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Interview Leonard Boyarsky Mega-Interview at PCGamesN

Discussion in 'RPG News & Content' started by Infinitron, Dec 15, 2017.

  1. Roguey Arcane Sawyerite Sawyerist Sawyer's Bride No Fun Allowed

    Roguey
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    Y'know even after ten years on Steam with all the deep discounts, Bloodlines hasn't even broken a million copies http://steamspy.com/app/2600

    Meanwhile, Deus Ex and Morrowind have over one million each http://steamspy.com/app/6910 http://steamspy.com/app/22320

    So the problem isn't necessarily with mechanics or bugs, it's that most people have no interest in the setting/premise.
     
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  2. Rinslin Merwind Educated

    Rinslin Merwind
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    I am not sure how good Bloodlines, but it's not only about setting. Morrowind had better publishers (and still have) Ubisoft in Europe and Bethesda elsewhere (also Xbox version, can be played on Linux and Mac Os). Deus X have Mac OS and PS2 with PS3 versions and can be played through Wine on Linux. In result Deus X and Morrowind was available to more wide auditory than Bloodlines at release. People who had Deus X or Morrowind on console just bought it on PC. Also (if I am not mistaken) Morrowind had better marketing in general and even commercial on TV. But yeah, definitely not all people like vampire setting. Including myself, but i maybe this game worth it, I don't know.
     
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  3. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

    MRY
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    I think this is a legitimate issue. The problem is that player expectations follow form, and if the form of the game is that of an action-shooter, but the gameplay works in some completely contrary way, the player is going to be annoyed. This is in some respects simply an argument against action RPGs.

    That said, it seems to me reasonable to have character skill do things like (1) determine which guns you can use; (2) determine how the guns perform within the action confines (e.g., how steady they are when aiming, how much recoil there is, how quickly you can reload, how quickly you grow fatigued from using them). But ultimately if you let the player shoot a gun, and he shoots a dead-on head shot, it's silly to then have the shot miss or do minimal based on a behind-the-scenes dice roll.
     
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  4. Zakhad Savant

    Zakhad
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    Yeah I know. Just sometimes see those two points from the same people. But the Codex is a broad church, definitely.
     
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  5. Zakhad Savant

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    I'm exaggerating one side, I admit. There is room on the curve between "money-focussed" and "good-game-focussed" for quality to exist and even sometimes flourish. I was pushing the other side because some people seemed to be going too far in the "never compromise" (*cue Rorschach voice*) direction, as though if we admit that there might even be a curve, then we are part of the decline.

    I suppose my point is: decline doesn't happen simply for reasons of individuals not being loyal enough to the true doctrine of hardcore RPGs. It happens for systematic reasons. We can work within those systems, but we should acknowledge that they exist and admit when we need to compromise with them.

    I take your point, though, about Troika being fucked by publishers. Which makes me ask: why does Boyarsky blame ambition, and not terrible deals/the commercial environment at the time? Is the issue here that designers as much as the companies funding them have at times internalised the wrong lessons? Or does he blame both (likely a fair assumption, IMO) but is being politic about what he actually says?
     
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  6. Zakhad Savant

    Zakhad
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    I agree with this. you can make the mechanics the same while making the signalling better or worse. A game where your gun sways at lower skill levels signals visually what the issue is so as not to frustrate expectations. A game where you shoot and the bullet hits but is counted as a miss will confuse people. I guess there is a mechanical difference here, too: a skilled player can counteract lower skill in the first case by getting closer or predicting the swing, whereas character skill completely over-rides player skill in the second. But I feel like Deus Ex did this better than a lot of other RPGs/ARPGs that try to balance the two, since your lack of skill with a weapon was immediately and visually evident.
     
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  7. TheSentinel Magister

    TheSentinel
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    it is worth noting here that everytime someone talks about VtMB, one of the things that always gets said is "just pirate it because the devs will never see any of the money and activision are huge pieces of shit who sabotaged the project".
    There's this community effort to not give Activision money for VtMB.
     
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  8. Roguey Arcane Sawyerite Sawyerist Sawyer's Bride No Fun Allowed

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    Knights of the Old Republic 2 was a similar situation, yet it's sold over 2 million on Steam since it was released in 2012.
     
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  9. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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    Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire 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
    IMO Troika's biggest problem is that they were WEIRD and always the odd man out. The public didn't really need another RPG developer at that point in history, not really.

    BTW inXile is in danger of becoming the modern bizarro Troika, making weird games while everybody scratches their heads and wonders why they even need this shit when they can play Divinity and Pillars of Eternity.
     
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  10. Fairfax Arcane

    Fairfax
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    Both games were many times more successful and better received at launch, and are also part of popular franchises. They had a lot more people to buy it again, a lot more players and critics to recommend them, franchise bundles, modern sequels, and so on. Why would you expect VTMB to sell nearly as much?
     
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  11. valcik Arcane

    valcik
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    .. the same goes for KOTOR 2 vs. VtMB - the sheer power of well established and immensely popular trademark vs. obscure tabletop setting known to a small group of grognards.
     
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  12. Roguey Arcane Sawyerite Sawyerist Sawyer's Bride No Fun Allowed

    Roguey
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    They're all janky first person RPGs with a 90+% Steam user score. Bloodlines' metacritic average is 80, so it was received reasonably well by critics too.

    Shadowrun Returns, over one million http://steamspy.com/app/234650

    Settings well-received by most wrpg players: traditional fantasy, post-apocalyptic (thanks Bethesda), cyberpunk, space opera. Not beloved: Relatively modern urban fantasy, weird fantasy that strays too far from traditional, historical.
     
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  13. Diggfinger Savant

    Diggfinger
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    Is that a problem?
    I prefer brilliant people making different (or 'weird') games rather than 99,9% of the status quo shit that's coming out.

