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Armchair theories on why POE2 didn't sell super well

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9 minutes ago, wih said:

Also, in my opinion POE 1 had a very real problem with the writing. It was excessive and it wasn't clear. Probably this made many players bored, causing them to abandon the game without bothering to write a negative review, so that we could put a finger on the issue and proclaim that it was the reason for the POE 2 sales drop.

A real problem is that writers don't seem to realize the players don't know the game universe as well as them and so the writers didn't sufficiently care to present the information clearly and understandably. It wasn't a major concern at all.

To a certain extent, you do have a valid point here, and I agree with you. For me, the best example of this problem was in PoE, in Teir Evron, where I was supposed to find out that the gods aren't real. I picked the dialogue options that seemed most reasonable to my character from a role-playing point of view, and after the conversation there I was somewhat baffled. Thinking: what just happened there? What did I learn? Clearly that was a turning point in the story, but how?

Either it was not well-written in the first place, or the game allowed you to make your dialogue choices in such a way that you only learned something like half of the stuff the game expected you to have learned.

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For me it is hard to tell what kind of games are a niche because I am in the middle of that niece. I like games with a good mix of story, exploration or combat and I do not care if they are categorized as classic RPG (IE games, PoE1+2), JRPG (old Final Fantasy, Trails series) or action adventure (Zelda, Okami). And I really like crazy stuff like PST, Undertale or Disco Elysium ( playing a drunk and stoned communist brute who thinks he is a superstar and a magnesium based lifeform at the moment). So you should not ask me if you want to know which games to make in order to maximize profit.

I do not know what kind of games sell best and I do not care if they release Call of Duty part 99, assuming such games sell well. But games like DOS1+2 and TW3 prove that you can make lots of money with RPGs. OK, I admit that the number of RPGs that sell millions of copies is rather low.

Edited by Madscientist

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1 hour ago, xzar_monty said:

[...] or the game allowed you to make your dialogue choices in such a way that you only learned something like half of the stuff the game expected you to have learned.

This

 


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1 hour ago, Boeroer said:

This

 

Yes, that can be annoying. Dialogue trees without rules.  Sometimes you have the option of exhausting the entire dialogue tree, sometimes if you had chosen a different starting point you could have gleaned more info and other times you only get to choose one option no matter your starting point.   This makes me reload quite a lot to try out different dialogue options just to make sure there's not info I'm missing out on.   Dialogue that contains lore, history, backstory or better understanding of a certain situation shouldn't get blocked off because you asked "why" instead of "what." 

However, this is true of quite a few games. For me most recently it was Greedfall.  Great game.. But I probably made the game twice as long for myself as there was a lot of dialogue hidden behind one option lines.  I don't think I actually retain the information for that long either so I'm not sure why I do that to myself.  Just an in the moment deal and then I eat a batch of forgetful cookies. 

Edited by vyvexthorne

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This might be a reason. PoE is a new IP and they tried to make some things different that the usual RPGs ( the gods, the wheel, everything with souls in general) and some of this stuff is hard to understand. If you miss some stuff you are supposed to know then it is easy to get confused by lots of stuff the game throws at you. DnD has the advantage that many people know it and it is standart fantasy, so you just have to explain things that are different in your game.

The default way to deal with this is that your char has amnesia (PST, DE) so (s)he asks the same questions you would ask. But you cannot start every RPG with your char waking up without memory.

While I liked PoE I really hated on thing: Durance quest. The stuff he says is interesting in principle, but you have to explore ALL options, you can only ask a few things each day and new sub options appear over time so its really hard to find which line you are missing. The fact that you see if you succeeded only when you rest makes it even worse.

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Maybe the problem is not the game or its sales numbers, but rather is the (unrealistic) sales expectations Obsidian had for the game. If Obsidian's sales expectations for the game had been about half a million, then surely they would not be seeing the actual sales numbers as having been anything bad. And, for a game like PoE2, perhaps the sales expectations should be in the half a million range given the kinds of games that appeal to large numbers of buyers these days. Speaking for myself, I would much rather have a game like PoE2 that sells only half a million than a game like D:OS2 that sells two million. So I am very happy that Obsidian gave me precisely PoE2 than give me a game very similar to D:OS2 which I would not have bought. The game preference niche that I belong to may be only half a million strong, but those people deserve to enjoy their preferred style of game just as much as anyone else. And it's very nice that up until now Obsidian has been willing to cater to that niche group (whereas Larian chose to walk away from that group in order to increase its sales). Sales numbers in some absolute sense should not matter. The only thing that should matter to a developer is whether they made money off the game or lost money. This is the lesson I believe Obsidian should take from PoE2. But sadly I am certain the lesson they will take is that there is no room for such a small niche game like PoE2 within Obsidian anymore, and that they too must abandon their small niche group of fans in pursuit of a much larger group of potential buyers for their future games. At the very least, Microsoft is sure to insist on it.

