Obsidian’s Bold Future: Eternity Meets Skyrim, A Second KS

Have you read our recent megablowouts of Obsidian’s Pillars of Eternity? Then congratulations: you know everything about Pillars of Eternity except what the pillars of eternity actually are. But Obsidian’s not planning to dip a furtive pinky toe into classic CRPG waters and then leave its legacy behind again. This time, it’s in control of its own destiny, and no one knows that better than CEO Feargus Urquhart. He wants to push the classic Black Isle mold further than it’s ever gone before, into worlds so immense that the classic Infinity Engine never would’ve been able to handle them. But that was then, and this is now. His company has new-old tech and new-old ideas. Hear all about Urquhart’s grandest plans below.

At this point, I think it would be fair to say that Obsidian would be kind of silly to not do another Kickstarter. I know it, you know it, and – heck – Obsidian definitely knows it. Pillars of Eternity isn’t the sort of thing you just toss out of the nest and abandon to the ravenous fangs of time. Not if you can avoid it. Kickstarter let Obsidian don its old Black Isle duds and relive its heyday. That was never supposed to happen. Old-school PC RPGs were dead. Dead like punk rock, dead like face-to-face communication, dead like, well, PC gaming.

How could we make something more like a Skyrim for PC with the engine we made for Eternity?

But some things don’t actually die. They just go dormant, and then they evolve. And once you’ve kicked off an evolutionary growth spurt, the next big question is obvious: how do you keep it going? That’s where Obsidian’s at these days. It can make games like it used to again, but with the aid of shiny new tech, lower costs, and viewers like you. In some ways, it’s uncharted territory, but in others, the blueprint’s been around for ages – devoured by dust after years of disuse. Step one, then, is figuring out how to get rid of all that dust. Obsidian CEO Feargus Urquhart isn’t positive about anything yet, but he’s definitely got a few ideas kicking around.

“What’s cool about Eternity and then, well, I’d be really surprised if we didn’t make an Eternity II, is having something else we can then use that tech for,” he explains. “I mean, not exactly, because then it would just be a reskinned Eternity. But I always look at the example of what we did back at Black Isle with Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale. And then Torment on top of that. Those games used the exact same engine, but they all felt very distinct. That’s what we want to do now too, and I think that’s just gonna help us make each of those games better and better.”

What, then, will be the Icewind Dale or Torment to Pillars of Eternity’s Baldur? Whether devs are chatting fireside, around the ol’ watering hole, or near something that actually exists in a game development studio, that question is the talk of Obsidian. A few standout ideas top the list, but Urquhart has one of his own that he’s especially fond of. And yeah, it sounds exciting. Really exciting.

“What I’m trying to figure out is, how could we make something that is more like a Skyrim for PC – forget console for now – with the engine we made in Unity for Eternity? Where we are with our conversation, quest, data editors, and all of that. If we were careful about scope and let Chris Avellone go wild with creating a new world, more of an open world, what could we do?”

“How much would it cost? Would it make sense for it to be episodic? Because going out there and saying, ‘We’re gonna make 100 hours of gameplay,’ everyone goes, ‘Oh my god, how could it not cost millions?’ But could we create ten hours and have people pay ten bucks? And generally when we say ten hours, it’s usually 15. But if we go with five episodes, then people get between 50 and 75 hours.”

It’s certainly an intriguing thought, practically a missing link in the RPG food chain. What would’ve happened if CRPGs stayed in the Infinity Engine mold, but pumped resources into size, scope, ambition, and sandboxy-ness instead of graphical fidelity and cinematics? What would the genre have become? Now, finally, we might be able to find out.

But it’s not just about playing to nostalgia. This is actually a very practical consideration on Urquhart’s (urqu)part, as he doesn’t really see any other way to do a game this huge while maintaining full creative control.

“What could we do that would be interesting enough and at the right quality level?” he ponders aloud. “Because the one worry we have about moving away from pre-rendered stuff, is that as soon as we get into first-person or third-person or something like that, the expectation of triple-A-level console graphics comes in. So what can we do for a lower budget but let people still say, ‘Whoa, that’s crazy’?”

That’s hardly Obsidian’s only offshoot idea, though – just Urquhart’s favorite. In many ways, Eternity’s imbued the entire company with a renewed sense of possibility, so it’s leaving no stone un-turned, no plane un-scaped.

“We have other ideas too,” he enthuses. “Like Eternity has a big party size, but what happens if we render in close and have a smaller party? Make it more about the characters and less about the tactics? There’s a lot of ideas, and we want to see what [game engine] Unity can do as well.”

Despite a plan to develop them with a small team, these ideas might not even make it to Kickstarter, either. In fact, it sounds like Obsidian’s already narrowed down its direction for a second Kickstarter quite a lot. During our chat, Urquhart only offers sly hints, just as one might expect from a man who once oversaw the most silver-tongued of espionage RPGs and yeah, no, it’s not going to be Alpha Protocol. Damn it.

“There’s something we’re talking about that I think would be really cool, but it’s not an original property,” he says. “It’s a licensed property. But it’s not Alpha Protocol! It’s something we can still do a ton of creative stuff with, though. And then the other thing is an original property. Also, there’s a third thing that somebody approached us with, but I really don’t think that’s going to work out.”

Regardless, a second Kickstarter is pretty much a lock. That’s really not much of a surprise after Eternity vacuumed up dollars like a vending machine on the verge of starvation. Still though, it’s a bit surprising to hear out loud, given that Pillars of Eternity is still fairly early. That, according to Urquhart is why you’re only hearing at this point, and not seeing, touching, or, er, tasting (which, to be fair, isn’t entirely outside the realm of possibility). You paid for a game, not the opportunity to fund another game. Obsidian is well aware of that.

