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Update #73: Narrative Design: A Day in the Life, Companion Goals, and the Undead


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Out of 73 updates, I think this was definitely the most fun to read (even though they've all be great). Apart from the terrific humor, the storywriting insight is of great interest to me. :)

"Dark sorcery. I just performed a ritual involving a dead roach and a ball of dust I found in the corner, and some sounds I made up that I decided were words from a dead primordial language. If all went according to plan, you should be my thrall."

 

I write speculative fiction.

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The question about memorable characters:

 

(I'd like to note first that this is not neccesarily what companions I think are best, but what companions have stuck with me in a positive sense)

 

Main reason I remember characters is bringing the funny or being very distinctive, but I don't want all my characters to be funny or very distinctive. I find Minsc and HK-47 to be two of the most memorable characters around, but they were funny or distinctive mostly because it contrasted with the settings and the other characters. Other characters can be funny occassionally, but if everyone is funny it just becomes ridiculous, and the same goes for distinctive (someone in this thread before mentioned that your group should not become a traveling circus). So while these characters were most memorable to me, they were only that memorable because there were less over the top characters to compare to. This doesn't mean that I don't like less over the top characters. Atton, for example, is also one of my favourite characters and outwardly he is a fairly run-of-the-mill scoundrel type character, but I don't think about him quite as much as I think about the funnier HK-47 moments.

 

Another important reason I remember characters is plot involvement. I like it when a character actually has a place in the story or are somehow related to the main character's arc. Not all characters have to have this, but it does feel more like they belong. Kreia is a good example, because Kreia essentially is the story. I prefer it when most of my characters are part of the story arc and only a few are loyal tagalongs that I picked up. Yoshimo comes to mind - he has an arc that is a part of my character's story and has consequences for my character. His twist originally shocked me (though I must admit I was pretty young) and is a moment in gaming I am not likely to forget. However, the game shouldn't force a character's arc on you in this way. For example, Carth's story in KotOR wasn't very interesting to me and the fact that his whole Admiral Saul plot and trust issues were forced into the main plot while I never brought the character along was a bad choice, and he was memorable for me in that way in that I really disliked him for it. He was a character I didn't care for, didn't pick for my team, and he stole the spotlight from characters I did enjoy playing with. Since it's been said you don't get characters forced on you in PoE, this shouldn't be a problem.

Edited by TrueNeutral
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Fantastic update.

 

Memorable characters for me have mostly been the Obsidian ones, they have a nice realism to them while restraining the overt ego stroking of other companies. Boone is very much a favourite, a tragic and broken man whom will never forgive himself and whom you cannot mend, only help deal with the pain a little. Arcade is another I like, a quintessentially good man in a bad place, who's looking for a better way and whose hope has not yet been extinguished. Kreia is obvious, a flawed and prejudiced woman who is terrifyingly strong, perhaps too strong, and is fighting the only morale battle in the Star Wars universe. Jeyne Kassynder is I know an unpopular choice but I felt that she was very well presented, a woman who was pushed too far by a cunning opponent and let her revenge consume who she was, and damn all that she cared for, a truly tragic character.

 

Personally i'm not in favour of the characters who are a constant stream of "witticisms" as they get old very fast, and they seem far too needy in their unceasing attempts to make you like them. Then again Cass usually succeeded in raising a smile, with her bitter black humour and Morte was an invaluable addition to the party, whom despite our sparring I strangely enough missed when he was abducted. There seemed a lot more to these characters than just their one liners, and their humour was a little more of my style rather than the squeeing sort.

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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 actually believe your day is going like that... I know a lot of programmers and designers in my job... and this is what pretty much sums up thei work ethic. Thats why development costs so much.

 

But this update was really great it actually made me feel way better about the status of the game. I really hope that a substancial part of the budget goes into the companion interaction.

 

I still think there are some questionable decisions when it comes to game mechanics (crafting system sounds kind of odd especially compared to your monster problem...monster in city brakes the mood instant sword from smith does not? )

 

But I am way more excited to see the game after this update...

 

Also I hope the answer to the monster problem was not vampires or werewolves ... I rather take the invisible crab

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Great update, very fun to read.

The most memorable companions that come to mind are:

 - Jolee Bindo (KOTOR). Wise, witty and cranky. It had the Jedi master vibe, but not in an over the top Yoda style. (SPOILER) What happens after the Rakatan temple when following the dark side path really broke my heart.

 - Annah (PS:T). Best developed daddy-issues-driven character that I can remember.

 - Anomen (BG2). He was kind of annoying, but I really loved his plot twist, which changed the character completely.

 - Edwin / Korgan (BG2). Companions that think themselves superior (and they are, if you share class). It's not always clear if they will stick with you until the end.

 - Qara (NWN2). I liked her infant terrible attitude. She lacked a bit of growth throughout the campaign, though.

