Having been let in on the Project Eternity Kickstarter secret a little early, it's with great exuberance that I bring you the very first details on the isometric, party-based, IE-influenced RPG through yet another publisher-free chat I was able to have with Obsidian Entertainment CEO Feargus Urquhart. Get your money ready:
Buck: What sort of style and play experience are you hoping to achieve with Project Eternity? What is it about the game's premise and engine (with two-dimensional painted backgrounds!) that wouldn't fit into a traditional developer/publisher arrangement?
Feargus: We absolutely want to bring back what was great about the Infinity Engine games. While we plan to improve some things based upon what we think fans of the older games expect now-a-days (like the interface), Project Eternity is going to play and feel like an Infinity Engine game.
When it comes to not fitting into the traditional developer/publisher arrangement, it is probably going to sound like we are giving publishers a really bad rap. In some ways that’s true, but in other ways – this kind of project is just not one that fits in the traditional model. The big publishers are built around making games that cost millions of dollars to make, millions of dollars to promote and market and millions more to build the units that get shipped to stores. Their organizations are built around that model. To make the same amount of revenue on games like Project Eternity, they would have to ship hundreds of games a year instead of ten or twenty. They are just not built that way. Plus, with Kickstarter, Steam and social media – we can fund, distribute and promote our games entirely ourselves. In a way, we just don’t need them for a game like Project Eternity.
Buck: Will you be going with a similar "real-time with pause" combat system that was present in the IE titles? What do you feel are the advantages, disadvantages, and challenges of implementing such a combat system?
Feargus: Personally, I have always loved the real-time pause system other than when we first had to have the conversation with TSR / Wizards of the Coast about how every person or creature was on their own individual round in combat. That all eventually turned out fine and the D&D team was always extremely supportive particularly when we moved Icewind Dale 2 over from 2nd Edition to 3rd Edition. There were a ton of conversations about how to make sure the way that the Infinity Engine did magic could stay true enough to the rules.
I probably digressed a bit there, didn’t I? The system itself (real-time with pause) works great for robust RPG systems that have a lot of moving parts and encourage the player to not just throw their characters at the enemy, but to think tactically. I always love the big battles in Baldur’s Gate 2 – the felt like puzzles that I had to crack in order to win with a minimum of casualties on my side.
As for disadvantages – that’s a tough one to answer. I think there is some feeling that taking some RPG systems that are designed as turn based and putting them into a real-time with pause system losses something in the translation. A lot of that has to do with timing and the fact that things don’t happen simultaneously in those systems. Pure turn based does let combat play out in a more like chess like way – which can definitely be fun. However, since we are designing Project Eternity from the start to use a real-time with pause system, we can avoid some of the translation issues that can happen when taking a table top game into that arena.
To help ensure that Project Eternity winds up funded and to immortalize GameBanshee and its audience within gaming history (the banshee could be represented in the game!), we've created a ChipIn page to raise money toward one of the top level pledge tiers within the project. If you've enjoyed any of the news, interviews, reviews, previews, editorials, walkthroughs, and other content we've provided over the last 12+ years, please consider donating to the cause!