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Feature Article

Pillars of Eternity, Baldur's Gate, and Toeing the Line Between Homage and Clone

Remembering the titans.

It's said that we stand on the shoulders of giants--that is, that we advance into the future by building on the grand discoveries that have come before. Modern role-playing games, for example, stand on the shoulders of adventures like Ultima VII, Eye of the Beholder, Baldur's Gate, and Planescape: Torment. Developer Obsidian Entertainment, well-known for RPGs ranging from Knights of the Old Republic II to Alpha Protocol, knows its history. And with Pillars of Eternity, it hopes to recapture a piece of it.

Whether or not Pillars of Eternity has the same magic as Baldur's Gate, the game which it clearly looks upon with awe and reverence, isn't yet clear. Several members of the game's development team showed off the game to me recently, and it only took a single glance to see that Pillars of Eternity is spawned from BioWare's classic. It doesn't take place in the Dungeons & Dragons universe, but Pillars nonetheless looks and feels like its inspiration. The environments have that hand-drawn grittiness that gave the Infinity Engine games an air of fantastical despair, the interface looks as if it has been carved from oak and stone, and selected party members are identified with pulsing blue circles under their feet. Combat is even in the pause-and-play style that serves as Baldur's Gate's signature.

Culture choices don't affect your stats, but they do offer role-playing opportunities.

As I watched Obsidian play Pillars of Eternity, it was hard not to shake the concern that stayed with me throughout the demo: that this was not a game standing on the shoulders of giants, but one relying on slavish devotion. It didn't help that I had just played the excellent Divinity: Original Sin earlier that day, an RPG that uses its inspirations as a springboard rather than as a mold, and in the process establishes an identity that makes it an important step in RPG evolution. Divinity uses old mechanics to say something new. Does Pillars of Eternity use old mechanics to say something old? And if so, is that necessarily a bad thing?

Pillars of Eternity project director Josh Sawyer doesn't think so. We chatted a bit about the Baldur's Gate legacy, and the ways Obsidian plans to differentiate their game from its forebears. And for Sawyer, a big part of that is rethinking how classes function. "I worked on all the Icewind Dale games," says Sawyer, "and I've seen how people play them. And a lot of things I look at and I think, a lot of things were really fun, really enjoyable to do. But there are certain aspects of them that are not superfun, or could be more enjoyable. And so that's a lot of what we look at. We don't have to do it the same way that it's always been done, we can change the formula a little bit. For example, one of the party members that you get is Heodan, and he's a rogue, and rogues are the most offensively powerful weapon-based characters. That's a change from second- and third-edition D&D, where they are mostly skill-based. But we did that because if you made a rogue, we wanted you to feel like this character is very good at a certain style of combat. We want every class to feel like it's important and valuable in its own way."

I said, let's just make a game that's like those old games. One that has that same feeling, has the same style, and for me, I just said we really need to make the core elements of it feel very much like the old games.

Josh Sawyer, Project Director, Pillars of Eternity

The demo included Pillars of Eternity's character creation, which allowed me to get a good look at the game's classes in addition to its fantasy races. Eora is an original world, and while some of its races are familiar enough, a few of them captured my imagination. I'm accustomed to Humans, Dwarfs, and Elves, but I am not sure what Pillars' Aumaua race may be like, or how I would feel should I meet an Orlan in a dark alley. Though Obsidian chose to play as a Human, Sawyer did show show me a character of the Godlike race, which the game says is viewed "with fear and wonder" due to the Godlike's "unusual nature" and inability to reproduce. (I have no word on how the Godlike are actually created, though I am sure such a ritual involves plenty of magic.) The Godlike I saw looked to be wearing a tall, pointed headpiece made of tendons and cartilage, though Sawyer affirmed that this was no headpiece, but rather a part of the Godlikes' anatomy.

Oh, but why must I be such a boring human on this mundane, magic-less planet?

