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Mr Nonek's backseat developing thread


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Rather than make a traditional review I thought i'd indulge in a spot of backseat developing, share with the Obsidian devs my invaluable (read worthless) opinions and query the ladies and gentlemen on some of their choices. I would have done this on a dedicated review/feedback thread, but couldn't find one.

 

Firstly a little praise, with this game I got exactly what I was promised, and Obsidian should be praised for this when so many Kickstarters have cheated their backers even when massively overfunded. I am more than satisfied with my purchase, and count Poe as a good game. On my personal old fashioned scale of 1-10 I would attribute Poe a 7, bearing in mind that 10 is an unattainable perfect score (and perfection is impossible) and five is a perfectly average game that is fit for purpose.

 

I have some problems with the game; The MMO classes that are infecting all RPGs now, the fact that a Rogue is misnamed as roguishness has no connection to brutal combat whatsoever. The stash reinforcing the tyranny of loot that has to be included in all games now rather than worthwhile content. The amount of copy pasted combat encounters scattered over maps, that is somewhat necessitated by making an IE successor game, as they were similarly combat heavy. However all of these are little things that do not detract from the game too much.

 

However to get to the meat of the matter, I question some of the design choices: For instance the massive amount of content invested in the Endless Paths, that is totally dispensible and seperated from the game itself. I would have merged a good deal of this in one of my pen and paper campaigns. Caed Nua I would have made Raedric's stronghold, and Gilded Vale the demense that a character may rule over and tax upon seizing the paths. If the character wished to.

 

Furthermore the Endless Paths themselves (and the giant Adra statue within them) I would have made into the machine that created the Gods of Eora, and contain hints, histories and visions of Thaos that could be accessed through exploration and keys available through the main quest. However this would restrict the players whom do not choose to explore the paths, so I would have secret entrances and portals into each level of the paths that are unlocked upon the main quest path.

 

Defiance Bay I would largely leave untouched apart from making the end of Act 2 reactive to the player in some way, perhaps have Thaos take control of the protagonist to murder the Duc, but in so doing reveal much of himself, the Endless Paths and the secrets that the Glanfathans hold. A give and take situation, though that is just spur of the moment thinking.

 

I would start the game in the blasted ruins of the Godhammer crater, as this seems an area that cries out to be shown to and explored by the player, and have a little travel and adventure before the protagonist stumbles upon the incident that awakens him. Or even have it occur there.

 

Two further settlements are needed in my opinion, one frontier township somewhat like the Dyrford but with stockade, defences and a more military demeanour to show the tension between the Dyrwood and Eir Glanfath. This should lead of course to Twin Elms, the path to confronting Thaos and the endgame content that will lead the players back to the Endless Paths eventually and the vast statues that breathed life into the gods. There would also be numerous adventuring areas connecting these of course, but perhaps a few less with a little more worthwhile content.

 

Also i'd make Gilded Vale a depressed ghost town barely clinging on to life when the protagonist stumbles into it, and through the characters decisions i'd make it grow, adapt or be dispersed over time. For instance if the protagonist takes the stronghold, rebuilds the castle and village, rules fairly and justly then i'd have Gilded Vale become a bustling township and an important destination in the Dyrwood. If he disdains rulership but takes a home in the manorhouse of the stronghold, and defends the village then the people endure and become stronger, taking their cue from the local hero to carve out their mark upon the land and remain independent and strong. Etc. 

 

However hindsight and detatched observation is flawless as they say, and I am not faced by the struggles and problems that arose for the Obsidian staff, so my theorising is hardly a condemnation of them. I'd prefer to think of it as an alternate form of review, and an indication of how much the setting made me think and become invested, and therefore prove itself both as a game and a piece of art.

Quite an experience to live in misery isn't it? That's what it is to be married with children.

I've seen things you people can't even imagine. Pearly Kings glittering on the Elephant and Castle, Morris Men dancing 'til the last light of midsummer. I watched Druid fires burning in the ruins of Stonehenge, and Yorkshiremen gurning for prizes. All these things will be lost in time, like alopecia on a skinhead. Time for tiffin.

