Square Enix surprised fans of Gas Powered Games' Dungeon Siege action-RPGs when it announced it would be publishing the third game in the series, with development handled by Obsidian Entertainment -- and Obsidian has now revealed that Square Enix owns the franchise outright, giving the company inroads into the Western RPG market.
When the game was first announced earlier this month for PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3, the relationship between Dungeon Siege III and the three companies was unclear. Obsidian CEO Feargus Urquhart shed more light on the situation during a Gamasutra-attended demonstration of the game at the E3 Expo in Los Angeles this week.
"Square actually purchased the IP from Gas Powered, and it's a Square brand now," Urquhart explained. He said Chris Taylor, Gas Powered founder and original Dungeon Siege designer, reviews every major new build of the game, although Gas Powered is not formally involved in development.
"Chris gives us a lot of feedback, and we take all that criticism seriously, particularly when he says, 'This doesn't feel like Dungeon Siege,'" Urquhart said. "What we get from Square is a huge amount of support -- a lot of good ideas about how they approach things in their games."
The CEO claims he can't even remember which company first proposed the idea. "It all happened simultaneously," he said. "I've konwn Chris [Taylor] for years, and we've been talking to Square for at least a couple of years about doing a game with them. We had a team available, and Square was already working with Gas Powered on Supreme Commander 2."
Square Enix's ownership of Dungeon Siege broadens the famously RPG-centric publisher's reach from Japanese-style RPGs to Western-style RPGs -- although Dungeon Siege has always been closer to action-heavy Diablo series than to the narrative-driven Western RPGs like Obsidian's own upcoming Fallout: New Vegas.
"There are 60,000 lines of dialogue in Fallout: New Vegas. There are not going to be 60,000 lines of dialogue in Dungeon Siege III," Urquhart quipped. "We're not going to have a conversation every five seconds."
That doesn't mean Obsidian won't be applying its roleplaying experience to the game, however. While the studio plans to stay firmly with "action RPG" boundaries, Urquhart says the team definitely hopes to beef up the game's narrative chops, with a rich world, more player quests, and better in-game storytelling.
"A lot of ARPGs are challenged by story -- 'Go kill the evil thing in the crypt,'" he said. "That's been our big focus, and it's a challenge. It's something we work on all the time."