“We’re very grateful for what people have given us, and I don’t want to go back to the well before we’ve proven anything,” Urquhart confesses. “That would be really lame of us. But I think we have a good idea and we’ve kind of proven things with Eternity to a point. Obviously we have a larger studio, so we actually have people to work on stuff [beforehand]. But I don’t want people to feel like we’re taking advantage of them.”

“I’m happy to make Eternity, and the hope is to come up with another Kickstarter that people would be interested in. My hope is that by March or April of next year, we’ll have something we can kind of start talking to people about.”

Ideally, he adds, he’d like to employ a setup not unlike inXile’s with Wasteland 2 and Torment. In other words, run a second Kickstarter when the first game is nearly finished so that the Eternity team can seamlessly transition over. For now, though, it’s all Pillars of Eternity, er, most of the time. Urquhart’s simply laying the tracks for his company’s next excursion into not-entirely-uncharted (but also kinda uncharted) territory, preparing for the future. And for the first time in a long time, he’s getting to do it his way.

“What’s interesting is, right now, between Steam and Kickstarter, developers are creating the brands,” he observes. “Not publishers. It hasn’t been this way since the ’90s. I’m not sure what it means yet, but it’s exciting.”

History, they say, is doomed to repeat itself. But if you ask Obsidian, they’ll probably tell you that’s a-okay.


  1. Billards says:

    No more Alpha Protocol? Urquhart, you monster!

    The idea of a Skyrim-style game as an isometric game is an interesting one – I know they’ve talked about continuing the ‘Pillars’ world over multiple games. If we’re looking at this generation’s Forgotten Realms, sign me up.

    • Mokinokaro says:

      Alpha Protocol as an IP might be owned by SEGA.

      As for isometric Skyrim, Divine Divinity anyone?

      I also agree that Obsidian shouldn’t be looking at another kickstarter already. I refuse to back a 2nd kickstarter by any company that hasn’t delivered on their first project yet. I didn’t back Tides of Numera for the same reasons as Wasteland 2’s had barely ended.

      • Chalk says:

        Then again, many developers will have more than one game in development at a time. Why not Kickstart all your current projects?

        • malkav11 says:

          No reason. In fact, most companies the size of Obsidian or inXile (or Double Fine) are making multiple games simultaneously at various stages in development as a matter of course and it’s pretty much an economic necessity to continue to be able to afford to employ the people they’ve got. If they want to keep funding themselves through Kickstarter and not go back to the strictures of working with publisher funding, then, they’re going to have to launch additional projects before the first one is done, like both inXile and Obsidian have done. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. These are established companies with track records of getting the job done. And at least in the cases of Obsidian and Double Fine, a strong track record of excellence in the final result even despite substantial publisher shenanigans along the way that they shouldn’t have to deal with with their Kickstarter projects. inXile…well, there’s good people there and they’ve certainly shipped games but the relative quality of those projects was one of my key concerns with Wasteland 2, originally. Thankfully it’s looking to be flipping fantastic so far.

          • Cinek says:

            We all know how well Double Fine is doing with all that stuff.

          • AngoraFish says:

            @ Cinek DF are succeeding fantastically, from what I can see.

          • malkav11 says:

            Agreed. Unless you count releasing on schedule, but hewing to a fixed schedule at the expense of the actual end product is a relic of the bad old days of publisher funding.

          • Cinek says:

            AngoraFish – yea, they’re doing brilliantly well. link to rockpapershotgun.com
            What was it? 800% over initial budget? And they still run out of money?

          • welverin says:

            How much money they got relative to the original goal is irrelevant to, because there was no game or even idea for a game beyond ‘classic adventure game.’ Once they got that much money the scope of the game changed radically, unfortunately Tim grossly over designed the game exceeded even that increased scope (this is where a publisher would have been good).

          • Tychoxi says:

            @Cinek that doesn’t mean anything, did you even bother to check the Kickstarter pitch?. Double Fine was VERY CLEAR: they didn’t know what would happen, it could tumble down but the backers would at least get a nice documentary of the whole process. And guess what? We have been getting the nice documentary. (We’ll also get a very cool adventure game by the looks of it!)

            This also goes to the people who wouldn’t back a second Kickstarter before the first one is delivered. This is about backing *projects*, not about *buying products*.

          • S Jay says:

            @Cinek, I presume you are not a backer (or don’t track the project very closely), so I understand where you are coming from. Let me tell you that backers are majorly pleased with Double Fine. I have no figures, but looking at their forum, I would say it is certainly over 90% of them. In fact I would say 99% of them.

            Certainly that’s who Double Fine needs to please.

      • Tacroy says:

        I backed Torment because I was happy with where Wasteland 2 was at the time. It was a simple decision.

        The thing is, you can’t expect a video game company to go all-in making one single game from inception to release; not everyone is equally useful at every stage of development.

        There’s the designers and writers, who need to pin down things like storyline, mechanics and style early on, have strong involvement through the middle, but really don’t have much to do at the end, because everyone knows what’s up.

        Then you have the artists, who do some concept work in the early stages but are mostly concerned with doing their magic during the middle and end of development; you don’t really make new sets and pieces at the very end of things.

        And then there’s the programmers, who really don’t do very much besides prototype things at the beginning but will continue to work on the project even after release – there’s always more bugs, after all.

        Basically, game development is a pipelined process, and different people are involved at different stages; if you only have one game going through the pipeline at a given time, you’ll have people sitting around doing very little.

      • welverin says:

        Alpha Protocol is owned by Sega, and they have no interest in a sequel.

    • The Random One says:

      You missed a great opportunity to say “Have you no (urqu)heart?”

