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AVOWED - Obsidian's Skyrim clone set in the Pillars of Eternity setting


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1 hour ago, Flouride said:

They also had Project Illinois and Mississippi back then. Avowed went into production after them or at least got it's project name after them. We know that they cancelled at least one project in 2019. Maybe even two.

Obsidian didn't have exactly 190 staff members to work on games back then. You forgot that Q&A and all the admin staff are about 20-30 people at Obsidian.

QA usually participate when the game enters active production. According to Boyarsky, TOW was always around 70 developers, so in my assumption I've put ~ 80 to accommodate those workers. The same applies to The Forgotten Sanctum. I hadn't taken into account the cancelled projects tbh, but I suppose they wouldn't be made up of very large teams (probably about 5-10 each). I think it wouldn't be unreasonable to think that the Avowed team could be around 35-45 developers by then.

This is interesting, as of June 2019 Obsidian had 200 employees of whom 70-80 were working at TOW. Grounded was in development (~ 15) and Josh Sawyer was starting his project (~ 5). Removing admin staff and such (~ 20) there were  ~ 80 people working on other projects.

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1 hour ago, Achilles said:

The issue is money.

Any employee on your payroll consumes it. Cost of salary, cost of benefits, cost of payroll taxes, cost of retirement fund matching if you offer it (which I believe Obsidian does). When you have team members working on a confirmed project that someone is giving your organization money to complete, then you are comparing your projected burn rate against your actual burn rate and probably reporting that out fairly regularly to the person whose money your spending. I say "probably", but what I really mean is that's usually the first number they look at on whatever status report you're providing.

So, if Obsidian was making this game for Microsoft, then Microsoft gave Obsidian money *before* the acquisition was finalized. I've never worked in the game industry, but I have worked on projects where both parties were willing to proceed on a good-faith, handshake agreement. That means you start work now and I pinky promise to pay you later. Obviously, these cases are rare and I've only seen them occur when both orgs had a history of working together. Doesn't mean it doesn't work any other way, just saying that I'm extremely skeptical that it works that way in the gaming industry. And I'm skeptical that either one of the parties involved wanted to have actual money or money promised influencing whatever negotiations were taking place.

The other option is that Feargus was paying that out of Obsidian's reserves and *really hoping* that Microsoft would greenlight the game he was already throwing resources at when it came time to talk about what's next. This seems like an extremely foolish and irresponsible move to make. I've watched a lot of interviews with Feargus and he strikes me as pragmatic guy. I really don't believe that this was the case either.

If there's some third way of looking at this, I'm happy to hear whatever it is and adjust my thinking accordingly.

In the meantime, I'm guessing that "anonymous source" is talking out of his ass for internet points and attention.

Added by edit: btw, I've also worked on project that took less than 7 months to implement and cost more than $1m, so the fact that it may have been "only 7 months" doesn't mean anything to me. If it's one resource making 50k per year that's a very different burn rate than 10 or 15 people making 50k per year. Again, that money is coming from somewhere.

Naturally the issue is money. Back in 2018 Obsidian released Deadfire. That gave them a cash injection (even if it was way less than they expected). 2 years and 7 months ago was in beginning of 2018, Feargus and Obsidian as a company expected high income from Deadfire sales when they started their pre-production on Avowed.
Feargus has always been smart with the money side of business and probably dug into the reserves a bit (or just used some of the funds they received from Private Division to fund it or parts of it check Chris Avellone's posts in May 2018 about how this works) while waiting for the payday that was supposed to be Deadfire's release date.

Even though Deadfire didn't sell as much as hoped, that's still money in the bank for the company that they can use to fund projects (unless they took a business loan to fund the game in addition to their own cash and Fig money). That money won't naturally last long, when the company burns about 1 million dollars a month. But at that point you most likely aren't gonna cancel the project, since you can't go for 3rd Pillars of Eternity on Fig either when the last one didn't sell well enough. You would have to wait a year for that option to be viable or even more.

Now, are you gonna cancel the game your team has been planning for the 5 to 7 months and do something completely different and eat the pre-production costs? Or are you gonna offer it to different companies with Microsoft being one of them.

