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Armchair theories on why POE2 didn't sell super well


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39 minutes ago, Madscientist said:

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.

Yeah but Pathfinder is based on a known P&P game that is itself based on D&D. So I guess it attracts this crowd (not that many people, but still).

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1 hour ago, Madscientist said:

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

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

I think this is meaningless, although I obviously cannot prove it either way. In all my years of cRPG playing, I have never heard anyone even mention Chris Avellone except on the internet forums. The only person I would regard as a veritable "presence" on this front is Richard Garriott, and that was in the 1980s. Never, ever has anyone spoken about Avellone being a particularly good writer, much less an indispensable one. It was only the internet forums that woke me up to the fact that he has a rabid group of followers/supporters. My sense is that the group is small but very rabid indeed.

I have read one post by Chris Avellone himself, and it didn't make me think that there was a good writer there. It only made me sad.

Edited by xzar_monty
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1 hour ago, Madscientist said:

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

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.

No. American games have terrible translation because the developers 1) don't understand the amount of work involved, 2) are not willing to pay for the effort required for a good translation, and 3) are not in any position to evaluate what they get, i.e. as the American developers themselves don't speak the foreign languages their games are translated into, they are unable to realize that the translations tend to be absolutely terrible, utterly worthless. I cannot stress this enough. For somebody who speaks Spanish, Italian, German, what have you, these translations can look so terrible that it actually feels like an insult. Like, dear @Madscientist, if you buy game of computer role-playing and very big adventuring and you see language in game looks like this language, then will that language turn you to a happy customer, or, contrariwise, could it possible even be you will feel the company of making computer gaming is laughing and thinking ha ha that fool boy we have he's money now yippee.

It is rare that I claim expertise, but this is one of the few areas where I do. I have been working in this realm for over twenty years, and here I know what I'm talking about. Most (if not all) American cRPG devs simply do not understand what they're doing with their translations. It's a shame, it's an utterly rotting shame, and they should just stop. Forget about the translations: they are so bad that they are not worth it.

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25 minutes ago, xzar_monty said:

I think this is meaningless, although I obviously cannot prove it either way. In all my years of cRPG playing, I have never heard anyone even mention Chris Avellone except on the internet forums. The only person I would regard as a veritable "presence" on this front is Richard Garriott, and that was in the 1980s. Never, ever has anyone spoken about Avellone being a particularly good writer, much less an indispensable one. It was only the internet forums that woke me up to the fact that he has a rabid group of followers/supporters. My sense is that the group is small but very rabid indeed.

I have read one post by Chris Avellone himself, and it didn't make me think that there was a good writer there. It only made me sad.

Well, Chris made Planescape Torment, Kotor2 and Mask of the Betrayer. I think those were the best games in the history of RPG stories. Disco Elysium would be the spiritual successor in this regard. Chris did not write for the game, but he gave the devs some advice.

Chris was great in turning RPG expectations upside down. The game is not about saving the world from an ancient evil but from yourself. Star wars is not about the battle between good and evil, but about two sects of fanatic mages drunk with power. Undertale would be a great successor in this regard.

Personally I like anti heroes more than the typical heroic stuff. DE is great because your char is a total desaster. Other games I played and liked recently were Nier:Automata and Virgo vs the Zodiac.

 

about translations: The worst one in history was Oblivion. The best part of the translation was, that lots of text was not translated at all. The rest was indeed an insult.

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7 hours 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?

In my opinion, focus.

It's much easier to tell a compelling story that takes place over a few hours of gameplay, versus a story that has to span multiple tens of hours and bridge all sorts of competing gameplay needs (like juggling factions, non-linearity, etc.).

I also think they get more used to their engine and toolset and are willing to take more risks with how they tell the story than in the base game, partially helped by the fact that DLCs being addendum they don't have to worry about "gating" players behind a peace of gameplay that doesn't pan out. I still think the bridge ablaze time-travel mechanic is a really wonderful gameplay setpiece and I feel like they only did because they were comfortable with the engine and could spend a lot of (relative) time on it, since it was a major part of the DLC instead of just one extra dungeon compared to all the others in the base game.

