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Armchair theories on why POE2 didn't sell super well

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I agree. I don't think that a super linear, "railroading" approach is great either though. Some decent balance is nice. Areas where you can go as you please, but not too vast/big. Gated content for which you'll have to progress in the main quest line. I think that's also way easier to implement - given that managing connection points for quests, companions etc. can become a nightmare if everything is reachable at any time.

I also don't like those huge quest hubs like Neketaka or Defiance Bay. Something like Fort Deadlight, Dunnage etc. is more up my alley. Once you finished those you know you don't need to come back all the time and there's a feel of accomplishment and closure if you will. 

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Good question. I would have to contemplate about that. :)

But when it comes to Pillars games I think PoE does it better than Deadfire. In PoE you have the clear distinction between Act I, II and III. Defiance Bay is too big of a quest hub for my taste. But stuff like Gilded Vale, Raedric's Castle, Dyrford Village etc. are pretty nice in that regard. Twin Elms is doing too much as well (alsthough not as stuffed as Defiance Bay of course) and it also feels as if it was done in a hurry.

But Defiance Bay is nicer (for me personally) than Neketaka. But it seems that a lot of players like those huge cities/quest hubs. 

Edited by Boeroer
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1 hour ago, Boeroer said:

Good question. I would have to contemplate about that. :)

But when it comes to Pillars games I think PoE does it better than Deadfire. In PoE you have the clear distinction between Act I, II and III. Defiance Bay is too big of a quest hub for my taste. But stuff like Gilded Vale, Raedric's Castle, Dyrford Village etc. are pretty nice in that regard. Twin Elms is doing too much as well (alsthough not as stuffed as Defiance Bay of course) and it also feels as if it was done in a hurry.

But Defiance Bay is nicer (for me personally) than Neketaka. But it seems that a lot of players like those huge cities/quest hubs. 

well POE1 did it right no ? You could explore maps, but with buandery . Kinda gave me old Icewind Dale vibes actually lol 

 


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I agree with this line of thought. I dont like the big city hub of tons of quest. and the progression of POE 1 does feel better narrative wise (although it still has some pacing problems but compared to 2 was much better). Its what turned me off to BG2 years ago. starting off in the city and getting a ton of random quests right off while your suppose to be saving someone. And it is in part what kept me from completing POE 2 for a long time. i would just get stalled out when i got to Neketaka and had a hard time progressing especially in light of the urgent nature of the tiny main quest. it just didnt fit with a large hub of random quests. I like the low key start to POE 1 where you were more investigating what was happening instead of the world is about to end POE 2 start. This is one of those lessons they took from POE 1 where people criticized the narrative as starting to slow.  it has been the complete opposite experience for me. 

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10 hours ago, Wormerine said:

RPG is only as good as it's city

Amen, bruh! City bird here too and lack (or even total absence. Looking at you, Kingmaker, or should I call you "Village Elder Maker"?)of cities is detrimental to any RPG. 🧐

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There doesn't need to be a lack of cities. They just shouldn't unconditionally dump 75% of all quests on you.


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Every time I reached Defiance Bay in PoE I suddenly felt a sharp drop in my motivation to continue. I have played the first chapter many-many times. It felt like an adventure.

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7 hours ago, Boeroer said:

There doesn't need to be a lack of cities. They just shouldn't unconditionally dump 75% of all quests on you.

I like having a home, or a HUB. Neketaka, or Athkatla are a brilliant thing to have. Think you return to, shop, hand in, and get new quests. A busy, living metropoly.

Cities in PoE1 were pretty bad overall - to make a big city work one needs to have a lot of things going on there, and a reason to return there. Perhaps we simply prefer our games differently. I thought a lot of PoE1 locations were problematic. Guilded Vale, for example, had little to no content. It was for the most part an empty map, which we would leave behind with no reason to return to. On a side note, Roderick's Caste is not a city - it's a dungeon. Dyrford Village was probably my favourite in PoE1 - with a nice vilalge feel (everyone knows about everything), and at least couple loops through the village (initial visit, trip and likely return from ruins, and loop, when searching for the missing daughter of the noble).

