Woo, I can reply!
Incidentally, what were you experiences with the in game “relationships”? I was in a relationship with a large yellow female who will remain unnamed. However, after becoming an item, absolutely nothing changed. No snu-snu scene. No extra lovers dialogue. Nothing. I’ve never been in such a boring relationship in my life. Bug or feature?
While I’m ranting: I wish the on-ship dialogue options would be updated sometimes! Seriously, it would have been really cool if they occasionally had something slightly different to say when you visit them below decks. Instead, throughout the game, you get the same dialogue tree. What’s the point of going down there for a chat?
I would agree. I've forgot to mention right here that a larger dialogue tree for many of our companions would be nice too - I cannot remember right now how many questions we could ask per character in the first game but it sure as hell felt like more than two or three. And despite the many interjections and bits of banter we see with our companions this time around, they never seem to flesh out a character as much as our personal conversations did with the companions throughout the first game.
And whilst I recognize it would mean a lot of work at this venture, it'd be nice for each unique crewmember, of those we recruit via quests and unique interactions at least, to be fitted with their own dialogue trees, if a smaller one at that - just to set them apart as unique individuals a little more at least. But, again, I recognize that could be a bit much to ask.
I think your suggestions and comments are on point and basically I agree with all of them, though in general I'd say focus on improving companions first, then sidekicks and then crew. If there has to be a priority I mean.
Oh, I wasn't really proposing these things should be given equal priority, and I reckon I would also argue that the companions should be looked at before the crew - however, considering how much time we spend out at sea and how our crew essentially acts as our party through these patches of time, I think they shouldn't be overlooked either (even if, again, in my opinion they're in a much better state than companions are in currently).
I don't think the approval system should be invisible as it would be extremely frustrating in its current incarnation. Aloth would hate probably 90% of players and no one would know why. If it's going to be invisible, it should make sense and pertain to things the Watcher does and says that actually matter/are directly relevant to the person/entail a certain level of rationality. As it is now, the Watcher can be super benevolent but still hated, or an **** and still loved, which makes companions feel stupid to me (as do a lot of their traits/reactions which frequently feel more like bigotry/closed-mindedness than personalities). However, visible or not, all approval systems of this type encourage metagmaing. Of the approval systems I've seen in games, I like ones that use rivalry/friendship the best, such as in DA2, where Hawke's companions were loyal if it was high enough in either direction, but not if it was lackluster in the middle. This makes sense because people can be friends and loyal to one another without having sycophantic relationships where one person is always pandering to the other, which positive-weighted systems can often feel like and where the PC will just go behind companion's back to do stuff they dislike and lie to them. Nevertheless, even that system usually results in players engaging in metagaming to push the relationship in the direction they want, be it by using the Wiki or reloading.
I don't disagree, but I would say that the current system being bugged is a different issue to the criticism we're raising about the reputation system. Yes, the bugs lead to plenty of weird and unpredictable reactions from the companions, but I think that even if these were ironed out and everything was working as it should, the issues regarding metagaming, companions reacting more to offhand comments than to relevant decisions and courses of action, or their apparent shallowness and artificiality would all still remain as problems. Also I don't think it's exactly feasible to bring the whole character system down and rebuild it from scratch, so what I'm trying to suggest are ways in which I feel the current system could feel more natural. Yes, these traits could still exist and define a facet of these characters, but I still feel the critical decisions should hold a greater weight and to rebalance the system around these would probably help a lot more to make the companions feel more natural and their arc/progression a little smoother and so on.
Relationship system seems like a cool idea, which doesn't really add much. I always liked the idea of "reputation system" with companions, though I never enjoyed the implimentation - I probably like KOTOR2 the most, DA:O origins I disliked because: 1) most interactions happened in private conversation so it felt like I am catering to each companion after another with none being aware me doing that instead of being my characer and companions reacting to it. 2) gifting system made the whole thing obsolete.
The gifting system was a terrible idea, I agree, and one which I feel shows just how artificial this whole system usually feels. Reward some characters a few gifts and all of a sudden you transform a character previously hostile to you into your closest companion (well, maybe never quite so drastically, but it did create some awkward pacing in a companion's relationship with your MC, and their overall development). Anyways, I agree with your overall post.
Dont know how to use spoiler tags.
Likewise I feel like events such as *** ought to ellicit some reaction or change in disposition from her considering how she expressly asks us to ***
She has a very strong reaction. If you have her with you while doing these things. If you leave her on the ship, she does not notice what happened.
I had her with me during that quest yet recall no reaction from her whatsoever when it was all said and done. I recall waiting for her to react to or comment on how we dealt with it, thank us about it or something, but she remained quiet, and I was rather disappointed in turn. But I could be misremembering too.
I got pretty attached to the initial crew members you start the game with.
In the opening area of the game, they have unique personalities and unique dialogue, so it was pretty disappointing that they only had generic lines when you spoke to them on your ship afterwards.
I'm not a fan of the crew personality system because your crew members are no longer unique after recruitment. I honestly would have preferred a smaller boat crew over a bunch of generic characters who say the same lines on deck and in the scripted interactions. I didn't find myself getting attached to any of my crew members after I recruit them.
I would be inclined to agree with these two remarks, yes, though I liked several of the snippets throughout the game involving the crew and liked how the game remained pretty consistent on who would react in what way and so on. It did seem to characterize a few of these characters in a pretty specific manner. But I agree that they could have had a bit more content specifically tailored for them or involving them throughout the rest of the game and not merely during their introduction. Which is partly why I suggest some of the above interactions.
As for other remarks stated so far, I largely agree. Here's hopes that future patches will try to expand and correct on some of these points.