  2. Donuts says:

    Sci Fi Sci FIIIIIIIIIIIIiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii.

    Sci Fi RPG anyone?

    • The Random One says:

      I’ll have one.

    • Lemming says:


      It bugs the hell out of me when these ideas get thrown around and there just seems to be no question that it’ll be a medieval fantasy rpg again.

    • Mokinokaro says:

      We really need more scifi RPGs. Medieval fantasy is way too overdone.

      • GameCat says:

        I would love to see some non-medieval fantasy like Zeno Clash. I think this subgenre doesn’t have enough love in videogames industry. :(

        • Shuck says:

          Hell, I’d love to see more mediæval fantasy RPGs that aren’t just straight D&D/Tolkien derivatives. The further away more games could get from that, the better.

    • PegasusOrgans says:

      Sci Fi? Absolutely! We’ve seen hack n slash and action RPGs set in a sci-fi world, but few if any real turn based or RTwP ones with deep story and conversations. Hell, space based (ala Mass Effect), dystopian cyberpunk (ala Shadowrun), post apocalyptic (ala Fallout 2) would all be amazing with an iso perspective and tons of dialogue! Hell, one of the failed Kickstarters (Space Shock) really saddened me because it was a promiding old school RPG in a SciFi setting.

      We just don’t get enough of them.

    • dufake says:

      Does anyone want an isometric Mass Effect?
      I do.

    • Noviere says:

      I really want a well-made cyberpunk RPG. Shadowrun was kinda there… but it was so linear and limited. Plus, I’ve always thought the setting was a bit silly due to the magic/fantasy stuff.

      • malkav11 says:

        CD Projekt’s Cyberpunk will almost certainly fit that bill, if not in the way Obsidian would deliver it.

        • Tacroy says:

          Since Witcher 3 is open-world-ish, I wouldn’t be surprised if they build on that to make Cyberpunk open-world-ish as well.

          • Cinek says:

            They announced Cyberpunk will be an open world game during initial “build the hype” run.

        • Noviere says:

          Here’s hoping :)

    • WedgeJAntilles says:

      I would love love love to see Obsidian do something in the vein of Star Trek, something less combat focused with more of a focus on diplomacy and politics.

    • basilisk says:

      I’m not picky. It doesn’t necessarily have to be sci-fi. But I am indeed thoroughly sick and tired of swords and bloody sorcery.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Came here to post this. Oh yes! I’m so tired of rehashed Tolkien and D&D settings.

      However, it would absolutely need good writing; something a lot better than Mass Effect. It would be a good idea to use a licensed IP, not necessarily following the exact storylines, but at least the setting. Sci-fi game developers that don’t have good writers on staff, usually fail at the world-building part of their games.

      A licensed IP like Niven’s Ringworld series might be fun. Those novels had a “party” that was the right size for this engine, although I don’t know if the leveling-up RPG mechanics would be a good fit. There are plenty of other IP’s that would make a good game.

      Or, hell, if it has to be something vaguely sword and sorcerish, then license Zelazny’s “Amber” series. At least that had some different ideas than the usual tired fantasy tropes.

      • malkav11 says:

        It would be a bad idea to use a licensed IP, with the possible exceptions of if it were creator-owned and they could work directly with the author in question rather than a company or their lawyers, or if they could own the license themselves. But generally licensed IP comes with the sort of creative constraints that Kickstarter should be freeing them from, and involves paying significant amounts of money just for the rights to use it, money that could otherwise be spent on making the game. And the end result is your game is made part of an established formula when it doesn’t need to be. I mean, I’m not immune to the lure of IP – a big part of my attraction to Shadowrun Returns was certainly that it was a Shadowrun game, and Telltale’s doing great things with The Walking Dead and Fables – but my most rewarding gaming experiences have either not been licensed properties, or the best parts haven’t really been based on anything they derived from the license.

        • Zenicetus says:

          Those are good points, but balanced against them is that I don’t think I can recall a single sci-fi game that was as compelling as the better sci fi novels I’ve read. And Obsidian doesn’t have a great track record (yet) for original ideas.

          The “great” sci-fi games like System Shock, STALKER and (maybe) Mass Effect get by with mediocre settings and stories (by literature standards), because they immerse the player in a 1st or 3rd person view with high production values. An isometric turn-based RPG depends much more on good writing.

          • mukuste says:

            I don’t know where you’re coming from, but STALKER has a fantastic and highly unique setting. Its source material was rich enough to inspire one of the all-time greats of cinema (Tarkovsky) to make a film about it (which I highly recommend btw).

          • CookPassBabtridge says:

            Im always amazed that the whole roadside picnic / stalker / soviet technological mysticism thing hasn’t been strip mined yet. I could hoover it up for years.

          • malkav11 says:

            Well, firstly, you should play some of the old Legend and Infocom games, particularly Legend’s Gateway games and Infocom’s A Mind Forever Voyaging and Circuit’s Edge. But secondly, you’re certainly not going to get games as exciting as those science fiction novels if you limit them to treading in the footsteps of those novels instead of forging their own path.

          • Zenicetus says:

            “STALKER has a fantastic and highly unique setting.”

            Sure, but that’s my point. STALKER took only the setting from the Strugatsky’s original novel and turned it into a theme park shooter. It didn’t have the compelling plot arc and mystery of the original Roadside Picnic novel. It was “just” a shooter (a very good one!) in a unique environment. An RPG isn’t a shooter; it needs better writing.

            I’m not saying a game using a licensed IP should just recreate the storyline of the original work, but the writing in a sci-fi game should at least try to be the same quality as the best sci-fi novels. And I haven’t seen much of that, lately. We deserve better than the lazy writing in games like Mass Effect.

