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Armchair theories on why POE2 didn't sell super well

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1 hour ago, Bleak said:

Let me stop you

Yeah... that won't work. ;) 

My main point when answering to your initial post was that bemusing other people's "armchair theories" (here: setting) while presenting your own theory with utter conviction - that comes with no proof either though but has even more arguments that speak against it - didn't seem to be a particularly accomodating nor sensible move. 

Since several forum members now answered your utteraces better than I could and because I don't want to repeat myself endlessly - and also because I think I made my rather simple points clear enough - I will not address the rest anymore. 

 

39 minutes ago, Wormerine said:

If I remember well WM didn't return on the investment.

Oh really? I didn't know that.

I only read about the complaints that a good amount of players would have wished for expansions that take place after the main game instead of in between (which I like much better). Like Throne of Bhaal and such.

I assume those complaints come from players who don't replay such games a lot. It is a reasonable thing to wish for then - since it lets you pick up the game where you left it; even if you finished it. Instead of doing it all again to play the DLCs "the right way" - I mean during the main campaign and not after it - you can just continue.


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On 1/19/2020 at 6:57 PM, algroth said:

I would keep in mind that this thread is titled "Armchair theories on why PoE2 didn't sell super well". The thread is openly inviting us to speculate and no one is assuming otherwise. 

Fair enough, habit got the better of me and I was rather pedantic about how one would go about examining these reasons. 

On 1/19/2020 at 6:57 PM, algroth said:

assessing the quality of the game and the effects it has on word of mouth and its public perception by extension is a fair point to make, but what we've spoken about earlier is that the word of mouth that is available or most immediately accessible through user reviews, aggregate scores, YouTube reviews and comments and whatnot, all tend pretty positively, so the evidence we have available doesn't align with the hypothesis. And whilst there are criticisms that could be levied at the game, they are *way* too specific for most random comments on social media to pick up on. It's one thing to say "ship stronghold is bad" (which I haven't read anywhere or not in any fashion so prevalent so as to stick in my mind as a common complaint), it's another to say, for example, "ship upgrades could have been better handled by being woven into a stronghold-specific narrative and made more significant that way, instead of being items free to purchase the moment you arrive to Neketaka": social media and word of mouth tends to move according to very essentialist broad takes on a certain piece opposite to the specifics, the talk about the specifics is something that usually only interests people who're already familiar with the game at hand.

While, as you said, social media tend to be crude and reductive, when conveying a message or a criticism, it's mostly the absence of coverage and the lack of proliferation, that I was talking about. As for reviews, I definitely would never expect a negative reception, since the game is pretty solid overall. However, I do have to disagree that things such as unimpactful skill checks or disconnected stronghold (which are just some examples), can be considered as nitpicks or too esoteric. Especially not for someone who is looking for a crpg and is familiar with the genre. This is the game's main target audience after all, so, while I wouldn't pin everything on them, I would definitely pay more attention to core crpg characteristics in general, if I wanted to examine what and how it went wrong.

On 1/19/2020 at 7:51 PM, Boeroer said:

Yeah... that won't work. ;) 

My main point when answering to your initial post was that bemusing other people's "armchair theories" (here: setting) while presenting your own theory with utter conviction - that comes with no proof either though but has even more arguments that speak against it - didn't seem to be a particularly accomodating nor sensible move. 

Since several forum members now answered your utteraces better than I could and because I don't want to repeat myself endlessly - and also because I think I made my rather simple points clear enough - I will not address the rest anymore. 

Not sure what you are referring to exactly, that won't work.

They actually have replied to most of my points instead of repeating themselves. As for "utter conviction", aren't you being a tad hyperbolic? I don't think anything I said warrants that expression. Since you keep mentioning it in every reply you make, if you were piqued by how I phrased my initial post (by using "amused"), again, I didn't mean to provoke or insult, so apologies if I did. However at any case, paying attention to the message, instead of just the way the message was phrased is more important. 

