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Don't go too epic - save something for the sequels


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The first Baldur's Gate game was unusual by modern standards, in that it was forced to restrict its content to things that a low-level AD&D adventuring party might encounter and plausibly overcome.

 

You did not fight dragons in Baldur's Gate. You did not fight hordes of demons. You did not fight vampires, liches, or mind flayers. All of these "epic"-type encounters were saved for the higher-level sequel.

 

Now, I'm not saying that Pillars of Eternity needs to be quite as "mundane" as Baldur's Gate was, but if Obsidian is planning to turn this game into a series in which characters are imported from game to game, then they need to pace themselves and decide which sorts of experiences are suitable for a low-level campaign and which are best saved for a sequel with a higher level party.

 

And that goes for spells and abilities, too. Remember, a slow character development arc isn't just more satisfying narratively - it's also easier to balance. Things will always go wonky in a game where you have to account for characters who might range in power from Magic Missile to Mass Death.

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Although i remember them saying that it would have a slow progression, we have already seen dragons in the first game and there's an expansion coming after that even before the sequel, so i wonder what their goal really is.

But i can understand why they already put high level monsters in the game, because there's no guarantee that there will be a sequel.

It will entirely depend on the sales once it's released.

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As terrifying and wonderful as dragons and demons are.

 

I always find in fantasy stories the "Normal" creatures to be the most terrifying.

 

A dragon isn't scared of you it has no need to go anywhere near you unless you annoy it.

A demon is born evil it's actions are simply in its nature.

 

Normal creatures however can be motivated by fear, hate, envy and greed. They can pretend their your friend and then sell you out.

 

So by all means give me a low powered interesting villain whose motivations I don't understand till it's too late.

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None of this is really happening. There is a man. With a typewriter. This is all part of his crazy imagination. 

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I don't even think they should do much dragon / demon / god fighting in a higher level sequel - maybe at the very end of the game with an army where the player's party only helps the others overcome a great foe. Really hated BG2, especially TOB, for spamming the player with those extremely powerful creatures.

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Citizen of a country with a racist, hypocritical majority

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Really hated BG2, especially TOB, for spamming the player with those extremely powerful creatures.

 

Ahem, those happen to be a couple of my favourite games of all time... :alienani:

Sure, there were powerful opponents in them, but you can hardly say that your pc and party weren't equally as powerful? I think the monsters and NPCs fit the story there just about perfectly. Wouldn't you agree? :bat:

 

P.S. Samm, of course you're entitled to your opinion, but I love those two games to bits. :)

 

EDIT: Well, I did like MotB and PST more storywise, and BG1 did a darn good job giving us a low-level D&D CRPG setting. Also ToEE had perhaps the best D&D melee tactics of them all, but still, "hated" is such a harsh word.

Edited by IndiraLightfoot
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*** "The words of someone who feels ever more the ent among saplings when playing CRPGs" ***

 

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I respect your opinion too, but yep, we're on opposite sides on this one then ;) Main character + party were absurdly powerful too, that's true, so dragons and liches and tons of high level constructs were the only somewhat challenging opponents - I agree. And I don't like this, that's why I support the first part of the thread's title wholeheartedly  :p

 

Off topic, but I also disliked having to save Imoen-turned-wizard from a random cruel "scientist" as a story motivation, yet still played through that game multiple times (not the addon though, killing spawn after spawn after dragon once was enough). Something must have been good about it after all - in hindsight, I just really wonder what made me play time and again.

 

 

[edit]

You are right, "hate" is too strong a word, and it is inaccurate. Must have read too many forum posts of late.

Edited by samm
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Citizen of a country with a racist, hypocritical majority

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Heh, Imoen was perhaps the NPC I disliked the most too, so we agree on something there. :)

 

I've been doing quite a few replays of old games the last year or so, and some of them feel very dated now. But a few of them still stands tall (even tall as on shoulder on giants) despite graphics belonging to several eras back. Usually, it's gameplay, setting and imuhrsion (like Monte Carlo calls it) that did the trick back then, and they seem to hold up quite well today as well.

