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Save game import suggests it's possible to get the sky dragon to retreat instead of just killing it/letting it stay - how do you trigger this? Tried getting it to low health while leaving it's wurm alive but no luck.

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  • 2 weeks later...

wow, ya is that a bug in the save game history thing ooor can you do that?  I usually kill dragons even on good guy play throughs as they are a massive danger in my subjective opinion.  Looked on Wiki and it says you can get Dragon to leave by wounding it.. No idea how the fight has never stopped for me when the Dragon was low on Health.

Edited by Torm51

Have gun will travel.

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  • 2 years later...

Hi,

even though this thread is already two years old, I want to add a little bit, since I stumbled on it again, myself.

TL;DR: it's 100% possible, couldn't figure out the required conditions, if you don't care about achievements you can use console commands. Please see edit for information regarding POE2 save import.

I can tell you that it's definetely possible, but sadly I don't know what the exact triggers are. According to the Quest Description one part includes getting the Dragon to a certain health threshold, but that alone is not sufficient as I played around with the console and set its Health to 1, once directly and once by applying enough instant damage, but nothing triggered, even after making it invulnerable and attacking it a bit more. So either the trigger for the event is broken or there is some other condition (maybe benevolent to a certain level?) that must be met. It's also possible that the trigger just takes way too long after reaching the health threshold and you simply would have to wait forever(also tried that before fiddling with the console but didn't seem to work either).

I also believe that I actually managed to trigger the event on my very first playthrough, but that was years ago and also on normal(this time is on hard) with a way weaker party, even before the expansions, so either it was just easier to trigger the needed event or maybe some patches or the expansions really, broke the trigger. I also don't remember any other conditions that I might have met, except that time I already killed the Adra Dragon(would be a pretty weird relation, but maybe it makes the Sky Dragon more afraid of you?). Ironically at that time I actually didn't care and wanted to kill all dragons, so I killed it anyway...

That all being said, if you are like me and want to make the Dragon retreat no matter what, because you want to use the savegame in POE2 and the Pet you get for this outcome, you can use the console.

Note: just activating console commands prevents you from getting any achievement further in that playthrough, you can however load a previous savegame and continue with that if you care about the achievements. Even though it might be possible to change that with a savegame editor.

First you need to activate console commands with the Command:

iRoll20s

After that you can use:

TriggerQuestEndState 12_qst_nest_above_the_clouds 2

this will finish the quest with the Dragon fled. If you just want to skip to the next step in the quest you can probably use

TriggerQuestAddendum 12_qst_nest_above_the_clouds 3

this should move the quest to the state "Dealt with the Dragon", however I don't know what how Hylea's dialogue will look afterwards, even though it seems that the state "dealt with the dragon", refers to having fought the dragon, but that is still alive, so it should work.

The fact that the dragon is still alive also provides you with the option to actually kill him without any issues, since the quest state will not change, once the quest is finished.

Edit:

I just checked with the Eternity Keeper. For once, yes there is simply a Cheat Enabled flag that you can set to false. And the other thing is that I compared a savegame before and after killing the dragon, both after finishing the quest through commands. I found the following variables:

n_Nedyn_Quest_Stage   
n_Nest_Dragon_Combat   
n_Nest_Dragon_Dead   
n_Nest_dragon_State   
n_Nest_Dragon_Support_Dead   
n_Nest_priests_State   
n_Nest_quest_main   
n_Nest_quest_start   
n_Nest_Reputation   
n_Nest_Wurmling_State

Some of them are pretty obvious, such as n_Nest_Reputation, as killing the Dragon gives you positive reputation with Twin Elms.

Now aside from Reputation, these flags were (newly) set after killing the Dragon:
n_Nest_Dragon_Combat   
n_Nest_Dragon_Dead   
n_Nest_dragon_State  
n_Nest_Wurmling_State

Now, Dragon_Combat seems to be obviously if combat was initiated or not and Dragon_Dead, should be obvious too. Unclear are dragon_State and Wurmling_State. It could simply be wether or not the two are hostile or not, which would be the most plausible. Btw all of these are int values not booleans so, they are not limited to just two values, for example n_Nedyn_Quest_Stage  is set to 5. The reason why this is important is, that I don't know which of these values is used in the POE2 import. I guess that n_Nedyn_Quest_Stage simply determines how far the quest progressed and 5 is just "finished". Considering that the EndState is 2, the value for n_Nest_quest_main  might just reflect this EndState, if this is correct it would most likely be the value used in the POE2 import, as it is just a single value with all the information. However it could also be possible that Dragon_combat and Dragon_Dead are evaluated in conjunction and while this is rather unlikely I will in my case set the Dragon_Dead flag to 0 (and for consistency the Repuation flag as well). Of these are just speculations and if anyone wants to do the same(you could also skip the commands and just modify your savegame right before importing), do it on your own risk.

 

Side Note: the n_Nest_Dragon_Support_Dead value is in both cases 0, implying that the Blights spawned during the fight should be alive, which they are definetely not after the Dragon was killed, I'm wondering if I managed to do that with my console commands or if maybe someone flipped the interpretation of that value during development, either consciously or by accident.

Edited by StrangeMortim
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  • 2 months later...
On 7/1/2020 at 7:05 PM, StrangeMortim said:

Hi,

even though this thread is already two years old, I want to add a little bit, since I stumbled on it again, myself.

TL;DR: it's 100% possible, couldn't figure out the required conditions, if you don't care about achievements you can use console commands. Please see edit for information regarding POE2 save import.

I can tell you that it's definetely possible, but sadly I don't know what the exact triggers are. According to the Quest Description one part includes getting the Dragon to a certain health threshold, but that alone is not sufficient as I played around with the console and set its Health to 1, once directly and once by applying enough instant damage, but nothing triggered, even after making it invulnerable and attacking it a bit more. So either the trigger for the event is broken or there is some other condition (maybe benevolent to a certain level?) that must be met. It's also possible that the trigger just takes way too long after reaching the health threshold and you simply would have to wait forever(also tried that before fiddling with the console but didn't seem to work either).

I also believe that I actually managed to trigger the event on my very first playthrough, but that was years ago and also on normal(this time is on hard) with a way weaker party, even before the expansions, so either it was just easier to trigger the needed event or maybe some patches or the expansions really, broke the trigger. I also don't remember any other conditions that I might have met, except that time I already killed the Adra Dragon(would be a pretty weird relation, but maybe it makes the Sky Dragon more afraid of you?). Ironically at that time I actually didn't care and wanted to kill all dragons, so I killed it anyway...

That all being said, if you are like me and want to make the Dragon retreat no matter what, because you want to use the savegame in POE2 and the Pet you get for this outcome, you can use the console.

Note: just activating console commands prevents you from getting any achievement further in that playthrough, you can however load a previous savegame and continue with that if you care about the achievements. Even though it might be possible to change that with a savegame editor.

First you need to activate console commands with the Command:

iRoll20s

After that you can use:

TriggerQuestEndState 12_qst_nest_above_the_clouds 2

this will finish the quest with the Dragon fled. If you just want to skip to the next step in the quest you can probably use

TriggerQuestAddendum 12_qst_nest_above_the_clouds 3

this should move the quest to the state "Dealt with the Dragon", however I don't know what how Hylea's dialogue will look afterwards, even though it seems that the state "dealt with the dragon", refers to having fought the dragon, but that is still alive, so it should work.

The fact that the dragon is still alive also provides you with the option to actually kill him without any issues, since the quest state will not change, once the quest is finished.

Edit:

I just checked with the Eternity Keeper. For once, yes there is simply a Cheat Enabled flag that you can set to false. And the other thing is that I compared a savegame before and after killing the dragon, both after finishing the quest through commands. I found the following variables:

n_Nedyn_Quest_Stage   
n_Nest_Dragon_Combat   
n_Nest_Dragon_Dead   
n_Nest_dragon_State   
n_Nest_Dragon_Support_Dead   
n_Nest_priests_State   
n_Nest_quest_main   
n_Nest_quest_start   
n_Nest_Reputation   
n_Nest_Wurmling_State

Some of them are pretty obvious, such as n_Nest_Reputation, as killing the Dragon gives you positive reputation with Twin Elms.

Now aside from Reputation, these flags were (newly) set after killing the Dragon:
n_Nest_Dragon_Combat   
n_Nest_Dragon_Dead   
n_Nest_dragon_State  
n_Nest_Wurmling_State

Now, Dragon_Combat seems to be obviously if combat was initiated or not and Dragon_Dead, should be obvious too. Unclear are dragon_State and Wurmling_State. It could simply be wether or not the two are hostile or not, which would be the most plausible. Btw all of these are int values not booleans so, they are not limited to just two values, for example n_Nedyn_Quest_Stage  is set to 5. The reason why this is important is, that I don't know which of these values is used in the POE2 import. I guess that n_Nedyn_Quest_Stage simply determines how far the quest progressed and 5 is just "finished". Considering that the EndState is 2, the value for n_Nest_quest_main  might just reflect this EndState, if this is correct it would most likely be the value used in the POE2 import, as it is just a single value with all the information. However it could also be possible that Dragon_combat and Dragon_Dead are evaluated in conjunction and while this is rather unlikely I will in my case set the Dragon_Dead flag to 0 (and for consistency the Repuation flag as well). Of these are just speculations and if anyone wants to do the same(you could also skip the commands and just modify your savegame right before importing), do it on your own risk.

 

Side Note: the n_Nest_Dragon_Support_Dead value is in both cases 0, implying that the Blights spawned during the fight should be alive, which they are definetely not after the Dragon was killed, I'm wondering if I managed to do that with my console commands or if maybe someone flipped the interpretation of that value during development, either consciously or by accident.

Well...  I managed to work out the triggers to get this the retreat to play.  However, I don't think it is actually possible without console commands.  I just don't think it was scripted into happening.  I managed to, with the help of StrangeMortim's info here, to trace back the requirements for Hylea's conversation in which she mentions the Sky Dragon being mortally wounded back to the triggering conversation with the dragon by going through the conversation files of both Hylea and the Sky Dragon.

