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Eric Fenstermaker

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Eric Fenstermaker last won the day on October 7 2016

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About Eric Fenstermaker

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  1. I'm on this thing! I wasn't sure if I could confirm officially anything in public yet (I'm used to keeping everything under wraps until someone gives the okay, I guess), but then today I learned it's been public since like May. So I guess I can! Plus, who cares? Writing Eder, as previously noted, as a contract writer. Also did story and world development back in preproduction when I was the narrative lead in-house. Memories. Peace and twin-rorschach-bear-high-fives to all of you.
  2. Hi guys, Sorry I'm late to the party, and thanks for the congratulations! Darren pretty much said it all. It's not so much that I've "moved on from Obsidian" so much as any work I do for them in the foreseeable future would be as a contractor. We'll get that all hashed out in the near future, I'm sure. For the moment it's nice not to have to think about work for a few months after an 11-year run. I have seen in a few places concerned comments about what this change means for the quality of PoE2 going forward. I want to assure you that all of these comments have come from sock puppet accounts that I myself have created to raise my social cachet. (Not really, but now that I mention it I'm disappointed I didn't think of it sooner.) Better writers than me have come and gone. But Obsidian's always managed to reload. (Not to mention, it takes a lot more than one writer to make or break the quality of a game with PoE's scope.) It's a rigorous hiring process, and as long as they remain as demanding as they have been, they'll be good for a long time. They've got some excellent people there now - they're just not all household names yet. Personally, knowing the narrative staff, I can't wait to play PoE2. For everyone else, all I can say is I wouldn't worry too much.
  3. To clarify the long vs. short game statement, I wasn't suggesting making an 8-hr full-priced RPG. It's more an overarching approach: if you have x dollars to make a game, do you spend 80% of it on content and 20% on polish, or 60% on content and 40% on polish? If you are given a choice between putting in some of your more mediocre work into the game to add to gameplay time, or cutting it in service of overall quality, which way do you go? Choosing the latter in both cases sounds appealing from the standpoint of having a desire to make high quality games, but it would cost you a big chunk of your gameplay time, so it's not a simple choice. A 60-hour game could become a 40-hour game. While I fully believe that there is such a thing as too short for a game, I also think there's room there to go in and at least find out, will a 40-hour, highly polished RPG be long enough to satisfy most fans, or does it have to be 60 or 80 hours? (Assuming the same price point across the board, because we're assuming the same budget for either scenario - if you drop price, you also drop profit projections (if we also make the assumption that the original price point maximized revenue) and would consequently have to spend less on budget.) I do not know the answer to that question, but I would be interested to find out.
  4. Figuer - I put in a retro fix for this. Will be in the next patch, assuming it passes QA. For you or anybody else who has the object in their inventory, but did not get the conversation with Eder that was supposed to happen when you acquired it, if you inspect the item in your inventory (Eder needs to be in the party, too), the conversation will automatically trigger.
  5. The screenshot link for the first one points to the third error, so I'm not sure what case of "Stamina" we're talking about. Other than that, all the new stuff is in. Plus like 30-ish spelling and typo fixes (that I'm hoping no one ever notices). Wasn't sure what you were referring to with using "I" as an object, Andrea, but if that's in dialogue I tend to let it slide because it's a grammar error that people commonly make when speaking casually.
  6. That's what I meant by his "more adventurous" works. Ulysses or Finnegan's Wake, I was thinking. Then again I'm talking out of my ass here because I've only read small excerpts from either of them. I know him more for his accessible stuff. Your choice of Faulkner was much better. And to be clear, I don't mean to say that we aspire to write like Hemingway or Joyce or any author of literature. A) There's no competing with that, especially in a form that places hefty, unnatural constraints on how you structure your text, B) I don't think many people would want to read an attempt at it, and C) even your work was phenomenal, it wouldn't put you in their company anyway - fancy prose doesn't push games as a medium, and pushing their medium is what made those authors special. If anything, the target for us, prose-wise, is to write something that is enjoyable to read, that hopefully evokes some of the feelings of sitting down with a good fantasy novel. (There are other ways, outside of prose, that the games narrative as a form can be pushed that are newer and more interesting, anyway.) There were times where I feel we hit the target and times where we missed, and for now the goal is to get more consistent about hitting it. I would love to see what a Shakespeare- or Miller-written RPG would read like, incidentally.
