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People News Josh Sawyer says he failed with Pillars II, would direct a third game if he can figure out why

Discussion in 'RPG Codex News & Content Comments' started by Infinitron, Nov 13, 2019.

  1. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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    Grab the Codex by the pussy Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker
    Tags: Josh Sawyer; Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

    Most people realize by now that Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire was a commercial disappointment. The possible reasons for this have been debated over dozens of pages on our forums. Now Josh Sawyer himself has come clean about his game's failure, first in a post on his super secret goon forum two weeks ago, and then publicly as a response to a question on his Tumblr Q&A blog this weekend. His main problem is that he's not sure why the game didn't sell, which makes him a poor candidate to lead development on a sequel.

    That is not something that I get to decide, but I do think that the relatively low sales of Deadfire mean that if we consider making another Pillars game in this style, we’re going to have to re-examine the entire format of the game.

    It is difficult to know exactly why a sequel sells worse than its predecessor if both games review relatively well. Is it because the first game satisfied the existing need and the audience just wasn’t interested in the second? Is it because awareness was lower for the sequel? Is it because despite the strong reviews and the strong sales for the first game, people didn’t “really” like it? Maybe it’s a combination of all of these things.

    The problem is that without really understanding the reason(s), it’s hard to know how to move forward. It would be easier in some ways if Deadfire were also a colossal critical failure and we could point to the massive screw-ups that we needed to address. Players did criticize the low difficulty at launch and the main plot, which I think are fair and reasonable, but those problems alone don’t really explain the difference in sales. And while player reviews were weaker for Deadfire than for Pillars 1, professional criticism tended to say that Deadfire was an improvement over the first game in most areas.

    (Yes, Deadfire has an 88 Metacritic and Pillars 1 has an 89 Metacritic, but IMO Pillars 1′s review scores benefited from a nostalgia bump.)

    Players who hate RTwP combat will say that it’s because Deadfire continued using RTwP combat, in contrast to the phenomenally better-selling (and better-reviewed) turn-based Divinity: OS2. Even if that’s true, Pathfinder: Kingmaker, which generally had lower review scores than Deadfire, sold better than Deadfire and had RTwP combat.

    I’m sure some of the people reading this think they know precisely why Deadfire sold worse than Pillars 1. I don’t have that confidence, which is one of several reasons why I am leery about trying to direct a sequel. I couldn’t give our (Obsidian’s) audience the game that they wanted and without understanding where I went wrong, I would be guessing at what the problems are and how to remedy them.
    Josh followed this up with some additional contemplation on Twitter. Faced with this sudden outpouring of agony, many people assumed that he'd become depressed about the whole thing. So it was a bit of surprise when in response to another question on Tumblr today, Josh announced that one of the games he'd be interested in directing is...Pillars of Eternity 3. But only if he can figure out what went wrong and how to fix it.

    Most of the games I’m interested in making now aren’t ones that would have very large budgets.

    I would like to make something akin to a Darklands spiritual successor at some point, though I would be less likely to cleave to Darklands’ mechanics than I was to stick with IE-ish mechanics in Pillars. I just like historical fantasy, especially in late Medieval/early modern Europe.

    I’m still interested in making a game about running a bike shop in Chicago. This one is kind of a combination of a sim game and social interaction game, dealing both with the practical realities of running a bike shop as well as the social dynamics of how communities and bike shops interact.

    I think the postbellum rise of Chicago is really fascinating, too, and I’m interested in some sort of game focusing on paranormal investigators during the height of American Spiritualism.

    I would love to make a Pillars Tactics-style game that focuses on small set piece encounters and a strong, relatively short story with a lot of choice & consequence.

    I’d love to make a medieval/early modern European murder mystery in the vein of Name of the Rose or Cadfael.

    As awful as some people might find it, I’d really like to make a deeply cynical near future squad-based tactics game in the vein of Jagged Alliance, but you’re playing as some dickhead VP running a PMC cleanup crew and fucking them over to maintain your profit margins.

    And I would be interested in directing Pillars 3 if I can figure out how to make it something I would enjoy that there’s an audience for. It may be that someone else would do a better job at that than me, though.
    So what is Josh Sawyer up to these days, anyway? It looks like he's arrived in London for X019, so maybe we'll find out soon.
     
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  2. rusty_shackleford Arcane

    rusty_shackleford
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    Normies want high fantasy.
     
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  3. mindfields Learned

    mindfields
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    Dude, the Kickstarter made it pretty clear they were going for a medieval high fantasy setting, instead we got....... renaissance scientific high fantasy with guns and cannons? They tried way too hard to be "original" and their new lore sucked, PoE would of been better if they were just unashamed Tolkien-esque fantasy. Same reason Torment Numenera failed, some weirdo setting no one cares about.
     
