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I hope PoE 2 has better NPC interjections


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In case you don't know interjections are dialog between your companions, or a line your companion might say in a conversation you're having with another NPC. This is one of the things I find most disappointing about Pillars of Eternity when comparing it to Baldur's Gate 2.

 

Relegating interjections between your companions to short, and mostly irrelevant, conversations while you're moving on the map is not the best way to do it. It's not cheaper, because every line has to be voiced unnecessarily, and it forces the writers to keep the dialog as short as possible. A character like Jan Jansen would be impossible to recreate with a system like this because of those limitations, and it was personally one of my favorites in BG2. It also presents the problem that the only way to do character development is to make the player talk to their companions where there are no restrictions for the text's length, because whatever they say to each other with the current system is usually not that interesting since the writers have to keep it as short as possible.

 

The lines they have in regular conversations are also quite disappointing. The vast majority of them feel out of place, and it doesn't feel like they are actually taking part in the conversation. Several times they will insult the speaker or make some nasty comment about them, but there are almost no reactions to those comments. It feels as if everything they say is just a whisper only the player can hear. Like the writers never made the effort to make it seem like your companions are participating in the conversation and being an active part of the group. There are ways to make this work without having to write different dialog for every NPC depending on which companions are in your group, BG2 did it already. 

 

This conversation is a perfect example (ignore the first Jaheira line, that one is supposed to be the player):

 

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To the player, it looks like Jaheira is taking control of the conversation, and asking a question to the dryads. Compare this to most interjections in PoE:

 

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Edér here might as well be just a voice in your head, since that conversation clearly doesn't feel natural at all, that's not the way those NPCs would have continued talking if Edér had actually said that.

 

Let's go back to the BG2 example. The great thing about it is the dryads aren't actually reacting to you having Jaheira in your party. Jaheira is the one reacting. It is an illusion. Cania will say that line regardless of if you have Jaheira or not in your group and the line feels natural in both cases. The key here is that, if you happen to have her in your party, you'll get a better experience, thanks to that illusion. Combine those illusions with dialog where they actually react to who you have in your party (remember Minsc talking to the kid from Umar Hills, for instance) and you'll have a game that will seem way more reactive that it actually is, which is one of the reasons we love BG2.

 

I'm also not the biggest fan of endless conversations with your companions asking 20 questions to them 5 seconds after they join you (Durance is especially bad at this), because it slows down the pace of the game considerably. But Obsidian apparently loves that since they do it in most of their games, so that's not likely to change. But there are better ways for your companions to talk about themselves without making it seem like the player is interrogating them.

 

Thoughts?

Edited by Luzeryn
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Personally I liked party banter quite a lot in PoE, but I'm all for expanding it, infact it is my biggest wish for PoE2!

 

I totally agree with you about the disappearing text over my companions while I'm moving: that kind of conversation is terrible, superficial, and I often miss part of it! I would rather sit down and listen to a longer, deeper party banter à la BG2. Many players disagree with this tho, because they say the current way doesn't interrupt gameplay. Maybe in PoE2 they could use the system that you have to click on the cartoon bubble to make the party banter start. I don't know... people that consider party banter an hindrance to their game, should just avoid story companions and get a custom party of adventurers. I want to spend time knowing my companions for real, and I love listening to them discussing or arguing over something!

 

Interjections are just witty comments by our companions, clearly disconnected from the actual conversation, I think they are cool just to add a bit of flavour, but of course they would be 100 times cooler if our companions actually had a full, real conversation with some NPCs during the game. I can't think of any, excluding those related to personal quests.

 

For example, I was especially baffled that Kana didn't question Maerwald about the object of his search. I mean... he has joined us for this very same reason and he only interjects "ah, uhm, a tablet of some worth when you two are finished..." and afterward "oh we didn't have time to ask about that thing..."! What!? :grin:

 

 

Definitely more, better, deeper party banter! More more more! Which is honestly my philosophy about the sequel: please don't change the formula, just improve and expand it.... PoE2 will be a masterpiece!

 

Edit: I really like your example of "illusion of reaction" with Jaheira and the dryads, I strongly hope they'll add this in PoE2. Should not be too hard to implement, just a more clever use of interjections.

Edited by SkySlam
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Edér, I am using WhatsApp!

