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  1. I think the project eternity will be using the Unity framework as its basis. Just a little curious, why Unity? Does anyone have a link to an article or an interview where the devs specifically discussed the reasoning behind their decision? I'm always interested in new game development technologies, and it would be interesting to hear what kind of reasoning went into deciding on Unity for project eternity.
  2. Its bit strange suggestion but I think Pete is not Nerd enough. I saw concept art for the characters and that Pete was very good but I can not say that for the in game Pete. Is it possible to change Pete's appearance ?
  3. Update by Brandon Adler, Literal Task Master Welcome to my world... As a producer, one of my jobs is creating and understanding the game's master schedule. It's a never-ending task that requires constant refinement and adjustment. Anything that is added or changed can cause a cascade of unintended consequences which is why as game developers we have a responsibility to vet everything that goes into the game. Today I'd like to give you a glimpse into how we approach game development from a scheduling perspective and what our typical thought processes are when figuring this stuff out. You will be able to see how each part of our area creation fits into the schedule and why changes and modifications can lead to difficult decisions for the team. Hopefully, it will give a bit more insight into the tough decisions that we make each day when crafting Project Eternity. The Schedule One thing to remember is that when we are in the middle of production the schedule has already been created for just about everything in the game. What I mean by this is that we have identified all of the major tasks that will need to be accomplished and allotted time and resources in our budgets to match those tasks. Depending on the team's familiarity with the type of game we are creating, this can mean anywhere from a tiny bit of guesswork to larger amounts of... estimation. With Eternity we are very familiar with what it takes to make an isometric, Western RPG with branching dialogues and reactivity. It's Obsidian's bread and butter. Because of this our initial estimates are good approximations. Since most of our features and assets are budgeted at the start of the project, any changes to those items have to be accounted for in the schedule. This can mean a few different things - anything from reducing time spent on other tasks, to changing previously scheduled items, to outright cuts - and when changes need to happen project leads consult with each other to try and figure out the best option. Keep this in mind when I start talking about changes to features and assets later on in this update. One Small Interior Dungeon Alright, let's stop talking in generalities and get into the meat of what it takes to create a first pass area in Eternity. I'll discuss a generic small interior dungeon area. This area will have the following characteristics and constraints: Uses an existing "tileset." We don't have tiles in Eternity, but we do have sets of areas that share similar assets. Will have one unique visual feature in the area. This visual feature is something that will make the area stand out a bit. It doesn't have to be incorporated into the design, but we may want to do that to get the most bang for the buck. An Average complexity quest uses this area. "Average" is a flavor of quest in Project Eternity. It refers to the overall complexity of the quest. Quest complexity is determined by the amount of dialogue, branching, and steps a quest has. This is a 3x3 interior. A 3x3 interior is the equivalent of a 5760x3240 render. An easier way to think about it is that a 3x3 area is nine 1920x1080 screens worth of content. You can imagine that making an area even a tiny bit larger can actually lead to enormous amounts of work. As an example, a 3x3 is nine screens of work, where a 4x4 is 16 screens of work... almost double the number of screens. To create our small interior dungeon area, the following has to occur: An area designer (Bobby Null, for example) puts together a paper design for the area. This is usually part of a larger paper design, but for this purpose we can say that it is a separate element. For a small area like this, a paper design wouldn't take more than a quarter of a day. Material concepts for a high wealth interior. After the paper design is constructed, it is passed to the area design team for revisions and approval. For the most part, this goes fairly quickly and normally wouldn't take more than a quarter of a day for a small area. A concept artist (Hi, Polina and Kaz) creates a concept for the unique visual element of this area. Let's say for our purposes the unique element is a cool adra pillar that is holding up a portion of the ceiling. This takes half a day to a day, depending on prop complexity. This may seem like a luxury, but making sure that the areas feel cohesive can save lots of revision time down the road. After the concept work is completed, it is reviewed by the Art Director (Rob Nesler) and the Project Director (Josh Sawyer). Any necessary changes are then made before being approved. Overall, it probably takes about a quarter of a day for review and any revisions that need to be done. An initial pass on a blockout before it has had a review. After the paper design and concepts, an area designer creates a 3D blockout of the area in Unity. This allows the designer to walk through the area and make sure it flows well. This also helps to give the environment artist assigned to the area an idea of where the various elements should be laid out. A full blockout of a 3x3 area normally wouldn't take more than half a day. This is an extremely important part of the process. Sometimes an area seems great on paper, but in practice it is clunky or frustrating. Once the blockout is finished it's passed along to the area strike team for review. The area strike team includes people from most disciplines. This is the point where revisions are performed and the layout becomes finalized. The changes can be as simple as moving some props around or as complicated as redesigning major portions of the layout. Again, for a small area of this size, we aren't looking at more than half a day for all of the feedback and revisions. With the blockout in place, the area can move to environment art (For example, Hector "Discoteca" Espinoza) for the art pass. This includes putting together existing pieces and creating new assets to make the area. A large portion of time allotted to an area is spent in environment art. A 3x3 area that uses mostly existing assets would typically get three days of environment art work, but, because we want to have a cool, unique piece in the area we will add about a day of environment art time. This gives a total of four days for the initial art pass. Like the blockout, the