Tacticular Cancer: We'll have your balls

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Development Info More on Obsidian's cancelled and unproduced projects at Eurogamer

Discussion in 'RPG News & Content' started by Infinitron, Sep 12, 2017.

  1. Make America Great Again Rogueygender: ⚧ Arcane Sawyerite Sawyerist Sawyer's Bride No Fun Allowed

    Roguey
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    Grimms' fairy tales could be pretty grim. The ending before getting Disneyfied:

     
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  2. Make America Great Again Infinitrongender: ⚧ Trade Master Patron

    Infinitron
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    And they're also an entertainment product, and therefore hit-driven. Ideally, you're not thinking of your profits in terms of pennies on the dollar. The cost difference between developing a Bethesda RPG in Maryland and developing it in Poland is marginal compared to the revenues the game earns.
     
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  3. Lexxgender: ⚧ Augur

    Lexx
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    Bethsoft games are also living through mods, so even if you can make your own Skyrim, unless it offers the same modding flexibility, you dont necessarily have a long-time hit. Just look at folks still playing these games today... is there anyone who plays vanilla (except console peasants)?
     
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  4. IHaveHugeNickgender: ⚧ Arcane

    IHaveHugeNick
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    "Pretty grim" is putting it mildly. Some of that shit is so dark, it makes Lovecraft seem like a PG13 family friendly novelist.
     
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  5. Prime Juntagender: ⚧ Arcane

    Prime Junta
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    Let's not even start on the original Little Red Riding-Hood stories.

    Let me put it this way: Josh Sawyer would like them.
     
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  6. Flougender: ⚧ Learned

    Flou
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    Umm, what the hell?

    There's room for both Figstarter/Obsidian funded project and projects funded by publishers whether they are small or large. Obsidian just doesn't have the war funds at the moment to do it all on their own and you can't do multiple crowd funding campaigns (in Obsidian's case they would need to do 4) at once or you will suddenly see your fanbase questioning your motives.

    I don't think they want to end up like Telltale either. Releasing just the same game over and over again with different graphics, plot and setting. Building a new IP with the funds of a publisher and releasing a game that isn't like Tyranny and Pillars is actually pretty crucial for Obsidian and they can't do it on their own. I'm pretty sure Feargus is anxious to talk about the project and to be honest their enthusiasm seems genuine during the Kickstarter/Figstarter campaigns, when there's no corporate overlord 100 miles away telling them what they can talk about and what they can't.

    I personally couldn't care less about Skyrim or Fallout 4. However, Fallout: New Vegas was a great game and I'm not the only one who thinks lik that, and who just can't get enough of open world computer role playing games that are done right.
     
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  7. Tigranesgender: ⚧ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    All the contents of the coverage is basically from 5-10 years ago, so it's a bit of mixed analysis. It's also a bit WTF to read it and think "oh Obs doesn't know it's not a great idea to not do what pubs want", I guess it's a world of simple problems and solutions where Feargus just needed to be told what a publisher is and things are gravy.
     
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  8. Quantomasgender: ⚧ Educated

    Quantomas
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    I probably should have made this more clear: "... that for most publishers not doing what the publisher wants is a red flag."

    In principle I agree with Obsidian that game development has be done more sensible than what the typical publishing contracts define. But historically the big publishers, like EA, Ubisoft, Microsoft, Lucas Arts, Disney, have enjoyed a privilege of holding the majority of power in the industry and believed that it is up to them to shape the market and the products by telling developers what they have to do. I know that's shit, but it's a reality. The smart new wave of publishers like Paradox are different, they are perfectly fine to take a game as is and then make the most of it.

    It's like a red thread that weaves itself through Obsidian's history, that they believed they have the competence to tell publishers how a specific game should be developed. But look at the reality. How many follow-up projects do they have received from publishers? Why did Lucas Arts insist that Obsidian has to meet the deadline and wasn't interested to follow up? Why did the Armored Warfare publisher insist to relocate development? Why did Bethesda not hire Obsidian for another expansion like FO:NV? Why did Ubisoft move away the development of the South Park RPG? You would think Obsidian had the process, tech and team in place and development should be cheaper than somewhere else in California. Why did Disney cancel the project? Why did Microsoft cancel the project after it became clear that Obsidian couldn't deliver on time?

    With publishers being what they are, you have to put a process in place that ensures that the contractually fixed deliverables are met. If you are a pro with tons of experience you can draw up a process that meets the requirements in a day, at most in a couple. I'd even argue that you need to do that before you sign the contract, because this way you can see whether it's going to work out.

    Instead Obsidian seems to define their own process with the goal to meet the final deliverable. That might sound like hair-splitting to most, but there is a critical difference. If you simply define your own process, your are bound to continuously resolve conflicts between your vision and the vision of the publisher.

