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Found 93 results

  1. While the gameplay trailer looked just as gorgeous as I had hoped given the decision to go with 2D backgrounds. One thing that I'm not sure about yet is the look of the water though. Maybe it's all pre-alpha and I just should stop worrying but let's take a look at the three scenes where water is most prominently featured in the trailer. The water looks very different in all three of these scenes and I definitely like the first one the least while the second one looks pretty good actually. Of course the hard pixely edges of the foreground columns contributes its share to make the water stick out in the first screenshot but actually I'm not convinced this is the only reason. It just looks too "3D" to me. Any thoughts?
  2. Update by Brandon Adler, Producer After months of hard work we are happy to present to you with Project Eternity's BIG update. We have lots of stuff to go over, so let's get into it. Teaser Trailer Through the hard work of the Project Eternity team we are proud to present our first in-game teaser trailer. Click to view the gameplay teaser. New Name If you've finished the teaser (and you've finished it, haven't you?) then you know we have another big announcement. Project Eternity is now officially known as Pillars of Eternity. In addition to that, we have a nifty new logo courtesy of Kaz: The new Pillars of Eternity logo. Backer Portal Pillars of Eternity now has a new Backer Portal! You can visit it by going here. First things first, let's get into how you manage your pledges. To manage your pledge, click the link in the highlighted area. In the image above you will notice a section outlined in a red box. Inside this box is a link to the pledge management page. There are actually a few different ways to get to the pledge management page (there is also a link on the top bar, for example), but this is the easiest from the home page. Click the link in the box and you will head to the pledge management page. From this page you can manage all of your pledges or link new ones. The pledge management page is your first stop in collecting rewards. On this page you can do the following: Review any pledges linked to your account’s email address.Under the Your Pledges section we will list all of the pledges that are linked to the email address you have listed in your account. You can review these pledges and make sure that everything is correct. Link an additional email address to your account.You may have multiple pledges from multiple email addresses that you would like to associate with your account. By clicking the link in the Your Pledges section you can enter in another email address to link to your account. You will then be sent a confirmation email to the address provided. Once confirmed, any pledges linked to that email address will be shown under the Your Pledges section. Confirm what pledges should be used for.If you have pledged an amount equal to your selected tier on Kickstarter or PayPal the Backer Portal will automatically figure out what your pledge should be used for. On the other hand if you pledged an amount different than your selected tier level you will need to specify what the additional money or pledges were intended for. This can be anything from an add-on, to shipping, to a donation. If you need help you can select the option for Obsidian to contact you. We will contact you as soon as possible and get everything squared away. Keep in mind that if you choose for an Obsidian employee to contact you, your account will be locked until a representative has helped you. This is to prevent any incorrect selections. You can confirm and upgrade your tier on the reward management page. Next, you will be taken to the reward selection page. On this page you will be able to confirm your reward selection by selecting the appropriate tier listed. If you are eligible for a tier upgrade, you can select one of those options instead of what you originally pledged. Don’t worry about the price differences, we will take care of that when you checkout. If you missed any add-ons during the Kickstarter, you can add them here. Did you forget to grab a Pillars of Eternity t-shirt during the Kickstarter? No need to fret, after selecting your rewards, you can choose any add-ons that you would like to add to your pledge. You will find everything from shirts, to mouse pads, to Chris Avellone’s novella. You can review your order before finalizing it. Once you are finished choosing your rewards and add-ons, you will have an opportunity to review your order before checking out. Fill out your shipping info, if needed. If you have any physical goods, you will need to enter your shipping information. If you upgraded or added rewards, you will need to pay with a credit card or PayPal. If your pledge covers all of your rewards and add-ons you have selected then you just need to confirm one last time. If you have selected a more expensive tier or additional add-ons, then you will be prompted to pay with a credit card or a PayPal account. Fill out surveys for any in-game rewards. For those of you that have in-game rewards that require your help (Credits, Memorial Stones, NPCs, Items, Inns, Portraits, Adventuring Parties, etc.) or add-ons that require more information (shirts), we have surveys for you to fill out. Just click on the link once you have checked out or go to your profile to find all of the surveys you are eligible for. Filling out the surveys is as easy as choosing whatever you would like from the various selection boxes and filling out any text for in-game rewards. If you don’t have enough time to fill out the survey in one sitting, just press the save button at the bottom of the page. Your answers will be saved for the next time you enter the survey. Once you are happy with your answers, you can choose to submit your survey. Congratulations! Your rewards are now confirmed and any surveys you have are filled out. All that’s left to do is check out the areas of the Backer Portal. You can find more information about the game, videos, screenshots, and wallpapers. Stretch Goal Poll We've always taken your pledges seriously and we remain committed to giving our backers every stretch goal you reached during the Kickstarter campaign. Budgeting a game of this size can be daunting, but we always remember the cornerstones of our pitch and the features you funded. Even so, there are two things we know a lot of you have asked for: more wilderness areas and more companions. Both of these are very time-consuming, but we understand why so many people want them. Because we've seen these requests more than a few times, we would like to ask the community if you would be interested in new stretch goals to fund additional development. If not, no worries: we're still going to deliver on everything you've backed. Please let us know your thoughts in this thread on our forums. Interviews and Articles That’s not all. We also have a plethora of new interviews with members of the Pillars of Eternity team. Check them out below. GameBanshee Interview Eurogamer Article Kotaku Article PC World Summary Article PC World Interview Rock, Paper, Shotgun Interview VGS - AM 640 Interview (YouTube version here) That’s it for the update. The Pillars of Eternity team and the whole Obsidian crew would like to thank you for all of your support and help in creating the game over this past year. You can’t imagine how rewarding it is to get to work on this game with all of our Backers. Here’s to another great year!
  3. We've always taken your pledges seriously and we remain committed to giving our backers every stretch goal you reached during the Kickstarter campaign. Budgeting a game of this size can be daunting, but we always remember the cornerstones of our pitch and the features you funded. Even so, there are two things we know a lot of you have asked for: more wilderness areas and more companions. Both of these are very time-consuming, but we understand why so many people want them. Because we've seen these requests more than a few times, we would like to ask the community if you would be interested in new stretch goals to fund additional development. If not, no worries: we're still going to deliver on everything you've backed. Please let us know your thoughts in this poll. Rock the vote.
  4. Hey, everyone. I just wanted to share a really awesome piece of fan art that we received this morning from Chris Bischoff. It's inspired from the Twin Elms concepts that we released in our last update. If Chris' name sounds familiar it's because he has his own Kickstarter going for the game STASIS. If you haven't checked it out yet you should. What's not to like about a 2D, isometric, sci-fi, horror adventure game? It's in its last few days so lets help him push it over the edge and get it fully funded. Click for a larger image.
  5. Update by Brandon Adler, Literal Task Master Welcome to my world... As a producer, one of my jobs is creating and understanding the game's master schedule. It's a never-ending task that requires constant refinement and adjustment. Anything that is added or changed can cause a cascade of unintended consequences which is why as game developers we have a responsibility to vet everything that goes into the game. Today I'd like to give you a glimpse into how we approach game development from a scheduling perspective and what our typical thought processes are when figuring this stuff out. You will be able to see how each part of our area creation fits into the schedule and why changes and modifications can lead to difficult decisions for the team. Hopefully, it will give a bit more insight into the tough decisions that we make each day when crafting Project Eternity. The Schedule One thing to remember is that when we are in the middle of production the schedule has already been created for just about everything in the game. What I mean by this is that we have identified all of the major tasks that will need to be accomplished and allotted time and resources in our budgets to match those tasks. Depending on the team's familiarity with the type of game we are creating, this can mean anywhere from a tiny bit of guesswork to larger amounts of... estimation. With Eternity we are very familiar with what it takes to make an isometric, Western RPG with branching dialogues and reactivity. It's Obsidian's bread and butter. Because of this our initial estimates are good approximations. Since most of our features and assets are budgeted at the start of the project, any changes to those items have to be accounted for in the schedule. This can mean a few different things - anything from reducing time spent on other tasks, to changing previously scheduled items, to outright cuts - and when changes need to happen project leads consult with each other to try and figure out the best option. Keep this in mind when I start talking about changes to features and assets later on in this update. One Small Interior Dungeon Alright, let's stop talking in generalities and get into the meat of what it takes to create a first pass area in Eternity. I'll discuss a generic small interior dungeon area. This area will have the following characteristics and constraints: Uses an existing "tileset." We don't have tiles in Eternity, but we do have sets of areas that share similar assets. Will have one unique visual feature in the area. This visual feature is something that will make the area stand out a bit. It doesn't have to be incorporated into the design, but we may want to do that to get the most bang for the buck. An Average complexity quest uses this area. "Average" is a flavor of quest in Project Eternity. It refers to the overall complexity of the quest. Quest complexity is determined by the amount of dialogue, branching, and steps a quest has. This is a 3x3 interior. A 3x3 interior is the equivalent of a 5760x3240 render. An easier way to think about it is that a 3x3 area is nine 1920x1080 screens worth of content. You can imagine that making an area even a tiny bit larger can actually lead to enormous amounts of work. As an example, a 3x3 is nine screens of work, where a 4x4 is 16 screens of work... almost double the number of screens. To create our small interior dungeon area, the following has to occur: An area designer (Bobby Null, for example) puts together a paper design for the area. This is usually part of a larger paper design, but for this purpose we can say that it is a separate element. For a small area like this, a paper design wouldn't take more than a quarter of a day. Material concepts for a high wealth interior. After the paper design is constructed, it is passed to the area design team for revisions and approval. For the most part, this goes fairly quickly and normally wouldn't take more than a quarter of a day for a small area. A concept artist (Hi, Polina and Kaz) creates a concept for the unique visual element of this area. Let's say for our purposes the unique element is a cool adra pillar that is holding up a portion of the ceiling. This takes half a day to a day, depending on prop complexity. This may seem like a luxury, but making sure that the areas feel cohesive can save lots of revision time down the road. After the concept work is completed, it is reviewed by the Art Director (Rob Nesler) and the Project Director (Josh Sawyer). Any necessary changes are then made before being approved. Overall, it probably takes about a quarter of a day for review and any revisions that need to be done. An initial pass on a blockout before it has had a review. After the paper design and concepts, an area designer creates a 3D blockout of the area in Unity. This allows the designer to walk through the area and make sure it flows well. This also helps to give the environment artist assigned to the area an idea of where the various elements should be laid out. A full blockout of a 3x3 area normally wouldn't take more than half a day. This is an extremely important part of the process. Sometimes an area seems great on paper, but in practice it is clunky or frustrating. Once the blockout is finished it's passed along to the area strike team for review. The area strike team includes people from most disciplines. This is the point where revisions are performed and the layout becomes finalized. The changes can be as simple as moving some props around or as complicated as redesigning major portions of the layout. Again, for a small area of this size, we aren't looking at more than half a day for all of the feedback and revisions. With the blockout in place, the area can move to environment art (For example, Hector "Discoteca" Espinoza) for the art pass. This includes putting together existing pieces and creating new assets to make the area. A large portion of time allotted to an area is spent in environment art. A 3x3 area that uses mostly existing assets would typically get three days of environment art work, but, because we want to have a cool, unique piece in the area we will add about a day of environment art time. This gives a total of four days for the initial art pass. Like the blockout, the art pass is usually reviewed by the area strike team. Revisions can vary wildly depending on how everyone feels about the area, but it isn't uncommon for another quarter to half a day to be spent on review and revisions for this size of area. The blockout above with revisions, 2D render, and initial design. Now with the 2D render in place, the area is ready for the real design work to be done. An area designer will typically get about three days to do the first pass on the area. This includes things like a loot pass, encounters, trigger setup, temp dialogs, etc.. Because this area has a quest that is running through it, though, it will get an extra day to work out all of those kinks. That puts us at four days for an initial design pass on the area. Remember the part about this area having a quest? Well, now is when a creative designer (Like Mr. Eric Fenstermaker, for example) comes through to write the dialogs. To be completely honest, this usually comes much later, but it works for our purposes. The narrative designer creates the NPC dialogs, quest dialogs, and companion interjections for the area. Usually an area designer will stub these conversations out and the narrative designer will come in and complete them. Depending on the amount of dialog this should take around a day or two for everything. Finally, a concept artist will take a pass at painting over the final 2D render. This pass is used for "dirtying up" an area and adding in the little details that might be difficult for an environment artist to create. As an example, we can cover up texture seems, add in variation on repeating textures, paint in lighting highlights, and even add things like patina or moss on objects. Due to Photoshop magic from Kaz, we can even propagate those changes into our diffuse maps so they show properly in any dynamic lights. This is a fairly low cost procedure and Kaz can cover a small area like this in about half a day. There are other considerations (Like animation, sound effects and visual effects, for example), but we will stop for now. So, for those keeping count at home, to get a first pass area that is borderline Alpha (as in no bug fixing or polish work) it costs the project about 13 man days. This is little over one half of a man month of time for a small, simple area. Larger areas with more content take significantly longer to develop. Our time estimations used for scheduling are determined in preproduction (prepro) phase. Our vertical slice (the end of prepro) is the culmination of the team identifying what it will take to make the game and then actually doing it. We get these numbers by seeing how long it takes the team to perform those tasks in our prepro, and then we can extrapolate those numbers over the course of the time we have budgeted to understand how much work can get done. Tough Choices A milestone will have 15 to 20 areas of varying complexity going at a time. A minor change in an area can cause a domino effect that starts schedule slippage. Remember that on a small team like Project Eternity we have a limited number of people that can work on any one part of the game so taking someone off of their current task to work on changes can gum up our pipelines and prevent others from completing their tasks. We can get around that by switching up the tasking, but it can quickly get out of hand and lead to inefficiencies. That being said it's the team's responsibility to give our backers what they have paid for. If we are playing though part of the game and something feels off from what we promised to our fans, we need to seriously consider making changes - even if it pushes us off schedule. There have been times where an update leads to some serious discussion on the forums and within the team about a direction change. Ultimately all of that gets added into the equation as well. Taking that into consideration, the team has to make difficult choices every day. Do we go through and do another prop pass on a level? What does that cost us in the long run? Will we lose an entire area in the game? These are questions that the leads struggle with everyday. We are always weighing the cost of assets and features against everything that still needs to get done. Luckily, like I mentioned above, we have a bunch of smart, talented, experienced people working on Eternity. The pitfalls we have experienced in previous games give us a leg up when we are trying to navigate this project's development. I wanted to send out this update to give the fans a little insight into our daily processes and demystify what probably seem like arcane decisions. If you enjoy these types of updates, let me know in the forums and I will try to write more of them for you.
