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A Poll on Party Size  

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  1. 1. What party size would you prefer?

    • 4 (as per Tyranny)
    • 5 (as suggested for PoE II)
    • 6 (as per PoE I and all past IE titles)
    • No preference


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... traditional crpg formula in this one respect.

 

Traditional IE game formula. I can think of CRPGs that have had 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 party members just off the top of my head, and I suspect given some more time I could find some other integers.

 

It would be trivial to do so. 7 and 8 have also been popular. Very popular. At one time they were the norm for party based CRPGs, insofar as anything can be said to be a norm in a genre that has always seen a lot of experimentation.

 

For the Gold Box games 6 PCs and 2 NPC hirelings/companions was the norm. They are the ones that set the gold standard for CRPG tactical combat in the late 80s and early 90s, and since they were based on AD&D rules a 6-8 party size was ideally suited to the task. (Well, fighter/cleric/mage/thief + a few extras, with at least half the party forming the front line.)

 

Later Wizardry games? Varied in the series (hey, Wizardry 4, I am looking at you) but ended up with 6+2.

 

Bard's Tale? 7 members.

 

Ultima series varied more, but hit 8 near its end.

 

Might and Magic started out at 6, hit 8 in Xeen, and then declined to 4 in the late 90s.

 

Nothing surprising about that, really, because the 80s/90s CRPGS were designed to appeal to the wargamer/roleplayer crowd and put a high priority on tactical combat, which meant that running just a handful of specialized supermen was usually not the point - controlling the battlespace, being able to nasty respond to surprises or reverses without having them necessarily count as point failures resulting in reloading, and giving the players flexibility in choosing what sort of party they wanted to portray, were.

 

 

They also didn't have the "traditional" tank/damagedealer/healer setup, because that tradition is a fairly recent invention, only being introduced with MMORPGs that needed simple roles for players to enact because the real challenge of MMORPGs was cooperating with other people you didn't know in real time rather than on the fly solving tactical challenges that attempted to portray (within the boundaries of their fantasy worlds) combat that would make some sort of rational sense.

 

The pen and paper RPGs and CRPGs prior to these games might well have fighter types who were tougher than others at standing in the front line, taking the brunt of damage, but they were still expected to carry their weight in damaging others and participating in non-combat activities, just like everybody were supposed to be able to survive at least moderate threats on their own and nobody got to be a glass cannon damagedealer. Well, not for long.

Edited by pi2repsion

When I said death before dishonour, I meant it alphabetically.

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Ultima series varied more, but hit 8 near its end.

 

Well, Ultima VIII was, if I recall correctly, solo, but otherwise you're right. I remember wandering around with a huge party in VII.

 

They also didn't have the "traditional" tank/damagedealer/healer setup, because that tradition is a fairly recent invention, only being introduced with MMORPGs that needed simple roles for players to enact because the real challenge of MMORPGs was cooperating with other people you didn't know in real time rather than on the fly solving tactical challenges that attempted to portray (within the boundaries of their fantasy worlds) combat that would make some sort of rational sense.

 

The pen and paper RPGs and CRPGs prior to these games might well have fighter types who were tougher than others at standing in the front line, taking the brunt of damage, but they were still expected to carry their weight in damaging others and participating in non-combat activities, just like everybody were supposed to be able to survive at least moderate threats on their own and nobody got to be a glass cannon damagedealer. Well, not for long.

 

 

I think PoE does a good job of returning to this, at least post patch 2.0. The changes to AI targeting made what MMOs so elegantly call "tank and spank" much less viable, forcing tanks to diversify (Fighters need to do damage, Paladins need to provide support etc.) and making glass cannons much less viable. It's a huge improvement in my opinion as I never really liked the tank/damage dealer/healer split, in particular I really don't like the concept of MMO tanks. I hope this is something Deadfire sticks with.

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With 1 less party character right now.. i'm guessing combat will be much more difficult as well. It may come to a point where hard is really hard. Strategy will only help to a certain limit. Victorious in a battle may end up with heavy casualties with only 1-2 surviving characters.

