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Default Pillars of Eternity - Interview @ PC Gamer

April 19th, 2014, 19:51
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.
More information.
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April 19th, 2014, 19:51
My wife tends to talk a lot about stuff she's going to do - to the point that for a while now I've been saying - no more talk - action - not words - tell me about it after you actually do it. Show me something tangible.

And I kind of feel that way about some game development. Show me the gameplay - show me what's going on IN/WITH the game. I don't want to just read/hear you talking about how cool it is or how cool it's going to be - SHOW ME. Articles like this are nice - would be nice as a side thing - but feel lacking when it's the only thing you ever get for a game (along with blog posts that are similar).

I'm looking forward to this game but as with corporate style development there seems to be little to see and a lot of words. I felt the same way when SRR was in development and about Wasteland II before it went to EA and players could do videos. These are games that will feature dozens of hours of playing time and they put like 5 minutes of ancient video out during their entire development cycle. Same could be said about the real corporate games like DAI or Witcher 3.

If a picture is worth a thousand words than surely a couple minutes of video here and there would be worth a couple of encyclopedias.
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April 19th, 2014, 20:46
Sure, Dead Island couple minutes of video here and there told you exactly how the game looks, feels and plays.

I actually want to see more Josh vids. Without a tone ofc…
He's perfect for studying how starvation affects a human body. Every new vid he's thinner and thinner.
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April 19th, 2014, 23:47
All sounds good to me. Have they talked about mod tools? I would love to see what modders can do with the engine with the right tools.
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April 20th, 2014, 00:48
Yes, Obsidian will support Modding for PE.


Is the game mod-friendly?

JS: It’s not mod-unfriendly…

There are certain elements of it that I think are probably going to be easier to mod than others. Environments are probably going to be pretty tough to author on your own, because even for us they’re complicated, they’re time-consuming to build, they’re very hi-res, they involve a number of special passes and things.

Other things I think are friendlier to modification, but we’ll have to see.

AB: It depends…we’re still investigating how much…since we’re using Unity there’s a lot of things we need to work around for modability, but we want to do everything we can do for the mod community. We’ll be really open, if they have questions. It’s nice because with publishers a lot of times they don’t like us talking about the technology and ways of doing things, but people can ask us on the forums and we can answer them.

So it would be hard to make a new environment but easier, maybe, to do a quest line or…

AB: Or an item pack. Adjust the rules system a little bit.

JS: Some of that stuff we’re externalizing. Weapons, some of the racial modifiers, we’re putting them in separate things so some of that stuff will be easier to modify than others.
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April 20th, 2014, 09:09
Originally Posted by Voqar View Post
If a picture is worth a thousand words than surely a couple minutes of video here and there would be worth a couple of encyclopedias.
Showing demo game play videos does take a fair amount of preparation, which takes away from game development. I'm fine with an update every 2-3 weeks. We'll see the live action in due course.
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April 20th, 2014, 11:03
I actually think moddability is a bad thing. Typically, to facilitate modding, you have to make technical compromises in order to compartmentalize stuff; toss in the shoddy Unity architecture and you have a recipe for, at best clunky shallow content (including the OC) and, at worst, a crashing, unstable, buggy mess.

Time will tell. Hopefully, they don't waste too much time with it.
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April 20th, 2014, 15:30
Originally Posted by Dez View Post
Yes, Obsidian will support Modding for PE.

thanks for bringing the info.
I'm not really asking for ability to let modders create new maps or anything, but basically ability to create new campaigns with the existing assets. Using the same maps, same cities, same graphics, textures, animations, etc. If that's possible then I'm ok with that.
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April 21st, 2014, 16:00
When I read interviews like these I do not regret how much money I spent on PoE kickstarter. Now they just need to deliver what they are talking about…
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