          • malkav11 says:

            What I’m saying is that if you’re just making a derivative work, even if it isn’t a straight up retelling of the original story that created the IP, that derivation is either going to rely on the original IP to prop it up (in which case you’re never going to get something as good as the original, because part of what made that special is its uniqueness and originality), or it’s going to be good in a way that has little or nothing to do with having the trappings of the IP, in which case it seems like kind of a waste to secure the IP and unnecessarily restricting to boot.

    • MrStones says:

      Yes, please god yes, I’d do terrible terrible things for a Obsidian original space sci-fi rpg (i.e. not star wars).

      My dream game would be no planet of hats aliens, no bloody space elves. Give it a western/frontier flavour and make it about people, factions and politics. Obsidian are one of the few dev’s I’d trust to really pull something like that off

      • The Ultimate Clone of The Ultimate Warrior says:

        So basically the unholy Antichrist like spawn of EvE and Firefly.

        That would be incredible.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      I’m fed up with most trad fantasy, space-opera sci-fi and zombies to be honest.

      What I would love to see (as I blabbered about in the last PoE post) is original weird fantasy. As that might be a hard sell, something World of Darkness inspired would be nice. Preferably some of the lesser explored areas, like being part of a werewolf pack patrolling the mundane world against an alien and hungry spirit world. Mages are cool, but the White Wolf version of them are probably overpowered and difficult to put in CRPG form, as much of their charm comes from their powers being pretty free-form and only limited by the creativity of the player.

      Though a game of gothic horror would be nice. Call of Cthulhu has a nice mood, but the plot in games tend to feel paper thin. “Oh, a murder to investigate? I’m sure it has nothing to do with cultist trying to summon elder gods. Like all the other times.” Perhaps inspiration could be taken from lesser known game worlds like “In Nomine” or “Kult”.

      A setting where power usually has a terrible prize, but you are forced into using it since your opponents use it.

      link to en.wikipedia.org

      link to en.wikipedia.org

      >Like Eternity has a big party size, but what happens if we render in close and have a smaller party? Make it more about the characters and less about the tactics?

      I’m totally up for that.

      • InternetBatman says:

        I’m not that crazy about Arkham horror. I still think there are some cool settings that could be done:

        Underwater. It’s criminal that the only great underwater games are Aquaria and Endless Ocean (and maybe Aquanox, which I haven’t played).
        A space game that’s not epic in scale. More Firefly than Starwars. Especially if its a spelljammer style sci-fi magic mix.
        Saga as a setting. I know they don’t want to do licensed stuff, but god that setting is awesome.
        Arabian Nights desert fantasy. I always thought it was a tragedy that NWN never went to Calimsham.
        Thief the isometric project.

        I would say Arcanum style steampunk, but honestly I can’t think of anything I would add to Arcanum.

        • Lars Westergren says:

          I like your ideas, IB. There are many real historical places that had art, cultures and mythologies that I thought could be good RPG settings too. Mesoamerican, Byzantium, the court of Versailles, Mamluk sultanate, Warring States period, Wiemar Berlin, etc etc.

          • InternetBatman says:

            I got a very vague impression of Byzantium from Age of Decadence. I would love to see a Mamaluk game. Expedition Conquistador has some cool Mesoamerican Elements, as did Secret of Gaia, and definitely Aztaka. Would love to see more.

            Also, I want to see aftermath of magical American Civil War or early 19th century ships on the Pacific. Or Maori exploring alien Islands as the first humans who’ve ever been there.

        • Emeraude says:

          It’s criminal that the only great underwater games are Aquaria and Endless Ocean (and maybe Aquanox, which I haven’t played).

          Ecco the Dolphin ?

        • RanDomino says:

          (no, that one does not count.)

          • InternetBatman says:

            It could be a great series too. I would love to chase down a Neogi slaver in an Efreeti bazaar.

      • Emeraude says:

        I wouldn’t trust anyone but the original writers with an In Nomine game – the American translation seems to have completely missed the fact that the original game was totally comical, totally tongue in cheek and often reaching the farcical (My favorite scenario must be the one shot in which you play angels trying to prevent a demon from becoming the new Miss France).

        I agree that the murder mysteries are overdone in CoC, but there are many great things to be done with the setting (check for example a scenario like Curse of the Yellow Sign – Digging for a dead god – though, yeah, it’s thoroughly a table top thing, I can’t see that being pulled in a single player game). Delta Green could be nice though…

        Thinking about it, if there’s one game from the White Wolf catalog I’d like to see Obsidian have a go at, it’s Wraith. Especially fitting for a Kickstarter, cause I don’t think the project would have any mass market appeal.

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          Phasma Felis says:

          I wouldn’t trust anyone but the original writers with an In Nomine game – the American translation seems to have completely missed the fact that the original game was totally comical, totally tongue in cheek and often reaching the farcical (My favorite scenario must be the one shot in which you play angels trying to prevent a demon from becoming the new Miss France).

          In Nomine wasn’t a translation of In Nomine Satanis/Magna Veritas, it was a different game loosely based on INS/MV; and it didn’t “miss the point,” it intentionally went for a different, more subtle and varied tone. I haven’t read or played INS/MV, since it’s never been translated into English that I’m aware of, but from what I’ve heard of it, In Nomine sounds like a much deeper and more interesting setting to run stories in. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with comedy RPGs, but if you’re looking for depth of story and gameplay, you don’t run Paranoia.

          Anyway, In Nomine had a scenario where you try to prevent a demon from becoming the Demon Prince of Rock’n’Roll, so there’s still room for dark humor there.

          (Mind you, they’d need to lose In Nomine‘s deeply shitty system. But according to Wikipedia, the d666 mechanic was actually brought over directly from INS/MV, so, um. Yeah.)

