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Default Pillars of Eternity II - Interview with Josh Sawyer

February 8th, 2018, 10:51
GameInformer interviewed Josh Sawyer about Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire. The interview is over 3 pages so prepare accordingly.

…I also had a chance to chat with the game’s director, Josh Sawyer, who went in depth to explain the inspirations fueling the new game, what has changed since the original, and details about new features that fans may not yet know about, including an as-yet undetailed character and other clues.

Read on for all of Sawyer’s insight into the upcoming role-playing game from Obsidian Entertainment.

Matt Miller: I want to start out talking about this intriguing corner of your campaign setting in which Pillars II unfolds. Can you tell me about the world of Pillars 2 and what makes it unique, both tonally and geographically?

Josh Sawyer: Sure. When we started on the original Pillars of Eternity, we intentionally skewed conservative because we were doing a Kickstarter that was playing heavily on nostalgia. We were very open about that, and because a lot of the Infinity Engine games focused on the sort of very traditional western European feel of something like D&D’s Forgotten Realms. We leaned pretty heavily towards that, but we always knew at the time that for future games, we wanted to spread our wings and take a look at places, visual styles, and cultures that aren’t necessarily dealt with as much in fantasy. Early on in Pillars, because both to stir the imagination of the designers and to stir the imagination of our players, I came up with a bunch of far-off locations for the worlds there that were not anywhere near where the first game took place. Places like Rauatai, the Living Lands, and the Vailian Republic, and then the Deadfire.

The Deadfire, when we first conceived of it, I just thought it would be cool to have at the eastern edge of the known world, at least in this part of the world, the eastern edge of the known world is this huge chain of islands mostly made up of dormant volcanoes, which is where the name Deadfire comes from. And there’s a native population there, but it’s also full of pirates and sea monsters and all sorts of crazy things. When it came time to make the sequel to Pillars, we said “Where do we want to go?” The most common reply that I got was to the Deadfire. So, when we decided to set it here, we knew right away that we were going to have a lot of opportunities to have a much different visual style to our areas, we would introduce a culture that felt very not-European while still bringing over the colonial elements of cultures like the Vailian Republics.

[…]
More information.
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February 8th, 2018, 13:37
http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/20…ming-to-switch

Sprawling role-playing sequel Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire, which looks every bit a Sure Thing, has not only been confirmed for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, it's been confirmed for Nintendo Switch.
Obsidian is slowly turning itself into Interplay and we know how that ended.

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February 8th, 2018, 13:56
That Eurogamer article is mistaken over who is doing the console port. Red Cerberus is doing the port for Deadfire, not Paradox Nordic.

Back to the interview, I get the feeling that Aloth + Teheku + Pallegina is going to make an hilarious party.

The comment about making stacking rules more clear in the interview is funny, because they are mess right now in Beta 3.
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February 8th, 2018, 14:03
Originally Posted by joxer View Post

Obsidian is slowly turning itself into Interplay and we know how that ended.
Ha ha, I'd forgotten that Brotherhood of Steel existed. I must have managed to burn it out of my memory somehow.
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February 8th, 2018, 14:22
I'll probably play it in my PS4, I hope the port is good
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February 8th, 2018, 14:53
MM: I want to make sure and ask you about the ways that combat is compelling in the new game. Can you talk to me about some of the stuff that you’re proud of in Pillars 2, maybe in particular as to how you feel like it’s improved since the first game?

JS: It’s an ongoing process; our backers give us a lot of great feedback, so we are still tuning based on that feedback. One of the things we wanted to focus on is clarity in combat. I did not want to make the game any simpler just for the sake of simplicity. I think most of the problems people had with Pillars 1 combat was due to unnecessary complexity and it just being hard to follow. So, there are a number of things that we have changed to improve on that. One is that the overall speed of combat has come way down. It’s not glacially slow, but still much slower and easier to see what’s going on. Creatures move more slowly on the battlefield, which is something our backers commented on earlier on in the backer beta. We’re also adding a combat speed slider to the main HUD. That’s one of the new things that we’re doing in response to backer feedback. What that will allow you to do is basically say “I just want combat to be this fast” and it will run at that speed. If you want to speed it up to fast mode and plow through fights in which you’re over-levelled or if you want to go at a slower pace, you can do that as well.

