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An Honest but Harsh Review on the Setting

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#1
guguma

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Before I begin, I must tell you that the game is great. How can it not be great among the heap of crap shoved to our faces by the gaming industry, but considering what is expected from Obsidian, when I set high standards for this game, it is not great. Not great does not mean that it is not "good". So I do like the game but I think the developers with their credentials are capable of doing much better (like how Baldur's Gate was very good, but Baldur's Gate 2 was epic, I hope the next addition to this series will be as such)

 

And long story short, I am glad that this project happened, having wished for it way before it was on Kickstarter, so thank you Obsidian:

 

Spoiler

 

 

There is one (maybe two) aspects to this game that amounts to my disappointment (and before I get flamed in the least constructive and silliest manners for my comments I must add that, yes, I am aware that I am not the ultimate authority on everything RPGs, and gaming, and I am aware that there is no reason my opinion should matter more than anyone elses).

 

That one aspect is "The Setting" of the game and one particular thing done in this setting that bothers me the most, the second aspect is the "dull feeling" I got from the game. So here I go

 

THE SETTING (3/10)

 

I do like the world, I like the races, classes, and I like how the main story is interesting (just began Act III, and so far I am still curious), so why then I am giving the setting a 3 out of 10? 

 

It is because of this silly language thing that you have done... You know that I mean right, I am talking about this "fampyr" and "duc" business. Read my quote on the spoilers and my couple other posts, I find Elder Scrolls series utterly disgusting because the setting seems to have been created by 12 year olds who think changing monday and sunday to montag and suntag is creative writing, creative thinking.

 

What I do not understand is that how come you guys have done the exact same thing here, and it is worse really. All those words with an unnecessary use of "th","w", and vowels with accents, all this "Anvii ora Toha", "Lle a Rhemen", "Cean Gwla", "Anamfatha" business.

 

It was interesting when Tolkien did come up with entire languages but it really is not anymore, if you did construct entire languages for the game it is a waste of resources (which is actually not very hard to do).

 

When I interact with NPC's it is as if all of them are my lingustics instructor,

 

Elf: ...Our tribal leaders, the anamfath...

Sagani: ...I am on "Torkik Zokrik"(do not remember the actual thing), a journey....

Glossary: ...Caen Gwla, blood mother,....

 

A direct relation of this is exactly like

 

Talking to a French(Elf) person in English(Common), and they say "I am "aller au cinema", which means I am going to the movies, then I will eat "creme glacee", which means I will eat some ice cream. Seriously who talks like that?

 

And of course there is all this:

 

Duc = Duke

Erl = Earl

Conyg = King

Thayn = Thane

Fampyr = Vampire

Gul = Ghoul

Dargul = Greater Ghoul?

 

goes on forever

 

My goodness, how impressive, in this setting the local lords are "duc"s, very similar to dukes, but they call them "duc"s how original and inspiring. You should have called them ducks instead.

 

Back to being serious now, I understand in fantasy settings there will be special occasions these pseudo-language names are to be used and they actually convey an interest, like personal names, names of a couple of landmarks where the idea is to add some mystery some obscurity, but when overdone it becomes meaningless gibberish!!!

 

e.g. In Baldur's Gate, Watcher's Keep conveys an idea, Helm is "The Watcher", if it was called "Occulo Glavo Defil Krepta" it would mean absolutely nothing, just as Underdark, Trademeet, Umar Hills, are still very interesting names but also carry some meaning and are not complete gibberish, and there is a reason I remember these places but I keep forgetting "Lle a Rhemen" or "Cilaban Rilag" which does not stir any sort of emotion or a sense of danger or interest. However think how it would be if they were instead called, completely making these up,  "Rhemen Ritual Circle" or "Ruins of Rilag"?

 

or in Planescape Torment, can it get more interesting than "Alley of Lingering Sighs", would it be better to call it some gibberish?

 

If anyone thinks this is meaningfully creative and immersive we should encourage more of this nonsense why don't we

 

Dwarf = Beerdfolc

Elf = Eeerfolc

Orlan = Shirtfolc

Sword = Sabr'edu

Greatsword  = Dar Sabr'edu

Dagger = Shivv'ass

Ship = Galley-vou

Inn = Rest'a'casa

Lion = Aslan

 

etc. etc.

 

THE DULL FEELING

 

There is not much to say here, the cities and towns lack some dynamics, and the entire game is lacking on surprises and plot twists just as Baldur's Gate was lacking them but Baldur's Gate 2 actually had them so I am hoping this will happen in the next game.

