of playing them, huh? Huh?!

    Seriously, though, keep on chooglin! :)

    • skalpadda says:

      It has been a rather good last couple of days, hasn’t it? Felt a bit fatigued with gaming lately but things like this have perked my spirit right up.

      • kdz says:

        I’m in a similar situation. I’ve got a lot of work to do right now and have no t played much for the last couple of months but all this talking about great games got me really excited to just jump into a game and lose myself in it when CHristmas comes :)

    • Premium User Badge Bluerps says:

      Hah! Sometimes I think the same thing.
      “Another article? But I wanted to play games, and now I have to read this because it is probably well written and interesting. Man. :(“

  10. Sucram says:

    Looking forward to Eternity, but given that they had free reign to design their own setting and rule set I wish they’d gone for something a bit more unique than giants, dragons, giant spiders etc. Even the classes tend to fit D&D roles.

    It’s a bit odd that Torment, which does use a license, seems to have the less traditional setting.

    • Lord of Lost Socks says:

      Torment does not use the Planescape license or setting, so not sure what you mean here.

      • Emeraude says:

        It does use a license tough, the Numenera one.

      • Velorien says:

        As in the Numenera license, a pen-and-paper RPG by Monte Cook.

        As it happens, Monte has an almost disconcerting preoccupation with originality over cliche in Numenera (it’s not a village, it’s an aldeia; it’s not a warrior, it’s a glaive), so Torment having a more original setting is entirely appropriate.

    • Serenegoose says:

      We’ll see. A lot of people put stock in a ‘unique setting’ but it really depends on how you use it. Forests made of floating crystal and endless planes of infinity sound cool but humans generally need common or earthlike elements in order to ground the story and act as a basis for further immersion – it also means that weird things actually feel weird when they crop up, and not just as a generic part of the setting. Admittedly, I used to feel pretty strongly about this sort of thing but I’ve mellowed towards it for whatever reason, I can understand the sense of missed opportunity.

      And of course, this requires them to actually do something with the setting and we’ll only know that for sure when it’s done and players get their hands on it.

      • TillEulenspiegel says:

        but humans generally need common or earthlike elements in order to ground the story

        Yes, thank you. I get that people are bored of mediocre Tolkien knockoffs, but there’s a lot to be said for mostly straight medievalesque fantasy. It’s one of the reasons ASoIaF / Game of Thrones has been so successful. It’s a lightly stylized take on a certain era, with heavy influences from real-world cultures. And then combine that with sparing but impactful fantastical elements.

        You don’t have to tell the same old stories with tedious gameplay mechanics in these worlds. You can instead use them as a familiar backdrop for a much grander vision.

        Or as RPG writer Ken Hite says, there’s no invented setting more interesting or complex than the real world. Just do a little digging in history and you’ll find so much to play with.

        • MercurialAlchemist says:

          I’ll contend that the low-magic setting as well as the faithful recreation of a feudal society (tourneys, massive poverty….) is what makes ASOIAF’s world different and fresh. On the other hand, elves and orcs… are not so different, especially in video games where you’ve had had a fair number of licensed D&D games, as well as generic D&D knockoffs dungeon crawling games.

          But it does make sense if what they’re shooting for is a successor to BG1/2, whose setting didn’t get famous for its originality. Let’s hope it avoids any “mysterious stranger with a pointy hat and a pipe”.

          • equatorian says:

            I’ll tolerate the mysterious stranger with the pointy hat and a pipe if it turns out he’s working as a con man for the lobotomists looking for new, cheap and gullible lab rats.

          • drewski says:

            I vaguely recall them stating no elves, no dwarves (nothing about orcs though) but I could be wrong.

          • JFS says:

            There will be dwarves, and elves as well, although those will have fur and a different name or something like that.

    • nzmccorm says:

      It’s not really that odd. They had different people within the company pitch ideas for the Kickstarter and went with Brennecke’s because it was the most marketable while also letting them mess around a bit. Plus Sawyer’s a huge forgotten realms fan and I think this is probably the closest he’s going to come to making a game in that setting post-NWN2.

