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Everything posted by LordCrash

  1. not to disagree with some good points, but Torment is all theme driven, and it created some interesting characters, while managing to avoid substantive lore drops from those characters, and to relay relevant past character interactions through the events---thinking specifically of the skull guy--- however they do have the plot device of memory loss. Well yes, but Torment is by its very vision all about "high concept themes". And yet, there is some justification to call it pompous and superficial as well. But that's of course always up to discussion.
  2. CD Projekt started as a video game import company in Poland, also doing localisation jobs for Polish people. Their love for CRPGs like Baldur's Gate motivated them back in the time because these games were not available in Poland. CD Projekt Red was founded at a later date with the goal to turn the Polish Witcher novels into video games. And yes, Witcher 1 was published by Atari although the Witcher license always belonged to CD Projekt, not to Atari. That's not entirely correct. The console versions of DOS:EE were at least partially published and distributed by Focus. But Larian still held all the rights to the IP.
  3. While we're at overall themes and concepts: Maybe it's not the best idea to establish an overall theme and make every other element just a mere representation of that theme. I think it's true that each companion had issues with faith or tackled faith in PoE, reflecting the overall theme of the main narrative, but that's in no way a good thing imo. On the opposite, "intentional storytelling" of that kind is imo a flawed concept, abusing characters for the exploration of externally injected and superficial concepts. I guess that's also a problem I had with the writing in PoE in general. It didn't feel very natural and organic and it was too much focused on exploring themes that very likely are of much bigger interest for their writers than for the ingame protagonists and characters. A lot of people accused Baldur's Gate of being "overly serious" and they have a point. But PoE was even more guilty of that imo. There were some more "down-to-earth" characters like Eder who felt more natural in their behaviour while others felt like they were written with the overall theme of faith in mind - instead of being just thrown into a setting in which this topic becomes important somewhat durnig the journey. Personally, I wish PoE2 to be less intentional and less dominated by central narrative themes, especially in the field of character writing. And not every character needs to be super complex, super troubled or super involved in philosophial questions. The whole game should offer a more down-to-earth story that is dominated by relationships and human behaviour and less by big superficial concepts. The core of every good and intriguing story is imo a personal tale, not a philosophical one.
  4. Good and valid point. I have the feeling though that there is a certain tendency to "balance" all the available companions to make them all "deep" in a way that ends up with all of them offering tons of information. My core point is not that you can't or shouldn't look in the past for motivation or explanation of personal beliefs and agendas. There are certain types of people (like Durance) for which their past is core to their actions in the present, I fully agree with that. But - in my feeling - too often "depth" in CRPGs is mistaken for "writing more text" and good companion writing is mistaken for offering as much backstory as possible. But that's imo the wrong way of building a character in a CRPG, especially when you're pretty constrained by limited funds. You should first look what makes your character tick and then try to convey that message in as least words as possible! Of course there can be deviations from that, for example if you want to write a very talkative (maybe even to annoying degrees) character on purpose. But the "less is more" mantra is imo essential to video game writing, especially if you consider that video games offer a lot of other ways to present a character (audio and visuals). Sometimes writers seem to be so obsessive with their texts that information is transported in redundant forms, for example by writing about the look of a character while at the same time the portrait of the respective character is visually presented. Torment, by the way, is even much more guilty of that than Pillars. Torment is marketed by its internal word count, just think about that. It's well known in literature that a long books isn't necessarily a good book and the same is true for video game writing, even to a bigger degree imo. I even have a suggestion for future companions, a suggestion that could perhaps serve as a compromise between the desires of writers and the needs and wishes of players: Writers could/should write an external short story about each companion, without being constricted by ingame design, different dialogue branches, the overall ingame storyline or players being able to skip certain elements of this backstory - and therefore also being of less hassle for the writer which should result in faster outputs. That way every player who is interested in extensive backstories and deeper information about the lore of their companions could read the short story before playing. For the game itself that would result in a streamlined conversation situation (no downtimes anymore in which you have or are supposed to read line after line of background information about the lore of a character at certain points in the game) with companions who only shortly refer to their psst - if necessary for understanding their present action or comment - while concentrating to give reactive and proactive input to the the PC's decision and to the current events in the game. I don't know, really. I personally think there are often better ways to give information about lore and setting than by abusing companions for that transportation of pure background information. Sometimes it happens naturally and it's well suited within the context of a quest or a personal dialogue but too often it's all too obvious that some dialogue has the sole purpose of well, giving background information. For me, that's bad writing - or maybe even worse - underestimating either the own skill to transport an important message by non-text means or by underestimating the players to get the meaning.
