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How are the writers planning on creating a more compelling story for POE2?


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I went and ordered 3 copies of POE2 the moment it was announced on fig. I am excited for the sequel, having completed the original twice in short succession, however I must say that the reason I did so was because of the game's excellent combat and class design.

 

I am confident that POE2 will make improvements on combat mechanics compared to POE.

 

However I am not so confident about the narrative design.

 

 

Let me elaborate:

 

The plot of POE was not necessarily bad, but I did not like the way it was delivered - through massive lore-dumps, continuous and incessant name-dropping of terms like Waidwen's Legacy, War of the Black Trees, Godhammer Bomb etc and obtuse/uninteresting characters.

 

Take Durance for example. The events he partakes in and his potential change of world-view regarding his God make for some very interesting thematic material. However, none of these events made any impressions on me because I didn't care for him as a character.

 

I didn't care for the cryptic way he spoke, and the fact that he was basically deranged. I appreciated the originality of it - here's a character you have to dig deeper to figure out what he's saying!  - but it didn't work. During key moments of character development I had trouble figuring out what he was even trying to say. Any potential emotional impact = lost.

 

 

Then there are characters like Kana and Sagani.

 

All I can tell you about them is that one is some kind of Scholar and the other is a snow dwarf with a husband and 5(?) kids at home.

 

What were they doing in the game? How did their stories bear any significance to the Watcher? Err... Who knows?

 

It's a big shame because the VO was consistently excellent throughout the game, but the material they had to work with was soooooo... uninteresting.

 

Eder is the only one who left an impression on me personally, and interestingly enough his background lore is the most simple - He's a good-natured Farmer having a crisis of faith, desperately clinging on in the face of adversity. He's a simple character with simple emotional notes in his character arc - but it works - I really want to see what happens to him in POE2.

 

On the other hand - there was Grieving Mother. To this day I don't remember what exactly she's about. I remember that the writing for her described imaginative and lush scenes, but as a character she was dead. She was basically a vehicle for an idea. There was no personality. Her guilt towards the end of her arc came out of nowhere and felt forced precisely BECAUSE prior to this there was little hint of any personality in her.

 

 

I appreciate the writing team's attempt to create original/realistic characters, and a detailed backstory for their world filled with lore.

 

However, I feel that one game is enough world-building, and I'd like to see something emotionally compelling in POE2. The personal connection should be established before you can get people interested in your characters and your setting.

 

Towards that end I'd love to see some assurance from the writing team that they've absorbed player feedback on the story for the first game and will try to make the journey more satisfying in the sequel.

 

 

 

 

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I very much hope that story and lore will be much more delivered through quests and "stuff visibly happening in the game world", rather than what you called "lore dumps". If references to dreams, visions, or past events need to me made, let us participate, similar to the way BG2 handled dreams. But please no more endless walls of flavoured text. (I don't mind reading at all, but the content matters)

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I very much hope that story and lore will be much more delivered through quests and "stuff visibly happening in the game world", rather than what you called "lore dumps". If references to dreams, visions, or past events need to me made, let us participate, similar to the way BG2 handled dreams. But please no more endless walls of flavoured text. (I don't mind reading at all, but the content matters)

 

Exactly. This is what the writer's adage "show not tell" is all about.

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Yeah, lose the lore dumps. Put them in books or the gamepedia if you have to.

 

Other than that, I don't think this type of game needs a particularly compelling story. It needs a compelling stage in which various kinds of stories can play out. Lore/worldbuilding does matter a great deal for that – buildings, characters, social positions, languages etc. all need to be grounded in it – but you shouldn't rub it in the player's face.

 

Take Waidwen's Legacy for example. There's no need for the Urgeat's heavy-handed exposition at all, they could've just cut that whole scene outright. It's in no way central to your story. If you're interested, you can put it together from bits and pieces around the world. Everything you need to know about it emerges naturally from the various sidequests that revolve around it.

 

There has to be some McGuffin to keep you going I suppose, but the rest of it should be driven by discovery, faction dynamics, and what have you.

Edited by PrimeJunta
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I don't really agree. I think the lore dumps where a nessassary consequence of introducing a completly new world. As they where mostly things that happened in the past, the only way to "show not tell" would have been via lengthy animated (engine or FMV) non-interactive flashback sequences. Boring to sit though and expensive to add. BG1's dreams where simply text and narration, with a single illustration, so that is hardly an example of "showing". BG had a much more simplistic story anyway, stickling closely to the "heroes journey" metaplot.

 

Telling, rather than showing, also allows for the "unreliable narrator" device to be used, which is so important for the PoE plot.