Pillars of Eternity's Humans, on the other hand, aren't so mundane as you and me: class choices are diverse and great in number. The usual magic-based classes, like wizard and priest, are accounted for, in addition to weapons-focused classes like ranger and fighter. A few options seemed a bit unusual, however, such as the cipher. "Ciphers are kind of like psionicists, like mental casters," Sawyer told me, and he described the chanter class as this world's take on a bard. For demo purposes, it was the barbarian I saw in action, a class particularly good at area-of-effect melee attacks. You can of course spend some initial points in base attributes, but don't assume you should just dump points into your barbarian's might and constitution stats and call it a day. Statistics you don't usually associate with certain types of characters can still be valuable, and all characters have abilities that benefit from any given stat. Your barbarian's AOE attacks' durations and effective areas benefit from intellect, for example.

A lot of things were really fun, really enjoyable to do. But there are certain aspects of them that are not superfun, or could be more enjoyable.

Josh Sawyer

The adventure begins as so many adventures do--around a campfire--and continues as so many do: with you collecting health-giving berries for fellow caravan members who have fallen ill. The minutes that followed were comforting in their familiarity, as the barbarian and his companion ventured into the nearby ruins, led by a mouse cursor lifted seemingly part and parcel from Baldur's Gate. There was one modern twist however: events were described as they occurred by handsome hand-drawn story panels. The first panel told of a guide emerging from the woods, wobbling and gasping before falling over to reveal an arrow in his back. The panel was a lovely touch, well in keeping with Pillars of Eternity's fantastical nature while still providing visual interest missing from the games that inspired it. Later panels offered branching decisions that determined how the actions that follow would play out. These scenes aren't just a dramatic way of imparting important story events, but a notable framing device for vital player decisions.

Story decisions aren't relegated just to these moments, however. Branching conversation trees also play a role in the continuing story, and like with most games, some of those options might be available only if you have reached a certain threshold in skills like honesty, diplomacy, and passion. But while you can usually assume that unlocked options are always the "right" answer in other role-playing games--including previous Obsidian games like Fallout: New Vegas--that won't always be the case in Pillars of Eternity. Says Sawyer, "Now we're saying, no, you have a lot of unlocks, but you still have to pay attention to the context of what's going on."

Those goings-on will often involve battles, of course, which play out in typical Baldur's Gate fashion. Combat progresses in real time, but you can pause the action whenever you like to reposition characters and queue up different skills. The action wasn't all that exciting to watch during the demo, given the lifeless animations and small-scale visual effects, though I don't doubt that these old-school visuals will appeal to the game's Kickstarter backers, who will presumably embrace any element that reminds them of the good ol' days--or in layman's parlance, 1998. It is that kind of game that Obsidian promised--and it's the kind of game Obsidian is good at making. Says Sawyer, "We said, what can we do through Kickstarter that we think people want to do that will be a good fit for us?"

In Pillars of Eternity, wolves are only the beginning.

And thus a new isometric game was born. Says Sawyer of Pillars' conception, "I said, let's just make a game that's like those old games. One that has that same feeling, has the same style, and for me, I just said we really need to make the core elements of it feel very much like the old games. The style of the [user interface], the style of the art, the style of the characters, even the armor of the characters. If you look at their gear, that's not how fantasy art looks now. That's how fantasy art looked 10 years ago, where it's much more sort of dressed down, it's not super saturated, it's a little more subdued and realistic in some ways. So for us, it was about making a game that captured the spirit of those. There are certain things that we changed, but again, those things that we changed are things that we think even in the old games were not very strong."

The demo came to a close, but not before the three-person adventuring party navigated an eerie temple, where black oozes, spiderlings, and a floor tile puzzle provided the biggest obstacles, while a choir chanted in the background and French horns called out their fanfares. The adventurers emerged into the Ruins of Cilant Lis, where they were greeted by a giant whirring magical device and the guardians protecting it. The game's title appeared on screen, leaving me to wonder if Pillars of Eternity will refresh role-playing traditions or simply replicate them--and whether pure replication is anything to scoff at, given the legacy of Baldur's Gate and its ilk. Nevertheless, I have faith not just in the strength of the Infinity Engine template, but in Obsidian's ability to use that template to craft a journey worth taking.

