Microsoft is reportedly close to finalising a deal to acquire Obsidian Entertainment, the acclaimed developer behind the likes of Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II, Fallout: New Vegas, and Pillars of Eternity.
Choice and consequence, right from the start.
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Earlier this week, Take-Two's brand new label Private Division was named publisher of Obsidian's big and secret, in-development role-playing game.
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.
Over the years, I've come to know what to expect from Obsidian, or so I thought. Obsidian makes RPGs, beautiful, intriguing, sometimes slightly shonky RPGs with great writing and vivid characters and just a lingering trace of thriftiness. They make games where the concepts, where the soul, trumps the budget.
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.
With the penultimate season of Game of Thrones finished on TV and a colossal amount of people talking about it, it's hard to imagine any video game maker ever passing up the opportunity to get a piece of that franchise pie. But as I found out recently, Obsidian Entertainment did - it turned down Game of Thrones.
Earlier this month Bertie and I visited Obsidian Entertainment, the excellent, proudly independent role-playing game developer based in Irvine, California. There's plenty of history there, from the team's work on games like Pillars of Eternity, Alpha Protocol and Fallout: New Vegas to its genesis at Black Isle Studios.
Wonderful role-playing game Pillars of Eternity, and lovely city-builder Cities: Skylines, are coming to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One this year.
UPDATE 27TH FEBRUARY: The Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire crowdfunding campaign ended with a grand total of $4,407,598 - four times higher than the not inconsiderable $1.1m goal.
Obsidian has held off talking about one big new Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire feature until now - until right near the end of crowdfunding. Ships!
Obsidian Entertainment has assured Eurogamer it is "doing fine" following the announcement it will no longer develop Armored Warfare, the free-to-play tank game. Those duties will move wholesale to Russian studio My.com, owned by the Russian company bankrolling the whole operation, Mail.ru.
Obsidian has published a documentary on the making of Pillars of Eternity - and it's well worth a watch.
Pillars of Eternity's second DLC expansion, The White March Part 2, has been delayed until 16th February, developer Obsidian has announced.
The second part of The White March expansion for Pillars of Eternity will be released late January 2016, developer Obsidian has announced. Part 1 launched 25th August 2015.
The White March - Part 2 will raise the game's character level-cap up beyond 14, and introduce a Story Mode to tell "the incredible narrative of Pillars of Eternity at a faster pace", said a press release. Does this mean Story Mode resolves battles for you, or does it skip them entirely? Perhaps the game uses more of the Choose Your Own Adventure-style screens to leapfrog combat. There's also a new companion, the barbarian Meneha, as well as new quests, new abilities and presumably new loot.
All we've actually seen of Part 2 so is some art for the insect-like Vithrack species and a few concepts for helmets in the expansion.
Pillars of Eternity has shifted half a million copies, publisher Paradox Interactive has announced.
Obsidian's crowdfunded RPG raised roughly $4.5m between a Kickstarter campaign during the autumn of 2012 combined with backers on the developer's site. Obsidian also released the first chapter of its two-part expansion, The White March, back in August of this year and part two is still on the way.
Additionally, there's a tabletop spin-off called Lords of the Eastern Reach that's in the works for a 2016 release, along with several ebooks from the game's core writing team that will expand upon Pillars of Eternity's lore.
The first expansion for Pillars of Eternity comes out this month.
The White March - Part 1 launches 25th August, developer Obsidian and publisher Paradox said.
It raises the old-school fantasy role-playing game's level cap, adds new multi-class abilities, new companions (including rogue and monk), and a new party-based AI system.
Obsidian Entertainment has announced Pillars of Eternity expansion The White March - Part 1, which is "coming soon" for PC (Windows, Linux) and Mac.
Obsidian CEO Feargus Urquhart said it's the first part of the expansion they're doing for the game - a comment that will need more explanation - as will him claiming Obsidian did more writing for it than for the main Pillars of Eternity game.
