Jump to content

Chris Avellone Interview with XP4T - Minor spoiler warnings


Recommended Posts

http://www.xp4t.com/interview-with-the-devs-chris-avellone/

 

Interesting conversation all around regarding the video game writing process.

 

Towards the end, MCA discusses two of the companions he concepted - Durance (Priest of Magran) and The Grieving Mother (Cipher).

 

Excerpted below:

 

JONAS: Any particular design ideas or concepts that you’re obsessed with right now? Anything you’re particularly excited about in one of your current projects, or particularly determined to find a way to use in a future project? (I promise I won’t steal it, we probably don’t have the budget for it anyway.)

 

CHRIS: A few, I suppose. At a high level, this may be shooting myself in the foot, but I’ve become increasingly interested in narratives without words, especially after New Vegas (where prop placement told better stories, imo).


At a specific level, in Eternity, the original premise of the companions I wrote (Durance and the Grieving Mother) was unpeeling the layers and discovering what they were at the core – unpeeling these layers involved slipping stealthily into their unconscious, a dungeon made out of their memories. There, the player could go through an adventure game-like series of interactions, exploring their memories using psychological items important to both your character and to them as emotional keys to thread your way through the memories – but carefully, without revealing your presence. The memory dungeon was to uncover their shared history, how it impacted you, and the core of who they were as people.

 

And their core was pretty unpleasant. Both of them were very bad, very weak people, committing not only violations on each other, but on the player as well. When faced with the discovery that your allies, even if they fiercely support you and fight for a larger cause, have some pretty horrid faults, what do you do? Do you pass sentence? Do you forgive? Do you assist them to reach an understanding? And what I found more interesting with the spiritual physics in the Eternity world is that a death sentence isn’t a sentence – killing someone actually sets a soul free to move on to the next generation. So if you intend to punish someone in a world like that, either out of revenge or to correct their behavior, how do you do it when execution is not an answer?


The elements above got stripped out of the companions in the end, so I’m happy to share it here (and I may re-examine it in the future). Overall, I thought they raised interesting questions for the player to chew on, and it was interesting to explore those themes, as most game narratives and franchises wouldn’t allow for such examinations – still, Eternity was intended to be a more personal project for Obsidian where we can stretch our narrative legs more, both in structure and themes.

 

Chris had revealed this bit of info before, but went more in depth. This  was ultimately cut due to what I'm gathering was lack of resources and not being a primary gameplay driver.

 

Cool idea and I hope it is eventually pursued in future projects --or even the expansion.

 

Now before this devolves into a Josh is the Antichrist of FUN for chopping this idea, lets try to be atlea---Who am I kidding?? Have at it.

 

  • Like 3

"Things are funny...are comedic, because they mix the real with the absurd." - Buzz Aldrin.

"P-O-T-A-T-O-E" - Dan Quayle

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Since the PAX thread got derailed, may as well post this here. 

 

it's pretty impressive that the Pillars of Eternity presentation got such a packed house. Hopefully that's a good sign for the anticipation/demand for the game.

 

From Sawyer's twitter:

 

B8JECslCcAEy8pj.jpg

  • Like 4

"Things are funny...are comedic, because they mix the real with the absurd." - Buzz Aldrin.

"P-O-T-A-T-O-E" - Dan Quayle

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks, the interview was very interesting to read!

 

On the last page, he talks about a kind of psychological dungeon where you explore your companions minds... but then says it was cut! What a pity, that sounded fascinating...

Edited by Heijoushin
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

(snip)

The elements above got stripped out of the companions in the end, so I’m happy to share it here (and I may re-examine it in the future). Overall, I thought they raised interesting questions for the player to chew on, and it was interesting to explore those themes, as most game narratives and franchises wouldn’t allow for such examinations – still, Eternity was intended to be a more personal project for Obsidian where we can stretch our narrative legs more, both in structure and themes.

