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Obsidian Entertainment studio tour


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#61
FlintlockJazz

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OH **** **** I FORGOT IT WAS PARADOX WHO BOUGHT WHITE WOLF!!!! :aiee:

 

Vampire game definitely confirmed then!



#62
injurai

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OH **** **** I FORGOT IT WAS PARADOX WHO BOUGHT WHITE WOLF!!!! :aiee:

 

Vampire game definitely confirmed then!

 

I figured it was more or less implicitly confirmed, but I also thought it wasn't the Cainarsky project and wasn't necessarily Obsidian helming it.

 

If Obsidian is doing Vampire, doesn't that mean they have 5 games in the works? Seems like a lot. I guess Tyranny and Pillars' tech teams overlap. Tyranny DLC is probably almost done. Pathfinder is more or less done, and is just getting content support. So maybe they can handle Deadfire, Cainarsky, and Vampire... I'm speculating too much, I'll wait for it to come out in the wash.


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#63
Semper

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at least in 2016 obsidian did not work on a vampire game, which was confirmed by brian in an interview about tyranny at gamescom.

the big project helmed by tim and leonard is about a new ip, not white wolf related. the other big project is deadfire. if there's anything vampire related in the works it would be way too early for an announcement.


Edited by Semper, 11 September 2017 - 09:03 AM.

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#64
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They could always pull a "hiring and investment announcement." Those seem pretty popular with companies.



#65
algroth

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Yeah, I also was under the impression that the Cainarsky was an original Obsidian IP, but then again "new IP" was the term used and that could be as much 'original' as "new for Obsidian".


Edited by algroth, 11 September 2017 - 09:28 AM.


#66
Infinitron

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It's not Vampire. It's an original new IP.

 

 

http://www.eurogamer...fallout-1-and-2

 


Watch: The making of Fallout 1 & 2
Tales from the early days of Black Isle Studios.
 
Last month, Bertie and I visited Obsidian Entertainment to take a wander around the placeand talk about some of the remarkable games they've helped create.
 
However, as we discovered, to really understand Obsidian Entertainment you need to know a little about where this team came from. Although established in 2003, a good number of Obsidian's developers had worked together beforehand as part of the RPG division of Interplay Entertainment: Black Isle Studios.
 
Together, they'd worked on franchises like Baldur's Gate, Planescape Torment and, of course, Fallout. There's some history there, huh? It'd be rude not to ask about it.
 
Join me in the 50-minute video below, as I chat with Feargus Urquhart, Leonard Boyarsky and Tim Cain about their work on the original Fallout 1 & 2.

Edited by Infinitron, 11 September 2017 - 11:33 AM.

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#67
Lexx

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Anything new mentioned in it?



#68
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OH **** **** I FORGOT IT WAS PARADOX WHO BOUGHT WHITE WOLF!!!! :aiee:

 

Vampire game definitely confirmed then!

 

I figured it was more or less implicitly confirmed, but I also thought it wasn't the Cainarsky project and wasn't necessarily Obsidian helming it.

 

If Obsidian is doing Vampire, doesn't that mean they have 5 games in the works? Seems like a lot. I guess Tyranny and Pillars' tech teams overlap. Tyranny DLC is probably almost done. Pathfinder is more or less done, and is just getting content support. So maybe they can handle Deadfire, Cainarsky, and Vampire... I'm speculating too much, I'll wait for it to come out in the wash.

 

 

They have 4½ projects:

Deadfire

Pathfinder Card Game

Project Indiana (Cainarsky game that is a new IP and uses UE4)

Tyranny DLCs

Something new that they are spinning up. Not known if the project has even been given a state name at this point.


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#69
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Spinning up Josh's historical RPG set in the Star Trek universe, is my idea.



#70
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http://www.eurogamer...r-40k-star-wars
 

Rummaging through Obsidian's drawer of game ideas
Star Wars! Snow White! Prey 2! Warhammer 40K! "There's tons of them."
 
obsidians-pitch-drawer-snow-white-dwarve
 
Everyone has a drawer they can't close because it's stuffed too full of things. Mine has a whisk which always stops the bloody drawer from closing, and it's really annoying, but Obsidian Entertainment's drawer has around 100 game proposals in it. Game outlines in various states, from two-page snacks to 60-page feasts. "There's tons of them," Obsidian co-owner Chris Parker tells me. And for Obsidian there was never a time of greater need of an idea than summer 2012, after Microsoft cancelled Xbox One launch game Stormlands, and when South Park: The Stick of Truth was onboard THQ's sinking ship. It spurred a period now referred to in Obsidian history as the Summer of Proposals.
 
"We probably went through about 10 pitches that summer," Parker says. There was a Justice League game pitched to Warner Bros., there were two separate Might & Magic games pitched to Ubisoft, one smaller, one open-world. But the proposals Obsidian really remembers are Prey 2 and Warhammer 40K.
 
"Prey 2 everyone was really excited about," Parker says. This was before Dishonored developer Arkane set to work on a Prey reboot (released this year). This was in the aftermath of Bethesda shelving Human Head's Prey 2. "Ours had more ties to the old Prey," Parker says. "You're a human bounty hunter and you've gotten transplanted to where all the aliens are. You're a badass bounty hunter in this sci-fi setting."
 
Star_wars_dark_times_vol_7.jpg
"Look I try, I try" - Feargus Urquhart.
 
Mechanically it was exactly what you would expect from Prey, a first-person shooter, married with what you would expect from Obsidian, a role-playing game. There was to be a big hub where you could interact with all sorts of different people, for example. On the surface it sounds a lot like where Human Head was going with Prey 2 - be a bounty hunter on an open alien planet and improve powers and gadgets along the way - but Obsidian was apparently never told much about that game. "[Bethesda] were very close-lipped about what was going on with Human Head," Feargus Urquhart, studio co-owner and CEO, says. "They had a specific 'what they wanted the game to be' - I don't actually know if that was what Human Head was working on or not."
 