    • InternetBatman says:

      They didn’t show it in the trailer, but they have some cooler monsters in the backer updates. Copper golems, the wicht (children without souls), the vithrack (creepy mind-eating insect men), skuldr (bat men that can see their prey’s souls and track them down), along with ogres, trolls, and small thing that fits the goblin/kobold/xvart slot. One of the interviews I read also says they have feathered dragons.

  11. Wizardry says:

    Looks reasonable. Combat looks sufficiently spellcastery, while the graphics are pretty.

    • Lone Gunman says:

      Is this the Wizardry the legends speak of?

      • karthink says:

        I hope so. His/Her appraisal of the trailer sounds like something you’d expect The Wizardry to say.

        • Lone Gunman says:

          Why is The Wizardry so infamous? I wasn’t here at the time but the way people here talk about it some major shit must have gone down. :p

          • Drinking with Skeletons says:

            He/she had/has a very specific definition of RPG. I don’t think it’s an invalid stance, but he/she would bring it up fairly often and frequently become embroiled in board gridlock about it. Best not to dwell too long on it lest those dark days return.

  12. Emeraude says:

    The more I think about it, the more afraid I am this will actually turn a good game, but around the size of, say, BG2 *without* the expansions, only it will get compared to BG2 as it exits now, unfavorably so, and get trounced for the wrong reasons.

    Yes, I’m always apprehensive and imagining the worse, even when every little thing I’ve managed to see so far really should inspire confidence.

    • Wulfram says:

      Expansions? There was only one, Throne of Bhaal, wasn’t there?

      And it wasn’t as good as the main game, anyway, so I don’t see why it would make the comparison tougher.

      • Emeraude says:

        My bad, don’t know why (too much blood in my caffeine system is my guess) but I counted Tales of the Sword Coast as a BG2 expansion.

        And I just meant in sheer content volume, not necessary quality.

  13. Lone Gunman says:

    Eternity, the new Planescape Torment, Witcher 3.

    So many potentially awesome RPGs on the horizon :D

    • Snargelfargen says:

      Don’t forget Original Sin and Wasteland 2!

      • InternetBatman says:

        Original Sin was moved to 2015 and Torment: Tides of Macarena was always planning to release then. So, a somewhat more distant horizon.

        • Emeraude says:

          Wait what ? I though Original Sin was supposed to be released on February 2014 ?
          Did I miss another postponement ?

          • InternetBatman says:

            I was sure I read that it was somewhere, but I can’t find it now. Carry on.

          • pakoito says:

            It was moved to March 2014. Beta starts as soon as this month.

            Check the news tomorrow, they are releasing a buttload of letsplays recorded last week.

          • Tovarah says:

            Original Sin as far as I know is still scheduled for release on 28th Feb 2014. The alpha test release is going out to the backers from Kickstarter within the next 2 weeks.

            I know that Jesse and Dodger made mention that they thought that Original Sin wasn’t going to be out til late 2014 though.

        • S Jay says:

          TIDES OF MACARENA! BEST. NAME. EVER.

    • Emeraude says:

      Add to that: Age of Decadence, Dead State, Wasteland 2, The new Cyberpunk game (though personally I have reservations about that one), Dragon Age Inquisition if you’re into that kind of things, the Dragon Fall for Shadowrun Returns just around the corner, Divinity: Original Sin, Might and Magic X, Shroud of the Avatar, that Guido Henkel project if it hopefully materializes, Underrail, the new Spiderweb game, Project Phoenix and I’m sure I’m forgetting some…

      Not only there’s a LOT of promising RPGs on the horizon, the breadth of the genre on display in incoming titles is just incredible.

      Great time to be a fan of the genre on PC.

      • InternetBatman says:

        This comment gave me a lot to comment on.

        What’s the new Spiderweb game? Please tell me it’s not another Avadon.
        I too love the breadth that’s coming to the genre. Everything from cyber punk to the renaissance to whatever Torment is (it sounds kinda Vancian). I would like to see a good space opera sooner or later.

