Jump to content

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


Recommended Posts

I think that Avellone is generally wrong here for a couple reasons:

 

1.  The pitch was very clearly supposed to follow the Infinity Engine games.  All of them (except IWDII, which I haven't played) were heavily gated.  The least gated game was probably BGII, but it still had plenty of gates.  IWD was incredibly linear.  Torment had so many goddamn gates, worst of all the Xaosect house.  BGI had a full quarter of its areas behind gates, and a whole city wasn't available until you had finished most of the plot.

 

2.  Besides PST, the player has little impact in the plot of IE games.  You go to the same places, for relatively the same reasons.

 

3.  It's also about what PE is supposed to be strategically to Obsidian.  PE is supposed to be a platform for future games.  You need to walk before you can run.  The original Shadowrun campaign made Dragonfall possible, etc.  Avellone has a history of pushing for reactivity over stability. While that can lead to a great individual game, it doesn't lead to a great platform for future games.  Hence no Obsidian driven Kotor III and no AP II.  The fact that two new games are being made in the engine right now points to Sawyer being right on this one.

 

4.  Obsidian clearly didn't have the money to make as much reactivity or exploration as all that.  Bug-testing a new engine is hard enough without elaborate plot-chains that break at several points due to a combination of intricacy and player reactivity.  They had to outsource several of the wilderness areas already.  

 

5.  They needed more content in pretty much all the areas they had.  The game was full of concepts that needed more exploration.  More empty exploration would not have helped that.  Again, this comes down to money.  And again Avellone seems perfectly willing to forget about practical constraints.

  • Like 8
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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"

 

 

First of all, I tried to kill Lady Webb and the game ended which was dumb. 

 

In TES if you try to kill an essential they just stand right back up. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think that Avellone is generally wrong here for a couple reasons:

 

1.  The pitch was very clearly supposed to follow the Infinity Engine games.  All of them (except IWDII, which I haven't played) were heavily gated.  The least gated game was probably BGII, but it still had plenty of gates.  IWD was incredibly linear.  Torment had so many goddamn gates, worst of all the Xaosect house.  BGI had a full quarter of its areas behind gates, and a whole city wasn't available until you had finished most of the plot.

 

2.  Besides PST, the player has little impact in the plot of IE games.  You go to the same places, for relatively the same reasons.

 

3.  It's also about what PE is supposed to be strategically to Obsidian.  PE is supposed to be a platform for future games.  You need to walk before you can run.  The original Shadowrun campaign made Dragonfall possible, etc.  Avellone has a history of pushing for reactivity over stability. While that can lead to a great individual game, it doesn't lead to a great platform for future games.  Hence no Obsidian driven Kotor III and no AP II.  The fact that two new games are being made in the engine right now points to Sawyer being right on this one.

 

4.  Obsidian clearly didn't have the money to make as much reactivity or exploration as all that.  Bug-testing a new engine is hard enough without elaborate plot-chains that break at several points due to a combination of intricacy and player reactivity.  They had to outsource several of the wilderness areas already.  

 

5.  They needed more content in pretty much all the areas they had.  The game was full of concepts that needed more exploration.  More empty exploration would not have helped that.  Again, this comes down to money.  And again Avellone seems perfectly willing to forget about practical constraints.

All good points here, but I'll add just one more:

 

PoE was supposed to show that there is still an audience for the infinity engine-ish games. Let's assume for a second that the argument being made isn't just isometric vs 3D, but also narrative-driven vs sandbox. Not saying that sandbox games are horrible, but not every game needs to be a sandbox to be good.

  • Like 4

"Art and song are creations but so are weapons and lies"

"Our worst enemies are inventions of the mind. Pleasure. Fear. When we see them for what they are, we become unstoppable."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Maybe I'm very naive here, especially since I'm not in game development, but I have a really hard time seeing how Pillars could've been more reactive IF it also wanted to keep the grand scope and sort of lengthy feel, while operating within the rather meager budget.

