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1 hour ago, Sven_ said:

It's a case of Budgeting. There are smaller independent studios that would love for seeling a couple 100k Units. The question may be whether Obsidian would consider such a worthwile Investment. Apparently Josh Sawyer's current project consists of a handful of people at that time. It's likely not gonna be PoE related, but would be interesting if that stays that way.

That would be my apporach as well: make less "bombastic" games (Full VO, ridiculously elaborate VFX, localisation for xyz and whatnot) with a small but dedicated team, concentrate on the worldbuilding, the story, the companions (less the relations and reaction systems and all that difficult stuff but rather their character development) and nice abilities. Keep the engine and the underlying mechanics (they are nice, maybe cut down the exceptions), graphics are absolutely fine as they are. I'd even like simpler ones (not that D:OS comicy-style though).

Indeed Josh is currently working on a small project with 4-5 team members. It's some non-violent game so I presume it's not a classic CRPG but maybe something more along the lines of Disco Elysium or such, but who knows. Josh said that it's a good time for smaller projects now because Microsoft wants to have a broad and diverse portfolio for the Game Pass. They found out that lots of people try out much more games outside their "niche" when they can try them for free (not really, but basically). So Microsoft encourages smaller projects as well. This may be a chance for a PoE3 with a smaller team.  At least I hope so. This niche may be small, but the players in it are also quite loyal and invested once they like something. They need to do better ports for consoles though. I won't ever play such games on any console, but the bigger sales market makes it easier to justify producing such games in the future. 

Josh also said he'd love to make a Pillars of Eternity Tactics game. Feargus wants to make Skyrim on Eora. So I'd would be very surprised if we won't see more of that IP in the future.

Heck, I'd even buy Slay the Spire on Eora. Card Deck builders are rel. easy to make, can be released on all platforms and usually sell very well.       

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20 minutes ago, Boeroer said:

Indeed Josh is currently working on a small project with 4-5 team members. It's some non-violent game so I presume it's not a classic CRPG but maybe something more along the lines of Disco Elysium or such, but who knows.

This could be excellent news. Disco Elysium is a brilliant example of what you can accomplish when the writing is good. The game doesn't need violence, it doesn't need elaborate character creation, it doesn't need full voicing, it doesn't need overly stunning graphics and effects. A little of all of that is fine, and Disco Elysium provides it all, along with a very good story that is nicely written.

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It's a nice game and I'm happy that it did well. But I have to say it's not a game that I personally enjoy very much. Sometimes I back or buy games although I know I'll most likely never play them (or only look into them for a few hours). Just because I like the approach or the idea.

Edited by Boeroer

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@Boeroer: Did you enjoy Tyranny? I'm thinking of giving it another chance, in these circumstances. I understand it was full of unnecessary filler combat, but I wonder if this has subsequently been fixed or something. I mean, there used to be too much fighting in PoE, but I think that was toned down at some point. Could be wrong, though.

The amount of necessary fighting in Deadfire was just about right, although there could have been a bit less of it.

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Man last time I played Tyranny I wanted to play without Barik and made Verse my tank. Now that was a mistake because of the way the game is built around experience gain and enemy scaling. I ended up having to do a mandatory impossible fight vs Eb I think with only 3 party members and had to quit playing. It's better to have a full party as early as possible to limit exp gain so enemies are lower level and you're with 4 peeps. What a dumb mechanic.

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6 minutes ago, xzar_monty said:

@Boeroer: Did you enjoy Tyranny? I'm thinking of giving it another chance, in these circumstances. I understand it was full of unnecessary filler combat, but I wonder if this has subsequently been fixed or something. I mean, there used to be too much fighting in PoE, but I think that was toned down at some point. Could be wrong, though.

The amount of necessary fighting in Deadfire was just about right, although there could have been a bit less of it.

It was okay. I played it twice but then had no motivation to play it further.

I liked the spell system - I mean ability to "craft" spells from indivicual effects. It was a bit rudimetary but I liked it nonetheless. I also liked some of the characters and that the game is (kind-of) classless. The story felt superrushed at the end. 

