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Found 93 results

  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. As promised in Update #30, it's time to meet the people making the game. In today's update, we interview Steve Weatherly, a programmer on Project Eternity. Q:Steve, can you tell us what you do on Project Eternity? A: I'm a gameplay programmer primarily responsible for making combat happen. What that means is that I look at what Josh and Tim design for the game, and tell them it can never be done. After that, they tell me it has to get done, so then I figure out a way to make it happen. I spend most of my day writing code, either for AI (to make the enemies act like they know what they're doing), or the underlying code that makes characters fight and take damage, etc. I'm also our chief Reddit ambassador, which I sort of fell into but it has been a lot of fun. Q:What are you currently working on today? A: Today I'm actually working on building our equipment system. When I'm done, designers will be able to take a weapon that an artist models and drag it onto a character. The character will then hold it in their hand, swing it, and cause damage to their enemies. My weapon of choice is currently the flail, which Unity made surprisingly easy to create. Q: What’s your typical work day like on Project Eternity? A: When I start my day in the morning the first thing I do is check email and make sure there aren't any outstanding issues or meetings I need to think about. I frequently also log into Reddit to see if I have any fan questions. After that I fire up Unity, update my build to see everyone else's work, then run the game to make sure it still works like it did when I left the night before. If there are any major issues I'll take care of them, otherwise I'll start working on whatever the next thing is that I need to build. I usually head off to the gym at lunch because my office is a dark cell and I need sunshine (or the fluorescent lights of the gym). Then more programming after lunch. Around 3:30pm I'm about ready to fall asleep, so each day all of the programmers gather up and walk across the street for coffee. That might seem like a waste of time to some, but it gives all of the programmers a chance to talk about what they are working and bounce ideas off of each other. Also coffee. Q: What feature are you most looking forward to programming? A: I got into the game industry wanting to be an AI programmer. So, while I enjoy the challenges of engineering other systems, AI is where my heart is. I can't wait until we have a full complement of spells so I can write some cool wizard AI and give people an epic wizard battle! Q: What's been one of the largest challenges so far? A: So far the biggest challenge has really just been getting familiar with Unity and building stuff so that when the design team starts making levels they will have a solid set of tools, easy to use and ready to go. Q: What other projects have you worked on at Obsidian? A: I've been at Obsidian almost 7 years, so there's been a lot. I started out as tools programmer on the Neverwinter Nights 2 toolset, followed by my first job as an AI programmer on the cancelled Aliens RPG project, after that I helped out with Alpha Protocol's AI system doing bug fixes. Then I moved to Dungeon Siege 3 where I was responsible for building the AI systems both for the game and our Onyx engine. I served a tour of duty on South Park integrating the Onyx combat system with the turn based design of that game. They hired Tim Cain to replace me on South Park and I moved over to the (now cancelled) North Carolina project. Between North Carolina and Project Eternity I worked on various prototypes we were doing to try and pitch games. Q: Where do you like eat for lunch? A: Being a California native I really love Mexican food. We tend to go to Wahoo's Fish Tacos a lot because we can walk there from the office and it's pretty good. Q: Who's your favorite programmer? A: Well, I would say Adam Brennecke, but he's a producer now and is dead to me. So it's going to have to be Tim Cain. I definitely envy his ability to design, code, and bake well. He's a triple threat and that's also earned him a spot on my list of most job threatening co-workers. Fortunately I know his weakness... Q: What's your favorite game? A: That's easy, my favorite game of all time is Baldur's Gate. It was the first RPG I played and the first time I felt like I was in another world that I could explore. I'd never experienced that before and it's what inspired me to want to make games for a living. Q: What do you like to do when you aren't programming? A: Drink... heavily. Preferably whiskey, but I'm also happy with vodka. Q: How many push-ups can you do? A: More than the average programmer, but significantly less than Chris Avellone. Q: What's your favorite Thanksgiving dinner dish? A: Cornbread stuffing! Thanks for reading. We want to have weekly updates on Tuesdays from now on, so be sure to drop by every Tuesday for the next Project Eternity update. If you have any additional questions for Steve - post them on this thread and he will be happy to answer some of them!
  4. 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!
  5. 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.
  6. 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!
