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What makes an interesting companion? Lore vessels and the past vs reactive dynamics and the present

writing storytelling; companions; narrative;

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#1
LordCrash

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On the FIG comments I complained about the small number of available companions in PoE2 and that it would be great to have more of them, offering a much bigger choice whom you take along for your adventure. To me the wide array of diverse companions was one core feature that made BG2 great back in the days. That's what Feargus answered to my complaint:
 

So, we made the decision to put more into each companion than have more companions. It's something we have gravitated to over the years to make sure that companions do more in the game, and can change as well.

 
While I understand the desire to "put more into each companion" I'd really like to know what that actually means. What is it that needs so much effort when writing a companion? Then I tried to remember how companions worked in PoE and how they were integrated in the player's adventure. By coincidence I just read a long rant/analysis about the state of game writing on the RPGcodex. While there is a lot of stuff in there and you certainly don't need to agree with anything there was a passage about Durance's writing in PoE that is especially insightful for the question above (the article was actually recommended by Chris Avellone himself in Twitter, acknowledging own mistakes and shortcomings):
 

Take Pillars of Eternity. There are many people who say that Durance is a great companion. Personally, I disagree, because Durance doesn’t strike me as a particularly good or well-written character. However, I can see where they are coming from – is it really Durance himself that is good, or is it the backstory that he gives? I would argue the latter. The story about a great war against an avatar of an angry god that ends with the nuking of said avatar sounds pretty exciting to me. So here’s where the big problem appears – why does this not translate in any way into the narrative or gameplay of PoE itself? Why am I stuck going through the nonsensical main story of PoE instead of taking part in all those cool things? Durance’s story is neat, but it’s completely irrelevant. And worst of all, it spans over nearly the entire game, reminding you at all times that you are a sucker doing boring things while you could be doing cool things instead. The same can be said about all the NPCs who keep telling you that they come from whatever place with whatever weird environments. Lake of drowned tombs! Volcanic archipelago! Tundra! Wow, that’s nice! What a shame that I’m stuck going through generic fantasyland and will never get to visit all the things you are talking about, and not even a single piece of information included in your lore dumps is ever going to be put into practice again in the whole game.

 
Let's brake that down a bit to what is important here (and skip all the personal rant about the storyline in PoE, it's pretty irrelevant for this thread). The important message is that much of the narrative that went into Durance isn't exactly used to explore his relationship to the player charachter (=PC) or the party abut to transport as much lore about himself but also the whole setting as possible. Almost every dialogue the PC can have with Durance in PoE is about his past, about what he did and felt during another time. Many dialogue options that the writers constructed in the dialogues with Durance are not based on the stuff that actually happens in the game but about the PC's reaction to what happened to Durance in the past. And I get the concept of opening up and to talk about the stuff that occupies you. The question is though how much of that is needed in order to make an interest character and what else has to be sacrificed in order to do so. Is Durance a deep character because he has so much to say about his past or because he had an interesting life? What makes a deep character, and more important, what makes an interesting character?  Feargus stated above that they have the goal that companions can do more in the game and that they can change - and I really like that approach because it's concentrated on the present, on the stuff that actually happens in the game. Imo interesting characters are those who do interesting things, who make interesting comments about the present events, who contribute to the present relationship to the PC and the group dynamics. Lore exposition doesn't make them that interesting, quite the opposite. The constant exposition to their backstory throughout almost the whole game can soon become boring and even annoying, taking away from the possibilities to react to the stuff that happens in the game itself.
 
Ask yourself: What would you prefer? A character who tells you in hundreds of lines in various dialogues about everything he did in the past? Or a character that concentrates on commenting and reacting to your adventures and what it means for the relationship to the PC?
 
In my opinion, Obsidian should really stop using companions for the overexpositon of lore and they should stop mistaking a huge backstory for an interesting companion. Of course some bits of backstory help to define a character and to make his actions understandable for the player but you don't need hundreds of lines of text for that, together with costly voice acting and overly branching dialogues. If your funds and personal is limited, concentrate on the present, not the past. Interestingly, the constant wish for "romances" in the fanbase covers this topic as well. A "romance" between the PC and another character is a concept that only works in the present. It's about an ongoing evolution of a relationship that happens during a game and it's not something that happened to a character long before the actual action started. So it seems I'm not alone in my wish for a much bigger concentration on the present, on reactive characters, on interesting relationships in the present.
 