        Finally, the really interesting thing about this stuff is, publishers are now watching. The idea of 15 to 25 Project Eternities for one GTA has to be appealing. I think we’re already starting to see this with Child of Light.

        • karthink says:

          Vancian is a good description. Numenera is more inspired by Gene Wolfe’s Book Of The New Sun, apparently.

          Of everything I see in the upcoming RPG spectrum, the new Torment appears to have the most interesting setting.

      • drewski says:

        There must be some mistake, I’m pretty sure the RPG was pronounced dead circa 2005.

    • Big Murray says:

      You forgot Dragon Age: Inquisition.

  14. Freud says:

    I even enjoyed Obsidians misses (Alpha Protocol, Dungeon Siege 3) so I’m confident I’ll enjoy this one.

  15. InternetBatman says:

    It’s worth noting that they also included a poll on their forums asking backers if they wanted new stretchgoals with the money coming in. Probably companions if I had to guess.

    • Emeraude says:

      Weird that everything seems to be in place but the Kickstarter update…

      I’m really not too fond of the idea stretch goals incorporated this late in the development process, if only because I’m afraid of the possibility of release being pushed back because of it, but also more importantly for design reasons: more stuff incorporated doesn’t necessarily make for a better game.
      Often good design is to know when to stop adding, or even when to excise individual elements for the sake of the whole.

      Dubitative for now.

      • InternetBatman says:

        From JE Sawyers SA posts I get the impression that this would be more wilderness areas and companions which are easy to design and come into the process late anyways. Mechanics are already set, and they’ve explicitly said no new classes.

  16. Wulfram says:

    I’m not as keen on Obsidian writing as other people seem to be, but it ought to be a decent game.

  17. Ender7 says:

    Looks good, but I am really worried about the no healing except for sleep mechanic. Last I read, if you sleep out in the open, you will get attacked, so you will have to run back to a safe zone(probably an inn) to sleep. This sounds like a fast way to suck out the fun in the game.

    • Serenegoose says:

      They’re using a mixed system where you have ‘health’ and ‘stamina’. Essentially, most damage affects your stamina, but a small amount trickles through to health. If you lose all your stamina you’re out of the fight, but it can be recovered, and if you lose all your health you’re ‘dead’ except for all the ways in RPGs that render death a recoverable status effect. What this means is whilst you can’t recover ‘health’ except during resting, you can recover ‘stamina’ so you’re not having to return to an inn after every fight to recoup, more like every X fights.

      I’m simplifying and might be getting the terms back to front and so on, but that’s the gist of it.

  18. Caiman says:

    Jeez, after reading these comments, they should recut the trailer to replace “Made possible… by you!” with “Made possible… by the less cynical and jaded than you!”

    • InternetBatman says:

      Eh, the comments reflect the article which is a bit more suspicious than the overly-enthusiastic gaming press normally gives.

    • Emeraude says:

      I don’t know, if my experience with the rest of the RPG fans community on the net this past year is to be any indication, I find the comments in this thread to be mostly jolly and hopeful…

      Pretty civil too.

    • Premium User Badge VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      Hey, I backed it, and I’m cynical and jaded. So much so that I found this teaser rather boring (yes, you have nice effects for spells, I get it!).

      Still looking forward to the game though.

  19. Big Murray says:

    Chris’ legitimate complaints about the “fat” of D&D (such as THAC0) were cleared up about 10 years ago by subsequent D&D editions.

    • Emeraude says:

      I still find 3rd Ed. and 3.5 to be cluttered messes at best, personally.

      • Michael Anson says:

        That depends on how many books you are looking at. Third Edition turned a game of many, varied, and inconsistent dice rolls, and boiled all of them down to “What do you want to do? Right. Take this d20, add any bonuses, and try to beat this number.” If anything cluttered it, it was attempts to explain away more complicated mechanics, or the million and a half books that added a huge number of new mechanics, classes, and races, with little thought to balance. The d20 Modern system actually spelled out the way the game worked explicitly, doing away with specific classes in exchange for six classes based around which ability score they drew from.