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Also on the DLCs they let some new guys take the rudder - and sometimes those are extra motivated, not crunched yet and full of ideas. :) 

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I had a new idea why DF sold bad compared to other games:

Its a middle ground between open world and not open world.

PoE1 was very similar to other games like this, especially BG2. A world map where you travel from one area to the next by clicking on it. Discovering new areas means trying to exit the map at all 4 sides. In DF the experiance is less focused than PoE1, but it cannot compete with huge worlds like Skyrim or TW3. In DF you search for a giant statue that is hard to miss, everyone can tell you where to go next. In TW3 you search for a person wants to hide, so searching a huge world and finding tons of other stuff along the way makes more sense.

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Is there a metric about the proportion of refund on Steam ? If yes, is it different from other games ?

 

Also what the harsher start ?

A tree with multiple corpses hanging on it in a Time of chaos where babies are born without a soul ?

OR

Gorecci Street ?

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You should compare Gorecci Street with the bear cave.

Both Gorecci Street and bear cave are optional sidequests that are very hard if you do them in order of occurrence. 

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On 1/24/2020 at 9:37 AM, Elric Galad said:

Yeah but Pathfinder is based on a known P&P game that is itself based on D&D. So I guess it attracts this crowd (not that many people, but still).

Yes this is what I've pointed out as well. P:K has complex rules but because it's based on a longstanding TT game system it has a core group of fans for whom the rules are transparent. By contrast the complex rules of PoE don't have that same advantage, whereas this issue was moot for the D:OS games because even though they also were using a "new" rules system that system was very easy to figure out and not complex at all. So the lesson for me is if you're going to use a new rules system that players are not going to be familiar with, make it simple, intuitive, and easy to understand. If you want to use a complex system, use one that is already well-established (ex. the D20 system).

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32 minutes ago, kanisatha said:

So the lesson for me is if you're going to use a new rules system that players are not going to be familiar with, make it simple, intuitive, and easy to understand. If you want to use a complex system, use one that is already well-established (ex. the D20 system).

I agree with your arguments but disagree with your conclusion. I am playing a video game. I have a computer at my disposal to run intricate calculations in a matter of milliseconds (less? nerds chime in). I therefore want to utilize this power to create a good combat system, and care little about how smooth it would be to replicate it with (or derive it from) dice, pen and paper. Obviously P:K, BG2 etc started in the other end (a TT system that was computerized), but the point remains that I am happy Obsidian did this.

PoE combat has, to me, far more nuance (attack roll outcomes, durations) than d20-based systems. I may never understand what the hell double inversion means, but I can still appreciate that this system is simply more enjoyable even if all I get is "more accuracy = more hits".

It may not, as you suggest, have appealed to the broader audience, but I hope in the long run gamers will grow to appreciate a system that creates better combat over one that we can still use if we are nuked back to the stone age, even if the exact mechanics are very tricky to grasp. Perhaps in ten years, PoE will be considered an investment in better RPG systems, one that embraced the power of computers instead of making them automate very simple calculations.

Out With The Good: The mod for tidying up your Deadfire combat tooltip.
Cuitztli's Complete Catalogue: She's got what you need, in stock every time.

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1 hour ago, kanisatha said:

Yes this is what I've pointed out as well. P:K has complex rules but because it's based on a longstanding TT game system it has a core group of fans for whom the rules are transparent. By contrast the complex rules of PoE don't have that same advantage, whereas this issue was moot for the D:OS games because even though they also were using a "new" rules system that system was very easy to figure out and not complex at all. So the lesson for me is if you're going to use a new rules system that players are not going to be familiar with, make it simple, intuitive, and easy to understand. If you want to use a complex system, use one that is already well-established (ex. the D20 system).

I generally agree.

But on the other hand a deeper system can result in a better gaming experience like @omgFIREBALLS said.

WhereP oE and Deadfire fail is explaining their rules in a decent and catchy way. I'm sure that part of the problem is that rules get changed even after release and thus it's very difficult to make a good tutorial that a) doesn't become obsolete after some patches and b) isn't too vague in order to circumvent a). 