  6. Hey, everyone! This week we are doubling up on the Project Eternity backer update action. Darren Monahan will be giving a brief glimpse into the Backer Portal and Hector Espinoza will share his work (and some screenshots!) in a developer Q&A. Enjoy. -Brandon It’s Finally Time… Soon Update by Darren Monahan, Chief Intelligence Overlord A year already... Unbelievably, a year has passed by since we launched Project Eternity on Kickstarter, and a lot has happened. We’re almost to seventy project updates; we’ve made lots of levels, characters, classes, monsters, loot, and a whole lot more over the past year with more being made almost every day. November’s right around the corner, and here in the States, we have an upcoming holiday called Thanksgiving near the end of the month. It’s supposed to be a time where we give thanks for the harvest and reflect on the past year. It seemed rather appropriate to have a bigger than normal update coming before this holiday and we’re cooking a big one for you! This turkey dinner is going to be large and in charge... It’ll show a bunch of new stuff we haven’t shown anyone outside the studio yet and one of the side dishes coming with it is the new site. Backer Website: Main and Media Pages All of our previous updates are now easily available in one place, easy to browse through and include futuristic RSS technology! We’ve also got a one-stop shop for all of the screenshots, wallpapers, artwork, and videos that we’ve released and will release. Backer Website: Pledge and Rewards Pages On the left here, you can make sure all of the pledges you made are connected to your account. If you backed the game on Kickstarter and then later added money via PayPal, you can make sure that’s all been confirmed. If it doesn’t show up, you can link it in by providing the e-mail addresses you used if they don’t match. …and then, confirm that your reward is correct, or maybe even upgrade if you like! Did you give maybe give us more money thinking you chose one reward tier but accidentally chose a lower one? No problem, you can fix that up. Oh, and slacker backers… you might have some upgrade opportunities… Onward is the addon screen where you can browse through the available addons and confirm those choices as well. Backer Website: Add-on and Game Info Pages Then finalize everything! Don’t worry, even though you’ll be confirming your pledge selections, if you picked up physical rewards, you’ll be able to change your shipping address up to the point where we need to lock them. You’ve got plenty of time, and we’ll keep that open as long as we possibly can in case you move or want to have your stuff shipped elsewhere. On the right there is our “Game” section of the site, where over the coming months more information and art about the various races, classes, characters, critters, and locations of interest in the game can be found. OK, we’ll be back in a few short weeks… For those of you who have designs as part of your rewards, get your thinking caps on! Developer Q&A with Hector Espinoza Update by Hector Espinoza, Lead Environment Artist Hector in his natural habitat. Hello, Hector. What is your job on the Project Eternity team? I am the Lead Environment Artist on Project Eternity. Along with building assets and doing layouts of some the larger levels of the game, I help my team of artists create a visually exciting world for the players to explore. What are you working on this week? This week I'm working on polishing one of the states of the Stronghold and building a Keep that is contained within. What is your typical work day like on Project Eternity? I come in to work and read a little email. Sometimes I'll have a "breakfast snack" in the form of cheese and peanut butter crackers. This holds me over until lunch time. Upon my return from lunch, I'll continue to work on my current tasks. At times I help critique some of the work that is being created around me or from outsourcing. In the late afternoon I'll head out for a short walk to get my daily coffee, I'm really good about keeping this to one cup a day. Then in the evening as the sun sets I'll hook up the speakers and turn my office into a "discoteca" and work while listening to some of the baddest jams on the planet. One of Hector's work in progress areas, the player's stronghold, in a ruined and restored state. What are you most looking forward to on Project Eternity? I'm looking forward to the day when people get to enjoy our finished product. We are putting in a lot of hard work and effort to deliver something special to our fans and backers, thank you all so much for making this possible! I also want to play it! Our playtests have been really fun. What other projects have you worked on? While at Obsidian I have worked on Dungeon Siege III and after that I have helped out on a number of "unannounced" titles. Before Obsidian the list is pretty big. At Black Isle I worked on Icewind Dale (as QA), Icewind Dale: Heart of Winter (as an Artist, yay!) and Icewind Dale II. The short lived "Van Buren", it was going to be awesome! Oh, and BG III: The Black Hound. The last title I worked on while at Interplay was Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance 2. Outside of Interplay and Black Isle I worked on Vampire: Bloodlines, Full Spectrum Warrior 2, and Lord of the Rings: Conquest. Of course in between a lot of these titles there are more projects that unfortunately never got to see a release. Hector after 7:00 PM. Which environment that you have done has been your favorite? By far this has to be the first one, which is the original Kickstarter image. I learned a lot when creating that scene and the feeling of nostalgia was awesome. What do you like to do when you aren't leading the environment art crew? Outside of work I choose photography as another creative outlet. I like to go out hiking and shoot landscapes or if I'm lucky some wildlife. Animals can be tough to find and sometimes I don't have the patience. I also enjoy macro photography, this takes patience too but it's a much more controlled environment. I like that. Do you have a favorite artist or game developer? This is a super tough question. I'll start with outside the industry. Favorite artists are Mark Ryden, Audrey Kawasaki, James Jean, and Ashley Wood. Inside the industry it has to be Akihiko Yoshida, Yoji Shinkawa, Robh Ruppel, and Sparth. And where do you draw your inspiration from? I mainly draw inspiration from the places I visit when I go out hiking. There is so much to discover when you can capture nature at a grand scale and at the macro level. The music I discover on the weekend when I visit some of my favorite online music sites. And from the people that work around me every day. What's your favorite Infinity Engine game? Why? This has to be Icewind Dale. I feel so fortunate to have worked on that game. It helped me discover the world of D&D. It also gave me the chance to work with and meet some of the best people in the industry. I'm truly grateful for that. A super close second is Planescape: Torment, I mean, come on. HA! In a Quake deathmatch between you and Adam Brennecke, what would be the final score? I think the first round would be pretty close it could go either way really, haha, but once Adam finds his groove, oh man, this would be a no contest, he's a beast. Final score would be to embarrassing for me to write. HA! Is there anything else we should know? I got that purple, grape, I can bake a cake.