  7. Update by Josh Sawyer, Project Director Welcome. Today's update is a big one, though not by volume of text. Today we’re showing you our game in action. Specifically, we're showing what we've been doing for our exterior environments. The Infinity Engine games were known for their art, and we wanted to hit the high standard of visual quality established by games like the Icewind Dale series. We also wanted to introduce dynamic elements into the environment that were mostly absent from the classic games, like dynamic water, movement in foliage, and dynamic lighting of the scene. In a 2D game, this required our programmers and artists to come up with some creative solutions. What they came up with surprised us initially and it continues to amaze us. While we are still working on refining some of the dynamic elements, we're very happy with the progress we've been able to make and hope you feel the same way. Special thanks to Hector Espinoza, our lead environment artist, and Michael Edwards, our rendering programmer, who did a lot of amazing work to bring this environment to life. Thanks for reading, thanks for your feedback, and we'll see you next week.
  8. 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.
  9. Update by Josh Sawyer, Project Director and Lead Designer Last week, our art director, Rob, showed you our godlike concepts and dazzled you with an in-depth technical breakdown of how we're doing animation rigging on the project. This week, we'll be talking about a different technical subject, but one that's more connected to gameplay: engagement -- specifically, melee engagement. Melee engagement is a solution to two common problems in the Infinity Engine games: melee characters' inability to control an area and ranged characters' ability to "kite" melee characters. In the Infinity Engine games, melee characters could be quite powerful in toe-to-toe combat, but many opponents found ways to foil those characters with little difficulty. Fast characters could easily rush around a slower melee character with impunity and ranged characters could backpedal perpetually out of reach. If you're familiar with D&D 3E/3.5/4E/Pathfinder's attack of opportunity mechanics, Project Eternity's melee engagement fills a similar role by making melee combatants "sticky". Coming near a melee combatant means being drawn into Engagement with him or her, a state that can be risky to get out of. Here's how it works: when two opposed combatants come near each other and one of them a) has a melee weapon equipped b) is not moving and c) is not currently at his or her maximum limit of engagement targets (the standard is 1), the other character will be Engaged. When an opponent is Engaged by an attacker, moving any significant distance away from the attacker will provoke a Disengagement Attack. A Disengagement Attack has an inherent Accuracy bonus, does significantly more damage than a standard attack, and will call a hit reaction animation while momentarily stopping the character's movement. When it's initiated, a Disengagement Attack automatically breaks Engagement on the target, but if the target is also the attacker's current melee target, the attacker will typically be able to re-establish Engagement before the target can move farther away. In this manner, melee combatants, especially ones that have high Accuracy and damage per hit, have a solid mechanic for keeping enemies close to them -- or making the cost of escape extremely expensive. Of course, there are other ways to end Engagement. If the attacker switches to a non-melee weapon or performs a non-melee-based action, Engagement immediately ends. If the attacker moves away from their Engagement targets, is paralyzed, knocked down, or otherwise prevented from maintaining a threat, Engagement will also immediately end. If the attacker has a limited number of Engagement targets (as most do) and switches his or her attack focus to a different character, Engagement immediately ends. We believe that Engagement can give AI a clear "decision point" where they can evaluate the threat of their new status and choose the appropriate course of action. For player-controlled characters, it makes melee enemies more potent threats and presents players with tactical challenges to solve. We want Engagement to be a mechanic that players and enemies can mess with using a variety of class Abilities and general Talents, so we will be experimenting with a variety of elements to that end: Fighters' Defender mode allows them to engage two additional targets and increases the range at which they engage targets. This gives fighters much greater capability to control the area around them. The limited-use Escape ability lets rogues break Engagement without provoking a Disengagement Attack. It is generally best used when the rogue's enemy is preoccupied with another target. Barbarians can use Wild Rush to temporarily ignore the movement stop and hit reactions from Engagement and Disengagement Attacks, respectively -- though they can still suffer massive damage while powering through. The wizards' Grimoire Slam allows them to attack an enemy in melee with their magically-charged grimoires, unleashing a concussive wave of energy on contact. If it hits, the attack knocks the target back, usually far enough to break Engagement in the process. Additionally, creatures may have their own special abilities related to Engagement and Disengagement Attacks. We hope that the system itself is easy to understand but allows for increasingly complex tactical considerations over the course of the game. That's all for this week! Let us know what you think of the mechanic on our forums. Your feedback, as always, is appreciated. In our next update, in addition to our usual weekly content, we'll also be continuing our thrilling coverage of Chris Avellone's playthrough of Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura.