art pass is usually reviewed by the area strike team. Revisions can vary wildly depending on how everyone feels about the area, but it isn't uncommon for another quarter to half a day to be spent on review and revisions for this size of area. The blockout above with revisions, 2D render, and initial design. Now with the 2D render in place, the area is ready for the real design work to be done. An area designer will typically get about three days to do the first pass on the area. This includes things like a loot pass, encounters, trigger setup, temp dialogs, etc.. Because this area has a quest that is running through it, though, it will get an extra day to work out all of those kinks. That puts us at four days for an initial design pass on the area. Remember the part about this area having a quest? Well, now is when a creative designer (Like Mr. Eric Fenstermaker, for example) comes through to write the dialogs. To be completely honest, this usually comes much later, but it works for our purposes. The narrative designer creates the NPC dialogs, quest dialogs, and companion interjections for the area. Usually an area designer will stub these conversations out and the narrative designer will come in and complete them. Depending on the amount of dialog this should take around a day or two for everything. Finally, a concept artist will take a pass at painting over the final 2D render. This pass is used for "dirtying up" an area and adding in the little details that might be difficult for an environment artist to create. As an example, we can cover up texture seems, add in variation on repeating textures, paint in lighting highlights, and even add things like patina or moss on objects. Due to Photoshop magic from Kaz, we can even propagate those changes into our diffuse maps so they show properly in any dynamic lights. This is a fairly low cost procedure and Kaz can cover a small area like this in about half a day. There are other considerations (Like animation, sound effects and visual effects, for example), but we will stop for now. So, for those keeping count at home, to get a first pass area that is borderline Alpha (as in no bug fixing or polish work) it costs the project about 13 man days. This is little over one half of a man month of time for a small, simple area. Larger areas with more content take significantly longer to develop. Our time estimations used for scheduling are determined in preproduction (prepro) phase. Our vertical slice (the end of prepro) is the culmination of the team identifying what it will take to make the game and then actually doing it. We get these numbers by seeing how long it takes the team to perform those tasks in our prepro, and then we can extrapolate those numbers over the course of the time we have budgeted to understand how much work can get done. Tough Choices A milestone will have 15 to 20 areas of varying complexity going at a time. A minor change in an area can cause a domino effect that starts schedule slippage. Remember that on a small team like Project Eternity we have a limited number of people that can work on any one part of the game so taking someone off of their current task to work on changes can gum up our pipelines and prevent others from completing their tasks. We can get around that by switching up the tasking, but it can quickly get out of hand and lead to inefficiencies. That being said it's the team's responsibility to give our backers what they have paid for. If we are playing though part of the game and something feels off from what we promised to our fans, we need to seriously consider making changes - even if it pushes us off schedule. There have been times where an update leads to some serious discussion on the forums and within the team about a direction change. Ultimately all of that gets added into the equation as well. Taking that into consideration, the team has to make difficult choices every day. Do we go through and do another prop pass on a level? What does that cost us in the long run? Will we lose an entire area in the game? These are questions that the leads struggle with everyday. We are always weighing the cost of assets and features against everything that still needs to get done. Luckily, like I mentioned above, we have a bunch of smart, talented, experienced people working on Eternity. The pitfalls we have experienced in previous games give us a leg up when we are trying to navigate this project's development. I wanted to send out this update to give the fans a little insight into our daily processes and demystify what probably seem like arcane decisions. If you enjoy these types of updates, let me know in the forums and I will try to write more of them for you.
  4. Some of you maybe didn't saw this, I personaly just found out about this video a few days ago. It's a great, almost 2hrs video, of Justin touching on his approach on Music & Sound Design. There are quite a lot of informations regarding his work for Pillars Of Eternity II : Deadfire. In case you're a Music Lover, in general & loved the Music from the 1st Game, this is for you. Hope you enjoy :
  5. First off, thank you Obsidian for even allowing the option to enable/disable ligatures in game (they are found in Graphic options, one of the check boxes). It shows a commitment to detailing, even if it would probably be considered of negligible importance to most... I would hazard a guess that most aren't familiar with ligatures--it's a detailing thing in the world of graphic design and typography. Here is a very succinct summary. They basically improve readability, so certain combinations of letters don't look smushed or interfere with each other--these are typically problems with 'fl,' 'ffl,' 'fi,' and 'ffi,' where l's are too close to f's, and dots above i's mush into overarching letters like f. If you're going to allow the option, Obsidian, I would like to see them done correctly! It's not far off--just one thing has to be removed: stylistic or discretionary ligatures, which are for adornment only, and does not improve readability. In fact, many would consider them distractions, because they draw undue attention to themselves. In most settings, good typography is not heralded by fanfare, but should ideally go unnoticed; that means things are simply comfortable, easy to read, well-spaced, sized, etc. In typesetting software, ligatures are pretty much assumed if the font has the option, but discretionary ones are off by default. There is very little reason anywhere to ever connect letters like 'st' or 'ct,' especially in any text outside of decorative headlines. I have for sure seen the st ligature in the game, but I'm not sure about the ct (it would appear in such words such as victory, tincture, actor, etc). Again, I must acknowledge that in the face of many, far more pressing bugs, glitches, UI inconsistencies, etc, this detail is so, so minor. But hey, they've provided the option, so I consider it fair criticism!
