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Scrapulous

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About Scrapulous

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  1. It's funny to me because this bit Owlcat in the behind when the game came out. Their difficulty settings did not map faithfully to pnp - their encounters were considerably more difficult than the pnp versions, and they liberally gave "artificial" stat boosts to even very minor enemies. The Pathfinder hardcore was outraged - not because it was too difficult, but because it was inaccurate. Mods that reversed those stat boosts were some of the first that came out, if I remember correctly. I think uuuhhii and Madscientist are making the same point - that Pathfinder is full of trap choices and that there are build optimizations that are obvious to people who know the system well but that are not intuitive or even visible to people who don't - uuuhhii's example that one level of Monk or Paladin are the optimal amounts when multiclassing is a very good one. I think this really illustrates the difference between a good system and a familiar system, especially when it comes to video games. It's easier to commit to playing a flawed system when you know you'll be done with the flaws after 80 hours of gameplay. But if I think I'm going to have to spend five or ten hours learning a system before I can start my 80 hours of gameplay, I might be more inclined to choose the system I'm familiar with, along with its flaws, in order to get into the gameplay I want sooner.
  2. I loved that game and played it through many times. I bought Human Revolution and couldn't get into it. I didn't play past the second "level." Maybe we have identified a theme, and the disease is inside of me? I made it about halfway through a SC wizard PotD playthrough and quit because my wizard was able to solve every fight on his own and I was bored. I read on the boards that tuning was coming and decided to wait for some DLCs to arrive before returning. It's a much more playable experience and I appreciate Obsidian's continued support of the game. I'm playing it a lot right now. Interesting, I think of the videogame-D&D fanbase to be composed of different groups. One is the group of tabletop D&D players who also play video games and are like you describe: people who appreciate the complexity of the system, who have mastered it in its most complex form, and who want video games reflecting the things they like about the pen and paper version. But I suspect there are very many more who have never played tabletop D&D, or who have only played it a small amount, and who are simply are familiar with D&D through the very long history of D&D video games. Many of them probably don't care about how good or balanced or scalable a game system is. They just want to rescue some princes and fight dragons and find cool magic items, and they're perfectly willing to spend 5 minutes reading on reddit which classes to avoid and which are OP, and then dive into a familiar system. These are the people I imagine bouncing off of PoE. "Okay, let's see... might? I guess that's strength. Perception? Wow, I'm not sure which stat I need. Maybe I'll make a fighter and make her strong and tough. Wait, where is my armor class?? What the hell is reflex? Help!" Maybe plenty of them just wing it, then try to save Aloth from some angry farmers and get crushed, and then walk away forever. Or they wait for a good online guide to how to build characters. But I will say that I think there is a hidden downside to creating a system where there are not obvious dump stats: people like having quick mental shortcuts or "hacks." D&D games have a lot of these. It's usually safe to dump charisma, for example, and most D&D games do a good job of telling you what stats you should not dump once you have selected a class. If you have played one D&D video game, you are probably pretty well situated to pick up most any other pretty quickly. Madscientist, you mentioned above that Kingmaker sold better than Deadfire. Is that known to a certainty? Or could it be that Kingmaker sold better relative to expectations than Deadfire? I think Owlcat had a considerably smaller budget for Kingmaker than Deadfire did, which is why I ask.
  3. I thought I detected a bit of disgust earlier in the thread at your affection for Skyrim, so I thought I'd invent a fake reason to get on the bandwagon, since you had thumbed your nose at gatekeepers. I was embarrassed at writing so much and deflected by making fun of you (or I suppose in actual fact making fun of myself by being even more ridiculous (who cares what games other people like?) than writing a long, dry post about game design). Dirty Skyrim-lover.
  4. I think there's a factor that was touched on earlier in the discussion but not elaborated on: this was an ambitious, risky project from the beginning. The project to create a new intellectual property that would form the basis of multiple games is a big one. It's one reason why many Hollywood studios, which are typically headed by risk-averse business types rather than dream-big creative types, prefer to mine popular existing worlds for stories than to create new ones (another being, as pointed out earlier, that audiences tend to want the right mix of new content and familiar stories, worlds, or characters). I would argue that the Eora Project (a name I invented just now for lack of anything more real) was considerably more ambitious. Consider: not only did Obsidian leave behind a lot of the familiar fantasy tropes that one gets from a standard, medieval Europe type of fantasy setting. They also made a lot of narrative work for themselves: animancy, firearms, deep backstory based on a history going back thousdands of years, and the rather novel notion that the gods of this world had been very literally created by people who had been disappointed to find that there was no architecture behind their world*. This work isn't just for them, it's for their players: to read, to absorb, to embrace. I was very skeptical of firearms and animancy coming into PoE, and Obsidian did a spectacular job of layering magic and divinity alongside chemistry and spiritualism in a seamless, nuanced way that put my concerns to rest quickly and quietly. On top of all of this, Obsidian made a very clear decision to eschew tropes, clichés, and standard fantasy props in favor of subtlety, nuance, and complex human interactions. No orcs. No good/evil axis. No Mary Sue character written in to tell the player how to think about their decisions. Even the history and the geopolitical environment attempted to have the texture and depth of a real world. Instead of "a nation of vikings who worship the god of war" or whatever, you have trading consortia and muddled interests and the very plausible consequences of having real, embodied gods who can act to change the world. On top of the narrative and world-building ambitions, they decided to try to fix the obvious problems with the Infinity Engine games' mashup of a real-time with pause combat system bolted to a very turn-based D&D game system, not to mention the entrenched balance problems of D&D. So they set out to build their own mechanics where each stat has roughly equal value, each class is equally