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Default Dungeon Siege 3 - Interviews with Feargus and Nathan Davis

June 21st, 2011, 21:07
Gamestm.co.uk talked with Feargus Urquhart about Dungeon Siege, a new IP and - Fallout. The interview also covers history of Obsidian as well as the games Obsidian has made - and much more. Here's his answer when asked about how the game compares to say Diablo:
Itís an odd thing, I would say. Itís almost unfair not to say that RPGs over the course of the years have been dumbed down for consoles. But, I wouldnít say that I would necessarily make a PC role-playing game the same way that I would have made one fifteen years ago either.
A company I used to work for was Black Isle Studios and a PC game I worked on was Icewind Dale, which required you to roll six whole second-edition D&D characters before you could even start playing the game. No one would get through character creation nowadays. You know, people back then loved it, and there are still people that would love that, but I think the thing is when it comes to the console, and maybe all gamers, it has to be accessible, people have to be led into it. And so, my best answer is that the game is easy to get into, and then we ramp up the complexity and sort of add the layers of the RPG system as you play, and that is how we approach things now with the modern console gamer as compared to PC games fifteen years ago.
The rest of the interview is really illuminating to read, especially since he also answers questions like what Obsidian have learned from working with various publishers during the years.
Gaming Illustrated also did an interview with Nathan Davis, Associate Producer at Obsidian.
GI: So with this game there are four present characters, you build them up. Itís not open ended as get to make your own guy and you start as a peon. How big was the tug of war in putting that into the game and whatís the payoff?
ND: Well the payoff is that each character plays really well. They have interesting things they can do, they look great, they have really cool visual effects. Just game play wise youíre not going to make a bad character. Youíre not going to screw up doing something, itís going to be something thatís a really fun build no matter what you do. However I will say that within each of those characters there is a lot of customization. You can actually customize each of your abilities to work exactly how you want them to work and I think that ended up being pretty successful. So no matter what you do, when you pick up a controller and play the game youíre going to have fun.
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June 21st, 2011, 21:07
but I think the thing is when it comes to the console, and maybe all gamers, it has to be accessible, people have to be led into it.
Like Sheep ?

Uargh !

Now, this is the end of the PC RPG as we know it - and its future - until the pendulum swings back, of course.

ď Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius Ė and a lot of courage Ė to move in the opposite direction.ď (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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June 21st, 2011, 21:16
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
Like Sheep ?

Uargh !

Now, this is the end of the PC RPG as we know it - and its future - until the pendulum swings back, of course.
Lemmings: The RPG!
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June 21st, 2011, 21:19
Yup. I was pissed when i read this article. Friggin console gaming.
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June 22nd, 2011, 04:06
Originally Posted by rich ruffo View Post
Yup. I was pissed when i read this article. Friggin console gaming.
It's more about mainstream gamers than console gamers. As Feargus says here he wouldn't necessarily make a PC exclusive RPG the same as he did 15 years ago either.

As the audience grows for games they will by necessity be made for larger audiences. Mainstream and less hardcore gamers want a more streamlined and accessible experience. Those of us who want something more complex are a minority. Minorities cannot expect to be treated like majorities, it's irrational.
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June 22nd, 2011, 04:22
Originally Posted by DoctorNarrative View Post
It's more about mainstream gamers than console gamers. As Feargus says here he wouldn't necessarily make a PC exclusive RPG the same as he did 15 years ago either.

As the audience grows for games they will by necessity be made for larger audiences. Mainstream and less hardcore gamers want a more streamlined and accessible experience. Those of us who want something more complex are a minority. Minorities cannot expect to be treated like majorities, it's irrational.
Your right but I and others dont have to like it even if we only make up 20% of there sales. Unfortunately I have started to give up on even the remotest possibility that a AAA title will ever cater to my specific needs again. Ranting and raving about big companies wanting to sell millions of copies and thus catering to much less sophisticated audiences is just a waste of my energy.

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June 22nd, 2011, 04:26
Originally Posted by Couchpotato View Post
Your right but I and others dont have to like it even if we only make up 20% of there sales. Unfortunately I have started to give up on even the remotest possibility that a AAA title will ever cater to my specific needs again. Ranting and raving about big companies wanting to sell millions of copies and thus catering to much less sophisticated audiences is just a waste of my energy.
Yeah. I enjoy mainstream action RPGs for what they are and I play old games and indie games for my true CRPG gaming. It's pretty much all we can do now.

