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PoE's nostalgia factor vs continuing a genre


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Hello,

 

I had read a recent review for PoE and it's a recurring point in any mentioning of PoE, that the game uses nostalgia for the IE games. While I don't think the point is false I did wonder how much is nostalgia vs the genre of game that PoE was made is a fun genre. By that I mean could you argue that Starcraft 2 has the nostalgia factor for people that loved the original Starcraft?

 

It's a philosophical point, I suppose, if the IE-style games had continues to be made, even just sporadically, PoE may be regarded as the best new addition to the genre. Rather then "if you pine for the olden days of yore when Baldur's Gate roamed the land, play PoE." Again, I do acknowledge that there is a nostalgia factor for some customers, but have criticisms been too reductionist in that regard? PoE is a great game that stands on its own. And, the point I wish would be brought up more, the genre of IE-style games is a solid fun genre that more developers and publishers should revive. I hope a few more games in this style get put out, not just by Obsidian, then a clearer picture of how much PoE's success leaned on nostalgia vs the game and genre of PoE being great entertainment.

 

Yalls thoughts?

 

PS

 

I also apologize if this is kinda rambly & incomprehensible. Just a thought that's been percolating in my brain.

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I think there is an element of nostalgia.  The IE games broke ground and established a standard that I believe was lost when cRPG games became big business.  For me there was a sense of mystery in those games, a feeling that your character grew, learned and was seeking to learn about his/herself.   The story was important and the actions of the PC were important.  I also loved the companions in those games.

 

I played those games plus Arcanum and Fallout NV and loved them.  When I heard that Obsidian was starting a Kickstarter to make a game in the spirit of those older games I rushed over to make a pledge.  I was hoping for a game with a good story, with choices that mattered, with some of that mystery and self exploration.  Obsidian has made a game I love and I look forward to the expansions and sequel.

 

Obsidian took on a challenge and I think has done a great job with a limited budget.  

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 I have but one enemy: myself  - Drow saying


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I actually think nostalgia had very little effect on my part. I did enjoy Baldur's Gates a lot, I just didn't get the same vibe from PoE. It was very similar to BG's in many ways but I never found myself comparing any of the aspects to any IE game.

 

When we look at the game as newest entry in isometric, party based RPG, it has some of the better quest design out there and the backgrounds are way better than most of the 3D stuff we've seen in the recent years. It raised the world design and role playing elements above the graphics or scale, which have been the plague of the recent RPGs (IMO).

 

I think PoE exploits nostalgia a lot less than Starcraft 2 or Dota 2 for example. It can and should be presented as individual, good game without constantly getting compared to IE games. Of course I cannot judge objectively as I have played BG and I based my purchase mainly on the spiritual succession more than anything.

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There's a middle ground, you know. I never did play the old IE games, since I was on a Mac back then and they didn't port them to Macs.

 

I come from a generation that played the old pen and paper games in our 20ies. And I came to expect something similar on the computer when I started playing them there. So customization is very important for me, player development and story driven quests. I hated the console turnaround the industry made about 5 or 6 years ago with a vengeance. The hack and slash combat as well as the FedEx sidequests and the so called streamlining. The last year brought two lights at the end of the tunnel. One was D:OS and the second one POE. Both games delivered and were the first ones since NWNII and Dragon Age Origins to keep me up at night.

 

I really hope, this new trend continues, regardless if it's nostalgia or continuing a genre.

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I think the problem is that as the video gaming community has expanded and evolved interest has drifted away from D&D inspired RPG games to more simplistic and streamlined RPGs. Thus games like PoE are often viewed as either a revival of a mostly dead genre (similar to old school adventure games) or part of a niche genre not suitable for the average gamer. It is therefore not surprising that many reviewers see this game as an exercise in nostalgia rather than a continuation of a viable genre.

 

Though I personally very much enjoy PoE I would not recommend it for everyone. In particular players more accustomed to modern games may object to the pace of play, the micromanagement needed to effectively control a 6 character party, and the complexity of the underlying mechanics. As all of these attributes are central to the genre, it is pretty much inevitable games like PoE will never strongly appeal to a mass audience.

