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30 minutes ago, xzar_monty said:

First of all, it has to be said that your writing is quite hard to follow.

Second, if you finished three playthroughs, either the system cannot be broken, or what you mean by "broken" is something other than broken. So there is a contradiction in the premise of what you write.

by the definition of pathfinder 1e

a broken weapon have -2 on attack and damage

a broken armor give half ac

a broken thing can still perform some of its function

so a broken game can be finished doesn't contradict anything

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PK is not broken, what you describe IS the DnD 3E system or variations of it.

Yes, this is very complicated, it is very hard to understand for new players, it is often unintuitive, some characters can be totaly useless while others are totally OP and it takes normal people forever to understand why it is OP. It is so unbalanced that some classes make other classes totally pointless. For example you want to be a rogue? No problem, play a vivisectionist. They can do everything rogues do ( sneak attacks, a feat every second level including combat feats, rogue feats PLUS alchemist feats) PLUS a mutagen that gives stat boosts that stack with everything PLUS tons of spells for buffs and healing, including the ability to use self only spells on others. The game also rewards meta gaming, which means it helps a lot to know things that new players cannot know when they start playing. You want to play as fighter with a sword? Well, guess if you find a good longsword, duelling sword, bastard sword or scimitar in the next 80h. You are a ranger, I hope you know what favoured enemies and terrain you will meet for the rest of the game.

Still, there are some hardcore fans who consider anything less as dumped down. If I understand things right ( I am not a PnP player) pathfinder became popular because DnD moved on to 4E and 5E which are more simple but many players wanted to stick with the super complicated hardcore stuff. To some extend I can understand this. If you put lots of time in understanding a complex system, you don´t want to switch to another system and learn everything from scratch again.

What does this mean for PoE2? I would say the success of PK proves that PoE2 did not fail because the system was to complicated, too unintuitive or too unbalanced.

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1 hour ago, Madscientist said:

What does this mean for PoE2? I would say the success of PK proves that PoE2 did not fail because the system was to complicated, too unintuitive or too unbalanced.

I think this is a good point. However, we are still pretty much in the dark as to why PoE2 failed.

All cRPGs reward metagaming, at least to some extent. Deadfire rewards it much less than P:K, for instance, but there is a drawback to this, too: Deadfire tends to be so balanced that nothing essentially stands out. I never found loot that made me go wow (and towards the end my inventory was full of unique items that I had never even tried and I felt were completely useless), whereas in all DD-related games you will be very happy with certain pieces of equipment that you find. Both approaches have their strengths and drawbacks, and I'm fine with both, i.e. this is not a factor (for me) that decides whether a game's good or not.

Edited by xzar_monty
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2 hours ago, Madscientist said:

What does this mean for PoE2? I would say the success of PK proves that PoE2 did not fail because the system was to complicated, too unintuitive or too unbalanced.

it's been pointed out before, and convinced me, that pathfinder (and even for people who didn't play pathfinder, 3e/3.5e is close enough education) is a much bigger IP than poe1. so in that sense, PK being unintuitive or too unbalanced is much less of a hurdle than if deadfire was unintuitive or unbalanced. there are more resources online (and in real life) to get answers, and if you're having trouble, given the popularity of pathfinder you might be more like "oh, it's my problem" whereas if you have trouble with deadfire you might be more like "oh, it's the game's problem"

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On 7/7/2020 at 3:03 AM, Madscientist said:

Thanks for the long text.

"* I once described PoE by telling a friend that "it seems to have been a game designed around Voltaire's quote that 'if god did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him'." My friend, who has worked in the game development industry for decades, said "Such a high-minded concept usually isn't a good sign." We agreed that maybe the game worked because Obsidian didn't reveal that notion until well into the third act. "

 

Very interesting. This reminds me of Deus Ex. According to the german wikipedia, the original game sold 1 million copies between 2000 and 2009 and human revolution sold more than twice as many. But Deus Ex was a masterpiece in terms of gameplay and level design. There were several ways to solve every problem. You could finish the game almost without killing anything or you could shoot everything, including killing some later "bosses" long before you are supposed to fight them.

