About a year ago, this is what I asked you guys (no obsidian employee replied, only other posters). Apparently I had very good reason to ask that. I STILL want to know when the FINAL version of this goddamn game is finally going to be released.
Normally I don't mind when a developer patches an older game. Heck, it's usually a good thing: they're either patching out MINOR bugs (because the big, nasty ones are tipically gone by the time a game is "older" when the developer's name isn't Obsidian) or delivering quality of life improvements! With YOU at Obsidian, however, it's a VERY different story. Every single goddamn time you people put out a patch, it either:
a) Creates a new, usually significant, bug in interactions that were previously working fine (really bad, but it's ALMOST forgivable) or
b) Completely overhaul major systems (3.0 and 2.0) or
c) If not completely overhaul, just willy nilly decide to perform small "balance passes" that serve only to nerf a particular build or item combination that wasn't even that egregious of a problem anyway. See this gem from 3.06: "dropped the Unlabored Blade 'Firebug' proc from 3 to 10%". Great, now the Unlabored Blade went from "useful in particular fire-based builds with Scion of Flame" to "basically useless to everyone, as you'll almost never see its proc". Usually those balance passes are neither necessary nor desired by any player, ever.
I understand situation a). It's certainly amateurish but at least those are honest mistakes.
I am, however, infuriated by situation b). After the game was officially out of Early Access and released onto steam, there SHOULDN'T have been any major reworks. It's not an MMO, it's a single player game. Even if the reworks were accompanied by expansions, it's still TERRIBLE that basic things like the way Athletics worked were revamped. How is a normal, average player coming back to the game from the 2.x days supposed to know that Athletics no longer prevents fatigue from travelling? Hell, in one of the early maps, TO THIS DAY, your character still utters a line to the beat of "The more I keep going, the more likely that I'll need to sleep", which heavily implies that travelling still causes fatigue, just causing even more confusion. I'm not even arguing here that the old Athletics was better, it's a matter of "legal certainty" so to speak: players should have the expectation that, if they return to the same SINGLE PLAYER game 2 or 3 years down the line, it'll still be mostly the same game (minus a few bugs at best) and their old knowledge will still apply. Not so in Pillars.
Situation c) similarly makes my blood boil, maybe even more so than b). At least in b) there was a poor excuse ("tweaking things to fit with the new expansions"). This type of situation, though, has no excuse and no reason to exist. Again: this is not an MMO, it's not even multiplayer at all. Balance is important to a certain degree, but if people discover fun, slightly overpowered builds, let them keep it. If you're building a character around the Unlabored Blade, you should be able to have an effective character, not a useless gimp - especially given how late in the game you get the weapon and how laborious it is to unlock it fully. I just restarted playing this game (not sure I'll continue, to be honest, these patch notes have left me sad) and was planning on building Sagani around the Stormcaller bow right now. It's not even the most powerful ranger build I could give her according to most posters, but I find the idea of having her proc mini Returning Storms frequently a fun one. Which guarantee do I have that the Returning Storm chance isn't going to be dropped to 8, 5, 3 or even 0% tomorrow and, thus, render the Heart of The Storm talent that I gave her useless? None whatsoever. Maybe Stormcaller will have an entirely different proc, maybe it'll randomly make its wielder grab their crotch mid-fight and yell "hoo-hah", maybe it'll just shock your own character, maybe it'll cause you to explode, there's just NO WAY TO KNOW. Sure, there are always respecs, but those take all the fun out of the game.
Let me use a legal concept as an analogy: "legal certainty", at least in civil law systems, is a principle according to which citizens can safely expect that the government and its officials won't just change laws out of the blue or behave unexpectedly. This means that what is legal today very likely will still remain legal tomorrow, at least in broad strokes: you won't suddenly wake up to find out the possesion of chocolate biscuits is punishable by death, for instance.
Most single-player games end up implicitly following a gaming version of this principle, which allows you to pick up a game you've played three years ago and still find a use for that old knowledge, because - at best - only a few bugs were fixed. Maaaybe if the developers were feeling particularly cheeky, they may have had the audacity to implement a slight UI tweak or add one or two items that improve quality of life. This is good.