  7. Hello, everyone. We aren't doing an update this week because the team is hard at work on a very special update for the near future. Can't really talk about it right now, but we think it's going to be cool. On our one year anniversary, we really just wanted to thank all of the fans and backers that have allowed us to make the game of our dreams. When we asked for your help in getting Eternity funded, you responded by making it one of the most successful Kickstarters in the site's history. Without your continuous feedback and support this game just wouldn't be possible. So, from the entire Obsidian team we give our most heartfelt thank you to our fans and backers. Stay tuned! -The Project Eternity Crew
  8. Hail, We have a new job posting for the Project Eternity team. http://www.obsidian.net/jobs/open-positions/design/679-pe-contract-writer Thanks, Adam
  9. Update by Josh Sawyer, Project Director An agent of Dunryd Row attempts to perceive a "housed" soul within a piece of evidence. Hello and welcome to today's class update! We'll be discussing some newcomers to the Dyrwood's "magic" scene, the enigmatic and deadly soul-manipulators known as ciphers. Read on to learn how ciphers went from being an animancer's theoretical possibility, to the feared foes of Dyrwoodan settlers, to an integral part of Defiance Bay's secret police, Dunryd Row. Cipher Mechanics Contemporary ciphers are fighting casters, like the Glanfathan "mind hunters" who invented the discipline. When engaged in physical combat, they use an Ability called Soul Whip to contact and drain the psyches of their targets. Recognizable by the purple flames that engulf a cipher's weapons, Soul Whip generates a Focus resource that ciphers can use to power their abilities. Though ciphers begin combat with a modest amount of Focus, their more advanced techniques demand large expenditures of Focus. Additionally, repeated uses of even minor powers will quickly drain a cipher's Focus, requiring them to dive into physical combat to generate more. Cipher powers are not limited to mental manipulation. They have abilities that allow them to use a target's soul energy to "leak" and burst into flame, to generate a physical shockwave of that knocks down everyone behind the target, or even to bend back toward the cipher, creating a field of protective energy around him or her. With the exception of Soul Whip, all cipher powers require Focus and a nearby target other than themselves, one with a "housed" soul. In practical terms, this means that ciphers must always target a nearby ally or an enemy with their powers. It is impossible for them to target themselves, a distant target, or open ground. Here is a sampling of some of the cipher's abilities: Soul Whip (Modal) - At close range, the cipher's weapons generate fields of parasitic energy that lash out at a target's soul. The Soul Whip mode reduces the amount of damage caused, but each successful hit briefly lowers the target's Psyche defense and generates Focus for the cipher (attacks Psyche). Mind Wave - The cipher violently intrudes into an enemy's mind, Stunning the target (attacks Psyche) and generating a cone of concussive force behind him or her that can knock down anyone in its path (attacks Fortitude). Soul Shock - The cipher causes an ally's soul to "crack" and violently release energy into the physical world. The resulting explosion of electrical (Shock) energy damages everyone nearby except the target (attacks Reflexes). Psychovampiric Shield - The cipher drains Intellect from enemies and uses it to temporarily increase his or her Deflection. The increase in the cipher's Deflection is dependent on how much Intellect he or she successfully drains from victims (attacks Psyche). Mind Blades - The cipher uses the souls of nearby enemies to generate attacks against the subjects themselves. Each target is attacked once by a slashing "mind blade" which then moves on to the next nearest enemy up to a maximum of five targets (attacks Deflection). Recall Agony - The cipher causes the target to re-experience the pain of a wound moments after the target originally suffered it. The damage is a percentage of the original value, but it ignores the armor of the target (attacks Psyche). Ectopsychic Echo - The cipher and an ally generate a bolt of psychic energy that periodically rebounds between them, causing Crush damage to anyone caught in the area (attacks Reflexes). Cipher Lore Many classes have abilities that allow the user to channel the power of their own soul or ambient soul fragments to produce incredible effects. Paladins ignite their souls to produce auras, wizards draw soul fragments into grimoires to shape and cast spells, and monks use personal suffering to focus energy through their bodies. While these classes often develop abilities that allow them to affect the minds and souls of others, the power is always generated by the user. Feared for their mental powers and extreme hostility, the vithrack were once eagerly pursued by animancers for research purposes. In the field of animancy, which focuses on the study of souls, researchers wondered for centuries if they could develop a discipline or technology that would allow people to connect with the soul of another living thing -- not just reach or strike out toward it. Wizards and priests had developed abilities to overwhelm or inspire the mind, but not to connect with it. Animancers theorized that it could be possible for one soul to reach out and connect to another, but they had no proof. Animancers studied folk legends about figures called Watchers who reportedly were able to see lost souls and perceive an individual's ancestral lives, but claimants to that title were typically charlatans at best or mentally unstable and violent at worst. A few intrepid animancers attempted to communicate with the reclusive spider-like race known as the vithrack. The creatures, obviously of advanced intelligence and extraordinary capabilities, seemed to possess the ability to connect to an individual's soul -- albeit with horrifying consequences. The dangerous nature and rarity of the vithrack combined with their inhuman physiology have still proven to be insurmountable obstacles in understanding how their powers work. Still, the animancers had a few other leads to follow. Over a century ago, during the Broken Stone War, soldiers in the Dyrwood reported wild tales of having their minds invaded, of seeing comrades lose control of themselves, of orlan and elven Glanfathan warriors wielding knives engulfed in purple flames that "cut away" the souls of their victims. The war was a new experience for everyone involved, so many Dyrwoodans dismissed many of the more outlandish tales over time. But over the decades that followed, more settlers reported similar violent encounters with Glanfathan guerilla fighters. In the War of Black Trees, Dyrwoodan animancers confirmed many of these experiences across a wide number of soldiers and settlers. However, with Dyrwoodan settlers in a state of war with the population of Eir Glanfath, the researchers couldn't find many Glanfathans who were willing to talk about it. After the Dyrwoodan revolution for independence, the Dyrwood officially stopped the Aedyr Empire's practice of exploring and plundering Eir Glanfath's sacred ruins -- the practice that had ignited the earlier wars between Dyrwoodan settlers and Glanfathans. In the years that followed, the tribal princes of Eir Glanfath allowed Dyrwoodan animancers to speak with some of their brîshalgwin ("mind hunters"), the elite warriors that had terrorized Aedyrans and Dyrwoodans in past wars. From the brîshalgwin, the animancers learned that Glanfathans had developed mental abilities that allowed them to perceive and contact what animancers categorized as "housed" souls, i.e., souls held within a physical vessel. They initially developed these talents in an attempt to communicate with souls held in the Engwithan ruins they were sworn to protect. When the tribal princes outlawed this practice as disrespectful and dangerous, their councilors advised the princes to turn the efforts of the brîshalgwin towards protecting the ruins and developing new methods of warfare. Standing stones of adra like these were carelessly knocked down by early Dyrwoodan colonists, starting a conflict with the local Glanfathans that erupted into what became known as the Broken Stone War. Excited by these revelations, animancers in Defiance Bay began working with the brîshalgwin, whom the animancers had previously described as "ciphers" due to their mysterious nature. Given Dyrwoodans' general discomfort with the Glanfathan language, the cipher name stuck and continues to be used in everyday conversation. For decades now, the ciphers and animancers have worked together, each generating new ideas and expanding their collective understanding of soul manipulation. Today, Dyrwoodans and foreign visitors from Aedyr, the Vailian Republics -- even distant Rauatai -- have learned and expanded the ciphers' growing field of techniques. Recently, encouraged by the potential the ciphers have shown and dismissive of the superstitious concerns of locals, Lady Webb, a prominent noble and advisor to the duc, petitioned the Dyrwood's erls to create a spy service in Defiance Bay consisting primarily of ciphers. The erls approved, creating what would become known as Dunryd Row, a respected, if somewhat feared and mistrusted, organization that operates out of an old, vine-covered house in the city's Brackenbury District. Though ciphers' powers are still being explored, unlocked, and debated across the civilized world, most people recognize that their abilities hold great potential -- for good or ill -- in the cultures that develop them.
  10. Update by Kazunori Aruga, Concept Artist, and Brandon Adler, you-know-what-I-do Hello, backers. This week we are profiling another talented Concept Artist on Eternity, Kaz Aruga. While Kaz wears many artist hats his largest contributions are area and UI concepts. Enjoy. Q: Hello, Kaz. What is your job on the Project Eternity team? Before I start I want to quickly thank all you awesome peeps who backed our game. I wouldn't be here working on my dream project if it weren't for you all, so thank you for making this a reality! I have two responsibilities on Project Eternity. The first is supplying the asset and environment teams with concept art. The second is producing art for the game's UI. I'm occasionally tasked with scripted interaction art and will start producing character portraits further down the road. Q: What are you working on this week? I've been tasked with inventory and character creation UI. *leaps away as a massive fireball of community UI rage engulfs the land* But seriously, I appreciated the feedback you all gave us for the action bar and conversation UI. I've taken notes and been implementing ideas that are in alignment with our design goals. As a side note, being a fan of the IE games and having a lot of experience playing them has proven very useful as it helps me identify what worked and what didn’t. I'm sure we all have fond memories of shuffling piles of arrows between characters. Q: What is your typical work day like on Project Eternity? My day usually starts by fighting off Robs and Polinas to get to the Keurig coffee machine in our room. Consuming the glorious bean drink allows me access to all two neurons in my head, which I then rub together as hard as I can to start making artwork. My day varies a lot from this point based on the task I'm on. For character and environment work a good chunk of time will be devoted to gathering reference and inspiration, or doing homework on a specific subject. I'll then do a rough sketch pass which gets reviewed by the leads and other artists. When I'm on scripted interaction art I work closely with our designers Bobby and Jorge, and for UI I interface with our project lead Josh and Brian who is our programming intern. Q: What are you most looking forward to on Project Eternity? Just the fact that we can put an IE inspired game on the market is enough to get me excited. It's been long overdue. I'm looking forward to seeing all the hard work we are putting in coming together as one complete package, and seeing reactions of people playing the game! Q: Which concept that you have done has been your favorite? Artists are typically never happy with their own work. Next question! I've enjoyed working on art for scripted interactions, and been pretty happy with the results. I've also been putting a lot of work into inventory UI recently and am happy with the results coming out of that. Q: What other projects have you worked on? Before this job I was up in San Francisco working as a texture artist on a television series called Star Wars: The Clone Wars. I've also done some matte painting work in the film industry. Q: What do you like to do when you aren't chained to your desk by your producer? My off time often includes episodes of Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, a cold beer, and dual wielding our two resident cats Puddy Tat and Lil'Babs. They are the best. I also have an unhealthy and destructive relationship with Ramen. (No, not the vile instant noodles. How dare you call that Ramen!) Thankfully LA has an abundance of good shops to satisfying my craving. Q: Do you have a favorite concept artist? Here's a few that popped into my head. I'll link to their site and save you all a google search. Sergey Kolesov Thomas Pringle Daisuke “dice” Tsutsumi On the painting and illustration side.. Ashley Wood Jeremy Lipking Yanick "dusso" Dusseault Joseph Zbukvic Zdzislaw Beksinski And of course the greats from the past... John Singer Sargent Jean-Léon Gérôme The Wyeths Norman Rockwell J. C. Leyendecker Isaac Levitan Q: And where do you draw your inspiration from? Nature is a big one of course. I also think back on how blessed we are with powerful tools like Google image search. We don’t neglect traditional resources, but I honestly can't imagine working at our current pace without it. Q: What's your favorite Infinity Engine game? Why? BG1 for exploring the vast wilderness. I can still recall the music and hear the birds chirping in the distance. BG2 is a close 2nd for its story and companions. The only title I haven't finished is IWD2 which I am playing through currently, and I will say I'm enjoying the combat. Q: Existential question of the day: Who are we and why are we? We're just here, man. There's no why, everything just IS. You feel me? Q: Anything else you would like to share? Long live the glorious PC gaming master race. *lets out a nerdy war cry and bangs mouse and keyboard together* That's it for this week. Hope you guys enjoyed getting closer look into what Kaz does for us. See you guys in a couple weeks.