  5. Well, ok, kind of. And yes, that improves the probability that the "old" characters are less used as lore vessels. But the issue stays the same for the four new oompanions. I'm curious how Obsidian will handle them in respect to the older companions and whether they put more effort in the new ones than the old ones.
  6. How is this "on-topic" when the topic never was about party size in the first place? Hm... Well, that's true and hopefully that means that a lot more effort is put in reactive behaviour to current events.
  7. A quick look in the mirror wouldn't harm, mate. I certainly didn't start to make snarky comment without any meat to it. And calling other people childish doesn't make yourself more mature, just saying... No it's not. Especially not without providing proof for the claim. I don't need to convince anybody. If you want to discuss my statements feel free to do so - but on topic please and without general meatless accusations. It's pretty ironic that you accuse me of "blanket generalization" while doing exactly the same... As for your latest post, could you please use proper quotes? It's a mess to read through and it's also pretty hard to differentiate between stuff you quoted from elsewhere and actual (new statements) of yours. Also there is case sensitivity for a reason. A mature person like yourself should respect other people enough to offer your posts in the best readable way, don't you think?
  8. A combined inventory for the whole active party was already there in PoE. No paperdolls and no inactive companions though. So yes, would be nice to include something like this in the stronghold.
  9. Technically you are correct. LordCrash used a false dilemma fallacy, as both options are neither mutually exclusive nor they cover all possible variants. I suppose he didn't mean it. And instead of answering his A vs B question, provided a personal preference on [A && !B] vs [b && !A] matter despite of any C, pedantly speaking. They are not mutually exclusive but under the condition of a fixed budget of time and money one is always limited by the other. Simple example: A narrative designer/writer who is tasked to write a character has 50 days until the final deadline. There is only so much you can do in the given time frame and when you decide to write an extensive backstory with hundreds of lines of dialogues and various branches you automatically have less time for creating dynamics and responsive situations in the present. You cannot have endless amount of stuff if you're externally limited, and that's exactly how game development works. So no, they are not mutually exclusive and I never even said that. But there is a valid trade-off. It's a question of finding the best ratio between effort that goes into lore and backstory (past) and effort that goes into reactive behavior (present).I asked people which they preferred which doesn't mean that one must be cut altogether. And sure, my post includes a certain amount of simplification and generalization. It's meant to discuss the topic on a general or fundamental level and not to discuss a single example to the teeth, going through all of its bits and bytes.That wouldn't make all that much sense for the purpose here after all imo. Edit: By the way, you got me curious: what could a potential C be?
  10. Simple solution to that: The user who contriuted the most money to the cause will get to design the ship...
  11. @evilcat This thread is not at all about companions in respect to gameplay pr teir usefulness in combat but purely about their narrative aspects.
