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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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If Avellone had little impact on the story, good. Planescape was a great game, twenty years ago. Since then, he hasn't done anything that approaches that quality.

 

He's had some things come out that were interesting, don't get me wrong. I liked Alpha Protocol, sometimes. I thought there were some funny lines in Old World Blues. I'm not sure if he wrote the parts I liked. Nothing profound or moving, though. Nothing like Torment -- or at least, the way I remember feeling when I played Torment.

 

tbh, I feel bad for him. He's probably spent most of his adult life trying to get back there and never really made it. 

 

It's not that he's not an interesting writer, but I'm not so sure he's a good one anymore. His characters are all didacts -- Kreia, Durance, Ulysses. They have the most to say. And they constantly talk at you. It usually has the sound of something that might be profound or interesting. But if you poke at it you realize there's not as much going on as it sounds like there is. It's the same bag of tricks every time. "Question your beliefs, Player." "What if things weren't what they seemed? Wouldn't that blow your f---ing mind?" And maybe it did. The first time. With Kreia. After that? It's just more of the same. I can't speak for everyone else, but I want something different.

 

With Durance, he's said that he wanted to explore the mind of a terrible person and explore whether he could be redeemed. But oops, he didn't have Durance do or say anything even slightly redeeming, so it's really not the best exploration. It's funny that he calls out the linearity of the plot. Durance might be the only companion that doesn't change course at all in response to what the player does. He's completely linear. It feels like he plays himself in the same way that Call of Duty does. You hit a button on him and he starts talking and then when he's done talking hours later, the quest finishes and you get some XP.

 

There were so many companions in NV with more heart than Cass. I loved the grandma supermutant. There was something special there. Hell I was more attached to the robot. I haven't attached to an Avellone character since Torment.

 

There's something off when the guy whose job is that he runs the creative side of the company claims to have so little influence. Someone in his position could choose to be the lead designer or head writer on any project he wants. He hasn't done that. Either that's his choice and that's some kind of confidence problem or a lack of care, or the choice was made for him and there were concerns about putting him into those roles. 

 

I think he's said all he has to say that is interesting. He did it in Torment. I would love for him to prove me wrong because I really liked his early work. He get credited with almost everything Obsidian writes, but when I started looking into what he'd actually written, I realized that none of my favorite writing was his. That was a big disappointment at first, but now that he's no longer there, it's a relief.

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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.

 

I didn't even get into GM but I completely agree with this. She was so flat.

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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.

I didn't even get into GM but I completely agree with this. She was so flat.
Chris wanted to design a mind dungeon for DM,but it was cuted. The plot was cuted too much. Edited by bronzepoem

Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, She got the Mercedes Benz

She's got a lot of pretty, pretty boys, that she calls friends

How they dance in the courtyard, sweet summer sweat.

Some dance to remember, some dance to forget

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As someone who has never felt the need to recruit GM, I feel that may have been slightly intentional.

 

GM's anonymity provokes a strong response, and you either want to investigate her, or ignore her. 

Contrast Durance, who is such a blatantly offensive guy, yet has the conviction to demand your attention. 

 

Makes me think that MCA thinks companions needn't be for everyone- which is, at the very least, an interesting idea. 

Edited by Parasol_Syndicate
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Magran's fire casts light in Dark Places...

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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.

I didn't even get into GM but I completely agree with this. She was so flat.
Chris wanted to design a mind dungeon for DM,but it was cuted. The plot was cuted too much.

 

 

GM and Durance have by far the most lines in the game. I would also hazard a guess they have the most words per line. I couldn't be more grateful that they didn't have even more lines. So many of the existing ones are wasted on exposition. 

 

That's part of what I mean by him having lost his touch. Part of being a good writer is being able to edit your own work.

 

The other thing it could be is that it could be a situation like George Lucas. Genius at first when they have a few new ideas to offer, but then the more you see, the more the limitations show through, and there's no more fresh ideas to offset the badness.