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*** "The words of someone who feels ever more the ent among saplings when playing CRPGs" ***

 

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I'd rather they go wild on this one. I do not mind slow progression, but BG1 simply did not have as much exciting stuff going on as BG2. You can import BG1 character into BG2, but there is not much point since plot flags are not carried through. So I just skip BG1 most of the time and go straight to BG2.

 

The problem with making sequels and expansions for games that have choice-and-consequence system is that most of your choices are ignored in the seqeuel. You eiither end up in a same place no matter if you are good or evil like in BG or the sequel takes just "good" ending as canon and contitues from there like NWN2 MotB.

 

I want no restrictions like that. I want my choices to finally matter. If I follow the "evil" path the sequel should respect that and reflect that in more than just a couple lines of dialogue. Heroes and villains can't have the same starting point in the sequel.

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I say they do whatever they have to do in order to make the progression in this game feel complete. If that means they need to exhaust the normal array of high-level sterotypical fantasy creatures then so be it. This is their world so they can always invent stronger enemies beyond what we are used to seeing if they need them for future expansions/sequels. If we fight dragons and litches and so forth at the end of PoE who's to say that's the top tier of enemies at all.

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K is for Kid, a guy or gal just like you. Don't be in such a hurry to grow up, since there's nothin' a kid can't do.

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It's an interesting phrase to call something "epic." Look how they handled breaking up the Hobbit into 3 films, when you could probably read it in a weekend or less. I think you're probably asking them to make sure the stakes are appropriately balanced, but you can do that in a 2 hour game as much as you do for a one hundred hour game. Have ya ever watched the TV show 24? Jack Bower gets more done in one day than I do in a year! As long as they offer us plenty of opportunity's for advancement and balance the pacing with meaningful choices and consequences I think they can make it super mega epic if they wanted to and I'd be fine. One of the things I really hope for is a unique enough storyline, or enough twists that offer several play throughs worth of content regardless of the length or breadth of the game.

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Oh Dae Su fighting off a gang with a claw hammer and his endurance in a hallway is a lot more epic than two level 30 mages riding dragons slinging fireballs at each other.

 

Epic is surviving incredible odds, the level 30 mages would have equal odds.

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Remember: Argue the point, not the person. Remain polite and constructive. Friendly forums have friendly debate. There's no shame in being wrong. If you don't have something to add, don't post for the sake of it. And don't be afraid to post thoughts you are uncertain about, that's what discussion is for.
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I think the sequel should feature a new PC. The expansion(s) should cover high-level gameplay.

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"I am the expert, asshat." - Hurlsnot

"You need to be careful, lest I write another ten page essay on mythology and how it relates to Sailor Moon." - majestic

"I won't say what just in case KaineParker is reading" - Bartimaeus

"Oh no! Is there super secret ending as well? I don’t care." - Wormerine

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On a somewhat related note i'm oft repelled by gameworlds that move on too fast, Dragonlance was a perfect example: It lurched from epic world changing crisis to yet another cataclysmic crisis and I was just left with a feint sense of deja vu, as each new escalation and re-invention changed the world. I'd far prefer the steady, subtle building of a world and a proper introduction over a few games. So that when we return to it, there is a sense of homecoming, of familiarity and yet the little changes will stand out all the more clearly.

 

Fallout 1, 2 and New Vegas did this well, as did the Ultima games. Our actions in those games were important and had very clear consequences, but the backdrop was not so flighty and in permanent upheavel. It felt more organic to me.

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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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I think the sequel should feature a new PC. The expansion(s) should cover high-level gameplay.

 

 

 I really liked being able to play through BG 1&2 with the same PC.

 

 I hope to see several sequels, some featuring the same PC and (because you can only attain so many levels before you can no longer relate to your character) then, some with a new PC connected somehow to the original.

 

 I'm thinking of something like the Dune books, except that they should stop before they run out of ideas.