 - HK-47 (KOTOR). This was just plain psychotic funny. I kept it along just to hear its comments pushing me to slaughter and mayhem.

 - Dak'kon (PS:T). Apparently just the Zen kind of character. I remember his explanations on the teachings of Zerthimon, and how these long conversations developed the character.

 

Thiese are just some, and of course many other backers will hate some of them. Just please, whatever you do, don't make a Jaheira (or I'll have to send her naked and alone against a pack of wolves all over again).

Edited by RabidRatMonkey
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Going back to a small point in this post. How to have a monster quest in an urban dock setting that doesn't feel absurd? What about smugglers importing/exporting exotic animals (read: monsters)?
 

An incongruous encounter with a dangerous and terrified monster, that should be nowhere near an urban setting, as the party enters the docks. Which leads to the  crate it broke out of while being loaded onto a ship. Which leads to a smugglers warehouse with pens full of dangerous monsters waiting to be shipped out. Do the smugglers release the monsters so they can escape in the chaos? Does the party let the smugglers go because the city will surely kill the animals? Does the player decide to settle down and open a dock-side zoo?

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A character that has already come to his own conclusions and is going to sometimes challenge my choices.  A character that will ultimately make a stand, regardless of what my character decides.   (Jolee Bindo's proclamation "I am a Jedi" and drawing his saber against my dark-side KOTAR character is the most powerful side-kick conversation I can remember.)

 

Unexpected humor and warmth is another big thing for me. (Mordin Solus)

 

Pure, all-in, uncomplicated characters can also be a riot. (HK-47)

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Great update, very fun to read.

The most memorable companions that come to mind are:

 - Jolee Bindo (KOTOR). Wise, witty and cranky. It had the Jedi master vibe, but not in an over the top Yoda style. (SPOILER) What happens after the Rakatan temple when following the dark side path really broke my heart.

 - Annah (PS:T). Best developed daddy-issues-driven character that I can remember.

 - Anomen (BG2). He was kind of annoying, but I really loved his plot twist, which changed the character completely.

 - Edwin / Korgan (BG2). Companions that think themselves superior (and they are, if you share class). It's not always clear if they will stick with you until the end.

 - Qara (NWN2). I liked her infant terrible attitude. She lacked a bit of growth throughout the campaign, though.

 - HK-47 (KOTOR). This was just plain psychotic funny. I kept it along just to hear its comments pushing me to slaughter and mayhem.

 - Dak'kon (PS:T). Apparently just the Zen kind of character. I remember his explanations on the teachings of Zerthimon, and how these long conversations developed the character.

 

Thiese are just some, and of course many other backers will hate some of them. Just please, whatever you do, don't make a Jaheira (or I'll have to send her naked and alone against a pack of wolves all over again).

 

I'd be interested to hear why you dislike Jaheira so much. She's a bit of a bitch, but some real people are bitches so I think it gives the character some realism. :p On the other hand, I've killed Anomen more times than I care to count. :)

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Does this imply souls are capable of thought only insofar as the body they are attached to is capable of it? 

soul is the software and the body is the hardware. software cant work properly on substandard hardware. 

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The words freedom and liberty, are diminishing the true meaning of the abstract concept they try to explain. The true nature of freedom is such, that the human mind is unable to comprehend it, so we make a cage and name it freedom in order to give a tangible meaning to what we dont understand, just as our ancestors made gods like Thor or Zeus to explain thunder.

 

-Teknoman2-

What? You thought it was a quote from some well known wise guy from the past?

 

Stupidity leads to willful ignorance - willful ignorance leads to hope - hope leads to sex - and that is how a new generation of fools is born!


We are hardcore role players... When we go to bed with a girl, we roll a D20 to see if we hit the target and a D6 to see how much penetration damage we did.

 

Modern democracy is: the sheep voting for which dog will be the shepherd's right hand.

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Does this imply souls are capable of thought only insofar as the body they are attached to is capable of it? 

soul is the software and the body is the hardware. software cant work properly on substandard hardware. 

 

Mmm, perhaps the soul is the firmware... ;)

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"It has just been discovered that research causes cancer in rats."

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Awesome update! I really like the direction you are taking with both companions and lore—this game is looking better by the update :)

 

One thing I have been wondering—not sure whether it has already been addressed, or you are planning a future update about it—is your take on A.I. development. IE games were amazing but A.I. was definitely not among their strengths; in fact, most of them had pretty basic, rather dumb A.I..

 

You have made it clear that A.I. will not scale with difficulty in PoE ( :( ), but how will it work? Will it be smart, challenging, even cunning? Will it avoid IE-like behaviors like standing idly if you cast an invisibility spell? Will it make enemies sip potions, activate magical items, take advantage of class abilities, and use a wide array of spells rather than relying always on the same few ones (as in the I.E. games)?

