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Company News Eurogamer checks in on Obsidian one year after acquisition

Infinitron

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Codex Year of the Donut 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 Pathfinder: Wrath I'm very into cock and ball torture I helped put crap in Monomyth
Tags: Adam Brennecke; Chris Avellone; Chris Parker; Feargus Urquhart; Grounded; Josh Sawyer; Obsidian Entertainment; The Outer Worlds

As is custom, a number of gaming outlets were invited to Obsidian's offices a couple of weeks ago to have an early look at their recently announced new game. Eurogamer's Robert Purchese took the opportunity to snoop around and try to find out what else was going at the studio one year after their acquisition by Microsoft. Apparently not a whole lot has changed as of yet. Yes, there are people working on post-launch content for The Outer Worlds. Josh Sawyer is working on something too, Chris Parker is the director of some unannounced project, and Feargus Urquhart is very happy that he gets to spend time actually making games now.

To picture the rest of Obsidian, imagine a square and in each corner you have a different team. There are lots of hallways and rooms - it's not open-planned - but in each corner there's an open area where the occupants of nearby rooms teams can convene.

One of these corners is devoted to The Outer Worlds and shoved into another is Grounded. But the other two? Pillars of Eternity is no longer an active thing so what were all the other people working on? I spied my best, by the way, but didn't see anything incriminating - unsurprising for an organised press tour. But on my way around I did see people like Tim Cain waving from his office (Outer Worlds co-director) and, I'm pleased to say, Josh Sawyer. I'm pleased because I genuinely thought he was going to leave.

Sawyer sounded fed up when he talked at Digital Dragons earlier this year. He said Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadire had been "the most stressful directing experience I've had so far" and that he was "burnt out" directing and making isometric RPGs. He also talked about being overridden a number of times by management during development, which sounded ominous.

But Sawyer is there at Obsidian, beloved bike in his office, headphones on, tapping away at something - as far as I know he's finished making the pen-and-paper Pillars of Eternity role-playing game.

In a separate interview, Sawyer's Pillars pal Adam Brennecke, who's directing Grounded, told me: "Just like with Outer Worlds we have big RPGs being worked on right now. We have a lot of stuff being worked on right now." So I thought I'd ask Feargus Urquhart "how many?" at the end of his guided office walkaround tour.

"More than one, less than forty," he told me with a smile. "We're working on a number."

The Outer Worlds is included in that. A post-release plan hasn't been announced yet but there's still a team in The Outer Worlds corner working on something. Obsidian isn't leaving it behind in a rush to work on Microsoft projects.

"Actually it's the opposite," Urquhart said. "What's always been interesting about the independent developer before was: who was going to pay for support? If I'm not being paid for support by the publisher then [...] we have this weird thing of how do we do it?

"In the Microsoft world, we get to run a studio based on what makes sense for the franchises and I'm not having to make these day-to-day decisions so much. People are obviously loving Outer Worlds and we made it because we love it, so now we get to keep on doing things to help support [it]."
The Codex will be interested to know that Robert has been trying to score a one-on-one interview with Feargus since last year in order to ask him about Chris Avellone's accusations from the now-legendary May of Rage. Those interview requests have been blocked, but clearly Chris did not get what he wanted.

I've wanted to speak to Urquhart since the Microsoft acquisition but for one reason or another I haven't been able or allowed to. Part of that, I'm sure, has to do with my wanting to put the allegations made by former Obsidian design director Chris Avellone to him.

Avellone accused Obsidian management of, among other things, meddling in projects and causing more harm than good, usually resulting in more work for the team. When Microsoft was rumoured to be buying Obsidian, Avellone even went so far as to Tweet Xbox boss Phil Spencer to say, "Hire the devs, fire the chaff at the top." Avellone elaborated on his frustrations with Obsidian management in an interview with VG247 earlier this year.

I still haven't had the chance to really sit down with Urquhart to put Avellone's allegations to him, and all the questions I asked him on this visit were off the cuff, made while we were walking around. It wasn't the time or place. But I did unearth some related information.

Microsoft didn't, for instance, "fire the chaff at the top". The co-owners, "they're all still around", Urquhart told me. No one has taken the money and run. Chris Parker, for instance - director of Alpha Protocol - is now making a new game, presumably in charge of it.

"I want to make role-playing games," Urquhart went on, "my partners want to make role-playing games, so this is the best place to do that. We all laugh [about] going to sit on a beach in Fiji but that would be entertaining for about a month. After your 47th Mai Tai...

"I and my partners - and everybody - got in this to make games. That's what's interesting to me. The thing with Microsoft changes that equation and that's cool."

By changing the equation, he means he no longer has to relentlessly pitch Obsidian to publishers to keep the lights on. "Increasingly my job over the last five years has been business, more and more and more," he said. "But more of my job now gets to actually be working on games."

In what capacity? "Meddling," he told USG, with what had to be a knowing grin. "I would love to be a game director again," he said. "I got to do that back on Fallout 2, I've done it intermittently for short periods of time here, and it would be cool to be a game director again."
As mentioned, USgamer's Kat Bailey was also at Obsidian that day. The details seem to be entirely recounted in Eurogamer's article, but you can read about what Feargus told her here and here.
 