Hylea's conversation - 13_cv_hylea.conversation located in /data/conversations/13_twin_elms_elms_reach/
Sky Dragon's conversation - 12_cv_sky_dragon located in /data/conversations/12_oldsong/

Now, both of these files are not much help, to be truthful.  I merely got lucky (would it be luck, though) that I found a programmer's comment, in the Sky Dragon convo, mentioning that the health trigger is set to 25% health for the Sky Dragon.  That happened to be under conversation node 17.  Unfortunately, that trail kinda ended there.
I then went on to search Hylea's conversation and I found a number in conversation instance referencing the Sky Dragon conversation.
Unfortunately, that all led to a dead end.
But it was a start.
And that start led me to start looking into other files.
I browsed the game.globalvariables file which fleshed out all the variables for all the booleans that StrangeMortim mentioned.

game.globalvariables - game.globalvariables located in /data/design/global/

Also another stopping block, so I did some more digging for other files related to it.

The Nest Above The Clouds quest - 12_qst_nest_above_the_clouds.quest located in /data/quests/12_twin_elms_oldsong/

In this file, I found the triggers for all the addendums and end states.
At this point, I was stuck.  Couldn't find any leads, so I started browsing Hylea's conversation again, and I managed to find a breakthrough.  There are mentions of the conversations activating the end states.  So I set about searching for a conversation thread that lead to activating end state 2 (the end state of the quest that involved the Dragon fleeing).  There, I found the conversation node with Hylea that deals with letting the Sky Dragon flee.  And the only boolean that was tied to it was having the conversation that starts with Node 17 of the Sky Dragon convo and ends with Node 22... Basically, I knew which conversation I had to have and that led me down the path of a few discoveries which makes me think that, either the programming was screwed up and the Sky Dragon fleeing is currently bugged and doesn't activate, or it was removed.

I believe it was removed (if it was in to begin with in the first place).  What leads me to believe this is, that after using console commands to trigger the conversation during the fight, the Sky Dragon did not disappear...  The fight continued on.  I did get an Addendum activation though as the quest updated.  The update however was the update that is also triggered if you allow the Sky Dragon to stay at the temple.  So, I set the Dragon and the Wurmling to not hostile with console commands, it still left me in combat.  I forced an area transfer to Oldsong, which got me out of combat, headed over and talked to the priests, which confirmed that I had indeed "let the dragon flee." Signs were good, final test was the Council of Stars, so I headed over, made a save, and sure enough, the conversation, triggered as if I had let the dragon flee.  Great, time to look at the save game booleans.

n_Nest_Dragon_Combat   1
n_Nest_Dragon_Dead   0
n_Nest_dragon_State   0
n_Nest_Dragon_Support_Dead   0
n_Nest_priests_State   3
n_Nest_quest_main   3
n_Nest_quest_start   2
n_Nest_Reputation   0
n_Nest_Wurmling_State  0

This is what I ended up with.  Normally, if you try this set up without having the conversation in which the Sky Dragon pleads to be allowed to flee, the conversation with Hylea, just shuts down right after the text block revealing that Hylea to the PC.

So...  unfortunately, I don't think it's possible to trigger the mid-combat conversation.  I think they removed that trigger. Mainly, because after the conversation was triggered, the fight continued, instead of setting off a chain of event triggers that would cease combat and remove the dragon from the scene (or maybe a cutscene needs to be triggered, which leads to the conversation triggering, in which case I have no idea how to find said cutscene).  On top of that, the quest addendum update was that of letting the Dragon stay (which makes me think that it used to say something along the lines of "let the dragon live" rather than "let the dragon stay").  What I do know is that the health trigger is supposed to be 25% health.  Maybe someone will be able to trigger it and record it happening.

As for a workaround...
Head to the Dragon and initiate combat
trigger the conversation with the console command:
    StartCoversation CRE_Sky_Dragon 12_cv_sky_dragon 17
Select the options to let him flee
Transition to a different area (I used Oldsong) with:
    AreaTransition 99 1
Complete the quest by talking with Hylea
Go back and kill the drake
Save
Open up the save editor and adjust the following values to the following(I don't know if all the values will change to this, it's just a hunch)
n_Nest_Dragon_Combat   1 to 2
n_Nest_Dragon_Dead   1 to 0
n_Nest_dragon_State   0 to 2
n_Nest_Dragon_Support_Dead   0 to 1
n_Nest_priests_State   3
n_Nest_quest_main   3
n_Nest_quest_start   2
n_Nest_Reputation   1 to 0
n_Nest_Wurmling_State  1 to 0
Make sure to turn set the Cheats Enabled Flag to False
And everything should be what it's was supposed to be as if the Sky Dragon fleeing was actually possible (meaning you get to enjoy the conversations with all the parties involved, while still having it... somewhat... clean...  after all you get two extra Sky Dragon Eyes that you weren't exactly suppose to have, but you can use the console command "RemoveItem part_sky_dragon_eye" twice to alleviate that).

Anyway, if someone is willing to go digging into the Unity Bundles, someone may be able to find exactly what is supposed to be triggered at 25% health (the conversation and I'm guessing a scene in which the dragon walks off or flies away).

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  • 2 months later...

I've got more information about the quest itself and what can/can't be triggered.

StrangeMortim, Raynewood, I'm building on your foundations and hope you're still around because we have some avenues we can proceed forward with.

 

Some background; I got to act III and noticed that crucial quests didn't feel right. My stats should almost always have been high enough to trigger the best options, and yet for three of four god quests, there were scant great options, and some with literally no good options. After half-reading some things, I still couldn't get things to trigger; lion vs. bear, aka. lion and bear vs. me: Restin the must-murder: the dragon who I can't tell to go guard my keep and make literally everyone happy. At some point after a back-track for an mostly-accidental royal screwing of Rymrgand's quest, I got inspired (and maybe a bit fed up) enough to just look things up--only to find that despite what some guides say, no one could figure out the other options they knew were in the game. I eventually stumbled on this stuff, which has set off quite a process...

 

First, I used this web program to view the quest/conversation flowcharts in easily readable format. It's really helpful once you get the hang of it.      https://xaratas.github.io/

From here I noticed some good things. Namely that no conversation option in the main dialogue will ever lead to the third outcome; this is good to know, it means you can do just about anything from a Conversation point of view (note the capital C, as in conversation from a game file perspective, which I'll touch on later) and not suffer any consequences; there is no Direct secret conversation path to encourage the outcome, and no checks, etc...

But the third outcome is right there, branching off a node that has no information to it which I have come to assume is simply a reference to some basic trigger for conversation that then shunts you off to what's actually important. From this Node 0 there are links to Nodes 1, 16, and 17; 16 being the dragon 'regarding you cautiously', 17 being the mortal wound path. Interestingly, 16 appears to be unused--it branches from the main conversation node, my best guess is that it was going to be the post-I-let-you-stay-here dialogue, but you'll notice a curious developer note near the end of that decision tree mentioning that the dragon is simply 'deactivated for now', and indeed she is no longer conversable after you let her stay (extra interestingly, this is marked as being on a 'timer'--whatever that means in the developer's words. But it may yet mean there is a theoretical way to wait it out and get conversation Node 16 to activate.)

But we're here for 17. And 17 has nothing to indicate how to trigger it, except for that 25% developer comment. Now, you'll notice that Very few people have talked about getting 17 to trigger; I've only found two, you Mortim, and Breckmoney in this Reddit post addressing someone experiencing a greed-meets-morality dilemma over the binary choices in the quest. This is what he had to say 

"Breckmoney

There's an option where you beat her down to a sliver of life but then let her live so she just goes away from the temple. Still no sweet mats, but it's something of a middle ground.

magic_harp

I think her wurmling got 86'd during combat by some AoE so maybe that's what did it.

Breckmoney

I think the baby has to survive. I didn't even realize it was possible until it just popped up the second or third time I did the fight."

 

This was posted about two years ago. As can be seen, he clearly says he had this trigger, and that he had fought her at least twice, if not thrice, before it did. Who knows it if it was the same playthrough, but this is useful. We know 1) no conversation option directly takes you to it, 2) there is no obvious trigger in the conversation flow [as far as that program can see], and 3) someone Has triggered it, by accident, and at seemingly random. It made me wonder if someone had simply goofed, and like that developer note says, it triggers at 25% health. And I mean only 25% health, not above, not below--in theory being a bit of a needle in a haystack. 

So at this point, I decided to bite the bullet, download ILSpy and open the DLL files. What did I (someone with minimal tech knowledge, albeit with my developer brother's kind help) find? A whole lot of nothing! Unexpected, I know... I jest, actually--it appears that the DLL's are largely filled with snippets of code that other files just assemble and use as needed. There was very little specific data that I could find there; which doesn't mean it doesn't exist given my lack of expertise, but I have to hazard a guess that they aren't helpful. That then lead me to finding a way to open the .assetbundle files (Unity Assets Bundle Extractor). This proved more useful, and appears to be where a lot of data values are stored.  Some things by this point do stand out a bit; the sky dragon has a slightly above average amount of references to it compared to some other NPCs. However, they at least Seemed to be relatively innocuous--combat related things. But again, don't take my word for it because for example Eder seems to have character information stored in 'folders' referencing Thaos if the program is correct--Durance having difficult to discern as-it-is character data in folders about a fighting monk; you get the idea.

Three different sections of the game in and I simply couldn't even find a place where even a trigger to get this conversation might be found. Every road lead to another, until I was right back where I started, realizing that maybe the data I needed was in fact in the conversation flowchart data--which I soon learned I could read better now. Truly, what is an answer without a question?

 

Understanding what I before could not, I realized some things about the conversation data. 

