In the year 2003, following long-standing disagreements with Creator/BlackIsleStudios, its parent company Creator/{{Interplay|Entertainment}} laid off most of its staff. Most of the former Black Isle developers, including its founder Feargus Urquhart and writer/designer Creator/ChrisAvellone, moved on to found a new game development company: '''Obsidian Entertainment'''.

Since then, Obsidian has formed strangely fond relations with fellow RPG company {{Creator/BioWare}}, to the point that its first two titles were sequels to [=BioWare=] games using modified versions of the originals' Aurora engine. This happened because by that point [=BioWare=] switched from producing licensed games based on established franchises (''VideoGame/NeverwinterNights'' and ''VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublic'') to their own original universes, and in the case of ''KOTOR'', recommended Obsidian to Creator/LucasArts as an alternate developer for the sequel.

So far, Obsidian's games have generally been [[http://www.rpgcodex.net/content.php?id=9453 fan favorites]]. They include deep and thought-provoking storylines on the level of the former Black Isle titles... and very buggy programming, usually requiring several patches to rectify (or in some cases, fan-created mods). Though most games are fairly bug-free with the final patch installed. This earned them the nickname "Bugsidian".

One thing to note about Obsidian is their business model. Obsidian is hired by publishers for fixed amounts of money, rather than being an internal studio or making a game then looking for a publisher to publish it. This results in Obsidian not bearing the financial cost or gain of the failure/success of any game they make beyond reputation or future deals. This mercenary model is responsible for their buggy reputation, as the release schedule or budget is not as extendable once the deal is made. In some instances, Obsidian had their [[http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2014/03/19/project-eternity-release-date/ QA budget cut by publishers]]. This came back to bite them in the ass with ''VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas''; their contract with {{Creator/Bethesda}} specified a tiered bonus based upon the game's Metacritic score. They missed the bonus by ''one point''. They have since decided to get serious about QA work; in [[http://kotaku.com/5968952/the-knights-of-new-vegas-how-obsidian-survived-countless-catastrophes-and-made-some-of-the-coolest-role+playing-games-ever an interview with Kotaku,]] CEO Feargus Urquhart said, "We as a company got into a big room and we said, 'We are not gonna make buggy games anymore.'"

On August 22, 2012, Interplay revived the old [[http://www.blackisle.com/ Black Isle]] brand, but the announcement had little to no impact on Obsidian.

In October 2012, they greenlit ''VideoGame/PillarsOfEternity'', a {{Kickstarte|r}}d project that will be free of ExecutiveMeddling (by publishers, at least). Released in early 2015, ''[=PoE=]'' became the best-rated game in the studio's history (rivaled only by ''NeverwinterNights2/MaskOfTheBetrayer''), pleasing the fans and the critics alike.

See also Creator/TroikaGames and Creator/InXileEntertainment, two other studios formed by former Interplay employees who left at different times. Compare and contrast Creator/BioWare.
!!Games developed by Obsidian:
* ''VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublicIITheSithLords'' (2004-2005)
* ''VideoGame/NeverwinterNights2'' (2006)
** ''Mask of the Betrayer'' (2007)
** ''Storm of Zehir'' (2008)
* ''VideoGame/AlphaProtocol'' (2010)
* ''VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas'' (2010)
* ''VideoGame/DungeonSiege III'' (2011)
* ''VideoGame/SouthParkTheStickOfTruth'' (2014; in co-operation with Creator/TreyParkerAndMattStone)
* ''VideoGame/{{Wasteland 2}}'' (2014; in co-operation with Creator/InXileEntertainment)
* ''VideoGame/PillarsOfEternity'' (2015; Obsidian's first solo project, financed through Website/{{Kickstarter}}; Creator/ParadoxInteractive is the main distributor)
!!In production:

