A little over one year on from Project Eternity’s successful Kickstarter campaign, IncGamers catches up with lead programmer Adam Brennecke to see how work is progressing on the Infinity Engine-inspired RPG. Quest construction, creative challenges and the noble aim to not treat players like babies are all addressed in this Q&A session.
Disclaimer: I am a backer (at the $20.00 USD level) of Project Eternity. Just putting that out there in case it changes anybody’s opinion of this interview.
IncGamers: Hi Adam, thanks for taking a little time away from Eternity to answer some of our questions about it! For those who don’t know, tell us who you are.
Adam Brennecke: Sure! I’m the lead programmer and executive producer on Project Eternity at Obsidian Entertainment.
IG: It’s been just over a year since Project Eternity secured its Kickstarter funding, which seems kind of crazy to me because it feels much more recent. Are you roughly where you thought you’d be at in the development process at this point?
AB: We are further along in development than I thought we were going to be at this stage. We have a great team, and we’ve been cranking for over a year now. Everyone is being productive and making a lot of content. The passion and dedication to the project is outstanding.
And I’m really happy that the game is fully playable with all 11 classes. In terms of balance and playability this is huge, because Tim [Cain] and Josh [Sawyer] have more time to iterate and polish all of the spells and abilities in the game. There’s still a lot to do, and we are still pushing ourselves to keep going and to keep momentum heading into next year.
IG: Since you guys are so regular with updates and active in the Obsidian forums, it’s a little tricky for me to be certain what information has already been shared about the game. So to try to stay ahead of the curve, I’m just going to ask what aspects of Eternity you’ve been working on this very day (other than answering these questions)?
AB: It’s a bit tricky for us too; we are trying very hard to not spoil too much content, but we always want to show everyone all the good things we’ve been working on. Currently we are focused on The Endless Paths of Od Nua, the 15 level mega-dungeon. Let me tell you that 15 levels is an enormous amount of content. The dungeon is huge. The team is having fun designing the dungeon layouts and we are putting special care to make each level interesting and have a unique feel.
IG: The most recent update seemed to indicate that the game will be called Pillars of Eternity when it launches, although that doesn’t seem to have been confirmed yet. Are you able to confirm it?
AB: I can confirm that we have an official name for Project Eternity.
IG: That same update also hinted at a major update to come for Thanksgiving. Can you provide any clues or hints as to what that may entail?
AB: The “Big Update” will contain access to our backer portal along with a new Project Eternity website. For people that pledged money you can log in to our system and manage your pledge, fill out surveys, and set up your forum backer badge. We have other exciting and wacky things planned for the update, so keep an eye out for it in the next few weeks.
IG: The outpouring of support (and cash!) for Eternity shows that people were crying out for a new, Infinity Engine-style RPG. What do you think those 90s RPG titles had that more contemporary RPGs are no longer providing?
AB: I think there are a few differences for me that distinguish an IE game from a modern RPG. One is the party based tactical combat - you don’t see too many games with full party control with 6 party members today. Secondly, IE games left room for the player to contribute to the experience - some which was necessitated by technology, the rest aesthetically. As an example, from how quests work, to the amount of dialogue we have, to the lore and item descriptions there’s a lot of reading in Project Eternity. This has allowed us to both add more content and also allow players a level of active immersion sometimes lost with modern VO and animation, which often fills in the blanks for the players. I enjoy having to use my imagination.
Last, while we want to make the game fun for everyone, we aren’t going to treat the player like a baby, which for some reason has become the standard in recent years. Our quests require you to think, the combat will be challenging, the choices might be difficult, and you won’t be hammered over the head with quest markers.