Note that scripts run to switch the dragon hostile, or to 'disable' it, among other things in certain boxes. This made me wonder if actually the conversation option was just disabled at some point as Raynewood suggested, because Node 17 has no conditions or scripts attached to it whatsoever, not even the 25% health it mentions. Shouldn't a script trigger to disable combat, or at very least shouldn't the Wurmling's life and 25% HP threshold be checked? It seems like the right part of the game files for that to happen in, at least some of it, given the other conversation flows. It leads us down a path of two options 1) there is some larger scripted scene hiding deep in the game files that occurs that forces Node 17 to activate, 2) the conditions to help 17 activate were removed at some point so that it never triggers.

But in a way this leaves us with More questions, not less. Why and when was it removed? Why did Breckmoney have it activate at all if it was removed? Okay, maybe it was before hand, but then why did it only activate on his second+ try? And this is someone who posted only two years ago, which means its theoretically possible it was still doable then. But if it was still doable then, then how is it that pretty much no one on the internet knows how to do this? 

 

First, some theories, then next steps. Notice that where scripts, etc... do reference the dragon, it is a jumble of numbers at the very bottom of a game-spanning list. This implies to me that this encounter was likely one of the very final ones to be finalized--so much so that it was never named. There is some evidence for this, as I also discovered a cut task and a major cut quest from the Twin Elms region that may have actually replaced the gods quests altogether--one that actually has a lot of data still hanging around. So its possible that all of these quests were a little comparatively last-minute, or were otherwise changed around; it would be one explanation for why these quests feel different from the rest of the game in their lack of diversity. It would also give another explanation to the 'disables the dragon for now' developer note; the 'for now' being suspicious if the end goal was to just have the dragon default to Node 16 thereafter. Perhaps this was a placeholder for the dragon flying away at one point.

Its possible that the quest has buggedly triggered Node 17 for some people when it's never supposed to, or its possible that in an early release it still worked but was removed. Again though, it may also be that there really is a math issue in the background. Or, the most difficult of all to test, it may be part of a larger scene that's hidden from normal view and which relies on multiple checks of some type or another. However, in what little of the back end work I've seen thus far, I'm increasingly doubtful that they would have put in such a complicated set of conditions. But then again, the Deadfire wurm pet check (and the non-commenting by Obsidian on this very issue) does somewhat imply that not only does this quest option still work, but that it's working as intended in fact.

 

This leaves us with numerous paths forward...

1) Knock the dragon down to exactly 25% hp by a couple of means to make sure. There was also a lot relating to proning in one of its files, so perhaps trying  the two together if possible.

2) Edit the conversation files and add in conditions and scripts to see if it can be made to work.

3) Track down Breckmoney for his save files, conversation files, or any information he may have.

4) Get an original disk copy of POE version 1 and compare the conversation files to see if the quest was disabled.

5) Dive deeper in the game files; find the 25% trigger, find the answer.

 

 

 

 

Edited by CeruleanClouds
Grammar, spelling, wording.
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Very interesting.

Regarding the post from Breckmoney, it was posted 2 years ago, but he never said when he actually did it so it might be older than that.

I'm not surprised that you didn't found the dlls very helpful. DLL stands for dynamically linked library, it's basically already existing functionality that will be loaded into memory during runtime, so if anything it will tell you more about the technical realization of certain aspects, than the ingame structure.

If the driving trigger is actually some global script hidden somewhere then more conditions could apply, like maybe you're character needs to be benevolent or lawful, however I find that rather unlikely as such a script would be quite inefficient. It might be that the trigger is exactly 25% health, that would be quite possible if someone just mistyped a "<" and wrote the check as "==" instead of "<=". However the prone aspect is a bit more interesting, especially that "for now" in the dev comment is suspicious. I checked all the patch notes and in v2.0 (White March Part I) immunities were introduced, and dragons apparently became immune to being prone. In v3.0 (White march part II) however this prone immunity was then removed and instead replaced by prone resistance and immunity to unconscious. My guess is that either of these changes messed with the script and caused some bugs, as a result one of the devs temporarily deactivated the trigger entirely, but probably with the intention on fixing it, but instead they forgot and nobody remembered it. I think that might also be the reason why it's still considered in POEII, the devs may just not be aware that the trigger is either buggy or deactivated. The other part why these patch changes are particularly interesting is because they fit very well with my experience that I only managed to trigger the dragon on my first playthrough which was before the expansions. Also when you restrict google to the range from initial release to the release of white march I, then I actually couldn't find anyone trying to make the dragon actually leave and having issues with it. I found some post that mentioned you can get her to leave, even though it didn't trigger for them, however they also didn't seem to try and it's quite possible that during that time nobody had to much issues, because even though the trigger might be a bit finicky it might have still worked well at that time. And for the people that didn't get it, they might have accidentally killed the baby or maybe just critted the dragon into nothingness before it could trigger.

Sadly I currently don't have the time to check all that stuff, but I guess I'll try to reach obsidian on twitter, maybe they'll answer.

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Hey StrangeMortim, I came to do an update and was pleasantly surprised to see you had actually gotten to seeing this.

Everything you've said is quite interesting and all plausible, good work on tracking that stuff down. The dragon seems to have special interactions with some type of "Leap" and, as I said, prone stuff--but whether this is with its own attacks, or is part of a package for being interacted with I can't say. It could be either, but your logical timeline there matches up really well, so perhaps that really is what ended up happening. The fact that they changed dragon resistances is great food for thought in terms of why this may have been broken. An additional idea is that the trigger may still be intact, but just no longer doable, or so much more difficult to do that it simply doesn't get done.

That being said, I've had the time to do some more research too, and I hope some of what I've found can give you more insights... And then if it does, maybe you can give me them too, hahahaha.

 

Death in life, and life in death; the wheel has turned again, and from my end point yesterday--which was my starting point--I branched back out to the asset bundles. I read someone helping someone online say that all major data was stored on a per map/level basis in Deadfire, and realized it'd be the same for POE1. However in the folder with the named areas (which I'd already checked yesterday), there was only texture files associated with the relevant bundles, except for expansion content interestingly. So where was the data? Well, in an earlier directory, there were files of the name "Level #" from 1-164ish. Upon opening one, there was a lot of information, and as I soon learned, information sometimes not even relevant to a given map. I wasn't sure at one point if these even were individual levels; for example, sky dragon animation references seem to show up in over 60 of them. And I couldn't do any easy search with UABE -- it seemed I needed to know exact names to search anything at all, no just going "dragon" and getting a result. So, with 60K+ items per file, it quickly got unreasonable. But I said to myself, why not take a file out and see if the game still runs. Haha! Bingo! It did. And I am currently saved in the temple. So I removed almost all the files, and began adding them back in in bunches, and then sometimes removing them again, all to test which ones or one was the area of Hylea's temple (referred to as Oldsong Nest in game files). It turns out its "Level 101", and that runs smoothly even if its the only one either side of a hundred accessible to the game (with the exception of some early ones that are needed to even get to the main screen). So I'd found it, and indeed there are some specific sky dragon interactions in this bundle. 

Now, I took that and made an edited version for ease of use--I deleted out anything that didn't seem relevant to the dragon itself, and largely it seems I was on the right track. They really put a lot into even the smallest bundles. So now to the good stuff. The sky dragon (or at least a 'dragon') has some specific scripted interactions and even scenes. It actually seems to have at least 3 conversation starting triggers if I'm understanding correctly (though keep in mind, I really may not be).

As I said earlier, the wheel turns; I found references back out to the DLL's (and yes, your point on these was quite accurate). And sure enough, object actions in the bundles reach out for those snippets of code in the DLL's it seems, and they all (I assume) work together to make things happen. Unfortunately I haven't been able to figure out a) which parts of the DLL's code are taken. For example, it just points to "Trigger" or "ColliderBox". You go to the DLL and these can have multiple types that do different things entirely, and I don't know which one was chosen. B) I can't see any value data; I may know something is tied to a "timer" but have no idea of the value being used, how long it is, etc... But none the less, this is progress.

 

But lets get to what I can see. Like... GameObject Waypoint_Enc_Intro_Dragon_End, one of four separate Intro Enc[ounter?] waypoints (which appear to be used for interactions). Or this, GameObject Timer_Dragon_Stay_Delay  --  which appears to possibly bind a conversation or scripted event to a timer. It may be that 'deactivation' mentioned. Or how about GameObject Waypoint_Dragon_Leap_A (there is also both a B and C); are these part of an action package, or specific to the skydragon? Given other files, the sky dragon would seem to have its own version of these at least, and whether they are an attack, or part of a flee script (as described in the text we know) I can't say. But wait, there's still more -- GameObject Trigger_Dragon_Death_Failsafe. Why does the dragon need a death failsafe? This is tied to code in the DLLs relating to a set of Transformations, a Colliderbox (which can be physical, or invisible boxes used as triggers), some manner of Trigger, InstanceID's, Persistence (which appears to be a frequency check of how often this should pop up, ie only once, or multiple times), a ScriptEvent, and a ConditionalToggle.

I think if any is our special interaction, its got a good chance of being that one. I can only guess what most of these mean based on what I've already seen and what they sound like, but that guess suggests the Trigger is the 25% hp check, which if the Wurmling passes the ConditionalToggle check, runs the ScriptEvent to get the conversation started, leading to a set of Transformations of some type (I assume this means physical transformations of the dragon's position, but I don't know). The biggest curiosity in this Guess is the ColliderBox. Does it just surround the dragon to make sure it can't die, somehow--is it a physical barrier? Or is it some kind of invisible trigger--is there a standing position you have to be in to get the whole event to do its thing? That would account for how random it all seems; if there's just one specific area of the map you need to be engaged with, while also having the wurm alive, while also reaching 25% HP, it would really go a long way to explaining why its so difficult to activate. Of course, this is all speculation. I may not even understand what half these actually do, making this analysis moot. Furthermore, it could be a totally unrelated thing--like used to prevent the dragon from dying when it flies up into the clouds as it seems to occasionally do (which may also be the "leap"). There is just too much I can't see, or yet understand, to know for sure. But the important thing is that progress has been made. And perhaps, if you read this, there is some light or inspiration you can shed on it all.