I really (really really) don't like cooldown systems since they encourage you to pick as many actives as possible and spam them mindlessly to avoid ability-downtime. That spoils the whole game for me.  Also there were some very powerful builds while the rest was okay. So the balance of abilities/spells and ability trees was pretty bad. That also reduces the replayability for me. 

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2 hours ago, Boeroer said:

That would be my apporach as well: make less "bombastic" games (Full VO, ridiculously elaborate VFX, localisation for xyz and whatnot) with a small but dedicated team, concentrate on the worldbuilding, the story, the companions (less the relations and reaction systems and all that difficult stuff but rather their character development) and nice abilities. Keep the engine and the underlying mechanics (they are nice, maybe cut down the exceptions), graphics are absolutely fine as they are. I'd even like simpler ones (not that D:OS comicy-style though).

One thing that kept being argued prior to the Kickstarter in 2012 was that this specific Infinity-Engine style of game would have still have the player base, but that publishers didn't believe in it. And I'd argue most of the releases have proven that. Outside of Baldur's Gate, neither of those game shipped particularly large numbers. The core audience that staid for all the games was big enough so that a small/erish project such as Icewind Dale moved a decent units, but that's it. They've never sold in the million units range.

They were still profitable, or else Interplay/Black Isle had never commited to doing yet another Icewind Dale in 2001 before they shut down. Brian Fargo too argued thathe would have been happy with if inXile's games could ship 200k units (minus backers). https://www.forbes.com/sites/danielnyegriffiths/2013/04/03/brian-fargo-interview-torment-tides-of-numenera-kickstarter/#382497757ccd

While I wouldn't mind if tactical, party based RPGs would eventually move to something slightly different from the IE style games to stay viable: Personally I think at least another game on the current tech would be pretty nice. If you discount the DLCs and add-ons back then, we'd have just as many games build on the Pillars "engine" (Unity tech) as the Infinity Engine (considering that inXile had used Obsidian's tech for Numenera). 

Agree that it's nice that Microsoft seems to support smaller projects just as well. 

 

Edited by Sven_
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38 minutes ago, xzar_monty said:

@Boeroer: That wasn't exactly a ringing endorsement. 😀

Right. I still think it's not a bad game at all. :)

38 minutes ago, xzar_monty said:

Any other titles that you might suggest? I'm basically certain you know the field a lot better than I do.

I am very special in my taste of computer games. It can't be classified. Although I might buy several games during a year I tend to only pick a few and play them for a very long time. Thus, my experience with games is rather deep than broad. I can't recommend any other "classical" CRPG titles atm. Games I played not too long ago and that I like a lot:

  • Faster than Light
  • PoE
  • Deadfire
  • Battle Brothers
  • Slay the Spire
  • Legend of Grimrock
  • Skyrim

As you can see it's pretty mixed.

I'm really looking forward to Death Trash though! I also wanted to play Eitr (for several years now), but those devs dropped the ball so hard I really don't think this game will come out any time soon (with decent quality). Death Trash is done by a single dev from Berlin and he's putting out info via Twitter on a (nearly) daily basis - so that's going to happen soon I think.

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Thanks for that. I'll check those titles. I may not buy any of them, but at least I'll check them.

My experience is fairly similar to yours. I've played very few titles over the years, but some of them I've played a lot. Heck, I probably know a lot more about NetHack than any reasonable person should.

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1 hour ago, Boeroer said:

Right. I still think it's not a bad game at all. :)

I am very special in my taste of computer games. It can't be classified. Although I might buy several games during a year I tend to only pick a few and play them for a very long time. Thus, my experience with games is rather deep than broad. I can't recommend any other "classical" CRPG titles atm. Games I played not too long ago and that I like a lot:

  • Faster than Light
  • PoE
  • Deadfire
  • Battle Brothers
  • Slay the Spire
  • Legend of Grimrock
  • Skyrim

As you can see it's pretty mixed.

I'm really looking forward to Death Trash though! I also wanted to play Eitr (for several years now), but those devs dropped the ball so hard I really don't think this game will come out any time soon (with decent quality). Death Trash is done by a single dev from Berlin and he's putting out info via Twitter on a (nearly) daily basis - so that's going to happen soon I think.

You made a typo and put Skyrim in there.

