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Chris Avellone says Pillars of Eternity was too linear and that he had little impact on the story


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https://twitter.com/ChrisAvellone/status/665327327300202496

 

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Did Chris Avellone drop out of having a major role on this game because he disagreed fundamentally with its relatively limited degree of choice & consequence? If you've read about the development history of Alpha Protocol, you'll know that's something he cares about a lot.

 

Also: https://twitter.com/ChrisAvellone/status/665036284235157504

 

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Calisca and Heodan, we never knew ye.

Edited by Infinitron
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Well... I mean there's freedom and then there's freedom. Pillars gave you way more freedom of movement than most games do (including those mr. Avellone worked on), there's a grand total of 2 chokepoints which need to unlock for another big part of the world to open (+ tutorial and epilogue). On the other hand I definitely agree that the main storyline should have given you more freedom of choice and could have been made more reactive - I imagine that's what Chris Avellone is talking about.

Edited by Fenixp
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I can only predict where this topic is gonna go. Anyways, without trying too hard to stir up a hornets nest, looks like MCA lost a power play with Project Eternity whether due to being overruled, sucking at internal politics, or his ideas being plain bad.

Adam and Josh were the clear project leads from the onset and Fenstermaker's pitch beat out Avellone's, despite Chris probably being the odds on favorite to take the creative lead position.

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Game has choices and consequences quite lot, but player has quite little agency over the story as player's character mostly does what they do because of flow of the story. So in other words story don't follow players decision, but instead players decision follow events in the story, which come in linear fashion. It is format that IE games, which PoE tries to mimic, use.

 

I personally have same preference as Chris in this subject.

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I think the story and NPS Progression is just fine; it honestly reminds me of playing through the Sith campaign in Star Wars the Old Republic. NPC's were optional but did add an addictive side-quest feel. Fun and Addictive are the applicable terms here. The main different for me being that PoE is much more unique with both combat and character builds than an MMORPG .

 

What I'm more concerned about in this thread is:

 

1) Why does Infinitron think he's a Twitter news reporter?

 

2) The subject line of this post should have been much shorter omg

 

 

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What I'm more concerned about in this thread is:

 

1) Why does Infinitron think he's a Twitter news reporter?

 

2) The subject line of this post should have been much shorter omg

 

Why do you care so much Infinitron's posting style?

 

1) He's generally well connected within the CRPG community.

2) It's a good, albeit sensationalist, headline.

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"P-O-T-A-T-O-E" - Dan Quayle

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Why do you care so much that I care so much?

 

I'm not bashing Infinitron, I like a lot of his thoughts/posts... when he actually starts typing like a regular person. He does tend to open up a new discussion in a dramatic news reporter style (https://forums.obsidian.net/topic/83056-pillars-of-eternity-going-simulationist-with-a-keyword-system) which is why I commented on it.

 

I'm not suggesting he stop either; but I will openly observe it. Hopefully that won't tread too much on your kinship though lol

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Did Chris Avellone drop out of having a major role on this game

Well, did he "drop out" of a major role? Or are you making an assumption there? Maybe it just wasn't his job to write the story?

 

POE is/was a relatively low budget game. More agency takes more work, generates more bugs, and results in a shorter game. It also limits the strength of the narrative. Narrative and agency are at odds with each other, the more you have of one the less you can have of the other. Obsidian said from the start they wanted a strong narrative in the game. If there's a lack of agency, it's probably because of that, not because of some battle of egos.

 

OP should apply for a job at some celebrity gossip news place. As long as you're doing it, you may as well get paid.

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Why do you care so much that I care so much?

 

I'm not bashing Infinitron, I like a lot of his thoughts/posts... when he actually starts typing like a regular person. He does tend to open up a new discussion in a dramatic news reporter style (https://forums.obsidian.net/topic/83056-pillars-of-eternity-going-simulationist-with-a-keyword-system) which is why I commented on it.

 

I'm not suggesting he stop either; but I will openly observe it. Hopefully that won't tread too much on your kinship though lol

 

Just an observation.

 

It goes with the territory for him. He's the Codex's news guy.

"Things are funny...are comedic, because they mix the real with the absurd." - Buzz Aldrin.