  11. By Tim Cain, Senior Code Wizard and Systems Designer Hello! I have spent much of my time for the last few weeks devoted to making the game’s stronghold system, which was one of our Kickstarter project’s biggest stretch goals, into one of the best systems in the game. Josh has created an amazing and detailed stronghold design, with lots of upgrades and activities and random events that really make owning a stronghold fun and exciting. I want to spend this update explaining what we have made in the game, but first, let’s talk about the stronghold itself. First, a caveat: I am going to describe the stronghold as it is currently designed. This design is mostly programmed already too, but as with all development, it might change as we finish the art and audio, fix any bugs, and tune the game play. So please view this as a snapshot of the stronghold development as it exists today. You will be offered the stronghold early in the game, before you finish Act 1. But the stronghold itself is old and dilapidated, and you will want to upgrade it as soon as you can. These upgrades will, in turn, open up new activities and events that can happen, which will make the stronghold a dynamic and fun place to own. So let’s go through the many reasons why you will want to have a stronghold. Bonuses There are five bonuses you will receive for getting and upgrading your stronghold. Resting bonuses. Some of the upgrades to your stronghold will grant temporary bonuses to your attributes or non-combat skills when you rest there. As examples, you can build Training Grounds to improve your Strength or a Library to improve your Lore skill. Some of these upgrades are expensive, but you’re worth it. Adventures for idle companions. You will eventually have more companions than will fit in your party, so you will have leave some of them behind. While they are idling away at the stronghold, they can take part in their own adventures, earning additional experience for themselves and extra money, items and reputation bonuses for you! Ingredients. Many of the stronghold upgrades will generate ingredients used by non-combat skills. For example, Botanical Gardens create Survival ingredients over time, and a Curio Shop produces ingredients for use by both Lore and Mechanics. Special offers. Sometimes visitors to your stronghold will have rare items for sale, or perhaps they will offer you items in return for something else. Pay attention to these visitors. Some of these items may be nearly impossible to find any other way! Wealth. Don’t forget that by owning a stronghold, you also own all of the surrounding lands and impose a tax on all of the inhabitants. It will feel nice for a change to have someone recognize your high standing and give you the money that you so richly deserve. These bonuses all sound great, right? Well, they are great, but they are just the passive benefits from owning and upgrading a stronghold. There are a lot of activities you can do too, once you take possession of your stronghold. Tim in his typical Stronghold creation attire. Activities First and foremost, when you get your stronghold, you are going to want to upgrade it. Upgrades are improvements to various parts of the castle, usually to add to the security or prestige of the place. Security affects how much taxes you collect as well as helps reduce the number of “bad” random events, while prestige increases the number of “good” random events as well as increasing tax collections, too. Upgrades can also serve as prerequisites for other upgrades. For example, you cannot build your Training Grounds (and get your Strength bonus after resting at the stronghold) until you have repaired the inner bailey of the stronghold. Every upgrade costs money and takes time to build, but as long as you have the prerequisites completed, you can have as many upgrades building simultaneously as you can afford. And you don’t have to wait at the stronghold while they are built, either. You can continue adventuring, and you will be notified when they are built. You can begin collecting taxes from your populace as soon as you gain the stronghold. The amount of taxes you collect increases with your prestige (because people know of you and like you), but the amount also increases with higher security, since some taxes are lost to banditry. You will want to keep both of those values high. You can also employ hirelings to stay at your stronghold. These people will provide bonuses to your prestige and security, but they cost money to employ. Some will leave your castle if you stop paying them, but others will wait around to get paid again (but not provide any bonuses until they are). If you have cleared the dungeon and built a prison under your stronghold, then when you are fighting some of the named NPC’s in the game, you will be given an option to take them prisoner instead of killing them. Prisoners are kept in a cell in your prison, where you can visit them and talk to them, and occasionally use them as leverage later in the game. But you will need to keep your security level high, or you might suffer from a prison break! Finally, several upgrades will produce ingredients used by non-combat skills. This feature, along with upgrades that can improve your skills, makes your stronghold a great place to craft and store items. You can stop by your castle occasionally and make food, potions, scrolls, armors and weapons, and any that you don’t need immediately can be stored in chests and other containers in a variety of places around the stronghold. You know, in case of an emergency. Which brings us to random stronghold events. Random Events As you play the game after getting the stronghold, whether or not you are physically there, you will be told if a random event happens at the stronghold. Sometimes, you will need to deal with the event immediately, but usually you are given some time to decide what to do. The most common event at your stronghold is having a visitor arrive. There are all kinds of visitors, but they all share one thing. They can adjust your prestige and/or security just by being at your stronghold. Some visitors are wonderful and give good bonuses, and you will want them to stay as long as possible. Some of these visitors can even be employed as hirelings and will stay on as long as you pay them. Others are not so great, and you will want to offer them one of your companions to act as an escort to their next location, or perhaps simply pay them to leave. Some visitors will offer rare items for sale, and some might even offer a very rare item in exchange for one of the prisoners in your dungeon. As you can see, visitors require some decision making on your part. As mentioned above, your idle companions can take part in adventures as those events arise. You will be informed of what adventures are available, how long they will last, and what the rewards will be (in general terms). If you send a companion on an adventure, he or she is unavailable until they complete it and return with the rewards. You can recall any companions early, but then they earn nothing. Why would you ever want to recall them then? Because your stronghold can get attacked! Attacks are the most potentially dangerous of all stronghold events. Occasionally troublemakers (of various sorts) will decide to attack your castle. You will be warned ahead of time of any such attack, so you can return to the stronghold and take part in it directly, if you want. Otherwise, the attack is simulated and you are told the results. A well-defended stronghold can repel any but the most concerted attacks, but there is always a chance of damage which can destroy upgrades, kill hirelings, and cost money. The threat of attacks is the most important reason to keep your security level as high as you can afford. I hope you have enjoyed this sneak peek into the world of Project Eternity and the role your stronghold will play in the game. No matter how you play the game, your stronghold is certain to provide many benefits and also be a lot fun too!
  12. By Brandon Adler, Producer Hey, everyone. As you know, over the past six weeks we have been working on our first production milestone - the cleverly titled Production 01 milestone. Our first target has been Defiance Bay (our first BIG city) and the team has been busting their collective butts to get as much fantasy roleplaying goodness as possible into the city. In George Ziets' own words, "Defiance Bay is the capital and largest city in the Dyrwood, gateway to the riches of Glanfath, teeming with adventurers and explorers from all over the region. Defiance Bay is a city of the common people, where the most prominent and respected citizens are self-made men. It stands at the forefront of experimentation in soul magic and exemplifies the age of discovery." A ton has been accomplished in a pretty short amount of time and we would like to share some of it with you. New Hires April Giron April is our new Art Intern. She has been doing an amazing job in creating the interiors that populate Defiance Bay. Holly Prado Holly is an Environment Artist that joined us about a week ago. She has already made a large contribution in filling out the existing areas with new props. Matt Perez Matt is a new Design Intern. Along with creating NPCs, quests, and blockouts, he also does maintenance work on areas (hooking up transitions, loot passes, encounters, etc.). Ryan Torres Like Matt, Ryan is one of our new Design Interns. He also creates dialogues, quests, and blockouts. Brian Macintosh Brian is Project Eternity's Programming Intern. While he has been implementing many features, he most closely works with the Concept Artists to get our UI to Alpha. Areas Art The Environment Artists have wasted no time in constructing an expansive Defiance Bay. For this first milestone our target was to get three of Defiance Bay's districts to Alpha level quality. It was a little ambitious, but the team did really well. The city feels full of life and character. I am pretty impressed with the speed that the team is able to get all of this together. Design While the Environment Art team is busy filling out the visuals, the Area Design team is meticulously planning and executing quests, NPC dialogs, and other goodies throughout the city. They were able to get three of the city's districts completely blocked out in under a week. Considering the size of the city, it is a pretty good accomplishment. Two of those districts are now at an Alpha level and even at an early stage, are a lot of fun to play. In addition to that, our two new Design Interns - Matt and Ryan - have been filling in the areas with smaller quests and NPCs. It is really starting to make the city feel alive. Characters Creatures The Concept Artists, Animators, and Character Artists have been burning through our creatures. We are taking a different approach in Project Eternity than we have on other projects. Instead of taking a creature from concept to a final, polished product, we have been taking creatures to a blockout stage before moving to the next. This allows us to get creatures into the game much more quickly. It also lets us be more flexible with how we spend our polish time. Overall, we think it will lead to a better experience. Even with this short amount of time, we have been able to get about eight different creatures into the game. Since it would be pretty mean of me to talk about the creatures without showing one, here is a small taste of one of my "favorites" - the wicht. I think Josh's description says it best: "Wichts are the bodies of children that were born without souls, grew to adolescence, and were then possessed by a malevolent lost soul or soul fragment that has been artificially inserted through animancy. This process arrests their physical development and transforms their outward appearance, leaving no doubt as to what they are." Items In addition to the creatures, our Character Artists have been filling out the remaining armor sets that are left. We have all of our basic armors in place for all of our races. This is a pretty significant feat this early in the project. Now that we are done with the base item and armor sets, we can focus on making magic and unique variants. Features Journal We now have a fully functional quest journal in place that allows players to see their quest progress. The UI is currently being implemented, but it is looking great. Conversations While we have been getting more and more Alpha UI into the game, I was particularly happy with how the conversation UI came out. Take a look for yourself, though. Even though this is still a work in progress, I think everyone did a great job. Let us know what you think of the conversation UI in our forums. Stronghold Tim went on a tear and got most of the backend systems for the player stronghold in place. There are a ton of really fun things you can do with your stronghold like sending companions on missions, buying rare loot off of merchants, building upgrades, and even purchasing hirelings to defend your keep from attack. Watching Tim's stronghold get robbed blind because he has low security and high prestige never gets old. World Map Eternity now has a fully functional world map. When the party enters a qualifying transition, the world map appears. Players can then select to travel to a location by selecting that icon on the map. Fog of War One focus for this milestone was to get our Fog of War system in place. Beyond a few tweaks, Adam is pretty close to slaying that beast. It's a really robust system he created that takes some inspiration from rogue-like games. Using Adam's tool, designers can quickly create a fog map, edit it, and set locations that should only be revealed at specific times. AI Steve, our AI Programmer, has been putting work into spellcasting AI this milestone and it is coming out nicely. Enemies are more crafty than they were now that they are casting spells intelligently. There's going to be even more AI work - roles for our enemy AIs, for example - put into our next milestone. 10k Backer We had our first $10,000 backer, Timothy, come for a visit. We all had a blast and it was great to meet one of our fans and show him the game. We even have a picture of Timothy preparing for Josh Sawyer's inevitable betrayal. Josh Sawyer on Game Design Lastly, I will leave you with a video that Josh put together about the importance of real-world knowledge in game design. Take a look. Well, that's it for now. See you guys again in a couple of weeks.
  13. Update by Rob Nesler, Art Director and Brandon Adler, Producer We showed you this concept that Polina Hristova had developed, back in Update #55: And here is the in-game level--about to get violent--as developed by environment artist Sean Dunny: We think it looks pretty good. Thoughts? -R Arcanum Playthrough This week, we have the second part of Avellone's two hour playthrough. Chris explores the Shrouded Hills Mines and dies to bandits along the road... multiple times. Obsidian Jobs Obsidian is putting the call out to enthusiastic game developers who are interested in working on Project Eternity. To be eligible, you must be in the Southern California area willing to make the daily trek to Irvine, California. If you or anyone you know fits the description and would be interested in joining the Project Eternity team, follow the links below. QA Lead The Lead QA Tester position requires managing a team of testers, delegating testing tasks, tracking tester performance, providing guidance as well as coordinating with department leads and owners to ensure all aspects of the project are bug free. The Lead QA Tester position requires a strong knowledge of QA methodologies and practices, as well as an ability to handle and act upon high volumes of information and responsibilities. Contract VFX Artist Obsidian Entertainment is looking for a talented self-motivated VFX Artist to create a range of 3D effects and animations for a 3D world. This artist will be responsible for creating both ambient effects (such as smoke, fire, and lightning) and more detailed prop animation (a tree limb breaking, a glass shattering, etc.). These effects will be created using Maya, but experience with comparable programs is acceptable. Stop by our forums and let us know what you think. See you in a couple of weeks.