I do know that this is often against the very interest of the writers. Writing a deep and compelling backstory to a certain character is much more comparable to writing a traditional story or novel than writing individual story bit for reactive dialogues, reactive relationships and dynamic events with often different characters. I get it that it's much more difficult to write that stuff because it's way more abstract and a lot of different concepts must work together to pull it of. But it pays off in the end because it result in a dynamic party that explores the PC's actions - and therefore creating agency - instead of just letting the player explore the decisions of his companions in the past. So Obsidian, cut the slack. Everything interesting you can come up with should happen IN the game, not before it. Every meaningful dialogue with companions should be of meaning in the context of the events that happen in the game and of meaning for the direct relationship between the PC and the companion. Your lore on PoE is solid, you don't need to cram us full with it at every possible occation and surely not in the very costly dialogues with companions. Use them for meaningful stuff that is of core interest to the agenda of the PC and his actions in the game. Good writers can give you an impression about the character, beliefs, agendas etc. of a companion in just a few lines. There is no need for hundreds of lines of dialogue for that, resulting in endless dialogues about stuff that would fit an external book better than its purpose in the game. I think you should ask every writer who wants to become involved with writing ©RPG companions whether they can make a mute character interesting - with actual proof. It's possible. But it certainly needs different means, means that are desperately needed for the writing in PoE2...
 
So I wonder how much of the effort Obsidian planned to put into the few companions in PoE2 actually will go into the present and how much will go into the past. If most of the effort goes into the former and therefore not more "deep" companions are possible, I'm satisfied. But if the latter is the case (again) and the writers are mostly occupied with writing elaborate backstories that are to be exposed to the player again during the course of the game I'm not happy at all. If PoE is anything to go to I'm at least dubious about it.
 
What do you think? What makes an interesting character for you? Do you prefer a dynamic companion who mostly consists of re/actions in/to the present adventure  or do you prefer a character who mostly consists of stories about the past?

Edited by LordCrash, 30 January 2017 - 09:15 AM.

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#2
MaxQuest

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Aks yourself: What would you prefer? A character who tells you in hundreds of lines in various dialogues about everything he did in the past? Or a character that concentrates on commenting and reacting to your adventures and what it means for the relationship to the PC?

Personally the second.

As for the OT question... an interesting companion has to be: [humorous and empathic] or [hilarious in some way].

Alistair, Eder, Sand, Morrigan, Merrill, Isabela, Sera, Dorian, The Iron Bull and especially Varric are my all-times favorite companions behavior and banter-wise.
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Bercon

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I agree wholeheartedly with OP. I've only gotten to White March I in PoE. The companions feel dull and boring. Instead of discussing current adventures with them or hearing banter between them, I get MASSIVE amounts of dialogs about what they did years and years ago in the past.


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#4
jones092201

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my Short answer:

companions need to serve to drive the narrative forward, to add depth in places (and this does include, at times, lore and backstory), and to create situations where the player is emotionally invested in the companion, so much so that they willingly sacrifice some advantage, or compromise their ideals,' in order to accommodate  the companion's need or desire.

 

This requires more agency from companions than we currently see in most games, and it also means creating hard points of contention where you have to make choices that may work against your goal, anger other characters/companions, or, as stated above, force you to to compromise your personal morality (of the character, but also, of you as a person).

 

now, backstory and dialogue are how we invest in these characters initially, so that when they present us with their problem, we're invested enough, or not, to help or hinder them. THis is

 especially important  if the are statistically, or class-wise, useless to our party.

We generally want sympathy for, or identification with, a character. That's why Minsc, Varric, and Imoen, Dorian, and especially Eder and Alistair, are popular characters- they seem like people you'd like to drink a beer with, and they are firmly rooted in neutral good territory. (i.e they don't mind killing a million bad guys, but they'll comment when you kill an innocent, or when they see it done. Won't stop it though....)

 

The example of Durance used above-- his backstory is well-written, his dialogue is on point.  The character is significantly more complex than most cRPG companions, but he lacks sympathy. He's just not a likeable character, and for that, most people aren't invested in him. "I swear by the whore that is Magran..."--there is more personality in that line than any other character in POE, but Durance is just not the kind of character that endears the player.

 

However, he is reactive to almost all key points in main plot and subquests, he has banter with all characters. I'll grant that he-- like all-- lack in choice-based responses-- and that is a point where Obsidian needs to work (and where a smaller companion cast will be helpful).

