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People News ObsidiLeaks: The Chris Avellone May of Rage Archive

Discussion in 'RPG News & Content' started by Infinitron, May 10, 2018.

  1. Mustawd Arcane

    Mustawd
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    They did make the toolset.

    Show Spoiler
    Bitmob: What were the most significant challenges that Obsidian encountered when producing the original campaign and the expansions?

    Richard Taylor: In order to produce the original campaign, we had a lot of hurdles to overcome on the technology-development front. We wanted the more cinematic conversation experience introduced by Knights of the Old Republic. We also wanted to improve upon NWN’s exteriors by using height-mapped terrain, which required changing various support systems as well, such as pathfinding. We were completely replacing the User Interface with a XML-driven, customizable system.

    On top of all this, we were rewriting the entire toolset from scratch. All of these factors lead to a challenge of trying to generate campaign content at the same time we were engineering the new technology for NWN2. This lead to conflicts where design or art would be depending on a feature that would break due to work being done on another feature, among other problems.

    None of these problems happened with the expansions. With the expansions we had a mostly finished engine to work with, aside from ongoing maintenance. This meant that we could focus more on the content itself and gameplay-level features such as new classes, epic level content, and more.

    The only challenge with the expansions was figuring how much cool stuff we could pack in during their comparatively shorter development cycles


    Seems it was still a challenge.

    Show Spoiler
    Bitmob: What was the most difficult aspect of designing the toolset?

    FU: The difficulty had a lot to do with the more advanced graphics engine in NWN2, which created a necessity that we rewrite the editor. Plus, the original editor was written in an older development system, and so we couldn’t just take parts of the code over and start working with them.

    On top of that, we needed to support two entirely different terrain systems — tiles and a height-map system. We then started adding new features to make the tools more usable — features that were not in the original NWN editor. Things like multiple windows and tabs, which gives the user the ability to have multiple creatures, maps, dialog, scripts, effects, etc., open all at once, compared to only have one thing open in the NWN editor.

    This was a great feature, but it made building the tools more complicated. And as the tools became more complicated, it began to take longer, and we started to run into problems delivering pieces of the campaign.

    So on top of having the pressure to get the tool done, since it was an important part of the product, there was also a huge amount of pressure to get things working so we could make the game. It was definitely a challenge, but we learned a lot from putting it together. And by we, I mean the principle programmer who developed the toolset, Erik Novales.


    source: https://venturebeat.com/community/2009/08/26/bitmob-debrief-obsidian-and-nevewinter-nights-2/
     
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  2. Whisky The Solution

    Whisky
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    Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera
    I'm never going to take a break from the Codex again. Holy shit, this is a goldmine!
     
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  3. Roguey Arcane Sawyerite Sawyerist Sawyer's Bride No Fun Allowed

    Roguey
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    Bioware made the toolset, they just updated it (making it more complex and difficult to use in the process)

    This is observable simply by playing the game and paying attention. Additionally, you can open the levels up in the toolset and see for yourself. Bioware employee Patrick Weekes actually griped about it on his livejournal.
    Additionally, another Amateur Hour problem Obsidian had was that they'd spawn these enemies within the player's viewing distance, while the Professionals at Bioware (and some smart modders) understood that you're supposed to place the spawn point and the polygon you run over that spawns them far away enough from each other that you don't see them fade into view (unless you're intentionally going for an ambush encounter).
     
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  4. Kit Walker Totally Not Captain Shrek

    Kit Walker
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    Roguey

    Interesting! The incompetence at the place seems quite clear. How did they improve so much with PoE? It is a quite well-made game in terms of playability.
     
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  5. Roguey Arcane Sawyerite Sawyerist Sawyer's Bride No Fun Allowed

    Roguey
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    To be honest, they improved quite a bit with Mask of the Betrayer, which didn't have these issues. They did have treants and ogres fade into view in front of you in the forest area, but I believe this was intentional given that it feels like an appropriate place for it.
     
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  6. Mustawd Arcane

    Mustawd
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    In the interview I linked above, Feargus said the experience with NWN2 as well as the fact that MOTB was smaller in general did help with making it more polished. It makes sense, considering that the first game you need to create a lot of new tech and are probably rushing to create the game with tools you've never used before. Probably a shitshow and tons of growing pains in the process of making that game.
     
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  7. Kit Walker Totally Not Captain Shrek

    Kit Walker
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    I am not so sure that MoTB had improved encouter design. The encounter design was simply pushed back due to the story aspect of the expansion.
     
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  8. Roguey Arcane Sawyerite Sawyerist Sawyer's Bride No Fun Allowed

    Roguey
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    It was an utter mess. I put a lot of blame on Ferret in the past, but Feargus probably did his fair share to make it worse (e.g. likely encouraging/enforcing a bog-standard save the world story, demanding they create a new renderer so they could make an xbox port they didn't actually have money to make). ~Josh Sawyer~ said that if he had been in charge of the project from the start, he would have kept the renderer the same (and taken the hit from graphics-whores) and focused on making the toolset more convenient and user-friendly.