viable, and there are no trap options. Although they fell short of total success here (and who wouldn't?), they came close enough to their objectives that they reached what I would call a very good result. This, however, came with the cost to the player of a new game system to learn, one with nuances specific to RTwP gameplay, and a more complex build environment to manage, which is overhead when considering a new RPG. As others have mentioned, time economy changes as we age. I bounced hard off PoE and didn't return until White March 2 was released - as a kid with far fewer games to choose from I wouldn't have, but as an adult with limited gaming time and way too many game options, I can't always come home at the end of a day of systems analysis and sign up for some more, voluntary, unpaid systems analysis. When I came back, many changes had been made and there was more guidance on the boards and I dove deep into PoE and am very glad I did. All of this to say that I think this was a massively ambitious project from the outset. Obsidian took on a lot of voluntary challenges in building the Eora world, and staked out some very bold narrative and mechanical ground. I would argue that PoE came out at the right time, and, as others have guessed, I guess that it may have oversold on a bit of a wave of nostalgia. But I am speculating here based on very thin evidence and I haven't looked at the release environment to validate my suspicions about nostalgia - I am mostly working off of my own memory of salivating while waiting for PoE to be released. So then Deadfire came along, and some changes were made and more risks absorbed. Marketing, if it was indeed absent (I just can't comment precisely, but my memories are of reading about this game as a side note on gamer press stories about Fig or crowdfunding, and then getting updates from Fig), is hugely important. Josh Sawyer commented about the voiceover expense in time and money (which I would argue is an indicator that the assumption that it is now required needs to be rethought - but that has been discussed ). The image I most associate with Deadfire's marketing is the picture one still sees on the Steam library page, of Serafen, Edér, Pallegina, and Aloth fighting off... pirate zombies? while tentacles attack? and maybe other pirate zombies are helping? or not? on a ship? It's dramatic and evocative, but evokes to my mind a Johnny Depp movie more than a dark, nuanced, thoughtful RPG meditation on the nature of souls, so I think there's some merit to the argument that it felt like a big departure from the first game. Is familiarity a decisive factor in a sequel's sales? Not necessarily. But it doesn't have to be. It can be one of several non-decisive factors that sinks the ship (you see? I can employ nautical themes, too). For me it was not, because of my experience being skeptical about the first game's themes and then discovering that my skepticism was unnecessary and the seemingly jarring collection of themes meshed together well under the guidance of skilled writers. I started Deadfire and saw a significantly different tone, but still the same deep writing, the nuanced take on personal and collective motivations, and more rumination on the nature of divinity and the interesting notions of souls, reincarnation, and the Wheel. But those are the things I care about. Another player, who cares more about the dark feel of PoE, might have seen sun-drenched beaches and heard jolly pirate shanties being sung as jolly buccaneers freeboot from island to island, and looked away. There are other factors. There are more streams and more let's-plays out there for people to watch before they buy. There are more isometric RPGs out there. Big megahits distort the market and players' expectations of what an RPG should be (Witcher 3, Skyrim, Original Sin 2 - and pour mettre mon propre grain de sel, I enjoy none of those three games). The state of localization was mentioned, an element I hadn't read about, and I agree - in such a narratively-driven game, it's important to get localization right if you're going to attempt it. None of these sound decisive to me, but I think each of them is a factor. And when one has an ambitious project (which Deadfire also was), those ambitions make the project more brittle. Another earlier point that I think is very important: it's too early for anybody to say right now whether the game was successful or not. It sounds like there was a bit of "development hell" involved in the production of the game, at the least for Sawyer himself, so it's unlikely that he's going to be able to look back on things with perfectly clear eyes. For the sake of example: the game broke even recently. That's great news. Even if it never sells another copy, there is room for improvement. If I were an analyst for Obsidian, I'd at least do a rudimentary analysis of the project: if we could cut the "entire game gets VO" deliverable and only lose 5%, 10%, or 15% of sales, would the project meet our profitability targets for a viable project? There are likely other obvious questions to the people at Obsidian - I'm working only with what Sawyer shared in that presentation in Europe and my own speculations. But I wouldn't assume we know for sure that there cannot be a PoE3. I also caution that these discussions can't happen until more time has passed, so again: it's too early to say. This was longer than I expected. I blame Boeroer and his love of Skyrim. * I once described PoE by telling a friend that "it seems to have been a game designed around Voltaire's quote that 'if god did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him'." My friend, who has worked in the game development industry for decades, said "Such a high-minded concept usually isn't a good sign." We agreed that maybe the game worked because Obsidian didn't reveal that notion until well into the third act.
  5. If you're not worried about achievements, you can enable the console and apply injuries with the AddInjury console command. format: AddInjury [character_id] [affliction_id] 1 example: AddInjury Player_Nuuruhuin AFF_AcuteRash 1
  6. I fear not. All five party members at skill level two gives everybody an effective level of 6. The bonus from your party totals all of their skills and calculates the bonus based on that total. Four other characters each with mechanics of 2 gives a total of 8, for a bonus of 4. Combined with the skill of 2 on the character employing the skill, that's 6.
  7. Interestingly, verifying integrity of the game files in Steam worked for me. I was able to launch the game successfully afterward.
  8. I'm having the same problem. I was also able to run the game fine the first time, but subsequent loads all fail to the black screen. I get out of that with ctrl+alt+del and then bringing up the task manager, but I can't interact with the task manager or the rest of my desktop using the mouse at all: my mouse cursor is still the pillars gauntlet cursor, and clicks I presume are going to the game process instead of my desktop despite the fact that the game is minimized (or at least not visible aside from the mouse cursor) at this point. So I have to reboot by using the ctrl+alt+del screen, where the mouse works fine.
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