Fallout: New Vegas dev was working on "sci-fi Skyrim" Backspace

Single-player role-playing game was reportedly built on Skyrim's engine and featured guns, time travel, and cyborgs.

Multiple sources have informed Kotaku that a small team at Fallout: New Vegas and Alpha Protocol developer Obsidian Entertainment was working on a "sci-fi Skyrim" in early 2011.

Image credit: Kotaku

The project was called Backspace and was reportedly going to feature guns, time travel, and an alien invasion--all powered by The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim's game engine, including its "Radiant AI" system.

Obsidian Entertainment CEO Feargus Urquhart confirmed the studio was working on the game, saying Backspace "was a project concept that we neither cancelled nor greenlit."

"We've been around for ten years now and have had a bunch of great ideas that we still have sitting around that we may be able to return to in the future," he added.

According to a design document obtained by Kotaku, Backspace was a single-player action-RPG set in a sci-fi space environment with "simple elements of time travel." The combat was reportedly paced "similarly to Skyrim, but slightly faster since there is no concept of blocking."

"The easiest way to look at it is a mix of Mass Effect, Borderlands, and System Shock 2 for gameplay and setting," the document reads.

Backspace was designed, according to the documents, casting players as a cyborg--90 percent human and 10 percent machine. The game was set in the "distant future" when mankind had colonized the "far reaches of the galaxy."

The game's story, according to the design documents, revolved around players jumping back and forth in time between the occurence of an alien attack and an alien-occupied future.

Backspace was also planned with a leveling system likened to that of Skyrim or Fallout: New Vegas, with players able to choose a preset background for their characters, including The Mad Scientist, The Lone Wolf, and The Arrogant Savant.

Combat in the game was reportedly "Skyrim with guns," with players able to wield machine guns, shotguns, semi-automatic rifles, sniper rifles, and rocket launchers--as well as melee weapons like mauls, battle axes, and chainsaws, among others.

Backspace is not the only unreleased project Obsidian Entertainment has spoken of. The Irvine, California-based developer also spent time developing a Snow White prequel and pitched an idea to the now-defunct LucasArts for a new Star Wars RPG.

Obsidian Entertainment is currently working on South Park: The Stick of Truth and Project Eternity.

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Eddie Makuch

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.
Fallout: New Vegas

Fallout: New Vegas

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157 comments
AMD655
AMD655

Idea sounds good, and i enjoy New Vegas, sounds like a win win.

lusitanogamer
lusitanogamer

I'd buy this game in a heartbeat. I like the ideas behind it.

savagejoe444
savagejoe444

Better not be glitching a lot like Skyrim.

GothikaGeist
GothikaGeist

After thinking this through for a little bit I'm kind of glad they haven't started developing it. If they planned on using Skyrim's engine they should definitely wait for Bethesda to release Fallout 4 and then use THAT engine to power Backspace. It'll already be further optimized for gunplay and hopefully fix those ATROCIOUS shadows in Skyrim. Plus, the engine will probably hold even more amazing possibilities for modders!  :D

auliaackckck
auliaackckck

uh... obsidian is crossbreeding Skyrim and Fallout? 


i dunno what to say :/

brxricano
brxricano

Hm methinks Obsidian is leaving the pie on the table to see how many clamor for a slice?? START CLAMORING!!

SoulxReaperx366
SoulxReaperx366

Skyrim's engine doesn't cope well with guns though...

Mega_Skrull
Mega_Skrull

I'm interested. I'm also fearful of what could possibly be the biggest and most unplayable bugfest ever, but I probably would still love it 

;_;

grin89
grin89

im positive that regardless as to how popular south park is the game is going to get a low score. why are games like this being made when something more realistic could be in development?

alpha_unit97
alpha_unit97

Obsidian's pitched a lot of cool ideas, but when will they actually develop them?

Gargus
Gargus

God damn you obsidian, go the hell away.

Jesus everything they create is a subpar mess. They ruin every franchise they create kotor2, neverwinter nights 2, dungeon siege 3, fallout new vegas. Everytime they take over a franchise they kill it with inferior story, an ungodly amount of bugs and just overall make everything far less than the original creators did.

Hell even when they tried to make their own original game alpha protocol it flopped so damn bad it was 10 bucks in a bargain bin 60 days after it came out and after it was out for like 2 weeks sega said they would never publish a sequel to it.

Obsidian and gearbox are 2 developers I wish would go under and their licenses sold to someone who is competent at making a game.

RobDev
RobDev

here's a thought. stop making multiple games and try making sure the next one you release isn't a buggy mess from day one.

tommynj
tommynj

it is Obsidian they have the anti-midas touch, just about everything they touch turns to crap. Why is Obsidian still in business ?  Mind-boggling....

jameson425
jameson425

Alright Alright giggity goooo!!!!!!!! :( after the the last couple of paragraphs...

freedom01
freedom01 moderator

eeww team developers of Alpha Protocol.....I hope they dont mess up the game like they did with Alpha Protocol.

DiscGuru101
DiscGuru101

Sounds like an interesting concept. I wonder if Fallout 4 will use the Skyrim engine.

hadlee73
hadlee73

This looks like it would have been great.

garcia_jx
garcia_jx

Hey, I live close to Irvine, CA.  I might pay them a visit.

Alucard_Prime
Alucard_Prime

Whoa...guys...what the hell are you waiting for? Please either release this superb-looking game, or give us the most anticipated game of the decade, Fallout 4. 

gamingfrendly
gamingfrendly

so will they do another fallout game? hey bethesda i want to see another obsidian fallout with more time given to them this time.

