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Eternity Josh Sawyer reflects on his failure with Pillars of Eternity

Discussion in 'Obsidian Entertainment' started by Roguey, Nov 3, 2019.

  1. Roguey Arcane Sawyerite

    Roguey
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    Wherein Sawyer implicitly admits that Sensuki was right and how he won't be involved in any future Pillars title because he has no idea what he's doing.
    https://badgame.net/index.php?topic=54476.msg14375799#msg14375799 (requires account to read)
    Bonus: Kingmaker takes its crown.

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  2. Kit Walker Totally Not Captain Shrek

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  3. Prime Junta Arcane Patron

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    No wonder he’s slugging those red bull & vodkas. That’s gotta suck.

    If I could reach Josh this is what I’d tell him:

    Find your heart. Listen to it. Follow it. The rest will follow. If it tells you that you need to revolutionise the world of time management software, care and feeding of obsolete Italian cars, or to invent a new type of derailleur, do it. Stop working to please other people, whether it’s Fearg, Kate, or an imaginary public of gamers. I know some Estonians who can help.
     
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  4. AwesomeButton Cut a deal with the authorities Patron

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    PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Make the Codex Great Again! Grab the Codex by the pussy Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    He should have listened to the grognards.
     
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  5. ItsChon Resident Zoomer Patron

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    If I could reach Josh, I'd tell him to stop making games.
     
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  6. Prime Junta Arcane Patron

    Prime Junta
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    You too?
     
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  7. santino27 Arcane

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    I'd say it's good he's at least recognized that he doesn't understand what people want with that sort of game. Deadfire had a lot of improvements (technical improvements as well as some better mechanics and itemization) over the first, but his myopic approach to balance and 0.1 increases and tweaks aren't the sort of thing to enthuse the common player, and a lot of the story decisions seemed like they overreacted to criticism about POE1 without actually understanding that criticism. (People found the companions dour? Sex for everyone! I can't wait for the puns! People thought the story hook was lacking? Aha! Now, you HAVE to follow this statue because it has your soul... but we're not going to put much thought into the story itself, and also we think we'll try to straddle the line between open world pirate non-sim and incredibly short/unfulfilling main quest RPG).

    The DLCs where he wasn't involved were generally better than the main game, so.. yeah. As ever, Obsidian needs better writers, but having someone else lead POE3 (if there is one) sounds like a good step too.

    Edit: Also, I think the company as a whole overestimated the crossover appeal when they tried to pull in general audiences with things like 'have sex with a sharkboy' and Critical Role. There's a big divide between something like DA:I/ME and isometric RPGs, and you're going to lose a lot of the 'I'm only here to have pretend sex with pixels' people along the way.
     
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  8. Prime Junta Arcane Patron

    Prime Junta
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    I’m still butthurt about everything per-encounter. He really doesn’t grok the importance of per-rest casting in this type of game.

    And no the challenge doesn’t cut it. It would have to be rebalanced with a good mix of per-enc and per-rest.
     
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  9. Hellion Cipher

    Hellion
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    POE3 will be a TOW clone with Cainarsky at the lead.

    Lets see them try to androgynize the Orlans and God-like.
     
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  10. AwesomeButton Cut a deal with the authorities Patron

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    PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Make the Codex Great Again! Grab the Codex by the pussy Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    Orlans didn't make it into the final release, we weren't satisfied with the hair technology.
     
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  11. Roguey Arcane Sawyerite

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    Nah, it's very likely the project Matt Perez is directing.
     
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  12. IHaveHugeNick Arcane

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    I think what they underestimated is how much the first game benefited from Kickstarter hype and antagonism of gaming audience towards big publishers at the time. It was still the era of indie gold rush, with people willing to throw money at every pixelated shovelare, and it impacted the sales, popular reception and the 89 Metacritic, all of which were obviously overinflated. Clearly they've missed all the signs and went over the top with expensive production, only to be profoundly shocked that gloves came off when Deadfire came out and the same fanbase that previously would have accepted any game in this style without reservations, was suddenly more critical and demanding.

    As for figuring out what people want from this sort of game - this is an impossible task that could drive any man to alcoholism. Fanbase has always been viciously divided and typically splits in half between factions of Archeologists and Innovators with some sub-factions inbetween.
     
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  13. Flou Learned

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    I still don't think the game failed commercially because of anything Sawyer implemented into the game, or took out of it. It did critically very well in the reviews. I think it's more about fatigue towards those games (POE, Tyranny, Torment), the lack of marketing and support from the publisher (vs. the massive amount they got from Kickstarter). If Sawyer fucked up anything, it was PoE1 which might have caused plenty of people to skip Deadfire.
    Yes, they did get it eventually right and the DLC was really good to play, but the damage was done.

    It will be interesting to see how Pillars of Eternity 3 will do with Microsoft handling the marketing. Versus Evil did basically nothing. I think they managed to botch up Banner Saga 2 release as well.

    I'm glad Josh is stepping away from the franchise. It's probably better for him and PoE3 that someone else is directing that project and he can focus on something he actually is passionate about.
     
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  14. Riddler Prophet Patron

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    Bubbles In Memoria
    Maybe he is already following your advice and Alcohol is where his heart truly is at.
     
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  15. Prime Junta Arcane Patron

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    Damn, that’s dark. Could be though. Could be.
     