 

I do believe that developers can and should make efforts minimize the annoyance of the core features of these games. For example, highly complex mechanics is less problematic if:

  1. The mechanics actually work as intended and stated
  2. Players can access all the information they need to master the mechanics through:
    • Clear and accurate tooltips
    • As much information as possible accessible in game via glossary, bestiary, encyclopedia, etc.
    • A complete and updated wiki that covers all the minutiae
  3. Well designed tutorials to help players grapple the basics (and possibly optional tutorials that cover more advanced concepts)

Some other suggestions to increase the appeal of PoE:

  1. Allied AI settings would be a nice option to have available for players who want a simpler combat experience.
  2. Tighter pacing on quest availability would probably be wise. The glut of quests available at the start of act 2 can be rather overwhelming.
  3. The ability to adjust the player character build at the end of introductory area as well as methods to purchase a character reset later (ability/talent only for premade companions, disabled in expert and possibly PoTD mode).
  4. A greater effort to offer the player equivalent rewards for branching quest lines, so that roleplaying is less penalized and using walkthroughs less rewarded.
Edited by HoopleDoople
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Though I personally very much enjoy PoE I would not recommend it for everyone. In particular players more accustomed to modern games may object to the pace of play, the micromanagement needed to effectively control a 6 character party, and the complexity of the underlying mechanics. As all of these attributes are central to the genre, it is pretty much inevitable games like PoE will never strongly appeal to a mass audience.

 

 

 

You win some and you lose some. I didn't buy a Bioware game since DA:O for the abysmal route they've taken. So count me out as a potential audience for any of these games. I did buy Skyrim and in hindsight I don't exactly regret the decision, but I won't buy another Elder Scroll game either as long as there isn't solid evidence that they did their homework and stopped catering to the lowest common denominator.

 

So there's a market for deeper role playing games. The sales figures point in that direction and I would regret it, if  your appeal to a larger audience approach would feature in their decision making. Why water down a concept that has found it's audience. And probably won't lose it either, since people interested in that kind of game are usually older and not that driven by the next shiny sensation on the horizon as the console generation.

 

To tell the truth, the only company that didn't utterly dissapoint me at some point in their existence is Obsidian. All the others have been either eaten alive by EA or taken the first exit to mainstream like Bethesda.

 

Funny thing is, while looking at DA:I, to see if there's still some signs of intelligent life in Bioware, I stumbled over D:OS and gave them my money instead. And when playing D:OS, I stumbled over POE and preordered. And now I'm looking at Legends of the Sword Coast, which also looks pretty promising. So there are still games that don't try to appeal to everyone. And that's a good thing I'm willing to support with my money.

Edited by abaris
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Though I personally very much enjoy PoE I would not recommend it for everyone. In particular players more accustomed to modern games may object to the pace of play, the micromanagement needed to effectively control a 6 character party, and the complexity of the underlying mechanics. As all of these attributes are central to the genre, it is pretty much inevitable games like PoE will never strongly appeal to a mass audience.

 

 

 

You win some and you lose some. I didn't buy a Bioware game since DA:O for the abysmal route they've taken. So count me out as a potential audience for any of these games. I did buy Skyrim and in hindsight I don't exactly regret the decision, but I won't buy another Elder Scroll game either as long as there isn't solid evidence that they did their homework and stopped catering to the lowest common denominator.

 

So there's a market for deeper role playing games. The sales figures point in that direction and I would regret it, if  your appeal to a larger audience approach would feature in their decision making. Why water down a concept that has found it's audience. And probably won't lose it either, since people interested in that kind of game are usually older and not that driven by the next shiny sensation on the horizon as the console generation.

 

To tell the truth, the only company that didn't utterly dissapoint me at some point in their existence is Obsidian. All the others have been either eaten alive by EA or taken the first exit to mainstream like Bethesda.

 

Funny thing is, while looking at DA:I, to see if there's still some signs of intelligent life in Bioware, I stumbled over D:OS and gave them my money instead. And when playing D:OS, I stumbled over POE and preordered. And now I'm looking at Legends of the Sword Coast, which also looks pretty promising. So there are still games that don't try to appeal to everyone. And that's a good thing I'm willing to support with my money.

 

 

To clarify I am not suggesting that the core features that makes games like PoE beloved to me and the rest of the community be altered to dumb the game down or radically transform it. I'm asking for a little polishing that will have little to no impact on the core audience while also making the game more palatable to a wider audience.

