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Josh Sawyer Mega-Interview at RPG Codex


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Do you think the game was in some ways too complex in terms of rules?

 

I don't know. I don't think it's fundamentally that complex. I think that the graze/hit/miss/crit system is a little bit more complex than the basic hit mechanic, but there's also a lot fewer wacky things in classes, like we don't have equipment restrictions or things like that. In that sense, it's a lot simpler than D&D second edition. Especially when you get multiclasses and stuff in there and you have to figure out what's allowed.

 

We don't really have gear restrictions based on class other than soulbound weapons. A lot of people liked finding the Holy Avenger, and they like that only a Paladin can use it, but then obviously if you didn't make that one character then you can't use it at all. So the soulbound weapons were a way to sort of like "Okay, this hits a few classes" so it's likely your party has someone who can bind it. Even if you can't, you can still use it, or sell it, whatever.

 

I don't really think the system is that complex, but I do think our UI does not give great feedback about a lot of the things, and a lot of things give inconsistent feedback. Something we focused on a lot recently is cleaning up how status effects are organized, cleaning up how the UI displays that information to make it more clear. I do think our stacking rules could be simpler and cleaner. We do have to document better, and once it's documented, it gives you a baseline for comparison to say "Oh well the rules say that it should work this way, but it's not." Whereas, for example, when I played Baldur's Gate for the first time, I had already played second edition for years and years, so when I saw something I could say "That was definitely a bug" right away because we had the rules to back it up.

 

 

OK, the graze/hit/miss/crit system, combined with using a d100 instead of d20, is what makes the game work. I won't go into it in depth here, but it's the single best thing in the rules. It makes small stat changes matter and keeps the wheels from falling off at high levels.

 

On status effects... I think real problem is that there are too gosh darn many to remember what they do, and many are similar to one another, both in name and in function. I mean, dazed, confused, disoriented and distracted are practically synonyms. No way did we need both frightened and terrified. Weakened, hobbled and sickened could easily have been consolidated to just weakened.

 

Almost all of them have stat debuffs similar to another effect but with differences of severity. There could have been a system that applied the same affliction but with differing levels of severity. "Applies a strong weakening effect," for example.

 

Yeah, they affect different stats, to some degree. But the differences are not so great that they couldn't have been worked out in design. I wouldn't want to see it dumbed down to two or three, it just almost seems granular for granularity's sake, and I have to look at tooltips to keep track way more than I'd like.

Edited by PugPug
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Do you think the game was in some ways too complex in terms of rules?

.....

 

 

OK, the graze/hit/miss/crit system, combined with using a d100 instead of d20, is what makes the game work. I won't go into it in depth here, but it's the single best thing in the rules. It makes small stat changes matter and keeps the wheels from falling off at high levels.

 

On status effects... I think real problem is that there are too gosh darn many to remember what they do, and many are similar to one another, both in name and in function. I mean, dazed, confused, disoriented and distracted are practically synonyms. No way did we need both frightened and terrified. Weakened, hobbled and sickened could easily have been consolidated to just weakened.

 

Almost all of them have stat debuffs similar to another effect but with differences of severity. There could have been a system that applied the same affliction but with differing levels of severity. "Applies a strong weakening effect," for example.

 

Yeah, they affect different stats, to some degree. But the differences are not so great that they couldn't have been worked out in design. I wouldn't want to see it dumbed down to two or three, it just almost seems granular for granularity's sake, and I have to look at tooltips to keep track way more than I'd like.

 

 

 

 I think you're right about the status effects. They either need clearer distinctions or fewer of them.

 

 I agree that overall it seems to be  a solid system.  Some additional UI options could help to manage the complexities that do exist:

 

 The armor system is simple in principle but in practice it adds new decisions. That isn't bad; it adds to the game, but it would help to have some UI support to make decisions. E.g. should my monk wear heavy armor, light armor, just clothes? Well, what happens to defense vs. DPS? I know in general what will happen, but specifically deciding between 2 levels of armor, say padded armor vs. leather is not obvious. Maybe some UI goodness would help the player (especially a new player) understand the specific trade offs.

 

Also, enchantments and stacking rules are bit much to keep track of.  E.g., you might notice that you are wasting the +1 might from this ring on this character, but is there a better place to use the ring? Well, you can move it to every character and read the wall of text describing the equipment or you can just not worry about it too much. Also a place where some UI could potentially help the player - something like a summary of wasted attribute points for each character or, an option to sort by attribute rather than by item.

