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I haven't started writting this post with a "Dear Obsidian" because I don't want the tone of the text to be confused with cynicism or sarcasm. With the writing of this text I am just trying to voice out my honest concerns towards a game that I've backed, and as such, this post should be read only as that, although I still would really like to be answered by at least one of the members of the Obsidian crew, if anything else. First of all, I do think the game looks amazing so far. Well, with that out of the way, my concerns started when I read in a virtual magazine that "Pillars of Eternity" will not include romance options. As a backer, I wasn't aware of this as I've always assumed that a game that was aiming to be a spiritual successor of "Baldur's Gate 2" and "Planescape: Torment" will at least try to create deep relationships with companions and or NPCs in the same way those games did. I was somewhat confused and dissapointed with this news, so I just went back to the original pitch and I read it again: "Project Eternity will take the central hero, memorable companions and the epic exploration of Baldur's Gate, add in the fun intense combat and dungeon diving of Icewind Dale, and tie it all together with the emotional writing and mature thematic exploration of Planescape: Torment" The first time I read the pitch back when the kickstarter campaign started, I was thrilled at the oportunity of playing one game that will mix together the deep and richness of writing of both the "Baldur's Gate saga" and "Planescape: Torment". I have to admit that I was never very fond of the "Icewind Dale" series because while good games, they always felt to me much less alive due to the lack of companions or roleplaying options. Still, the combat in those games were pretty good and that was exactly what Obsidian was aiming to bring back from them, according to the pitch, so everything was good. But now, after these news, it feels to me that we are getting more "Icewind Dale" than "Baldur's Gate" or "Planescape: Torment", although I would really like to be wrong about this once the game is out on the street. The thing is I remember that one of the stretch goals for the game was centered on unlocking levels and more levels of a megadungeon. At the time, my first thought was "Cool", "neat" and " I am really looking forward to explore that", but that was before this news, because I would take roleplaying options over endless dungeons anyday. I know the game is gonna have interactions with companions seen as friendships or hateships but, somehow these interactions won't feel as deep as the ones in "Baldur's Gate" and "Planescape: Torment" because those had friendships + romances...and wasn't the whole point of the project to bring back that same level of deep interaction? And yes, I consider that a game without romances (understood either as they were offered in Baldur's Gate 2 or as they were developed in Planescape: Torment) will fundamentally offer less roleplaying options for the players. A game where your character emotional romantic connections are essentially nullified during the whole journey, without options for the player for those relationships to happen, feels as limited as a game with forced relationships only. I am not saying this game will be a bad game because of this decision, but I do think it somehow failed already to be as deep as Baldur's Gate 2 or Planescape: Torment concerning the roleplaying posibilities. Because in BG2 you could chose to pursue romances or not, and that simple detail is always better that not having the option of doing so. Likewise in Planescape: Torment, we believed the relationships between the Nameless One and Deionarra, Annah, Fall-From-Grace or even Ravel because there were so many roleplaying options given through dialogue where you could chose how to behave with these characters, all of which obviously felt something for our Nameless fella. To me, the game felt much more real and believable thanks to those interactions because the creators weren't ruling out roleplaying posibilities and options, so each player had the chance to make the story of the game their own thanks to the answers they were deciding to give. If in "Pillars of Eternity" options like these are simply ruled out, every player will feel that their main character is either asexual, a psychopath or somebody that simply is no interested in any of their companions or the NPCs in the world in any romantic way whatsoever, which can be possible but it's unlikely and force the player down a certain kind of character. While the decision to rule out romances is great for players that want to roleplay their characters in that particular fashion, the rest of the players will be left frustrated with a character that they will not feel their own partly because of these restrictions. At this point, in case it wasn't clear, I would like to add that I understand romances in some different ways and I feel that at least the options given by both "Baldur's Gate 2" and "Planescape: Torment" were not only valid, but very interesting.To those putting romance and waifu in the same bag...I really don't think they are the same thing, they don't even play in the same league. And really, who really wants waifu stuff in their Obsidian RPG, anyway? Is somebody crazy enough to think Obsidian is going to write that kind of thing? No, I am obviously talking about something else when I talk about romances, for example, to those saying that "Planescape: Torment" didn't have romances, well, I simply don't feel that's true. Actually, my favourite approach to romances was Planescape's were those relationships were subtly played throughout the whole game, slowly building the connections with your companions. Fall-From-Grace is, for example, the epitome of a doomed romance, damning both of the characters in the process. Another person in another forum commented this about the Planescape's romances and I totally agree with him/her: "All of the romances in PS:T are there to underline the way in which TNO is bringing torment and suffering to all those close to him. The romances for Annah, FFG and Deionarrah serve the same purpose as Dakkon's enslavement and Morte's fate following you for eternity. Deinorrah needs no explanation, but Ravel makes it pretty clear that Annah falling in love with you is a 'very bad thing' (which can