Jump to content
Quillon

Why is everything in this game so bland?

Recommended Posts

This will be a short impression. To start with I should mention I haven't played any IE games, I tried to play them several times but never could get a hang of them. I don't read every single piece of lore in an RPG; I read all the gameplay dialogues and much less of codex entries.  I'm not a fan of "IE style" nor 2D backgrounds, I was neutral on that topic and I think I'm an open-minded player so I got on board with Pillars and I don't regret it one bit. I played 5 of Obsidian's games before Pillars which are Kotor 2, NWN2, Alpha Protocol, Dungeon Siege 3 and New Vegas. I loved all of them except DS3; guess it wasn't buggy enough :D I don't remember much of DS3 but I remember ıt wasn't interesting enough to continue playing.

 

So in Pillars, everything's bland from story to companions to items. I don't have any complaints for combat and I don't much care about the items&equipment to complain about them. Stronghold and companions could have been better but my main issue is with the story; not the main story but all of it and not what it is but how I experienced it. It's strange that before Pillars I could doubt every feature in an upcoming Obsidian game but the story.

 

I can't think of many things to base my point on except for everything I did felt bland. It felt like devs tried too hard to avoid everything which had been done before: like there were no long quest chains in different acts(most quests were too quick to reach conclusions), no duel situations with spectators, no big trial/evidence gathering etc. Yeah there were no NWN2 stuff :D but instead of things like these there were no new interesting things either.

 

So why make it this way? To kickstart a fantasy universe in the cleanest way possible so you can branch it and make it interesting later on?

 

DAO started a new fantasy universe(which went down the **** in later games) but it never felt bland in that game. Yeah it didn't feel as original as Pillars and there was the biggest cliche of all that the evil army threatening to destroy the world. But quests in DAO felt more connected and were not so eager to reach an end. Companions were more involved in story and side content(*they also could talk directly to the NPC you were talking to and get a response much more often than in Pillars*). And romances may have helped with DAO but I never felt the lack of romances in Pillars so that was not it for me.

 

Don't get me wrong. I liked the more mature theme and realistic approach to most things(I wouldn't have minded if the universe was magic-free :D no, I'd have been overjoyed if that was the case); the hollowborn situation and how gods are displayed. But the game generally lacked flavor. Maybe it's because(it's a big game but) current events take place in and effect such a small part of the world we don't know much about. Maybe it's cos of the safe/controlled approach to a new IP or something else. 

 

Anyway, had to get it out of my chest. Thanks for reading and sorry for my grammar. 

Edited by Quillon
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it's a combination of a budget, time, and engine limitations. Obsidian has to fulfill all their backer promises while working on a brand new engine from scratch.

 

So it might be that the engine isn't capable of running very complex quests, or rendering a very complex scene, and in need of further development. 

Obsidian might not have the time or budget to design complex gameplay, quests, etc, because they have to design basic battle, basic conversation, basic crafting system, basic stronghold, basic prison system, and many things new. Remember that this is not AAA budget game.

 

I'd say wait for the expansion pack or sequel. For an introductory game to a new world, I think it has done its job well, they have conveyed truckload of lore for successors.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Huh, to me it felt like the least bland high fantasy setting I've seen in forever.  Forgotten Realms, and by extension Baldur's Gate is super duper band on the other hand.  Everyone has their tastes I suppose.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Bland" is a very subjective term.  I didn't find the game at all bland; indeed, parts of it were outright shocking.  If you find incest, child murder, cannibalism, involuntary mind probing, human sacrifice and soul manipulation to be bland, well, you must lead a very interesting life.

  • Like 7

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Huh, to me it felt like the least bland high fantasy setting I've seen in forever.  Forgotten Realms, and by extension Baldur's Gate is super duper band on the other hand.  Everyone has their tastes I suppose.

 

I don't know that I'd call the DnD Forgotten Realms and thus Baldur's Gate setting "bland", though as you rightly point out, different strokes for different folks.  Whether one actually liked the FR setting, one thing it had going for it was a massive amount of pre-existing depth going for it that the creators of BG didn't have to create when they were designing BG1/2.  All they had to do was create their game within that pre-existing toybox, which perhaps might have meant that its developers could spend more time on the story and less on creating the environment where the story would take place.

