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What is Project Eternity (PC)?

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

So what is this Project Eternity, a role playing game that broke $4million barrier by fan funding with and PayPal donations combined?

For those who don't know lets take a quick glance to Project Eternity to see what it aims to be (all things are not written in stone yet):

The game will be developed and published by Obsidian Entertainment. A studio behind games like Star Wars: KotoR II, Neverwinter Nights 2, and Fallout New Vegas. But that's not everything. Obsisian was formed from the remains of Black Isle Studios which means they have some ties to Fallout 1 & 2 as well as Icewind Dale series. The experienced game designers behind the wheel include Chris Avellone, Tim Cain, and Josh Sawyer. So the team making the game is without a doubt skillful.

Project Eternity aims to bring pure classic fantasy themed RPG to the audience who loved the old school role playing games such such as Baldur's Gate. In fact Obsidian claims they will be combining elements from Baldur's Gate with it's colorful characters, great dialogue from Planescape: Torment, and dungeon driven exploration of Icewind Dale. Sounds pretty good on paper?

(Early shot of the game remiscent of Baldurs Gate but more beautiful)

Although it's quite early yet to say any deeper details of the Project Eternity and it's story, there's some early details and goals that Obsidian have set for the game. We know that it will use top down isometric view like Baldur's Gate, and it will use some sort of enchanted Infinity Engine (with most likely combination of 2D backgrounds and 3D characters, Unity 4?). The game will feature sort of a central character which you can freely create, while other members of the party will be recruited along the way on your journeys. The original idea was that you cannot create whole party from the scratch. However one of the funding goals achieved is "Adventurer's Hall with full party creation" so it remains yet to be seen whether original plans have changed!

However it will be rewarding to find recruitable NPC's on your journeys. Pre-made joinable NPC characters do give a chance for Obsidian to make them more detailed with their own background stories and tone with the surrounding world, which would be bit more limited with player made characters.

The game uses real-time combat system with pause ability which sounds something alike Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale franchises. This means that coordinated attacks and party positioning plays big role in successful combat.

The game's story is yet unknown, but the world setting is brand new. It's not based on already existing and pre-written gameworld like say Forgotten Realms, but the world is made from the scratch instead. It will be classic fantasy world balanced between magic and rational, sounding much like Baldur's Gate setting. The game will have at least two major huge cities with smaller settlements, a Stronghold, several dungeons, and additional mega dungeon called "Endless Paths" which will feature 13 levels. And more is yet to be revealed.

(World map for Project Eternity?)

On the side of dialogue and solving problems by different answer choices Project Eternity aims to do things bit similar to Fallout 1 and 2. Chris Avellone (in Reddit conversation) says that he does not want particular skills (for example speech) to be "insta-win" where having high enough skill attribute would result instant success in dialogue. In Reddit boards he states:

"What we'd rather do is have attributes and skills open up a range of new information that allows you to make a more informed decision about a choice rather than gate you to a solution."

This would mean that depending of your attributes (and who knows perhaps other things too) you could get new possible branches open up in dialogue options, which would give you optional ways of moving forward on topic. Avellone also promises unique dialogue options for low intelligence characters and adds that he enjoyed doing the ones in Vault City in Fallout 2 especially. I totally hope that several dialogue branches and different ways of solving things with multiple different end results is where Project Eternity will shine as I feel this is one of the core things that makes RPG what it should be.

The game won't have full voice acted dialogue. But it's in the cost of more diverse conversations and reactions from npc characters, which at least in my opinion is far more important element in RPG than ear candy.

About leveling - referring to Tim Cain (Reddit) leveling up should be slower than majority of rpg's these days, making every level-up more rewarding and meaningful event. Talking about skills they won't be as strict as in AD&D setting. Skills are not class-specific. For example barbarian can have lockpick skill and use it. However certain classes will have certain bonuses in specific skills, which should make some class-skill combinations more effective. However all spells cannot be learned by all magician classes because some powers are internally-derived. Therefore priests and paladins for example will have bit altered spells in their arsenal.

For everyone afraid about level scaling the world around player like in recent Elder Scrolls games, Obsidian promises to dump level scaling to a minimum. Designer Josh Sawyer states "We don't want to push players to grind to make their way through the game's central plot. Side content will probably not be scaled at all. This includes wandering off in a random direction of wilderness. It should feel dangerous and risky, IMO". If you're one of those guys wanting to get your head ripped off by Ogre at level 2 while aimlessly wandering and are hungry for some excitement, then this should please you greatly. I for one enjoy getting my ass kicked once in a while while wandering to far off the "safe zone"!

Loot drops will be aimed more towards placed loot than random. According to Sawyer there will be only tiny amount of randomization. There will be huge amount of unique hand placed items with written histories and stories behind them.

So far Project Eternity sounds like Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale fans wet dream. But we have to remember that the release is still very far off. The thing I personally am most excited and concerned about the same time is will the game feel like a repeat of either of those above mentioned games, or can Obsidian make it feel fresh and familiar at the same time with some new tricks in the sleeve?

Remarkable funding goals reached:
$1.1 M - initial goal
$1.6 M - Mac & Linux support
$2.0 M - Player house
$2.2 M - German, french and spanish translation + extra region & faction
$2.4 M - Crafting and enchanting
$2.6 M - Adventurer's hall with full party creation
$2.8 M - George Ziets
$3.0 M - Stronghold area
$3.5 M - Second big city area
+ "Endless Paths" multi-level dungeon: 13 levels

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