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Interview Kevin Saunders interview at Iron Tower

Discussion in 'News & Content Feedback' started by Elwro, Aug 27, 2008.

  1. Elwro Arcane

    Elwro
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    Divinity: Original Sin Wasteland 2
    Tags: Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir; Obsidian Entertainment

    Vince D. Weller has <a href="http://www.irontowerstudio.com/forum/index.php?topic=468.0">interviewed</a> Kevin Saunders, lead designer of the first NWN 2 expansion, Mask of the Betrayer, and producer of the upcoming second expansion called Storms of Zehir. Some bits:<blockquote>Second, when you focus your energies, you can see what is and isn't really important to the core experience. So you can cut back in ways that save resources without greatly impacting your quality. For example, as NWN modders can attest to, complicated cut scenes can be very time consuming to get right with the NWN engine. You won't find many such scenes in MotB, especially when compared to NWN2. Hopefully, you didn't miss them much. We saved a lot of time by not creating them and spent that energy elsewhere. (We took this even further with SoZ.)</blockquote>Great; I always got the expression that the lauded cinematic factor of cut scenes does not improve the game at all; at least not in the way well-written dialogue does.<blockquote><b>5. How did the spirit meter experience affect Obsidian in general and you in particular?</b>
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    <br>
    It was a little sad that, as much as "people" say they would like to see more innovation, when we try something that doesn't quite match their expectations, we get a lot of complaints about it. The negative reaction from some suggests that we're better off just playing it safe and iterating on derivative gameplay.
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    This might sound terrible, but I've learned to not worry very much about complaints from the online public. The first 3+ years of my career in game design was invested in working on MMOGs (Nexus: The Kingdom of the Winds and Shattered Galaxy - both of which are still out there). I learned a lot about online communities through those experiences. I would love to spend more time with our community - I really mean that - but I found that I could give people what they really wanted - entertainment - when I concentrated more on the games themselves.
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    <br>
    Also, frankly, the negativity you can see in online communities can crush your soul. There are a lot of great people, but the criticism can be so much louder and can deflate one's spirit much more than the praise lifts it. So while I'm aware of some of the negative response by some to the spirit meter, I've shielded myself from a lot of the details. I'd rather make the next game the best I can than worry about such things.</blockquote>This reminds me of a Jeff Vogel <a href="http://rpgvault.ign.com/articles/701/701513p1.html">rant</a> about how he tried to innovate with Nethergate, low sales of which lead him to not experiment too much for three years, doing "basic fantasy" stuff which sold much better. So does this mean MotB sales were immune to the shit-flinging about the spirit meter?
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    <br>
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    <a href="http://www.irontowerstudio.com/forum/index.php?topic=468.0">Read the whole thing</a>; you'll learn more about how Kaelyn almost got cut and why combat in MotB was easy.
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    Thanks, <b>VD</b>!
     
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  2. thesheeep Arcane Patron

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    Seriously, they should get over it and be innovative with something that adds to fun more than it frustrates.

    Sometimes I liked the spirit meter for the choices and variety it offered, but I wonder why they didn't see the incredible frustration potential of that thing...

    On the article: Is nice!

    On Jeff Vogel:
    What exactly did he change in that game? All of them seem so ... equal to me.
     
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  3. Elwro Arcane

    Elwro
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    Nethergate is different regarding the setting (Celts / Romans) and the system. The game's different from both Avernum and Geneforge series.
    (From here.)
     
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  4. Skald Novice

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    I thought that the spirit meter was a good idiot repellant.
     
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  5. Vault Dweller Commissar, Red Star Studio Developer

    Vault Dweller
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    It worked too well unfortunately.

    Like?
     
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  6. Zomg Arbiter

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    It's the best implementation of an overarching roleplaying element into gameplay evarrrrr.
     
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  7. Skald Novice

    Skald
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    Wait...that curse can actually kill me? How am I supposed to play the bloody game?!!!oneeleven
     
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  8. Warden Arbiter

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    If the spiritmeter degeneration was activated only on resting (thus allowing the player to not hurry..) it would've been much better. Less resting & more leisure.
     
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  9. Skald Novice

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    To point was for player to hurry.

    I mean leisure and curse...does not compute.

    And it's not like you have to rush through the game anyway.
     
