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J.E. Sawyer

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Everything posted by J.E. Sawyer

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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).
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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).
  10. 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.
  11. Personally, I don't think 3 Knock Downs is overpowered, no.
  12. 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.
  13. If a tactic is clearly an unintended exploit or a Talent is such an obvious choice that taking anything else is pointless, of course I'm going to tune it down. If we balance the game ignoring "no duh" options, then anyone who takes that path will find the game to be significantly less challenging. If we balance the game assuming everyone is taking relatively overpowered options, it narrows the range of viable character concepts considerably.
  14. The Stealth system wasn't taking high (i.e. above the creature's level) Stealth values into account, making it very difficult to get close even with characters who had maxed out Stealth values. This has been fixed and feels much better now. A Stealth-focused character can get quite close to most enemies and even someone who dabbles in Stealth can still use it for scouting and initial positioning.
  15. You may see more synchronization at higher levels, but so far it seems to not exceed 3 characters leveling simultaneously. At least according to what we've seen.
  16. AI reevaluates on events (e.g. being hit, completing an action, etc.), but a moving character that does not stop often has no new events to re-evaluate. It starts moving and continues moving without being able to reach the target, so it keeps on truckin'. At least, that's how it worked before. In the next build, the main difference is that a moving AI will say, "Hey, I'm moving, so I will periodically evaluate if I should keep doing this or peel off and attack someone else."
  17. Kaz has moved all of those displays to the same position as the animal companion portrait. The AC portrait has been reduced in size, the portraits have been spaced out slightly more, and status/affliction icons have been moved to the right of each character's portrait. As a consequence, the action bar has been lowered proportionally and you can see more status/affliction icons per character.
  18. I think there are a lot of good suggestions in here. One of the most persistent bugs in our combat log is resetting to the top instead of going to the bottom when a new entry is displayed. That is a bug (that I hate) and it just needs to be fixed. I'll talk to Brian about options for disabling Miss and Graze messages. Color changes/simplifications should be easy. And while BG1 and IWD1's combat logs tended to scroll at a pretty slow pace at low levels, that was not true toward the end game and was not really true in BG2 or (higher level) IWD2 at all. Serious fights (e.g. w/ Gromnir and friends) dumped a ton of messages because a) there's just a lot of people doing things and b) it was not hard to get your THAC0/Attack Bonus to divine heights, so scoring hits was common. Higher IWD/BG2/IWD2 warrior classes were also attacking really frequently, so you could see a lot of output from them. This in no way means we shouldn't look into improving our combat log, but even in the original games there's a certain volume of feedback that's hard to avoid once enough characters get involved at mid- to high-level.
  19. There are more monsters than just the stone beetles that have teleport abilities, but not a ton of them. In lieu of teleporting creatures, ranged enemies often target spellcasters or low DT/low-Deflection characters above all other enemies (according to QA it's a little too nasty right now in some spots).
  20. In practice, characters advance asynchronously in the game because you acquire companions at different times. They don't in the Backer Beta because all of your BB companions are given to you with equal experience at the same level. Obviously there are cases where some party members will advance together because MATH but that also happens in the original IE games if characters are created/acquired together and share an advancement table. In 2nd Ed., the following groups shared XP tables: paladins/rangers, thief/bard, and fighter/druid up to a point. There are also a lot of coinciding values across tables. E.g. 20,000 and 90,000 are shared by druids and wizards, 750,000 is shared by fighters and wizards, 40,000 is shared by wizards, thieves, and bards. IME, you get a slightly higher rate of coincidental simultaneous leveling in PoE than you do in IWD, but I've never seen more than three characters leveling at once in the main game (though that situation could certainly be engineered by creating an entire party of adventurers simultaneously). Usually characters advance individually or two at a time.
  21. In the next BB update, you should see the following changes: * Defender no longer increases Engagement range. It was the only ability in the game that allowed an increased Engagement range, so with this change, all Engagement ranges will be the same. * When a character breaks Engagement from a defender, they go on a list for that defender of "recently Engaged". The defender is prevented from re-Engaging that target for a constant amount of time. We will adjust this constant until it feels appropriate. Not quite related, but connected to an issue that Sensuki highlighted: AIs were not updating their targeting preferences (of any sort) while moving, which made kiting extremely easy. In the next BB update, moving AIs will periodically re-evaluate targeting preferences within a narrow range of time. We will tune that time range as necessary and, if other common exploits become obvious, we will consider how to address them. However, a micro-oriented player with a party of high movement characters devoted to kiting presents, if not an unsolvable problem, one where investing serious programming time to it has diminishing returns.
  22. BMac and I will be making a pass on the layout of stats in items and spells. There's still a lot of strange formatting and redundant or irrelevant information. Given the breadth of statistics that can appear on the page, it's a relatively tricky thing to do procedurally.
  23. There is a Loot script component that gets attached to the creature prefab. It has a flag "Drop Inventory" and another "Drop Equipment". The former drops whatever is in the Inventory component. The latter drops whatever is in their equipped slots (Equipment component). You can also specify a loot list on the Loot component. Really we can use any/all of those fields/flags as we see fit, so it's not too time-consuming to change.
  24. We do have such a system, but the prefabs still need to be marked to do it. Creatures like beetles and wolves don't get marked that way because they aren't going to drop their critter weapons, just pelts, shells, etc.
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