How Pillars of Eternity Found Widespread Success by Embracing Its Niche Appeal

There's a two-page, article-style interview with Obsidian Entertainment's Josh Sawyer entitled "How Pillars of Eternity Found Widespread Success by Embracing Its Niche Appeal" on PCGamesN, during which they discuss the game's historical Kickstarter campaign, the inspirations that led to both the base game and The White March expansions, the focus they were able to put into dialogue and character prose, and much more. Here's a little something to start you off:

(The Kickstarter campaign was very gruelling, which is a common theme other people who have been through the [same] process have reported. It sounds like a silly complaint: '˜Oh god, it was so successful, we had to keep working so hard at it.' But we had preliminarily discussed [a budgeting plan] and we really didn't think we'd have to move on that for a few weeks. So when the money started coming in, we realised '˜Oh crap, we really have to move quickly with this.' We launched on a Friday, and the next day we were in the office at 8AM on a Saturday going, like, '˜Oh crap, we have to figure this out right now.')

In many cases, Sawyer says, the team were using their best guesses to assess how much certain elements of their game would cost. (For example, we had our two big city goals. It was like, does it cost five hundred thousand dollars to make a huge city? It seems like maybe it's more. Does it cost a hundred thousand dollars to make a Linux version or a Mac version? I don't know.)

With backers continuing to tick off the project's stretch goals, the team had to decide where to allocate their time and money quickly, and commit to those decisions. Ultimately, Sawyer concedes, it led to certain features such as the player's upgradable estate, Stronghold, (not quite getting as much attention as it should have.) With the game garnering a Metascore of 89 at launch, though, and many of the rough edges subsequently ironed out in post-release updates, Sawyer is in a position to reflect on any mistakes without too much chagrin.

Among Pillars of Eternity's stretch goals was an expansion called The White March, the first part of which was released recently. While the base game draws much inspiration from the Baldur's Gate series, often described as a spiritual sequel, The White March finds inspiration from the sub-zero climes of another Black Isle RPG family: Icewind Dale.

(It's not really that big of a departure,) says Sawyer, (but in the base game we very much made something that was very cosy, very Dalelands, very temperate. Meadows and forests and things like that.) The White March is a chance to put the player in a more perilous environment, then, while servicing the Pillars community with yet more Infinity Engine nostalgia.