I loved that game and played it through many times. I bought Human Revolution and couldn't get into it. I didn't play past the second "level." Maybe we have identified a theme, and the disease is inside of me? 😉

 

On 7/7/2020 at 3:03 AM, Madscientist said:

PoE was a classic RPG. It had a new setting and the character system was new, but if you ignore the details about races, classes and dice rolls it is exactly like most other RPGs, like the IE games for example. I still have no idea why Pathfinder Kingmaker sold much more. Both games were good RPGs and both games were buggy as hell at release. PoE2 was less buggy at release than PoE1. I had to quit PoE1 because of bugs during my first playthrough. I finished PoE2 on my first playthrough, but it was too easy and many bugs, though many of them helped the player instead of stopping him. I waited several month before starting PK, so I had no problem there.

I made it about halfway through a SC wizard PotD playthrough and quit because my wizard was able to solve every fight on his own and I was bored. I read on the boards that tuning was coming and decided to wait for some DLCs to arrive before returning. It's a much more playable experience and I appreciate Obsidian's continued support of the game. I'm playing it a lot right now.

 

On 7/7/2020 at 3:03 AM, Madscientist said:

Maybe the fanbase of DnD 3E nerds is bigger than I think, those who think that a game cannot be too complex or too difficult and everything with less than 30 races and classes plus tons of complicated rules and enemies that kick your ass unless you pre buff for an hour is considered dumbed down. So maybe there is a group of hardcore nerds and a group of casual gamesrs and PoE was cought in the middle between them? This does not really sound convincing to mee.

Interesting, I think of the videogame-D&D fanbase to be composed of different groups. One is the group of tabletop D&D players who also play video games and are like you describe: people who appreciate the complexity of the system, who have mastered it in its most complex form, and who want video games reflecting the things they like about the pen and paper version. But I suspect there are very many more who have never played tabletop D&D, or who have only played it a small amount, and who are simply are familiar with D&D through the very long history of D&D video games. Many of them probably don't care about how good or balanced or scalable a game system is. They just want to rescue some princes and fight dragons and find cool magic items, and they're perfectly willing to spend 5 minutes reading on reddit which classes to avoid and which are OP, and then dive into a familiar system.

These are the people I imagine bouncing off of PoE. "Okay, let's see... might? I guess that's strength. Perception? Wow, I'm not sure which stat I need. Maybe I'll make a fighter and make her strong and tough. Wait, where is my armor class?? What the hell is reflex? Help!" Maybe plenty of them just wing it, then try to save Aloth from some angry farmers and get crushed, and then walk away forever. Or they wait for a good online guide to how to build characters. But I will say that I think there is a hidden downside to creating a system where there are not obvious dump stats: people like having quick mental shortcuts or "hacks." D&D games have a lot of these. It's usually safe to dump charisma, for example, and most D&D games do a good job of telling you what stats you should not dump once you have selected a class. If you have played one D&D video game, you are probably pretty well situated to pick up most any other pretty quickly.

 

Madscientist, you mentioned above that Kingmaker sold better than Deadfire. Is that known to a certainty? Or could it be that Kingmaker sold better relative to expectations than Deadfire? I think Owlcat had a considerably smaller budget for Kingmaker than Deadfire did, which is why I ask.

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When you google "pathfinder kingmaker sales numbers" the first hit is 1.2mio, and that number is from 19. march 2020.

I play computer games since the mid 90s but I do not play PnP. I do not care what system is used, setting, story and characters are most importent for me. I think that DnD 3.5/pathfinder is insanely complicated just for its own sake. System wise I like PoE2 and I am looking forward to BG3 ( DnD 5E). You have lots of options but it is much easier to understand.

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4 hours ago, Madscientist said:

Still, there are some hardcore fans who consider anything less as dumped down. If I understand things right ( I am not a PnP player) pathfinder became popular because DnD moved on to 4E and 5E which are more simple but many players wanted to stick with the super complicated hardcore stuff. To some extend I can understand this. If you put lots of time in understanding a complex system, you don´t want to switch to another system and learn everything from scratch again

It's funny to me because this bit Owlcat in the behind when the game came out. Their difficulty settings did not map faithfully to pnp - their encounters were considerably more difficult than the pnp versions, and they liberally gave "artificial" stat boosts to even very minor enemies. The Pathfinder hardcore was outraged - not because it was too difficult, but because it was inaccurate. Mods that reversed those stat boosts were some of the first that came out, if I remember correctly.