Personally I'm much more of a fan of slightly shorter but more reactive games, but Pillars obviously targeted the bigness of BG. And with that in mind, I think it's pretty impressive that they did manage to get some good reactivity in there as well.

 

Avellone's comments would've upset me if this was a kickstarter attempting to bring back, I dunno, a Fallout type of game. Or Alpha Protocol. But Pillars wasn't really about that.

 

Obviously, I would want loads more reactivity and player choice in a sequel, because that's the good stuff.

  • Like 9

Listen to my home-made recordings (some original songs, some not): http://www.youtube.c...low=grid&view=0

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Poor MCA. I really wish he gets another chance to do what he does so uniquely well.

 

It's difficult, though -- he has a unique writer's voice which only meshes well with a very few others' (George Ziets springs to mind), he's a design contrarian (wants to go at right angles to everything), and... categorically refuses to be the project lead. That's a difficult circle to square.

 

I honestly don't know what I'd want to do in his place. Write a bunch of fiction and shove it at a team going "Here, make a game from this and ask me if you can't figure out something?" 

  • Like 4

I have a project. It's a tabletop RPG. It's free. It's a work in progress. Find it here: www.brikoleur.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's nice how people pick and chose what PoE was about. Saying that the story matches the style of BG games, get's responses like "Well it's supposed to be a Baldur's Gate like game!". But when we come to gameplay, it's like "It was never going to be like the IE games, they said so themselves!".

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's nice how people pick and chose what PoE was about. Saying that the story matches the style of BG games, get's responses like "Well it's supposed to be a Baldur's Gate like game!". But when we come to gameplay, it's like "It was never going to be like the IE games, they said so themselves!".

Might be because 'people' are not a single entity. You're probably the first one showing surprise over the fact that every single person has his own view on what PoE was all about.

 

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

Oh. You might want to re-read the post you originally responded to then, after reading it entirely, you might manage to count four ;-) I thought you were referring to something else entirely.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

We shouldn't care why Avellone left Obsidian. For some reason they didn't get along anymore. It's their problem anyway; it's not like we know them personally. If Chris found somewhere else to express his creativity maybe its better for everyone. Maybe we get to see a game with him as lead designer and director and see what he has in mind for his ideal rpg. I'm more excited to see that than saddened that he left Obsidian.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I for one am glad that pillars is not a sandbox, non linear type of game. By and large the story and plot really suffer by going that route. Whatever you can say about Bethesda, you can never accuse them of great writing or narrative. I enjoyed skyrim, but there was no story or reactivity at all. There's a time and place for both. But Pillars was marketed as a throwback to the ie games and they were incredibly linear. And, quite co incidentally had great stories... By going linear the story is always going to be tighter. No question about that.

  • Like 4

"Those who look upon gods then say, without even knowing their names, 'He is Fire. She is Dance. He is Destruction. She is Love.' So, to reply to your statement, they do not call themselves gods. Everyone else does, though, everyone who beholds them."
"So they play that on their fascist banjos, eh?"
"You choose the wrong adjective."
"You've already used up all the others.”

 

Lord of Light

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Might be because 'people' are not a single entity. You're probably the first one showing surprise over the fact that every single person has his own view on what PoE was all about.

 

Nah, not different people. Individual personas have express this attitude on this forum. They pick what PoE is and isn't to suit their argument, never mind what was implied in the KS.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sandbox has nothing to do with non-linearity. Just because the game world is open, that doesn't mean the stories in it aren't linear. All Bethesda games from Oblivion and on are open world with extremely linear stories. New Vegas is a good example of non-linear main story. Pillars had a good story with interesting revelations and twists at the end. Your choices affected your companions' aftermaths and you could choose different things to do at the end, though nothing would change Thao's actions. Although I prefer New Vegas approach of story, I'm totally ok with Pillars' approach too. I felt I was roleplaying my character and that's what I want from an rpg (although it could be improved at several points).

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Anyone who researches and or cares about the game already knew Avellone didn't have much to do with it.  This isn't news.  Avellone's character is also one of the most boring least interesting characters in the game this time.  The guy was clearly more interested in the projects he was doing with other companies than the one he was doing with the one he worked for as well.  Him leaving Obsidian was probably a good thing cause every time he posts about it he makes it painfully obvious he didn't want to be there or be working on Eternity.

