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Sawyerism Distilled - an interview with Josh Sawyer at Iron Tower Studio


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Good interview! I like most of what I'm hearing, except the part of it being combat heavy. I like my combat in moderation. (Baldurs Gate II was about right, if they dropped the random encounters to an all time low)

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The healing's just what i've been looking for in an rpg, life and death being beyond even magic sounds good, and a weapons blow being a thing to fear is what should have been done long ago. Hit point bloat is a horrible thing. For the play style I hope to utilise, that of scouting, sneaking and trying to only face the enemy on my own terms, this is encouraging news.

 

Hit point bloat WILL happen. Do you think they'll do a hardcore simulation withn no healing magic AND you die from 2-3 sword cuts?

 

Yes, without the shield of Stamina, i'm hoping that is exactly what will happen when 2-3 sword cuts interact with your raw health. Thus that assassin with a blade at your throat is a threat, rather than a minor nick hardly worth bothering over. Attacks that punch straight through stamina are fearsome etcetera.

 

I'll admit that i'm a touch masochistic in crpg's however.

Edited by Nonek

Quite an experience to live in misery isn't it? That's what it is to be married with children.

I've seen things you people can't even imagine. Pearly Kings glittering on the Elephant and Castle, Morris Men dancing 'til the last light of midsummer. I watched Druid fires burning in the ruins of Stonehenge, and Yorkshiremen gurning for prizes. All these things will be lost in time, like alopecia on a skinhead. Time for tiffin.

 

Tea for the teapot!

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In IE games you were in same situation if you run out of healing spells and potions. Of course in the end game you could buy so much healing potions that there was no such risk or you rest so much that you never run out of healing spells, but in start you didn't have any other choice than go rest or risk dying from one hit (what was risk for some characters even in full health).

 

Im in favor of resting, just not having to hump back to some "safe spot" to rest. Thats unfun for the sake of replacing a mechanic that works fine. In prior IE games you could rest (almost) anywhere you wanted.

 

I am fan of free resting also and I have impression that resting freedom in PE would be similar as in IE games and safe resting spots are only areas where there is no possibilty for random encounters.

 

Right, a similar rest system may be adopted since that was a universal party mechanic, but it may also be very different. This whole conversation is a perfect example of what Josh was saying. How some player whines about proposed mechanic A while assuming B even though the details of B have not been discussed (yet), and undoubtedly even if B is explained, someone will continue to whine about A. There could even be a C in there. If the magic cooldown is mechanic A, then B is time and C is tier application and D is the grimoire.

 

So why assume anything about rest mechanics and then whine only about the health/stamina mechanic? Express concerns about the rest mechanic in relation to that. WIP and big picture--If you have awesome ideas to finesse the proposals, then say so. :p

 

For rest mechanics tied to the health/stamina mechanic, I could see rest-anywhere-with-variable-risk and a once-a-day ability to drop a camp, or something.

 

As for hit point bloat... I'm pretty sure there was no mention of dying in 2-3 sword hits.

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Yes, without the shield of Stamina, i'm hoping that is exactly what will happen when 2-3 sword cuts interact with your raw health. Thus that assassin with a blade at your throat is a threat, rather than a minor nick hardly worth bothering over. Attacks that punch straight through stamina are fearsome etcetera.

 

I'll admit that i'm a touch masochistic in crpg's however.

 

And how long do you think it will take for your fighter's stamina to hit zero (not mentioning the fighter's ability to bounce back from damage)? Face it, there's no way around the fact that characters can take a dozen hits before getting there. Most people didn't sign up for a masochistic combat simulation (and yes I'm also one of those who would have welcomed that)

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So it's better that player characters need less healing, as they can take more punishment.

 

How can they take more punishment? Stamina and health are tied together in a fixed ratio (4:1) and health only goes down. You can be at full stamina and still die to a returning frost dart.