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I don't know... people that consider party banter an hindrance to their game, should just avoid story companions and get a custom party of adventurers. I want to spend time knowing my companions for real, and I love listening to them discussing or arguing over something!

 

Why? Personally, I don't want the game to come to a screeching halt whenever party members want to have a chat amongst themselves (walk and talk people, it's not that hard). That doesn't mean I don't want well-defined party members, suggesting that I should just go with hirelings because I don't share your exact preference in this regard is completely nonsensical. 

 

And while I certainly think there is room to expand on the level of interjections during conversations, and indeed integrate them a bit more naturally, it certainly shouldn't come at the expense of the background conversation snippets as far as I'm concerned. Both those of party members as well as non-party NPCs. If anything, I hope they rather expand on those kinds of background events, possibly also expand them more into the non-verbal. Makes the game world seem much more dynamic. 

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I don't know... people that consider party banter an hindrance to their game, should just avoid story companions and get a custom party of adventurers. I want to spend time knowing my companions for real, and I love listening to them discussing or arguing over something!

 

Why? Personally, I don't want the game to come to a screeching halt whenever party members want to have a chat amongst themselves (walk and talk people, it's not that hard). That doesn't mean I don't want well-defined party members, suggesting that I should just go with hirelings because I don't share your exact preference in this regard is completely nonsensical.

I didn't want to sound rude or dismissive, I'm sorry.

I find that "walk and talk" is ok, it can stay for me, but I wish sometimes my companions could have some more meaningful and longer conversations, not just a couple of sentences and/or funny jokes unrelated to what's happening in the game. Maybe after a campfire? That way, it wouldn't break immersion and it would not interrupt the gameplay in the middle of anything. Otherwise, waking up after a night at the inn could be an even more fitting time to discuss things among party members.

And what would you think about the option of the bubbles? They could appear on the companions that wants to discuss something and you could choose when and if to trigger their conversation without interrupting your plans; just like it happens now individually.

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Edér, I am using WhatsApp!

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Inherently, having conversations among NPCs come up in dialogue windows just doesn't feel natural to me, whether they're automatic or through bubbles. Either way, they're still conversations that the protagonist has no part in, it is a backdrop to which (s)he's just a passive bystander, so it makes little sense to force it to the forefront. If it concerns conversations and remarks that are actively directed at the protagonist it would be a different matter, but aside from that it would mostly just reinforce the feeling of a static world that only starts moving when the protagonist gets near. 

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We really have different points of view on this matter. Personally, I think that it feels much more natural and "realistic" that my companions start discussing without always having to report their feelings to the MC only. Why do five people in my party never argue, discuss or have some kind of longer, deeper conversation among them? They could even discuss MC decisions, disapproving or praising them. Instead, they limit 95% of their banter to short sentences, mostly jokes or witty comments, often unrelated to what is going on in the world.

When they want to have some personal, interesting conversation, they talk to the MC alone! THIS is a true example of a world starting to move only with the protagonist around, in my eyes.

 

I'll give another example avoiding spoilers. During the WM, when a lot of crazy things start unfolding, I would expect my companions to have some kind of discussion about all of that, maybe a meeting, maybe some clash of opinions, MC included or not.

Instead, Maneha start talking to the Devil about her ex-girlfriend. I think party banter should also be timed better in PoE2. ^^

 

Finally, no one said that the MC couldn't take part to companions discussions or quarrels! For example, the MC could also say something, he/she could sedate a fight among NPCs, or could even choose to side with one of them. That way, it would make more sense to "force" the banter to the forefront.

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Edér, I am using WhatsApp!

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We really have different points of view on this matter. Personally, I think that it feels much more natural and "realistic" that my companions start discussing without always having to report their feelings to the MC only. Why do five people in my party never argue, discuss or have some kind of longer, deeper conversation among them? They could even discuss MC decisions, disapproving or praising them. Instead, they limit 95% of their banter to short sentences, mostly jokes or witty comments, often unrelated to what is going on in the world.

When they want to have some personal, interesting conversation, they talk to the MC alone! THIS is a true example of a world starting to move only with the protagonist around, in my eyes.

