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Initial motivation and random thoughts about PoE


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I found that I had a hard time to become invested in the story initially. I found the motivations to pursue Thaos and find out more about what was happening to me to be weak at best. For me the main story became about the Hollowborn. To solve that mystery was first and foremost on my mind. And the story progressed everything fell more in to place though, especially since the two things melded together, and I really loved the story up to and including the ending.

 

Certainly there are things that didn't work as well as others so I'll do a short list of what I found less good:

  • Iovara and the entire Old Soul thing of the Watcher was introduced too late and/or not given enough screen time for me to really become invested.
  • Same thing for Thaos, his motivations should perhaps have been introduced a bit earlier to give us time to think more about it. There was a great opportunity to have us conflicted at the end about some choices. 
  • Same thing for the Gods and the choice of what to do with the souls. I felt that they should have tried to convince us harder. Perhaps through companions loyal to their respective deities.
  • The entire thing with Waidwen and the invasion from Readceras felt unfinished at the end. I really hope this is where one of the expansions will focus. Edér, Durance and the Gods involved demand it!

 

 

Things I liked:

  • The aspects of the Gods. I especially liked the ones who were philosophically right wing / traditionalist (in a way), since this is seldom done in RPGs/fantasy. I'm thinking of Galawain (Struggle), Magran (Transformation/Trial) and to some extent Berath (Cycles) and Woedica (Order / Hierarchy). They also handled this without the usual heavy handedness and explored these themes from more than one angle. Very well done and I would have enjoyed seeing more of this.
  • Companions. Edér and Durance followed by Hiravias were favourites. I especially liked the voice acting of both E and D as well as how they were written
  • The idea of the gods being constructs. Especially since we right now are closing in on creating AI:s. Looking forward to expansions / sequels exploring in more depth what constitutes a god. When playing, the classic quote from Arthur C. Clarke: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." came to mind. Is it not so that gods in a fantasy setting is the absolute peak of magic in a way? If not, and if their origin must be other than that of a lower creator, how would we define divinity? Must they have had a part in creating the universe? I think not, considering that we have several examples in actual polytheistic religions where this is not the case. Must they in that case have descended from even higher beings/being? Perhaps. Or is the mystery of them part of their essence? Wael would love that at least.

 

Oh well. Loved the game, these were just thoughts and not really huge criticisms.

 

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I think the game should've pushed the whole "you're gonna go insane" angle even more. I mean, you see the visions and stuff near the start... But I think the game kinda fails to *really* make it feel relevant. I think an issue is that, while if you actually *were* the Watcher for real it'd be scary as hell, in game the whole Watcher/awakened thing basically only amounts to positive things for the player. You see useful things, relive interesting things that reveal stuff, etc... There should've been some moments where you fall into these visions and maybe the game screws with you somehow, tricks you, I dunno. There is no real pressure to it.

 

I know many people didn't like the spirit-meter in Mask of the Betrayer (I thought it was a great thing for that game) but I think even without it, they still manage to sell the fact that... you're in a bad situation right from the start. PoE doesn't quite manage that in the same way and I can't quite put the finger on why.

 

I also would've loved more backstory from the "old life". I really enjoyed those sequences and wish there were more of them.

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I think the game should've pushed the whole "you're gonna go insane" angle even more. I mean, you see the visions and stuff near the start... But I think the game kinda fails to *really* make it feel relevant. I think an issue is that, while if you actually *were* the Watcher for real it'd be scary as hell, in game the whole Watcher/awakened thing basically only amounts to positive things for the player. You see useful things, relive interesting things that reveal stuff, etc... There should've been some moments where you fall into these visions and maybe the game screws with you somehow, tricks you, I dunno. There is no real pressure to it.

 

 

[...]

 

I also would've loved more backstory from the "old life". I really enjoyed those sequences and wish there were more of them.

 

Yeah, I agree. I never really felt the pressure of being the Watcher. As you said, it seemed mostly to be told to us. A pillar of writing is the "show, don't tell" thing and that was what was missing from the game. I think the Hollowborn thread was handled very well in this regard. 

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I think the game should've pushed the whole "you're gonna go insane" angle even more. I mean, you see the visions and stuff near the start... But I think the game kinda fails to *really* make it feel relevant. I think an issue is that, while if you actually *were* the Watcher for real it'd be scary as hell, in game the whole Watcher/awakened thing basically only amounts to positive things for the player. You see useful things, relive interesting things that reveal stuff, etc... There should've been some moments where you fall into these visions and maybe the game screws with you somehow, tricks you, I dunno. There is no real pressure to it.

 

I know many people didn't like the spirit-meter in Mask of the Betrayer (I thought it was a great thing for that game) but I think even without it, they still manage to sell the fact that... you're in a bad situation right from the start. PoE doesn't quite manage that in the same way and I can't quite put the finger on why.

 

I also would've loved more backstory from the "old life". I really enjoyed those sequences and wish there were more of them.

