Chris Avellone Blog Q&A

The one-and-only Chris Avellone brings us a new Q&A update to his Obsidian blog, and this time he explains the interaction that occurs between different types of designers, the advantages of working with your own internal engine, the work that goes into getting a game translated into multiple languages, and more. One of five questions that he answers:
4/If I'm right, Obsidian Entertainment is a «studio-for-hire». How does that type of structure work with game editors? Are there many studios out there that choose this way of working?

You're correct, we're often asked by publishers to develop titles, and are paid on a milestone-by-milestone basis. In the past, we would use other game editors (Knights of the Old Republic 2 used Knight 1's editor, for example, Alpha Protocol used Unreal), and we modify those editors as needed to make the product. Right now, we are using our own tools and engine, Onyx, we developed for Dungeon Siege 3 and using that in all our future projects (South Park and another undisclosed project).

In the best case scenario, having your own internal engine makes things easier for everyone - including getting contracts signed. Publishers often appreciate not having to do the hassle of licensing someone else's engine if the studio they're working with already has something tailored to the game and the internal studio pipelines (as an example, our current conversation editor incorporates everything our narrative designers wanted to have, and it makes writing dialogue much, much easier for everyone involved, from the designers, to audio, to localization).