I'm not excited about what Feargus is saying, in fact it really sucks, but I'm realistic and I know why he is saying it. What I wish is that some of these companies like Obsidian and Bioware would create smaller teams within the company that could make old-school games for Steam and iOS or something for small budgets. They don't see that as a real opportunity though because spending a million to make 5 million is like a waste of time to them. They want to spend 50 million to make 300 million.
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June 22nd, 2011, 04:41
Yeah I always thought why didn't the bigger studios make smaller old school rpgs and your right. Spending 1-2 million to make back a few million inst worth there time. The publishers and shareholders wouldn't like it. Thank god for all the indie rpg developers.

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Last edited by Couchpotato; June 22nd, 2011 at 06:22.
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June 22nd, 2011, 05:21
Originally Posted by Couchpotato View Post
Your right but I and others dont have to like it even if we only make up 20% of there sales. Unfortunately I have started to give up on even the remotest possibility that a AAA title will ever cater to my specific needs again. Ranting and raving about big companies wanting to sell millions of copies and thus catering to much less sophisticated audiences is just a waste of my energy.
I came to the same conclusion after buying The Witcher 2. The funny control scheme in it reminded me of console games but it shouldn't have been in a supposed PC exclusive. The monitor resolution thing annoyed me as well.
This annoyed me as well: Skyrim_to_be_Really_Accessible_Consoles_are_Lead_P latform

I then took a look at the up coming games and realised that there was nothing on the horizon that would cater for an old school RPGer. I like complexity, I like it right from the beginning, I like to actually learn a new system as I play a game, I like being confused and figuring it out.

Once I understood that games became dead to me. I still have some GoG games to go through but my focus started to wander.

What to do now with my spare timeÖI always wanted to play piano or learn a language.
I decided on piano first and have been reading music theory books for the last couple of weeks and loving it I am learning a new system!
I will pick up a cheap second hand keyboard soon. I hope I like the practice as much as the theory.
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June 22nd, 2011, 05:23
Originally Posted by pox67 View Post
This annoyed me as well: Skyrim_to_be_Really_Accessible_Consoles_are_Lead_P latform
To be honest, I'm not sure how that's any different than Oblivion, and it certainly doesn't come as a surprise.
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June 22nd, 2011, 05:24
For me it's more along the lines of them taking one of my toys away, limiting my options, but I still have toys left in the toybox. I like action RPGs too, and I like shooters, platformers, hack n' slash games and more. I like a lot of games, not just CRPGs. The death of CRPGs from big publishers just means less options, not the death of my gaming.
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June 22nd, 2011, 09:46
Originally Posted by DoctorNarrative View Post
Yeah. I enjoy mainstream action RPGs for what they are and I play old games and indie games for my true CRPG gaming. It's pretty much all we can do now.

I'm not excited about what Feargus is saying, in fact it really sucks, but I'm realistic and I know why he is saying it. What I wish is that some of these companies like Obsidian and Bioware would create smaller teams within the company that could make old-school games for Steam and iOS or something for small budgets. They don't see that as a real opportunity though because spending a million to make 5 million is like a waste of time to them. They want to spend 50 million to make 300 million.
I don't think a lower budget would translate to being able to do something more complex for a niche market to them. That's not the way they think now. All they'll do is make some simplified 'accessible' game with crappier graphics. Look at Dragon Age Legends.
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June 22nd, 2011, 10:02
Agreed.

The reason for going iOS is easy money, not "niche" market complex games. It's simply the new gold, which will last for a while. If you want to earn big cash in that market, you want to appeal even broader than PC/Console - because the market segment has even fewer "enthusiast" gamers. It's all about trying to capture the casual mindset with whatever you can.

Also, given the pricing model - it's the accepted standard to have games that don't last long. So, naturally the focus will be on getting attention, not keeping it. You just want people to pay 5$ - which doesn't require longevity at all.
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June 22nd, 2011, 10:44
Originally Posted by Motoki View Post
I don't think a lower budget would translate to being able to do something more complex for a niche market to them. That's not the way they think now. All they'll do is make some simplified 'accessible' game with crappier graphics. Look at Dragon Age Legends.
You misunderstand. I am saying if they wanted to make a niche title, a real CRPG, they could do so and still make money. They would just have to budget accordingly. They don't want to do this though because even though they could make money they could make MORE money doing something else.