 

Just a thought.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Huh, to me it felt like the least bland high fantasy setting I've seen in forever.  Forgotten Realms, and by extension Baldur's Gate is super duper band on the other hand.  Everyone has their tastes I suppose.

 

I don't know that I'd call the DnD Forgotten Realms and thus Baldur's Gate setting "bland", though as you rightly point out, different strokes for different folks.  Whether one actually liked the FR setting, one thing it had going for it was a massive amount of pre-existing depth going for it that the creators of BG didn't have to create when they were designing BG1/2.  All they had to do was create their game within that pre-existing toybox, which perhaps might have meant that its developers could spend more time on the story and less on creating the environment where the story would take place.

 

Just a thought.

 

 

I wouldn't call a huge catalog of fantasy cliches "pre-existing depth".  I actually kind of find it amusing that in one go a game design company made a more interesting world than the most popular D&D world of all time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

Huh, to me it felt like the least bland high fantasy setting I've seen in forever.  Forgotten Realms, and by extension Baldur's Gate is super duper band on the other hand.  Everyone has their tastes I suppose.

 

I don't know that I'd call the DnD Forgotten Realms and thus Baldur's Gate setting "bland", though as you rightly point out, different strokes for different folks.  Whether one actually liked the FR setting, one thing it had going for it was a massive amount of pre-existing depth going for it that the creators of BG didn't have to create when they were designing BG1/2.  All they had to do was create their game within that pre-existing toybox, which perhaps might have meant that its developers could spend more time on the story and less on creating the environment where the story would take place.

 

Just a thought.

 

 

I wouldn't call a huge catalog of fantasy cliches "pre-existing depth".  I actually kind of find it amusing that in one go a game design company made a more interesting world than the most popular D&D world of all time.

 

 

You can choose to not accept it as depth, but it is.  There's no denying that it exists, whether you like the content or not. 

 

And I'm not entirely sure that I'd call PoE's world more interesting.  Matter of taste. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How can you question us about your perception of the game as a whole? Ask yourself why you perceived this as so bland and provide us the answer so we can agree or disagree.

 

I wouldn't call it bland. The pacing is deliberately slow. You have time to get immersed in the world. The problems you deal with are pretty low key except for some incest.

 

But this is a game more about a personal struggle set within a hollowborn epidemic disrupting the local economy and perverting scientific research. You get to find out the true cause of the epidemic, you get to chase the man who inadvertently caused your awakening, and you get to learn some startling revelations about the nature of the gods. These things were all presented in an interesting manner without being melodramatic but without banality.

 

The companions are pretty low key as well. One is spying on you and dealing with his own minor awakening, another just needs to get out of Gilded Vale and wants to know if he fought in the wrong side of the war. The NPCs are generally just traveling companions without their own melodrama. Grieving Mother is drawn to you through her own unconscious recollection of her time as a faux Watcher and she believes you are the one who can help end Waidwen's Legacy. But mostly they just need a friend and ally and they have your back.

 

It's not bland just because it avoids making every issue feel epic. You're not traveling with an heir to the throne and the mother of an Old God. You're not traveling with the warlord of an entire species or the man who crippled their reproductive systems.

 

Dialing back the epic and makes for a well-paced story and makes the extraordinary actually feel extraordinary.

 

Just like with tv, sometimes it's okay for a show where every single event is epic and over the top, and sometimes I want something a little more grounded and deliberately paced.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

 

Huh, to me it felt like the least bland high fantasy setting I've seen in forever.  Forgotten Realms, and by extension Baldur's Gate is super duper band on the other hand.  Everyone has their tastes I suppose.

 

I don't know that I'd call the DnD Forgotten Realms and thus Baldur's Gate setting "bland", though as you rightly point out, different strokes for different folks.  Whether one actually liked the FR setting, one thing it had going for it was a massive amount of pre-existing depth going for it that the creators of BG didn't have to create when they were designing BG1/2.  All they had to do was create their game within that pre-existing toybox, which perhaps might have meant that its developers could spend more time on the story and less on creating the environment where the story would take place.

 

Just a thought.

 

 

I wouldn't call a huge catalog of fantasy cliches "pre-existing depth".  I actually kind of find it amusing that in one go a game design company made a more interesting world than the most popular D&D world of all time.

 

 

You can choose to not accept it as depth, but it is.  There's no denying that it exists, whether you like the content or not. 

 

And I'm not entirely sure that I'd call PoE's world more interesting.  Matter of taste. 