* ''VideoGame/ArmoredWarfare'' (in co-operation with My.com)
* ''VideoGame/{{Skyforge}}'' (in co-operation with My.com)
* ''VideoGame/PathfinderAdventures'' (in co-operation with [[TabletopGame/{{Pathfinder}} Paizo Publishing]])
* ''VideoGame/{{Tyranny}}'' (in co-operation with Creator/ParadoxInteractive)
!!List of tropes persistent in Black Isle/Obsidian {{RPG}}s:
* AntiVillain: Many of their villains, though not all of them, are portrayed sympathetically even as it's clearly laid out why they must be stopped. This includes [[spoiler:Kreia]] from ''KnightsOfTheOldRepublicII'', [[spoiler:Ammon Jerro]] in ''VideoGame/NeverwinterNights2'', [[spoiler:Akachi]] (posthumously) in ''Mask of the Betrayer'', and Benny in ''VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas''.
* AuthorAvatar: Chris Avellone has [[http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/feature-interview-chris-avellone-game-designer-fallout-new-vegas/ admitted]] he often used [[VideoGame/KnightsofTheOldRepublicIITheSithLords Kreia]] to point out things that bugged him about the ''Star Wars'' universe. The same has been said for [[VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas Ulysses]] of the VideoGame/{{Fallout}} setting.
* AuthorTract: Their games penned by Avellone tend to have recurring themes that are ''strongly'' emphasized throughout their stories, including:
** [[GreyAndGrayMorality There's no such thing as clear cut good and clear cut evil]]. Even the most heinous sounding acts can be rationalized as a NecessaryEvil, and even the most well intentioned of acts can have [[NoGoodDeedGoesUnpunished disastrous, unforeseen consequences]]. This theme is especially prevalent in ''Knights of the Old Republic II'', which mercilessly deconstructs the archtypical BlackAndWhiteMorality of the ''StarWars'' franchise.
** Romances formed during times of war or other such crises are inherently unhealthy, dysfunctional, and more often than not end in pain. Examples include ''VideoGame/NeverwinterNights2'', where the primary love interests are a borderline-StalkerWithACrush and a jaded, cynical KnightInSourArmor.
** Things don't just magically get better once the BigBad is defeated and all their evil plans have been thwarted. More often than not, the villains actions leave heavy scars upon the land and its people that, despite the heroes best efforts, will take years, if not decades, to fully heal, if they even heal at all. ''Knights of the Old Republic II'', ''AlphaProtocol'' and ''PillarsOfEternity'' all make heavy use of this.
** Just because the protagonists are in the same party does ''not'' mean they have to get along. Each party member in an Obsidian game has their own specific beliefs, viewpoints and morals, and if one party member's beliefs clashes with another's, they ''will'' come to blows over it.
* ArmorPiercingQuestion: Have several good ones from many games. The best one is probably "What can change the nature of a man?" from PlanescapeTorment, although [[VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas "Who are you, that do not know your history?"]] and [[VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublicII "Apathy is death"]][[note]]Though that's more of an Armor-Piercing Statement than a question[[/note]] are ''really'' good mind twisters.
* TheArtifact: The "influence" system used in most of their games was [[spoiler:part of the Exile's special bonding ability]] in The Sith Lords. The system still works without the story connection, though.
* BlackHumor: The jewel in their crown is either ''[[VideoGame/PlanescapeTorment Torment]]'' or ''[[VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas New Vegas]]''. Both allow the main character to joke - repeatedly - about being technically dead, and that's just the start. ''Pillars'' has a moment or ten, as well.
* ButThouMust: ''Alpha Protocol'' in particular was an attempt to subvert this. Obsidian has actually discussed this trope in a panel titled "But Thou Must" after the original trope namer, which got to the point where they made a drinking game of the word "Choice".
* CorruptCorporateExecutive: The entire management team of [[MegaCorp Czerka Corporation]], and Leland in ''VideoGame/AlphaProtocol''.
* DarkerAndGrittier: Most of their games (except perhaps ''VideoGame/AlphaProtocol'' as it isn't a sequel to anything but still plays SpyFiction as a pretty dark and gritty martini.) can be considered this. This is most notable in ''VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublicII'', which is not only much darker and grittier than its predecessor but also than the majority of the StarWarsExpandedUniverse (and that's saying something). One possible exception that is a sequel is ''Storm of Zehir'', which is essentially a LighterAndFluffier version of ''VideoGame/NeverwinterNights2''.
** Considering the release period of ''The Sith Lords'', one could make the argument that the darkness thrust upon the Expanded Universe was a byproduct of the game. The ''Literature/NewJediOrder'' series had recently finished, leaving the books on a high note. Much of the novels that have come out since have become increasingly darker and more depressing.
* DarkIsNotEvil: Even StarWars-based ''VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublicII'' has elements of this, alongside LightIsNotGood.
* DeadpanSnarker: One of Obsidian's favored dialogue models.
* {{Deconstruction}}
* DialogueTree
* EvilIsPetty: Obsidian is often credited with averting or outright inverting this trope, whereas moral options in many {{RPG}}s play this straight. An exception is ''VideoGame/NeverwinterNights2'', which is usually seen as playing this trope all too straight comparatively.