Edited by Yonjuro
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Got an idea, maybe the dragon could be like the secret final boss of the game? Like Akuma was in SSFT2, that sort of thing, you would have to find it.

I think DA Origins had Flemeth that was maybe stronger than the final boss? I can't remember.

I know skyrim has some kind of dark knight you can fight at level 70 or something.

I think that idea is used mainly in JRPGs, i don't remember seeing it in many western games.

Although it doesn't have to be quite like that, i think a secret boss that's stronger than the main antagonist of the game would be a cool design. And it could kind of make an excuse why such a powerful creature is already in the first game. :dragon:

Perhaps even give you a dragonslayer flag that could be used in a sequel, for some extra conversation if you import the character from the first game.

Edited by Cubiq
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I think the sequel should feature a new PC. The expansion(s) should cover high-level gameplay.

 

I really liked being able to play through BG 1&2 with the same PC.

 

If using the BGT mod, I'm fine with it.

 

However importing from vanilla BG to vanilla BG2 leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Weapon proficiency has changed from a group of weapons to a single weapon, Mastery has been nerfed quite a bit, and the inclusion of kits that were not available in the original makes me feel that I'm not so much as importing a character as creating a new one. I don't see the point in importing a previous character if the mechanics change enough to warrant going through character creation again. IMO, it is better to tie up the PC's story using MotB-like expansions than doing a sequel.

"I am the expert, asshat." - Hurlsnot

"You need to be careful, lest I write another ten page essay on mythology and how it relates to Sailor Moon." - majestic

"I won't say what just in case KaineParker is reading" - Bartimaeus

"Oh no! Is there super secret ending as well? I don’t care." - Wormerine

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My preferable:

1) Eternity World-Building, kind of like the three first Half-Life games defined the Half-Life World (Half-Life, Blue Shift & Opposing Force). Now, the two latter games might be viewed as "expansions" but I see them as a part of the game world and being separate stories by themselves. Unfortunately they are quite short. Moving on!

2) Eternity, the first Eternity game, starts the story with a unique character with a unique storyline that goes across Eternity 1, 2 and maybe even 3. This character would start at level 10 (if not imported) in Eternity 2.

3) In Eternity 2, just like Blue Shift or Opposing Force, you'd get to start a new character with a separate storyline, with a fresh character Level of 1. Let's say the world has only 20 areas in Eternity 1 (conceptual number), in Eternity 2 it could have 20 more areas. Don't do the Baldur's Gate 1 & 2 "mistake", keep Eternity 1 areas for Eternity 2. The world will become much bigger that way.

A method:
- If the Eternity 1 character starts off in the West of the World as a Level 12 character, going East, then maybe an Eternity 2 character could start off in the East part of the World, going West. There's probably hundreds of various forms you could use here, but this is just one idea.

Of course, Eternity 1 areas could be updated in Eternity 2. Maybe Defiance Bay gets an expansion, or the Od Nua dungeon becomes a tourist attraction (if completed). Some areas could be destroyed, and other areas or towns could be built.

This way, Obsidian will go epic, but progressively so. If Eternity 1 has 50 areas, and Obsidian decides to keep the formula that is Eternity 1, then they could simply make Eternity 2 with 50 areas as well, and then combine both worlds of the two games and suddenly have 100 areas. For Eternity 3, they could make 50 more areas, and Eternity 3 would be a gigantic game.

Eternity 4 could have 50 more again etc.etc. now I'm going a bit far ahead but yeah... what I wanted to say is that Baldur's Gate 2 feels very "small" after having played Baldur's Gate 1. The content is fine and all that, but Baldur's Gate 2 just feels "small" in terms of exploration.

Hypothetical question: What if Black Isle had "kept the formula" and joined both worlds by incorporating all areas from Baldur's Gate 1 into Baldur's Gate 2?

Oh! Best example, [words-in-here] = example/concept (to make myself understood better~):

Eternity 1: Start in [Candlekeep]*
Eternity 2: Start in [baldur's Gate]** or in [Amn]*

 

* Original experience. Start in Location X in Eternity 1 and continue in Eternity 2.
** Separate, new story, starting off at Level 1.