  6. To distract myself from the howling void that is my life, until GOG pushes through patch 1.03, I decided to take a crack at the stats. I know a lot of people aren't totally happy with their current implementation. While I think they works as-is, I also think they could be better. So here's my ideas. Feel free to post your own, as well. Fitness + % Melee damage + % Max Health + Fortitude Defense + Deflection Defense Coordination + Action Speed + Reflex Defense + Deflection Defense - Chance to be interrupted Perception + Chance to notice objects + % Ranged damage + Chance to interrupt + Reflex Defense Intellect + % AOE size + % Duration of Effects + Will Defense Resolve + % Spell power + % Max Endurance + Fortitude Defense + Will Defense Some things to note: Constitution and Strength are rolled into Fitness, bringing the total number of stats down to 5. Thematically, I don't think it's worth having them as two different stats. Generally when a character is strong, they are also tough. When they're tough, they're also strong. That said, mechanically, having more Fitness will give you more Health, but will NOT give you more Endurance. For Endurance, you need Resolve. This adds a bit more depth and customization, while forcing characters who want to be all-around tanky to invest in more stats. Damage bonuses got split between Fitness (for melee), Perception (for ranged), and Resolve (for spells). I think this makes a lot more sense, thematically, and gives characters more of a sense of specialization. Chance to notice traps and hidden items is, from what I understand, based on Mechanics skill? I moved it to Perception. It makes little sense, to me, for it to be tied to Mechanics. I think these stats preserve the goal of having "no wrong choices". Every character can benefit from any stat. A wizard with unusually high Fitness and Perception will fulfill more of a "spellsword" role, using their spells as a compliment to their natural prowess with weaponry. A Fighter with unusually high Intellect and Coordination is going to be focused primarily on crowd controlling the enemy, perhaps less so on tanking blows.
  7. I'm very excited for the PoE release, but one thing has me a little worried: Skill points. Will there any incentive not to max one skill per character? Won't buying, say, five or ten points each level-up be mainly a matter of "clickclickclick" on the same arrow for the same skill each time? This is in order to reach skill-check thresholds. Mechanics is the classic example--who won't have a character in their party with maxed Mechanics in order to unlock and disarm everything in sight? (Before you say, "I won't, I don't like mechanics or rogues"? It's just an example, thanks.) I realize you guys had changed things up a bit for an earlier beta build, where you buy "packages" of skills, talents or some combination thereof. While a little hard to sort through, I found this more interesting. Not trying to revive a debate about that particular design, but it took more thought to decide "I'm going to forgo all these perks and JUST max my Mechanics skill check". In other words, you could still min/max skills, but it came at an actual cost of missing perks, not the possibly-fake cost of forgoing skills you would never use with that character anyway.
  8. I'm not just going to blanket bash all new ideas. I've seen a plenty of new stuff I like. But, there are some that are so incredibly misguided that I think whoever invented them, should be ashamed of themselves. So, let's talk about them here, mechanics you love to hate. Back in the day, there was exactly one "Press Something" message that we saw in just about every game, that being "Press Any Key to Continue". Well, some backwards thinking fool decided to take that to a whole new level of WTF?! and set the whole world ablaze with an idea seemingly tailor-made to create repetitive motion injury. "Press L Repeatedly, Now (0.8 sec) Press E!" - And, just when we've started to fight tunnel-carpal with keyboard and controller designs, someone introduces a whole new future filled with completely unnecessary (as narrative) button presses. Can you imagine Half-Life 2 with this mechanic? If every valve, crank and lever in the game game with "press x,x,x,x,x press e!"? What if every use of the gravity gun had a key pressing pump-up mechanic complete with power meter to send something flying within the game? A horror to be sure. (Breaks out into a terrible rendition of Sarah McLachlan's "I will remember you.") Oh yes... I'm going to call this one: Mission: Remind players that they are too stupid to understand choices, consequences and branching narratives. Thank you Telltale for popularizing this particular brand of "dumbing down". No really, it is catering to simpletons. I don't care what justification anyone has. This is a feature born and bred on play testers that just didn't get the idea that video game plots are not static like those of a novel. I personally find nothing more thought-interrupting than seeing the words "x will remember that" appear on my screen. Each and every iteration of this terrible, terrible idea throws itself as a monkey-wrench into the business of contemplation. Can you imagine the horror of these words: Deekins will remember what you say! Imagine many of your favorites with this, from Knights of the Old Republic to PS: Torment. What a terrible idea. Telltale, to their credit, put in a feature that allows the player to turn these messages off. But, even with that I can distinctly recall a video interview with the designers that explained that they had to go back and put "placebo" messages in the game so that it isn't so obvious to the player where major lines of consequences were rooted. I am also glad to see that some studios are fighting the good fight and have decided against to such nonsense. Sadly, some studios need to be reminded that the thoughtless adaptation of popular trends isn't always a good idea. So, what newfangled mechanics may you display bad-smell-kitty-face??
  9. It's a considerable design change, but I like it because: It's more strategic. It's now harder to mindlessly max out a specific skill. You actually have to sacrifice a talent if you want to be maxed Mechanics, maxed Lore, etc. You can have more/deeper talents, focus on more/deeper skills, or find a balance. This is more interesting to me than deciding which guy is going to max Mechanics, which one Lore, etc. It's more logical. Linking talents and skills makes flavor sense--Hold the Line tying into Athletics, for instance. Having skills exist in their own vacuum, completely independent of talent selection, seems odd now. It's more fun. I don't miss the dull process of pumping more points into whatever skill I want to max in order to reach gated content or unlock chests. Let's see what you guys think. If you don't like it, how would you redesign it?
