Tacticular Cancer: We'll have your balls

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Interview Obsidian Media Blitz: Josh Sawyer and Feargus Urquhart Interviews

Discussion in 'RPG News & Content' started by Infinitron, Sep 7, 2017.

  1. Chainsaw Gutsfuckgender: ⚧ Educated

    Chainsaw Gutsfuck
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    He is right. Punishing the player for making a bad build is unfair, because the player has no way of knowing which builds are vailable in his first playthrough.

    Let's use an example: Assume that you play an RPG as a thief. And the game is designed in a way that stealth is available all the way through, until for the final boss, who can only be beaten by a strength build. Is this good game design?
     
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  2. Bociangender: ⚧ Learned

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    Then it's not punishing player for "bad" build. It's retarded game design. If the build has worked well for 99% of the game, it isn't a bad build.
    Besides, reading the manual/at least knowing the basics of the ruleset (if it's based on D&D) is enough to build the character to at least do its job. I knew jack shit about D&D when I was 10 years old and even then I managed to roll a decent party in BG/IWD or even Might and Magic 6/7. Of course, they wasn't optimal and minmaxed to the limit, but did what they were supposed to do.
     
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  3. Chainsaw Gutsfuckgender: ⚧ Educated

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    No it isn't. The manual doesn't tell you what kind of encounters are waiting for you. If you make a mage and the game throws you enemies with magic resistances, or If you make a warrior and the game throws you a gate that requires high lockpicking skill (in the main quest), you are punished for not knowing the mind of the designer and picking the trap choice.

    If the game offers you the choice to play as a mage, a warrior, or a thief, then you better be able to finish the game with each of these classes.

    agree/disagree?
     
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  4. l3loodAngelgender: ⚧ Proud INTJ Patron

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    So when you make a build something awesome has to happen! Build - awesome now connected in Obsidian games!
     
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  5. Chainsaw Gutsfuckgender: ⚧ Educated

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    When you make a build you should be able to finish the game; That's all I am saying.

    Take VTMB for example. In the late game, if you don't have a combat oriented build, it's likely impossible that you will be able to finish the game. Is that good game design? If yes, explain how.
     
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  6. aweighgender: ⚧ Arcane

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    "specific type... intrinsic narrative vocation..."

    these words are completely meaningless and can apply to anything related to any medium.
     
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  7. Lurker Kinggender: ⚧ Self-Ejected The Real Fanboy

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    Would you like me to draw it, or are you being willfully obtuse? Narrative vocation in the sense that the core mechanics is already an attempt to mimic real life. Do you have any real objection? The fact that you assume the comparison with movies and books already proves my point. The proper comparison is not between cRPGs and “other mediums”, but between cRPG's and other types of games. There is no story, character models, or NPCs in checkers or poker, for instance. There are some in some games in other genres, but it’s a basic feature of cRPGs.
     
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  8. aweighgender: ⚧ Arcane

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    ar pee... g???
     
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  9. Iznaliugender: ⚧ Arbiter

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    Did you have any prior exposure to RPGs?
     
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  10. Bociangender: ⚧ Learned

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    Back then, I didn't. I just managed to figure out that frontline fighters should be strong, mages have to be intelligent, and that I'll probably need a guy for traps and the one that will treat the wounded. Even if I didn't, I could find that out reading the manual.
     
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  11. Iznaliugender: ⚧ Arbiter

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    That would lead to Obsidian going bankrupt and/or Sawyer departing.
     
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  12. Azarkongender: ⚧ Arcane

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    The only reason Pillars of Eternity succeeded was because of Baldur's Gate nostalgia. This phase will pass. Then where will Obsidian be? Bankrupt? That's probable end for the company going down this path. Baldur's Gate succeeded not because the developers tried to pander to a safe existing audience for isometric RtWP CRPGs, because there was no such audience. It succeeded because the developers, having no previous guidance on how to make an isometric RtWP Dungeons and Dragons game, had to improvise and create a game they themselves would play - and it caught on.