I said this a couple of times already but a great tooltip system (for every mechanic in the game) that explains everything perfectly well is the one of Slay the Spire. Maybe a future RPG with new rules could adopt something similar. 

Also the Enhanced UI mod for Deadfire is very good and helps to understand mechanics with simple icons and mouseovers. If I were Obsidian I would have tried to incorporate that mod as soon as it was published.

An example for an understandable yet rel. deep combat system is Battle Brothers. It's not for dummies but yet the rules are not hard to grasp. Ok, it's turn based - that means all the obscure attack speed calculations for RTwP don't need to happen...

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how old dnd system doesn't suit system of video game are painfully obvious

poe try to make a system with the core of d20 but completely build for pc game

but player willing to learn this kind of rule mostly already have some experience with some table top rule

and player doesn't like this kind of system will just be turn away

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21 hours ago, omgFIREBALLS said:

I agree with your arguments but disagree with your conclusion. I am playing a video game. I have a computer at my disposal to run intricate calculations in a matter of milliseconds (less? nerds chime in). I therefore want to utilize this power to create a good combat system, and care little about how smooth it would be to replicate it with (or derive it from) dice, pen and paper. Obviously P:K, BG2 etc started in the other end (a TT system that was computerized), but the point remains that I am happy Obsidian did this.

PoE combat has, to me, far more nuance (attack roll outcomes, durations) than d20-based systems. I may never understand what the hell double inversion means, but I can still appreciate that this system is simply more enjoyable even if all I get is "more accuracy = more hits".

It may not, as you suggest, have appealed to the broader audience, but I hope in the long run gamers will grow to appreciate a system that creates better combat over one that we can still use if we are nuked back to the stone age, even if the exact mechanics are very tricky to grasp. Perhaps in ten years, PoE will be considered an investment in better RPG systems, one that embraced the power of computers instead of making them automate very simple calculations.

Actually you and I are in agreement. I also am very happy that Obsidian has tried to create a new combat system that is complex and intricate while at the same time being different from the D&D D20 system (and especially a system that doesn't rely as much on random chance). This is my personal preference, and apparently yours as well. But I believe my conclusion does apply when it comes to the vast majority of gamers out there, almost all of whom are never visitors to this forum. Your point that the only way to get people to appreciate a complex combat system is to keep at it with the games you make is very much valid, except for that developers need to show good profit margins today and not twenty years from now.

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4 hours ago, the_dog_days said:

That was George Ziets. Avellone isn't even in the credits for Mask of the Betrayer.

Ooops, sorry.

For some reason Chris is mentioned in the german wikipedia entry. He is not mentioned in the english version though.

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About game systems:

I prefer rule sets that were designed for computer (PoE, DA:O) over PnP rules, but I have never played PnP myself.

The first RPG I have finished was BG2, but I got it because many people said its a good game. I have never heart of DnD or PnP before and I read about that stuff only later. I learned the rules but many of them did not make any sense to me. Only when I realized that those rules were meant to be played with dice, pen and paper in the real world ( not on a computer) some things started to make sense. Even when I understand why PnP stuff is like this, much of it does still not make any sense for me when you play it on a computer.

For example, I like that dex influences attack speed or int influences duration gradually by factions of a second. There are no rounds in a real time game, stuff like x attacks per round or duration of x rounds per caster level.

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@Madscientist: Back in the day, there was a really good cRPG called Dungeon Master that had a system all of its own. One of the nice aspects of that system was that pretty much everything was under the hood: you didn't see your experience points, you were not told what kind of rewards you got for what you did, and so on. But at the same time, the system clearly worked, and it relied on the computer being able to calculate everything a lot better than us mortals in PnP. Boy, that was a lovely decision from the developers, and it absolutely worked (the game was a commercial success).

Given the current cRPG culture with meta-gaming, min/maxing and all that, I don't think any game developer could have the guts to make that kind of decision.