    Same for RPGs, I appreciate original settings like fantasy-meets-industrial revolution and modern horror/vampire rather than just the same old fantasy crap all the time.

    But yeah if even Codex people want mainstream/familiar games/settings we're indeed screwed.

    Btw. IMO new Torment failed simply because it's a boring game (who wants to read text for 20 hours), not necessarily due to the weird setting.

    "Steam Spy is still in beta, so expect major bugs."
    Seems fitting.
     
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  14. Davaris Arcane

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    Its not going to help a game's sales if you release it unfinished. If Fallout had been a great game up to the halfway point, and then turned into a mindless shooter halfway through, I don't think I would be here today. You have one chance to make a good impression with a player, who is not a long time fan.
     
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  15. Trashos Magister

    Trashos
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  16. Trashos Magister

    Trashos
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    Also, it is astonishing that chess is being played by 100s millions of people worldwide, and RPG developers are still in ferocious battle with each other as to who is going to make the most dumbed down game.
     
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  17. TheSentinel Magister

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    oh you're right, I forgot the part where LucastArts killed Obsidian.
     
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  18. Jedi Exile Arcane Patron

    Jedi Exile
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    This. It is pointless, to compare games from immensely popular franchises with an old, semi-obscure game made for niche audience.

    Troika, as Looking Glass before them (and even more so), were making innovative games for niche audiences and were successful in that (meaning that they did make some excellent games, though were not very successful financially), while InXile was trying to ride nostalgia wave and they mostly failed. As for Divinity and PoE, I think they both appealed to hardcore RPG lovers, and this audience will always welcome more RPGs, as long as they are good. So InXile's problem is not that they are 'weird' company making RPGs, but that their RPGs are not good enough.
     
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  19. Roguey Arcane Sawyerite Sawyerist Sawyer's Bride No Fun Allowed

    Roguey
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    Obsidian rushing out a buggy game gave a terrible first impression that damaged the Feargus Urquhart plan ("Copy Bioware"). Activision didn't kill Troika. Troika's inability/unwillingness to deliver a Baldur's Gate-style hit killed them. Troika's games, even if they had an extraordinary amount of polish, were never remotely close to getting those kinds of numbers because they didn't have the kind of content that appeals to a million people or more.

    "Semi-obscure" and "niche" don't apply to something like Bloodlines. Moreover, Deus Ex was entirely original and became a hit all on its own when it was released, and Morrowind certainly didn't become a hit on release on the name recognition value of Arena and Daggerfall.
     
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  20. TheSentinel Magister

    TheSentinel
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    Activision was the final nail in the coffin for Troika. They could have avoided Troika's death if they didn't lock out the developers from the product for months. So yes, they did cause Troika to collapse earlier than it would have otherwise. They sabotaged the game, they killed the dev.
     
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  21. Kyl Von Kull Arcane

    Kyl Von Kull
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    You were talking about steam sales, though, so from long after all three of these games came out. Morrowind and Deus Ex both had sequels that sold millions of units in the digital download era, likely driving interest in the earlier games in each franchise. More important, think about all the advertising for Skyrim or Mankind Divided. That has to help move the back catalog. Whereas interest in Bloodlines has only been kept alive by word of mouth, and the occasional article every year about how people are still working on the unofficial patch.

    I agree that the goth inflected LA vampire setting probably wasn’t much of a draw. And putting Jeanette Voerman on the box in that slutty schoolgirl outfit can’t have helped get the word out. “Oh, you mean the pervy vampire sex game?” I know it’s pretty tame by today’s standards, but taking that box to a cashier was embarrassing.
     
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  22. Roguey Arcane Sawyerite Sawyerist Sawyer's Bride No Fun Allowed

    Roguey
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    They didn't sabotage anything, they lived up to the terms of the contract to which Troika agreed. It's on Troika for agreeing to do too much given the time they were allotted. Moreover, Bloodlines coming out a few months later would not have saved them. They still would have struggled to find another contract, and they would still choose to give up rather than take on projects they had no interest in.

    From 2000-2011, all Deus Ex had was one lousy sequel, and it had still moved over a million as of 2009.
     
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  23. Blaine Cis-Het Oppressor Patron

    Blaine
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    Grab the Codex by the pussy
    The only things I remember about Deus Ex 2 are the basketball you could pick up, the purply-blue menu color, and the protagonist guy's stupid haircut.
     
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  24. Crescent Hawk Savant

    Crescent Hawk
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    I actually remember Invisible War has a great story with a very nice morally ambiguous tone, that was hampered like Thief 3 because of consoles you despondent fucks.
     
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  25. Wesp5 Arcane

    Wesp5
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    While the later might be true, Tim Cain wrote in his section of the book "Gamers at Work": "First, while the game was held until Half-Life 2 shipped, we were also not allowed to keep the title in development." and "Second, while our game was being held, Valve continued to make improvements to the Source engine — improvements we couldn't add to our game." So not only did Activision decide to release the game on the same day as the much more anticipated HL2, they should also have been aware that it used an older version of the engine which wouild be unfavorable in comparisons. That was just stupid! A few more months could have helped a lot, but then the Activision QA was a joke anyway, otherwise I wouldn't be fixing stuff 13 years later!

    Also don't forget to blame Valve. If they wouldn't have delayed HL2 over and over again because Gabe Newell only cared about making Steam a monopoly as fast as possible, Troika wouldn't have needed to update to new Source engine version restarting parts of development all the time. And not only that, even today the Bloodlines version that is sold on Steam will not work on a decent computer without either some serious tweaking or installing my patch, so this might be another reason why the Steam sale numbers are low. I wonder how sale numbers are on GOG without any DRM and the patch included!
     
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