Here's what happens with Pillars, on the other hand, during a similar time span:
ATTEMPT 01 --> Playing the game at release (close to it anyway). Man, I'm pumped! The story seems dope, the worldbuilding is excellent, the writing is superb! Wait, why is my rogue getting one-shotted AND one-shotting everything? Oh... oh no, he has a gazillion accuracy and negative deflection (causing him to crit and be critted all the time) because developers couldn't handle a temporary buff/debuff from his modal ability. They applied the buff/debuff like a normal, permanent increase/decrease to his Accuracy stat (which is a surprisingly AMATEUR mistake to make, why the hell is the total even being stored there?). Welp, that playthrough is bust. Let's wait a few weeks for a fix, sometimes launch can be a bit rocky (surely by then it'll be stable).
ATTEMPT 02 --> Weeks pass, and now that previous bug is fixed! But just to be safe, let's go with a different class this time, it was either a Paladin or a Barbarian or something (can't even remember anymore). First thing I discover is that one of his skills - obviously one that I picked - is somewhat bugged and doesn't work properly (lol, so much for playing it "safe"). The problem was discovered, as usual, after having chosen the character and played through quite a bit of the game. Excitement level going down again, but I immediately try a new run (not as pumped anymore, though).
ATTEMPT 03 --> Let's try this again with the same class, avoiding the bugged skill this time. Cool, no problems there anymore... but now I accidentally lock myself out of a main quest. Great. By this point, the only thing I can think of for a long time is "**** this game, it's not worth it".
ATTEMPT 04 --> With the release of the White March pt. 1, my excitement went back up, but now I was weary and wary. What if the game is still unstable? What if it still has bugs? What if the new patches are still creating NEW BUGS? Well, all of that was happening. Basic stuff was STILL being fixed, new bugs STILL being introduced, a bunch of **** had recently changed A LOT. This is when I had made that first post at the top, and with good reason. Waited a few weeks after that post, then played a little bit of the game, rushing to The White March content, but, even though I was digging the world, the characters and the content, it still pissed me off that a patch came out with this line: "Mourning Gloves no longer give permanent buffs". I wasn't pissed because they fixed that bug, I was pissed that at this point in the game's life, they were STILL PUTTING OUT THE SAME KIND OF BUGS THAT HAPPENED BACK IN 1.x. This is EXACTLY the same bug that my very first Rogue character had (permanent buffs/debuffs being permanently applied), the only difference is that now it was applied to an item rather than an ability. Guys, this is EXTREMELY SLOPPY, it's a freaking basic programming mistake that even second-level CS students would be ashamed to make. Quit the game for about a year.
ATTEMPT 05 --> Just this week, decided to ONCE AGAIN try and brave this game. Spent literally days researching all the changes from 3.04 to now, and a few from 2.x to now that I had missed (like the Athletics change, I had not noticed it changed during attempt 4). Scoured the web to try and find up-to-date info on builds, skills, etc, which is by the way almost impossible: the game changes so much so fast that its wikis are never up-to-date, player guides ditto, even forum threads can't be trusted because a lot of them go back 1 or 2 years ago. I hadn't bothered reading the Deadfire patch updates (3.07 and 3.07.13etc), because, well... it's just a couple of new items to promote the sequel. They couldn't possibly have introduced new bugs, right? RIGHT??? Oh, wait, let me guess... Patch 3.07.1318: "Fixed an issue with the Company Captain's Cap confusing party members when they cast a buff/heal spell". They fixed a bug introduced in the patch 3.07, which brought only four new items. And, again, the bug is EXTREMELY BASIC **** THAT SHOULD NOT HAVE GOTTEN PAST EVEN A MONKEY. Yes, I *am* being rude. This **** is EMBARASSINGLY basic programming. Do you test the items/abilities AT ALL before shoving them out the door???
You know why I nag on you people? Because somehow, despite all your ****ty code, you have superb worldbuilding, story, ambience and characters. I *WANT* to like this game, goddamn it, but it's just too much of a ****show with bugs, random balance changes and post-release overhauls. Maybe I should come back to Pillars two years from now? Five? Ten? Fifty-seven? Maybe by then you'll have stopped messing around with it and the community will finally be able to know exactly how the game works, exactly which skills and items are bugged and which are not, exactly how powerful each weapon/armor is. Maybe then we'll no longer have these constant surprises, with patches fixing one thing and breaking another while simultaneously randomly nerfing/buffing items.
See you in a couple of years. Hope you finish your game (Pillars 1, that is) by then, because I *actually* want to play it. The sequel (which I *also* want to play) I won't touch until at least 10 years from now, because previous experience has taught me that "release date" means something closer to "open beta" for you guys.