    What you need to do is to define a process that ensures that deadlines and deliverables are met as specified. Even if you are going to build a skeleton of a game to specification. Your creative freedom suffers here apparently, but it's merely shifted to how you fill out the skeleton with your vision. In principle you can even map the contractually agreed process to your own development process, if you can ensure that these are compatible.

    But from everything I read here and otherwise, Obsidian doesn't do it this way. I wouldn't say Obsidian is wrong per se, but they appear ignorant to the reality how publishers work.

    The market has moved on, from games built to spec to what gamers want today: adventure and adaptable gameplay.

    Somehow FO:NV fit that mould, possibly because MCA and Sawyer had a lot to say about Fallout. Or Kotor2 had a soul because MCA poured tons of work into it. The shelf of Star Wars sources that MCA consumed and Feargus pointed to is telling.

    But in general I doubt that Obsidian still has a good grasp on what gamers want today. PoE is telling, even you discount the general issue of designing a game around the premise to make every build viable based on Grunker's re-review that the encounters turned out much better post The White March. PoE is a conglomerate of features, of which some turned out good, like the art, Defiance Bay, Durance, the CYOA scripted events, but in general so many features felt unfulfilled, not only the megadungeon, stronghold and second city.

    I agree with what MCA said about the big meetings for PoE each week, which didn't only consume the time of all the leads but were hugely disruptive to the work. If you do the math they burned at least half a million $ on this, while it is obvious that PoE could have been a much better game with some more effort. Likewise they burned resources big time on all the backer NPCs, once you figured out what they were they became a huge immersion breaker for the players.

    People like me didn't buy Tyranny because they felt burned by PoE's midgame expansion. I can't remember where it was said, possibly in one of the pre-release streams, that Tyranny was planned as a trilogy, with the first release roughly one third of the game. In any case Tyranny feels incomplete, so it's only logical that lots of players take a wait-and-see approach. It's a pity, because Tyranny made a number of very good moves, with the artwork, the conquest mode, the faction interplay, the magic system, and the setting is brilliant. But again as a game as a whole it feels unfulfilled.

    As I said initially, gamers expect more these days, increasingly. Being innovative and focusing on your players will pay big time, if you do it right. I admire the innovative spirit of Star Citizen, even with detractors pointing out that the development takes ages. But if the devs get it right, they will rule.

    That's what I mean that Obsidian is possibly out-of-touch with what the gamers desire these days.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017
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  9. MRYgender: ⚧ Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

    MRY
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    Yes. Every 13 seconds someone discovers that fairy tales were actually dark, that Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is trippy, and that Crazy Taxi is crazy. Hence the cliche side of it. (Seldom do these "dark" versions actually track what was dark about the source material, of course.) The absurd side of it is that this is not a grimdark retelling (telling) of a fairy tale, but rather a grimdark version of a Disney movie. It should be self-evident why a dark prequel backstory for Doc, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Bashful, Sneezy, and Dopey Dwarf is absurd. I can't imagine that even Larry King would let such an idea pass without comment in an interview...

    I do like that they came up with the revolutionary idea of having a squad of unique liittle characters who could be used to solve puzzles using each character's special power in a cartoony setting. I think you could really make a good series of games out of an idea like that. You could call it like Seven Dwaaaaaaarfs or something.
     
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  10. IHaveHugeNickgender: ⚧ Arcane

    IHaveHugeNick
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    You're not wrong, but I'm pretty sure Feargus would be the first person to agree with you. I've remember some interview when he admitted straight up that for the first couple of years their workflow process was completely fucked, and they had to rethink their entire approach to production starting from Dungeon Siege 3 and upwards. And you can see how it's having a lot of positive effects. Their early Bugsidian reputation pretty much went away and everything they put out has a level of technical polish early Obsidian games only reached after years of community patches.
     
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  11. Make America Great Again Infinitrongender: ⚧ Trade Master Patron

    Infinitron
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    So you just felt like complaining about the games Obsidian is making today and not about what it's in the newspost, which is about the games they wanted to make in 2012 and not today. OK.
     
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  12. Quantomasgender: ⚧ Educated

    Quantomas
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    History is not a lesson unto itself.

    Why would we pretend what we learned today is only applicable to the Obsidian of 2012?
     
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  13. Flougender: ⚧ Learned

    Flou
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    Look at LucasArts and how many Star Wars games they released after 2005. One in 2006 and then two Star Wars: Force Unleashed games + bunch of Lego Star Wars games that were licensed + MMO in 2011. They had Kotor 3 as an internal project but cancelled it for some reason. They stopped making the Jedi Knight series as well. So blaming Obsidian for the lack of Kotor 3 is quite pointless, when you can see the clear shift at LucasArts when it comes to making Star Wars games.
    Prior to 2005 there were tons of more Star Wars related games released than after that.