    That's how successful phenomenons in gaming get their start. Take MOBAs, as an example - that entire genre grew out of custom maps for Starcraft and Warcraft. The people who designed those maps didn't think, "man, what in the world would Blizzard fans want to play?" In fact, had they done that, they'd almost certainly have concluded that they should make Warcraft clones - because hey, that's what sells, right? In which case they'd have become one of the many now bankrupt companies who thought they could succeed just by making Warcraft clones.

    No, the guys who started the MOBA genre, they designed the maps they wanted to play. The biggest genre in the last decade - an industry worth billions of dollars - started by a guy who loved hero battles in Warcraft, but hated building bases, so he said screw it, I'm going to do just that. That's how the next generation of games was born.

    I'm not saying Obsidian can go mainstream just by focusing on making the games they would want to play. It's entirely possible that the games they want to play, are actually fucking boring to 99% of the market. But they'd still be better off making the games they want to play, than the games that they think the market wants to play, because doing the former gives them a chance at creating a classic, while doing the latter dooms them to eternal mediocrity.

    And that's how I see Obsidian right now: an example of mediocrity, which cannot possibly survive for long because they're not just making mediocre games, they're making mediocre games in a niche industry. This is not Electronic Arts we're talking about. Their market is small, and filled with people driven by nostalgia.
     
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  13. Iznaliugender: ⚧ Arbiter

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    I don't get where this belief comes from, but it is absolute crap that isn't supported by any evidence.
     
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  14. Azarkongender: ⚧ Arcane

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    All you have to do, is look at the funding campaign, to which I, and many others, pledged, not because of any concrete, creative idea they put forth - because they had none, at the time - but because it was a bunch of former Black Isle guys promising to create the successor to Baldur's Gate and Planescape: Torment.

    That was the entire driving force behind their campaign.
     
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  15. Make America Great Again Infinitrongender: ⚧ Trade Master Patron

    Infinitron
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    Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    Wonderful, now let me point you at the Pillars of Eternity 2 campaign, the most successful RPG crowdfunding campaign since 2013, moreso than Divinity: Original Sin 2, on a fundraising platform that Internet edgelords hate
     
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  16. Iznaliugender: ⚧ Arbiter

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    Unfortunately, while funding campaigns are nice ways to get attention, what Obsidian really cares about is sales. This was different back when PoE 1 was being funded, but that time is over now.
     
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  17. Azarkongender: ⚧ Arcane

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    Pillars of Eternity 1 backers: 73,986

    Pillars of Eternity 2 backers: 33,614

    Don't kid yourself, Pillars of Eternity 2's campaign succeeded not because of Pillars of Eternity 1 creating more fans, but because the nostalgia fueled success of the first game drew the attention of actual investors, attracted to the second campaign by its promise of profit sharing.
     
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  18. Make America Great Again Infinitrongender: ⚧ Trade Master Patron

    Infinitron
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    Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    More. Than. Divinity Original Sin 2. Even without investors.

    Crowdfunding in general has declined continually since 2012, but the specifically anti-PoE grognard backlash foreseen on this forum just didn't happen. PoE2 highly overperformed for a game crowdfunded in 2017.
     
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  19. Azarkongender: ⚧ Arcane

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    Divinity Original Sin 1

    19,541 backers pledged $944,282 to help bring this project to life

    Divinity Original Sin 2

    42,713 backers pledged $2,032,434 to help bring this project to life.

    You want to know how to tell whether a game has grown its fan base?

    This is how.
     
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  20. Make America Great Again Infinitrongender: ⚧ Trade Master Patron

    Infinitron
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    Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    No shit it grew its fanbase, Larian were starting from a much lower point. They were Euro-nobodies back then, so the comparison isn't good.

    But this argument is dumb. The very fact that we're discussing the Eternity franchise here on the RPG Codex, when back in 2015 a whole bunch of people were so sure it would be forgotten within a year, tells you all you need to know. The franchise is becoming self-sufficient and is more than just IE nostalgia now - it's integrating skills, faction design and world exploration from the Fallout games, it's going places.
     