          • Emeraude says:

            I don’t know, the whole point of the original game *was* the humor.

            What I’ve seen of the Steve Jackson version kinda left me scratching my head… I still don’t get what they were trying to do, why they’d need too take the original game as a base for that (quoting you back, why would you take Paranoia as a base to make a serious game about living in tyrannical state ? Or Wraith to adapt the Nightmare Before Christmas ?) , and overall, what it brought to the table.

            I just don’t get it I guess.
            That being said, I didn’t know it was a re-imagining.

        • welverin says:

          “Thinking about it, if there’s one game from the White Wolf catalog I’d like to see Obsidian have a go at, it’s Wraith.”

          Do you think a crpg of the best unplayable rpg of all time would work?*

          Personally, I’d prefer Exalted, followed by Demon or Orpheus.

          *Yes, I’ve heard people refer to it that way.

          • Emeraude says:

            I find it fairly playable with the right crew. It’s just not something you want to play often or long in my opinion (though I’ve know people who played it literally like D&D in the world of the dead, in campaign form, with trips inside the Labyrinth to bring back soul-loot and all… well to each their own).
            Very suited for short burst.

      • Bart Stewart says:

        Open-world plus the Obsidian vibe sounds like something I would enjoy.

        There are a couple of Game Designers Workshop RPGs that could be a good fit (besides original IP, of course). One is Space: 1889 — think “Victorians in space.” It was steampunk before the word was invented, with both science fiction and weird horror easily encompassed.

        But I lust most emphatically for an Obsidianized open-world CRPG based on Traveller. A fairly indie multiplayer version was essayed a couple of years ago, but it didn’t do well. An Obsidian version would have more resources and experience applied to it, and presumably wouldn’t waste time on multiplayer.

        Happily, Marc Miller, the creator of Traveller, owns it now (as Far Future Enterprises). And he’s just released the (Kickstartered) fifth edition of Traveller that synthesizes previous rule sets, so there’s a shiny new version just waiting to be enCRPGed.

        Somebody hook these folks up with each other!

      • Jack Mack says:

        I’d like to see some medieval fantasy RPG stuff that’s as good and weird as the stuff I read from D&D bloggers.

        EG: link to goblinpunch.blogspot.com.au

    • Syra says:

      yes please, can they get wh40k or something? I’m quite sick of fantasy rpgs…

    • Nick says:

      I’d prefer something weird wild west. Like Deadlands, or a steampunky western or something like that.

      • GameCat says:

        “I’d prefer something weird wild west.”
        Stephen King’s goddamn DARK TOWER series open world RPG please. ;_;

      • Lemming says:

        +1 for Deadlands, but I would love to see them tackle something like Wraith: The Oblivion

        As an effectively dead license, I’m sure Whitewolf would be only too happy to give permission to use it, and it could very well end up being their ‘Torment’. Dark, gothic storytelling in the land of the dead? Hell. Yes.

    • Turkey says:

      Sure, as long as it’s not epic fantasy disguised as Sci-fi again.

    • Berserkben says:

      The Buck Rogers rpg’s from back in the day from SSI were pretty good, may be time for a reboot! (am I old?)

      • Lars Westergren says:

        It was pretty good! I am also old.

        • teije says:

          The CRPG Addict is playing the first Buck Rogers RPG right now – check out his blog is you’re feeling nostalgic.

    • Oozo says:

      Can’t they just make a The Secret World-single player RPG? I’m sure Funcom could use th money. Seriously, I’d love to see them do Contemporary Fantasy for a change.

      • welverin says:

        I’d love to see that, I was really interested in it, but it’s an MMO.

    • ffordesoon says:


    • Keyrock says:

      I’d be okay with sci-fi, preferably hard sci-fi, not space opera. Still, sci-fi has gotten played out a bit, though not nearly as played out as standard pseudo medieval Europe Tolkien-esque fantasy. There are so many great settings that have gone largely untouched by RPGs. How about a wild west RPG? Mythical India RPG? An Arabian Nights RPG? Native American mythology RPG? A Wuxia RPG?

      Wuxia would be my top choice. I love Wuxia so much. If Obsidian did a Kickstarter for a Wuxia RPG I would go broke throwing my money at them.

      • Wedge says:

        I loved the setting for Jade Empire so much, but would never trust Bioware to make another game in that series.

    • Tychoxi says:

      YES!. So much yes, hope to see you guys in the Obsidian forums when they start talking about the next game.
      Enough with elves and magic and dragons and all that! We need more RPG setting diversity.

    • kouru225 says:

      Sci Fi as opposed to Fantasy? Why don’t we mix the two. Yes we are both thinking the same thing: “DUNEDUNEDUNEDUNEDUNEDUNEDUNE”

  3. Shieldmaiden says:

    “Like Eternity has a big party size, but what happens if we render in close and have a smaller party? Make it more about the characters and less about the tactics?”

    I’ve never quite understood this line of thinking. Why does fewer characters have to mean less tactical? Just Google “sword fighting manuals” or something along those lines and you’ll see the vast array of moves available in melee combat, and they’re usually just showing a couple of blokes duelling. It just requires widening your melee horizons beyond “Hit other dude,” “Hit other dude really hard” and “Hit other dude not quite as hard, but more accurately” which most games boil down to.

    Imagine a turn-based RPG that treated melee combat like the fight scenes in the recent Sherlock Holmes movies.

    • FriendlyFire says:

      Animating all those moves is hard. Most likely you’d end up with a limited subset of animations and then all those moves would just be different stats on the same thing.

      • Shieldmaiden says:

        That’s a good point. It’s much easier to chuck in a few new spell effects for a wizard than it is to animate a wider range of fighting moves. It’s one of the often-overlooked things about The Witcher that I really appreciate.