 

So, my two cents is this:

the long exposition building into a lackluster companion quest is something that players are starting to recognize and, while it's not a deal breaker, is becoming annoying.

Comments and reactions on choice are important going forward, more so than a monologue on some point of lore or history that feels like high school lecture.

More agency within the context of the story.....things that work against the character even, to show they have a real personality that exist independentof how you want to shape them.

 

 

 

I would remember this, also: Maybe of the most well received characters in the genre are scene over multiple games, so you can see their growth and watch them change.


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#5
Sedrefilos

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An interesting companion has an interesting background that defines him/her as a acharacter and that character, then, reacts to the actions of the pc. This is a game; I want more reaction/interaction by/with companions, not just storytellers of a fictional past. Durance's past story was interesting but he as companion was boring as fakk.


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#6
Fluffle

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Aks yourself: What would you prefer? A character who tells you in hundreds of lines in various dialogues about everything he did in the past? Or a character that concentrates on commenting and reacting to your adventures and what it means for the relationship to the PC?


"Aks" spelling error -1

 

I think it should be both. A character should talk about their past but actually only to show that they have opened up to the mainchar (and they should acknowledge that somehow additionally) or because something in their past is relevant for an event in the present.

 

So it should be both but the aspect of "commenting and reacting to your adventures and what it means for the relationship to the PC" should take precedence over and be much more important than "hundreds of lines in various dialogues about everything he did in the past".



#7
jones092201

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An interesting companion has an interesting background that defines him/her as a acharacter and that character, then, reacts to the actions of the pc. This is a game; I want more reaction/interaction by/with companions, not just storytellers of a fictional past. Durance's past story was interesting but he as companion was boring as fakk.

 

I don't really see him as boring. He has banter, significantly more dialogue than other companions, and he's a useful class, so having him around isn't a hassle.

The problem is that he is so unlikable, and  his dialogue isn't spaced out well. Every option is one big wall of text. And though PC responses tend to be more interesting than just a follow-up question, it only leads to more lecture.



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Gromnir

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Aks yourself: What would you prefer? A character who tells you in hundreds of lines in various dialogues about everything he did in the past? Or a character that concentrates on commenting and reacting to your adventures and what it means for the relationship to the PC?

Personally the second.

 

what is it with lord c and false dichotomy?

 

HA! Good Fun!



#9
LordCrash

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my Short answer:
companions need to serve to drive the narrative forward, to add depth in places (and this does include, at times, lore and backstory), and to create situations where the player is emotionally invested in the companion, so much so that they willingly sacrifice some advantage, or compromise their ideals,' in order to accommodate  the companion's need or desire.
 
This requires more agency from companions than we currently see in most games, and it also means creating hard points of contention where you have to make choices that may work against your goal, anger other characters/companions, or, as stated above, force you to to compromise your personal morality (of the character, but also, of you as a person).

Fully agreed.
 
 

now, backstory and dialogue are how we invest in these characters initially, so that when they present us with their problem, we're invested enough, or not, to help or hinder them. THis is
 especially important  if the are statistically, or class-wise, useless to our party.
We generally want sympathy for, or identification with, a character. That's why Minsc, Varric, and Imoen, Dorian, and especially Eder and Alistair, are popular characters- they seem like people you'd like to drink a beer with, and they are firmly rooted in neutral good territory. (i.e they don't mind killing a million bad guys, but they'll comment when you kill an innocent, or when they see it done. Won't stop it though....)



You have a good point there. I agree with you that sympathy for a certain character can be a crucial element for valueing a certain companion. But that's not the whole story, especially when we enter the world of "true" roleplaying. A good example for that is when "good" people choose to play "evil" characters. Roleplaying changes our perspective here and therefore traditional categories like personal symapthy aren't really important anymore. I'd say that you couldn't say that Edwin or Viconia were very likable characters - but they were interesting imo. And it's not because the PC (and therefore the player) knew everything about them or because they had to listen to endless monologues about their past, but because they offered some kind of responsed that were proof enough that they were invested in their views of the adventure and that they still are their own, independent characters. Much of the analysis in the RPG codex by the way is about the simple concept that often "less is more". If you can present a character with only a few words or just a simple quirk there is no need for endless amounts of text, it can even be counter-productive. Minsc is actually a good example for that. Everything you need to know about the character you can get by his short comments (content and style), his "relationship" to Boo, his profession, his overall stature like presented in his portrait and some tiny bits of his backstory. That's enough to get a good idea what kind of guy Minsc is. And it's not about symapthy, I know a lot of people who don't like Minsc and who think that his constant banter with and about Boo is annoying. But that's not a bad sign, but a good one. An interesting character doesn't have to be interesting or sympathetic for everybody. A real interesting character should have edges, that makes the character real. So it's not really an issue if I dislike Durance on a personal level. The issue is that way too much effort went into his backstory while the manpower needed for that would have probably been sufficient to create another character of the likes of Minsc.

