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Josh Sawyer Interviews at Gather Your Party and VGRevolution

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Josh Sawyer Interviews at Gather Your Party and VGRevolution

Interview - posted by Crooked Bee on Thu 11 October 2012, 15:42:07

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

Obsidian Entertainment's Josh Sawyer, lead designer on Project Eternity, has done two more interviews. The first one is with Gather Your Party, and it's pretty long. Have a snippet:

Del: I can imagine that publishers can get in the way of a lot. I think of tossing a publisher–or something like one–into the realm of an artist, a painting artist, and saying, “Ok… so your fans don’t want XYZ. You need to put more black into your paintings.” And the artist says, “What are you talking about. I never use black. Ever.” It just seems like a really, really annoying and–for lack of a better term–ass-backwards way of doing things.

Josh: It’s kind of weird, because there are some publishers that really do get role playing games and the kind of games we make. So when we have conversations with them about the things we’re doing and why we’re doing them, things go really well. Everyone’s on the same page. Maybe we don’t see one-hundred percent eye-to-eye, but we get each other. There have also been times where people will ask you to do things and you just go, “I… don’t think the people that play our games actually like that. They’ve never responded well to that in the past. It’s not like we haven’t tried, we have, and people responded badly. We probably shouldn’t do that.” And, you know, they mean well, but they’re trying to filter things through this extra layer.

Like with what you were saying about the artist that never uses black and has tons of fans. Then some agent comes along and says, “Start using black.” And he’s just going to go, “You know, the people that are buying my work buy it because I don’t use black. Sooo…”

Del: It makes me wonder how many games, or other things, would be different if there wasn’t that third party saying, “We need to appeal to a broader audience.” Whenever I hear something like that concerning a game, some game I like or am looking forward to, and then I hear an interview with–usually–the publisher and the the way it goes is: game comes out; game does well; and then for the sequel we hear, “And for the next game we’re looking to appeal to a wider audience.” As soon as I read that I just shake my head and think, “Well it’ll be worse than the first.”

Josh: Yeah, it can be really strange to see how publishers react to an initial title in a series that does well. Let’s say it does well, modestly well. Sells enough to warrant a sequel and then the sequel comes around and the things they change to get that wider appeal. So I would say a success story of that would be from Assassin’s Creed to Assassin’s Creed II. That was probably a rare success story of that happening. The first one had a lot of problems. People really liked the concept of it, but there was some weird stuff going on in it. And it wasn’t terribly fun either.

Now I don’t know a lot about the AC II team, but looking at the final result it’s easy to see them saying, “You know people really do like running around on roofs. They really like the stealth kills. They probably don’t like collecting flags. They probably don’t like doing this other stuff.”

Del: Sitting on benches and listening to conversations.

Josh: Yeah, yeah! ”They probably don’t like any of this stuff so why don’t we keep the stuff people really like and ditch the stuff they didn’t like.” And again it really seemed as though they paid attention to the people that really wanted to like the game instead of the people that hated it. I don’t want to name names, but I can think of other games where it’s a new IP. It does modestly well and I don’t know if it’s the developer or publisher, but they come to all these weird conclusions and change these things that cause the people that liked it to hate it.​

And another, quick interview is with VGRevolution. Here's a taste:

I grew up on classic RPGs, Baldur’s Gate was actually my first ever. I loved creating my character more than anything and assembling a rag-tag party to join me in Lord of the Rings fashion to accompany me on my adventure. I know the game will feature those classic options like race, class, alignment, et cetera, but will there be any newer elements to customizing your character?

Yes, although I should start by saying we won’t have alignment in Project Eternity. Instead of a morality meter, you will have reputations with various factions in the world that you interact with over time.

We want to allow players to select few more elements during character creation to define their background a bit. One of those elements is the character’s Culture, which is where he or she was raised. In our setting, race and culture are not intrinsically linked, so you can have people of various races growing up all over the place. We can then use the character’s Culture to unlock different dialogue options with and reactions from NPCs as well as open up character options in a manner similar to 3E Forgotten Realms’ Regional Feats.

So, for example, you might make a boreal dwarf (like Sagani, the female ranger we’ve shown) and decide that he was raised in the remote southern island of Naasitaq, where many other boreal dwarves share the rocky tundra and snow-covered forests with far-roaming caravan elves who drift near the shoreline. Alternately, your boreal dwarf may have been raised in the cramped, humid, towering cities of Aedyr, among the aggressive explorers who crossed an ocean to colonize the Dyrwood. Ideally, we want your race and culture to help inform both how you role-play your character as well as how you mechanically play your character.​

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