    • mattevansc3 says:

      When people refer to “tactics” in gaming they aren’t referring to the combat mechanics but the focus.

      Tactics as a genre has a focus on larger, less personal squads fighting turn based and using them as the weapons as opposed to characters. Games like XCOM, Chess, Fire Emblem and Advance Wars are examples of the tactics genre.

      Games like Mass Effect, SWOTOR, Dragon Age, Torment, etc have smaller squads and a much more focused approach to treating the units as characters that are fleshed out and play role outside of combat.

      Of course Dragon’s Age employs a “Tactical” genre combat system and Fire Emblem employs some rpg elements with the units but its all about the focus.

      • Shieldmaiden says:

        Sorry, but I can’t say that I’ve ever encountered that usage of the word. Strategy games, yes. Tactics as the name of a genre, not so much. There’s also little to suggest that would be what he meant in the context of the piece.

        • mattevansc3 says:

          Its more used with Japanese games to denote the genre but it’s still used in western gaming culture. A strategy view is the World Map whereas the tactical view is the combat screen, normally turn and grid based.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I think more units means more interesting things happening with movement and position. That’s not to say other games are less complex, merely that more characters allows a different set of possibilities. With six characters it’s fare easier to have a more effective front line rather than a single aggro-magnet. You can risk having a weaker line for more mages or use rogues as harassers or off-tanks etc. A great example of this is that it’s hard to have a buff heavy character like a bard in four-person party.

      • Shieldmaiden says:

        Having more people is an easy way to make things more interesting from a positioning point of view, but in many ways that’s the easy approach, just because it’s tried and tested. Increasing fidelity with decreasing numbers of controllable characters/units is already commonplace in games, so it’s not a new concept. It seems that in party-based fantasy RPGs, the clever stuff gets left to spellcasters.

        Melee guys up front, rogues sneaking round the back and micro-manage the mages just seems a bit “been there, done that, bought the t-shirt +2.”

    • Keyrock says:

      I don’t think he meant that making the party size smaller has to mean less tactical, I think Feargus was implying making a much more story and character focused game, like Torment. It makes all the sense in the world. I mean, they have this fellow named Chris Avellone that works for them, he seems to know his way around storytelling and character development.

  4. daphne says:

    I love Obsidian, the games they make, and the values they stand for, with all my heart.
    With that in mind…

    But I think we have a good idea and we’ve kind of proven things with Eternity to a point..

    No. You have not proven anything with Eternity yet.

    • dufake says:

      True. Art would not convince me, but quest designs do.
      Skyrim’s sandbox world is not made by a small team, and we already have two Icewind Dales.

    • Noviere says:

      I feel like they still haven’t really shown much of anything, so I agree — they haven’t proven much at all to me.

      That’s not to say I’m not optimistic about the project though.

  5. PegasusOrgans says:

    I’m really terrified about the possibility of Obsidian trying to go back to Kickstarter now. I’ve seen projects with a ton of heart and creativity, maybe less experience and/or renown, but projects that deserved a chance still fail terribly. I don’t like the idea of seeing some grand, new ideas from Obsidian, only to have them torn away because of Kickstarter fatigue.

  6. Big Murray says:

    If they think that people want a Skyrim in Eternity’s engine, they’ve sorely misunderstood what people backed Eternity for. They backed it to get AWAY from things like Skyrim.

    • Hidden_7 says:

      Speak for yourself. I backed Eternity as well as Wasteland 2, and have hundreds of hours sunk into Skyrim (as well as Oblivion, Morrowind, Daggerfall, both modern Fallouts) and am eagerly awaiting TES VI. People can like more than one kind of thing.

      A open world style game in the Eternity iso engine sounds interesting, though not nearly as interesting as an Obsidian open world style game in the Eternity world. A big part (for me) of those open world games is the sense of being there that the first person perspective provides.

      Still, more opportunities for Obsidian to just go nuts with world building sounds a-ok to me, whatever form it eventually takes.

      • Big Murray says:

        Obsidian really don’t do world building though. The only game world they’ve ever built themselves was Alpha Protocol, which has a terribly generic and uninteresting world. Otherwise they’ve just made sequels of existing game worlds … most of them Bioware’s.

        • Hidden_7 says:

          Good point, however the stuff they’ve done with existing properties I’ve enjoyed, and shows an encouraging wrestling with constraints, and I’m liking what I’m seeing so far from the Eternity KS updates. A lot of the pitch for this seemed to be the excitement of finally getting let off the chain and doing a whole world of their creation.

          It might not work out, so I suppose I’d best reserve judgement before I start calling for “more of this,” but I’m optimistic.

        • malkav11 says:

          Alpha Protocol was a spy thriller set in the real world. There’s really no worldbuilding required there. All you need are interesting shady characters and plotting and I’d argue that it delivered on both in spades. I’ll grant that the other games have all had an existing setting to draw from, but I don’t think you can look at KOTOR II, New Vegas, NWN 2 (especially Mask of the Betrayer) or especially Dungeon Siege III and say that the most interesting elements of any of those games were provided by the existing IP. Hell, Dungeon Siege III has an insanely strong sense of history propelling the events of its story and the actions of its characters along and some remarkably rich worldbuilding and if any of that stuff was in evidence in the original Dungeon Siege I surely missed it.

        • Artea says:

          Contrary to popular belief, Bioware didn’t create D&D and Star Wars.

      • mattevansc3 says:

        But Skyrim isn’t the pinnacle of open world gaming, if anything its a low point that’s riding on the coat tails of Morrowind and Oblivion.