The corporate mentality is not "make a profit" the corporate mentality is "maximize profits."
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June 22nd, 2011, 11:02
Originally Posted by DoctorNarrative View Post
You misunderstand. I am saying if they wanted to make a niche title, a real CRPG, they could do so and still make money. They would just have to budget accordingly. They don't want to do this though because even though they could make money they could make MORE money doing something else.

The corporate mentality is not "make a profit" the corporate mentality is "maximize profits."
True unfortunately. It does however create a middle market that would be open to small developers to take advantage off. I hope the ITS / DoubleBear people will become such a studio
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June 22nd, 2011, 13:21
Originally Posted by GhanBuriGhan View Post
True unfortunately. It does however create a middle market that would be open to small developers to take advantage off. I hope the ITS / DoubleBear people will become such a studio
Those people, people like Vogel, are doing the same thing though. They can only make a certain level of game presentation-wise and they say "how can I get the most sales for what I can make?" The answer is to serve a passionate and starved audience.

Once he or anyone else thinks they have the money or opportunity to net a wider audience they will go for it, same as any other. Unless they are truly passionate about the niche themselves anyway. Passionate to ignore money.
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June 22nd, 2011, 13:39
Originally Posted by DoctorNarrative View Post
Those people, people like Vogel, are doing the same thing though. They can only make a certain level of game presentation-wise and they say "how can I get the most sales for what I can make?" The answer is to serve a passionate and starved audience.

Once he or anyone else thinks they have the money or opportunity to net a wider audience they will go for it, same as any other. Unless they are truly passionate about the niche themselves anyway. Passionate to ignore money.
Although people like to see Avadon and going iPad as evidence of that, I think Vogel has a long, long way to go to mainstream. who else makes TB RPGS, after all? thats right, Iron Tower… And the ITS people - well the only reason their project(s) exist is passion for RPGs. Tehy haven't seen a single $ yet, and are not sure they ever will. Sure, things change, people change, money lures… - but if these guys become truly mainstream one day, the niche will again be there for someone new to seize it.
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June 22nd, 2011, 13:44
Why is it that ALL indie developers must be fueled by a passionate fire of the art?

Maybe they've just carved out a market segment where they can exist, without having to be part of the regular job market. Maybe they simply enjoy the autonomy and the ability to be so much in control.

If you keep making the same game over and over and over, I fail to see how that makes you a truly passionate artist.

Maybe you have to be passionate to start out in this business, and actually get your first few projects launched and set up shop. But if you can make a reasonable living reiterating the same stuff with largely the same assets, many people will do that - because it's simply easier.

It doesn't mean Vogel is chasing the money - but it also doesn't have to mean he's chasing the ultimate game design. I certainly don't see it.
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June 22nd, 2011, 15:45
No you are right it certainly doesn't have to mean that, although I think at least for RPG developers it usually starts that way - there are far easier paths to "make it" as an indie than with CRPGs, I'm pretty sure.
I actually think in Vogels case its somewhere in between - its become a job for him, its not about passion so much anymore. His blog and comment is very down to earth and he often comes across as rather disillusioned. So its his job - but its a job he knows he does very well and he is proud of what he does - more an artisan than an artist, then. The end result is still that he is single-handedly responsible for probably just about every second TB CRPG that got made in the last ten years, love 'em or hate 'em.
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June 22nd, 2011, 15:53
A company I used to work for was Black Isle Studios and a PC game I worked on was Icewind Dale, which required you to roll six whole second-edition D&D characters before you could even start playing the game. No one would get through character creation nowadays. You know, people back then loved it, and there are still people that would love that
I can't help thinking that that's just simply wrong.
It's like he's talking about the 30's or something but it's about games made a decade ago… I bought them back then, and I'm still around plus I now can waste my own money on a whim without having to justify it. Someone told me that the average age of gamers is 35 years… and that actually sounds right to me… we're still here, you are just not interested to sell anything to us.

"I am not interested in good; I am interested in new, even if this includes the possibility of it's being evil"
(LaMonte Young, 1962)
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