EDIT: You’ll have to blow up the images below to read the text, they’re small here but large in their own tab.
So if you follow Obsidian or just Chris Avellone closely you probably remember that when he left a few years back, it did not seem to be on good terms. Or at least, the language both Avellone and official Obsidian comments on his leaving were…terse, certainly for someone who’d been at the studio so long, was CCO, did a ton of writing and headed up multiple projects for them. I didn’t read too much into it at the time, no way for us to know what went on there, I figured.
So not long after Chris Avellone starts posting on RPGCodex in Pillars of Eternity threads. I was familiar with the site before that but I would still drop in to read dev posts if I heard about them. RPGCodex is focused entirely around cRPGs in the vein of either Infinity Engine games, Wasteland, Avernum, Wizardry. They talk about other types of RPGs but those are the core that the site identifies with the most and what most of the shitflinging and arguing centers around. On the whole they really don’t like Pillars of Eternity, viewing it as a massive disappointment (sometimes “betrayal,” because gamer man-children,) for reasons that are not relevant to this topic. So Avellone shows up and starts at that time talking about the development of that game; he’d been on the site before talking about NV and PS:T mostly but he became a more regular presence by this point. At that point he’s talking about cut content/planned content for the companions he wrote, Durance and Grieving Mother, about how the main plot ended up like it did, details of some tensions around the kickstarter, people threatening to leave if it didn’t go live, etc. Nothing damning for the company itself, but he was clearly upset about how some things went down. This was almost two years ago by this point.
I got sick of going to RPGCodex to follow devs I liked around, which was convenient because I’d become less enamored with them for posting on cRPG /pol/, so I only ever saw stuff that got posted in between then and the most recent goings on every now and again on other forums, all of which was design notes, talking about who did what quests etc. Not harmless because the gremlins there derive a sense of legitimacy from all the devs that post/have posted there, which they are very loud about, but nothing on Obsidian’s business and firing practices.
A lot of this seems to center around the practices of the Obsidian CEO Feargus Urquhart. Here it’s said that he was dodging paying money they owed to employees who had given up paychecks to keep the studio afloat and that it took another owner to talk him into it.
Some of this stuff gets into very personal territory that I’m not sure is kosher for the forums or not so lmk if it could cause issues. Anyhow here it talks some pretty abusive sounding practices regarding the relationship of employees lower on the rung, hours, how work was being distributed etc. as well as threatening to fire people in important positions such as Project Director if they couldn’t get the game out by a certain deadline - not illegal I don’t think, but pretty shitty regardless.
This seems to have been connected to another post regarding literal nepotism wrt family members. If what he says in this post about Feargus trying to hire on his two young children is true, that is truly bizzare and fishy.
There’s more that I’ve seen but I have work in a little bit, I may trawl through RPGCodex and get some screengrabs myself after I clock out, I’ve been taking these from the POE II forum threads on Something Awful, where I do not have an account and thus can’t reliably go back to those threads. I believe he’s been posting somewhere on Reddit too, but I’m not sure which subreddit exactly, so I’ll look into that as well. I have personally heard some pretty terrible stuff over the years about sexual harassment, pink slips after pregnancy leave, things of that nature at Obsidian from people who said they were former employees, but I can’t substantiate any of that though of course that wouldn’t be out of character for our society or the games industry.