Fallout: New Vegas dev on the benefits of licensed games

Obsidian co-founder Feargus Urquhart explains his studio's tendency to work in other people's worlds, and the headaches of original IP.

Obsidian Entertainment has made a name for itself by making sequels to other studios' games. Its first two projects--2004's Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II and 2006's Neverwinter Nights II--were sequels to BioWare-developed role-playing games. The studio dabbled in original intellectual property with last year's espionage action game Alpha Protocol, but quickly followed that up with more licensed sequel work in the form of Fallout: New Vegas, Dungeon Siege III, and the yet-to-be-released game based on Robert Jordon's Wheel of Time novels.

Urquhart is a fan of playing others' worlds, even the postapocalyptic ones.

In a presentation at the International Game Developers Association Leadership Forum yesterday, Obsidian CEO Feargus Urquhart explained his affinity for working with licenses.

"I really like making licensed products," Urquhart said. "I really enjoy playing in other people's worlds. And that doesn't mean I don't ever want to make another original IP. I just think that in some cases, a lot of people in the industry think that original IP is the pinnacle achievement of your life and that you can only be creative if you're working in original IP. I can say that I've had the most fun in my career working on licensed products."

Urquhart later amended that statement to suggest his work on the original 1997 Fallout for Black Isle Studios was as enjoyable as his previous licensed work.

"The creativity on original IP is awesome," Urquhart continued. "You get to invent something. But there is no box. And because there is no box, all you get for a long period of time is a lot of people arguing about what the box is… We've learned that you have to have that person who gets the box, and through sheer force of will, force that box on everybody else. There has to be someone who comes in and says, 'No, this is the box. All of you need to shut up.' In my opinion."

As a result, Urquhart said that a lot of time is spent selling the original IP. That's not just a matter of selling it to publishers, who are likely skittish about the risks they're taking on unproven ideas, but also to the development team itself.

Going forward, Obsidian looks to be involved in both original and licensed game development. Earlier this year, Urquhart revealed that the studio is working on an original downloadable title for the Xbox 360, as well as another licensed project.

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89 comments
SauhlGood
SauhlGood

@RECONJON this again! does my preference really bother you that much?...whatever, im not gonna regurgetate my points again, your facts=opinion nothing more, the similarities are more than obvious in my personal opinion, and if you dont like it well, troll some more..

RECONJON
RECONJON

@SauhlGood You can play through the whole of Fallout 3/NV in 3rd person if you choose, this alone means it is not an FPS. Then if you take into account everything that DashRender619 pointed out you'd have to be a complete retard to still call it an FPS. And Fallout can't be a rip off of Oblivion, they were both developed by Bethesda. You're entitled to your opinion, but these are facts (and pretty obvious ones at that lol)

SauhlGood
SauhlGood

@DashRender619 noooo! ...my liberal arts degree! hey grouch, apparantly i did strike a nerve lol and apparantly you think a struck nerve is cause for suicide, yup you sound reasonable... at what point are you willing to address the fact that you like somthing else, and so do i, you have reasons for your preference and i have for mine... get over it!... the games a ripoff of Oblivion with fps tossed in, end of story for me... FOR ME or perhaps you wanna write another angry, post about my liberal arts degree rofl... haha i hear the waambulance.... btw if it helps your next ON TOPIC angry post i have a degree in pet grooming too...hahaha

Philly1UPer
Philly1UPer

Hapffft to the comment below. That was pretty raw.

downloadthefile
downloadthefile

In all honesty, I enjoyed my time with Alpha Protocol even though it was poorly made. Something about it made me really enjoy playing it. It felt broken but in a charming way, if that makes any sense. The definite closest comparison to it would be Divinity 2 by Larian Studios, which is very similar quality-wise. If you're in between releases, no reason not to pick up those two games and support devs with good ideas who are a little under-funded.

SauhlGood
SauhlGood

@DashRender619 struck a nerve have i? like i said its preference, im entitled to an opinion, you happen to not agree with it, thats fine, but dont make me call the waaaambulance on you

Petty_Steve
Petty_Steve

Unfortunately, I never got the chance to play Alpha Protocol, my cr*cked copy wouldn't install...JOKES...holy-cr#p... But super serials now, if one game fails or doesn't succeed as you would have wished for then don't give up. Move on to the next project, as you are, and I look forward to your next release.