  14. Update by Chris Avellone This week? Companions. I have been designing companions. I lucked out, because I got to do companion design work for BOTH Eternity and Torment, so two birds, one stone. Or three companions, one lodestone? I don’t know. Eternal Companion Facts Some facts from our Eternity design documents that I wanted to say up front before going any further: thanks to backer support, Eternity supports 8, yes 8, pre-made companions and 8 hired adventurers (16 total). You can have up to 5 in the party at any point in time (the 6th/1st role is your player character, who, well, sort of has to be there, you know, because it’s your game). It’s a lot of writing. We want to allow you to encounter all companions before the mid-point of the story. One issue we’ve found with introducing companions too late is that it doesn’t give players enough time to bond with them, and/or the player may have already formed a strong attachment to their other allies so much so there’s no physical or emotional room for more party members in their lives. Each companion also has their own mini-arc and quest woven into the game as well, so be prepared - they have agendas of their own. You know, like real people. Lastly in the fact train, we don’t force you to take anyone in your party. If you want them, take them. If you want to go to the Adventurer’s Hall and make your own, do it. Go solo. We don’t own you. We’re not trying to control you. Play how you want. Narrative Update... So a narrative update related to companions... Eric Fenstermaker (designer, Fallout: New Vegas, also responsible for Boone and Veronica and worked on NWN2: Mask of the Betrayer and... and... oh, just Google him) has been hard at work on the narrative, and it’s reached the point with the arc and themes that now seemed like a good time to introduce the companion supporting pillars to the process to take the story higher (...not necessarily in a “Can you Take Me Higher” Creed sort of way, since it’s not really a question, it’s more like, “yes, we will take you higher.”) Over the past few months, I’ve been scrutinizing the systems and story documents for Eternity (and Torment), the themes, and also checking out the other companion briefs from the other designers. Aside from the companion designs I wrote, feedback has been wildly traded in the interests of making companions even better than their core concepts. It was my goal to read EVERYTHING about the narrative I could, even brainstorming - and in Torment’s case, novellas as well. Now it was time to work on the structure of the individual companions. ...and now on to Companion Design We discussed companion design (http://forums.obsidian.net/blog/1/entry-168-project-eternity-and-characterization/) way back at the start of Eternity, so some points in this update will callback to this. There shouldn’t be a need for a refresher read unless you want to. The process for Eternity (and Torment) has followed these bulletpoints, and we’re holding true to our goals as well as expanding the design methodology as we go ahead. The first and best place to start with companion design is the game systems. For companions, this means considering race, class, and their role in the conflict mechanics of the game. Knowing what class of character you’re making is key to building their history and personality. For example, in the case of Gann in NX1: Mask of the Betrayer, knowing his class before writing was a big help, and I can use that class’s list of abilities, class focus, and the abilities the class specializes in and weave it in with the backstory. The Eternity designers have been good about indicating the spread of classes and races for the companions and rationing those out during the process. For Eternity, since combat is the primary challenge mechanic, one major goal is to make sure the companion is combat effective. Why would you take them in your party? How are they useful? In other instances of conflict mechanics (for example, dialogue or Tide reactivity in Torment), we also examine how the character is useful in terms of these challenges as well. A Note About Challenge Mechanics Really quick, I want to clarify what I meant about “challenge mechanics.” That doesn’t always mean combat – it’s whatever the primary challenge in the game is. If we were doing a Thief-style RPG, then stealth and avoiding detection becomes the primary challenge mechanic, not combat. Depending on the RPG and its range of challenges, a character can still be fairly weak in combat, but if that’s the case, we try to think of how they’re helpful with regards to the game’s other challenges (giving an edge in dialogue, healing, fast travel). For all the characters I’ve seen or designed for games that don’t cater to at least one of the game’s primary challenge mechanics, those guys are often unpopular or unused because they’re not helping out with the systematic gameplay, regardless of how cool they might seem. And the more actively these characters can participate in the mechanics (vs. passive), the stronger their appeal. Also at the same time, I try to be careful that the companion's skill set doesn’t overlap with the challenge roles of the other characters. We try to indicate in the companion briefs how each companion's challenge role is intended – one thing I learned as a pen-and-paper Gamemaster is you want to be careful about two players sharing the same role (Tank, Mage, Priest, etc.) – if one is clearly stronger than another, then the second one needs something else to make them stand out and be “special” in the party and fulfill an equally cool role in the party dynamic, otherwise one ends up getting upstaged by the other. And feelings get hurt. Which isn’t something you want in a game designed to entertain. For Eternity, we’re setting it up so even if players choose the same classes as some companions, the companions are designed to assist those character types and make them more special (ciphers, for example, can chain, and even priests with the same religion can discuss theology and combo attacks). In addition, we wanted to be careful about personality overlaps as well. I wanted to make sure any companion design didn't overlap with ideas or “concepts" of the other characters (or across projects – so for example, while I’m doing a Glaive for Torment, I’m not doing any fighters for Eternity) ...and that extends to personalities as well. As an example, I told Colin for Torment it might be a good idea if I didn't do a female rogue with a ruthless hidden agenda who can shape-shift according to your personality and have her/it be redundant with the Toy or the Cold, Calculating Jack in Torment. So knowing the general class-focus, role, and personality for each, as well as ones that would be useful, we try to include in the character briefs and get that info to people as quickly as possible so everyone can get a sense for what direction to take their characters. As for me, after much begging for the class itself and begging for the specific companion, I asked for the cipher. The cipher is near and dear to my heart, it felt like the first brand new class we were introducing that was tied into the soul mechanics of the Eternity world, and the freedom to explore it is a great opportunity. Character Freedom Both the Eternity and Torment leads have been strong advocates about letting designers channel their characters. If you are excited about an idea, they are willing to work with you to help realize that idea and help it fit into the world, without giving barriers to entry. In my opinion, the best GMs do this – rather than give you character sheets, they help you make a character you care about. In essence, companion design is a designer’s chance to design their very own player character that fits in with the world and the theme. On Eternity, Eric has a strong theme for the story already. While not the original theme, Josh was accommodating and we all recognized that if another theme came to the forefront naturally through the writing process, it’s fine to alter it to make a stronger design. Having this theme clearly identified and supported in the narrative is good, but we’re taking care to make sure the companions can provide direct examples of the theme at work (or present counters or alternate viewpoints to it) - and the more, the better. The companions cover a good range of culture and religion and factions in the game, which we hope to showcase more of in the future... the machinations of the world and the politics are prominent in the story (along with the magic system), and the characters showcase these elements very well. Companion Iteration There’s still plenty of work to do – like all design, iteration is key, and we have been doing passes of the characters to make them stronger. While the companions exist as individual entities, we also feel it’s important to do a pass of the companions to show how they relate to each other, which we feel is an important part of making the game Infinity Engine-esque, and it was a big part of the dynamics in Baldur’s Gate and Torment – describing how companions relate, fight, argue, or even act as sounding boards for both your character and each other’s viewpoints is an important part of creating a living world – and your party is very much the living world that follows you around. The work doesn’t stop there. A pass of the companions asking “why the players should care” is also something we like to make sure we have an answer to for each companion. While the answer of “good fighter” is an answer (and one that’s worked well for a number of companions in the past), we prefer to add more layers showcasing how they’re specifically adding to the player experience. Companion Nuts and Bolts There are other finishing touches we like to add. The companions have unique signature items (very Torment and Baldur’s Gate) in addition to their personalities and strong visual signatures as well. One comment we’ve always tried to include in these visual hooks is that because of the camera angles in the game, we want to make sure these visual hooks are easy for the players to see in the environment as well. Also we’re doing what we can to get the area designers involved with not just the story, but companions as well. A good chunk of the game is dungeon exploration, and we felt that what the designers had done in NX1: Mask of the Betrayer in making sure that each companion had a significant interaction in a specific area was important for the story – and having areas that revolved around companions as well gave them and the dungeon design more strength. Right now, the companions already have strong internal conflicts (and religious and faction, if not inter-party), now tying those more to NPCs and dungeon explorations is one of our next targets. With the companion design, we also tried to include narrative samples of analogies to that character that we’ve seen in other media or fiction that we feel help capture the character’s essence. Also, as we’re designing the characters, we include sample lines of dialogue when we can as another layer in the process so audio and other designers can get a sense of how the character sounds (both spoken and text-wise). That’s all I can share about companions for the moment, and we’re looking forward to elaborating further as the game progresses. If you have any thoughts or ideas on companion design, specific or general, feel free to post in our forums, we look forward to hearing from you! Arcanum Last but not least, we have the first of two blocks of Arcanum playthroughs in Shrouded Hills for you... from bank robberies, to mine plundering, to death, to dealing with telepathic bridge bandits. We’re releasing one with this update, and then (cross your fingers) the second will be part of the next update. It’s all recorded, production just wants to put some touches on the audio. Possibly to strip out my voice. And my breathing. And screams. Also, I may end blogging critiques of the game as well, just to distill the game critique information. It’s a little hard to get the design critiques during the playthrough – if that’s something you’d like to see in addition to the videos, I’ll try and make time for it. Check out the first video at: http://youtu.be/MNOJ5DRO7uQ. Kickin' it Forward: WARMACHINE: Tactics Do you like turn-based strategy? Do you like giant steam-powered robots? Then our friends at WhiteMoon Dreams and Privateer Press Interactive have the game for you - WARMACHINE: Tactics. Go support their Kickstarter and help bring the award-winning WARMACHINE miniatures game from the tabletop to your desktop PC or Mac. Click here for more info.