We’ve also changed how our visual effects are rendered for two reasons: one, we found that in Pillars 1, we could blow out the screen very easily. A big spell would land, something bad just happened and you’d hit pause and not be able to see half the battlefield because it’s covered in a glowing fireball. We changed how the rendering works so it’s much less likely to blow out. We’ve also added a feature where when you pause, the opacity of combat visual effects specifically goes way down so that same fireball is not only easier to see through in general, but it literally becomes transparent when you hit pause, so you can see where everyone is and what’s going on.

We also changed esoteric rules, like our stacking rules, which is a very D&D, noodley thing; we made those much clearer and simpler. We also looked at our status effect system. I think there were 30 afflictions in Pillars of Eternity and they were all unique and their relationship to each other was very unclear. You had to memorize which priest’s spells countered which afflictions and all this other nonsense. We brought that down into a set of afflictions that’s easier to understand based around the different attributes. For example, “weakened” is the first tier of strength affliction and there are multiple levels up from weakened that are basically all the effects below plus the effect above, and if you counter it with any strength inspiration, such as “strong,” that gets rid of them all automatically. It doesn’t matter if it’s a low-level or high-level affliction; it’ll get rid of any of them and make you immune to any subsequent applications of them. If you learn that for strength, you’ll also learn it for intellect and dexterity and others. They all follow a similar convention.

All of this means that it should be much easier to understand the fundamentals of combat and make tactical decisions. We did not want the technical depth of the game to be affected. The other big thing that people have commented on is that we completely reauthored how our artificial intelligence works from the ground up. There are two ways how that affects combat. The first is that encounters are potentially more robust and intelligent. If you’re playing on harder levels of difficulty, creatures will use very devious and effective tactics. They are very responsive to what the player is doing.

On the flip side, we allow the player to fully author their own AI scripts. Much like Dragon Age: Origins or the Final Fantasy gambit system, we have a full set of conditionals that the player can set up for each of their characters. They can go extremely in depth and set up brilliant AI packages, whatever level of customization that they want. For people who really enjoy that and don’t enjoy micro-managing characters but would rather micro-manage at the strategic level, it makes it much more manageable for them. It makes them feel smart and powerful because they were smart and powerful. On the flip side, for people who want a really awesome challenge, it allows us to make battles that feel difficult because the enemies are smart, not just that they have high stats.
Good stuff, overall.
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February 8th, 2018, 17:14
The giant storm thing sounds like the path blocker to the next expansion. Maybe it's connected to your pursuit of Eothas? Anyway, I wonder how they will follow up this ship-based system in a PoE3? Maybe combine the stronghold with the ship system and let you own a flying castle?
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February 8th, 2018, 19:22
The combat speed slider is a great idea. Making spell effects, etc transparent when paused is a great idea.

I'm groaning already about micromanaging food supplies for my crew… seriously, that can't be delegated to a party member or an NPC? How does that make anything fun? Do we need to buy toilet paper and take time-outs to defecate?… I want to get on with the story, the fights, the treasure and the characters… not worry about rationing supplies. FFS, it's a fantasy game. I really dislike when games add this micromanagement stuff.
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February 8th, 2018, 19:32
Tentatively excited for the companion AI system. From the looks of the beta, there are still just too many trash mobs for me to bear micromanaging every character throughout the fights. The combination of the more exotic setting and the ability to set companions a robust set of combat behaviours and leave them to it alleviates my major issues with POE1. Plus the ship sounds far better integrated than the burdensome stronghold.
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February 8th, 2018, 21:06
On the bright side, combat speed slider = brilliant. This is something that I think will be great to adjust to one's particular preferences, and can see this being useful all throughout the game - to fine tune the combat encounters.

But food rations? Oh man, noooooooooooo….(Star wars meme)

Food requirements (and weight requirements) are things I almost always will use mods for to take out of these games. I don't find those to be fun mechanics, in the least.

I hereby request and want a special setting - "ship explorer mode". This means when being aboard your ship, all ship to ship combat encounters can be skipped, say, we have cloaking technology, or invisibility on our ship whenever we choose, and we can explore the vast sea without a care or worry in the world regarding other mundane things such as food rations, paying the crew their wages, getting attacked aboard our ship by hostile pirates, etc. etc.
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February 8th, 2018, 21:15
Originally Posted by Ovenall View Post
The combat speed slider is a great idea. Making spell effects, etc transparent when paused is a great idea.

