GB Feature: Dungeon Siege III Interview

I'll be jumping over to my Deus Ex: Human Revolution interview tomorrow, but today I leave you with a hefty Q&A that I conducted with Dungeon Siege III project director Rich Taylor during my time in Irvine. An excerpt, as usual:
GB: In your opinion, what makes the Onyx engine perfect for a game like Dungeon Siege III? What are the strengths of the Onyx engine?

Rich: The reason we decided to make our own technology was because RPGs are a different beast than a lot of different types of games. There's a lot of data, a lot of class abilities, creature and loot tables, and things like that. And we really wanted make an engine that catered well to that - something that let our designers do a lot of the work without having to wait in line for a programmer to have time to add or modify this or that. The designer can just go in there and manipulate it.

An example of something that we have in place in the engine is class abilities that each of the classes have access to. [Our designers] can open up a tool that lets them attach visual effects at different points in a timeline, or produce damage here or there. This attack should hit three enemies. This one shoots three projectiles. They just toggle a flag - all that stuff is right there in the tool for them.

As soon as they want to do something that isn't in there yet, we're just like, "Oh, okay; well let's work on getting support into the engine for that." And they can tweak and tune and adjust those things working with the animators and the visual effects artists. So it really catered well to the type of game we were making.

We also have things like our dialogue editor, which is perfect for the type of dialogues we write. It shows the dialogue tree, and because we always have these branching dialogues in an Obsidian title where the player can make so many different choices, having editors that cater specifically to that is the kind of thing we were looking for.

So those are a lot of the advantages of working on it. It's a lot of data-driven systems that let designers iterate quickly. And systems like quest and missions and the dialogue system all cater very well to Dungeon Siege III.