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FelxK5

Casually mentioning a few of Pillars of Eternity's main problems without sophistication

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That's the point of the topic. Usually one would think a point would require infinite sophistication (and finally be ground down into nothingness by endless discussion, which feels endless although it's just 2 pages over 4 months) and precise references and background knowledge to have any sort of validity. But I can't bring myself to the effort, and frankly I have forgotten much of the "finer sophistication" regarding an understanding of the game, but I'm carrying the basic points around with me since forever, and they never were particularly sophisticated and all the more fundamental issues in the game itself.

Now here come my totally unsophisticated points. Let's see if I can find them.

The story has no hooks. I always thought so about the first game, and just realized this about the second when trying to find out why I can't bring myself to finish it.

1. Why does one follow the main story in the first game? Granted, some quests may have their own motivation (usually as primitive as "Imma getcha!", but basically it feels like everything one is doing just because one has nothing better to do, nothing else to concern oneself with. One runs into these issues, and then strives to settle them, since everyone is pointing one towards them. Okay. Whatever "philosophical" justifiation you want to find for that, it doesn't work. A main story needs a motivation. I don't care who I am in this game, this "Watcher", it evokes no feeling whatsoever, and absurdly you seem to think that if one makes up some view about this oneself, it's better. No, it needs a hook. I can't have a view of this if it literally doesn't matter! This is tied to an even more fundamental problem of the setting.

2. All this talk about "souls" seems fairly dumb. However it comes across as dumb not merely on its own, but because again there is pretended some sort of deeper complexity, which however is just construed and absurd and one can't bring oneself to care about. A machinery of souls, or crystals in the continental bedrock which are some sort of soul stores? And this is now deep, and I should care why exactly? It is a dumb setting that seemed like that right from the first second and never vindicated itself! This carries over to the second game and its lack of a hook.

3. I admit I was at first a bit enchanted by the game. Its meditative, other-dimensional beginning and conversations with the gods, and the exotic setting. Yes, but then? What am I supposed to do, why should I care? There is this dumb brute giant god who talks across the isles and the other gods don't want that (or do some? how interesting!). What does this mean? Again this is like the dumb "soul machinery" of the first part with vague significance and badly construed complexity that means nothing. There is no motivation, no meaning, and you can't just refer one to "find the meaning of this". There is no hook, no reason. It's not an interesting story, I doubt it is even any story at all.

4. And underneath this all is a problem in trying to translate the charm or magic of the old games to the present. I find the charm and "atmosphere" of the Baldur's Gate series and its setting comes from a feeling of "strangeness". (This is where sophistication would actually be most useful, because it is a difficult point that also should be poignantly explained.) You may say Baldur's Gate for the most part has a fairly standard fantasy setting. Obviously, it is sort of THE standard setting, but at the same time there are incredibly exotic elements and flights of fancy which were hardly ever topped. Which is not even the point. What I mean is that even in its "ordinariness", there was a genuine feeling of strangeness to the other world, as a world magic and adventure, with an underlying feeling of "vastness" of the world courtesy of the expansive setting. I want to contrast that "strangeness" with "rationality", because most newer games, including Dragon Age, have found they should rationalize that strangeness, to sort of make it more "realistic" and "smart". I think Pillars of Eternity is especially concerned with extensive rationalization to come across as smarter. However it doesn't benefit the stories, and the setting itself is just baffling and not really attractive.

This "strangeness" and vastness by the way is what I would argue also work in other greats like LotR and the old Star Wars... It is an integral element, even if I couldn't make it clear (a result of not having been really deeply invested in all of this recently).

 

So, this was all very badly explained and one would wish lack of sophstication would  translate to simplicity. Sorry about that. But the things are fairly fundamental and I think mostly immediately obvious: unmotivating stories with no hooks (and often even sense). Construed, vague, overly complex but ultimately meaningless setting-elements. And a lack of a feeling of "strangeness" due to the rationalization of all strangeness, and therefore an important element of a "deep" atmosphere (some manage to marry rationalization with that fundamental "strangeness" of fantasy, however it seems not all).