        The revised edition (or 3.5) fixed a number of the messy mechanics, but eventually succumbed to the need for the company to stay afloat (and trying to do so on the weight of the game system, rather than marketed campaign settings). But as long as players stuck to the core mechanics, they were solid, easy to figure out and remember, and basic. Heck, the reason the Pathfinder game is doing so well is that their core system is essentially a further streamlining of the original system (doing away with even more arcane choices in favor of ease of play, such as the Combat Maneuver system).

  20. PsychoWedge says:

    Well, I came right in my underpants so that’s a good sign, right? Right?

    • The Random One says:

      It’s a sign you were wearing underpants, which is good for the rest of us.

  21. Premium User Badge Don Reba says:

    Watching the trailer at 03:30. “No sleep for the watcher” — damn straight.

  22. JayExbl says:

    jaded gamer/ …you have swords and spells, attack monsters with them until they die, repeat. /jaded gamer

  23. satan says:

    They really should have spent some more dollars to fill out that choir.

  24. dsch says:

    Either they’re going to find out that there’s a very good reason RPGs are set in worlds with lost empires, or their audience will.

  25. Kein says:

    “Normally if you attack a villager, they would all go hostile and kinda fuck you up.”

    MEANWHILE in Divinity: Original Sin from little development studio called Larian, who collected 4x times lower amount of kickstaterbux, Orcs slaughter whole village because you brought them up. And that’s fine, nothing breaks your game.

    • Asurmen says:

      Your point being?

    • equatorian says:

      That’s funny. I backed both games, and none of the updates so far mentioned them holding a pissing contest.

      How did I miss that? That would’ve been pretty awesome to see. Imagine Obsidian and Larian Studios standing on different sides of a stone obelisk, measuring the strength of their pisses for the graces of the gods!

    • effervescent says:

      The kickstarter for the Original Sin was not for creating the game from the ground up. The game was already there. They needed money for polishing it.

      From their Kickstarter pitch:

      “Today we are nearing the end of our development cycle and when looking at what we’ve created so far, we think that we have in our hands the best RPG Larian Studios has ever created.”

  26. pancakeru says:

    This will have to be really special to warrant a purchase. I have real problems becoming immersed in isometric RPG’s, they all seem to follow the same game design archetypes and it just feels like a chore to play.

  27. Lobotomist says:

    I dont think these guys can do wrong. Even if it will not be second coming of BG. It will still be darn good RPG.

    • Big Murray says:

      We haven’t seen anything about the story, setting or characters yet, which surely is the defining factor of a good RPG? And as the voice of caution, I should point out that these are the areas which Obsidian are known to drop the ball (arguably).

      • Wizardry says:

        I wouldn’t say so. The character system and its ties to the game’s content is probably the most important thing, which is why there are good cRPGs out there with poor stories, characters and settings.

        Still, you’re right in that we don’t know enough about the game to judge its quality yet. Time will tell.

        • Answermancer says:

          This may come off as stalkery, or you might never see it, but I just wanted to say I am extremely glad to see you commenting here again. I am mostly a lurker for years now, and I don’t really visit the forums at all, and I haven’t seen you commenting on RPS stories in a long time, which made me sad because I always really enjoyed your contributions.

          I tend to agree with you about what makes a good RPG (though I think I am more forgiving because I really get into the story aspect), and I get really frustrated with RPS sometimes because both the articles and the commenters often seem like they are trying soooooo hard to be snarky and witty at every possible moment instead of just having civil discussions.

          Anyway I always liked reading your comments, and it always frustrated me how people would take completely legitimate things you said about the nature of RPGs (including really straightforward stuff like how character skill should be more important than player skill) and then fail to take you seriously, instead choosing to be snarky or say shit like “that crazy Wizardry lol, what will he say next.”

          It was really frustrating to me to see you belittled or treated like a troll just because you had strong opinions that most people didn’t bother to try to understand. I hope you continue to weigh on Eternity and the other games coming out (speaking of which my Wasteland 2 beta has finished installing, it’s time to GO!).

