Obsidian & Paradox On Eternity Team-Up, South Park Bugs

By Nathan Grayson on March 19th, 2014 at 11:00 am.

Sound the unexpected announcement alarms and check to make sure over-jerked knees are covered by your insurance plan. Paradox has announced that it’s publishing Obsidian’s notoriously independent old-school RPG Pillars of Eternity, a big, (not, by most definitions) bad publishing type dipping its pinky toe into the brave new world of Kickstarter. “…Er, why?” You might ask. “Also didn’t Obsidian get oodles of cash from backers? What happens to the game they paid for if Paradox decides all bets are off?” Well, good news is, Paradox can’t actually do that. I quizzed Paradox CEO Fred Wester and Obsidian CEO Feargus Urquhart about their new partnership, creative control, what this means for backers, why the two companies struck a deal in the first place, whether Paradox is interested in pursuing other classic RPG revivals like Torment, and how South Park ended up glitchy despite Obsidian’s allegedly renewed QA efforts. It’s all below. 

RPS: Up on stage you were talking about the benefits for Obsidian, that you get to focus all your time and resources into development. What does Paradox get, exactly, out of the deal?

Wester: First of all, it’s a big prestige thing for Paradox to do this partnership with Obsidian in the first place. We’re big fans. It takes us to the next level as a publisher. We show that we can not only provide smaller projects from smaller developers, but help companies like Obsidian as well, to hopefully succeed in this niche of the market they’ve cut out.

Urquhart: Bluntly, if the game does well, they do well. Just to call it and say, yes, obviously there’s a financial relationship, but it’s great for the game. They’ve done a great job of saying, hey, we’re going to support it this way, whether it sells one unit or a billion. That’s a great… Putting what you’re saying on the table.

Wester: We have an initial commitment to the game that makes us tied to the game to begin with. We have a lot to game from this game being good, because otherwise we lose a lot of money on this proposition.

Urquhart: That’s ultimately it. I think it’s the… It’s interesting, because when I think about where the industry is going and where it’s changing, it’s interesting to see how many more… I don’t want to call you guys a boutique publisher, because that’s the wrong thing. You’re not. There’s boutique publishers. I think of them as very one-off, where there’s six people in an office somewhere and everything else is outsourced. That’s not what Paradox is by any stretch of the imagination.

But I think a lot of it is, it’s interesting to see how you can use these other publishing groups to hook up with funded games like this, to support each other. I have friends at big publishers, and they feel a lot of the time like… They make a great game for their publisher. It moves the needle for the publisher that much. For us, if we do something and it kicks ass, it matters to both of us.

RPS: But it’s an interesting situation to be in. The notion of publishing a Kickstartered project is new. One of the things that you don’t necessarily know is, you had all this interest in the Kickstarter, but is that the full amount of interest for the game? Did everyone who might have thought about buying the game contribute their bit?

Wester: No, not really. For everyone who will pay up front for the game, there are 10 who will buy the finished game. That’s always the math. I wouldn’t call this a traditional publisher-developer relationship either, because that’s very important to emphasize. This is more of a partnership between two strong and independent companies. When we truly publish a game, we go in and fund it from day one and we have a lot of things that… This is a project from Obsidian, by Obsidian, with help from Paradox to bring it to market and reach the maximum audience. It’s different.

Urquhart: I hate the use the way to associate… It’s almost a mindkill for me to say this, but I don’t want to associate the idea of Kickstarter with preorders… It’s not the same thing. However, it is kind of the same. There’s a certain similarity in some ways. There are only so many people who go out and preorder a game versus the people who end up paying for the game, ultimately end up buying the game. It’s just different. So these are the people that… I would love to say that I could say ice to the Eskimos, but I can’t. People need to see proof of something and its success before they buy it. And maybe it’s just our gut. We’ve been doing this a while. Our gut and our hope is that this will work. We could have a conversation in however long and say, whoops, we were wrong! And we’d still be drinking beer and crying.

Wester: On the other hand, it wouldn’t be the first time we were wrong either, so it’s not a big deal that way. I would be kind of devastated if this project tanked, though. When you look at it, it fulfills all the boxes for me as an old-school RPG player. If the game is crap, of course it’s going to fail. But if the game is good and we still don’t reach that audience we want to reach? I would be disappointed. I think this game deserves to be played by a lot of people.

RPS: During your press conference you went into this, but just to absolutely clarify, this has functionally no effect on backers, right?

Urquhart: It has no effect from the standpoint of, yeah, every dollar they put in goes to the game. The person they’re going to communicate with about the game is us. They’ll continue to get updates from us. They can still yell at Josh on the forums and he will communicate as much or as little as Josh normally communicates. It has no effect on [stuff like that].

We’re still deciding everything. It’s not to say that Fred just gets to stand there. These guys play games and they’re going to have thoughts. But ultimately it’s our game. To be blunt, it’s what Fred said as well. Who’s going to be sending out all these physical goods? That comes from them. There will be a change. It won’t change what they’re going to get, but it won’t say From Obsidian.

Wester: Which gives Obsidian more time to work on the game, hopefully. You don’t have to spend a lot of time making sure that those promises are fulfilled.

RPS: You said that Paradox will play and have thoughts. How much, if at all, will you value that feedback over, say, that of a backer? You’ve been saying that Obsidian gets to keep full creative control, but how will this aspect really work?

Urquhart: They’re also backers.

Wester: We have 10 backers in the office. They are very opinionated. I’ll tell you that.

Urquhart: And I’ll listen to them more than I’ll listen to Paradox as a whole [laughs]. No. I mean, it sounds like a silly way to say it, but their influence as backers on what the game is going to be is probably actually more than Paradox, other than… They publish and develop a lot of PC games. They understand that market. I would be silly not to read it and [consider it].