Microsoft liked what they saw based on the pre-production, got interested enough to offer up to buy the company all together and saw rest of the stuff Obsidian was making. Matt Booty and Phil Spencer have been really open and consistent on the fact that they want the companies to decide which projects they want to tackle. Avowed was the one Obsidian wanted to make. Hence when the deal was being set to stone, Obsidian could focus on the project as they didn't have to worry that their money would suddenly run out if they didn't have a publisher. They had just found one and now they don't have to worry about the cost as much as previously. Scope of game most likely got bigger at this point.

Deadfire team gets free at this point as well and some of them want to make a game called Grounded (Project Maine) while others create the three dlcs. Alabama got it's statehood before Maine did. So yes, Avowed has been in pre-production before or little after Deadfire got released. If Obsidian was able to announce Grounded late last year(?) that game had been in the works for quite some time.

If the project names were the other way around, I would say sponger is full of it, but to me the timeline matches and makes completely sense. Klobrille (well known insider, who knew Obsidian was going the bought way ahead of anyone else) seems to agree.

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28 minutes ago, Adridactelo said:

QA usually participate when the game enters active production. According to Boyarsky, TOW was always around 70 developers, so in my assumption I've put ~ 80 to accommodate those workers. The same applies to The Forgotten Sanctum. I hadn't taken into account the cancelled projects tbh, but I suppose they wouldn't be made up of very large teams (probably about 5-10 each). I think it wouldn't be unreasonable to think that the Avowed team could be around 35-45 developers by then.

This is interesting, as of June 2019 Obsidian had 200 employees of whom 70-80 were working at TOW. Grounded was in development (~ 15) and Josh Sawyer was starting his project (~ 5). Removing admin staff and such (~ 20) there were  ~ 80 people working on other projects.

Ah, okay. I didn't do the count myself so thought I would ask. Yes, that would leave about 80 people to work on Alabama, Mississippi and Illinois. The cancelled project did have some of the Pillars of Eternity team working on it. It might have even been Pillars of Eternity 3. (Cancellation occurred in mid/late 2019)

In a way it would make sense that they cancelled/postponed that game in favor of Avowed. Two different games set in Eora would be a bit too much, especially if Avowed stole the setting and maybe even parts of plot from Pillars of Eternity 3. Avowed could and should have a bigger impact on Obsidian and their reputation as a whole, where as Pillars of Eternity 3 would be same old stuff. With the limited staff members available (and Feargus not keen on expanding too much), they had to focus on Avowed.

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11 minutes ago, Flouride said:

In a way it would make sense that they cancelled/postponed that game in favor of Avowed. Two different games set in Eora would be a bit too much, especially if Avowed stole the setting and maybe even parts of plot from Pillars of Eternity 3. 

Yes, I can definitely see this. Would explain why the game didn't have any narrative designer until five months ago.

Do we know how many people could be working on Avowed right now?

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5 hours ago, Flouride said:

Ah, okay. I didn't do the count myself so thought I would ask. Yes, that would leave about 80 people to work on Alabama, Mississippi and Illinois. The cancelled project did have some of the Pillars of Eternity team working on it. It might have even been Pillars of Eternity 3. (Cancellation occurred in mid/late 2019)

In a way it would make sense that they cancelled/postponed that game in favor of Avowed. Two different games set in Eora would be a bit too much, especially if Avowed stole the setting and maybe even parts of plot from Pillars of Eternity 3. Avowed could and should have a bigger impact on Obsidian and their reputation as a whole, where as Pillars of Eternity 3 would be same old stuff. With the limited staff members available (and Feargus not keen on expanding too much), they had to focus on Avowed.

Well it's also possible that one of those projects (IL or MS) is TOW2, which some people seem to believe exists at least as an exploratory project. And according to some of the recent articles on Avowed, its team is around 100 in size.

This leads me to ask a question of the many of you who seem to be rather knowledgeable on these kinds of questions. If we look at comparable AAA RPGs from recent years, CDPR is said to have many hundreds--perhaps as many as 500-700--people working on CP2077. Larian has around 300 working on BG3. Skyrim surely had several hundred on its team. Yet Obsidian has only about 100 on the Avowed team. How is this possible? How can this work? Can someone please explain this to me?

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10 minutes ago, kanisatha said:

Well it's also possible that one of those projects (IL or MS) is TOW2, which some people seem to believe exists at least as an exploratory project. And according to some of the recent articles on Avowed, its team is around 100 in size.