 

My issue with this is that, fallen companions gain no experience and XPs. This often leads to reload and trying my best to have as many characters alive as possible for the XP gain. IMHO, this should not be how things were designed. Every companion who participate and support in combat should be rewarded on the XPs equally.  I'm not sure if this was changed in PoE or in later expansion. 

Edited by Archaven
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I rather have 6 to be honest because I always want more companion interactions. Especially in multiple playthroughs, there are always those companions I get attached to which I don't want to replace so a bigger party gives me more choice on who to replace so I can experience other companion stories/personalities.

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My issue with this is that, fallen companions gain no experience and XPs. This often leads to reload and trying my best to have as many characters alive as possible for the XP gain. IMHO, this should not be how things were designed. Every companion who participate and support in combat should be rewarded on the XPs equally.  I'm not sure if this was changed in PoE or in later expansion. 

 

Combat doesn't directly give experience in PoE at all, and never has. You do get experience from completing encyclopedia entries on monsters, which you do by killing a certain number of those monsters, but after you've done that you don't get any further experience from killing that monster.

 

In particular, there are no encyclopedia entries on the Kith races (humans, elves, dwarfs, godlikes, aumaua, and orlans) which means you never get experience from killing them.

 

As for unconscious companions not getting experience from combat: assuming you actually mean the experience from completing encyclopedia entries, to the best of my knowledge this isn't true. 

 

With 1 less party character right now.. i'm guessing combat will be much more difficult as well. It may come to a point where hard is really hard. Strategy will only help to a certain limit. Victorious in a battle may end up with heavy casualties with only 1-2 surviving characters.

 

 

I don't see any reason this should necessarily be the case. Obsidian will, presumably, be designing encounters around the smaller party size so, for example, where an encounter in PoE might have had 6 ogres, the equivalent in Deadfire might only have 5.

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One thing I do fear. Is that even if PoE2 turns out phenomenal, like nearly BG2 status. Throttles RPGCodex to their core. The 5 party limit will forever be a black mark on it's record, as far as many grognards are concerned. Which could stand as it's reputation for years to come. Not a great way to see things go. Queue the PoE1 hipsters coming out of the woodwork.

And we/Obsidian should care about what a single community on the internet thinks because ... ? Edited by Fenixp
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I've long been an advocate of smaller party sizes for the exact reason why you want more, redundancy. I believe strongly in the importance of preparation and planning and if you can make a party ready for anything, well that's thrown out the window. It's even worse when you run into the situation where not only you can make a party prepared for everything, you have built in redundancy so even if that perfect party plays incorrectly and/or loses to raw stats inequity they can still win.

Yeah, this confuses me. Okay, you've got more choices to make but they're less meaningful. Redundancies are safety nets to protect you from your own screwups. This threads got a weird tendency sometimes of asking for more protection because they're not 'casuals'. I like complexity in my games, but I do want it to be meaningful complexity, not just for the sake of it.

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I think PoE does a good job of returning to this, at least post patch 2.0. The changes to AI targeting made what MMOs so elegantly call "tank and spank" much less viable, forcing tanks to diversify (Fighters need to do damage, Paladins need to provide support etc.) and making glass cannons much less viable. It's a huge improvement in my opinion as I never really liked the tank/damage dealer/healer split, in particular I really don't like the concept of MMO tanks. I hope this is something Deadfire sticks with.

 

I completely agree. PoE using engagement as an attack of opportunity mechanic without magic glue worked pretty well.

When I said death before dishonour, I meant it alphabetically.

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I've long been an advocate of smaller party sizes for the exact reason why you want more, redundancy. I believe strongly in the importance of preparation and planning and if you can make a party ready for anything, well that's thrown out the window. It's even worse when you run into the situation where not only you can make a party prepared for everything, you have built in redundancy so even if that perfect party plays incorrectly and/or loses to raw stats inequity they can still win.