Wester: We’re opinionated people at Paradox. We have a lot of opinions about everything. In this case, it’s up to Obsidian to listen or not to listen.

RPS: There is another way to look at it, though, in that I could see marketing affecting a game tangentially. “We need to show this by this point, so you need to have the game ready in this state so we can have a trailer made up.” Little things like that. Are there any ways that could seep into and affect the development?

Wester: We don’t really work that way. We decided early that we don’t develop games from a marketing perspective. If we have to do something marketing-wise, we use what we already have. We create trailers and marketing materials that fit with what we already have. It’s very inconvenient to start doing things like extra demos just for E3 and stuff like that. We’ve never done that. We only go for what is best for the game. Then we adjust the marketing scheme from there.

Urquhart: The other thing is, this is a different world from doing something like Stick of Truth. Stick of Truth is going to ship out to everywhere, physically. When that’s the case, again it goes back to this: Stick of Truth has to go sell X millions of units just to make money. There has to be this machine behind it. That machine has to know this nine months before, that six months before. This is different. 90 percent of the people, our backers, are digital-only. And so a lot of it is just that, with that world, we don’t need marketing dates that are nine months in advance.

RPS: How are you going to market Eternity? When you look at this and think about its unique position as the type of game that hasn’t been around for a while, what do you do with that?

Wester: We adjust, obviously, the marketing budget, or the whole marketing plan, around what the game has to offer. We haven’t decided on the touch we’re going to give Pillars of Eternity. Of course we’re going to talk to Obsidian first about that. We just yesterday won a prize for best gameplay trailer at the marketing awards here, for Leviathan Warships. That had a $500 budget, and it got a million hits. It started out that it wasn’t going to be a trailer in the first place. It started out as a series of puns in the office, with “ship.” We were like, we had to use that timeline.

RPS: So does Jazz Boatman [see trailer above] actually work in your office?

Wester: Jazz Boatman, he works in the office. He’s actually our trailer guy. He made everything in that trailer himself. He made all the clips, all the voice-over, everything. Not the music. He licensed that from some stock music site. I don’t know. Pillars of Eternity might be some crazy shit, Leviathan Warships style, but also some more serious stuff, because the game deserves a more serious touch to it. You never know. We want people to expect the unexpected when we do our marketing. We’ll see. But I know that there are a lot of sick minds at both companies. I’m not worried about the marketing ideas behind this title.

RPS: Can you guys just riff out some puns on Eternity right now?

Wester: You start with fantasy, and it’s just already full of puns itself. It’s almost like the irony circle is complete already. You can’t even make it up anymore.

RPS: Did you ever consider other publishers for Pillars of Eternity?

Wester: Except for EA.

Urquhart: We talked to a number of other publishers. The challenge, for the bigger publishers, and honestly for us, we’d just become this little thing off in the corner. And you know what? Why do that to somebody? At that point we’d just do it ourselves. Because to be honest, that’s how even some of our bigger titles have been treated by publishers. We’re just little – 90 million dollars didn’t go into this game, so you get a junior PR person half the time. After having a few conversations, there was one other publisher that we did talk to more. But in the end, Paradox felt like the right choice.

RPS: Obsidian has a reputation for taking other people’s IP and putting your own spin on it. Is that something you’d ever want to do with a Paradox IP if you had the opportunity?

Urquhart: I don’t know. I hadn’t really thought about it. Fred’s getting the South Park IP sometime… I’m just kidding.

Wester: That would be awesome.

Urquhart: Warships and Cartman, that’s a marriage. But really, what’s important to us about any IP is we [stay true to it]. If there’s anything people could say about us, we absolutely respect whatever IP we work on, but we like to have our own story within it. That would be the one thing. But I don’t know. Make Magicka a secret service action game?

Wester: First-person action! Why not? Something out of Europa Universalis. Europa Universalis RPG with some South Park humor. Not too bad.

RPS: I’d play that. At this point, you said that you’re “absolutely” going to have Eternity out this year, but how far along is it? Is it content complete? What’s left for you to do?

Urquhart: Where exactly are we? Area art is finishing up. We’re still going to do polish phases and things like that. Companions are being written. That’s one of the last things we do, even though it’s a lot of work, because we want to get other of the design and story and have that kind of settle before we write all the companions. So the companions are being written right now. We’re in B priority animations.

At the end of this month, the whole critical path will be in. We’re pretty far along. What we’re looking at is we’re going to have a good amount of time to play and play and polish and polish. Obviously what we want to come out is something that’s going to be super solid and fun for everyone.

RPS: There’s the slight elephant in the room, which is that on consoles especially, South Park had some complaints about bugs and glitches and whatnot. What ended up happening there? You’ve been pretty adamant recently about having QA locked down. How did a rather worrisome number of bugs slip through so easily?

Urquhart: There were some bugs and some glitches. I don’t mean to sweep it under the rug. All in all, it was a pretty solid game, though. Everyone who bought the game could finish it.

RPS: That’s kind of a low bar, though…

Urquhart: I’m not saying that’s the whole bar. But the first thing to say is, when we talk about this whole thing about how, oh, it’s buggy… 13 hours after it was on Steam, I had people emailing and saying, your game is awesome! So obviously it worked and it worked well. On the console side of things, I can also tell you… It’s hard for me. I can’t give you any exact things, because it’s all one person saying it’s buggy and another person saying it’s not.

