Feargus Urquhart Interview

The RPG Codex has published an interview with Obsidian Entertainment CEO Feargus Urquhart fresh off this year's Digital Dragons convention in Poland. In the interview, Urquhart discusses the various projects the teams at Obsidian are involved in at the moment, some cancelled projects from the past, and some tentative future plans. All in all, it's a pretty good interview, though the transcription style makes it somewhat hard to read.

Here's an excerpt on Tyranny and the recent hire of RPG veteran Leonard Boyarsky:

JMR: Who is the lead writer for Tyranny?

FU: Who is the lead writer? So that is Matt MacLean. So Matt was actually here last year, and he was also the lead designer on... he was the lead designer on South Park: The Stick of Truth.

JMR: How many writers does Obsidian employ on Tyranny?

FU: [laughs]

JMR: How does Obsidian plan to organize the writing on such a choice-heavy game?

FU: So... on Tyranny there are currently... four? It's Paul, Megan... that's Paul, Megan, Matt, Robert, and then...[Go go, Duraframe!] So basically there's four full-time writers, and then there's some other people that are helping out, which actually is quite a lot for us. We usually don't have that many writers on a project all at once. We've had, because... sorry, people that are only writing, like we have a lot of writing in our games, but that's done by people that were both doing area design and writing at the same time, and then there's often like a couple of other writers like, that were more full time, but not with like four full-time writers, that's a lot. So how we organize it? A lot of it is just, ehm, a little bit like I was talking about in my talk, it's separating it all out, it's giving each of the writers their own thing to be in charge of. Whether it's like.. take like, Caesar's Legion in New Vegas, right, so we would want a writer to kinda do all the Caesar's Legion stuff, so that they had the voice for that and they could do it. We try to have a writer only do a writer-focused... not have multiple writers write a companion. So... and then dealing with a choice. So that is really where the level designers and the writers are working together, because the level designers are often doing, like coming up with a lot of what the quest stuff is, that's less of the critical story quests, and then they work with the writers, and then on top of that we have all these kinda... we call them requirements, but we have all this like, in a dialogue node you must have X, you must check one attribute, you must check one skill, you must, you know, and then we have the other requirement of reactivity. In an area there has to be, the game has to react to this story point and this story point and this story point and this story point. So a certain amount for the writers, it's just a lot of planning and requirements.


JMR: How is Leonard Boyarsky doing? Is he working on-site?

FU: [laughs] Yes. So, yeah. Leonard's doing good. It's been interesting... it's funny to... you know, we worked so much together in '96 and '97 and we then... of course, Leonard left and I've talked to him a number of times, but not a ton since they left, I mean because when they left Black Isle, it was... it was complicated, you know. There was... I was... I would say, I was angry to an extent, because it was frustrating. I now had to go make a game, you know, suddenly and Interplay needed the revenue, so I had to get a game done fairly quickly and that was frustrating to me. And while this was all going on they were hiring people away from us... so I was sure some of it with Leonard was that I... I certainly didn't reach out, but you know, we've talked a number of times, you know, since Obsidian started and you know, it was interesting... he actually reached out to Chris Jones, who is one of the founders of Obsidian, who also worked, he worked at Troika and it was about like: Hey, you know what about and he's just really interested in doing single player RPGs again. And hey, we're the spot for single player RPGs. And so it's been easy in a lot of ways because it's like going back to someone you know, like, you worked with so much, so we kinda know each other even though twenty years have gone by. [laughs] You know, and I think it's worked out and I think Leonard's learned an amazing amount of stuff from having to run a company and then working at a big developer like Blizzard and so I think that... no, it's been good. I'm very hopeful that we'll come up with something cool.