 

Chris had revealed this bit of info before, but went more in depth. This  was ultimately cut due to what I'm gathering was lack of resources and not being a primary gameplay driver.

 

Cool idea and I hope it is eventually pursued in future projects --or even the expansion.

 

Now before this devolves into a Josh is the Antichrist of FUN for chopping this idea, lets try to be atlea---Who am I kidding?? Have at it.

 

I'm literally incapable of comprehending the developer thought processes that went into this decision.

Edited by aluminiumtrioxid
  • Like 1

"Lulz is not the highest aspiration of art and mankind, no matter what the Encyclopedia Dramatica says."

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

(snip)

The elements above got stripped out of the companions in the end, so I’m happy to share it here (and I may re-examine it in the future). Overall, I thought they raised interesting questions for the player to chew on, and it was interesting to explore those themes, as most game narratives and franchises wouldn’t allow for such examinations – still, Eternity was intended to be a more personal project for Obsidian where we can stretch our narrative legs more, both in structure and themes.

 

Chris had revealed this bit of info before, but went more in depth. This  was ultimately cut due to what I'm gathering was lack of resources and not being a primary gameplay driver.

 

Cool idea and I hope it is eventually pursued in future projects --or even the expansion.

 

Now before this devolves into a Josh is the Antichrist of FUN for chopping this idea, lets try to be atlea---Who am I kidding?? Have at it.

 

 

I'm literally incapable of comprehending the developer thought processes that went into this decision.

 

Let me explain it in the words of another immortal game: "We need more minerals."
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Let me explain it in the words of another immortal game: "We need more minerals."

 

 

My thought process went more like "game will probably be chock-full of meaningless dungeons, why did they have to cut out the one that isn't?"

"Lulz is not the highest aspiration of art and mankind, no matter what the Encyclopedia Dramatica says."

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I find this very adventurous to say at least. We, well certainly I, don't know how many dungeons there are in the game and how they are connected into the story/stories we will get to play. The only dungeon that I know of that is just for exploration are the lower levels of the Odd Nua dungeon. So I find that saying

game will probably be chock-full of meaningless dungeons

actually quite unpolite and somewhat insulting towards the developers and I fail to understand why you have that impression. You do not seem to have much trust in the game that's beeing developed and their creators.

Edited by frabron
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I find this very adventurous to say at least. We, well certainly I, don't know how many dungeons there are in the game and how they are connected into the story/stories we will get to play. The only dungeon that I know of that is just for exploration are the lower levels of the Odd Nua dungeon. So I find that saying

game will probably be chock-full of meaningless dungeons

actually quite unpolite and somewhat insulting towards the developers and I fail to understand why you have that impression. You do not seem to have much trust in the game that's beeing developed and their creators.

 

Well, they repeated "Pillars of Eternity will be a combat-focused game" many times, so it's either gonna be chock-full of meaningless dungeons, or chock-full of meaningless wilderness fights. Probably a mix of both.

  • Like 1

"Lulz is not the highest aspiration of art and mankind, no matter what the Encyclopedia Dramatica says."

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't follow your line of deduction there because I fail to see the link between combat heavy and meaningless dungeon and/or fights. One option doesn't exclude the other here. Of course I don't have more information than what was published so you might be right in the end. But I seem to have more faith in the people developing PoE than you.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Of course I agree that it would probably have been awesome to have this "Durance and the Grieving Mother" content in, but on the bright side even reading about this makes me very hopeful that there is more high quality characters and dialogue to be found in this game. At least I highly doubt that they have cut all of the well developed character interaction with this little nugget ;)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't follow your line of deduction there because I fail to see the link between combat heavy and meaningless dungeon and/or fights. One option doesn't exclude the other here. Of course I don't have more information than what was published so you might be right in the end. But I seem to have more faith in the people developing PoE than you.

 

I, too, had great faith in the people developing PoE until I fired up the backer beta.