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You made a typo and put a post in here that reads as if you wanted to tell me which games I should or shouldn't like.

So I guess we are even. ;)

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Guest 4ward

what would have become of Bioware if we didn’t buy IE games, and Obsidian would likely have closed their studio if it weren’t for the kickstarter backers. We have created a lifelong bond with Obsidian, they owe it to us. They better not make us old farts angry, otherwise they might feel our wrath.. i might throw my teeth and walking stick at them. My suspenders can turn into weapons.

I promise that my char will be named Bill Gates if further party rtwp isometric rpgs are produced.

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On 4/27/2020 at 10:35 AM, xzar_monty said:

@kanisatha: See the answer from @Boeroer above (of course you already did). That type of figure appears a lot more trustworthy than what anyone "can tell" from other sources, whatever they may be.

And indeed, the figure I refer to does not contain consoles, that's worth pointing out. But in the PC world, Deadfire surely bombed in a big way. What a shame.

Yes I am well aware of that figure from iterating some Fig data. But not only was that before consoles, it was before TB option was added and actually quite early on. Plus, like some others, I'm not convinced people are properly interpreting that Fig data correctly. So, while I agree that is a valid data point, it is just one data point. I've since seen some stories in the gaming news media including some interpretations of Steam data, and they point to numbers somewhat higher, though still very much disappointing.

But ultimately, none of this really matters. The bottom line is that relative to Obsidian's expectations, the game sold poorly. And that is what will drive Obsidian's internal calculations about whether they will ever make a similar game again.

6 hours ago, xzar_monty said:

It may well be that our niche is quietly ceasing to exist, going out with a whimper. It's not a big loss, but if it does really happen, I do find it sad.

These are my sentiments exactly as well. As for similar games to play, if you played P:Km at an early stage, you may want to give it a try now after all the patching. It is a hugely improved experience. Also, Tower of Time is a good game out there. And soon we will have several more similar games coming out: The Darkeye: Book of Heroes (June 9th), Realms Beyond, Black Geyser, Solasta, and eventually P:WotR.

Furthermore, I've personally made the choice that I will expand my gaming niche by being more open to action RPGs. After many years of rejecting trying Witcher 3, I finally broke down and tried it. It is a magnificent game. So I'm looking forward to the next 'Witcher' game, and also (seriously) the next Dragon Age game. Bethesda's Starfield looks interesting as well.

My point being: no need to lose hope just yet. :)

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No, I played P:K only after it had been around for quite some time, so I didn't experience any of the big early bugs. And I did finish it, too. I think the storytelling and especially the dialogues are where it loses most clearly to Deadfire -- I mean, the writing is so simplistic and bombastic that there are hardly any proper dialogues in the game. Essentially you just have to click all the options you're given and you'll find out whatever there is to find out; proper Deadfire-type dialogue trees don't really exist in P:K.

But I did finish the game, so clearly it had its charm as well. And I am going to buy P:WotR. I'm probably going to pass BG3, though, if it's turn-based only.

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3 hours ago, kanisatha said:

The bottom line is that relative to Obsidian's expectations, the game sold poorly. And that is what will drive Obsidian's internal calculations about whether they will ever make a similar game again.

If you count Tyranny into that, it's unfortunately been two very similar games "underperforming" as to their expectations (realistic or not) pretty much back-to-back. One game can always underperform for a variety of reasons: a tough release window, its main hook not being attractive to a larger audience, bad word of mouth, little exposure to the public, bugs, etc. But with two games like that, the format may be questioned. Though, as argued, apart of BG, no Infinity Engine game was ever a near million unit seller. BG was for the IE-style isometric subgenre of CRPGs what Football Manager is for sports management games --nothing comes quite close.

Wondered about this elsewhere, but it would be interesting what eventually was more profitable for Obsidian, or how it all compares. The Outer Worlds, being a more traditionally funded game, or Pillars Of Eternity in general. Raw profits mind, not whatever boost the Kickstarter success did for Obsidian's exposure and reputation as a studio. 

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Given that the Outer Worlds had an semi-exclusive Epic deal I guess it did very well financially. There are no Steam sales for it yet - that's still to come. 

