Obsidian Entertainment Design Director Josh Sawyer says that publisher deadlines are the main reason for their reputation of buggy games. Responding to a question on his Tumblr account, Sawyer explains why the studio’s recent games are more polished when compared to their older titles. He says that one of the biggest reasons why the developer’s games lack in quality control is because of publisher deadlines.
According to Sawyer, when the ship date is in the hands of the developer, it can make a “huge difference” in terms of a game’s quality. This was the case for Pillars of Eternity 1 and Deadfire, which were delayed by a few weeks. Obsidian used this time to polish and “put those finishing touches” on the game.
However, when following publisher deadlines, developers can’t spend as much time refining the product.
“We’re not total idiots,” says Sawyer. “We know that we have a reputation for buggy games. And while some of that is endemic to making big, complicated RPGs with thousands of different ways through them, it’s still within our power to reduce bugs on our end with more time. When it’s a publisher’s choice, that ability (or priority) can be taken away from us.”
When it comes to RPG games, you also have to take quest complexity into acccount. The more fleshed out and convoluted a quest is, the harder it is to implement. However, when developers use simpler quest designs, they run the risk of losing player interest.
“There is a potential danger in quest design being so limited that it isn’t complex enough to engage the player’s interest, but we benefit by having less buggy quests overall.”
“It’s definitely a trade-off, because some quests in F:NV are very cool because of their complexity,” he continues.“We just have to be very aware of the time commitment we’re making when we have quests like that.”
Obsidian Entertainment is currently working on The Outer Worlds, a first-person sci-fi RPG set for release later this year. The game is published by Private Division, which is owned by Take-Two.
Thanks, Video Games Chronicle.