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Sawyer, Brennecke and Adler on Eternity's megadungeon and other stuff at Rock Paper Shotgun
Interview - posted by Infinitron on Wed 11 December 2013, 16:09:20Tags: Adam Brennecke; Brandon Adler; J.E. Sawyer; Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity
While Rock Paper Shotgun published the bulk of their Pillars of Eternity material yesterday, they apparently still had enough left off for a few more posts. Today, they've posted an interview with Josh Sawyer, Adam Brennecke and Brandon Adler that focuses on the game's 15-level megadungeon, and the issue of the game's size and scope in general.
Brennecke: I don’t want to say, but it’s probably going to be hours and hours?
Adler: It’ll be pretty beefy.
Sawyer: My direction for designing it has been that the ramp in difficulty goes up faster than you can level while in it. [laughs] So I kind of want the player to hit… You go through, you go down a couple levels, then you go to the next level and you’re like, “WHOA! Okay!” Either it forces them to get really serious about tactics, or they’re like, “You know what? I’m gonna go out to do some more quests, come back, and go deeper down.”
RPS: So it’s something you work through gradually.
Sawyer: Yeah. And we’ve come up with some ideas for mechanics that encourage continuing to return to the dungeon, so that it becomes kind of like a cyclical thing. You go down for a while, you back off, you deal with some things, and then you find a reason to go back down.
RPS: Is there a story surrounding the dungeon? Something huge and labyrinthine like the dungeon itself?
Sawyer: Yeah, yeah. You’ll start to learn [that there's a lot more to it than you first suspect]. Initially it just seems like a cursed, abandoned place. The Glanfathans warn people away from it. But they kind of say, “If you wanna go buck wild in here, it’s your funeral. Go down in there if you want.” As you go deeper you start learning more about what it was and what it is now and what’s going on in it. There’s a mystery. It’ll be a fun mystery to solve and get to the bottom of it.
RPS: And I’m guessing the rewards are pretty incredible? Like, some of the best in the game?
Brennecke: Of course.
Sawyer: I mean, we want our dungeons to feel like dungeons, but this should be the dungeoniest dungeon that we have [laughs]. Lots of monsters, lots of loot, lots of cool exploration and stuff.
RPS: Would you say that it’s the dungeoniest dungeon you’ve ever designed, period?
Sawyer: Uh… Yeah. I’d say a close second would be Dragon’s Eye, which is pretty dungeony.
Brennecke: The direction is like, it’s a dungeon crawl. That’s what it is.
Sawyer: There can be quests in it, but they’re not like, “Let’s talk to a lot of people.” [laughter]
Adler: It’s more like, let’s murder them.
Sawyer: Let’s murder a bunch of people, maybe talk to a few people along the way.
RPS: That does, in fact, sound quite dungeony. What about the rest of the game, though? What kind of scope are you aiming for there?
Saywer: It’s going to be big. I’m not going to give any hour range. It’s going to feel like a worth Infinity engine game. It’s going to be in that ballpark.
I’ve never had a good experience estimating hours before a game’s release. When we made Icewind Dale II, we were afraid it would not even be a 30-hour game. That is a fucking 85-plus-hour game. Easily.
Adler: When you look at Neverwinter II, originally… [laughs]. That was supposed to be a 25-hour game. We couldn’t speedrun it in 40 hours.
Sawyer: It’s going to be big. Scope is quality in this game. In this game, we believe that scope is a part of the perceived quality of the game that we are making. The trend has been generally, for many, many games… It’s like, tighter, more focused, more unique. We still want places to feel unique and have cool unique content in them, but we must have a big game. Just by virtue of the fact that we have two big cities and a megadungeon, that’s a lot of levels. We can’t do that without being.
It’s like Brandon said. We know we have to do this stuff. Let’s go. Let’s make these guys and make them look really cool, but make them clean and make them in intelligent ways. It’s going to be big. That’s the best way I can say it. It’s going to be a big game.