I hope you get a part of what I say.

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I also never bought into the souls and reincarnation malarkey. It makes your character (and all other NPCs and companions) feel meaningless and not unique.

The mai story in both, yes i agree they don't do good enough of a job driving you forward. IN some ways you can compared Deadfire to BG2 in that... there is a big event you're supposed to go after immediately but the game gives you so much opportunities to do other things. However, in BG2 I wanted to go after Irenicus so I had to think of reasons I wouldn't do that and instead just arse around doing quests etc. In Deadfire I have no interest going after the Eothas even though i'm supposed to and would rather arse around doing other things.

Does that even make sense, WHATEVER!


nowt

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There are many possible replies to this.

First, I wish to point out that your "why should I care?" attitude can be applied to everything. For instance: life is series of inbreaths and outbreaths, and eventually it will end. There is no meaning. Why should I care? That's a valid question. Some people invoke religion as an answer, others may despair. But the fact is: there is no meaning, and you can't just dismiss the "why should I care?" realization, because it's perfectly valid.

Second, and more importantly, coming up with good stories and settings is incredibly difficult. The world is full of bad ones, but the really good ones are few and far between, and they endure. Look at fantasy: Tolkien's creation is still the unparallelled masterpiece (although with flaws), and nothing written in that spirit is very interesting. Salvatore is poor, Dragonlance is poor (actually, I would like to use much stronger terminology to describe both, but you get my drift), and so on. I also think that Baldur's Gate I is very poor, the story is all over the place and doesn't interest me at all -- but then, BGII is excellent. And I do agree that neither PoE nor Deadfire rival that, as stories.

Here's a key point: you don't get good stories, good settings, simply by paying money, even very good money. You can hire people to do all the technical stuff brilliantly: incredible graphics, a great engine, marvelous music, even superb voice acting. And you will get all that. But where do you find the people who write excellent stories? Are there any working in the movie industry today? Are there any in the gaming industry? There are some in literature, for sure. But seriously: where do you find people to write you good stories?

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That reminds me of an article...

https://rpgcodex.net/content.php?id=10511

I know a lot of you turn your noses up at RPG codex. But I think his guy makes a lot of interesting points here. Especially about writers, back in the 'old days' writers of Sci Fi and fantasy were physicists, mathematicians, archeologists or whatever. Now they are... Creative writing graduates. I dunno how true that actually is but eh, i sort of get it. Also the people who made BG/BG2 probably played DND all the time and loved old school fantasy/sci fi literature. People writing/creating now probably grew up on playing games.

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nowt

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Tolkien was a veteran of the first world war (Dead Marshes, anyone?), a professor of Anglo-Saxon and spoke at least a dozen languages. R. A. Salvatore started reading fantasy novels during his sophomore year in college.

 

Look, I don't want to make R. A. look any poorer than he is, as a writer, but this encapsulates what you just said there.

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Both games have hooks:

in PoE you will loose your sanity if you won’t find Thanos and gain answer to your question

In Deadfire you have to find Eothas to regain your soul.

 

Both hooks act more as excuses, and aren’t explored well throughout the game. That said, I am not quite interested in RPG telling me what my motivation is, and I found it fairly easy in Deadfire to define my characters motivation and act on them. 

 

I thought that the ending of PoE1 was well worth the metaphysical gibberish. Deadfire doesn’t really get a punchline though. 

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8 minutes ago, Wormerine said:

Both games have hooks:

in PoE you will loose your sanity if you won’t find Thanos and gain answer to your question

In Deadfire you have to find Eothas to regain your soul.

 

Do correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me that the hook in the first game isn't actually a hook. The reason being: it is not possible to lose your sanity in the game. The threat is there as stated, for sure, but it can never come to pass. This is one of the reasons why I think Obsidian games are way too nice -- they are built so that you cannot fail. What you say about Deadfire, on the other hand, is true.