SauhlGood
SauhlGood

@DashRender619 ive played the games dash, dont spit in my face and tell me its raining lol the bloody game has a FPS control mode too, its in the options ffs, its nowhere near 98% rpg, just for reference Baldurs Gate, is an rpg. apart from being too fps'ish, you dont have to do any of the rpg elements and can just shoot everything to bits with 0 skill... especially on vanilla f3/NV. Not to mention is ghastly similarities to the TES games. Those of you old enough to play/remember, know the first two games got GOTY awards... they werent crappy and definately didnt NEED a TES makeover....alot of the old fans really were hoping for a follow up/expansion on that gameplay and style.

godzillavskong
godzillavskong

Although the Fallout games are good, I didn't get sucked into them like a lot of people I know. Fallout Vegas drew me in more than the first one, but still nothing I play regularly. Just not my cup of tea I guess. Rage on the other hand is fantastic! Maybe it's more action oriented.

otaviogalileu
otaviogalileu

@SauhlGood I guess its a matter of taste and preference! I actually think those TES mechanics work well in the Fallout universe. But I don't think New Vegas is a good addition to the franchise, its "more of the same" and it just felt a little forgettable to me, story-wise. Perhaps its because I actually played Fallout 3 before playing the first two games. Or maybe its because I don't pay much attention to the mechanics unless they are really good or really bad. Story and setting for me are a much more central than graphics, mechanics, genre and so on.

SauhlGood
SauhlGood

@otaviogalileu well its just my preference, it goes a lil beyond similarity, theyre way too similar, its not a bad game, i own both of them 3/nv but its not the rpg some of the fanbase expected(myself included). as far as other game engines being used thats fine, the unreal engine is used in alot of games today, i have no quarrel with that, all those games you mentioned there look/play and feel different from eachother Its the issue of taking the morrowind/oblivion mechanics and conforming fallout to that type of game... instead of an independent effort, as far as fallout 'benfitting' from oblivion mechanics thats debateable, i think f1/f2 had a great combat system i would of liked to seen an expansion on that, and that it needs TES/Oblivion mechanics also debateable...

otaviogalileu
otaviogalileu

@SauhlGood I'm not trying to be a troll here, I agree with you that FPS is a over-saturated genre. What I'm trying to prove is that Fallout 3 is not even close to a FPS game, since the only thing they have in common is the camera perspective (which can be altered) and the fact that both have guns. And even then there are still a few games considered FPS games that are quite good, like Bioshock, Half Life and so on. A genre doesn't always define a game, its the game itself that proves or disproves its worth.

otaviogalileu
otaviogalileu

@SauhlGood Uhh, no it kinda doesn't. Just because you can meddle with the difficulty doesn't make it a first person shooter either. Even at minimal difficulty you still create your own character, do quests, collect loot, talk to NPCs, level up, and your actions influence the outcome of the story. Besides, the shooting mechanics aren't precise, satisfying or useful by themselves. And the VATS system was created just because of that, to give combat a tactical approach. I agree with you that the mechanics in this game are similar to Oblivion and Morrowind's mechanics. But this isn't a bad thing. And while we're comparing them, would you call Oblivion a FPS game? By the way, the practice of "ripping off" engines is actually a common and useful part of the development of most games. The engine used in Oblivion and Fallout is Gamebryo, which is not owned by Bethesda. This engine was used in various games, including Bully, Civilization IV, Catherine, Warhammer Online, among others. If you look at those games you'll realize that the fact that two games share the same engine doesn't make them similar. The reason why Fallout 3 has similar mechanics to Oblivion is because Bethesda decided the Fallout universe would benefit from those mechanics, while abandoning other mechanics that wouldn't make sense in that game (like the leveling system in Oblivion) and creating new mechanics (like the perks in Fallout 3).

SauhlGood
SauhlGood

@otaviogalileu my bad, ionno why i even mentioned kotor2 prolly since it was obsidian's doing, just like New Vegas. Theyre not owned by eachother... so infact i did make one mistake by lumping them as one "Just because a game has a "First Person" camera system it doesn't make it an FPS game." uhh yeah it kinda does, when you can ignore the whole rpg aspect, crank the difficulty and still breeze through the game like its nothing without needing to engage in any rpg facets of it, or use any abilities, you can just shoot your way through everything, and it still feels like your in a TES mod. a far cry from what the old fallout was. the engine is ripped off from oblivion, just drapery was changed, even when u start your char u have a chance to redo your stats/skills after the prologue, its such a TES feature, imo its still waay too close to oblivions/tes and fallout would of done just as well if somebody else dev. it...or have you not played a tes game? @BuBsay im non sensical?, at least i give reasons for why i think what i think. Your whole post is an ego-stroke, if your gonna make an accusation like that you better back it up with sound reasoning ...i believe its called trolling.... oh and hold your applause, landmark in history of gs rofl hahaha ez there drama queen did you just ride out of an old england novel? halloween hasnt started yet... or are you just THAT pretentious!?