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Discussion

171 comments
adamdiran
adamdiran

The kickstarter backers weren't looking for ground breaking we were looking for nostalgia.  The writer comapres Pillar to divinity original sin....   Divinity is a well executed game, many bonus points for the ability to modify the enviroment, but the story is weak and the NPC's are souless.  most of the fun of Balurs gate was listening to Viconia and Minc fighting, following the quests of your NPC party members, thats what people love and remember.  If Obsidian gives me that I'll be satisfied,

Klyern
Klyern

I am, proficiently drooling.


bring it, i got my oculus rift ready.


not.

jalen_222
jalen_222

There is no intellectual formula for inspired work.

You can have all of the apparent elements in place and your game can be as faulted and flat as a pancake. Just ask Dragon Age 2. The inspired flavor and feeling of BG2 has been almost impossible to duplicate.

Some RPGs are good and fun to play ... but NOT special - or Inspired. They don't pull you in. They just follow the formula.

I would have to say Skyrim is the best RPG I've played since BG2 ...  

elessarGObonzo
elessarGObonzo

Original Sin has me hooked and hopefully Pillars of Eternity will do the same

thorn3000
thorn3000

great comparison to Divinity, honestly would though Divinity would be a clone of old, which would not be a bad thing as I would enjoy the game much, but it would not reach perfection by having it's own identity...boy was I wrong, the elemental combinations combined with turns without hex grid for combat and the dual-main-hero party for role-playing made it unique.....I hope hope and hope that Eternity will forge it's own identity as well somehow, that godlike race mentioned sounds like a good start, perhaps add something unique to combat as combat taken up most of the time in any game anyway...anyway I am of course sold to this game anyway, even if it the same as Baldur's Gate (or even Icewind Dale which I liked even better (please do kill me)) I will enjoy it thorougly, but am worried it might not reach 9+ due to not having it's own identity

cratecruncher
cratecruncher

This game will likely be judged good or bad on it's story and how well crafted the events and quests unfold.  There is a  reason Planescape and Baldurs Gate are the most popular games sold on the GOG site.  They have great dialog and quests and there are tons of things to discover with multiple playthroughs.  I'm looking forward to all these Kickstarter games: PoE, Torment Tides of Numenera, Wasteland 2.


One thing I hope the Obsidian team does not copy from Baldur's Gate is the lazy filler combat.  "Oh look three more hobgoblins."  "Oh look, three more hobgoblins."  "Oh look,.......zzzzzzzzzzz.

zoeyleft
zoeyleft

Although I enjoyed the information and footage on this game, the dilemma in this feature seems forced. OBVIOUSLY, anything that re-creates baldur's gate mechanics well is GOOD. Makes it really sound like gamespot is trying to blackamil to get paid or something.

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

Because I am not versed in the history of Obsidian Entertainment and Black Isle Studios, I didn't get the significance of "Eternity." Now that title seems appropriate even though I am not sure I like what it signifies for "Obsidian games."

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

What defines Pillars of Eternity? I love Obsidian's sequels not because of their similarities to the originals but that intangible quality that make them different. It's not even the same in each case. In KOTOR II: the path of the balanced Jedi. In NWN2: secondary and tertiary gameplay that actually lets me role play as someone whose function isn't solely to kill someone else. In FO: NV: a feeling of damned if I do and damned if I don't but I only care about Goodspring anyway. I love the soul that shines through Obsidian's games.

I find it curious, then, that I feel so torn about backing Obsidian's first crowdfunded game. I am no fan of old school cRPG gameplay, but that didn't prevent me from playing BG to NWN2, or giving $50 to Wasteland 2 early on. However, Obsidian, or perhaps I should say Black Isle's ghost, seems so passionate about making a faithful reincarnation of the Infinity engine game. A seemingly neglected fact may be significant. The Obsidian brand did not release a single Infinity engine game. Not one. Is the Infinity-likeness in PoE simply a tool of convenience, like Aurora, or is it the heart of the game? I can respect Obsidian's honoring Black Isle, but I cannot support that by itself. I didn't even like Icewind Dale.

Kevin briefly mentioned one thing that caught my eye. Decisions unlocked by skills are not necessarily the "right" ones. That idea contains a spark of the Obsidian I know and love. If it shines brightly enough, it'll make my $50 worthwhile. But will it?