"P-O-T-A-T-O-E" - Dan Quayle

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Well, did he "drop out" of a major role? Or are you making an assumption there? 

 

 

More like raising a possibility.

 

 

It is format that IE games, which PoE tries to mimic, use.

 

Exactly. You'd think it'd be wiser to try work within those constraints rather than try in vain to make it like Fallout or Alpha Protocol and get your pitch rejected due to that. Did we miss out on an MCA-led PoE because of this?

Edited by Infinitron
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Did Chris Avellone drop out of having a major role on this game

Well, did he "drop out" of a major role? Or are you making an assumption there? Maybe it just wasn't his job to write the story?

 

POE is/was a relatively low budget game. More agency takes more work, generates more bugs, and results in a shorter game. It also limits the strength of the narrative. Narrative and agency are at odds with each other, the more you have of one the less you can have of the other. Obsidian said from the start they wanted a strong narrative in the game. If there's a lack of agency, it's probably because of that, not because of some battle of egos.

 

OP should apply for a job at some celebrity gossip news place. As long as you're doing it, you may as well get paid.

 

 

Indeed, the answer is in the OP's own profile: PoE relied on Kickstarter and Backers

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When it came time to decide on the central plot, several writers pitched their stories internally. Eric Fenstermaker's won out, so he became creative lead.

"Things are funny...are comedic, because they mix the real with the absurd." - Buzz Aldrin.

"P-O-T-A-T-O-E" - Dan Quayle

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Well... I mean there's freedom and then there's freedom. Pillars gave you way more freedom of movement than most games do (including those mr. Avellone worked on), there's a grand total of 2 chokepoints which need to unlock for another big part of the world to open (+ tutorial and epilogue). On the other hand I definitely agree that the main storyline should have given you more freedom of choice and could have been made more reactive - I imagine that's what Chris Avellone is talking about.

 

Actually, I'd say that there are 4 of those "story choke points" (not counting anything related to WM1).

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This is kind of like celebrity gossip, but I don't think it *is.* I mean, I don't like gossiping about the devs (or singling out individuals) but this is pertinent to the PoE discussion and it only uses Avellone's own words. I mean, if it turns out that someone fabricates words and attributes them to someone, they'll be warned and/or put on moderated status, but twitter is a public arena and you own what you say online. I know I've typed ignorant, puerile, and embarrassing things and had to live them down.

 

Also, I'm even pushing moderated posts, yeah even snarky ones, as long as they don't become personal attacks. Rage against Obsidian (I mean, please don't froth at the mouth) but don't make specific personal attacks against individuals. So duke it out, guys, but don't go gonzo on one another. Please.

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this is pertinent to the PoE discussion and it only uses Avellone's own words.

 

If by "use" you mean "completely rephrases and changes the meaning of" ... then you are correct.

 

Here is the actual term Avellone used, "less linearity"

 

Here is the term Infinitron morphed it in to, "too linear"

 

It's classic tabloid style rephrasing in order to entice a specific type of response. I don't mind it, since we are free to point this silliness out, but if you're gonna act like the Discussion Police then at least make a proper analysis between quoting an authors words vs rephrasing.

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Zen, I *am* the discussion police. In two specific ways. I wouldn't even have posted, but I have to decide whether to approve or gulag posts, which I've already had to do. Second, I'm all but certain someone will report this thread. You have a good point about the title, but the important thing is the citation has A's own words.

 

Anyhow, I'm mostly just urging folks not to attack each other, which is what I tend to urge in these parts. :Cant's equable smile icon:

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Fionavar's Holliday Wishes to all members of our online community:  Happy Holidays

 

Join the revelry at the Obsidian Plays channel:
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Remembering tarna, Phosphor, Metadigital, and Visceris.  Drink mead heartily in the halls of Valhalla, my friends!

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hah indeed, and you are likely one of my favorite Mod's around the Interweb's. I think sometimes your even handedness (which is a good thing) ends up being a bit too generous lol

 

But you do have more context and experience with the impact of these types of discussions around here; certainly moreso than myself.

 

From my perspective I didn't see much negativity coming out of this discussion. Just a few folks that may fall for the bait and jump on the "critic bandwagon" (similar to what happens in Sensuki's threads), mixed with a handful of posters who weren't necessarily tricked by Infiitron's subtle butchery of Avellone's words.