  10. Now, now, hear me out. When I see my character's portrait fill up with red, that says health to me. Having played the IE games as well as the backer beta, I can say without a doubt that anyone coming from those games is going to be disoriented. "Endurance? WTF is that?" Well, they'll have to learn, as far as combat is concerned, it's really your health. When it reaches zero, you're out of it. That secondary bar? That's your actual health. Do you see the potential for confusion? In RPGs, health is the resource that keeps you in the fight. There is simply no reason to change this for the sake of having a two-tiered system. Any secondary system should be just that, secondary. In the current build, what's called "health" is really a secondary "wounds" system (I want to call it "endurance" because it depends on resting), while what is called "endurance" is, for all intents and purposes, your health. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a deal breaker. I had never picked up D&D before Baldur's Gate 2, and I had to learn about this "THAC0" thing; without really understanding it, I just had to know that lower armor numbers were better. Fine. Some game systems are quirky. But while BG and friends had to be true to Dungeons and Dragons--replete with oddities--Obsidian gets to do whatever they want. There is no reason this can't be both intuitive and tactical. I'm not asking for complexity to be removed, so take your "you're not hardcore" flames elsewhere. I'm asking them to refactor some terminology. It doesn't make sense that healing spells affect endurance, but to restore your health, you rest, an activity associated with restoring fatigue. How can priest spells make you feel peppy but are powerless against rended limbs? There's magical sleep for that. I get that gameplay trumps simulation--when the gameplay makes sense. Switch the strings "Health" and "Endurance" in all UI text and suddenly the systems click. Mostly. The remaining issue is of character "death". Not the falling-down "knocked out" when your portrait turns red, but the "true death" as Vampire Bill would say. "Endurance" doesn't quite fit this. So, what to do? Let the portrait represent "Health". Your actual health. When it runs out, you're maimed or dead depending on whether you have "Death" enabled. Increase health accordingly, so that it's no easier to die now than it was before this change. Restore health using the same spells/abilities/potions we already have for Endurance, or by resting. And--this last bit is optional--let resting restore a limited amount of health. I liked how in the IE games, if your character was hurt badly, they'd need to visit a temple, quaff a potion or get some clerical attention--unless you want to rest a few times. This part is debatable; the terminology change is the key point. Let the secondary, little green bar next to your portrait represent "Endurance" or "Fatigue". It depletes over time as you travel and exert yourself (use abilities etc), not when you take damage. It is a limit on the "adventuring day", basically a more granular stamina system. When the green bar depletes, your characters become tired and start accumulating penalties. Restore fatigue by resting. With these changes: Health works as it always has in RPGs throughout the ages, and portraits reflect health like they did in the IE games. Everything makes intuitive sense. Endurance (Fatigue) determines when you (should) rest. It's a natural delimiter on the adventuring day, only loosely tied to how much you've fought.
  11. I've noticed a lot of people really don't like the term "Degenerative Gameplay". I'm really not sure why. You may disagree with how Josh Sawyer uses the term "Degenerative Gameplay" (now DG) sometimes, especially when he's referring to a mechanic or system you don't like... but that doesn't mean the term is flawed. Far from it. DG is an incredibly useful term, because it describes (as I understand it) a situation in which the incentive structure of a game mechanic is flawed. DG, as I've seen it used, describes game mechanics that lead players to take actions that would be absurd or ridiculous within the context of the game world because of metagaming concerns. Rest-spamming is a classic example. A properly designed game reflects the in-universe incentives to the player as game incentives, leading them to act in such a way that the optimal course for the player is similar to or identical to the optimal course for the characters in the game world (if you were reading a story or something). DG occurs when a game mechanic is poorly designed, incentivizing the player to do something that would be absurd within the context of the game world or story. Such as stopping for an 8-hour nap every 5 minutes. Now, obviously you'll never be able to remove all sources of DG from a game as complex as this - but that should be the goal. And I think Josh Sawyer's goal of doing so is admirable. I think he's made some good steps. I also think he's made some missteps. And I think when talking about mechanics that aren't working, we should be careful to distinguish between DG and just mechanics we don't prefer. I'll give a few examples here of some disputed mechanics that are DG, and some that aren't: Disputed mechanics that are not a significant source of Degenerative Gameplay: - If the fighter tanks all the hits, I have to rest with him before all the other characters. This, while maybe not a mechanic everyone is fond of, isn't DG in and of itself. "But Matt," you may say... "when my fighter runs out of health and the rest of the party doesn't, I have to rest every 5 seconds. And that's DG!" Well... sort of. The fact that the current game mechanics encourage rest-spamming is DG - but the fact that this occurs because the fighter taking all the hits loses all his health before the characters who aren't taking hits is not DG - because that makes sense. If a party of adventurers wanders around, and has one guy doing all the close-range fighting and getting hit all the time, of course he will be more wounded than everyone else. So the fact of a tank taking all the hits and causing resting isn't in and of itself DG. The DG in that case (rest-spamming) results from a problem with the Health/Stamina system, which I'll (kind of) go into a little bit later. - Since armor slows you down, there's no point in putting armor on my ranged characters! This is another example of a mechanic that, while maybe poorly balanced atm, isn't actually DG. It makes sense that someone who wants to (for example) fire arrows as fast as possible wouldn't wear armor. Now, maybe there need to be more no-slowdown plain clothes in the game. Maybe the slowdown from armor that exists needs to be reduced. Maybe enemies need to be smarter and attack your ranged characters more often, causing you to have to make a tradeoff. Maybe all of these are true! But the simple fact that characters who want to attack as fast as possible shouldn't wear armor isn't in and of itself a source of DG. That actually makes sense within the game world. The AI issues that don't punish you for that may be though. Fortunately, we've already heard those will be improved. Disputed mechanics that are a significant source of Degenerative Gameplay i.e. bad design i.e. these need to be fixed: - When my fighter is taking a lot of hits, it makes more sense to let him fall than to heal him because of the Health/Stamina