I loved coming in and out of Neketaka, and finding something new to do with every visit. I never tried to "clear it" though. Get enough quests to warrant a trip out, do that stuff, return, explore more, do some stuff in the city and venture out again. I saw many people complaining that they are stuck in Neketaka, but I think it is misunderstanding how this game is to be played. 

I don't think Cities have to be big though. My favourite HUB in PoEs is still Stalwart, which is small and detailed. I love the feel of it, and how interconnected everything is. Being able to see it develop in WM2 was pretty great as well - that's something many games aspire to, but usually don't reach. A small scale of Stalwart was probably a good thing in that respect. 

EDIT: A good city is what Outer Worlds is missing for me. The Groundbreaker is nice, but again, it's a nice single trip and afterwards it's a static, dead place. Fine for a dungeon, but not for a place where people live. Byzantium was just empty.

Edited by Wormerine
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Stalwart is a good example: it has quests, but not in x districts and not a ton of them. It can be a hub, with shops, tavern, healer and so on, nothing against that. 

But I share the same feeling as wih above: you enter Neketaka and suddenly feel demotivated, even disoriented. It would be nicer if quest lines would slowly unfold and bring you to places of the city. Instead, you can go everywhere you please and grap quests. dozens of them - no need to finish anythng before picking up the next. I'm no a big fan of that.

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I actually see overlap between what @Wormerine and @Boeroer are saying. I agree that it is very nice to have a nice bustling hub with shops and taverns and temples and smiths, and yes also some place - not necessarily a stronghold, just a hole in the wall place will do - to dump your stuff and know it'll all be safe. But I agree I don't like for so many of the quests to begin and end in that one place. It's always nice to have a range of different places to visit, and to have meaningful reasons to visit those places.

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An interesting thing to note is that back in the ancient days, games like Ultima IV and V had quite a few cities (eight, plus three villages, plus three castles), each of which gave you a number of quests, many of which were related to one another in a way that made you travel from one city to another in pretty much the order that happened to please you. More recently, the big CRPGs tend to include only one or at most two major cities that tend to give you maybe a bit too many quests at a time, creating a certain confusion and a sense of I've no idea what I should do next.

While I don't want to sound like an old-timer, which I probably am, I think that modern-day game developers could learn a thing or two from those early trailblazers, the Ultimas, especially IV and V.

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On 11/24/2019 at 11:12 AM, Boeroer said:

I agree. I don't think that a super linear, "railroading" approach is great either though. Some decent balance is nice. Areas where you can go as you please, but not too vast/big. Gated content for which you'll have to progress in the main quest line. I think that's also way easier to implement - given that managing connection points for quests, companions etc. can become a nightmare if everything is reachable at any time.

I also don't like those huge quest hubs like Neketaka or Defiance Bay. Something like Fort Deadlight, Dunnage etc. is more up my alley. Once you finished those you know you don't need to come back all the time and there's a feel of accomplishment and closure if you will. 

Really? I loved Defiance Bay and Neketaka to a lesser extent. That feeling of walking into Copperlane after only visiting small hamlets, inns and forests was incredible. Before then, PoE almost felt as though the entire Eastern Reach was a series of dominoes that fell and tipped as the watcher came and went. Defiance Bay was surreal. All the bustling kith, each with different storylines — it fleshed out eora in a way Gilded Vale couldn't. For once the watcher wasn't the most important thing since sliced bread, they were just another traveler or mercenary. 

That feeling is what I felt was missing in PoEII. I'm not sure what the feeling is, but I'll try to describe it as best I can.

Deadfire, in my opinion, lacked in 'wonder.' By 'wonder' I mean places or writing that just felt... unique? Interesting? If I think back to the opening of both games, I think PoE's is far superior. You're thrust into this world, sick and alone (unless you're a ranger) and bandits invade. You barely escape, surviving a biawac and hurry to a cave. You're given a breather, and after the moments respite, emerge only to find a strange ritual taking place. Everything from the music to the surprise of having your two companions simply... die, it's great. After the initial shock, you wander about the remains of your companions and the desecrated husks of the sacrifices. You press on and fin yourself in a misty forest, full of danger. You come across Nonton, and he advises that you head to Gilded Vale, which you do, only to be met with a tree of corpses and ringing bells of death. 