 

That said, by "meaningless" I don't mean... actually-meaningless, just one with less thematic and emotional depth than the one in the interview. And given that "literally exploring the subconscious of your teammates and dealing with both their issues and your own" is - if done right - pretty much the pinnacle of thematic and emotional depth, I'm fairly sure that even if the other dungeons have perfectly engaging side stories and nifty mechanical tidbits to play with, they probably won't have the same impact as the one they decided to cut out.

 

Even then, I can imagine lots of perfectly valid reasons why they'd decide to not go there.

"Lulz is not the highest aspiration of art and mankind, no matter what the Encyclopedia Dramatica says."

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I tend to agree with Rhaeg here. While it would have been cool to have this in the game, I also doubt that this was their only clever idea and that there are more with the same caliber as the one that got tossed aside due to time/resource constraints. But we obviously disagree - so I guess we will have to wait until we can see for ourselves original.gif

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I, too, am not sure what they mean when they say that a psychological 'dungeon' like the one described by Avellone is not a primary gameplay driver. But I do understand the "lack of resources" explanation. Unless the entire scenario was going to play out in one of those scripted interaction things, It was going to need its own level and area design work, and unique assets and set pieces to properly capture the dream-like landscapes that would be in someone's mind.

Edited by Stun
Link to comment
Share on other sites

That said, by "meaningless" I don't mean... actually-meaningless, just one with less thematic and emotional depth than the one in the interview. And given that "literally exploring the subconscious of your teammates and dealing with both their issues and your own" is - if done right - pretty much the pinnacle of thematic and emotional depth, I'm fairly sure that even if the other dungeons have perfectly engaging side stories and nifty mechanical tidbits to play with, they probably won't have the same impact as the one they decided to cut out.

 

Even then, I can imagine lots of perfectly valid reasons why they'd decide to not go there.

Maybe on paper it sounds great, but Obsidian has done the mind-exploration-thing before (Mask of the betrayer... the sleeper's prison, and Anya's dream) and it wasn't all that. It was a neat concept I suppose, but I wouldn't prefer it over a well designed good old fashioned dungeon experience. Edited by Stun
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

That said, by "meaningless" I don't mean... actually-meaningless, just one with less thematic and emotional depth than the one in the interview. And given that "literally exploring the subconscious of your teammates and dealing with both their issues and your own" is - if done right - pretty much the pinnacle of thematic and emotional depth, I'm fairly sure that even if the other dungeons have perfectly engaging side stories and nifty mechanical tidbits to play with, they probably won't have the same impact as the one they decided to cut out.

 

Even then, I can imagine lots of perfectly valid reasons why they'd decide to not go there.

Maybe on paper it sounds great, but Obsidian has done the mind-exploration-thing before (Mask of the betrayer... the sleeper's prison, and Anya's dream) and it wasn't all that. It was a neat concept I suppose, but I wouldn't prefer it over a well designed good old fashioned dungeon experience.

 

 

Yeah, I think many people tend to fall over themselves when Chris talks about his designs (and I do love a lot of his writing and "mindset" a lot of times myself) but sometimes there are... good cuts as well. Maybe there were better uses of those resources and workhours. Just my immediate gut feeling upon reading is that it may fit better into something like Torment. From my point of view, a lot of Avellone's ideas seem to fit better into the "crazier" settings. Who knows.

 

That said, I do hope that they won't shy away from having those companions be really "bad people" so to speak. It'd be great to have some evil-ish companions that are really well written and have interesting motivations.

  • Like 1

Listen to my home-made recordings (some original songs, some not): http://www.youtube.c...low=grid&view=0

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

I find this very adventurous to say at least. We, well certainly I, don't know how many dungeons there are in the game and how they are connected into the story/stories we will get to play. The only dungeon that I know of that is just for exploration are the lower levels of the Odd Nua dungeon. So I find that saying

game will probably be chock-full of meaningless dungeons

actually quite unpolite and somewhat insulting towards the developers and I fail to understand why you have that impression. You do not seem to have much trust in the game that's beeing developed and their creators.