The pitch Obsidian worked up had a lot to do with dealing with different aliens. "Usually in sci-fi games we humanise - we interpret aliens from how they would react if they were human - so we design a lot of aliens as humans in suits," Urquhart says. "What was important was having the aliens not just be aliens in suits. They have completely different desirous wants and needs, they react to different things they see, and they see things in different ways. How could we have aliens in this world really feel alien?"
 
There was also going to be Parkour, jetpacks and grappling hooks - mechanics "to try and take the shooter into three dimensions", Parker says. "Since it was sci-fi we really wanted to play with vertical space."
 
But the Prey 2 pitch didn't go anywhere. "Bethesda talked to us about the opportunity, they never promised anything," Urquhart says. Perhaps two years after buying Arkane, Bethesda had Arkane Austin in mind for the game. Whatever went down, what Arkane eventually made bared no resemblance to what Obsidian had in mind.
 
The Warhammer 40,000 pitch, meanwhile, was ill-fated from the start, what with THQ owning the licence at the time, and THQ being down the swanny (THQ would go bankrupt in December 2012). But Obsidian remembers it fondly. "That was a cool pitch," Urquhart says - and now Slitherine owns the Warhammer 40K IP who knows?
 
"The Warhammer 40K pitch is 28 pages - I just looked at it a little while ago," Chris Parker says while Urquhart, in perfect synchronisation, finds and opens the pitch on his computer and scrolls through it. It's very decorative and detailed but I don't catch any detail as he whizzes through.
 
"We wrote a small novel about how awesome this game would be," Parker says. "The idea was: there's a pen and paper off-shoot of 40K about the Inquisition, and it's more individual character-based and you travel around different planets." He's referring to Inquisitor, the 2001 Warhammer 40K spin-off focused on a small group of characters: a shadowy Inquisitor with a couple of henchmen, and carte blanche to root out evil in the world (Games Workshop doesn't support Inquisitor any more but rulebooks are available online). A perfect set-up for an Obsidian RPG if ever I heard one. "We built this role-playing game about you being this new Inquisitor and having these crazy resources and going to all these planets," Parker says, "and there's nothing that's not at war in Warhammer 40K."
 
Obsidian even, for the umpteenth time, pitched another Star Wars game - hardly a rare occurrence, the two owners joke. "We pitch Star Wars every few years," Chris Parker says while Feargus Urquhart again whizzes through the associate pitch on his PC. It's titled Star Wars: Dark Times, referring to the Dark Horse comic series of the same name. "I'm pretty sure this is a 'between Episode 3 and Episode 4' game," he says. "In essence it was sort of how to reinterpret a modern KOTOR 3-like game within the Dark Times, that's really what that one was."
 
Dark Horse's Dark Times blurb reads: "Dark Times #1 is the gateway to a new era in Star Wars history, an era where the future is grim, evil is on the rise, and all paths seem to lead nowhere..." Events in Dark Times immediately follow Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith, with Darth Sidious revealed and Darth Vader created, the big meanie pantses.
 
Yet with EA now in control of the Star Wars game licence - and BioWare - the chances for Obsidian look slim, not that Urquhart seems deterred. "One day!" he soldiers on. "Look I try, I try."
 
In the end it would be none of the ideas pitched during the Summer of Proposals to rescue Obsidian but a most unlikely partnership with a Russian publisher instead: a deal to make an online tank game called Armored Warfare, which would last four and a half years. Pillars of Eternity would come from the same difficult period too, and while $4m wouldn't save the company, the knock-on publicity was invaluable.
 
But to have a game pitch amount to nothing pales in comparison to having a game cancelled part-way through - and Stormlands isn't the only rug Obsidian has had whipped from under its feet. In 2006, Obsidian was making a Snow White and the Seven Dwarves role-playing game for Buena Vista, the game-making division of Disney. "The idea was a prequel," Urquhart says, "a far, far prequel of Snow White."
 
"It was supposed to be a much darker world," Parker says. "There's a lot of dark elements to Disney but it's kind of hard to see underneath all the flowery animations. They wanted to capitalise on that and say, 'Here's a story about the Seven Dwarves in a much earlier, earlier state.' The actual character you played was going to be more of a typical RPG character, called the Prince [or Princess, presumably], a young man or young girl, and you would end up bumping into those dwarves and going on this adventure and solving all of these things."
 
The dwarves themselves were going to act like different tools for different situations. "They had very specific powers and you would travel with two of them," he continues, "and their powers would combine in different ways, so based on who you were fighting against you might want to have, say, these two dwarves with you because they would combine and do these different things. You would also, in a similar fashion, use them to solve different puzzles in the world. For example, this dwarf was the blue key for blue doors, so to speak."
 
Historian_Eckhard_Sander.jpg
Some historians believe the Grimm Snow White fairytale was based on the true story of German countess Margarete von Waldeck, who died aged 21 on suspicion of poisoning. The dwarves represented the almost slave child labour her father employed in his copper mines.
 
Obsidian worked on the Dwarves game for roughly a year - but then Disney changed its mind. "I don't think it was really that big of a surprise," says Parker. "There were some fundamental differences between what Disney had originally wanted to do and what we were doing. The project we were working on was more lighthearted than they had pitched. What they had pitched originally was very very dark: the dwarves were slaves of giants in mines, then they escaped from the mines and were living on their own, and you meet up with them and they are these hardened, angry dwarves. Ours was like, 'OK yeah all that's fine but we'll leave a slightly lighter pitch on all that's going on,' so there were some disagreements there. Also the way we had taken the mechanics: we were trying to be a little bit more revolutionary and I don't think that worked for them."
 