XIntoTheBlue
XIntoTheBlue

As long as these games turn out to be fun and engaging, I don't care how much of a "clone" they are of the classics. A game doesn't need to be "original" to be worth playing.

Sgt-Damain
Sgt-Damain

I was really looking forward to this, but after playing Divinity: Original Sin, this looks kinds dull. The combat in particular doesn't seem anywhere as interesting. Divinity really raised the bar.

bussinrounds
bussinrounds

@adamdiran Not really.  Most of the fun of BG was the fun interpretation of D&D, crawling around in some cool dungeons, the monster variety and encounters...not so much the plot or whiny characters which were decent at times, but cringe worthy a little too often.

Etagloc
Etagloc

@jalen_222 I guess we all have our personal favorites ;D ... one of the best RPG's i played since BG2 was vampire the masquerade bloodlines.... yes the game was deeply flawed and buggy.
But somehow it drew ME in with its great cast of characters and amazing atmosphere.

Etagloc
Etagloc

@elessarGObonzo I really like the gameplay in original sin... but the story and characters hasn't gotten my attention:

To Me I think is gona be one of those play and forget games ;/ 

Etagloc
Etagloc

@cratecruncher i feel you ;D... but I don't think it can be completely avoided. What im hopeing for is a great cast of characters, both the party NPC's and story NPC's....AND GIVE ME ANOTHER VILLAN I CARE ABOUT ;D

thorn3000
thorn3000

@cratecruncher PoE, Torment Tides of Numenera, Wasteland 2, Divinity Original Sin..the good times for games have finally returned! I get the feeling the next or so in gaming will be very enjoyable for me

Zloth2
Zloth2

@zoeyleft  Obviously NOT!  The "rest" mechanic in Baldur's Gate was grade-A stupid.  "Wow, that battle was rough!  Let's pitch a tent in the dungeon and rest for about 8 hours while the magic folks re-memorize.  I'm sure the other monsters in here are honorable enough to wait."  There's a lot of great stuff in Baldur's Gate but it was not pure perfection.

EvilCactus
EvilCactus

@Unfallen_Satan The people at Obsidian are made up of the former heads of Black Isle and Troika. They were responsible for Fallout, Planescape Torment, Icewind Dale, Arcanum, Temple of Elemental Evil, etc. Obsidian is basically an RPG "super-team"

jecomans
jecomans

@Sgt-Damain Divinity is fantastic, isn't it? My issue with Pillars is that they seem to be making a game that they could have made in 1998, right down to the animations and effects. Divinity is so good because it melds the history it is looking too, with design choices and technology that are distinctly modern. 

rhymesmatter
rhymesmatter

@bussinrounds @adamdiran The fun of BG were BOTH of what you mates described united! bussinrounds you sound like those mainstream gamers that spam ESC or SPACE whenever a cinematic appears just to get straight and strictly to the gameplay , which if is peculiar and arguably laughable if it's your most important factor (which seemingly is) in an RPG ... Long Story short: Go play Diablo Like clones (Isometric Action RPGs) if that's your sort of thing! Saying that BG is an awesome game SIMPLY due to it's Gameplay mechanics (AD&D) and even worse implying that it's STORY and CHARACTERS are meh or meaningless .... then you are vastly insulting cRPGs as a genre !
I for a fact love BOTH of those aspects in BG and in fact deem them as the X FACTORS for a Successful RPG. Not just one of them but BOTH! The fact that Obsidian decided to exclude Romance as an aspect from Pillars really saddened me and bummed me but i am not going to doom the game because of that! Vice Versa if i see a not so great or innovative Gameplay i am not going to bash on the game if the story and characters are phenomenal...Learn what you like and learn your facts mate

adamdiran
adamdiran

@Etagloc @elessarGObonzo I am in complete agreement.  If they had "biowared" their NPC's and spent more time on the story that game would have been a pure classic, as it is?  Forgettable.  A good time but forgettable.

cratecruncher
cratecruncher

@thorn3000 @cratecruncher  If you are a fan of the older isometric Fallout 1&2 there is a new game in Steam Early Access called UnderRail that's getting great buzz too.

