Project Eternity Interview

Rock, Paper, Shotgun is offering an interview with Obsidian's creative director Chris Avellone on Project Eternity which touches on subjects such as the Infinity Engine inspirations of the title, the perils of nostalgia-fueled game design, dialogue mechanics and a lot more. Here's an excerpt:
RPS: Why opt for a fantasy setting? I mean, gaming has quite a few of them. How will you set your mythology apart as opposed to simply being another world of orcs and elves and dwarves and totally-not-hobbits?

Avellone: The type of races and concept art that's been revealed for Eternity we hope display our commitment to showcasing seemingly-traditional races with unusual gear and traits including the fact our women characters wear. appropriate armor. In addition to the more easily recognizable races, we have a number of specialized races as well, including the god-touched races and even more unusual races we intend to unveil later. In addition, the technology level and the concept of souls puts a further twist on the races and classes of the world in an interesting way.

RPS: Black Isle's RPGs included all sorts of amazing, totally optional details. For instance, I always got a kick out of Fallout 2'²s idiot dialogue options and how much thought went into that system. Will Project Eternity have any surprises along those lines?

Avellone: Yes, we want to examine the dialogue mechanics, and one thing we're going to do is low-intelligence options either based on Intelligence or a trait and have the sequences play out differently according to the player's intellect. As a narrative designer, I enjoy writing interactions like that, and I had a blast with the stupid options in F2 in Vault City and New Reno.

RPS: That was pretty innovative for its time, come to think of it. Meanwhile, Kickstarter seems to be ruled by nostalgia these days, and I feel like Obsidian's a perfect example of why it could be a problem. On one hand, you're making a very intriguing game. On the other, Obsidian's created some truly innovative and forward-thinking features in games like Alpha Protocol. Does this trend put progress on hold? Is it dangerous for everyone to be indulging in nostalgia like this?

Avellone: Innovative concepts don't need to be tied to modern blockbusters or to nostalgia. While RPGs have lost some mechanics over the years in their transition phases from PC to console, there's plenty of innovative elements you can do in old school nostalgia games for example, low intelligence options were pioneered in Fallout, and that didn't require any special tech whatsoever. It just required the Fallout team to think it up and put it into practice.

Fallout really opened my design eyes to the possibilities of a mechanics-driven dialogue system that reacted to your attributes, skills, gear, and more. We'd like to continue that tradition, and it's easier to do when everything's not voice-acted and super expensive for every line you have to fight for.