Kotaku has uncovered documents alleging that Project Eternity Developer Obsidian Entertainment had been in the early stages of creating a science fiction RPG entitled Backspace. Using the Skyrim engine and Skyrim‘s “Radiant AI” system, the game was set to have themes of alien invasion, time travel, and of course, lots and lots of guns.
The document points towards a game setting inspired by the likes of science fiction RPG masterpieces like Mass Effect, Borderlands and System Shock 2. While not as massive an open world as seen in Skyrim, the game’s combat was set to be “similarly paced” but “slightly faster since there is no concept of blocking.”
Obsidian’s Feargus Urquhart commented on the game saying it was only a concept and neither canceled or greenlit at any point.
“We had some great people work on the idea for Backspace for a bit of time and then moved them off to other projects as opportunities came up. 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.”
Of course, Obsidian currently is sitting on a large mound of cash from backers of Project Eternity, its wildly successful Kickstarter campaign. The other opportunities he could be referring too are South Park the Stick of Truth, which ran into publishing problems with the closure of THQ.
From the description in the document, it sounds like it must have been a huge undertaking to make. The hero plays as a heavily augmented being with 90 percent of his human body replaced with cyborg parts, and he travels through space and time from a massive space station located on the far reaches of the galaxy.
Obsidian tends to be a mixed bag with huge RPG undertakings like this. Fallout: New Vegas, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2 and Dungeon Seige III are all fine games, but lack polish because of bugs and a few great ideas that were poorly implemented.
Its only sole original IP, Alpha Protocol, was universally panned, but I’ve never held any grudges against it.
Backspace seems like an excellent opportunity for the company to return to as it becomes more and more familiar with the next gen technology and continues to improve its craft of making intriguing RPGs. The biggest problem I find in the description of the game is that it references its inspirations little too much.
Obsidian has always suffered from a little “me too” syndrome, cast in the shadow of BioWare, Bethesda and other Western RPG developers it follows up on. They’ve proven to have great storytelling skills and can even come up with original ideas, but it needs something like Backspace or Project Eternity to be original to finally set them apart from the crowd.