The contrast with Pathfinder: Kingmaker could hardly be more profound: there are plenty of ways to fail in that game, and the game will not hold your hand.

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, daven said:

Especially about writers, back in the 'old days' writers of Sci Fi and fantasy were physicists, mathematicians, archeologists or whatever. Now they are... Creative writing graduates.

This strikes me as a load of bull, not necessarily because it's factually wrong - I cannot claim to know the backgrounds of every sci-fi and fantasy writer I read, or most of them for that matter, though at the same time I would find it particularly odd if this remained true at closer inspection (as far as I'm aware it's not really the case of Michael Moor**** or Philip K. **** for example, or EM Forster or Aldous Huxley who've dabbled in science fiction as well) - but because it assumes that the "shift" would inevitably lead to a degradation in the quality of storytelling. I'm from Argentina so I'll name a few of the biggest writers from here: Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar, Leopoldo Marechal, Adolfo Bioy Casares, H.G. Oesterheld, all dealt with various kinds of speculative fiction and all number amidst some of the finest authors of the 20th century globally. At least three of these would wipe the floor with your Tolkiens and Clarkes to boot, and yet they all had formations in literature or journalism specifically, and in the case of Cortázar for example not even a terciary degree of any sort. For all intents and purposes Cortázar would be as qualified or even less so than some "creative writing graduate", and yet he's produced some of the most revered short story collections with End of the Game and Bestiary for example, not to mention the behemoth that is Hopscotch. I've seen this notion before that you are somehow less capable as a writer if you had an education in literature or writing of any sort opposite to any other field, and that to me seems absurd: sure, someone who's studied mechanical engineering might be able to bring that side of his knowledge into the work he writes, but that would seem a very secondary and minor advantage to have relative to knowledge and education on narrative artforms, nor would it preclude other authors from investigating the topic before writing about it when concerning that specific area.

Edited by algroth
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Currently playing: Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

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Posted (edited)

Of course an education in literature or writing does not disqualify you. That would be an absurd statement. However, the real point is that an education in literature or writing also does not qualify you.

And yes, Borges does indeed wipe the floor with most other writers of his era.

Edited by xzar_monty

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10 hours ago, xzar_monty said:

Do correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me that the hook in the first game isn't actually a hook. The reason being: it is not possible to lose your sanity in the game. The threat is there as stated, for sure, but it can never come to pass. This is one of the reasons why I think Obsidian games are way too nice -- they are built so that you cannot fail. What you say about Deadfire, on the other hand, is true.

I don't think I understand. I don't understand how is Deadfire approach supposed to be different (it's not like we can loose our soul permanently) and most games don't provide gameplay mechanic to support the narrative (not that it is good, but...). In BG Seravok won't proceed in his quest, in BG2 you can't actually die due to getting your soul sucked out. 

Narrative is there to get readers/player attention and keep the "hooked". Whenever stakes are genuine or not it doesn't really matter. Personally, Pathfinder's timers did nothing to me, considering how dull the rest of the opening was. Tyranny opening and timer was great, even though the timer was so generous it might have not existed (fun fact: you can wait till the day of the swords before reading the edict and then you will have entire year to fulfill its requirement 😁 )

 

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You are quite correct that there's not that much of a difference. The hook in PoE works particularly badly because something terrible is supposed to happen to YOU, pretty soon, but of course nothing ever happens. In those other games, the WORLD is in danger. That's more distant than an immediate threat to your sanity.

As for Pathfinder, that's a game where things will actually happen and your kingdom will actually be ruined if you don't sort your stuff out. You can seriously fail, and the game will end -- not because you die in battle, but because your world will collapse. I like that, I have to say. However, much of the writing in Pathfinder is really quite second-rate, and I think it actually raises a question. Namely: is this a parody of the whole CRPG writing with all its cliches, or are the writers really just quite poor?