That situation did strike me as a little odd: having low health but full stamina. In sports, a well rested but injured player isn't going to be playing at their full capability. That low health should be having some impact.

 

But then again it's not really any worse than when the IE games only had hit points. To make it a more realistic simulation, they would still need to add injuries, as in Drakensang or DA.

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In IE games you were in same situation if you run out of healing spells and potions. Of course in the end game you could buy so much healing potions that there was no such risk or you rest so much that you never run out of healing spells, but in start you didn't have any other choice than go rest or risk dying from one hit (what was risk for some characters even in full health).

 

Im in favor of resting, just not having to hump back to some "safe spot" to rest. Thats unfun for the sake of replacing a mechanic that works fine. In prior IE games you could rest (almost) anywhere you wanted.

 

I am fan of free resting also and I have impression that resting freedom in PE would be similar as in IE games and safe resting spots are only areas where there is no possibilty for random encounters.

 

That would make no sense. Why make a convoluted dual health/stamina system if you can just rest anywhere? The game obviously won't let you rest anywhere.

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And how long do you think it will take for your fighter's stamina to hit zero (not mentioning the fighter's ability to bounce back from damage)? Face it, there's no way around the fact that characters can take a dozen hits before getting there. Most people didn't sign up for a masochistic combat simulation (and yes I'm also one of those who would have welcomed that)

 

With full stamina yes I agree that fighters will be able to take a dozen hits, or whatever number seems appropriate. However i'm hoping as stated earlier to circumvent most combats, not overuse rest mechanics, and only join combat when it's absolutely necessary. If that's a viable tactic.

 

For me the limited health with a stamina cushion will make the protagonist and company a touch more vulnerable, i've had my fill of playing invulnerable supermen. I'd rather win through superior tactics, strategy and cunning. It's only a personal desire however, I don't expect it to be foisted on others.

Quite an experience to live in misery isn't it? That's what it is to be married with children.

I've seen things you people can't even imagine. Pearly Kings glittering on the Elephant and Castle, Morris Men dancing 'til the last light of midsummer. I watched Druid fires burning in the ruins of Stonehenge, and Yorkshiremen gurning for prizes. All these things will be lost in time, like alopecia on a skinhead. Time for tiffin.

 

Tea for the teapot!

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Totally viable except: "Because combat will usually be more dominant than any single other means of conflict resolution..." seems to indicate non-combat resolutions will be occasional, not predominant. I think thats a given by this point but I suppose players could choose that very narrow approach if they like.

 

I believe it means you can solve most conflicts by combat and some other noncombat skills, but it depends on the actual challenge which noncombat skills are applicable. This way, it's possible that individual noncombat skills are not always available, but some kind of other solution is always possible.

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In IE games you were in same situation if you run out of healing spells and potions. Of course in the end game you could buy so much healing potions that there was no such risk or you rest so much that you never run out of healing spells, but in start you didn't have any other choice than go rest or risk dying from one hit (what was risk for some characters even in full health).

 

Im in favor of resting, just not having to hump back to some "safe spot" to rest. Thats unfun for the sake of replacing a mechanic that works fine. In prior IE games you could rest (almost) anywhere you wanted.

 

I am fan of free resting also and I have impression that resting freedom in PE would be similar as in IE games and safe resting spots are only areas where there is no possibilty for random encounters.

 

That would make no sense. Why make a convoluted dual health/stamina system if you can just rest anywhere? The game obviously won't let you rest anywhere.

 

It would work more or less like the IE games but mitigate the need to rest as often as you did in those games. That's what I'm getting from the health/stamina systems and the proposed magic system Sawyer has outlined. I don't think he's really detailed how rest would work in the title though.

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It would work more or less like the IE games but mitigate the need to rest as often as you did in those games. That's what I'm getting from the health/stamina systems and the proposed magic system Sawyer has outlined. I don't think he's really detailed how rest would work in the title though.

