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J.E. Sawyer

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J.E. Sawyer last won the day on November 17 2015

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About J.E. Sawyer

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    Project Director

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    Santa Ana, California
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  1. I have never heard of any game developer doing their localization in-house, not in 1999, not in 2020. Every game I've worked on and every company I've ever talked to always outsources their localization. Localization companies specialize in it. There's no reason for even a mid-sized game dev studio to keep a loc staff on hand unless it's a single person doing coordination. And that single person is usually a production role, not a polyglot translator. Even localization companies often outsource one or more languages that their normal staff can't cover. Deadfire shipped in 10 languages: English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, Russian, Korean (separate SKU), and Simplified Chinese. I have never seen an entirely in-house localization team that covers all of those languages. If they exist, I assume their per-word translation costs are phenomenally high. We do have fluent and native speakers at the studio occasionally play the game to spot check how things are going, but there are hundreds of thousands of words in our games. Even a native speaker working as a game developer does not have time (especially late in the project, when the loc'd versions are close to final) to play through the game entirely in their native language and write up the bugs that they find. I played the game for maybe 5 or 6 hours in German and caught a bunch of bugs that I sent back to the loc team. I also played the game for a couple of hours in French and caught a few bugs (my French is not great but the bugs were really obvious). That's a drop in the bucket, content-wise. And I'm fluent in German, not native. Something that macht Sinn to me might actually klingt falsch to a native speaker. Our audiences have always expected translations to ship "day-and-date" with the English versions. With this volume of text and this number of languages, I have yet to see a time- and cost-feasible solution for not only translating all of the text but comprehensively reviewing it in situ and sending it back for per-string spot-fixing before launch. I know people were disappointed by the German and Italian (at least) translations, but it's not like our company is doing something uniquely weird and stupid.
  2. I think it is fair and reasonable to critique the work that I have done/continue to do, but I do want to clarify the work I (and others) have done and have not done. I did not have anything to do with the development of the story in NWN2. I came to Obsidian in July of 2005, long after the story had been established. In the capacity of a senior area designer, my only story contribution was to suggest and work through ideas about the background of the King of Shadows with George Ziets. John Gonzalez developed the story for F:NV. Eric Fenstermaker developed the story for PoE. George Ziets developed the story for Mask of the Betrayer. I was the director of F:NV and PoE. Kevin Saunders was the lead designer (we didn't have directors then) on Mask of the Betrayer. Writing on projects is split between multiple designers. E.g. on F:NV, over ten designers wrote quest and companion dialogue. I designed all of the main F:NV companions, but the actual writing was split up across many designers. Eric Fenstermaker wrote Boone, Travis Stout wrote Raul, John Gonzalez wrote Lily, Chris Avellone wrote Cass, Akil Hooper wrote ED-E's bleeps, Jesse wrote Rex, and I wrote Arcade. Writing was similarly split on Mask and PoE, but to clarify, I wrote no dialogue on Mask and only Pallegina and a few (~3) minor characters in PoE.
  3. We are going to be re-tuning the late game difficulty to both reduce mobs and make the remaining combats more challenging for higher level characters.
  4. Story Time is sort of the flip side of Path of the Damned. Combat populations are what they are on Normal, but we modify the stats of critters as well as incoming/outgoing damage to heavily favor the player. Some players find even Easy difficulty to be too hard. The modifications are purely procedural and do not require designers to modify existing encounters. It did not take much time to implement.
  5. I read somewhere that the reason for you being unable to get this data into the UI had technical, not design roots. It's reassuring to know you've registered this problem. Oh, yes, it's absolutely a technical problem. My preference is always to allow players to have as much clarity with what's going on under the hood as possible (if they want it).
  6. BTW, I do totally understand that it's frustrating trying to calculate DPS in the game right now. It was an ongoing frustration during development that we couldn't report actual base and modified attack and recovery times. If we make a sequel, fixing that is a high priority.
  7. If we make a sequel, we will likely be hitting higher levels with commensurately more powerful items. PoE was targeting a power growth curve that's in between the original BG (capped out before L10) and IWD (about L15). Holy Avengers and Vorpal Swords are among the best of the best weapons and seem like they're more appropriate for the upper teens (which BG2 goes in to). That's why Pale Justice (from IWD) isn't really as powerful as a HA. I disagree with your assessment of the soulbound weapons. I think the Greenstone Staff and Grey Sleeper could be better, but I think Nightshroud, St. Ydwen's Redeemer, and Stormcaller (especially) are all pretty strong. The Ability and Talent system would likely be revised in a sequel. I know there are a bunch of Talents that aren't appealing. I've tried to tune Abilities and Talents up in circumstances where people give specific criticism. E.g. many of the paladin Abilities and ranger Talents got tuned way up in the last patch. Fighter abilities are being tuned up in 2.03 (now in beta). The approach to balance will be similar. We do continue to improve enemy AI and abilities in new expansion areas (e.g. Crägholdt) and will continue to improve base game AI in future patches.
  8. I adjusted Defender and Wary Defender down because they were contributing to close-to-unassailable Deflection values on fighters. Fighters should be exceptional tanks, but their Deflection values should still be approachable by enemies. I think the question is what the drawback for enabling Defender should be. Hold the Line will grant you one additional target to Engage with no drawback. Defender grants you two and previously added a Deflection bonus with an attack rate malus. Cautious Attack also adds a Deflection bonus with an attack rate malus, so there's overlap there, especially since they are both modals. Engagement isn't primarily about forcing Disengagement Attacks, but holding (or at least slowing) enemies that may be attempting to rush around you. If you don't value that, you probably won't value Defender no matter what its drawback is. But if you value that, the question is still what the drawback should be. Defender could inflict an Accuracy malus to offset the additional Engagement, but some players might view that as worse than a Deflection penalty. I do not have a strong attachment to Deflection being the drawback on Defender, and we will be continuing to tune the game after 2.0 and The White March, so I don't have a problem with shifting the drawback to a different stat.
  9. I was just talking to Roby and Adam about a respec feature. It's a little complicated, but it's not something we're opposed to and we're going to look into the logistics of implementing it. I know that's vague but character creation and advancement are complicated and sometimes seemingly simple things are quite difficult. With some of the new scaling, I've been tuning down some of the other means of powering up base abilities (like Talents). Until now, Talents were one of the only mechanical ways that we could scale some abilities up.
  10. Yes, we're currently testing internally with Perception granting a bonus to Accuracy and no bonus to Deflection. Even during the final phases of development (pre-launch and after launch), there was still a fair amount of internal debate about the balance of Perception and Resolve. At +2/point, it did seem like a really obvious "max on everyone" stat. At +1/point, it still feels valuable, but not extraordinarily so (at least according to QA so far).
  11. Something not covered in the update/video because it's not a super high profile feature is that we can scale base abilities and weapons much more easily now, so things like Holy Radiance, Arcane Assault, and Spiritshift weapons/armor can become more powerful as the character gains levels. These updates will also be in the next patch.
  12. You are one rad dude, love the tattoos. B a d a s s

