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Former Obsidian Developers Tell About Cancelled Projects

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Former Obsidian Developers Tell About Cancelled Projects

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Sat 22 December 2012, 22:04:11

Tags: Baldur's Gate III; Dwarfs; George Ziets; Kevin Saunders; Obsidian Entertainment; Tony Evans

After the public reveal of several of Obsidian Entertainment's cancelled games last week, it was only a matter of time before some Obsidian developers spoke up to tell the world more about these lost creations.

Kevin Saunders, who is probably the project director of inXile's not-quite-revealed-yet Torment spiritual successor and formerly worked at Obsidian, wrote today about the cancelled "Seven Dwarves" project on his Formspring. When asked if he had any regrets, he replied:

No, in the sense that I think its cancellation was completely out of our control. But I do regret that Dwarfs (that’s what we called it internally) was never made – I was the lead designer and it involved some of my best creative work. I wrote the backstory for the Snow White/Dwarfs world and the overall story outline for the prequel – how cool of an opportunity is that? =) I felt very lucky.​

This wasn’t a happy-go-lucky Disney game. Disney's Buena Vista Games wanted dark and I gave them dark. In the opening sequence, for example, you, as a teenage prince, awake in your bed to haunting sounds. Exploring the dark castle, you come across a terrifying shadowy creature that you kill in a desperate struggle – its cries shifting from a supernatural shriek to that of a human woman's bloodcurdling cry of death. The illusion is then dispelled, and your mother, the Queen, lays dead before you, the bloody knife that killed her in your hand. This wasn’t a cinematic – it was all a gameplay sequence that you’d actually play out.​

For the creative lead, I hired Brian Mitsoda, of Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines fame. (He’s now working on his creation Dead State, which looks very promising!) He took the skeletal story I had written and was developing it into a true masterpiece. That’s also when Obsidian hired Josh Sawyer and he was the systems/combat lead for the project – he’s an awesome designer and project lead and you can only imagine what he comes up with when focused on a specific component. His combat system combined action gameplay with RPG depth in some very innovative ways.​

And Brian Menze’s concepts for the dwarfs – just amazing! So much personality and character, reminiscent of Disney’s classic characters, but weathered by the grim realities of a dark fantasy world. Working on the story and character descriptions in an office with Brian, watching his creations unfold – this was one of the most creative and inspiring times in my career as a designer. So I have a lot of good memories about the project. And our producers at Buena Vista Games were great to work with. They gave us good guidelines, a lot of creative freedom, and loved the direction we were heading.​

The game had a lot of potential and it was sad to have it stopped when the team had been gaining so much momentum. But it was a great experience.​

And earlier this week, also on Formspring, George Ziets wrote a bit about his experiences with the cancelled Baldur's Gate 3, and hinted at more:

In 2009, I came back to Obsidian for Baldur’s Gate 3, but it was canceled almost as soon as I got there – probably the saddest moment in my career because I had always wanted to work on that series. The team barely started preproduction, so who knows what the game would have been. It was a solid bunch of people, too –Tony Evans, Jeff Husges, Bobby Null, Justin Cherry, Anthony Davis, Rich Taylor, and more.​

My “real” canceled project – the one I actually spent a few months on - was North Carolina. Its secrets are bound by an NDA, so I can’t say any more than what’s in the Kotaku article.​

What they didn’t cover in that article were all the amazing Obsidian proposals that have made the rounds but were never picked up by a publisher. I’m hoping that changes now, but we’ll see…​

On his Formspring, Tony Evans wrote about Baldur's Gate 3's development team:

Oh, it was quite the dream team... Many of us who worked on NWN2 and the expansions went on to Baldur's Gate 3, and there were some talented folks from other Obsidian projects that were borrowed, stolen or taken at sword-point.​

Some members of the BG3 team included me (lead designer), Kevin Saunders (lead producer/martyr), Rich Taylor (lead programmer and friend to the animals), Paul Boyle (the one system designer to rule them all), Bobby Null (leading expert on D&D, whose middle name is Merlin), Matt Festa (tech designer and dark cleric of SketchUp), and Anthony Davis (of Legend). Forgive me for the names I left out. Fingers... cramping...​

When BG3 was cancelled, many of us moved on to Dungeon Siege 3. Others said "f**k it all" and moved to China or left the game industry entirely. Some are biding their time, waiting for the batphone to ring so they can re-assemble, put their elf ears back on, and make the best damn D&D game known to man. Actually, I'm joking... Or am I?​

Interesting stuff. Hopefully we'll find out more in the future. Unfortunately, not all Obsidian folks are so cooperative. :/

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