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Development Info Project Eternity Kickstarter Update #60: Chris Avellone on Companion Design

Infinitron

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Codex Year of the Donut 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 Pathfinder: Wrath I'm very into cock and ball torture I helped put crap in Monomyth
Tags: Arcanum: of Steamworks and Magick Obscura; Chris Avellone; Obsidian Entertainment; Project Eternity; Torment: Tides of Numenera

In this week's Project Eternity Kickstarter update, Chris Avellone writes about aspects of companion design in both Project Eternity and Torment: Tides of Numenera. It's a long and highly technical update, revealing the professional side of MCA that we don't often see beneath his jokey exterior. Here's an excerpt:

...and now on to Companion Design

We discussed companion design (http://forums.obsidian.net/blog/1/entry-168-project-eternity-and-characterization/) way back at the start of Eternity, so some points in this update will callback to this. There shouldn’t be a need for a refresher read unless you want to. The process for Eternity (and Torment) has followed these bulletpoints, and we’re holding true to our goals as well as expanding the design methodology as we go ahead.​

The first and best place to start with companion design is the game systems. For companions, this means considering race, class, and their role in the conflict mechanics of the game. Knowing what class of character you’re making is key to building their history and personality. For example, in the case of Gann in NX1: Mask of the Betrayer, knowing his class before writing was a big help, and I can use that class’s list of abilities, class focus, and the abilities the class specializes in and weave it in with the backstory. The Eternity designers have been good about indicating the spread of classes and races for the companions and rationing those out during the process.​

For Eternity, since combat is the primary challenge mechanic, one major goal is to make sure the companion is combat effective. Why would you take them in your party? How are they useful? In other instances of conflict mechanics (for example, dialogue or Tide reactivity in Torment), we also examine how the character is useful in terms of these challenges as well.​

A Note About Challenge Mechanics

Really quick, I want to clarify what I meant about “challenge mechanics.” That doesn’t always mean combat – it’s whatever the primary challenge in the game is. If we were doing a Thief-style RPG, then stealth and avoiding detection becomes the primary challenge mechanic, not combat. Depending on the RPG and its range of challenges, a character can still be fairly weak in combat, but if that’s the case, we try to think of how they’re helpful with regards to the game’s other challenges (giving an edge in dialogue, healing, fast travel).​

For all the characters I’ve seen or designed for games that don’t cater to at least one of the game’s primary challenge mechanics, those guys are often unpopular or unused because they’re not helping out with the systematic gameplay, regardless of how cool they might seem. And the more actively these characters can participate in the mechanics (vs. passive), the stronger their appeal.​

Also at the same time, I try to be careful that the companion's skill set doesn’t overlap with the challenge roles of the other characters. We try to indicate in the companion briefs how each companion's challenge role is intended – one thing I learned as a pen-and-paper Gamemaster is you want to be careful about two players sharing the same role (Tank, Mage, Priest, etc.) – if one is clearly stronger than another, then the second one needs something else to make them stand out and be “special” in the party and fulfill an equally cool role in the party dynamic, otherwise one ends up getting upstaged by the other. And feelings get hurt. Which isn’t something you want in a game designed to entertain.​

For Eternity, we’re setting it up so even if players choose the same classes as some companions, the companions are designed to assist those character types and make them more special (ciphers, for example, can chain, and even priests with the same religion can discuss theology and combo attacks).​

Chris has also finally recorded Season 2 of his Arcanum LP:



Check out the full update for more MCA and more MCA drawings.
 

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Codex Year of the Donut 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 Pathfinder: Wrath I'm very into cock and ball torture I helped put crap in Monomyth
People in the Kickstarter comments whining about how dungeon-centric the game is. :thumbsup:
 

Kem0sabe

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People in the Kickstarter comments whining about how dungeon-centric the game is. :thumbsup:


One could argue that a good portion of BG2 was dungeon centric, people tend to forget that you spent most of your time fighting through sewers, dungeons, towers, etc.
 

Kem0sabe

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One could argue that a good portion of BG2 was dungeon centric, people tend to forget that you spent most of your time fighting through sewers, dungeons, towers, etc.
One could argue? It's pretty much an indisputable fact.

What is indisputable in the Codex is accessory in the bioware forums. In the case of P:E fans and backers both seem to overlap and have distinct opinions on the focus of BG2 and what P:E should be.
 

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Probably one of the best "updates" I've read from a KS project. I also really liked how talking about T:ToN in this P:E update felt natural and... right. Even though both games are from different studios there is sense that we have both studios working together to ensure that both games are the best they can be and successful. Never see EA or Activision doing that, which is just another reason I love this KS process!! Plus, MCA's drawings are always so cool...:love:

:thumbsup:
 

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Codex Year of the Donut 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 Pathfinder: Wrath I'm very into cock and ball torture I helped put crap in Monomyth
I didn't mention this in the update, but it looks like Chris Avellone is going to be writing this guy:

2437308-orlan.jpg


No wonder he's so fond of the Orlans.
 

Sensuki

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Codex 2014 Serpent in the Staglands Shadorwun: Hong Kong A Beautifully Desolate Campaign
I didn't mention this in the update, but it looks like Chris Avellone is going to be writing this guy:

2437308-orlan.jpg


No wonder he's so fond of the Orlans.

He's also doing another companion. It's in the line where he said he gets three for the price of one. He has expressed interest in Sagani as well in the past.

My guess if Josh is writing any, he'll probably have Edair.
 

Rake

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Well if eric is doing 2, chris is doing 2, George isnt doing any then who does the other 4 ?

Propably Obsidian has other writers as well that we know not. Or maby Ziets will write one and Avellone 3
 

Sensuki

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Codex 2014 Serpent in the Staglands Shadorwun: Hong Kong A Beautifully Desolate Campaign
George doesn't wanna write one :P, Chris said he's doing 2 and he's doing one for Torment - that's a lot of work.

So I wouldn't be surprised if Josh writes at least one. Anyone know who wrote companions for other titles that could be a possibility ?
 

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