 

The towns and villages have just a background music not ambient sounds, again in Baldur's Gate 2 when you went to the Slums or in Copper Coronet you could hear muffled conversations, shouts (WHO ARE YOUUU, or WHY YOUU), doors creaking, people rushing to you etc.

 

Or we had lords turning out to be dragons, commoners turning out to be bhaalspawns, complicated guild wars etc.

 

END NOTE

 

I did not get into Combat, The Exceptionally Dull Stronghold, The Half-Interesting Mega Dungeon (it does not matter if it is 15 floors, Watcher's Keep with 5 levels was much more interesting), The Items where none of them felt any special, The very short and not class specific Talent tree, and all that...

 

As I said, I am happy that Pillars of Eternity exists, I am happy to play it but I really think that you can do much better. I hope the next game in the series will have more polished combat, much more interesting abilities and talents, dual-multi classes, and actually unique items.

 

I also hope that there will be less of enchanting, or a much better system, hunting flowers, body parts and pets are for world of warcraft the intellectual resources might better be spent elsewhere.

 

Thanks for reading.


Edited by guguma, 28 April 2015 - 08:27 PM.

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#2
Tigranes

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"Talking to a French(Elf) person in English(Common), and they say "I am "aller au cinema", which means I am going to the movies, then I will eat "creme glacee", which means I will eat some ice cream. Seriously who talks like that?"

 

That's actually exactly what we do, you just don't notice it. We talk about siestas, we talk about c'est la vie, we say hasta la vista, baby. You just don't notice it because it's so ordinary. Which is exactly how ordinary it would be in the game setting.

 

Whether the made up names are excessive is another matter. I don't mind them, but preferences can differ. 

 

(By the way, people used to say: names like Trademeet and the Sword Coast are so bloody stupid! Who thought 'Sword Coast' was a good name? Why name 'Shield Town'? Or 'Two-Handed Sword Coast'? Did they have so little imagination they just randomly cobbled two names together and called it Trademeet the city?)


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#3
Orogun01

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Addressing some points, foreign people will sometime revert to their language when they lack the word they need to express themselves. I do it all the time, it helps when either words fail me or when they won't suffice.
 

Actually, the most intersting part of the setting where the Engwithan and their culture because of their ties to souls, Adra and therefore to the physics of the PoE universe. Every other culture can be summarized with two words and what bothers me is that one is often tied to the real world (E.G: Japanese Sharks, Black Renaissance...). Hard to become immersed in culture that's stuck in uncanny valley. The most interesting cultures seem to be the ones less developed.

 

Before you start babbling about nonsense words that sound alike you should try to figure out why they sound alike, etymological roots and what not. 

 

I agree with everything else, it felt dull probably because they aimed for secure rather than experimenting and taking some risks.
I'm hoping PoE will be the NW2 to an upcoming MoTB.



#4
house2fly

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The old names are good to have in the game because they contribute to the setting in a less blatant way- you have Lle A Rhemen and Cilant Lis coexisting with Gilded Vale and Defiance Bay. It says that the New world, advancement and change, is encroaching on and displacing the old ways, without actually saying it. I do agree it's a bit standard, but they wanted to make a spiritual successor to Baldur's Gate and that means meadows and wilderness. There's enough magic green stones and purple soul machines to keep it from feeling too samey imo. Though I'd be lying if I said I wasn't hoping for an Avellone-led sequel set in the Deadfire Archipelago or something.
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#5
guguma

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Before you start babbling about nonsense words that sound alike you should try to figure out why they sound alike, etymological roots and what not.


I thought everyone got the idea that etymological roots are utilized to "create" these nonsense words, but just because it has a methodology behind it does not justify doing it.
 

Addressing some points, foreign people will sometime revert to their language when they lack the word they need to express themselves. I do it all the time, it helps when either words fail me or when they won't suffice.
 
I agree with everything else, it felt dull probably because they aimed for secure rather than experimenting and taking some risks.
I'm hoping PoE will be the NW2 to an upcoming MoTB.

 
 

"Talking to a French(Elf) person in English(Common), and they say "I am "aller au cinema", which means I am going to the movies, then I will eat "creme glacee", which means I will eat some ice cream. Seriously who talks like that?"
 
That's actually exactly what we do, you just don't notice it. We talk about siestas, we talk about c'est la vie, we say hasta la vista, baby. You just don't notice it because it's so ordinary. Which is exactly how ordinary it would be in the game setting.