  12. Fully agreed. You have a good point there. I agree with you that sympathy for a certain character can be a crucial element for valueing a certain companion. But that's not the whole story, especially when we enter the world of "true" roleplaying. A good example for that is when "good" people choose to play "evil" characters. Roleplaying changes our perspective here and therefore traditional categories like personal symapthy aren't really important anymore. I'd say that you couldn't say that Edwin or Viconia were very likable characters - but they were interesting imo. And it's not because the PC (and therefore the player) knew everything about them or because they had to listen to endless monologues about their past, but because they offered some kind of responsed that were proof enough that they were invested in their views of the adventure and that they still are their own, independent characters. Much of the analysis in the RPG codex by the way is about the simple concept that often "less is more". If you can present a character with only a few words or just a simple quirk there is no need for endless amounts of text, it can even be counter-productive. Minsc is actually a good example for that. Everything you need to know about the character you can get by his short comments (content and style), his "relationship" to Boo, his profession, his overall stature like presented in his portrait and some tiny bits of his backstory. That's enough to get a good idea what kind of guy Minsc is. And it's not about symapthy, I know a lot of people who don't like Minsc and who think that his constant banter with and about Boo is annoying. But that's not a bad sign, but a good one. An interesting character doesn't have to be interesting or sympathetic for everybody. A real interesting character should have edges, that makes the character real. So it's not really an issue if I dislike Durance on a personal level. The issue is that way too much effort went into his backstory while the manpower needed for that would have probably been sufficient to create another character of the likes of Minsc. But I agree with you on the topic of "emotional attachment" of companion characters to the story. I hardly got the feeling while playing PoE that Durance or Grieving Mother were emotionally attached to either the player or at least the adventure or task. They offered commentary but more on an intellectual or philosophical level. What I lack in these "epic" CRPGs and PoE is the really close and personal relationship between characters that go beyond discussing high-level concepts of Gods, the universe and soul magic. I know that writers and designers who came up with all that lore want to tell everything about that to the players and often enough eompanions turn out to be their vessels for doing so. But most of this information is neither meaningful for the adventure at hand nor is in any way helpful to bond with the companions. If you have a certain "feeling" for it you can easily notice when characters are "abused" for just presenting a bit more lore about the world instead of acting naturally and instead of offering personal insight in their "heart and soul". So I don't only want companions be much more responsive and reactive to the events in the present I also want them to be much more emotional, personal and passionate about them. Dissent, if occuring, shouldn't almost always end in long conversations about philosophical topics that remind more of a panel discussion at university than of an up and close debate about stressed people in a dangerous situation out there somewhere in the wild. Maybe I didn't make that clear enough. I personally don't thin that Durance was an awful character, quite the opposite. His backstory was indeed well written and the dialogue was on point. But that's as much a problem as it is a value. The crafting that went in this caracter was great (no wonder, MCA is among the best) but I call the overall focus of the narrative in question. Durance offered comment to the present events but compared to what went into establishing his backstory and telling it in its whole to the PC it's really just a minor effort. So I used Durance as an example in order to question the distribution of effort that went into "stuff that happened in the past" and "stuff that is really meaningful for the present". And yes, the ratio past/present wasn't at all in favor of the latter for pretty mauch every companion characters in PoE, Durance probably being just the most striking example. I agree, that's exactly what I want. I ask Obsidian to shift focus from the past to the present, from lore exposition and well crafted backstories to dynamic and reactive responses and integration of characters into the events that actually take place in the game. With limited manpower, funds and time you always have to focus. Obsidian says that they can deliver only six or seven companions. But they should be "deep and complex". Whatever that means I hope it's not mostly meaningless banter told in endless monologues to the PC with the occasional question or affirmtion. A dream of mine is a CRPG in which the whole party is much more involved into the story and quests and not only the PC. It's pretty much the Bioware standard now that the main story is mostly about the PC and that you can follow one or two specific storylines and quests for each companion. To be honest, I disdain this systematic approach that becomes more and more obvious and boring the more games follow this pattern to the point. What I envision is a game in which most effort concerning companions doesn't go into writing lore and backstories but into fully integrating them in the whole adventure, making them "real" and independent charcters, on the same level than the PC. That's true but I honestly think that a good writer can establish an interesting character in just a few situations and only in few words without putting hours and hours of effort into transporting the lore and backstory to the player. Fully agreed. If a character has commentary about his past that influences the present in any important and meaningful way it should of course have a place. And of course charactes can hardly work completely without any kind of backstory (although I think a complete "mystery man/woman" could be pretty interesting as a companion...). It's always a question of how much is needed and what purpose the content has. Too often I get the feeling that character writers want to tell stories, but not necessarily the story that the game is actually all about. And in the end, that's counter-productive effort, in its excess more suited for an external short story than for the purpose of companion writing in a CRPG. Durance is sadly a very good example for that. Even MCA himself acknowledged that. If you have anything meaningful to contribute please do so. If not, just shut up and get lost.