Edited by Boeroer

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20 hours ago, Boeroer said:

The number was deduced by people who took the returns, researched the fig terms and finally said it's not exact but gives a fair approximation. As I said that was some time ago. I didn't dive into the details. 

It was confirmed by several Obsidian devs, most notably Josh Sawyer, that Deadfire sold way worse than PoE. And PoE sold somewhere around 1 million copies at that time iirc. That doesn't sound like 700k at all. 

It was also said that Deadfire wasn't a financial desaster but very disappointing. If you assume a certain budget (let's say double the fig campaign's amount) and assume 200K copies then it may have covered the expenses. 

But of course then you have gained nothing for budgeting your next game. 

Tyranny was a similar story. It hurts. Both are not bad games in the slightest. It just seems the niches were too small. Which is unfortunate because it's exactly my niche. 

Yeah, I've seen the posts about this and don't want to get into a silly argument,. I'm just pointing out that Dylan Holmes, the person who  started this conjecture, specifically pointed out that he received a dividend payment of 192 dollars which translates, in his calculation to 110k in sales based on 580k breakeven, even though Steamspy has over 500k registered owners,   Chris avellone re-posted this for his own reasons. The problem is that dividends are almost always  payed only on profits.  That is the structure of almost every investment agreement ever created.  

If you are correct and the game sold  less  than 200k, that would be a disastrous number, not just poor or disappointing sales.   That would be about 15% of the sales of the original game.  That's so bad that it would be hard to believe more than just the marketing director lost their job over this or that Obsidian would be purchased by Microsoft.

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As I said I didn't dive into it. We can never know the figures unless somebody confirms them.

In the end it doesn't really matter how many copies were sold. You could give away 500k copies for free and gain nothing. The game has to make money. And I think there's no doubt that it didn't perform well since that was indeed confirmed several times.

As to the question "why?": even Josh and Obsidian are unsure why - with all the telemetry and tools they have. They can only speculate as we do. 

But maybe the console sales will lift it into realms where another sequel would make sense. Also because of game pass etc. Let's hope so. 

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13 hours ago, Sven_ said:

BG was for the IE-style isometric subgenre of CRPGs what Football Manager is for sports management games --nothing comes quite close.

This is a pretty good comparison, yes. Football Manager has also demonstrated what can happen when you're the undisputed leader in your field: a stunning complacency can creep in and improvements between releases can become so small as to be almost meaningless. What I mean by this is that match commentary, manager interview questions and answers and even some technical glitches (not quite bugs but definite errors) have remained essentially unchanged for something like five years -- nothing has been done about them. This is why I'm almost certainly done with the series, although, as you say, nothing comes close and has come close for quite some time.

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5 hours ago, Boeroer said:

But maybe the console sales will lift it into realms where another sequel would make sense. Also because of game pass etc. Let's hope so. 

Is this realistic? I mean everybody keeps on doing console ports, so they must be some profitable. But did they really lift things to another level for Pillars Of Eternity before? 

As to the exact sales, the 110k estimate came forward roughly half a year past release. Pillars 1 had shipped ~500k in the first 7 months.  We're now two years after the release of Deadfire, so some higher Steamspy estimates may naturally make some sense, in particular after several discounts.

In Josh Sawyer's post mortem from June 2019 he talked about that Things had "worked out pretty well anyway." Suggesting that things in the end hadn't been a total desaster. In the context of that line he may have still meant something else rather than sales though. One thing is for sure, before they haven't analyzed why there was such a drop between PoE1 and 2, they may not move Forward with a possible 3rd game. Either that, or they wait until BG3 hits and becomes like the hottest thing, upon which they take an even closer look at the Larian approach. 
 

 

 

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^  Thanks for posting this.  It's very informative and Josh Sawyer does a great job of laying out his thinking.  It seems like the biggest problem, that manifests in different ways throughout his presentation is  resource management.  More precisely, how do you make changes to a game to improve on the previous version and account for the complexity vs time / cost constraints.  It also seems like upper management made several decisions that impacted resources while not listening to warning from the development team.  That's a recipe for disaster.

I only recently finished POE and started playing Deadfire; about 30 hours in so far.  It feels like a completely different game to POE.  Not necessarily bad, but I can see how people got frustrated when this came out.  Especially considering all of the early post release issues around difficulty, party mechanics, and ship management.

