Interview: Nathan Davis on Dungeon Siege III

Dungeon Siege III may not be high on your list of must buy games, but as far as hack-and-slashers go this may be it’s evolution into this next-gen world we live in. Even though this kind of game has been relegated to hand-held’s and downloadable sources, its appeal is still marketable and fans of games from Golden Axe to Diablo still wait and hope for someone to take this style and give it some 21st century loving. Well, Obsidian heard your cries and have taken popular franchise Dungeon Siege and rebooted into a seriously bad-ass slasher. We managed to wrangle some time from Obsidian and get some answers about their intriguing new project.

Meet Nathan Davis, producer for Obsidian Games. Four years in the games industry and on his third title.

First off, every major RPG has a focus: Dragon Age is all about epic storytelling, Final Fantasy has a heavy visual focus. What was your main drive with this game?

I’d have to say fun. Look, we knew that we are going to get a good story. We have some of the best writers around; dialogue and story were already covered, we feel good about that. The RPG system? Well, that’s kind of our thing! [Laughs] These will always be heavy focusess but this game is an action RPG and we knew we needed to make the combat a fun experience. This is the most important thing for this kind of title: loot gathering and quests are enhancements but your combat is the key element you need to get right.
This came about from a lot of really smart guys at our studio getting together from animation, design and programming, taking what they had and just refining everything over and over again. Hit boxes, collision, physics, even text sizes! All of this has to be just right for the system to work. That was really our focus; everything else could be added from there. Lots of the credit needs to go to Nathaniel Chapman; he really was one of the main reasons it came together so well.

Obsidian has progressively moved further and further away from the squad-based games. Do you feel like these games are now dying off?

No I don’t think they are dead. We had the chance to do this kind of game style and we opted for something a bit more personal. A lot of the reasoning for moving away from that was so that we could play to the strength of consoles. When a game is made for PC the system allows for a lot more micromanagement. A lot of, “Pause the game, move here, cast this here.” And though it’s been done for consoles before, it’s really difficult to make it work well. We felt that since we were rebooting the franchise, we wanted the experience to be rewarding no matter what you play it on. The action RPG style just felt right.

How much of the original titles are there in this? Does it have a lot of fan service or are you kind of restarting the lore?

From a gameplay stance we have done a lot of changes with it and because there is a decent number of changes between Dungeon Siege I and II, we don’t feel like that will effect anyone that greatly. But from a lore standpoint we took everything that existed. We had a really good level of base material to work from: we had this world of Ehb, there are goblins, there used to be krug, there was a vast number of enemies to work with, there was this level of magic in the world. All the hard stuff was already done, but the great thing was that it was open enough so that we could really mould it into our own thing.

With the limited attention span of today’s world, if you had to sum up your game, what would be the highlights?

Firstly, co-op hack-and-slash multiplayer action, man! When was the last time you could say you sat down and really enjoyed one of those? Secondly, would be really getting that PC RPG complexity combined with the visceral fun of a console game. That’s really what you’ll get from this.

Lastly, the action RPG is usually one of the shortest of the RPG game styles. How many hours can people expect to get out of this game?

The game is about 25 hours. That would be what I would average it out to.

Thanks heaps for your time, Nathan.

Thank you.


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