Does any one know if Cain/Boyarsky work on the DLCs for OW? If not it is possible they moved to work on the sequel.

Skyrim team was about 100 people as well, from what I can tell. I think you can compare production value of CDPR and BG3 to get the answer. Compare Witcher3 tech to Bethesda, as well as amount of handcrafted touches - from content to animations. What does however ring false to me the most from the leak mentioned ealier, is robust mod support for Avowed... Bethesda can do that because they have custom engine built for that purpose - at a cost of other things. However, as UE is used both for Outer Worlds and Avowed.... if there is some tech similarity between two games, they might built foundation for future titles as well.

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1 hour ago, kanisatha said:

This leads me to ask a question of the many of you who seem to be rather knowledgeable on these kinds of questions. If we look at comparable AAA RPGs from recent years, CDPR is said to have many hundreds--perhaps as many as 500-700--people working on CP2077. Larian has around 300 working on BG3. Skyrim surely had several hundred on its team. Yet Obsidian has only about 100 on the Avowed team. How is this possible? How can this work? Can someone please explain this to me?

Outsourcing. With Microsoft paying for the development, Obsidian can and will use outsourcing on this project. You can get a ton of art assets by outsourcing some of that development to freelancers and other studios. As far as I know Obsidian has multiple Outsourcing Managers working for them, whom they've hired after MS bought them.

Just look at the credits for The Outer Worlds: https://www.mobygames.com/game/playstation-4/outer-worlds/credits

They used Virtuos studios for a ton of art assets and animation. Chinese labor is just so much cheaper than hiring the same amount of artists and freelancers from USA.

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1 hour ago, kanisatha said:

Well it's also possible that one of those projects (IL or MS) is TOW2, which some people seem to believe exists at least as an exploratory project. And according to some of the recent articles on Avowed, its team is around 100 in size.

That would not make much sense. Outer Worlds got released late last year. No way they started to work on the sequel in 2017 or 2018 when those projects got started.

It's a known fact that there is an upcoming "large project" in the works at Obsidian with a very small team working on it currently. It's in early pre-production and will get staffed up as development on other projects allows it. That would make it Project Arkansas or whatever state got it's statehood after that if there's some other small project being made.

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1 hour ago, Wormerine said:

Does any one know if Cain/Boyarsky work on the DLCs for OW? If not it is possible they moved to work on the sequel.

 

Seems like they are not working on the DLCs. Carrie Patel is Game Director on the 1st one and Brandon Adler is the most likely candidate for the 2nd one as his LinkedIn has him working as a Game Director. Though as Cain & Boyarsky are the co-directors on Outer Worlds, I'm gonna presume they are aware what the DLC teams are creating even though they are not fully working on those projects.

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6 hours ago, Flouride said:

Naturally the issue is money. Back in 2018 Obsidian released Deadfire. That gave them a cash injection (even if it was way less than they expected). 2 years and 7 months ago was in beginning of 2018, Feargus and Obsidian as a company expected high income from Deadfire sales when they started their pre-production on Avowed.
Feargus has always been smart with the money side of business and probably dug into the reserves a bit (or just used some of the funds they received from Private Division to fund it or parts of it check Chris Avellone's posts in May 2018 about how this works) while waiting for the payday that was supposed to be Deadfire's release date.

Even though Deadfire didn't sell as much as hoped, that's still money in the bank for the company that they can use to fund projects (unless they took a business loan to fund the game in addition to their own cash and Fig money). That money won't naturally last long, when the company burns about 1 million dollars a month. But at that point you most likely aren't gonna cancel the project, since you can't go for 3rd Pillars of Eternity on Fig either when the last one didn't sell well enough. You would have to wait a year for that option to be viable or even more.

Now, are you gonna cancel the game your team has been planning for the 5 to 7 months and do something completely different and eat the pre-production costs? Or are you gonna offer it to different companies with Microsoft being one of them.

Microsoft liked what they saw based on the pre-production, got interested enough to offer up to buy the company all together and saw rest of the stuff Obsidian was making. Matt Booty and Phil Spencer have been really open and consistent on the fact that they want the companies to decide which projects they want to tackle. Avowed was the one Obsidian wanted to make. Hence when the deal was being set to stone, Obsidian could focus on the project as they didn't have to worry that their money would suddenly run out if they didn't have a publisher. They had just found one and now they don't have to worry about the cost as much as previously. Scope of game most likely got bigger at this point.