EDIT: I realized that the Colliderbox possibly surrounds the dragon so it can ignore other objects (i.e. any remaining blights, the player, and the wurmling) still on the map while moving around--otherwise it'd do like a lot of characters do in scripted interactions, where they snag on your player character and just kind of freeze there. If this is correct, it bolsters the case for this being the event we're looking for, as a colliderbox isn't necessary or useful for the primary interaction with the dragon when it comes to meet you.

What still remains is finding data values, or even the specific forms taken of these processes. Funny enough, this is most informed by the conversation editor again, as it at least shows us numerical values for what-is-what within its purview, and it informed my understanding of how to read some of the more complex stuff. Maybe either it, or particularly a save state editor, could shed more light on the issue somehow.

 

Further EDIT: One, I wish you luck if you do end up reaching out on Twitter. Two, to one of your earlier posts; the level's assetbundle actually has two objects representing the dragon's support. GameObject Enc_Dragon_Support_True, and GameObject Enc_Dragon_Support_For_Real. This may have something to do with the strange flag discrepancy you noticed in the save editor.

Edited by CeruleanClouds
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Oh very interesting stuff!

And yeah I get an email when someone replies, so I usually still check the thread.

The colliderbox is probably not worth considering it will either be something like you mentioned, to ignore other characters, or alternatively it might be a trigger volume to trigger the initial conversation, but that would not make much sense for the trigger we're looking for. The skydragon has an attack where it jumps in the sky and lands somewhere else and the three waypoints are probably the three positions it can land in. The values will be specific for the sky dragon but even if the other dragons don't actually use that attack they theoretically would probably be able to, even though it's questionable where on the map they would end up if they don't have values of their own.
If you really wanted to see what the dll snippets are doing you could use a memory software while POE is running, however that might require you to decipher some assembler code which would be quite annoying I guess and I'm not sure if that is worth the effort.

The timer might be a red herring, of course it would be possible that the trigger is tied to a timer but I think I tried that using the console. (I got the dragon to 1hp and then made my party invincible and waited a few minutes) However while I checked the patch notes, one stated that dragons now wait 3 seconds after combat starts before using their breath attack, so while I can't say for sure I think that will be most likely the timer.

The two dragon support files are quite interesting, usually something like that is the result of something being implented either "ugly" or a bit buggy/unreliable and then someone wants to re-do  it but right (for_real), but quite often the old version will be left behind either because the new one didn't get finished or couldn't be tested enough anymore and even if the new version is used, there is always the possibility of something else not working correctly which just hasn't shown up. The most interesting part there might be to see if the files contain any information on when they were written. Theoretically if someone is so mad to take the time and has the version from GOG, one could also check each game version and see if they both existed from the beginning or only after a certain patch. Other than that we could only check what the differences between the two versions are. And yes it's quite possible that some of the flags were just old leftovers.

That's all I have for now, as I said I currently don't have the time to check things myself, but if you find something new or have any questions I'll be glad to help. Also for someone with minimal technical knowledge, you're getting quite deep, maybe you should consider becoming a computer scientist.

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Oh, thank you! Still, I'm not sure I'm convinced it'd be for me long term--this crash course is proving to be enough, and I probably sound more competent than I am, hahahaha.

Ahh, yes, thanks for filling some of that in. I'd begun to wonder about the leap being an attack, and your confirmation has since been met with one from the files which I understand better. I think the prone stuff is also an attack based thing, though not fully sure yet. The timer actually isn't a red herring though, and I'll get to that in a second. Having something running to show me the snippets may actually be a good thing. I'm a bit concerned about breaking my current run, which is my first and likely only playthrough, so I've been reluctant to enable the console, use addons in game, etc... Lest I destroy achievements or whatever else. Which leads to the current update...

 

I looked at GoG to get a second copy of POE that I could a) compared files with and b) use to mess around. They've informed me it will take them 4 weeks to respond to my question about what version number their POE Royal edition (2015) comes sold at. Unfortunate.

I looked at old Youtube videos and found a sword and board Paladin soloing the dragon POTD in 2015, leaving the wurm alive. As you can imagine, he was a bit slow as well. There was no conversation trigger tripped for him, neither did any blights seem to spawn back then. But we know now that even when it was working, it was more complicated then just the wurmling and the 25% health.

This made me wonder if the support_true is simply to decide if the blights Should even spawn. The True file doesn't even seem to have spawning branches like the For_Real does, or nearly anything in it at all. And for example, you can get them not to spawn if you steal from her after placating her. Of course, they could still be finicky and have required the extra back up, or their original implementation was just removed and replaced with the True. Either idea works.

One big unfortunate is the coding dead end. Even with a couple more programs, I'm not significantly closer. And I found a detailed discussion by a modder who seemed to have been on a parallel trajectory to me who also had the exact same issue; he couldn't find data values and specifics, and he was someone who seemed to actually know what he was doing. Furthermore, most other modding for this game seems incredibly rudimentary; I can't help but wonder if I'm pushing the limits of what can be done, if not just my own ability.

One of those programs nicely grouped asset hierarchies for me, and I can clearly say that some of the timers are specifically labeled for their uses, and one of them is specifically for a conversation. Is it just 3 seconds while the dragon walks towards you? Maybe. But they are definitely surrounding some type of interaction outside of combat. Furthermore, the death failsafe stands out like a sore thumb with this method, making me further curious about it--it really is a pity we can't just see what its pointing to. 

I've also come to realize that the conversation with the dragon is probably okay. It looks like there probably isn't a scene for the dragon's exit after all; likely just text, which isn't abnormal for the game. The transformations in the failsafe actually seem to be a standard item added to many other objects, have nearly all values set to 0, and from what I've read may just represent a relative placement position for the object itself. Also, not even the proper intro conversation node has scripts or conditions attached to it; implying its likely all activated from the Objects and not within the flowchart system at first.

 

And finally, I went back to the conversations, but this time loaded up Hylea's conversation with the player based on a string I'd read before, and to see if there was any hint in there. And I did find something unusual. The branch that takes you to the "mercy" option as its called (which by the way is strongly implied to be Hylea's actual preferred option and the best outcome) is actually a conditional conversation tree--which is unlike the others. It checks to make sure that you had received the vision from her about the dragon attacking the temple. Which means if you only ever talk to Casfath and Onwen, you theoretically can't get the mercy conversation tree, even if you spare the dragon. But hopefully you see where I'm going with this; I wonder if the dragon pleading with you is itself conditional to that conversation.

Now you may say 'well, anyone who got the quest would be okay' and that's technically true except that there used to be a bug for Galawain whereby if you got the quest from the NPC's, he would bug out and never actually recognize you finishing the quest. That was apparently fixed, but I wouldn't be surprised if there was a conditional check in Hylea's case that is actually bugged whereby if you get the quest from anyone but her first (or possibly even later on as well) that you can't access the trigger. It SEEMS far fetched, but to be fair, the whole thing is far fetched at this point, and that Paladin from 2015 all but proves that there is something more complicated going on, and has been going on since the beginning (or at least very early on).

 

So after a few dead ends, I'll recap on further avenues--either for myself, or anyone in the future who wants to try. Its half of why I'm being so detailed, as this is an issue that his been asked about a fair amount with no great answer yet.

1) Try the quest with only having spoken to Hylea about it.

2) Knock the dragon to exactly 25% hp.

3) You can save this quest from bad choices with specific player background professions (i.e. artist) in the conversation with Hylea; maybe you're onto something about that stuff regarding the dragon too. Additionally, if you are cruel and let the dragon stay (your reasoning being very Galawain style), Hylea appears to chastisingly explain that she was trying to teach you mercy with her quest, making me wonder if having a cruel disposition may also/instead be part of it all.

4) Grieving Mother is featured specifically where other companions aren't in conversations with Hylea and the dragon, making me wonder if there's something there too. However, she has been in my party for both getting the quest from Hylea, and for taking down the dragon's HP, with no success.

4) Writing to Breckmoney on Reddit, which I'm going to go do right now, so this is covered.

5) The game files are likely a dead end for Me. Someone more skilled may still find something.

6) Finding and comparing a version 1 release of the game may still go a long way to solving this.

 

Edited by CeruleanClouds
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Again interesting stuff you found there. Regarding not ruining your playthrough: copy the save files to another location as backup.

With getting to the limits of the assets I agree, I guess it would be very hard to find anymore information without crawling through the memory, which is a whole new level of difficult and annoying (and I don't really recommend it).

Regarding your questions:

1) There is a slight chance that some other conversation accidentally moves the quest tree forward into another state and that the dragon fleeing can't be triggered from that state, but that's mostly speculation.

2) Probably the easiest to test, so maybe worth a try.

3) The background or character trait aspect is one of the more likely missing pieces, maybe you could set your characters traits through the console and see if that changes anything. If someone wants to do that, be sure to test each trait seperately as I don't know which traits take priority over others (i.e. what happens when you have both benevolent and cruel at level 3). I would start with benevolent as it would make the most sense.

4.1) I think in none of my playthroughs I even recruited the mother, or maybe in the latest one I recruited and then ignored her, so she can't be the trigger (even though it would actually be a nice addition if she was an alternative trigger). The conversation with hylea is in regards to the mothers companion quest I would guess, after all hylea is also the goddess of motherhood.

4.2) Nice.

5) Maybe but generally difficult, we just don't know what parts have been compiled into machine code and what informations are actually accessible. And if even a modder stumbled upon the same issues, it seems really hard.

6) The comparison would mostly help to reduce the potential triggers. Was the paladin video you found from a youtube channel called Victor Creed? If yes, the first video in that playthrough was actually uploaded in October 2015 and it includes the White March I which released about 2 months earlier, so the theory that it was one of the patches (potentially the white march I patch) still holds.

Also can't you manually change the patch version in GoG? I though they had a feature for that...