 

This also underscores my other point, that he was the executive in charge of all creative things at the company. If his work got cut against his will, you'd think that order would have to come from above him, no? He wrote two of the longest companions in the game AND they had to make big cuts to get them to that point. That sounds very much like it was avoidable with better planning and editing on his part.

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With Durance, he's said that he wanted to explore the mind of a terrible person and explore whether he could be redeemed. But oops, he didn't have Durance do or say anything even slightly redeeming, so it's really not the best exploration. It's funny that he calls out the linearity of the plot. Durance might be the only companion that doesn't change course at all in response to what the player does. 

 

Chris does not take credit for those characters as they were largely re-written by the other writers, so I imagine issues such as that (and whatever problems people have with GM) are largely in part due to re-writes and cuts.

 

I thought Durance, GM (despite HORRIBLE VO), Eder and Aloth were good companions but Eder and Aloth needed more content IMO.

 

Kana, Sagani and Pallegina were boring and I didn't use Hiravias much because I got him last.

Edited by Sensuki
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With Durance, he's said that he wanted to explore the mind of a terrible person and explore whether he could be redeemed. But oops, he didn't have Durance do or say anything even slightly redeeming, so it's really not the best exploration. It's funny that he calls out the linearity of the plot. Durance might be the only companion that doesn't change course at all in response to what the player does. 

 

Chris does not take credit for those characters as they were largely re-written by the other writers, so I imagine issues such as that (and whatever problems people have with GM) are largely in part due to re-writes and cuts.

 

I thought Durance, GM (despite HORRIBLE VO), Eder and Aloth were good companions but Eder and Aloth needed more content IMO.

 

Kana, Sagani and Pallegina were boring and I didn't use Hiravias much because I got him last.

 

 

Has there been anything posted about what and how much was rewritten? I saw the interview where he said he had to be reined in. When I read those characters, I can hear that Avellone cadence. It's hard to tell how much was rewrites and how much was cuts, but they both sound consistently like Avellonian didacts.

 

In either case what makes me sad is that I have to go so far back to find a character that he wrote that hooked me. Maybe these didn't come out how he wanted, but you'd think somewhere between KOTOR 2 and New Vegas there'd be something in there that's going to stand the test of time the way Torment has so far. I don't see it. His characters are caricatures now, barely recognizable as human. They are philosophies or idiosyncrasies that talk to you. I see skill in the things he writes these days, but no soul.

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It is hard to gauge, but we do know that a large lot of content for GM and Durance were cut (particularly GM) and they were supposed to have an arc involving each other, which was also cut.

Chris has never written 'real' characters. They've always been larger than life in style and substance but I find that enjoyable. I would have preferred fewer companions with more content like Durance than what we got, YMMV.

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It is hard to gauge, but we do know that a large lot of content for GM and Durance were cut (particularly GM) and they were supposed to have an arc involving each other, which was also cut.

 

Chris has never written 'real' characters. They've always been larger than life in style and substance but I find that enjoyable. I would have preferred fewer companions with more content like Durance than what we got, YMMV.

 

I think that's very fair. I do think there was something, at least in torment, that gave those companions a humanity that's been harder to find since. Morte, aside from being a skull, had something very real about him. Not the wisecracks, but the lying and the guilt. He doesn't drone on and on about it, but it's there and you understand why, and when you get there it's a good moment. I'd say more than half the companions in that game had something nice and real in there, and that's a big part of why the ending came together. The post-Kreia work (including Kreia) has gone off in a direction that's much less understated. YMMV is a good way to put it.

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Well... it doesn't *feel* that linear because there are so many side quests and optional stuff to distract you. 

 

After re-playing it several times, I find that I usually start getting bored of the main quest when doing the 3 Leaden Key investigations. They always resolve in the same way, and since there are 3, it always seems like a drag. 

 

My personal opinion on the writing of Durance and GM: nice ideas, but too wordy. I would have preferred if their dialogues had less "fluff" and got more to the point. Since Durance's backstory is very relevant to the main storyline, it would be nice to pick his brains about it... if he would shut up with the fire metaphors for two seconds. 