One can revert to their native language when they lack the word they need to express themselves, but would it mean anything?

English is a foreign language to me, if I lacked the words in English to explain something here on this forum and reverted to my native language you would not understand anything and would ask me what I meant, and I would go find a way to express it in the English language.

 

It would be interesting to add a companion who insisted using words from their native language, and would not know the translation to common. It makes no sense for them to utter words in their native language and right afterwards give us a common translation.

 

But I totally agree with PoE being a NWN2 to an upcoming MoTB


Edited by guguma, 28 April 2015 - 10:17 PM.


#6
b0rsuk

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Why do you trash the linguistics and call it a setting review ?


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#7
Glasny

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I'm amazed by the spoiler.
Does it mean you inspired Obsidian into making this game?

 

Hats off to you sir, thank you for this wonderful gaming experience.


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#8
archangel979

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I am certain that an RPG by Obsidian will be in the least satisfactory if not awesome.

Haha you were right about this one for sure.

#9
rheingold

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hmm... a substantial amount of what the op referred to has it's roots in various cultures - it is not made up nonsense, and for the most part it works for me. But having said that there are a couple of names like the op said that don't work - Fampyr being one of them. I really like the setting and background, it's well thought out and really different from the usual high fantasy D&D nonsense. Which frankly is getting a bit stale by now.
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#10
Srex

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lol @ shivv'ass & beerdfolc

 

 

I do see your point about the linguistics, but you have to keep in mind that if they made everything plain English (Duke vs Duc, etc) loads of people would complain about just how BORING and BANAL it all is, and how they've done all this BEFORE, and why couldn't obsidian be more CREATIVE?  I agree it's hard to have memorable place names when the names are in Engwithan (after 90 hours in the game I couldn't remember any of them just now when I tried to), but I've also never heard any of those words before, ever.  I probably didn't remember Umar Hills that well the first time, either.  For me the linguistics is window dressing, and I think it's fine either way.

 

I have to agree with some others that while a few parts of the game you mentioned could be improved (stronghold, enchanting, crafting), this is just a first iteration on them, and I'm glad they're in the game now, because that means they'll hopefully be refined in the future.  I did enjoy the stronghold and mega dungeon a lot, though, and thought the crafting and enchanting were, for the most part, good enough.


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#11
guguma

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DOUBLE POST


Edited by guguma, 29 April 2015 - 03:56 AM.


#12
guguma

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I'm amazed by the spoiler.
Does it mean you inspired Obsidian into making this game?

Hats off to you sir, thank you for this wonderful gaming experience.


I cannot tell if this is sarcasm,

I am quite certain that I did "NOT" inspire Obsidian into making this game nor plant the idea of a Kickstarter project. With the spoiler I wanted to convey the idea that I did wish for this to happen, and that I am happy with the outcome. I assumed it would be at the very least satisfactory, and it turned out to be quite good. Except "the language nonsense" as I call it, it seems I have a special dislike for this kind of "creativity".
 

Why do you trash the linguistics and call it a setting review ?

Because the dialogue, and the books, and the glossary are the medium in which the setting and the lore is experienced by the player, and linguistics plays a major part in it.



#13
Exyll

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Was this post really necessary?



#14
solmyr

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Talking to a French(Elf) person in English(Common), and they say " then I will eat "creme glacee", which means I will eat some ice cream.

Nobody says "crème glacée" in France, it's only "glace" ;) .

 

I disagree on the "duc" part : it is good and reflects language variations depending on the culture/country/continent (in Eora like in our world). Same thing applies for multiple god names depending on the country.
I agree on the "Gul", "Fampyr" part : it's okay to take some lore from D&D or fantasy stuff but either you change the name completly either you keep the same...



#15
fgalkin

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Dyrwood is based on the USA. The USA has ridiculous names like "Delaware," "Massachusetts," and "Mississippi." Such silliness! Who would come up with silly names like that?! Why didn't they just call it "Pilgrim Land," or "River Land?"

 

I do not want a linguistics lesson just by looking at a map! 3/10!

 

Have a very nice day.

-fgalkin


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#16
Concordance

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I agree on the "Gul", "Fampyr" part : it's okay to take some lore from D&D or fantasy stuff but either you change the name completly either you keep the same...

 

 

It's worth noting that while PioE's undead is based on classic fantasy undead, they are distinguished by unique lore. 