The White March - Part 1 will raise the game's level cap, add new multi-class abilities, new companions (including rogue and monk), a new party-based AI system and more.
UPDATE #2: In a short email response, Obsidian boss Feargus Urquhart acknowledged the news.
UPDATE 29TH MAY: The Kickstarter campaign is already past its $30K goal. The total as of 8.30am BST is $40K.
ORIGINAL STORY 28TH MAY: Pillars of Eternity could be getting a card game spinoff if its Kickstarter ends up successful. And it no doubt will be, given that it's already raised $9K of its $30K goal in its first few hours.
Dubbed Lords of the Eastern Reach, this strategy card game is being developed by Fallout lead designer Chris Taylor, Planescape: Torment and Fallout designer Scott Everts, and South Park: The Stick of Truth level artist John Lewis at Zero Radius Games. The Kickstarter noted that Pillars of Eternity developer Obsidian Entertainment is "actively involved in its development" too.
I don't know if you've heard but Pillars of Eternity is a pretty massive video game. By the sounds of it, I'm looking at a 60+ hour adventure and that's great, but it's the first thirty minutes that I'd really like to talk about right now.
Easily the best thing about all these old-school RPG revivals has been remembering just how varied the classics truly were. Divinity Original Sin brought back the Ultima VII vibe, Wasteland 2 carried as much of Fallout as it did its namesake, and now Pillars of Eternity casts its resurrection spell on the classic that largely saved the genre from a descent into obscurity - Silver! No, wait. That other one. Baldur's Gate, that's it.
Pillars of Eternity isn't Baldur's Gate 3, but only because of a few technicalities like the name. Its new world is distinct from Forgotten Realms in detail rather than spirit, its engine and mechanics are patterned almost entirely after what BioWare and Black Isle were doing with the Infinity Engine back in the 90s. The backgrounds, higher resolution and with nicer effects, but cut from the same cloth. Each Act beginning with a portentous narrated text scroll. The map. The assassins out for your blood. The progression through small towns suffering from a background threat (this time to children rather than iron) before entering a big city of politics and intrigue. To be sure, you can find the individual elements there in many RPGs, but in this case the particular mix leaves no doubt as to what you're supposed to be feeling nostalgic about. And if any doubt persists, it's soon beaten over the head with the magic words "You must gather your party before venturing forth."
Occasionally, that can be a mite underwhelming. Part of what made Pillars' inspirations classics is that for their time, they were scrappy, adventurous, forging new terrain. The same has always gone for Obsidian's designs, being noted for their subversions and risk-taking and willingness to try spinning things in new directions even with existing franchises. Pillars of Eternity however, while ambitious, plays things very, very safe. It's absolutely the game that Obsidian's Kickstarter backers wanted and paid for, just lacking the company's usual flair for also giving us what we didn't know we wanted, or even the shake-ups to the formula supposedly made for the originally planned Baldur's Gate 3: The Black Hound. At times, it almost seems to pull away from its own twists. The occasional breaks from the action for Choose Your Own Adventure style storylets for instance sounded like a great idea for handling more complex encounters than the engine can offer, but in practice are typically "Try throwing a grappling hook? Okay, cool, it worked." I really wanted more of these, and more ambitious ones. The few that stand out really show their potential.
A substantial expansion for old-school fantasy role-playing game Pillars of Eternity is in the works.
Pillars of Eternity comes out next week, and developer Obsidian is putting the finishing touches to the release. But it's also got a small team of people working on the game's first expansion.
In a Reddit AMA (via VG247), Obsidian executive producer and lead programmer Adam Brennecke said the expansion is expected to be about the same size area wise as Tales of the Sword Coast, the well-received expansion to 1998 fantasy role-playing game Baldur's Gate. Pillar's of Eternity is billed as the spiritual successor to the Baldur's Gate series, so the comparison seems apt.
