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Chris Avellone tells the Codex about his current work on Pillars of Eternity

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Chris Avellone tells the Codex about his current work on Pillars of Eternity

People News - posted by Crooked Bee on Sat 17 January 2015, 17:56:18

Tags: Chris Avellone; Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity

As some may recall, in a recent interview Chris Avellone told PCGamesN that he wrote two companions for Obsidian's upcoming fantasy RPG Pillars of Eternity, but that his original design went too far and had to be scaled down from how he originally imagined these characters:

Sitting down to write two characters for Eternity, Avellone felt as if the chains were off.

“I’m not writing for a publisher right now,” he thought. “So I can write about subjects we’re normally not allowed to. What’s interesting about the world of Eternity that I think these two companions could have something to say about?”

In the end, Avellone went too far even for his colleagues at Obsidian - those characters won’t appear in the game as he originally intended.​

We were in email correspondence with Chris regarding Codex backer rewards at around the same time the interview was posted, so we decided to ask him about his original companion design and how it changed - to which MCA gave an answer that may be of interest to those who follow Pillars of Eternity's progress:

Chris Avellone: "To be clear, and to give credit where credit is due on content contributions (I don’t want to steal anyone’s thunder), I wrote the first iterations of two companions (Durance and the Grieving Mother, who have been scaled down to about ¼ of what they were originally, and the Grieving Mother’s mental dungeon was excised as well, which was essentially a stealth adventure game inside her memories).

The final versions that are in the game are the province of other narrative designers, and I would be uncomfortable taking credit for the final implementation of the two characters. "​

The Grieving Mother's mental dungeon sounds intriguing, and also Wasteland-ey (remember Finster's brain?), but given Josh Sawyer's recent comment on another forum about "listing as a b-priority" anything that isn't "core gameplay" (requires registration to see, but quoted in full by our dear Roguey here), no wonder it was cut. Could be it didn't fit the game's tone either.

To follow up on that, we asked Chris if the Grieving Monther's dungeon's design was Wasteland-inspired, but turns out that no, it was not:

Chris Avellone: Interesting thought! Not at all, actually. I was thinking about how a dialogue could be explored like a dungeon and reversing a Cipher’s powers so it’s actually the player who has telepathy - the scripted interactions in Eternity seemed like a perfect fit.​

Sounds like it was firmly rooted in the game's lore, after all.

Aside from that, in response to the question about whether he would describe his involvement with Pillars as "minimal", MCA also elaborated on what his current role on the game is in general:

Chris Avellone: "I’ve been doing narrative fixes for the game now that it’s nearing the end of production along with reviewing other written support materials (the manual, for example, since I’ve written quite a few in the past). Feargus requested my assistance for two reasons – one, the narrative team did not have the time and two, because of my familiarity with the title. It has taken time – still, because this work involves bug-fixing and improving the core content of the game (as opposed to an Arcanum LP, which would not improve Eternity’s quality), it’s worthwhile, and it’s rare that we have an opportunity like this. Also, it has allowed us to look for things to add to the standards document for future projects (including further Eternity projects). I have still a good chunk more to do. I wouldn’t describe my role as minimal, but it’s been different than other RPGs at the studio. It usually is, from project to project.

I also did multiple critiques of the lore and the storyline(s) (including suggesting one framework for the story, along with other designers), but the storyline does not have many of my suggestions or contributions, it is largely the Creative Lead’s voice and direction guiding it, as it should be.

I had no involvement with the systems of the game beyond pushing that we create classes unique/native to the physics of the world (the Cipher), since a number of the classes that had been created up to that point were largely archetypes that could be found in other fantasy games. I felt strongly that if we could make a tie between the systems and lore, the game would be stronger for it.

That’s it. Still plenty to do. More to come when I have a breather. :)"​

In conclusion - for those still waiting with bated breath for the continuation of his exciting adventures in Arcanum - MCA noted that the above "isn’t meant to imply the Arcanum LP won’t be finished, it will just likely be postponed until I’ve done all I can with improving Eternity’s core content." Phew, and here I was getting worried already.

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