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  4. hexer Arcane

    hexer
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    Some people never seem to learn..
    Inb4 PoE 3 is revealed as a turn-based cartoony high fantasy RPG
     
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  5. CRD Learned Patron

    CRD
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    Divinity: Original Sin 2
    - less marketing
    - fig instead of kickstarter
    - fucking islands that made you an amazon courier but didn't add anything cool as they are just a false sense of freedom
    - worse story
    - people fed up when they added dlc mid game on PoE 1 waiting to purchase 2 after all dlc was released and then competing with other games like pathfinder and "well, I waited a year, so, I'll wait until the next big sale for that 50% on the complete package".
    - PoE combat a disaster on release, needing to wait years until it was finalized, people delaying his purchase same as the previous point
    - sequels usually sells less

    It's not that is a bad game, is just a mid tier rpg that couldn't capitalize like the first one on a public starved of good rpgs.
     
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  6. Bohrain Savant Patron

    Bohrain
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    I think Pillars was the biggest benefactor of the Kickstarter RPG hype and once that calmed down by the time Deadfire was out, relatively few people wanted more of the same thing.
    D:OS2 was different enough and Kingmaker did the RTWP combat with character build porn better, even though the game was unbelievably buggy. Since Outer Worlds has been doing decently sales wise, maybe they'll do an Elder Scrolls clone with Pillars setting next, because copying the New Vegas formula seemed to work out for them?
     
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  7. Sherry Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Sherry
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    Hi.

    Gosh Josh!

    Pillars of Eternity was superb and I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate all the hard work that went into it and how much I enjoyed exploring a whole new world :hug: okay? So I would certainly continue creating in the world because it so already so well fleshed out with history you can use as a backdrop to Pillars of Eternity 3 just have it start a new story with what happened in Pillars of Eternity and Deadfire as part of the lore you could even read the player's save game from the end of Deadfire and create blurbs they can hear about of their deeds from a previous character while exploring a whole new part of the world with a new character and a new story it would be wonderful to be able to go back and experience it because so much hard work went into it with the item descriptions you wrote it is just a real good job you put forth despite the sales not doing well for Obsidian or you second guessing yourself now and your career path you made me a fan from what you created and would support yet another game set in this setting. :salute:

    Thanks,
    Sherry
     
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  8. ArchAngel Arcane

    ArchAngel
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    I would seem Josh should actually run a real Bike shop instead.
     
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  9. Unorus Janco Lurker

    Unorus Janco
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    No you fucking sperg, stop doing that, we all know you hate this franchise, you will never be able to make it fun. Start making your Fuck You: Suck my Dick game instead.
     
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  10. sorinmask Just like Yves, I chase tales. Patron

    sorinmask
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    Location:
    The land of ice and snow.
    You must be joking. It was good looking, but not much else there.
    The exploration aspect is fun, but crippled by the inane decision in regards to the ship-to-ship combat. Did we play the same game?
    This is a long sentence that barely says anything, much like Deadfire. How did any of the lore get stuck with you, when almost ALL of it is dumped in cutscenes or books/lore dumps?

    How on earth did you get a monocle?

    Do you even have a standard for yourself higher than this half-assed gateway RPG aimed at 7 year-olds?



    You do realize that just because you have a style in the way you redact your posts, that doesn't make them better, right? It matters what you say, not how you say it.




    The only part where we agree is that they need a fresh start, but then again I'm sure everyone is sick of watching.
     
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  11. Jedi Master Radek Arcane

    Jedi Master Radek
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    It's sad how most of his ideas about new games are more interesting than Pillars ever were. We will never get those games.
    :negative:
     
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  12. Diggfinger Cipher

    Diggfinger
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    I would like to make something akin to a Darklands spiritual successor at some point, :eek:

    I’m still interested in making a game about running a bike shop in Chicago. This one is kind of a combination of a sim game and social interaction game, dealing both with the practical realities of running a bike shop as well as the social dynamics of how communities and bike shops interact.:eek::eek:

    I think the postbellum rise of Chicago is really fascinating, too, and I’m interested in some sort of game focusing on paranormal investigators during the height of American Spiritualism.:eek::eek::eek:

    I would love to make a Pillars Tactics-style game that focuses on small set piece encounters and a strong, relatively short story with a lot of choice & consequence.:eek::eek::eek::eek:

    I’d love to make a medieval/early modern European murder mystery in the vein of Name of the Rose or Cadfael.:eek::eek::eek::eek::eek:


    Bike sims! Darklands! Name of the Rose-style mystery (I bought that book on Josh' recommendation:hug:), Pillars tactical/Pillars 3....

