Pillars of Eternity - Interview @ PC Gamer
Josh Sawyer is interviewd on PC Gamer to talk about world-building, magic, psychic warriors, and more for Pillars of Eternity. Here is a small sample of the interview.
PC Gamer: Memorable party characters are a big part of why people love Infinity Engine games. Do you have a favourite of the Pillars of Eternity companions?
Josh Sawyer: Well, there’s the one I’m working on now, Pallegina. We like to write our companions relatively late in development because it gives us time to react to stuff in the world. She’s cool because she has an interesting character arc and conflict. The game takes place in Dyrwood, which is a super European setting, and feels kind of like the Dalelands from Forgotten Realms. It’s very continental European, and it’s full of regular dudes and ladies going about their business. But one of the nearby countries, the Vailian Republics, are kind of like black renaissance Italians who have colonised this area. So her character is from that culture and she’s sworn to protect her homeland. But she thinks she can do it in more effective ways than she’s being told to.
Visually, she’s an interesting character, because she’s godlike. The godlike in this world are kind of like the planetouched in Forgotten Realms. She has aspects of a bird as part of her features. So she has feathers growing out of her face, and golden bird-like eyes. She’s very striking-looking and interesting, and she’s just been really fun to write. We have a lot of cool characters and a bunch of different writers are working on them, so it should be a neat mix.
PC Gamer: What kind of fantasy RPG standards or cliches are you trying to avoid or subvert?
Josh Sawyer: I just try to avoid doing things that I don’t personally like. For example, the class balance stuff was done because I’ve made a bunch of these games, and I’ve been playing D&D for most of my life, and I keep seeing very strong trends towards behaviour that I don’t think makes players happier. It doesn’t give them as much choice as the systems claim to give them, and I think we can do a better job. If someone wants to make a brilliant, weakling fighter, that is a build that is viable in our game, and it’s rewarded within the conversations and the fiction of the world. That’s not something that’s really true of playing Dungeons & Dragons.
If you want to make a muscle wizard, who is mighty and powerful and a stupid idiot, you can do that. Mechanically what happens is that you’ll do a lot of damage, but their durations and areas of effects will be very small. Then in conversation they’re total idiots. [laughs] You can bully people and you can pick them up off the ground and slap them around. It’s not like I’m setting out to subvert stuff. I play tabletop games with a lot of people who have really great ideas for characters, but mechanically they’re shitty characters. So when I try to fix that stuff, it’s not because I think it’s inherently better, but that it gives more opportunities to players to create more diverse characters, and feel rewarded for doing so.
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