All I know, which I even told Fred earlier, is that we passed PS3 with zero points. When we submitted to Sony in America, we got zero points. Which is, you can have 20 points on their scale and get approved. We passed with zero. So on a scale of how buggy [it was or wasn’t], to me it was a pretty solid game.

RPS: And yet, that was a consistent complaint in reviews from both critics and fans.

Urquhart: Yeah. Of course I read them. I could also boil it down to, there were four issues, ultimately. If there were four issues out of the 35,000 bugs that we fixed, it’s hard to say that that makes it a buggy product.

Wester: As a South Park player, at a point it was hard to understand what you should do in the game. At a few different points. But as a game, I think it’s fabulous. It’s a great game. We discussed this before. A game delivers entertainment. That’s what we’re after. It’s going to have some pitfalls. It’s going to have some bugs. It’s going to have a lot of things going on. But overall, if you have fun playing the game… I laughed, like I said, four times in the first 10 minutes of South Park. I rate it five out of five. I’ve never done that before with a game. At some point, with the sling of David or whatever you call it – I didn’t understand how to use it. I hit myself every time. What is this? But it didn’t bother me.

Urquhart: For us, what’s important on Eternity is, we already have testers on it. The important thing here is that this is our game. We’re going to put whatever testers on it we can. Because that matters to us. They also want it to be a solid game, and they’re going to put testers on it.

RPS: So in addition to marketing and distribution stuff, Paradox will be helping you with QA as well?

Urquhart: And that’s it. It’s a different relationship, in a lot of ways. We both want this to succeed. It’s not like me and Fred aren’t going to call each other up on Mondays and go, okay, well, we’re one penny over on the budget now, we have to drop QA testing today. That’s not a conversation that Fred and I will have. It is a conversation I’ve had with publishers in the past.

RPS: Ick. That’s unfortunate.

Wester: One thing with Paradox as well, we pride ourselves on being gamers, all of us. Of course, the development teams. We have four development teams, a lot of gamers there obviously. But also in publishing. People there love games. We also love doing business, but it goes hand in hand. It doesn’t have to be a contradiction in itself. We’re looking for people who love games and understand games, so we can hopefully make the right decisions when we work together on third-party titles.

Urquhart: Absolutely.

RPS: After so many missteps over the years with bugs, do you feel like you owe fans any sort of apology? Do you feel responsible, or perhaps like you’ve damaged your players’ trust?

Urquhart: Look: all that matters to us is, in the end, when someone buys one of my games – to me and Obsidian it’s super important that when someone lays down 30, 40, 50, 60 dollars, or whatever it is for one of our games, that they felt that it was worth it. That’s it. If it’s bugs or movies or gameplay or this quality or that quality, or if it’s where it’s the right feeling of a fart from Cartman, that’s all that matters. That’s how we look at it. We have to explore every part of those things to make sure that when a kid, who 60 dollars matters to, goes and buys one of our games, he doesn’t come home and feel like we ripped him off. That’s the goal.

RPS: [To Fred] Are you interested in pursuing any other projects along these lines, that were born of Kickstarters? Would you go after Torment if that were an option?

Wester: Yeah! It depends on the project and the team, obviously. We want to work with developers who share our vision, to develop great games and deliver more of a full experience to the gamer. We’re talking a lot about fulfilling a gamer lifestyle. Which sounds like a cliché, but a lot of the people who play our games identify with those games. They’re not into baseball or soccer or mountain climbing or something else that takes a lot of time. They’re into these games and they take them seriously. That’s very important for us. We need to work with people who are not developing games just to make money, but to make a game that actually matters to people. I think that is something Obsidian has done really well.

RPS: Have you talked to inXile?

Wester: We haven’t yet. But I’d love to talk to those guys. Do you have an email address?

Urquhart: Brian Fargo might have been my boss at one point. And the producer on Torment might have worked for me in the past. And one of my partners might be writing for the game.

Wester: Yeah, Chris what’s-his-name…

RPS: He’s so lazy! He’s never working on anything.

Wester: Exactly! What’s that guy doing, anyway?

RPS: Thanks for your time.

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113 Comments »

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  1. luukdeman111 says:

    I really, really hope that this won’t cause a shitstorm… Really, it would be unreasonable since this seems to be the best for both the gamers and developers.

    It’s just the current gaming community man… Getting upset about every freaking little thing.

    Edit: Great interview by the way. Nice and edgy… I like that

  2. Lobotomist says:

    Well they have the point.

    Just because the game is kickstarted, doesnt mean they have to lose their time and resources doing publishing and marketing.

    After all they are making game for everyone, not just backers. And those other people should get game distributed to them somehow. Why should Obsidian waste time and resources managing that ?

    I for one didnt back POE. Not because I dont like it or dont want it. But because I have seen they have required funds and am happy to wait and buy the game when its finished.

    • Abndn says:

      I strongly disagree about the “making a game for everyone” part. They are making a game for the backers first and foremost. That’s pretty much the point of Kickstarter. You pitch your game idea, and your game gets funded by people who like that idea and want a game just like that. If you then turn around and “make your game for everyone” you’ve betrayed every backer you got.

      • SanguineAngel says:

        I think you may have misinterpreted the point there. When they say making it for everyone they mean that others who have not backed the game are still going to want to buy it – it being up their street. As Wester said in the interview. For every backer they figure on 10 people who would buy the game once finished. Together with they backers they would be once singular audience. It’s just that the backers are willing or informed enough to back early

        • Abndn says:

          I was making a general point in reply to the poster above me.

      • Sleepymatt says:

        I’m with Lobotomist on this one. If a Kickstarter dev is only making the game for the backers, they have already done it wrong. Very few developers and studios are going to survive on just the Kickstarter money they receive, most are going to need to be able to continue to generate money from the game once it is made, if only to support them through the idea/prototype phase of their next Kickstarter project. If they only audience they could ever envisage has already ‘bought’ the game by backing it, they are shit out of luck.

