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Interview Adam Brennecke Talks Project Eternity at Sorcerer's Place

Crooked Bee

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Tags: Adam Brennecke; Obsidian Entertainment; Project Eternity

Marceror from Sorcerer's Place had the opportunity to visit the Obsidian Entertainment HQ in Irvine, California, to chat to Adam Brennecke, Project Director on Project Eternity. Have a few tidbits:

[Marceror] We were very spoiled during Kickstarter with the daily information updates. Do you have a sense as to how regularly progress updates will be given to the community going forward? It’s great that you have so much freedom to interact and share with the fans, but I’m sure there’s a point where too much sharing might detract from productivity. How will you find the right balance?

[Adam] We’d like to do updates as often as possible. We are still working this out, but I’d at least like to provide updates to the fans on a weekly basis, perhaps bi-weekly. We love the freedom that we have with this project to share with the fans and get their feedback. I’m looking a lot at how Double Fine Adventure (another recently successful Kickstarter project) is handling this. I like their format and will probably do something similar. In fact, Josh (Sawyer) is currently working on an update that will be shared soon. We want to continue to keep in touch with the fans, and let them know what’s going on. We actually enjoy it.

[Marceror] Is there an ETA on when approximately you'll be sending out the item templates for the $1000 tier donors? How much info are we going to get alongside, since it's hard to design any item without the knowledge of the game mechanics?

[Adam]It will probably be around the time when we really get a good basis for the rules system. Before then it will be hard to know exactly what sorts of features these items will be able to have. So it’s going to be at least several months. We’ll let everyone know when we’re getting closer to that point.

[Marceror] Pathfinding... the bane of Infinity Engine games. How are you going to make it (infinitely) better in Project Eternity?

[Adam] Unity’s pathfinding is a lot better [than that of the Infinity Engine]. We’ve come a long way since 1998 in terms of computational power on computers. Doing faster and better pathfinding is something that we’re looking forward to. Right now we’re experimenting with what feels right. We’re figuring out how characters can interact with each other. If one character is blocking another’s way, can they push each other out of the way, do they side step, can they share the same space? Does it feel right if they do that? That’s the kind of experimenting that we’re working on right now.

[Marceror] Are you going for a more open feel to the game (ala Baldur’s Gate 1) or will it be more like Baldur’s Gate 2, where you basically couldn't turn around without bumping into a quest of some sort?

[Adam] We were just talking about this on Wednesday. We definitely want to have wilderness areas like in Baldur’s Gate 1. We want to encourage exploration, but it’s definitely not going to be as aimless it was in Baldur’s Gate 1, or as tedious. We want to make fewer areas, but have more content in them, and make them a bit more focused.

[Marceror] I know this is early, but do you think we’ll need a recommend button [i.e., recommend a character build at character creation] in Project Eternity?

[Adam] I don’t know. We’ll see how it turns out. We’re thinking that since we’re not using DnD we’re going to have to explain our rules a lot more clearly. So if you’re presented with a list of like 100 feats right off the bat, you won’t be overwhelmed.

[Marceror] Will there be that same level of depth, where there are a massive number of feats and other options available for a player to choose from?

[Adam] Oh yeah.​

To read the interview in full, click here.
 

Roguey

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(Orlans are a new race in Project Eternity. They are small folk based after the gnome and the Halfling).
...

[Marceror] So Orlans are the little guys, and Aumaua are the big guys. Would they be more analogous to, say, a half-orc?

[Adam] Yeah, that’s good.
Ha!
 

mindx2

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We’re figuring out how characters can interact with each other. If one character is blocking another’s way, can they push each other out of the way, do they side step, can they share the same space?

Man, I hope they don't go that route. Shades of Dungeon Siege flash in my mind! That would be a major :decline: as far as combat goes!
 

Zed

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Psychic fantasy world detective. Cool.
Some of my favorite quests are the more inquiring ones. BG2 for instance had the docks murder mystery and that cabin in the woods thingy.
 

Jedi Exile

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[Marceror] I know Obsidian is filled with many brilliant, creative minds, but 15 levels! Are there any concerns as to whether you’ll be able to make such a massive dungeon engaging and interesting from start to finish? How do you plan to accomplish that?

