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Josh Sawyer interviewed at Dealspwn and PCGamesN

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Josh Sawyer interviewed at Dealspwn and PCGamesN

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Sun 3 August 2014, 22:28:35

Tags: J.E. Sawyer; Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity

One of the gaming news sites that got to see the Pillars of Eternity gameplay demonstration in that game's recent publicity blitz was Dealspwn. A few days ago, they published a 37 minute Q&A session they held with Josh Sawyer after the demo. It's actually a pretty fun little interview. Josh talks about topics such as the game's races and cultures, his character system design philosophy, his arguments with grognards who don't know what they want, the game's disposition and reputation systems, and more. As a bonus, at the end of the video (starting from around 33:30), Josh demonstrates his favorite feature. I won't ruin the surprise:


On the same day that video was published, PCGamesN published their own Pillars of Eternity preview/interview. Among other things, it has some interesting information about the game's soul-based metaphysics, and about its summoning-focused Chanter class. Here's an excerpt:

Things you’d normally regard as intangible and immutable are far from it in Eora, gods for one thing but, more importantly, souls, too. Sawyer was keeping shtum on the details but driving the main plot of Pillars are animancers, a group of people who have started dissecting souls.

“Think of an animancer as a physicist,” Sawyer explains. “They're using technology and machinery to explore and understand the soul in a way that people haven't been able to before. It's like spectography, when we first started separating out light and going 'Holy shit, dude. It's made out of all kinds of stuff.'

“A lot of people think that personality defects or mental illness are due to problems with a person's soul. Animancers think they can fix that which is very contentious. Some people don't want to mess around with that, either morally they think it's wrong ,they think that if you mess around with souls the gods will be angry with you. A lot of people think that the gods regulate reincarnation in the world. Animancers are saying 'No, no we have to learn how this stuff works. We can make peoples' lives better.'”

Obsidian are throwing you into the thick of the debate. “Defiance Bay is our first major city and it's the centre of Animancy research in the world,” Sawyer says. “There are a lot of bad things that have come of it but good things have happened, too. It's like a technology debate, like the ethics of technology and how it's being built, and how it's being monitored, or not monitored. Of course, there are parallels to real world stuff.”

This isn’t all a metaphysical debate that’s separate from the nuts and bolts of the action of the game. It bleeds into every layer of Pillars. The most creative example of this is one of the new classes, the chanter.

The chanter acts as Pillars’ primary summoner class. Like poets in our ancient history, they’ve “learned phrases that are kind of like 'Swift Achilles blah blah blah', iconic phrases from the literature of this world.” But, unlike our poets, “when they say it they're calling out to the unconscious collective knowledge of all the dead people present in the world and all the dead people make the spell effects from them.

“There's one like 'And who else was buried under that hill none can say' and it summons skeletons. Those phrases get linked together into chants, those chants are buffs, and as you say each phrase that gives a little, short-term buff, and it ends and drifts for a little while as another phrase starts. After you've said a certain number of phrases then you can use an invocation which is an powerful spell cast, like summoning ogres.”

Chanters will play unlike any other character in your party. You’ll need to play them with a rhythm where they’re always moving onto the next chant and have that chant be informed by the previous one to build to a large invocation.

Naturally, Obsidian are also giving you the chance to dabble in this animancy business yourself. Depending on the character, some of your companions will lead you down quests where you can dissect and alter their souls, or the souls of people they know. Changing the demeanor, abilities, and perspective.​

Enslave entire nations with animancy!

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