The following excerpt for was written by freelance reporter John Gaudiosi.

Inside Obsidianâ??s Alpha Protocol

Obsidian Entertainment’s Alpha Protocol is a massive, espionage-focused RPG set to be published by Sega for PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 early this year. Chris Parker, executive producer and co-owner of Obsidian, recently elaborated on why his team is using Unreal Engine 3 to develop the game.

“There are a number of benefits to using UE3,” said Parker. “Much of the heavy lifting has already been taken care of with regards to running on all platforms. The material shader system is powerful and enables you to make great looking stuff. We use all of the engine’s editors, from interface to cutscene timeline tools, as well as its scripting system for our gameplay needs.”

One of Parker’s goals was to create an action-packed RPG, so Unreal Engine 3 was a great fit for the team from the start. Parker said the aim was to make an RPG that was lighter and used shooting mechanics.

“Alpha Protocol is a dream project we’ve wanted to do for a while. We wanted to take everything Obsidian and Black Isle has accumulated with story and role-playing systems and apply it to a modern-day RPG,” said Parker.

Another key ingredient that Unreal Engine 3 offers is cross-platform development ease. UE3 gave the team a layer between the different console hardware and the assets they wanted to develop.

“It isn’t as simple as making models and out pops a game, but we’ve been able to get versions up and running on PS3, Xbox 360, and PC with very little trouble,” said Parker. “We have to pay close attention to how the engine works to ensure that we properly utilise it for each platform, but as long as we’re careful UE3 allows us to develop for all three platforms in a consistent manner.”

Since Alpha Protocol has been crafted for both PC and console gamers, the gameplay has a blend of classic RPG elements with new modern-day spies, gadgets, weapons and action.

“While seemingly straightforward, it doesn’t take long before the game starts taking sharp detours,” added Chris Avellone, creative director of the game and co-owner of Obsidian Entertainment.

“In Alpha Protocol, the storyline isn’t linear – we’ve given a lot more freedom in how you choose to save (or not save) that world, and tried to provide the player with options on how he chooses to uncover the plotline and the relationships between the key characters in the game.”

Alpha Protocol incorporates elements fans of fictional espionage characters like Jack Bauer, Jason Bourne and James Bond are used to today. Avellone promised that there will be plenty of romance, colourful villains, action, bullets, betrayals, and alliances.

Unlike television and film spies, it’s the player that’s in the center of all this intrigue, and the story progresses based on the decisions the player makes throughout the game.

“Many of our previous titles have relied on a hub structure, but Alpha Protocol takes the system a step further by presenting the player with a challenge and then offering many choices and missions for how to approach the problem,” said Avellone.

“Options include using espionage, surveillance, running-and-gunning, talking to contacts, or computer infiltration. We also allow the player to pick and choose which missions to tackle in order to experience the story in a way that complements character-building choices.”

Obsidian’s new take on espionage and the RPG genre is sure to offer gamers something never experienced before on PC or consoles

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