  15. Update by Polina Hristova, Concept Artist/Nightmare Engineer and Brandon Adler, Producery Type Polina in her natural habitat. Hello, everyone. This week will feature an interview with Project Eternity concept artist Polina Hristova. While a Project Eternity concept artist has to be well-rounded in their skill set, Polina specializes in creature concepts. Enjoy. Q: Hello, Polina. What is your job on the Project Eternity team? A: I'm a general concept artist =). My primary purpose is to design what things look like (creatures, characters, environments, etc) and help get the conversations started. But I also try to do my best at making things look cool and try to solve any problems the modelers and animators might come by before they spend hours building it. Q: What are you working on this week? A: This week I wrapped finished up some critters: the drake and the spear spider. Q: What is your typical work day like on Project Eternity? A: I guess in comparison to most, my work day is pretty simple. I get to draw pretty pictures. The days differ based on the assignment and I do sometimes change my methods since creativity does flow differently day to day, but my general pipeline goes like this: I meet with Josh and the designers to get a description on what I'd be working on. Sometimes these descriptions can range from a simple word to an extremely detailed description on facial structure, hair length and color, outfit, tattoos, amount of skin pores... (okay I'm exaggerating the skin pore part)... and anywhere in between. I'll also talk with the animators if the creatures would share rigs or any other potential problems we can have (it's best to design with these problems in mind than having to change the design a lot later). After that (and depending on schedule) I'll do a number of variants fitting the description and summon a mini-character scrum (Josh, the designers, Rob, our modelers, and our animators). Together they'll discuss any problems or make any suggestions and pick a variant that I'll take to final. Q: What are you most looking forward to on Project Eternity? A: I am really looking forward to playing it. =) But for now I'm really just enjoying watching the game come to reality. I love watching peoples' creations come to life and I give many props to our modelers and animators for all their hard work. I love how they animated skuldr and his sneaky "I'm gunna getcha!" walk. Q: Which Project Eternity creature that you have concepted excites you the most? A: This questions a trick question. Creatures all excite me. I LOVE creatures, aliens (not relative) and things that go bump in the night. I guess if you had to make me pick right now I would have to say the drake =) but I have a weakness for dragons and it’s also the thing most current in my brain. I also really enjoyed designing the godlike heads. Q: What other games have you worked on? A: I'm actually pretty new to the industry. I graduated school in '09 and I didn’t get my first fulltime game job position until Obsidian ('11), but I've had the pleasure to intern and freelance on some amazing projects. I've worked on Naughty Dog's Uncharted 2, PlayStation Move Heroes, some other unannounced titles (some of which will sadly never see the light of day), and the Dungeon Siege 3 DLC: Treasures of the Sun. Drawing one of the endless tide of creatures. Q: What do you like to do when you aren't creating creatures that haunt my nightmares? A: I have a massive range of hobbies, from collecting costumes, traveling to national parks, watching movies, playing games, being weird and goofy, swimming, kendo, amateur photography and more. But when I'm not working, or spending time with my family or friends, I still prefer to spend my time drawing and scribbling... especially at the Zoo. Q: Do you have a favorite concept artist? A: I have a lot and I hope I don’t leave any of them out, but here are the guys currently on the top of my mind: Anthony Jones, Khange Le, Ian McCaig, Jordu Schell, Craig Mullins, Andrew Jones, Erik Tiemens, Robh Ruppel, PaperBlue.net, Carlo Arellano, Carlos Huante, Charlie Wen, and Aris Kolokontes. Q: And where do you draw your inspiration from? A: Nature. Nature will always have us concept artists beat. =) It does some weird ****. =D Q: What's your favorite game? A: I think to this day Zelda Ocarina of Time holds a special place in my heart. Sure the other Zeldas are still great (except maybe Skyward Sword... but that’s more of a controller issue) But Ocarina of time has the perfect mixture of exploration, puzzle solving, action and story, and it was one of the first games that made me go "oooooooooooooo... I wanna do that! This is so beautiful." (Graphics back then...) Q: Anything else you would like to share? A: I like to hide in dark corners... and make random creature noises. =) Crafting Feedback and Answers After getting a ton of feedback and responses to the last update on Crafting Josh has decided to make some changes to the proposed system. Check out this forum post which breaks down those changes and provides some additional clarification. Well, that's it for now. Head over to Obsidian's Project Eternity forums and let us know what you think about the latest update, Project Eternity or your cat JoJo. See you guys in a couple of weeks.
  16. Update by Tim Cain, Senior Programmer and Designer I have been working on a lot of different gameplay mechanics since my last update about monks (Update #52). All of the classes are in the game now, along with their abilities and spells up to level 5. This should give us a good basis to test encounters in the game's early maps. So I have turned my attention to some of the non-combat skills, including crafting. Crafting Basics Crafting is the skill that you use to make equippable items like armor and weapons, and consumable items like potions and food. To begin crafting, you must find an appropriate crafting location. Forges – these blacksmithing locations can be used to make all of the equippable gear. From helmets to armor to boots, if you can wear it, then you can make it here. Labs – these alchemical tables are used to make any enchantments, as well as all alchemical consumables like potions, scrolls or figurines (which let you summon a creature that will fight for you). If you want to improve your gear or brew a potion, you need to find one of these labs. Hearths – these cooking spots are used to make food and drink that can give you long-term benefits when you ingest them. Many rest areas will have hearths, so crafting of this sort can often be done “in the field”. When you use the central object at these locations, such as the anvil at the forge, you will enter a crafting interface that displays all of your forge recipes, broken down into categories such as armor, weapons, boots, helmets, rings, etc. You pick a category and can see all of the recipes you know for that category. Each recipe has a set of ingredients needed to make its item (or items, as some recipes will make batches of items). Some recipes will have additional prerequisites, including requiring you or a companion to have a certain talent or ability or even skill at an appropriate level. Higher level recipes have more prerequisites and need rarer ingredients. You may be wondering where you get recipes. You get a few automatically when you level up your crafting skill, and you can also buy them from vendors. Sometimes you will find recipes in the world, as loot on creatures or as rewards for finishing quests. There will be a lot of recipes in Project Eternity for you to find, so make sure you explore every nook and cranny of this world, especially the crannies. Crafting doesn’t take any time. If you have everything the recipe needs and are at the appropriate crafting location, then you can make the item instantly. Usually the ingredients are used up, but sometimes they are reusable. And for recipes like enchantments, the main ingredient is not used up but is instead improved by the addition of a new bonus. For example, you might have a sword with high accuracy and a Flaming Sword recipe that adds fire damage to any sword. If you use that sword with that recipe, you will have the same sword with a high accuracy bonus but also with additional fire damage! Win win! Crafting can also be used to repair items, but first we should talk about item durability in Project Eternity. Item Durability Most items don’t degrade over time. This means that boots, rings, helmets, gloves, amulets, cloaks, and belts are not worn down by use. However, weapons, shields, and armor (that is, chest armor) do have durability values and are worn down by use. Specifically, every attack with a weapon degrades that weapon by one unit, and armor and shields are similarly degraded when the wearer is attacked. Items have lots of units of durability, and they do not suffer any negative effects until those units are completely gone. When an item has reached 25% of its maximum durability, it will become “worn” and appear that way in your inventory, but it will not behave any differently until the last unit of durability is lost. At that point, the item is “damaged” and the following effects will happen: Weapons – damaged weapons do less damage and have less accuracy Armor – damaged armor has lower damage thresholds and the wearer’s attack speed is slower Shields – damaged shields lose part of their defense bonuses Items can never become worse than “damaged”. They will not break or become more damaged. They just stay damaged until you have them fixed. Vendors can repair items for money, so that’s a fast and easy way to keep all of your items in top notch condition. The cost of the repair is proportional to the percentage of the durability lost and the cost of the item, so expensive items tend to be more costly to repair than cheaper ones, especially if you let them lose a lot of their durability before repairing them. However, let’s see how you can save your precious hard-earned money by bringing this discussion back to crafting. A typical Hearth where you can craft food and drink. Durability and Crafting You or any companion can repair items by using the crafting skill at a forge. More importantly, you can use materials instead of money, if you have the right ones. The higher your crafting skill or the more materials you have, the less money it costs to repair an item. Some items might even repair for free! But wait...there’s more! The crafting skill also decreases the rate of degradation on items used by a character. So if you have the crafting skill, when you hit someone, your weapon doesn’t lose a whole point of durability. Instead it loses a fraction of a point. And when you are hit, your armor and shield don’t lose a whole point each either. And the higher your crafting skill, the less durability you lose. We are assuming that if you know how to make an item, you also know how to use and take care of it. So a high crafting skill means your weapons, armor, and shields degrade more slowly and you can repair those items (and those of your companions) more cheaply than a vendor. That is such a win-win situation, how can you afford to NOT take the crafting skill?! I’ll answer that question in a future update about the other skills in Project Eternity.
  17. Hello everyone! I was thinking to myself about all the information about Project Eternity. There is constant stream of updates about classes, world, lore, races, religions and many more things. There are however some of us (and there will be more when the game is released) that would like to know it all but instead of having to look around for it, to have it all in one place. Now don't get me wrong. I am fully aware Obsidian does not actually have lots of free time but hear me out. I think it would be great to have some Project Eternity PDF Compendium of sorts. That could get occasionally updated with new games and new information (if there are new games). It would allow many of us to indulge ourselves into lore-nerdinessy . Maybe even make it an online project instead of PDF, or both. I for one would be more than happy to know all the additional bits an' pieces that may not be thoroughly explained in the game. It would help players understand the world of PE better and get more out of the game itself. It would work as an additional background for the game and make it more alive, closer to us. Don't know if this has any chance of ever happening or if something similar was discussed/planned but I'm dropping it here. I am interested in hearing if anyone else would wish to see something like this made. EDIT: Just so you know. It would be a little different from the Wiki. I guess info from it would eventually end up on wiki too though.
  18. Eurogamer has just published an article-style interview with Chris Avellone based on a Q&A with him they had at Rezzed. A few quotable snippets on Aliens: Crucible, given many here still mourn the project's cancellation: Also deals with Dwarves, Project North Carolina, the future of the company, publishers' interest in old-school RPGs and all the usual Avellonian stuff.
  19. Update by Brandon Adler, Producer Hello, everyone. I'm Brandon Adler - Project Eternity's newest Producer and general schedule wrangler. I'm the dude that helps make sure the game's product is on time, on budget, and totally kickass. I worked at Obsidian previously for over six years on projects like Neverwinter Nights 2 (base game, Mask of the Betrayer, and Storm of Zehir), Alpha Protocol, Dungeon Siege 3, and South Park. I came back to help make Project Eternity (which is about as close to my dream project as you can get) and I look forward to interacting with all of Project Eternity's passionate fanbase. Rezzed One new development is our very own Chris Avellone presented Project Eternity at Rezzed in Birmingham, UK. He showed off the approaches we’re taking with Project Eternity for the vertical slice and pipelines, and showcasing new concepts like the animat and Defiance Bay. Concepting process for one of our creatures, the bronze-armored animats. Animats are animated by the souls of ancient warriors that were extracted, purified, and bound into the armor. Copper is an especially strong binder for soul energy, which is why bronze is used for the animats. Copper is also often used in Engwythan (ancient residents of Eir Glanfath) architecture and magical items, including "skein steel", a fantastic alloy created with sinister soul magic. Color concept and reanimation sequence of the animat. If you are interested in watching Chris' full presentation at Rezzed you can see it here (some language mildly NSFW). Vine For those of you that are Obsidian fanatics, or Project Eternity fanatics, or just developer fanatics, some of our staff will be creating Vines (you know, those short looping videos that you can make with the Vine app?) and posting them on their personal Twitter accounts. Take a look. Here are some examples: What's in a name? - https://vine.co/v/hzmXvdr57VA Office 360 - https://vine.co/v/hzmabYV2mlP Around the Office - https://vine.co/v/hzA9pUt97de Stronghold Fun - https://vine.co/v/hznBYZi37dV WARNING: IF YOU ARE OFFENDED BY POTENTIALLY RIDICULOUS VIDEOS DO NOT VISIT THESE TWITTER ACCOUNTS. Josh Sawyer: https://twitter.com/jesawyer Adam Brennecke: https://twitter.com/adam_brennecke Brandon Adler: https://twitter.com/badler07 Avellone's Arcanum Playthrough Chris has been prepping (and presenting) Eternity at Rezzed, once he’s back, you’ll get a new playthrough video in a future update. Well, that's it for now. Over the next few weeks we will be talking about the vertical slice, the fulfillment system, and other goodies. So, stay tuned. As always, we love your feedback on our updates and game direction, so head over to the Project Eternity forums and let us know what you are thinking. Thanks for reading. Kickin' it Forward: Mind's Eye Theatre: Vampire The Masquerade We're big fans of the World of Darkness, particularly the classic Vampire: The Masquerade setting from the 90's (and let's not forget the excellent Vampire Bloodlines cRPG!). Our friends at By Night Studios are putting out a new edition of the Mind's Eye Theatre: Vampire: The Masquerade live action role-playing game, which fans of vampires, werewolves, and other things that go bump in the night might find interesting! They've recently hit their funding goal, but have some really cool stretch goals; break out your fangs and check it out!
