Project Eternity Interview

Eschalon: Book II

Publisher:Paradox Interactive
Developer:Obsidian Entertainment
Release Date:2015-03-26
  • Role-Playing
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • Third-Person
Buy this Game: Amazon ebay
Buck: Why did you feel it was important to add early firearms to the game and how integral will they be to the tactics employed by a typical character party?

Josh: I didn't necessarily feel that firearms were important, but I wanted the world to feel like it was more technologically advanced in some (but not all) ways than a standard fantasy setting. I had an early idea that firearms would be interesting in a setting where warfare included dealing with enormous beasts and magic, meaning that their single-shot potency at range was not as much of a "game changer" in mass combat as it was in Earth's history. Having a reload time that's more than three times as long as a crossbow is important when you're being charged by something twice the size of a human that's moving at 30mph.

We will have to experiment with firearms to see how integral they are to strategic loadouts and what their different tactical applications are. I want them to feel similar to historical firearms: inaccurate, powerful, and slow to reload, but I want them to be a real choice compared to other ranged weapons. It comes back to the high-level design goal: if we're including something in the game, it needs to be a viable option, not a marginal gimmick or no-brainer.

Buck: How important will currency be in the game, and what steps are you taking to ensure that there are enough money sinks to keep it important from start to finish?

Josh: I think currency is really interesting and it says a lot about the state of the world and the cultures in it. My interest is not necessarily shared by everyone, so I don't know how important individual currencies will be. What we use as money sinks will depend in part on how our stretch goals turn out. We already have a player house and that can be a good money sink. If the stronghold is funded at $3 million, that can be a huge money sink. Additionally, some crafting options and the Adventurer's Hall can serve as money sinks.

Buck: Was the vast cross-platform support of Unity the main reason why you chose to develop the game with it instead of Onyx? Do you anticipate using the Onyx engine for any future games beyond South Park?

Josh: Cross-platform support was important as was its general flexibility. We were able to prototype a lot of ideas very quickly, which is fantastic. I don't know what the future of Onyx is like, but we're still using some of our internal Onyx tools on Project Eternity. Our tools programmers have hooked up our string and conversation editors to work with Unity, which is enormously valuable for us.

Buck: Have you put any consideration into the UI yet? Aside from the Infinity Engine games, has the UI from any other titles inspired the direction you're taking the interface in Project Eternity?

Josh: We have. The Infinity Engine games' UIs did a good job of feeling like they were part of the world, but they had a lot of scaling issues. By Icewind Dale II, we had worked out most of the functional issues and I think a lot of people enjoyed having most of the major options at the bottom of the screen. But there's still a lot that could be improved.

The other big source of inspiration has been Temple of Elemental Evil, since that had an elegant UI that managed to handle a huge spectrum of D&D spells and abilities. I've also looked again at the UI for Dark Sun: Shattered Lands, since that had some nice context-sensitive UI elements that kept the screen mostly clear of icons while exploring. Finally, I've always liked Darklands' method of handling special interactions in the world, using a simple "ink" and "watercolor"-style image with descriptive text, almost like a mini choose-your-own-adventure.

Buck: How long before the game releases do you anticipate having a beta version available to those backers who pledged enough, and will there be multiple phases of testing?

Josh: I really can't say. It depends on when we target our alpha and how the alpha goes. Personally, I'd like to do two phases of beta testing but we'll have to wait and see how things go.

Buck: What are your thoughts on add-ons for Project Eternity? Given the time and resources, would you prefer to release several bite-sized DLCs or one major expansion pack? Would any future additions be funded through Kickstarter or would they be developed using the proceeds from sales of the main game?

Josh: After we finish Project Eternity, we're planning to develop an expansion pack in the vein of Tales of the Sword Coast, Heart of Winter, and Trials of the Luremaster. We'd prefer to use the sales of the main game to fund development of the expansion.

Buck: What are your plans for supporting the Project Eternity community up to and beyond its release? Have you considered the possibility of releasing any content-inducing patches or even a toolset of some kind?

Josh: Our testing and beta processes will minimize the need for patches, but we like to support the longevity of our products. We recently made an update on what our plans are regarding mods. We've partnered with the Nexus Network to host mods. Additionally, we will be releasing file format information and leaving a lot of our data tables open for easy modification.

Buck: I know that Obsidian Entertainment owns the Icewind Dale franchise assets and that you've approached publishers in the past about the prospect of pursuing Icewind Dale III. Given the success of your Project Eternity Kickstarter, what are the odds that we may yet see an ID3 in the near future, crowd-funded or not? Hypothetically, what direction would you take a third entry in the series?

Feargus: You are correct, we approached Atari a number of times about doing Icewind Dale 3. We hope that with the success of Project Eternity that it might be possible to talk to Hasbro / Wizards of the Coast about those games again. However, our focus right now is Project Eternity. We would not want to start working on something like IWD3 soon, since we don't want anything to compromise Project Eternity at all. If we were to do IWD3, I think we would continue the focus of what the IWD series was all about a great dungeon crawling counterpoint to Baldur's Gate and Torment.

Buck: Thanks for your time, guys!

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