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Project Eternity: New Interviews with Josh Sawyer and Tim Cain

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Project Eternity: New Interviews with Josh Sawyer and Tim Cain

Interview - posted by Crooked Bee on Fri 28 September 2012, 11:03:59

Tags: J.E. Sawyer; Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity; Tim Cain

Two new Project Eternity-related interviews have showed up. First, Gamasutra offers a narrative interview with Josh Sawyer entitled "Project Eternity: What it really means to make the game you want to make":

Sawyer recalls a particular element of 1992 MicroProse RPG Darklands, whereby interactions were only subtly illustrated via text against loose watercolor illustrations. The images were enough to suggest key elements, but it was the text that carried the imagery.

Older games with technical limitations had to get very creative about how to immerse players and capture their imaginations, says Sawyer, since they didn't have the option to be literal -- and that's something Obsidian wants to keep in mind through the old-school visuals and interface of Project Eternity.

And when it comes to the idea that today's audiences don't like to read text, or that communicating a story through prose rather than through gameplay automatically represents some kind of narrative failure, Sawyer isn't sold. The idea that all players should like the same things, or that players can be segregated into "ones that like story" and "ones that like combat" seem equally fallacious to him.

"This has been bugging me a lot lately," he says. "In the past few years there's been a trend toward designing games with mechanics for people who don't like those mechanics, and it blows my mind... I look at a lot of mechanics, like 'hey, let's write dialog for people who don't like to read!' You were writing with the assumption that they do want to read some of it, right? If people don't want to read, why are we writing? And if people don't like combat, why do you have combat in it?"​

And then there's also a Tim Cain interview at gamrReview:

Surely one of the main advantages of using Kickstarter instead of working with a publisher is that you can see how people react to the idea you have. Does this serve to drive the team on in a unique way?

Tim: Yes indeed. On almost any game funded by a publisher, we are not allowed to talk about the game and its content until we are almost about to ship it, at which point it is almost impossible to make any serious changes. With Kickstarter, we are free to talk about the game during all the stages of its development. We have a better idea of what features are important, and the fans can follow the game's development and be more involved with it.

You’ve talked about how you are looking forward to making an M rated game. Is this because you believe RPGs are becoming more and more sugar-coated - if that’s the correct phrase to use - or is it purely a personal ambition?

Tim: I think it's more of the former. Modern RPGs avoid real ethical questions and instead focus on storylines with black and white morality. They provide villains who are evil and have no redeeming virtues, and the player is forced to destroy them. If there is anything mature about them, it's their use of language and sexual situations. That's not what we mean by "mature".

We want to explore deeper issues like what happens when cultures clash, when ideologies are questioned, or when individuals have their rights trampled. We want the player to tread into the murky grey areas between black and white, and we want them to have to make decisions that will affect their characters, and maybe the player will think about some of these issues in their real lives.

While Project Eternity is about taking RPGs back to their roots, will you be looking to change things up and tweak that classic formula at all?

Tim: Certainly we plan to make changes. We are not the same designers that we were five, ten or even twenty years ago, and we want the game to reflect that. Besides, there are some rough edges around all of the games we are being inspired by, so we plan to make some improvements along the way. As long as we keep to the spirit of those earlier games, we will be happy and we hope you will be too.​

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