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#1
catmorbid

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Hi! I'm a massive fan of Black Isle / Troika / Obsidian as well as a student majoring in Computer Science, a game hobbyist and an amateur game developer. (Disclaimer)

 

So, my question for today is a very profound one, and one that carries a lot of meaning to me, personally, and especially from a game developer studio perspective: What's wrong with Obsidian?

 

Everything starts with Black Isle and Fallout, which (if you're aware of the story around the production) was a general huge mother****ing mess. After Black Isle was shot down, the general messiness seemed to follow with Troika games, who made a couple of brilliant yet very flawed games. After that, the legacy, thanks to a few key individuals and their ideals, was transferred into what is today Obsidian.

 

Now, as a disclaimer, I have to say, I love everything created by these guys: Black Isle Studios, Troika and Obsidian. BI's slogan: "By gamers, for gamers" is still something I keep as an inspiration very close to my heart every single day (as an unknown amateur developer), and what they created is simply beautiful. However, everything created by this troupe and their derivatives has always been somehow fundamentally wrong: bugged as hell, imbalanced as foobar, illogical as hell.

 

My question is: WTF is wrong with Obsidian? Why can't they make solid products? I know there's a lot of tension between publisher - developer relations, that's always a handful and something for an entirely different discussion, but my presumption here today is that:

There is something wrong with the communication between the designers and the coders in Obsidian?

 

Because at many times it seems I'm playing a game with a beautifully designed world with lots of content and shreds of the designers souls visibly poured into every single detail, yet at other times I'm stumbling upon the very simplistic, childish even, mistakes that could be repaired with some simple programming with a little bit of forethought. Are you guys talking? Is there something between, even though this time (PoE) you were independently funded, and no publisher has a **** to say about yoru game? What's the problem?

 

Now, I'm not blaming anyone, I'm simply tryng to inquire some details about your methods into developing games, and whether there'd be something to improve. No doubt I'm going to get a generic response of "yes, we're constantly improving our methods and processes in all areas", but what I'm really interested in is the actual schizms between the programmers and the designers, since that's what I think is the main reason for this outcome.

 

Anyway, while any perspectives are welcome, obviously I'd rather take on some pov's from the crew.


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#2
C2B

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Big crpgs
You can't predict every complication (and mistakes happen fast), nor is it easy to test because these games tend to be big.

On that note look at the short games Dungeon Siege III and South Park which were pretty solid.

(At least thats what people assume)

Edited by C2B, 04 April 2015 - 01:57 PM.

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#3
catmorbid

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Well, I don't think BIG is the answer to everything, since they should have plenty of experience from BIG. Of course it probably has an impact on things, but regardless, it's not the only factor. At least that's my theory.

 

Edit: DS3 and South Park also had their share of problems on launch, albeit not quite as big.

Edit2: Especially SP I think had some pretty major bugs on launch, if I remember right (you could probably track it down by searching for early forum posts)


Edited by catmorbid, 04 April 2015 - 02:09 PM.


#4
C2B

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Well, I don't think BIG is the answer to everything, since they should have plenty of experience from BIG. Of course it probably has an impact on things, but regardless, it's not the only factor. At least that's my theory.
 
Edit: DS3 and South Park also had their share of problems on launch, albeit not quite as big.
Edit2: Especially SP I think had some pretty major bugs on launch, if I remember right (you could probably track it down by searching for early forum posts)


DsIII's biggest problem was that you couldn't set keybindings and that wasn't a bug. South Park I wouldn't say was buggier than your usual modern release. Worst offenders were a bit of stuttering on consoles and two issues that prevented achievements IIRC.
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#5
Luj1

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...., yet at other times I'm stumbling upon the very simplistic, childish even, mistakes that could be repaired with some simple programming ....

 

 

What mistakes are you referring to ?



#6
ManifestedISO

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Obsidian's only problem, is that their product attracts know-it-all critics. 


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#7
catmorbid

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Obsidian's only problem, is that their product attracts know-it-all critics. 

 

Oh yes, that's because of having overly high expectations they're sometimes also being over-critized, but I guess that's just a part of their charm.

 

...., yet at other times I'm stumbling upon the very simplistic, childish even, mistakes that could be repaired with some simple programming ....

 

 

What mistakes are you referring to ?

 

 

Well, for example, there seems to be consistently something broken in their itemization system. I'm not sure if it's a database problem, or something inherently problematic with RPG's (you should be able to know what kind of DB works after a few games...), let alone the quest systems which are always broken. In some cases the merit goes to another party (e.g. Bethesda @ Fallout: NV), but at other times, there seems to be not much anything to blame. Maybe their proprietary engine is very good at that stuff, which would kind of explain why DS3 received very little critique in that area, regardless of the solution in Onyx engine it feels a bit weird they couldn't have ported it to work with unity. My guess is it just wasn't good enough for what PoE required and they had to make (at least some parts of it) anew.

 

And I'm not even talking about all the UI related business here. E.g. why did they completely disregard the awesome mouse-drinven context-based UI in TOEE for a 20 year old mouse-driven awkwardness? (Granted, a lot of general things are done right) Ok, I haven't followed the game throughout the beta, so I've no clue what kind of ****storm took place there, but OBVIOUSLY there's lots of room to improve, but that's partly due to trying to follow Baldur's Gate too much, which in UI (and game system)-wise isn't the best possibl example...


