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Josh Sawyer Interview at GameBanshee

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Josh Sawyer Interview at GameBanshee

Game News - posted by Zed on Mon 15 October 2012, 14:52:30

Tags: Icewind Dale 2; J.E. Sawyer; Pillars of Eternity

GameBanshee has posted an interview with J. E. Sawyer. It's one of the more informative and interesting Project Eternity interviews thus far, so make sure to read it if you get all hot and bothered thinking about the game at night.

I picked out a few interesting Qs and As:

Buck: Can you give us a better understanding of how skills will be performed and function within the game world? Will there be cooldowns associated with many of them, and how many factors will be taken into consideration when determining success and failure?

Josh: For non-combat skills, we want every skill to have both a systematic application and the ability to develop scripted interactions. For example, we may have a Mechanics skill that covers picking locks. Lockpicking is a more-or-less standard interaction. Either your Mechanics skill is high enough to pick it without any resource (lockpick) cost or you fall short. If you fall short within a small enough margin, you can spend lockpicks to pick the lock anyway. We may allow the Mechanics skills of other party members to marginally contribute to the overall cost, but otherwise the interaction is standardized every time you find a lock.

However, we may put some sort of crazy mechanical apparatus in a level that the player can interact with to accomplish a variety of goals. This will also allow the party to use their Mechanics skills, but the manner of interaction can be narrated through text and handled in a way that's scripted very specifically.

Buck: Why did you feel it was important to add early firearms to the game and how integral will they be to the tactics employed by a typical character party?

Josh: I didn't necessarily feel that firearms were important, but I wanted the world to feel like it was more technologically advanced in some (but not all) ways than a standard fantasy setting. I had an early idea that firearms would be interesting in a setting where warfare included dealing with enormous beasts and magic, meaning that their single-shot potency at range was not as much of a "game changer" in mass combat as it was in Earth's history. Having a reload time that's more than three times as long as a crossbow is important when you're being charged by something twice the size of a human that's moving at 30mph.

We will have to experiment with firearms to see how integral they are to strategic loadouts and what their different tactical applications are. I want them to feel similar to historical firearms: inaccurate, powerful, and slow to reload, but I want them to be a real choice compared to other ranged weapons. It comes back to the high-level design goal: if we're including something in the game, it needs to be a viable option, not a marginal gimmick or no-brainer.

Buck: Have you put any consideration into the UI yet? Aside from the Infinity Engine games, has the UI from any other titles inspired the direction you're taking the interface in Project Eternity?

Josh: We have. The Infinity Engine games' UIs did a good job of feeling like they were part of the world, but they had a lot of scaling issues. By Icewind Dale II, we had worked out most of the functional issues and I think a lot of people enjoyed having most of the major options at the bottom of the screen. But there's still a lot that could be improved.

The other big source of inspiration has been Temple of Elemental Evil, since that had an elegant UI that managed to handle a huge spectrum of D&D spells and abilities. I've also looked again at the UI for Dark Sun: Shattered Lands, since that had some nice context-sensitive UI elements that kept the screen mostly clear of icons while exploring. Finally, I've always liked Darklands' method of handling special interactions in the world, using a simple "ink" and "watercolor"-style image with descriptive text, almost like a mini choose-your-own-adventure. ​

The interview is three pages long and starts right here.

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