Yeah, this confuses me. Okay, you've got more choices to make but they're less meaningful. Redundancies are safety nets to protect you from your own screwups. This threads got a weird tendency sometimes of asking for more protection because they're not 'casuals'. I like complexity in my games, but I do want it to be meaningful complexity, not just for the sake of it.

Strategical and tactical complexity aren't the same thing, that's all.

 

The thing the two of you like sounds a heck of a lot like strategically complex combat encounters with low tactical complexity where you are almost always considerably more powerful than the opposition, have good knowledge, prepare, plan, and execute your plan without casualties, much like in a special forces operation gone right (which is the usual outcome of designing encounters for small groups of actors) as opposed to tactically complex encounters with low strategic complexity where you are typically closer in power to the opposition, have to think on your feet, and casualties are part of the cost of doing business because when not every character is a point failure the developers can allow encounters to be more dangerous like in every realistic encounter that isn't a special forces hit job (which is the usual outcome of designing encounters for large groups of actors).

 

If design focuses on strategic complexity you usually end up with tight encounters with low numbers of enemies, that are, for the most part, easy for the average character to breeze through without casualties because the first mistake is usually the last so he'd better be able to easily make a plan to deal with any problems that arise.

 

If design focuses on tactical complexity you usually end up with loose encounters, higher numbers of enemies, and encounter difficulty that varies greatly depending on group composition, but also encounters that are in general tougher because you can throw things at players that would with smaller groups result in reloading rather than trying to cope when things go wrong.

 

 

Any CRPG with tactical combat chooses its own balance between tactical and strategic complexity, but that does not make one type of complexity more meaningful than the other, nor more inherently challenging. They are just different types of challenge.

 

I happen to feel that a focus on tactical complexity is the most appropriate for most CRPGs due to the world setting and the encounters parties experience, where it often makes absolutely no sense that a group of people should be able to address fights as strategic exercises, and overall in games I prefer tactical challenges and thinking on my feet to strategic ones since I find strategic planning easy, but that's just preference.

Edited by pi2repsion

When I said death before dishonour, I meant it alphabetically.

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.....

Strategical and tactical complexity aren't the same thing, that's all. .....

 

 You have a very good description of what you mean by strategic vs. tactical complexity. I don't disagree with you, but there are few things I want to poke at:

 

 

The thing the two of you like sounds a heck of a lot like strategically complex combat encounters with low tactical complexity where you are almost always considerably more powerful than the opposition, have good knowledge, prepare, plan, and execute your plan without casualties

 

 You can have a strategically complex encounter where you are outgunned and outnumbered and where you need contingency plans for when things go wrong. It is largely what you are calling a tactically complex encounter, but it has an element of "planning can help you win" and that element can be arbitrarily complex.

 

 

 

...I happen to feel that a focus on tactical complexity is the most appropriate for most CRPGs due to the world setting and the encounters parties experience, ....

 

 Let's look at some extreme endpoints on a continuum though - there are ways to make fights more purely tactical and less strategic that are really uninteresting (or, at least, I think they are uninteresting).

 

 One way to make a fight less strategic, is to make it more random. You go through a door, you are teleported to an unseen location and have random enemies. If you restart that encounter, you are teleported to a different random location with different random enemies etc. There is no way to strategically prepare, other than developing a jack of all trades party. There is also not much to learn from this type of encounter over time since the complexity is achieved through randomness. This fight can be made harder by adding enemies, adding hitpoints to enemies etc., a recipe for tedium. 

 

 On the other hand, you could have an encounter that behaves differently in different play throughs but that follows a strategy. That is, through scouting, you learn who your enemies are. They will act in an intelligent way. Just like you, they may want to kill the squishier party members first and may focus on whichever party members pose the greatest threat to them, given their party makeup. They may use the environment set up an ambush for you, etc. There is still a tactical challenge here, but there is an element of strategy in this encounter that is absent from the first example.

 

 So, my point is that it is possible to have tactically complex fights that are uninteresting because they rely on excessive randomness (which is more purely tactical) vs. encounters that are more interesting because the enemies behave strategically.