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If you want to make a good system in general, find one that fits with your game first and foremost. Even the most complex systems can be made intuitive. Owlcat (P:K developer) claims that they will make their next pathfinder game (WOtR) far more accessible by interpreting the rules in more intuitive ways.  How exactly, remains to be seen. Perhaps they may "translate" the dice results and ranges into numbers and % percentages.

On 1/25/2020 at 6:36 PM, omgFIREBALLS said:

It may not, as you suggest, have appealed to the broader audience, but I hope in the long run gamers will grow to appreciate a system that creates better combat over one that we can still use if we are nuked back to the stone age, even if the exact mechanics are very tricky to grasp. Perhaps in ten years, PoE will be considered an investment in better RPG systems, one that embraced the power of computers instead of making them automate very simple calculations.

It's not that I don't like PoE's system, but in my opinion it's inferior to DnD. I just like how spells in DnD don't have the same attack resolution (speaking in PoE terms) as normal attacks, its degree of randomness, effects of weapon specialization and scaling of stats better, among other things. I am all for a new system in general, just not like this one.

Edited by Bleak
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7 hours ago, Bleak said:

It's not that I don't like PoE's system, but in my opinion it's inferior to DnD. I just like how spells in DnD don't have the same attack resolution (speaking in PoE terms) as normal attacks, its degree of randomness, effects of weapon specialization and scaling of stats better, among other things. I am all for a new system in general, just not like this one.

From a systemic point of view and also as a Pen&Paper ruleset D&D is just terrible - at least the ones I played (<4). D&D has a great atmosphere because of the huge lore and content it produced and because of all the nostalgia. What you like (e.g. different attack resolution for x and y) makes players stop playing and literally (P&P) and (figuratively - using Google) grabbing the rulebook all the time. 

Deadfire, while complex, tries to minimize this by being more systemic (stat effects, inspirations, afflictions, basic attack roll vs. defenses etc). It didn't go all the way (see things like Miasma and non-systemic stacking) and didn't explain things well though.

People can't really argue that Deadfire's core rules are harder to understand and to memorize than D&D. Details and exceptions: yes (because obscured), but D&D has plenty of exceptions and band-aid rules as well. But the general ruleset: no way. Put somebody who doesn't know D&D in front of both and then decide. 

Doesn't mean you can't like it better nevertheless of course. I like PoE over Deadfire despite it being more messy and a lot less systemic. I would never say that PoE has the superior ruleset though. 

 

Edited by Boeroer
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54 minutes ago, Boeroer said:

From a systemic point of view and also as a Pen&Paper ruleset D&D is just terrible - at least the ones I played (<4). D&D has a great atmosphere because of the huge lore and content it produced and because of all the nostalgia. What you like (e.g. different attack resolution for x and y) makes players stop playing and literally (P&P) and (figuratively - using Google) grabbing the rulebook all the time. 

Deadfire, while complex, tries to minimize this by being more systemic (stat effects, inspirations, afflictions, basic attack roll vs. defenses etc). It didn't go all the way (see things like Miasma and non-systemic stacking) and didn't explain things well though.

People can't really argue that Deadfire's core rules are harder to understand and to memorize than D&D. Details and exceptions: yes (because obscured), but D&D has plenty of exceptions and band-aid rules as well. But the general ruleset: no way. Put somebody who doesn't know D&D in front of both and then decide. 

Doesn't mean you can't like it better nevertheless of course. I like PoE over Deadfire despite it being more messy and a lot less systemic. I would never say that PoE has the superior ruleset though. 

In that particular example of attack/spell resolution, it's what I, at least, consider as a type of good complexity, because each way of attacking is mechanically unique. Yes, one will also need to learn how saves work and read the description of each specific spell carefully, but I don't think it's that big of a hurdle so that it makes players look up the rules after they familiarize themselves with it. I don't think systemic is always a good thing - sometimes it comes at the price of variety.

That's not to say that DnD isn't more complicated than it needs to be or that it isn't filled with band-aid rules. DF's system is a good attempt at improvement, it's just that it misses some of the marks that made DnD more enjoyable for me. This is obviously subjective, as especially things like its degree of randomness may be very unappealing to some.

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