Saturday, September 15, 2012

Obsidian, Kickstarter, and the bright future of gaming

I'm very happy.

At the time I'm writing this on the 15th of September, less than 24 hours since it was unveiled, Obsidian's new Kickstarter-funded game called Project Eternity has not yet reached the $1.1 million of pledges that it requires to receive its funding. But it will. There's no doubt about that. It has raised 87% of that goal so far, in less than a day.

The game will be an isometric, realtime-with-pause RPG in a similar style as the Infinity Engine games, such as the Baldur's Gate series, the Icewind Dale series, and Planescape: Torment. This is exactly what I foresaw in my bright future when I saw the Wasteland 2 project, and why I was so happy to see it happening. The genre is being reborn!

I'm also pleased by what I hear in their pitch video. Free from the restrictions of the publishers and IP holders, which they say is the reason they could not include mature themes and content, they're looking forward to making an M-rated game (aka PEGI-18). I wholeheartedly approve. It will be extremely refreshing to see more games in a fantasy setting that aren't restricted to child-friendly content.

I have only two concerns. One is that since it will be a new, original IP, it might not have the amount of depth, detail, and variety as licensed properties. I saw that in Bioware's move from D&D to their original Dragon Age setting. I really want a complex, detailed, and difficult game. Obsidian has good, creative people, though. Some of the best in the genre, in fact! So I think there's reason to be optimistic that they can create not only a solid, detailed fantasy world, but also a solid ruleset that'll satisfy fans of those Infinity Engine games.

And with their emphasis on mature content, I'd like to think they won't treat us gamers like the fragile-egoed children that publishers seem to think we are, making games so easy they've become hardly worth playing. A casualty of the crass pursuit of the mass market. Not so with a project like this, where they can focus on a hardcore niche audience.

The other thing is not so much a concern, but a small disappointment. I wish it would be turn-based rather than realtime-with-pause. RWP has always been a compromise -- better than nothing, but with its own problems and annoyances (wizards having to "lead" their AoE spells, for instance, or trying to wrangle the actions of a full party of characters who are all acting at the same time).

Still, it's better than pure realtime. I'd guess that decision was made to ensure that all the Infinity Engine fans were strongly on board, but with the phenomenally fast funding (it's gone up to 88% in the short time I've been writing this), they probably could have taken the chance. I notice that they list the Temple of Elemental Evil in the credits of the works of some of their members, which has the most detailed turn-based RPG engine I've ever seen.

At least Wasteland 2 will be turn-based. And with the assured success of this game, I look forward to a future project -- a party-based, fantasy-themed, turn-based, isometric RPG. So far we've gotten two games with 3 out of 4 of those elements each! Not bad at all! The future is bright for gaming!


  1. Wow. I never thought a company like Obsidian would seek funding through Kickstarter. Looks like they're turning indie.

    I've always felt that the decision to keep NWN2 player characters so heavily clothed that you can't even see their hands was a stupid one. I was happy that Dragon Age: Origins had no constraints of that sort, and I hoped that the silly decision makers behind NWN2 realized that it is possible to make a mature-themed game that sells strongly.

    As of this time, OEI has already reached their funding goal. I wish them the best of luck in their new venture. With strong designers helming their project, I'm sure that Lady Luck will be on their side.

    1. I, too, was displeased with the wardrobe design of NWN2, but I see that as a consequence not only of the trend toward the Disneyfication of what has classically been an earthy, sexually-charged genre, but also the unfair and poorly understood media hype around such things as the GTA Hot Coffee scandal and the Oblivion nude mode scandal, which occurred around the same time as NWN2.

      Given what they've said in their pitch video, as well as given the success of The Witcher 2, I'm pretty confident they won't restrict themselves in that way again. :)