Deep dive with Pillars of Eternity project lead Josh Sawyer: The full interview

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Obviously Kickstarter is responsible for this game getting made since no publisher is funding CRPGs in 2013. Would you do it again? Has it been good working with the community like this?

JS: Yeah! I feel like this has...part of it is because ever since I worked at Black Isle I was involved as the moderator of our community forums so I was talking to them anyway. Overall, Black Isle and Obsidian have always had a fairly high level of interaction with the fans.

We have a higher level of interaction with our fans now, but it’s kind of just ramping up the relationship that I feel like we’d already been building with them. And what’s nicer now is that since we’re not going through a publisher, we can kind of just do it on our boards. We can talk with each other. We don’t have to go get permission to talk about how a system works or stuff like that. We can just say, “Hey, I was thinking about this. What do you guys think?”

So the ability for us to just do it directly without worrying about a publisher getting worried is very, very refreshing. And I’ve never found that it’s bad to read—even people who have really angry opinions about stuff...it’s okay. Take it all in and filter out the stuff that’s not helpful, and there’s usually something worthwhile to focus on.

AB: If people are angry, it means they’re passionate about this stuff. To get them so riled up that they’re angry on a forum, it means they care.

Project Eternity

Is it scarier trying to—it’s been 10 years since we’ve had a game like this—trying to work with a crowd whose passions are fueled by nostalgia? Do you encounter unrealistic expectations of what a game like this will be in 2013?

JS: Um, I don’t know. The one I’d be most concerned about is size because the biggest of the Infinity Engine games were really, really big. This game is going to be pretty darned big, but Baldur’s Gate II is huge.

That expectation still worries me a bit.

My personal belief is in discussions, sometimes, people think that things are going to work a certain way, even when they’re already implemented and I’m telling them it doesn’t work that way. I feel like the reality of how the game is going to play, it’s going to be fine and people are going to enjoy it. Sometimes talking about things in the abstract, like mechanics that were implemented or things like that, can be difficult because it’s often harder for players to understand what the final effect of that is going to be. They compartmentalize one thing and focus on it.

But overall I don’t think they have unrealistic expectations. They have high expectations, which I think they should have high expectations. And it’s just our ongoing job to keep talking with them, help them to understand why we make the decisions that we do, have them help us understand why they’re upset about the things they’re upset or they want to see the things they want to see. Get at the heart. Because it’s not their job as fans to be articulate. It’s not their job as fans to be coherent or to have a unified opinion. But as long as we can continue to talk to them and they’re willing to keep going back and forth, we can usually work stuff out.

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