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June 20th, 2008, 17:21
Kieron Gillen has been quick off the mark getting an interview for Rock, Paper, Shotgun with Kevin Saunders on Storm of Zehir. Here's the opening question:
RPS: With its full party customisation approach, it seems to owe more to things like Icewind Dale and even older RPGs (Gold Box and earlier, to Bardís Tale and similar). Most modern party based games go for the pregenerated NPC character model, making it a rarity in the modern marketplace. Why did you choose to re-explore this terrain? What strengths does this kind of approach offer which the pregenerated NPC model loses?
Kevin Saunders: With this approach, you completely own your character(s). This complete customization of who your alter ego is at the core of what pencil-and-paper role-playing is all about. For me personally - and I suspect this is true for many - my first memory of role-playing is creating my character. I was five and my older brother (9) had bought the Basic D&D book - the red set with the warrior slashing at a red dragon on the cover. I chose a halfling - probably because I was about that size - who I creatively named Nivek. I donít even remember what adventures he went on, but I do remember him. With a pregenerated character, you lose that magical sense of ownership thatís at the core of role-playing.
There are major trade-offs in making a game that allows character customization. The amount of work required is staggering. Armor, weapons, attack animations, etc. must all be adapted to work with each race. The story must be flexible enough to embrace a wide variety of characters. And there are many other considerations: once you let the player create their own character, you set many expectations that are challenging to meet. Itís much easier to create a great game with a specific character/role the player fills - thatís part of why so many games go that route. The problems can compound when youíre talking about an entire party instead of a single character. But itís not what D&D and the Neverwinter Nights 2 franchises are about.
Obsidianís past games have given great customizability in terms of your character. With Storm of Zehir, we wanted to expand that to an entire party (as was done in the older CRPGs you mention).
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June 20th, 2008, 17:21
So does this mean no joinables? As much as it's fun customizing your party, I enjoy the joinables more (when done well) in many regards.

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June 20th, 2008, 20:41
Originally Posted by blatantninja View Post
So does this mean no joinables? As much as it's fun customizing your party, I enjoy the joinables more (when done well) in many regards.
I think the Obsidian devs. have said either on the Bioware forums or on the
rpgcodex that you can't get NPCs to join you - if you so wish. There seems to be a sort of central hun? where all discarded? NPCS will head towards…

So is my understanding anyway…
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June 20th, 2008, 23:20
They mention this in some other interview: There will be "cohorts", I think they're called, that you can use to complement whatever party you created. However, they won't be as deep in terms of dialogue and background as the NPCs in MotB.
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