  13. On the FIG comments I complained about the small number of available companions in PoE2 and that it would be great to have more of them, offering a much bigger choice whom you take along for your adventure. To me the wide array of diverse companions was one core feature that made BG2 great back in the days. That's what Feargus answered to my complaint: While I understand the desire to "put more into each companion" I'd really like to know what that actually means. What is it that needs so much effort when writing a companion? Then I tried to remember how companions worked in PoE and how they were integrated in the player's adventure. By coincidence I just read a long rant/analysis about the state of game writing on the RPGcodex. While there is a lot of stuff in there and you certainly don't need to agree with anything there was a passage about Durance's writing in PoE that is especially insightful for the question above (the article was actually recommended by Chris Avellone himself in Twitter, acknowledging own mistakes and shortcomings): Let's brake that down a bit to what is important here (and skip all the personal rant about the storyline in PoE, it's pretty irrelevant for this thread). The important message is that much of the narrative that went into Durance isn't exactly used to explore his relationship to the player charachter (=PC) or the party abut to transport as much lore about himself but also the whole setting as possible. Almost every dialogue the PC can have with Durance in PoE is about his past, about what he did and felt during another time. Many dialogue options that the writers constructed in the dialogues with Durance are not based on the stuff that actually happens in the game but about the PC's reaction to what happened to Durance in the past. And I get the concept of opening up and to talk about the stuff that occupies you. The question is though how much of that is needed in order to make an interest character and what else has to be sacrificed in order to do so. Is Durance a deep character because he has so much to say about his past or because he had an interesting life? What makes a deep character, and more important, what makes an interesting character? Feargus stated above that they have the goal that companions can do more in the game and that they can change - and I really like that approach because it's concentrated on the present, on the stuff that actually happens in the game. Imo interesting characters are those who do interesting things, who make interesting comments about the present events, who contribute to the present relationship to the PC and the group dynamics. Lore exposition doesn't make them that interesting, quite the opposite. The constant exposition to their backstory throughout almost the whole game can soon become boring and even annoying, taking away from the possibilities to react to the stuff that happens in the game itself. Ask yourself: What would you prefer? A character who tells you in hundreds of lines in various dialogues about everything he did in the past? Or a character that concentrates on commenting and reacting to your adventures and what it means for the relationship to the PC? In my opinion, Obsidian should really stop using companions for the overexpositon of lore and they should stop mistaking a huge backstory for an interesting companion. Of course some bits of backstory help to define a character and to make his actions understandable for the player but you don't need hundreds of lines of text for that, together with costly voice acting and overly branching dialogues. If your funds and personal is limited, concentrate on the present, not the past. Interestingly, the constant wish for "romances" in the fanbase covers this topic as well. A "romance" between the PC and another character is a concept that only works in the present. It's about an ongoing evolution of a relationship that happens during a game and it's not something that happened to a character long before the actual action started. So it seems I'm not alone in my wish for a much bigger concentration on the present, on reactive characters, on interesting relationships in the present. I do know that this is often against the very interest of the writers. Writing a deep and compelling backstory to a certain character is much more comparable to writing a traditional story or novel than writing individual story bit for reactive dialogues, reactive relationships and dynamic events with often different characters. I get it that it's much more difficult to write that stuff because it's way more abstract and a lot of different concepts must work together to pull it of. But it pays off in the end because it result in a dynamic party that explores the PC's actions - and therefore creating agency - instead of just letting the player explore the decisions of his companions in the past. So Obsidian, cut the slack. Everything interesting you can come up with should happen IN the game, not before it. Every meaningful dialogue with companions should be of meaning in the context of the events that happen in the game and of meaning for the direct relationship between the PC and the companion. Your lore on PoE is solid, you don't need to cram us full with it at every possible occation and surely not in the very costly dialogues with companions. Use them for meaningful stuff that is of core interest to the agenda of the PC and his actions in the game. Good writers can give you an impression about the character, beliefs, agendas etc. of a companion in just a few lines. There is no need for hundreds of lines of dialogue for that, resulting in endless dialogues about stuff that would fit an external book better than its purpose in the game. I think you should ask every writer who wants to become involved with writing ©RPG companions whether they can make a mute character interesting - with actual proof. It's possible. But it certainly needs different means, means that are desperately needed for the writing in PoE2... So I wonder how much of the effort Obsidian planned to put into the few companions in PoE2 actually will go into the present and how much will go into the past. If most of the effort goes into the former and therefore not more "deep" companions are possible, I'm satisfied. But if the latter is the case (again) and the writers are mostly occupied with writing elaborate backstories that are to be exposed to the player again during the course of the game I'm not happy at all. If PoE is anything to go to I'm at least dubious about it. What do you think? What makes an interesting character for you? Do you prefer a dynamic companion who mostly consists of re/actions in/to the present adventure or do you prefer a character who mostly consists of stories about the past?