 

(It would also be nice if enemy casters not only made use of all spells, but used them with different strategies. In I.E. games enemy mages pretty much cast the same spells in the same order all the time.)

"Time is not your enemy. Forever is."

— Fall-From-Grace, Planescape: Torment

"It's the questions we can't answer that teach us the most. They teach us how to think. If you give a man an answer, all he gains is a little fact. But give him a question, and he'll look for his own answers."

— Kvothe, The Wise Man's Fears

My Deadfire mods: Brilliant Mod | Faster Deadfire | Deadfire Unnerfed | Helwalker Rekke | Permanent Per-Rest Bonuses | PoE Items for Deadfire | No Recyled Icons | Soul Charged Nautilus

 

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Does this imply souls are capable of thought only insofar as the body they are attached to is capable of it? 

soul is the software and the body is the hardware. software cant work properly on substandard hardware. 

 

Mmm, perhaps the soul is the firmware... ;)

 

in both cases, it cant do it's work right if the hardware is broken

The words freedom and liberty, are diminishing the true meaning of the abstract concept they try to explain. The true nature of freedom is such, that the human mind is unable to comprehend it, so we make a cage and name it freedom in order to give a tangible meaning to what we dont understand, just as our ancestors made gods like Thor or Zeus to explain thunder.

 

-Teknoman2-

What? You thought it was a quote from some well known wise guy from the past?

 

Stupidity leads to willful ignorance - willful ignorance leads to hope - hope leads to sex - and that is how a new generation of fools is born!


We are hardcore role players... When we go to bed with a girl, we roll a D20 to see if we hit the target and a D6 to see how much penetration damage we did.

 

Modern democracy is: the sheep voting for which dog will be the shepherd's right hand.

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Garrus Vakarian (Mass Effect Trilogy): A true bro-mance. Your trusted ally, never lets you down. Always has your back. Has conflicting issues to either be a government owned worker or a lone operative. Has a badass voice. And calibrates baby!

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Calibrating...

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@Alfiriel In my experience the best programmer-deisgners are the lazy ones. They'll always find a way to do the most with the least amount of effort, and they'll know to have a break before they're so tired they'll start to do damage. The ones with a strong work ethic are the worst; they'll sit there all night and produce gigantic quantities of garbage code nobody's able to understand except them.

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I have a project. It's a tabletop RPG. It's free. It's a work in progress. Find it here: www.brikoleur.com

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IE games were amazing but A.I. was definitely not among their strengths; in fact, most of them had pretty basic, rather dumb A.I..

 

You have made it clear that A.I. will not scale with difficulty in PoE ( :( ), but how will it work? Will it be smart, challenging, even cunning? Will it avoid IE-like behaviors like standing idly if you cast an invisibility spell? Will it make enemies sip potions, activate magical items, take advantage of class abilities, and use a wide array of spells rather than relying always on the same few ones (as in the I.E. games)?

 

+1

 

FYI, the Sword Coast Stratagems mod for BG1 and BG2 makes the enemy AI smarter in all the ways you describe (the vastly improved spellcaster strategies being the most noticeable), and more (like making enemies call other nearby enemies for help).

 

[ It even makes liches smart enough to defend themselves if you're using Protection from Undead scrolls. The lich still won't be able to detect or attack you, as per the rules, but he will notice that he's being injured, and will react by immediately putting up defenses (Mantle/Mislead/Invisibility/etc.) on himself, bombard the room with AoE spells, and summon Mordenkainen's Sword and demons which can detect and attack you. ]

 

Anyways, if a modder from the fan community can create smart AI for a 15 year old engine without access to the source code, Obsidian has no excuse not to add smart AI to Pillars of Eternity... :)

"Some ideas are so stupid that only an intellectual could believe them." -- attributed to George Orwell

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You have made it clear that A.I. will not scale with difficulty in PoE ( :( )

 

 

Scaling AI to difficulty would probably be the most effort-intensive, difficult-to-balance, highest-probability-of-screwing-up way to increase difficulty.  If you make a great AI, you're not going to say, "well, this AI should only be great if you're at the highest difficulty level.  Otherwise we'll just hope we can take bits out for lower levels without messing it up or depriving people of a better experience."  You're just gonna use it.

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From the time PE was announced I kept thinking of the Thayan academy in MotB. I hope there's some place like that. Specially these undead, I can think of a lot of questions about their workings.

