Official Codex Discord Server

  1. Welcome to rpgcodex.net, a site dedicated to discussing computer based role-playing games in a free and open fashion. We're less strict than other forums, but please refer to the rules.

    "This message is awaiting moderator approval": All new users must pass through our moderation queue before they will be able to post normally. Until your account has "passed" your posts will only be visible to yourself (and moderators) until they are approved. Give us a week to get around to approving / deleting / ignoring your mundane opinion on crap before hassling us about it. Once you have passed the moderation period (think of it as a test), you will be able to post normally, just like all the other retards.
    Dismiss Notice

Developer Story Time with Old Man Davis

Discussion in 'General RPG Discussion' started by Anthony Davis, May 15, 2013.

  1. Anthony Davis Obsidian Entertainment Developer

    Anthony Davis
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2007
    Parrots:
    2,097
    Location:
    California
    Hey Young Whippersnappers, sit back and listen as I tell you stories of ye old days.

    Why Josh Sawyer is a Programmer's Designer: a NWN2 Tale.

    After Ferret...uh, left... Obsidian before the completion of NWN2, Josh Sawyer and Chris Avellone took over the Lead Designer duties between them. I believe Chris mostly handled tying all the narrative work done so far as well as making the hard calls of what stays or goes.

    Josh was focusing more on DnD and making the game as fun as we could considering how little time we had left on it.

    Most of the programmers sat in a darkened, poorly ventilated, series of closets that had been converted into offices. This was all before the movie to Irvine and the nice offices Obsidian has now. Anyway, this darkned set of manly smelling rooms was affectionately known as Blawson's Creek, after Brian Lawson, one of the senior programmers on NWN2.

    At the time, I shared an office with the great Rich Taylor, a senior programmer of power.

    We had, all of us, been working 7 days a week, 10 to 14 hour days, and it seemed like we were always behind on the programming side.

    Josh came over to Blawson's Creek and popped into Mine and Rich's office.

    Josh: "Hey guys, I don't think we are giving enough to the community with this game."

    Rich and I: "Agreed, but what can we do now?"

    Josh: "I want to give them a functioning deity system. I want it to respect class, gender, and alignment, and I want it enforced. If your class or alignment changes, your deity will reject you and you will have to pick another."

    Josh then began to graph and chart his deity system on the dryboard, going into a LOT of detail. He clearly had done his homework on this.

    Me: "Josh, I think this all looks great, but the problem is that in NWN1, the only data and events that were setup were very limited and involved a SINGLE string that has no data verification on it. I'm under the gun and running late."

    Josh: "We gotta do this, we gotta give them something."

    Me: "Unless you can come up with a way to make this work with ONLY a single string variable that can be tossed back and forth over the client/server wall, I don't know. We also can't add anymore events at this point, so this is something we could ONLY check at certain predetermined points, like level up for example."

    Josh, without missing a beat: "I'll be back."

    30 Minutes later...


    Josh returned and spelled out his modified Deity System that very closely fit within the criteria I gave him. Sure I would have to make SOME changes, plus I would have to still implement the whole thing, but suddenly this became VERY doable.

    I worked on it late Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday. Monday morning I showed it to Josh, and with just a few bugs and tweaks - it worked. Josh was very pleased and implemented the data side of the system.

    Little did we know at that time that this system would later set the groundwork and be expanded on by Andrew Woo and myself for the first NWN2 expansion, The Mask of the Betrayer, arguably the best RPG since Torment.

    For my annual review, I was actually reprimanded for implementing this system because I deviated from my schedule to get it done.

    Now, don't get angry, that was the right call for my reviewer to make because behavior like that is what causes projects to go off the rails to begin with. Seriously, schedules exist for a reason.

    That said, I would not change what I did at all. The end result made everything better and while at the time I was angry over what happened, I later grew and understood why and I accept the price I paid for it.



    ...and that is just ONE example of how Josh is an amazing designer and project director. No, he's not perfect, but he gets soooo much and understands HOW to work within a system to get what he wants. I have seen many designers argue with me for HOURS about how it HAS TO BE THIS WAY NO MATTER THE COST when the reality is quite the opposite.

    Many designers, especially but not always JUNIOR designers, create systems and cutscenes and all sorts of wonderful things in their head without understanding the game engine they are going to be creating this all in.

    It's a tough line to walk as a programmer, you don't want to restrict your designers, but at the same time you have to code it all and get it out the door someday.

    Understanding your game engine, your world, your toolbox, is where Josh is super pro. He gets it, and if he doesn't, he asks the right questions so that he does get it.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 66
    ^ Top  
  2. Roguey Arcane Sawyerite Sawyerist Sawyer's Bride No Fun Allowed

    Roguey
    Joined:
    May 29, 2010
    Parrots:
    23,579
    Hee, a little birdie told me an outrageous story about Baudoin's departure. Looks like there may have been some truth to it. :)
     
    ^ Top  
  3. Excidium P. banal

    Self-Ejected
    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2009
    Parrots:
    13,693
    Location:
    Third World
    Cool story.

    Shame I can't play NWN2, even moving around in that game is frustrating.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 3
    ^ Top  
  4. 80Maxwell08 Arcane

    80Maxwell08
    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2012
    Parrots:
    1,016
    Any more stories from your time at Obsidian?
     
    ^ Top  
  5. Anthony Davis Obsidian Entertainment Developer

    Anthony Davis
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2007
    Parrots:
    2,097
    Location:
    California

    I have almost 9 years worth of stories. I can't give them to you all at once.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 1
    ^ Top  
  6. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2011
    Parrots:
    73,300
    Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker
    Tell the birdie's story.
     