I think uuuhhii and Madscientist are making the same point - that Pathfinder is full of trap choices and that there are build optimizations that are obvious to people who know the system well but that are not intuitive or even visible to people who don't - uuuhhii's example that one level of Monk or Paladin are the optimal amounts when multiclassing is a very good one. I think this really illustrates the difference between a good system and a familiar system, especially when it comes to video games. It's easier to commit to playing a flawed system when you know you'll be done with the flaws after 80 hours of gameplay. But if I think I'm going to have to spend five or ten hours learning a system before I can start my 80 hours of gameplay, I might be more inclined to choose the system I'm familiar with, along with its flaws, in order to get into the gameplay I want sooner.

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On 7/8/2020 at 8:33 AM, Madscientist said:

What does this mean for PoE2? I would say the success of PK proves that PoE2 did not fail because the system was to complicated, too unintuitive or too unbalanced.

Sorry, I don't think this logic holds. I'm one of those who believes PoE2 struggled with sales because too many gamers found the rules too complicated and unintuitive. Yes, both P:Km and PoE have complicated and often unintuitive rules. But there is a major difference between them. P:Km is based on D&D 3.5e, and as such has a built-in base of hardcore fans who are familiar with and like that system, complicated and unintuitive as it may be. But PoE rules were something new and unfamiliar, and not that many people were willing to invest time and effort into gaining a working understanding of them. Therefore, my theory is that complicated and unintuitive rules/mechanics does deter many of today's gamers from wanting to play an RPG, but that this is mitigated by people being somewhat familiar with those rules. So, three, not two, categories of RPGs (in this context): games with rules that are uncomplicated and intuitive (ex. D:OS2 - strong sales); games with rules that are complicated and unintuitive, but also familiar (ex. P:Km - moderate sales); and, games with rules that are complicated and unintuitive, and also unfamiliar (ex. PoE2 - weak sales).

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Then PoE would also fall under the same category as Deadfire. Its rules are less systemic and thus even more convoluted. Yet it sold quite well. 

 

Deadfire Community Patch: Nexus Mods

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2 hours ago, Boeroer said:

Then PoE would also fall under the same category as Deadfire. Its rules are less systemic and thus even more convoluted. Yet it sold quite well.

I agree. Glad you raised that. And for the record, there was similarly (though in the opposite direction) a difference in the sales of D:OS1 and D:OS2. This point is important.

So, here's what my theory would say. Both PoE1 and D:OS1 had new, unfamiliar rules/mechanics. Neither one of them was D&D/D20, the most widely familiar old-school RPG ruleset out there. As such, people cautiously tested the waters with both games: 'Hey, these games don't have mechanics I'm familiar with, but they both say they are of the same family as the old IE games, which I liked, so let me give them a try,' Note that both PoE1 and D:OS1 had roughly similar, good sales numbers - about 1 million give or take. Then, once they experienced both those games, people reacted rather differently to them. With D:OS1 the reaction was: 'This is different from what is familiar to me, but I can easily and intuitively understand how everything works.' So most people who bought and played the first game happily embraced the second game, and in the process also encouraged newcomers to pick up the game. By contrast, the reaction for PoE1 was: 'This is different from what is familiar to me, and I cannot easily and intuitively understand how everything works, and as a result the game mechanics are extremely frustrating to me.' So many people who bought and played the first game found it not to their liking and opted not to embrace the second game. It was not that they were angry with the first game or hated it or anything like that, and therefore did not have any particular motivation to dump on the game in a review of it. But they just shrugged and said 'no thanks' to a second helping of the game. And the irony of it all is at least some of those people who played the first game but not the second game would probably have liked the second one given, as you correctly note, the many improvements made to the second game. More's the pity.

So anyway, this then is the totality of my theory. It is a theory. I don't have any data to back it up. But I feel confident it is solid.

Edited by kanisatha
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I have played many RPGs and I would say that there are only 2 unintuitive rules:

- In PoE1 most things that said "action speed" only influence recovery time. Plus the fact that the speed formula is not explained in both games.

- Double inversion in PoE2. This gave many players and even some devs a headache.

Otherwise the game was very easy to understand, just by reading the tooltips. I had no problems at all to finish PoE1+2 on normal, except the bugs at release which have been fixed later.