But I agree with you on the topic of "emotional attachment" of companion characters to the story. I hardly got the feeling while playing PoE that Durance or Grieving Mother were emotionally attached to either the player or at least the adventure or task. They offered commentary but more on an intellectual or philosophical level. What I lack in these "epic" CRPGs and PoE is the really close and personal relationship between characters that go beyond discussing high-level concepts of Gods, the universe and soul magic. I know that writers and designers who came up with all that lore want to tell everything about that to the players and often enough eompanions turn out to be their vessels for doing so. But most of this information is neither meaningful for the adventure at hand nor is in any way helpful to bond with the companions. If you have a certain "feeling" for it you can easily notice when characters are "abused" for just presenting a bit more lore about the world instead of acting naturally and instead of offering personal insight in their "heart and soul". So I don't only want companions be much more responsive and reactive to the events in the present I also want them to be much more emotional, personal and passionate about them. Dissent, if occuring, shouldn't almost always end in long conversations about philosophical topics that remind more of a panel discussion at university than of an up and close debate about stressed people in a dangerous situation out there somewhere in the wild.
 
 

The example of Durance used above-- his backstory is well-written, his dialogue is on point.  The character is significantly more complex than most cRPG companions, but he lacks sympathy. He's just not a likeable character, and for that, most people aren't invested in him. "I swear by the whore that is Magran..."--there is more personality in that line than any other character in POE, but Durance is just not the kind of character that endears the player.

However, he is reactive to almost all key points in main plot and subquests, he has banter with all characters. I'll grant that he-- like all-- lack in choice-based responses-- and that is a point where Obsidian needs to work (and where a smaller companion cast will be helpful).



Maybe I didn't make that clear enough. I personally don't thin that Durance was an awful character, quite the opposite. His backstory was indeed well written and the dialogue was on point. But that's as much a problem as it is a value. The crafting that went in this caracter was great (no wonder, MCA is among the best) but I call the overall focus of the narrative in question. Durance offered comment to the present events but compared to what went into establishing his backstory and telling it in its whole to the PC it's really just a minor effort. So I used Durance as an example in order to question the distribution of effort that went into "stuff that happened in the past" and "stuff that is really meaningful for the present". And yes, the ratio past/present wasn't at all in favor of the latter for pretty mauch every companion characters in PoE, Durance probably being just the most striking example.

 

So, my two cents is this:
the long exposition building into a lackluster companion quest is something that players are starting to recognize and, while it's not a deal breaker, is becoming annoying.
Comments and reactions on choice are important going forward, more so than a monologue on some point of lore or history that feels like high school lecture.
More agency within the context of the story.....things that work against the character even, to show they have a real personality that exist independentof how you want to shape them.



I agree, that's exactly what I want. I ask Obsidian to shift focus from the past to the present, from lore exposition and well crafted backstories to dynamic and reactive responses and integration of characters into the events that actually take place in the game. With limited manpower, funds and time you always have to focus. Obsidian says that they can deliver only six or seven companions. But they should be "deep and complex". Whatever that means I hope it's not mostly meaningless banter told in endless monologues to the PC with the occasional question or affirmtion.
 
A dream of mine is a CRPG in which the whole party is much more involved into the story and quests and not only the PC. It's pretty much the Bioware standard now that the main story is mostly about the PC and that you can follow one or two specific storylines and quests for each companion. To be honest, I disdain this systematic approach that becomes more and more obvious and boring the more games follow this pattern to the point. What I envision is a game in which most effort concerning companions doesn't go into writing lore and backstories but into fully integrating them in the whole adventure, making them "real" and independent charcters, on the same level than the PC.
 
 

I would remember this, also: Maybe of the most well received characters in the genre are scene over multiple games, so you can see their growth and watch them change.



That's true but I honestly think that a good writer can establish an interesting character in just a few situations and only in few words without putting hours and hours of effort into transporting the lore and backstory to the player.