 

Well, they repeated "Pillars of Eternity will be a combat-focused game" many times, so it's either gonna be chock-full of meaningless dungeons, or chock-full of meaningless wilderness fights. Probably a mix of both.

 

But, lets face it, we like IWD, and IE games like BG series and Torment and PoE because its not ONLY a combat game. You have the freedom to explore meaningful reactions from other NPC's. Adding a richer narrative experience to some companions would be good to have, even if not everyone bothers to explore it. Its having that choice that becomes awesome.

 

I play Skyrim, I have amassed like 2400 hours, yet I haven't beaten the game yet or explored much of the main story, because I have fun just wandering around and doing what interests me the most. I had friends who refused to play Skyrim because they will not play any first person like game etc.. anyways, after 2 years of watching me play they decided to give this game a try, and they are fanatically obsessed with it, because of the freedom to do what you wish, just going off exploring. (or thats what he calls me up late at night to tell me, so excited about..)

 

Anyways, I had fallen in love with Torment more so then all other games I played, because it had a narrative worthy of exploring. And when I'm bored - hulk go smash !

 

Obsidian wrote:
 

​"those scummy backers, we're going to screw them over by giving them their game on the release date. That'll show those bastards!" 

 

 

 Now we know what's going on...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

writing for games strikes us as a peculiar endeavor... we mean that in sense o' uniqueness more than odd.  Gromnir is actual relative unusual regarding just how much pre-writing we would do. our ocd-level issues with detail and organization were such that we had extreme detailed outlines. even so, once we started writing, the characters would begin to tell us their own story and we would frequent feel as if we were mere transcribing.  games has gotta be different.  you got many folks working on A story that has needs be a relative known quantity relative early in the process.  is not as if we can tell artists and level design guys that the stuff they has been working on for months is unnecessary 'cause the story went in a different direction while chisA were writing companion #5. game writing is peculiar.  we understand.  

 

on the positive side, is good to hear that chrisA is aware that story ain't just a matter o' character dialogues and plot.  is far more folks than just the writers who is involved in telling the story... which necessarily further complicates the process.  am wondering just how integrated the process can be. is weird to have a story built more along the lines o' a major steel fabrication project than what we would tend to envision as a "normal" storytelling process... whatever is normal nowadays.

 

we may give a ricardo bare book a try.

 

HA! Good Fun!

"If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."Justice Louis Brandeis, Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)

"Im indifferent to almost any murder as long as it doesn't affect me or mine."--Gfted1 (September 30, 2019)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sawyer was incredibly clear why this was cut in some of his forum posts on another site.  (Wish I had a link, people were talking about it on the codex).  He alludes to it during the video recently posted I think.  

 

Doing a text adventure game inside poe would be a feature that was used only once in the game, and stretch the somewhat unfamiliar engine in ways that it wasn't designed for.  Given true AAA resources it sounds like a great little addition to gameplay and writing.  Given PE's incredibly limited resources it sounds like bug city, like a feature that they would dump a massive amount of resources into for a relatively small gain.

 

To me it sounds like Josh made the right decision, this is something that could be served by an expansion pack or New Vegas style dlc.  Focus on making sure all the basics work right first, then expand.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

So in essence it would have been an expanded usage of scripted interactions. That's quite a bit of hand drawn art.

"Things are funny...are comedic, because they mix the real with the absurd." - Buzz Aldrin.

"P-O-T-A-T-O-E" - Dan Quayle

Link to comment
Share on other sites

**** tbh with avellone a writing, he can draw his stick figures and I'll be happy for it lol.

 

But seriously, sometimes good things gotta be cut (hopefully for an expansion) and tbh it's not like it was the "only" good thing the game woulda had and now it doesn't have any, nah I'm confident enough there's alot of great material in it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
×
×
  • Create New...