BuBsay
BuBsay

@SauhlGood You sir have quite probably made the most non-sensical and just plain stupid comment I've ever seen on Gamespot. Which, needless to say, is a big deal for me as I've seen a fair share of stupid comments on this site. I agree with you on the fact that the FPS genre is over-saturated and lacking in originality these days. However, everything else in your comment comes out as a verbal diarrhea with no thought put into it, and pretty much everything in your comment is completely off the wall and just objectively wrong. I have to applaud you good sir, this is a landmark in the history of Gamespot.

otaviogalileu
otaviogalileu

@SauhlGood Bethesda never worked in any KOTR game. Fallout 3 and New Vegas are not considered "FPS" games. They are RPG games that have a First Person perspective. The shooting is not supposed to be central, since they put emphasis on a tactical approach. Just because a game has a "First Person" camera system it doesn't make it an FPS game. Besides, the camera system can be altered in-game. The only thing Fallout'ish about Fallout 3 is its story, background, aesthetics, design, characters, character development (S.P.E.C.I.A.L.). You know, everything else other than the fact that the other two game were turn-based and had a top-down view. I advise you to learn more about your "facts" before you start judging a game. It doesn't sound like you've played Fallout 3. Otherwise you wouldn't call it an "FPS with RPG elements". It's quite the contrary.

otaviogalileu
otaviogalileu

@TheToxicAvenger Failed?? I'm sorry, but I would say that Bethesda actually saved the franchise from the sinking ship that was Interplay. FYI, only a few people that work in Obsidian today actually worked in the original Fallout. The producer for the first game only started working in Obsidian this year. Besides, the developer for Fallout was Interplay, not Black Isle. Black Isle was created after that and marked the moment when the team started to dissolve, with key member leaving Interplay to create Troika. After the second game Interplay had taken too many liberties with the franchise and was about to ruin it. I'd say that their financial problems were actually good for the industry, since they led Obsidian to be created and have more freedom over what they would develop (even though they decided to develop licensed games). But the best of it was the fact that they sold the Fallout rights of development to Bethesda, who has done a wonderful job with it.

Kerethos
Kerethos

Sadly, as I am primarily a console gamer, I stay away from Obsidian's games because of the large number of bugs associated with each of them. On the PC issues like that can be resolved over time through mods and fan made fixes, in addition to official patches, but on a console you're stuck with a broken game that will only see a few official patches, which just isn't enough to convince me to give their games a try. Simply put; when I buy a game I want a quality product that doesn't come with the "we'll try to patch that later and make sure we'll add as much of the content as we can, in time for release"-style I've come to associate with Obsidian. It's like they always try to do more than they have time to, and in turn each review ends up with: "Good game, if you don't mind the bugs." But I do mind the bugs - I really do - and so I end up spending my money on other games. I guess I'm just picky like that...

gzader
gzader

nwn2 had the worst ending of any game I've ever played, and that goes back to the 2600 days. Solid game, great fun, terrible ending. So bad it makes the borderlands ending seem fulfilling. obs does okay, but that ending deserves an apology

snaggleoooo
snaggleoooo

It's funny, I much prefered New Vegas to Fallout 3 and there were parts of KotOR2 done better than the original (especially the start of the game - Taris anyone), although KotOR1 was the better game overall. So I don't think Obsidian does bad work at all.

jhcho2
jhcho2

Exceeeept.....Obsidian has barely even made a good game based on other people's IP for the recent years.

whitejackel
whitejackel

I really dont like Obsidian.. they have proven them selves almost incompitent when it comes to making games nowa days. Beatheasda on the other hand... well we all know what they can do :)

spOOoOOn
spOOoOOn

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

WolfGrey
WolfGrey

@SauhlGood Uh Obsidian made KOTOR2 not Besthesda.

gix47
gix47

had no real issues with new vegas til old world blues i liked alpha protocol but it did seem to be missing something..and i don't like how they just abandoned it either..