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Tangent: failed states in Pathfinder are more do to the poor way it delivers information. Your kingdom can fail because of who you sent to do a small task a chapter before with no indication of how important the task. Plot threat that never manifests > getting failed states from making decisions in a vacuum.

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Not denying the flaws of the game in the least, and you're quite right.

Conceptually, the difference is still huge, though: in PoE and Deadfire, although you're ostensibly in a hurry, you can spend a million nights resting in an inn. Nothing will ever happen. This is not so in Pathfinder. I find that I quite prefer the Pathfinder model, although the game itself does have some remarkable flaws.

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, xzar_monty said:

Of course an education in literature or writing does not disqualify you. That would be an absurd statement. However, the real point is that an education in literature or writing also does not qualify you.

I would slightly debate that inasmuch as having an education in literature or writing would generally be an assett to a writer over not having it and would on average make you "more qualified" than those who don't, but I agree inasmuch as it doesn't ensure the quality of your work beyond maybe some bare technical competence or something. But this is precisely my point: pointing at the backgrounds of writers and saying therein lies the problem is pretty fallacious.

Edited by algroth

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Currently playing: Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

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I agree that pointing at the backgrounds of writers misses the point. (When I compared Tolkien and Salvatore, I pointed out one's experience and erudition and the other's probable lack of it, and at least his very, very slow start at learning.)

Education in arts is quite close to practice in sports: every single top class sportsman has practiced like mad. But the vast majority of those who practice like mad end up becoming... nothing. It's not fair, I agree.

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So, in a nutshell, your 4 points are:

On 7/20/2019 at 10:59 AM, FelxK5 said:

I don't care who I am in this game, this "Watcher", it evokes no feeling whatsoever

On 7/20/2019 at 10:59 AM, FelxK5 said:

All this talk about "souls" seems fairly dumb

On 7/20/2019 at 10:59 AM, FelxK5 said:

There is this dumb brute giant god who talks across the isles and the other gods don't want that (or do some? how interesting!)

On 7/20/2019 at 10:59 AM, FelxK5 said:

the setting itself is just baffling and not really attractive.

 

 

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On 7/20/2019 at 5:55 PM, algroth said:

This strikes me as a load of bull, not necessarily because it's factually wrong - I cannot claim to know the backgrounds of every sci-fi and fantasy writer I read, or most of them for that matter, though at the same time I would find it particularly odd if this remained true at closer inspection (as far as I'm aware it's not really the case of Michael Moor**** or Philip K. **** for example, or EM Forster or Aldous Huxley who've dabbled in science fiction as well) - but because it assumes that the "shift" would inevitably lead to a degradation in the quality of storytelling. 

am honest not certain how roxor came up with his theory 'bout writers and education. creative writing, (typical nothing more than a ba or bfa english degree at most universities here in the states) english and lit backgrounds is gonna be having the most overlap for a venn diagram trying to pinpoint qualities o' successful sci-fi and fantasy authors with english as primary language.

'course the abundance o' sci-fi and fantasy luminaries with negligible or no education also throws a wrench into roxor's works. no doubt the stenography course in which robart e. howard were brief enrolled is in some way relevant to roxor's generalization 'bout world building, but am at a loss to square. earlier fantasy pioneers, such as shakespeare, dickens, shelly and melville had no university degree or education, and such is hardly the unique exceptions.  list gets even longer as we go more modern, but am not certain how useful would be a dueling list where for every lewis carroll (mathematician) we mentions an ursula k. leguin (italian and french lit) or ray bradbury (no university.)

one noteworthy author we will mention were the guy who wrote slaughterhouse five. vonnegut had the early educational background which would appear to lend weight to roxxor proposition... sorta. vonnegut studied anthropology at the university o' chicago for five years but technical didn't graduate. flip side, vonnegut frequent claimed the iowa writers workshop (one o' the first formal creative writing programs in the US) saved his career. vonnegut would eventual become faculty for the program. 

