I can't help but think that the future of the PC role-playing game is brighter than it's ever been when I stop by the Project Eternity Kikcstarter campaign and see that it's nearly tripled its original $1.1 million funding goal with two full days to go. Here's to hoping the publishers who have no interest in funding an RPG that isn't filled with "visceral action" stand up and pay attention.
But there are 47 hours left as of this writing, and I'd love nothing more than to drive that message home even further. So to fuel the crowdfunding energy even further and glean a few more details about the game at the same time, I fired off a second set of questions to Obsidian Entertainment's Josh Sawyer and Feargus Urquhart. The bevy of answers can be found below, but you may also want to check out our first interview and consider participating in our "Immortalized!" promotion for even more Eternity goodness:
Buck: You've stated that you're taking an open world approach with the game, but will there be some areas where a more linear design makes more sense? When do you think a linear approach makes the most sense?
Josh: I'd like to avoid linear sequences whenever possible, but there are usually a few choke points the player will have to go through even in open games. For example, you have to get the water chip and deal with the Master in Fallout. There are a lot of ways to actually do those things, but you can't avoid dealing with them in some way. That's as "linear" as I'd like to get.
Buck: How do you intend to integrate challenging, tactical, and ultimately rewarding battles within Project Eternity without requiring long resting periods between each fight? And what are your thoughts on regeneration and early access to character resurrection?
Josh: I think that capturing the dungeon-delving feeling of the Icewind Dale games and many tabletop AD&D adventures means that there should be both strategic considerations and tactical considerations in exploration and combat. To me, that means that there's some level of upfront resource planning going on as well as a moment-to-moment consideration of "is it worth spending Resource X now or should I save it for later?" I.e. a tactical consideration can also be a strategic consideration if resources are part of a running series of battles (as most dungeons are).
However, I don't think all resources need to be per-rest, only the more powerful ones at a character's disposal. For casters, this means shifting slightly away from the AD&D/3E paradigm of most spells being linked to a per-rest spell count. Within a battle, there should be tactical considerations to using any spell, and we don't want resources to be spam-able, but a caster's base abilities will likely not require a full rest to recover.
As for regeneration, I'd like to experiment with handling health in a manner somewhat similar to the 1992 RPG Darklands. Characters have two health resources: Stamina and Health. Proportionally, the character takes much more Stamina damage from an attack than Health damage. Stamina recovers relatively quickly on its own (and with the aid of magic) but Health damage requires rest. If a character hits 0 Stamina, he or she will go unconscious. If a character hits 0 Health, he or she dies.
This sort of a system provides a buffer for characters so they can be temporarily defeated in combat without being brought to the verge of death every time. Similarly, allowing a character to recover to full Stamina over a short period of time does nothing to help his or her Health, so walking around with full Stamina and low Health would be extremely dangerous.
As far as resurrection goes, Project Eternity will not have any form of in-game resurrection. Healing magic of any sort is extraordinarily rare in this world and resurrection would pull at the fabric of the mortal reincarnation cycle. However, we may include an option to turn off permanent character death. Naturally, this would be disabled in Expert Mode.
Buck: Can you give us a better understanding of how skills will be performed and function within the game world? Will there be cooldowns associated with many of them, and how many factors will be taken into consideration when determining success and failure?
Josh: For non-combat skills, we want every skill to have both a systematic application and the ability to develop scripted interactions. For example, we may have a Mechanics skill that covers picking locks. Lockpicking is a more-or-less standard interaction. Either your Mechanics skill is high enough to pick it without any resource (lockpick) cost or you fall short. If you fall short within a small enough margin, you can spend lockpicks to pick the lock anyway. We may allow the Mechanics skills of other party members to marginally contribute to the overall cost, but otherwise the interaction is standardized every time you find a lock.
However, we may put some sort of crazy mechanical apparatus in a level that the player can interact with to accomplish a variety of goals. This will also allow the party to use their Mechanics skills, but the manner of interaction can be narrated through text and handled in a way that's scripted very specifically.