I am not nearly as good as boeroer or thelee and I have problems to understand many details in DnD 3E/pathfinder, but I play computer RPGs since ca. 25 years, so I cannot say what new players consider complicated or unintuitive regarding those games. The fact that DnD or pathfinder game are still developed makes me hope that people did not become more dumb in the last 20 years.

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How would people know Deadfire has unintuitive mechanics when they didn't buy the game, meaning they didn't play the game, meaning they never experienced the mechanics in the first place?

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1 hour ago, Madscientist said:

I have played many RPGs and I would say that there are only 2 unintuitive rules:

- In PoE1 most things that said "action speed" only influence recovery time. Plus the fact that the speed formula is not explained in both games.

- Double inversion in PoE2. This gave many players and even some devs a headache.

Otherwise the game was very easy to understand, just by reading the tooltips. I had no problems at all to finish PoE1+2 on normal, except the bugs at release which have been fixed later.

I am not nearly as good as boeroer or thelee and I have problems to understand many details in DnD 3E/pathfinder, but I play computer RPGs since ca. 25 years, so I cannot say what new players consider complicated or unintuitive regarding those games. The fact that DnD or pathfinder game are still developed makes me hope that people did not become more dumb in the last 20 years.

I wouldn't say it's about becoming more dumb per se (though it could be that too I suppose). I think it is more that people today lack patience and the ability to commit to something or the willingness to make the effort to try to understand something that is not readily apparent to them. And they also crave instant gratification.

As for PoE being intuitive and understandable to you, yes absolutely. It was that way for me too, and I dare say to most people active in this forum. But I don't at all, not even in the slightest, see the people in this forum as being representative of the overall RPG gamer population.

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2 minutes ago, house2fly said:

How would people know Deadfire has unintuitive mechanics when they didn't buy the game, meaning they didn't play the game, meaning they never experienced the mechanics in the first place?

Because, as I have explained, they experienced it in the first game. If game 1 was a certain way, it is reasonable to assume game 2 will be that way too.

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8 hours ago, kanisatha said:

Because, as I have explained, they experienced it in the first game. If game 1 was a certain way, it is reasonable to assume game 2 will be that way too.

If your theory is correct, and it could well be, then the successor of P:K may turn out to be a failure in terms of sales, because some of P:K was designed in an incredibly mean way. I mean, the encounters were just cruel, the game cheated against the player and so on. I suppose there must be people who were very disappointed with that. I was disappointed, too, but not enough to quit.

Just speculating here. And yes, I agree with you in the sense that whatever caused the failure of Deadfire had a lot to do with PoE, not Deadfire itself.

Edited by xzar_monty
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The devs of P:K said that WotR will have a tutorial and a new UI. There are tons of suggestions for improvement in the forums. This stuff was not implemented in the alpha, but the devs are definitely aware of the problem.

Well, the second game uses the same rules as P:K and we will get more classes, more races, more feats and mystic paths, so players will get the power of angels, dragons demons or lichs on top of their class powers when they fight demon lords. Even if the rules will be explained much better, the rules themselves will remain complicated as hell.

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3 hours ago, xzar_monty said:

If your theory is correct, and it could well be, then the successor of P:K may turn out to be a failure in terms of sales, because some of P:K was designed in an incredibly mean way. I mean, the encounters were just cruel, the game cheated against the player and so on. I suppose there must be people who were very disappointed with that. I was disappointed, too, but not enough to quit.

Just speculating here. And yes, I agree with you in the sense that whatever caused the failure of Deadfire had a lot to do with PoE, not Deadfire itself.

This is the reason why we shouldn't compare POE1/2 with Kingmaker until Kingmaker gets its sequel, IMO.

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5 hours ago, xzar_monty said:

Just speculating here. And yes, I agree with you in the sense that whatever caused the failure of Deadfire had a lot to do with PoE, not Deadfire itself.

I don't think so. It's possible but not very likely imo. If PoE disappointed so many players in whatever way (that it explains the drastic drop in sales from over 1 million to 200K at release) there would have been some indication. But there was no substantial one. Complaints about bugs etc. are common and in case of PoE not extraordinary. I read nearly nothing about complicated or weird mechanics. The only thing that sometimes came up was about the non-traditional functions of attributes (MIG for spell dmg and INT for Carnage radius and so on). 

