“With Tyranny we wanted to create a more nuanced evil,” – Obsidian on crafting a new RPG experience


Obsidian have just released a developer diary for Tyranny, outlining the creative vision for the game and explaining how the studio plans to craft a different kind of evil.

Tyranny has an interesting premise, but will it be good enough to get a shout on our list of PC’s best RPGs?

In the first of a series of developer diaries, Obsidian focus on the overall vision for their upcoming RPG. The main goals when development began was to make a game that builds on the technology used in Pillars of Eternity, to make the player feel important to the world from the outset, and to focus on choice and reactivity in the game’s quests and systems.

Knowing they had that base there from Pillars of Eternity meant they didn’t have to worry about crafting the basics and could instead focus on building the world and its rules. This allowed the team to create something that’s attempting to break RPG tradition.

“A lot of RPGs start you out as the weak or inexperienced character who becomes more important and influential over time,” explains game director Brian Heins. “This parallels how your character grows in strength and power as they gain levels, so it’s a structure that works well for RPGs.

“For Tyranny, we wanted to play with that concept. Does the player need to start off weak in order to feel more powerful later in the game? We decided to make the player important from the very beginning of the game, from the very first interaction with an NPC.”

In this world that exists in the aftermath of evil’s triumph, Obsidian didn’t want you to just be a lackey – they wanted to create a situation where you have power and influence from the very start. Quests will reflect this, with each task creating interesting choices. “We didn’t want you being approached by random NPCs asking you to rescue their cat from a tree,” says Heins.

“Many RPGs are great at letting you be the hero, the beacon of strength and hope for a world facing imminent destruction. They’re not always great at the opposite side of that coin. I am disappointed when I play games where the “evil” choice requires me to act like a psychopath, murdering everyone in front of me. Sometimes that’s fun, but it’s very limiting when it’s the only option. Especially when the game punishes me for making those decisions.

“With Tyranny we wanted to create a more nuanced evil. One where the choices players make aren’t so obviously black and white. We wanted to make a game where players were free to take the evil path as far as they want to go, and feel powerful and rewarded for it. Ultimately, RPGs are about the choices players make. With Tyranny we wanted to focus our efforts on making the world react to player choices – both in game systems and in dialogue.”

The next developer diary will focus on the basic game systems.