    Why Ubisoft didn't give South Park to Obsidian? Why would they? Obsidian was busy with other stuff, not to mention Ubisoft had an internal team they could use to make it. From a business point of view it makes no sense they would offer it to some external developer if they have the workforce to do it on their own. How many Ubisoft games were made by independent developers in the last 5 years and don't count the ones they got from THQ.

    Why would Bethesda feed one of their biggest "rivals" by giving them recognition and money from making an another Fallout game? Bethesda isn't some benevolent entity that wants to keep Obsidian afloat. If you look at their track record with Arkane Studios and Human Head Studios and what Fargo has said and Anthony Davis (if I recall correct) posted here back in the day about Bethesda (something about the negotiations being like Vader vs. Lando) is anywhere close to the truth, I wouldn't put it past them if they actually tried to do what the did to Arkane to Obsidian as well. It didn't work out though and now they are butthurt that Obsidian did better job than they did. With Project Indiana it could be that Obsidian is going directly after the same customer base that Bethesda has... so yeah, I doubt Bethesda wants to have anything to do with releasing Obsidian's games when they are in direct competition.
    I would count the 4 DLCs as a follow-up though.

    I recall that both Disney and Microsoft had execs changing during the production. Yes, Feargus is taking much of the blame in these interviews on himself and on Obsidian, but in prior interviews he has said that they didn't "have a champion" at the publishers when the guys greenlighting the project got either fired or moved onto different stuff.

    You left out Square Enix. Dungeon Siege 3 sold well enough that they were considered on making the next Deus Ex, but then Thief(?) failed commercially and that Deus Ex project went to an internal team instead.

    You also left out Atari. NWN2 got two expansions. Mask of the Betrayer wasn't really that cheap to make and if Atari had the funds they would have made Baldur's Gate 3 for Atari. But Atari isn't a powerhouse they used to be and that game got cancelled/never went into full production.

    Gaming business is quite small. If they were so fucking terrible as you make them sound like, they wouldn't have gotten any jobs after few cancellations. Yet, here they still are with 1 or 2 publishers still quite fucking willing to work with them.
    Cool story, but it's not as black and white you make it seem.
     
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  14. Tigranesgender: ⚧ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Tigranes
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    Doesn't read, spouts irrelevant stuff based on misreading, gets corrected, still doesn't read, still spouts

    I guess history really does repeat itself
     
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  15. Make America Great Again Rogueygender: ⚧ Arcane Sawyerite Sawyerist Sawyer's Bride No Fun Allowed

    Roguey
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    Are you trolling again, because that's Lost Vikings. :M
     
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  16. Make America Great Again Infinitrongender: ⚧ Trade Master Patron

    Infinitron
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    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gobliiins

    Adventure game guy.
     
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  17. MRYgender: ⚧ Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

    MRY
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    Just because the same revolution has repeatedly happened before, doesn't mean it's not revolutionary when it happens again! Buena Vista, à la lanterne! Those who remember history are doomed to complain on the Codex.
     
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  18. `Helliongender: ⚧ Learned

    `Hellion
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    There was a Gobliiins 4? And it came out 8 whole years ago?

    Each day on the Codex truly is a revelation.
     
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  19. Make America Great Again Infinitrongender: ⚧ Trade Master Patron

    Infinitron
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    Don't ask about the Simon the Sorcerer sequels
     
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  20. Urthorgender: ⚧ Learned

    Urthor
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    Sure, but what you described is exactly what the term "economies of scale" is designed to overcome. If you are Ubisoft you can realise productivity gains from outsourcing over dozens of different games, and eventually get the Eastern European teams up to scratch. Or you can be CDPR and just be an Eastern European company with no cross continental communication overhead that invests the same as the Western game developers at the Eastern European wage and be able to throw absolutely insane numbers of man hours at their game, and produce one of the highest production value game that's ever been made.
     
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  21. MRYgender: ⚧ Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

    MRY
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    There was neither a Gobliiins 4 nor a Simon the Sorcerer 3D. Next you'll be telling me that they made a sequel to Hand of Fate and a sixth Space Quest...

    Also, this is comedy gold on Wikipedia: "The game received a slightly mixed reception, with an average of 56.5% on Gamerankings."
     
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  22. Iznaliugender: ⚧ Arbiter

    Iznaliu
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    People like to pretend that rating inflation isn't a thing.
     
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  23. MRYgender: ⚧ Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

    MRY
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    I guess in a sense it is a slight mixture of positive reviews among negative ones. :D
     
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  24. Prime Juntagender: ⚧ Arcane

    Prime Junta
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    Economies of scale don't exist in software.
     
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  25. I'm With Her Severian Silkgender: ⚧ for prison Arcane

    Severian Silk
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    That would piss off Bethesda, and maybe they want to keep that relationship friendly? (In case of a future Bethesda published game?)
     
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