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Pillars of Eternity II Fig Update #13: Introducing Maia Rua and Serafen, Relationships Stretch Goal
Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 14 February 2017, 21:27:18Tags: Josh Sawyer; Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
Obsidian's big Valentine's Day Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire Fig update is here, and it's everything we expected. The two new companions mentioned in last night's update turn out to be the unknown characters from the game's title artwork. They are Maia Rua, island aumaua ranger, ship captain of Rautai and sister of Kana Rau, and Serafen, orlan cipher/barbarian and pirate of the Príncipi sen Patrena. But the section of the update I'll quote here is about the new stretch goal, which will give more meaning to those companions. When the campaign reaches $3M of funding, Deadfire will receive a complex companion relationship system. Yes, that means romances, but not just romances. I'll let a suave-looking Josh Sawyer explain:
Hail and well met. I'd like to talk to you today about a subject that's quite appropriate for Valentine's Day: companion relationships. At the beginning of Deadfire's development, I came up with some designs for a system to define and tag certain types of behavior and attitudes in conversation. These tags exist so that companions can react to them both in the moment and systemically over longer periods of time. As the player makes choices, companions note the player's attitudes and build an opinion of them over time. Additionally, companions also react to the attitudes expressed by other companions and will build opinions of them. In the long term, the companions will develop stronger opinions and more concrete relationships with each other.
Our end goal with all of this is to write characters in a way that makes them develop their relationships in response to the actions of others, combining hand-scripted elements with system-driven elements to reflect the dynamism of a player's role-playing choices.
As an example, we'll use Edér. If you remember Edér from the original Pillars of Eternity, you may recall that he has a soft spot for animals, has a troubled relationship with his god, Eothas, and doesn't think highly of zealots. You may also remember that he has an unwitting tendency to express racist attitudes toward orlans. In mechanical terms, we create tags for the following behaviors/attitudes: Cruel to Animals, Kind to Animals, Pro-Eothasian, Zealous, and Racist.
When the Watcher or a companion expresses an attitude that a companion cares about, they will respond directly -- positively or negatively-- and adjust their opinion of that character accordingly. In some cases, the response may be major. In others, it may be minor, simply a minor expression of discontent and a correspondingly minor lowering of opinion. E.g., the Watcher kicking a cat would draw a strong immediate negative response from Edér. Threatening to kill the dog of a thug would lower his opinion of you, but he wouldn't derail the conversation over it. Edér also doesn't hold it against people if they say things that are anti-Eothasian. He understands why people may not be thrilled about the return of his god, but he does appreciate it when people uphold the positive aspects of the faith.
On the flip side, some companions may take exception to Edér's casual racist remarks, either directly or passively. Some companions may also view his Eothasian faith, mildly expressed though it maybe, in a negative light. These can alter their opinions of him over time. Depending on what companions travel with Edér and the Watcher and how the Watcher chooses to steer conversations, certain subjects may come up a lot, a little, or not at all, possibly altering when (or if) a relationship moves an expected direction.
But this entire system does not simply exist for its own sake. These small adjustments to opinion eventually culminate in conversations or confrontations, either with the character in question or with a third party. During these sequences, the player can choose to have the Watcher step in, take a side, or simply sit back and see how things play out. Depending on how the Watcher intervenes, the relationship can develop indifferent ways. We are striving to make the relationships advance in ways that feel natural and believable. Each relationship development will require its own unique set of responses to go in a new direction. That is to say that while we use systems to track behavior and attitudes, systems cannot take the place of the writers' dedicated time to flesh these interactions out.
As far as where the relationships can lead, companions may develop strong feelings of camaraderie, loyalty, loathing, fear, contempt, or even love. The culmination of these relationships may be a conversation, a scripted interaction, a special talent or ability, or even a unique item or recipe. The important thing to our narrative designers is that we treat each relationship as its own unique story that develops in ways that feel true to the characters and themes of Deadfire.