Edited by Bleak
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12 hours ago, Bleak said:

While, as you said, social media tend to be crude and reductive, when conveying a message or a criticism, it's mostly the absence of coverage and the lack of proliferation, that I was talking about. As for reviews, I definitely would never expect a negative reception, since the game is pretty solid overall. However, I do have to disagree that things such as unimpactful skill checks or disconnected stronghold (which are just some examples), can be considered as nitpicks or too esoteric. Especially not for someone who is looking for a crpg and is familiar with the genre. This is the game's main target audience after all, so, while I wouldn't pin everything on them, I would definitely pay more attention to core crpg characteristics in general, if I wanted to examine what and how it went wrong.

I would say so because even with whatever criticisms you may levy at Deadfire in these areas, I can't think of many games that treat these aspects better, least of all the IE games, other D&D properties or the first game for that matter. Strongholds in the IE games are either not present to begin with or an absolute nonfactor that are completely divorced or outright antithetical to the main story (i.e. the story to Baldur's Gate II practically demands the player to be on the move and adventuring, their objectives lie somewhere completely opposite to settling or beginning an enterprise or joining some organization); in contrast Deadfire's stronghold system is pretty in-depth, deeply integrated into the game and rather seamlessly introduced and woven into the story and setting, out of sheer necessity of needing a ship to travel and so on. Contrary to you I *did* find skill checks largely impactful and I also appreciate the sheer variety of possible skill options and choices the game offered, which I do think far outnumber that of most games in the genre I've played thus far, possibly all. I'm curious which games you're thinking do a better job here, because far as I'm concerned this absolutely wipes the floor with some of the big WRPG titles I've played from around this period like Witcher 3 or Kingmaker, let alone the IE games which, again, were far more rudimentary in this respect. In terms of an ideal of what I'd like to see in these areas, Deadfire does a far better job than most, and the fact that most games that perform well utterly fail or forego these altogether makes me think they're not particularly important aspects in the minds of many.

Similarly there's the fact that I've been following discussions on the game since before its release, and haven't heard much in the way of these complaints being voiced or shared all that often, even amidst people who disliked the game. To go back to a previous point we were discussing, I've seen the issue of setting come up far more frequently than any of these points you raise here - and even then it's a mixed bag, with plenty voicing their enthusiasm for it. The only two aspects that I see mostly negative remarks about are ship combat (which is a minor aspect of the game at the end of the day and which I like a lot myself), and the length/linearity of the main story (which I have some agreements with and could see as a factor yet, again, not big enough to account for the drop it experienced).

I will add a pretty big caveat to all of the above which is that I've yet to play either of the Divinity: Original Sin games, and that's a pretty big blindspot for this discussion since the franchise is far and away the most successful of the isometric CRPG revival we've seen this decade. Regardless, I do think I've played enough RPGs to have a solid set of expectations going into these and have spent enough time discussing these games with other people to have an idea of what others look for or are attracted by in these, and in this regard I do think Deadfire measures up very well all around.

Edited by algroth
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7 hours ago, Bleak said:

Not sure what you are referring to exactly, that won't work.

Stopping me. ;)


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7 hours ago, algroth said:

I would say so because even with whatever criticisms you may levy at Deadfire in these areas, I can't think of many games that treat these aspects better, least of all the IE games, other D&D properties or the first game for that matter. Strongholds in the IE games are either not present to begin with or an absolute nonfactor that are completely divorced or outright antithetical to the main story (i.e. the story to Baldur's Gate II practically demands the player to be on the move and adventuring, their objectives lie somewhere completely opposite to settling or beginning an enterprise or joining some organization); in contrast Deadfire's stronghold system is pretty in-depth, deeply integrated into the game and rather seamlessly introduced and woven into the story and setting, out of sheer necessity of needing a ship to travel and so on. Contrary to you I *did* find skill checks largely impactful and I also appreciate the sheer variety of possible skill options and choices the game offered, which I do think far outnumber that of most games in the genre I've played thus far, possibly all. I'm curious which games you're thinking do a better job here, because far as I'm concerned this absolutely wipes the floor with some of the big WRPG titles I've played from around this period like Witcher 3 or Kingmaker, let alone the IE games which, again, were far more rudimentary in this respect. In terms of an ideal of what I'd like to see in these areas, Deadfire does a far better job than most, and the fact that most games that perform well utterly fail or forego these altogether makes me think they're not particularly important aspects in the minds of many.