I had no idea things at Obsidian Entertainment had been so bad. I knew things weren't great before the record-breaking Project Eternity Kickstarter campaign, but I didn't realise that game had saved the company - that without it the studio would have closed.
Fan-funded PC role-player Pillars of Eternity will launch worldwide on 26th March, developer Obsidian Entertainment has just announced.
After $4.5m of Kickstarter pledges and fan money, the classically-styled RPG is little more than two months away.
New sections of the game will be shown off tomorrow, 15th January, in a live-stream hosted on publisher Paradox Entertainment's Twitch channel at 9pm UK time.
Pillars of Eternity has been delayed from winter 2014 to early 2015, developer Obsidian has announced.
There are still months until release but finally Pillars of Eternity - Obsidian's Kickstarter darling - is playable.
Nostalgia is big business on Kickstarter, where PC gamers flocked to back projects that promised to roll the clock back to a time before egalitarian game design buffed the sharp edges off beloved hardcore genres. Enter Obsidian Entertainment, and Project Eternity, a crowd-funded role-player that proudly wears the C for computer in CRPG.
Playable Pillars of Eternity - finally! Obsidian has announced that the retro-styled role-playing game will go into beta for backers from 18th August.
The PC and Mac game has a broad release date of winter 2014 (suggesting December rather than January or February, but only time will tell).
Obsidian promised more beta detail in the next Eternity update - detail such as how to participate and, presumably, how much of the full game will be playable.
Don't let Wednesday get on top of you - relax with a few minutes of gentle background music from upcoming fantasy adventure Pillars of Eternity.
When Obsidian Entertainment boss Feargus Urquhart told us before the Games Developer Conference that the big new game his studio was working on was "something very different", he really wasn't kidding.
Paradox and Obsidian spoke frankly to Eurogamer at GDC yesterday about their Pillars of Eternity partnership.
UPDATE 11.45PM GMT: Obsidian boss Feargus Urquhart and Paradox boss Fredrik Wester talked about the deal at GDC moments ago. Contributor Paul Dean was there and sent me some choice remarks.
I spoke to Pillars of Eternity director Josh Sawyer recently and wrote a piece about the game's likely release date, about reaction to the first proper trailer and about this being the start of a series of games. But that wasn't all Josh Sawyer said, and I had leftover material I thought you'd appreciate reading.
UPDATE 11/02 11.45PM: Obsidian has just officially announced a "winter 2014" release window for Pillars of Eternity.
There's nothing that says 'old-school RPG' like a deliciously deep, stat-laden character sheet - and Pillars of Eternity appears to have exactly that.
We've had our say already, and typically we were probably well wide of the mark, so it's now your turn to let us know what games you're looking forward to over the next 12 months. Thanks to all who voted (but no thanks to whoever suggested Pong, and to the handful of people who put forward Half-Life 3, well... I'm sorry). The top 10 are presented in reverse order below - and it was incredibly tight out at the front, with the top result beating out the runner-up by only a couple of votes. We've also included some of your comments, although since the submission form was anonymous we can't say exactly who made which point. Sorry about that - if you feel particularly proprietorial about one of your insights that we've highlighted, tell the world in the comments. Onward!
Developer Obsidian is not only keen on using Kickstarter to fund another game, it has an idea it hopes to talk about as soon as March or April next year.
The working title of Project Eternity has gone; from here on out, Obsidian's Kickstarted role-playing game will be known as Pillars of Eternity.
There's a brand new Project Eternity screenshot in town, released to illustrate how similar concept art and final product are turning out to be.
Project Eternity isn't a one-off trip down memory lane nor a mere Kickstarter curio for Obsidian Entertainment, it's a series in the making - a potential future upon which the studio could be based.
The Aliens: Crucible RPG that Obsidian was building for Sega was a kind of survival game that allowed you to build a base and improve it over time.
With Rezzed 2013 now just a few days away, we can finally confirm that the full schedule of developer sessions will be broadcast live here and on the Eurogamer YouTube channel this Saturday and Sunday. Yay!