        Surely the whole point of backing something is to say “I believe this deserves to be made”, not “I believe this deserves to be made JUST FOR ME”?

    • dorn says:

      I have to object to your line of thought. There’s nothing inherently good about selling to non backers. Persuing more customers always means taking some things out. On the flip side you get more money which lets you put more things in.

      It’s a balancing act that publishers always push too far.

      • YourFirstSim says:

        I’m pretty sure they don’t mean “change the game to sell to a wider audience”, but instead “selling to people who would like the game but didn’t back because they didn’t hear about it or couldn’t back for some reason.”

  3. Didden says:

    Wow Nathan, you really went to bat on this one; those poor guys! For me it is a good marriage from two companies I like, I hope both companies are successful with it and the result is more good games.

    • Chalky says:

      You can’t shy away from asking questions like this if you want to get interesting answers. They handled it well and their responses were reasonable. That said, the stick of truth wasn’t actually very buggy overall so it’s a bit of an odd choice to pick on them for that.

      Paradox is one of my favourite developers/publishers. They do some really great stuff, and Obsidian are a classy developer too. A pretty good pairing.

      • jalf says:

        You can’t shy away if the questions are meaningful, no.

        But really, South Park wasn’t all that buggy, and I haven’t seen many people (apart from Nathan) claim it was.
        And asking if they felt they owed an apology? That’s just ridiculous.

        And the publisher thing was just weird. Why should they not be allowed to pursue other forms of funding after running a kickstarter? Why would that be an issue at all, to anyone?

        This just seems like a weak attempt at manufacturing controversy. I like to think that RPS is better than that.

        • Chalky says:

          I didn’t read the “apology” thing as being a reference to South Park, but it’s rather unclear. It’s not in a section of the interview that’s specifically talking about that game. It would be bizarre to ask if they needed to apologise for South Park given that it was generally extremely well received. Obsidian does have a bit of a reputation for buggy games in the past, so it’d make more sense if it was with reference to that.

          Maybe Nathan can shed some light on exactly what he was gunning for with that question?

          • Baines says:

            John Walker’s WIT for South Park: The Stick of Truth included:
            There are, however, no excuses for the mess it’s in. Obsidian have their reputation for a reason, and they’ve maintained it here. And talking to others playing the console version, it looks like PC has got the best of it too – at least it runs without staggering here.

            Grayson’s “apology” comment does seem to be speaking about the history of Obsidian rather than Stick of Truth specifically, but it does also come off as a bit unwarranted. Stick of Truth, from most accounts, isn’t as buggy as previous Obsidian games. The call for an apology comes off as an attempt to bait controversy, and honestly makes it look like Grayson had already formed his opinion and ignored Wester and Urquhart’s defense. Grayson never addressed Urquhart’s statement that Stick of Truth’s post-release complaints boiled down to four issues, which is a claim that on the surface rather directly contradicts Grayson’s set up that the game was filled with bugs and implies that Obsidian has indeed turned itself around, yet Grayson goes on to ask about an apology anyway?

        • Ghoulie says:

          “Why should they not be allowed to pursue other forms of funding after running a kickstarter?”
          The thing is they aren’t even doing that. Paradox will just be taking over the marketing, physical copies and the kickstarter rewards. The game is being wholly funded by KS backers.
          Obsidian still owns the ip and still has final say on the game and it’s contents.

        • InternetBatman says:

          The apology part was just dickish. I don’t think it was part of some larger agenda or anything, just mundane dickery.

        • Baines says:

          This just seems like a weak attempt at manufacturing controversy. I like to think that RPS is better than that.

          How quickly people forget events like Torsogate. Part of the dark history of RPS’s controversy baiting, where an RPS writer attacked Deep Silver for going against his incorrect reading of a press release statement. Rather than admit mistake, RPS continued to go after Deep Silver’s “silence” over an issue that RPS had partly manufactured.

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            Lars Westergren says:

            RPS was totally right on torsogate though. Deep SIlver deserved all the shit they got, and more.

          • derbefrier says:

            No they didn’t. That was all foolish tripe that in the end didn’t matter. any reasonable person would have laughed at the sheer ridiculousness of it all. I mean to get so worked up over a fucking toy is absolutely one of the most idiodic things I have seen on this site. Just another emprty cause for simple minded people to rally behind to feel special.

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            Lars Westergren says:

            The third reich had “Kick out the jewish scum” boardgames for kids. Was it wrong for people at that time to criticise them? After all, they too were “just toys”. Nice to see you taking a respectful view of people with different opinions though.

          • Baines says:

            There was an argument to be made about the torso statue.

            RPS even made that argument. But RPS decided that argument wasn’t enough, also chose to attack Deep Silver for something Deep Silver never actually said. And then tried to defend that attack. Then continued to bring up how Deep Silver wouldn’t respond to their further queries. (Why would Deep Silver want to respond to a site that defended an antagonistic article based on misreading a previous Deep Silver statement? That’s entering “Answer with yes or no. Have you stopped beating your wife?” territory.)

            Torsogate wasn’t an isolated incident, either. RPS had a somewhat spotted history in that era. Championing a cause is one thing, but RPS often crossed into blind crusades, the kind that do more harm than good. And generate a lot of page clicks, but I do think RPS was more in it for the blind crusade. (Not that either are good things.)