however, am gonna suggest hard science-fiction may not be deserving to be lumped in with the general pulp scifi and fantasy stuff roxor were identifying as part o' his curious article relating to crpg writers.  guys such as asimov and arthur c. clarke enjoyed a special kinda gravitas precise 'cause o' their legit science backgrounds. assimov, in particular, were moderate insulted by the notion o' his brand o' science fiction being branded and shelved alongside star wars kinda science-less fiction. 'course hard sci-fi kim stanley robinson is ba/ma/phd english, so...

regardless, is a wacky notion to suggest perceived prevalence o' degree in creative writing 'mongst developers is one o' the obstacles facing crpg writers attempting to bring setting to life in a game. 

as to genesis post, we don't have much in the way o' a reply.  hooks for crpgs is rare satisfying everybody precise 'cause they need actual work for anybody. allow for the player to choose diverse range o' player characters makes less likely a particular hook is gonna satisfy all, so hooks is necessarily broad. bg hook, unless you look at it w/o rose-hued glasses, were kinda terrible. if bg protagonist follows bread crumbs, we keep getting attacked by inept assassins, which makes us wonder if gorion were trying to get us killed.  am not even gonna get into how complete borked were the reasoning behind nashkel and cloakwood mine trips. kobolds "poisoning" ore in mines? flooding the last remaining working iron mine in the region makes situation better? of the ie games, ps:t likely had the best hook with you starting the game as a corpse coming back to life in the morgue o' sigil, but ps:t also limited you to the nameless one as your protagonist. is a balance. more player choice is gonna mean the hook need be more open.

if poe did a poor job o' explaining the behaviour o' souls in the setting, then is not as if anything we say will retroactive make the game better for the genesis poster.

am also at a complete loss to deal with BG setting "strangeness" as some kinda high watermark-- poster's words don't appear to match the complaint. would be equal baffled if the complaint o' a haiku were that it were too wordy. we simple have not the capacity to respond to a few criticisms.

HA! Good Fun!

 

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"Those who won our independence by revolution were not cowards. They did not fear political change. They did not exalt order at the cost of liberty. To courageous, self-reliant men, with confidence in the power of free and fearless reasoning applied through the processes of popular government, no danger flowing from speech can be deemed clear and present, unless the incidence of the evil apprehended is so imminent that it may befall before there is opportunity for full discussion. If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."--Justice Louis Brandeis, Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)

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2 hours ago, Gromnir said:

as to genesis post, we don't have much in the way o' a reply.  hooks for crpgs is rare satisfying everybody precise 'cause they need actual work for anybody. allow for the player to choose diverse range o' player characters makes less likely a particular hook is gonna satisfy all, so hooks is necessarily broad. bg hook, unless you look at it w/o rose-hued glasses, were kinda terrible.

What the statchoo said. I'm pretty certain that if the OP presented us with examples o' hooks, damn you, Gromnir, of hooks that worked on them there'll be people who go, "That is what you're calling a good hook? Pfffft, get out" (and I can start with "Baldur's Gate to strangeness is what Eiffel tower is to kangaroos, i.e. not related in any way whatsoever, and drop those stupid nostalgia-tinted specs already, they don't look good on you anyway"). Like, why I, superstar of New Reno, should care about some filthy tribe I left behind years ago, yeah, yeah, dead starter town, dead mentor, bog standard fantasy setting blahdy-blah, stop nagging me, pink-haired girl I don't care about, and why the game assumes I even want to be the King of boring mosquito-ridden swamp, show me the way to the next city that never sleeps (and has a whiskey bar). Guess what, not caring or even being mildly annoyed (looking at you, Kingmaker) about "the hook" did not prevent me from enjoying the listed games, possibly because I am not into sadomasochism and needn't to be hooked to have fun.

Hooks are overrated anyway. Books? Do fine with or without hooks. Cinema and especially TV tend to lean on them too much and it's not always a good thing. Remember "Lost"? Fantastic hook. One of the best there is. Now remember its ending and show's descent to it. So what good did that awesome hook do, eh. 