system. Oy... This is the biggest one IMO. It makes zero sense that it is a better tactical decision to let someone fall than to heal them. It just doesn't. Right now, the optimal decision for the player when a party member is taking lots of hits is to just let them fall unconscious, because healing them will only result in the loss of more health. The current mechanics incentivize just letting your characters fall unconscious because there is not any penalty for letting them fall. I.. just.... nope. Bad design. Fix it. Now, the fix doesn't need to come in the form of removing the Health/Stamina system. Remember that sources of DG are, at their core, from bad incentive structure. There needs to be an incentive to heal your party members instead of letting them fall. I have a few suggestions for possible solutions. I'll start with the ones that don't involve removing Health/Stamina (which I understand Josh is quite fond of), then move on to a few more radical suggestions: 1) Cause healing spells to heal a small amount of health as well - perhaps 1/6 or 1/8 as much as stamina. And only allow them to be used in combat (i.e. on "recent" wounds). This could make sense lore-wise (combat-only restriction means that only very recent wounds can be healed, which would fit with their lore reasons for no strategic healing) while allowing the player to use healing to somewhat alleviate the issue with frontliners losing all their health. Would also mean that healing is always a good thing - as it should be. 2) Have enemies attack downed characters, doing health damage vs reduced defenses. This would absolutely solve the problem, absolutely make sense (why does a wolf or beetle stop savaging you when you fall, exactly?), and absolutely be very punishing. This could be somewhat alleviated by making it a reduced ratio of health damage (definitely 1/4, maybe even 1/8), and would probably also be smart to only have non-intelligent enemies do this (as wild animals should keep attacking/eating, whereas smart enemies would realize they should move onto another threat). Even if only non-intelligent enemies did this, the DG problem would be fixed - after all, playing dead against a humanoid enemy would be a viable tactic in real life. Just not against everything. 3) Take a wound every time a character falls. minus-whatever to attributes until rest. Not a perfect solution, but it would resolve the incentive issues. 4) And finally (not gonna happen), remove health altogether and allow a certain number of falls before being maimed (dependent on class and talents). This would completely solve the incentive issues, making healing an altogether good thing (as it should be). That's all I've got on the healing DG problem. Josh, pls read. :3 - If I want to find hidden items, I have to walk around in scouting mode all the time. This is just dumb. Walking around in constant scouting mode with the game in fast motion is the optimal way to play right now. And that's stupid. Scouting needs to be overhauled (i.e. with some passive component) or removed. Structuring a game mechanic such that the optimal strategy is to do something absurd is the absolute definition of degenerative gameplay. That's all for now. Thanks for reading!
  12. A problem i find in the occasional modern rpg is that unique items are often too easy to find and are often done so by either random drops or in a chest on your way to a greater goal. Another traditional method of acquiring them is through boss fights. Yes ok, fighting a particularly powerful foe should yield its rewards, but for those items, these legendary artifacts that have changed the course of that games history, they should be secretive, they should not be found simply as a drop to a boss you had to kill anyway. Dragon Age has the same problem, some of the most powerful items there are found simply on your way to another objective, in obvious shining containers. What is the gratification in finding a beautifully crafted weapon, giving you an edge in combat simply as a prize for not being completely blind? Skyrim had a good idea with locations of certain artifacts hidden in books. The problem was that it marked the location of the item on your map the moment you picked up the book and left nothing to chance, the book itself was also commonly found. Playing Fable, i recall the most powerful sword required a certain alignment for the tomb that contained it to open, another was a sword-in-the-stone type where you could see men from the local village trying their strength attempting to pull it out, not to mention certain chests that required a particular amount of keys found throughout the world. That is what i would like to see, that there is some challenge involved in finding an artifact of significant power, be it trough optional side quests , cryptic requirements or deducing their location through obscure data. If you absolutely cant find it and still want it, ask google. PS: I make a distinction between unique and legendary items. Legendaries are certainly unique but are distinct through power and historical relevance.
  13. 1. Forgetting to balance enchantments. You have your two-handed weapon, 1h weapon & shield and dual wielding 1h weapons options. Which ones ill you go for? In most CRPG's you'd go for the last two. Why? Because the designers seem to forget that TWO magical items equals TWICE the magical enchantments, hence why such combos are almost always vastly superior to a 2h weapon. You have a paralisis enchantment on that big 2H axe? That's nice, I got a paralisyis enchantment on my 1h sword and a blindness enchantment on my 1h mace. I deal 2(3?) damage types and have twice the chance to incapacitate you. What's that? But you do more damage 2d6 +5 fire damage? Not bad. I do 1d8+5 fire and 1d6+5 ice damage. Opps. Looks like you underperform there too. 2. Loot/magic obsession. Finding loot is part of a CRPG charm. But it's not waht a CRPG should be about. It's not why we remember great fnatasy stories. Your average CRPG protagonists goes trough magical items faster than a starving man trough food. Magical items constantly discarded, used for 5 minutes untill a better weapon comes along. Long before the end of the game, every single inventory slot is filled with magical items. By the end, a character would cause a magic detector to explode. She sheer magniute of magical energy radiated over the hoards of legendary/epic items that the world hasn't seen in millenia would be OVER 9000!!! Magic and magical items are overused. When everything is magical, nothing is. Magic itself loses part of it's charm and "oomph". Powerful magical items are ntohing but trinkets to be discarded. When you think of Aragorn - was every single thing he carried magical? Did it have to be? Do characters in fantasy storeis switch equipment every 5 minutes? No, they find something nice and stick with it. It's one of the reasons I loved BG1 atmosphere so much. It felt so real. A qualtiy steel weapon was viable even at end game. You didn't finish the game with everything being a magical +5,+10 uber-item. 3. if less is more, more is less? Padding the game length with unnecessary, repettiive fight. Every road will have bandits. Or hostile wildlife with no sense of self-perserveation. And they will respawn. Sometimes entire game sections will be nothing more than padding (looking at you FF) /fillers. Because clearly, long game = automaticly better game. Right? Right?