lostn
lostn

@Zloth2 @zoeyleft That was a D&D mechanic, not BG. You can get interrupted while resting, or you can go to a safe place to do it.

zoeyleft
zoeyleft

@Zloth2
i dont think you even played the game. You probably just played it a bit to see how it was. Because if you rested in dungeons, and there were monsters around, the chances of being attacked WHILE sleeping was very high. they didnt wait around like you make it out to be. Why even talk about stuff you dont know about? Worst, complaining about stuff that isnt what you are complaining about. 

puckhog27
puckhog27

@Zloth2 @zoeyleft 

The rest mechanic in Baldur's Gate1/2 was fine.  If you rested inside a dungeon you would almost always be attacked by monsters while doing it.  If you were outside a dungeon when resting the chances of being attacked were much lower.  Resting in a town/inn was the safest way to rest/recover your party.

It sounds like this game will miss out on some of the old game mechanics again.  Instead of having classes that are just for utility every class will be DPS of some sort.  This dumbs down the game a lot, but it still looks like fun.  I'd rather have a thief in the group than a rogue.  Rogues are just DPS.

bussinrounds
bussinrounds

@Zloth2 @zoeyleft   Better than the lame mmo mechanics of DAO and just watching kooldown meters, getting all your health/magic back after every battle automatically

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

@EvilCactus Exactly, and I don't even like Fallout or Icewind Dale. That's the real kicker I realized when I wrote my comment. I look at Obsidian by its games, from KOTOR 2 to Dungeon Siege 3 (I am resistant to South Park), and I see only what I love, if only in part. I look at these other games you mention, and, well, I recognize many others like them. I am not just saying; I played each at least a bit after a GOG sale, except Arcanum. If they remake Planescape: Torment, that would be very nice. The dated tech inhibited my enjoyment of the story.

Oh, and I think it's unfair to restrict RPG to those born of old tabletop legacy. RPG games today have become so much more, and it's more precise to label Obsidian's core members as cRPG "super-team."

Zloth2
Zloth2

@zoeyleft @Zloth2  Bzzzt!  I played it all the way through when it came out and I've been playing through it again thanks to GOG.  Heck, Minsc is my favorite NPC of all time!

Yes, you can get attacked while sleeping.  However, monsters being around doesn't seem to matter much (unless you're really close, in which case it won't let you sleep at all).  I don't think the chance of being attacked is even 50%, either.  Even when they do attack, it isn't hard to deal with because it's a random, "wandering monster" encounter.  It's not like the surrounding enemies noticed their neighbors were gone, banded together, and attacked in force.

Zloth2
Zloth2

@Thanatos2k @Zloth2 @zoeyleft  Heck yeah - it was dumb in AD&D as well.  BioWare didn't just use the AD&D system, they practically enslaved themselves to it in Baldur's Gate.

lostn
lostn

@Zloth2 @zoeyleft It's not meant to be "hard", it's meant to stop your resting so that you can't recover. I'm not convinced you got the point of the game. Earlier you claimed "Let's pitch a tent in the dungeon and rest for about 8 hours while the magic folks re-memorize.  I'm sure the other monsters in here are honorable enough to wait." which is patently false. Now you're saying yes they do attack but they're easy to kill (again missing the point). Well which is it?

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

@bussinrounds Just got the email announcing the mystery trailer. I am eager to see if this leads to a departure from previous BioWare conventions.

Zloth2
Zloth2

@lostn @Zloth2 @zoeyleft  It's not hard so that you can beat up whatever comes then go right back to sleep, which DOES let you recover.  It's possible to even get hit a second time and that can get a bit dicey but it's so rare it isn't worth worrying about.  You'll still get through the night just fine almost all the time so there's no need to retreat.

The monsters in the rooms near you DO wait, lostn.  When you get attacked, you get attacked by random critters, not the monsters in the rooms around you.  And what's this about getting to "that point" in the game?  That point would be right after finishing all those silly little fetch quests in the first village in BG1 and that point would be immediately in BG2.  Have YOU actually played these games??

