In BG what really matters was the character that the player created, that's why it's so personal.
ye, i dont feel this at all. i think portraying the setting itself is the games priority. ur characters main purpose is to have adequate motivation to get out there and get involved with the setting on a suitably epic scale. making u half-god achieves this quite smartly.
IMO the struggle within is what informs the essence of the game. Fighting enemies like Sarevok and later Irenicus is just the external representation of that but ultimately what really matters is how the main character is going to deal with who he or she is.
the problem is, bg gives u no reason to embrace full bhaalspawn, nor spends enough time selling it as a scary inevitability that would require a miracle to overcome. there are loads of things they could have done to develop this theme. they could have had quests ending in horrible bloodshed regardless of ur intentions. they could have made it a necessity for u to go darkside to save companions. they couldve forced isolation upon u as u get blamed more and more for the unavoidable terror in ur wake.
like the game had a real chance to pull a blinder with the harper stronghold quest. the harpers come after you because ur bhaalspawn and potentially dangerous - so far so good, maybe u are dangerous - but hey-ho, it was down to infighting and personal politics and theyre not *real* harpers and blah blah. the quest is over, you get experience and nothing really changes.
could they have twisted that knife further and made the harpers a steadfast enemy and forced jaheira to abandon everything for ur sake? hell yes, but game ultimately is less interested in that theme and more in giving u to chance to do good work in d&d land.
Like imagine if u had a good paladin order chasing u out of every settlement for good reason, and ur only option to keep on trucking was to kill a ton of decent people. yeah, tasty, then we're cooking with gas.
also main antagonist of bg2 totes separate from bhaalspawn element. for irenicus, is just a means to acquire power. true, he tries to bait u by selling this power to u, but because the game *as a whole* doesnt sell the power to u, his words are just bond villain stuff. hes an evil **** whos trying to play u is all.
Dragon Age pushes the theme of struggling against inner-beast a *lot* harder. the circle of magi are an incredibly powerful weapon for good and ill. the society around them is divided as to how to deal with them. there are arguments for giving the mages autonomy and arguments against it. its the central theme of several main quests. one of the most powerful subclasses - blood mage - can only be unlocked by giving up a child to a desire demon. yeah, reprehensible, but fml is that aoe damage/stun tempting af.
amusingly, the grey warden stuff is poorly executed by comparison, but whatevs. really they shouldve made it so all grey wardens inevitably became gibbering amoral murderous lunatics who had to be put down like dogs. i guess they didnt go that route bcs it might have upset players.
they sort of started including that angle on the grey wardens later, but by then it was too late to make sense. anyhoo tangent.
bg dangles no such fruit. the slayer? **** that, all thats useful for is killing that demilich. immunity to imprisonment, baby!
IWD2 never becomes so personal because it's more about Isair and Madae than it is about the ragtag band of adventurers who happened to find their way to Targos.
for me, IWD2's cleverness was this.
your group has no choice regarding its involvement in the conflict. regardless of any sympathy u may have for the outcasts of the Legion of the Chimera, ur driven to kill them.
by same token, Isair and Madae ultimately had no choice but to succumb to their demonic blood. after everyones good intentions, the world engineered their fall.
The games central theme of inevitability plays out on both sides of the board - and is reflected in its linear structure.
IWD2 is the nastiest, most pessimistic game BIS ever produced imo and all the better for it. its high up on my list of things that warrant deeper consideration than theyve so far had.
BGII was like a Forgotten Realms greatest hits album in a way.
thats exactly what it is. greatest hits albums by good artists are often cracking but very few of them have the flow, context and unity of an LP. appraising them as though they *should* have one only works in unique circumstances.
i think trying to ascribe a central theme to bg - aside from d&d playground for heroic deeds - overshadows the games actual achievement. it condenses an entire roleplaying tradition into one coherent game. everything else is secondary to that and all the better for it. if bg had been overly concerned with loftier things, it likely wouldve fallen short of its goal.
I am not sure if "urgency" is what I would call it, but forward momentum. BG2 suffered from this as well, with the opening act having so many fun aide activities that I would completely forget why I was gathering money in the first place.
i was fine with it, cos i wanted to rescue my bff imoen who followed me out of candlekeep. but u werent the only one with this complaint. i heard it a lot back in the day.
ye, this cats been lurking for a long-ass time... aaaaaaand if we come back to the present!
I think that as enticing the whole Deadfire plot can be (especially if you're into Pillars lore) the lack of urgency is the biggest flaw.
tbh, am starting to come to conclusion that the urgency and motivation argument is not worth having. i swear every game gets accused of lacking both, regardless of what it does. ultimately a certain kind of reader/player will always have tendency to position themselves as above the games concerns.
if i were a designer, id be tempted to just do my own fking thing in the face of this. always some people will get emotionally invested and rush crit path while other people will question point of doing crit path at all. whatevs. maybe there some calculation that proves 'if u do more of this, more people will fall into former category' but im not terribly interested in that myself. someone solves that equation, every game will end up looking the same. pfft. i hope they never figure it out.
incidentally, if ull indulge me, i have a strange little theory regarding deadfires crit path and urgency, might as well disclose it now
eothas is not in a great rush. there are few things that can deal with him. despite his objections at the start, he seems eager to have a witness to what hes doing. perhaps he even needs one.
i posit that the watcher is actually *hastening* the semi-apocalypse whenever they talk to eothas, who, left to his own devices, might actually kick the can long enough to change his mind or be stopped by the other gods. by chasing him - and giving him the sounding board he craves - ur actually giving him to motivation he needs to carry on and fk everything up. congratulations, u borked the wheel, lol.
okay, okay, the 'eothas' challenge' magrans fire counters this, but my reading amuses me so im keeping it.
But then it just end leaving us confused, unsatisfied and with more questions and answers.
have commented elsewhere that end prob could have been better had josh included that dammed river metaphor of his and let eothas waste a few dozen words explaining the reincarnation cycle prior to construction of wheel but hey-ho. writers appear to have gotten scared of selling their own metaphysics when it was actually necessary.
im very aware of tendency toward efficiency in many professional writers. this is reinforced from *every* angle, especially from critics and editors. theres good reason for this, but occasionally, u over-edit, trip urself up and confuse readers. ending of deadfire good example of this i feel.
is fine now i know what i know, and a follow up - fingers crossed - should show the consequences quite nicely. but i shouldnt have to be relying on either of those things.