"Aks" spelling error -1

:cat: 
 
 

I think it should be both. A character should talk about their past but actually only to show that they have opened up to the mainchar (and they should acknowledge that somehow additionally) or because something in their past is relevant for an event in the present.

So it should be both but the aspect of "commenting and reacting to your adventures and what it means for the relationship to the PC" should take precedence over and be much more important than "hundreds of lines in various dialogues about everything he did in the past".


Fully agreed. If a character has commentary about his past that influences the present in any important and meaningful way it should of course have a place. And of course charactes can hardly work completely without any kind of backstory (although I think a complete "mystery man/woman" could be pretty interesting as a companion...). It's always a question of how much is needed and what purpose the content has. Too often I get the feeling that character writers want to tell stories, but not necessarily the story that the game is actually all about. And in the end, that's counter-productive effort, in its excess more suited for an external short story than for the purpose of companion writing in a CRPG. Durance is sadly a very good example for that. Even MCA himself acknowledged that. ;)


what is it with lord c and false dichotomy?
 
HA! Good Fun!

If you have anything meaningful to contribute please do so. If not, just shut up and get lost.

Edited by LordCrash, 30 January 2017 - 09:14 AM.

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#10
evilcat

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My list: Eder, Pallagina, Yennifer, Triss, Yarpen, Morigan, Alistar, Iron Bull (no homo), Varric, Garrus, Tali, Thane, Mordin, Verse. Grace, HK47, Vissas Marr, Minsc, Jan jansen, Glory Probably some others.

 

Pattern: 1)Funny dwarfs 2) easygoing specialists with past 3)Loyal girls

 

  • Usuful in battle somehow
  • Something familiar... but with a twist
  • Text, alot of it
  • Banters
  • Imput during conversation (bonus information in natural way)
  • Why do we even partying together?
  • Quests
  • Bromance
  • Not being ****, loyality
  • Jokes

Potencial: Companions who change a bit during joyurney

Difference: Interesting companion to write or to play in party with?



#11
LordCrash

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@evilcat
This thread is not at all about companions in respect to gameplay pr teir usefulness in combat but purely about their narrative aspects. ;)

#12
MaxQuest

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what is it with lord c and false dichotomy?

Technically you are correct. LordCrash used a false dilemma fallacy, as both options are neither mutually exclusive nor they cover all possible variants.

I suppose he didn't mean it. And instead of answering his A vs B question, provided a personal preference on [A && !B] vs [B && !A] matter despite of any C, pedantly speaking.


My list: Eder, Pallagina, Yennifer, Triss, Yarpen, Morigan, Alistar, Iron Bull (no homo), Varric, Garrus, Tali, Thane, Mordin, Verse. Grace, HK47, Vissas Marr, Minsc, Jan jansen, Glory Probably some others.

Geez... how could I forget about Witcher characters?.. And how could you forget about Zoltan, the glorious bastard that never drinks alone)

Edited by MaxQuest, 30 January 2017 - 09:35 AM.


#13
LordCrash

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what is it with lord c and false dichotomy?

Technically you are correct. LordCrash used a false dilemma fallacy, as both options are neither mutually exclusive nor they cover all possible variants.

I suppose he didn't mean it. And instead of answering his A vs B question, provided a personal preference on [A && !B] vs [B && !A] matter despite of any C, pedantly speaking.

 

 

They are not mutually exclusive but under the condition of a fixed budget of time and money one is always limited by the other.

 

Simple example: A narrative designer/writer who is tasked to write a character has 50 days until the final deadline. There is only so much you can do in the given time frame and when you decide to write an extensive backstory with hundreds of lines of dialogues and various branches you automatically have less time for creating dynamics and responsive situations in the present. You cannot have endless amount of stuff if you're externally limited, and that's exactly how game development works.

 

So no, they are not mutually exclusive and I never even said that. But there is a valid trade-off. It's a question of finding the best ratio between effort that goes into lore and backstory (past) and effort that goes into reactive behavior (present).I asked people which they preferred which doesn't mean that one must be cut altogether. And sure, my post includes a certain amount of simplification and generalization. It's meant to discuss the topic on a general or fundamental level and not to discuss a single example to the teeth, going through all of its bits and bytes.That wouldn't make all that much sense for the purpose here after all imo.

 

 

Edit: By the way, you got me curious: what could a potential C be?


Edited by LordCrash, 30 January 2017 - 09:41 AM.