  10. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IbyFqrEYSFw Tim's Q&A This week's Q&A is a little different. I spent some time reading the questions that people were asking in various Project Eternity forums, including our Kickstarter comments, our Project Eternity Facebook page, the RPG Codex forums, the reddit Project Eternity group, and our own Obsidian forums. I have picked five questions to answer, one from each of these forums, and I have answered them below. For each question, I have included the forum poster who asked it, along with his original question text. Let's start with Facebook. Facebook Ockert van der Westhuysen asks... Will back for psionics. Any hope? I think you might find our cipher class to your liking, since their method of using "magic" is quite different from wizards and clerics and is instead tied to mental abilities. They feel a lot more like psionic abilities from earlier D&D editions. You can read more about the cipher class in Josh's update #15, which you can read here: http://www.kickstart...ty/posts/321413 RPGCodex Wise Emperor asks Is there any confirmation that Eric Fenstermaker will be involved in PE? Obviously it would be cool if yes. Eric is currently working on another project at Obsidian, but there is a good chance he will move over to Project Eternity when that first project is completed. Until the Kickstarter campaign is over and we know the full scope of the game, the assignment of particular people to it will not be completed. Obsidian forums rjshae asks... Back in the BG series, experience growth was relatively slow and it felt like an accomplishment to reach a new level. Since then, D&D v3.5 rules came out and level up began to feel almost like a cheesy accomplishment that didn't require much effort. That has become the trend in modern games: leveling up after every few battles. I have to wonder how this will be handled in PE? It sounds like Obsidian wants to return to the style of the BG series, which would seems to entail a return to slower level progress. If they do allow a more rapid level up, I hope they tone down the power growth rate so that lower level monsters remain a challenge for longer periods. We are working hard to make Project Eternity revive the spirit of the older IE games, and this includes making leveling up an important accomplishment, one that makes your character feel substantially more powerful afterward. I agree that frequent level-ups make the event feel less special, so we plan to space out these events over the course of our storyline. The first few level-ups will occur relatively early in the game, but the pacing of the subsequent level-ups will be much slower. For people who enjoy level-ups, they are free to use our Adventurer's Hall to swap out new companions frequently, so they are always leveling up new characters to use in later parts of the story. For people who aren't sure what character classes they will want to have available in the end game, it's always nice to have the choice of having all of them. Kickstarter Stephen P asks... After seeing this screenshot my anticipation for the game has spiked considerably, but it left me with a few questions. I understand the 2d portrait background concept, but will there be any overlapping animation with the river to make it appear flowing, even if the actual image doesn't move? The same question for the flowers? trees? will wind be simulated somehow? We will certainly be adding animations to our backgrounds. The trees should sway, there will be birds or butterflies or insect clouds, depending on where you are, and the water in rivers and waterfalls will flow. We are using a rendering technique similar to the one we used in Temple of Elemental Evil, where the background is a pre-rendered 2D image and the characters and some props are 3D objects. This gives us the advantage of exquisitely detailed environments without the polygon cost, along with lots of animation without the memory cost that 2D sprites would entail. Reddit Mirokunite asks... Will there be low intelligence/charisma dialog? Yes, we will have these dialogs. They are a great deal of work, since it means writing two versions of every dialog in the game, but I am sure that our wonderful writers are up to it. I really want these dialogs too! I find it fun to replay the game with a low intelligence character, just to see how the NPC's react to my slow-witted attempts to help them. And there we have it! Five questions answered from five sites. Again, thanks for your support of Obsidian and Project Eternity. There are just a few days left before the Kickstarter campaign is over and we enter full production of this game, and we are all very excited about the prospect of working on a classic CRPG again! RPG Eats! Do you like to eat? Do you like RPGs? I am going to give out my favorite RPG themed recipes to all of our backers! The Project Eternity Cooking with Tim Recipe Book will contain 10 delicious recipes in PDF format. Enjoy the good eats while you play Project Eternity when it's released! Troll Portraits by Chris Avellone Chris Avellone has graciously volunteered to draw a custom troll portrait for you to help raise additional funding towards our last stretch goal target of $3.5m for Big City #2. Chris will number and sign the portrait, write a humorous message to you, and a print will be physically and digitally sent to you. This is a limited run of 30 at a $750 tier (includes all the goods in the $500 tier), so get in quickly. If you are above the $750 tier and would like a custom troll by Chris Avellone please contact Obsidian and we will work with you. Adam is currently live streaming all day long today at UStream. Join in on the fun and watch him play Icewind Dale II. We also hit 60,000 backers! Again, one more level to the dungeon is added! Update by Tim Cain