Similarly there's the fact that I've been following discussions on the game since before its release, and haven't heard much in the way of these complaints being voiced or shared all that often, even amidst people who disliked the game. To go back to a previous point we were discussing, I've seen the issue of setting come up far more frequently than any of these points you raise here - and even then it's a mixed bag, with plenty voicing their enthusiasm for it. The only two aspects that I see mostly negative remarks about are ship combat (which is a minor aspect of the game at the end of the day and which I like a lot myself), and the length/linearity of the main story (which I have some agreements with and could see as a factor yet, again, not big enough to account for the drop it experienced).

I will add a pretty big caveat to all of the above which is that I've yet to play either of the Divinity: Original Sin games, and that's a pretty big blindspot for this discussion since the franchise is far and away the most successful of the isometric CRPG revival we've seen this decade. Regardless, I do think I've played enough RPGs to have a solid set of expectations going into these and have spent enough time discussing these games with other people to have an idea of what others look for or are attracted by in these, and in this regard I do think Deadfire measures up very well all around.

Well, say you compare it to P:K, (Witcher is a different kind of animal in most aspects), while I do believe that DF wipes the floor with it in many areas (e.g. world design/graphics), after replaying both games several times I found it to be vastly richer as far as RP & skill checks, skill check consequences and skill check variety go, with skill checks present in pretty much every sub-area and with all skills equally sharing the spotlight. And I have seen that being mentioned before in discussions about the game, even it being the sole reason some people prefer that game as a crpg (not in this particular forum). I also recall people mentioning that skill checks are not very prevalent in DF in this forum as well. Don't take my word for it when it comes to other people, as I don't have time to search YT and forums to link them, but that's my personal impressions as well. 

Keep in mind that if I were to compare DF with most of the IE games released in the recent IE "renaissance period", indie or not, I consider DF to be vastly superior to most of them. For example, I consider D:OS 2 to have far better pacing and story, or, say, Underrail to have better C&C, but DF pretty much wins for me in every other aspect. But I think it's mostly natural to compare it to what I think was best, sold better and is very similar (that's why I don't mention DOS much), since there would be hardly any point otherwise, unless PoE were to change more radically.

I've also raised the points you mention about the story being linear and mini-game (both its gameplay and stronghold aspects) more than once. Again I never claimed to pin everything on its intrinsic gameplay flaws, but I do believe they made a difference (DF obviously measures up well, but it does have stronger competition this time) and, as fans, players and customers, we should be examining and posting feedback about these intrinsic gameplay flaws first and foremost, so that we get the best PoE III possible, if that time comes.

6 hours ago, Boeroer said:

Stopping me. ;)

Stop roleplaying Eothas 😛

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1 minute ago, Bleak said:

Stop roleplaying Eothas 😛

JbKL.gif

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On 1/19/2020 at 9:06 AM, Wormerine said:

I would be curious to learn how well DLCs for Deadfire sold as well, compared to base game.

If I remember well WM didn't return on the investment. I think it was mentioned when discussing why DLC model for Deadfire changed to smaller, individual adventures. I don't have the source, though.

The DLC model changed I thought because they issued a survey to backers after PoE1 hit end-of-life and that was overwhelmingly what people wanted. And it wasn't "smaller, individual adventures" it was a mix of small-ish content interspersed at different points along the main game and small updates, which we mostly got (megabosses, cosmetic packages, DLC that targeted different levels and triggered at different points).

In general traditional RPG-expansion-style DLCs aren't good investments, because they have such a smaller market by definition than the base game. That could be what you might be thinking of, or what might have been referenced. Between WMI & II vs FS+BoW+SSS I think they are collectively roughly the same size in terms of gameplay, so if it was really a cost concern, I don't think they succeeded in pruning those costs, especially since unlike WMI & II there is much less asset-sharing between the deadfire DLC versus the PoE1 DLC.

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2 hours ago, thelee said:

The DLC model changed I thought because they issued a survey to backers after PoE1 hit end-of-life and that was overwhelmingly what people wanted. And it wasn't "smaller, individual adventures" it was a mix of small-ish content interspersed at different points along the main game and small updates, which we mostly got (megabosses, cosmetic packages, DLC that targeted different levels and triggered at different points).