[Adam] It’s going to be a challenge. With anything it’s going to be a challenge. You know, everything in game development is a challenge. We’ve been talking about how we want to tackle it and we have a pretty good plan about how we want to design the dungeon.

That's what worries me too. How are they going to fill all those 15 levels with content? And what kind of content will it be? An endless trash mobs?
 

Rivmusique

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[Marceror] I know Obsidian is filled with many brilliant, creative minds, but 15 levels! Are there any concerns as to whether you’ll be able to make such a massive dungeon engaging and interesting from start to finish? How do you plan to accomplish that?

[Adam] It’s going to be a challenge. With anything it’s going to be a challenge. You know, everything in game development is a challenge. We’ve been talking about how we want to tackle it and we have a pretty good plan about how we want to design the dungeon.

That's what worries me too. How are they going to fill all those 15 levels with content? And what kind of content will it be? An endless trash mobs?
Don't worry, there will hopefully be an emotionally engaging damsel to rescue on each level. Romanceable of course.
 

Shadenuat

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We are developing a character that is an Orlan Cipher, who is a detective (Orlans are a new race in Project Eternity. They are small folk based after the gnome and the Halfling). He isn’t necessarily upper class, but he comes from wealth, so he dresses very nicely. Because he’s a Cipher he has somewhat psychic abilities that help him as a detective, and he uses that to investigate murders and the like. So that’s a character we are developing right now.

Eberron?
It's like Tim Cain is dancing around obsidians with shamanistic tools trying to put in as many guns, steampunk, victorian, gnome-psionics and such in generic fantasy game and they have to feed him with something :?

854469218527548.jpg
 

catfood

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[Marceror] I know Obsidian is filled with many brilliant, creative minds, but 15 levels! Are there any concerns as to whether you’ll be able to make such a massive dungeon engaging and interesting from start to finish? How do you plan to accomplish that?

[Adam] It’s going to be a challenge. With anything it’s going to be a challenge. You know, everything in game development is a challenge. We’ve been talking about how we want to tackle it and we have a pretty good plan about how we want to design the dungeon.

That's what worries me too. How are they going to fill all those 15 levels with content? And what kind of content will it be? An endless trash mobs?
Designing and populating a dungeon is one thing, even for one of such size. But what's really interesting is how are they going to balance it according to the rest of the game world. According to official info the dungeon will be optional. However they need to consider:
a) The amount of XP the party will receive. How will they tackle this? Will there be level scaling in the game to mitigate the effects of an overpowered party who has completed half of the dungeon and got a fair share of extra XP? Even considering that you will only receive XP per completed objective (for instance once per level cleared) that is still going to be an important boost in power.
b) The loot that can be found inside. It's safe to assume that one of the reasons the player will want to explore is to find loot, so there HAS to be some decent stuff hidden inside, otherwise why bother exploring it?This will again give the party an extra boost in power level. How good will the loot be? So good that it will make the loot which can be found during the course of the normal campaign obsolete, or will it not be worth bothering with?

I'm really curious how they are going to handle this. In my opinion they should merge the dungeon and the extra city into one. I know it's kinda 'cheating' but honestly they don't have all the time in the world to do this. I mean, sure, they can and will probably postpone the thing an extra 6 months (and I'm sure no one would mind it if that would mean having a better game), but they can't push the release date indefinitely since each additional month comes with extra expenses in the forms of wages. I wouldn't want to be in their shoes.

Does anyone know the development time and budget of Arcanum? That was a hugely ambitious game that ended up having some great ideas but with terrible exectution and the end result was a mixed bag, for me and for others as well I am sure. I forsee PE being another Arcanum and Gothic 3. A very, very rough gem that's going to be an aquired taste for most fans.
 

Captain Shrek

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That's what worries me too. How are they going to fill all those 15 levels with content? And what kind of content will it be? An endless trash mobs?
Designing and populating a dungeon is one thing, even for one of such size. But what's really interesting is how are they going to balance it according to the rest of the game world. According to official info the dungeon will be optional. However they need to consider:
a) The amount of XP the party will receive. How will they tackle this? Will there be level scaling in the game to mitigate the effects of an overpowered party who has completed half of the dungeon and got a fair share of extra XP? Even considering that you will only receive XP per completed objective (for instance once per level cleared) that is still going to be an important boost in power.