  14. For continued inspiration along the lines of threads like "Design a God for PE", "Design a Monster", "magic weapons in PE" and "creatures in PE" I thought it might be fun to share our ideas for a faction or organisation in PE. Guidelines: Mention the Name of the organisation, some of its history, its goals and practises, and how the player might encounter the faction ingame. I'll start. ------------- The Skywatchers The Skywatchers is a cult of monks seeking portends and omens in the clouds. Many years ago, let's say lost in time, a monk of great wisdom and power was meditating in the clouded mountains. It was during this trance that he noticed a story transpire in the clouds. A great and ancient battle was slowly wafting past him. Naturally he mentioned this when next he came down for resupply. And naturally he was ridiculed and hounded for it. Returning to his perch he tried to see what he saw before. But nothing came. Rather than dismiss it as a moment of madness, he kept at it, until eventually in trance, he saw another story A knight galloping across a field of flames. It was a different story, out of another time. Over time, he began to attune his senses to the clouds And when eventually he came down, he declared "Tomorrow this kingdom will end" suffice it to say that he was right, and he was ignored no more. It was from then that the cult of Skywatchers was founded, they are found on high purchases and in open fields, watching. Most of the time nothing much happens. They might chuckle at an amusing cloud story or shed a tear at an ancient drama being displayed in the sky. but occasionally, rarely, the clouds are prophetic, and the sky-watchers move. They meet annually and freely share what they've learned, and record it vigorously. Every tale, every event, and every portend. And they then seek out those whom they believe it applies to, in order to inform them. Ever esoteric, they're mostly left alone and ignored. A farmer in a field will be wise enough to plow around the madman lying in his field staring at the sky, day and night, and in the rain, and even on a mostly cloudless day. Some of the Skywatchers find it more convenient to hermitage(?) themselves. One of the wealthier students has built an observatory and imaging implements to record the shapes. Mostly the Skywatchers are valued for their contributions outside their more bizarre habits; Expert meteorologists, bird and insect experts, astronomers, and story tellers, the Skywatchers have plenty of time to develop these other skills for which they are known. And while they are useless most of the time, they contribute enough to maintain their standing as eccentric, but learned men. The player might encounter a Skywatcher out on his travels, looking up and mumbling incoherently "I already know that one", may consult one for information about a local insect plague or what lovely weather it is, or a crackpot might come at the player and tell him He's the long lost heir to lord mcfuddlysomethingskinstonderpson. Colourful characters, the most interesting time to encounter them is on their annual meeting, in a beautiful open air observatory built by one of the wealthier members, where they have debates on varying topics and, as the evening wears on and they get drunk, the unfairness of being such unappreciated geniuses.
  15. It is my considered opinion that we could reach an accomodation with Al Qaeda if they left off killing people who offended their worldview, and instead ruthlessly pursued DESIGNERS WHO PUT 'HELPFUL' FEATURES INTO INTERFACES, LIKE ZOOMING IN AND OUT OF A DATABASE BECAUSE THE USER HAS CHOSEN TO ENTER A CERTAIN TYPE OF DATA.
  16. Previous parts : 1) http://forums.obsidi...designs-a-plea/ 2) http://forums.obsidi...a-plea-part-ii/ Opening post :
  17. So, I have the various pieces of PE concept art cycling through my desktop background, and I was looking at the composite shot of the Monk, Wizard, Fighter and Cleric, and I thought to myself, 'I hope we see some Cipher concept art soon'. But this got me to thinking, what visual cues should the Cipher incorporate? I love the wizard designs we've seen, particularly Aloth and the female elf. They're a nice diversion from typical wizard designs whilst still having an inherent wizardliness. The cipher has much less existing expectation to work with, and its closest kin in other settings - psions - often come out looking just like wizards with a 'head' focus. The difference between the look of a psion and a wizard is often that the psion has a headpiece on or is touching their temples. I'd hope PE could come up with some more distinctive visual language to convey Ciphers. So what do people think would make a good look for Ciphers? What existing character designs would you take inspiration from? Is their anything they shouldn't do? I think I'll be playing a Cipher or a Chanter, and there's a good thread already about Chanter influences. My main desire is that they'll be clearly distinct from wizards, and also I'd like to avoid the cliche of lots of (usually blue) glowy floaty light effects. They're cool but they've been done a lot. Just like the wizard designs have shied away from beard-and-robe without turning against it completely, I'd like to see the Ciphers have a bit more uniqueness too.
