Obsidian Entertainment Community Q&A, Part Four

It appears that the fourth and last installment of the community Q&A with Dungeon Siege III's lead designer Nathaniel Champan on the Obsidian blog doesn't deal as much with the hack'n'slash title, focusing more on things like RPG design, whether it's possible that Neverwinter Nights 2 will get ported to console, and even Nathaniel's own experience with Morrowind. Here's a sampling:
Bos_hybrid asked: Why do you think there is a lack of horror RPGs? And would you be interested in making one?

Horror RPGs are tough because one of the things that makes something terrifying is our reaction to things that are unknown and that we don't think we can deal with. On the flipside, RPGs generally follow a power fantasy arc where things may be scary at first but as you defeat them, you become more powerful and they lose their ability to frighten you. Making an enemy or enemies that remain scary in the long term throughout a game while maintaining the core RPG power fantasy is very tricky. I think there are a few games that have done a pretty good job at taking steps to merge the two (System Shock 2 is probably the best example I can think of) but I haven't really seen a standout example yet.


Tale asked: Obsidian's interesting to me in that they've done a wide variety of types of RPGs. KOTOR 2 and Neverwinter Nights 2 were the more traditional party based affairs. Alpha Protocol was a solo cinematic style. New Vegas is open world and sandbox. Dungeon Siege III was more hack and slash. Does each style of RPG provide a unique challenge in comparison? If so, what new challenges did Dungeon Siege III present?

Every game presents unique challenges, some of which relate to the actual game itself, some relate to the business aspects of the project (like the budget and the timeframe of releasing the game) and some have to do with the team developing the game. Obviously there are other challenges that are pretty common to many games, but I'll focus on the unique ones here.

From my perspective, DS3'²s biggest unique challenges were:
'¢ Development of a new engine from the ground up, including all of the development tools, pipelines, assets, etc. that go along with it.
'¢ Creating enough content to satisfy players while simultaneously developing the engine and tools mentioned above.
'¢ Creating a high quality melee action combat system.
'¢ Developing a satisfying RPG system from the ground up.
'¢ Finding how to execute a polished, high-quality game within the timeframe required and where to make the cuts necessary to ensure that the game was as good as possible.

There were other challenges that we faced in developing DS3, but those I think were really the core challenges that defined the project. I think overall we did well given the realities of the circumstances of production, but there were some things I definitely acknowledge we could have done better. That's just being realistic, though I'm sure if you ask any self-aware developer that, they'll admit there are things they could have done better.