Edited by kanisatha
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I agree nearly completely.

But I guess you also can make decent money from smallish games (percentage-wise). You'd have to cut stuff like Full VO and localisation though. Also extensive companion reactions etc. might be too expensive.


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Full VO is unnecessary, and localisation -- if that means translations -- has been an absolute disaster, the translations are really poor. So saving money on those two things would be an excellent idea.

I sort of hang my head in shame when it comes to localisation: Obsidian simply have no idea what translation means, and they don't have the requisite knowledge to see how poor the translations are.

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That seems to be the case. But one can't expect them to have an in-house expert for every language that a game gets translated to.

I really wonder which companies did the translations though and how much money they got. A assume they are american companies? Why won't you use a company from the respective country? Like a Russian translation company for the Russian version, a German one for the German version and so on? 


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12 minutes ago, Boeroer said:

That seems to be the case. But one can't expect them to have an in-house expert for every language that a game gets translated to.

I really wonder which companies did the translations though and how much money they got. A assume they are american companies? Why won't you use a company from the respective country? Like a Russian translation company for the Russian version, a German one for the German version and so on? 

Obsidian still won't know how good would be these translations though?

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22 minutes ago, Boeroer said:

That seems to be the case. But one can't expect them to have an in-house expert for every language that a game gets translated to.

Agreed. But given this, the whole decision-making process seems very strange to me. They invest money in something they have no proper knowledge of, and they are willing to accept the results without being able to judge whether they are any good or not. Why would anybody do that? It makes no sense.

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53 minutes ago, xzar_monty said:

Agreed. But given this, the whole decision-making process seems very strange to me. They invest money in something they have no proper knowledge of, and they are willing to accept the results without being able to judge whether they are any good or not. Why would anybody do that? It makes no sense.

Because the translations were stretch goals.

Edited by wih

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Ok, but that still isn't a proper explanation. It only makes you look foolish if you announce a stretch goal about something you're clearly unqualified to do.

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POE 1 had them, so it makes sense to include them in POE 2 too. And they probably weren't a total waste. I think the russian translation for POE 1 was good. If some russians read this, maybe they can confirm.

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I agree. Full voice over is not needed an not having a translation is bettet than having a bad translation. Disco Elysium is a great example. It has fantastic writing, only one language and the little bit of VO it has is also great.

When you translate something you need somebody who checks the result, knows this language well and is not a member of the translation company. Looks like Obsidian did not have this. PoE1 and DF were translated by the same company. The german version of DF had exactly the same errors as PoE, plus many new ones.

Sometimes stretch goals can be a curse. Especially when devs feel that they need to add a goal, they think of something and then this goal turns out to require more work than expected.

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7 hours ago, wih said:

Just yesterday I was playing POE 2, there was this conversation with the gods and at some point, in the middle of the conversation, Skaen said:

"A moon will do the job nicely."

As many times before, I stopped and thought: "what the hell does that mean?". But there was no way to switch to the previous screen to get the (already forgotten) context and so I had no way to decipher the meaning of the phrase. Neither did I want to reload the entire boring conversation. The possible answers given to choose from hinted that this phrase had something to do with destroying the world. They also showed that my character knew much better than me what the phrase meant. For the rest of the conversation I was clicking on "Don't say anything" and I decided to roleplay a character who is fed up with the gods and who doesn't want to deal with them at all.

So I will probably never get to know the meaning of this phrase (unless some kind soul from this forum decides to tell me). This is just a small example to show that POE 2 also has cryptic conversations.

To answer your question from PoE's wiki (Based on White March Part 2) :

Spoiler

 

Abydon was one of the gods created by the Engwithans, devoted to duty, preservation, progress, and industry. Although the gods made the decision to not interfere with the progress of kith civilization, he and the others recognized the need to eliminate the Engwithan civilizations as a matter of self-preservation. Devoted to a fault, Abydon opposed Ondra's plan to destroy it by way of Ionni Brath and forged a special hammer in the White Forge in what would eventually become the White March. Channeling all his strength, he threw the hammer against the moon, shattering it and causing most of the fragments to land harmlessly in the ocean. However, the biggest fragment remained on course and the god, for want of a better of option, threw himself in his way, protecting the land. The moon fragment hit him square in the face, pulverizing it and leaving his corpse to decay in the remote mountains of the White March. 