At this point I think the only points to be worth for further checking would be the character traits, getting the dragon to exactly 25% and if someone has the time, comparing the versions.

 

Also fyi computer science offers a lot more that just searching through files and trying to figure out what they're doing, that is in most fields only relevant it some bad situations:D

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Hahaha, okay well that’s good to know then at least. Because yikes, this kind of stuff could possibly get tedious fast, not to mention how it is on the eyes.

I’ll tackle your points first, then move on to my update. For 1, 2, & 3, I’m saving this stuff for a bit before trying. It’s all good ideas, and if I don’t get to it, maybe someone else will at some point. It’s also the simplest stuff to, for anyone else reading.

4.1: Ahh, okay good to know. And yeah, a lot of it is just related to GM's motivations, hopes, and dreams. If you do play again, she has some of the most in-the-moment insightful commentary because she sometimes (emphasis on sometimes) reads people’s souls and gives you tidbits of information on their emotional state when talking to them.

4.2: No update, just a whoops on my part for the numbering. Hopefully they see the message.

5 & 6: I was wrong about this and that’s going to be my update. But yes it was Victor Creed, though I did go find several more. But yeah, none from maybe that far back, though I keep thinking one was in late April 2015, which was only two months after release? This may be wrong. There will be some specific speculation about this stuff too in the update.

7: I don’t know as I don’t use GoG. Steam often does let you do that, but it’s not enabled for POE.

 

Okay, onto the update. I was wrong about things being a dead end; after some help and inspiration, and even some luck, I noticed/recalled how the bundle files for WM were different than those for the base game, with a different extension and much more information inside—exactly what I was looking for. That’s when I figured that maybe for the original game they just split a bunch of related files up out of one file, and sure enough UABE showed me all the dependencies of various bundle files. So I took them all, stuck them in a folder, and opened it all as a folder—hoping UABE was smart enough to link everything together. I then told UABE to get script links from the DLL’s (which I could swear hadn’t worked before, but may have just been my incompetence, and maybe this is the only thing that needs doing at all) and presto! It seemed to successfully link everything together and gave me perhaps not all the data, but most of it.

So I’ve gotten to a point where I can actually see where the asset bundles use information that hooks into the OEI proprietary flowchart system that Obsidian seems to use (but haven’t released). That system is the one that manages conversations, text, and several (if not all) scenes. I’m not sure how its set up on their end, I just know that with some exceptions we’re a lot closer to actually seeing what’s going on. Much of what I can see seems useful and interesting; now, if only I actually understood what I was reading! I am stuck on some areas that reach out with “strings”, which seem like they are big long numbers that activate some very specific things. For example, one of them I found in the conversation with the dragon, and it actually represents turning the dragon hostile. So I can often see integer conditions for if something should activate, or what can activate, and what is activating, but these ‘strings’ seem to sometimes represent the highly detailed specifics of what is actually happening. Where that little blob of code is stored though, I don’t know—and it doesn’t appear to be in the DLL’s thus far (though they use these too and may warrant further investigation). For further example with triggers and timers; I can now see who can trigger things, and some other good options. But I can’t see for example the timer duration (if there is one), nor can I see what exactly might flip a given trigger—at least not easily, maybe it’s there and I just can’t understand it yet. But those ‘strings’ seem to at least sometimes have very specific and detailed information on pre-set things tied to them.

On to a few things I can see, though—the intro conversation delay appears to possibly be related to letting one of your companions get a word in before the dragon. Meanwhile the Stay Delay does seem to likely be related to ‘deactivating’ the dragon upon letting her stay in the nest. The death failsafe is still a point of interest; it actually checks for the wurm’s state. But that’s going to lead to a long speculative rant, so feel free to mosey on now if you don’t have time…

 

The other day I was doing some research on the quest itself only to find that by the beginning of September 2015 the quest had a notable bug. For some people it wasn’t updating their quest after killing the dragon for some reason. One person though it was tied to a dialogue string--starting combat right before letting the dragon go. They seemed to think the others worked fine. Meanwhile someone else said that if you killed the wurmling before the dragon, the quest was fine. You can find it here...

From there, Obsidian found and patched the issue. In fact, its stated in the thread by one of the team that they were able to reproduce the converation-induced version of this bug. Now also note, by October in 2015 the game also didn’t seem to spawn any support for the dragon, and we don’t know how long that was true for, but pretty much every video from 2015 doesn’t have anything but the wurmling.

So basically, most things that seemed suspicious thus far, may very well have been. The death failsafe—to my novice eyes—seem to check the states of the dragon and the wurmling, then force a quest update. My guess is that it was part of the repair. Meanwhile the support system for the dragon also seems to have likely been patched at some point to have the blights successfully spawn in. But the support_true does have more information now, and it has an obscure reference to Team_Skydragon that doesn’t seem to be anywhere else. Although I doubt this is the case due to lack of video evidence, some people have pluralized the wurmling when discussing it, one person going so far as to say “wurmling(s)”, effectively compensating for difficulty scaling. Maybe this harkens back to the first incarnations of the quest and there were multiple wurmlings on higher difficulties (wurmlings that you also had to preserve perhaps), or maybe its just meaningless word semantics for people who didn’t pay that much attention/remember; maybe its part of what broke, or maybe it really has nothing to do with it. Who knows.

But it leads us to a few ideas. It’s interesting that the quest was breaking when killing the dragon, and that the fix specifically incorporates the alive/dead state of the wurmling. This makes me think that this issue may have been part of a greater dysfunction relating to the ‘mercy’ pathway; either it was bugged and not triggering properly, or it had already been removed and they were basically triggering its ghost. The support_true is interesting because I wonder what it does; the wurmling is pre-spawned and already has triggers to go hostile built into itself, so what is team_skydragon and why was it needed? Or Is needed; maybe it’s still working.

The bad news, is that the closer I get, the more likely its looking like this was intentionally or accidentally removed. I feel like now that I can see some interactions between the OEI system and the assets, I can also see where the conversation file should have more in it. The fact that the mercy option doesn’t tie off in the conversation system really makes me wonder why it wasn’t done through there in some way. It would actually seem logical for it to flow to the deactivation option, but it doesn’t. Meanwhile, like I said, there doesn’t seem to be anything relating scene wise to the dragon actually leaving—not abnormal, but still not great.

My best guess is this; White March 1 was released on August 25, 2015. By August 30, 2015 the quest not-updating upon dragon-death bug was reported to Obsidian and they promptly fixed it—the fix checks the wurmling’s life state, hearkening back to that player who suggested you had to kill the wurmling first to get the quest to update properly, and further hearkening to the 'mercy' pathway which was specific to this encounter and was supposed to be triggering conversation-related stuff based on the wurmling being alive by 25% hp—coincidence? Perhaps not. My guess is that Mortim is on to something regarding the WM breaking this quest. Either something in the update did it in, or whoever fixed this quest accidentally broke something else while fixing the reported issue; the latter is my guess, or it’s a mix of both. I say that because obviously whoever worked on Deadfire wasn’t aware—the team went to a fair amount of effort creating a unique pet to tie into this storyline… All for an option they knew was removed? It doesn’t make much sense.

My suspicion is that WM changes broke something in the ‘mercy’ path which also caused the kill-but-no-update bug people were having. I figure a developed then went in to fix the dragon killing bug and accidentally removed the mercy path without fully realizing what they were doing. It’s the option that makes the most logical sense.

Furthermore, it looks like 'getting to the end of the conversation but not letting her stay' might have actually been our secret condition all along; as it makes sense you might have to go that route, see her tale of suffering, and THEN show mercy. I mean, it really fits together; a quest bug that triggers based off that conversation option, but can be avoided by killing the wurm before the dragon. It makes sense why it was a rare option even back then, it further makes sense why so few people who've discussed it actually seemed to end up taking the option, because by that point they had already had the option to let her stay if they wanted that (though this argument conlfates the less-than-subtle nuance between 'stay' and 'okay, leave so you don't kill people'). And I can see how a developer might have fixed it by adding the failsafe and rerouting conversation options, but then breaking the 'mercy' path altogether. That being said, this is IF it’s actually broken and not still hiding. It would be folly to just run with this, as there’s still a lot to look through and test. This is merely just one more—very speculative—possibility.

 

I will say this though—it’s looking like it Might be possible for even someone like me to fix the quest if it’s broken now, but was working once. A) That’s good news if it does happen to be broken, and B) it gives credence to the idea that Obsidian doesn’t realize what’s happened over time, because if you or I could fix it, then I suspect they could fix it in no time.

Edited by CeruleanClouds
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Uff, you got very far, actually I don't have much more I can say to that.

I think this part, hits the nail on the spot:

Quote

My suspicion is that WM changes broke something in the ‘mercy’ path which also caused the kill-but-no-update bug people were having. I figure a developed then went in to fix the dragon killing bug and accidentally removed the mercy path without fully realizing what they were doing. It’s the option that makes the most logical sense.

It just makes sense all the way. The fact that the bug went in place after WM I and that the wurmling's life is connected to both the bug as well as the mercy option, makes it very likely that fixing one thing messed with the other. And as you said, they intentionally added a unique pet into deafire, which makes only sense if they think it's still possible to let the dragon leave.

While it's theoretically is still possible that the trigger is just very convoluted, I find it rather unlikely that after all these years, with all this digging it wasn't found.

Also a string is this context is basically just text (a list of characters to be precise). As for why it's strings even though they all seem to be numbers, I can't say, simply because there are a lot of possibilities. It could be connected to how the strings are processed in the code or simply because they got converted to strings when stored in text files or something completely different. However it's not necessarily uncommon to have big numbers in string format, so it's not really strange.

And yes it's quite likely possible that obsidian could easily fix it, since most likely is just a single piece in a chain of elements that accidentally got cut off. Good luck on your further investigation, I will still follow this thread and if I can add anything, I will do so.

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Update time, but first to Mortim,

Thanks friend, and sorry for taking so long to reply.