Aaaand there's no point in wasting arguments anyway, 'cause I suspect the OP is just another of those "Baldur's Gate is THE unit of measurement of RPG genre" types who ran past to drop the usual "Waaaah Y U NO Baldurz gate, game?!" and never be seen again.  

 

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On 7/20/2019 at 7:59 AM, FelxK5 said:

2. All this talk about "souls" seems fairly dumb. However it comes across as dumb not merely on its own, but because again there is pretended some sort of deeper complexity, which however is just construed and absurd and one can't bring oneself to care about. A machinery of souls, or crystals in the continental bedrock which are some sort of soul stores? And this is now deep, and I should care why exactly? It is a dumb setting that seemed like that right from the first second and never vindicated itself! This carries over to the second game and its lack of a hook.

Isn't all fantasy kind of dumb? It's fantasy, so it just needs to be internally consistent. The "souls" provide a lore mechanic for this setting, and a hook for the main protagonist. Your character is deeply intertwined with the nature of "souls" in this setting, providing its own unique motivation for your story. In that sense it isn't dumb; it's just a uniqueness of the setting.

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17 hours ago, Gromnir said:

am honest not certain how roxor...

 

Do you two go way back by any chance? I can imagine you two having some kind of interactions in the past.


nowt

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27 minutes ago, daven said:

Do you two go way back by any chance? I can imagine you two having some kind of interactions in the past.

would be news to us. pretty much gave up on posting even infrequent at codex contemporaneous with the embarrassing abasement before cain toee review by spazmo, but that were early 2000s. don't recall having any contact with a roxor back in those days. 

there were seeming a half dozen codex reviews o' poe, and am thinking roxor authored one such which got linked on obsidian's boards, yes? the review were utter self contradictory, but we addressed here and am thinking roxor never responded. no interaction per se.

HA! Good Fun!

 


"Those who won our independence by revolution were not cowards. They did not fear political change. They did not exalt order at the cost of liberty. To courageous, self-reliant men, with confidence in the power of free and fearless reasoning applied through the processes of popular government, no danger flowing from speech can be deemed clear and present, unless the incidence of the evil apprehended is so imminent that it may befall before there is opportunity for full discussion. If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."--Justice Louis Brandeis, Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)

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Posted (edited)

Man, what did you think when they put you in TOB anyway? I was blown away when I found that out. Did they ask you first?

Edited by daven

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, daven said:

Man, what did you think when they put you in TOB anyway? I was blown away when I found that out. Did they ask you first?

don't want this to devolve into a Gromnir thread, but quick response:

dave gaider messaged us kinda midway through bg2 development and asked if we were ok with inclusion o' "Gromnir" in bg2. we assumed the character would be included along the lines o' larry, daryl and daryl in bg1... likely a flatulent kobold who gets gibbed after mouthing off to an ogre, or something similar. we told dave to, "do your worst."

as noted in the link, our cameo got cut late in bg2 development and so dave instead added his Gromnir to tob. 

were only a couple aspects which surprised:

-dave made his Gromnir more significant than we expected. even got voiced dialog. 

-the degree o' backlash created by all the cameos o' boardies, as well as surrounding the npc contest submissions,  shocked us. 

converse, we were not surprised by lanfear's inability to laugh at a joke.

HA! Good Fun!

 

Edited by Gromnir
missing pronoun
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"Those who won our independence by revolution were not cowards. They did not fear political change. They did not exalt order at the cost of liberty. To courageous, self-reliant men, with confidence in the power of free and fearless reasoning applied through the processes of popular government, no danger flowing from speech can be deemed clear and present, unless the incidence of the evil apprehended is so imminent that it may befall before there is opportunity for full discussion. If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."--Justice Louis Brandeis, Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)

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On 7/26/2019 at 8:06 PM, rjshae said:

Isn't all fantasy kind of dumb? It's fantasy, so it just needs to be internally consistent. The "souls" provide a lore mechanic for this setting, and a hook for the main protagonist. Your character is deeply intertwined with the nature of "souls" in this setting, providing its own unique motivation for your story. In that sense it isn't dumb; it's just a uniqueness of the setting.