Why did he not want to be there?  Why did he not want to work on Eternity?  Who cares.  All that matters is the reality that he clearly didn't care that much about the game.

Edited by Karkarov
  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

They were? I thought his were easily the best, even if they were in a kind of jarringly completely different style to every other character in the game ... in a way that kind of overshadowed everyone else.

I did like Eder and Aloth as characters as well, but their content was on the thinner side.

  • Like 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Durance was good but Grieving Mother was lost potential in my opinion. I think Durance also suffers some from being too wordy, there is a lot of repetition in his dialogues, just dressed up with different words for different dialogue nodes.

  • Like 2

Listen to my home-made recordings (some original songs, some not): http://www.youtube.c...low=grid&view=0

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here's my critique of characters.  Bear in mind I enjoyed them all and thought they were, with one exception, heads and shoulders above your average rpg npc.

 

Durance had the best plot by far.  Getting his individual dialogue nodes out was clumsy.  He was thoroughly unlikable as a character but was supposed to be that way.  He's probably my number one or two.

 

Eder was likable and just a pretty good character.  He had believable struggles, and wealth of development and potential outcomes.  I personally thought he was better crafted than Durance because your average interactions were on average more unique and enjoyable.  The pet dialogues were very clever.

 

Hirviras was well made in general, but his plot was a little Bioware-y.  Press x to renegade Galawain.

 

Pallegina's design and characterization were cool, but her plot could have used some work.

 

Sagani had a neat design and plot, but she had few noticeable personality traits.  What adjectives would you use to describe her as a person?

 

Aloth, Kana, and Grieving mother just didn't work as well.  Either their plot was too clumsy or they lacked adequate characterization.  Aloth was by far the worst, because he had two different plots that didn't connect or reference each other.

 

 

Might be because 'people' are not a single entity. You're probably the first one showing surprise over the fact that every single person has his own view on what PoE was all about.

 

Nah, not different people. Individual personas have express this attitude on this forum. They pick what PoE is and isn't to suit their argument, never mind what was implied in the KS.

 

 

That's a fair enough argument, and I'm guilty of a bit of hypocrisy.  I didn't like the gating and would have preferred a game less traditional in that respect.  However, I recognize it for what it was and can live with it.  I think he's being a bit crass considering how gated the games he's worked on have been.  My objections to Avellone ignoring the practical side of game development still stand.

 

And my, how its funny to see the infinity engine literalists rush to support any criticism at all.

Edited by anameforobsidian
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeah, while those two NPCs were very interesting, I found them... One-dimensional? I'm not sure how to describe it easily, thing is, I felt like they both had a gimmick and pattern according to which they behaved every single time and didn't feel particularly believable.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeah, while those two NPCs were very interesting, I found them... One-dimensional? I'm not sure how to describe it easily, thing is, I felt like they both had a gimmick and pattern according to which they behaved every single time and didn't feel particularly believable.

 

My problem is more along the lines of "Thinking in-character, both of these figures sound like a massive liability to keep around, much less trust them with my life. Why would I ever want to hang around with such horrible people?"

  • Like 1

"Lulz is not the highest aspiration of art and mankind, no matter what the Encyclopedia Dramatica says."

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here's my critique of characters.  Bear in mind I enjoyed them all and thought they were, with one exception, heads and shoulders above your average rpg npc.

 

Durance had the best plot by far.  Getting his individual dialogue nodes out was clumsy.  He was thoroughly unlikable as a character but was supposed to be that way.  He's probably my number one or two.

 

Eder was likable and just a pretty good character.  He had believable struggles, and wealth of development and potential outcomes.  I personally thought he was better crafted than Durance because your average interactions were on average more unique and enjoyable.  The pet dialogues were very clever.

 

Hirviras was well made in general, but his plot was a little Bioware-y.  Press x to renegade Galawain.

