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This is pretty funny: http://games.on.net/2014/03/if-you-dont-like-to-read-dont-play-this-game-pillars-of-eternitys-josh-sawyer-on-dealing-with-grognards/
 

“If you don’t like to read, don’t play this game”: Pillars of Eternity’s Josh Sawyer on dealing with grognards

How do you strike a balance between being old-school enough to please the old guard and modern enough to not drive people away?
BY TIM COLWILL ON MARCH 28, 2014 AT 5:21 PM

Obisidian’s Pillars of Eternity, the artist formerly known as Project Eternity, is being eagerly anticipated by hundreds of thousands of RPG lovers around the world. But how many of those backers only latched onto the project because it seemed like an old-school RPG lovers dream come true?

We caught up with Josh Sawyer, project lead on Pillars of Eternity, in a brief moment of calm at this year’s GDC. He explained that Obsidian were undertaking a careful balancing act when it came to just how much weight to give the opinions of old-school RPG grognards.

“There are certain aspects of that that we think are okay,” said Sawyer. “For example we don’t have quest markers in Pillars of Eternity. At all. In our journals we try to be very descriptive and clear in our updates so that you can read them and figure out where you need to go but we don’t use quest markers. And we’re okay with that, because it’s a different style of exploring and feeling and figuring things out on your own.”

Sawyer warned however that other elements, what he described as “GM-sucker-punch kind of stuff”, were being carefully filtered by the team because “the vast majority” of Pillars of Eternity’s backers simply won’t enjoy them.

“Combat encounters that can only be completed a certain way or (situations where) youhave to have one of these characters, or you have to have these two characters,” said Sawyer, “those ‘gotcha!’ moments that some gamers love, well… God bless you I guess, but we’re not gonna do that.”

Sawyer laughs as he explains that even the most hardcore grognards will be the first to acknowledge that some of the things they’re asking for are just completely unacceptable.

“I don’t even think those memories (they have) are necessarily rose-tinted,” he says. “They’ll straight up admit that they like stuff that’s really grognard-ey, and they don’t care. That’s fair enough.”

Pillars of Eternity’s dialogue system is an enormous part of the game, and Sawyer explains to me in no uncertain terms that this is a game for people “who want to read a lot”. Dialogue, he says, is one of the biggest problems with modern RPG design.

“The biggest thing that modern RPGs do that I don’t like is to write dialogue for people who don’t like dialogue. Which I think is dumb and a load of ****,” he says, laughing. “My assumption is that if you want to have dialogue in and you want to make it a big part of the game, you assume that the player wants to read it and it’s your job to make it good.”

“If you’re running on and people are skipping it, maybe it’s because it’s… not really that great? So when we write our dialogue, we write sensible dialogue, expressive dialogue, very descriptive dialogue, and we write it for people assuming that they want to read it. If they don’t want to read it, don’t play this game.”

Even though Sawyer has legions of people ready to throw him money for recreating that old-school RPG feeling, he’s not ready to throw modern RPGs in the rubbish entirely. When questioned about what old-school RPGs could have done better in hindsight, Sawyer says that a lack of clarity and consistency has always been a problem.

Sawyer explains that the one thing he thinks modern games have done well is to “make their RPG system rulesets clear and consistent”. “The old D&D systems were not very consistent,” he says. “They were full of trap builds and ‘gotcha’ moments and stuff like that. I don’t think that’s good, I think it restricts player enjoyment a lot, for not a lot of gain.”

“Maybe the grognards like it, but for everyone else it’s kind of frustrating and so we try to get away from that as much as possible.”

“There are people that’ll say to me ‘oh man, it’s fun to do that’, but no. No, it’s not.”

Pillars of Eternity is out sometime around the end of the year.

Edited by Infinitron
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 “There are people that’ll say to me ‘oh man, it’s fun to do that’, but no. No, it’s not.”

 

I'm glad to hear him say that, because some of the enthusiastically-presented suggestions I've seen around here probably wouldn't be very enjoyable over the coarse of a lengthy game. :)

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

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Holy crud, that is a scathing interview. Golf claps. 

 

Although I really don't like people in authority pushing the idea that "stupid games" exist and there's a market for that, bravo.

Edited by Bryy
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To the surprise of nobody who's ever read one of my posts anywhere on the entire internet, I agree completely.

 

Also, as someone who reads/listens to as much of the dialogue in a game as possible, no matter how stupid, I greatly appreciate Josh's stance on that issue. Writing dialogue for people who hate dialogue leads to bad dialogue, period, end of story. It's like making all movies for the guy who won't sit still unless EXPLOSIONS SHOUTING EXPLOSIONS AMERICA is happening constantly. And that's how we get Michael Bay movies.