    ...SOMEONE GIVE THIS MAN MONEY!!!!!
     
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  13. Mortmal Arcane

    Mortmal
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    He still cant figure why ? There's no hope, he should read the codex ,the few megathreads about POE and POE ,2 and discuss with us, we will politely(as usual) tell him why it went wrong. But is he psychologically ready for it ?
    They had a talented team, really poe1- 2 look gorgeous , one of the best writer yet dont employ him full time and castrate his work, so story telling was weak. The rpg system is unengaging especially compare to pathfinder or 5E d&D, the setting is unappealing compare to golarion , forgotten realms or even greyhawk . Finally combat encounters were anything but tactical, i think beamdog with all their flaws did a better job with siege of dragonspear. . He's not a genius, nothing wrong with that, he should know his limits and not reinvent the wheel just use one existing rpg system and direct the team.
     
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  14. Atchodas Savant Edgy

    Atchodas
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    "cant figure out why"

    when in reality

    "won't acknowledge why"

    huge difference here and until he gets off his high horse no hope left
     
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  15. Tigranes Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Tigranes
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    Sawyer has always liked these kinds of historically inspired, off the mainstream settings. And frankly, most of those pitches, from Darklands inspired game to medieval murder mystery, are excellent things that we need more of in the ecosystem. And honestly, it probably suits him better than something like POE3, which is a sentiment he clearly shares.

    Tons of Codexers were crying for less identical high fantasy and more imaginative, risktaking settings during the drought years when we were getting Oblivions up the wazoo. Now there's a bunch who are sick of all that and want some good old mindless elf murdering and orc bashing. I like both and ideally we would have quality in both. Seems nonsensical to whine that Numanuma was bad so they should all just go back to making Forgotten Realms or something.
     
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  16. vortex Fabulous Optimist

    vortex
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    Medieval mystery with occult, horror and a little fantasy in it, would be a great game.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2019
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  17. SausageInYourFace Codexian Sausage Patron

    SausageInYourFace
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    Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech Bubbles In Memoria A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    His historical RPG died with the sales of Deadfire. To make it, he would have to leave Obsidian.
     
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  18. jac8awol Educated

    jac8awol
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    Just let PoE die already, no one gives a shit about that setting. Any interest for me was killed at the end of the 1st game where you realize (if you even got that far and managed to pay attention) that the gods are a sham. So when they try to use gods as a hook in the 2nd game, it's just a massive face-palm. If Josh has any talent he'll pursue other ideas, and if the studio doesn't realize by now that PoE is a PoS, they deserve everything they lose.
     
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  19. hexer Arcane

    hexer
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    That's what I've been saying, the setting is bipolar.
    Atheistic yet obsessed with gods.
    It's like quantum state--it's one and a zero at the same time :lol:
     
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  20. Tigranes Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Tigranes
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    2020 sawyer opens 1 man studio

    2037 body of local recluse found buried under 800 books written in an artificial language, cause of collapse a spare bike wheel gone astray, pc screen showing half written tweet about upcoming grimoire expansion pack
     
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  21. hexer Arcane

    hexer
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    This recent surge of Sawyer threads is fun.
    It's like a diary where we follow the adventures of JE Sawyer , a multiclassed developer / alcoholic.
    They say alcohol is bad for you, but in his case I think he'll only benefit from it
     
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  22. Myzzrym Tactical Adventures Patron Developer

    Myzzrym
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    Man, things like this are always painful to read. Thankfully they have Microsoft backing them up but it sucks to have a game do so poorly with such high ratings.
     
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  23. saeci Educated

    saeci
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    Soulless bugman struggles to produce "fun". More at 11.
     
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  24. hexer Arcane

    hexer
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    Regarding his idea to try again and direct PoE3 , this song sums it up perfectly for me.
    Life is a struggle, godspeed everybody :salute:

     
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  25. Trash Player Learned

    Trash Player
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    I think The Outer Worlds proves that gameplay, past a certain watermark, plays only a small part in sales for Obsidian games. The brand is well established at this point, so there is a sizable cult of fans. It is not like a big marketing campaign is affordable. All products are made for an audience in stable numbers for foreseeable future at least. It is just a matter of production money. Investing in the game itself past the bare minimum is unwise for the studio.

    Josh's and Obsidian's big mistake is believing Deadfire would have better sales and reach a larger audiences than the first. It was by no means poorly received. Even elephant sized studios are often in the blind about the market, so it isn't a rare event. Josh do not need to beat himself up for being an idiot for once. He do realize that projects with a smaller production and more experimentation space fit him more, that is good for him.
     
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