  20. I recently asked on the Project Eternity Kick Starters page at the possibility of a Pen and Paper RPG inspired by and set in the world of Project Eternity. what inspired me to ask is two fold, 1) i was watching a show on a youtube channel called Counter Monkey, which sparked my interest in the world of Pen and Paper RPG's. 2) Sine the guys at Obsidian are huge fans of Pen and Paper RPG's as well as CRPG's and WRPG's i thought there was a possibility of this happening. This is the response i received Hello Keichi, Thank you for your interest in Project Eternity. At the moment, we are unable to comment on your question but it is entirely possible. Thank you for your support, Maria What do you think? are you as excited for the possibility as i am?
  21. Update by Josh Sawyer, Project Director http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgvxu8QY01s Today, we'd like to talk to you about one of our more recently-implemented classes in Project Eternity: the paladin. The paladin has been a staple of fantasy RPGs for decades and it was one of our most quickly-funded stretch goals during the Kickstarter campaign. As one of several melee-oriented classes on our roster, paladins presented some unique challenges for us and we'd like to share their development process with you. Paladins have a strong tradition in FRPGs. While the class represents different things to different players, it often conjures images of legendary European figures like the Twelve Peers of Charlemagne, El Cid, and the Knights of the Round Table. Players who like playing paladins often think of them as devoted, principled, brave, and unrelenting. They stand out because of their single-mindedness and unwavering dedication to their cause. In Project Eternity, we wanted paladins to maintain their sense of selfless passion and zeal without being bound to concepts like "alignment" or a universal moral code. We also wanted their mechanics to be distinctive from the other classes while reinforcing their role in the world. Area designer Bobby Null has always liked the marshal class from D&D 3.5, which is conceptually similar to the warlord in 4E: combat leaders who are at their best when they are augmenting their teammates. This is the approach that I took when developing Project Eternity's paladins. They have persistent modal auras, strong single-target healing and buff abilities (contrasting the broad AoE effects of clerics), and can passively grant bonuses to teammates in close proximity. In the game's lore, paladins are zealous champions of a cause that may be religious, philosophical, or cultural in nature. The "foundational" paladins in this part of the world were the legendary elite guards of Darcozzi Palace in the Grand Empire of Vailia (now Old Vailia). They set standards for selfless dedication, unwavering loyalty, and inspiring leadership that have become the pillars for similar orders that have sprung up in the two millennia since they were founded. Even among orders where the chosen cause is perceived as bleak or malevolent, paladins always place the cause ahead of their own personal interests. In Defiance Bay, recent experiments performed by animancers and ciphers suggest that paladins' souls are continuously "burning" wellsprings of spiritual energy that are overflowing their physical vessels due to the paladins' fanaticism. When ciphers have tried to directly perceive paladins' souls, they have described the experience as uncomfortable or painful, not unlike gazing at the sun. All paladins currently begin with the following abilities: Reviving Exhortation (Active) - Paladins can command an unconscious ally to awaken and get back up with an immediate spike in Stamina, though the target will lose half of the regained Stamina after a short duration. Zealous Barrage (Modal) - The paladin and all allies standing within 3m have their attack and ability speed increased. Cannot be used with Zealous March (below). Faith and Conviction - Paladins have an inherent bonus to all defenses (Deflection, Fortitude, Reflexes, and Psyche). As they advance, they gain additional abilities in the same spirit, such as: Coordinated Attacks - The ally closest to the paladin attacking the same target as the paladin has a bonus to Accuracy. Shake It Off (Active) - The paladin can command an ally to temporarily ignore existing Hostile effects for a short duration. The effects are suspended; they do not lose any of their duration and will resume as soon as Shake It Off expires. Inspiring Triumph - Allies within 4m gain a temporary bonus to all defenses when the paladin downs an enemy. Zealous March (Modal) - The paladin and all allies within 3m have their movement speed increased. Cannot be used with Zealous Barrage. In playtesting so far, our test paladin has been very useful in combat, with the melee group often centering around her to gain the benefits of her Zealous auras and Coordinated Attacks. While several other classes have Stamina healing abilities, the paladin's Reviving Exhortation can turn the tide if party members start dropping late in a battle. However, using it too early can spell disaster for the revived character if the granted Stamina boost runs out in a long fight. Optional Talents for the paladin will focus on shaping the passive or active bias of the character: widening the effects of Zealous auras; granting additional uses or increased potency for targeted commands; or giving paladins more direct offensive and defensive capabilities if players want to boost their paladins' personal viability. Wild Orlans - What Do They Look Like? Though we've previously shown one concept of a hearth orlan (the "orlan detective"), many people have asked and speculated about what the other orlans, the so-called wild orlans, look like. Wild orlans have the same general range of stature and build as hearth orlans, but are almost entirely covered with hair. Though they can be found on a few continents, wild orlans in this part of the world are typically found in the deepest forests of Eír Glanfath. In recent centuries, the biases of surrounding colonial cultures have driven them even farther from new settlements. Considered savage and uncontrollable by many Dyrwoodans, Vailians, and Readcerans, wild orlans often find interactions with outsiders strained if not outright violent. Many colonists pre-judge all orlans as untrustworthy and bloodthirsty, but within that vein of racism, they often classify wild orlans as "the bad ones". Given the difficulty of concealing their hirsute bodies and faces, prejudice follows them in most colonial areas. We'll continue to develop the paladin more over the next few months, but we'd like to hear what you think of the concepts and mechanics we've come up with so far. Similarly, we hope you like the less- and more-"beastly" branches of the orlan race. We developed the different appearances based on widely conflicting player (and developer) desires for the race to be both more and less wild. What do you think of the direction we're taking? Thanks for reading!
  22. Update by Adam Brennecke, Executive Producer and Lead Programmer This month we are knee-deep in the Vertical Slice phase and this will be the team's focus for the month of June. It's our way of proving that we are ready to jump forward into production and start making shippable content. The Vertical Slice is just that, a cross section (think of it as a slice of bread cut out from the middle of a loaf) of the world of Project Eternity. At the end of this phase the game will be feature complete, and the content building portion of the team, including area designers, environment artists, and character artists can make shippable content now. Our Vertical Slice is eleven maps large; encompassing our village and dungeon from Prototype 2, and the dungeon and wilderness area from Prototype 1 (we call this area "The Valley of Hector" internally). The content from the prototypes are refactored to fit within the context of the world and overall story of the game. Feature-wise, we are targeting to have the majority of the world building tools complete and all of the character classes playable up to level five. A Vertical Slice dungeon concept by Polina. Her paint-over will be used as reference for the polish pass. Here are our current tasks that we are working on right now: Art Modeling Hide Armor for Male and Females - Hide armor has been challenging to model and texture with skin tinting because there's a lot of skin shown. Creating Orlan Heads - This includes modeling differences for the Wild and Hearth ethnicities. Polishing Prototype 2 Areas to "Beta" - Extra shine is put into the areas to make them feel more alive and varied. Design Creating the Vertical Slice Area Design Document - The designers are adding more content to the world and fleshing out the village with additional quests. Designing and Coding the Class Abilities for the Cipher and Chanter - The Cipher and his "focus" powered spells are working, and now Tim Cain is working out the Chanter phrase system. Programming Coding up the Save/Load and the Persistence System - This entails saving and loading games, and making sure the current map state is preserved across area transitions. Wrapping up the Area Designer Toolbox - Doors, encounters, traps, triggers, loot, NPCs, and creatures can all be placed and manipulated through script. Spells and Ability Audit This morning Josh emailed me a list of working class abilities and spells. I'm excited to say that we have 54 abilities and 51 functioning spells as of today! Most of the spells are at the alpha stage, meaning another pass will be done at a later date to add visual effects and sound effects. UI Version #2 Thanks to everyone who provided feedback on our UI mockups that Rob posted last week in Update #54. We loved everyone's proposed mockups and your discussions sparked some great ideas for the next iteration on the interface. We've already mocked up a new version that takes up less vertical space and is more compact overall. Once we feel it's ready to be critiqued, we will post it in a future update for more discussion. That's it for this week. We'll be back in two weeks - we're off to E3 next week (and if you're a fan of South Park, keep an eye out for coverage on our Stick of Truth RPG)!