Xp is apparently based on goals not kills.

b) The loot that can be found inside. It's safe to assume that one of the reasons the player will want to explore is to find loot, so there HAS to be some decent stuff hidden inside, otherwise why bother exploring it?This will again give the party an extra boost in power level. How good will the loot be? So good that it will make the loot which can be found during the course of the normal campaign obsolete, or will it not be worth bothering with?
It's an excellent point. But still I believe a narrative reason can be found. Think of the Diablo 2 tower of the countess (??) in act one. One can think of weaving a good story(ies) and quest (s) that make you explore the dungeon. But of course loot as you say it, will be the chief motivator.

I'm really curious how they are going to handle this. In my opinion they should merge the dungeon and the extra city into one. I know it's kinda 'cheating' but honestly they don't have all the time in the world to do this. I mean, sure, they can and will probably postpone the thing an extra 6 months (and I'm sure no one would mind it if that would mean having a better game), but they can't push the release date indefinitely since each additional month comes with extra expenses in the forms of wages. I wouldn't want to be in their shoes.

I sincerely hope they do not do the merging. It IS cheating no matter how you cut it.
 

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[Marceror] I know Obsidian is filled with many brilliant, creative minds, but 15 levels! Are there any concerns as to whether you’ll be able to make such a massive dungeon engaging and interesting from start to finish? How do you plan to accomplish that?

[Adam] It’s going to be a challenge. With anything it’s going to be a challenge. You know, everything in game development is a challenge. We’ve been talking about how we want to tackle it and we have a pretty good plan about how we want to design the dungeon.

That's what worries me too. How are they going to fill all those 15 levels with content? And what kind of content will it be? An endless trash mobs?
Designing and populating a dungeon is one thing, even for one of such size. But what's really interesting is how are they going to balance it according to the rest of the game world. According to official info the dungeon will be optional. However they need to consider:
a) The amount of XP the party will receive. How will they tackle this? Will there be level scaling in the game to mitigate the effects of an overpowered party who has completed half of the dungeon and got a fair share of extra XP? Even considering that you will only receive XP per completed objective (for instance once per level cleared) that is still going to be an important boost in power.
b) The loot that can be found inside. It's safe to assume that one of the reasons the player will want to explore is to find loot, so there HAS to be some decent stuff hidden inside, otherwise why bother exploring it?This will again give the party an extra boost in power level. How good will the loot be? So good that it will make the loot which can be found during the course of the normal campaign obsolete, or will it not be worth bothering with?

I'm really curious how they are going to handle this. In my opinion they should merge the dungeon and the extra city into one. I know it's kinda 'cheating' but honestly they don't have all the time in the world to do this. I mean, sure, they can and will probably postpone the thing an extra 6 months (and I'm sure no one would mind it if that would mean having a better game), but they can't push the release date indefinitely since each additional month comes with extra expenses in the forms of wages. I wouldn't want to be in their shoes.

Just make lower level harder, so the party has to come back later. Or make doors/portals activate by certain items/rituals found in the world. Boost from XP or loot is not a bad thing IMO. Any optional content in a big game world without level scaling is a boost for some other content. Either you want same shit everywhere (i.e. level scaling) or you have to accept that some quest or encounter might be easier, if found last/later.
 

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[Marceror] It would be awesome if this engine became the catalyst for a whole new set of CRPGs that are built using the 2D isometric model.

[Adam] That’s what we’re hoping for. We really want to see where we can take this.

:kfc:
 

kaizoku

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A shame he didn't ask anything about on what the budget would allow for in terms of game size.
But I'm guessing he would evade that question anyway. They don't know it and will do their best.


I hope they make the dungeon levels interesting with NPCs and some quests too, instead of a kill everything that moves.

AFAIK, the latest updated version of the Nua dungeon concept:

56e39a6d5431085dbe6f6d194db0acba_large.jpg
 

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[Marceror] I know Obsidian is filled with many brilliant, creative minds, but 15 levels! Are there any concerns as to whether you’ll be able to make such a massive dungeon engaging and interesting from start to finish? How do you plan to accomplish that?