Officially, though, and this was a gut-punch for Obsidian, the project was terminated for 'cause'. "In other words," says Parker, "the game we were making was not good enough."
 
Obsidian was told art quality specifically was the problem. "The tough thing for us was the direction we had from them was they were more concerned about the technological feasibility of having a streaming world in Unreal [3]," Urquhart says. "So we focused on the gameplay and technical aspect for the prototype we put together, so you could go around this world, go inside and outside, and then you get into a big boss fight. It just wasn't super-pretty yet. So we were told 'the art's a big problem'.
 
"Fast-forward 12 years," he goes on, "and we've heard more little bits and pieces." Maybe Roy Disney hadn't approved Buena Vista offering the Snow White IP out, maybe new Disney boss Bob Iger had different ideas about how classic IP should be used. "These all added up to it," Urquhart says.
 
What the Dwarves cancellation cost Obsidian was, agonisingly, ownership of the Alpha Protocol IP, something I talked more about in my Making of Alpha Protocol piece last week. Nevertheless, having a signed project meant Obsidian escaped layoffs, which was a blessing in itself.
 
Today the Summer of Proposals is long behind Obsidian, a company with all 175 people occupied, and all the proposals are safely crammed alongside many others in the studio's metaphorical drawer for rainy day. "We go back through and look on a semi-regular basis," Chris Parker says. "There are ones where we all know people are excited but for one reason or another it's never clicked - there's one from 2006 I can think of right off the top of my head I would still love to do. These things just come back up again, and maybe somebody goes in and revitalises the pitch and takes it maybe a new direction or cosmetically gives it a facelift, and then Ferg goes out and does his job to see if anybody is interested..."
 
"My dance," says Feargus Urquhart.
 
"His little horse and pony show."


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#71
FlintlockJazz

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OH **** **** I FORGOT IT WAS PARADOX WHO BOUGHT WHITE WOLF!!!! :aiee:

 

Vampire game definitely confirmed then!

 

I figured it was more or less implicitly confirmed, but I also thought it wasn't the Cainarsky project and wasn't necessarily Obsidian helming it.

 

If Obsidian is doing Vampire, doesn't that mean they have 5 games in the works? Seems like a lot. I guess Tyranny and Pillars' tech teams overlap. Tyranny DLC is probably almost done. Pathfinder is more or less done, and is just getting content support. So maybe they can handle Deadfire, Cainarsky, and Vampire... I'm speculating too much, I'll wait for it to come out in the wash.

 

 

 

at least in 2016 obsidian did not work on a vampire game, which was confirmed by brian in an interview about tyranny at gamescom.

the big project helmed by tim and leonard is about a new ip, not white wolf related. the other big project is deadfire. if there's anything vampire related in the works it would be way too early for an announcement.

Damn, should have realised that if I was right then someone else would have connected the dots long before now. :facepalm: Thanks for the info guys, guess its time to go back to the theory board!


Edited by FlintlockJazz, 12 September 2017 - 03:53 AM.


#72
Ethics Gradient

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Pathfinder is more or less done, and is just getting content support

> Pathfinder is more or less done

 

[Amused laugh]

 

The tabletop edition of that game has rules debates that stretch back to like 2013.  If the app is a faithful recreation of the physical version, it is entirely possible that it will never actually end up "finished."  That game could easily provide a lifetime of steady employment!   :p



#73
injurai

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Pathfinder is more or less done, and is just getting content support

> Pathfinder is more or less done

 

[Amused laugh]

 

The tabletop edition of that game has rules debates that stretch back to like 2013.  If the app is a faithful recreation of the physical version, it is entirely possible that it will never actually end up "finished."  That game could easily provide a lifetime of steady employment!   :p

 

 

Yeah but updating it isn't writing a game from scratch, which is what I'm referring to. They can run that project with far fewer people going forward. So more people onto other things.


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#74
Ethics Gradient

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Yeah but updating it isn't writing a game from scratch, which is what I'm referring to. They can run that project with far fewer people going forward. So more people onto other things.

Yeah, I know what you meant.  Even with some future content on the horizon, the project has definitely shifted towards the support and maintenance phase of the development cycle.

 

Though, you can't truly downsize what was already a tiny team.  Even at peak development, you probably could have ordered the team two pizzas and expected there to be a couple slices left over. đźŤ•đźŤ•

 

#TheRealPathfinderHeroes   ;)



#75
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http://www.usgamer.n...beloved-classic

 

The Making of Fallout New Vegas: How Obsidian's Cult Sequel Became a Beloved Classic
From its beginnings at Black Isle to classic DLC like Lonesome Road, we dive into the history of one of the best RPGs ever.

If you want to know how relevant Fallout: New Vegas still is today, consider what happened when Obsidian founder Feargus Urquhart and director Josh Sawyer went to a local middle school for a game design competition.

Given an opportunity to ask the judges a question, the competition's winner-a 7th grader who couldn't been older than six when New Vegas was first released-asked Sawyer: "Hey, are you going to update your mod anymore?"

Sawyer was flabbergasted.

"I was like, 'What? How does this kid, one, know about New Vegas, two, know about my mod, and three: that's the burning question that he wants to ask'?"

But that's the kind of cultural cachet that Fallout: New Vegas has these days. In the wake of Fallout 4, which has become something of a whipping boy for the Fallout community, New Vegas' legacy is stronger than ever.

Check Fallout: New Vegas' Steam page, and you'll find that it enjoys near universal acclaim, with player after player calling it the best game ever. A 2016 Kotaku article featured the headline, "Fans' Intense Love for Fallout: New Vegas Must Be Weird for People at Bethesda."

What do fans want even more than Fallout 5? Fallout: New Vegas 2, obviously.