 

Consider my previous suggestions. Everyone would win from having the mechanics be more transparent and better explained. Baldur's Gate style party AI settings wouldn't harm anyone as it would be entirely optional to use. Not suddenly making the majority of side quests available all at once provide beginners with steadier pacing and provide a more consistent challenge to veterans who wouldn't be able to acquire quite so much end-game gear so quickly. Adjusting poor builds mid-game wouldn't really make a difference to veterans and would be entirely optional anyway (not to mention many players use IE mod to do this currently). More equivalent rewards from branching quests encourages role playing and increases replay value (as power gamers wouldn't be bound to the same choices for maximum rewards).

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The nostalgia works against them at times as well, many of the complaints about the game are around how it's not as a good as Baldur's Gate or Torment in some way or another.

 

I didn't back it for nostalgia, I'm not really particularly attached to the IE games, other than Torment I didn't really play them until way after they came out, I was more into Fallout, Jagged Alliance and Arcanum during time the games were originally released.

 

I know the game style is niche and will continue to be so, but because of things like digital distribution and crowd funding, smaller budget more niche games are much larger reality than they were just a few years ago and I think we'll see more and more of them.

Edited by MunoValente
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While I agree with what Bryy posted above me I will say this.  Nostalgia isn't why the RTwP style party based RPG works or was successful in the first place.  Lots of people act like there was NWN2 and then nothing.... until kickstarter arrived.  People can dislike it all they want... Dragon Age Origins is very much a RTwP party based RPG.  There are two Dark Eye based RPG's that are both RTwP party based RPG's that came out too.  If I bothered to think about it or research I promise there will be other example too. 

 

The genre didn't die, and games in it can still be good.  Funding for Eternity may have benefited from nostalgia... but I will be happy to fund Eternity 2 purely on it's own merits and I won't be the only person who feels that way.

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It is simply a good genre of game that has been neglected.  There have been a few here and there that mostly went under the radar.  River of Time was very enjoyable.  There need to be more, and by more developers.  Perhaps it is just more difficult to execute than your typical shooter.

 

It sure didn't hurt to imitate a well known classic.  But if PoE were actually a bad game, we likely wouldn't be here on these forums at all by now.  Looking forward to a sequel.

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Short answer: Yes, I think nostalgia is a factor into the game's existence and popularity. However, I do not think this is a Bad Thing.

 

Long answer: I hate the "nostalgia" accusation. More often than not it's just used as a way to try to undermine a game's existence and enjoy-ability by implying that such game features are not enjoyable in their own right, but that people just have "the nostalgia goggles" on and see quality that doesn't exist due to an inability to let go of the past. Mostly because the game happens to incorporate features fallaciously thought to be "dead," "passe," "behind the times," whatever. (And by fallacious, I mean the fallacy that "new = better.") Like that game development progression is somehow linear, and if (God forbid) a game incorporates features or genres that haven't been used in a while, we're somehow "going backwards," "reversing progress," or whatever.

 

Take the progression of animation development as an example:

 

5-minute, black and white, speechless, gag-driven, hand-drawn cartoon shorts --> hand-drawn cartoons with sound/talking --> hand-drawn cartoons with color --> hand-drawn full-length animated films --> replace hand-dawn with 3D animation.

 

If, God forbid, you "go back" a step before the present day and include animation features that haven't been used in a while (like making a hand-drawn 2D animated film instead of all computer-rendered 3D), that's somehow "backwards" and "holding back the medium."

 

Likewise, with video games, there seems to be this feeling that video game development is linear and "progresses." Video games used to be 2D, now it's "progressed" to 3D. Video games used to involve written dialogue, now they've "progressed" to only voice-acted dialogue (with only optional subtitles for the hard of hearing). Video games used to include the isometric view, now they've "progressed" to only over-the-shoulder camera angles (or whatever you call it). RPG's used to include lots of choices, character development and exploration, etc. but now we've "progressed" to the cinema-based "illusion of choice" casual console RPGs.

 

If, God forbid, video game designers design a game based on a genre that used to be thriving but has been "dead" due to lack of funding for a while, but they manage to find the funding because enough people like that genre enough to pay to bring it back, that's "backwards" and "holding the medium back."

 

Never mind that games are meant to be fun, and different games engage players in different ways, and some genres engage players more than others, and just because a genre has been "dead" from lack of funding for a while because big-name companies and the mainstream public didn't like it enough to fund or pay for it, and now enough game designers and players who want it finally have the means to bring it back. I think if enough people want to make it and play it and have the means to afford it, they're perfectly entitled to create, fund, and play the kind of game that they like!