Yeah, those strings are particular--they come in predictable quantities of numbers and letters separated by dashes which are clearly at certain intervals. They seem more like codes, and the conversation file almost seems to use them as such, almost like it lays down this keycode and then the game knows a specific pre-coded action to run. The same type of code is used to identify both the speaker and listener in the conversation as well. For example...

<FullName>Void SetIsHostile(Guid, Boolean)</FullName>
            <Parameters>
              <string>e7c777e3-8415-4db7-959e-80f02c2422b4</string>
              <string>true</string>

Does the <FullName> tag or the <string> tag actually say what's going to happen? I'm not sure, but I think its the string one. They all have that particular format.

 

Now to the update. I activated the console and set a) all attributes to 50+, b) all skills to 50+, c) all reputations to 50+ and d) all dispositions to maximum and minimum based on their opposites. So first Cruel, Stoic, Aggressive, Passionate, and Honest at 4, rest at 0. Then Benevolent, Clever, Diplomatic, Rational, and Honest 4, rest at 0. I also made sure to end her conversation on telling her she had to leave right at the end where I could also let her stay.

I also tested the dragon's HP, which is a lot higher than the wiki says it is--943 on potd. I didn't try every combination possible because of time, but 25% of 943 is 235.75. Near Death always kicked in for the dragon at 235, so it looks like the game rounds down here, but seems it might round up or down either side of 50 for damage dealt. But who knows. I did do some dabbling with knocking the dragon exactly to 236, then '235.75', then 235. I didn't do it for every attempt, and I did it while paused once--because as it turns out, the dragon heals, a Lot, and fast, while fighting her. But nothing came of it. I also tried her with all dispositions maxxed out, and after letting her stay in case that changed things. Nothing.

The reality is, that though I could spend many more hours doing every possible permutation, it just seems very unlikely that it is related to Attributes, Skills, Reputation, or Disposition. It could still be related to class or background (much the way Galawain's lion and bear quest has some elements of), which could also explain why its so rare to get. There should be a way to do that, but the sheer number of permutations is one that I don't have interest in testing (every class X every background X jacking up stats X max dispositions). It would just take so, so, long and doesn't seem appealing when there is another more promising and likely lead; first generation game files. Heck, it doesn't seem appealing even If those end up being a bust! But if anyone in the future wants to try all that, have at it! 

I should also mention that I force knocked her down with the console. There is some debate whether this should cause prone, or if it only really should do that to characters (if at all). Neither she, nor her wurmling, would land prone. However, she would fall down for a split second before getting up again. None the less, even at knocked to 25%, knocked down, with jacked up stats--nothing.

Again, because of how many more possible permutations there are, this is still truly an avenue for someone to explore if they really, really, want to. But I think we can largely toss out this theory for now. However, I didn't test on a game file where I've spoken to Hylea only and not the monks. But again, it seems like an awful lot of work to go through when it will likely be a dead end, and probably won't be something I even consider exploring until I've compared first generation files.

To switch gears a bit; despite being active on Reddit two days before I sent him the message, Breckmoney hasn't responded to me. Maybe he hasn't seen the chat or been on, or maybe he just isn't interested. Either way, I'm going to mark that off as a dead end too.

 

So that leads us to next steps. I don't think exploring the stats more will be too helpful with the exception of trying Hylea first. If anyone reading has a convenient save file at that point, by all means go ahead. But I think getting my hands on version 1 game files will actually be the most fruitful thing. However, that could take months, if I even get them at all! So, this is likely to be either the last update, or the last for a while.

Hopefully if i don't end up solving it, someone else will someday!

Cheers

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<FullName>Void SetIsHostile(Guid, Boolean)</FullName>
            <Parameters>
              <string>e7c777e3-8415-4db7-959e-80f02c2422b4</string>
              <string>true</string>

Ah those strings are hashes, I already guessed as much. Don't try to figure anything out with them, you can't. A hash is basically a one-way encryption with a few specific properties. First they are unique for each input, secondly they are deterministic (same input = exact same output) and thirdly they are irreversibel. And while these properties only hold up depending on the quality of the hash-algorithm, they hold up well enough. In most cases hashes are used as IDs, since during runtime they are numerical hexadecimal values, and comparing numerical values is a lot faster than strings or whole objects. They are hexadecimal just because it's easier to fullfil the properties I would guess, simply because hexadecimal provides a much larger number space, for the same amount of digits, than decimal. The reason they are stored as strings is simply because most default parser support only pure integer values (without letters, so only decimal) and string, but not hexadecimal, so it's easier to just read it as a string and convert it internally. Also the various parts may relate to specific attributes of the hashed object or just be result of the specific algorithm used, in any way nothing we can really use.

Other than that I would agree, the stats don't seem to be related. In regards of getting an older version of the game, I guess the easiest way would be the morally not so nice, but free sources, if you understand what I mean.

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Ahh, I see, okay that makes sense. Thanks for educating me on what they are and how they work, sounds like you might just have a little experience on the topic hahaha. Too bad they're not something we could really use at all; wherever they eventually fly off to is where I'm thinking a lot of specific interactions are! Ahh well!

I've actually already looked! But maybe I'm just way too out of the pirate scene to get an idea what I was looking for website/service wise. Either way, I found a few sketchy sites that seemed to only want to tell me just how much I'll be getting all the dlc!!! Hahaha, normally a selling feature, I'm sure. Hopefully one will turn up eventually...

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Update! I got my hands on a copy of the game claiming to be at patch 1.02. I suspect it’s accurate, though it definitely ends up taking the investigation in a different direction not because of what isn’t there, but because of what is.

 

So cracking open the files, I was surprised to learn that they are remarkably similar. To start with the conversation files, I can see almost no tangible difference. Plugged into the conversation tool, the beginning and end of the node 17 ‘mercy’ option dialogue chain is pretty much identical—there are no special triggers in or out. What is different is that the developer notes are gone, and I’m going to assume that means they weren’t even added in yet. So why add that bit about the 25% hp and wurmling alive later on? Maybe the quest had already broken and they were attempting to fix it. But at this point I should be more cautious with my assumptions, as they’ve proven to be unreliable since seeing this!

What does change is just a few strings of code here and there in the conversation file. Nothing that on its face looks very important, but appears to be the only thing, other than the addition of the developer notes, that really ended up changing. Here's an excerpt from Node 0, beginning from its link to node 17. This is from the modern game files, and anything in orange has been added since 1.02. But as you can see, nothing related to the link to 17 here was altered, only stuff in general to Node 0.

 

  </FlowChartLink>
        <FlowChartLink xsi:type="DialogueLink">
          <FromNodeID>0</FromNodeID>
          <ToNodeID>17</ToNodeID>
          <PointsToGhost>false</PointsToGhost>
          <ClassExtender>
            <ExtendedProperties />
          </ClassExtender>
          <RandomWeight>1</RandomWeight>
          <PlayQuestionNodeVO>true</PlayQuestionNodeVO>
          <QuestionNodeTextDisplay>ShowOnce</QuestionNodeTextDisplay>
        </FlowChartLink>
      </Links>
      <ClassExtender> (From here onward should be general to Node 0, and not related to specifically the 0->17 conversation link)
        <ExtendedProperties>
          <string>PersistOnCombatStart,False</string>
          <string>SuppressIlluminatedLetter,False</string>
        </ExtendedProperties>
      </ClassExtender>
      <Conditionals>
        <Operator>And</Operator>
        <Components />
      </Conditionals>
      <OnEnterScripts />
      <OnExitScripts />
      <OnUpdateScripts />
      <NotSkippable>false</NotSkippable>
      <IsQuestionNode>false</IsQuestionNode>
      <HideSpeaker>false</HideSpeaker>
      <IsTempText>true</IsTempText>
      <IsMultiline>false</IsMultiline>
      <PlayVOAs3DSound>false</PlayVOAs3DSound>
      <PlayType>Normal</PlayType>
      <Persistence>None</Persistence>
      <NoPlayRandomWeight>0</NoPlayRandomWeight>
      <DisplayType>Conversation</DisplayType>
      <VOFilename />
      <VoiceType />
      <ExcludedSpeakerClasses />
      <ExcludedListenerClasses />
      <IncludedSpeakerClasses />
      <IncludedListenerClasses />
      <ActorDirection />
      <SpeakerGuid>00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000</SpeakerGuid>
      <ListenerGuid>b1a8e901-0000-0000-0000-000000000000</ListenerGuid>
    </FlowChartNode>

 

That, for example, is the extent of the additions to the Node 0 -> Node 17 link. And though I’ve only made a quick pass, it seems that’s pretty much the extent of the changes all around. I can say that these changes were made to many, if not every single node--including ones we know function properly. My guess is that this is part of an internal system update that added new functionality at some point, but I don't read code well enough to know for sure. It may yet be targeting this node for specific behaviour, but it doesn't look likely. The bigger question may be whether this system update could have broken something delicate; but I'm not sure how, or if, that could be tested/uncovered by us end users.

 

So what does this all mean? Well, it means a lot after one question. Mortim, if you’re reading, are you Sure that you did once upon a time get the third option to trigger? I ask because I know your original post was a bit wishy-washy on it, and with Breckmoney not responding on Reddit, I am wondering if anyone ever actually really did trigger the mercy path. Maybe it’s like the Mandela effect, and those who remember it are just on some alternate plane of mental reality than what exists. But if you are certain…

Then we know that the game isn’t hooking much into the conversation system to initiate these triggers. We know that they are buried relatively deep, because a lot looks similar on the conversation front. I’ll be making another update to go with the assetbundle stuff, but—big surprise—it’s looking pretty damn similar too; it even still has the failsafe, meaning that wasn’t in fact added to handle a bug later. Now, there are some hinky things there that I’ve seen so far, but I’ll save that for later and wrap up here.

Cheers!