It's hard to believe now that the game that enjoys so much acclaim once missed its Metacritic score by one point, depriving Obsidian of their hard-earned bonus payments. It's stranger still to read passages like this one from 2010:


New Vegas is a proclaimed non-sequel, and it shows. By bringing little else new to the experience and with it being as buggy as ever, New Vegas could have been adequate as a smaller-sized expansion disc. Instead, it's a game where the play clock is measured in time spent plodding through loading screens and not actually doing much.


Somewhere along the line, things changed. Instead of fading into history, New Vegas became a classic. So what's different now? Maybe it's best to start from the beginning.

The Beginning
Urquhart never quite dared to dream that he would get to work on another Fallout. Just a few years earlier, he had departed amidst the slow collapse of Black Isle Studios, leaving Sawyer and a skeleton crew to take on the impossible task of finishing Fallout 3.

Black Isle's Fallout 3, called "Van Buren," was very different from the version that ultimately came out of Bethesda. It would have included many of the aspects that ultimately defined Fallout: New Vegas, such as the setting, but the combat would have been a hybrid of turn-based and real-time elements. Instead of The Courier, Van Buren would have featured an escaped prisoner who later uncovers the plot of a mad scientist named Presper.

The death of Black Isle Studios and the loss of the Fallout IP to Bethesda seemed to preclude any chance of Urquhart and company finishing what they had begun at Obsidian. But then they got the chance of a lifetime. They wouldn't get a chance to finish the game they had called Van Buren, but they would get one more chance to put their own stamp on the franchise they had helped to create.

Taking the reins as director was Josh Sawyer, who had fought to finish Black Isle's Fallout 3 until the very end. Joining him was Chris Avellone, author of the Fallout Bible and a tremendous designer in his own right, who wrote characters like Rose of Sharon Cassidy and developed the DLC. John Gonzalez, who would later go on to work on Horizon Zero Dawn, helped to develop much of the core story. Old-school Fallout fans were getting their wish: For one game, at least, Black Isle was back.

With the team already deeply familiar with the Fallout universe, the initial concepts came together quite quickly, Urquhart remembers. "The first thing we said was, 'Well, we're going to do the West Coast.'"

It was a natural choice. Fallout 2 had been set in Oregon and Van Buren would have been set in Arizona, Nevada and Colorado, so shifting the setting back to the West Coast offered the opportunity to establish a connection between Bethesda's vision and the franchise's roots. It also made it possible to bring back the New California Republic, which had last been seen spreading its roots out west.

Obsidian's team tossed around any number of ideas. They debated setting it in New Reno, which had been a prominent location in Fallout 2. They thought about making it possible to play as a ghoul before ultimately shelving the idea due to technical challenges with how the armor would work.

Before long, Obsidian had most of the particulars nailed down. The NCR would return, factions would play a heavy role in the story; and most importantly, it would be set in New Vegas.

New Vegas was kind of the perfect Fallout location. The Mojave Desert brings its own Mad Max vibe, and Vegas itself automatically conjures images of the '50s and '60s: Elvis, the Rat Pack, the mob.

Sawyer was happy to push that vibe a little. "It kind of felt nice because we had covered the '50s with Fallout 1 and Fallout 2. So pushing a little bit into the '60s didn't feel bad, because it was like, 'Okay, we're continuing ideas from Fallout 2.' And we're venturing into a later decade, but the cutoff I used was JFK's assassination. We couldn't use music or anything past that point."

The gangs inhabiting the strip further embodied this vision of Las Vegas. The Omertas represented the real-life mobsters that ruled Vegas in the 50s and 60s; the Chairmen represented all the denizens of the Strip wanted to look cool but were really just trogolodytes, and the White Glove Society was pure vice. As always, the apolocalypse was meant to strip away the real-world location's glossy exterior and reveal the rot beneath, with a particular emphasis on Vegas' greed and excess (indeed, one of the original working titles for Fallout: New Vegas was "Fallout 3: Sin City").

For good measure, Sawyer implemented gambling. Amusingly, Sawyer actually hatesgambling, but he felt that it was necessary to meet audience expectations. "You're making something for an audience, and understanding their wants, and needs, and their desires. And it doesn't really matter that gambling in New Vegas isn't particularly consequential. It's like 'I'm in Vegas, dude! Let me roll some dice or spin a roulette wheel, or do something.'

In order to get a feel for the actual location, Obsidian obtained data from the U.S. Geological Survey, which they included in their pitch to Bethesda. Sawyer also hopped on his motorcycle and rode to Las Vegas, where he explored the outskirts of the Strip and the surrounding area. 1

"He made a big deal about the freeways," Urquhart remembers. "He said, 'We need those freeways to help people understand, as the thoroughfares in the Valley, to know how to get from place to place.'"

Soon, Sawyer was mapping out the entirety of the Wasteland with orderly designations like "A-1" and "A-2." Their main rule of thumb, courtesy of Bethesda, was that from any landmark in the world, you had to be able to see at least three other landmarks. To that end, one of the first landmarks Obsidian designed was Dinky the Dinosaur—the massive T-Rex statue that serves as Boone's sniper nest—with the goal of ensuring that it was visible from as far away as possible (the real Dinky is actually in Cabazon, California-some four hours from Las Vegas).

As the team began work on Fallout: New Vegas, though, they ran into a bit of a problem: none of them were familiar with Bethesda's Gamebryo engine. "We had no experience working with that engine. The first person who came here who had experience working on the engine was Jorge Salgado, who was the modder who had made Obscuro, an Oblivion overhaul, while the rest of us were completely clueless," Sawyer says. 1

Obsidian's inexperience presaged many of the technical problems Fallout: New Vegas when it was later released. Still, with the basic location established, and the Mojave Wasteland mapped out, Obsidian was officially off and running. And they needed to be: they had just 18 months to finish a massive open-world game.

