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Update by Adam Brennecke, Executive Producer and Lead Programmer Last month we finished our prototype 1 build. In Update #47, Josh outlined our goals for the first prototype, which focused on establishing "that IE feel". Not only did we hit that mark with the look of our characters and environments, but we also hit our target with movement, combat, and gameplay systems. Core basics that you all expect from Project Eternity such as party movement, melee and ranged combat attacks, containers (with loot!), doors, using special class abilities and spell casting, area transitions, inventory and equipment are all in the game and functioning. We also established working character and environment pipelines - the art team is now able to create beautiful rendered areas, and we can model armor sets for all of our uniquely proportioned races. Additionally, we've established that we can efficiently concept, model and animate creatures for our soon to be growing bestiary. The creature we built for the first prototype is the Skuldr. Skuldr have poor vision, but they use a form of echolocation to perceive the spirit world. This allows them to “see” souls, making it difficult to use stealth to avoid them. After the prototype 1 audit meeting, Josh and I came up with a plan for what we would like to see the team tackle in prototype 2. Josh has previously mentioned a few of the goals for prototype 2 which include fog of war, character voice sets, crafting, stores, AI patrols, and the melee engagement system. Besides the expanded feature implementation, we are going to put our pipelines to the test on another set of new environments and creatures before moving into production. The plan for prototype 2 is to create a small village with a handful of buildings to enter, including a shop and inn. To the east of the village is a medium sized wilderness area with access to a small cave dungeon interior. The prototype also includes a large dungeon (I won't spoil the contents of the dungeon, because some of the ideas in the prototype will eventually make their way into the shipped game). All of these areas are connected by a complex multi-stage quest with several objectives (some optional) and with many different ways of completing it. The team has been working on a second prototype for the past two weeks now. Here's a sample on what each department has been working on. Art Dynamic Cloth - We are doing further research into character dynamism, and are creating capes for our characters to equip. Dungeon - Our goal for the dungeon is to make an interior area that lives up to the IE games. The dungeon has a variety of rooms that are unique and organic. New Monster - One of the new monsters we are creating for prototype 2 is an Ogre. He has already gone through the concept and modeling stage and now is off to be animated. Design Complete Bestiary - The bestiary list has been worked over a few times by the area and narrative designers. We are now pretty close to having a complete creature list! Class Abilities for the Monk and Ranger - The Monk's "wounds" resource is in, and next up is the mechanics for the Ranger's animal companion. The class progression for the Monk and Ranger has been designed out to level 12. Programming Town Guard A.I. - How do guards protect the village when you start casting fireballs in the town square? They beat you down... or at least try to. The guards will hook into the reputation and faction mechanics, which tells guards when they turn hostile towards the party. Fancy Material Shaders - We now have fancy materials for creating shiny armor and translucent ghost skin. Another set of shaders are "Tint maps" materials that enable the customization of skin and clothing colors just like in the IE games. In the future we will go into details into the design and implementation of the systems and features. Is there a particular feature that you would like to know more about? Tell us what you would like to see us talk about in future updates on our forums. We will be taking an update break next week so the team can focus on prototype 2 work. Thanks for reading and see you in two weeks!
Update by Josh Sawyer, Project Director We've got a lot of things in progress on Project Eternity right now. As Darren wrote in the last update, we're winding down our first prototype. We just did an audit of the work that remains from the first prototype and where we will be going with the next prototype. Our first prototype allowed us to prove a lot of the basics of movement, character design, stealth, combat controls, inventory, resting, quests, scripted skill interactions, dialogue, status effects, and the ability and spell systems. There's still a lot of work to do on all of those elements, but by the end of the prototype, it really did have "that IE feel". How I organized and moved my characters, how I used them differently in combat, how I explored areas very much captured the feeling of the Infinity Engine games in gorgeous high-res environments. So where do we go from here? First, we're going to try another approach to building interior environments to make sure we can capture as much of the organic feeling of the classic levels as we can. Second, we're going to continue to build up the dynamic elements of environment to make them feel more alive. We already have dynamic water, but we have more work to do on with elements like trees, grass, ambient visual effects, and our day/night cycle. We'll be showing you the results of those experiments in two weeks. Third, we're going to continue to develop more advanced gameplay features like fog of war, character voice sets, crafting, stores, AI patrols, and the melee engagement system. In case you're wondering about the story, we've been working on both a lot lately as well. We really want Project Eternity to strike the right balance of elements: to introduce you to this new setting, to make you feel personally invested in your choices, to engage you with the personalities and factions involved in the conflict, and to give you all of the freedom you've come to expect from an Obsidian RPG. It's a long process, but we're feeling very positive and excited about where we're going, which is always a good thing. Thanks for reading and, as always, thanks for your continued support. I'll be back in two weeks to show you our exterior environment running with all the bells and whistles in place! Planescape: Torment Retrospective Article by Darren Monahan, the Named One Back before Obsidian was a company, many of us worked at Black Isle Studios, the RPG arm of Interplay Entertainment. One of the games a number of us helped create was Planescape: Torment, an Advanced Dungeons & Dragons based RPG set in the Planescape campaign setting. As many of you already know, the guys at InXile recently launched the Torment: Tides of Numenera Kickstarter. They’re getting a lot of the “old band back together” to work on this thematic successor. One cool thing they’re generously offering to all Project Eternity backers (whether or not you back Torment) is a Planescape: Torment Retrospective featuring developer diaries and blogs from many of the original developers, including quite a few former and current Obsidian devs. They’ve got nine days left, so if you haven’t checked it out yet, we encourage you to do so quickly! Please join me in thanking Brian, Kevin, and everyone at InXile! Kickin’ it Forward: Dwarven Forge’s Game Tiles Article by Darren Monahan, level 1 rogue/level 1 swashbuckler So, several of us on the Project Eternity and South Park teams are playing a D&D 3.5E campaign at lunch a few days each week. While they’re short sessions, this is no small production - we’re using a bunch of miniatures and tilesets for the campaign, many of which our DM (and Eternity designer), Bobby Null, has acquired over the years from Dwarven Forge. He came into work Monday incredibly geeked up because the folks at Dwarven Forge launched a new Kickstarter, which we got right into and backed. If you’re in to playing D&D and really want to get immersed, they make some incredible tilesets. Here’s a few samples from our game! (Note, these aren’t the exact tiles they kickstarted, but rather just some cool examples of their prior work.) Go check it out here! Thanks, and we'll see you next week!
