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Development Info Josh Sawyer's Pillars of Eternity II Postmortem at Digital Dragons 2019

Infinitron

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Tags: Josh Sawyer; Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

Pillars of Eternity II was supposed to be the standard bearer of the second wave of crowdfunded RPGs, but although it was not a bad game, things didn't really turn out that way. What went wrong? Last week Josh Sawyer traveled to Poland to give a talk about that at the annual Digital Dragons conference. It's rather appropriate that the video should be made public on the same day as Baldur's Gate III's announcement and the release of Pathfinder: Kingmaker's Enhanced Edition. It's a 50 minute postmortem, the first half of which is an overview of the flaws from the first Pillars of Eternity that Obsidian sought to address in the sequel.

Things get more interesting in the second half, where Josh examines several of Deadfire's more controversial features, throwing his bosses under the bus a couple of times in the process. These include the five character party (no regrets), the companion relationship system (an overambitious failure), the ship-to-ship combat system (a disaster that was actually cut from the game and then forced back into it as a stretch goal by Obsidian management) and full voice acting (also imposed by management, resulting in what Josh describes as the most stressful period of his entire career).



That's not to say that the entire talk is about blaming other people. Josh admits that he failed as lead narrative designer, creating a story that couldn't decide whether it was about factions or gods. He admits that he failed to realize that turn-based RPGs were now more popular than real-time-with-pause, and that he didn't take complaints about the game's low difficulty seriously enough during the backer beta. Ultimately, Josh concludes that in the future he should work on a different kind of RPG. Congratulations Codex, you've beaten him!
 

Cross

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Josh admits that he failed as lead narrative designer, creating a story that couldn't decide whether it was about factions or gods. He admits that he failed to realize that turn-based RPGs were now more popular than real-time-with-pause, and that he didn't take complaints about the game's low difficulty seriously enough during the backer beta. Ultimately, Josh concludes that in the future he should work on a different kind of RPG. Congratulations Codex, you've beaten him!
"It is such a quiet thing, to fall. But far more terrible is to admit it."
 

ERYFKRAD

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Josh admits that he failed as lead narrative designer, creating a story that couldn't decide whether it was about factions or gods. He admits that he failed to realize that turn-based RPGs were now more popular than real-time-with-pause, and that he didn't take complaints about the game's low difficulty seriously enough during the backer beta. Ultimately, Josh concludes that in the future he should work on a different kind of RPG. Congratulations Codex, you've beaten him!
"It is such a quiet thing, to fall. But far more terrible is to admit it."
Slam dunk post.
 
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I agree that it wouldn't have made much of a difference. I think it became clear over time that Obsidian had their ideas, and they stuck to those and as a result produced a couple of mediocre-to-ok games.
 

HanoverF

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Timestamped an insight into Sawyer's damaged mind.

:littlemissfun:
 

boobio

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Are you the one spamming this thread on 4chan Infi?
 

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thesheeep

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I had no idea the companion mechanics were not well received.
I found those little remarks and reactions the NPCs showed to various dialogue choices pretty clear and a better way of doing things than only doing hard scripted reactions.
 

Shadenuat

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xoti liks her tonge
 

Van-d-all

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It's rather appropriate that the video should be made public on the same day as Baldur's Gate III's announcement and the release of Pathfinder: Kingmaker's Enhanced Edition.



"It is such a quiet thing, to fall. But far more terrible is to admit it."

Admitting you have a problem is a first step in the process of fixing it.


More like

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Gruia

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i dont like him as a person, and it translated into two failed projects i can barely get to 10h . coincidence?
 

Riddler

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Still feels like he doesn't really understand why Deadfire got the underwhelming response it did but i guess it can be hard to make a truly critical assessment of one's own work when there is such major outside interference.

How the hell are you supposed to deliver a good product when major alterations that you deemed bad and extremely time-consuming are forced upon you by clueless managers? He was practically broken by this development cycle and it seems OBS owners have yet another scalp to their name with burning out yet another of their star developers (although Josh is more of director/planner than a developer really).

The rate at which senior developers are either fleeing from or are broken by their god-awful management is truly astounding.
 
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Van-d-all

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Still feels like he doesn't really understand why Deadfire got the underwhelming response it did but i guess it can be hard when to make a truly critical assessment of one's own work when there is such major outside interference.

My thoughts exactly. He acknowledges the backlash based on figures like sales or ratings, but I think on principle he still believes his aims were right, and he's going to do the same thing again, albeit in a somewhat different manner.
 
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