Surviving in the Desert
From the start, Fallout: New Vegas was intended to be an experience that equally appealed to hardcore fans and newcomers. It rebalanced the progression to force players to specialize, and it introduced a new Hardcore mode that was meant to evoke the sense of surviving in the desert. Crafting and weapons mods was dramatically expanded, and it became possible use ironsights to shoot.

But while it was more hardcore, Sawyer also wanted to make sure that the new features were largely optional. "Hardcore mode was not a tremendously difficult thing to implement, but it as a cool thing. It was a hardcore thing. And it's something that you can opt into. If you don't want to play it, you just leave it alone. And so we really approached it from that perspective, like, 'Hey, if you want a more challenging thing that makes you feel more like you're struggling in the desert, then here's this aspect for you.'"

On that front, he remembers an argument he had with Bethesda's Jason Bergman about the Living Anatomy perk, which offers +10% Doctor and +5 damage per attack against organics.

"I wanted to bring Living Anatomy in and have it show you the Damage Threshold and the Hit Points of the creature that you were targeting on the actual HUD," he says. "And he was like, 'Ahh, don't put numbers up there.' And I'm like, 'You just don't buy the perk, Jason!' Like, you don't have to take that perk," he remembers.

Crafting was another example of optional depth. "It was just looking for those ways to get the characters that really want to dig in, and have more to play with. Like from a numbers perspective, or they just want to analyze stuff a little more. But there was always a line where I said like, 'You know what? If we push on this too hard, it's going to turn people off.'"

Much as Obsidian wanted to add to New Vegas' mechanical depth, though, the biggest strength of Obsidian's Fallout was the writing, the quest design, and most especially, the companions and the factions.

New Vegas' companions are frequently cited as one of its best features. Their purposes vary widely: some of them have relationships with the factions (Boone, Cass, Veronica); some are meant to be callbacks to previous games (Lily, Arcade), and some are just plain fun (Rex, the cybernetic dog). Most have well-developed backstories, and a few of them play into some of the best quests in the game.

Fun as the companions are, though, the real heart of New Vegas is its factions. Where choosing factions in Bethesda's games is often a binary choice, Fallout: New Vegas operates on more of a gradient. Factions will react positively or negatively depending on your actions, and only extremely hostile acts (or wearing a hostile uniform) will turn them fully against you.

"One thing that I had noticed in Fallout 1 and 2 that I wanted to address in [Baldur's Gate III: The Black Hound] as well as Van Buren, was that sort of... You know, I kiss a baby and then I punch an old lady in the face, and the result is that no one has an opinion on me?" Sawyer says.

You're ultimately meant to bounce between the game's three main factions—the NCR, Caesar's Legion, and Mr. House—before finally setting aside their individual flaws and joining the one you find least offensive (or simply striking out on your own).

This is a large part of Sawyer's personal philosophy when it comes to designing RPGs. Sawyer is a believer in freedom in the old-school sense. He wants players to feel like any choice they make is valid, whether they team up with the NCR or become a Wasteland axe murderer.

Everything about Fallout: New Vegas' journey is about getting you to the point where you get to make interesting choices, the main hook being that you're a simple courier who has run afoul of powerful forces without realizing it. As the camera pulls well back from the Strip, we see someone digging a grave as a figure lays prone on the ground.

"This must seem like an 18 karat run of bad luck," a man in a checkered suit tells The Courier. "But the truth is, the game was rigged from the start."

Then he pulls the trigger.

Your journey to find the man in the checkered suit takes you to New Vegas—the nexus point where all the factions converge. In the early going, you're pretty much just another desert dweller passing through (Sawyer likens it to spaghetti westerns and the Man With No Name). But once you step into the Lucky 38 for the first time and meet Mr. House—the Howard Hughes-like genius who wants to rebuild the Mojave Wasteland-people begin to take notice.

This is where you get to start to choose your faction by taking on quests on their behalf, and where things begin to get messy.

The NCR is a good example of what Fallout: New Vegas is aiming for. While they initially come off as the "good guys" in their fight to restore order and introduce democracy to the Wasteland, they are bogged down by beaurocracy and heavily influenced by psychos like Colonel Moore—a career soldier who is willing to do everything and anything to seize the Wasteland on behalf of the NCR.

Avellone doesn't necessarily consider the NCR sympathetic, but feels their qualities have some value in the world of Fallout. In his opinion, the companion Rose of Sharon Cassidy pretty much sums up NCR's bad side. Caught in the Caravan Wars precipitated by the NCR's expansion, Rose of Sharon Cassidy is a hard luck merchant who is perpetually bogged down in NCR paperwork.

"In many respects, NCR isn’t better than the Legion, and while the Legion has plenty of bad qualities, it's not cartoon bad: it's got some elements about it that NCR could stand to pay attention to," Avellone says. "I wanted the player to at least consider an alternate perspective even if they didn’t agree with it (it makes an antagonist more well-rounded)."

That brings us to the Legions. Ostensibly the villains, Caesar's Legion combines Mad Max with Roman cosplay, adding in a Klingon-like sense of honor for good measure. Originally conceived as a slaver faction for Black Isle's Van Buren, Sawyer took them and made them more of a Roman military society, using Colonel Kurtz from Apocalypse Now as an inspiration.

"I think that [Chris Avellone] and I had talked at various points about really liking these kind of Colonel Kurtz characters, where they wind up in these circumstances where they just sort of descend into this really savage, cargo cult leadership role," Sawyer says. "And so this idea of a follower of the Apocalypse going off into the wilderness, and emerging on the other side as this sort of God king of the tribes of the wasteland? I thought that was a really cool idea."

Your first encounter with the Legion is most likely to take place in the burned out husk of Nipton, where the town's populace has been decapitated, enslaved, or simply crucified.

