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Please let Deadfire be enjoyable in a single playthrough


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This is a very personal need I have, I don't know if it applies to any other member of this forum, but'ill express it anyways. 

 

I've noticed that some of the new features that will be introduced in Deadfire (like for example the enhanced reactivity, berath's blessing and so on) can be effectively enjoyed only if the player does multiple playthroughs.

 

Please Obsidian, try also to focus on those that will be able to play through your game just once.

This requests comes from the fact that I'm in a moment of my life that allows me to set aside only a few hours per week to play games. It literally took me more than a year to go through the 103 hours I needed to finish Pillars of Eternity, and this doesn't count the expansions, that I've never played even though I bought them. I can't afford to play through a game multiple times to see all the weath of choices, features and reactivity that appear only with multiple playthroughs.

 

I'm not saying that PoE should stop focusing on choices, consequences and interactivity. In fact this is the very reason why I play RPG games. I mean that Deadfire should present those choices, consequences and interactivity in a way that is enjoyable even in a single playthrough.

 

I'll make some examples in order to explain mysef better:

  • At the end of PoE I didn't like the endings I got for many of my companions (particularly for Aloth and the Grieving Mother, but also for others). The bad thing is that I wasn't able to see them coming and act accordingly when I had the chance. When I made the decisions that brought me to the endings I got, I wasn't able to understand their possible impacts. This wouldn't have been a problem years ago: I would have played through the game once more just to achieve the "perfect ending", but doing that has become a problem for me now. I personally don't like this trend of giving unexpected consequences to the actions of players that RPGs seem to like so much these days. Sometimes unforseeable results are useful to pass the message that "life does not always go as expected", but when overdone it just adds frustration to players. I hope that this kind of consequences will be toned down a bit in the next chapter, in favor of choices that let the player know the effects they will cause on the end state of the world and the end state of the characters involved.
  • I also don't look forward to having all the "enhanced reactivity" based on the race, class and background of the main character. This is another thing that is enjoyable only thrugh multiple playthroughs, and let me say that I don't consider it meaningful in general. Having some dedicated dialogue choices, or some NPCs that react to you in a particular way just because your rac or class e is XY is a gimmick that is great at the beginning, but grows old quickly.
  • Finally, I do not like when games cut content away from the player just because of a choice he makes during the campaign. IMPORTANT: when I talk about cutting content away I mean removing content from the playthrough without giving something else in return. For example: I hate how Baldur's Gate II punishes the player for making the right choice when it prevents the player from playing through the part in the underwater city if he refuses to follow Saemon Havarian in the return trip from Spellhold. Saemon is clearly not to be trusted, every single smart person should choose to use the portal instead of asking a men who already betrayed him once to help him again. The problem is that doing that the player looses on experience, unique loot and a whole subplot without getting anything in return. By comparison, the Witcher 2 cuts away a whole zone in chapter 2 depending on player's choices, but it also gives the player access to another, exclusive zone. This is a branching path that doesn't punish the player, impacts the story in a meaningful way and is enjoyable even in a single playthrough because the player doesn't feel to loose something without something else in return.

 

Those were just three examples, but there could be more. I think that in order to make a game enjoyable in a single playthrough it should:

  • Let the player understand the consequences of the choices he is making, throwing at him unforseeable results ONLY when it is absolutely necessary for the plot.
  • Do not hide meaningful story content behind difficult puzzles or in easter eggs. Those are exactly the things that players usually miss in the first playthrough and having to restart the game just to access to an important plot point that you missed the first time is frustrating as hell.
  • Focus on features that expand what the player can do in the world and do not cut content away without giving something else in return, forcing him to restart the game if he wants to experience what he lost.

 

Thoughts?

 

Thanks a lot.

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  • I also don't look forward to having all the "enhanced reactivity" based on the race, class and background of the main character. This is another thing that is enjoyable only thrugh multiple playthroughs, and let me say that I don't consider it meaningful in general. Having some dedicated dialogue choices, or some NPCs that react to you in a particular way just because your rac or class e is XY is a gimmick that is great at the beginning, but grows old quickly.

