Hey, Reddit! I am David L. Craddock, author of Beneath a Starless Sky: Pillars of Eternity and the Infinity Engine Era of RPGs, an online book that chronicles the making of Obsidian Entertainment’s Pillars of Eternity franchise and the classic roleplaying games that influenced it. You can read the entire book FOR FREE on Shacknews.com right now!

Beneath a Starless Sky is the culmination of eight months of research and over 40 hours of interviews with developers from Obsidian Entertainment, BioWare, Black Isle Studios, and Interplay. Several Obsidian developers are joining me today: Adam Brennecke, Executive Producer and Lead Programmer

Justin Bell, Audio Director

Mikey Dowling, PR Manager

Kaz Aruga, Lead Artist

Kate Dollarhyde, Narrative Designer

Paul Kirsch, Narrative Designer

Here’s Obsidian’s proof, and here’s my proof.

Here are some stats about Beneath a Starless Sky: over 480 pages and 200,000 words, all available to read for free on Shacknews; games covered include Fallout 1 and 2, Pillars of Eternity 1 and II, Baldur’s Gate 1 and II, Icewind Dale 1 and II, Planescape: Torment, and even more Obsidian RPGs; chapters span a mix of narrative-style accounts, Q-and-A interviews, oral histories, and video features such as a 35-minute documentary and a 75-minute panel.

Ask us about Obsidian’s history, specific games such as Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire and the recently released DLC expansions, the process of writing and/or being interviewed for Beneath a Starless Sky—anything at all!

EDIT #1 (402pm): We're going to begin winding down, and will stop taking questions at 430pm Pacific. Thanks so much for the excellent questions so far!

EDIT #2 (430pm): That's a wrap! Thanks so much for your excellent question, Redditors, and thank you to Mikey, Adam, Justin, Kaz, Kate, and Paul for taking time to answer. Check out Beneath a Starless Sky on Shacknews for an in-depth look at the making of the Pillars of Eternity franchise and classic RPGs from Fallout to Baldur's Gate and more.

Comments: 592 • Responses: 9  • Date: 

Imoraswut476 karma

Is Microsoft acquiring Obisidian?

Mikey2x4284 karma

We unfortunately don't comment on rumors or speculation. Unless you want to speculate how much the after match brawl at UFC 229 was a work or a shoot, because I can go on about that all day.

dlcraddock103 karma

What if it was a worked shoot?!

Mikey2x4124 karma

They shot themselves into a work and right back into a shoot.

dlcraddock79 karma

Brother! Much love -HH

AnInfiniteAmount105 karma

This might be out of the scope of this AMA, but can you tell us anything more about the relationship between Black Isle (where some Obsidian Devs came from) and Bioware in the Baldur's Gate/Icewind Dale/Fallout/Neverwinter Nights era? It's just something I've been curious about as some of my favorite games of all time were made by those two companies

dlcraddock145 karma

Many devs from Obsidian will be able to draw from their personal history, but I can also take a crack at this one. The first chapter of Beneath a Starless Sky, my Long Read on Shacknews, goes into detail on the relationship between Black Isle, BioWare, and Interplay.

The short version: BioWare started development of Baldur's Gate--their second game, following Shattered Steel--when the company was small. Black Isle, an internal division of Interplay, agreed to publish it and provided numerous resources including funding and input on design. BioWare was the primary developers, and their lead programmer, Scott Greig, was the chief architect of the Infinity Engine. After BG2, BioWare was ready to build new technology and move on from Baldur's Gate, so they licensed the Infinity Engine to Black Isle, whose developers made Planescape: Torment and Icewind Dale 1 and II.

Hope that helps!

Cyricist28 karma

Beneath a Starless Sky was absolutely fascinating. I sat down to skim through the first page, not sure I was really interested in spite of having played all of those old games for hundreds of hours... and then I read the entire thing, and recommended it to several friends.

Really good stuff.

dlcraddock7 karma

Thank you! So glad you enjoyed it.

KonradHarlan27 karma

What can you tell us about Microsoft?

dlcraddock112 karma

  • As a 13-year-old kid, Windows 95 blew my mind.
  • I still ran most games in DOS, which was more than the flimsy shell we have now.
  • Plug and Play was mostly bullshit until semi-recently.
  • Remember Bill Gates?

Spock-tM21 karma

Will Beneath a Starless Sky: Pillars of Eternity and the Infinity Engine Era of RPGs be available to purchase on Amazon? Or will an audiobook version be made available?

dlcraddock16 karma

We've got plans for physical editions, but for the immediate future it'll remain as an exclusive read on Shacknews.

If it helps, we redesigned the site earlier this summer, and Long Reads constituted a huge part of our plans for the redesign. Specifically, we used to load entire "articles" at once. Last December's Long Read, Rocket Jump: Quake and the Golden Age of First-Person Shooters, was so large it broke browsers. And reading on mobile or tablet devices? Forget about it.

Now, we load one chapter at a time, and you can easily read on a browser or save to reading apps like Pocket. give it a try!

TwitchSouls8 karma

What are you guys opinion on pineapple pizza?

dlcraddock28 karma

Not my thing, but all pizza is good pizza.

OppositeofDeath5 karma

Hi, I got back home too late to take part in the AMA, but just in case there's a chance the team can answer, I have to ask: I'm a fresh out of college with a degree in literature and I'm looking to get into writing for video games. Do you have any advice on how I should get started? Are there any jobs/internships available at Obsidian or any of its associates I could try to partake in to forward this goal?

dlcraddock7 karma

Hello! I'm the author of Beneath a Starless Sky, not any of Obsidian's games, but I have written for a few games. Here's some advice, but take this with a grain of salt because I haven't done any narrative writing for games since 2011-ish.

  • Study writing in games. Do this by playing lots of different games: Story-heavy games such as Pillars of Eternity, The Witcher, and The Last of Us, but also games where audiovisuals do a lot of the heavy lifting, such as Diablo and pre-Ocarina of Time Zelda games.

  • Study different types of writing in games. Think about your favorite RPGs. What makes the dialogue stand out? Notice how it doesn't drone on and on? Game writing, like TV writing, has to be snappy. Communicate the point quickly while establishing a unique voice for characters.

  • Look up game companies hiring writers. Did you find any? Probably not, because getting hired as a writer and only a writer is pretty rare. For instance, the narrative designers on Pillars of Eternity use an interface in the company's proprietary toolset rather than traditional word processors such as MS Word or Google Docs. (Read chapters 5 and 13 of Beneath a Starless Sky if you want more info. :) Look up what requirements these companies have and play around with tool sets they require, many of which are cheap or even freely available.

  • Obsidian's narrative designers also spent time collaborating with artists, level designers, and programmers in particular because game development is a collaborative effort. Not just an effort: a feat. You won't be writing or designing in a vacuum. (And again, designing is a more accurate term, because most studios will expect you to have at least cursory experience in design environments such as Unreal, Unity, etc. You don't need to be a master programmer, but some familiarity with those environments and tools won't hurt.)

  • Read! What makes a good character or plot stand out to you? How about bad plots? Also, look up memoirs, Internet posts, and other reading material by game writers and designers. Get an idea of what it's like to walk in their shoes.

adenansu1 karma

Lamp, sand... ?

dlcraddock5 karma

Lemon! Wait, no... orange? Lime! It's lime!