To answer your first question: no. Why would it be? Or, rather, by which criteria?

I agree that internal consistency is key, and I also think PoE achieves it successfully enough, so the OP's point is not particularly good, in my view. He can obviously have the opinion that the soul question is dumb, nothing wrong with that, but I don't think he's got a good argument to back it up.

(Incidentally, J. R. R. Tolkien, in his letters, argues extremely well for the importance of internal consistency in fantasy.)

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Posted (edited)
On 7/28/2019 at 12:48 PM, xzar_monty said:

To answer your first question: no. Why would it be? Or, rather, by which criteria?

I agree that internal consistency is key, and I also think PoE achieves it successfully enough, so the OP's point is not particularly good, in my view. He can obviously have the opinion that the soul question is dumb, nothing wrong with that, but I don't think he's got a good argument to back it up.

(Incidentally, J. R. R. Tolkien, in his letters, argues extremely well for the importance of internal consistency in fantasy.)

I often see an assumption amidst some about things that fall in fantasy or science-fiction categories being "dumb" because they "aren't real", as if it's expected for more realist fiction to be better, smarter, more "serious" or "mature" fiction as a consequence. I don't get this. We've mentioned Borges and Cortázar above, but looking way back in the history we can find numerous examples of utterly fantastical tales amidst some of the most revered and influential texts ever writter, in the form of plays, epic poetry, novels, stories and so on. How are pieces so stooped in mythology and folklore and magic like the Odyssey, the Divine Comedy, the Tale of Tales or The Tempest somehow "dumb", or "dumber" for their inclusion of the supernatural and otherworldly and whatnot? Makes little sense to me.

On the topic of the "souls" in Pillars, I don't see what's inherently dumb about the premise, nor do I see an attempt to *pretend* the game is about more than just its surface level. No, the game simply *is* about more than that. To that point I'll simply link my 6500-word review on the first Pillars where I go fairly in-depth about my thoughts on the game, its themes and so on:

Much of the above applies to the franchise at large, or at the very least the Watcher's arc as we've seen so far. If the saga is about the transition from a theocentric society and culture to an anthropocentric one, about the inversion in power of the human and the divine and so on, all of which also has basis on the cultural shift in the historical period this setting was inspired by, and if the first game is about essentially putting this thesis forth, the second game is about setting up a situation or crisis where both spheres have no other option but to confront one another and reevaluate their understanding and relationship to eachother in face of this event. My criticism towards Deadfire is that it perhaps acts a bit too much as a bridge between two more interesting stories than it does a meatier chapter of its own right, but nevertheless there is a pretty strong thematic core to the game to which all of the fantastical elements respond to, and don't just act as empty dressing to. If anything I find that in a medium full of Elder Scrolls, Witchers and Dragon Ages, this franchise is amidst the ones *least* culpable for just "pretending" at some deeper thematic concern.

Incidentally I've alluded to an oneiric quality - a "strangeness" if you will - in the above review as well which was, as with all of the above, also a major *hook* into the games for me. It seems absurd to me to point this out as a criticism to this game whilst reccuring to both Baldur's Gate and Star Wars of all franchises as examples where it is present, but I also recognize that nothing could be more subjective than what our senses deem "strange" or what we find ourselves hooked by either. Nevertheless, all this talk about what a game "pretends to be" and the assumption that fantasy is inherently dumb makes me think the OP came into the game with some serious biases and preconceptions towards fantasy and fantasy RPGs at large, and maybe a reticence towards interacting on a closer level with its setting, and is letting themselves be guided a little too much by them instead of evaluating the game on its own merits.

Edited by algroth
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My Twitch channel: https://www.twitch.tv/alephg

Currently playing: Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

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