 

 

Yeah if you like cliches stacked on top of each other miles deep Forgotten Realms is probably grand...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

 

 

 

 

Huh, to me it felt like the least bland high fantasy setting I've seen in forever. Forgotten Realms, and by extension Baldur's Gate is super duper band on the other hand. Everyone has their tastes I suppose.

I don't know that I'd call the DnD Forgotten Realms and thus Baldur's Gate setting "bland", though as you rightly point out, different strokes for different folks. Whether one actually liked the FR setting, one thing it had going for it was a massive amount of pre-existing depth going for it that the creators of BG didn't have to create when they were designing BG1/2. All they had to do was create their game within that pre-existing toybox, which perhaps might have meant that its developers could spend more time on the story and less on creating the environment where the story would take place.

 

Just a thought.

I wouldn't call a huge catalog of fantasy cliches "pre-existing depth". I actually kind of find it amusing that in one go a game design company made a more interesting world than the most popular D&D world of all time.

You can choose to not accept it as depth, but it is. There's no denying that it exists, whether you like the content or not.

 

And I'm not entirely sure that I'd call PoE's world more interesting. Matter of taste.

"Amount of content" is not equivalent to "depth of content."

  • Like 2

If I'm typing in red, it means I'm being sarcastic. But not this time.

Dark green, on the other hand, is for jokes and irony in general.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

 

 

Huh, to me it felt like the least bland high fantasy setting I've seen in forever. Forgotten Realms, and by extension Baldur's Gate is super duper band on the other hand. Everyone has their tastes I suppose.

I don't know that I'd call the DnD Forgotten Realms and thus Baldur's Gate setting "bland", though as you rightly point out, different strokes for different folks. Whether one actually liked the FR setting, one thing it had going for it was a massive amount of pre-existing depth going for it that the creators of BG didn't have to create when they were designing BG1/2. All they had to do was create their game within that pre-existing toybox, which perhaps might have meant that its developers could spend more time on the story and less on creating the environment where the story would take place.

 

Just a thought.

I wouldn't call a huge catalog of fantasy cliches "pre-existing depth". I actually kind of find it amusing that in one go a game design company made a more interesting world than the most popular D&D world of all time.

You can choose to not accept it as depth, but it is. There's no denying that it exists, whether you like the content or not.

 

And I'm not entirely sure that I'd call PoE's world more interesting. Matter of taste.

"Amount of content" is not equivalent to "depth of content."

 

 

Depends on what you mean by depth.  The way I'm using the phrase, yes it is equivalent.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah if you like cliches stacked on top of each other miles deep Forgotten Realms is probably grand...

It's hardly fair to put cliches as a Forgotten Realms' fault, though. FR was always meant to be extremely generic fantasy setting for having fun adventuring, and that's kinda supposes clicheing (is it even a legit word?..) to no end.

 

PoE's Eora, as far as I can tell after one full playthrough, is anything but generic fantasy, which is good, but writing and quest design in some places felt excessively dry to me. For that matter, I already can't remember any significant NPC aside from 8 companions and Thaos. It's as if devs concentrated on thematic exploration too much, making all significant NPCs samples of some certain idea, and forgot to add them a little personality aside from representative function. Dumped right in face in big chunks lore didn't help either. So, for me, overall PoE's writing is below usual Obsidian level, but still well above everything Bioware produced since... ever, actually.

 

All in all, I'd blame time and resources. Too much to write in too little time.

 

At least companions are really good. :)

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How can you question us about your perception of the game as a whole? Ask yourself why you perceived this as so bland and provide us the answer so we can agree or disagree.

 

I wouldn't call it bland. The pacing is deliberately slow. You have time to get immersed in the world. The problems you deal with are pretty low key except for some incest.

 

But this is a game more about a personal struggle set within a hollowborn epidemic disrupting the local economy and perverting scientific research. You get to find out the true cause of the epidemic, you get to chase the man who inadvertently caused your awakening, and you get to learn some startling revelations about the nature of the gods. These things were all presented in an interesting manner without being melodramatic but without banality.

 

The companions are pretty low key as well. One is spying on you and dealing with his own minor awakening, another just needs to get out of Gilded Vale and wants to know if he fought in the wrong side of the war. The NPCs are generally just traveling companions without their own melodrama. Grieving Mother is drawn to you through her own unconscious recollection of her time as a faux Watcher and she believes you are the one who can help end Waidwen's Legacy. But mostly they just need a friend and ally and they have your back.