          • tormos says:

            remember, everyone, reporting on something that a publisher did makes you equally responsible for the controversy /s

          • Dances to Podcasts says:

            If you find yourself godwinning an unrelated torso on a publisher interview it’s time to take a break from the internet for a while. ;)

          • Raith says:

            Wow Lars, way to be a complete tool and godwin that hard. You are building such a massive strawman that it could probably replace the burning man statue this year.

        • RationalLogic says:

          It wouldn’t be the first time RPS attempted to push their own narrative.

      • Discopanda says:

    • Michael Fogg says:

      Nathan’s head is getting too big for his afro.

  4. Artea says:

    Eh, the bug complaints about South Park were greatly exaggerated. If it was any other developer, these few minor bugs common for any AAA release would’ve probably gone unmentioned. At this point, bringing up Obsidian’s bug issues (and asking for an apology? seriously?) feels more like stirring up fake controversy.

    Obsidian and Paradox seems like a match made in heaven.

    Wait, why is there a Skyrim screenshot?

    • Lemming says:

      I agree on the asking for an apology bit, that was just ridiculous.

    • ItinerantNomad says:

      There’s a Skyrim screenshot because it’s a bug. Quick everyone! It’s Obsidian’s fault!

    • arccos says:

      Agreed, bugs happen. They can’t catch them all, and if it means the difference between a really great, ambitious game with a few bugs and a good, less ambitious game with no bugs, I’ll take the bugs. I don’t know if this applies to Stick, though, because I haven’t played it.

    • matnym says:

      After spending over 20 hours on The Stick of Truth and not encountering a single bug or CTD I must agree that the complaints were extremely exaggerated, if not misleading.

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    amateurviking says:

    It’s been interesting watching how this news has gone down. Lots of people predicting a big angry response. For the most part it seems that hasn’t happened though. I think that has a lot to do with how Paradox are viewed these days – they are definitely no EA or Ubi.

    It seems like a fairly balanced plan though, and it’s interesting that they mentioned physical rewards for backing: that seems to have become a real millstone around the neck for ‘early’ kickstarter projects that promised all sorts without necessarily considering the realities of mass shipping tens of thousands of posters, t-shirts and novelty doohickies.

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    Lars Westergren says:

    > After all this time and so many missteps, do you feel like you owe fans any sort of apology?

    Wait, what?

    I agree with the posters above, Obsidian have shown with DS3 and South Park that they really can do polished and bug-free games. Not totally bug-free, but show me any software longer than 20 lines that is. That some people keep harping on them for it is really not fair.

    • Chalky says:

      I assumed this is a reference to some problems with Eternity that I wasn’t aware of (I can’t say I’m really following that game). Anyone able to shed some light on this?

      • Premium User Badge

        Lars Westergren says:

        That Eternity release date would be delayed because they got 4 times more than expected was clear from the start, they even said that as soon as the Kickstarter finished. They would have updated the expected delivery date in the campaign itself if Kickstarter had allowed it, so I don’t know why some media announced it a few weeks ago like it was news.

        They have done regular updates (#74 was posted today) and seem to be completely on schedule with content. Alpha will be done in a few weeks, and then they will iterate over it and add more detail and polish the remaining time.

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      Lexx87 says:

      For every single one of their games being great but marred with bugs/too short development times/something wrong with them.

      I love Obsidian and love their games, but they do have that reputation.

    • Memphis-Ahn says:

      I encountered only one bug during my entire playthrough of Stick of Truth. I sometimes wonder what version of the game these people complaining about bugs have been playing.

      • Fry says:

        I’ve been through it twice with zero problems. Either these “bugs” are so subtle they’ve escaped my noticed, or there’s a good bit of exaggeration going on. Console versions… well… I don’t much care.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      It’s Nathan. Demanding apologies is kinda his thing. Just roll with it, man.

  7. Infinitron says:

    South Park was a notoriously buggy release only in the fantasy world of Rock Paper Kotaku

    • Volcanu says:

      Yeah I watched a video on the kotaku review that claimed to be an example of awful stuttering in the console version of Stick of Truth. Even with the precise time of the alleged stuttering given, it took me 3 attempts at watching it to spot what the reviewer meant.

      It was pretty ridiculous. I (and I expect many others) would n’t have noticed it at all. The whole thing smacked of a storm in a teacup to be honest.

      • chargen says:

        They’re basically to the point where they need to reach out to dozens of other reviewers, compiling any little bug into one list, which will reflect the experience of no one person who plays the game.

        Please do this to any Bethesda game, as that would be a very entertaining list. Apologize? I’m guessing they would need to crawl on their knees mewling in pained repentance through miles of desert to kiss the hand of Grayson.

  8. Ghoulie says:

    Jesus Christ, what a load of crap about Stick of Truth’s bugs. And then asking if they felt they owed an apology?
    That really rubbed me the wrong way. Talk about stirring.

    • Ghoulie says:

      >”RPS: And yet, that was a consistent complaint in reviews from both critics and fans.”
      Nonsense. It was just you guys and Slowtaku, and the readership disagreed.

      • Josh W says:

        To be fair, it might be a specific set of hardware compatibility problems that happened to come up for both of them.

        Edit: Hmm, consoles apparently, intermittent fault?

  9. Henchimus says:

    Stop banging on about Stick of Truth’s “bugs” ffs! There were no bugs! It was a great game!

  10. Bent Wooden Spoon says:

    As with many others, I’m not sure why Obsidian are getting ragged on for South Park being buggy. Can’t comment on the consoles, like the majority here I played on the PC and I experienced only one lonely bug – twice my characters face disappeared for a few seconds, leaving behind disembodies eyes and hair. That was it.