  18. Orlan First Look Josh Sawyer Click for full size image As some of the keen-eyed among you noted from last week's update, there was an unfamiliar portrait in our work-in-progress tileset screenshot. We read the debates and viewed the Blade Runner-esque enhanced images that followed with interest. Good work, sleuths, the character pictured is, in fact, an orlan. This orlan is engaged in some important work in one of the Dyrwood's busiest cities. Here's the full-sized portrait for your continued speculation! Ziets on Pantheon Design George Ziets Hello all. This week, I will be writing the update, and we’ll be starting to talk a bit about world development. For a designer, this is the fun part, and it’s a surprisingly rare opportunity. On all my previous Obsidian projects, the team has worked with an established IP (intellectual property) like the Forgotten Realms or Fallout. We’ve always had a wealth of existing lore to draw upon – cities, towns, characters, history, gods, etc. Sometimes we’ve worked in an area of the world that hadn’t been seen in a CRPG before (as in NWN2: Mask of the Betrayer), which gave us the opportunity to extrapolate beyond what was already established... but otherwise, we were working with established material and trying to be true to existing lore. In contrast, Project Eternity is an entirely new setting that we’re creating from scratch. And at the start of development (around the end of the Kickstarter campaign), we didn’t have much more than what KS supporters have already seen: a map, a few high-level ideas about races, nations, and technology level, and the idea that souls play a major role in this world. So where do we go from there? Building a Pantheon One of our first steps was to think about gods. Deities can be a good starting point when developing a world. They reflect the views and beliefs of the world’s inhabitants, and they can inspire ideas for characters, organizations, and conflicts. You’ve already heard a few of our gods mentioned in passing: Magran, goddess of fire and war; Berath, god of cycles, doors, and death; Eothas, god of light and redemption. Josh invented these gods when he was first developing the world, and they play important roles in the region where the game will be set. But we’ll need a lot more gods to fill out the pantheon. Here are a few of the elements we consider for each new deity: What is the god's name, and what are his/her "aliases" (e.g., "The Twinned God" for Berath). What is the god's portfolio? That is, what aspects of life or the world do they represent (e.g., mortality, greed, summer, commerce)? What allies and foes do they have amongst the other gods? What are their symbols? How do they manifest in the mortal world? We list this information for each deity, as well as providing a detailed description. Players won’t necessarily get to see all this stuff, but it’s useful background for the art and design teams, so that the world feels like a consistent, coherent whole. One other thing to bear in mind: for the most part, our deities aren’t good or evil. They’re somewhere in between – closer to the multi-dimensional gods of the ancient world. Every deity has his or her own agenda, which isn’t bound by notions of alignment. Sometimes they can be helpful and benevolent. Other times – not so much. Woedica – "The Exiled Queen" All the preceding info is important, but I wouldn’t want to leave you without revealing an actual example... A lot of my design ideas start with a visual image. That applies to characters, locations, even narrative. I’m not sure where most of them come from, but examining them more closely will usually lead me to develop stories to explain who they are and where they came from. One of the first images that sprang to mind was an old woman – a dethroned queen – wandering along an empty road in tattered finery. Despite whatever horrors she had suffered, she maintained a certain stubborn dignity, and she carried a heavy book of law. I felt like this goddess could cover a range of portfolios, and I liked the idea that the deity who was the "rightful ruler" of the gods (in her mind, at least), had lost her throne. That may have some interesting implications for the way in which mortals view the world. So what was her story? According to her followers, she had once claimed rulership over all the other gods. But if that was true, she was cast down in the far distant past. Among the other gods, she has no real allies, believing that all the gods owe her fealty. She claims the portfolios of law, rightful rulership, memory, and vengeance. And she manifests in the world as the Strangler, a leathery-skinned old woman, always clad in tattered finery, who appears on an empty road or abandoned alleyway to murder those who break a solemn oath. Her Aedyran name is Woedica, which evokes the “Old English” feel of the Aedyran language. (Maintaining a distinct sense of national/ethnic language and culture is important to us – more about that in a later update.) There’s a lot more to tell about the Exiled Queen and the other gods (some of which aren’t even “human”). But that should give you a taste of our creative process. We’ll have plenty more to say about world-building in future updates.
  19. What does that mean? The player is given specific abilities to deal with situations. Then, the developer designs a level and realizes a player ability may trivialize whatever silly challenge they came up with. So, they weasel out that player ability by bypassing it in code or putting in some invisible trigger to shut it off. Example: The player is given a levitate spell, you hover a few feet off the ground and damage breaks the spell. Later, a level is designed with pits of fire. In testing levitate makes it a cake-walk. Now you could have fire fall from the sky in a patten that will break levitate; in which case the player has to figure that out. Or, the developer can weasel out the use of that ability all together by putting an invisible fire damage layer at the levitate height. The former doesn't bother me, the latter annoys me to no end. I've run across this twice in NWN2 now. I'm outside Ammon Jerro's haven and I need to get some water from a geyser. I read the lead in and it states that you need to be careful of the acid. What do I do? Why I have the gith cast Energy Immunity: Acid of course. What happens? I step in, 60 damage from "Acid (Magical)". I smell a weasel! Please don't do this sort of thing in PE. It's not challenging, it just gives me one more reason to think that non-DPS spells simply aren't worth keeping memorized. I mean, if it isn't going to work when I stop and think, "oh yea, I have a tool for that." Nope, sorry... that tool doesn't work as it makes it too easy. Really? Then why bother giving me tools at all? And, expecting me to waste slots on them if they're just going to get dodged by the code every time I realize one of them might be useful?