You're meant to be horrified, but this is where New Vegas begins to toy with your expectations a little bit, Urquhart says. "What I say is, 'I like turns.' I like it when you get exposed to something, and then over time, you start to question your first impression."

As it turns out, Nipton was a town of thieves that trapped innocent passersby, and the Legion was meting out their form of medieval justice. Later, if you decide to meet with Caesar, you find a charismatic and often brilliant man with his own vision for reforming the Mojave Wasteland.

Caesar, interestingly, has neutral karma, which Sawyer says isn't an oversight on his part. "My reasoning is that his morality is so alien to everyone else, that it's just hard to even put it on the same axis as other people, because he's just thinking about it in a completely different way."

Sawyer is not inclined to judge whether you're supposed to sympathize with Caesar or not. His only goal is to offer rich, multi-dimensional factions with their own virtues and flaws, and let players choose for themselves. One of the chief pleasures of Fallout: New Vegas—and perhaps one of the biggest reasons that it has endured to this point-is moving between the main factions, working with and against them, and eventually choosing who you want to side with for the Battle of the Hoover Dam... if you side with anyone at all.

"A very common thing that I see is people who are like, 'I support the NCR,' and then they get to Colonel Moore and a few other people, and they're like, 'What about Mr. House?,'" Sawyer says. "And then they get to Mr. House, and then he's destroying The Brotherhood, and they're like, 'Independent New Vegas, it is!' So the mechanics needed to be robust enough to handle this swaying of the player, and we needed to have mechanics in there that allow you to remove negative reputation."

Such a complicated setup makes for a fascinating journey-one that gives you agency to make decisions based on your own biases and beliefs. But there is a cost to such ambition, especially when you're a small studio like Obsidian. And that price eventually had to be paid in full.

Cost of Ambition
Obsidian ultimately managed to push Fallout: New Vegas out in 18 months. It fit much of Obsidian's original vision; but as with every triple-A game, cuts had to be made.

The biggest casualty, Sawyer says, were the settlements east of the Colorado River. This area was meant to contain three Legion locations filled with quests and content, and would have ultimately had a very different vibe from New Vegas proper.

Sawyer regrets the cuts, "I think a lot of people have said, in addition to the Legion being just repulsive, they didn't have content to redeem them as a faction. Some people talk to Caesar, and they're like, 'Caesar is interesting. Crazy, but interesting. But the faction itself just seems like misogynistic psychos.' And there's nothing to really change that perception."

Ulysses was another casualty in the main game. Conceived by Chris Avellone, he would have been a companion sympathetic to the Legion. But the character just got too big, Sawyer says. "That character just became enormous. I mean, literally, we just couldn't fit in the game. I can't remember how many lines he was, but he was just gargantuan, and editing him would have been too hard. So that's when we decided like, 'Okay, we're going to save this for later.'"

In speaking on what he would have liked to tackle given the chance, Avellone also focuses on the companions. "If there'd been time and the inclination, having Sunny Smiles, Yes Man, Benny, Vulpes, Victor and others as potential companions would have been great. So would have Muggy (we wanted to, but adding a full companion through the DLCs that would work in the core game would have taken more time than allowed)."

Then there were the invisible walls, which Sawyer swears wasn't meant to block people from traveling places, but made a bad impression nevertheless. "[Designer Scott Everts] for the most part was trying to solve line-of-sight issues. And really just prevent things from looking ugly. It wasn't to prevent the player from going anywhere. Because, as people have seen, you can get to New Vegas from the beginning of the game. It's just really hard."

"But because you start off in Goodsprings, and you're in mountains, near the edge of the map, you run into a lot of invisible walls really early on, and it really was not our intention to like, 'Oh, no! You can't go that way!' It was like, 'Oh, crap! People are getting stuck.' People would get stuck in the mountains, right? And so we put up invisible walls to prevent that. But it was a mistake. "

Needless to say, when it came time to make the DLC, Sawyer made sure that invisible walls were minimized as much as possible.

Fallout: New Vegas ultimately came out on October 19, 2010, where it received solid if unspectacular reviews. Much of the criticism centered around New Vegas' bugs, which had become an Obsidian staple by that point. Scroll through news articles from the time and almost all of them focused on the crashes and technical problems that bedeviled Obsidian's opus.

Urquhart is mostly sanguine about the reviews. "I don't want to excuse it. It's hard to make a huge game," he says. "We'll just say that four months is about 64,000 hours of test. You send your game out and a million people buy it. In one hour, they've tested it for one million hours. So it's again, not an excuse at all. It's just when you make a big complicated game, it's just hard and we need to figure out how to make stuff that's just not as fragile and stuff like that."

Sawyer says he would have been a stricter director in hindsight. "If I had it to do over again, I would have tightened things up, I would have pulled things a little closer together. And included those Legion areas. And I also would have been more aggressive. I let our designers actually do a lot of crazy things, sometimes those things were really cool, sometimes they were really bad and caused a lot of bugs."

Both say they were ultimately not that concerned with negative reviews, even if they did wind up missing out on their targeted Metacritic score. They had gotten their shot and taken it. In another era, that would have been that, and Fallout: New Vegas might have faded into obscurity as a cult classic but not much more.

But that's not what happened.

Walking the Lonesome Road
As you might expect, a lot of fans differ on why they consider Fallout: New Vegas a masterpiece. Some will point to the infinite opportunities afforded by the modding community, others will praise the writing and the often clever quests. But a significant number of them will tell you that the DLC is where Fallout: New Vegas really came into its own.

There were ultimately four DLC packs—six if you included the Courier's Stash and Gun Runners' Arsenal. They were mainly spearheaded by Chris Avellone, who used the DLC as an opportunity to fill in some of the gaps with the lore and play around with the quest structure.