 

Classic undead is driven by the need to feed to remain "living", or the need for revenge to be laid to rest. PioE undead are all stages of the same disease, that demands they feed not to stay "alive", but to stop their body from decomposing and their memories/intelligence from slipping away. Without feeding, all undead degrade into Skeletons capable of no more than standing around and attacking the first living thing they see.

 

Classic Vampires drink human blood to remain alive and fuel their magic powers. Fampyrs consume living essence, either directly from freshly deceased bodies or from stored souls, to maintain their intelligence, self-awareness and flesh.

 

Darguls are not "alpha ghouls", they are an earlier stage of the disease. They still have their personality and memories, but reduced mental faculties. They consume essence to preserve what they have left.

 

Classic ghouls are feral beasts who eat flesh to keep their soul anchored to their body. Guls are feral beasts as well, but they eat to avoid decomposing into walking skeletons.

 

 

Obsidian makes the names similar, but different to make you draw the association with existing concepts ("ducs must be rulers, like dukes!"), yet pay attention to differences (dukes are hereditary monarchs, PioE's ducs are elected officials). It's a common technique employed by fiction writers to ease readers into the world, and it works well for those who care about immersion.


Edited by Concordance, 29 April 2015 - 05:43 AM.

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#17
guguma

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Dyrwood is based on the USA. The USA has ridiculous names like "Delaware," "Massachusetts," and "Mississippi." Such silliness! Who would come up with silly names like that?! Why didn't they just call it "Pilgrim Land," or "River Land?"

 

I do not want a linguistics lesson just by looking at a map! 3/10!

 

Have a very nice day.

-fgalkin

 

Those names have historic roots, based on history, The History, that actually happened, sadly most are named after massacred and extinct Native Americans, not only states but many cities and counties too. I just looked at what Mississippi meant and, surprise, it means "The Father of Waters"

 

We know Massachusetts, Paris, Berlin, Cairo, Copenhagen, because we live on earth. When someone tells you they live in Copenhagen, you understand perfectly well what they mean.

 

I do not intend to read the "Collected Volumes on the History of Dyrwood" or keep a "Concise Engwithian Dictionary" with me while I am trying to enjoy a story. 


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#18
fgalkin

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Dyrwood is based on the USA. The USA has ridiculous names like "Delaware," "Massachusetts," and "Mississippi." Such silliness! Who would come up with silly names like that?! Why didn't they just call it "Pilgrim Land," or "River Land?"

 

I do not want a linguistics lesson just by looking at a map! 3/10!

 

Have a very nice day.

-fgalkin

 

Those names have historic roots, based on history, The History, that actually happened, sadly most are named after massacred and extinct Native Americans, not only states but many cities and counties too. I just looked at what Mississippi meant and, surprise, it means "The Father of Waters"

 

We know Massachusetts, Paris, Berlin, Cairo, Copenhagen, because we live on earth. When someone tells you they live in Copenhagen, you understand perfectly well what they mean.

 

I do not intend to read the "Collected Volumes on the History of Dyrwood" or keep a "Concise Engwithian Dictionary" with me while I am trying to enjoy a story. 

 

So, you basically blame the developers for your own laziness and inability to immerse yourself in a story? Somehow, it's their fault for being too thorough in developing a setting? That's....not a very sensible attitude to have? 

 

Have a very nice day.

-fgalkin


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#19
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I was quite pleasantly surprised by the amount of detail that Mr Sawyer invested into making use of "Celtic" and Old English/Norse names and places, with the divide between the two and the various other languages seeping into the Dyrwood. Usually in games one sees a few popular words of Gaelic or Old Norse, but no coherent explanation or reasoning for their inclusion other than flavour, take the recent Kingdoms of Amalur game as a prime example. As a student of history at one time this serves to frustrate me to no end, I enjoyed twisting my tongue around the Glanfathan place names as I do their real counterparts, and recognising the Old English that I came across.


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#20
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I like the crazy names. One thing I dislike about traditional settings is "Common" (i.e. English) as a universal language. Yes, it makes it convenient, but it also makes it less immersive and makes the world feel smaller. I mean seriously, would the Engwithans be so mysterious and foreign if they were called "Glowing Stone People" and built "Glowing Stone Temples" or whatever?

 

As for stuff like Fampyr and Gul, it conveys a similarity without necessarily committing it to being identical to the D&D monster. It grated a little when I first encountered them but I've gotten used to them now.







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