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That's kind of the problem behind most issues with modern games, if you ask me. It's not exclusive to dialog.

 

"Let's make an RPG for people who don't like RPGs! 8D!"

"Let's make a tactical shooter for people who don't like tactics!"

 

Etc.

 

Then, the game has an inherent conflict with itself, right out of the gate.

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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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It's like making all movies for the guy who won't sit still unless EXPLOSIONS SHOUTING EXPLOSIONS AMERICA is happening constantly. And that's how we get Michael Bay movies.

Haha, yeah. That's why you get people saying movies like Gladiator were boring. Yup... no gladiatorial action in THAT film.

 

Incidentally, while I generally agree regarding Michael Bay, I actually really like The Island. I do not know why... Also, I've gotta give him props for one thing (although it's sort of a waste because of the other failings of his films): He actually doesn't just say "let's just CG it" to everything. In the Transformers films, obviously the transformers were CG'd, but the cars they were hurling out of their way when chasing each other down populated streets were actually hurled out of the way. And, in the first movie, he actually just got with the actual military, and said "I want to do this scene like the military would do it. You tell me what you guys would do/say here, and that's what we'll do." Instead of making up a bunch of super-cool sounding military chatter, or saying "this formation would look really cool, no matter how much it has absolutely nothing to do with real military formations!"

 

But, again... all that gets pretty cancelled out, haha.

 

Annnnnnywho.

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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Josh is pretty frank, as he has been before, but I back his opinions. I think they are moving in the right direction with this game.

 

My concern though is that some journalists who got previews haven't seemed to be that very impressed with the game and its quests.

I'll do it, for a turnip.

 

DnD item quality description mod (for PoE2) by peardox

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Josh is pretty frank, as he has been before, but I back his opinions. I think they are moving in the right direction with this game.

 

My concern though is that some journalists who got previews haven't seemed to be that very impressed with the game and its quests.

 

Who are you talking about, besides Nathan Grayson of Rock Paper Shotgun?

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Josh is pretty frank, as he has been before, but I back his opinions. I think they are moving in the right direction with this game.

 

My concern though is that some journalists who got previews haven't seemed to be that very impressed with the game and its quests.

 

Who are you talking about, besides Nathan Grayson of Rock Paper Shotgun?

 

 

None else.

 

I can see how my previous post came off wrong. Sorry about that. Worrying none the less.

I'll do it, for a turnip.

 

DnD item quality description mod (for PoE2) by peardox

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When DA2 came out, it got rave reviews from Journalists. It still has an 82 rating on metacritic.

 

When ME3 came out it got rave reviews by Journalists. It still has an 89 rating on metacritic.

 

What I get from that is that Journalists don't always have a good read on what gamers will like.

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

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Josh is pretty frank, as he has been before, but I back his opinions. I think they are moving in the right direction with this game.

 

My concern though is that some journalists who got previews haven't seemed to be that very impressed with the game and its quests.

 

 

Who are you talking about, besides Nathan Grayson of Rock Paper Shotgun?

I don't think he was unimpressed, or even "not very impressed." He just said that, for him, it wasn't as immediately impressive as Wasteland 2, and that the combat he was shown looked basic. That's not "unimpressed," that's "I was impressed, but I have some reservations." Which is fair enough.

 

And yes, I'll gladly cop to being an RPS fanboy, but I would think it's lame to take three or four sentences in a very long article out of context even if we were talking about an IGN article.

 

@Infinitron:

 

I enjoyed The Rock. It makes absolutely zero sense, and it's still a Michael Bay movie with all the requisite Michael Bay beats and tics, but it's fun enough. Because Nicolas Cage.

 

Speaking of Nicolas Cage, Drive Angry is an infinitely better "Nicolas Cage being Nicolas Cage in a role only Nicolas Cage would take" movie. I still want a sequel.

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Has Sawyer considered that he, in a funny sort of way, is one of the Neu Grognards?

 

What's a Neu Grognard?

 

The Young Guard? The Old Guard, of course, were Les Grognards. :)

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

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Great thoughts from JS. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy and exorcises some of my inner grognard. :p

 

 

Michael Bay: everyone seems to like to hate on his movies, but for what they are (non-stop over-the-top action) they deliver pretty well, IMO. Just don't look for great story, dialog and acting and you're good to go. His movies aren't just good with popcorn, they are popcorn.

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It'd be great if a Grognard were a creature in the game world. It would live in ruins or nature, and if it saw you changing anything from the way it had been for a long time, it would charge your arse.

 

If it just saw the results of changes, it would simply become upset (if it saw looted containers, opened doors/etc.). It would need to see YOU performing the change in order to direct that anger at you. It would require stealth. :)

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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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It'd be great if a Grognard were a creature in the game world. It would live in ruins or nature, and if it saw you changing anything from the way it had been for a long time, it would charge your arse.

