So we wanted to be publishers, funding the games that the big guys wouldn’t, and it was good. But then, like the publishers, we found that not everything went exactly to plan. Pillars of Eternity, née Project Eternity, for instance, isn’t going to meet its originally scheduled release window.
So: what sort of publisher do you want to be?
Do you a) hold a developer conference call dedicated to one, 40-minute long Wilhelm scream, before redirecting all funds to Gopherz VIII? b) dangle the developer’s COO from your New York office balcony, until the fresh air helps him ‘re-run the numbers’? Or c) return to the forest entrance?
There’s probably no need for any extreme course of action. Obsidian aren’t asking for more money, nor re-scoping the project. But based on its current trajectory, they’ve estimated that Pillars of Eternity won’t land in Spring as first predicted, or indeed Summer – instead somewhere in the second half of 2014.
“We foresaw needing a bit more time when the Kickstarter ended,” Eternity project leader and Fallout legend Josh Sawyer told Eurogamer. “When we started with a million-dollar budget and a relatively modest game with five classes, that was assuming if we get $1m we can make this game and we’ll probably get it done by April.”
In the event, Obsidian got four times their asking pitch, and their game’s scope was widened to match – but their team size remained relatively small. Just a quarter of Obsidian’s 100-strong staff are working on Eternity, with the rest devoted mainly to finishing South Park: The Stick of Truth.
Kickstarter doesn’t allow developers to update their release schedules once a project is approved – but it doesn’t sound like Obsidian would be nailing down a new date even if they could.
“Until we get really close to releasing the game we don’t want a specific release window,” said Sawyer. “Because we’re not a publisher, we don’t have to.
“Virtually nothing good comes from us releasing a date before we’re very confident in it. It’s not going to be in spring. We’re going to be working into spring to get alpha done because it’s a big game.”
Where are they up to, then? Sawyer says the game is more than half done, “at least to an alpha state”. Long before release, however, Obsidian will put out a beta slice of the game for backers to play about in, testing out character interactions and mechanics.
And the most time-consuming feature? Those dratted pillars. Sawyer confirmed that “a lot” of pillars were needed to hold up an Eternity: “It takes a lot of pillars,” he emphasised.
Besides the existential architecture, what aspects of the game would you like to hear Obsidian are taking their time on?