E3 2010: Feargus Urquhart Interview

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GB: Have you been having anymore discussions with Atari? I know at one time you mentioned to me off the record that maybe you were in negotiations about making a third installment to our favorite D&D game...

Feargus: Well you know, it's one of those things. I constantly call and contact everybody, we have what we think is an awesome pitch for Baldur's Gate III. We continue to talk to people and talk to Atari, and talk to Hasbro, and have been trying to figure it out. I would love to make it.

GB: It has to be difficult, because the Dungeons & Dragons license itself is kind of in limbo right now, isn't it?

Feargus: It is a little bit. There was some of that stuff that was announced a while ago about there being some back-and-forth between Atari and Hasbro. But other than that, I don't think we've gotten any more information.

GB: So where does that put us for a potential Neverwinter Nights 3? Any chance?

Feargus: I think it's about the same place. As far as I can tell, Atari and Hasbro have to figure it out.

GB: Have you ever thought about bypassing all of that and not even using a license? You know, just go with D20 or the OGL ruleset and just create your own RPG?

Feargus: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's funny you should mention that. We've been talking about that recently and I need to call them up to ask the question about whether D20 is encumbered by all of the stuff going on or not. But it would be a cool thing to use D20. I actually checked the other day whether the open gaming license covers 4th Edition D20 and it does.

GB: Are you familiar with Heroic Fantasy Games, the indie studio that created Knights of the Chalice? It's based on OGL. It's an amazing indie RPG, and it plays pretty much like a Dungeons & Dragons game.

Feargus: No, I should look at that.

GB: It's really impressive. We gave it our Independent RPG of the Year award last year.

Feargus: I must have downloaded it. Is it a download?

GB: Yeah. Well, it's like $20 or something.

Feargus: Oh, okay.

GB: But it goes to show you, there must be a way to do a D20 or OGL game without having to pay a bunch of licensing fees.

Feargus: Yeah, that's a good point. I did check because I wasn't sure what was going on. I know LucasArts was able to license it for KotOR and that was separate from all the D&D stuff. So I just wasn't sure where it stood.

GB: It'd be great to see you guys go and do your own thing. I mean, look at the success of the Infinity Engine. I'd like to see BioWare release it to the community or let you guys go crazy with it with a small team of five or six guys. You wouldn't have to sell millions of copies. Maybe just do a small project, because there's a lot of people out there who would just love to play a new Infinity Engine-style game again.

Feargus: I don't want to say it's a remark on our industry or anything like that, but I remember when we started up Obsidian and I was trying to talk about a lot of different kinds of games. And one of them was to go off and do something like that. Part of it at the time - I think it would maybe be a little bit different now - but part of it was just the PC was a persona non grata in the 2003-2004 timeframe.

Everybody just wanted console. Console this, console that. The publishers, they're seeing that GameStop doesn't carry much PC. It's not sexy anymore. WoW is taking all the money. I don't know, I think it might be easier now just because you have Steam, you have Direct2Drive, and all these other distribution methods to do something like that.

Have you played A Farewell to Dragons?

GB: It's part of my Steam collection, but I haven't tried it yet.

Feargus: Yeah. See, it's... it's not great. That's kind of the gist I got out of it. I tried because I was thinking it was going to be kind of a Baldur's Gate-style/Infinity Engine kind of game and it didn't turn out that way. There are elements that are good. It's just kind of rough. But for a couple million dollars, I know we could make a really good Infinity Engine game.

GB: Exactly. And depending on how you financed it, you probably wouldn't have to go through a publisher with a smaller project like that. You could work something out to get it onto Steam, maybe. And all of us starving for a new RPG on GameBanshee would probably buy it on day one, you know?

Feargus: [laughing] Right.