    It was (particularly since there was so much less of it; pacing is important), but it's extremely difficult to provide difficult encounters in an 18+ campaign that the average player can beat. Josh Sawyer gave 'em feedback and they took his advice where they felt it was appropriate (e.g. optional encounters off the critical path), and ignored it when they felt he was pushing things to be a little too casual-unfriendly.

    Moreover, Storm of Zehir was also an improvement combat-wise over the OC, though it also had its fair share of "skeleton crew overextending themselves" problems.
     
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  9. Drax Arcane

    Drax
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    :updatedmytxt:
     
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  10. Invictus Arcane The Real Fanboy

    Invictus
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    Divinity: Original Sin 2
    You know... regardless of “proof” and whatever you might question about Avellone beign butthurt the facts are there; Microsoft, Sega, Activision, Atari, Bethesda all are publishers who worked with Obsidian in the past and either had canceled projects (Stormlands, Aliens RPG) failed franchises (Alpha Protocol) or sequels riddled with technical issues that underwhelmed publishers (NWN 2, KOTOR 2, New Vegas, South Park) regardless of how good the games actually were their development couldnt be called smooth by any stretch of the imagination
    It will be interesting to see where they go from there with Paradox after Tyranny sold so poorly
    Fergus has played the “oh evil publishers” card way too often but the facts are still there and they speak more as an example of his ineptitude and lack of any managerial skills rather than the capabilities of his staff; all of them were there because he put them there so of they delivered shitty products 90% of the blame lies with him
    We ALL knew something bad had gone down when Avellone left Obsidian and goven the recent deflections at InXile seems the talent is not to blame but as the higher ups that put them in the position to fail
    As thing stand I think most of use have fond memories of Obsidian products (even banking on Black Isle nostalgia for the creators) but facts are facts you only have to see that their biggest release of the year is crowd funded game
     
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  11. IHaveHugeNick Arcane

    IHaveHugeNick
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    Of course it is still a story, but here you have Markland going on the record about some anonymous complaints from faceless employees. When two high profile co-owners are butting heads, it's an entirely different bag of dicks. The expected level of due diligence from a journalist goes up, because you'll be dealing with conflicting stories from two people who are loaded and can sue you for fun. And so you want them both on the record before you run with anything.

    I'm sure someone will pick it up eventually, even if Obsidian are not willing to comment. But it is early days. Right now it's not some conspiracy that major outlets are sitting on it waiting for more information, it's just common sense.
     
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  12. Whisky The Solution

    Whisky
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    Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera
    Chris Avellone

    Just read through the doc and it reminded me way too much of my last job. I'm glad you got out of there, I know the circumstances were still shit, but once that weight is off you, it's very freeing.
     
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  13. DarkUnderlord Bringing that old Raptor magic.

    DarkUnderlord
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    I've often thought this is the biggest problem in the games industry. Rather than hire a competent programmer on a decent wage - someone who can knock out quality code quickly, they hire the bottom of the barrel for peanuts, then wonder why their games are full of bugs, and simple things take so long to actually develop.
     
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  14. Kruno Savant Shitposter

    Kruno
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    Why doesn't everyone in the gaming industry walk off the job tomorrow? See what happens.
     
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  15. Mustawd Arcane

    Mustawd
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    Except that's not really true. It's on the onus of Obsidian/Feargus if they want to comment or not. The journalist basically approaches them with the story, says "here are this dude's comments about XYZ, would you like to respond?" If not, then you get "ABC chose not to comment for this story" or "We were unable to reach ABC to comment on this story"

    If you're really a journalist, you don't let them dictate when you'll be publishing a piece. Of course the difficulty here is we don't know if these retard journos can even attempt to verify what MCA has said, which would make the story strong overall. But in and of itself? I mean of course this is a story. I just don't think these publications want to ruffle any feathers since PoE2 has come out.
     
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  16. Roguey Arcane Sawyerite Sawyerist Sawyer's Bride No Fun Allowed

    Roguey
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    Counterpoint: Paying employees more means the risk goes up, meaning they have to dumb it down even more. :M
     
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  17. Mustawd Arcane

    Mustawd
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    You're making an assumption here that the risk of paying employees > the risk of hiring incompetent employees resulting in bug ridden and technically flawed products. Without a real comparison that's hard to say. But yes, I think at some point that does become true.

    However, considering that many people choose to delay purchases due to bugs in the first month or so, that can have an overall impact on short term profitability.
     