Update by Darren Monahan, dinosaur fan Yep, you've seen this before - but not animating! In this week’s update, we’re back with me for one more! We’ll cover what the team’s up to currently. To start, every one of Obsidian’s games goes through a series of phases. Those phases, chronologically, are: Prototype, Vertical Slice, Production, and Finalization. At the end of each phase, the team and owners do an analysis of the progress; we verify that we’ve hit key goals, and (hopefully) officially move the project into the next phase. Prototype! So where are we at on Project Eternity? We’re coming to the end of the Prototype phase. While you might think of a prototype as something you would consider before making a game, in our case, we use the term to mean a demonstration of the game that, when successful, demonstrates the game’s vision (AKA “pillars”) and concept. For Eternity, one of our biggest pillars is to recreate the Infinity Engine experience. To that end, we need to have a number of key things in place to make sure our prototype is a success. Things like: Character movement and combat. We want to make sure we have a party of up to six characters, each of whom can be moved independently and/or as a group, which does then imply rudimentary support for formations as well as NPC and basic creature AI. Basic AI meaning to ‘see’ the characters, face them, and then move to them and start attacking. This also means we need character models that have enough animations to demonstrate this convincingly, as well as at least one monster. For our prototype demo, we have one known only as “Chompy” for now. More on him (or her?!) in future updates! Basic RPG mechanics. We need to prove that we’re making an RPG here obviously! We need basics like loot management; for instance, inventory and opening containers like chests. We need basic conversations and quest giving, including receiving a quest, tracking its progress, and then providing a reward for it being completed. Environments. We want to have a working outdoor area as well as a tileset-based interior that the player can move between and throughout. This makes us prove out area transitions too (I can hear it now, “YOU MUST GATHER YOUR PARTY BEFORE VENTURING FORTH...”) For our outdoor area (see screenshot above), we’re bringing life to it by not only building out the rest of the level, but getting our technological solutions in place. We have a working waterfall now, with moving water, replete with foam around the rocks(!) and more. Eeeert (sound of a record scratching…)! Wait, tilesets, Darren? What? Believe it or not, a lot of the areas in IE games were actually assembled through tile pieces (granted, outside the game in 3D art packages), and then were beautified by hand to give them a more organic look and feel. This tradition carries on with Eternity. Work in Progress Concept of an Interior Our next phase of the project is called the Vertical Slice. At Obsidian, this is the phase right before Production. In Vertical Slice, we try to do two things: Get Ready for Production. During Vertical Slice and definitely up into Production is when the team size grows. Early on, we’re getting all of our tools and processes designed, programmed, and with luck, polished up for our designers and artists to hit the ground running. Unity has been a dream for our developers so far, and it’s been easy for us to bring over our latest tools from other games for things like text and conversation management. Produce a Final “Slice” of Gameplay. We also try to develop a ‘final slice’ of gameplay. It’s generally a short, maybe 5-15 minute demo that demonstrates all of the core pillars of the game, as well as taken to what we’re aiming for at a final quality level in terms of visuals, audio, and presentation. During our Prototype we try to make stuff look great, but it’s secondary to form and feel. So, how are we doing? Well, we are absolutely trucking along. We’ve recently added several new concept artists to the team, two longtime Obsidian designers have also come on board (more on them later!), and we are hiring for other positions too. The team all has their heads down pushing forward for our prototype review. Fear... of the Dark Periodically throughout the rest of the project, we’ll have a number of weeks where we’ll ‘be dark’ (or rather more succinctly, "won't have an update" ) due to a variety of reasons, and next week is one of those instances. Don’t worry though, we will most certainly be working on the game, but we want to always make sure we’ve got cool stuff lined up for you, and our Prototype final is something we all want to keep focused on. When we’re back the following week (3/26), we’ll start a series of fresh new updates from Josh, Rob and the Art team, Adam, me, and more Let’s Play Arcanum with Chris Avellone. You might meet a few new team members, and maybe even hear from George again soon too. Happy St. Paddy’s Day! -Darren and the PE Team In case you're not sure who those folks are above: - Josh Sawyer: Project director and lead designer - Rob Nesler: Art director - Adam Brennecke: Exec producer and lead programmer - Me (Darren Monahan): Operations dude and co-founder - Chris Avellone: Obsidian's creative director - George Zeits: Narrative writer/designer