        An uninteresting world sparsely filled with repetitive fetch quests, unresponsive to the player’s action and allows the player very few opportunities to even influence the world in any meaningful way. Its the antithesis of the genre Obsidian is rejuvenating.

    • Cinek says:

      So true Big Murray.
      So true…

      But… well… they’re a huge developers working for equally huge publishers for years, so I don’t expect them to understand anything of that sorts.

      Just deliver promises you made with Eternity, and I won’t care about anything else you do, Obsidian.

    • Emeraude says:

      Personally I’m still trying to decipher what it is exactly they meant by that… Because from where I stand, Skyrim in PE’s engine would be what ? Fantasy Fallout 2 ? An Infinity Engine game with Bethesda like modding ?

      What does it mean from a gameplay standpoint ? From a product standpoint ?

    • Volcanu says:

      I think thats a bit harsh. Its not like they are talking about doing that in Eternity for starters.

      Secondly, for many people (myself included) the holy grail of crpgs would be somethign that manages to contain the interesting quests, writing and level design of those classic Infinity engine games with the freedom of exploration of an open world game.

      Doesn’t that sound good to you? I’m assuming your criticisms of Skyrim are the usual ones about the quests, locations and NPCs being too generic. Its a very tall order, but wouldnt it be worth SOMEONE trying to address these failings or would you rather nobody tried anything ambitious?

  7. ZombieRiot says:

    I was mightily excited by the idea of a classically styled open world RPG until he mentioned making it episodic.
    It might work if you made the main quest episodic and added some extra content around the world with every new episode, but the whole point, or at least the draw for me, of an open world is that it’s all there for you to discover.
    10-15 hours of gameplay for an open world game sounds not very satisfying to me, even if it’s just 10 bucks with the promise of more to come.
    I don’t know, I’ll have to hear more about their plans and let it sink in really.
    It’s doable, but open world and episodic doesn’t sound like a good combination to me.
    If it helps them get it done on the finance side, I will give them the benefit of the doubt though. It’s Obsidian afterall.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Hypothetically you could release a proper open world game, and then after that release the main quest as episodic DLC.

      I get the feeling that’s not what he was talking about though, and that “open world” is intended only in a very narrow, literalist sense.

    • JiminyJickers says:

      Yeah, I’m not particularly enthused by episodic content. All that would make me do is wait for the entire set to be released before I would even bother considering it.

  8. Viroso says:

    Urquhart’s (urqu)part

    Thank you, RPS.

  9. aliksy says:

    But I really didn’t like Skyrim…

    I guess it depends on what things he wants to take from it. I didn’t like the level scaling or the shallowness. There was a lot of shallowness, too. Most of the NPCs and quests were pretty meh. Most of the exploration was kind of meh, and rarely resulted in finding anything meaningful or useful (thanks, level scaling). Oh, and the combat was shit.

    • GameCat says:

      Skyrim is like chocolate filled with shit and wrapped with shiny paper.
      It looks neat on first glance, when you start playing it you can see some delicious chocolate and you’re sinking your teeth in it just to have taste of shit in your mouth after a while. The worst part of it it’s that it take some (way too much) hours to realize how bad this game really is.

      • Shieldmaiden says:

        Or, other people could actually like the game, finding something to appreciate in it that never appealed to you. I know it’s a radical concept, but I think I may be on to something.

      • drewski says:

        Skyrim’s like the biggest imaginable box chocolates – almost nobody will like all the flavours, but if you don’t like any, maybe you just don’t like that kind of chocolate.

  10. xsikal says:

    Skyrim seems very much the antithesis of an Obsidian game. I play Obsidian games for the story. Bethesda seems to already have cornered the market on story-less sandboxes.

    As such, I hope that’s not where they go with their second kickstarter. I’d much rather see something like a sci-fi rpg or a spiritual successor to Alpha Protocol, or even something in the world of darkness setting, if we’re talking licenses.

    • BarneyL says:

      Exactly, there’s no chance that an Obsidian twist on a Bethesda game such as Skyrim or Fallout 3 could turn out well.

  11. SevenShoggoths says:

    It seems unlikely they’d manage to wrangle the rights from Bethesda, but what I’d really like to see is another isometric Fallout game.

  12. botonjim says:

    It looks like this Urquhart fellow is mostly interested in using Kickstarter to cut off the publisher middleman… only to then chase the same modern RPG trends said publisher represents. Skyrim, episodic gaming, smaller party, ‘more about the characters than the tactics’… you name it.

  13. Whosi says:

    I just want Obsidian to keep making games. Ever since Fallout Feargus has been able to count on my money.

  14. ColCol says:

    Whole lot of nothing. RPS is becoming skilled at creating click bait material.

  15. Commissar Choy says:

    Is it KOTOR 3!? Please let it be KOTOR 3 ;_;

    • Lars Westergren says:

      It’s not Kotor 3. Licensing Star Wars would be far too expensive.

      • Ande says:

        They could develope a game for/with EA though, who already have the license. But that isn’t a lot more likely.

  16. CaptainDeathbeard says:

    “It’s certainly an intriguing thought, practically a missing link in the RPG food chain. What would’ve happened if CRPGs stayed in the Infinity Engine mold, but pumped resources into size, scope, ambition, and sandboxy-ness instead of graphical fidelity and cinematics? What would the genre have become?”


  17. InternetBatman says:

    Nathan really oversold this in the last article.

  18. morrolan says:

    “What would’ve happened if CRPGs stayed in the Infinity Engine mold, but pumped resources into size, scope, ambition, and sandboxy-ness instead of graphical fidelity and cinematics? ”

    Yes please, I’m throwing money at my screen………

  19. Tuco says:

    Just give me a new Darklands.

  20. pakoito says:

    So they want to make Divinity: Original Sin?