    I know anecdotal evidence is worthless, but the general consensus everywhere I’ve been online is that South Park’s pretty polished; I’ve certainly not seen any of the online pitchforks that usually get pulled out whenever a game’s released as a broken mess.

    • Convolvulus says:

      I haven’t played the game yet, but I’ll take your word for it. If the reported problems are largely graphical (e.g., choppy animations), they’re probably unobtrusive for obvious reasons. Nevertheless, if you’re a video game executive fielding an interview question about your company’s established history of buggy releases, the proper response is to assure that you’re always working to make them better. Perhaps you can remind readers that the open world RPG genre involves very complex game design that’s more susceptible to certain problems.

      Don’t, under any circumstances, insist that your games aren’t buggy or that you aren’t overly concerned because the existing bugs aren’t game-breaking. Pretty solid shouldn’t be the goal. At least the kids don’t feel ripped off. shouldn’t be the goal, and to see a company’s CEO openly state such things reminds me not to buy any of his products at launch.

      • Premium User Badge

        xao says:

        That’s a terrible rule. Especially when said executive can point to multiple third-party metrics indicating that the game in question was NOT buggy.

      • Premium User Badge

        xao says:

        To elaborate, if I ask you if you’ve stopped murdering prostitutes, the correct response is not “well, I’m always working to murder fewer prostitutes”. It’s perfectly ok to say “I don’t murder prostitutes” and offer evidence supporting your refutation. Your rule would lead to any question becoming an irrefutable smear against the company, regardless of its factual basis.

        • zain3000 says:

          But what if you’ve actually gained a reputation for murdering prostitutes? Then it would be a lie to claim that you don’t do so.

          • Premium User Badge

            xao says:

            That’s incorrect. Having a reputation for something is not the same thing as actually doing something.

  11. Iceman346 says:

    Interesting interview although I also concur that South Park wasn’t buggy at all. In my playthorugh on PC I had no crashes or glitches at all. Sure, it probably isn’t as complex a game as Eternity will be but Dungeon Siege 3 and SP show that Obsidian can do bug-free (or rather low on bugs, I’m a programmer myself, I know that bug-free is impossible), so I’m hopeful for Eternity.

    In regards to the Paradox thingy: I’m actually quite happy with that. Paradox is a niche publisher with interesting games for the hardcore crowd so IMO it basically is the best fit. And Obsidian not having to do the marketing and distribution should ease some of the workload. As long as Obsidian remains in full creative control I’m fine with this cooperation.

  12. FurryLippedSquid says:

    I’d just like to state that I too only found one bug in the entire game. To be perfectly honest, it’s one of the most polished games I have played in years.

  13. InternetBatman says:

    Why not an Obsidian game for the first picture of the article?

    I backed PE, but quite honestly it seems like they’re being a bit squirrely about the terms of the agreement. Just say they get 10-90% of the sales revenue after the game is released.

  14. alright says:

    Others have said it but, seriously, give it up with the “glitchy” Southpark thing.

    It wasn’t “a consistent complaint in reviews from both critics and fans”, it was just you and Kotaku, with the comments sections disagreeing strongly. A few minor bugs are the norm, there is no need for an “apology” (that was especially ridiculous) .

    • Carlos Danger says:

      +1

      I expected Al Gore to jump out in the interview and scream “I am Super Cereal about these bugs!”

  15. Premium User Badge

    Cinek says:

    I hope that it’s not a sign of PE being as bugged as every other Paradox game at the release.

    Oh.. and I guess this means Steam-only, right? I surely hope not, cause Paradox switched to Steam-only policy quite recently.

  16. rustybroomhandle says:

    That “apology” bit is a tad gauche. :/

  17. Keyrock says:

    I can only speak of the PC release of Stick of Truth, as that’s the only version I played, but the PC version was rock solid. In the 23 hours or so it took me to beat the game I didn’t encounter a single bug, not so much as an animation glitch or audio clipping issue. I guess the dirty console peasants got the buggy version this time around.

    As for this partnership, in theory it’s a win-win situation. Nothing really changes for the backers, assuming Paradox does a good job of pimping the game then a lot more copies get sold, meaning more money for Obsidian and a slice of the pie for Paradox. Everybody wins… assuming the game sells well.

  18. Keyrock says:

    I can only speak of the PC release of Stick of Truth, as that’s the only version I played, but the PC version was rock solid. In the 23 hours or so it took me to beat the game I didn’t encounter a single bug, not so much as an animation glitch or audio clipping issue. I guess the dirty console peasants got the buggy version this time around.

    As for this partnership, in theory it’s a win-win situation. Nothing really changes for the backers, assuming Paradox does a good job of pimping the game then a lot more copies get sold, meaning more money for Obsidian and a slice of the pie for Paradox. Everybody wins… assuming the game sells well.

  19. Laurentius says:

    Ah, good old Obsydian, already prepering for the crush landing ? Given the Paradox history, it’s a match made in heaven, certainly shaping for interesting aftermath. Good I’m not backer on this one.

  20. Werthead says:

    I’m hoping the next time RPS interviews Bethesda, they devote a large chunk of the interview to ragging them on their bugs as well. It’d be quite nice to have them challenged as to why every release with the same engine they’ve been using for well over a decade is bugged to hell and back and takes weeks after each release to get into a halfway decent state.

    • sear says:

      Same. Fallout: New Vegas was in a pretty poor state on launch, to be fair, but within a few weeks Obsidian had fixed most of the critical and significant quest bugs. By the time of the final patch, New Vegas had become pretty much 100% stable and free of all but the absolute most minor issues. They also kept doing balance tweaks and changes right until the end.