 

I agree. You get the meeting with Maerwald and then a few comments from Éder or Kana about your situation, but beyond that being a Watcher seems pretty awesome, and in fact directly allows you to foil Thao's plans at little to no cost for the player. I think the player should have had more visions of really horryfying things, constant whispers taking their toll on them, short but acute Awakenings, that sort of thing. Not too many, so as not to hinder gameplay, but having a chance to occur each time you sleep for example.

 

By contrast, I thought Dragon Age: Origins did a decent job showing the consequences of being a Warden. Sure, you're a darkspawn-killing badass, but they can hear you, whisper to you, and in 20-30 years? You're going to become a horrifying half-zombie if you don't get yourself killed first. No matter what. That's assuming you even survive the Joining in the first place.

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Yep, that was what bugged me the most, too.

 

The game gives you a good reason to follow the main quest if you care at all about the Hollowborn, and I thought it hinted enough at the fact that you might do something about it.

 

What it didn't really do very well is getting your personal involvement across.

I was kind of surprised when the dialogue said that that ritual in the beginning made me into a Watcher. The ritual didn't get anything across except "obviously evil dude in probably evil ritual". Could've been the storm. Could've been that I always had been a Watcher, just that it had to be kickstarted - how most of the "farm boy becomes the Chosen One with special Powerz!" stories work.

And later, it really fell flat in making clear that you're slowly going mad. I kind of accepted it after the game mentioned it a few times in passing, and filled the rest in for myself with (basically) Paul / Leto II Atreides stuff, but I never found it in any way inconvenient to be a Watcher or to have those memories, or that I had to hurry in any form. The Hollowborn were my main reason of doing things until the end.

Therefore I have sailed the seas and come

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

 

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So what types of negative effects would have been acceptable for you guys to get us to care about being a fragmenting Watcher?

Horrible nightmares in a more visual way? Side quests / tasks concerning this throughout the game? Perhaps searching for items or healers that might help? Like in the beginning?

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So what types of negative effects would have been acceptable for you guys to get us to care about being a fragmenting Watcher?

Horrible nightmares in a more visual way? Side quests / tasks concerning this throughout the game? Perhaps searching for items or healers that might help? Like in the beginning?

Horrible nightmares in a more visual way. Not only during rest but also getting overwhelmed with visions and whispers every now again for a few short moments while not in combat. That would've gotten the point across.

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More could've been done with the nightmares, I agree. And more with the companions freaking out afterwards.

 

The visions is more tricky I think because it could easily get annoying. But more sudden "dialogue breaks" perhaps where your character zones out and you go through a little text-adventure of a memory outside the ones immediately related to Thaos and relive other harsh things that could serve to "rattle" your character, interactive visions so to speak.

 

It's pretty tricky though all in all I think because it's a thin line from being barely noticeable to "god this is annoying me as a player, stop hitting me over the head with it".

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

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I thought more could have been done in places with either hallucinations that weren't clearly labelled as hallucinations by the purple lights, or rare instances where the dialogue options are deliberately restricted or your choices overidden. Maybe that would be too irritating in practice to play through, but the Awakened/Watcher curse felt more like a superpower in practice, which didn't really sell it as a motivation for me.  

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  I was wondering if, at least for the main character, the nightmares caused you to not actually recover via rest like everyone else.  At least story-wise, it would explain why you keep seeing the pillars (as opposed to the normal campfire) and why everyone else seems to think you look tired.  That could have allowed for your companions to potentially help you out, depending on how far along you were with them in regards to their quests and helping them work through their personal motivations (stuff like Grieving Mother playing the bells in your mind, Kana telling you a tale/singing you back to sleep, Durance being an **** and mostly just insulting you into action, Eder throwing a bucket of water before your campfire supplies are used up and allowing you to try again, etc.)

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To bring across urgency and an inevitable descent into madness in a computer game without time limits is quite a daunting task. ;)

BG2 tried it, and I think that was a quite decent attempt - some actual nightmare sequences, a nasty twist to your superpower, and a few conversations.

That's not the real thing, of course, but you have to be very careful with actual gameplay consequences. Fatigue carries a very heavy penalty, resting is severely limited esp. in the higher difficulties, and travel times are outrageous (and doesn't rest you, which is kind of stupid). Managing the side effects of your affliction, however, currently is not what the game is about, so it shouldn't influence gameplay too much.

So anything that actually really hampers you in random places, is kind of off-limits. But we all have imagination, we can fill in the gaps for ourselves once we get something to work on.

Therefore I have sailed the seas and come

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

 

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For me, hampering of the Watcher isn't really necessary. I just wanted the point driven home more that the Watcher was suffering in some way. As a motivation. I know the game lets us choose our motivation in some conversations, but the only things that really felt important to me was the Hollowborn and later stopping Woedicas ascent.

 

Perhaps more narrated cut scenes where the suffering of the Watcher is explained in more detail. Like the narration between acts. This would be especially useful in the beginning to hammer the point home, and then less frequent as the game progressed.

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