PC Gamer: Were the new systems you've designed for Pillars of Eternity in any way responses to problems to you had creating the old Infinity Engine games?
Josh: Yeah, some of them were really fiddly sort of things. Dungeons and Dragons is based around the idea of people sitting around a table and doing basic arithmetic with a twenty-sided die. When you're on a computer a lot of those calculations can go a lot faster. You can do real-time division very easily, you can use a 100-point scale for things where normally that would be kind of onerous in a tabletop environment.
The thing that allows us to do is give finer granularity and do more complex calculations that scale better over the course of the game. Also things like combat rounds could be very limiting, so we're doing something else in the spirit of a fully real-time, continuous, purely time based system, while still feeling like you're controlling little RTS-type units. In the sense that you're not making guys do individual attacks, as much as assigning them actions and watching them go about them.
PC Gamer: In terms of combat: going back to the Infinity Engine games, one of the stranger sights is these two characters facing each other, swiping away with their swords and waiting for the dice rolls to hit. Is that a quirk you wanted to retain?
Josh: Well, we have eliminated the fake attacks, so that doesn't happen. We're not trying to have a super-high level of verisimilitude in the sense of having everyone attacking and parrying and stuff like that, because the characters are pretty small, and having all these weird creatures doing all these synchronised parries would actually be pretty difficult. Because we're not using rounds they can be active on more than just a once every six seconds basis. They're more continuously active and they have combat stances, which is something the Infinity Engine games did not have. They look a little more involved and engaged, but there still is a little hand waving there where they're pantomiming what they're doing.