 

I would welcome some recommendations on RPG's that provide "less linearity" (which is drastically different than "too linear") and were successful.

 

Some titles that come to mind:

 

1) The Witcher

2) The Elder Scrolls (Morrowind, Skyrim)

3) Gothic (1, 2, & 3)

 

... but if we are really forced to analyze the story behind these seemingly "non-linear" games, we can successfully argue that the linear aspect is always prevalent and simply uses specific tactics to divert the players attention away from the fact that in the end, it's all linear.

 

So if anyone thinks that PoE could use a bit less linearity, then the truth is that a reasonable hope exists with future updates that may provide enhancements geared at distracting gamers from the linear path all RPG's are built upon. That's something to look forward to, and is way less "doom and gloom" than pretending PoE's linear story-driven path is hopeless just because some guy on Twitter wrote something on paper once that never ended up in binary.

 

:disguise:

 

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It wasn't so much the linear nature of PoE's story (or any story, really) that bothered me, but more just the underwhelming quality of what we got. I don't know if MCA having a greater hand in matters would've helped that, but the only times the story ever got me to perk up was during Durance and Grieving Mother conversations. But as those moments had no impetus outside of those conversations, it was more of a tease, rather than anything to look back on fondly. 

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How interesting. Perhaps then personal preference is the ultimate factor here. In my case..
 


I honestly got annoyed by Durance's repeated references to "whores" every time we met someone who wasn't as devout as him. He came across as the "burn women at the stake for being witches" type of Christan Fanatic, so I ended up killing him in the middle of a quest lol

 

My favorite NPC moments reside with Aloth and Eder; as Eder's constant references to Aloth's split-personality made for great entertainment, and always seemed to come at moments that needed comic relief.

 

One memorable non-linear story moment in PoE for me:

After clearing the catacombs as part of my Paladin's primary Quest, I decided to finally help Eder look in to his Brothers situation. When I went to the records archive I was informed that I am still a stranger to Defiance Bay and would need to become more established before I am entrusted with sensitive documents. So I went to speak with Wenan and asked if he had any work he needed help with. He sent me to the Woodend Plains to find a group of Giantslayers who he hired to infiltrate the Crucible Knights. I found these mercenaries and told them Wenan sent me to help, but they got in my face and started talking smack. My first dialogue session caused them to back off and walk away, but I noticed that the last line of their dialogue said something like, "we will deal with these fools later;" after which I reloaded my previous saved game and murdered every last one of them.

 

Perhaps this is personal preference, but the quality of the story and decision making opportunities seems quite stellar and rewarding.

 

Edited by Zenbane
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Zenbane, on 14 Nov 2015 - 9:22 PM, said:

1) The Witcher

2) The Elder Scrolls (Morrowind, Skyrim)

3) Gothic (1, 2, & 3)

The Elder Scrolls? I mean they're as non-linear as you can get, movement-wise, but the individual stories tend to be extremely linear and I do believe that's what Chris Avellone is criticizing. (I mean, I don't think you can criticize Pillars for lack of freedom of movement) Unless you're talking about player being able to pick which stories does he wish to take part in.

 

Anyway, there's quite a few of these: Fallout: New Vegas would fit the bill extremely well, even adjusting to choices you'd normally not expect. Alpha Protocol I suppose, altho freedom of movement suffers. Heh, now that I'm thinking about it, a lot of games by Obsidian just come to mind.

 

Actually, I'd say that there are 4 of those "story choke points" (not counting anything related to WM1).

There are? ... Did I miss something? Oh I guess you're referring to Gilded Vale?
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You can not only pick your stories, but you can literally just kill virtually anyone in PoE and the Elder Scrolls. In TES, if you kill someone essential to the primary storyline, the game allows it to happen but simply prints an on-screen warning, "you just killed someone essential to advancing the main plot"

 

Also, did you say that Fallout New Vegas is an example of non-linear story? cause...

 

 


Repetitive combat + copy-pasted rubble + no significant story = boring waste of time.

 

The exploration in New Vegas feels very repetitive and boring.