The point is that this mechanic is ridiculous.  Setting up camp in the middle of a dungeon (or castle or prison or whatever) with enemies just two rooms away is completely absurd.

bussinrounds
bussinrounds

@Unfallen_Satan @bussinrounds Thanks to all the kickstarted incline and games like Original Sin, Pillars, Wasteland 2, new Torment, ect... 


I had almost forgotten what the grim face of mainstream RPGs looked like.

lostn
lostn

@Zloth2 @lostn @Thanatos2k @zoeyleft This one was a pretty important one. As long as it uses memorization of spells instead of a mana system, you're not going to be able to not use the rest system. A D&D game with a mana system like Dark Alliance is not a real D&D game. It's a Forgotten Realms game, but not using D&D rules.

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

@bussinrounds Through our discussion, I finally found the heart of my problem with people who clamor for the Infinity era RPG. I wrote to share, but it ran long, so I am just gonna say, thank you.

In short, I believe cRPG and the features commonly associated with it (and vigorously defended) are by no means the best way to role-play on the computer. They were mechanics limited by the technology of a bygone era and further restricted by the tabletop RPG upon which those early games were based. (For my personal favorite alternative, see Quest for Glory.) I see the technology of today making the role playing experience (potentially) superior in every way. (One negative example is the over simplified morality gauge.)

I am not bashing cRPG of itself. I think that particular style of game has its charms, and I am still glad it's being made. However, of role-playing game in general, not only am I glad the genre has moved on, I fully expect its continued evolution.

Wow, this still ran kinda long. Sorry.

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

@bussinrounds Oh, and just so we are clear, I have no issue with the kind of old school games you talk about. I already gave $50 for a boxed version of Wasteland 2 and I bought most of the Infinity engine cRPG off GOG even though I have half of it in boxed form from decades ago. It's the reason why I like the fact these newer crowdfunded games can be made. My problem is with people who complain against evolution. Why did Fallout have to go first person? Why couldn't RPG stay isometric turn-based? (I am no avid player, but I did beat X-Com: EW.) Some even complain about voice over (though admittedly voice over adds cost and bad voice over can hurt a game). The argument seems to be: these are our (old fans') games! No they're not!

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

@bussinrounds It sounds like you are proud of that, but I don't understand why, but I am happy that you're happy. Kickstarter has done a great service to bring like-minded gamer/maker together so even a minority can have the games they want.

At the same time, there are still those who, for reasons I don't understand, seek to reassert old school sensibility to the modern masses. Even I see certain qualities in older games that newer games don't compare, such as player choice that's more free and sophisticated than an over-simplified morality scale (I acknowledge Kevin's discussing it in a recent article), but advocating a return to the time of Fallout or Infinity engine games is pointless. There was no conspiracy that caused those games to fall from favor; they were retired by the evolving gaming mass.

Now that niche markets have become viable, and you are able to enjoy games you want, we are at a good place. I have no sympathy, however, for anyone who lament that the majority has not embraced a return to (by gaming standard) ancient times.

bussinrounds
bussinrounds

@Unfallen_Satan And it's not just the 'infinity engine' era rpgs ppl are wanting.  Old school rpgs encompass much more than just the IE games.

bussinrounds
bussinrounds

@Unfallen_Satan @bussinrounds Yes, of course they COULD make a great RPG now.   But with the over inflated costs of production in AAA gaming, they have to try and appeal to the masses unfortunately.


Which means another awesome action game  #4848646364378364

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

@bussinrounds I hear BG mentioned the most, but you are right, I also hear others, like FO, mentioned a lot. I thought Planescape: Torment was Infinity engine based. These are the basis of the three biggest old school RPG successes on Kickstarter so far, right? Wasteland 2, PoE, and Torment: ToN? I do know of the latest Divinity game. Am I missing any other icons that are dissimilar to these? I'd appreciate it.

I think it's baseless to say the new RPG styles that appeal to the masses, first/third person for example or the more visceral combat, somehow make modern RPG inferior. In almost no RPG, old or new that I've seen or heard of, has there been characters appropriately described as "tactician" or "strategist." I would like to see such roles, and Inquisition holds some promise given its scale, but no one should mistake micromanaging a few characters as great tactics or anything approaching strategy.