 

It's not bland just because it avoids making every issue feel epic. You're not traveling with an heir to the throne and the mother of an Old God. You're not traveling with the warlord of an entire species or the man who crippled their reproductive systems.

 

Dialing back the epic and makes for a well-paced story and makes the extraordinary actually feel extraordinary.

 

Just like with tv, sometimes it's okay for a show where every single event is epic and over the top, and sometimes I want something a little more grounded and deliberately paced.

 

 

 

Pacing can be slow but it was also too steady, no ups and downs except for Act 2's and game's end. Quoting myself "my main issue is with the story; not the main story but all of it and not what it is but how I experienced it." So I don't criticize the story, if it was a book, I'd say "good read" but storytelling was off somehow from gameplay perspective. Yellow Rabbid tells better what I mean to say:

 

 

PoE's Eora, as far as I can tell after one full playthrough, is anything but generic fantasy, which is good, but writing and quest design in some places felt excessively dry to me. For that matter, I already can't remember any significant NPC aside from 8 companions and Thaos. It's as if devs concentrated on thematic exploration too much, making all significant NPCs samples of some certain idea, and forgot to add them a little personality aside from representative function. Dumped right in face in big chunks lore didn't help either. So, for me, overall PoE's writing is below usual Obsidian level, but still well above everything Bioware produced since... ever, actually.

 

 

ps: I don't know how to use quoting in this forum properly.

Edited by Quillon

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The game does feel rather dry.  Feels a lot like Baldur's Gate 1, with better technology and bantering companions.  Thing is, the situations that the player goes into either doesn't have flavor, or gives the impression of being half-baked.  BG2 had presence, while POE is just...there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dragon Age Origins immediately threw you into fantasy zombie apocalypse with special anti-zombie suicide supersoldiers. It worked on world-building parallel to ab epic story of orc-zombie invasion.

 

PoE has intriguing stuff happening in prologue but then the story has nothing special till the epilogue. You chase the guy. Soul stuff thing is interesting but not terribly engaging. Hollowborn problem feels world-threatening, of course, but it's not a problem you solve with epic battles. The problem is that storyline is bland for most of the game so you don't experience the world itself in an interesting context.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The problem is that storyline is bland for most of the game so you don't experience the world itself in an interesting context.

 

"Don't experience the world"? What about eye-witnessing and dealing with consequences of hollowbirths left and right, taking part in political upheaval of Defiance Bay, seeing Glanfathans first-hand with all their quirks, studying Engwithian language and exploring Engwithian ruins, observing all sorts of cults in action and finally communing with gods themselves? What constitutes experiencing the world?

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is so subjective that I don't even know how to formulate a response.  Walking into the first village and seeing a bunch of people hanging from a giant tree is "bland"?  Finding out that babies are being born without souls?

 

This game is text heavy and not visual heavy; so if you favor cinematic cut-scenes and the like you'll be disappointed.  This game is for book people, not movie people; it's reading the Lord of the Rings, not watching it.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I believe this may be a prime example of a layer 8 issue, otherwise known as User Failure.  I suggest turning yourself off and on again, perhaps also resetting to factory default by taking a long sharp implement and inserting into one of the holes on either side of your head unit. :p

 

Just joking, but I really can't understand how anyone thinks this is more bland than most of the 'worlds' and settings in most other RPGs.  It's one of the better settings, really well thought through, internally consistent and deep.  I like it.  Guess people really do need to cling to stereotypes and clichés to think a world has depth, it may be a bit 'dry' but that isn't a bad thing.

 

People citing Dragon Age (any of them) as an example of good world-building immediately discounts your opinion to me, I find it to be the complete opposite and full of stock clichés and even ripped off ideas.  Of course, this can be argued to be subjective (except for DA ripping others off, but BioWare have always taken things from others as 'inspiration'), you can think DA is a ripe setting just as I can think Pillars is, it doesn't really make any difference in the end as I will no doubt destroy you all and wipe your spawn from the face of the universe as part of my ascension to power anyway.

  • Like 2

"That rabbit's dynamite!" - King Arthur, Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail

"Space is big, really big." - Douglas Adams

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Personally I've found the story in PoE pretty interesting so far.  It does start off a bit slow and even overwhelming at times but once you start getting through Defiance Bay things really start to pick up. 