  23. Above is a UI mockup that Kaz has put over the original Kickstarter image. What do you think? I know what you are thinking. What the hell have the artists been doing?? The art in this game should be half done by now! Right? That's what I want to know! Why isn't the game half-done already? Well, as I've said before we're "professionals." We proceed in a highly-complex collaboration/iteration loop of blending design wants and dos, programming cans, think-they-cans and dos and artist wants, cans, can-but-don't-know-how-longs and dos. As you can see - and please don't get angry - this is all very technical. Know that: work is progressing. Yeeeargh! Enough with your silly stupid words, Rob!! What the hell does that mean?? Uhh... not sure, but I'll tell you what I think it means: You've read about Prototype 1 and then Prototype 2. Those were efforts to implement features that represent the functional and playable standard of our goal: an Infinity Engine style of game. Those efforts were focused collaborations of designing, programming and art-ing things, trying them out, addressing problems as they came up (visual, functional or otherwise failing to live up to our standard) and repeating. The art goals were held to an 80-90% complete (aka: unpolished). The remaining 10-20% of work will be left toward the end of the "next phase," as always there will be edits and modifications after initial implementation of art. The basic truth of this interactive artistic endeavor that we are involved in is that you can't know it's a worthwhile experience, until you make it, people play it, and then provide feedback. We adjust our work to that feedback - a feedback loop. Boom! Consider yourself educated. The "next phase" is a Vertical Slice. This is a goal in which we focus on one part of the game within a shell of what is essentially the fully-featured game - relying on the things developed in the prototypes, as well as implementing a fully-functional UI, attempting to finalize all art and gameplay to a more polished standard, and accommodate design changes that are required to make the player experience more complete - as if this part were a finalized, short game in itself. Environment Artists Hector - Wilderness Areas Our Lead Environment Artist has been developing a couple of our larger external landscapes. He's doing this on the basis of a designer's block-out: a crude-but-playable space. This includes the sculpting of terrain geometry in ZBrush, application of grass and dirt via mesh painting and masking in Maya, placement of objects such as structures, trees, and rocks, etc., lighting and rendering the scene, which generates our super-cool depth info. He imports all those results into the game, and then Design says: "Hey, something has come up and we need a temple in the village." So, Hector moves and massages the scene around to accommodate the change and steps through the process again. In the prototype, iteration of the village, a temple wasn't required. For the Vertical Slice, having a place where one can get quests and learn some spiritual-magicky stuff, is an important feature to include. So, we find a way to happily put it in. Sean - Dungeon/Crypt and village interiors Our other Environment Artist has been working on interiors of village structures and dungeons! He uses ZBrush less for his environments as a whole, and more as a means of creating smaller natural-looking rocky things and dungeon walls. Beyond that the techniques for implementing his work are the same. The feedback and iteration with design usually yields similar tweaks and modifications. Changes like: "Uhh...we can't have a door here, anymore. Can we make it a pile of collapsed rocks, instead?" Of course the answer is "Yes!" The answer has to be "yes," because the game is worthless if the gameplay isn't worthwhile. It could be that an important critical path encounter needs to occur, maybe because the story evolved or it’s just too good an experience to allow an alternate route to exist. Ultimately, we trust our designers to wrestle with these issues and come to us with changes that matter. So if they come to us with a change, and the adjustment is reasonable and the time exists to make it, we will do it. Animators Mark - Principle Animation of All Things with Arms and Legs Our Lead Animator has been handling much of the animation requirements for the playable races. This process is also an iterative one. Design has ideas about how they want playable characters to interact with the world and enemies, and Mark then creates a set of individual animations that then blend into each other as needed, in Unity. In addition, he has created essential animations for the Skuldr and the Ogre. Essential animations are typically basic locomotion (including: walk, run and at least one idle) attacks (melee and ranged, if applicable) getting hit and dying. There are others. He blocks them in (a term for making things functional fast), puts them in the game, then he refines them. As team members playtest the game, they provide feedback. Mark continues refining until everybody is happy or the game ships - whichever comes first. No, no, no, just kidding! Mark will work tirelessly through endless nights to make certain everybody is happy with the animation. Antonio - Technical Problem Solving of Physical Things and Process Improvement I told you all you needed to know about Antonio in my last update. I showed you the rigs and rigs in rigs. These things take a while to refine, as he makes them and then people (Dimitri and Mark) have to use them. As they use the tools, they discover issues and then Antonio has to fix the issues and the process repeats itself until there are fewer and fewer issues to fix. Lately he has been working on a means of batch processing all the animations that Mark creates and efficiently exports them into the game. Mark says it's "awesome." (This is making Dimitri mad. I'll tell you why in a bit.) In addition, he has been developing some cool experiments with cloth and hair. Hopefully, in some near-future update we can show you how great it looks. Character Artists Dimitri - Skaen and Visual Differences Between Playable Characters (Races, Males and Females) Dimitri has been modeling and texturing the dirty, bloody and villainous Skaen Cultists. In-between that he has been re-exporting our characters, as new attachments, bones, weapon attachments, etc. are added to the skeletons. This is a manual process hell that eats at his soul and to see Mark enjoying the fruits of batch process heaven that Antonio has provided him, makes him think of terrible things. One of two things will happen: Dimitri will get over it, or Antonio will help him out soon. He has also been working with our graphics programmer in developing the masking system for how we can increase variety in our characters via color changes on various elements of each. We intend this ability to be passed on to the player, so that they can customize their party's colors. James - Creatures And Colors James has been focusing on modeling and texturing a ton of critters, including wurms! - not: worms, nor wyrms, or wirms, but WURMs! That is what we call our baby dragons! He's also been tasked with making certain, that via the tinting and masking that Dimitri worked on, we can generate an infinite variety of People and Monsters, and nobody will know better. Shhhhhh...Wink Wink! Concept Artists Polina's concept of lizard-creature-to-be-named-later. Polina - Drawerings And More Drawerings Polina has been all over the place since the presentation of the God-like Concept. She's done a bunch of interior concepts, some really cool malevolent spirit-like concepts, the lizard-like creature (below) and more! Polina takes concept development and collaboration very seriously. If I'm not paying attention, or give her a specific number, she will draw variants upon variants of thumbnails and roughs until...I think...forever. So we've restricted her to a certain number of thumbnails before a review. Otherwise we'll have to buy her a new tablet, and that is NOT in the budget! Kaz - Drawerings And User Experience As you've seen in recent updates Kaz has been tasked with coming up with cultural differences in in terms of skin color and style of clothing for the various cultural groups that we find in Project Eternity. With this and other concept-y things, he also has been tasked with developing and implementing the look of the UI and the presentation for "scripted events." Note: Regarding the image with the menubar at the start of the update, as well as the image below. You will notice that they state: "Work In Progress." In fact, the images are screen caps of the source art file for the UI that is being developed for P.E. It represents stylistic choices meant to feel very Infinity Engine-ish. We're a little curious what you might think about it. Let us know. Scripted event image by Kaz. Me??? - What have I been doing? I don't know. I just run around and say some stuff, point to something and say "eww," or "nice," or grab a bunch of people to say stuff like "Yay!" or "boo" at something, draw some stuff, and try to direct stuff, repeat. I am hopeful that these efforts keep people motivated, aware and engaged. That's it. Update Over. Now talk amongst yourselves...or use ALL CAPS, if you are feeling particularly passionate. - Rob Nesler, Art Director, Obsidian Entertainment. PS - Let’s Play Arcanum with Mr. Avellone is coming back soon to an update near you! Kickin' It Forward: HEX MMO Trading Card Game Article by Darren Monahan, operations guy In this update's Kickin' it Forward segment, we're featuring the HEX MMO Trading Card Game from friends and neighbors over at Cryptozoic Entertainment. If you're a fan of trading card games and MMO's, HEX looks like a great game to bring these two types of games together in a unique and original fantasy world. They've got nine days left, and plenty of really cool rewards. Check it out!
  24. Update by Bobby Null, Designer and Beast Master Greetings, everyone! I'm on update duty this week, and while this will be relatively brief, I'll give you a little insider info I hope you find interesting. Today we will be talking about the bestiary. Yeah, that's right... it's time to talk about monsters. One of my responsibilities has been creating the bestiary for Project Eternity. I'll admit, it's been a lot of work, but it's also been a lot fun. Like most of the things we do here at Obsidian, the process has been very collaborative. We have a few high-level goals regarding this process on Project Eternity. Creature Variety - The goal is to have a large library of creatures to use for the final game. Thus far, we're on track to meet this goal. The concept artists, modelers and animators have been tearing through the bestiary and delivering quality assets at a rapid pace. Recognizable is Good - We don't want to try to reinvent the wheel with every single monster. As we've shown in an earlier update, we feel some classic monsters, like the ogre, are essential to capture the adventuring feel we are aiming for. Moving forward, we are committed to including monsters that we feel fans will appreciate, while giving the beasties flavor appropriate to the world of Project Eternity. Different if Cool - We've already shown one of the unique creatures for Project Eternity in an earlier update, the skuldr. We will continue to create other unique, and often times bizarre, creatures to populate our world, but unique doesn't always need to feel bizarre. Different because it's cool is the goal. So now that I've briefly discussed our high level goals, let's talk about a new creature: The Cean Gúla (KEN GOO-lah, "Blood Woman", Glanfathan), and the pipeline we use to get it through the concept phase. The creature idea is added to our bestiary document. Members of the team can comment on the document and share their thoughts/concerns on any given creature. The bestiary is updated based on feedback from the team. Some creatures get the thumbs up, while others get cut. An approved creature is then assigned to a concept artist. In the case of the cean gúla, Polina Hristova was in charge of this crucial step. The concept artist does a first pass, creating a series of thumbnail sketches (image above). The leads of the project review the thumbnails, choose a favorite, and provide the artist with feedback. The artist creates a final concept based on the feedback received (image above). Once approved, the creature continues down the pipe as it is now ready to be modeled by one of our character artists. We'll save the rest of the creature pipeline for another update. That's all for this week. As always, let us know what you think on our forums. See you in two weeks with an update from Rob Nesler. He'll be talking about the entire art team and what they've been up to. Kickin' It Forward: Jagged Alliance: Flashback Article by Josh Sawyer, Project Director If you're a fan of turn-based tactical RPGs, be sure to check out the Kickstarter project from Full Control, Jagged Alliance: Flashback. If you've played the classic Jagged Alliance games, you know they are challenging and incredibly fun. In particular, Jagged Alliance 2 features great freedom to explore the world, a huge array of gear, awesome tactical fights, and a large cast of colorful mercenaries with cool personality mechanics. Full Control have shown a lot of love for what made the Jagged Alliance games so memorable, including elements found in fan tweaks (like JA2's 1.13 community patch). They've got about a week to go in their campaign, so head on over and check it out!
  25. Update by Tim Cain, Senior Programmer and Designer Hello! I'm sorry I haven't done an update in a while. I've been working on classes and everything related to classes: abilities, skills, spells, combat...you know, the good stuff. For the past several months, Josh and I have been refining the designs for the non-core classes, the classes that are most unusual, classes like the chanter and the cipher and one of my favorites, the monk. Monks in Eternity are different than you might expect. There are no restrictions on armor and weapons – you could wear plate and use a sword, if you wanted to, and the talent system is flexible enough so you could build a great monk that specialized in that gear. But at the core of this class is a little rule about how monks take damage. You see, when a monk gets hit, only part of the damage is inflicted on him or her immediately. The rest is redirected to a Wound, which is an effect that causes damage over time (called a DoT effect) to the monk. That slowly-ticking Wound would only seem to be delaying the inevitable result except for one thing: the monk can get rid of that Wound by using special attacks. The monk gets all kinds of cool special attacks that do extra effects beyond simply damage and, as a side effect, also eliminate his Wounds. Some of their special attacks include: Torment’s Reach - this ability increases the range of melee attacks by 200% for a short duration. Enemies between the monk and his or her target are also attacked. Costs 1 Wound to activate. Turning Wheel - if the monk suffers from a DoT effect (including Wounds ticking down), he or she adds a proportional fire bonus to his or her melee damage. This is a passive ability which works automatically whenever the monk has any DoT effect. Clarity of Agony - when used, this ability cuts the duration of hostile status effects in half. It lasts for a brief amount of time, halving both incoming effects and ones that are currently on the monk. Costs 2 Wounds. Each of these attacks makes monks stronger in battle, and many also consume their Wounds, hopefully before those Wounds have done the damage the monks were originally supposed to take. And as monks level up, they get more than just these special attacks. They can gain room for more Wounds, so they can have more of them at once to use at the same time for an extraordinarily powerful attack or use them across multiple special attacks. Monks can also change how their Wounds function. For example, they can choose to have their Wounds do less damage at the start and more at the end, so getting rid of them faster is advantageous. Monks can also choose to do their damage sequentially, letting the monk build up a lot of Wounds to fuel a crazy powerful ability and not take much damage for doing so. So as a monk, your goal is simple: you want to take damage, so you get Wounds, so you can perform extraordinary attacks. But remember when I mentioned the monk in plate mail using a sword? Sure, you can do that, but that plate armor will inhibit your ability to get Wounds, which means you don't get as many special attacks. And unarmed attacks are among the fastest types of attacks, so a weaponless monk can get rid of his Wounds faster than any armed monk, so he will suffer very little of their damage-over-time effects. That's like having extra hit points for free! FOR FREE! Who wouldn't want that?! This is why you see a lot of unarmed and unarmored monks running around. Not because the rules say you can't use those items, but because in most situations it's one of the best ways to play. An unencumbered monk can be a terror on the battlefield, a nightmare that just won't seem to die, no matter how hard he gets hit. Blows that seem like they should kill him only serve to make him stronger. Trust me, you are going to love playing a monk. But if you ever feel the need to use a magical sword for its raw damage potential or wear enchanted mail to gain fire resistance for battle with a dragon, you can do that too. Because Project Eternity is all about bending the roles of each class, so you can play how you want, resolve conflicts how you want and solve problems how you want. After all, this is *your* game. Culture Concept Concept artist Kaz Aruga has been developing the look of some of Project Eternity's various cultures. So far, he's created concepts for people from the Dyrwood, the Vailian Republics, the Aedyr Empire, and the Valley of Ixamitl. We hope you like the range we've come up with. Let us know what you think!
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