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Default Project Eternity - J.E. Sawyer Interview @ CyberGamer

October 26th, 2012, 15:45
CyberGamer talked to J.E. Sawyer about Obsidian Entertainment's Project Eternity, their game funded by Kickstarter. Here's an excerpt on the inspiration behind the use of souls in the game:
One of the first things mentioned about Project Eternity was the concept of Souls being important and a source of power, that you were interested what world building ideas are generated from that design mechanic. Where did the inspiration behind this concept come from ? I've heard many people mention NWN2: Mask of the Betrayer, although I personally thought of Lionheart: Legacy of the Crusader.
It actually came out of some thoughts I had about the physical and metaphysical underpinnings of our own world. When worldbuilding, I think a lot of designers want to explain everything up front. There's obvious value in defining how the world works because it helps everyone wrap their heads around what the setting is about. Over the years, I've felt that breaking down the supernatural into easy-to-comprehend chunks drains the magic from it. Compare this to our own observation and understanding of the physical world. Public reaction to the discovery of the Higgs boson particle was very telling. Despite the scientific community's general requests to stop calling it the "God particle", the public and media couldn't help themselves. A discovery that potentially explains, if not the "why", at least the "how" of existence is appealing.
A quote on the art style
Regarding the art style of the game, what games in particular have inspired the look and feel of the 2D Backdrops, Portraits, Avatars and Paperdolls? (for example IWD1 for backdrops, ToEE for avatars etc)
We look at Icewind Dale levels for a lot of our inspiration. They were beautiful settings full of atmosphere, interesting architecture, and a ton of cool, hand-painted details. Also the relatively subdued color palettes of that art falls in line with what we want to explore, similar in saturation what you might see in the art of the Hudson River School. We also look at Icewind Dale portraits because the brushwork of all of the artists tended to have an enjoyable mix of loose and tight strokes.
Here's Sawyer's answer to a young man wanting to break into the the industry:
This question is from Aaron Patel. "How did you get your position as Lead Designer / Project Director? As someone who isnt too interested in game development, always cool to hear a bit of a career success story in a skill based industry". From My understanding you started as a Web Designer for Interplay?
Yeah. In the mid-90s, I started teaching myself HTML, JavaScript, and other tidbits of web development. Toward the end of college, I taught myself Flash 3.0 so I could do something fancy for a tattoo website (Steve's Tattoo in Madison, though thankfully they've replaced my crappy website since then). It turned out to be a key piece of tech knowledge when I applied for a web developer position at Interplay. It also helped that I knew a lot about AD&D and played it every week (sometimes multiple times a week). I got the job and wound up being the webmaster for Planescape: Torment and eventually Icewind Dale and Neverwinter Nights. I worked closely with the development team on Torment and when a position opened on the Icewind Dale design team, Feargus gave me a shot as a part-time junior designer. So in my case, I found a side-door into development via marketing/web.
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October 26th, 2012, 15:45
Yes, the area artwork was nice in Icewind Dale 1 & 2, even with all the white. I can't say I was equally happy with the character portraits though. Only a few of them were appealing; most just seemed drab and unexciting.
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October 26th, 2012, 16:24
Yeah, I changed all the portraits to custom ones.

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