I recently had the chance to ask a few questions to Tim Cain of Obsidian Entertainment about their new kickstarter venture ”Project Eternity”.
BD: Obviously, the budget for your project is up in the air at this point, but what level of graphics fidelity are you aiming for? Are you planning on using a “middleware” engine or is something In-house already suitable for your purposes?
Tim Cain: We are using the Unity engine, along with tools developed in-house for our other RPG’s. Unity let us get up and running quickly with a prototype, and it makes porting to other systems very easy. As for graphics fidelity, we will be supporting lower and higher resolutions. We will support resolutions as low as 1024×768, but we will be rendering the maps out at very high resolution so we can support much higher resolution displays without making all of the characters really tiny.
BD: Nearly all of the stretch goals have promised additional characters and/or additional races. Are you concerned this “scope creep” will keep you from offering a focused experience?
TC: We have done a good job of spreading the work around to different groups of people for each stretch goal. For example, companions require a lot of writing and the development of new quest lines, while races are mostly new art. New classes are the most evenly spread out all by themselves, with their new abilities needing design, art and code support, but no single department is too stressed by their inclusion.
BD: “I’ve got a $20 Early Bird pledge, but want to increase my support and have nostalgic for that cloth map. In a dialog tree, what would you say to [Persuade] or [Intimidate] me to do this?”
TC: I would certainly try to Persuade you, since at most you would not be convinced, while an Intimidation attempt might leave you with a reduced reaction to me at best and hostile at worst. So my persuasion might go something like this…don’t you think that a year and a half from now, as you sit down to play the game, you are going to want that cloth map to guide you through the game? And years later, won’t it be a fine bit of nostalgia about a game you played and loved way back in 2014? And to think that this may be the only opportunity to get that cloth map, and if you let it slip by, you may regret it for years to come. Could you live with that decision?
BD: Is the name “Project: Eternity” going to stick as the title, or would you be revealing a new name at a later date?
TC: We will almost certainly be renaming it. Obsidian always gives a code name to its projects, and while these code names are usually the names of US states, we wanted a code name more evocative than, say, Project South Dakota, for use on Kickstarter and in forums. We might use Eternity in the final game name, but it’s hard to say now. Usually a great name presents itself as we are developing a game, and I have no doubt that our fans will give us suggestions too. Since we have no publisher who would have final say, we can pick any name we like.
BD: When could we hope for our first trailer, showing off some game play and music?
TC: We are preparing our first screenshot to display soon, as an example of the kind of rendering and art style we have chosen. As for a trailer, that would have to wait until we have developed more content.
BD: In the recent Reddit Q&A, you discussed that you want to give full control over the party to the player. Are you considering incorporating customizable AI scripting like that included in Baldur’s Gate, Dragon Age, and Final Fantasy XII? Or is it Pause Scripting or another system?
TC: In addition to giving the player a wide choice of pause points, so he or she can stop the game and issue orders to specific characters, I also want to include a scripting system so that the player can lay out the logic of what the characters should do in various situations, mitigating the need for a pause. I liked the FF system a lot, but we will be looking at all of the different ways that previous games solved this issue, and develop our own based on the advantages and disadvantages of each one.
BD: Project Eternity is going to be an Isometric view. Would this include a darkened, unexplored map and Fog of War?
TC: I think both of those features, a map that shows where you have been and a fog of war that is lifted as you move around a map, are classic features of old school CRPG’s, and yes, we will be including our own version of them.
BD: Death was easy to encounter and difficult to deal with in Baldur’s Gate, often prompting a reload. Will Project Eternity have similarly painful “old school” penalties for death, or will party members auto-revive after a fight?
TC: We will have both fatigue and health, and fatigue damage is the most common, and it leads to a character being knocked out rather than killed. However, it will be possible to lose health and die, and the player will have to manage his party well to avoid that.
BD: Will there be hamsters?
TC: I am afraid to answer this question for fear it would ruin an entire plot line of the game!
Thanks to Tim Cain and Obsidian Entertainment for taking the time to answer our questions.