      I’m not really sure why Bethesda get off scot-free with their games, despite their games having significantly more critical issues and oversights (broken mouse support in menus on day one for Skyrim, forgot to tick the optimize flag in the compiler for months, etc.) but Obsidian’s are always railed on any time someone encounters even a trivial issue. That reputation may have been earned by KotOR II, yes, but… those “legendarily buggy” games were a decade ago and developed under substantially different circumstances.

      • Werthead says:

        I played NV a year after release and only encountered one bug of note: I couldn’t load from the front screen and had to do a ‘Start New Game’ and then launch from within the worldspace. Since it added maybe 3 seconds to start-up, it wasn’t a major problem. Granted it seemed there were bigger and more serious problems on release, but they were long gone by the time I got to it.

        OTOH, considerably more than a year after release FALLOUT 3 was still giving me CTDs and blacking out entire areas (the screen goes black; I can still move around and quit the game, but all of the graphics just vanish), and becoming more and more unstable every time a DLC was added. And of course now it can be quite eccentric with W7 and 8 (ridiculously, for a 2008 release that seemed to be fine on XP and Vista) whilst NV works like a charm on it.

    • SanguineAngel says:

      For me, I would really love to hear some truthful answers from Bethesda about both the bugs and also the lack of massive promised features

  21. Lokik says:

    Wait, South Park: The Stick of Truth was a buggy mess? I pre-ordered the PC version, played it through in 3 days and don’t remember encountering any bugs whatsoever.

  22. teije says:

    Some good questions and answer in this interview, but the whole thing about “apologizing” is just stupid, not to mention with no context.

    Anyways, I think this is a good news. Both niche, dedicated outfits who care about their games and their audiences. Backed PoE and huge fan of Paradox’s strategy games, so looking forward to this.

    Will be interesting to see if Pdox uses some of Obsidian’s expertise for their first RPG – Runemaster. That looks very interesting, but since Pdox is new to the genre, I have some doubts they can deliver a solid game.

    • jalf says:

      Maybe what we’re seeing is the birth of New New New Games Journalism: wherein the interviewer suddenly, and with no context and for no reason at all, demands an apology from whoever they’re interviewing?

  23. Sparkasaurusmex says:

    While there are more deserving publishers and developers, I really like the “grilling” nature at the end of this interview. Kudos.

  24. LVX156 says:

    Why a Skyrim picture?

    • sear says:

      Maybe the article would get more pageviews that way?

    • Nim says:

      Notice that the picture depicts the dragon sitting in the air. It shows a bug. They had to use a bug from Skyrim because there are none in South Park.

    • Eggman says:

      That’s not a Skyrim pic, it’s an old PoE promo pic. Not sure if concept art or in-game.

      • nzmccorm says:

        It’s a Skyrim wallpaper. It was used to illustrate a previous story on Eternity though because Urqhart offered Skyrim as an example of the sort of game they’d like to make after Eternity, in that it’s all open world and sprawling without a strong linear central storyline.

  25. HadToLogin says:

    Does this mean day one Portraits-of-Paladins DLC?

    • Premium User Badge

      Cinek says:

      Sounds of the Forest DLC – available on Steam, only £6.99.

  26. Jason Moyer says:

    “RPS: And yet, that was a consistent complaint in reviews from both critics and fans.”

    Yeah, no. It was a consistent complaint in reviews by Kotaku and John Walker. I experienced 1 bug in 20 hours of playing it.

  27. Juke says:

    I like how calm-yet-incredulous Urquhart was; he essentially says “We fixed tens of thousands of things you’ll never see, notoriously critical console cert teams couldn’t find fault with our code, and the worst things any gamers uncovered in the wild amounted to mere annoyances. In other words, WE NAILED THIS THING WHY ARE WE STILL TALKING ABOUT THIS.”

    I mean, (as someone who has submitted code to cert) I know no two certification submissions are created equal, but those teams are groomed to find all the little problems that developers sweep under the rug as “good enough.” If noone at Sony could even raise one red flag, that speaks volumes. Even good developers will ship buggy code if it’s taken out of their hands before its ready. Software begins life in a fragile state; first it needs to work, then it can be tested. Given adequate schedule, talented teams ought to be able to fix issues that are discovered, and that appears to be what Obsidian did with Stick of Truth. It’s time to give them credit for a tough job done well.

  28. Drinking with Skeletons says:

    I’m not sure why anyone would be upset by a publishing deal, assuming the following:

    1) The publisher gets a cut of future profits rather than the Kickstarted money. Seeing as how Paradox shouldn’t have to kick in a dime on the development side of things and are taking over an area that Obsidian would otherwise have to have spent money on, I don’t see why this wouldn’t be true.

    2) Obsidian retains control of the IP, both for the direction of the franchise and the creative side of things. Again, seeing as Paradox is also a developer and are basically getting a piece of the pie without having contributed anything, I don’t see why this should be a problem.

    Also, South Park wasn’t buggy at all for me. There was one time when I had a hard time skipping a cutscene, but it involved Jimmy, so it’s kind of hard to tell if that was actually a bug. Maybe the consoles had some kind of problem, but it was as stable as anything I’ve played.

    • Carlos Danger says:

      LoL, the Jimmy thing wasn’t a bug. Just a well devised joke.

  29. Premium User Badge

    Ham Solo says:

    The south park game still isn’t out in my country because they fucked it up so much with “forgetting” to remove symbols who are banned if not used for educational purposes. Preorder cancelled, will pick it up in a few months for 5 bucks in a steam sale.

    • Fry says:

      I don’t blame you for being pissed off about that, but it was entirely an Ubisoft screwup.

  30. tehfish says:

    I’ll just add to the many others saying the same: south park was buggy?