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Well... it doesn't *feel* that linear because there are so many side quests and optional stuff to distract you. 

 

After re-playing it several times, I find that I usually start getting bored of the main quest when doing the 3 Leaden Key investigations. They always resolve in the same way, and since there are 3, it always seems like a drag. 

 

My personal opinion on the writing of Durance and GM: nice ideas, but too wordy. I would have preferred if their dialogues had less "fluff" and got more to the point. Since Durance's backstory is very relevant to the main storyline, it would be nice to pick his brains about it... if he would shut up with the fire metaphors for two seconds. 

 

I couldnt click through durances stuff fast enough tbh. It felt like trying to read a school text book.

 

I wasnt sure what the point was or why all of this was being unloaded so soon into the game. Usually NPCs talk about stuff that is immediatly happeneing in the game not all this random stuff.

 

Maybe if CA wrote the whole game everything would click and make sense but as is his NPC are kind of out of left field.

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I think that's very fair. I do think there was something, at least in torment, that gave those companions a humanity that's been harder to find since. Morte, aside from being a skull, had something very real about him. Not the wisecracks, but the lying and the guilt. He doesn't drone on and on about it, but it's there and you understand why, and when you get there it's a good moment. I'd say more than half the companions in that game had something nice and real in there, and that's a big part of why the ending came together. The post-Kreia work (including Kreia) has gone off in a direction that's much less understated. YMMV is a good way to put it.

Chris put an unhealthy amount of effort into Torment (by his own account it was very detrimental to his health) and that's probably why the work is so good original.gif Unfortunately we'll probably never get anything like that again from him. Hopefully some bright star somewhere will come along and give us some good quality RPG companions elsewhere.

 

I don't really see it coming from Obsidian because they have gone down the route of making safe, risk-free games and the criticism they've gotten over the years for lack of polish has got to them, now it appears to be one of their top focuses.

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With Durance, he's said that he wanted to explore the mind of a terrible person and explore whether he could be redeemed. But oops, he didn't have Durance do or say anything even slightly redeeming, so it's really not the best exploration. It's funny that he calls out the linearity of the plot. Durance might be the only companion that doesn't change course at all in response to what the player does. 

 

Chris does not take credit for those characters as they were largely re-written by the other writers, so I imagine issues such as that (and whatever problems people have with GM) are largely in part due to re-writes and cuts.

 

I thought Durance, GM (despite HORRIBLE VO), Eder and Aloth were good companions but Eder and Aloth needed more content IMO.

 

Kana, Sagani and Pallegina were boring and I didn't use Hiravias much because I got him last.

 

 

Has there been anything posted about what and how much was rewritten? I saw the interview where he said he had to be reined in. When I read those characters, I can hear that Avellone cadence. It's hard to tell how much was rewrites and how much was cuts, but they both sound consistently like Avellonian didacts.

 

In either case what makes me sad is that I have to go so far back to find a character that he wrote that hooked me. Maybe these didn't come out how he wanted, but you'd think somewhere between KOTOR 2 and New Vegas there'd be something in there that's going to stand the test of time the way Torment has so far. I don't see it. His characters are caricatures now, barely recognizable as human. They are philosophies or idiosyncrasies that talk to you. I see skill in the things he writes these days, but no soul.

 

I feel like Dead Money's companions were wonderful. The actual gameplay experience was a flop because the limitations of the Fallout engine don't lend themselves to the kind of experience it was shooting for.

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I liked PS:T, KotOR 2, DM, and MotB plenty well enough, so MCA's done enough right for me. Granted, the stories are a bit samey at times. Which actually makes me disapointed he didn't get the reins for PoE's story. The whole 'past life did bad stuff' thing would've fit right into his M.O. Of course, that could've been the issue, that the rest of the team thought he'd basically just go write the same story all over again.

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The problem with Chris's work in PoE is that it felt like he recycled stuff. Namely, Durance and the Grieving Mother felt like Kreia split in two. And to blame someone else, namely the directors and producers, someone should have realized how wordy his characters were compared to the others and asked him to tone it down a little... at least for Durance, as GM's way of communicating is very interesting and warrant something different than regular prose.

