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Development Info Project Eternity Kickstarter Update #67: How To Create An Area, In 13 Days Or More

Discussion in 'News & Content Feedback' started by Infinitron, Nov 13, 2013.

  1. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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    RPG Wokedex 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: Kingmaker
    Tags: Brandon Adler; Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity

    In this week's Project Eternity Kickstarter update, Obsidian producer Brandon Adler explains the processes of how a small area in the game is created, from beginning to end, and in great detail. It's very long, so I'll just quote the summarizing bits:

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The Schedule

    One thing to remember is that when we are in the middle of production the schedule has already been created for just about everything in the game. What I mean by this is that we have identified all of the major tasks that will need to be accomplished and allotted time and resources in our budgets to match those tasks.

    Depending on the team's familiarity with the type of game we are creating, this can mean anywhere from a tiny bit of guesswork to larger amounts of... estimation. With Eternity we are very familiar with what it takes to make an isometric, Western RPG with branching dialogues and reactivity. It's Obsidian's bread and butter. Because of this our initial estimates are good approximations.

    Since most of our features and assets are budgeted at the start of the project, any changes to those items have to be accounted for in the schedule. This can mean a few different things - anything from reducing time spent on other tasks, to changing previously scheduled items, to outright cuts - and when changes need to happen project leads consult with each other to try and figure out the best option. Keep this in mind when I start talking about changes to features and assets later on in this update.

    One Small Interior Dungeon

    Alright, let's stop talking in generalities and get into the meat of what it takes to create a first pass area in Eternity. I'll discuss a generic small interior dungeon area.

    This area will have the following characteristics and constraints:
    • Uses an existing "tileset." We don't have tiles in Eternity, but we do have sets of areas that share similar assets.
    • Will have one unique visual feature in the area. This visual feature is something that will make the area stand out a bit. It doesn't have to be incorporated into the design, but we may want to do that to get the most bang for the buck.
    • An Average complexity quest uses this area. "Average" is a flavor of quest in Project Eternity. It refers to the overall complexity of the quest. Quest complexity is determined by the amount of dialogue, branching, and steps a quest has.
    • This is a 3x3 interior. A 3x3 interior is the equivalent of a 5760x3240 render. An easier way to think about it is that a 3x3 area is nine 1920x1080 screens worth of content. You can imagine that making an area even a tiny bit larger can actually lead to enormous amounts of work. As an example, a 3x3 is nine screens of work, where a 4x4 is 16 screens of work... almost double the number of screens.
    [...] So, for those keeping count at home, to get a first pass area that is borderline Alpha (as in no bug fixing or polish work) it costs the project about 13 man days. This is little over one half of a man month of time for a small, simple area. Larger areas with more content take significantly longer to develop.

    Our time estimations used for scheduling are determined in preproduction (prepro) phase. Our vertical slice (the end of prepro) is the culmination of the team identifying what it will take to make the game and then actually doing it. We get these numbers by seeing how long it takes the team to perform those tasks in our prepro, and then we can extrapolate those numbers over the course of the time we have budgeted to understand how much work can get done.

    Tough Choices

    A milestone will have 15 to 20 areas of varying complexity going at a time. A minor change in an area can cause a domino effect that starts schedule slippage. Remember that on a small team like Project Eternity we have a limited number of people that can work on any one part of the game so taking someone off of their current task to work on changes can gum up our pipelines and prevent others from completing their tasks. We can get around that by switching up the tasking, but it can quickly get out of hand and lead to inefficiencies.

    That being said it's the team's responsibility to give our backers what they have paid for. If we are playing though part of the game and something feels off from what we promised to our fans, we need to seriously consider making changes - even if it pushes us off schedule. There have been times where an update leads to some serious discussion on the forums and within the team about a direction change. Ultimately all of that gets added into the equation as well.

    Taking that into consideration, the team has to make difficult choices every day. Do we go through and do another prop pass on a level? What does that cost us in the long run? Will we lose an entire area in the game? These are questions that the leads struggle with everyday. We are always weighing the cost of assets and features against everything that still needs to get done.
    I believe this particular update should be of interest to a certain poster by the name of Mrowak. ;)
     
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  2. Roguey Codex Staff Sawyerite

    Roguey
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    So a year of development is worth mill-yuns of dollars. 2 million per year = 2 year development time?

    Does not bode well the quality of the megadungeon. I hope they don't go overboard and turn it into a painfully annoying meat grinder.
     
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  3. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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    RPG Wokedex 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: Kingmaker
    Roguey If the art pipeline is their bottleneck, then it's more likely that said megadungeon will end up not being so "mega", no?
     
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  4. Roguey Codex Staff Sawyerite

    Roguey
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    I guess. I'm fine with 15 medium-SoZ-sized dungeons stacked on top of each other as long as it's interesting. I'd probably prefer that in fact.
     
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  5. felipepepe Prestigious Gentleman Codex's Heretic Patron

    felipepepe
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    I wonder what motivates the decision on pushing every table to the corner of the rooms... hopefully no pathfinding issues.
     
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  6. Zed Codex Staff Patron

    Zed
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    Codex USB, 2014
    OooooOOooo look! It's a ghost mystery area!