 

 I am probably not telling you anything you didn't already know here, but I wanted to make that distinction. 

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Some insights and quote on what Josh take about reduction to 5 characters:

 

"We had talked about it going all the way back to Pillars of Eternity.. But doing that to a spiritual successor of games that almost always had six party members didn't seem like a good idea".

 

"It makes a significant difference in how easily you can process what's going on screen. As the party size grows, the number of combatants also grows. So with five party members, it feels just a little bit easier to manage"

 

Along with smaller party, the class system is completely overhauled, the speed slowed slightly and the 30 odd afflictions re-imagined into broader categories so that countering them is more intuitive and doesn't require spreadsheet to track them all. AI governing companions and enemies has been much "improved" and that players can rely on companions to make smarter decisions in combat without having to guide them at every stage.

 

 

My take on this:

 

I don't have much problem or difficulty in processing what's going on screen in first PoE. But i understand that this may be a problem for many people. Since devs already don't mind offending vocal minority like me who prefers 6, why not go with 4? In my opinion, 4 would really be the best. With even much lesser party characters, they can even go further with the reduction in skill or spells. So it's much more "manageable" and "easier" for new comers and players who have no experience with this kind of games. On the other hand, for veterans who are more experienced who kept complaining about how easy the game was, this can also increase the level of difficulty for veterans, since they have even "lesser" firepower/utility from 1 less character. Why not go further Obsidian?

 

Regarding the AI.. i turned it off in most of the old IE games. I don't know.. maybe i sux at programming those AI script. They don't really work the way i want it. Even with Dragon Age Inquisition, i turned it off all completely. I often see that my AI companion wasting their spells or not using it correctly or efficiently the way i want it. It would be great this time around if i can see how good the AI has been "revamped" and even more so with the AI scripting stretch goals that we already hit. To me, the idea of a party-based RPG it simply means i will be controlling most of my characters. If the AI can be so good that they can basically not getting themselves killed, providing support to the rest of the party and even helped killing stuffs that i merely only need to control my main PC, that's a good direction we are heading towards!

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I don't have much problem or difficulty in processing what's going on screen in first PoE. But i understand that this may be a problem for many people. Since devs already don't mind offending vocal minority like me who prefers 6, why not go with 4? In my opinion, 4 would really be the best. With even much lesser party characters, they can even go further with the reduction in skill or spells. So it's much more "manageable" and "easier" for new comers and players who have no experience with this kind of games. On the other hand, for veterans who are more experienced who kept complaining about how easy the game was, this can also increase the level of difficulty for veterans, since they have even "lesser" firepower/utility from 1 less character. 

 

Why not four? Because there isn't simply a single factor going into a decision like this. For example, reducing the party size to four will reduce the flexibility in party composition and reduce the amount of companion interaction the player will experience at any given time. That might be an example of reason for stopping at five and not reducing further.

 

As for the idea that reducing party size inherently increases the difficulty, that's just plain rubbish. Difficulty is a function of not only party size, but also encounter size (as well as many other factors of course). A fight against 12 enemies in PoE can be reduced to a fight against 10 enemies in Deadfire and the difficulty will remain roughly the same. Against single entity enemies like Dragons, you can reduce their health damage output by a sixth.

 

Why not go further Obsidian?

 

 

You're attempting to perform a reductio ad absurdum, taking Obsidian's arguments for why they are reducing party size to 5 and attempting to show that, logically, they should reduce even further, which of course no one wants. The problem with your argument is that you don't actually have Obsidian's full reasoning for making the reduction and you use make faulty assumptions during it. It's a nice attempt, but it doesn't work.

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Since devs already don't mind offending vocal minority like me who prefers 6
​Who knows how representative the poll results are, but I'm not so sure you're in a minority at all.  There's an awful lot of preference for 6 member parties out there.
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With 1 less party character right now.. i'm guessing combat will be much more difficult as well. It may come to a point where hard is really hard. Strategy will only help to a certain limit. Victorious in a battle may end up with heavy casualties with only 1-2 surviving characters.