    ^ Top  
  7. Roguey Arcane Sawyerite Sawyerist Sawyer's Bride No Fun Allowed

    Roguey
    Joined:
    May 29, 2010
    Parrots:
    23,579
    Eh, something about a secured job at Bioware and notice given via a cleaned out desk following a very late night. Maybe embellished for dramatic effect.
     
    ^ Top  
  8. Vault Dweller Commissar, Red Star Studio Developer

    Vault Dweller
    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2003
    Parrots:
    26,977
    MOAR stories!
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 9
    ^ Top  
  9. Zed Codex Staff Patron

    Zed
    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2002
    Parrots:
    16,506
    Codex USB, 2014
    I really enjoyed this story. Thanks for sharing, Anthony.

    I like NWN2. Yes -- the OC too. You guys did a good job. I'm glad Josh is spearheading P:E.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 3
    ^ Top  
  10. Jasede Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Jasede
    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2005
    Parrots:
    21,286
    Location:
    Fluffy Pillow
    We want stories!
    We want stories!

    I don't like NWN 2 as a game, but hey, it gave us MotB. And the way I understand it, NWN 2 was ruined way before Obsidian started to really work on it. They just did what they could to make it into... something in what little time they had to get the job done. It still has a few neat parts.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 1
    ^ Top  
  11. Anthony Davis Obsidian Entertainment Developer

    Anthony Davis
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2007
    Parrots:
    2,097
    Location:
    California
    We can try requests for stories, like a story about a specific developer or a specific game title. No promises though.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 1
    ^ Top  
  12. Jaesun Fabulous Moderator Patron

    Jaesun
    Joined:
    May 14, 2004
    Parrots:
    36,880
    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    Torment: Tides of Numenera Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech
    How about any Mask of the Betrayer stories?
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 3
    ^ Top  
  13. Lancehead Liturgist

    Lancehead
    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2012
    Parrots:
    1,550
    John Gonzalez.
     
    ^ Top  
  14. serch Magister Patron

    serch
    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2006
    Parrots:
    1,352
    Location:
    Behind mistary, in front of conspirancy
    Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Codex USB, 2014 Divinity: Original Sin 2 Pathfinder: Kingmaker
    So you don't really think that Ferret burned the ships that could bring him back to Obsidian after the unavoidable demise of EA's Bioware, do you? :troll:
     
    ^ Top  
  15. Menckenstein Lunacy of Caen: Todd Reaver

    Menckenstein
    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2011
    Parrots:
    16,091
    Location:
    Remulak
    How about Sawyer's transformation from a young man into a middle-aged lesbian cyclist.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 17
    ^ Top  
  16. kazgar Arcane

    kazgar
    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2008
    Parrots:
    2,164
    Location:
    Upside Down
    You should intersperse game development stories with donut stories to keep it interesting.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 1
    ^ Top  
  17. Jasede Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Jasede
    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2005
    Parrots:
    21,286
    Location:
    Fluffy Pillow
    Tell us drunk MCA stories.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 4
    ^ Top  
  18. Random Arcane Patron

    Random
    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2008
    Parrots:
    2,649
    I bet working at Obsidian is a blast.
     
    ^ Top  
  19. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2011
    Parrots:
    73,300
    Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker
    He's already at Bethesda working on Fallout 4. Man knows where the money is.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 2
    ^ Top  
  20. Anthony Davis Obsidian Entertainment Developer

    Anthony Davis
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2007
    Parrots:
    2,097
    Location:
    California
    I'm going to Be in the car for about 10 hours tomorrow so I won't be able to post that much.


    That said, John Gonzales, or Jay Gee as I called him, is an amazing guy and I wish I could tell you more of what we talked about but I fear it would violate NDAs or reveal his own private game ideas that he shared with me. Suffice to say, I treasure our conversations. He was always polite, always thoughtful, and he possessed a butler and clever sense of humor.

    Edit: I would buy any game where Jay Gee was the designer or writer. Period.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 4
    ^ Top  
  21. Anthony Davis Obsidian Entertainment Developer

    Anthony Davis
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2007
    Parrots:
    2,097
    Location:
    California
    Very much so.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 3
    ^ Top  
  22. Anthony Davis Obsidian Entertainment Developer

    Anthony Davis
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2007
    Parrots:
    2,097
    Location:
    California
    Detroit Bar, Kitsch Bar, man... what was the name of that other place near the breakfast burritos...

    We had some GREAT times. Wooooooo!


    You need to be a fan of the Wooo if you want to hang with us. Also, you can't take yourself seriously, and you MUST have a sense of humor.

    A good singing voice for the drive to early morning grub is also a bonus.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 4
    ^ Top  
  23. Helton Arcane

    Helton
    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2007
    Parrots:
    6,551
    Location:
    Starbase Delta
    You rich bastards.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 5
    ^ Top  
  24. Anthony Davis Obsidian Entertainment Developer

    Anthony Davis
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2007
    Parrots:
    2,097
    Location:
    California
    Whenever Josh sets his mind to do something, there are no half measures. When he wanted to learn about firearms, he went all the way and took it as seriously as it should be taken.

    I don't live there anymore, but he was just getting into the serious biking when I left. I know he derived great enjoyment from building the bikes too, but as long as I've known him, he was always mechanical.

    Alo, he's not quite middle aged yet...
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 3
    ^ Top  
  25. Anthony Davis Obsidian Entertainment Developer

    Anthony Davis
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2007
    Parrots:
    2,097
    Location:
    California
    Best auto correct yet.

    That was supposed to be subtle.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 1
    ^ Top  

(buying stuff via the above buttons helps us pay the hosting bills, thanks!)