  7. This is a good discussion. If you're curious about where we at Obsidian stand on this issue, I can shed some light. (Although I'm just speaking for myself here.) - Concise is only the undisputed goal of writing to high school English teachers. (No offense, teachers! Those kids have to learn self-editing.) Many of what are widely considered the greatest works of literature of all time are so dense with words that they are unreadable to much if not most of the population. One of the hallmark traits of literature as a genre is that the authors commonly push the form in a new direction with a distinctive prose style. Hemingway did this with conciseness. Joyce is more at the other end of the spectrum with his more adventurous works. Both are considered masters. "Good writing" is completely independent of verbosity. (And frankly I never loved Hemingway, because concise, taken too far, becomes dull.) - That said, we want our games to be readable. We are not looking to enter the literary canon by displaying our comma splice or stream-of-consciousness prowess. Concise isn't always the answer, but I think "clean" is maybe a better target. Does the prose have a nice flow to it? Does it avoid redundancy with its descriptive words? Are we breaking it up enough with dialogue that it's not wall after wall of text? - We often were not clean in the Pillars base game. There are a ton of reasons for that. Rust, experience level (maybe 10 different people contributed writing, all with varying levels of experience), a lack of time to edit, a new setting that demanded a large amount of exposition, and a plot that exacerbated the problem by requiring that a lot of it be front-loaded. I cringe at plenty of my own stuff when I look back at it. - I do believe we're getting better at writing cleanly, and hopefully those who've played White March would agree that we're trending in the right direction. (I'd be curious to hear your impressions, though.) Some of the above root issues still persisted, so we weren't perfect, but I personally felt in playing the game that it was quite a lot easier to read through it without getting fatigued or rolling your eyes at overwrought prose. - There are certain unfortunate requirements of the form that handcuff you as a writer. I don't think many people are aware of them until they actually try to write RPG dialogue for themselves. One of the biggest is that branching dialogue encourages NPC monologuing as a device to mitigate the amount of branching that you do. If every time the player has an opportunity to respond, we have to give them 3+ things to say, the more the NPC can say between those player responses, the less enormous your dialogue file is. (There are other measures equally as controversial - having more inconsequential lines that all funnel to the same NPC response, or giving the player less opportunity to make choices of what to say, forcing them to say some lines from time to time.) Writing an RPG dialogue is a balancing act of trying to find the structure that will make the player hate you the least that you will also be able to finish on schedule. But you will see NPC monologuing dating all the way back to BG and PS:T, and that's why. It's unnatural and it reads kind of silly. It's not how I would write dialogue in a book or screenplay. You'll note the dialogue in our short stories reads quite a lot differently than our game dialogue. The other major issue is that we have to cater to a player base with a broad range of attention spans. Some read everything, but many skim and miss stuff. Sometimes that stuff is very important. Unfortunately, as the goal is for everyone to understand what's going on, sometimes important information has to be restated several times or in several different places, or else people will miss it or fail to understand it. Maerwald was a victim of this. (He was also overloaded with exposition, which was a separate problem. Don't give crazy characters exposition, kids.) I did a first pass of Maerwald, and testers were not understanding what his deal was. So I dumbed it down, and still the same problem. By the time people understood his story, the dialogue had become a slog. The testers were bright people that were doing their job properly, so that's not to lay blame on them. Just making the point that what's redundant to one player will often be a minimum requirement for another to follow what's going on. - Going forward, the choice of how much text we use will continue to be defined per-project, I think. With Pillars, if we were to do a sequel, I don't think the goal would be less text, per se, but we would want to be more economical and readable, hopefully with more time carved out for a real editing pass.
  8. Nah no worries! Paul's was this past Tuesday, mine is next Tuesday. Just want to make sure the man gets his props!
  9. Glad you liked Blood Register! However, credit where credit is due - it is the work of Paul Kirsch. Paul wrote our Collector's Book (and the instruction manual and probably some other things), and works as a narrative designer at Obsidian.
  10. Should be all caught up now for 2.03. Thanks for all the work. A few I left unchanged because the error is "by design" or in some cases excusable because it's part of natural speech. A swift, by the way, is a bird. I had to look it up.
  11. An update on this for you all... I've made most all the fixes brought up, excluding a few cases where what was there was either deemed acceptable or too much trouble to fix for whatever reason. I've also done a spell check on all game text. Oh the deep shame of it all. Probably about a hundred spelling errors fixed. (EDIT: make that two hundred.) On the bright side, White March will be much cleaner in that regard. These'll be in the 2.0 patch, I believe, which is incoming shortly. Also, thanks again to everyone for all the help - we'd never have been able to catch all this ourselves. It's like having to edit War and Peace while writing a War and Peace expansion pack.
  12. Hi, thanks for catching all these. I'm gonna see about getting these in for the next patch if possible.
  13. New ones will be in 1.05 - thanks again. A couple caveats for the morbidly curious: - We actually allow comma splices and generally don't use semicolons - I believe that's for reading aesthetics, and has been in place for all Obsidian games. - There's quite a bit of leeway in terms of spoken dialogue being grammatically incorrect, owing to the fact that people tend to speak idiosyncratically and imprecisely. So the Kana slip above, there, for example, is something we would tend to allow.
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