  20. I mentioned in the P.E. Kickstarter threads that my husband is an artist and crafter RL, at what you'd call a 'Master' level. I think I should back that boast up... This is a custom made 5-Bottle winechest with an infinity celtic knot on the top. I wanted to show off his amazing work to y'all... BTW - these are hand-made to order and Yes, you can buy one if you're interested by PMing me... Also if anyone at Obsidian wants to buy one with a company logo engraved, you're welcome to PM me too. :D
  21. From the previous thread : http://forums.obsidi...designs-a-plea/
  22. In most cRPGs weapons are usually fairly similar to each other; most of the time the only difference is the amount of damage dealt. I think every weapon type (well, within reason of course) should offer a unique set of boni and (ideally) ought introduce a different playstyle. Here are a few ideas and suggestions (some may be obvious, most are pretty abstract, so be warned) : 1) Weapon reach : e.g. Pikes or Spears should allow your team members to attack from a greater distance, confering a serious advantage in some cases, but becoming a liability in close quarters. 2) Critical hit effects are different for each weapon type. E.g. : a) Greatswords would deal 200% more damage on critical hits and have a 5% chance to dismember the foe, resulting in an instant death. b) Rapiers would deal 100% more damage on critical hits and apply a bleeding effect. c) Hammers would deal 150% more more damage on critical hits and stun the target. 3) Smaller and generally obvious things : a) Different damage ranges (e.g. Greatsword 1d10x2, Longsword 1d6x3 - this would result in a vastly different performance. b) Armour Boni and penalties - (e.g. Swords are worse at piercing chainmail, but great against leather, Rapiers are useless against plate). c) Various speeds - self-explanatory. d) Weapon perks - (e.g. Greatswords are harder to parry, Pikes can impale, Pistols can jam). e) No weapon type should ever be considered "the best". They should all have their uses.
  23. Hello again! Sorry for making yet another thread about magic, but I thought this deserved to be discussed separately from cooldowns and even Vancian magic. Well, in another thread, someone commented that he thought the reason he disliked vancian magic is that it looks like an instant respecification of the character. Like, you have a wizard decked with only fire spells, like fireball, flame shield, summon elemental, and what not. Suddenly the next day, he could memorize completely different things, like clairvoyance, invisibility, phantasmal force, teleport and what not. If you have a system like, say, Diablo, or DA, or even like Arcanum, this kind of thing really wouldn't fly. If you compare the spells to other abilities, like they are in those, that approach really wouldn't fly. But spells in D&D aren't abilities. In setting, the ability to create a frozen icicle that you can hurl toward your enemy doesn't come from understanding "the true nature of ice and cold". Spells aren't like a field of science, like combinatorics or thermodynamics. Spells are much more discrete sets of knowledge. They are, in D&D, like a specific theorem or equation. The reason changing your spells every day isn't like a respec is the same reason a warrior exchanging his sword for a mace isn't a respec. Spells, in those games, are like items, not specific abilities. And I really like them for it. One of the really cool things about spells as items is that they allow you to go wild in designing them. Consider, for example, a spell that summons a dead shield maiden to yourself. These maidens all have specific names, stories, and all were buried in the same church, which the spell's creator desecrated and bound to him through this spell. Every time you summon one of the maidens, she is freed, to the point that the spell will eventually run out! Heck, if an enemy summons one of them, he will "spend" one of the shield maidens. If someone (maybe the party itself, maybe one of its enemies, triggered by a player action) was to cleanse the temple, the spell would fail completely. Now, about this example, actually taken from the DCC RPG (a P&P game). I really love this kind of approach, the one where spells are something you can interact with, instead of simply a combat option or a piece in an adventure game like puzzle. But this makes much more sense in a game that has spells as items. If you spent your sole skill point you got when you leveled up to get this ability, and suddenly it runs out, or is gone, or is modified because one of the shield maidens was possessed by a devil, it would be extremely unfair. At the very least, it would either lead to the more predictable abilities to be more worthwhile or to the unpredictable ones to be really unbalanced to compensate. Now, I don't want to sound biased. Obviously, I much prefer spells as items, but I expect some of you disagree. I understand most people who prefer spells as abilities like them because the game is more balanced, than when you simply let casters have lots of cool toys that can run amok. I don't care much about exact balancing however. I think having the game run amok is part of the fun. Having it be unfairly hard or easy sometimes, based on your decisions, is part of what makes it worth playing. But maybe there are things I am not seeing here, so I would love if people who disagree with me would chime in and explain their position. Of course, those who agree are also welcome to comment.
  24. One thing that I highly dislike about modern RPGs are the outlandish and outright ugly armour and designs. If you'd allow me some examples (incoming hyperbole and large images) : This Certainly looks better than this : Second example : In the examples, I've juxtaposed somewhat ornamental and a bit fantasy looking pieces of equipment with ones that look more like toys (which I consider to be a general tendency in fantasy cRPGS). Is the continuing urge for so called "epicness" really worth it? I think there's plenty of historical (and not so historical) arms and armour to draw inspiration from. Non-practical equipment is a real eye sore most of the time, IMHO. And yes, I realize that the game is isometric, and we won't see arms and armour in great detail - but that'll only make the task that much easier. While we're at it, please consider using something similar for item descriptions :
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