 

Tea for the teapot!

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I like where you are going with your comments Nonek, and I sort of agree.  Making Raedric's Hold the Stronghold would have been cooler.  That said they could not tie Od Nua to the main game because the Endless Paths kickstarter goal in and of itself promised an optional mega dungeon not tied to the main story.  Tying it strongly to the main story would have actually been counter to the kickstarter itself.

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Some more backseat design concepts & ideas, although I'm looking more at "what can be improved?" rather than "what would I have done?":

A) The Statue lady says there is another way around, narratively ("Takes more time..." future Expansion content, perhaps?). In-game, mechanically, you can't take that other way around (Unless I completely missed it). You have to "activate" the Stronghold by fixing the Eastern Barbican. This made me raise my eyebrow, seeing as how Obsidian talked about how the Stronghold would be "totally" optional (this is a nitpick, but this tiny bit makes the Stronghold a "must activate").

B) I would make a Level 3 or Level 4 of the Dungeon allow the Player to get out on a different map, to progress towards Defiance Bay without even activating it (somewhat inspired by Diablo 2 design, where you go through a mountain tunnel to get to the ancient tree, which gets you the scroll with the code to teleport to Tristram). This could be resolved in an Expansion ("Create secret passage").

C) Or by finishing Raedric's Hold and thus opening a "bridge" or something over the river to the East from it (somewhat inspired by Final Fantasy design, the first one, where the first quest is to defeat Garland and save the princess, and then a bridge is opened north of the starting city). This could be resolved in an Expansion ("Create Bridge, and Wilderness Areas, East of Raedric's Hold")

D) Then allow another faction to cleanse and/or take the Stronghold and make it part of their faction. It could be a contested area. I would make it much more contested, seeing as it is a very valuable position for trading routes and giving a massive control of the region (credit for this insight goes to someone I don't remember, but someone else brought it up that Caed Nua is very central, geopolitically).

E) Enemies would come/spawn in waves from the Western and Eastern Barbican, instead of spawning in the "Main Hall". Manual Resolve would have 2 states:

 

State 1 - Your adventuring party is out, far away. Manual Resolve would let you control your units stationed at the Stronghold to defend (rather than having to backtrack all the way to the Stronghold to defend).
State 2 - Your adventuring party is in, at the Stronghold. Manual Resolve would let you control all units at the Stronghold.

F) I would make more commands for the Stronghold (Expansions can solve some of it), such as:
- Patrols. Pay your Mercenaries to patrol the surrounding areas for X duration of Global Turns. Will lower the chance of getting attacked, and reputation from nearby settlements raised (Gilded Vale, Dyrford Village).
- Adventurer's with specific backgrounds (Laborer, Aristocrat, Mercenary, Raider, etc.) having some special Stronghold commands. A Laborer could make you construct faster, and repair structures after attacks.
- Durability on Structures (HP) rather than binary "Constructed" or "Destroyed".

- Trade. Trade with various factions for Resources. Both factions on the map (e.g. Twin Elms and Defiance Bay) and factions outside the map (e.g. Rautaui and Vailian).

 

To fully realize it though, I think the World Map would have to get bigger, because these ideas are more or less levitating towards 4X mechanics... see "H)" :p

G) If another Faction has taken the Stronghold, you could contest it and attack it, whilst the Faction would defend it (like Raedric's Hold).

H) .................. After buying Crusader Kings II on Sale, I dearly want Paradox and Obsidian to merge their heads together... and make Eora Kings... or Eora Universalis. Or maybe even.... Anni Iroccio :D

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E) Enemies would come/spawn in waves from the Western and Eastern Barbican, instead of spawning in the "Main Hall". Manual Resolve would have 2 states:

 

State 1 - Your adventuring party is out, far away. Manual Resolve would let you control your units stationed at the Stronghold to defend (rather than having to backtrack all the way to the Stronghold to defend).