  11. Update by Josh Sawyer, Project Director Thanks to everyone who contributed feedback to our visual demo last week. While we are still working out some aspects of our environment art, we appreciate both the kind words and the suggestions for improvement that we received. Due to all of the coverage we received, we noticed a lot of new folks asking about the game as well as past backers who may have missed a lot of the updates that have happened since the Kickstarter campaign ended. We thought it would be a good idea to restate what Project Eternity is all about and update our FAQ. While much of this has been covered in previous updates, we have also included a few new tidbits of information in the details. What is Project Eternity? Project Eternity is a party-based fantasy roleplaying game inspired by the Infinity Engine games (Baldur's Gate 1 and 2, Icewind Dale 1 & 2, and Planescape: Torment) set in an original world created by Obsidian Entertainment. The camera has a fixed axonometric (high angle) perspective (with zoom!). The environments are 2D backgrounds combined with 3D characters and visual effects. Project Eternity's team is focusing on three core ideas that will capture the Infinity Engine experiences players loved so much: Unique, beautiful, dynamic environments that encourage and reward exploration. A story that is both personal and far-reaching, with believable characters and factions that create compelling dilemmas for players. Fun and challenging tactical combat that can escalate in difficulty through the use of optional game modes. What does "party-based" mean in Project Eternity? At the start of the game, the player can create and customize his or her character, choosing from six races and several ethnicities, eleven classes, and a number of cultural backgrounds. Over the course of the game, the player can expand his or her party up to six total characters. The additional characters include eight companions designed and written by Obsidian as well as any new characters players would like to build at the Adventurer's Hall. What is the combat like? Project Eternity's combat will feel very similar to the combat in the Infinity Engine games, which used a "real-time with pause" system. In such a system, events between combatants occur simultaneously, but the player can pause the game at any time. The player selects and commands one or more of his or her party members to issue orders, ranging from continuous activities, like making standard attacks, to the activation of limited-use tactical abilities, such as spells. Like the Infinity Engine games, Project Eternity will support auto-pause features that allow players to establish conditions under which the game will automatically pause (e.g., if a party member becomes unconscious). It will also feature a slow combat toggle that can be used with or in lieu of the pause feature. In slow combat, players can manage the flow of combat without needing to halt the game entirely. What are the different races we can play? Players can select from six main races found in this part of the world: humans, elves, dwarves, orlans, aumaua, and godlike. Orlans, aumaua, and godlike are unique to the world of Project Eternity, though godlike have similarities to "planetouched" races in other settings. Orlans are small humanoids physically notable for their two-tone skin, extensive body hair, and extremely long ears. Aumaua are large, semiaquatic humanoids with a diverse array of skin patterns, elongated heads, and semi-webbed hands and feet. Godlike are not a separate race, but a phenomenon found among all races. They are individuals whom many people believe were transformed by the gods before birth. Godlike have distinctive appearances that invariably make them stand out from other people, with different cultures and individuals holding wildly different biases toward or against them. All of the races have different ethnicities from which the player can choose. For elves, Wood and Pale, for dwarves, Mountain and Boreal, for orlans, Hearth and Wild, and for aumaua, Island and Coastal. Humans have three ethnicities: Meadow, Ocean, and Savannah. Godlike can be found among any race and their appearance always sets them apart from their parents. This is an Aumaua male and female hi-poly head model. The facial colors and texture will be coming later. What about the classes? Characters may be one of eleven classes: barbarian, chanter, cipher, druid, fighter, monk, paladin, priest, ranger, rogue, or wizard. The "core four" classes (fighter, priest, rogue, wizard) are most similar to their traditional