  13. Personally, I don't think 3 Knock Downs is overpowered, no.
  14. Yes, if all choices are the same, they don't matter, but the presence or absence of bad options does not change the similarity/dissimilarity of the options that remain. If you have three options, two that are good, one that is bad, removing the bad one does not mean that the two good choices have become more similar. I think the easiest place to see an example of a bifurcated progression system would be XCOM:EU or the iOS game Battleheart. Both force the player to choose between two exclusive options as they advance. The option that is left unselected cannot be selected in the future. Because of this, the player is always doing a direct comparison of one choice to another, and never to other choices that are available at different levels. Most of these options are quite dissimilar, mechanically. An XCOM:EU Sniper's choice between Squadsight and Snap Shot or an Assault's choice between Lightning Reflexes and Close and Personal is very significant. Many people (including I) could make arguments about the superiority of one of those options in each pair, but the absence of bad options doesn't make the choices that remain inconsequential -- far from it. Perfect balance has never been a goal in PoE, but if something really sticks out like a sore thumb (insanely good, really bad) I will try to address it. When F:NV first launched, all sniper rifles still had the x5 crit chance multiplier on them that they had in F3. Practically speaking, it meant that you may as well use a sniper rifle in virtually all circumstances because even in an open firefight you could score crits with extremely high frequency. The only real issue was .308 availability, which wasn't much of a problem at all. I removed the x5 crit chance multiplier in the first patch and people complained about it, but the sniper rifles were still incredibly good as sniper rifles (i.e., at long range, especially from stealth). Importantly, it didn't stop people from using sniper rifles at all because they were still very powerful, but in open firefights or at close range, they were more likely to switch to other weapons that worked better in those circumstances.
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