 

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  • At the end of PoE I didn't like the endings I got for many of my companions (particularly for Aloth and the Grieving Mother, but also for others). The bad thing is that I wasn't able to see them coming and act accordingly when I had the chance. When I made the decisions that brought me to the endings I got, I wasn't able to understand their possible impacts. This wouldn't have been a problem years ago: I would have played through the game once more just to achieve the "perfect ending", but doing that has become a problem for me now. I personally don't like this trend of giving unexpected consequences to the actions of players that RPGs seem to like so much these days. Sometimes unforseeable results are useful to pass the message that "life does not always go as expected", but when overdone it just adds frustration to players. I hope that this kind of consequences will be toned down a bit in the next chapter, in favor of choices that let the player know the effects they will cause on the end state of the world and the end state of the characters involved.

 

That is absolutely fair. I think we still don't know WHY certain endings happen and what the factors weigh in. It would be nice to at least retroactively look back at choices and go "aha, so that is why I got a bad companion ending".

 

 

  • I also don't look forward to having all the "enhanced reactivity" based on the race, class and background of the main character. This is another thing that is enjoyable only thrugh multiple playthroughs, and let me say that I don't consider it meaningful in general. Having some dedicated dialogue choices, or some NPCs that react to you in a particular way just because your rac or class e is XY is a gimmick that is great at the beginning, but grows old quickly.

 

I strongly disagree with you on that one. Why even have race/classes/backgrounds if they are absolutely irrelevant in the game? Purely for appearance's sake? I got that in like 90% of the games I played and actually THAT is what got stale very quickly.

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Having the enhanced reactivity is still neat in a single playthrough if can you enable show all dialogue options, and you can read the response for the other races/backgrounds.  If we could have that as a togglable option that'd sorta help with your ennui.  

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That is absolutely fair. I think we still don't know WHY certain endings happen and what the factors weigh in. It would be nice to at least retroactively look back at choices and go "aha, so that is why I got a bad companion ending".

I still believe that Dungeon Siege 3 had the best ending slides of any game that Obsidian ever produced, although that was also because there were few choices to be made and they rarely interacted with each other. Although it also had the problem of some outcomes being somewhat hard to predict, even if they were perfectly logical. For example, keeping the cyclops in slavery was a **** move, but the ending slides made it logical as an extremely cynical "The Legion first" decision, as the prick in charge of the factory gifts a lot of equipment to the Legion as thanks for their intervention in this matter.

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Please Obsidian, try also to focus on those that will be able to play through your game just once.

Absolutely fair and understandable - most people will only play the game once or maybe twice.

 

But since I played PoE like a hundert times, I hope they will improve replayability even more. :)

 

...without Berath's Blessing.  :biggrin:

Edited by Boeroer
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Deadfire Community Patch: Nexus Mods

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Enhancing reactivity doesn't ruin your single playthrough, it just enhances the experience of others that are willing to play the game more than once and are able to get a somewhat different experience. 

PoE's reactivity wasn't really great, improving on the sequel is only fair.

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Please Obsidian, try also to focus on those that will be able to play through your game just once.

That's a bit of a given. In fact one of the twists with Berath's Blessing is that it's tied to achievements rather than completing the game. I.e. you will be able to enjoy it even if you restart after playing only part of the way through.

 

I'm not saying that PoE should stop focusing on choices, consequences and interactivity. In fact this is the very reason why I play RPG games. I mean that Deadfire should present those choices, consequences and interactivity in a way that is enjoyable even in a single playthrough.

With you so far. In fact IMO one of the big benefits of genuine choice and consequence is that it makes your choices feel meaningful: knowing that things could have gone another way is what gives them weight and meaning, even if you only ever play through once.