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  18. Maggot Erudite Patron

    Maggot
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    Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire
    What about Return of the Living Dead style talking zombies where its mostly just a few lines?
    EDIT: Nevermind should have read the whole post
     
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  19. Sacred82 Dumbfuck! Dumbfuck

    Sacred82
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    Guido was producer on the project. You're saying he had no influence on the game other than marketing?

    Ok, let's the put it the other way around. What did he do then that pissed you off, I doubt you wanted to be involved in the game's marketing that much?

    Something smells fishy here. Whatever ego/ personality Guido may have, he was a top notch programmer, and he has said he contributed his own coding to PS:T. One of the greats of the German gaming industry migrates to the US and never really makes it there, tries to get back into it, and fails repeatedly. He even gave shoutouts to devs on twitter ffs. What kind of beef are we talking about here? What can he have done that basically meant burnt bridges forever?
     
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  20. Chris Avellone Arcane Developer

    Chris Avellone
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    I would believe the coding part, but I honestly don't know how much of his code was in the game (the Lead Programmer would know and would likely answer a BIS-specific question), but coding shouldn't have even been Guido's job as a producer. Still, if he volunteered to help, that's great. He did help programming on Fallout 2 briefly during the final weeks before ship, if I remember correctly, but it was a long time ago.

    EDIT: For those not aware, in the final weeks at Interplay, they recruited many programmers on other projects to help complete the game, and I recall Guido was one of the many they snagged.

    I only said he had an impact on the game's marketing, and there was no denying it, it was true (Guido and marketing seemed to get along quite well).

    I don't know what the final straw was that forced his resignation - it wasn't me, though. I didn't like working with him, no, and he did make me almost leave the project (I interviewed at Westwood, got the job, then Chad Moore an artist at Black Isle, helped convince me to stay - it's why I still help Chad to this day).

    I know you dismiss "ego/personality" as a reason for what happened with him at BIS and what happened to him afterwards in your post, but sometimes that's what it comes down to on collaborative projects.

    My thought was even though I didn't hear much beyond it wasn't his choice, it was likely any of three people (or all of them) who made him resign: Trish, Feargus, and Parker. Again, I don't know what the final straw for them was.
     
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  21. Chris Avellone Arcane Developer

    Chris Avellone
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    The reason expansions and DLC (and sequels) using the same engine are wonderful is because you can usually start working in the engine immediately, generating content.

    On NWN2 and Aliens, there was a lot to be done on the toolset and engine side before content could be effectively made. As long as the project plan allows for it, that's an understandable part of the process.

    When the two overlap in production or if delays happen on the engine and toolset side - or conversely, design or art or production requests features that further delay the toolset or elements of the engine, implementing the content gets delayed as well, which is a risk you take.
     
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  22. Chris Avellone Arcane Developer

    Chris Avellone
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    I don't think any of the owners were friends even before Obsidian (and certainly not at Obsidian, although they did try and project this), although I doubt anyone disliked each other when the company was formed, even if they might get frustrated from time to time (which is normal).

    The only exception to friends might be Darren and Parker, although Darren's friendship with Parker partly felt to be a means to get out of the Tools Department at Interplay and into Black Isle, and that's when they became producer buddies. Ever since, Darren has always acted as if he was subordinate to Parker, whether he realized it or not - and it was an advantage having Darren be part of the producer triad in the Obsidian ownership, because he would largely agree with Feargus and Parker so as not to rock the boat, which is like getting a free vote on anything decided.

    This lack of friendship but the ability to ostensibly work together I'd argue was an advantage, though (I'm not a fan of nepotism).
     
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  23. Raghar Arcane

    Raghar
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    Higher salary doesn't mean more competent employees. Definitely not in game development which differs from normal industry, a bit.

    Even in normal industry, when you are not hiring Keller, then more money typically just means someone was able to pay for title and had better connections. These with talent WILL NOT LEAVE THEIRS COMPANIES FOR MONEY. And Keller WANTS to experience different stuff, thus he will not stay in single company for long.

    Roguey has partially a point. Look at Ukraine. President Poroshenko tried to solve problem with money and hired FAMOUS figures... Famous figures that destroyed economy of theirs country, or caused war with Russia. Funnily enough he could hire cheaper people who could get Ukraine if not complete out of mess, at least they would allow slow recovery. But that would mean he would need to spend effort to find them, and know what he's doing. SW development and game development are kinda similar. There are expensive people easy available for hire, but often kinda under average. And there are capable cheap programmers which are hard to find, and company that wants them, must spend effort to get them. (and often spend effort to FIND them)
     
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  24. Juan_Carlo Arcane

    Juan_Carlo
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    It's way bitchier than I thought. This is some "Real Housewives of Atlanta" level shit. I want to see someone's weave get pulled out.
     
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  25. Mustawd Arcane

    Mustawd
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    Good point. Let me just delete that post.
     
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