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A question of content and closure.


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Obsidian has my praise for creating this gem, but I would like to point out that there may be rough edges to it's initial magnificence.

 

My specific concerns are:

 

  • The player.
  1. One is presented with a robust character creation mechanic; various races, backgrounds, etcetera. At first I thought that the choices made, especially with race (i.e. Godlike), would have significant impact on NPC interaction and relations. However, I have found these choices affected little and had no appreciable consequence.
  2. Early in the game, the player is identified as a Watcher. While this does open some unique side-quests and interesting opportunities, there is also mention of the mental affliction associated with the attribute of Watcher. This does not manifest at all in any appreciable way. The handful of party NPC conversations and strange dreams regarding this topic are basically just a reminder, but once again, a reminder of what exactly? There is no actual manifestation or progression of this supposed disease. There are mentions of other Watchers living completely normal lives with this 'affliction'.
  • The setting.
  1. Gilded Vale. What a mighty and intriguing introduction to the first organized society. Sadly, even with all side quests complete and Readric's side-plot seen through, there is no closure. Gilded Vale continues as if frozen in the instant that the player has made their choice. I would have liked to see some way to have continuation to round off Gilded Vale. It feels incomplete every time I visit. The unyielding crops, the master-less hound taken from the second story of the tavern, the ruined but cleared church of Eothas, the NPCs fixed around the infamous tree...
  2. We are faced with Animancy, the (in my subjective opinion) fantasy equivalent of psychology, with a dusting of mysticism, and all of the struggles, questionably ethical experiments and the general distaste associated with its early conception. This in itself is so laden with potential that I could hardly contain my excitement. I was disappointed when, after everything, all the research, reading, NPC interactions and sub-plots, it coalesced into absolutely no story continuation or physical consequence whatsoever. The representative kills the Duc, the Sanitarium burns down and that's all she wrote. Such a waste of all the afore mentioned potential. The Theorems of Pandgram... Highly spoken of, an invaluable and voluminous source of knowledge and it turns out to be a fetch quest, the NPC not even moving from its initial location. I would like to point out here that I hold in high regard the side quests in context within the Sanitarium (Aloth and Moedred).
  3. Defiance Bay and the three internal factions. Superbly conceptualized, I found it hard to make a choice the first time I played. I find it a little sparse on interactions though, especially the Knights faction. Once you have aligned yourself, with very little faction-specific effort, there is nothing left to round the experience off. It feels unpolished.
  4. Heritage Hill. Unchanged throughout.
  5. Ondara's Gift. The Lighthouse tavern never seems to complete the upper stories. The Valian Trading Company stands empty... I think there could have been some potential there.
  6. Dyrford. No complaints whatsoever, a very well thought out and rounded experience.
  7. Twin Elms and the surroundings. I find it questionable how easy a foreigner gains access and audience to the most sacred of sites and highly regarded persons these Glanfathans revere (who reputably are very xenophobic). Furthermore, this last half of the main plot feels rushed and unpolished. I was expecting much more and found myself smack at the ending of the game quite abruptly. Case in point, I feel there were missed opportunities regarding the hurried nature and content in the end-game which, if realised, could have added immensely to the main story line. Also, there is an openendedness with the two 'factions' (longevity trough natural commune or sacrifice) in Twin Elms. This was a prime opportunity to influence the Glanfathan way of thinking towards either a conservative or progressive mindset.
  8. Cead Nua... Oh Boy. Them loading screens. That useless dungeon. That massive money sink. Those useless vendors. That feeling of a Facebook mini-game. The absolutely inconsequential completion. It wouldn't have been so bad if the Endless Levels weren't so very repetitive. The Adra Dragon and earlier Drake was fantastic though, bravo for that. I also enjoyed the interactions with Tcharek and Thulgr.
  • Companions.
  1. Eder, Pallegina and Grieving Mother. What brilliant concepts. Very well realised. It does however feel as though their side-quests taper off to nothingness, and there is no closure even when followed through. Slow clap for Durance and Aloth, absolutely astounding writing.
  • Items.
  1. Unique items in PoE have a feeling of blandness that is hard to describe. With a handful of exceptions, many of the unique weapons, armour and other wearable items are quite bland. Perhaps this is just my experience having been spoilt by other rpgs with much more 'unique' uniques.
  • ...
  1. Well. It has come to this. Many people have expressed their want for the inclusion of romance in PoE. Personally, I feel that if it is done right (ala BG2), it should definitely be included. If done in this way, it is entirely optional, so those who have no taste for such frivolities need not indulge. The key point here is content. If done right, it would add immeasurably to the fondness people have for PoE in future as they do currently for games which included it, like BG2, since it was characteristic of the specific game.