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#14
Amentep

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It's a question of finding the best ratio between effort that goes into lore and backstory (past) and effort that goes into reactive behavior (present).


Certainly, though, this is a product of the character being written as well as narrative needs? A companion who sees their best days behind them will always contextualize the events of the present into their view of their past achievements, while a companion who is looking to make a better future will always contextualize the events of the present with their hope for enacting change in the future. The former may materialize in telling stories of past exploits, the other in praising or criticizing the PC for how their choices align with the NPC's goal.  

 

And either may need to give some setting or history information about a town, a faction, an event because the developers can't rely on having the player stumble across it in a book so they can make an informed decision as a simple narrative function.


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Gromnir

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If you have anything meaningful to contribute please do so. If not, just shut up and get lost.

 

now that kinda childish petulance is likely to get a thread locked.  try and be a bit more mature.

 

and pointing out your peculiar fixation with false dichotomy is a meaningful contribution.  you will be more convincing if you don't make blanket generalizations and offer false choices.

 

specific on-topic contributions?  

 

*shrug*

 

number o' companions should be smaller.  games which obsidian/black isle has created with smaller number o' companions is the ones best received by the fanbase.  ps:t and motb were much loved by fans.  nwn 2 had 14-15 companions and kotor 2 had 11-12 companions.  personally, we thought kreia were fantastic, but she were kinda a unique companion for kotor 2 as she were also the UBG (ultimate bad guy). 

 

http://forums.obsidi...ions/?p=1452916

 

history shows obsidian has created more depth o' character with fewer joinables.

 

as for chrisA observations 'bout the codex write up, am gonna take anything chrisA says 'bout poe as being suspect.  our recollection is chrisA's agreement with the codexian article were limited to posting o' word counts, but nevertheless, chrisA has said multiple times he were only involved with durance and grieving mother during initial design concept stages.  complaints 'bout poe writing from chrisA dramatic increased as soon as he quit obsidian, and such criticisms o' obsidian in general has become increasing puerile and self serving since.

 

am actual in agreement 'bout excess o' lore exposition from joinables

 

http://forums.obsidi...list/?p=1875726

 

"have mentioned before every obsidian or bio game since 1999, but we needs repeat our position regarding the value o' joinable characters.  poe took a halting step forward by using all companions to advance core theme.  each poe companion had a kinda crisis o' faith if you will.  unfortunate, much o' the companion dialogue were wasted on lore dump.  what a waste.  joinables, unlike the protagonist, is largely static characters.  far more o' obsidian's storytelling should take place by means o' joinable companions.  have players constant digging through and repeating lore exposition in hopes o' advancing the companion influence minigame is not good gameplay and hurts storytelling.  use the companions.  don't waste companions on excessive lore exposition."

 

even so, 

 

http://forums.obsidi...ions/?p=1707821

 

"much o' Gromnir's complaints 'bout setting exposition from the companions is unfair but genuine nevertheless.  you gotta ask kana or sagani 'bout their homeland and culture to get that info-- is all optional.  developers have durance give us all kinda details o' saint's war, but am admitting we were less annoyed by his exposition 'cause the info were given more natural than did sagani or kana.  grieving mother also had info-dumpitis but it were much more limited to the hollowborn.
 
"part o' the problem with the setting exposition from the joinables is that even though such stuff is optional, we don't necessarily know which bits is genuine and true optional.  gotta dig through all dialogue options regardless to make certain we didn't miss an important quest trigger.  may sound like a silly meta-game solution, but if the developers were more clear 'bout which companion dialogue options were pure setting exposition, we could then feel as if skipping such, or at least delaying, were not hampering companion quest advancement.  make us feel that delaying is not hampering companion quest advancement would actual go far in mitigating the impression that companions is in auto-exposition mode.
 
"regardless, we gotta admit that is not as if the companions is forcing 'pon us ridiculous details 'bout how the coriolis effect is real in the poe world.  we gotta ask for such details 'fore they give.  however, given the gameplay aspect o' companion quests, we never feel as if companion dialogues is functional optional.  our complaints is thus unfair, but genuine."
 
the companions is ideal placed to provide lore, and we doubt obsidian will complete stop.  be that as it may, we would prefer a show-don't-tell approach whenever possible.  where possible, use encounters to show us behaviors and motivations o' factions and people. excessive use of companions for lore dumps diminishes their impact as the weary drone o' historical facts is rare emotional evocative.  is not an either/or scenario as suggested by lc. even so, use companions to make the player feel something, and less to educate. 
 