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Thanks! A good read. However, it kind of make me feel 'worried' for PoE2. They are heading towards the direction of 'shorter' games focused on choices & consequences, re-playability and branching story-lines. Everything sounds good but i don't like the 'shorter' part. It should be as long as the original PoE or more, not shorter. If people, genuinely feels Baldur's Gate II kind of games are long, perhaps they shouldn't play it? It means that's not really their taste in gaming. They can just go play Tyranny? If PoE2 is heading towards that direction.. it troubles me. There isn't a single good top-down isometric RTwP RPG like PoE in the market. It really saddens me if they decide to go make 'simpler', 'shorter', 'casualise' games?. Maybe i'm getting old.. i mean really no one likes Baldur's Gate anymore?

 

The frequency of combat in PoE isn't my complain. But the encounters were. It's great that devs are aware on this. For me, it's good to have a handful of normal encounters and mixed in with challenging ones. I'd still like some hard rock-paper-scissor kind of encounters where you need certain solutions before you can approach said encounters (eg. level drain from vampires, breach against mages, etc.)

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If people, genuinely feels Baldur's Gate II kind of games are long, perhaps they shouldn't play it?

That never was a problem, not to mention PoE's main path is easy as cake and it has huwrdadurp story mode. The problem is making game as big but also make quality content for it. Replayability&choice give content more quality - more options for roleplaying, more choice, more ways for characters to have diverse playthroughs; but game might end up shorter. PoE, really, could have been cut by at least 20% and that's not talking MegaDungeon that was and continues to be primitive and boring grind through same hordes of mobs.

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If people, genuinely feels Baldur's Gate II kind of games are long, perhaps they shouldn't play it?

 

Unfortunately Obsidian are a business that needs to make a profit in order to carry on existing, so they're always going to have to pander (at least somewhat) to what the bulk of their customers want.

 

Also, as Shadenaut says, quality content is more desirable than having lots of it. Sure, if we can have quality and quantity that's great, but sadly we live in a world of budgets and deadlines.

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If people, genuinely feels Baldur's Gate II kind of games are long, perhaps they shouldn't play it?

That never was a problem, not to mention PoE's main path is easy as cake and it has huwrdadurp story mode. The problem is making game as big but also make quality content for it. Replayability&choice give content more quality - more options for roleplaying, more choice, more ways for characters to have diverse playthroughs; but game might end up shorter. PoE, really, could have been cut by at least 20% and that's not talking MegaDungeon that was and continues to be primitive and boring grind through same hordes of mobs.

 

 

I see replayability as playing differentes class and perhaps each class/race may have specific story origins or generally how all NPCs in the world may be reacting to you. In PoE, basically all the henchmen/party characters already covering all the basic classes. This may be different in PoE2 especially if there's dual-classing. Why is that you think PoE should have been cut by 20%? I'm interested to know the reason of cutting content. Would the idea comes to your mind that Baldur's Gate 2 could have been cut by at least 20%?

 

You may not like the idea of MegaDungeon and you may find it boring. For me, i do not see the MegaDungeon as a boring grind. The idea of a MegaDungeon is great to my ears. The only problem was the execution. It became boring grindy same hordes of mobs because of poor execution. I see that the dungeon as a benchmark to test how good and how far can your party survive. Some sort of 'Arena' in action RPG to test how good is your build. Of course, it wouldn't be easy to have a big dungeon without repetitive similar content considering Obsidian is a small team. I would really like to see enemy party AI in PoE2 greatly improved.

 

 

If people, genuinely feels Baldur's Gate II kind of games are long, perhaps they shouldn't play it?

 

Unfortunately Obsidian are a business that needs to make a profit in order to carry on existing, so they're always going to have to pander (at least somewhat) to what the bulk of their customers want.

 

Also, as Shadenaut says, quality content is more desirable than having lots of it. Sure, if we can have quality and quantity that's great, but sadly we live in a world of budgets and deadlines.

 

 

Yeah i agree with you. However, imagine PoE2 released and reviews go all around comparing the length and content of PoE2 is basically 50% from the original PoE.. do you think the general audience will think PoE2 would be a worthy successor to PoE?

 

Just like for example.. Lord of the Rings movie.. most of them were 3 hours in length.. Fellowship of the Ring was a 3 hours movie.. The Two Towers was a 3 hours movie and out of sudden Return of the King was a 1.5 hours movie. The audience would be questioning why RoTK would be 1.5 hour in length?. One can argue a shorter movie can be better but i personally feel some story sequence needs sufficient time to develop the character relationship and better reflect the feelings to the audience. Just like Avatar, Jake Sully and Neytiri both need time for them to first meet, having conflicts, being together, and how Neytiri nurture Jake to who he would become. All those sequence need sufficient time. If the movie were to be to cut to 2 hours instead, i believe the Avatar movie would not be as memorable as it should be to anyone at all.

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