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Posted (edited)
On 4/29/2020 at 6:14 AM, Sven_ said:


 

 

 

This is somewhat infuriating because my main takeaway is something like 1) the things you most like and wish hadn't changed are the things we would change anyway and 2) the things you like least are the things we are committed to keeping. 

In particular:

"We will totally make it easier for new players unused to RtwP to visually process by reducing the amount of stuff going on on screen by lowering your party size.  That means we can reduce enemy numbers.  We will never, ever consider just reducing enemy numbers independent of that because that would make the game slightly easier and heaven forbid that ever happens because RTwP powergamers would hate it."

I'm increasingly of the opinion that maybe RTwP actually isn't for me even though I've spent the last 20 years thinking it was.  The reason I love it is because it lets me have a large party of characters with me all the time.  But apparently most people love it for the pedantic combat and they will sacrifice the party aspect to preserve the pedantic combat. 

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Party size per se has not much to do with RTwP or Turn Based Mode? Only indirectly:

The problem with "modern" RPGs in combination with real time is that every character is supposed to have active abilites that make him interesting to play. Even the most plain fighter build will have some abilites like Knockdown or Vigorous Defense, a Taunt or whatever.
Now the problem is that active abilites require smart decisions to be effective in combat - especially if your enemies run around and act while you are acting. Smart decisions need some thinking and also anticipation. Some thinking can't be done without pause, so there's RTwPause. But the pauses get longer and longer and more frequent the more every character needs to get micromanaged because of his active abilities. Those abilites also have a ton of VFX nowadays, especially the AoE ones.
Also players want more tactical depth and so there are interrupts and different defenses against different attacks and different armor against differet damage types.
Result is a screen with tons of parallel VFX stuff and pausing every second (or even more frequently) because so much is going on that needs processing and planning. It becomes messy and tedious. This was one of the main criticisms with PoE.

Older games like BG2 have a lot of classes that don't have active abilities (or very few) but ,ostly feed off of passives. So having three or four of those doesn't really make a difference in terms of micromanagement. 

So - reducing the party size and/or the number of combatants in general seems like a totally reasonably idea - like it or not. Another approach is better AI setting. Deadfire did that, too. Was well received.

The alternative would be to make characters like in BG2 again: little to no active abilities for martial classes and such. Enemies: same. But I let you take a guess what RPG players would think about that...   

Turn Based Combat doesn't have those problems because you have all the time in the world to plan you next move. And every (active) action, including its VFX takes place on its own. Not superimmersive or realistic but a lot easier to manage. Because that apporach needs a lot more time per enemy usually the encounters are a lot smaller (but maybe enemies tougher) and often there are less encounters because even smearing easy trashmobs will take a significant amount of time and that can get boring.

I don't know where you get the "pedantic combat" though from. It's just devs tyring to make sure that the combat is not overwhelmingly messy. It's not like they sit down an plot something like "Ok, how can me make combat more appealing to pedants and how can we piss off Ontarah the most?"

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i don't disagree completely, but your melee guys have special weapons/items/potions in Bg2; just because you don’t click on an icon like in the pillars games doesn’t mean you’re always just swinging your sword. It’s just that in the easier fights you don’t use your potions/items since they’re limited/have a number of uses. But you can summon say an air elemental from a staff. The system encourages thus change of weapons for non-trash fights and is less repetitive since the player has resource management.

Melee guys have e.g. to make decisions whether they shall use a healing potion (especially if the option „rest until healed“ is turned off) or change target, retreat, change weapon to ranged and such. You’re more actively moving around and e.g. retargetting because you want to help out a disabled character. There’s loads of interesting enemies like vampires, shadows, liches, beholders, dragons and so on, and they have cool abilities. I find them more interesting and fun than what modern games offer.

Combat in modern games actually gets for me interesting when i have used up my abilities during the battle. Newer games encourage to unload them at start and in most cases the player unloads them in very similar order like using a queue indepedent of the enemy. I think that players tend to think that this is more tactical than in the old days but it isn’t; i’m much more countering effects in a game like BG2 than i’m in modern games.

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