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Robert Lashley: Pathfinder Adventures: Taking a Card based RPG Mobile

By Robert Lashley on March 15, 2016 | Interviews | Comments

Pathfinder Adventures: Taking a Card based RPG Mobile

Late last week Rob had a chat with Nathan Davis, Creative Lead on Obsidian’s most unique game yet, Pathfinder Adventures. Read on to find out a little bit more about Nathan as well as his team’s effort to bring this card game to your mobile devices.

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MMORPG: Good afternoon Nathan. Can you tell us a little bit about your history at Obsidian and what are some of the other projects you have worked on before you were the Creative Lead on Pathfinder Adventures?

Nathan: I’ve been at Obsidian since Neverwinter Nights 2, Mask of the Betrayer. I have been working as a producer for all of that time up until this project where I was producing and other things. The other projects I have worked on include Alpha Protocol, Dungeon Siege 3, and South Park: The Stick of Truth.

MMORPG: How do you go from making a RPG with a bit of a combat twist like South Park: The Stick of Truth to making Pathfinder Adventures which can be hard to put a label on? It’s not a CCG, or TCG, but it does have some deck building elements. What would you call Pathfinder Adventures?

Nathan: At the heart of it I think of it as a RPG. A hard core rules based RPG that uses cards as the mechanic to do everything. From figuring out what weapons, armor, and spells you can use to the creatures and traps that you encounter.

MMORPG: What challenges did you face trying to convert the card game and its rules to a video game? There had to have been more than just converting the rules to code and running with it.

Nathan: It’s interesting. We have learned a lot in the process of doing this. There were certainly times in development where we would look at a certain type of card like armor for instance and we were trying to classify all cards to do that one thing. There are a lot of things that most armors do. So we built them in such a way as you would do for an RPG so that this one template we would build would work.  The great thing about the Pathfinder Adventure card game is they (Paizo) set up these templates only to give them (Paizo) a chance to break these templates. Not every armor is going to be the same, not every dagger is going to be the same. So we had to reshape the way that we understood this templating and change it into something that was more open. So our data structures and the tools that programmers would give to design would allow us the most versatility possible so we could achieve things that the card game does. We could give you a special different kind of card each time even if it is just another type of armor, or another dagger.

MMORPG: How is it working with a licensed intellectual property as opposed to working with your own original IP. How is working with Paizo? Has it been a very collaborative process?

Nathan: Working with Paizo has been probably one of the easiest licensed properties, ever, I have worked with. They’re very open. At the end of the day they want us to make a good game. That being said as we are making this game we have had certain things that digitally we can do better and there are things we won’t be able to do as well. They have been very open to us making changes where we need to. By and large we want to stay true, especially in Rise of the Runelords, to the original product so that people are familiar with the game, or like the game, can jump into this and not see something they don’t recognize.

MMORPG: There are a lot of different products for Pathfinder Adventures out there. Different decks for different classes, different adventures. How are we going to see that manifest itself with your version of the game? Are people going to be able to go out and get special classes, will you release future scenarios?

Nathan: We see this product as a living thing. Our first release is just that, our first release. As we continue to build the product we will add more to it. This is something that the physical game has done pretty well… they do a number of things well. They added a bunch of different classes that you can play in different adventure paths. They have also made a version of the game that allows you to do organized play which is a new story. There are parts of that we take to heart and parts of that we think we can do even more easily. With updates and other errata we can add almost instantly. We can push along another patch or update. In addition we can release new adventure decks in the coming weeks and months and as we do that you’ll start to see new features and game play modes and new ways to play the game with those same pieces. As we go further than that you’ll start to see more. We do have plans to expand not only how many adventures you can play and how many things that you can do within that adventure we also want to expand on those pieces. We do have an interest in bringing new characters in the game past the core 7 to 11 you start within the Rise of the Runelords box.

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