There's definitely something big in the works at Obsidian beyond South Park and Project Eternity, and "it is already looking great", studio CEO Feargus Urquhart told me in an email overnight.
Rezzed: The PC and Indie Games Show is returning to the UK this June and in my role as curator of the developer sessions I've been beavering away over the last few months organising this year's schedule. I've got enough of it together now that I can let you know exactly when the majority of this year's sessions will take place.
A bit of background for those of you who are lost: Rezzed (tickets available at Rezzed.com) is a two-day show taking place on the weekend of 22nd/23rd June at the NEC in Birmingham, UK. Now in its second year, it allows attendees to go hands-on with the latest PC and indie games before release and - like its big brother, the Eurogamer Expo - there's also a schedule of developer sessions.
Some of the highlights of this year's schedule include Chris Avellone from Obsidian Entertainment coming over to talk Project Eternity, Red Thread Games' Ragnar Tornquist bringing Dreamfall Chapters, and another couple that I can unveil today - Mode 7 Games will be introducing Frozen Endzone at 2pm on Saturday, and Creative Assembly will be showing live code of Rome 2: Total War on stage on the Sunday.
Obsidian's shared the first video of Project Eternity in action.
Two of the most influential role-playing game makers in the West - Obsidian boss Feargus Urquhart and former BioWare boss Ray Muzyka - have talked about what they think will be the RPG experience of the future.
What a year Kickstarter had in 2012. Tim Schafer's Double Fine kicked the crowd-funding website into orbit back in March, raising more than $3 million to make an old-school adventure game.
Obsidian's flashed a bit of Project Eternity leg: the first work in progress renders of a couple of characters, a building and some art.
It's a work in progress.
Yes the Project Eternity Kickstarter ended with record breaking numbers a while ago, but PayPal donations stayed open. Yesterday marked the end-proper of crowd-funding, and the new grand total stands at $4.3 million, Obsidian announced.
A successor to Planescape: Torment is happening. No it's not Project Eternity, no it's not Chris Avellone; it's Colin McComb (Planescape: Torment second in command) and inXile (Wasteland 2). And it has the blessing of Chris Avellone, the lead designer of PST.
Grand total update: $4,163,208 (Kickstarter $3,986,929, PayPal $176,279). 15 mega dungeon levels confirmed.
Update: The Project Eternity Kickstarter has ended at a whopping $3,986,929, easily shattering any videogame record in Kickstarter history.
Obsidian has just released the first screenshot of its upcoming crowdsourced PC RPG codenamed Project Eternity on its Kickstarter.
What's out there so far.
Kickstarted project Wasteland 2 has been added as a reward for helping fund Obsidian's Project Eternity on Kickstarter.
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.
Obsidian Entertainment's upcoming crowdsourced isometric RPG Project Eternity is going to be DRM-free on GOG.com, the developer has announced.
Obsidian Entertainment was "floored" by the response to the Project Eternity Kickstarter funding drive, Tim Cain told me. The goal of $1.1 million was surpassed in one weekend, and the total now stands at over $1.55 million.
Tim Cain is the creator of Fallout, of Arcanum and of disappointing (but I still loved it) The Temple of Elemental Evil. He helped program Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines. And he joined Obsidian Entertainment in October 2011.
"Work has already begun on [Project Eternity]," Cain explained, "but the advantage of doing the Kickstarter this early in its development is that we can be guided by the feedback from our fans. We are reading the forums and noting what features people think are most important in the game, and then we are revising our work schedule accordingly."
Blimey - Obsidian's new RPG Project Eternity was funded on Kickstarter in just three days.
Obsidian's new game is Project Eternity, a Kickstarted fantasy RPG that pays homage to Planescape: Torment, Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale.
Oh my, could Obsidian's new RPG be a spiritual successor to Planescape: Torment?
The number four has become a number three - it was a countdown rather than a number symbolic of the new Project X RPG that Obsidian has been teasing.