Dungeon Siege 3 has slipped under the radar somewhat since it was announced last summer, but from what we've seen of the action RPG it's certainly headed in the right direction.
Featuring inspirations as eclectic as God of War and Secret of Mana, the third instalment in the dungeon crawler looks set to appeal to a whole new audience, with solid drop-in, drop-out co-op and some pretty spectacular art design.
Late last year we sat down with Obsidian's Nathaniel Chapman - lead designer on the game - as well as its creator (and RTS legend), Gas Powered Games' Chris Taylor:
What specifically is Chris Taylor's role in the game?
NC: It's advisory; we take all his feedback very seriously because he's got a lot of good stuff to say. He's a hardcore gamer, he gives us advice about how to handle creatures. Early on there was something about fading - so a lot of doing things in a certain way.
It isn't a 'final say' thing but it is something we take very seriously and consider to be very important. We tend to agree on just about everything.
CT:I was mostly involved in the beginning, when the fictional universe stuff was coming together to make sure it was built on a foundation of the Dungeon Siege lore. In all fairness that is one of the most important things to maintain in the game past that the button presses on a UI system - these guys are competent and capable of doing that stuff.
So really it's kind of a 'U' shape; a lot at the beginning to review the material, less in the middle then more in the end when the game is built for me to fiddle with and provide feedback. If I provide feedback here and give 100 things, the responses to 97 of them would be 'yeah we already know that, we're going to fix that, change that, already doing that', when it's close to the end I can try and put a bit of top-spin on it.
How did the whole Obsidian collaboration come about?
CT: David Hoffman, a very important man who works at Square Enix went out and talked to Obsidian and connected us, made sure we all loved each other and put the whole thing together.
So they were keen to get Dungeon Siege out then?
CT: Yes, this is a real Square Enix thing.
You're developing quite a relationship with Square Enix. Can you tell us a bit about that?
CT: It's part of Yoichi Wada-sans expansion into the West, the U.S. and Europe where this kind of thing does well. We're a developer that has been able to do that and so has Obsidian. The Supreme Commander 2 story is a part of that strategic initiative; this is a continuation of that.
They did a tremendous amount of due-diligence and research, talked to a lot of people and the idea is you find an opportunity and then put deals together; this is a fantastic example of one of those marriages.
Obsidian was independently talking to Square about wanting to do a western RPG with square. Square was working with Chris on SupCom 2 and also wanted to make a western RPG, and Gas Powered had the Dungeon Siege franchise so it worked out very well.
How much of a focus is story in this third game compared the last few entries?
NC: It is a core focus of the game, for instance we have a full branching dialogue system like Alpha Protocol or Mass Effect. That is something that wasn't in the first two games and is a core strength of Obsidian. It's what we're bringing to the franchise and one of the reasons why Square and Gas Powered wanted us to work with us.