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building better worlds

J.E. Sawyer


blog-0745817001347489138.jpgOh. Hello there.


I wanted to put some ideas into words to help express what it means to build a world at Obsidian. It takes a lot of time and effort from a boatload (dirigible-load) of people, but there are some guiding principles that keep us focused on building worlds we love that we hope players will love, too.


No matter what the flavor of the setting may be -- fantasy, sci-fi, modern day espionage... a town in Colorado -- worlds are places we want to explore filled with characters we feel passionate about. Curiosity makes us want to explore. An interest in the unknown. Fascination and wonder at what we'll see if we go left instead of right. Visuals are part of it, but it's about the atmosphere and the feeling we get from stepping into a place we've never been part of before. When we see the way the world and the folks in it work, what drives it and them, no matter how mundane or fantastic, we believe in it.


To feel for characters at all, we need to make a connection with them. To make a connection with them, we need to believe that if we were put in their shoes, maybe we'd follow the same path they're on. When we talk about mature themes, we're not describing arterial spray. We're talking about character motivations that we sympathize with in the setting. When we get to our nemeses after hunting them down for 50 hours and they say, "Man, do you see what I have to deal with?" we nod and say, "Yeah, I guess I do..." even as we're reluctantly beating their faces in with a morningstar.


But it's not a one-way street. Those characters need to be with you. They need to pay attention to who you choose to be and how you choose to conduct yourself. It's why we love writing conversations as dialogues, exchanges with give and take. If we've built a world you believe in, your choices won't feel like random button clicks. They'll be decisions that make you think, maybe trouble you, possibly annoy you from time to time. And when your companions, friends, enemies, lovers, haters, et al. react with jeers, whooping, or the RPG equivalent of a sustained Citizen Kane clap, you won't feel the invisible hand of the market designer at work. You'll feel like you're at home in the world we, and your choices, have shaped.


When you get down to it, we want to make places and lives you want to be a part of as much as we do. It seems a lot simpler than it is when it's written down like that, but through all of the complications and doubts, knowing what we're shooting for helps us move foward day after day and year after year. Hopefully you'll want to be part of where we're going next. It should be a hoot.

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well they finally get it.. to some extent. But I was sure Chris was the one to do it


3D games' biggest immersion breaking problem is this, people don't empathize with any character. Why?


1) graphics are too clean

2) animations are too stiff and repetitive

3) face mimics suck

4) voices aren't that great


SO, the most luck a game had came from a character with no face, so the user imagines the emotions for himself using the voice (soul reaver)


And then it's Bloodlines (who really touched a maximum until now without cutting corners)


So first of all get this down right, tweak it and polish it, and then start working on plots and twists.


You know how people are don't you? first 15 seconds when meeting some1 are the most important, why?

because all you need is to see his face, hear his tone of voice, see his movement and posture, and you'll know where he's coming from.


Hear my cry!

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Oh I wish it was about AP2, but Sega has said not long ago that they still don't plan releasing a sequel...who owns the AP rights anyway?

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3D games' biggest immersion breaking problem is this, people don't empathize with any character.

Well then, let's hope the game is 2D then shall we?

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It's about the spirit of the games, no mater what they are... It is bit philosophical, I like very much this approach! :)

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When film was first invented, people thought it was a childs toy. Later, when it was established as an art form, and when sound was introduced people thought it would ruin the form. They were proven wrong. The same happened with color, widescreen, etc. Videogames are an extension of this form, with an interactive element, a storytelling element that isn't linear, or set in stone. We already have an early history of games like Myst, Baldurs Gate, Ico, etc. Tolkien would be proud of you guys!

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dia actually stands for talking it "through", not for two sides, I think. As in diagonal. Still, that doesn't change the process.

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