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Obsidian’s Josh Sawyer, director of Fallout New Vegas, said the Pillars of Eternity games were compromised, as crowdfunding and fan expectations kept him from innovating the way he wanted to. Sawyer made the comment during a roundtable discussion at the 2023 Game Developers Conference, where he said that, by the time Pillars of Eternity’s Kickstarter campaign began, he didn’t want to make another traditional top-down RPG (thanks, PC Gamer).

"Honestly, I have to say it felt like the most compromised games I worked on were Pillars of Eternity 1 and 2," Sawyer said. "Because when I came back to that format, I was like, 'Oh, I worked on these two [Icewind Dale] games, and then I worked on Neverwinter Nights 2, and now I have a bunch of new ideas for how differently I would do it if I were doing it on my own.'”

Since both games were crowdfunded, and the first game raised nearly $4 million, Sawyer said he didn’t have a choice. Fans wanted more Dungeons and Dragons-style games like Sawyer made previously, so that’s what they got.

In fairness, though, the Kickstarter description didn’t really suggest Sawyer and the team planned to stray far from that style. It even names Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale, and Planescape: Torment as the project’s touchstones.

“Project Eternity aims to recapture the magic, imagination, depth, and nostalgia of classic RPG's [sic] that we enjoyed making - and playing,” the original description reads. “At Obsidian, we have the people responsible for many of those classic games and we want to bring those games back… and that’s why we’re here - we need your help to make it a reality!”

While he might have felt constrained by Pillars of Eternity, Sawyer eventually got the freedom he wanted with Pentiment, an unorthodox narrative mystery that he said would never have been possible without Xbox Game Pass to offset the risk.