    I’ve yet to encounter a single bug, this is one of the least buggy games i’ve played in a long time…

  31. Premium User Badge

    ffordesoon says:

    The South Park stuff comes off as pretty petty, I must say. If we were talking about Alpha Protocol, or even New Vegas, that’d be a different story, but South Park was just as polished at release as many lesser games with the same asking price.

    Then again, I still don’t know what the hell John was talking about with the tutorial, which was one of the most entertaining tutorials I’ve ever played. I don’t think John was lying about his experiences with the game, but it did make me wonder if he was accidentally sent beta code or something.

    The apology question made me cringe as a fan, but they do have their reputation for a reason, and however much I’m willing to forgive them their trespasses, a non-Obsidian Star Wars RPG with a bunch of answering machine messages where endings were supposed to be would probably make me pretty angry, so I can see why it would make non-fans pretty angry. If the question was phrased imperfectly, I don’t feel it was unwarranted.

  32. faelnor says:

    Sad to see that video games developers still feel they can’t call journalists out on their bullshit. It’s much less unusual to see public faces in (well-known) music bands or film studios say things as they are and openly criticize journalists, even during interviews. In that case, Mr. Wester seemed a bit nonplussed at the recurring theme of South Park bugs but instead of asking Nathan Grayson what the fuck he had been smoking, he felt forced to acknowledge a nonexistent situation while having to swallow his well-deserved pride for making a good, fun and 99% bug-free game :(

  33. njolnin says:

    Mr. Grayson’s statements about South Park were misleading and sensationalist, a poor attempt to drum up false controversy.

    Asking for an apology, as though the game were so buggy that it had broken the trust with the players, is trashy and absurd.

    I expect better from this site.

  34. namad says:

    I 100% think it’s false to say that stick of truth was a buggy game in the sense of alpha protocol or kotor2 or even F:NV. Yes stick of truth had bugs but as they pointed out sony rated it as being rock solid stable. I think it’s just at this point it’s like a meme. Find a bug in an obsidian game? rant about how all obsidian games are buggy. yet if stick of truth were there first game? ever? They’d never have earned that reputation.

  35. Premium User Badge

    Lambchops says:

    Right.

  36. Duke Flipside says:

    So Paradox will have an opinion, but it’s up to Obsidian to listen or not; obviously some of it may be commercially-sensitive, but will backers get to see Paradox’s advice on gameplay elements (for example) and discuss it in the forums like any other backer’s opinion? (FYI I’m not a backer, but I’m genuinely curious; and I am intending to pick this up when it’s released :D)

    Also, on the subject of South Park; whilst the magic training sections were incomprehensible at best, that’s not actually a “bug”… I only experienced a single bug, and that was a slight animation hiccup when I foolishly alt-tabbed in the middle of a cutscene; given that the vast majority of games (in my experience) seem to have a policy of “We may allow alt-tabbing normally, but WOE BETIDE YOU should you do it during a cutscene!” I was actually pleasantly surprised by this. All in all it really didn’t deserve to be treated as it was!

  37. RogerioFM says:

    Great interview all the questions were spot on, specially the pressure on the bugs part, although the apology demand was a bit pathetic of RPS part.

  38. lambchop19 says:

    Pretty silly to call out South Park as a buggy game imho. I never had it crash once during my playthrough. Sounds more like the interviewer had a grudge against Obsidian’s previous bugs. That or he just wanted to pick on their traditional weak point in order to seem aggressive and edgy. One or two questions would have been enough though. As it went on it was just annoying.

    “South Park was buggy!”
    “No, it wasn’t.”
    “Yes, it was!”
    “Not according to these stats.”
    “Well, you made other games that had bugs!” ”
    *sigh*

  39. Smegheid says:

    “Urquhart: There were some bugs and some glitches. I don’t mean to sweep it under the rug. All in all, it was a pretty solid game, though. Everyone who bought the game could finish it.”

    Uh-huh…

  40. Shakes999 says:

    What the hell is going on with this site’s content lately? I come here to get AWAY from hyperbolic Kotaku style journalism and it seems to be popping up more and more. South park ran flawlessly. I didn’t experience a single bug through out my entire play through and thats the majority of players opinions on it that ive read about it but please continue to have a hard-on for Obsidian. Oh and keep being jealous of Penny-Arcade. That never gets old either.

  41. cw8 says:

    It’s funny really this article. I completed South Park in around 20 hours from start to end on hard and I never had a crash or bug at all.

  42. Nick says:

    Whelp, I’m out, RPS officially vanished up its own arsehole, cheerio.

  43. Nick says:

    Also I just finished South Park and encounter exactly 1 bug, and that was the character flickering briefly in one cutscene. Never interview anyone again plz.

  44. Onholyservicebound says:

    I experienced literally one bug in this game, and it didn’t hinder me even remotely. I’d go as far as to say it was the least buggy AAA game I’ve played in a long time.

    Now Skyrim, that was a bug laden title.

  45. Premium User Badge

    Acosta says:

    I have put 15 hours in South Park and found exactly zero bugs.

    It´s pretty sad RPS is keeping this line. I am completely sure that if John said it had problems, it had for him for whatever reason, but there is plenty of feedback from many players and reviewers that the game is not buggy at all.

    “that was a consistent complaint in reviews from both critics and fans.”

    This is not true Nathan, and even if you could put enough evidence of it, I could make a way bigger case of people and reviewers claiming zero or almost zero problems with it. Urqhuart didn’t deserve that line of questioning, and the apology question was a low blow.

  46. KenTWOu says:

    do you feel like you owe fans any sort of apology?

    RPS, I think, you owe them an apology.