So basically, the fall of a moon is the solution to destroy the body of a god.

 

 

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8 hours ago, Madscientist said:

This might be a reason. PoE is a new IP and they tried to make some things different that the usual RPGs ( the gods, the wheel, everything with souls in general) and some of this stuff is hard to understand. If you miss some stuff you are supposed to know then it is easy to get confused by lots of stuff the game throws at you. DnD has the advantage that many people know it and it is standart fantasy, so you just have to explain things that are different in your game.

The default way to deal with this is that your char has amnesia (PST, DE) so (s)he asks the same questions you would ask. But you cannot start every RPG with your char waking up without memory.

While I liked PoE I really hated on thing: Durance quest. The stuff he says is interesting in principle, but you have to explore ALL options, you can only ask a few things each day and new sub options appear over time so its really hard to find which line you are missing. The fact that you see if you succeeded only when you rest makes it even worse.

Yeah.. Durance and Mothers quest makes me way too paranoid. . Mother's completes rather quickly compared to Durance but it still makes me constantly wonder if something has gone wrong or will go wrong.   On this play through some of Durance's stuff seemed to happen out of order.  I went in to pray to gods.. Decided I didn't want to do that yet and left without praying. Durance's persuasion speech about Woedica popped up immediately after leaving even though I hadn't talked to Magran or anybody, .. then about three days later I had the third vision while resting and then the quest ended.  Up until the very end of the quest the quest log was stuck on the second "continue to get to know durance."  

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7 hours ago, vyvexthorne said:

Yeah.. Durance and Mothers quest makes me way too paranoid. . Mother's completes rather quickly compared to Durance but it still makes me constantly wonder if something has gone wrong or will go wrong.   On this play through some of Durance's stuff seemed to happen out of order.

But you're only paranoid because you're metagaming. That's not a criticism, I'm just pointing out that your paranoia comes from the fact that you know how the quest mechanism is supposed to work and you're worried if it actually does.

When I played PoE, I was able to finish Durance's quest but certainly not the Grieving Mother's. I'm not sure if if even started, apart from the very first journal entry saying that maybe something would turn up if she travelled with me (or whatever). So in that sense I do agree that maybe these quests were not designed in a perfect way.

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9 minutes ago, xzar_monty said:

But you're only paranoid because you're metagaming. That's not a criticism, I'm just pointing out that your paranoia comes from the fact that you know how the quest mechanism is supposed to work and you're worried if it actually does.

When I played PoE, I was able to finish Durance's quest but certainly not the Grieving Mother's. I'm not sure if if even started, apart from the very first journal entry saying that maybe something would turn up if she travelled with me (or whatever). So in that sense I do agree that maybe these quests were not designed in a perfect way.

BG2's Jaheira suffered the same problem. RPG studios should avoid designing quests in such a brittle way because it can tempt even the most principled roleplayers to metagame :)

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About quests: Once again I post this great video every dev should watchhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJJaGSV75y0&list=PLF4UOVu5UKgiDCxJrZE7hydqaKNwd37bh . The other videos of this guy are also good.

Its OK if you fail some quests. TW3 or DE are good examples. The game reacts to your failure and it has consequences but the game goes on. The problem that some quests have massive negative consequences but the players cannot possibly predict this without meta gaming. some examples:

- PoE1: Durance and GM: You do something during normal gameplay and you see the result only when resting. When I talk to someone, I do not expect to have dreams/visions about them when I sleep and I do not expect that they can permanently leave the party if I do something wrong during this vision.

- BG2: You cannot expect that a party member will leave when starting a quest by finding a body and you can only get her back when fighting a group of enemies. I think she can even leave you permanently under some conditions, but this never happened to me so I am not sure. The quest were she gets cursed is OK for me, in case you mean this.

Edited by Madscientist

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On 2/1/2020 at 12:58 PM, xzar_monty said:

To a certain extent, you do have a valid point here, and I agree with you. For me, the best example of this problem was in PoE, in Teir Evron, where I was supposed to find out that the gods aren't real. I picked the dialogue options that seemed most reasonable to my character from a role-playing point of view, and after the conversation there I was somewhat baffled. Thinking: what just happened there? What did I learn? Clearly that was a turning point in the story, but how?

Either it was not well-written in the first place, or the game allowed you to make your dialogue choices in such a way that you only learned something like half of the stuff the game expected you to have learned.