MysteryGoat
MysteryGoat

I want this. I prefer a sci-fi setting over fantasy and just about every critically acclaimed RPG has been set in a fantasy setting. It's really annoying and it's about time we get more sci-fi games like this.

shantd
shantd

@GothikaGeist Ditto, I'm sick of the Obsidian RPGs using Bethesda tech and constantly stuck a half generation behind. Fallout New Vegas came out years after Fallout 3 and looked friggin identical, even had the same damn bugs as Fallout 3. If they can't build their own engine, at least use one that's state of the art for chrissakes.

GothikaGeist
GothikaGeist

@SoulxReaperx366 Well the Skyrim engine was based on the one they used for Fallout 3 and New Vegas. Plus they are professional developers, I'm sure they could make guns work with it.

bouff
bouff

@grin89 coz some times people want to play a realistic game, and sometimes people just want to fnck about and play fart wars with Cartman

stan_hg
stan_hg

@alpha_unit97 No, publishers these days play on the safe bet and most of their ideas have something "unsafe" in them. We should not expect innovation from big publishers for some time ( excluding graphics ofc )

stan_hg
stan_hg

@Gargus Well, i disagree. DS3 i dont know, but every other game is actually very good. Kotor2 is a lot better than the first one imo. Alpha Protocol for me is on of the greatest CRPGs for example. So when you state something, dont forget that  is your opinion only. 

KotomineKirei
KotomineKirei

@Gargus

Wasn't it more Bethesda's fault for the bugs because that was the engine they used for Fallout 3?

Also, the stories were not bad in Fallout: New Vegas(and were actually somewhat better than 3's excluding 3's DLC)

I will say that Alpha Protocol was a POC gameplay-wise though.

Draken_Domingo
Draken_Domingo

@Gargus 
To be fair, I totally agree Obsidian has terrible programmers...but I think you're attacking them without really knowing what kind of situation each of their games has been though. Kotor2 is arguably better than Kotor1, that's more opinionated banter. NWN2, same deal. DS3 was just a mess of 'publisher wants this, dev wanted that', and NV didn't get the devtime it needed, and again that's more of a publisher problem than anything else. I never played Alpha Protocol, so I can't speak for that.

In my opinion, I think Obsidian's problem is it's actually coding side of the spectrum, because writing wise, they're talented as hell. New Vegas was probably the best they could offer storywise, and I think it did the Fallout universe true justice. And it may have been broken, but it was a true successor to Fallout 1&2, any fan of the series can tell you that.

stan_hg
stan_hg

@RobDev There isnt a studio that works on signle game ever. The process of making games occurs so part of the team works for awhile and then stops doing anything for that game anymore, so they can be fired or start to work on different game

doi4in
doi4in

@tommynj If by crap you actually mean rpg masterpiece, then sure.

kiramasaki
kiramasaki

@tommynj Because its made from the people from Black isle studios which in turn had a major chunk of the staff that created a little game franchise called Fallout. They also made KoTR II which was forced to be released early due to the Holiday season and is still rated as highly as the first made by bioware. Honestly the only game they made that has recieved low scores is alpha protocol and even that is considered highly underrated by many.

stan_hg
stan_hg

@freedom01 Alpha Protocol isnt a shooter and if played like a CRPG( what it is) ia a hell of a great game

AzelKosMos
AzelKosMos

@shantd @GothikaGeist They were hired by Bethesda to make it and given the engine to use, they weren't funded to make a new engine. Sega hired them to make an Alien RPG (which they canceled) and funded them to create their own engine designed for RPGs which they kept called the Onyx engine. This was used for Dungeon Siege III which looked excellent and ran flawlessly as well as the upcoming South Park

Don't make such aggressive comments when you clearly know nothing about Obsidian.

freedom01
freedom01 moderator

I know its not a shooter and that it was a rpg, but it was not a hell of a game. The frame rate was very bad, the time limit when choosing a choice in the dialogue was bad, options on equipment was useless since I was able to beat the game using the same equipment that I started from Chapter 1 all the way to the end, and the gameplay was just boring.

freedom01
freedom01 moderator

@Duke_51 @freedom01 even still.....when I hear Alpha Protocol, All I remember are those bugs, glitches, bad frame rate, and bad game play (especially the dialogue choice section)

shantd
shantd

@AzelKosMos  I understand that they weren't budgeted to build their own engine from scratch, that's not my beef. I'm not sure that Bethesda simply "hired" obsidian to do FNV, I believe they had contractual rights to it well in advance. But that's neither here nor there. Whether it's Obsidian's fault, Bethesda's fault, the publisher's fault, I don't really know or care. I just hate to see a game's potential stunted by the wholesale adoption of clearly inadequate, old tech...Obsidian just happens to make a habit of developing games this way. If I wasn't such a fan of their games, I wouldn't be bothered to be pointing this out.

stan_hg
stan_hg

@freedom01 Dunno, never had problems with FPS( XBox version), never had problems with timed responses( even English is not my native language) and the game is focused on C&Cs and not on the gear

freedom01
freedom01 moderator

@Duke_51 @freedom01 Yeah, I guess I should put Alpha Protocol in the Pandora Box and forget about it, the sci-fi skyrim does sound very appealing also.

Duke_51
Duke_51

@freedom01 @Duke_51 lol I hear ya. Just pretend that that game never happened. They are capable of making a good game.