Another day, another batch of Project Eternity updates. Yes, you read that correctly, a batch. There’s plenty of new information floating on the open seas of the Internet, from technical details on Obsidian‘s choice of engine for the game (Unity), through an explanation of the soul system and setting creation, to blogs and an interview related to Project Eternity.
Let’s start off with the engine. As Obsidian recently announced, they have chosen to use the Unity engine for Project Eternity, joining Wasteland 2 in the Unity Powered Games club. Obsidian cites the engine’s ease of use, accessible development environment and high efficiency. Another advantage is that Unity’s extensibility allows Obsidian to use their in-house development tools to be used, for the purposes of creating and editing conversations and RPG-specific game data.
But there’s more. By far the most important element is Unity’s support of a large variety of platforms, something Obsidian’s own Onyx engine cannot provide without a proper port. What does that mean? Simple. Project Eternity will be available for Windows, Mac OS and Linux, regardless of whether or not stretch goals are met. The $2.2 million stretch goal will be updated on Monday, September 24th, with a new, big feature. That day will also see a stretch goal tracker and guest star schedule for the week.
In Project Eternity, sapient souls move through an endless cycle of waking life and purgatorial slumber among the gods. However, although technically immortal, souls are not indestructible. The process may result in the soul fracturing over generations, transforming in uncountable ways or fail to function properly. The way souls work is not fully understood by cultures inhabiting the world of Project Eternity, resulting in differing metaphysical philosophies with varied schools of thought each.
Regardless of philosophy, there are certain individuals that can use their body as a conduit, a battery, to draw upon the energy of their soul, through martial training, meditation, ritualistic evocation, mortification of the flesh, to perform extraordinary feats from superhuman to awesomely magical. An intact, complete soul makes this easier, but even people with fractured ones are able to accomplish feats of magic.
For millennia, many tried to study the process, to figure out the nature and purpose thereof. Some turned to prayer. But the gods refused to illuminate the truth, obfuscating it in turn, spreading cosmological lies, pitting believers and empowered chosen against one another, approving followers’ prejudices to maintain their power.
One thing is known for certain: souls exist and partake in an eternal cycle everyone’s a part of. As far as anyone’s concerned, that is.
The second topic covered by the update is even more interesting. Civilizations in Project Eternity exist at a variety of technological levels, from remote cultures still living in the equivalents of our Stone or Bronze Ages, to the biggest, most prosperous civilizations, in the equivalent of Earth’s high or late Middle Ages. The most powerful ones have entered the early stages of our modern period, with one key difference: unlike technology, their culture is not experiencing a Renaissance-like change (no one has invented the printing press, yet).
In more practical terms that means that the game will feature all the core arms and armor of medieval warfare at a high level of development: full suits of articulated plate armor, military swords, war hammers, polearms, longbows, crossbows, and advanced siege weaponry. Early black powder firearms are also used, in the form of single-shot wheel-lock rifles and pistols. Although they are considered more of a curiosity, due to long reload times, they are used by some against wizards. Why? The basic wizard defence, the Arcane Veil, is a magical, reactive armor, that doesn’t work too well against high velocity projectiles fired by arquebuses and handguns.
Those most advanced civilizations also have access to technologies found in Earth’s Gothic structures, allowing them to create towering vertical buildings. Cultures with large navies and mercantile traffic are also busy exploring the world, with ocean-going carrack-style ships. This exploration has led to the discovery of previously unknown lands and cultures, as well as expansive colonization. However, explorers are hampered by monstrous sea creatures, that remain a lethal threat to even the greatest ships.
That’s not all, however. Pure Sophistry has made an interview with Feargus Urquhart, CEO of Obsidian Entertainment, on Project Eternity. Covering mostly the producer-side of things, he goes deeper into the behind-the-scenes details of Project Eternity, Kickstarter and the developer-publisher relationship.
There’s also a treat for those interested in how characters are made for role playing games, especially companions. Chris Avellone writes about the process on his Obsidian blog. It’s a bit on the longer side, but definitely worth reading. Particularly if you’re wondering how he will approach writing characters for the Project Eternity. It’s best summarized by this short line: “exploring a character’s personality should be as much fun as exploring a dungeon.”
There are also other interesting entries, such as a post on time limits in games, including a short post mortem on Fallout’s limit, and the skillset in Wasteland, which shows how skills can (and should!) be an important factor in role-playing.
J.E. Sawyer also has a blog on the Obsidian forums and has some interesting posts, sharing thoughts on what it means to build a world at Obsidian, high level writing principles (recommended reading for any aspiring games’ writer!) and, the most interesting, why developers and publishers are loathe to include mature themes in their games.
More on Monday, when Obsidian unveils their new $2.2 million feature.