 

And as he said himself in one interview, it sometimes feel like he's gotten too comfortable writing dark and broken settings and characters and has trouble getting out of that comfort zone.

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I'm having trouble understanding the argument that PS:T beats PoE because PS:T didn't have choke points.  I loved PS:T but numerous places and people, from Pharod to Carceri, were choke points that blocked me from advancing the main plot until I decided to handle them.  I also recall the initial part of the game revolving around me being unable to go anywhere until I could get out of a mortuary, which isn't especially different from being unable to go anywhere until I could get out of some ruins. 

 

Don't get me wrong -- I think PS:T is one of the best CRPGs ever produced.  But it wasn't as nonlinear as people sometimes remember, nor -- I would argue -- is PoE as linear as people sometimes take it to be.     

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And to blame someone else, namely the directors and producers, someone should have realized how wordy his characters were compared to the others and asked him to tone it down a little... at least for Durance, as GM's way of communicating is very interesting and warrant something different than regular prose.

 

It sounds like that might be what they did. From that interview Avellone did a while back, he said others at Obsidian had to "rein him in." The real question is why someone in his position, with his level of experience, should have to be reined in at all. He was the creative executive of the company -- shouldn't he be able to know when he's being wordy and adjust? 

 

If he can't do that on his own, it makes it less of a shock that he's no longer in that role.

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And to blame someone else, namely the directors and producers, someone should have realized how wordy his characters were compared to the others and asked him to tone it down a little... at least for Durance, as GM's way of communicating is very interesting and warrant something different than regular prose.

 

It sounds like that might be what they did. From that interview Avellone did a while back, he said others at Obsidian had to "rein him in." The real question is why someone in his position, with his level of experience, should have to be reined in at all. He was the creative executive of the company -- shouldn't he be able to know when he's being wordy and adjust? 

 

If he can't do that on his own, it makes it less of a shock that he's no longer in that role.

 

 

Yeah, I felt like the overall approach to companions was a bit at odds with the more avant-gardist leanings of Grieving Mother and Durance and that being voiced really hurts long dialogues. I like Durance and find Grieving Mother intriguing but never seem to get through her dialogue but I feel like you need more of a mix of ways of interacting with them.

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And to blame someone else, namely the directors and producers, someone should have realized how wordy his characters were compared to the others and asked him to tone it down a little... at least for Durance, as GM's way of communicating is very interesting and warrant something different than regular prose.

 

It sounds like that might be what they did. From that interview Avellone did a while back, he said others at Obsidian had to "rein him in." The real question is why someone in his position, with his level of experience, should have to be reined in at all. He was the creative executive of the company -- shouldn't he be able to know when he's being wordy and adjust? 

 

If he can't do that on his own, it makes it less of a shock that he's no longer in that role.

 

Was this the same interview where Chris admitted that the reason his novella wasn't out yet was because he lost his mind and wrote an actual novel?

 

I like MCA and respect his work, but I have a feeling that even his friends need a little break now and again.

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"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."

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No surpise at all with MCA's comments.

Going through the first 25 backer updates. There's surprisingly a lot of updates from Tim Cain. Looks like they didn't listen to him either.

 

Design Goals
- Non-combat skills are gained separately from combat skills. You shouldn't have to choose between Magic Missile and Herbalism. They should be separate types of abilities, and you should spend different points to get each one.
- Avoiding combat does not lead to less experience gain. You shouldn't go up levels any slower by using your non-combat skills rather than your combat skills. We plan to reward you for your accomplishments, not for your body count.


We see combat and non-combat skills put in together.

Bestiary XP is all about body count to get those bestiary pages and rewards for killing.

 

we are considering adding multi-classing to the game. A better way to put this answer is that we are not ruling them out at this time. If they work well with our final system, we will offer them.


While not a confirmation, I wonder if they really tried to put multi-classing in.

