In September we asked you to share your favourite moments from an Obsidian game and we, on behalf of Paradox, dangled prizes in front of you in return: consoles for the two winners, PC Pillars of Eternity and Tyranny keys for the 10 runners-up. And you answered in your droves.
Everyone has a drawer they can't close because it's stuffed too full of things. Mine has a whisk which always stops the bloody drawer from closing, and it's really annoying, but Obsidian Entertainment's drawer has around 100 game proposals in it. Game outlines in various states, from two-page snacks to 60-page feasts. "There's tons of them," Obsidian co-owner Chris Parker tells me. And for Obsidian there was never a time of greater need of an idea than summer 2012, after Microsoft cancelled Xbox One launch game Stormlands, and when South Park: The Stick of Truth was onboard THQ's sinking ship. It spurred a period now referred to in Obsidian history as the Summer of Proposals.
Throw your mind back to Microsoft sharing a dream of an infinitely powerful Xbox One cloud, a box under your TV able to suck an almost mystical power into your living room, transforming games as we know them. The vision wouldn't quite materialise, but while Microsoft was hallucinating over the cauldron it was also throwing money around - throwing money at Xbox One exclusives to embody this future, and Obsidian Entertainment was spinning in its pot.
"We were given a proposal, the million-man raid," Obsidian co-owner and CEO, Feargus Urquhart, tells me. "Conceptually what came from Microsoft was this idea: imagine you're playing The Witcher, maybe with a friend. What happens if at points in time a giant creature pops up that you can see in the distance and it's not just popping up while you're playing, it's popping up for everybody who's playing. You all rush this creature and there's this haze around it, and as you're all rushing through the haze the game is matchmaking you into 40-man raids who are going to fight the creature.
"Then you fight it, but while the creature is being fought all the footage is being recorded up into the cloud. Then at the end we would come up with some kind of intelligent editing thing which would deliver everybody who fought a personalised, edited video of their participation in the raid. That is what was proposed to us."
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After six years stumbling through the shadows, no-nonsense PC RPG Dungeon Siege crawls back onto our screens this month, sporting console versions, a new publisher, a new developer and, crucially, a new take on its decade-old gameplay formula.
All video games tap into our obsessive compulsive nature to some degree, but few do it more ruthlessly than the loot-dropping dungeon crawl RPG. This is a genre for people who feel a deep sense of personal failure if they don't smash every barrel, open every chest and own an inventory groaning with Rare Inferno Pantaloons of Swiftness.
Fresh from the launch of the Bethesda-published Fallout: New Vegas, which won rave reviews while suffering from console-crashing bugs, developer Obsidian is now preparing to launch the Square Enix-published Dungeon Siege III, an attempt to take the action-RPG series onto consoles while preserving its PC gaming roots. No rest for the wicked.
You know that moment you often get in a good dungeon crawler, when you've reached the lair of the final boss, and you've learnt all the tactics and mastered the rhythm of the game's combat, but you haven't got quite the right gear to take him on just yet? You've got the smarts, but you haven't got the armour. You've got the intelligence, but you're still slightly lacking in terms of technology. And you know that moment – it's generally the very next moment – when you decide to try and take the boss on anyway? That's how I see Obsidian Entertainment: a clever team with great ideas, often struggling against the budget, the timeframe, or the engine.
Always the bridesmaid... Poor old Obsidian Entertainment seems to be fated to ride the coat-tails of others in the North American RPG scene. Born from the ashes of the famous Black Isle Studios, it made its name as a capable understudy for BioWare on Knights of the Old Republic II and Neverwinter Nights 2 - and perhaps unfortunately, that name stuck.