Orpheus_Evo
Orpheus_Evo

@HollowNinja Excellent "translation" of the mumbo-jumbo Feargus said. @Taegre I'm 100% with you on that analysis. @GreatSageCorban Yeeahh...because Bethesda is the Best Developer in the World... o_O @Dante200X Amen, Brother! @stabby_mcgee A-B-S-O-L-U-T-E-L-Y. @spOOoOOn "JEWEL"!!?????? O_O Oh, My God... The World as we know it is at an end... @Ultimate39 You need some SERIOUS help, my friend... or you need to play A LOT more games before expressing an opinion about a franchise you obviously don't know NOTHING about. @Golden_Gonads As always, my friend, your insight and common sense are a pleasure for my sore eyes. Outstanding. @iamnessie "Its difficult for me to take this guy seriously since they did a poor job at continuing someone elses storyline and series with New Vegas" Maybe you should investigate a little bit more about who The Great Feargus Urquhart is. Is Bethesda who did a SERIOUSLY CRAPPY job with the continuation of a storyline and a series that they know nothing about. First, get informed. Then speak. Thanks. Bottom line, Long Live Feargus! I will love and support you always for giving birth (among others, of course) to My Favorite Franchise of All Time: Fallout. The REAL ones, not the poor ones, Post-Black Isle Studios-Shutdown. My Two Cents. :)

SauhlGood
SauhlGood

bathesda rushed kotor2, there were cut locations/missions/locations, also the original fallout was a isometric, turn-based rpg.... fallout3 and NV as well, is an oblivion/morrowind mod, using the same game engine, game mechanics, gui style... the only thing fallout'ish about it is the visual presentation/theme, and the rest is a reminiscent of a fps with some rpg elements... just like what EA is doing with the old "syndicate" franchise... a strategy game, turned into another fps... we dont need another FPS game, that genre is oversaturated already.

TheToxicAvenger
TheToxicAvenger

Obsidian/Black isle MADE Fallout, you uneducated sacks of stupid. If anything, Bethesda are the ones who failed in continuing THEIR legacy.

Freezezzy
Freezezzy

You know what the real benefits of licensed games are? They're quick (cash), and easy (money). Making something completely new requires time, effort, and a lot of money. They also require a developer who is willing to put all three into a given project.

darkcomedian
darkcomedian

@ Philly1UPer I think the initial release was the beta release.

fl4tlined
fl4tlined

"I really like making licensed products since half the work is already done for me and i still manage to **** it up"

StJimmy15
StJimmy15

I think it would have been more informative and unexpected to tell us the benefits of having unlicensed to games...

dkdk999
dkdk999

I'm glad we have this studio.I think it's impressive that they cab make fantastic games across a wide variety of rpg genres.

Archontic
Archontic

Their games are riding on the reputations of other developers' ideas. New Vegas, Dungeon Siege 3, Neverwinter Nights 2, and KoTOR 2 are proof of this. The problem isn't that they don't have good ideas -- because they really do; the problem is that after they have the good idea, they release it before even attempting to filter out all of the bugs and glitches. They don't optimize their games at all. Worst of all, they seldom if ever release significant patches to address any of these issues.

iamnessie
iamnessie

Its difficult for me to take this guy seriously since they did a poor job at continuing someone elses storyline and series with New Vegas. The series has never been perfect, but they didn't even fix a majority of things they could have with extra time. My headache is caused by all the bad changes and bugs New Vegas had. I have a Fallout 3 tattoo of the Animal Friend perk, but don't even own New Vegas because of how poorly of a job they did on it but have gotten far from rentals. His statement is totally ironic. God Mojave was so ugly company to the Capital Wasteland. It was just so desolate and boring which is not how a game with strong exploration elements should be.

rigas47
rigas47

@Miroku_of_Nite1 Yes at philosophical level New Vegas is true to Fallout while Fallout 3 nailed the vibe of Fallout in terms of design the atmosphere is breth taking I think the problem is Gamebryo engine because Obsidian has always been bad at design and this engine is brutal Yes New Vegas have deeper story background and sense of actions taken but its lacking at so much levels in design atmosphere gameplay so i think New Vegas would been great game even if it was executed on the same engine in the same world whit same gameplay it just lacked right camera view while Fallout 3 worked great in 1st person

buzzoinks
buzzoinks

Loved F3, New Vegas not so much. I missed the feeling of utter desolation and humanity on the brink. To be honest I didn't get all the way thru Vegas, but F3 seemed to have more bizarre little things you could just find.

Oerwinde
Oerwinde

@spOOoOOn I thought New Vegas, Neverwinter Nights 2, and Knights of the Old Republic 2 were all better than the originals. Though KotOR 2 definitely was the most lacklustre of the three and definitely suffered from being rushed.

Golden_Gonads
Golden_Gonads

@WolfGrey Most the problems you describe are present in Fallout 3 and are the fault of the poorly designed/optimised engine. Hell, some of them (Clipping & bodies flying everywhere) have been there since Oblivion and never fixed.

quantumtheo
quantumtheo

Actually a lot of the random crashes in fallout can be fixed by updating your INI to deal with multiple CPU's.