 

If it just saw the results of changes, it would simply become upset (if it saw looted containers, opened doors/etc.). It would need to see YOU performing the change in order to direct that anger at you. It would require stealth. :)

 

More likely it would be an old man in a bar, full of piss and vinegar, who wants to whine all night as long while you keep refilling his mug. ;)

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

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That's kind of the problem behind most issues with modern games, if you ask me. It's not exclusive to dialog.

 

"Let's make an RPG for people who don't like RPGs! 8D!"

"Let's make a tactical shooter for people who don't like tactics!"

 

Etc.

 

Then, the game has an inherent conflict with itself, right out of the gate.

Yeah, it's not about the player's personal preferences, it's about what type of genre you are playing in.

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More likely it would be an old man in a bar, full of piss and vinegar, who wants to whine all night as long while you keep refilling his mug. ;)

 

Old Sir Grognard of Yore, who used to have to fashion his own sword from raw ore each morning before breaking his fast.

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More likely it would be an old man in a bar, full of piss and vinegar, who wants to whine all night as long while you keep refilling his mug. ;)

Maybe that's just its disguise. :)

 

"Henry, from the farm at the end of the bend, started trying to use some new-fangled plow instead of just doing everything by hand, and something tore him to shreds in the dead of night!"

 

(Old Man sipping his ale nearby): " 'Zat so? *swig*... *smile*"

 

No one would suspect the old geezer.

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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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I don't think he was unimpressed, or even "not very impressed." He just said that, for him, it wasn't as immediately impressive as Wasteland 2, and that the combat he was shown looked basic. That's not "unimpressed," that's "I was impressed, but I have some reservations." Which is fair enough.

I agree. If it's the RPS article I *think* we're talking about, his only real complaint (aside from the stuff you mentioned) was that the quests that he got to see were "standard fare". He cited a nobleman at a bar who was looking for his daughter, and a cemetery that had a ghoul like creature who was lamenting about its plight and asking for help.

 

I'm not sure what he was expecting. He was given a pre-alpha demo of the first couple of hours of the game. Did he expect to be instantly tossed into an earth-shaking, super dynamic, faction-changing, branching quest line that early on? The *good* games don't do that. They ease you in gradually. As it stands, that entire article did nothing but make me more excited about the game!

 

 

 

But back on topic:

Sawyer warned however that other elements, what he described as “GM-sucker-punch kind of stuff”, were being carefully filtered by the team because “the vast majority” of Pillars of Eternity’s backers simply won’t enjoy them.

 

“Combat encounters that can only be completed a certain way or (situations where) you have to have one of these characters, or you have to have these two characters,” said Sawyer, “those ‘gotcha!’ moments that some gamers love, well… God bless you I guess, but we’re not gonna do that.”

K, is this supposed to be representative of what "grognards" want? Aside from the fact that I can only think of 1 (one) such encounter in ALL of IE games (Kangaxxx), I have yet to meet a grognard who's ever said: "hey I want more encounters that force me to use at least 1 rogue and 2 clerics." or "I hate modern games because they don't require you to have a Fighter!" lol

 

Although this comment from Josh does seem a bit odd considering that he's decided to give MMO like combat role definitions to the classes. From the above, I'm assuming I can have a well rounded party without a "mob ruler" or a "heavy hitter"? Gee I sure hope so. I'd hate to be GM-sucker punched because I decided to roll up an all mage party due to my love for mages.

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Grognards is an actual word. It literally means Old School.

 

 

 

Sawyer warned however that other elements, what he described as “GM-sucker-punch kind of stuff”, were being carefully filtered by the team because “the vast majority” of Pillars of Eternity’s backers simply won’t enjoy them.

“Combat encounters that can only be completed a certain way or (situations where) you have to have one of these characters, or you have to have these two characters,” said Sawyer, “those ‘gotcha!’ moments that some gamers love, well… God bless you I guess, but we’re not gonna do that.”

K, is this supposed to be representative of what "grognards" want? Aside from the fact that I can only think of 1 (one) such encounter in ALL of IE games (Kangaxxx), I have yet to meet a grognard who's ever said: "hey I want more encounters that force me to use at least 1 rogue and 2 clerics." or "I hate modern games because they don't require you to have a Fighter!" lol

Although this comment from Josh does seem a bit odd considering that he's decided to give MMO like combat role definitions to the classes. From the above, I'm assuming I can have a well rounded party without a "mob ruler" or a "heavy hitter"? Gee I sure hope so. I'd hate to be GM-sucker punched because I decided to roll up an all mage party due to my love for mages.

 

Wow, someone's a little upset that the devs think differently than they do.

Edited by Bryy
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