Project Eternity nears $2m: updates on souls, world tech, non-combat and Unity

Sounds better by the day.

Obsidian's old-style RPG Project Eternity is on the road to becoming one of Kickstarter's greatest fund raisers, with $1.9 million raised and 22 days to go. (The target, in case you're out of the loop, was $1.1 million.)

Wasteland 2 raised $2.93 million via Kickstarter, and Double Fine's new adventure game raised $3.34 million. (Ouya raised $8.6 million, but it's not a game so nerr.)

Project Eternity is in stretch goal territory. And there are project updates I will round up here.

Souls

At the heart of Project Eternity, both thematically and mechanically, are souls. These power your abilities, differentiate factions and provide the subject matter for endless debate - as they do in real-life, I suppose.

"What is known is that sapient souls move through an endless cycle of waking life and purgatorial slumber among the gods. Often this slumber lasts for years of 'real' time, but occasionally it is brief, with a soul immediately moving on to a new life," explained project leader Josh Sawyer.

"Far from being a flawless process, souls are subject to fracturing over generations, transforming in myriad ways, and not quite... working right. Some cultures and individuals place a high value on strong souls, souls with a pure lineage, awakened souls that remember past lives, travelled souls that have drifted through the divine realms, or those that co-exist with other souls in one body. However, the opposite is also true, resulting in negative discrimination and sometimes outright violence."

yes

Yes, this is the sort of character I'm envisaging.

Through techniques like martial training, meditation, "ritualistic evocation" and "mortification of the flesh", some people can use the energy of their soul to accomplish "extraordinary feats". "These abilities range from the mundanely superhuman to the explosively magical," Sawyer wrote. Strong souls make this easier, but fractured souls are also capable.

"Whatever the fundamental nature of mortal souls is, the people of the world accept the reality of what they have observed: that all mortal bodies contain perceptible energy bound to the individual, and that once they die, their energy will move forward in the eternal cycle that they are all a part of - that as far as they know, they have always been a part of," concluded Sawyer.

The technology of the world

"We congratulate you on your non-violent and cooperative plans of wealth acquisition, and we'll give you the means to do it."

Tim Cain on non-combat abilities

Most civilisations of Project Eternity are in Earth's equivalent of the high or late Middle Ages. But some of the most powerful civilisations are beginning to uncover early modern technologies like ships and black powder firearms. Ship exploration is being halted by seemingly insurmountable sea monsters, and black powder firearms fire once and take ages to reload. They're unreliable but very useful against wizards protected by the arcane veil, whose barriers don't stop bullets travelling at such high velocities.

Non-combat abilities

In RPGs, non-combat abilities can be some of the most rewarding, helping you tap deeper into dialogue trees and discover things that other less patient, more brawny players tend to miss.

Obsidian doesn't want non-combat abilities to hamper your combat abilities. You'll gain them separately, they won't use the same resources, you'll be able to use them frequently and experience rewards for peaceful solutions will be just as great as for killing everybody. "You shouldn't have to choose between Magic Missile and Herbalism," Tim Cain, Project Eternity key person, wrote.

Non-combat skills/abilities fall into four categories:

  • Learning new things: locations of towns, materials (e.g. herbs), hidden doors. Uncovering secrets like potion recipes or true names of demons (do I detect an Ursula Le Guin influence?)
  • Travelling around the world: better sneaking, faster/safer map travel (use of mountain routes, ship routes) and teleportation! Also, removing locks, traps.
  • Getting new items: buying, stealing, making items and helping merchants make items. "We congratulate you on your non-violent and cooperative plans of wealth acquisition, and we'll give you the means to do it," Cain declared.
  • Interacting with companions: ways to recruit them, improve their usefulness, keep them from dying "or worse, disliking you!".

Unity engine

Project Eternity will be powered by Unity - hurrah! Obsidian will extend it here and there with home-built RPG tech.

Unity makes Linux support a cinch, so it's been removed as a stretch goal and included as default. Unity has also helped the team off to a swift start: Obsidian's making "great progress prototyping some of the game's core functionality" already, Obsidian chief technical officer Chris Jones wrote.

Recap

Project Eternity is an isometric role-playing game that pays homage to Baldur's Gate, Planescape: Torment and Icewind Dale. Stretch goals reached so far are: Mac version, Linux version, DRM-Free, a bigger story, two more classes, two more races and two more companions.

The next stretch goal is player housing at $2 million raised. This will also add quests, NPCs, a companion hangout, more dialogue, and a new store with new unique weapons, clothing and armour.

Project Eternity will be released in spring 2014.

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