Besides that Obsidian addressed all points of criticism which came up more frequently (visually messy combat, loading times and so on) in Deadfire. They even did a survey and tried to learn from it. And they communicated that during the fig campaign, so players of PoE who had some pet peeves could have known that those got fixed (but maybe some already left and never looked back).

One thing that was getting some criticism when Deadfire was announced was the party reduction to 5 members. Not really related to mechanics but something that could have repelled some players (not a ton but still). Sidekicks also got some flame. But was that enough?

Maybe it's just a hodgepodge of several smaller reasons that lead to the poor sales numbers at release - and there isn't THE major reason. Would explain why even Obsidian is absolutely clueless. 

Edited by Boeroer

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2 hours ago, Boeroer said:

I don't think so. It's possible but not very likely imo. If PoE disappointed so many players in whatever way (that it explains the drastic drop in sales from over 1 million to 200K at release) there would have been some indication. But there was no substantial one.

I was suggesting something slightly more subtle than this -- and I'll be happy to admit that I didn't make my point clearly enough. PoE did not disappoint as such, in this you are probably quite correct. But it did not charm, either. An awful lot of players came to the game through the power of nostalgia, and while it fed that old flame for a while, it didn't make it burn brightly enough. Or, conversely, it fulfilled the nostalgia need so thoroughly that no more was needed.

When I look back on my experience of PoE, it's actually a little bit strange. It goes like this:

1) The beginning is absolutely superb (actually, I still hold that the beginning of PoE is the best thing that exists in PoE or Deadfire, hands down).

2) By the time I get to the battle with Raedric, I'm already wondering about certain things. Like, he's got an archmage protecting him, among others. An archmage? I'm on level 4 or 5. And I can beat that archmage easily enough. So what does "archmage" mean in this game? Apparently nothing. There's a strange diluting of terminology going on, and I don't like it.

3) The story progresses nicely enough, but once I get to Twin Elms, I almost don't care anymore. I've reached level cap (always very bad, that), the "gods aren't real" discussion is very muddy indeed and I don't have the energy to explore another city in this game (to this day, I know almost nothing about what goes on in Twin Elms -- I just can't care).

4) The end is not exactly an anticlimax, but it's not great, either. Also, the ending slides are very dark indeed. Like, it seems that very little good went on in the game world after my adventures.

 

So, I might have well been one of those customers who didn't come back for Deadfire, because PoE just didn't caputre my imagination strongly enough. But I did, because this is almost the only genre of games that I play these days.

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2 hours ago, xzar_monty said:

So, I might have well been one of those customers who didn't come back for Deadfire, because PoE just didn't caputre my imagination strongly enough. But I did, because this is almost the only genre of games that I play these days.

I mean, the x-factor in this discussion that people need to keep in mind is that Tyranny sold better than Deadfire, despite being a completely original IP with limited commonalities, mechanically, with either D&D or PoE.

"Mild disappointment" with various aspects of PoE doesn't seem to explain how Tyranny did way better than Deadfire. It would have to be people actively avoiding the poe name at that point.

 

I'm still partial to the "nostalgia well drying up, very hard to bridge nostalgia with a new audience" angle. It would explain successively declining sales. P:K seems to benefit from a much-better-known IP. Other possible factors - Deadfire setting/pirate theme, P:K leaned even harder into nostalgia (not even bothering to try to update for modern audiences, not that they have as much flexibility to do so), and terrible marketing. (I still see youtube comments on various videos about people who didn't even know Deadfire existed and loved PoE1).

Maybe a P:K approach of just leaning harder into the nostalgia may have worked, but I think it would've put a finite cap on sales especially with an original IP; plus I think with an original IP trying to really ape an old system/world Deadfire would've been rather mediocre. (But then again, I love a game that barely broke even, so what does my opinion matter?)

 

edit - though I've mentioned before that I think that PoE1 had a much more frenetic yet obtuse system and a slower crawl in terms of story and exploration. I've tried to advise people interested in the series to skip PoE1 altogether and just leap into Deadfire because I really think it is a much punchier, overall better designed system and narrative. I've definitely had at least one friend start on PoE1 regardless of that and then get meh-ed out of it.