 

 

+ I can read much more quickly than I can watch or listen. Reading saves time.

Edited by Fardragon
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Everyone knows Science Fiction is really cool. You know what PoE really needs? Spaceships! There isn't any game that wouldn't be improved by a space combat minigame. Adding one to PoE would send sales skyrocketing, and ensure the game was remembered for all time!!!!!

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I'll be the punching bag [in the sense I'll not reply back for rebuttal after this post] but I loved the lore-dumps and the Bombadil Writing PoE1 had. I couldn't get enough of descriptions of what was happening around the character and the backstory some of the companions told. Some game sessions I either solely looked for more books for lore or caught up with companion text focusing on them to proceed their dialogue. I never found any of the writing long winded (not that anyone here out right said this) and found they provided just enough to want more (though apparently it's just me in this boat).

 

With that said, I get it, progress through narrative usually focuses on present events and current story in today's video games to keep everything moving without being inundated with description and flavor. By doing that they will have a larger player-base. I truly believe this is mandatory these days to be successful to make part III., IV., etc

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As for the companions in poe1, there's a very simple thematic thread underlying most of them that's kinda obvious when you think about it.

 

Durance, Eder, Kana, Sagani, Zahua, Devil of Caroc all have one thing in common: They place their existential quest for meaning in something outside of themselves, and they all get burned for it. They all either find some way to deal with that and find a new way to give their lives meaning within themselves or they die in despair.

 

This mirrors both the watcher (or rather the awakened lifetime within them) and Thaos. Thaos so desperately needs validation and meaning to come from a place outside of himself that he's willing to do the bidding of a being whose authority he knows is false just so he won't have to deal with the horror of having to make a decision for himself. His tragedy is that he doesn't realize that placing that authority in a place outside of himself was in itself a choice that he made. The power to decide why he lived was his to give away, not Woedica's.

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How are the writers planning on creating a more compelling story for POE2?

 

 

I'd like to know too. The premise of "hunt a god, save your soul (before he ****s **** up for everyone)" sounds trite and done to death in fantasy games. Not very exciting baseline; boring to be honest.

 

What's the catch here? Is there any?

Edited by Undecaf
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I don't really agree. I think the lore dumps where a nessassary consequence of introducing a completly new world. As they where mostly things that happened in the past, the only way to "show not tell" would have been via lengthy animated (engine or FMV) non-interactive flashback sequences. Boring to sit though and expensive to add. BG1's dreams where simply text and narration, with a single illustration, so that is hardly an example of "showing". BG had a much more simplistic story anyway, stickling closely to the "heroes journey" metaplot.

 

 

Exactly this. They didn't have the luxury of having hours of movies or endless amounts of books that have explained most of the lore to the players over two decades. In such case you need to do some lore dumping, to get the player at least some sense of what happens in the world and what has happened.

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Hate the living, love the dead.

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I don't really agree. I think the lore dumps where a nessassary consequence of introducing a completly new world. As they where mostly things that happened in the past, the only way to "show not tell" would have been via lengthy animated (engine or FMV) non-interactive flashback sequences. Boring to sit though and expensive to add. BG1's dreams where simply text and narration, with a single illustration, so that is hardly an example of "showing". BG had a much more simplistic story anyway, stickling closely to the "heroes journey" metaplot.

 

 

Exactly this. They didn't have the luxury of having hours of movies or endless amounts of books that have explained most of the lore to the players over two decades. In such case you need to do some lore dumping, to get the player at least some sense of what happens in the world and what has happened.

 

do less with companions.  am knowing the developers went through effort to create lore and they think it is necessary for the player to be exposed to such stuff, but if such lore dumps is deemed essential, do through npcs other than companions.  easily skippable. don't load down joinable with the heavy burden o' communicating often tedious exposition o' lore.

 

and am disagreeing such stuff is essential regardless. lore is important for the writer-- not so much for audience. building worlds and characters who fit in such worlds arguable requires in-depth understanding o' those historical details which resulted in factions and faction motivations, but such stuff is not essential for the reader.  the game developers does bass ackwards.  try to get the player to care 'bout the world by informing is bad. players will wanna know 'bout the world precisely 'cause they care 'bout characters.  crpg developers got it all backwards.

 

preference: show faction and player motivations through encounters rather than lore dumps from joinable npcs.  

 

HA! Good Fun!

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"If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."Justice Louis Brandeis, Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)

"Im indifferent to almost any murder as long as it doesn't affect me or mine."--Gfted1 (September 30, 2019)

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and am disagreeing such stuff is essential regardless. lore is important for the writer-- not so much for audience. building worlds and characters who fit in such worlds arguable requires in-depth understanding o' those historical details which resulted in factions and faction motivations, but such stuff is not essential for the reader. 

