First look at Obsidian's Project Eternity and its Infinity Engine-inspired visual style

Obsidian Entertainment offered fans the first look at its Kickstarter-funded role-playing game Project Eternity today, showing off the developer's Infinity Engine-inspired approach to rendering their fantasy world environments.

The Infinity Engine was the technology that powered classic RPGs like Baldur's Gate, Planescape: Torment, and Icewind Dale. It colors the methods Obsidian is using to build Project Eternity, according to Josh Sawyer, formerly of Interplay and currently at Obsidian Entertainment.

"Early on in the Kickstarter campaign, we told you that we wanted to make maps the Infinity Engine way," Sawyer wrote in an update on the game's Kickstarter blog. "That is, we wanted to build 3D levels, render them out as 2D images, and then have our artists paint in beautiful details, highlights, and color-tweaks before they went into the game. Looking back at the levels some of us worked on for Icewind Dale, we were still thrilled with the quality that we could achieve with this approach."

Sawyer writes that the team is using 10 years of rendering technology and hardware advancements "to get the job done, but we still love what we can do the 'old-fashioned' way."

In an official announcement, Obsidian explains that it first renders environment features like realistic trees and grass in Softimage as a starting point, then adding additional detail by hand. The method, Obisidian says, "also lets us render things out at 1440p, which is 3.7M pixels per screen compared to the resolution of the later Infinity Engine games of .5M pixels per screen. That means we are adding in almost 7.5 times the detail compared to those older games."

Obsidian shows the lone screenshot in 1920x1080 and 2560x1440 resolution to highlight those details.

"The artists then pull the image in and add detail into the image that would cost days of rendering time, like moss on the rocks, more detail on the roads and making sure that every screen in the game has all the detail we can get into it."

With less than a week to go, Project Eternity's Kickstarter funding drive has surpassed $2.7 million. The fantasy role-playing game from Obsidian Entertainment is planned for release on Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms in 2014.

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