  14. @Skyleaf @Fluffle It's one of these things in video games that always baffled me. It's quite impossible to compare individual views about storytelling stuff if we don't stay with the actual words and narrative elements that are included in the game but rather talk about connections and stories that we made up along the way in our own minds, often with the very purpose to fill the voids of the source material. For some people these voids are a testament of lacking writing, for others they seem to offer the freedom they needed to transform the available bits and concepts of storytelling into their very own story. I often have that very same conversation with Bethesda fans. Some keep telling me that they experience the greatest stories in Skyirm and Fallout and I always kept wondering if I seriously missed out on anything because I couldn't remember hardly two intriguing or interesting story arcs or quests from that game. But then again I remembered that these people usually mean that they used the game to rave about their own stories rather than just following what the devs offered them in actual words. Playing Skyrim works for them so well because they combine the existing bits with their own day dreams. And I don't mean that in a bad or insulting sens it's just an observation. And to be honest, I wish I had such a vivid fantasy from time to time. But then again I think that it's not my "job" to come up with all that stuff on myself but that it's the job of the writing and design team to well, simply entertain me. I don't want to do the work myself, I want them to do the work for me. Playing games or reading novels or watching movies is a leisure time activity for me in which I want to experience and enjoy interesting and deep stories other people imagined with all their heart and care. I want to change perspective, not dream about my life in a given setting with characters that merely serve as puppets for me to play with and for me to transform into. Actually, there is even a much deeper "conflict of interest" here that usually divides the whole roleplaying community. It's about how we play these games in general and about the way we feel empathy. It's about the question whether we want to BE a character or whether we want to CARE about a character. It's usually much easier to fill the voids for people who want to be the character because it's "their" fantasy anyway. It's a small step from being the actual hero in a video game to making up your own stories whereever needed. For the caring fraction it's harder. They're rather spectators, external puppet masters. They don't take the role for themselves, they control a character within a certain role. Actually this way of playing and epxeriencing games is also much closer to the typcial narrative experience we have while reading a book or watching a movie with predefined characters. We are spectators, following the life of others. For such spectators (like me) every bigger void in a game is an issue because it's not a void that could be filled with own ideas and concepts but a mere plot hole that is seen as an inconsistency in the storytelling. And that's also the reason why the very same storyline could reviewed in very different ways even if the understanding of underlying concepts of this storyline is pretty much the same.