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#8
h4mm32

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Obsidian's only problem, is that their product attracts know-it-all critics. 

 

Oh yes, that's because of having overly high expectations they're sometimes also being over-critized, but I guess that's just a part of their charm.

 


 

 

 how could you POSSIBLY have overly high expectations of a dev studio that has always failed your expectations .

upon stumbling across this statement i found it very simplistic, a mistake that could have been repaired by even a child. For children are renowned for having the logical sense to understand how illogically baffling this Janus of a backer is.

 


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#9
Althernai

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They make huge games with complex rule systems. This combination makes their games virtually impossible to fully validate before the release. It's not specific to Obsidian: if you look at, say Bioware and the Baldur's Gate series, there was plenty of broken quests and item glitches there too. In fact, IIRC, even after all of the patches, there was a mod called Baldurdash or something like that which fixed a slew of bugs that Bioware didn't consider important enough to bother with.


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#10
Luj1

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 ... E.g. why did they completely disregard the awesome mouse-drinven context-based UI in TOEE ...

 

 

 

Do you mean the Radial menu? I have no idea why we don't have that in PoE....I always thought PoE would have it

 

 That worked fantastically in ToEE and NwN (two brilliants RPGs and some of my favorites)

 

 

EDIT: But I definitely see ToEE influence in combat  i.e. over-engineered, unforgiving, hard-core combat mechanics. Which is fine.


Edited by Luj1, 04 April 2015 - 04:56 PM.


#11
catmorbid

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 ... E.g. why did they completely disregard the awesome mouse-drinven context-based UI in TOEE ...

 

 

 

Do you mean the Radial menu? I have no idea why we don't have that in PoE....I always thought PoE would have it

 

 That worked fantastically in ToEE and NwN (two brilliants RPGs and some of my favorites)

 

 

EDIT: But I definitely see ToEE influence in combat  i.e. over-engineered, unforgiving, hard-core combat mechanics. Which is fine.

 

Yes, that exactly that!

 

Also I think I know what you mean with the other ToEE influences, but those are really up to taste, not necessarily about neither improvement nor retrogression.


Edited by catmorbid, 04 April 2015 - 05:49 PM.


#12
Luj1

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..., but those are really up to taste, not necessarily about neither improvement nor retrogression.

 

 

Agreed. I prefer a simple foundation for RTwP combat systems (SWKotOR, NwN) but I can enjoy the more complex ones and grow fond of them as well.


Edited by Luj1, 04 April 2015 - 05:43 PM.


#13
wpmaura

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your a fan of troika and you ask this question.


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#14
Darkpriest

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Big crpgs
You can't predict every complication (and mistakes happen fast), nor is it easy to test because these games tend to be big.

On that note look at the short games Dungeon Siege III and South Park which were pretty solid.

(At least thats what people assume)

 

they just need to give Sensuki access to all their betas :D



#15
Arsene Lupin

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I've played for 50 hours and encountered only one bug (certain SFX not triggering properly). Comparing that to my experience with KOTOR2 (ran into a game-breaking bug requiring I start over from the beginning... twice, among other issues) and New Vegas (which is so buggy I've never been able to go more than 10 hours with a save being irrevocably broken), I don't find the need to be very critical of Eternity. Insofar as I have seen, it is--by far--the most stable game they've ever produced.



#16
Luj1

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Consider yourself lucky. I needed to edit my savegame to continue through Raedric's Hold (ran into a game-breaking black screen).



#17
Lexx

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Like others already wrote... Obsidian makes complex games usually with lots of Choice&Consequences. You can't compare this to a Mass Effect, where all but very few actions lead to the same result. It's really not the same. If you look closely, you can see that Obsidian is trying to streamline their processes to produce as little bugs as possible (just look at how games like Fallout and Arcanum are structured and how e.g. Dungeon Siege 3 is), but still it is impossible to work 100% bugfree due to all the possible variations that can happen.

#18
ShadySands

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"Too much avacado and sunshine, in my professional opinion"

-ShadySands when asked WTF is wrong with Obsidian

Edited by ShadySands, 05 April 2015 - 01:02 AM.

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#19
sorophx

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I don't want to point fingers at anyone, but the word "troll" came to mind as soon as I read the OP. I don't think a person with some experience with programming beyond the "Hello world" stage would dare to say programming a game is so easy, that Obsidian's programmers are obviously bad at what they do


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#20
Quetzalcoatl

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And I'm not even talking about all the UI related business here. E.g. why did they completely disregard the awesome mouse-drinven context-based UI in TOEE for a 20 year old mouse-driven awkwardness? (Granted, a lot of general things are done right) Ok, I haven't followed the game throughout the beta, so I've no clue what kind of ****storm took place there, but OBVIOUSLY there's lots of room to improve, but that's partly due to trying to follow Baldur's Gate too much, which in UI (and game system)-wise isn't the best possibl example...

 

The Temple of Elemental Evil had a very bad UI. You had to repeatedly keep clicking just to know what you options were. If this is the sort of thing you're criticizing Obsidian for, I'm glad they're not listening to you.


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