tabletop analogues. The non-core classes, barbarians, druids, monks, paladins, and rangers, are somewhat similar to their counterparts but differ more significantly. The two completely new classes are the chanter and the cipher, which are unique to the world of Project Eternity. Traditional classes vary in how high- or low-maintenance they are based on their traditional counterparts. E.g. fighters are generally lower maintenance than wizards. However, the advancement system allows players to bend those roles, making higher-maintenance, active-use fighters or more passive wizards (for example). Class balance is important to us, but we also want playing each class to feel distinctive and complementary to other classes. What will the art style be like? Our art style is fairly realistic and uses a somewhat subdued, natural color palette, especially in outdoor environments. Character proportions are also fairly realistic. Equipment designs and proportions are based on their earthly historical counterparts, with an overall emphasis on function in their form. However, because this is a fantasy game, many environments will also be fantastic, with unearthly architecture, unusual materials, brilliant colors, and beautiful embellishments when appropriate. How about the setting and story? Project Eternity is set in a world created by Obsidian Entertainment, where mortal souls are bound to an eternal, and often mystifying, cycle of life and reincarnation believed to be watched over by the gods. Though cultures and individuals have different beliefs about the nature and purpose of this cycle, it is only recently that mortals have made significant advancements in understanding its fundamental mechanics through the science of animancy. The story takes place in a small nation in the world's southern hemisphere called the Dyrwood (DEER-wood). The Dyrwood is a heavily forested, coastal region where colonial powers from across the ocean have settled and formed an uneasy relationship with the local residents, tribes of orlans and elves who are protective of the ancient ruins of Eír Glanfath on the forest's interior. Eír Glanfath was an ancient melting pot of races that built elaborate, often massive, structures out of a living shell-like substance called adra. Though the fate of the ancient Glanfathans is unknown, their dangerous and complex ruins show evidence they possessed extensive knowledge of how souls work. For this reason, all of the surrounding colonial powers aggressively fight for the chance to explore and plunder Glanfathan structures, often bringing the local tribes into conflict with their relatively new neighbors -- and the neighbors into conflict with each other. The central character in the story is a newcomer to the Dyrwood, a man or woman who is caught up in a bizarre supernatural phenomenon. This event puts them in a difficult position, where they must explore the new world to solve a series of problems that have been thrust upon them. What engine does Project Eternity use? Project Eternity uses the Unity engine in addition to proprietary features developed at Obsidian. What platforms will Project Eternity be available on? We will be releasing Project Eternity for Windows, Mac, and Linux PCs. It will be available through Steam and GOG.com. Will Project Eternity use any form of DRM (digital rights management)? The GOG version is DRM-free. The Steam version works like any other Steam game and does not have any added DRM. There is no online requirement to play the game nor any additional DRM imposed by us. What languages will you be supporting? In addition to English, Project Eternity will be released in French, German, Spanish, Polish, and Russian. What resolutions are you supporting? Project Eternity will support resolutions from 1280x720 and up. Our environments are rendered out at a high resolution and support a wide range of scalability. What other cool stuff will be in the game? Thanks to our backers, players will have access to both a player house as well as a full stronghold in the game. Also, players will have the chance to explore all fifteen levels of the backer-funded mega-dungeon, the Endless Paths of Od Nua. Players who want a more extreme challenge can enable up to three optional game modes: Expert Mode (turns off "helper" features), Path of the Damned (dramatically increases the difficulty and complexity of encounters), and Trial of Iron (only one save game, party death = game over, save game deleted). That's all for this week. Thanks for reading! Season 1: Cowardly Cops, Meddling Merchants, and Shrouded Hills. And trash bins. Article by Chris Avellone, Creative Director We’re doing something different with the Arcanum playthroughs with this update – instead of filming a large portion at once and then releasing that one session over several weeks in small 10 min chunks, we’re going to release smaller updates that allow us to respond more quickly to your feedback on the playthrough and then iterate on the next playthrough. In this episode, Avellone explores the small town of Shrouded Hills, deals with cowardly constables, explores trash bins, and finds out more about the cryptic ring from the Zephyr’s zeppelin crash. Virgil guest stars.