 

The game does have a main plot, just that it's a bit slow to get going. The main driving force is finding your dad and fixing the water supply. As for everything being copy and paste, that's just the wonders of the gamebryo engine.

 

http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-2209561.html

Edited by Zenbane
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You can not only pick your stories, but you can literally just kill virtually anyone in PoE and the Elder Scrolls. In TES, if you kill someone essential to the primary storyline, the game allows it to happen but simply prints an on-screen warning, "you just killed someone essential to advancing the main plot"

Well, in Morrowind anyway, they had to sack this feature in Oblivion (yea you can turn it off in the .ini file, but then essential NPCs start dying randomly in wilderness. That's the point where you find out why is that they sacked the feature.) But yeah, absolutely, TES games were always focused on the sandbox element.

 

As for the quote you have posted, eh...

a) Who's TempS?

b) Did you notice it's speaking of Fallout 3, not New Vegas?

Sorry, I don't understand relevance of the quote. Anyway, when I'm talking of non-linearity of New Vegas story, there's a ton of choice and even more reactivity - for instance, early on you meet a character belonging to the Legion who seems to be far too strong to defeat at that point. If you manage to kill him, this act will get mentioned later on by NPCs. There's more stuff like that, you can pick the faction you wish to help you with the main quest including becoming your own faction, and side-quests tend to have more ways of resolving as well. It's kind of cool actually. And yes, I do know that Pillars allows you to do a lot of that too.

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Having seen what Avellone is capable of when he's allowed to write games, I'm inclined to believe him. 
 

He seems like a smart enough guy to not muddy the bathwater needlessly, so I take this to be an honest assessment. 

Doesn't mean that POE is unplayable, or even that the decision to use someone else's story was the wrong one. 

Magran's fire casts light in Dark Places...

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Actually, I'd say that there are 4 of those "story choke points" (not counting anything related to WM1).

There are? ... Did I miss something? Oh I guess you're referring to Gilded Vale?

 

 

No, not GV.  Not sure why this isn't really obvious to anyone who has already completed the game.

 

 

 

Tutorial, Caed Nua, Defiance Bay, Burial Isle

 

Can't continue with the main story until you've cleared Caed Nua and spoken to Maerwald.

 

Can't continue on to Twin Elms until you've dealt with the main story parts in Defiance Bay.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Crucis
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You can not only pick your stories, but you can literally just kill virtually anyone in PoE and the Elder Scrolls. In TES, if you kill someone essential to the primary storyline, the game allows it to happen but simply prints an on-screen warning, "you just killed someone essential to advancing the main plot"

Well, in Morrowind anyway, they had to sack this feature in Oblivion (yea you can turn it off in the .ini file, but then essential NPCs start dying randomly in wilderness. That's the point where you find out why is that they sacked the feature.) But yeah, absolutely, TES games were always focused on the sandbox element.

 

As for the quote you have posted, eh...

a) Who's TempS?

b) Did you notice it's speaking of Fallout 3, not New Vegas?

Sorry, I don't understand relevance of the quote. Anyway, when I'm talking of non-linearity of New Vegas story, there's a ton of choice and even more reactivity - for instance, early on you meet a character belonging to the Legion who seems to be far too strong to defeat at that point. If you manage to kill him, this act will get mentioned later on by NPCs. There's more stuff like that, you can pick the faction you wish to help you with the main quest including becoming your own faction, and side-quests tend to have more ways of resolving as well. It's kind of cool actually. And yes, I do know that Pillars allows you to do a lot of that too.

 

 

Yeah sorry, some of the quotes pertain to New Vegas, like this one:

'In my opinion New Vegas is worse that Fallout 3. The exploration in New Vegas feels very repetitive and boring. On the other hand, I loved Fallout 3, so we may just have a different taste in games."

 

But it was more for fun since I kinda enjoy reading random game rantings lol

 

You pretty much ended with the point I guess I'm trying to make, that even when we look at games that add diversity to story, in the end they aren't very different (if at all) from PoE. Even if we look at games that are built entirely around story with little to no combat whastoever. Like Telltale games (Walking Dead, Wolf Among Us, Game of Thrones). We can easily pinpoint a linear aspect that becomes prevalent after a 2nd or 3rd playthrough.

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