State 2 - Your adventuring party is in, at the Stronghold. Manual Resolve would let you control all units at the Stronghold.

 

UtPNw0D.jpg

"Some ideas are so stupid that only an intellectual could believe them." -- attributed to George Orwell

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I like where you are going with your comments Nonek, and I sort of agree. Making Raedric's Hold the Stronghold would have been cooler. That said they could not tie Od Nua to the main game because the Endless Paths kickstarter goal in and of itself promised an optional mega dungeon not tied to the main story. Tying it strongly to the main story would have actually been counter to the kickstarter itself.

 

This is why I stressed that there should be secret entrances unlocked by the main quest, so that those whom choose not to take advantage of the opional content can still enter the Paths at key points, without having to complete all of the levels of content. A secret stair, passage or somesuch, running parallel to the Paths but apart from it. Thaos' own entrance perhaps?

 

On the subject of the Strongholds visitors and attacks does anyone else feel that these would be a perfect opportunity to use and expand upon the illustrated sequences we find throughout the game? So that we have a minigame somewhat similar to the fantastic story sequences found throughout King of Dragon Pass, that we solve through our attributes, skills or reputations. I was a little underwhelmed by how little the illustrated sequences were used when their versatility is clear for all to see, and they might offer so much more choice and more importantly consequence.

Quite an experience to live in misery isn't it? That's what it is to be married with children.

I've seen things you people can't even imagine. Pearly Kings glittering on the Elephant and Castle, Morris Men dancing 'til the last light of midsummer. I watched Druid fires burning in the ruins of Stonehenge, and Yorkshiremen gurning for prizes. All these things will be lost in time, like alopecia on a skinhead. Time for tiffin.

 

Tea for the teapot!

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I think my biggest beef with the game, honestly, is how controlled it is.

Characters lack variance because someone got super paranoid and controlling with the stat selection. You cannot realistically say "ok this is my glass cannon so I'm going to give him no defensive talents and instead give him 35 bonus accuracy" because the game hardly lets you get 15 extra accuracy on any singular character. ALL of the stats are highly controlled, and while this makes balance easier for the developers, it really kills replay value.

 

   I played the hell out of Fallout New Vegas partially because I loved the story and setting (something I was fully prepared for Pillars to not match) and because the character diversity was really good, which afforded great replay value. I could make one character a damage dealer with 40% crit, whereas another had a lot of utility perks to apply to various situations, and yet another just had a weapon focus that made him play drastically different from most other weapon types.
  Pillars, by comparison...does anyone honestly notice much difference between a sword and an axe? Don't get me wrong, they clearly do different things, but what I'm saying is the scope of how different they act is...tiny. The difference between using an axe and a sword often feels like "cool, because I used this weapon I do .45 extra damage per swing!!" It's pathetic, it's dull, and it hardly encourages replay value. I like those moments where I lose a fight and I think "man, I could've won that had I been using my other character," but that simply doesn't happen here outside of class differences, the problem being that the class differences quickly get worn out, cause there's 11 classes and 6 party slots, soo....

 

  I just wish my characters truly felt unique, rather than "Barbarian #17." From what I've seen and what I've tried to do though, it's simply not feasible. It feels like the devs were so concerned with proper balance that they ended up smothering character diversity to the point where it's just non-existent, which imo, is not a worthy trade-off. I do not mind in the slightest if a game has 5-6 "meta" builds that are so obviously strong compared to others, because playing such a build encourages you to explore different character types and try to find new metas. With Pillars however, I know damned well no one will find any, because the game does not allow you to stack any singular stat beyond ~+20 and maybe a temporary +30. (or in some cases, a very specific class can get a very specific stat increase under specific circumstances, which again is controlled in it's own way)

"The Courier was the worst of all of them. The worst by far. When he died the first time, he must have met the devil, and then killed him."

 

 

Is your mom hot? It may explain why guys were following her ?

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