 

Why does eating human flesh restore an undead's body? Even with the dead stomach still there I don't think stuff would be metabolized? How about other meats, why don't those work? If you'd bind a dog's soul to it's body (if they have any) would it crave dog flesh? What about a human soul to an animal's body, does that change the rules? How exactly do you differentiate between the stages of the undead? It seems to just be a continuous progression, yet there are stages to it. What happens if you forcibly strip the flesh off of an earlier stage undead, do you get a smart skeleton? How do undead move or even just stay together? If you cut an undead to pieces which piece will be the one with the soul. Or is the soul cut up? Does it permeate the entire body? What happens if the rich guy that got his soul bound got an artificial leg, does that also count as part of his body? If he replaced various parts of his body so that he had less flesh, would he then have to eat less as well? What if you put together the whole person from artificial parts and bound the soul of someone to it. Why is the last thing remaining of an undead's psyche a murderous rage, is that the natural state of a naked soul? If you put together parts of multiple undead would they work together or each on its own? What if the person with the bound soul got resuscitated, does it make any difference? How about the manner of death of the person, if you cut off the head which part will be undead? Can you use embalming techniques to preserve the body? Would the psyche then still degrade? Do undead feel anything? If yes the rotting body sounds pretty bad, if not then how do they even function in the world? What if you replace undead parts with living parts or vice-versa?

 

I'll trust that this stuff will be presented as mysteries and not plot holes :) .

 

I think these animancers would need pretty large laboratories to conduct experiments, too and would probably have every do-gooder in the region on their ass :D . Opportunities aplenty for the classic horror themed asylums/hospitals/orphanages/prisons etc.

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@Sabotin

 

So many questions on rather insignificant aspects of the PE undead, yet you don't ask how on earth a skeleton can stay in one piece (let alone walk and fight) afters its ligaments and muscles have rotted away...?

Edited by Ineth

"Some ideas are so stupid that only an intellectual could believe them." -- attributed to George Orwell

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FYI, the Sword Coast Stratagems mod for BG1 and BG2 makes the enemy AI smarter in all the ways you describe (the vastly improved spellcaster strategies being the most noticeable), and more (like making enemies call other nearby enemies for help).

 

 

I am very well acquained with it ;)

"Time is not your enemy. Forever is."

— Fall-From-Grace, Planescape: Torment

"It's the questions we can't answer that teach us the most. They teach us how to think. If you give a man an answer, all he gains is a little fact. But give him a question, and he'll look for his own answers."

— Kvothe, The Wise Man's Fears

My Deadfire mods: Brilliant Mod | Faster Deadfire | Deadfire Unnerfed | Helwalker Rekke | Permanent Per-Rest Bonuses | PoE Items for Deadfire | No Recyled Icons | Soul Charged Nautilus

 

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@Sabotin

 

So many questions on rather insignificant aspects of the PE undead, yet you don't ask how on earth a skeleton can stay in one piece (let alone walk and fight) afters its ligaments and muscles have rotted away...?

Ahem... *points*

 

How do undead move or even just stay together?

Methinks that covers all states of muscular/ligamental decay, a mere skeleton being the most extreme extent of such. u_u...

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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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Great update. :)

 

What I really despise in companion writing: When all the issues and problems of all your companions are solved solely by you, and travelling with them or talking to them feels like playing a psychiatrist's office simulation - dialogue about a companion's character becomes a therapy session, and it culminates in you sorting out the companion's longstanding psychological issues with basic advice from a self-help book (with something to kill thrown in, because it's a video game), or something like that. "Personal quests" and especially romances tend to fall into that trap. It may be appropriate in each case for itself, but with all party members combined, it's usually too much. Character flaws are necessary for giving the companion a personality, but they don't have to be "solved" or overcome, and not necessarily by the player character. Aerie may have to get over losing her wings at some point, but it doesn't have to be you who cures her of her problems.

 

In a general sense, the point of that probably is that I like companions who don't follow you because they depend on you or need you, but who want to travel with you because they like you or have the same goals, or things like that.

:)

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Therefore I have sailed the seas and come

To the holy city of Byzantium. -W.B. Yeats

 

Χριστός ἀνέστη!

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I wrote a longer post as comment on the kickstarter news but i will summarise it here again as it might increase the chance of it being read by the dev:

Abstract reasons for me to positively remember a character:

- Very specific personality, which is reflected in the character's voice, humor, opinions, maybe also looks etc

- Having met the character through a specific and interesting encounter. First impression is important - "i gief u 2300 gold monie coins and u go w/ me" doesnt leave an impression on me. Examples for good encounters: Dogmeat (Fallout1), Morte (PS:T),...

- Background story. If the character has none ,it is not a character. Best example is probably Morte from PS:T, which has a special connection to the nameless one which only later explained why he acts so weird sometimes but still sticks with the character

- Humour - Can be important but must fit to the character's personality and be not forced. I found Morte funny for example. Yes I know, i mention him a lot. But what could be remembered better than a talking, sarcastic flying skull goddammit.

- (Looks) if they fit to the overall personality they can enforce the impression, especially if they stand out.

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