In general traditional RPG-expansion-style DLCs aren't good investments, because they have such a smaller market by definition than the base game. That could be what you might be thinking of, or what might have been referenced. Between WMI & II vs FS+BoW+SSS I think they are collectively roughly the same size in terms of gameplay, so if it was really a cost concern, I don't think they succeeded in pruning those costs, especially since unlike WMI & II there is much less asset-sharing between the deadfire DLC versus the PoE1 DLC.

Hmm, I could have sworn that the majority result was a post game beefy expansion a la Throne of Bhaal... yet they chose not to do that.

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34 minutes ago, daven said:

Hmm, I could have sworn that the majority result was a post game beefy expansion a la Throne of Bhaal... yet they chose not to do that.

you know what, you're right, i misremembered. it wasn't even close between Throne of Bhaal/WM-style versus what I said.

 

 

 

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The problem I have with this mid game ones is that they tend to feel really disconnected with the main game. Example, White March... it might be the best part of the first game but going to do that and then returning to a lower quality game is really jarring.

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1 hour ago, daven said:

The problem I have with this mid game ones is that they tend to feel really disconnected with the main game. Example, White March... it might be the best part of the first game but going to do that and then returning to a lower quality game is really jarring.

absolutely.

i think Deadfire did a little better in that respect, but going from FS to main game, even for just the final content, is super jarring. As a min-maxer of sorts, the drop in difficulty is dramatic. And my non-min-maxer side notices that by the time they got around to doing FS, they really improved their story telling and level design skillz, and going back to their more "basic" design skills in base game is also jarring (sorry, even with 5.0 changes Ukaizo and end-game faction quests are still pretty lame and anticlimactic).

 

edit: actually, i think the worst drop is from BoW. The story-telling in BoW is just so much better than base game (I've done the bridge ablaze section many times now and every time I love it), that being dropped back into the middle of the crit path is demotivating.

Edited by thelee

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6 hours ago, thelee said:

Between WMI & II vs FS+BoW+SSS I think they are collectively roughly the same size in terms of gameplay, so if it was really a cost concern, I don't think they succeeded in pruning those costs, especially since unlike WMI & II there is much less asset-sharing between the deadfire DLC versus the PoE1 DLC.

What I said should be treated with a grain of salt. Tried to find the exact quote yesterday, but can't locate it. I am pretty sure it was mentioned that WM didn't pay off financially, but can't guarantee that this information is accurate, and not my misinterpretation of something that was said. 

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There are also other problems with how the DLC's were integrated. I think SSS is the worst offender of them all. Dropping a huge combat chunk DLC that late in the main campaign (especially when FS is also endgame stuff) was not a good move.

There's something about the smaller DLC model that always rubs me wrong. Even though part of them are always of a higher quality in a sense than the main campaign, I also think there tends to be other stuff that just drags them down. Little gameplay gimmicks like the awful teleportation "puzzles" in BoW, or the "knock books over" thing in FS. Or combat that turns into even more of a slow slog overall even though you also get the occasional great and difficult combat encounter. 

Even though the White March isn't perfect (Galvino's workshop is pretty much a perfect example of a combat slog area), I like that it feels substantial, thoroughly designed. Like a campaign on its own with pacing and ups and downs.


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34 minutes ago, Starwars said:

There are also other problems with how the DLC's were integrated. I think SSS is the worst offender of them all. Dropping a huge combat chunk DLC that late in the main campaign (especially when FS is also endgame stuff) was not a good move.

It was an arena-like DLC because that's what player feedback wished for. You can hardly blame Obsidian for giving players what they wanted. If a combat-focused DLC isn't your cup of tea that's one thing, but that does not mean it wasn't a good move. 

Also it seems that SSS could reuse a lot of assets of the original game. There are few new enemy models. Then the simple story arc means that the writing might have been less expensive. All in all it seems to be a DLC that didn't cost as much to make as BoW or FS. And if it sold not considerably worse than the other two one could consider the release of SSS a smart move even. 

I personally enjoyed it. 

I could agree however that a combat-heavy DLC would make more sense if it started right with the beginning of the game (where you could start with easy fights and slowly climb the ranks) and you could use the nice loot you get from winning arena fights much earlier.