 

But it's not like resting was hard work. Josh is generally against "degenerate" player behavior, such as frequent reloading, frequent backtracking and frequent resting. I'm fairly certain he will prevent resting at will if he thinks he can get away with it. And that's what this system is for - to make that restriction viable.

 

It'd be great if Josh could comment on this, though.

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I'm liking the sound of the Stamina/Health dual bar system more and more. I'm not sure whether the game will have any time sensitive quests or time triggered events, but this mechanic would seem to lend itself to that perfectly. Do you rest and lose precious time that may spell the difference between reaching a place in time or not, or do you press on with wounded party members making them more susceptible to getting maimed or (in Expert Mode) killed?

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I'd like to marginalize the speech skills into the dust bin, personally.

 

Boo! Hiss! Boo, I say.

Me thinks you failed your Intimidate skill check. Or was that Diplomacy? :)

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But it's not like resting was hard work. Josh is generally against "degenerate" player behavior, such as frequent reloading, frequent backtracking and frequent resting. I'm fairly certain he will prevent resting at will if he thinks he can get away with it. And that's what this system is for - to make that restriction viable.

 

It'd be great if Josh could comment on this, though.

 

Surely if resting at will is impossible then players will naturally gravitate to backtracking to "rest spots" and this will essentially be degenerate behaviour you were trying to avoid?

 

If you want players to risk combat with low health / high stamina characters then you have to give them some way to reduce the risk, otherwise all you are doing is forcing them to make a choice, backtrack or risk death. They won't see this as a valid form of enforcing a no rest spam policy, they will just see it as being forced to backtrack.

 

There really has to be some valid way to regain health without backtracking, otherwise the natural direction for the majority of players to gravitate to is backtracking to the closest rest spot. If it isn't magical healing, it should be rest at will or some kind of triage skill that buffs health regain over time so you aren't just always stuck at 1hp until 30 minutes later when you come out the other end of the dungeon or are forced to backtrack to rest.

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Surely if resting at will is impossible then players will naturally gravitate to backtracking to "rest spots" and this will essentially be degenerate behaviour you were trying to avoid?

 

If you want players to risk combat with low health / high stamina characters then you have to give them some way to reduce the risk, otherwise all you are doing is forcing them to make a choice, backtrack or risk death. They won't see this as a valid form of enforcing a no rest spam policy, they will just see it as being forced to backtrack.

 

There really has to be some valid way to regain health without backtracking, otherwise the natural direction for the majority of players to gravitate to is backtracking to the closest rest spot. If it isn't magical healing, it should be rest at will or some kind of triage skill that buffs health regain over time so you aren't just always stuck at 1hp until 30 minutes later when you come out the other end of the dungeon or are forced to backtrack to rest.

 

"you cannot rest at this time"

 

No amount of backtracking could/should/would change that.

 

Just one way to handle it (and not one I'd like to see, mind you)

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Surely if resting at will is impossible then players will naturally gravitate to backtracking to "rest spots" and this will essentially be degenerate behaviour you were trying to avoid?

 

Yes, but having your stamina bar as the main buffer for damage means the chances of that ever happening may be quite small.

 

It all depends on how the numbers work out in the end. We'll just have to wait and see.

Edited by Infinitron
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In IE games you were in same situation if you run out of healing spells and potions. Of course in the end game you could buy so much healing potions that there was no such risk or you rest so much that you never run out of healing spells, but in start you didn't have any other choice than go rest or risk dying from one hit (what was risk for some characters even in full health).

 

Im in favor of resting, just not having to hump back to some "safe spot" to rest. Thats unfun for the sake of replacing a mechanic that works fine. In prior IE games you could rest (almost) anywhere you wanted.

 

I am fan of free resting also and I have impression that resting freedom in PE would be similar as in IE games and safe resting spots are only areas where there is no possibilty for random encounters.

 

That would make no sense. Why make a convoluted dual health/stamina system if you can just rest anywhere? The game obviously won't let you rest anywhere.

