'The Outer Worlds' Script is the Size of 'War and Peace' Says Developers

In The Outer Worlds, players arrive in a depressing universe controlled by capitalism yet liberated by a seemingly endless array of player choices. Developed by Obsidian Entertainment, the RPG/Shooter hybrid allows players to design their own character and narrative path, developing a unique personality through bespoke decisions. Amongst the possibilities, one can be a janitor with a hard right hook who is also terrified of heights. These traits are then converted to in-game stats.

"Most RPGs out there, you're amazing at everything," Narrative Designer Nitai Poddar told Newsweek. "I love the idea that I can finish a game where I'm afraid of robots and high places."

The Outer Worlds began with Obsidian wanting to make a new IP in a similar vein to the company's past RPGs like Fallout: New Vegas. Story-driven gameplay that reacts to the player's choices, forcing them to confront the consequences for their actions, is a pillar of the studio's RPG aesthetic.

"They came up with a direction and Tim and I started talking about it," Co-Game Director Leonard Boyarsky said. "We figured that we could make something like that, and that it was right up our alley."

the outer worlds
With 'The Outer Worlds' Obsidian aimed to recapture the choice-based concepts of the studio's past releases. 'The Outer Worlds' comes to Xbox One, PS4 and PC October 25. Obsidian Entertainment/Private Division

The pair helped write and develop entries in the massively successful Fallout franchise and were elated at the opportunity to work with each other once again. The sense of humor of The Outer Worlds shares a lot of similarities with those past projects, which the pair feels has to do with the fact that they imprint their personalities onto each of the studio's finished products. Boyarsky describes his humor as "dark and pessimistic," while Poddar is more "silly and light-hearted." Together, they manage to create a narrative that properly addresses the pains of interstellar travel under a strict corporate regime while also poking fun at the sheer ridiculousness of the situation.

"Most of the humor comes from people in an absurd situation and how they view the world because of it," Boyarsky said. "The player, as an outsider, comes in and deals with the absurdity, so the jokes all come from a place that's built from the narrative up and not trying to find silly things just to toss in everywhere."

the outer worlds city
'The Outer Worlds' features a well-developed narrative full of interesting places to explore and extensive world building. Obsidian Entertainment/Private Division

Having believable NPCs with reasonable motivations is crucial to The Outer Worlds tempered sense of humor. Themes of corporate greed and surrendering personal power to believe in an ideal could easily make an experience feel boring and preachy, but the duo believes that a game is supposed to be fun above realistic. As a player you might disagree with a character's beliefs, but their sardonic worldview makes sense within the wider context of the story.

To write The Outer Worlds, Poddar and his team started out with an outline of what the story should be, figuring out how the player is supposed to get to each piece of the quest line. These outlines could sometime swell to more than 50,000 words and become massively complex. For main quests, narrative leads need to figure out how the story will progress if the player plans to act non-conventional ways, such as killing all NPCs in the area or stealing vital items. Once those contingencies are settled, the next step is figuring out how "to get the main concept to the player" Poddar said, which usually involves light internal testing. Understanding why you were given these choices and knowing how your character came to those decisions is paramount to maintaining a believable world.

There was no traditional script for The Outer Worlds, but rather a long series of flow charts with different dialogue trees for quests. The whole game features about 600,000 words of spoken dialogue, which is comparable in length to epic novels like War and Peace.

Boyarsky hopes that having such a complicated world and open-ended approach to quests will make players care about what they have created. "That's just the sort of game we make," Boyarksy said. "We bend things to our will."

The Outer Worlds is set to release at 7 p.m. EDT October 24.

'The Outer Worlds' Script is the Size of 'War and Peace' Says Developers | Newsgeek