Edited by Boeroer
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4 hours ago, Boeroer said:

It was an arena-like DLC because that's what player feedback wished for. You can hardly blame Obsidian for giving players what they wanted. If a combat-focused DLC isn't your cup of tea that's one thing, but that does not mean it wasn't a good move. 

Also it seems that SSS could reuse a lot of assets of the original game. There are few new enemy models. Then the simple story arc means that the writing might have been less expensive. All in all it seems to be a DLC that didn't cost as much to make as BoW or FS. And if it sold not considerably worse than the other two one could consider the release of SSS a smart move even. 

I personally enjoyed it. 

I could agree however that a combat-heavy DLC would make more sense if it started right with the beginning of the game (where you could start with easy fights and slowly climb the ranks) and you could use the nice loot you get from winning arena fights much earlier.

The arena style DLC isn't my problem with it (even though it definitely wouldn't have been my personal choice). It is that they decided to drop it where they did in the timeline of the main campaign. FS at least "fits" as a sort of endgame thing, even though that too screws up the pacing. But SSS just feels completely out of place for the time where you get access to it.

Like you said, would've been way cooler to have it accessible from the start of the game and have it running with increasing difficulty throughout. Sort of a thing to return to as you play.

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I agree.


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I found SSS rather well integrated with the main campaign, for an arena game. It felt "reasonnably forced".

But as a part of it, it is obviously inferior to a normal DLC.

SSS should have been playable as a stand-alone run. This is especially sad because party making in Deadfire is IMHO like x5 better than in the old IE games, and testing combination for short run would have been great.

The option to play it as a part of Main Campaign would have only been icing on the cake then.
 

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I really would have liked a Magranite DLC that enabled PvP (with automatic Magran's Challenge). I know... party or solo? Would anybody even play it, what's the point etc. etc.

It would have been fun for me, that's all. I would include an ingame highscore list. No need for good story (just needs a hook), no new assets - not even new items. Just the PvP functionality. Maybe that would have been fairly cheap (if the networking aspect wouldn't ruin your devs' day) to make?

 


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5 hours ago, Boeroer said:

I really would have liked a Magranite DLC that enabled PvP (with automatic Magran's Challenge).

oh yikes, the thought of adding multiplayer/networking functionality to a game engine that wasn't originally built with it in mind is giving my programming-brain a massive migraine. if we thought adding turn-based mode added a lot of instability to the base game...

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On 1/23/2020 at 11:11 AM, Elric Galad said:

SSS should have been playable as a stand-alone run. This is especially sad because party making in Deadfire is IMHO like x5 better than in the old IE games, and testing combination for short run would have been great.

The option to play it as a part of Main Campaign would have only been icing on the cake then.
 

I agree that the chance to play it either as a stand-alone or a part of the main campaign would have been nice -- after all, I cannot see how giving that choice could possibly be bad for anyone. But it's interesting to see how different our preferences and approaches can be. I would have had absolutely no interest in playing it as a stand-alone: I'm in the game mainly for the story, and that's it. No interest in intricate tactical battles for the sake of intricate tactical battles. But giving players the option to try those tactical battles as a stand-alone? Absolutely, yes.

As for the DLCs as a whole, in these two games: I'm beginning to be of the opinion that something is a little bit wrong somewhere when the storytelling (and writing in general) within the DLCs is so clearly so much better than in the main campaign (cf. the White March vs. PoE or, especially, Beast of Winter vs. Deadfire). Why does this happen?

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15 minutes ago, xzar_monty said:

I agree that the chance to play it either as a stand-alone or a part of the main campaign would have been nice -- after all, I cannot see how giving that choice could possibly be bad for anyone.

 

Warning, perfectly logical statement on an Internet forum.
Something weird is happening here.
Are you Google AI being tested or wut ?
 

15 minutes ago, xzar_monty said:

But it's interesting to see how different our preferences and approaches can be. I would have had absolutely no interest in playing it as a stand-alone: I'm in the game mainly for the story, and that's it. No interest in intricate tactical battles for the sake of intricate tactical battles. But giving players the option to try those tactical battles as a stand-alone? Absolutely, yes.