The artwork, music and sound effects are of incredibly high quality. I applaud this.

 

I do not give a damn about the numbers-mechanics of attributes. It can be tweaked, polished and tuned. But it is there, it is core to the game and a complete overhaul is out of the question. Obsidian has done much already to improve from launch and I am confident they will continue to do so. The 2.0 patch and expansion will address many concerns, I am confident of it.

 

My post is entirely about content. Nearly every other issue can be excused if the content is worthwhile. So finally, I come to my questions. 

 

Have I missed something crucial that would improve my experience in the points I have mentioned?

 

Does the game feel rounded, polished and complete to others who have played it? Hindsight is one-way, but could the game have used an extra year before being published?

 

Will Obsidian, now that all kickstarter obligations have been met with PoE standard, generate new, well-rounded content and focus on the content quality and world reactivity?

 

 

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  • Eder, Pallegina and Grieving Mother. What brilliant concepts. Very well realised. It does however feel as though their side-quests taper off to nothingness, and there is no closure even when followed through. Slow clap for Durance and Aloth, absolutely astounding writing.

Durance had astounding writing, but about taper off to nothingness, though... Durance easily has the least fulfilling end to his questline. It's forced and just sorta is like.. "..what?".

 

I was completely blindsided by that, considering that the writing was stellar up until that point. I'm still sorta shocked. If I ever get a chance to speak to Avellone, that will be the thing I'll bring up. What the hell happened, man?

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I felt that the main quest resolved Durence's story satisfactory. The epilogue I got seemed to wrap his story up nicely anyway.

 

Sagini's quest seems to be the most neatly resolved - perhaps too neatly for some.

Everyone knows Science Fiction is really cool. You know what PoE really needs? Spaceships! There isn't any game that wouldn't be improved by a space combat minigame. Adding one to PoE would send sales skyrocketing, and ensure the game was remembered for all time!!!!!

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Chris Avellone has said that they didn't use a lot of his writing for Durance and Grieving Mother. That's why it tapers off to nothingness and the whole character (Durance) feels like an allegory for our consumption which is just plain weird. The whole game feels inconsequential in the writing department, it's nowhere near KotOR2 which I regard as a masterpiece and still think about years after I played it. It's nowhere near Mask of the Betrayer or any of the Troika games either (since most of the writers from Troika wrote for PoE too (to my knowledge)). I opened a thread about the companions a while ago - http://forums.obsidian.net/topic/75911-the-disconnection-between-companions-and-the-overall-story/ if you want to read through it. I just don't want to repeat myself constantly.

Edited by Christliar
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I felt that the main quest resolved Durence's story satisfactory. The epilogue I got seemed to wrap his story up nicely anyway.

 

Sagini's quest seems to be the most neatly resolved - perhaps too neatly for some.

I just can't see how anyone can think that Durance's storyline wraps up satisfactory. The idea of Magran screwing with him comes out of the blue and if you question it, you get caught in a dialogue loop. The only way to resolve the quest appears to make a wild and unfounded assumption and pushing it onto Durance.

 

If Durance was a physical object, this is where I'd pick him up and throw him out of the window is disgust.

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It's pretty obvious that the gods are screwing with everybody if you follow the main story. In the end Durance accepts that Magran, like the other gods, is a fake, and becomes an atheist. At least that's the ending I got.

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Everyone knows Science Fiction is really cool. You know what PoE really needs? Spaceships! There isn't any game that wouldn't be improved by a space combat minigame. Adding one to PoE would send sales skyrocketing, and ensure the game was remembered for all time!!!!!

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It's pretty obvious that the gods are screwing with everybody if you follow the main story. In the end Durance accepts that Magran, like the other gods, is a fake, and becomes an atheist. At least that's the ending I got.

 

Yes, of course, but that's not what happens in that questline. You're making very precise assumptions without much of a basis at all, about what Magran has or has not done, such as assuming she's been in cahoots with Woedica.

 

Saying "Hey, the gods are screwing with us" is one thing. Saying "Magran has been doing specifically this, this and this, and I just know this, because I dunno lol" and push it onto Durance is mind-numbingly idiotic, and a terrible, terrible end to an otherwise amazing questline, and nothing short of an insult to a truly spectacular character.

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I guess it would depend how far on you are in the main questline when you reach that point in Durance's questline. Once you get to Twin Elms there is enough evidence to tie Magran and Woedica together.

