Jonric: What kind of combat system will we find in the game, and to what degree will it be possible to address situations without having to fight?
Jason Compton: Our combat system is real-time, with available pause on request (hit the spacebar) or upon predefined events (e.g. "auto-pause because my target is dead or invisible"). The player can choose to control each character individually or as a group (you can select multiple characters at once to save time when focusing an attack, for instance), or let the system AI manage any or all of the characters.
We have also implemented a system of "combat stances" - trade off a penalty to defense for a bonus on offense, or vice-versa. The basic combat stances available to all characters are relatively disadvantageous (mostly suited to extreme circumstances), but it will be possible to learn or obtain combat stances that offer better tradeoffs and advantages throughout the course of the game.
Speaking for myself and the rest of the game designers, we are writers first, tactical scenario designers second. So there are plenty of situations in which picking up a sword is not the right solution - but there are some instances when winning a fight will, in fact, be necessary. I believe we can strike a balance that preserves role-playing choices for our players.
The interview was good. I've been looking forward to this game for a while. The people behind it are responsible for a lot of the BG2 mods, such as extra NPCs, banter packs, romance mods, etc. They tend to put an emphasis on character interaction, which is what I love about BG2 & PS:T.
Having said that, it's a wee bit worrisome to hear some news about the game. They don't seem to have a lot of NPCs that can join the party, which is at odds with the plethora of NPC goodness they've provided with mods. And the comment, "some fights cannot be avoided" sounds like the kind of thing that their own developers tried to avoid when doing mods. Their own history is one of more dialogue options, not less. So the idea that there is no fully diplomatic path through the game is odd.
Nonetheless, I have high hopes — if not for this game, then for sequels. My hope is that once the engine is built, future releases can build upon it, instead of reinventing the wheel. If the first game takes 3 years to complete, hopefully 2 or 3 sequels can be released over the following 2 or 3 years. That would build up their library of releases, and it might allow them to build out a world with more NPCs, more dialogue paths, more endings, etc.