  21. Werthead says:

    ” “There’s something we’re talking about that I think would be really cool, but it’s not an original property,” he says. “It’s a licensed property” ”

    I would be surprised if he wasn’t talking about the WHEEL OF TIME RPG. Obsidian agreed to do it over 3 years ago and have been waiting for the licence holders, Red Eagle, to provide funding. Because Red Eagle are famously inept, they haven’t managed to do so, despite somehow wrangling a distribution deal with EA (but one that didn’t require them to fund the game, a very bizarre deal it has to be said). However, Red Eagle did give a smaller company permission to try to do a mobile and tablet game last year via Kickstarter. This was an unmitigated disaster, raising only $3,000 out of a $450,000 target:

    link to thewertzone.blogspot.co.uk

    My guess is that Red Eagle have seen how ETERNITY have done and gone to Obsidian to suggest doing the proper WoT RPG this way as well. The combination of Obsidian’s fanbase, people keen for another old-skool RPG and the WoT fanbase could see such a project funded quite handily.

    • tormos says:

      Oh man that would be sweet. I remember playing the old terrible WOT RPG when I was a kid before I’d read any of the books. It was… confusing

  22. Ghoulie says:

    Well. That was disappointing after the wait.
    I might skip their next KS/

    • Lars Westergren says:

      It’s your money to do what you want with of course, but isn’t it a bit early to decide? We don’t even know what it is yet.

      • Ghoulie says:

        I guess it is, but I’m really not into the idea of KSing an episodic Skyrim anything. And I really love Obsidian.
        I guess I should hold judgment until I see the pitch.

  23. Juza says:

    KOTOR 3 please, with a 10m kickstarter you will have plenty to throw at EA…

    • Lars Westergren says:

      And very little left to make an actual game with once they are done throwing, most likely.

      What would happen if EA said no? Look at how popular Subutai became once the money ran out and no publisher was interested in their pitch for Clang.

      • S Jay says:

        Unfair to compare seasoned Obsidian with Subutai crazy novices developing revolutionary tech.

    • S Jay says:

      …but yeah, KOTOR 3 would be the best thing they could make.

  24. tsff22 says:

    I would KILL for an Elder Scrolls game written by Obsidian.

  25. Saltyaubergine says:

    Make Darklands. Sci-Fi is good and all, but Fantasy is just better.

    • Bart Stewart says:

      Not that far a stretch since Darklands already had isometric combat.

      I wouldn’t mind seeing that game with a fresh coat of paint.

  26. TRoar says:

    I think they can’t go wrong if they stick with what they’re good at. The IE games are still amongst my favorite games, and I still play them. The variety of the worlds (Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale and Planscape) is what has kept me coming back to them all these years, Planescape being the standout.

    If they’re going to do more fantasy, then I’d like to see something different, like D&D’s Dark Sun.

  27. imhotep says:

    “Where we are with our conversation, quest, data editors, and all of that. If we were careful about scope and let Chris Avellone go wild with creating a new world, more of an open world, what could we do?”

    It’s about time for that, isn’t it? There’s Torment and Infinity-engine games, but there’s also a new Avellone-game to make.

  28. Strange Brew says:

    A Sandman RPG.

    Hell, a Sandman anything.

  29. araczynski says:

    just want to get it on the record; I despise episodic gaming. hopefully they release a game, not a carrot on a stick.

  30. teije says:

    I would like to to see a RPG based in the Elric world by Moorcock. Dark, end times, multi-dimensional fantasy.

  31. CookPassBabtridge says:

    As we’re writing a wishlist, A new RPG set in the Hitchhikers Guide universe would be fun

  32. drewski says:

    Still not ever backing a second KS until the first one delivers the product. But hey, GL to them.

  33. Stevostin says:

    Skyrim huge quality is immersion. There is no such a thing with isometric view or even team based controles.
    Open world isometric ? It’s just Baldur with more side quest and optional areas. The Skyrim ref sounds like bs to me.

    I would like someone to do a skyrim clone, thus, but more Skyrim than Skyrim is. IE remove main quest, and make it clear there absolutely nothing else to do that to choose your own path.

    • hfm says:

      You might want to check out Frontiers on KS. More exploration themed in the same vein.

  34. hfm says:

    I know it’s so close in thematic elements to D&D, but I’d love to see them do something with the Pathfinder license.

  35. joedpa82 says:

    I WANT MY ALPHA PROTOCOL. Or at least a spiritual successor of AP. Damn it. Now i have to fire AP once again because i always fail to rescue Ming Na.

  36. joedpa82 says:

    With how GW throws away their IP in games I’m actually surprised Obsidian is not interested in a WH40K RPG. I wish for a good WH40K rpg before i die.

  37. S Jay says:

    Please don’t episode us.

  38. Felixader says:

    Hi um, i really care for the setting of your future game (well i will care but that is not the point).
    The Battlesystem is what i want to talk about. How about someone recreates the battlesystem from Grandia 2, please?
    It had the EXACT right mixture of positioning, real time and round (phase) based and tactic play where you had to “think on your feet”.

    I just want someone to recreate that!

  39. Kefkas Laugh says:

    I registered on this site to comment on this story as I am literally soiling myself with glee. The idea of an open world isometric game by obsidian has me all warm and tingly. If it ends up being from a licensed IP I would absolutely kill for Dark Sun even though I know it will never, ever happen. Or Pathfinder. That would be sweet.

    In summary: Dark Sun Dark Sun Dark Sun Dark Sun Dark Sun Dark Sun.

  40. manny says:

    They could go all the way and just sell their unity RPG tools in the asset store for anyone to use for non commercial purposes
    If the game is good enough they could cut a deal to release the game commercially.