Having learned a few things from the outcry over bugs in Fallout: New Vegas, Obsidian is building its own engine for its next game.
Obsidian Entertainment was founded from the remnants of Black Isle Studios, who made classic CRPGs like Fallout and Baldur’s Gate in the 90s. Obsidian made a few of its own classics, like Knights of the Old Republic II, Neverwinter Nights 2 and last year’s Fallout: New Vegas, but these are all sequels built on the foundations and engines from other game developers. Even though the next game from the company is another sequel – Dungeon Siege III is a reboot of the franchise begun by Gas Powered Games – director Rich Taylor says that Obsidian’s new custom-made engine Onyx will allow them to deliver bug-free games, a situation that he is uniquely aware of due to all of the negative attention that New Vegas received. Dungeon Siege III is due out May 31, 2011 for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.
“Stability and being bug free are extremely high priorities on this project, and we actually talk about it internally constantly. The advantage here we have over, for example Fallout, is when we have a question about how something works, I walk 10 feet outside my office door and go talk to the programmer who wrote it,” Taylor said.
Having Obsidian’s own engine has allowed Taylor to create custom tools to aid in squashing bugs. “We actually had one of our internal tools developers spend a lot of time engineering crash reporting into the engine so internally, literally when anyone runs into a crash the game will shut down, it will generate a report, it will provide a stack dump and it will put it into a database, and we can be very diligent about tracking those things and solving them,” he said. Those kinds of things were impossible to do when Obsidian was essentially borrowing someone else’s code.
As a gamer himself, Taylor is sensitive to how much crashes and bugs suck. “No one wants to run into a crash. We’re gamers, too. I certainly go home and like to play other games that are out there. And when you run into a crash and it disrupts your experience, that’s not fun for anyone. We understand that. That’s why as the project director on this game I’m very militant about us addressing the crashes and memory issues.”
I don’t know if Dungeon Siege III is going to be any good, but at least it seems that Taylor isn’t going to stand releasing a game that’s broken.