Edited by CeruleanClouds
Code ease-of-read, clarifying additions, redrawn conclusions.
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Mortim, if you’re reading, are you Sure that you did once upon a time get the third option to trigger?

Good questions, I was actually very certain, but I slightly start to question my memory as well. And it was so long ago, that I might be falsely remembering it. However if actually nobody got it, then I wonder how it did end up in the Wiki? To my knowledge the Wiki is filled by fans, not the developer, so how would anyone know about it if, it didn't trigger for anybody?

Regarding the new lines, yes those seem to be related to general new functionality or maybe even changes to the game system. Of course they could have an impact but I think are too general to be helpful. So the question is, lies the issue somewhere else? And if yes, somewhere we can reach?

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That's a good question about the wiki, but maybe a strategy guide, or someone else read the game files--and the wiki actually numbers the things as if they were taken from one of the files, so that's my suspicion. However, I stumbled across a Reddit user by the name of monkeydew123 who also claimed to trigger it. And not only that, but he/she's responded to me already and has offered to send me over not one, but three save files POE1 before the Nest, POE1 after the Nest, and POE2 with the Wurmling (which is a bit less super exciting than it sounds, explained later). He too found some oddities and this is what he said to me

"I have made an... interesting discovery. I found the file, and I double checked the Pillars 2 save I imported it into and verified I had the sky dragon wurm. An... issue arose though. The quest log says I let the dragon stay in pillars 1. I checked on my pillars 2 file and sure enough, console commands were not enabled. I can provide both the pillars 2 file and pillars 1 file. I have 2 saves around the time of the quest, one right before I enter the temple and one after that where I'm about to start chapter 4. I also remember the exact context of me sparing the dragon. I tried to talk it down initially, but it attacked and I said screw it, but then it suddenly begged for it's life so I let it go."

If he's willing, I also have a good few questions for him. But this is honestly so much more helpful in terms of narrowing things down than you might think. Even one throw away line reliably refines our search by magnitudes--when he says he tried to talk her down. Failing this at any stage points off to one conversation box (the 'ruffles feather' one) before she goes hostile. So if there is any conversation related trigger, its at worst 1/4 options to get there, and at best, you simply have to fail to talk her down. I'll even go so far as to say that it more likely than not isn't conversation related at all, because someone else who claimed to have triggered it simultaneously claimed they were a brutal 'you're dead, dragon' type of character by design--suggesting they didn't try and talk her down at all.

 

Because brevity isn't my strength apparently, I'm going to really try and condense what little I found in the assetbundles so far. I don't have any solid conclusions, really more just questions, and I'm sorry if this thread is turning into long rants that all amount to a lot of 'nothing solved'. 

First off: in V1. there was no support for the dragon, and nothing in the game files for it.

Secondly: there was no scaling for the dragon (which was later added into the dragon's loaded creature file within the level 101 assetbundle).

Third: the failsafe repeatedly catches my eye even if its probably not what we're looking for. Even in V1 it seems to forcibly update the quest if the dragon dies before the wurmling. And yet, there is also a conditional check to see if the flag it updates is actually present in conjunction with the other two--maybe this is just a way to make sure its doing its job, maybe I'm not reading it right.

Fourth: The assetbundle at release has dependencies (according to UABE) to shared assetbundles that the present game doesn't, and less overall. But they're remarkably different--not just one or two out of place, but many. It's like the whole game was rewired at some point, and I can't even substitute the v1.02 level file into the modern game without it hanging (and keep in mind that this is after I learned that you can remove significant numbers of game files, even relating to the level you're on sometimes, and the game will still boot. It's been more tolerant than most programs I've run in to.) This is of course assuming that UABE isn't fooling me, which is a possibility.

Fifth: There are internal paths in the files sometimes, references to grabbing an asset somewhere, listed through a chain of folders that doesn't actually exist on the user side of things. Some of these are similar enough to what we get, and you can see exactly where they're stored. Some of them are entirely non-existent, and yet they are actually grabbing real things from somewhere. For example, there's an entire prefab folder for assets that you or I can look at, and its large. And yet, in the files they also reach out and grab prefab assets that aren't at all in that folder, and seem to exist nowhere. My guess is that they exist in the magical land that the specific code for objects (ie. timers, triggers) lives; all obliviously singing and dancing in joyful unison, protected by their bubble of "I don't exist, even though I do."  ... Okay so I might have run a bit far with that one, but as much as I'm a rube and am sure there are things that I'm just not seeing properly, I am sure there are things that just don't seem to exist, even though they do. My best guess is they are packed into the sharedassets somewhere, but even that theory has its pitfalls... It may be a program issue, maybe the viewers are just not able to see the stuff I'm looking for. But this hopefully speaks to your question Mortim.

 

Obviously, there is a lot to keep me busy here for a while to come. I'm hoping monkeydew comes through, because even learning the date of his save files will point us to a patch version--and with how similar 1.02 and the present build are, I've begun wondering if it was a patch that restored functionality. There is some merit to this idea, given the strange bugs people had after certain patches, that then were fixed. Maybe the quest was broken at release, was fixed but caused issues, and was removed again? Who knows, this is rabbit hole stuff, but its an avenue I might look briefly at without getting too deep in the weeds. I know as well you might be thinking that if monkeydew's file says he only let them stay, then maybe its not the right one, and I admit, its very strange given the game does have flags and proper markers for the mercy path. But I'm going to assume people aren't collectively crazy here, and its important we trust what others say is the case in their own expertise. He knows this is the file, so it's the file. Which means that either a) something about the quest has been buggy for a very long time, or b) it was retroactively changed.

Now this speaks to the wurmling pet. There are people who claim they received it in Deadfire just by letting the dragon stay in POE1, but only on save game imports. It doesn't work that way upon making a new character, where you must select that you let her go. People have assumed it to be a bug, but I can't help but wonder if it was intentional for some reason, especially if monkeydew let her go and yet it only displays having let her stay. Between this, and the last post's findings, I'm strongly beginning to wonder if the quest_state flag(s) (ie, the functions also involved in how you get the quest and related to bugs in other quests that I've been talking about) ire heavily involved, or even the culprit here.

Cheers,

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"I don't exist, even though I do."

My guess is that the referenced files are packed in other existing files in some compressed form and only get decompressed and loaded during runtime. That would mean they do exist, however to access them one would need to identify the files they are in and hope that they can be just unpacked or analyze them during runtime in the memory. Another possibility would be that the references are either never really used and just old remains from some time during development or that they are used, but since they can't be found the game has some way to adress this missing information. But that is just pure speculation.
 

Quote

Fourth: The assetbundle at release has dependencies (according to UABE) to shared assetbundles that the present game doesn't, and less overall. But they're remarkably different--not just one or two out of place, but many. It's like the whole game was rewired at some point, and I can't even substitute the v1.02 level file into the modern game without it hanging (and keep in mind that this is after I learned that you can remove significant numbers of game files, even relating to the level you're on sometimes, and the game will still boot. It's been more tolerant than most programs I've run in to.) This is of course assuming that UABE isn't fooling me, which is a possibility.

It's interesting that it's such an early version. I checked my achievement history and I completed the game the first time on 11.May.2015, that's v1.05 and just ~1.5 Months after release. The achievements also say that on 10.May.2015 I killed both Adra and Sky dragon, however in these games I have the habit to at least kill every dragon once in a single playthrough, achievement or not, so either I killed it after it surrendered, or also very likely I just made an extra save, killed it and then loaded again. But it supports the idea that initially it was possible.

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Which means that either a) something about the quest has been buggy for a very long time, or b) it was retroactively changed.

I wouldn't be so sure if maybe it was actually both. I know that the game had some issues in the beginning (for example I remember that for some weird reason and active WiFi connection would cause the inventory to be super slow, had that issue on my laptop as well and never understood the reason why). So maybe the intention was to have that as a normal option and in the beginning it was totally possible, even if maybe you needed to choose some specific dialogue options over the whole quest. But then they started to fix some stuff, maybe not even directly related this specific quest, but maybe to the dialogue system or something else, maybe even just performance stuff and that's when it started to go downhill. Some of these changes might have caused the quest to be a bit buggy and maybe there were some attempts to fix it, but failed and the result was a mess that would just be deactivated for the time being and in the end it got lost.
So why would it then be included in POE2? Well my best guess is that they had a small team of people given the task of collecting the information for importing the save file. And while some of those people would be involved more in the writing of bigger events, some of them may have just been involved with the smaller gimmicks and these people might have just checked what savegame flags they can use and therefore stumbled upon the wurmling flag, without knowing that it was removed.

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Firstly, Merry Christmas! Or whatever holiday you may celebrate over the next few months!

Mortim, you've mentioned viewing that kind of stuff while the game runs before, any idea if there's a way to actually do that? And maybe more importantly, how to do it? It's very possible you're right about all of that... I've even speculated that maybe they fixed it once upon a time and then pushed out an older version of the quest files by accident, breaking it. What's also a bit weird is that in Node 17, the dragon's speaker ID is given, which tends to mostly (maybe only) be done when a voice file is to be played. There is none for that interaction though. Maybe it never made it in to the game, or maybe the speaker ID is actually just being used to reach out for some other type of scripted interaction.

I browsed Monkeydew's save files that I received. It's looking not super promising at the moment. Everything lines up with them actually having let the dragon stay. Now to be clear, they remember clearly the mercy interaction, and it lines up well with what the internal text says. So they do seem to have triggered it at some point, sadly just not for the run they have files for--or so it appears. There is a caveat here; the developers of this game seem to often retroactively patch people's saved files somehow. Plenty of their patch notes explicitly state that they patch in such a way that will apply to people's current save files. So yeah, that might complicate things, and I don't want to write these files off just yet. If that kind of retroactive patch is happening, it would explain an awful lot.

I was actually contemplating bumping my release copy up patch by patch. Several of our accounts are of people who played a few run throughs before ever encountering the mercy option. Maybe it was only active for a very short window... Which would explain why it was never video recorded, and why early Sky Dragon attempts online never seem to trigger her either. With how quickly patches came and went early on, it's quite possible the quest only had the option functional for a few weeks to a month. 