 

[/endrant] Sorry, this topic just gets my goat.

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"Not I, though. Not I," said the hanging dwarf.

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One thing I like about Pillars compared to InExile's nostalgia driven games, is that Obsidian has worked really hard to create a completely new setting and rule system, so while a lot of the old ideas are there, there is fair amount of fresh material as well; they really want to create a new, sustainable brand.  Wasteland 2 seemed like pure nostaglia,  Bard's Tale IV likely will be and Torment we'll see about, at least Numenera is a completely new setting as far as these types of games go, but by putting Torment in the title, it's nostalgia is clearly central to it's marketing.

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[/endrant] Sorry, this topic just gets my goat.

 

Thank you :) Those were the types of things I was thinking when I first posted. How unfair it seemed that, at least it seemed this way, the gaming world was writing PoE off as "BG rehash for the people blinded by rose-tinted glasses". So thank you for putting in your two cents and I hope you got your goat back :)

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Nostalgia may bring a few  folks in the door to see the show but the game will stand or not on it's own merits.

 

As for companies moving away from this type of game during the interim between the IE games and today I'm pretty sure that everyone getting on the console wagon as the latest new thing and things that needed to be cut from the original RTwP party based game style to accomplish that is why those games today have so little in common with either the IE games or PoE.

 

I'm pleased with PoE and suspect it will get better as it progresses and that the patches will eventually slow down so I can get past chapter 2 before deleting old saves and restarting after patching. :disguise:

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As for companies moving away from this type of game during the interim between the IE games and today I'm pretty sure that everyone getting on the console wagon as the latest new thing and things that needed to be cut from the original RTwP party based game style to accomplish that is why those games today have so little in common with either the IE games or PoE.

 

The problem has many aspects. The most important one being that there are very few independent companies with enough funds to develop a major game. Most companies have been bought or gone down the drain within the last decade. The result are big shareholder monstrosities with empty suits at their helm that could just as well sell toilet paper as they sell games. They're not invested in what they produce, only in the revenue they create to rake in the next annual bonus. So we got games that are produced with the sole intent to be sold to as many people as possible with the least possible effort. Consoles are the ideal medium for that kind of approach since they have a clearly defined hardware structure. Tagged on multiplayer offers the possibility to rake in an additional dime with microtransactions.

 

PC comes only as an afterthought. Ports are made shoddily and have to cope with a system that is already stripped down to suit the limited options the console controllers offer.

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Personally, I never played IE games (and not planning to) and still enjoyed PoE.

 

I bought a few since I never got around playing them when they were new and they're dead cheap anyway. Plan on giving them a try, but didn't get around to do it so far. The graphics got in the way. I really didn't remember how bad they were just some 15 years ago.

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To be honest, it feels like a whole new thing. Spell selection is much tighter, the stats system is also clean, and concise. The story elements have their own flavor, and the tone, for me feels different. The only thing I see in common is with the way the game plays vs old IE is the isometric view.

 

Would really love to see some killer AI, or a gambit system put in, the party size expanded, and then some epic large battles take place. That would be a killer direction, I think.

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Personally, I never played IE games (and not planning to) and still enjoyed PoE.

 

I bought a few since I never got around playing them when they were new and they're dead cheap anyway. Plan on giving them a try, but didn't get around to do it so far. The graphics got in the way. I really didn't remember how bad they were just some 15 years ago.

 

Fifteen years ago the BG graphics were awesome.   :w00t:

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 I have but one enemy: myself  - Drow saying


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1st - PoE was never marketed as the sucessor of BG series, but as a spiritual sucessor of the IE games

 

2nd - Its been fifteen years since BGI, and people always forget where the series would have been if the series continued. BGIII was going into full 3D after all, and that's was more than tem years ago.

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I am almost 40 so 2002 feels almost contemporary. Nostalgia seems weird for something so recent. I thought I backed PoE because I liked that sort of game. To say otherwise seems to suggest I play RPGs out of nostalgia for the first time I played any RPG of any sort ever.

 

I mean sure they said it would be a game in the genre of the IE games. Well so what? Are EA's FIFA games based on nostalgia for football?

 

Am I wrong about this? I just seems a very strange use of nostalgia. I am not playing this game to reminisce about 2002 no more than I eat pizza to remember a pizza I ate back in 1991.

Edited by Valmy
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