I do feel there has been considerable simplification of plot in modern RPG, and I also agree that it's related to their AAA nature. However, the problem I see is not appealing to more players but rather the prohibitive cost of applying modern production values to the scale and complexity of the cRPG greats. A good example is the secondary voice acting in Skyrim; after a while it becomes an inside joke of sort. I am not against scaling back on the bells and whistles so the plot and world can be richer. That is not to say anything about the other mechanics I find obsolete, and I would appreciate better high production value AND more intricate story.

bussinrounds
bussinrounds

@Unfallen_Satan Wasteland 2 was based on the original Wasteland (88') not Fallout and yes, Planescape is an Infinity Engine game.


Other classics.. Ultima, Wizardry, Might & Magic, D&D Gold Box & Dark Sun , Realms of Arkania series,, Wasteland, Betrayal at Krondor, Darklands, Dungeon Master, Dark Heart of Uukrul, Lands of Lore...


How is it baseless to say that awesome action gameplay, 'emontionally engaging' cinematics, romances, ect.. doesn't appeal to the masses more than the classic rpg game styles ?  Come on now.


As far as Bioware goes, the only hope I have for them,  is providing some more unintentional comedy.


Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

@bussinrounds This is tangential to the discussion, but to make sure I give classic RPG more fair assessment, I tried again to play both BG and Planescape, continuing where I gave up previously. In doing so I discovered something, which is subject to change as I play more, but I like Planescape more than BG, and not just the story.

Despite the criticism to Planescape's combat, I felt Black Isle tried to improve the combat-related mechanic of BG: streamlining it in some ways, dumbing it down in others. I will give one aspect that I found especially admirable. The Nameless One starts off as fighter. I found it repulsive initially, since I am almost always a magic user in fantasy RPG, but then I compared it to the difficulty of playing a wizard/mage in D&D. To put it bluntly, it's hugely challenging to play a lone wizard in the beginning. If you factor in meaningful rest, which thankfully most D&D games I've played don't care, it basically can't be done.

This kind of improvement on an existing system, in addition to its style of story-telling, was what made me love Obsidian. It's good to see Black Isle had this spirit even back in the day. If I have a favorable impression after I finish Planescape, I will do my part to honor Black Isle through PoE, whether it over rely on BG or not.

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

@bussinrounds I actually had Wasteland on a Interplay 10-year-something CD. If I remember correctly, the gameplay consisted of a top-down, gridded view and the combat consisted of a picture with text on the side, right? Is that what Wasteland 2 is like? I read a lot that its gameplay is like Fallout 1 and 2, not Wasteland.

I confess I only know of Ultima and Wizardry, after you mentioned them. I know of Heroes of M&M, but otherwise I know none of the other games you mentioned.

I said it's baseless to claim that new RPG conventions like TPV/FPV and visceral combat make these RPG inferior (to "classic" ones). I say so because the d20 mechanic was obsolete as soon as it made the transition to the PC. As far as fans of tabletop RPG wanting to have that experience on the PC, nothing wrong with that. For the purpose of role-playing a character in an exciting world or captivating story, video games are capable of so much more and have done so, not the least of which are radically altering level up, doing away with turns, and burying (d20) RNG where I can't see them. Changing the POV isn't even the biggest factor, except newer RPG rightfully do their best to let players play a role, instead of directing a role with text descriptions.

As for whether it's baseless to say "awesome action gameplay... doesn't appeal to the masses more than classic rpg game style," the only way to settle that is through sales #. Right now there are no fair comparisons. If any of the new entries into the classics including (but not limited to) D: OS, PoE, T: ToN, or Wasteland 2 outsells the likes of Mass Effect or Skyrim, of course it proves I am completely wrong. Even if they don't though, it doesn't prove I'm right due to the huge difference in production and marketing budget. We shall see.

Ironically, DA: I may be the closest evidence we can have that gameplay of Infinity and Aurora era is still commercially competitive. It's action gameplay and other modern features notwithstanding, the overhead view + pause is certainly a nod to the "classics." If there is a hugely popular reaction to it, perhaps we will see a AAA "classic RPG" that will shut me up once and for all.