  12. D&D: Dwarves and Doors Adam Brennecke We are another month into preproduction and have been making awesome progress on all fronts. This update covers dwarves and doors, two of the many accomplishments in the month of January, and gets into the finer details of development on Project Eternity. The Creation of the Dwarf One of the goals in preproduction was to figure out how we could make character modeling pipeline be as efficient as possible. The problem is fairly complex: All of the six playable races, human, elf, dwarf, aumaua, orlan, and the god-like can wear armor, boots, gloves, helmets (...well, some have trouble wearing helmets, but we will talk about that some other day...) and have other options that the player can customize like facial hair, hair style and skin color. We also have tons of armor variations and types of armor, like plate, brigandine, leather, and mail. (Josh loves his armor). Ideally, our artist would only need to model one armor piece - let's say plate body armor - and have it fit all six of our playable races even if the races are all of different proportions and body structure. At the end of the day the same model for plate armor could fit a slender four-foot-tall orlan and a burly seven-foot-tall aumaua. The goal for January was to build a system to allow us to do this very thing. During January, we've developed a new system to allow our human bipedal skeleton to be shaped and morphed into the other playable races and have armor be shaped and morphed along with the skeleton. The character modelers have fine control over the proportions of the races, and only need to model armor pieces once and not six times over. In preproduction we look at developing systems like this. It may cost us time up front, but will save us hundreds of hours down the road in production. The dwarf ended up being our first test case, and now we have dwarves as playable races working in game. Pictured at the front of this update is a high-poly dwarf head that Dimitri Berman (lead character artist) modeled in ZBrush. The high-poly head is used for making normal maps which aid in lighting the character models. A simplified mesh is created from the high-poly head is used in game. Open, Close, Lock On the other end of the pre-production spectrum, the programming team has been writing the building blocks for the area design toolbox. One of the essential things that all areas need are doors. From past experience we know that doors always present difficult problems with pathfinding and are a big pain in the arse. Getting a potentially risky, yet required, feature out of the way now seemed like a pragmatic goal, so Steve Weatherly (game programmer) and Sean Dunny (environment artist) set off on a quest to get doors working in the game. We first tackled this problem creating a list of all the features that doors need to have. It's easy with doors since we all know how doors work: Doors have a few states, like open and close. Doors can be locked, and be unlocked with a key (or skill). Doors can be used, meaning the player can click on a door and the selected character will be commanded to go and "use" the door. Doors can animate to match the open/close state. Doors block character pathing when closed, and don't block pathing when opened. We even listed out minor details such as doors can change the mouse cursor to a different state when hovered over, and doors should always open away from the character using the door. Tasks were made from this list, and the work began. Steve was able to get a working prototype of a door ready to test quickly. At this stage we could see how the door looked and felt in game, and if there are any unexpected problems that came out of the prototype. One issue that came up was door placement. We found that it was not easy to place a door in the exact space to fit a dungeon doorframe. Steve and Michael Edwards (senior technology programmer) coded a system for doorframe "snap points" that makes the door pop to the exact place that we want it to go. Designers can now place doors efficiently. Hooray! We love being able to share our progress with you all, and we hope you enjoy reading these production updates. If you have any questions about development, please post them in our Project Eternity forum. Thank you!
  13. 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!
  14. 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.