Everyone knows Science Fiction is really cool. You know what PoE really needs? Spaceships! There isn't any game that wouldn't be improved by a space combat minigame. Adding one to PoE would send sales skyrocketing, and ensure the game was remembered for all time!!!!!

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Early in the game, the player is identified as a Watcher. While this does open some unique side-quests and interesting opportunities, there is also mention of the mental affliction associated with the attribute of Watcher. This does not manifest at all in any appreciable way. The handful of party NPC conversations and strange dreams regarding this topic are basically just a reminder, but once again, a reminder of what exactly? There is no actual manifestation or progression of this supposed disease. There are mentions of other Watchers living completely normal lives with this 'affliction'.

 

You're not the first person to notice this. The game's pretty inconsistent on whether or not being a Watcher is actually a curse, and in conversation with other party members, you can speculate that it isn't and that Maerwald only went nuts because he had some pretty unusual circumstances.

 

What's really weird is that you see ghosts and whatnot all over the place in the wilderness and Gilded Vale; but in Defiance Bay, where there's supposed to have been a truly preposterous amount of death over the last several centuries? Nothin'.

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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.

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I guess it would depend how far on you are in the main questline when you reach that point in Durance's questline. Once you get to Twin Elms there is enough evidence to tie Magran and Woedica together.

 

I was at the very end of the main questline. So. Yeah. No.

 

 

Early in the game, the player is identified as a Watcher. While this does open some unique side-quests and interesting opportunities, there is also mention of the mental affliction associated with the attribute of Watcher. This does not manifest at all in any appreciable way. The handful of party NPC conversations and strange dreams regarding this topic are basically just a reminder, but once again, a reminder of what exactly? There is no actual manifestation or progression of this supposed disease. There are mentions of other Watchers living completely normal lives with this 'affliction'.

 

You're not the first person to notice this. The game's pretty inconsistent on whether or not being a Watcher is actually a curse, and in conversation with other party members, you can speculate that it isn't and that Maerwald only went nuts because he had some pretty unusual circumstances.

 

What's really weird is that you see ghosts and whatnot all over the place in the wilderness and Gilded Vale; but in Defiance Bay, where there's supposed to have been a truly preposterous amount of death over the last several centuries? Nothin'.

 

 

Personal pet peeve when it came to the storytelling. Like you say, the whole "It's a curse" feels very unsubstantiated, when it is supposed to be the driving force of the investigation leading up to the "twist" and the reveal of the Leaden Key's plans. By the Temple of Woedica in Defiance Bay, I found myself feeling like I was acting completely out of character, and treating the Leaden Key like the arch-enemies they are much later revealed to be, even though there was very little to actually motivate me once I had acquired the Caed Nua (They dropped the ball in not calling it Watcher's Keep).

 

Nothing, nothing, nothing in the meeting with Maerwald felt like it revealed to me that being a Watcher was something bad, or exactly what the distinction is between being Awakened, a Watcher, and an Awakened Watcher was or is, or exactly how or when we became a watcher, and how or when we became awakened.

 

I feel like there's an entire arch missing, like surviving the Biawac was supposed to turn you into a Watcher, and seeing the Leaden Key with one of hte machines was supposed to Awaken you, but they're both practically in the prologue and then the water is so muddled that the distinction becomes completely lost.

 

And then when you meet Maerwald, you are accosted by a storyline of what happened to Maerwald that in no way mirrors your own experiences, and is portrayed as the thing that ultimately drove him mad, under very unique circumstances. Then, once in a blue moon, you have some bad dreams that prompts a dialogue with Edèr.

 

What really grinds my gears is the knowledge that it'll probably never be fixed. But I'd probably sacrifice a virgin to Avellone if it'd give us a "Enhanced Edition" or "Director's Cut" version of PoE, with revised content and multiple storyline and quest passes.

Edited by Luckmann

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I have a very simple way to tackle that. Borrow the Sanity mechanic from Call of Cthulhu. You start with a San score of 100% and after encountering the Biawac it would gradually decrease, based on events and sleeping (and possibly resisted by Resolve), It wouldn't have to actually do anything, the chance of it actually reaching zero before the end of the game could be very low. Simply seeing a counter tick down would be enough to suggest a degree of urgency.

Edited by Fardragon

Everyone knows Science Fiction is really cool. You know what PoE really needs? Spaceships! There isn't any game that wouldn't be improved by a space combat minigame. Adding one to PoE would send sales skyrocketing, and ensure the game was remembered for all time!!!!!