lead directly to her death - and even without that, puts her in a doomed devotion to someone whose fated to hell). FFG is the final part of the curse of torment - notice how when you encounter Ravel, she expertly picks apart every companion's weakness and points out just how TNO is bringing suffering upon them (Annah's love, Dakkon's slavery, Nordrom in a hopeless struggle against his own nature, and most of all, the one time in the whole game where Morte's joking facade gets broken, with Ravel revealing the bitter desparation beneath his humour)....but when she comes to addressing FFG she doesn't really have anything to say - in fact, while all the other characters are being taken apart, FFG is described as carefully sizing Ravel up for weaknesses. Then you get to the end of the game, with TNO on his way to hell...and finally FFG's torment becomes clear when she swears that she's go back to the very place that she had once escaped from, making a vow to rescue TNO that can't possibly be fulfilled and serves only to doom her to the same fate as TNO." So, in closing, we had thematically relevant romances in "Planescape:Torment" but also regular romances in "Baldur's Gate 2" where your companions developed feeling towards your characters only because they were given the chance to travel with him in first place, and from that point, things evolve according to player decisions. I don't think that's a bad option either. I think both games did a great job with their respective roleplaying options and that is why I find it weird that Obsidian is deciding to restrict the roleplaying capabilities of a game that claims to be a spiritual successor of those two classic RPGs. Modding the romances in is also not an option. At least for me. In first place, they won't be cannon and they will not ever be as intertwined with the story as one written by Obsidian. For those talking about this option...would they accept the other way around? Meaning, oficial game with romances and then some extra dungeons modded in by the community? Yep, I didn't think so. Josh Sawyer said in this very forum that the team didn't have the time or other resources to implement romances. But basically romances are more dialogue and reaction to it that adds roleplaying options to the player. Why then, if we assume roleplaying options are relevant in a CRPG, not give the backers the opportunity to have a say in this decision? Why not reaching a compromise? If the team doesn't have money or time for both let's say 40 dungeons and romances, why not ask the backers what would they rather have? And no, I don't mean cutting some levels from the megadungeon because what's promised is promised but maybe cutting some other dungeons instead. Inxile set up polls for decisions as important as deciding if the game were gonna be turn based or action with pause. Why not give the Pillars of Eternity backers the option to give their opinion? To know if they want the maximum amount of dungeons no matter what or if they would rather have less of them so that time and money would go to open more roleplaying options. I really would like something like this to happen. There are 73.986 backers only in the Kickstarter main page. 73.986. Do their opinions not matter? I know Obsidian has the last say but... is it not possible to even offer that option to the backers? To ask them what would they rather have via email/poll? Thank you for those patient enough to read the whole thing. As I said, this letter is addressed mainly to Obsidian, but dialogue is welcomed. Thanks again.
I'm talking about certain quests (eg. gather 20 coconuts) that you can complete over and over again (eg. once per day) for a reward. For a game that could potentially have 10000 quest events (random guess) I think it is going to be quite a challenge for the developers to create 10000 completely unique quests without a considerable percentage of them becoming more or less repetitious. If 500 of those unique quests were shaved off and dumped into a 20 quests that could be repeated once per cycle, then that would mean the developers would have to create 480 less quests, and could use that time to make the remaining 9500 quests just that much better, and it might also potentially make the remaining 9500 quests slightly less repetitious. Of course that would mean that we would need to run those 20 repeatable quests about 25 times each (20*25=500) which doesn't exactly sound fun. Repeatable quests are a tool, with both pro's and con's. Should they be in this game, or not?
So we don't know much about the game as of the time of this post, but we can safely assume that (a) we will be creating a singular character as a PC and (b) we will be a "Watcher" of some sort. We don't know how the game will start, obviously. It could go one of two ways. One, you have a lot of control over character creation but your past as a character is either fixed and part of the story (BG games) or not even really bothered with at all (Elder Scrolls games, IWD). Two, you show up in media res, a grown-ass man / woman / myconid, and you have some control not just over the appearance and skills of your myconid, but your myconid's background. Usually it's something like NWN2, which were sort of akin to minor Fallout traits, giving negligible bonuses and penalties to stats, and maybe eliciting a comment from someone once or twice. But there are exceptions: The content for each Origin in Dragon Age was pretty substantial, though it has less bearing the more you go on in the game. My personal favorite, though, was Arcanum's system. You went beyond mere socioeconomic and personality-based backgrounds toward the weird and fantastical. You could be a Frankenstein's monster, a magician's assistant, an idiot savant. No original game content was made for any of them (though that could change in a revisitation), but they were outlandish and what's more, they generally affected your stats in dramatic and often unchangeable ways, as well as put you in weird situations no one else would be in (freaking out in the sewers as a hydrophobe, for example). As such, they could substantially change the game. Does the hivemind agree that character backstories are cool things to pick and choose for a character, provided he/she/zhe is not set in stone from the outset? Perhaps you can choose what it is you were doing when you were conscripted into the Watcher role, as it sounds like you were.