  15. We love giving players options: character build options, personality options, story options -- all the options you might want to play around with. We recognize that many players also want to play the game their way and have an experience that matches their particular RPG tastes. RPG fans share a lot of common ground, but on matters of visible mechanical feedback, complexity, and the overall level of punitive face-punching a game provides, there's a big spectrum of opinions. In a lot of cases, it's not too hard for us to provide options to turn an individual feature on or off, so we want to make that possible when resources permit us to do so. Additionally, even among the ranks of RPG superfans, there exists a subset of players who can't get enough challenge. They want all of the difficulty features set to "I am pro." Collectively, we've worked on a bunch of these challenge modes in the past and enjoyed the results. Project Eternity seems like a very appropriate place to highlight suites of these difficulty options as distinct gameplay modes that players can opt-into at the beginning of any game. We've come up with three modes we'd like to support, which also includes the ability to turn many of their sub-features on and off on an individual level in an ordinary game: Expert Mode, Trial of Iron, and Path of the Damned. Expert Mode will disable all of the common ease-of-use / in-case-you-missed it gameplay elements like the display of skill thresholds, influence/reputation modifiers, and similar "helper" information. In a fashion similar to Fallout: New Vegas' Hardcore Mode, Expert Mode will also enable more punitive and demanding gameplay elements, in and out of combat. We're not saying we're going to have weighty gold (for real, we're not saying that), but if we did, you can bet that would be automatically turned on by Expert Mode. If you guessed that Trial of Iron is like Temple of Elemental Evil's Ironman Mode, you guessed right. When you start a Trial of Iron game, you have one save game that persists for the entire campaign... or until you die. And if you die, your save game is deleted. Enjoy! Path of the Damned is a spiritual successor to Icewind Dale's Heart of Fury mode. In our encounters, we like to turn individual combatants on and off based on the level of difficulty. If you come into an area on Easy, maybe casters are replaced with weak melee enemies. If you come in on Hard, maybe the casters are augmented by a tough melee enemy or two. With Path of the Damned, that goes out the window. All enemies from all levels of difficulty are enabled and the combat mechanics are amplified to make battles much more brutal for everyone involved. The first question you may have is, "Can I enable multiple challenge modes at once?" Yep, you sure can. They have to be selected at the beginning of the game, but if you want to play with two or all three at the same time, you can certainly can do so. If you're not quite sure you want all of the elements that come along with a given mode, this funding level will also cover implementing the ability to enable and disable the individual sub-features. Along with these modes, we also want to introduce the Godlike races. These folks have been described previously as being similar to the humanoid "planetouched" in D&D: aasimar, tieflings, and genasi. That is a good high-level description of them, but they are viewed differently by various factions, faiths, and cultures in the world of Project Eternity. Godlike were "blessed" before birth by one or more of the meddling deities of this world. Though their appearances vary, they are unmistakeably otherworldly when anyone gets a clear look at them. Sometimes, the reaction they get is overwhelmingly positive. Many times, the reaction is overwhelmingly not. For better or worse, the physical "gifts" that mark them as Godlike always come with supernatural blessings (and curses) of their own. The first question you may have after reading this may be, "Hey, what about the other races that have already been funded?" Those races are in the process of being fully designed and concepted -- and they can't be summarized quite as simply as "sort of like planetouched". We'll have more for you on those guys in the not-too-distant future. Thanks again for your support, your patience, and your questions. Update from Josh Sawyer In addition to today's update, we've got a few backer badges for you, including one for the fantastic Obsidian Order of Eternity! @Obsidian
  16. 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?
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. Hi friends. My name is Armand, and I've been doing fan songs in the spirit of Project Eternity. I've done four songs so far, and would like your help in doing a fifth! Let me know what you'd like me to sing about! I'd really like to do something more specific to Project Eternity, but as information is scarce as of yet, I've sorta winged it on the info we've got. So far we've got one song about getting killed by sea monsters, as mentioned in Update #5, a song about a very skilled thief that I recorded for fun, and a song about a strange man that can steal your soul by placing his hand upon your head. I based this on the possibility of having multiple souls in your body at once, as also mentioned by Josh. I imagined a evil magic user of some kind, using Shang Tsung-esque powers to rip souls out, and collect them as his own to draw power from. What could the next song be about? I've been thinking of singing about guns and the veil. Based on the mention of how gun users disable arcane veils in battles against mages by shooting them. Or maybe, a song about the Obsidian Order? Or about Edair's whip-lasso thing!? All ideas welcome, as long as they are related to Project Eternity somehow. I'll be sure to dedicate the song to the forums at the beginning of the clip, and mention and give credit to all who helped in either the description or at the end of the clip! Let the ideas roll in, and feel free to talk amongst yourselves of what you like the best among all the suggestions. Based on that I'll write together a final plot for the song, and if that then gets green lit by you, I'll record and upload it! Song can't be any longer than 2 minutes though. So compress your epics into that time frame. It would be wonderful if we could settle on an idea before Friday, as I'll be gone during the weekend and won't be able to check the forums or record anything during that time. Looking forward to reading your posts! Here's the last song I did! "Stealer Of Souls" -
  22. 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
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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
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