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Ya, I forgot there was no romance, so at the end of the game I was a bit surprised the Edar and my PC didn't get busy. What I'd like to see is romance between your companions. If they didn't want to get into it with the PC for some reason, they still could have tangentially made it part of the background. I can't think that any of the companions in this case were compatible, but it could be fun.

 

Some...weird stuff in the ending from my perspective, but mostly related to Kolsc and that whole thing. I mean, even if you do kill him, it's not like the guy in charge has an heir...any more so if the hold on governance there is really that tenuous then the problems are only delayed.

 

Generally, quite happy. I think I may run through the story again once or twice, just give all your characters 90 in every attribute and voila, quick adventure game.

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I didn't link the stronghold upgrading to a Facebook game. That seems like an unfortunate result of missing out on a load of games throughout the last few decades, with Facebook being the sole way in which you've encountered it.

 

The concept of having a castle or town that you can upgrade goes back way, way before Facebook. In Breath of Fire 2 (1994) you founded a town which grew it over time with your direction. It was optional but enhanced gameplay in various ways. The Suikoden series (starting 1995) has this idea at the core of its gameplay. The game is all about accumulating over 100 characters, each with distinct personalities, motivations and histories, and housing them in your ever-expanding castle which you can upgrade in various ways over the course of the game. Dark Cloud (2000) and its sequel (2002) are based around collecting items to upgrade your equipment as well as build various towns, the specific layout and design being down to the player. More recently, admittedly post-Facebook but probably before the proliferation of the kind of crappy timesink you're talking about, NWN2 had a similar thing, apparently Fable 2 did but I can't talk from experience on that one. It also reminds me of the various ways you could upgrade your castle and run the region in Dragon Age: Awakening.

 

I actually think it's a great addition to a game, especially one in which you become a major player in the world yet are apparently still homeless, carrying about 2,000,000 gold pieces around with you in your hammerspace pockets, with nothing to spend it on. It's a noticeable way you have an impact on the world, it represents the player's rise in the world, it can be one way of rewarding the player for accomplishing certain tasks, it's another way to express yourself in the cases where customisation is an option (sadly this doesn't seem to be the case in PoE) and it's a good reason for gold to exist in the game since buying equipment is usually not a great idea in RPGs, especially when the best loot is usually found rather than purchased.

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The origin of the "stronghold" concept is the AD&D first edition DMG.

 

It was really intended for characters who had reached high level (level 9 in the days before inflation) and had retired from adventuring.

Everyone knows Science Fiction is really cool. You know what PoE really needs? Spaceships! There isn't any game that wouldn't be improved by a space combat minigame. Adding one to PoE would send sales skyrocketing, and ensure the game was remembered for all time!!!!!

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I didn't know that, but it's good to hear it has such strong origins. When WoW added something similar in the last expansion there were cries of "Facebook crap!" from various fans. Little did they know that it harked back to the grandfather of the genre (little did I know until just, to be fair).

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I didn't link the stronghold upgrading to a Facebook game. That seems like an unfortunate result of missing out on a load of games throughout the last few decades, with Facebook being the sole way in which you've encountered it.

 

The concept of having a castle or town that you can upgrade goes back way, way before Facebook. In Breath of Fire 2 (1994) you founded a town which grew it over time with your direction. It was optional but enhanced gameplay in various ways. The Suikoden series (starting 1995) has this idea at the core of its gameplay. The game is all about accumulating over 100 characters, each with distinct personalities, motivations and histories, and housing them in your ever-expanding castle which you can upgrade in various ways over the course of the game. Dark Cloud (2000) and its sequel (2002) are based around collecting items to upgrade your equipment as well as build various towns, the specific layout and design being down to the player. More recently, admittedly post-Facebook but probably before the proliferation of the kind of crappy timesink you're talking about, NWN2 had a similar thing, apparently Fable 2 did but I can't talk from experience on that one. It also reminds me of the various ways you could upgrade your castle and run the region in Dragon Age: Awakening.

 

I actually think it's a great addition to a game, especially one in which you become a major player in the world yet are apparently still homeless, carrying about 2,000,000 gold pieces around with you in your hammerspace pockets, with nothing to spend it on. It's a noticeable way you have an impact on the world, it represents the player's rise in the world, it can be one way of rewarding the player for accomplishing certain tasks, it's another way to express yourself in the cases where customisation is an option (sadly this doesn't seem to be the case in PoE) and it's a good reason for gold to exist in the game since buying equipment is usually not a great idea in RPGs, especially when the best loot is usually found rather than purchased.

I don't go on Facebook, so I will just trust the comparison. I do feel as though a Stronghold has not been well done in any game that asks you to regularly leave it (NWN2, DAA to name a couple), and I felt the same here. I felt quite slighted by the bonuses for resting at the keep having sunk thousands of gold into it so that I could get +1 to an attribute.