 

Pallegina's design and characterization were cool, but her plot could have used some work.

 

Sagani had a neat design and plot, but she had few noticeable personality traits.  What adjectives would you use to describe her as a person?

 

Aloth, Kana, and Grieving mother just didn't work as well.  Either their plot was too clumsy or they lacked adequate characterization.  Aloth was by far the worst, because he had two different plots that didn't connect or reference each other.

 

 

 

 

Pallegina could have used more depth and content. I loved her accent.  It gave a much greater sense of her being foreign to the Dyrwood than Sagani.  I'd have loved to see her get more interaction with the group.

 

As for Sagani, I'd say that she was as bland as her accent. 

 

Regarding GM, I didn't particularly enjoy her character, perhaps because it was too grim and preachy(?) for my taste. 

 

I have no strong opinion on Kana, mostly because I'm not a huge fan of chanters/bards, and don't keep him with the party beyond completing his quest.

 

As for Hiravias, I've also rarely every had druids in my parties, whether in PoE or any of the IE games.  I just have a hard time figuring out what to do with them, and so tend to leave them on the side lines. While I've picked up Hiravias, I've always just dumped him in the "reserve", so to speak.  I've never even played out his quest.

 

Durance is well written, and succeeds at being unlikable. And I've always kept him in my parties, mostly because I always have a priest (aka cleric) along.  But I have to say that part of me wishes that there was a nicer priest Companion to be had because Durance's character isn't particularly enjoyable to have around.

 

I haven't gotten around to playing WM so I have no experience with the 2 new NPC's though I've heard good things about them.  And if and when I play my next party, I'll almost certainly want to give them a go.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I suspect there's a correlation between how much you like a certain companion and you much you actually played with them. Be careful of judging the ones you haven't played with much. Kana is probably most likely to be a victim of this due to widespread Chanter-hate. I found him to be a pretty well-done character, full of emotion and with a lot to say. Take him with you to the Brackenbury Asylum and watch what happens.

Edited by Infinitron
  • Like 7
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I suspect there's a correlation between how much you like a certain companion and you much you actually played with them. Be careful of judging the ones you haven't played with much. Kana is probably most likely to be a victim of this due to widespread Chanter-hate. I found him to be a pretty well-done character, full of emotion and with a lot to say. Take him with you to the Brackenbury Asylum and watch what happens.

 

What I didn't like about Kana was how quickly his plot resolves.  Because it's only in the Endless Paths, once you set to doing the Endless Paths you get there pretty quick.  I wanted to like him, as I thought the character, motivation, and concept was neat.  He just didn't do it for me.  I used him quite a bit because I had two gun users.

 

Moreover, the tension over animancy as a theme doesn't carry through for the entire game, and isn't nearly adequately explored.  The characters whose motivations involved the Gods seemed to tie into the plot better, because they dovetail with the end of the game.  Pallegina's interaction with Hylea was not part of her quests, but it was much better than her quests.  The characters whose motivations involve animancy tend to fall flat by the third act.  Kana has already made his decision.  Aloth is a big ole mess.  Grieving Mother is interesting, but you don't meet anyone or go anywhere affected by her actions.  

 

It may be that some of the characters were planned to match content that didn't appear, and thus more harmed by the thematic disunity between the second and third acts.  A larger second act may have helped some of this.  My completely unsubstantiated belief is that the backer NPCs took significantly more time than they realized, and took up some of the air from the normal NPCs.

Edited by anameforobsidian
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

They were? I thought his were easily the best, even if they were in a kind of jarringly completely different style to every other character in the game ... in a way that kind of overshadowed everyone else.

 

I did like Eder and Aloth as characters as well, but their content was on the thinner side.

I was referring to GM.  She is one of the worst characters I have seen in an RPG for a long time.  Her plot is totally one dimensional, she has zero character growth, her justifications for traveling with you are paper thin.  She is an absolute wasted opportunity and they should have stuck with the original concept of the Cipher companion being a part of Dunryd Row.

 

Durance is a D Bag but his writing is fine.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
×
×
  • Create New...