    Interview the ghosts and solve the murders! Put the spirits to rest and gain The Mysterious Ghost Amulet! Pick-pocket the ghosts before turning in the the quest to gain two!
     
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  7. Grunker RPG Codex Ghost Patron

    Grunker
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    Watcher's Keep Mini?
     
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  8. Roguey Codex Staff Sawyerite

    Roguey
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    Oh hey taking a closer look at that Excel image I noticed that they have three press demo videos planned. One for midway through production, one at the end of production, and one for the beta.
     
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  9. stony3k Augur Patron

    stony3k
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    They're using Excel to plan their projects? That's so 20th century:troll:
     
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  10. PatataFamilia Novice

    PatataFamilia
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    Here are some more accurate numbers to gauge the kickstarter.
    They made $3.98m from kickstarter, and 176k from paypal.
    This means that after fees they have $3.75m for reward tiers. SRR, which should be fairly close, said that fees+licensing+rewards took 35%. I'll pull 2.5% for licensing out of my ass.
    That leaves $2.91m for actual development.
    Guessing $75k salary+benefits for employee, that means 38.8 person-years of effort. For reference, BGII was 90 man-years. This turns into 9.7k person-days, and 87.3k person-hours of labor.
    If each small area with an average quest takes 13-hours to make unfinished, that's a very unrealistic maximum of 6,722 small areas (far less considering finishing time, but asset reuse makes more areas possible).

    So while it will certainly be tight, it's not unrealistic that they will see their vision through. I think they'll might have to throw in $100k or $200k of their own money, it's definitely doable. This is especially true since they have three things on their side that Bioware did not have: tool improvements, collaboration with InXile, and the Unity store.
     
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  11. Apexeon Arcane

    Apexeon
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    They could just get me to spam out a 13 level mega dungeon in between my night shifts.
    4 million and a 30 person team having a whinge "soft".
     
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  12. xemous I have shit taste in games

    xemous
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    lol obsidian
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2019
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  13. Fat Dragon Arbiter

    Fat Dragon
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    :1/5:
     
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  14. Sensuki Arcane Cuck

    Sensuki
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    Codex 2014 Serpent in the Staglands Shadorwun: Hong Kong A Beautifully Desolate Campaign
    If those are 6 week milestones, then the first press demo will be in December actually it might be the next update.

    If we assume Production started in Mid July, Production 01 ended at the end of August. Production 02 assuming it was also six weeks concluded in Mid October. Production 03 would conclude at the end of november
     
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  15. InspectorRumpole Prophet

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    Heh, couldn't help but reading this, and thinking that there'll be some "bad news" announcement next.
     
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  16. Rake Arcane

    Rake
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    When the portal goes up, and if they release a good demo/video at the same time, chances are they will gather more money as many people will up their pledge.
     
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  17. J_C One Bit Studio Patron Developer Sad Loser

    J_C
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    Someone ban this troll reject.
    You too? :D I was looking forward to the "game is delayed" paragraph when I read the update.
     
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  18. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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    RPG Wokedex 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: Kingmaker
    We already know the game is delayed from what's written on the Kickstarter site, so I'm not sure what other bad news they could give.
     
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  19. Ramireza Savant

    Ramireza
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    Correct, everything then a release before Autum/Winter 2014 would be a big surprise to me.
     
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  20. Sensuki Arcane Cuck

    Sensuki
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    Codex 2014 Serpent in the Staglands Shadorwun: Hong Kong A Beautifully Desolate Campaign
    Going by the schedule, every milestone in Production is 6 weeks long.

    Milestone 4 will either be a short one month milestone, or it will be split (more likely scenario) between December and January. Add an extra 12 weeks on top of that (for Milestone 5 and 6) and we're at the end of March for the end of Production.

    We then have two Alpha blocks and a Beta block which is 18 weeks = 4.5 months so going by the schedule the absolute earliest release time is July. Over the course of time between now and then, they will definitely get a bit more money through pre-orders and they will have also probably have some money in reserve in case stuff takes longer and pushes out the schedule. Let's say that money is enough to cover 2 months. Then we'd be looking at a September release.

    August/September was a good estimate before, it's an even better one now.

    edit: a release on September 15 or October 16 2014 would be cool : symbolic of the Kickstarter.
     
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  21. kris Arcane

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    But that would be all down to the size of the team. Of course all interconnected. Time - team - cost.

    what I am saying is that they could Always put a downsized team to complete it and that their team is based on what Money they got.
     
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  22. InspectorRumpole Prophet

    InspectorRumpole
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    Here's a hint:

     
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  23. kazgar Arcane

    kazgar
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    Losing a entire area isn't terrible, the works not all wasted if they're talking about expansions.
     
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  24. norolim Cipher

    norolim
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    Same here. Thought I'm expecting news like "unfotunately, we have to reduce the 15-level dungeon to a 15-storey basement" rather than about a delay.
     
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  25. Rake Arcane

    Rake
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    Disregarding the shitstorm that may or may not follow, would it be so bad to have the Mega Dungeon be 10 levels instead of 15, if that means bigger and better levels?
     
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