Project Eternity: Obsidian Resurrects the Classic RPG

Currently at over $3M US. Project Eternity is one of the largest video games ever Kickstarted.

As I write this, Project Eternity — by the creators of Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale and the Fallout Series (among others) — is fully funded with 15 days left on Kickstarter. I backed the game at the lowest game level ($25) just over 2 weeks ago, because I was a huge fan of Baldur’s Gate and successive expansions.

My “Credentials”

Coming from AD&D2 table top I had been playing RPGs of one form or another for decades: Dungeons of Doom on the Texas Instruments at my friend’s aunt’s house after school (religiously), NetHack on my father’s development 286 DOS machine, Ultima II and Pools of Radiance on my Macintosh 128 — swapping 3.25″ disks — in the wee hours of Friday and Saturday night as a teenager, and most recently, Dragon Age on the PS3. I have always loved the grand epics set in a fantasy world with sword fighting, archery, magic and the chance of running into a dragon. Part of this stems from elementary school book report on medieval arms and armor I researched and wrote, part is my fencing and archery training, while the other part is all video gamer. So, an RPG such as Project Eternity is right in my wheelhouse of games.

Blind Dual Preview Review

Given that, I thought I would write up my initial impression of the game as it stands, considering all of the updates the people at Obsidian have added the past week. I also contacted a fellow tech blogger, Josh C, about the game to let him know about it. In the course of conversation, we decided to do a blind dual preview review of the game, and release it at the same time. I do not know what Josh is going to write, nor does he know what I will write. After we will follow up with each other. This should be fun. “Read on Adventurer. Your Quest Awaits…”

Project… Obsidian

First: It’s about fricking time! It has been ages since the last proper party-based classic RPG was released for the Mac and PC. Once MMORPGs (which are great — don’t get me wrong) became a hit, it looked like single player RPGs were dead, and for all intents and purposes they were. The thing is, the multi-player RPGs have lost the co-ordination that true team based games allows. That level of coordination has gone to Team FPS games as long as the team members all have headsets. Project Eternity finally brings that back. And judging from the Kickstarter response ($2.2M & 50K+ pledges as I edit this), there are a lot of people like me that miss this style of game.

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Why I Don’t Recommend Clan Lord

Clan Lord: Pay No Attention to the Graphics

A Rare Challenge

Clan Lord is a veritable Methuselah among online role-playing games, the graphics—2D hand drawn sprites—are crude compared to todays 32-bit texture laden 3D graphics. The reason is that this game is on its second decade of existence having come out of beta after about a year of testing in 1998. Since then development efforts have gone into expanding the world and adding features on occasion.

The gameplay is simplistic for fighters and for the first few levels of “healer-dom.” One simply runs into what one wants to try to kill or start healing. Unlike 3D games, a 2D system allows this because there is no “ASDF+turn key” navigation needed in a 3D space, In a 2D space your mouse does quite nicely.

In addition to this lack of combat mechanic complexity, there is also a very simple items system, and thus not much of an economy. If a person is not too concerned about rapid advancement while off-line and doesn’t carry more than the maximum of allowed objects, there is almost no reason to even have coins or care about obtaining them after one gets their basic equipment needs met, aside from the 5 coin boat fare to leave the island and chain repairs.

So, what does this game so clearly lacking offer, and why are people still playing after over 10 years? Clan Lord has a radically different concept and approach to games than pretty much every other RPG online or offline out there. And the difference in the environment it came out of and exists in has both its strengths and weaknesses.

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