 

Why make game with rest restricted spells, if you can sleep anywhere? Location of resting should be resticted only if there is no other negative effects in resting, like possibility to launch a random encounter, time restricted quest etc.. Of course resting restriction don't mater if resting don't give major bonuses (like getting spells and abilities back to use, heal to full, etc.)

 

So there is just one factor which we should watch to decide how resticted resting should be. At the end restrictions should be applied that game's balance gives fun but still challenching gameplay. Things like rest spamming, should be not removed via rest spamming, but removing mechanics or bonuses that encourage player to use such "cheats". In my opinion it don't make game better if mechanics and bonuses encourage to rest spam, but to rest player must make runs to rest places, this kind approach don't remove problem but causes players bore more.

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think early firearms are interesting and I've enjoyed reading about their use in late Medieval and early modern Europe. From a gameplay perspective, they pack more of a punch than bows and crossbows, but they have worse accuracy and take much longer to reload. They're also particularly good at penetrating wizards' arcane veils, which are commonly used for defense. In our setting, I believe the presence of firearms helps shift the feeling of the world away from the equivalent of Earth's High Middle Ages and into the Late Middle Ages and early modern period. Europe's early modern period was a time of domestic social unrest and extensive exploration by imperial powers. I think those topics aren't explored a lot in fantasy RPGs (Maztica [RIP] being a notable exception) and the presence of firearms helps give the feeling of that age.

 

**** yeah. Now, Josh, bring in the 16th century fashion and I will officially propose to you.

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Uh, that's why many of the game's spells will in fact not be rest-restricted. Lower level spells will be on a cooldown.

 

Which is good example how you can reduce of ammount of resting by modifying gameplay system so that benefits from resting are reduced. As you see they didn't go way of restricting resting there, but make it not so worthwhile thing to do. And it is the desgning philosophy that I would like their use in future too.

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Uh, that's why many of the game's spells will in fact not be rest-restricted. Lower level spells will be on a cooldown.

 

Which is good example how you can reduce of ammount of resting by modifying gameplay system so that benefits from resting are reduced. As you see they didn't go way of restricting resting there, but make it not so worthwhile thing to do. And it is the desgning philosophy that I would like their use in future too.

 

I think you misunderstand. The point isn't to reduce the amount of resting. The point is to make the game flexible enough that you can restrict resting without making the game too punishing, because if you don't restrict it, people will abuse it no matter what.

Edited by Infinitron
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Players have to have some other means of regaining lost health other than resting. I would even take a healing spell that inflicts negative stats as a trade off instead of coming to the boss door and being forced to turn back because my party has low health but instead of using the last of my potions and spells to help me push through and worry about restocking on the other side I have to run back and rest then come back again. But if the player can rest anywhere then it can go all NWN 2 in which I can nuke and room then drop on one knee for 5 seconds, nuke a room rest and repeat.

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They are presumably trying the balance hostile areas so that a competent player doesn't need to backtrack before running out of health. I'm not sure what else they can do?

 

If healing spells are added but are rest restricted (as they obviously must be) then how does that avoid the "problem"? If the fights are going badly then eventually you'll run out of spells and then be forced to backtrack or reload in just the same way.

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Players have to have some other means of regaining lost health other than resting. I would even take a healing spell that inflicts negative stats as a trade off instead of coming to the boss door and being forced to turn back because my party has low health but instead of using the last of my potions and spells to help me push through and worry about restocking on the other side I have to run back and rest then come back again. But if the player can rest anywhere then it can go all NWN 2 in which I can nuke and room then drop on one knee for 5 seconds, nuke a room rest and repeat.

I like the Witcher approach of potions have side-effects. You can chug a bunch of potions but there is a price to be paid. It's like the warning disclaimers during drug advertisements: "Some side-effects may include chest pain, nausea, light-headedness, bleeding from the pores, explosive diarrhea, spontaneous combustion, and 7 generation family curse..."

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