Deadfire team gets free at this point as well and some of them want to make a game called Grounded (Project Maine) while others create the three dlcs. Alabama got it's statehood before Maine did. So yes, Avowed has been in pre-production before or little after Deadfire got released. If Obsidian was able to announce Grounded late last year(?) that game had been in the works for quite some time.

If the project names were the other way around, I would say sponger is full of it, but to me the timeline matches and makes completely sense. Klobrille (well known insider, who knew Obsidian was going the bought way ahead of anyone else) seems to agree.

The "cash injection" was covering post-production support for the title, plus 3 DLC, plus turn-based mode, plus pre-production on a AAA title? Sorry, I'm still not buying it. I'm also not buying Avellone's accusation that Feargus was using Private Division money to pay for other projects. In other words, I continue to suspect that they were using part of their reserves to fund the post-production work. Maybe he was confident enough in the deal that he didn't feel that was a huge risk, but Microsoft had screwed them before, so...

All that to say, I have every confidence that they were working on a pitch for what would ultimately become Avowed, but

  1. that's not the same thing as "pre-production" and
  2. it may have looked very different before Microsoft got involved

You and I appear to agree on 2 and, as I've stated elsewhere in this thread, I'm not sure the semantics of 1 are necessarily worth fighting over.

As for the veracity of what the sources says, only time will tell. For now, I take it all with a grain of salt.

Last word is yours :)

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6 minutes ago, Achilles said:

The "cash injection" was covering post-production support for the title, plus 3 DLC, plus turn-based mode, plus pre-production on a AAA title? Sorry, I'm still not buying it. I'm also not buying Avellone's accusation that Feargus was using Private Division money to pay for other projects. In other words, I continue to suspect that they were using part of their reserves to fund the post-production work. Maybe he was confident enough in the deal that he didn't feel that was a huge risk, but Microsoft had screwed them before, so...

All that to say, I have every confidence that they were working on a pitch for what would ultimately become Avowed, but

  1. that's not the same thing as "pre-production" and
  2. it may have looked very different before Microsoft got involved

You and I appear to agree on 2 and, as I've stated elsewhere in this thread, I'm not sure the semantics of 1 are necessarily worth fighting over.

As for the veracity of what the sources says, only time will tell. For now, I take it all with a grain of salt.

Last word is yours :)

Not necessarily. Those 3 DLCs were planned from the beginning as was post-production support. It really depends on how you work your budget for the game, did you add those things into the original cost of the game or will you keep those as separate things in your books. Those DLCs did create some revenue as well and they must have had a projection on how much they would make from sales.

I personally would count the cost based on everything I'm doing for that game. Initial release and development cost, post-production and the DLCs. That's somewhere around 15-25 million dollars. You mark that money for Deadfire, no matter what as you've sold that package to your customers during Fig campaign, Deadfire + DLCs. After Pillars of Eternity they had cash to use, Fig gave them 4? millions dollars. If I'm Feargus, I'll use whatever money I make from Fig campaign and create the DLCs with that money. They planned for the campaign well before and did not promise anything ridiculous or too costly this time. And most likely had a more realistic estimate on how much they would be getting from the campaign. You promise those things as Fig stretch goals that you were most likely going to put into the game in first place and if you don't reach something, that's some money saved.

Anything that comes after Deadfire's release date is revenue and is money in the bank. Deadfire might not have made profit, but they are getting money in that they can and will have to spend on the next project if they want to keep their staff and have something to work on after Outer Worlds is done.

I don't think it's just Feargus who does that and I'm not taking Avellone's word as canon here either. It's a commonly used trick in the business. You'll have someone working on the game in a phantom role or very diminished role to get a little extra money, that you use for other things. Every cent counts when you are running a studio that burns about a million dollars month.

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2 hours ago, HoonDing said:

Skyrim is 10 years old next year

why does this look worse

There were like 10 seconds of presumably in-engine footage in that trailer (the beginning was CGI). And if you think that part looks worse than Skyrim I dunno.

If anything it was probably the best looking part of that show.

giphy.gif?cid=ecf05e4723df6f3654d8a052b5

 

 

 

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25 minutes ago, C2B said:

There were like 10 seconds of presumably in-engine footage in that trailer (the beginning was CGI). And if you think that part looks worse than Skyrim I dunno.