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  10. Volourn Pretty Princess Pretty Princess

    Volourn
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    "It was a little sad that, as much as "people" say they would like to see more innovation, when we try something that doesn't quite match their expectations, we get a lot of complaints about it. The negative reaction from some suggests that we're better off just playing it safe and iterating on derivative gameplay."

    Despite the spirit meter not being perfect; I didn't mind it. However, his comment here is full of Butffuckedness.

    'Innovation' for the sake of innovation is apthetic, and dumb. If a feature - new or old - is garbage, you deserve to be criticized for it. Period. Just because it's innovative shit doesn't make it good shit. New shit is the same as old shit.

    Oblviion is different than Daggerfall but they're both shit. R00fles!
     
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  11. Warden Arbiter

    Warden
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    Leisure and game does.
     
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  12. Skald Novice

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    The player wasn't required to rush through the game.
    All in all - the mechanic made perfect sense. I guess the rate of spirit energy decreasing could've been slower - but then again, I didn't ever need to use the satiate feat in order to survive.
     
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  13. Mefi Cipher

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    Absolutely. Innovation is a marketing man's wet dream made manifest. Look - now we make cars in blue, black and red - you must have your own colour to be different!

    We should be talking evolution and synthesis not innovation.
     
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  14. thesheeep Arcane Patron

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    Like having the feeling that you need to rush all the time, instead of being given plenty of time to explore, kill, etc. (you know, the fun stuff)

    I know that this feeling isn't always right, but it is there (simply because the bar is there and slowly decreasing...) and it definately doesn't make the game more enjoyable.
    I'm all for forcing the player to rush from time to time, when the situation is fitting. But giving him the feeling to be under time pressure for a whole game is simply a weird design decision.
    You can't even do that in shooters, where people usually don't even give a fuck about things like exploration.
     
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  15. Bluebottle Erudite Patron

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    It can't be said that the spirit meter is any more pressurising than the water-chip element of Fallout; less so in many ways. The water chip ran through the majoirty of the game and wasn't so easily be delayed.

    The spirit meter itself seems more comparable to a hunger mechanic, in that it mostly asserts itself within a dungeon (meaning that the player can't just rest after each combat) or when the player wishes to travel a large distance. In many ways it is far better than the average hunger mechanic (which I'll admit to finding tiresome), in that it was sated in far more interesting ways, and provided some interesting ability rewards that served to really re-enforce character choices.
     
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  16. TalesfromtheCrypt Arcane

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    I liked the spirit meter and thought it was a great idea, however I kinda agree with Warden.

    It would have been better if the spirit meter had degraded drasticly during resting, but only during resting. This would have given us the best of both words: You would still feel the pressure to go on with your quest and you would need to be very careful about resting too often.
    On the other hand you would have plenty of time to explore specific areas of the game without the feeling that you need to rush.

    This would have been somewhat akin to the way Fallout handled the passing of time and the time limit. The time limit prevented you from taking a 20 year long trip across the Wasteland just for fun, but inside the actual towns and locations time was passing so slowly that you could take your time with exploring and didn't feel any pressure.

    Anyways, I'm glad that Obsidian implented the spirit meter, it is a really cool feature connecting story and gameplay.
     
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  17. Zomg Arbiter

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    Feh, I really enjoy the amoral imperatives playing in the full craving style creates. It makes for a real and organic sense of predation, contempt and impatience in an evil PC. Just pitch perfect.
     
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  18. Xard Novice

    Xard
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    I managed to do just fine with full "addiction meter" and all that jazz in my recent evil playthrough.

    It's really not that hard.

    Point here being spirit meter wasn't shit; it was as zomg said "the best implementation of an overarching roleplaying element into gameplay evarrrrr."

    (well, I'd say PS:T's usage of Nameless One's immortality is very good contester)

    [RANT] Innovation or evolution or whatever you want to call it is not straightforward progress. Often it is hard and troublesome process full with misteps for every right one. One of the key defining aspects of art and being artist is pushing boundaries and trying to do something new whatever the result may be. (I'm not even trying to bring are games art debate in here) If it is crap, fine, you shrug it off and try to see if there's something of value in that pos you just created in sudden burst of inspiration. And often there is and you use that something as basis for the next part in act of creation. Quite likely this next step too is flawed, but the core genius is coming even more to surface. And process continues.