* GameBreakingBug: Sadly, this is pretty much universal in the initial release of a game, though in many cases these bugs are patched later on after development. ''VideoGame/NeverwinterNights2'', for instance, arguably one of their worst games so far as this is concerned, is, as of the most recent patch, pretty stable.
* GameplayAndStoryIntegration: In ''VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublicII'', your ability to influence your companions and swing their [[CharacterAlignment alignment]] is explained via an uncommon Force ability. In ''VideoGame/NeverwinterNights2'', the reason monsters are constantly after you and the way in which you progress as a character is explained via a MacGuffin. In ''Mask of the Betrayer'', a specific game mechanic plays an important role in the story. In ''VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas'', you have the option of playing the so-called "Hardcore Mode," which incorporates your need to eat, drink, and sleep into game mechanics as well as the fact that certain statistics can lead to other options in dialogue.
* GrayAndGreyMorality: The exact grayness of a particular game's morality is variable, but generally Obsidian stays pretty close to this trope. Villains will usually have sympathetic or at least understandable motives and goals, heroes are frequently ruthless or given to vices or pettiness, and moral choices are sometimes pretty murky. There are usually a few exceptions that are clearly [[BlackAndWhiteMorality black and white]], but the tone as a whole leans toward ambiguity.
* GuileHero: Obsidian does its best to allow you to play one if you so choose. VideoGame/AlphaProtocol, its only standalone game, and VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas (which is part of [[MyRealDaddy a franchise that it effectively started]]) play this the straightest, allowing you to complete near-perfect [[PacifistRun Pacifist Runs]] and solve almost every problem through stealth or diplomacy as well as force.
* HeroicComedicSociopath: Steven Heck in ''VideoGame/AlphaProtocol''.
* HideYourGays: Obsidian has been accused of this due to the lack of homosexuality in the majority of their titles (though they have a low number of ''heterosexual'' options as well, due to their dislike of RomanceSidequest). However, ''VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas'' [[AvertedTrope averts]] this trope completely, as it allows player characters to be homosexual or bisexual via specific perks. Similarly, a male StraightGay doctor and a LipstickLesbian Brotherhood Scribe are available as party members, but their sexual orientations are only revealed in certain dialogue options. It is also worth noticing that the prostitutes in New Vegas services both sexes equally (and in the ''VideoGame/{{Fallout}}'' series, always have).
** It's also noteworthy that Obsidian originally intended for Gannayev-of-Dreams from ''Mask of The Betrayer'' to originally exist as a GayOption [[BiTheWay for male player characters.]] However, [[ExecutiveMeddling WotC was evidently not amused]] and Gann was left as a purely heterosexual romance. Similarly, LucasArts [[ExecutiveMeddling was not interested]] in a GayOption in either KnightsOfTheOldRepublic game.
* {{Joisey}}: Project New Jersey (AKA "Seven Dwarfs", a fantasy game using Unreal Engine 3) was canceled.
* KarmaMeter: Present in every Obsidian game except for ''AlphaProtocol'' but it's actually very rarely used in a way that matters. Instead, Obsidian seems to much prefer the various variations of its "influence" meter, a mechanic that is omnipresent in their games and [[TropeCodifier codified]] by them and which often fulfils a similar purpose story-wise that the KarmaMeter does in other [=RPGs=]. Rather than adhering to some arbitrary moral standard, your actions affect the opinions of those with whom you interact. Certainly some will prefer kindness to cruelty, but others may applaud cunning manipulation, direct action, brutally efficient logic, verbal sparring matches, thoughtfulness, entertaining lies, or rapier wit.
** Tellingly, ''AlphaProtocol'' is their only standalone game so far, and isn't burdened with a legacy KarmaMeter from the setting or prior games in the series.
* LightIsNotGood: Present in many of their games but played surprisingly straight in ''[[KnightsOfTheOldRepublicIITheSithLords The Sith Lords]]'', which is set in the often [[BlackAndWhiteMorality black and white]] StarWars universe.
* ObviousBeta: Known for great games that need to be patched to hell and back.
* OptionalSexualEncounter: Notable in that ''VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas'', the only Obsidian RPG besides ''Storm of Zehir'' that lacks romance, plays this trope straightest.
* RelationshipValues: Obsidian's most significant contribution to RPG design is probably bringing these back into fashion.
* RomanceSidequest: Present in most Obsidian games, but the company as a whole appears uncomfortable with the trope and outright avert it in ''VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas''. [=JE=] Sawyer (lead designer of said game) in particular has been quoted as having a rather derisive opinion of the subject. Chris Avellone, too, has stated that he finds love stories uninteresting/difficult to write (especially if they're traditional and cheerful) and prefers other forms of interpersonal interaction.
** Despite all that, Sawyer and Avellone also said a romance was planned for New Vegas involving Cass where she and the Courier would get hammered and wake up in Vegas married by The King, but it was scrapped due to time.
* ScrewedByTheNetwork: The company has been on the receiving end of this quite a few times.
