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Feargus speakth on IPLY/BIS future

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Feargus speakth on IPLY/BIS future

Company News - posted by Saint_Proverbius on Mon 6 January 2003, 23:10:16

Tags: Baldur's Gate III: The Black Hound; Black Isle Studios; Feargus Urquhart

Feargus Urquhart was posed questions about the future of Interplay and on the Interplay forums. His reply:

What I can do is talk about my plans for BIS. I want to finish Jefferson in such a way that everyone on the team is happy with it. I put the producer on Icewind Dale 2 (IWD2) in a tough decision and an even harder position on the project he is currently working on because I took very few resources from Jefferson to help him out. At one point he was down to two programmers on IWD2, while there were nine working on Jefferson. This was not meant to have IWD2 be a sub-standard project, but to give the team the shot to make Jefferson a truly next generation game.

I also want to get Fallout 3 going. Another reason for our focus on Jefferson. We need internal technology to make our games and we've had to put as much focus into that as possible.

Next I want to move the type of games that we make forward. The type of games that we have been making is getting stale. I just finished Age of Mythology and it was a great game. But, I really feel like I've played that same game ten times before. This is where I am torn somewhat though- I appreciated the solid mission design from mission 1 to mission 32 (I think that was the last one), but I was playing a game that I am completely familiar with. Build peons, gather resources, build an army, and invade the bad guys base. For our games, I think people have started feeling the same way particularly because of our probably over-use of the Infinity Engine. I think solid story and quest design can keep them interesting, but not enough without some other changes. Changes that are consistent with the types of games we make - not some other genre. But that is the Catch 22 - if they are consistent with our older games, will they just feel like our older games.

I and the rest of Black Isle have a lot of things in our way to make those things happen. As usual the financial state of Interplay has put a lot of restrictions on us even though we are only somewhat responsible for the state that the company is in. Examples of these things include:

1) We have only lately been able to start upgrading people from computers that were bought two years ago. And I think Dave Maldonado is still on a P3-500 which hasn't impacted him much yet - but many others in Black Isle were impacted by upgrades taking nine months to a year longer than they should have. The upgrades have not been completed and this is the stumbling block.

2) Marketing and PR being handled by our distributor instead of in-house has added a middle man which we are still trying to deal with. Many of the snafus like poor advertising and in store promotions on IWD2 were because of this coordination. I am not blaming IPLY or Vivendi in this - but more the coordination between them. This has to be fixed for us to become successful.

3) The last is that people need to be able to come into Black Isle every morning and not have to worry about their next pay check or that if what they are going to do that day is going to be compromised by IPLY. In a new age way, the people in Black Isle also have to believe that there is a future and they the problems they are going to have to deal with on a daily basis are those having to do with the games they are making and not the soul draining crap that has been going on with IPLY the last 18 months.

As of writing this, I don't have any solutions for any of those things. I'm working on them, but unless they get resolved doing what I think is best for the division and the games is going to be hard. I know that doesn't answer all the IPLY solvency and wacky Titus questions, but they are the things I have been thinking about lately.

So.. Fallout 3 might use the Jefferson engine? Neat.

I'd keep Dave Maldonado on that P3-500 as long as possible. At least until he promises never to make another forest maze.

Thanks, Ausir of Sierra Army Depot.

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