    Quite few artistic or technical innovations are heureka moments when it all immeaditly fits in place and comes clear. Does that mean one must strictly stay with sound and tested method that has become rather mundane just because it works? No

    Another, a lot more pivotal and better example:

    Jean-Luc Godard's films. Godard is without slightest doubt one of the most important and genius filmmakers in history who brought along so many innovations with him we wouldn't have modern cinema without those movies.

    However most of the Godard's films are for all their greatness mixed bags, and there's no single "perfect" film in his filmography in the general sense of word.

    Because for all of his inventiveness and moments of brilliance his films contains nigh-uniformally sections that have been failed experiments.

    So his films have inherent "flaw" or "crap" aspects that stems from his inventiveness and lack of regard for the mundane, "safe" way of making movies.

    Those inevitable lapses of fail in his works aren't even nearly enough to deny his brilliance and influence as director.

    (this same applies to many other directors, movies, books etc. as well)

    Or yet another example (that arose in with my film buff freind), the jazz jams that are about as pure moments of creating music as it can get. When sufficiently skilled or even masterful musicians come together for jam you can be sure it'll have some of the genre's finest things ever to be played and all of this stemming from improvising and trying to create something new.

    However due to its very nature bad notes (that's what jazz circles literally call them) are practically inevitable unless you've got real virtuoso improvising here (and he, in order to become such, has had many "bad notes" during his career). But those bad notes are acceptable, undesirable parts of creating something stunning.


    This was long and long winded rant. For tl;dr people: Don't fucking judge and and condemn new thing just because it is new and may have some flaws. It is still act of trying to create something new for great justice and progress.

    This something can be cinematic system of Mass Effect, Spirit Eating mechanism of MotB, Prince of Persia's time mechanics or Portal for all we know. It'll propably end up flawed and may not hold up candle against truly tested and reliable methods, but don't prohibit and scoff at people wanting to create something new.[/RANT]


    ANYWAY

    Great interview as always. Part about MotB's combat is interesting (well, more like VD's question starting pretty much with "MotB's combat was easy" as it was some universal truth).

    I personally enjoyed MotB's combat. Some of the battles were challenging and great fun. To name a few I throughoughly enjoyed Founder's Sanctum and cleaning it from Myrkulites. I couldn't rest much and some encounters were hard. I had really great fun in those catacombs for first few playthroughs that got up to that point. Other is the insane Vampire Elites spawning in Myrkul's Temple (which you're not supposed to win, heh) and that latter encounter with lich and his forces in that same place (which too I finished too early) + in my evil campaign slaying the berserkers and that. fucking. badger. Egad that was horrible.

    I'm not saying combat was brilliant or anything, but at times like these very fun and sufficiently challenging and even mundane combat wasn't such snorefest RPG combat has been ever since IWD2 came out as last game with good combat.


    I am quite experienced with D&D and know my shit, but couple of friends of mine (who are not newbs or some 12 year old ADHD retarted kids) had really hard time with MotB - two of them couldn't even finish it. Bio boards are full with asking help for battle encounters and not all of those are utter idiots either.

    I eagerly welcome harder and awesomener combat in SoZ (because ultimately MotB is easy, but not that easy) in hopes of it being first RPG with awesome combat since already mentioned IWD2.

    But having somewhat broader perspective is always good thing in these cases. Epic level D&D is pain in arse to make it work
     
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  19. Mefi Cipher

    Mefi
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    Xard - I take your underlying point, but the issue is that of whether or not a game is art for art's sake (eg Godard) or art to a design brief (eg a Gainsborough portrait).

    If art for art's sake - innovation for innovations sake is what it's all about. But if you're doing a portrait for a specific brief then you must meet the client's needs and desires. There is after all no point in designing a car with square wheels, just because you can make square tyres.
     
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  20. PrzeSzkoda Augur

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    Hey, Avernum 5, biatch. Some of the best combat encounters in a very long time. Certain bits were simply brilliant.
     
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  21. Xard Novice

    Xard
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    boy, I wrote like Volourn at parts :lol:

    Indeed. I'm not sure if I streched it enough, but that rant was general and not in direct relevance toany specific case apart from Spirit Eater mechanism due to the interview this very thread is about.

    I'm not sure if game mechanics can be compared with doing portrait for some special client, after all games are aimed at gamers who are all individuals (yes, even Bethesda drones :P ) with their very own specific needs and desires. So trying to do some RPG Paragon that precisely meets all needs and desires of its target audience is foolhardy task because those needs and desires are - not even in general matters unless you're focusing on real niche - diverse.