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  16. vortex Fabulous Optimist

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    I think outside of their core market, story was a bit abstract and complex to understand.
    Gameplay should be more present. Pacing of dialogue was a bit too slow or uneven in some parts.

    He should not leave Pillars 3 development by any means. If he doesn't want to be a director, then he should be lore writer and designer of more interesting encounters and gameplay.
     
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  17. cruelio Savant

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    If you look at the campaign for POE 2 vs POE 1 a lot of people who would have been the die hard fans just didn't return. There could be a lot of reasons for that: disappointment with POE1, moving on to other shinier things after the Kickstarter fad died, poor advertising, sequel fatigue. I think Josh is taking it too personally since by all observable metrics POE 2 was well received by the majority of the people who did play it. He's a good guy so I hope things work out for him.
     
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  18. IHaveHugeNick Arcane

    IHaveHugeNick
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    Time for new tagline.

    RPG Codex : driving developers to substance abuse since 2002.
     
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  19. santino27 Arcane

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    I don't think anyone disagrees that reception to POE1 impacted the sales of POE2, or that marketing for the sequel was minimal and oddly focused (twitch streamers, critical role, etc.)... but Deadfire was at best a lateral step from its predecessor--better in some ways, worse in others--and that, more than commercial figures, speaks to Sawyer's failure as the game director. Critics aside, word of mouth for Deadfire was anemic, and I have to believe that the quality of the game itself played some part in that.
     
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  20. vortex Fabulous Optimist

    vortex
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    What could make Sawyer feel better?
    Substance abuse is no good. It's only temporary and it kills brain cells. No good for making Pillars 3, man.

    Pillars 3 needs magical and gruesome fantasy direction. More intuitive, grim, shocking world of magic.
    He needs that spark and should not quit.
     
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  21. AwesomeButton Cut a deal with the authorities Patron

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    PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Make the Codex Great Again! Grab the Codex by the pussy Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    Free discussion leads to better understanding of problems. Conversely, an atmosphere of insincerety, political correctness and sweeping problems under the rug, leads to failure.
     
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  22. AwesomeButton Cut a deal with the authorities Patron

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    PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Make the Codex Great Again! Grab the Codex by the pussy Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    I think Josh's initial analysis of the what made the IE games good was wrong from the start. Everything that followed from that analysis was also wrong, or in some cases it was good, for reasons unrelated to his analysis.
     
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  23. Lacrymas Arcane

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    If there's something Josh lacks, it's the ability to filter good criticism from bad, that's why he can't figure out why PoE2 failed. And I don't think PoE2 failed on its own terms, like I've theorized before I suspect PoE1 base game was the reason for the less than stellar sales of PoE2. My theory is based on the fact WM 1 and 2 also had abysmal commercial success and the fact PoE1 base game was awful, just an awful, boring slog through silly problems and even sillier solutions, the best parts either being at the very start or blocked behind quite a few hours of play (the bounties). Steam achievements show that a suspiciously low amount of people reached even Maerwald. The other possibility is that isometric party-based RPGs just can't do well on the market, but I refuse to believe that, given how successful DOS2 and PF:KM (relative to its budget) have been.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2019
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  24. Riddler Prophet Patron

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    Externalising the guilt by blaming the writing team.
     
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  25. ItsChon Resident Zoomer Patron

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    The two main reasons Deadfire flopped is because,

    A) There was little to no marketing/media behind it, or at least, media that was effective. I remember reading that PoE 2 had come out and being confused as fuck, especially since I hadn't even got around to the first game yet. There wasn't nearly as much Kickstarter and youtube hype surrounding the sequel, which obviously means less exposure.

    and

    B) PoE scored so well and got high reviews all around, despite the fact that it was so bland and mediocre. Pillars of Eternity was super popular, and a bunch of people knew about it. This led to a lot of people new to the genre buying the game and playing it. These people that are new to the CRPG genre play the game for a few hours, but for some reason, they just can't get into it. Normally, this would lead a player to think that said game was bad or missing something, but this is where all the good reviews came in. If all these reviewers and YouTubers are praising the game, they conclude that this is what the best of the genre has to offer. This means that their inability to get into the game is not due to the game being bad or missing something, but it's due to the fact that they're not really into the CRPG genre.

    The vast majority of people that play video games are fucking retards, and they have no idea what's good and what isn't. You'll see someone on the Codex who played PoE for hours, perhaps even finished it, and will turn around and say the game is shit, while a "regular gamer" will have barely stomached the game for an hour or two, and turn around say "yeah PoE is a good game". They do this because people are sheep, and will believe whatever the general consensus is all the while, they buy and play games that might be completely contrary to what they say they like/say is good (see all the popamole Codexers that larp liking old games to impress oldfags, all the while they've sunk tens of hours into TOW, FO:NV, and Skryim).

    EDIT: Just realized I didn't finish my main post. So, when Deadfire came along, all of those people that bought PoE the first time abstained from Deadfire, because they just assumed that the CRPG genre wasn't for them, hence the complete commercial failure that the second game was. D:OS went the other way, the people that got played the first one enjoyed it and got pulled in, and when D:OS 2 got all the Kickstarter and YouTuber hype, that core audience along with all the people new to the game came in, which led to its sweeping success. I haven't played D:OS 2, so I don't know if it was good or not, but if it was, I'm sure the sequel will do anywhere from a little less successful, to even more successful, depending on how people liked it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2019
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