Obsidian Entertainment - Feargus Urquhart Interview
Feargus chats to GameBanshee about his life and times. On the challenges of making NWN2:
GB: The second title you released under Obsidian Entertainment was Neverwinter Nights 2. Can you give us a brief overview of how you secured the rights to work on the game, and what challenges you faced during its development?
Feargus: Securing the rights to create it is probably more than what we really did. Atari was looking to have NWN2 made and Bioware wasn't in the position to make it at the time. So, we talked to Atari about doing it and due to our relationship with Bioware, knowledge of their technology ,tools and our familiarity with D&D and Neverwinter itself (I worked on the cored game idea with Ray, Greg and Trent when we were first thinking of the title) it just made sense for Atari to go with us.
The challenges that we had while working on the game were a number of things and many of them come down to next-gen games and us growing our studio. The first of those - "next-gen games", caused a lot of issues. When we started working on it 2004, there were already amazing screen shots of what every next-gen game was going to look like. Originally, NWN2 was going to be on both the PC and Xbox360. So, we moved forward on creating a next-gen game, however the budget was higher than what our publisher was used to at the time and so we were both making mistakes. To reduce risk, they asked us to put a prototype together very quickly so, we hacked something together. Unfortunately, it was so much of a hack that it really didn't help us get ready for production. We were still trying to put our tools together and un-hack everything while we were supposed to be making final levels. The responsibility for that all happening really lies on both Obsidian and Atari. Atari shouldn’t have pushed us to create a prototype so quickly and we shouldn't have agreed to do it. I put it that way, because I think it's important that developers take responsibility for things that happen in our industry and that it's not just the "big bad" publishers that have done everything wrong. What is also important is to look at this as mistakes that were made not that people were dumb or evil. Both Atari and Obsidian were figuring out, like everyone else in the industry, how to make big next-gen games and mistakes were inevitable.