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Feargus Urquhart talks about the decline of AAA and the future of Obsidian at KRI 2013

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Feargus Urquhart talks about the decline of AAA and the future of Obsidian at KRI 2013

Company News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 21 May 2013, 00:28:59

Tags: Allods Team; Feargus Urquhart; Obsidian Entertainment; Skyforge

Many of you have probably heard by now about the unexpected news that Obsidian Entertainment would be collaborating with Russian developer Allods Team in the development of their upcoming MMORPG, Skyforge. GamesIndustry was one of the first sites to break the news:

Mail.ru has annnounced that Obsidian Entertainment and Allods Team are teaming up to develop Skyforge, a new MMORPG for PC. The partnership was announced today at KRI 2013, the Russian Game Developer's Conference.​

"Skyforge is very interesting and promising project. I am glad that Obsidian Entertainment is involved in working on this game," said Obsidian CEO Feargus Urquhart. "I am confident that the cooperation with the Allods Team will be a great experience for all of us."​

Skyforge was first announced back in May 2012 under the development of Allods Team. The game is expected to launch on PC in 2014.​

We don't know yet exactly what role Obsidian will play in the development of Skyforge, but the following video from the KRI 2013 Russian Game Developers Conference may shed light on their motives for entering this new and unknown market. The first half of the video is a half-hour presentation by Obsidian CEO Feargus Urquhart about the state of the AAA gaming industry and Obsidian's plans for the future.


Takeaways from the presentation:
  • Feargus feels that developing AAA games for the next generation of consoles will not be a feasible prospect for independent developers like Obsidian. Most if not all future AAA games, he says, will be developed by wholly owned subsidiary developers of large publishers.
  • As such, Obsidian plans on transitioning into the PC and tablet space, as well as becoming a developer that develops "parts of games" for larger studios. Feargus wants to try to bring a more serious, hardcore type of RPG to mobile platforms. He also implies that Obsidian will keep on using Kickstarter in the future.
  • A possible exception to this rule is the development of same-engine spinoffs like Fallout: New Vegas, which Feargus says had a much lower budget than many people might assume. He implies that Bethesda-style sandbox games are relatively cheap to develop compared to the "cinematic cutscene corridor" model of most contemporary AAA titles.
  • The biggest news from the presentation is the announcement that Obsidian's Onyx engine will be scrapped. Feargus says it's simply too costly to maintain compared to using existing third party engines like Unreal, CryEngine and especially Unity. However, the auxiliary tools that Obsidian has developed for use with Onyx, such as their dialogue editor, will be kept and adapted for use with other engines.
So, is this the beginning of a new era for Obsidian, or is Feargus just hyping things up to impress his new Russian partners? Only time will tell.

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