 

The thing that most bothers me though is the lack of mods on the Nexus. I had hoped to find a keep overhaul mod, but alas, nope. I did not follow development closely enough and I don't know if there are significant mods for other games on this engine, but I had put the game aside until this last weekend in hopes that some mods would arrive. I didn't look anywhere other than the Nexus though, so maybe there are some here on the website. When I play it again I will check more broadly.

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I didn't link the stronghold upgrading to a Facebook game. That seems like an unfortunate result of missing out on a load of games throughout the last few decades, with Facebook being the sole way in which you've encountered it.

 

The concept of having a castle or town that you can upgrade goes back way, way before Facebook. In Breath of Fire 2 (1994) you founded a town which grew it over time with your direction. It was optional but enhanced gameplay in various ways. The Suikoden series (starting 1995) has this idea at the core of its gameplay. The game is all about accumulating over 100 characters, each with distinct personalities, motivations and histories, and housing them in your ever-expanding castle which you can upgrade in various ways over the course of the game. Dark Cloud (2000) and its sequel (2002) are based around collecting items to upgrade your equipment as well as build various towns, the specific layout and design being down to the player. More recently, admittedly post-Facebook but probably before the proliferation of the kind of crappy timesink you're talking about, NWN2 had a similar thing, apparently Fable 2 did but I can't talk from experience on that one. It also reminds me of the various ways you could upgrade your castle and run the region in Dragon Age: Awakening.

 

I actually think it's a great addition to a game, especially one in which you become a major player in the world yet are apparently still homeless, carrying about 2,000,000 gold pieces around with you in your hammerspace pockets, with nothing to spend it on. It's a noticeable way you have an impact on the world, it represents the player's rise in the world, it can be one way of rewarding the player for accomplishing certain tasks, it's another way to express yourself in the cases where customisation is an option (sadly this doesn't seem to be the case in PoE) and it's a good reason for gold to exist in the game since buying equipment is usually not a great idea in RPGs, especially when the best loot is usually found rather than purchased.

I don't go on Facebook, so I will just trust the comparison. I do feel as though a Stronghold has not been well done in any game that asks you to regularly leave it (NWN2, DAA to name a couple), and I felt the same here. I felt quite slighted by the bonuses for resting at the keep having sunk thousands of gold into it so that I could get +1 to an attribute.

 

The thing that most bothers me though is the lack of mods on the Nexus. I had hoped to find a keep overhaul mod, but alas, nope. I did not follow development closely enough and I don't know if there are significant mods for other games on this engine, but I had put the game aside until this last weekend in hopes that some mods would arrive. I didn't look anywhere other than the Nexus though, so maybe there are some here on the website. When I play it again I will check more broadly.

 

 

The Unity Engine is pretty damn modular, so yeah, sure, there's games made in Unity that there are significant mods for other games on this engine, but that's saying extremely little, honestly. The lack of mod content comes down to accessability of assets, and a lot of PoE stuff appears to be hard-coded in various ways, or simply not externalized in a way that allows you to pick-and-choose what to poke your fingers into.

 

PoE is not a very friendly game to mod, and it has nothing to do with the Unity Engine in itself.

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The Unity Engine is pretty damn modular, so yeah, sure, there's games made in Unity that there are significant mods for other games on this engine, but that's saying extremely little, honestly. The lack of mod content comes down to accessability of assets, and a lot of PoE stuff appears to be hard-coded in various ways, or simply not externalized in a way that allows you to pick-and-choose what to poke your fingers into.

 

PoE is not a very friendly game to mod, and it has nothing to do with the Unity Engine in itself.

 

That's too bad, it feels like the world is fleshed out enough that the modders would be able to create some nice content for it, like they did for Dragon Age Origins and the various Infinity Engine games.

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The origin of the "stronghold" concept is the AD&D first edition DMG.

 

It was really intended for characters who had reached high level (level 9 in the days before inflation) and had retired from adventuring.

As Fardragon says the "Stronghold" concept has an ancient history.  BG II had strongholds way before Facebook.  Facebook games are the copiers not the other way around.  Backers requested a Player Home during the Kickstarter and it became a stretch goal.  I like having it early as a place where extra party members can hang out and be easily found.  Sure you can go to an inn and pick them up and I like to pretend that I sent a message to the Lady in the Throne and she got them to the inn so I could pick them up. :)

 

The garden is great for getting those hard to find ingredients is crafting is of interest to you,  the curio shop also.

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