Obsidian Entertainment’s The Outer Worlds won numerous accolades but there would have been more to the game had current-gen consoles not held development back.
As the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One near the end of their life cycles, the consoles tend to show signs of age especially when running graphically intensive games. Speaking to No Clip’s Danny O’Dwyer (thanks, Pure PlayStation), game designer Brian Heins revealed that the developers had to cut down a section of The Groundbreaker and reduce the number of NPCs as they ran out of memory budget.
“It kind of breaks my heart a little bit there’s not a lot of people moving around on Groundbreaker,” said Heins. “That was basically because when we got the art pass and lighting pass, we had to actually pull back on the number of actual characters on the Groundbreaker to fit on consoles because we didn’t have the memory budget both for the number of different character appearances and also the AI pathing.”
The Outer Worlds utilizes a system to turn aspects of the game “on and off” in order to manage the hardware limitations. For example, when players enter the bar on Groundbreaker, the NPCs inside the bar are turned on right before they enter, and everything outside the bar is turned off.
The Groundbreaker originally had three levels. Heins revealed that he trimmed them down to a single level because not only would three levels have been a lot of work on the art side, they would have been hard to fit on consoles. As a result, areas like the Medical Bay were relocated from those levels to the central area of the Groundbreaker.
The full interview is 30 minutes and delves into The Outer Worlds‘ quest design and writing so make sure to check it out.