Project Eternity Interview

GamesIndustry is offering a post-Kickstarter interview with Obsidian's creative director Chris Avellone on Project Eternity, which touches on subjects such as the "Kickstarter phenomenon", their early plans for the Eternity universe, mature content, how they're approaching communication and more.

Here's a snip:
Q: There will be a lot of communication with backers after the Kickstarter ends, won't there?

Chris Avellone: You have to jump on that too. You can't suddenly vanish after the Kickstarter takes place. You have to have updates ready to go; not the same intensity of communication, or frequency, but let people know what's going on with updates, have somebody manning the forums, answering questions, compiling issues that people are asking about and then addressing them on a regular basis.

I talk to a lot of people about various Kickstarter projects, and one of the things they look for is 'Can we get more community support members? Do you know anybody we can hire to help out with that?' There is so much management that you have to do for tracking all the questions people have, getting back to people in the community, handling all the press stuff that comes in. A lot of Kickstarter projects aren't equipped to handle that level of traffic at that intensity. Usually they have a very, very small team, and the project itself isn't a big project, so every staff member costs - it's rough.

Q: You don't want to take your programmer and designer time and devote that to answering questions?

Chris Avellone: Well, a certain percentage you might want to do that, because I think there are two advantages to doing that. One is, I think it's always good for any particular developer to interface directly with the community and see what they're talking about. It also ends up being morale boosting, in the sense that programmers don't often get the chance to talk with the community; publishers don't often throw a programmer out there and discuss those things. Now we can, and I think it's good for any programmer that wants to do that. One of our AI guys, Steve Weatherly, he's actually been our main contact guy through Reddit and getting that whole process organized, and he's been out there talking to people. He's really happy doing it, and he never had an opportunity to do something like that before. For people that want to do that I'd like to give them that opportunity because I think it keeps them grounded.

Q: You do have to have a level of trust that people aren't going to say something wrong or give a bad impression, don't you?

Chris Avellone: Yeah, but I think a lot of the folks that we have are pretty level-headed. I'll be honest, over time we're going to say something wrong, but at the same time I don't feel like it's going to get the god-hammer coming down from the publisher to obliterate us. If it ends up being wrong in the sense that the players didn't like the decision, or they didn't like some aspect of the design, then at least you know it and it's out there and you can fix it. As opposed to finding out in the six months before release, when changing it is going to be pretty expensive at that point, even if they do want it. Fortunately those instances have been pretty rare for us, but I hear horror stories.