"I think that both Chris and I wanted to explore specific ideas that were risky within the main game, but were less risky within a DLC," Sawyer remembers. "Like in the first DLC, a big focus was on the feeling of survival, and feeling really desperate, and almost like a horror vibe, and so Dead Money had that focus, which... It would feel weird if you designed even maybe a big Fallout New Vegas level around that. But as a DLC, it felt like, 'Oh, cool. This is my trip to a horror realm.'"

In a subsequent postmortem with GameBanshee, Avellone said that the DLC needed to have narrative hooks within the main game so that players would pause to consider the connection. "[W]e took care to make sure there were narrative connections across all the DLCs as well to reinforce the 'things that came before' and how all these signature characters' paths changed the Mojave and the DLC space."

Sawyer agrees. "Chris and I had to collaborate a lot to make sure that the DLCs actually fit together with Fallout: New Vegas and the core game. He had a certain progression towards Ulysses in mind, and Honest Hearts needed to fit into that progression."

The reception to the DLC was fairly lukewarm at the time of their release; but like New Vegas itself, they have grown in esteem has passed, particularly Sawyer's Honest Hearts and Avellone's grand finale: Lonesome Road.

Honest Hearts was a comparatively simple and straightforward quest, but Sawyer wanted to use it to delve into a number of themes, particularly religion. It begins with meeting Joshua Graham: the famed "Burned Man" who is alluded to but never seen in the main quest.

The Burned Man was a nod to The Hanged Man from Black Isle's original version of Fallout 3. As originally envisioned, the Hanged Man would have been statistically one of the best characters in the game, but would have made negotiations problematic. His appearance in Fallout: New Vegas was a treat for longtime fans looking for a nod toward Black Isle's roots.

The subsequent centers around a war within Utah's Zion National Park and a mysterious character called "The Survivalist.

"I gave John Gonzalez the idea of who the Survivalist was," Sawyer remembers. " I'm like, 'The Survivalist is some guy from the army who got stranded in Zion, and he lived through all this crazy stuff, and it's just his logs and his life. Run with it.' It's not really a formal quest. It's just this sequence of learning about this guy's life, and I've seen a ton of people who are like, 'This is the best thing I read in Fallout: New Vegas. I love going through the story.' It's actually very simple because you're really just going from cave to cave and picking up these things, but the story it tells is very compelling, to learn about how this guy went through his life and came to peace with himself when he died."

Lonesome Road, for its part, brought back another would-be companion: Ulysses. It was intended to bring the story full circle by answering some of the questions introduced during the first moments of the game. It was also meant to serve as a dark reflection of the Courier's own story, suggesting what might have happened if everything had gone wrong.

"Lonesome Road was purposely built around the final image at the end of Fallout 1: the Vault Dweller walking off into a lonely future. The idea of a protagonist whose home is lost to him, walking off into the wilderness after helping to nurture and protect a place that ultimately exiles him (or where he simply no longer belongs) is one of the hallmarks of Fallout," Avellone told GameBanshee.

"The sense of abandonment and the lone wanderer connection was important in Lonesome Road, except you're not walking into a lonely future, you're walking into your character's past and seeing what it's done in the present. Ulysses hints that it's possible the player left the West and left NCR because he didn't belong, and that's why he walked the road to the Mojave-but that's Ulysses' perspective, and the motivations for your character are your own."

While New Vegas' DLC wasn't for everyone—plenty of fans and critics consider Bethesda's Point Lookout and Far Harbor to be the gold standards of Fallout DLC—it does find modern day Fallout at its most interesting and experimental.

It was also a rare opportunity for Obsidian to put an exclamation mark on the series. Not many studios get a four episode arc of DLC to close out their game. Obsidian got their chance, and they seized it.

From Cult Favorite to Undeniable Classic
Fallout: New Vegas was seen as a bit of an oddball at release, but a few major factors managed to turn the tide and get people to appreciate its idiosyncracies.

First, it was available on PC, pretty much guaranteeing a long life after release thanks to the modding community. There are hundreds of mods out on the Internet, from texture packs to an attempt to turn Fallout: New Vegas into a multiplayer game, all of which have helped to keep New Vegas fresh. Even Sawyer himself has put out a mod that makes the base game more challenging by tweaking progression and other factors, which he says was a matter of practicing what he preaches (it's pretty much the only mod that he uses when he plays).

I will say that Bethesda's tools are incredibly good, like just... Straight up, the G.E.C.K.O is very powerful," Sawyer says. "I think that when I hear gamers who try to pick up a mod of it and complain about it, like, 'You have no idea how bad development tools can actually be.'"

Mods were ultimately an essential component in Bethesda's recipe for success, and Fallout: New Vegas was no different.

Second, with the complaints about the technical side of the game having long since subsided, fans can properly appreciate everything Fallout: New Vegas has to offer. And Fallout: New Vegas offers a lot. From the quests, to the writing, to callbacks to the days of Black Isle, New Vegas is one giant rabbit hole for fans.

Finally, Bethesda released Skyrim, and later, Fallout 4, which invited fans to draw direct comparisons with Obsidian's work. Those frustrated with getting railroaded into one faction or another found relief in Fallout: New Vegas. The stark contrast wound up boosting Obsidian's profile considerably.

You could really see the narrative turn after Fallout 4, which remains quite divisive among fans. Aside from its more robust reputation system, there are the little things, like the fact that you can kill pretty much everyone except Yes Man (who will continually revive himself) and still finish the game. In Fallout: New Vegas, freedom wasn't limited to its vast open world.

While Urquhart won't call out Bethesda specifically (they have relationships to maintain, after all), he does feel strongly that the intelligence of gamers should be respected. "They don't want to be overwhelmed, but that doesn't mean you can't lead them down the road of enjoying a complex system."