 

Baldur's Gate and Athkatla are big cities. Spanning multiple large maps with a ton of interiors, characters and quests, big cities are a lot of fun. Like strongholds, they also take a lot of work to do well. We're going to have one big city in Project Eternity. Would you like two? If you take us on an exciting adventure to $3.5 Million, we will take you on an exciting adventure to another big city.


Comparisons to the cities of Baldur's Gate and Athkatla. While the big cities in PoE might span over multiple maps, those maps are smaller than Baldurs' Gate and Athkatla.

Dyrford only has one inn. In BG1, small towns like Nashkel had maps that were still big and had two inns. When you look at IWD1, the maps like Easthaven, Kuldaher and Lonleywood only have one inn and maps were generally smaller. PoE took more from IWD than BG1/BG2 despite the original comparison to BG1/BG2 with its Big Cities.

 

We will certainly be adding animations to our backgrounds. The trees should sway, there will be birds or butterflies or insect clouds, depending on where you are, and the water in rivers and waterfalls will flow.

Q. Will there be low intelligence/charisma dialog?

Tim Cain: Yes, we will have these dialogs. They are a great deal of work, since it means writing two versions of every dialog in the game, but I am sure that our wonderful writers are up to it. I really want these dialogs too! I find it fun to replay the game with a low intelligence character, just to see how the NPC's react to my slow-witted attempts to help them.


Trees should be swaying. (also mentioned more and actual video footage in Update 49)

Low intelligence dialogue confirmed. And the big one. TWO versions of every dialogue in the game. yes.gif

 

So, we are happy to announce that we are going to include a stream, download, or physical copy of the documentary in all of our Kickstarter reward tiers. At the $20/$25 level you will be able to stream it, at the $35 level you will be able to download it, and at the $140 level (and physical tiers above) we will include a DVD / Blu-ray.


No more physical copy. Instead the high tier backers get a notepad. LOL.

 

The priests of the Forgotten Realms run around with boatloads of cure x wounds spells, the ability to banish disease, and even the power to bring the dead back to life.

In Project Eternity, prospects are not so bright.

Unlike many fantasy settings, there is very little access to curative magic. Remedies for health problems often have only a palliative or placebo effect at best.


New talents introduced can now cure health. So lets still ignore magic. The talent itself of putting a Band-Aid on your profusely bleeding arm now cures your health. This is more than a placebo effect!

Overall: A lot of promises during the Kickstarter campaign and it comes across as throwing things out there and not realising the implications of what they were saying and not being able to back up those things.

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1) We see combat and non-combat skills put in together.

2) Bestiary XP is all about body count to get those bestiary pages and rewards for killing.

 

3) While not a confirmation, I wonder if they really tried to put multi-classing in.

 

4) Trees should be swaying. (also mentioned more and actual video footage in Update 49)

 

5) Low intelligence dialogue confirmed. And the big one. TWO versions of every dialogue in the game. yes.gif

 

6) New talents introduced can now cure health. So lets still ignore magic. The talent itself of putting a Band-Aid on your profusely bleeding arm now cures your health. This is more than a placebo effect!

1) What is the alternate universe (in which you are living) where that statement is true?

2) Yep, they definitely went back on that one.

3) I don't really think they tried. Obviously it wasn't a priority feature.

4) They definitely took on more than they could chew with that one.

5) Yep, too bad that those weren't in!

6) Do you see temples and the like used as hospitals? Magic doesn't have the ability to cure disease or grave injuries, that is still true.

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1 isn't right or wrong, it's more like n/a. It's pretty clear that when that was written Tim Cain had some kind of heavily skill-centric Fallout-like character system in mind. It doesn't make sense to talk about "combat skills" and "non-combat skills" in a D&D-like system where character progression isn't really about "skills" at all.

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New talents introduced can now cure health. So lets still ignore magic. The talent itself of putting a Band-Aid on your profusely bleeding arm now cures your health. This is more than a placebo effect!

Did anyone actually use that talent... (Other than on Kana's auto level)

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