WolfGrey
WolfGrey

@Bobmarley00 Actually i didn't get til about a month ago on my pc.I also had it for the ps3 a few months before that. I stayed away from New Vegas for an long time after launch because of what crap it was. Here is the list of problems that STILL happen. PS3: Unexplained crashes Save deletions Terrible Clipping Bodies freaking out. PC: Unexplained Crashes Bodies flying every which way WHILE attacking Weapons unable to fire for a few seconds despite full ammo and recently reloaded Save Deletions and so on. And this is fully patched versions.I took the ps3 edition back in 2 days time. The Pc version i stuck with because its somewhat fun. Hell i got a pretty nice rig. I can run Oblivion and pretty much anything at MAX settings.Including Crysis.So i know its not my computer. Though to combat the whole big game thing, thats easy as hell. Morrowind never had these problems.Oblivion runs perfectly fine.Fallout 3 had its share of problems but worked perfectly later on. Now for two versions of New Vegas i bought myself to have all these problems, i don't think its just hey its my copy.For you not have these problems, its simply luck. Maybe you will someday maybe you won't. Either way its pathetic.Even more pathetic your giving them excuses to get out of admitting how terrible their work is.When EVERY title they have ever released PERIOD is known for being buggy as hell and having numerous issues, its not hey it could happen.Or hey they will patch it later.

Philly1UPer
Philly1UPer

The reason why this guy likes using other peoples IPs instead of creating original ones, is so he doesn't have to deal with the heart break of a negative review from how buggy and terrible their new IP is. Did Fallout New Vegas even HAVE a Beta testing phase?

Miroku_of_Nite1
Miroku_of_Nite1

@rigas47 While I guess I can agree with you that it wasn't heart touching, its really beside the point of the Fallout games. Its not so much about being the selfless hero, as its really about being a bit player that creates major 'fallout' in the game world. The factions in New Vegas either have been there in some form since Fallout 1, or are closely tied to the area, and previous events. Your suppose to connect with the factions of a philosophical level, by either agreeing with what they are doing, or disagreeing or not caring. Explaining your actions at the end of the Fallout games is key to the series. Hell you might even say that's what the title of 'Fallout' really means. Not about radiation, but the fallout or incidental consequences, especially undesirable ones, that result incidentally from a situation or event. Fallout 3 really dropped the ball on that part. All that seemed to matter in the end was if you used the virus, and how you resolved the ending. Which is complete crap if you ask me. I want to know what my actions in Oasis did, I want to know how my actions at the Republic of Dave affected the area, tell me about what happens to the Temple of the Union, or Paradise Falls. Hell tell me about the Wasteland Survival Guide outcomes, and the Capitol Preservation Society. Instead we just get a brief monologue in relation to ones karma, and what we did at the end. A pretty big middle finger for doing all the side quest, and playing certain kinds of characters.

ash162
ash162

i would really love to get into the fallout series but all the repeated talk about their endless bugs scares me off!!!

John_Read
John_Read

Obsidian first hire professional programming team then open ur mouth :P

thebanewolf
thebanewolf

Obsidian is definitely one of my favorite developers. With NWN2 and MotB. As for New Vegas, it improved on FO3 in all areas that I can think of. Weapons, iron sights, weapon mods, more and cooler unique weapons (except Lincoln's Repeater is missing), characters - so many unique and interesting characters. Additional perks and increased level cap - 50, not a flimsy 30. Better DLC. I'm sure I could think of more, but NV is one of my favorite games.

Ultimate39
Ultimate39

@spOOoOOn Well its a lot easier to make a sequel to licensed property than make your own IP because of all the arguing and skepticism when making an original IP. Fallout 3 is the only game that was made by a different developer and is better than its predecessors.

Golden_Gonads
Golden_Gonads

Like some others before me, Obsidian are my favourite current RPG developers. Bioware's last couple of games have been populated by unlikeable characters or have been so grotesquely simplified an untrained marmoset could play them (That and some of their DLC is even more pointless than 'horse armour'). And Bethesda... They create great worlds, but then have lousy dialogue ,story (Oblivion, the main plot you're a gopher for the heir, and Fallout 3... It recycled the plots of Fallout 1&2 and seemed to rely on' Look! You're father is Liam Neeson! We're cool!!!')and literally (You can search for the unofficial patch for Fallout 3 to confirm) hundreds of (admittedly mostly minor) bugs that they never bother patching. That said, Obisidian do superb dialogue, but... It seems they overstretch, and never manage to quite live up to the early promise. The end of KotOR2 and the implementation of Caeser's Legion in FNV spring largely to mind. They also don't allow nearly enough time for bug-testing... Though that is more-often-than-not due to the publishers.