  15. The thing is, it's obvious to me but not obvious to others. Or maybe I feel it and some don't. Depends on how emotionally invested you are in their stories I think. I feel a connection with Durance and Grieving Mother when they open up to my player character. Especially with Grieving Mother, her big reveal tug at my heartstrings. I understood Durance. I feel him too, but in the end I thought he was just an idiot. I consoled him nonetheless. This doesn't happen with every characters though. I got nothing from Kana and Aloth. Probably one of the few not that intrigue with Eder either although the revelation that his God lives and nearly killed the player character will make him ten times more fascinating I bet. Add a bit of romance, and who knows... Hm, you really think the act of opening up and telling you your "life story" is enough for a relationship to be called deep friendship? So if you went to the nearest nursing home and some grand daddy told you stories about his life and what he did during his military service you would magically become friends just because his story touches you? Hm, I don't know. Of course it needs courage and trust to open up to others, but that alone isn't enough for friendship. Friendship needs mutual affection based on shared experiences, shared interest, shared beliefs and an emotional attachment. And most of that usually happens BEFORE a friend tells you his deepest issues and desires. Imo there is no believable interaction evolution between the PC and Durance that build up enough trust, mutual respect and even more important, mutual affection, that serves as prerequisite for the act of opening act. But I respect that you felt differently. I guess there are quite a few differing concepts of what friendship acutally means and what it requires.
  16. There's no such an option 'cause the thread's purpose it show the developers that "the people" demand a 6-character party because yeah! It's working...
  17. Haha, you don't have to talk about anything if you don't want to. Hm, for me that interaction always missed Durance's reaction to the PC. But that's maybe just me. After all, Durance always felt more like a loner to me, even after all the stuff he did with the party. I don't know whether that already qualifies for friendship but it's at least no obscure concept that you need to decipher first - and maybe you never get that far because you expect an emotional relationship while it's mostly rather an intellectual one. Sometimes stuff is actually pretty simple, no need to make it more complex than it needs to be.
  18. This is weird but in my opinion PoE had two of the deepest, most well written friendship paths I've ever played in an RPG game with Durance and Grieving Mother. Zahua was pretty amazing too. That whole acid trip, wow. Goes to show that opinions can vary like night and day on pretty much anything. In which way do you think these were good friendships? What exactly made the relationship between the PC and either of those two a deep friendship for you? I'm really interested, especially I indeed have a very different opinion on the topic.
  19. Personally I'm in favor of a forum badge, but someone would have to create one Haha, no chance, don't even look at me. This is the time for younger guns than me to step forward...
  20. Actually it's "new Bioware" style romance that is crap imo. Romance back in BG2 was handled pretty differently (and much, MUCH better) to how romnance was handled in their latest games. Back in BG2 romance was just one element in a whole set of different emotional relationship aspects. Of course that had a lot to do with how text is transported. You have completely different options in a text-heavy game like BG2 or PoE compared to a modern and fully-voiced 3D RPG like Mass Effect. It's kind of like apples and oranges... I fear I already jarred onFeargus' nerves too much lately... But I'll probably remind them, yes. Maybe tomorrow, need to wait for the right moment though.
  21. Considering what a volatile hornet's nest the topic is, I don't expect any of the developers to make an official comment until after the funding campaign is over. Like Rorschach already said Larian dealt really well with the topic. They never talked about romances, especially not about some kind of special "romance-feature" but they acknowledged that a lot of people really wished that there were deeper and more emotional relationships between the characters of the PC's party. So they came up with their "love and hate" stretch goal which includes all kind of emotional(!) interaction between party members. That's what Larian wrote about it: We’ll dedicate more scripters and writers to expand on the dynamic relationship system we’re building. Intense rivalry! Friendship and enmity! And... as so many of you have been asking for it… romance! As everybody can see it's not just about superficial romances but also about friendship (something that is really, really missing in PoE, this kind of feeling that you are a "band of brothers (and sisters)" and that everybody has each other's back in the end), about rivalry, enmity and romance. And Larian did pretty well with this stretch goal. There was hardly any backlash or a lot of people complaining about it. On the opposite, most people were excited about this new focus on emotional relationship between party members (PC included). I honestly think that Obsidian could do the same, especially since I'm pretty sure that they have enough talented writers who can come up with emotional party dynamics that are not weird and feel superficial, but natural and suited for the respective situation. And of course the PC shouldn't be the center of the universe. I really liked to see evolving relationships between various companions, without the PC being involved (although he could, just think of the PC being a rival to another party member for whatever reason, wouldn't that open really interesting dynamics?). Finally.
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