 

I'll make some examples in order to explain mysef better:

  • At the end of PoE I didn't like the endings I got for many of my companions (particularly for Aloth and the Grieving Mother, but also for others). The bad thing is that I wasn't able to see them coming and act accordingly when I had the chance. When I made the decisions that brought me to the endings I got, I wasn't able to understand their possible impacts. This wouldn't have been a problem years ago: I would have played through the game once more just to achieve the "perfect ending", but doing that has become a problem for me now. I personally don't like this trend of giving unexpected consequences to the actions of players that RPGs seem to like so much these days. Sometimes unforseeable results are useful to pass the message that "life does not always go as expected", but when overdone it just adds frustration to players. I hope that this kind of consequences will be toned down a bit in the next chapter, in favor of choices that let the player know the effects they will cause on the end state of the world and the end state of the characters involved.

Here's where you lost me.

 

A story where the consequences are predictable is a boring story. Unintended consequences are not just cool, they're essential in a branching story. They can't be random, however: they have to flow naturally from what you did.

  

  • I also don't look forward to having all the "enhanced reactivity" based on the race, class and background of the main character. This is another thing that is enjoyable only thrugh multiple playthroughs, and let me say that I don't consider it meaningful in general. Having some dedicated dialogue choices, or some NPCs that react to you in a particular way just because your rac or class e is XY is a gimmick that is great at the beginning, but grows old quickly.

 

I vehemently disagree. That type of reactivity -- while it's sometimes dismissed as "flavour" -- is essential to making the world come alive and making your blank-slate character feel more than just a spreadsheet.

 

 

  • Let the player understand the consequences of the choices he is making, throwing at him unforseeable results ONLY when it is absolutely necessary for the plot.
  • Do not hide meaningful story content behind difficult puzzles or in easter eggs. Those are exactly the things that players usually miss in the first playthrough and having to restart the game just to access to an important plot point that you missed the first time is frustrating as hell.
  • Focus on features that expand what the player can do in the world and do not cut content away without giving something else in return, forcing him to restart the game if he wants to experience what he lost.

 

 

You're demanding to have your cake and eat it too: have choice and consequence, but make it so you always get the outcome you were after regardless. It castrates the whole concept.

 

I think you're looking for a game that's not like Pillars at all: perhaps an aRPG like Diablo III, or a completely linear pseudo-RPG with only cosmetic C&C, nu-BioWare style. Luckily for you, most "RPGs" nowadays are exactly like that. I strongly recommend you play them instead of this series that clearly has different goals -- and fervently hope that the developers will take no notice of your suggestions and continue with the course they have chosen.

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Although he got lost in the plot and has really bad ideas, I agree with him on some points. 
 
In my specific situation, I have around 12 to 15 hours a week to play on the pc. I work all day, I need to do exercises in the gym and coming home I need to give attention to my wife. I need to use every minute alone at home to be able to finish a game. So I have a few hours a week and I have to use the whole Saturday night and Sunday to play, when my wife is already asleep and I do not need to work the next day. So having a stretch goal like New Game +, for me is the worst and zero fun, because I probably will not use EVER.
 

 

I also agree with him regarding the issue of Underdark vs. Underwater City, in BG2. Offering a choice that is "perfect" and not giving anything in return on the other choice is at least a flaw in narrative.
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Are you trolling? How does the choices in your single playthrough feel like they matter when they force you back to the one and only path. Your reasoning seems severely flawed to me.

 

I wasn't saying that.

 

I was saying that the paths that the game lays in front of you should follow some rules:

 

Be clear:

I should be able to assess the paths I can choose from the very first playthough, wihout finding myself in a situation that I don't like just because I wasn't able to assess the choices I had properly.

 

Be comparable (in content and magnitude of results):

if I choose a path I should always loose something while gaining something else. Both what I loose and what I gain should be exclusive, there should not be a path able to let me access more content than the other or achieve better results in the end. If there was such "perfect path" (i.e. the "follow Saemon havarian" path in BG2 or the "no one left behind" path in ME2) there would also be a perfect set of choices to make in order to achieve it, but it would be very difficult for a player to do everything right on his first (and, in my case, only) playthrough.