[Adam] It’s going to be a challenge. With anything it’s going to be a challenge. You know, everything in game development is a challenge. We’ve been talking about how we want to tackle it and we have a pretty good plan about how we want to design the dungeon.

That's what worries me too. How are they going to fill all those 15 levels with content? And what kind of content will it be? An endless trash mobs?
Designing and populating a dungeon is one thing, even for one of such size. But what's really interesting is how are they going to balance it according to the rest of the game world. According to official info the dungeon will be optional. However they need to consider:
a) The amount of XP the party will receive. How will they tackle this? Will there be level scaling in the game to mitigate the effects of an overpowered party who has completed half of the dungeon and got a fair share of extra XP? Even considering that you will only receive XP per completed objective (for instance once per level cleared) that is still going to be an important boost in power.
b) The loot that can be found inside. It's safe to assume that one of the reasons the player will want to explore is to find loot, so there HAS to be some decent stuff hidden inside, otherwise why bother exploring it?This will again give the party an extra boost in power level. How good will the loot be? So good that it will make the loot which can be found during the course of the normal campaign obsolete, or will it not be worth bothering with?

I'm really curious how they are going to handle this. In my opinion they should merge the dungeon and the extra city into one. I know it's kinda 'cheating' but honestly they don't have all the time in the world to do this. I mean, sure, they can and will probably postpone the thing an extra 6 months (and I'm sure no one would mind it if that would mean having a better game), but they can't push the release date indefinitely since each additional month comes with extra expenses in the forms of wages. I wouldn't want to be in their shoes.

Does anyone know the development time and budget of Arcanum? That was a hugely ambitious game that ended up having some great ideas but with terrible exectution and the end result was a mixed bag, for me and for others as well I am sure. I forsee PE being another Arcanum and Gothic 3. A very, very rough gem that's going to be an aquired taste for most fans.

Good points but consider that the extra dungeon in Tales of the Sword Coast and Watchers Keep from Throne of Bhaal could be accessed at any time after the expansions were installed, yet did not really affect the main game balance. Yes they made your party a bit more powerful, but the end game encounters were still a challenge.

So basically, if this dungeon allows your party to go up 2-3 levels, it's no big deal. Same with items, sure there may be powerful items, but I doubt you will find a Holy Avenger type item every level.

By the way, what is the level cap on this game supposed to be? 6 levels only, as in Baldurs Gate, or can you go upto almost 20 levels as in Icewind Dale?
 

Marceror

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Thanks for the coverage of this interview. It's nice to see that the community seems to find it helpful/informative.

Marceror even made an account here to state he was not a crazy stalker. Something only a crazy stalker would do.

Actually, I created my account here to clarify some details about my Project Eternity Information Guide (shameless plug). It's ALL about the game for me. If you happen to view me as some sort of crazed stalker, I'm not going to lift a finger to try and dissuade you from such an opinion. The opinions of random strangers about me on the internet mean exactly nil.
 

oldmanpaco

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Marceror even made an account here to state he was not a crazy stalker. Something only a crazy stalker would do.

Actually, I created my account here to clarify some details about my Project Eternity Information Guide (shameless plug). It's ALL about the game for me. If you happen to view me as some sort of crazed stalker, I'm not going to lift a finger to try and dissuade you from such an opinion. The opinions of random strangers about me on the internet mean exactly nil.

Lighten up dude, you sound like an angry stalker.
 

Diablo169

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Thanks for the coverage of this interview. It's nice to see that the community seems to find it helpful/informative.

Marceror even made an account here to state he was not a crazy stalker. Something only a crazy stalker would do.

Actually, I created my account here to clarify some details about my Project Eternity Information Guide (shameless plug). It's ALL about the game for me. If you happen to view me as some sort of crazed stalker, I'm not going to lift a finger to try and dissuade you from such an opinion. The opinions of random strangers about me on the internet mean exactly nil.

Slight critique on your guide, It hasnt been stated anywhere that the characters introduced in the concept art are companions. All Obsidian said is that they are important to the plot.
 

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