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Feargus Urquhart talks about stuff at Rock Paper Shotgun

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Feargus Urquhart talks about stuff at Rock Paper Shotgun

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Fri 15 February 2013, 19:59:30

Tags: Feargus Urquhart; Obsidian Entertainment

Rock Paper Shotgun have posted the first part of their interview with Feargus Urquhart at DICE. The topic of the interview is "the future of the RPG genre", but it's a bit more eclectic than that. Those of you who have expressed worry about Obsidian's solvency should be pleased with what they read here. The interview may also hold a hint as to what direction Obsidian intend to take their future AAA offerings. Here's an excerpt:

RPS: The recent industry “transition” has taken a ridiculous toll. It feels like it’s been layoffs every other week – which is weird, since it’s basically been every week. It’s been hard to watch, to say the least. Obviously, you guys temporarily lost a publisher, but are you chaffing elsewhere? After all, your biggest project [South Park] is slated to come out sometime this year. What happens after that? Are you worried about securing more work?

Feargus Urquhart: If you asked me that question eight weeks ago, I would have said yes. Luckily we signed another contract in December. I can’t go into any details about it, but it’s a game that will employ at least the same number of people that are working on South Park right now. And of course, our hope is that there will be more South Park work. It would be awesome to keep on working with Matt and Trey and the group.​

For us, we’re doing pretty good right now. I can’t rest on my laurels, as they say. And this is where I say “I” and not “we” because this is the “me” part of Obsidian. Now I have a year, probably about a year, to get a publisher interested in a game so that then we can go through the six-or-nine-month period of getting that thing signed up. It’s nice. I have about 18 months right now to get that next big thing signed up. It’s giving us a good amount of time to get all our ideas together. Having Chris Avellone as one of my partners is awesome, because he’s a fountain of ideas. Along with Josh [Sawyer], and now having Tim Caine at the company. This is going to give us the time to sit down and say, “What is this game we want to make?”​

[...] You take something like Arkham City. It’s sort of like a fighting game, a third-person fighting game. Five years ago they wouldn’t have made that like Arkham City. You look at what Skyrim does well, what’s really fun about Skyrim. So that’s the kind of thing where… I think there’s this desire to say, “First-person sword fighting isn’t always the best entertainment.” But hey, the fighting in Arkham City is awesome.​

So where do RPGs need to go from that? Do they need to get more like Devil May Cry? Do they need to get more like this or like that? And we’re looking at who plays role-playing games. I’m distinctly a role-playing game player. I play a ton of games, because I’m in the industry. I play Ninja Gaiden. I can respect Ninja Gaiden. But I would not play a ton of Ninja Gaiden. It’s just not my thing. All of their focus is on that system. When you’re making a role-playing game, your system is broader, much broader. That’s what we’re trying to say. What is combat? A lot of the other systems in role-playing games, they all work awesome and people love them. They still need to evolve and move forward a little bit, but what should combat be in that next big role-playing game? That’s one of the things we’re trying to zero in on.​

RPS: [...] do you look at something like Walking Dead and think, “Well, if we really want to focus on the choices, let’s strip out the combat and just make a story”?

Feargus Urquhart: That’s hard. I don’t want to say I’m a traditionalist, but my upbringing is Dungeons and Dragons. [...] As it relates to something like taking the combat out, this is where there’s probably better game designers and smarter people than me who could come up with an incredible system for that. But you know what? I personally enjoy that aspect. I like running around Skyrim and going into dungeons and killing skeletons. It makes me feel like this fantasy character. I don’t know that it would feel the same way. Maybe the answer there is that there are genres where it makes sense that combat is being put in, but combat exists particularly in fantasy role-playing games because that’s kind of where it came from. It was a tactical game. It’s more of an ingrained part of why that experience ever was there. But I think for other things it can absolutely get taken out, simplified. But it has to be replaced with something.​

In the rest of this segment of the interview, Feargus shares his thoughts about topics such as episodic games and the recent remarks by some against violence in games, offers his appraisal of the state of various RPG franchises (he thinks Dragon Age and Diablo are "rocky") and even talks about The Definition Of An RPG. He also more-or-less confirms what some of us on the Codex have suspected for some time - that the major publishers are understating their PC sales. The next part of the interview will be posted tomorrow - those RPS guys sure like dragging out their content.

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