 

Should avoid twist endings and unexpected consequences when possible:

Why? Because one of the biggest selling points of RPGs is that they allow you to influence the world and mold it to your will. Twist endings hurt this feature, because they destroy player agency within the world. This is not a problem if you can play through a game multiple times: since you already know the twist you take a different path in order to achieve the end status you want. For single players though, it is really frustrating.

 

Be accessible:

no meaningful path should be hidden from the player using puzzles or easter eggs. This is what enrages me the most.

 

 

 

An example: the winter palace quest in Dragon Age 3.

 

Is it clear? - NO

No, because in order to access the different endings you have to find specific objects in the palace, but you can't find them all in a single playthrough because you can't gain all the keys you need to access all rooms. The problem is that you don't know what ending you will be able achieve choosing to enter a room and not another, so you can find yourself in the place of not being able to access the ending you want because you didn't know what room you had to go into to find the items you needed.

 

Are the paths comparable? - YES

Yes, they are, because no content is locked unless you go through a specific path and there's no clear "better ending".

 

Are there unexpected consequences? - YES

Yes, lots. One can argue that all the endings are bad minus one or two. And you don't know how you choice of ruler will affect Orlais until the very end. It's like rolling a dice and seeing how it goes.

 

Are the paths accessible? - NO

There are lots of endings you can achieve, but they are never laid down before you. You are told that you can choose one out of three people in order to be the new emperor, but in truth there are many more paths available that are effectively hidden from you. RPGs are not puzzle games and even puzzle games let you know what you have to do, what they don't tell you is how to achieve it.

 

I hope I explained myself better this time.

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I find that mindset of "there might be things I cannot get, and that detracts from my enjoyment!" a bit troubling.

 

If things fit together, your choices have consequences (intended or not), and your companions and you react to what's happening to make the game world feel alive, that's what the game needs to do. That you're cutting off one path when choosing another, should absolutely be done if it's logical within the game world, and not watered down.

Developers will usually tend to provide access to most of the game - just because writing stuff that only a fraction of gamers ever see, is luxury, and luxury is expensive. For larger paths, this will only ever affect very few options.

For smaller stuff (a character needs 16 Resolve for a particular dialogue option, or these things), you can have those options displayed in PoE.

 

And in general:

The internet is your friend.

Wait a few days until the first guides are out, and usually, you'll find information what options are open to you and how to achieve specific outcomes.

If you're sure that you won't play a certain path, watch it on YouTube. (That's what I did for Witcher 2.)

(And if the game is a bit more friendly to modding, having a look at the dialogue files might also be an option.)

 

Edit: Sure, having a path that's missing out on the Sahuagin city, was a stupid move - because there was no real reason behind it.

If there's an actual reason (like, you hold up an army advancing on a city in one path, then there shouldn't a siege battle afterwards), I don't think the game should shove ill-fitting content in there just to make sure the player has seen it.

Edited by Varana
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I have a bit different aproach.

Game in example: Witcher 3, long enought, many choices.

 

I played it once, had some ending, may think that it would be nice to have different result here and there, but i live with it. It is best to just make decision at given time feeling what character would do, roleplaying. If good choice have fatal consquences in future, well that is old trick. Really old trick, we give somebody money, he go gambling with it, gets into fight and got killed. Old stuff.

 

Just accept that you will see only part of game in single run, and it will have one version ending, and it will be right ending because it was your character ending.

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I find that mindset of "there might be things I cannot get, and that detracts from my enjoyment!" a bit troubling.

I agree with you, since this is not my mindset either.

 

If things fit together, your choices have consequences (intended or not), and your companions and you react to what's happening to make the game world feel alive, that's what the game needs to do. That you're cutting off one path when choosing another, should absolutely be done if it's logical within the game world, and not watered down.

