How Obsidian Survived Countless Catastrophes and Made Some of the Coolest RPGs Ever

Kotaku is offering an interesting feature/interview on Obsidian Entertainment's history with the CEO of the company, Feargus Urquhart. Their infamous problems with bugs (apparently caused in part by a positively archaic way of handling bugtracking), their successes, a long string of cancelled titles and their recent record-smashing Kickstarter are all covered in the piece.

Here's a snip on a particularly interesting project that never was:
By 2005, Obsidian was stable and doing well. Despite their issues with KOTOR II, the company had grown to some 50-something employees, and Urquhart was talking with multiple publishers about making all sorts of games.

One of those publishers was Disney, who enlisted Obsidian to design a video game prequel to Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Tentatively called Dwarves, it would be a third-person action game for Xbox 360 and PS3 that focused on Snow White's seven companions. There would be a whole new story, and at the end, you'd banish the antagonist to Snow White's iconic magical mirror.

"It was a lot of fun," Urquhart said. "We feel we turned in a really cool prototype. We worked on it for about a year. It's one of the games here that the team just loved working on. And unfortunately which, it happens in this industry you have changes of focus at a publisher."

Those changes of focus were caused by a CEO change, which led to a total shift of direction. Suddenly Disney was no longer interested in doing a Snow White prequel. Snow White was untouchable, they said. The game was cancelled.

It was a heartbreaking experience that Obsidian just like many other video game developers would grow quite familiar with over the coming years. Games are always ephemeral. Publishers are constantly changing their minds about where to throw their money, and gaming trends tend to ebb and flow on a monthly basis. So independent developers like Obsidian have to stay scrappy. They have to juggle as many balls as possible, knowing that most of them will hit the ground.

"We put a lot of challenges in front of us," Urquhart said. "It's this interesting thing, I think, as an independent studio. And I'll give anybody this advice that I can. When somebody offers you something as an independent studio, you take it. You take it, because it's feast or famine. That's what we've found."