That is one of Fallout: New Vegas' guiding principals, and perhaps one of the biggest reasons that it has proven enduringly popular.

Obsidian has since moved on to other projects, but there are still daily requests for a sequel to Fallout: New Vegas. Earlier this year, fans were absolutely certain that a sequel to Fallout: New Vegas set in New Orleans was about to be announced, but nothing materialized.

Urquhart insists that nothing is in the cards right now, "Like we were saying, it was so awesome to get to do Fallout: New Vegas and it was sort of like this is maybe our only chance. If ever it were to happen that we would work on another Fallout, we would absolutely talk to Bethesda about it and think about it, but at this point in time there is nothing on the table where we would be working on another Fallout."

Disappointing, perhaps, for fans of the series. But even if Obsidian never makes another Fallout game, Fallout: New Vegas will live on. They got the opportunity that they could scarcely imagined having when they first started: the chance to make their dream game. The result was a game that many consider an all-time classic.

And seven years after its original release, that's more apparent than ever.

 



#76
injurai

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I'll be honest, this is the most intense interview heavy, information heavy, developer centric campaign I've ever seen. Really enjoying it.


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#77
Flouride

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They are milking Feargus dry of any juicy stories he has to share though! No more Feargus stories for few years at least! :D


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#78
injurai

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You can always pace yourself, I bet some of these stories wouldn't come out naturally with inquisitive fans digging a bit.



#79
Infinitron

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Fallout: New Vegas was once Fallout: Sin City and had three playable races
Would have been super ghoul.
 
 
Did you know Obsidian originally wanted three playable races in Fallout: New Vegas? This is the part literally crossed out - struck through and coloured red - on the Fallout 3.5 treatment Obsidian CEO Feargus Urquhart showed me at the studio.
 
"Originally we had this idea where the player would be able to choose between three races: human, ghoul and super mutant," he said. "It was just the engine...
 
"It really had to do with how all the weapons and armour worked. Trying to have them all work with ghouls and super mutants was just going to be - [Bethesda] felt like it was going to be a nightmare. It wasn't like they said no but it was a very strongly worded, 'We would really suggest that you not try to do that.'"
 
Obsidian and Bethesda began talking about Fallout in 2008/2009, when Aliens: Crucible and Alpha Protocol were both still alive. Aliens: Crucible would soon get the chop. "[Bethesda] was still pitching it internally so it was literally just an idea at the time," said Urquhart. "We knew from the start it was not going to be Fallout 4 - that was the internal team's."
 
"It was always intended to be essentially a gigantic expansion," added Obsidian co-owner Chris Parker.
 
"It was meant to be not the sequel," continued Urquhart. "It was meant to be an offshoot project. But we were actually worried about that, about people thinking of it as just a big expansion." Obsidian considered it to be more like Grand Theft Auto: Vice City or GTA: San Andreas, which were Grand Theft Auto 3 offshoots but full games in their own right.
 
Understandably, given the studio's deep roots in Black Isle - the original creator of Fallout - excitement for the project was sky high. "I didn't leave Black Isle because I wanted to make another Fallout," said Urquhart. "I love making Fallout. I was lead designer on Fallout 2. I'm not in any way instrumental in the creation of the SPECIAL system but I absolutely participated in the creation of it."
 
As Bethesda Game Studios had dibs on the East Coast of America, Obsidian took the West. "Someone threw up New Reno as one of the crazy things we did and then we saw Vegas and," shrugged Urquhart, "we just went with it. From there it was like the '50s had the Rat Pack, then someone threw out the idea there was the scene in Goodfellas where you get taken out into the desert and whacked and thrown into a grave, and it it all kind of turned that way."
 
Bethesda didn't need much convincing, given the history of Obsidian/Black Isle, so only a short proposal was written. "We put together a very short pitch, probably three pages," he said. "The first time we pitched it we pitched it as Fallout: Sin City. Very quickly it got changed to Fallout: Vegas and then became Fallout: New Vegas."
 
Obsidian's Fallout: New Vegas would go on to become, without a doubt, the studio's most famous game, of that Parker and Urquhart are unanimous. Fallout: New Vegas is also considered by many to be a better game than Bethesda's own Fallout 3.
 
But months after release, Fallout: New Vegas would be remembered for something else: coming agonisingly close to - but not reaching - the 85 per cent Metacritic mark Bethesda stipulated for Obsidian's bonus. The game scored 84.
 
"It was so much after - it all came out the day after we had laid everybody off for Stormlands [the cancelled Xbox One exclusive]," said Urquhart. "That was the day."
 
"And what can you say?" added Parker. "You can't get mad at somebody for a contract you signed. We signed a contract, it had very clear terms in it. 'Oh we were really close...' We didn't hit it."
 
"Also," said Urquhart, "we didn't put those terms in there. [Bethesda] added that bonus - we didn't ask for the bonus. We just pretty much ignored it. As an independent developer, any of those Metacritic-type bonuses you just ignore.
 
"You don't control testing, you don't control promotion, you don't control when the game ships. There are a whole lot of things you don't control. That is in no way - and it's really important for me to say this - an excuse.
 
"It is more when publishers try to change financial terms based upon things like Metacritic scores we say, 'Look you have as much of an effect over those...' You could ship the same game in the same way with two different publishers and the Metacritic would be different."
 
But, he concluded, "It was in the contract, it was what it said. We didn't put it in there and we signed it. I wasn't crying over it by any stretch of the imagination."
 
Disclaimer: Travel and accommodation for this trip was provided by Paradox Interactive.


#80
Lexx

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You read this and then you remember how every other guy on the internet wanted to turn this metacritic thing into a big Obsidian vs. Beyhesda fight, even though there weren't really any signs about it around.




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