Project Eternity Interview

Chatting with PC Gamer at GDC, Chris Avellone discussed Torment: Tides of Numenera, Fallout: New Vegas and Wasteland 2, but the meatiest and most noteworthy part of the interview, in my humble opinion, deals with Obsidian's own crowd-funded title, Project Eternity. Here's a snip:
Speaking of the story, how does the process work when you've got so much writing to fill in all the little cracks of this big, open world?

Eternity has been different from our other projects. With our other projects, we haven't had quite the luxury to have this sort of process. So generally, on our previous projects, a project director would sort of set up the overall vision for the game. In terms of, here's the overall mechanics I'm looking for. Here's the overall feel that I want the player to have. And then what we call a creative lead kind of holds the torch for the storyline. What he'll do is do a few takes on the storyline, let everyone in the studio offer feedback on that particular storyline, and then we iterate on that until we feel solid about it.

And then we divide that story up into chunks amongst the designers. (Hey, you develop this area and these characters. You develop this companion, you develop that companion.) On Eternity, it's been a little different because Josh Sawyer set up the vision, the feel he's looking for, and then every designer had a chance to sort of do their own take on what the storyline was like, and we picked and chose from there. Even Josh did a take on the storyline, as well. So it's been a lot different, and we're really enjoying the process.

How many writers do you have working on Eternity altogether?

Just about all of our designers are writers, too. In terms of full-time narrative designers, I think there are only two. There's me and then there's George Zeits, who's also doing work on the Torment: Tides of Numenera project. But we're pretty much the only two full-time narrative designers, although we do expect to have more in the future once we ramp up production.


You mentioned the different cultures. We saw some of that in the early concept art, where we had the Inuit-inspired dwarf. Do you have a particular favorite culture that puts a spin on an existing fantasy trope?

Well, my favorite race is the Orlans. They're feline-based, and I don't think there's actually an equivalent of them in standard fantasy fare. Partially because I'm a cat person, and I really like the idea that they're sort of the stealthy, guerrilla class. That kind of appeals to me. And you know, the trap-making. They're very anti-slaver, because the slavers love to pick on them. So that's caused some interesting paranoia and hostility in their culture.

As far as dwarves and elves. I've been mostly focused on the human interaction. So, the human cultures that Josh is developing- those have interesting spins on them, in terms of. Josh is a very focused history and religion major. So, when he develops cultures, he thinks very much about the deity breakdowns, the actual climate and environment of the area where they grew up.

The Aumaua, they have a very interesting Polynesian take on their culture which I haven't seen before in other games. They're not really the equivalent of half-orcs. They're actually just a brand new, sort of swarthier species. And they're sort of like our [natural] tanks in the game.