 

Who says they don't discuss things amongst themselves? Just because it isn't shown, doesn't mean it doesn't happen. That's why I like these kinds of things to be in the background, to be short snippets, partial conversations. Stuff that the protagonist happens to overhear. If instead it gets pushed into a dialogue window, this basically suggests that your NPCs were waiting to have that conversation until the protagonist was close by and listening with rapt attention; like they are having the conversation for the benefit of the protagonist. My point is that I like things to be happening in the world regardless of whether the protagonist is around or not, is paying attention or not (or for it to feel as such, at any rate). 

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Thoughts?

 

Nice thread; you nailed it, mate. Had the exact same thoughts myself. PoE companions should have more life in them, Baldur's Gate 2 style.

 

 

 

Same as Messier. I could have copy+pasted both your posts. Also, i'm with you Skyslam, and i don't think you have to apologize for having your own opinion. Btw,  I have the same as you on this matter. To me, saying "it's not because it does not show that it doesn't exists" is quite true. But when it comes to some crucial things like companions, i want to "see". Otherwise, you could just extend the argument to the aventurers and imagine whatever you like for them. It's not what i expect from written companions.

Edited by Abel
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Happy to read I'm not alone in this. I actually liked the companions in PoE (even the ones some people find boring like Sagani, I liked her a lot for some reason) but in the back of my head I was always thinking how they could have been better doing things a bit differently.

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  • Party floating text and comments are fun and silly

There could be some pace of how open are the companions directly after we meet, maybe they need a time to know us and gain some trust

I would like if companion loyality quest unlocked some special ability for them. So there will be mechanical reason to keep them ovet henchman.

Companions could have attitude to PC depending how much PC alligment matches their own. Maybe they dont like us that much, but still stay in party for greater goal. Companions could be unhappy with what we did.

Attitude of companions could evolve over time after interaction with PC, we could push them more into some direction, make them more stoic or more angry road.

There is a potencial of using companions skills or origin in discussion as source of information. Aloth sometimes provide Lore i think. Also Durance have his moment in Fire Temple.

It would be nice to be able to tell Durance that i literally hate him (death to all religious fanatics), but keep him only since i need Priest in the party

I am fine with romance, it dont need to be graphical QTE (engine does not support it well), some characters are just flirty and may see PC or other party member as attractive. Life happens.

Edited by evilcat
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Well, I can see the OP point here. He wants for the companions to be more involved in conversations. What we've got in PoE is more like consigliere whispers-in-the-ear type of dialogue. But I understand  why Obsidian designed it that way (probably). I guess they intended for the companions to be just that. People who accompany you while you enjoy yourself on your goofy adventures. They stay in shadows and can only make some quiet suggestions, but don't try to wresle the control of the situation from player's hands. Remember that annoying, bratty companions in games where the influence system was implemented? In those games companions could be very vocal and insisting which quickly could spoil the fun of playing because you were shackled by your party's possible infavourable reactions and subsequent influence drop. So I guess this time Obsidian devs decided to go in the complete opposite direction of the influence system and make companions' interjections as light-weight as possible. 

 

And I agree with the OP to some point. The interjections could be written more naturally and not in the "voices-in-my-head" fashion. But then again it is a fundamental desicion of how much the presence of companions can change a flow of a conversation. And I also think it would add a lot more flavour - dialogue which do not change contents of a conversation overtly but suggest that your companions are still alive, as a part of the game world and not some kind of force-ghost advisors. But perhaps it requires too much effort, I don't know.

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I love party banter and companion interjection

 

PoE2 could just be friend simulator and castle decorator and I'd buy 10 copies

Made me laugh. Castle decorator/Simulator would be awesome. That's 10'000 copies material, especially if it's touch screen friendly.

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Current IWD 2 Party:

Gridley - Cleric of Bane - LN

Ogg Vorbis - Barbarian/Fighter - CG

Gorbid, Son of Gorb - Fighter/Cleric of Selune - TN

Don Juan - Fighter/Thief - CN

Junt the Unsane - Bard - CE

Trant - Tiefling Wizard - CE

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Agreed with OP. The interjection system is too 'insert-dry/witty-one-liner-here' monologuish. It felt more like party members were dispassionate observers and less like actual people. I think the reason people liked Eder so much is because his style fit this narrative.

This is not to critique their personas, which I thought were pretty well fleshed out(though the quests were underwhelming).

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