    Bringing in SoZ all its defining elements is innovative in NWN franchise itself. (Of course all the stuff it brings are good ol' traditional RPG goodness) And did it create a lot objections... "BAAAWW I CANZ HAS MY ROMANCE", "BAAAWW I WANT FULL PARTY OF NPC'S" etc.

    Pandering to gamer's needs and general desires is really the reason why jRPG's haven't gone forward whole lot. They don't dare to take risks and innovate. (I really hate the way that word is overused nowadays btw)

    I'm not horribly interested in Mass Effect's dialogue system and vastly prefer the old one, but I won't spit on Bioware for wanting to try something like that. I'm ok with the system as long as it doesn't become norm on RPG's over the current model. It does have its benefits and plus sides too.

    Same with Alpha Protocol which is alongside SoZ my N.1 game in horizon (AoD is there too but I have no idea when it comes out so I'm less eager about it). It gets a lot flak in codex (and other unfairly IMO) but I'm really hopeful about it's writing (c'mon, Mitsoda AND Avellone on same title? Real world problems to handle and deal with? C&C goodness to max? Awesome Kill Billesque over the topness? All in same package?) and above all its gameplay which judging by forum posts, previews etc. seem to shape up to awesomeness.

    ( I have no preference in pointdexter vs skill based debate, I only care if system is great to play with, and I have fair reasons to suppose it might have best gameplay in RPG I've yet encountered. )

    Of course AP might suck, but I doubt it. :)


    To conclude: Of course there isn't any point in designing a car with square wheels, but not even remotely all innovation (Mirror's Edge seem very interesting game, I really need to update my comp.) is like that in nature. For every VATS ( :X ) there's something like Okami.

    edit: sorry man, I haven't played it so I wouldn't know :(

    edit2: ahh, it's one of Spidersoftware's games. I remember trying out one of those and disliking it so I haven't kep eye on them.

    edit3: nvm wrong thread
     
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  22. Mefi Cipher

    Mefi
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    Is that the reason? Or are they perhaps aiming for specific markets in order to maximise profits?
     
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  23. Xard Novice

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    Well, it's pretty much same thing. People can be and are terribly conservative in many things - for good and for bad

    Japan isn't overall exactly known for especially liking change etc. despite their techofreakiness. They're da conservatives from social rites to gaming

    And really, stereotypes about JRPG players and what they want from games tend to be very right. Which is sad

    JRPG gamers get their needs and desires fullfilled with the never changing formula and it makes shitloads of money for developers. Why change the working system? There's no reason from business perspective. So of course they pander to their wants. There's no difference here between those two.

    Or take Bio's "dark but not too dark" thing with DA after fanbase was split over those who were happy with change and those "nooo mai puppies" :(

    Final Fantasy XII was succesful title that shaked some core foundations of FF's and jrpg's in general, but if I can trust what I hear the gameplay itself turned out shitty so I won't count it as succesful "innovation". (then again, that's same thing in nearly all JRPG's) It does have some potential though (but so does your usual JRPG systems if japanese devs would just stop fucking around with their games. How can they design so awesome games in other genres and then constantly suck at rpg's?)
     
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  24. Mefi Cipher

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    Sure, but you're looking at relatively big corporate games. The new ideas come at the margins from the smaller guys who are trying to find a market. Ultimately one hopes those ideas will be picked up elsewhere or that the games house will have an extremely commercially successful 'main' product and then are willing to fund something a little different as almost an 'art-house' project.

    It's when these guys stop finding new takes on things that real innovation stops. It's not happened yet - count the flawed gems which regularly are cited as examples of 'great' games on the Codex.

    JRPGs do get a bad press but then there are some very interesting ideas which do crop up in them from time to time. They may be poorly explored but ideas such as integration of man with machine (FF series) is actually quite a thought-provoking one.
     
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  25. Xard Novice

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    yeah, it's not like I hate JRPG's, they have good sides in them and there are good titles around (and supposedly even good tactical combat games!) but most of the time they really fail at implementing good ideas. But japanese can write good stories and themes in their games (although often ending up somewhat too melodramatic), it's not all "emo* shit"

    And I agree on else you said (although it's not like big corporations are utterly incapable at "innovating" - blergh, word starts to get overused in here too )

    *there's another word that nowadays gets thrown around way too much without any basis.

    Anyway, I think this has been enough of off-topic for now. :)
     
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