 

 

 Yes.

 

 If Tolkien had had Gandalf recite the entire Silmarillion on the way to Moria, LOTR would have been summarily shelved and forgotten.

 

That's not say to say that Durance did anything quite that egregious, just that there is a natural tendency to overdo exposition.

 

Often it's knowing what to leave out that makes a story interesting.

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 If Tolkien had had Gandalf recite the entire Silmarillion on the way to Moria, LOTR would have been summarily shelved and forgotten.

 

 

That would of been my favorite ten extra chapters in the three four book series.

 

the problem for most o' us is we suspect josh sawyer would agree with you.

 

*shudder*

 

HA! Good Fun!

"If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."Justice Louis Brandeis, Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)

"Im indifferent to almost any murder as long as it doesn't affect me or mine."--Gfted1 (September 30, 2019)

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 If Tolkien had had Gandalf recite the entire Silmarillion on the way to Moria, LOTR would have been summarily shelved and forgotten.

 

 

That would of been my favorite ten extra chapters in the three four book series.

 

the problem for most o' us is we suspect josh sawyer would agree with you.

 

*shudder*

 

HA! Good Fun!

 

 

Ha! Well, I really do get it (not having background/lore to that extent) for this type of media but I really think they have a grand-slam here for a pretty unique world WHILE keeping roots in traditional. So for me the more the better.... but again, I get it from other perspectives. Maybe they can have a toggle [ X ] No Lore, More Drinking & Fighting. lol

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 If Tolkien had had Gandalf recite the entire Silmarillion on the way to Moria, LOTR would have been summarily shelved and forgotten.

 

 

That would of been my favorite ten extra chapters in the three four book series.

 

 

 

 Probably not. At best, you would have decided that the main story was really annoying because it kept interrupting the interesting bits. Turn it around, if you like; you are reading the Sillmarillion and every few pages you get "Little did Feanor know that some day this would happen"  followed by a digression of a large section of LOTR. 

 

 I enjoyed reading the Silmarillion, but if the story of LOTR was interrupted every few pages with a tangentially related story, however good it was, the LOTR narrative would have been a mess.

Edited by Yonjuro
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Rolandur: You mean, Usenet? :D

Anyway, I tend to agree with Gromnir. A story needs memorable and likeable characters, meaningful relationships, and distinct voices. Put good characters into a cliched setting and have them run through a predictable plot - it will still be fun. (*cough* Eddings *cough*)
Now, fantasy is all about setting - but distributing setting information at an enjoyable pace, is not really easy. (And even harder in a game where you can either click through seven Durance conversations in a row, or have two hours of dungeoncrawling in between them.) But you don't need to tell everything there is about the setting; only what's necessary and/or fun. Setting information is like an iceberg - what the reader (or player) knows, is the top of it; and they have to get the impression that there is a whole ice mountain still under water (you don't have to actually develop all of it, as a writer). (© Brandon Sanderson for that image.)

Edited by Varana
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Talking about story. Am I the only to think that the latest lore update is kinda lazy? The only reason you guys could come up with to justify all those factions being here is "Adra! But... MOAR PWERFUL!!!"

Common Obsidian, this is no Dragon Ball Z! You can do better than that...

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I most like Durance.

Anyway,good writers are the most important part of the team.Wish we can get more information about them as soon as possible.

Edited by bronzepoem

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

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Some dance to remember, some dance to forget

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Well I find most of the writing to be great, more or less but good overall... but...

 

Take Durance for example. The events he partakes in and his potential change of world-view regarding his God make for some very interesting thematic material. However, none of these events made any impressions on me because I didn't care for him as a character.

 

I didn't care for the cryptic way he spoke, and the fact that he was basically deranged. I appreciated the originality of it - here's a character you have to dig deeper to figure out what he's saying!  - but it didn't work. During key moments of character development I had trouble figuring out what he was even trying to say. Any potential emotional impact = lost.

 

Artificial gods, I hate that so much. Reading through his lines is the worst chore in the entire game.

Edited by Messier-31

It would be of small avail to talk of magic in the air...

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I think Obsidian needs to be careful how they balance what is essential lore exposition for the player, and what is in-character dialogue. Sometimes your companions felt like they we're there merely to explain something, but didn't really engage in a way that reflected them as individuals. I get lore checks are nice, but sometimes when a character popped in with a lore check when otherwise they seemed to take no interest in a certain interaction, it felt a little obtuse.

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