I agree with you on this both and I'm advocating for branching paths as much as you are. The only thing I don't agree with is the "(intended or not)" part. One of the core elements of RPGs is player agency within the game world, but having your actions always reach unintended results destroys agency because it transforms the game into a twist ending roulette where you might as well click randomly on dialogue options, since they don't tell anything about what you might achieve by choosing one or the other.

 

Developers will usually tend to provide access to most of the game - just because writing stuff that only a fraction of gamers ever see, is luxury, and luxury is expensive. For larger paths, this will only ever affect very few options.

For smaller stuff (a character needs 16 Resolve for a particular dialogue option, or these things), you can have those options displayed in PoE.

No problem with that.

 

And in general:

The internet is your friend.

Wait a few days until the first guides are out, and usually, you'll find information what options are open to you and how to achieve specific outcomes.

If you're sure that you won't play a certain path, watch it on YouTube. (That's what I did for Witcher 2.)

(And if the game is a bit more friendly to modding, having a look at the dialogue files might also be an option.)

Are you really suggesting me to read spoilers in order to be able to play the game in a meaningful way?

In general, when you have to exit the game in order to find the information you need to play the game, than the game is doing something wrong.

 

Edit: Sure, having a path that's missing out on the Sahuagin city, was a stupid move - because there was no real reason behind it.

If there's an actual reason (like, you hold up an army advancing on a city in one path, then there shouldn't a siege battle afterwards), I don't think the game should shove ill-fitting content in there just to make sure the player has seen it.

I agree with you in general terms, but I would say that if developers created a path that allowed the player to avoid a siege unsing diplomacy than they should create a diplomacy related scene that should substitute the battle and should be equally interesting to play. If, on the other hand, avoiding the battle consisted just in a diplomacy check done through a dialogue option, than I would not consider it a legit path... I would just consider it a gimmick to let pacifist players get their achievement at the end of the game.

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Are you really suggesting me to read spoilers in order to be able to play the game in a meaningful way?

In general, when you have to exit the game in order to find the information you need to play the game, than the game is doing something wrong.

 

You're the one who's asking to know the consequences of your choices before you make them. If that's what you want, then pointing out that you can just read a walkthrough is perfectly reasonable.

 

Most of us do not want that. We want the game to surprise, frustrate, delight, acknowledge your character-building choices, reward going off the beaten path, and so on and so forth. 

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Are you really suggesting me to read spoilers in order to be able to play the game in a meaningful way?

In general, when you have to exit the game in order to find the information you need to play the game, than the game is doing something wrong.

 

You're the one who's asking to know the consequences of your choices before you make them. If that's what you want, then pointing out that you can just read a walkthrough is perfectly reasonable.

 

Most of us do not want that. We want the game to surprise, frustrate, delight, acknowledge your character-building choices, reward going off the beaten path, and so on and so forth.

 

I wasn't saying that. Let me explain myself with an example.

 

You are playing a side quest with no connections to the main plot, in which you are asked to support one of two people that want to become the next ruler of kingdom X. One of them likes order and has connections with the nobles of the city, the game hints at the fact that he doesn't give a damn about the people and he would exploit the poor and rule with an iron fist. The other one is Robin Hood, the very sympathetic outlaw that wants the good of his people. You choose the latter and help him raise to the throne in a peaceful way. When you leave the city everything seems to be going fine.

 

You finish the game and during the slideshow at the end you learn that Robin Hood has let outlaws into the city and poor people are now living in constant fear of robberies, rapes and other cool stuff.

 

Ok, from a strictly logical point of view the plot works: Robin Hood was an outlaw after all. I have some question though: is this what the player wanted to achieve? Was the player presented with enough information to assess the situation properly? Was this twist necessary for the main plot?

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You finish the game and during the slideshow at the end you learn that Robin Hood has let outlaws into the city and poor people are now living in constant fear of robberies, rapes and other cool stuff.