I'm thinking I may also try to use the conversation files to create what is supposed to happen. Why? Because my rationale is that if its doable in the conversation tools, then why would it be secretly hidden deep down where no one can find it? It makes little sense to do it one way, when you have a proprietary tool suite for exactly that purpose. I may not jump on this quickly, because it doesn't actually prove anything, but it may ultimately provide some unexpected insight.

Another weird thing I was contemplating after seeing an oddly labeled marker or two... Mortim, how did you enter the Nest? Did you go through the Northweald? I've been wondering if there's an alternate way to the Nest. I actually chose to move right from Oldsong to the nest on an attempt, and managed to bug the dragon into not being targetable during combat after she was taken to critical health (done via console command); the first bug I've seen with her. Now, this may just be coincidence... I also got her to jump thrice, which is something I haven't been able to do much, and is something I've also speculated about possibly being involved... There are a couple of things in the Oldsong pack that almost hint toward a transition point located there--this makes more sense than you might think, as the entire quest was originally planned to just be in Oldsong, with the Nest map not even existing. Casfath and Onwen are actually also in the Nest map's files, even though they never appear there.

And one more question Mortim. In one of your early analyses you talked about this...

Quote

for example n_Nedyn_Quest_Stage  is set to 5. The reason why this is important is, that I don't know which of these values is used in the POE2 import. I guess that n_Nedyn_Quest_Stage simply determines how far the quest progressed and 5 is just "finished". 

Nedyn is the girl looking for the pandgram book outside of Brackenbury, so she should not be related at all to this quest. But I'm not sure the word Should even applies to this quest at this point, hahahaha. My point is, what made you think this was related? If there's some hidden flag, this could be it.

 

Christmas Cheer to All!

Edited by CeruleanClouds
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  • 5 weeks later...

Alright, after exploring a few avenues, I think the physical 'how to get her to retreat' mystery is mostly solved.

Further understanding what I was looking at, and realizing how much I really could see, I realized that nothing seemed to point to the mercy path having any form of activation in its respective level file. Okay, makes sense for current content, so checked my 1.06 version and it was similar. Began to wonder more seriously if it truly was hidden somewhere very deep, maybe tied to an attack or something of the sort. But how do you look at that stuff? That's literally a whole game's worth of data.

But I did notice that there was an activation for the Sky Dragon conversation in its respective file. And in playing with cheats to test things over time, I learned at some point that triggering the sky dragon conversation from its 0 node (which is what it does on intro) after the intro, just reroutes the conversation to the unused Node 16--which is where it states she regards you for a moment before turning back to her wurmling. Okay, so we know that the conversation can't simply activate Node 0 again and have the mercy path activate because Node 0 routes to Node 16 after Node 1 has been read before. As an after-note, I’ve now tested this in 1.06 as well to make sure.

So why is any of this important? Well we know the game can't just glitch and repeat the intro trigger to get to Node 17 where we want to be. We know that it can't just accidentally trigger somehow. To get to Node 17, the game would specifically have to reach for it, and would have to do this in a way that ties presumably into that OEI system, which would require it to use the appropriate text string to pull up the conversation at the node it wanted to start at—then letting the OEI system handle it from then on.

 

So I went and dumped the whole 1.06 version of the game to text. And I had Notepad ++ scan each and every file for the appropriate conversation path—all 900 000+ of them.

It only came up once: right where it was supposed to for the intro conversation.

 

I’ve also scanned other conversations in case the end result was that another conversation file actually had the escape option in it. But nothing. And it’s doubly unlikely because some other conversations (Hylea, Casfath and Onwen) respond to the mercy path base some of whether they activate or not on whether Node 22 in the normal Sky Dragon conversation was itself seen by you previously.

Now, yes there were some files the UABE couldn't read properly enough to export, and yes it isn't always perfect in its exports. So yes, there is still theoretically some very backwards way things could work. But in pulling up the level in Unity, there is no separate object dedicated to this trigger. Reading the level, also none I can see. Scanning the DLL's for Sky Dragon stuff or finally part of the conversation path; also nothing. And most importantly, in the entire dumped game, no more than one reference. So though yes there are still some unaccountable-for variables, it is a very clear picture painted that as of the 1.06 GoG original release patch (uploaded in 2015), on a version of the game also originally uploaded in 2015, there truly is no way to trigger the mercy path. I can all but definitively say that even pre-White March it is impossible to trigger this. It would be half impossible for even a bug to trigger this, actually.

I had also dabbled around with trying to recreate it. The hard part doesn’t seem like it would be related to letting the dragon leave. There seem to be plenty of tools in the game to create a short scene, just a fade to black, to achieve that. And though not the same, just messing with the conversation I was able to make the Dragon and blights (but not wurmling) non-hostile upon ending a forcibly triggered Node 17 conversation.

The more difficult part may have been getting the conversation to trigger at all mid-combat, or perhaps, to not interfere with something else. The death failsafe, for example, seems to force a quest update if the dragon dies and the game doesn’t register it. I’m saying this because…

 

It seems likely that in some (perhaps developer only) version of the game this did exist properly. My guess is that was probably removed rather than left unfinished, though it may have been buggy. So much of the rest of it is complete, to the point where it is only missing the intro and outro. And even the in-conversation commentary makes it seem like the intro was created at one point. On top of that, we have sporadic reports of people actually triggering it, and then there’s the pet in the second game.

Again, we almost have more questions than answers, because its increasingly looking like it was Never intentionally in the game at all (though to be sure I’d have to dump every version, so we shouldn’t assume). I believe the people saying they accessed this content are being genuine. The question then is, if the game would struggle to even bug itself into this conversation, how has it ever been triggered? I have a few theories…

 

1)      This is backer easter egg content. The oddness of three of four God quests having no middle ending, when two strongly suggest there should be and the third subtly implies as much as well is unusual compared to the rest of the game. It’s possible that there is content that was for some reason reserved. Very far fetched, yes. But it should be noted that the CD backer version of the game actually released at an older, different, version number than the digital release.

2)      Which leads me to it possibly being content forgotten in an older version. If the content was truly cut before release, it’s possible that people with the older CD version, or who somehow patched with the CD-version-specific patches, actually have the content. You can actually find a picture online, and one in the game files, of an older version of the nest with piles of gold lying around and the nest symbol at a different angle. It’s also possible that as the map changed, something got lost.

3)      It’s still possible that some version I didn’t dump has it—like 1.05. Or that the dump missed it. Also, mobile or Mac may have had a different release.

4)      But what is also possible is that it was accidentally released and has since been made unattainable. Say hypothetically it was released only on Steam during like patch 1.05ish. When bugs went to be fixed, they reinstated the level as it was. For a period of like a month, people on one platform would have had access, and then nevermore.

5)      It was mods. People may have modded their game, and without them knowing it, the mod re-enabled the quest path because there was so little to fix. Given the state of the PoE mod community, it seems a bit unlikely, but heck, no more than the ‘secret backer content!’ theory.

6)      This is just another removal theory; but the removed Weald of Fates zone/quest that was planned for the Twin Elms area (or really any of the game's cut content) may have had some bearing on the sky dragon quest as well—perhaps giving some tool to wound her that was also removed. As such, perhaps the mercy path was disabled and then never re-implemented

Edited by CeruleanClouds
Grammar, Clarity
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Ah sorry I missed your christmas post, hope you had a nice holiday.

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Mortim, you've mentioned viewing that kind of stuff while the game runs before, any idea if there's a way to actually do that? And maybe more importantly, how to do it? 

What stuff exactly? You mean the loaded files and data during runtime? For that you would need probably some kind of runtime debugger or memory analyzer/profiler. However most of them would operate on assembler level which would probably be overwhelming and very tiresome (and I'm not familiar enough with that stuff to help you there). However a little bit of googling says that process explorer (https://docs.microsoft.com/de-de/sysinternals/downloads/process-explorer ) and Process Hacker ( https://processhacker.sourceforge.io/ ) apparently can show you which dlls are loaded by a process, however I'm not sure if they can tell you which parts of the dll are loaded, but these two options seem the most reasonable.
 

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Nedyn is the girl looking for the pandgram book outside of Brackenbury, so she should not be related at all to this quest. But I'm not sure the word Should even applies to this quest at this point, hahahaha. My point is, what made you think this was related? If there's some hidden flag, this could be it.

Ah forget that then, the only reason I mentioned that was because I didn't know who nedyn was and I think it was just the only other flag that I couldn't rule out for sure if it was connected to the sky dragon or not.
 

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4)      But what is also possible is that it was accidentally released and has since been made unattainable. Say hypothetically it was released only on Steam during like patch 1.05ish. When bugs went to be fixed, they reinstated the level as it was. For a period of like a month, people on one platform would have had access, and then nevermore.

Sounds actually the most reasonable. I had the digital version from the start, so it can't just be only the cd version. But I think it's actually quite likely that they intended it at some point but were for some reason not satisfied with it and therefore removed it. However if it can still be triggered on an unpatched CD version than the cd was simply printed before they removed it. And at some point someone probably patched it back in by accident, maybe the accident was in the patch itself, maybe someone just played around with it and accidentally pushed it back on the Git master branch (happens every now and then), and then they removed it again. Would also match with my playtime, as that only covers 1.05 I think, or at least the part with the dragon does.
Also RPGs like this tend to often have quite a lot of cut content (just check all the unfinished business mods for BG, IWD and Planescape) and I think I once heard that the gods quests were actually planned to be bigger or just more gods (like Wael probably? He has no blessing but still an ending associated with him).

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5)      It was mods. People may have modded their game, and without them knowing it, the mod re-enabled the quest path because there was so little to fix. Given the state of the PoE mod community, it seems a bit unlikely, but heck, no more than the ‘secret backer content!’ theory.

I never had mods installed, so can rule that out.
 

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