          • Wizardry says:

            Thanks for the kind reply. It certainly makes a change from the usual ones I get! I don’t really have much time for gaming these days, unfortunately, so I’m not sure how relevant my opinions are when I can barely keep track of new developments in the genre.

            See, I didn’t even know the Wasteland 2 beta was out, and I’m a backer. Thanks for letting me know.

      • Zekiel says:

        I would strongly argue against this – story and characters are areas where Obsidian shines. KOTOR 2, Alpha Protocol, Mask of the Betrayer (reportedly, haven’t played it) all show brilliant characterisation and some of the best examples of stories. Setting is more debatable since (as far as I remember) their only attempt at an original setting has been Alpha Protocol.

        Far more of concern to me is the combat system and QA – both areas where Obsidian is notoriously rocky (see, e.g. Alpha Protocol)

        I really really want this to be the second coming of BG2 though…

        • Iceman346 says:

          I second this. Story and characters are where Obsidian is usually best. I personally would say there are no more competent RPG-developers in those areas at the moment. I have full trust that they will deliver on that front.

          The technical side was a bit iffy most of the time but Eternity has no publisher setting deadlines so I hope for the best.

  28. forawesome says:

    My goodness, stick this in medieval Germany and they are remaking Darklands. Well, at least with the health/endurance mechanic and the still-life vignettes.

    I’m not complaining about this, someone needed to copy all the good ideas from Darklands.

  29. Dominare says:

    I often suspect I am the only person on the face of the Earth who thought planescape torment was crap.

    • Philomelle says:

      Judging by the number of people who admit to liking Twilight, no, you are far from the only person who enjoys broadcasting their lacking sense of good taste in public.

    • Big Murray says:

      I could never get into it, so I don’t know if that counts as thinking its crap. I never got through enough of it to judge properly.

      But I support your opinion in the face of the ensuing sarcastic suggestions that you are an idiot/lack good taste/need to go play it with your eyes open/etc. Happens to me every time I mention I hate The Witcher games.

  30. XhomeB says:

    Looks and sounds splendid. However, with the combat system being Real Time With Pause, I’m a bit worried about being forced to constantly fight lots of trash mobs – that’s something that really bothered me in BG, and especially Icewind Dale, devs throwing lots of enemies at you at every opportunity, which was really tiring after a while. The reason they did that is because RTwP is really chaotic and over too quickly, so they tried to make up for these flaws by increasing the number of combat scenarios.

    I’d have preferred Turn Based, splendidly realised like in Temple of Elemental Evil. In Pillars of Eternity, that would have allowed Obsidian to script less fights, but each one interesting in its own way.

  31. Premium User Badge Mungrul says:

    When I started watching that trailer, the first game that sprang to mind was Temple of Elemental Evil.
    I just adore the combination of hand painted backgrounds and 3D player and monster models.

    Shame the combat’s not turn-based like ToEE though; that had the best turn-based combat I ever played.

    • Zekiel says:

      Agree. TOEE’s combat was amazing (when it wasn’t plagued by appalling slowdown issues)

  32. bstard says:

    I’ve a good feeling bout this project.

  33. SuicideKing says:

    Can i have one fantasy game without huge arachnids? I don’t like them. :(

  34. Arehandoro says:

    Despite I love everything I see in the trailer and interviews, actually I miss the option of traveling/combating riding a horse. It would add both more realism as a fantasy-middle-age environment and tactical approach to the combat.

  35. LVX156 says:

    I’ve never understood why people love the Baldur’s Gate games so much. Completely linear, extremely generic and bland fantasy, and really silly companions.

    • Zekiel says:

      I assume you must be trolling? It is completely the opposite of linear. BG2 is one of the least linear games created. Are you thinking of Icewind Dale?

      Companions in BG are very shallow and some are very silly. In BG2 however there are some extremely well-realised companions, including a lot of character archetypes that haven’t recurred in all of Bioware’s games since (as well as many that have).

    • SanguineAngel says:

      Eh, I disagree a little with Zekiel – I think BG games are quite linear, especially when compared to something like Arcanum or Planerscape. However, that doesn’t make it bad. Linear games can be fun. People loved the BG series so much because they were really good games!