Ok, from a strictly logical point of view the plot works: Robin Hood was an outlaw after all. I have some question though: is this what the player wanted to achieve? Was the player presented with enough information to assess the situation properly? Was this twist necessary for the main plot?

 

WARNING: You are roleplaying a character that does not know what will happen even when trying to be the good guy, you can't see into the future, and the future is not always according to plan. Deal with it.

 

Also:

 

  • I also don't look forward to having all the "enhanced reactivity" based on the race, class and background of the main character. This is another thing that is enjoyable only thrugh multiple playthroughs, and let me say that I don't consider it meaningful in general. Having some dedicated dialogue choices, or some NPCs that react to you in a particular way just because your rac or class e is XY is a gimmick that is great at the beginning, but grows old quickly.

 

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

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Turning things on their head in an epilogue: Maybe not the best idea. Doing that within the game: Completely fine.

 

Let's take an actual example of that: Raedric and Kolsc.

Kolsc is supposed to appear as the better option.

Then, Raedric comes back, and things get worse. If you hadn't deposed him, this wouldn't have happened, and all you can do is prevent him from doing further damage.

Is that bad? No, imho.

 

Even the following turn of events:

If you don't help Kolsc, Raedric continues his tyrannical regime, but most inhabitants of the village live.

If you help Kolsc and Raedric comes back, he murders all of the villagers.

Could you have foreseen that turn of events? No. Does it make for a bad experience? Overall, not. Also, you can kill Raedric again in retaliation.

 

"Player agency" is one side. On the other hand, there is the illusion that the game world could exist on its own, that not everything depends on the player doing stuff, that characters in the game world have an agenda and a mind of their own. That is equally important. The game world is a stage for the player but it has to create the impression that it weren't. You need unintended consequences for that.

 

And yes, I did recommend you a walkthrough. Spelling out every consequence of actions your character could have no idea about, within the game, is just building the walkthough into the game.

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No. To have meaningful reactivity often means altering the player's course in terms of content. This naturally means you will not see certain content, while experiencing the ones that correspond to your actions. The Age of Decadence is a beautiful example of this. 

 

It doesn't matter if you can only play through the game once. Meaningful reactivity is not about replaying a game. It's about giving the world and your actions logical consistency, of which certain reactions are expected based on your own actions. Even if you play it once, it'll be a better game. 

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Mmmm... You are right.

But I still don't like this trend in RPGs:

1.0 RPG quests: you are hired by the good guy in order to kill the bad guy. You do that and everyone lives happily ever after

2.0 RPG quests: you are hired by someone who tells you to be the good guy, in order to kill the supposed bad guy. You set off to do that, but you learn that things are different and the real bad guy is the one who hired you. You kill him and everyone lives happily ever after.

 

3.0 RPG queststwo different factions try to earn your support, but there are no good or bad guys. You have to choose the lesser evil based on your personal beliefs. At the end you achieve your goal, but there is always a bittersweet side to it.

 

4.0 RPG quests: two or more factions try to earn your support, there are no good and no bad guys and you also don't know what are the exact plans of each faction. You struggle to understand what's going on while the quest progresses and in the end you kill a final enemy hoping you did the right thing. At the end of the game you learn that it was more complex than you thought (don't you say...) and that your actions brought unexpected consequences.

 

 

 

Ok, I know that quest structures from the 80s and 90s are boring nowadays and that writers are always trying to come up with something new in order to keep things fresh. I also know that moral grey areas help in creating more viable paths paths for the player: if there was a clearly good path players would feel compelled to always follow that one.

 

There's another side to this story though: this trend has led to quests that are more complex to navigate through, less predictable, and not necessarly more meaningful. I personally don't feel that the twist ending in the Grieving Mother's quest-line gave me a lesson about life or conveyed some deep message. I just tried to give her a fresh start and she ended up almost mentally impaired (maybe I did something wrong).

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