also, am believing obsidian is using joinable wrong, but they are headed in the correct direction
 
 
"on a side note, am wishing that developers would have the following epiphany much earlier:
 
""The bigger thing we did to help develop an emotional core to the story, which I felt was more successful, was in working the themes into the designs of the companion arcs and quests. The degree of success varied from character to character, but when I did a full play-through of the game late in development, I found myself enjoying the game's story most when I was seeing the deeper layers of these characters exposed, and their worldviews challenged. Sagani's finale might be my favorite - I found that scene to be very moving." (eric fenstermaker)
 
"the protagonist o' a crpg is a terrible focus for a story.  the more control you give the player over his own character, the more difficult you make it to tell the crpg protagonist story.  try and write a compelling and evocative story in which the main character is male or female and race is unfixed.  the protagonist o' the hypothetical story can be good or bad or serious or snarky and he/she has the capacity to change aspects o' character in different parts o' the story?  who the heck is Gromnir writing 'bout? the protagonist is too vague to be the foundation o' a decent crpg story.  
 
"the joinable companions should be the focus o' developing the story o' a crpg. the companions can grow, and player choices can change the ways in which they grow, but the motivations and personality o' the joinables is not so dynamic as to hinder quality writing.  the essential qualities o' the companions (and major npcs such as the game's Ultimate Bad Guy) is known qualities that a writer can use as a foundation for story development.  
 
 
"eventual the developers o' crpgs is gonna realize that the protagonist is ill-suited to driving crpg story."
 
and also from our recent wishlist
 
"lore and mechanics tinkering is swell and all, but it is all for naught if the developers fail to give the player a reason to care 'bout what is happening.  am knowing at least a few (one) of the obsidians is kinda preoccupied with lore and details.  we got no doubt the factions o' poe2 will be having deep and comprehensive histories and Gromnir will have many chances to explore historical details. *groan* those details matter more to the writer/developer than to the reader/player. it's the writer who most needs know why an npc hates slavery and yet continues to work for a business concern involved in slave trade.  the player can go almost the entire story w/o knowing motivations, and even when providing explanations, an involved historical treatise will not improve. personal, Gromnir is not a big fan o' tolkien, but most o' you folks is.  think back and consider all the characters in lotr for whom you had little to no historical background and only the foggiest notion 'bout the details o' their motivations. give the player long-winded history o' factions for purpose o' Explanation is bad writing.  if you need read the silmarillion to appreciate lotr, then you got bad writing. show, don't tell. use events and encounters to show faction behaviors, but is far more important to get players to care than to understand historical minutiae.  if the player cares 'bout a character, then they is gonna wanna know more 'bout the character.  don't work bassackwards and try to get players to care 'cause you, the developer, has provided (what you believe to be) compelling history."
 
joinable companions are ideal suited to telling a crpg story.  the companions, unlike the protagonist, has fixed histories and backgrounds and motivations.  developers should rely more heavily 'pon companions to tell the story o' poe2.  however, they should not try and add to the rogues gallery o' characters.  takes much effort to create a handful o' diverse characters all o' whom live and breathe and reinforce thematic direction o' the critical path story.  create more companions is gonna necessarily diminish the 'mount o' depth one might add to such characters.  as Gromnir and others has observed, crpg is a zero sum game.  you seem to recognize this point yourself, but you forget its import.  
 
we also discussed a desire for greater reactivity in our wishlist and elsewhere.
 
etc.
 
well tilled soil. need more focus or we get rambling posts such as yours and Gromnir's... made worse by clumsy and inarticulate reply/quote responses. am suggesting to not use reply/quote or we begin to see responses to part o' posts rather than posts as a whole. 
 
oh, and to maxQ, we brought up false dichotomy as lc used it in the romance thread as well.
 
 
would be best to break a bad habit.
 
HA! Good Fun!
 
ps (edit) messed up a link
 

Edited by Gromnir, 30 January 2017 - 09:59 AM.

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#16
LordCrash

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ow that kinda childish petulance is likely to get a thread locked.  try and be a bit more mature.

A quick look in the mirror wouldn't harm, mate. I certainly didn't start to make snarky comment without any meat to it. And calling other people childish doesn't make yourself more mature, just saying... ;)
 

and pointing out your peculiar fixation with false dichotomy is a meaningful contribution.