 

Something I have noticed is that people who tend to say that PoE doesn't have a good story are usually people who don't bother reading all the walls of text that the game gives you.  While you don't need to read all the books and extra stories necessarily, they do add a lot to the overall story.  Not sure if that applies to you or not, but might be related if you get bored right at the beginning and as such skip over the dialog.

 

Different strokes for different folks though.  Personally I like PoE's universe a lot better so far than DA:O (even though I enjoyed that too until DA2 came out).

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm really not going to wade in here, because it's just subjective opinion and I don't really wanted to engage with that - because I found Dragon Age's world to be a bit of a let down, but it was still fun. 

 

I'm going to talk about the *role* of cliches.  Most of the time, people talk about cliches as if they're a bad thing; they are not, inherently, bad.  If you're an author or creator who is trying to make interesting content, you can effectively use cliches.   In very fantastical, or heavy sci-fi, settings cliches are actually helpful.  They provide the reader or observer with a predictable formula, that allows them to immediately understand the cliche (provided they have the necessary background to establish the cliche) - so as not to become overwhelmed by the content.  When you throw people into a setting or world they know very little about, feeding them cliches for an extended period of time is actually a fairly helpful writing tactic, because you can explain a lot more about your setting without confusing people.   Nearly every decent story, in any strange setting, feeds you a few cliches so your brain doesn't overheat. 

 

It's why nearly every fantasy RPG starts out with a "kill the rats" quest - it helps you center yourself in the world and work out the combat mechanics.  It's why most RPGs with races stick to the tolkeinish races, if they have races, because the player automatically understands what an "elf" is and what they are like.  You can layer on additional content - which they do in this game - but the fundamental cliche is still there to keep the player from being overwhelmed by the content.  You can also create a "thrilling" situation where the reader/observer *assumes* the cliche is going to occur, and then reverse their expectations - which happens fairly often in Pillars.   

Edited by Gallenger

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The problem for me is that in Pillars you just don't care about the world and the main quest.

 

I've read everything in game and I still don't know much about the world, and the things I do know I don't really like. It is all pretty basic. Few historical figures, few events, few nations, few gods.

 

Then, there is the story. Good idea about souls and hollowborn...but game never lets you feel it. It is just something talked about. No emotions involved.

 

Watcher (witcher, warden) is going mad, but again you do not feel it. few short dialogs and that's it.

 

And in the end you finnish with some quick "twist" having little in common with the rest of the game.

 

It all feels terribly rushed and half-done. Devs were just following the formula, had a deadline, some general idea, and this is the result. Not good, not smart, not involving, not epic...just ok.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Yeah if you like cliches stacked on top of each other miles deep Forgotten Realms is probably grand...

It's hardly fair to put cliches as a Forgotten Realms' fault, though. FR was always meant to be extremely generic fantasy setting for having fun adventuring, and that's kinda supposes clicheing (is it even a legit word?..) to no end

 

 

Except that that already existed with Greyhawk.  What they did wit Forgotten Realms was create an unwieldy monstrosity of every fantasy cliche you can think of to the point that its generic nature became wholly distorted into a kind of caricature of a fantasy world rather than a proper, living and breathing fantasy world.  I mean when you compare it to D&D worlds like Eberron or Athas the lack of any kind of vision or theme to Toril becomes really obvious.  It's just a grotesque fantasy smoothie with every fantasy idea ever thrown in, so that the final taste is an incredibly strong flavor of nothing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The problem for me is that in Pillars you just don't care about the world and the main quest.

 

I've read everything in game and I still don't know much about the world, and the things I do know I don't really like. It is all pretty basic. Few historical figures, few events, few nations, few gods.

 

Then, there is the story. Good idea about souls and hollowborn...but game never lets you feel it. It is just something talked about. No emotions involved.

 

Watcher (witcher, warden) is going mad, but again you do not feel it. few short dialogs and that's it.

 

And in the end you finnish with some quick "twist" having little in common with the rest of the game.

 

It all feels terribly rushed and half-done. Devs were just following the formula, had a deadline, some general idea, and this is the result. Not good, not smart, not involving, not epic...just ok.

 

I wholly disagree.  Best crpg story in years for me, and I found the setting a breath of fresh air in the genre of high fantasy.

Share this post


Link to post
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...