Infinitron

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Codex Year of the Donut 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 Pathfinder: Wrath I'm very into cock and ball torture I helped put crap in Monomyth
Seems the drama of Avellone's May of Rage is a bit forgotten.

https://rpgcodex.net/forums/index.p...game-development-hierarchies-and-more.121588/ 215 pages
https://rpgcodex.net/forums/index.p...he-chris-avellone-may-of-rage-archive.121751/ 25 additional pages

At the time, the question of whether the mainstream games media was complicit in a conspiracy to "silence" Chris Avellone's accusations against Obsidian was a huge deal. Now we learn that they have been trying to investigate it and have been stonewalled. Those paragraphs alone make this article worthy of a Codex newspost.
 

luj1

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giphy.gif



No one cares my friend. It's literally you alone trying to reanimate the corpse of Obsidian with meaningless trivia, defibrillator in hand.
 

Alpan

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Grab the Codex by the pussy Pathfinder: Wrath
Seems the drama of Avellone's May of Rage is a bit forgotten.

https://rpgcodex.net/forums/index.p...game-development-hierarchies-and-more.121588/ 215 pages
https://rpgcodex.net/forums/index.p...he-chris-avellone-may-of-rage-archive.121751/ 25 additional pages

At the time, the question of whether the mainstream games media was complicit in a conspiracy to "silence" Chris Avellone's accusations against Obsidian was a huge deal. Now we learn that they have been trying to investigate it and have been stonewalled. Those paragraphs alone make this article worthy of a Codex newspost.

I recall no such question. Though the accusations painted a bleak picture, the entire May of Rage was an internal, essentially private Obsidian matter. There is nothing to investigate and certainly there is no potential for outrage because it chiefly concerns a single individual; the journalists are in it for the gossip (which the 215+25 pages also contained in spades). The whole ordeal was Avellone's unsuccessful attempt to change the fate of the Obsidian acquisition.
 

The_Mask

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Strap Yourselves In Codex Year of the Donut Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag. Pathfinder: Wrath I helped put crap in Monomyth
At the time, the question of whether the mainstream games media was complicit in a conspiracy to "silence" Chris Avellone's accusations against Obsidian was a huge deal. Now we learn that they have been trying to investigate it and have been stonewalled. Those paragraphs alone make this article worthy of a Codex newspost.
You're grasping at straws here, but then again luj laughed along with a guy posting "first", so this is just like two cavemen clobbering each other with clubs made out of solid feces.

You rate his posts retarded, Infinitron - that'll teach 'im~!

:argh:
 

vortex

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I think Grounded is their rebound girl and once they done with that they'll return to sweet mistress Pillars.

I wonder what kind of rpg game Feargus wants to make?
Interview with Feargus needs to happen.
 
Last edited:

aratuk

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Seems the drama of Avellone's May of Rage is a bit forgotten.

https://rpgcodex.net/forums/index.p...game-development-hierarchies-and-more.121588/ 215 pages
https://rpgcodex.net/forums/index.p...he-chris-avellone-may-of-rage-archive.121751/ 25 additional pages

At the time, the question of whether the mainstream games media was complicit in a conspiracy to "silence" Chris Avellone's accusations against Obsidian was a huge deal. Now we learn that they have been trying to investigate it and have been stonewalled. Those paragraphs alone make this article worthy of a Codex newspost.

:abyssgazer:

Demonstrates a circumstance where stonewalling can be effective. If you're a journalist who hears one side of a story, and you give the other side an opportunity to respond, but they refuse, you can still run the story. And you probably should, or you're advertising that an effective way to kill bad press is just not to talk to you. You run the story anyway, careful to qualify everything with "allegedly", and that's your best chance of compelling a response.

This guy is publicizing his own toothlessness. "Well, they wouldn't talk to me, so *shrug* I guess I can't post anything about it. If I did, they might not invite me to their offices to help advertise their products."

Feargus was correct in betting that Avellone's would-be scandal would just go away on its own. Not juicy enough. It needed tales of coerced foot massages and colorful epithets.
 
Last edited:

l3loodAngel

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Seems the drama of Avellone's May of Rage is a bit forgotten.

https://rpgcodex.net/forums/index.p...game-development-hierarchies-and-more.121588/ 215 pages
https://rpgcodex.net/forums/index.p...he-chris-avellone-may-of-rage-archive.121751/ 25 additional pages

At the time, the question of whether the mainstream games media was complicit in a conspiracy to "silence" Chris Avellone's accusations against Obsidian was a huge deal. Now we learn that they have been trying to investigate it and have been stonewalled. Those paragraphs alone make this article worthy of a Codex newspost.

I recall no such question. Though the accusations painted a bleak picture, the entire May of Rage was an internal, essentially private Obsidian matter. There is nothing to investigate and certainly there is no potential for outrage because it chiefly concerns a single individual; the journalists are in it for the gossip (which the 215+25 pages also contained in spades). The whole ordeal was Avellone's unsuccessful attempt to change the fate of the Obsidian acquisition.

Who cares? What was last Obsidian’s good title? KOTOR 2? That’s 15 years ago. I can’t even...
 

Nano

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Grab the Codex by the pussy Strap Yourselves In
Feargus was correct in betting that Avellone's would-be scandal would just go away on its own. Not juicy enough. It needed tales of coerced foot massages and colorful epithets.
Well... this one is pretty close.

Since we're doing brutal honesty, Chris Avellone did you get sexually harassed by Obsidian's HRM? There's rumours and some borderline-creepy public behaviour on record there.

Ask Infinitron, he was the one who said that - I never said anyone's name, and I've worked with a lot of companies where the wife was the HR manager and married to the owner. As I may have said, it's almost a cliche, and the relationship defends the company very well against lawsuits.

I will say after he said it, I got a lot of unsolicited stories from employees and ex-employees of Obsidian who mentioned Tina. But it's up to them to speak out if they want, it's not my place to do so.
 

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