No it's not. Especially not without providing proof for the claim.

you will be more convincing if you don't make blanket generalizations

I don't need to convince anybody. If you want to discuss my statements feel free to do so - but on topic please and without general meatless accusations. It's pretty ironic that you accuse me of "blanket generalization" while doing exactly the same... ;)


As for your latest post, could you please use proper quotes? It's a mess to read through and it's also pretty hard to differentiate between stuff you quoted from elsewhere and actual (new statements) of yours. Also there is case sensitivity for a reason. A mature person like yourself should respect other people enough to offer your posts in the best readable way, don't you think?

Edited by LordCrash, 30 January 2017 - 10:12 AM.


#17
jones092201

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one important caveat to this line of debate--

 

Tryanny introduced  hyperlinks to lore based information- you could mouse over a highlighted phrase and a quick description of what occured would pop up. It was excellent in that it provided the necessary information without overwhelming you with detail.

 

However-- way, way too often, that same information was relayed through question you would ask a companion, right after you'd looked at the hyper links, so there was still big lore drops in dialouge, which were redunant after the hyper link.

 

my point is this:

a lot of the excessive backstory development can be done away with now, if Obsidian decides to rely on the player looking at these hyperlinks. Which makes sense, because if their not looking at the hyper links, their probably not bothering much with the lore anyway.

 

example:

Durance has a big spiel about the Ashfall Citadel, and the god-bomb and all this stuff. In it, he introduces like 5 or 6 terms that are important to understanding what they hell he is talking about.

So he tells the story in one paragraph: (and i paraprhase)

 

i was at Ashfall Citadel after Cold Morn, and a group of priests and I transfered our essence into a bomb that we dropped on Eothas, and it was on a bridge and blah-blah--

 

our reponses to that are:

What is Ashfall Citadel

What is Cold Morn

What is the bomb

What happened after

 

--nothing personal that gives us a better indication of the man, or allows us to ask him deeper questions to prob his character.

 

The character development should be on his role in that expierence....but because we've had to answer the lore stuff, what should be a fairly straight forwards conversation dealing with the particular expierence of one man (and can be used to develop character, create sympahty or enmity, or just relay a personalized witnessing of a great event), we end up getting the Eora 'wikipedia' answer to questions we pretty much already know the answer to.

 

So, my hope is that Obsidian will rely on the hyperlinks to drop lore--- a simple, quick answer, with an option to see more-- and let the actual dialogue of characters focus on expanding the companion's character and his relationship with the PC.


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#18
Gromnir

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ow that kinda childish petulance is likely to get a thread locked.  try and be a bit more mature.

A quick look in the mirror wouldn't harm, mate. I certainly didn't start to make snarky comment without any meat to it. And calling other people childish doesn't make yourself more mature, just saying... ;)

 

again, making personal w/o contributing.  you are gonna get the thread pruned.  you can be snarky on this board, but tell people to "shut up and get lost," will, at the very least, inspire pruning.

 

take advice or not.

 

but to stay on-topic, with a five member party for poe2, am thinking seven joinables is actual stretching the developers a bit, though being able to use three poe companions might be helpful.  the returning characters is not blank slates about whom the player knows nothing.  if the developers don't feel compelled to retread background o' the returning three, some effort might be saved.

 

HA! Good Fun!



#19
LordCrash

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but to stay on-topic, with a five member party for poe2, am thinking seven joinables is actual stretching the developers a bit, though being able to use three poe companions might be helpful.


How is this "on-topic" when the topic never was about party size in the first place? Hm... ;)
 

the returning characters is not blank slates about whom the player knows nothing.  if the developers don't feel compelled to retread background o' the returning three, some effort might be saved.


Well, that's true and hopefully that means that a lot more effort is put in reactive behaviour to current events.

Edited by LordCrash, 30 January 2017 - 10:15 AM.


#20
Amentep

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but to stay on-topic, with a five member party for poe2, am thinking seven joinables is actual stretching the developers a bit, though being able to use three poe companions might be helpful.


How is this "back to the topic" when the topic never was about party size in the first place? Hm... ;)

 

 

Because in the bit you snipped, he said that the three returning characters limits the characters who might have to background-info dump to the player. The previous characters are "known"1

 

1Excepting that it wouldn't be new player friendly to not have those characters info dump on your past.

 

I haven't played Tyranny (couldn't get it to run last time I tried) but the lore hyperlinks - at least for stuff your character should know or has learned about in-game (but the player may have forgotten) - sounds promising to move towards a more naturalistic companion relationship.







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