I think a big problem with new settings in these kinds of game sis the amount of exposition and info dump thrown at the player. In the DND games most players were pretty familiar with the world, history, gods, factions, cities whatever so it doesn't need to be explained.

Yeah I think expectations were too high with the sales, cut the full VO, and boat mini game and the budget would have been significantly lower and Josh Sawyer's sanity would have remained intact. Butttt… I think Obsidian were desperate to get back to the good old days so chucked a load of stuff in to try appeal to too many groups of people. I really wish they had included fishing or sea monster hunting instead of the boat combat. 

Edited by daven

nowt

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7 hours ago, xzar_monty said:

But you're only paranoid because you're metagaming. That's not a criticism, I'm just pointing out that your paranoia comes from the fact that you know how the quest mechanism is supposed to work and you're worried if it actually does.

When I played PoE, I was able to finish Durance's quest but certainly not the Grieving Mother's. I'm not sure if if even started, apart from the very first journal entry saying that maybe something would turn up if she travelled with me (or whatever). So in that sense I do agree that maybe these quests were not designed in a perfect way.

Nah, I was way more paranoid my first playthrough. That was before there was a completed wiki or any walkthroughs. Just looking at my journal and seeing that "keep journeying with companion" and having no answers to turn to made me totally believe it was broken...   I don't think I picked up Grieving Mother on my first playthrough though.. I don't have any memory of her quests at any rate.  This was the first time I went through with all the pre-made companions and didn't substitute any of my own made ones. 

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I would love to see more of the same, keep iterating on the TBC instead of RTwP, and go even darker in tone with the stories told.

 

And some actual marketing next time around wouldn't go astray....

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Posted (edited)

Summary at bottom.
I don’t agree with the “names don’t matter” when it comes to games. Names matter to American consumers as well as Japanese, but it’s usually the Studio name. I know lots of people who will buy a game simply because Infinity Ward/Treyarch, Bethesda, BioWare or Gearbox made it etc and they enjoy their games. Some of us take it a step farther, myself included, and want to know who worked on that game that I enjoyed so much. And when I’m looking into a new game and I find Game Z from Y Studios I’ve never heard of, if I happen to come across an article that mentions that a few of the people that worked on Game X that I loved formed a company called Y Studios and made Game Z that certainly influences my decision. I will more likely give that game a shot. The Bigger the role they played and the more of my personal hits list that they worked on will influence my decision even more.

What makes it even more interesting is in Call of Duty’s case with 2 Studios alternating out new CoD titles. I know people on both sides of the fence that wouldn’t buy a CoD if it was made by the other studio because they hated their ideas. The FPS crowd is usually considered one of the most superficial & least picky when it comes to caring about game quality because of how simple the games are and yet they won’t buy the same game because it’s made by another studio. There’s also divides between CoD and Battlefield. They’re both shooters but some fans won’t be caught dead playing Battlefield if they’re CoD fans and vice versa. Not to mention the old Nintendo vs Sega rivalries of the 90s. Name recognition and bias certainly matters to western gamers too whether they realize it or not. Just to be clear if you won’t buy a console/game from another developer because you don’t like that studio for whatever reason you are being influenced by or biased towards the Name.

I also know western gamers that worship the ground certain game designers walk on and it’s not hard to find them either just a simple forum search of some games by well-known designers will turn up threads praising their name. People like Miyazaki (Dark Souls) and Kojima (Metal Gear) aren’t popular only in Japan, a large amount of their fan base is U.S. Gamers and they will buy any game those guys touch. For them you don’t even have to search forums there are articles dedicated to their popularity among western gamers. Western Game Designers don’t have that adamant of a following but they should still be recognized and appreciated for their contributions to Videogaming. Sid Meier, Brian Reynolds, Ken Levine, Peter Molyneux, Brian Fargo (he’s loved and hated), Cliffy B, Leonard Boyarsky, Chris Taylor, Warren Spector along with others mentioned in this thread Feargus Urquhart, Tim Cain, Josh Sawyer, John Carmack, George Romero, Chris Avellone, and American McGee, Shigeru Miyamoto. Along with many more that we owe thanks to for pushing the envelope, breaking boundaries, working around the clock to bring us our much beloved titles and growing the industry into the smorgasbord of games on offer that we have today. Without them gaming might have died out in the 90s.

TLDR: Names matter to gamers but it’s usually Company/Studio names, but the Names of People should matter more to gamers, especially adult gamers. The people that work on your games are like the authors of your books and should be appreciated for their contributions. It was not easy to produce that game you love. Read a few development stories you’ll see. Enlighten yourself especially on the “Crunch Time” phase of development.

Edited by Foxd1e

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