I'm groaning already about micromanaging food supplies for my crew… seriously, that can't be delegated to a party member or an NPC? How does that make anything fun? Do we need to buy toilet paper and take time-outs to defecate?… I want to get on with the story, the fights, the treasure and the characters… not worry about rationing supplies. FFS, it's a fantasy game. I really dislike when games add this micromanagement stuff.
You don't have to get a crew (the base ship works with just your party), so I suspect you don't really have to bother with the resources tied to it.

But that kinda means you aren't going to bother with the sea stuff at the same time…
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February 8th, 2018, 23:02
The first is that encounters are potentially more robust and intelligent. If you’re playing on harder levels of difficulty, creatures will use very devious and effective tactics. They are very responsive to what the player is doing.
Can I have the AI be as smart as it can be without the other stuff that comes with higher difficulty? (like bloated hit points and extra damage)
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February 9th, 2018, 01:31
Originally Posted by wolfing View Post
Can I have the AI be as smart as it can be without the other stuff that comes with higher difficulty? (like bloated hit points and extra damage)
Difficulties in Deadfire* only change the encounters by adding/removing enemies. In the beta, on Relaxed (easy) vs Classic (normal) vs Veteran (hard) there is mostly a difference of 2 enemies for the same encounters, but I've seen one encounter that instead of adding more enemies, had one of the enemy in the encounter 2 level higher in-between the difficulties (which means they also had more abilities to use).

*Excluding Story mode and POTD, which are special cases. Story Mode is biased in favor of the player (to-hit formula is changed so you hit more often). POTD is biased in favor of enemies, but I never checked POTD, I'm not a masochist.
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February 9th, 2018, 11:15
Originally Posted by Ovenall View Post
The combat speed slider is a great idea. Making spell effects, etc transparent when paused is a great idea.

I'm groaning already about micromanaging food supplies for my crew… seriously, that can't be delegated to a party member or an NPC? How does that make anything fun? Do we need to buy toilet paper and take time-outs to defecate?… I want to get on with the story, the fights, the treasure and the characters… not worry about rationing supplies. FFS, it's a fantasy game. I really dislike when games add this micromanagement stuff.
Seen loads of attempts at this sort of thing, ranging from the half-decent food mechanic in Might & Magic to the daft spirit energy thing in NWN2: Mask of the Betrayer, and I don't think I've ever felt that it added anything.
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February 9th, 2018, 12:34
Originally Posted by azarhal View Post
Difficulties in Deadfire* only change the encounters by adding/removing enemies. In the beta, on Relaxed (easy) vs Classic (normal) vs Veteran (hard) there is mostly a difference of 2 enemies for the same encounters, but I've seen one encounter that instead of adding more enemies, had one of the enemy in the encounter 2 level higher in-between the difficulties (which means they also had more abilities to use).

*Excluding Story mode and POTD, which are special cases. Story Mode is biased in favor of the player (to-hit formula is changed so you hit more often). POTD is biased in favor of enemies, but I never checked POTD, I'm not a masochist.
Well that's what I mean, I want to have the normal number and composition of enemies, but I want those enemies to be the smartest they can be.
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February 9th, 2018, 13:01
Originally Posted by Maylander View Post
Seen loads of attempts at this sort of thing, ranging from the half-decent food mechanic in Might & Magic to the daft spirit energy thing in NWN2: Mask of the Betrayer, and I don't think I've ever felt that it added anything.
I disagree. The Spirit meter made so much sense in the context of the story. I hated food management in Dungeon Master, though.
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February 10th, 2018, 04:08
Well Shiver me timbers Obsidian. I was *not* a-luvin Risen 2 when them devs went all Piratey. It was a horswaggle no doubt and they walked the plank. I really hope ye land lubbers aren't dancin the hempen jig going all piratey like PB did aaaaaarrg. If so I'm gonna be puttin ye in ole Davey Jone Locker ye see.
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February 11th, 2018, 12:55
Originally Posted by wolfing View Post
Well that's what I mean, I want to have the normal number and composition of enemies, but I want those enemies to be the smartest they can be.
It does not exist. AIs are meant to make sense of a context, when the context is degraded, the intelligence is degraded.
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