 

My issue with this is that, fallen companions gain no experience and XPs. This often leads to reload and trying my best to have as many characters alive as possible for the XP gain. IMHO, this should not be how things were designed. Every companion who participate and support in combat should be rewarded on the XPs equally. I'm not sure if this was changed in PoE or in later expansion.

 

Have you ever played PoE?

Edited by Taurus
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With 1 less party character right now.. i'm guessing combat will be much more difficult as well. It may come to a point where hard is really hard. Strategy will only help to a certain limit. Victorious in a battle may end up with heavy casualties with only 1-2 surviving characters.

 

My issue with this is that, fallen companions gain no experience and XPs. This often leads to reload and trying my best to have as many characters alive as possible for the XP gain. IMHO, this should not be how things were designed. Every companion who participate and support in combat should be rewarded on the XPs equally. I'm not sure if this was changed in PoE or in later expansion.

Have you ever played PoE?

He's from Path of Exile (^_^)

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I totally get why people are bummed about it, five is less than six and it feels like you are giving something up.

 

That being said it sounds like individual characters will be more powerful this time around and having five in a party will really enable them to tune the difficulty of encounters more finely.

 

I think once we get the game and start playing we'll see just how much sense it really makes.

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People are talking about "redundancy ".

 

Reduncy is necessary sometimes , especially on haarder difficulties were your main buffer/debugger ressurecter dies, it's nice to have a jack of all trades character with high lore and have some res scrolls on him, just for exemple.

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​I noticed the most recent update email was phrased like so:

though they don't expand the current party cap of five

 

​The word "current" seems deliberate.  Maybe I'm reading more into it than is really meant - my own wishful thinking - but it gives me a tiny, dimly flickering yet tantalizing glimmer of hope that this is not yet cast in stone.

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People are talking about "redundancy ".

 

Reduncy is necessary sometimes , especially on haarder difficulties were your main buffer/debugger ressurecter dies, it's nice to have a jack of all trades character with high lore and have some res scrolls on him, just for exemple.

Agreed. Which steers this toward playstyle. Larger parties allow for more playstyles. Maybe I'm not the type to want more powerful characters but prefers a more diverse set of skills. The extra character allows for that. Those who like to play with less characters can always just run with 5. But why eliminate the 6th charactrer when these boards are showing a strong voice for them?

No matter which fork in the road you take I am certain adventure awaits.

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​I noticed the most recent update email was phrased like so:

though they don't expand the current party cap of five

 

​The word "current" seems deliberate. Maybe I'm reading more into it than is really meant - my own wishful thinking - but it gives me a tiny, dimly flickering yet tantalizing glimmer of hope that this is not yet cast in stone.

5 is final decision. Also Obsidian mentioned considering a console release. If you asked me this is very much confirmed. Who doesn't like money? That's the whole reason why it was reduced to 5 because of the UIs & menus have to be designed in mind for big screens and controllers.

 

I don't really mind for console version unfortunately once again game has to be sacrificed for lowest common denominator

Edited by Archaven
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Also Obsidian mentioned considering a console release.

 

Not for Pillars 2. Sawyer said that he likes the idea of doing something a bit more console or tablet-friendly in response to a question about the possibility of an Icewind Dale-type spinoff for the Pillars franchise.

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Also Obsidian mentioned considering a console release.

 

Not for Pillars 2. Sawyer said that he likes the idea of doing something a bit more console or tablet-friendly in response to a question about the possibility of an Icewind Dale-type spinoff for the Pillars franchise.

 

 

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Can't wait for simultaneous release on console & PC!

 

Also.. actually 5 party members are really difficult to be played on a controller. How about 4 please? On a second thought, why not i just control 1 character and the rest of the companion will do everything automatically? 5 will still make the screen looks cluttered, clumsy and there are too many stuffs on screen and too fast! I don't know what is going on. Can you make it even more simple please?

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