I guess this DLC wasn't perfectly fit for your tastes from its principles. It doesn't prevent you from playing it if you're a completionnist, but you were likely to get a bit less value for your bucks compared to other DLC.

15 minutes ago, xzar_monty said:

As for the DLCs as a whole, in these two games: I'm beginning to be of the opinion that something is a little bit wrong somewhere when the storytelling (and writing in general) within the DLCs is so clearly so much better than in the main campaign (cf. the White March vs. PoE or, especially, Beast of Winter vs. Deadfire). Why does this happen?

Experience maybe ?
DLCs don't have much technical dev to do, so maybe they have more time for level design ?

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48 minutes ago, Elric Galad said:

Experience maybe ?

DLCs don't have much technical dev to do, so maybe they have more time for level design ?

Possibly, yes. But would you agree that it looks kind of bad on the developers? "Here's our main product, it's decent, and then we have these add-ons that you can buy if you want, and by the way, they're written an awful lot better than the main product."

I mean, obviously it's great that the DLCs are well written. But it makes the main game look bad, in that particular sense, doesn't it?

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7 minutes ago, xzar_monty said:

Possibly, yes. But would you agree that it looks kind of bad on the developers? "Here's our main product, it's decent, and then we have these add-ons that you can buy if you want, and by the way, they're written an awful lot better than the main product."

I mean, obviously it's great that the DLCs are well written. But it makes the main game look bad, in that particular sense, doesn't it?

Well, I didn't notice a wide gap for the writing between Deadfire and its DLC (the gap was bigger in PoE1).

The main difference was that the DLCs were more focus on Single Dungeons rather than spread between lots of Quests. I think it added to the depth of the DLC, but the main cause isn't the writing I think.

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After reading this wall of text I want to add my 2 cents.

Disclaimer: I am a nerd and a scientist, so my opinion is probably very different from the average computer game player. I try to make a list of reasons why Deadfire sold so bad and then try to find arguments why this reason is false.

1.) Chris Avellone was not a writer for the game.

contra: Does anybody know a successful RPG without Chris? He is mentioned in the credits of Disco Elysium. I mean bigger RPGs by a studio, not works of a few people or only a single person such as Undertale.

2.) people do not like the pirate setting.

contra: Does anybody know a successful pirate RPG? The only example I know was Risen1+2 where part 1 was a not pirate and part 2 was pirate. As Gothic fan I liked part 1, but I did not play part 2 and I do not know their sale numbers.

3.) The game is too complicated. DOS is simpler and more successful.

contra: P:K is even more complicated and it is poorly explained inside the game so I had to do lots of reading in the internet to understand the mechanics, but it was a success. I guess that people who play RPGs like math and complex systems more than the average person.

4.) DF is not BG2 or DnD. Maybe this helped the success of P:K.

contra: DOS and DE are also not DnD. But they are very different from DnD. PoE 1+2 are very similar to the old IE games but they are not DnD.

5.) DF was on FIG, not on kickstarter.

contra: Does anybody know a successful crowdfunding RPG that was not on kickstarter?

6.) nostalgia works only once. ( This is an opinion, no idea how to prove or falsify this.)

7.) The german translation of PoE 1+2 was terrible, maybe other languages too. I helped to improve it by reporting errors to the mod makers, but it is still far from good. P:K and DOS 1+2 had good translations. Hypothesis: American games have bad translation because devs assume everyone speaks english anyway.

8.) Was another popular game released at the same time as DF? I heared that Bloodlines suffered because it was released at the same day as Half Life 2.

9.) The game was buggy.

contra: P:K was almost unplayable at release because of bugs. Most bugs have been fixed in both games.

10.) The story was not very engaging for the player. My opinion: The factions were good, but the main story with Eothas was bad and the scipted scenes with the gods were terrible.

 

personal opinions:

- I really liked the ship as stronghold. More engaging than PoE1 (worst part of the game) and even BG2.

- Ship to ship battle is terrible.

- I like the character creation. Its a middle ground between simplistic DOS and the science of P:K.

- BoW and FS are great, better than many parts of the main game. Not a big fan of SSS.

- I dislike that there was no large dungeon that told a story. (poko kohara may be the only exception). Durlags tower was great and BG2 had several great dungeons.

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