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Good advice in the OP, though the pacing of character development isn't something I'm overly worried Obsidian would overdo. I liked it at lot though. Funny how such a post can seem so profound in this crazy awesome button world.

 

Good question too. Are Obsidian planning on making this into a series in which we can import our characters?

Edited by Robsidious
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If they decided to go really epic in PE, I wouldn't mind a less epic more down to earth style story for the sequel.

 

Too much epicness can be a bit much, and it just devolves into spectacle creep if you try and top yourself all the time.

 

Also it's best if you restart with a new PC in sequels, having the same protagonist for every game doesn't work well in RPGs.

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I think making decisions based on a potential franchise in this first game would be a massive mistake. They've already said it's going to try to match the scale and tactics of Baldur's Gate 2 with the storytelling of Planescape: Torment, so I'd be pretty disappointed if it's just some low level adventure like Baldur's Gate (and I loved Baldur's Gate). They should do whatever is necessary to make this the best it can possibly be as its own self-contained adventure. Thinking of the overall franchise when designing titles is why Dragon Age has really failed to live up to its full potential.

 

If people are afraid of them showing all of their tricks in the first game, they can just make the quest in Eternity 2 of a different type. If the first is about a change you undergo and the ramifications of it, then a sequel could have stories about warring factions, being trapped in a strange world, something distinctly extra-planar like PS:T, or any number of things. Knights of the Old Republic is a good example of how having a different type of goal with a different character can make for a good sequel. Both games throw out everything necessary to tell their story as well as they can. 

 

Also, keep in mind that we didn't back a trilogy or anything. We backed a single game and an expansion. Restricting encounter design could just hold this game back.

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They definitely don't need to hold back on their bag of tricks or anything. But, it's still possible to simply consider where your game could go if a sequel/expansion were to be made. As opposed to just making a single game, and, in only worrying about that one single story/gameplay experience, not even leaving it open for continuation in any way. Then, finding out that it was really successful, and you really want to make an expansion/sequel.

Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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They shouldn't focus on continuation of the story or they risk turning PoE into DA episodic type thing. As long as they do not destroy the world at the end of PoE, they can keep all lore and do a story for a different character in another part of the world past, present or future.

 

Let's face it, as I've said before, episodic stories with savegame imports have never been done right. Because there's a limit placed in both the original game and the sequel from the get-go. In the end the choices you make don't matter and you pretty much follow the same path and arrive at the same destination no matter if you are a hero or villain across multiple games. Look at  Witcher or ME. It's almost like you are watching TV series, only you are sitting behind a keyboard and not on your couch.

 

It would make sense if PoE protagonist's story continued in expansion if developers aknowledged all the choices protagonist made and went from there: good guy continues hero story arc and evil guy his own. But there is no need for DA-type world state save from game to game (and it did not work right with DA2 anyway). It's not doing devs or the games themselves any favors. Aside from the shared lore, the games should be independent.

Edited by Plutone00
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I agree with not adding save states into sequels. I'd rather have my actions be massive and sweeping and non-canon than totally safe and carry over. Not a perfect example, but remember the Wall of the Faithless? It couldn't be torn down because of franchise lore reasons, but the dilemma of its existence was the center on which all of Mask of the Betrayer turned. At the very least, the game let you go full devourer and go to war with the gods who set up that system in the first place. That kind of ending is brilliant for a game of that type, and I'd definitely rather have that option. 

 

Basically I'd rather have something timeless on its own like Planescape than another sequel factory where we all voice varying levels of disappointment over how elements are changed or didn't pan out as they were promised. That can be fine and works better in gaming than any other medium, but those timeless singular titles don't come often enough.

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Let me clarify, my post is primarily about game mechanics and encounter design, not story. They can make the story as "complete" as they want, but if J.E. Sawyer is designing a fully fledged character system then he needs to think about what he's leaving for the high levels, because AFAIK PoE is NOT going to reach the high levels.

Edited by Infinitron
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