This opening is incredible. Most notable, I think, are the gigantic adra pillars jutting out from the earth, and the crystalline skuldrak cave. It gives you plenty of room to breathe, and is atmospheric enough to drag you in.

Comapare that with Deadfire's opening. I'm not going to summarise it, rather I'll write how I think it could be improved upon. 

You start out as Watcher, Slayer of Thaos, Theyn of Caed Nua. You sit upon the steward's lap, ruling in relative peace and prosperity. A man steps forward, he wants your help in funding his marriage to his fiancé. You cast your judgement, and leave your fortress and walk among your court when you hear the cries of the guards. Maros Nua's ginormous fingers shake and then curl around the chapel, destroying it and everyone inside. Slowly, and with a great groaning, the earth beneath your keep begins to shake and the colossus emerges. Maybe Eothas kills a companion of yours (Hiravias, who stopped by for a chat? The Grieving Mother?). Then he kills you and in your final moments, Eder drags you aboard the Defiant. Once you awaken, the whole Benweth scene plays out as normal, but when the storm hits, it hits hard. The Watcher is completely separated from their crew and Eder, and once agin, you are alone in a foreign, tropical island...

The difference between the opening I just wrote and the actual one is that mine probably has grammar mistakes and I think it a more personal one. Instead of the one cutscene, you stroll around Caed Nua, only for it to be destroyed while the player is helpless. It feels more relevant. As for isolating the Watcher, it adds stakes, and makes the Watcher's situation feel more desperate. Port Maje would act as a Gilded Vale of sorts. You would be reacquainted with Eder and Aloth, and your journey for your soul would begin anew. The main problem with Deadfire's opening is it tells, not shows. 

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Hey! I was that nasenale! Jokes aside, I really liked Neketaka, and I did almost every quest there before moving elsewhere, and pretty early on too, and that made most of the game seemed provisional and uninspired in comparison. Neketaka was Deadfire for me in most respects, and it spoiled me rotten. But having that standard, I guess it would have taken the devs 7 years more to "finish" the masterpiece Deadfire Enhanced Uncut Director's version.

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I gotta say, something about Dyrford really did click for me too. Maybe it was the first place in the beta, maybe it just felt like the epitome 'fantasy village adventurers arrive at', maybe because the quests in it were joined together rather well in its own mini-campaign that was separate from the main plotline, giving a nice break of 'local troubles' to deal with. Stalwart too was like this and clicked right for me. You get a sense of the place and the stories intermingle well.

Maybe what cities need is to treat each 'district' of a city as it's own hub? Just a random thought.


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I didn't even play the PoE beta. So I doubt that that's the reason. :)


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22 hours ago, Boeroer said:

I didn't even play the PoE beta. So I doubt that that's the reason. :)

I only played a couple of hours of it myself, due to time constraints at the time. But maybe the concentration focused on it as the beta and the feedback they got as they were developing it helped it? If only to make them spend more time than usual on it. Or maybe it just meant they had to rush develop it more and just got lucky. 


"That rabbit's dynamite!" - King Arthur, Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail

"Space is big, really big." - Douglas Adams

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My 2 cents: I think PoE rode a wave of Kickstarter popularity and publicity during its campaign, development, and even post-launch, that had very much died off by the time the second game was announced -- and had all but disappeared when it was released -- and I think the hype around old school games, crowdfunding, etc. won them a LOT of sales from people who might not actually have been the core audience for this type of game.

I also think that some people, maybe more than we think, didn't get what they wanted out of PoE. Meaning that, although it looked like the Infinity Engine games, it didn't play very much like them, and the general tone and atmosphere of the story and world didn't feel very much like the Forgotten Realms at all. It was more serious, its themes were heavier, it was very exposition heavy, with almost none of the whimsy a lot people familiar with BG and BG2 might have expected (something the D:OS games have in spades). It was great in its own right, but it might not have been what people expected, thus considerably lessening a lot of spontaneous buyers' interest in a sequel.

Edited by Lorfean

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