** When developing ''VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublicIITheSithLords'', {{LucasArts}} told them that they were going to delay the release until a bit into 2005 (Some speculate Lucasarts were hoping to cash in on the renewed interest in the franchise thanks to ''Revenge of the Sith''). Obsidian decided to use the extra time to expand on the game, before [=LucasArts=] suddenly decided to revert back to the original Christmas 2004 release date. Since the delay at this point had been a spoken agreement and not a signed contract yet, Obisidian had no choice but to rush the game out of the gate, meaning that several quests and mechanics, including much of the ending sequence, were left incomplete or broken. And when Obsidian offered to put out a free patch fixing most of these issues, [=LucasArts=] denied them permission to do it, leaving the fans to try and pick up the pieces with mods. The point may have been academic; the game sold most of its copies on the XBox, and wasn't enabled for Xbox Live, meaning it couldn't be patched.
** When ''VideoGame/AlphaProtocol'' was nearing completion, SEGA said they weren't too happy with the current state of the game, and announced they would push the release date back a couple of months. Obsidian hoped that this would leave them with more time to give the game some much needed polish, the logical thing to assume since the game was delayed anyway, but when they appealed to SEGA for more development time in the delay period, SEGA flat out refused to greenlight it.
** During the development of ''VideoGame/NeverwinterNights2'', Atari demanded that the game have a Christmas release, forcing Obsidian to rush to a finish, cutting out a lot of characterization for your party members and two romance arcs in the process. The worst part, though, was that they hadn't finished working all the kinks out, so when the game was released it was horribly buggy and hindered by bad gameplay. Later patches fixed that problem, but the fandom was left seething for a long time.
*** Later, when the game first and only DLC, ''Mysteries of Westgate'', was under development, Atari demanded that would ship with a DRM scheme. This caused the adventure pack to be delayed almost two years, causing an uproar in the fanbase. By the time it finally came out people had mostly lost interest. A few months later, Atari took the DRM off the game, expansions, and ''Mysteries''.
** And, of course, there's the infamous "New Vegas got an 84 on Metacritic, so no bonuses for you" incident, which almost killed Obsidian outright and actually led to a lot of accusations of skulduggery on Bethesda's part from the ''fanbase''. Notably, quite a few reviews took a couple points off the game's score because of bugs, and Bethesda was responsible for the QA on the game; meaning if Bethesda had done their job properly, Obsidian wouldn't have been tossed into dire financial straits. Some of the more malicious tongues claims that Bethesda did a bad job on purpose to avoid having to pay Obsidian a bonus, but Obsidian themselves has denied this to be the case, and most people point to HanlonsRazor, noting that Bethesda's QA work always has been infamously lacking.
** ''VideoGame/SouthParkTheStickOfTruth'' is an odd case: it got screwed by the "network" ''imploding like a black hole''. THQ went under completely and the project had to be picked up by an entirely new publisher before it got out the door. Frankly it's impressive the game got out the door at all, considering.
** All this is what eventually spurred the development of ''VideoGame/PillarsOfEternity'', a property owned and produced by Obsidian and with all profits going straight back to them. It gives them a much more stable financial base from which to produce their licensed efforts.
* ShoutOut
* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism: Pretty much all their games lean towards or are knee-deep in the latter. Although, some of them, especially ''VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas'', have a speck of optimism to them.
* SlidingScaleOfLinearityVersusOpenness: All over the map, although there's been a general trend over time towards the latter. ''VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublicIITheSithLords'', ''Mask of the Betrayer'', and ''VideoGame/AlphaProtocol'' are Type IV, ''VideoGame/NeverwinterNights2'' is somewhere between Type III and Type IV, and both ''Storm of Zehir'' and ''VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas'' are between Type V and Type VI, leaning toward the latter.
* TallDarkAndSnarky: Atton in ''VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublicIITheSithLords'', Sand in ''VideoGame/NeverwinterNights2'', and potentially ''[[PlayerCharacter you]]'' in any of their games.
* TalkingTheMonsterToDeath: An option in most of their games.
* TeethClenchedTeamwork: If you have a party in an Obsidian, they are ''very'' unlikely to get along. Not in a harmless, sibling-ish bickering way, either. They will genuinely ''despise'' each other - manipulating, tormenting, injuring, and murdering rivals if they can get away with it.
* TheManBehindTheMan
* VideoGameCaringPotential[=/=]VideoGameCrueltyPotential: A key element of Obsidian's "influence" game mechanic.
* WhereAreTheyNowEpilogue: Continuing their traditions as Black Isle, Obsidian likes doing a closing narration detailing what the choices you made during the game eventually entail for your companions and locations you visited on your journeys.