Edited by thelee
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10 hours ago, xzar_monty said:

If your theory is correct, and it could well be, then the successor of P:K may turn out to be a failure in terms of sales

Yes I worry about this too. I can see many gamers having bought and played P:Km, had their frustrations with it, and as a result won't give P:WotR a chance. The Owlcat devs have gone to great lengths to listen to feedback and change their approach to many aspects of the game going into the second game, and so I hope people will keep an open mind.

5 hours ago, Boeroer said:

If PoE disappointed so many players in whatever way (that it explains the drastic drop in sales from over 1 million to 200K at release) there would have been some indication. But there was no substantial one. Complaints about bugs etc. are common and in case of PoE not extraordinary. I read nearly nothing about complicated or weird mechanics. The only thing that sometimes came up was about the non-traditional functions of attributes (MIG for spell dmg and INT for Carnage radius and so on).

Well, the way I look at this is through a person's ego. Most people will consider it perfectly appropriate to write reviews complaining about bugs or other game-breaking systemic issues. But to put in writing a complaint that a game's mechanics and rules were too complicated and unintuitive for you to be able to understand and figure out what's going on? I feel most people will not say that out loud.

 

5 hours ago, Boeroer said:

Maybe it's just a hodgepodge of several smaller reasons that lead to the poor sales numbers at release - and there isn't THE major reason. Would explain why even Obsidian is absolutely clueless.

Absolutely. I never buy the notion that a single variable can explain everything with respect to an issue involving human behavior. Models of human behavior are automatically multivariate for me. My theory is just meant to pull out one aspect that I personally feel was significant ... but by no means the ONLY thing.

 

3 hours ago, xzar_monty said:

PoE did not disappoint as such, in this you are probably quite correct. But it did not charm, either. An awful lot of players came to the game through the power of nostalgia, and while it fed that old flame for a while, it didn't make it burn brightly enough.

^This. There are shades of grey in how people react to things. A person doesn't have to passionately hate something to feel a need to walk away from it. It can be a more subdued reaction along the lines of: 'Hey, it's not a terrible game. But it's not an awesome game either. It's just so-so. And given that in today's gaming world I have a TON of games available to play, I don't want to waste my time on a so-so game.'

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1 hour ago, thelee said:

I mean, the x-factor in this discussion that people need to keep in mind is that Tyranny sold better than Deadfire, despite being a completely original IP with limited commonalities, mechanically, with either D&D or PoE.

Fair point. Could Tyranny still have ridden that wave of nostalgia that was gone by the time Deadfire came out? Well, there's no way of knowing.

Because of the corona, I decided to give Tyranny a chance, after all, and I must say it's not my kind of game. I really dislike Obsidian's obsession with factions (why do they do that?!), and the overly dark tone of the game does not really appeal to me. Oh well.

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50 minutes ago, kanisatha said:

Yes I worry about this too. I can see many gamers having bought and played P:Km, had their frustrations with it, and as a result won't give P:WotR a chance. The Owlcat devs have gone to great lengths to listen to feedback and change their approach to many aspects of the game going into the second game, and so I hope people will keep an open mind.

As much as I'd like P:WotR to be a great game and a huge success, there were so many things wrong with the design in P:K that I wouldn't be overly surprised if the game lost a lot of customers. I was particularly annoyed by the way the developers simply cheated with some of the encounters, and the way they apparently gave serious stat boosts to so many monsters. I mean, you just don't do that.

There was also a shocking lack of logic with some of the area designs. There's that village by the lake whose map is full of fairly difficult monsters, even some kind of fairies if my memory serves me correctly. And it just doesn't make sense. I mean, how can you have ordinary non-adventuring people living in an ordinary village with these deadly creatures right next to them? I was frankly astonished that the developres apparently didn't think this was a problem at all.

But, I did enjoy P:K well enough to finish it.

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1 hour ago, kanisatha said:

Well, the way I look at this is through a person's ego. Most people will consider it perfectly appropriate to write reviews complaining about bugs or other game-breaking systemic issues. But to put in writing a complaint that a game's mechanics and rules were too complicated and unintuitive for you to be able to understand and figure out what's going on? I feel most people will not say that out loud.

Fair point.

Deadfire Community Patch: Nexus Mods

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