If anything it was probably the best looking part of that show.

giphy.gif?cid=ecf05e4723df6f3654d8a052b5

 

 

 

Probably pre-rendered in-engine, instead of actual gameplay.

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From the leaks I think I'd actually prefer this game happen after deadfire.. As long as it's completely seperate from the watchers story.  With the wheel being broken aedyr/woedica start to rise up and reforge an empire...

 

Then having POE3(please god let there be a proper POE3) happen after avowed...  I really don't like prequels so I am definitely bias....  But I think that could work.

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Is it really a "prequel" if it takes place before the events of Pillars of Eternity, but has absolutely no reference to the Watcher?

I'm not a fan of prequels either, but to me, there's a difference between a prequel and another, earlier story told in the same universe

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2 hours ago, Theonlygarby said:

I mean technically a trailer is worse than a full game.  So I guess you're right. Skyrim game > avowed trailer

I don't know. I had more fun watching and rewatching this trailer then playing Skyrim for 30 hours (God 30? I don't rember anything of note happening)

28 minutes ago, Theonlygarby said:

Then having POE3(please god let there be a proper POE3) happen after avowed...  I really don't like prequels so I am definitely bias....  But I think that could work.

I worry that if Avowed will take place after PoE2, that will mean most likely end of PoE... though maybe, with enough interest in Avowed, PoE will get some love and people will realize how great the series are.... Meh. Whatever will be, will be. The future's not ours to see. Que Sera Sera

As "prequels" go, KOTOR turned out rather well.

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20 minutes ago, Wormerine said:

As "prequels" go, KOTOR turned out rather well.

Oh snap

"Art and song are creations but so are weapons and lies"

"Our worst enemies are inventions of the mind. Pleasure. Fear. When we see them for what they are, we become unstoppable."

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40 minutes ago, Wormerine said:

I don't know. I had more fun watching and rewatching this trailer then playing Skyrim for 30 hours (God 30? I don't rember anything of note happening)

I worry that if Avowed will take place after PoE2, that will mean most likely end of PoE... though maybe, with enough interest in Avowed, PoE will get some love and people will realize how great the series are.... Meh. Whatever will be, will be. The future's not ours to see. Que Sera Sera

As "prequels" go, KOTOR turned out rather well.

Yeah Kotor did turn out well.  Although I've never been a huge star wars fan so it wouldn't be the same.  Fair point it can be done well.

 

I wonder how long until we know more about the game... I get the feeling we won't know anything for another year at least

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51 minutes ago, Theonlygarby said:

Yeah Kotor did turn out well.  Although I've never been a huge star wars fan so it wouldn't be the same.  Fair point it can be done well.

I wonder how long until we know more about the game... I get the feeling we won't know anything for another year at least

Maybe some game play at next year's E3 (assuming that we have one).

Edited by Achilles

"Art and song are creations but so are weapons and lies"

"Our worst enemies are inventions of the mind. Pleasure. Fear. When we see them for what they are, we become unstoppable."

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1 hour ago, Achilles said:

Is it really a "prequel" if it takes place before the events of Pillars of Eternity, but has absolutely no reference to the Watcher?

I'm not a fan of prequels either, but to me, there's a difference between a prequel and another, earlier story told in the same universe

This is so right on. The "prequel" label does not, and cannot, apply to Avowed no matter the time period of the game as long as it has nothing directly to do with the storyline of the PoE games.

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11 hours ago, kanisatha said:

This is so right on. The "prequel" label does not, and cannot, apply to Avowed no matter the time period of the game as long as it has nothing directly to do with the storyline of the PoE games.

of course it does, we know what the gods are, what will happen to the world and we know a decent number of things of the history of known nations, so much is set in stone.

I'd like to see how the world continues ofter the breaking of the wheel and I think starting new players in a world of uncertainty (pillars was always too certain for me on a lore level, souls are real and control that and that, they are reborn, no gods except for the creations of the engwithans and we know why they created them, it was all just too concrete) with dying artificial gods is not the worst premise.

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2 hours ago, Chinz said:

of course it does, we know what the gods are, what will happen to the world and we know a decent number of things of the history of known nations, so much is set in stone.

By that way of defining a prequel, any game that is not set in the current year of a setting is a "prequel." And that is most certainly *not* the meaning of that word.

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