      • Zekiel says:

        OK maybe I have a different definition of linear than the one others are using (that’s not meant in a snarky way). There are definitely a series of ‘beats’ that you have to progress through in a linear order. But in between those ‘beats’ you can go off an explore a huge variety of entirely optional content.

        Linear to me means “corridor-esque” – which, for instance, is what Icewind Dale and its sequel are. You have next to no choice what order to do dungeons in, there aren’t any optional areas (from memory). In BG you can avoid visiting about 50% of the world map if you follow the critical path. In BG2 there are 8-10 major quests (many with their own locations) that are entirely optional and can be done at any time during chapter 2, 3 and 6. To be fair, chapters 1, 4, 7 and (to some extent) 5 are mainly linear however. But the optional content can easily comprise over 50% of your playtime.

        • SanguineAngel says:

          Yeah, I think you’re right there are two areas we could consider the linearity of an RPG. On the one hand, in BG you can go largely where you please and do whichever quests you want (although at a meta level, it really doesn’t make sense to not do a quest).

          I think the linearity I associate with BG, and perhaps LVX does too, is that the player doesn’t really have a great deal of choice in any quest or storyline they choose participate in. Largely speaking, there is one outcome and you either reach it or fail the quest.

          • Zekiel says:

            That is a good point, I hadn’t been considering that. BG2 actually was Bioware’s pioneering “choose whether to be good or evil” game (even the game’s symbol reflects that) but its very basic compared to even their (still pretty limited) later games.

    • MattK says:

      Given it’s popularity and importance in (a particular strand of) the RPG world, you not getting it seems to sum it up pretty well.

      Its linear because its entirely a game about the protagonist. If there was some war or other event going on around you, then it would be easier to develop a less linear adventure, but that wasn’t the purpose of Baldur’s Gate. Amazingly, games can be legitimately linear and non-linear depending on the type of game you are making (and the type of story you are telling). Baldur’s Gate being linear isn’t a criticism, its a description.

      The fantasy certainly is generic, but I would hardly call it bland. The Forgotten Realms has some very interesting takes on standard fantasy tropes, particularly in religion, that could hardly be called bland. The setting is full of character, and full of characters.

      As for silly companions, there is one overtly silly companion, the rest range from dull to eccentric. However, it should be noted that the writing in Baldur’s Gate does include a little bit of humour throughout, humour that is well reflected in the writing of potential party members.

      Overall, almost everything that you wrote isn’t a criticism but just a description of the type of RPG that Baldur’s Gate is, and the type of RPG that you like. Given that, I find hard to understand why you find it hard to understand why people who like different RPGs to you, might like Baldur’s Gate.

    • wodin says:

      Because for it’s time it was superb..aging now, but great in it’s day.

  36. Germanicus says:

    Ergh. Spiders. I bet it has mazes and sewers too.

  37. Jomini says:

    Why do game developers hate scabbards so much?

    • Zekiel says:

      My goodness yes. There was a heartbreaking moment in the Witcher 2 that was completely spoiled by an important character’s scabbard being upside down, i.e. the end of it was pointing upwards, floating in the air, through an entire in-engine cutscene. Yuk.

  38. MattK says:

    The soul thing sounds very interesting. Reminds me very much of Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, and particularly the first book and the link between human and daemon.

  39. Premium User Badge ffordesoon says:

    “Everybody wins. In theory. Unfortunately, the implementation of combat I’m actually shown is still very basic and quick. I like what Obsidian is going for on paper, but there’s still plenty of room for error. For now, my eyebrow is raised with tiny bristled blades of skepticism held aloft. I would, however, very much like to see Obsidian succeed here.”

    Is it possible for you to elaborate on this, Nathan?

  40. Shooop says:

    Really, though, it’s all about offering every potential option a player could conceive. No more mutterings of, “Ugh, this doesn’t make any sense? Why can’t I just…?” Or at least, that’s the idea.

    OK now you have my complete attention. That is exactly what I wanted Dishonored to be.

  41. wodin says:

    The divinity game sounds more interesting.