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J.E. Sawyer

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Posts posted by J.E. Sawyer

  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.

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  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.

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  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.

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  4. 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.

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  5. 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.

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  6. to that end, with all the changes forthcoming, will there be a respec option?  am personal not the least concerned with achievements, but use of console not only fails to address all character modification needs but its use diables achievements.  


    HA! Good Fun!


    ps we didn't know that holy radiance needed a buff.  fully modified by the maxing of favored dispositions o' a chosen deity, holy radiance already strikes us as quite efficacious.


    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.

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  7. 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).

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  8. Removing "wrong" choices does not alleviate this anxiety. It increases Apathy about the game's systems. When all the choices are the same, none of them matter. It makes it much more clear that they are just numbers in a RNG generator.  


    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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  9. I know, I said that on the Codex just before. Every time I make a video I'm afraid Josh will nerf something I did  :(


    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.

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  10. Backstab - It's a Rogue specific talent or ability that is supposed to give 2x damage when you hit from invisibility, however with the sneaking changes it seems to be impossible to sneak up close enough for it to trigger, so alternatively you have to use the Rogue Invisibility ability/talent which is 2 per rest...


    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.

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  11. Sounds good. I had feared that the situation might be exacerbated by the beta.


    My only concern with the exp levels based on when party members are acquired is that there appears to be potential for characters to begin to level in an asynchronous manner, but as the exp rewards increase, those level-ups at the end become increasingly synchronised.


    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.

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  12. Adding a loop for reevaluation of targeting preferences (implying there will be a number of such preferences) is what I expected would happen. To think of all the hundreds of kilobytes collectively written on how exploitable Engagement is, addressed in a couple of sentences... :)


    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."

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  13. The Wounds, Focus, etc is just too low to be easily spotted right now.


    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.

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  14. 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.

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  15. 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.

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  16. 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.

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  17. 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.

    • Like 11
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