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  21. Make America Great Again Infinitrongender: ⚧ Trade Master Patron

    Infinitron
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    Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    BTW, I think this is probably a reductive way of thinking about how new genres and new types of games are created. For example, I could easily see how the idea of MOBAs started not from some pure spark of creativity, but from seeing how people enjoyed occasionally forgoing the base-building in normal RTS maps and having at it with their starting units (I know I did), and developing along those lines. Even if somebody creates a thing "for himself", the fact that he knows other people are interested in a similar sort of gameplay or similar evolution of a concept is bound to be an underlying factor in his work.
     
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  22. Azarkongender: ⚧ Arcane

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    You're right, which is why I'm surprised you brought it up :smug:

    We discuss a lot of games here on the Codex, even Tyranny and Tides of Numenera, so perhaps that isn't the best example, either.

    But I'll retreat a step and say that Pillars of Eternity isn't garbage, and that there is an opportunity for it to go a lot further by breaking out of the nostalgia well. That doesn't, however, change my belief that Josh Sawyer should spend his time developing the games he wants to play, rather than the games Obsidian's marketing team thinks the rest of us want to play.

    I have a similar argument, in fact, with Tides of Numenera. Again, we have a developer who thinks they know what we want to play. And again, it turned out that developing to their idea of our tastes is a dangerous proposition. It's entirely possible that our tastes have changed. It's also entirely possible that they just didn't grasp it that well, to begin with. Certainly, the lesson is that what developers remember and take away from a game, and what we remember and take away from a game, can be vastly different.

    Which is all the more reason not to try to guess what the market wants, and instead, to show them what YOU want, especially when you're Josh Sawyer and haven't made a single such game in your entire two decades career, because you were always too busy getting pulled into other people's projects. I feel sorry for Josh Sawyer, in a way - Avellone has his Planescape: Torment, Tim Cain has his Fallout, and Josh Sawyer has his... Icewind Dale?
     
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  23. Laheygender: ⚧ Learned

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    People don't always act in their own self-interest. https://www.researchgate.net/profil...s_10_31-37/links/54da5e0c0cf2ba88a68d2466.pdf
     
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  24. Azarkongender: ⚧ Arcane

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    See, I don't disagree with you, because in actual life there is no such concept as a completely idiosyncratic preference. Even the most idiosyncratic game developer in the world will likely find people who share his taste. Hell, Grimoire has its fans, even on the Codex, and most people aren't as ... unique ... as Cleveland Mark Blakemore, so they're bound to find even more people who'd share their tastes.

    And logically, developers would do better to focus on those tastes that are widely shared, than those tastes that aren't, provided they can distinguish between the two. For example, a developer who likes both class based systems and permanent death, would do well to put more emphasis on the former, and less emphasis on the latter, to reach a bigger audience. But I wouldn't fault him either way.

    What I would fault a developer for, however, is implementing features they don't care for, only because they THINK other people would like those featuers. Chances are, they're going to get it wrong. The particular example I'm thinking of is Josh Sawyer's implementation of the class system in Pillars of Eternity, which shows a distinct lack of appreciation for class-based systems, and what makes them fun. I blame this poor design on the developer's own stated distaste, which ran against his natural instinct for maximizing customization, which made it into the game in the form of a talents system, which ended up clashing with the game's class roles and making the whole system feel off.

    There's a lot more to be said about it, but I don't have the time today. So I'll just say that I don't think, in general, that a developer can deliver a game that rises above mediocrity, unless he is actually passionate about that game, through and through.

    You see this not just in system design, but also in story and world design. Avellone is said to have written all the generic companions in Neverwinter Nights 2 - and they're virtually all garbage. But then they gave him time to create and design characters he actually cared about in MoTB, and those were much, much better.

    I have no cause to believe that Josh Sawyer is any different.
     
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  25. Neanderthalgender: ⚧ Arcane

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    You know Sawyer talks a good game about making a class shine in its own field, and one I generally agree with, but then designs games where all of the unique qualities of a class are wiped out in favour of combat equality. Take Thieves, all their skills, all their unique approaches to world, all the places where they can shine, all abandoned in favour of being more useful in combat and being made into another type of fighter.

    Okay it makes it easier to design a game cos you've now got no unique content to make, no alternate paths and its just more grinding, but don't start saying everyone should shine when you're lobotomising classes into different combat roles.
     
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