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Originally Posted by Madscientist

- The other 3 companions will have backgrounds you have not selected for your char. (not sure how. is it random, can you select it, something else?)


Those are just predetermined stories though, that doesn't mean they won't be connected to the main plot. I would think that's the entire point, how all origins have a stake in the plot. If they just have a burger king's club collection of backstories for no reason than just to have them, then what's the point? If they are these bubbles of vacuum that have no connection to anything why are they even there? It wouldn't matter what they are, what they contain or what they say, because it could literally be anything. Again, what's the point?

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Originally Posted by Brys Beddict
After playing Bioware games, I can't really get into the story when I don't have "buddies" with me, with whom I can communicate, share feelings and insights etc.
I tried Witcher (the first one) 3 times, but I was too alone in the world. If there wasn't Siegfried and Shani, I would have ended with it even sooner.


I really liked The Witcher. (I have only played part 1).
Parties are good for turn based combat or real time with pause.
Companions are worse in real time action games. some examples:
- I play KotoR now and my main char does about 90% of the damage. Your companions are mostly there for story reasons.
- In Fallout3 and skyrim, my companions ran away because they saw a rat (or something else) at the horizon and they chased after it and then they ran from one enemy to another. When I have a gun (or bow) I play as sniper (move slowly with stealth and aim for headshots from great distances) so companions are often more harmful than helpful.

my result: Companions are good when you have full control over them (in combat, RP or story is something different). I mean you can control all of them all the time. If you can control only one at a time, the AI is often so terrible that you feel they are addicted to committing suicide. (There are 20 enemies ahead and I am a fragile mage. Lets charge right in and when everyone surrounds and bashes me I trow a fireball at myself, so I hit everyone.)


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Originally Posted by Dr Koin
The issue with companions in game like BG is that they never really feel like a true part of the story, but rather like optional content - even if the main plot is what makes the player meet them. I mean, Imoen is around sure, but we can just tell her not to come. Same for Khalid and Jaheira - you meet them as part of the plot but that's it, somehow.
Companions in BG2 were a tad tighter to the PC ( Imoen served a bigger purpose this time around ) as far as I could see, but still, you could bring whoever you wanted based on personal likings.

I don't see your gripe with that. Well, of course the integration of companions in the main narrative can always be improved but for video game standards, your companions in BG2 (or beyond, Planescape Torment) were quite tight with the PC, and on top of that very reactive to the actions of the player.

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The biggest issue with party-based cRPG is that party members rarely really matter.

And your solution to that is that you just scrap party members altogether, making them mere combat robots without any meaningful narrative and without any well written heritage and behaviour? I see the same shortcomings with traditonal CRPG companion design but I want the exact opposite: I want even more meaningful companions instead of dropping them altogether which imo makes no sense at all, following the argument that the existing companions don't matter enough for the overall narrative.

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It's not a surprise then that people would like to just dismiss them entirely. Hell, sometimes their little problems completely contradict the main plot, like, "help me reclaim my castle!" "yeah but I'm kind of on the clock here, who knows what the bad guy are doing to my childhood friend..." "I won't like you if you don't help me" "okay then".
Creating your own party ensures that you can optimize your group, and a lot of players like optimization/theorycrafting in their games. You will avoid being annoyed with petty irrelevant problems if you don't like that or feel it's out of place.

That's actually a big surprise and it makes no sense after all imo. It would make sense if you go on without ANY companion, just on your own. Good luck with that in games like BG2 (I heard of people who beat the game with only one character though).

I don't see the point of the min-max theory here. You imo can't argue with narrative issues here and gameplay issues there. If you criticize companions for their narrative shortcomings, you should actually want the writing to be improved (anything else is IMHO a mere insult to the writers at Larian...). You can of course criticize the companions writing for its gameplay consequences but I'd say that this is basic game design to give you certain tools at hand with which you are free to beat the game. Complete freedom might be a goal for a game, but not necessarily (usually narrative is used to tighten the freedom you can have in a game and to focus it to a certain narrative environment that has itself consequences to how the gameplay turns out -> it's the narrative which gives both context to the gameplay and makes it possible in a certain predefined environment in the first place). Especially not if your overall vision is to tightly integrate the narrative in the gameplay experience. Reducing the amount and quality of the narrative (of which companions are a GREAT deal in a traditional party RPG) makes imo no sense at all. On the opposite, it's like openly telling the players that their companion writing sucks and that people are free to just skip all that stuff. If you ask me Larian should be proud of their companions and make them a core part of their game experience - just like Bioware did for BG1/2, even if you (and me) would have liked an even better integration into the overall narrative.

What you say about the typcial "companion quest" in Bioware games is true. But there are certain things we should talk about. First, such companion quests are no necessity in order to make meaningful and interesting companions. It's just the typical Bioware formula people know. And then again, you can always improve upon that formula. Second, much of your criticism is true for A LOT of side quests in almost any RPG I know. That's not at all an exclusive problem with companions. Truth is that side quests often compete with the main quest in video game RPGs and that comes naturally, because in most cases the main quest and the side quests (to which traditional Bioware companion quests belong) have different narrative and design goals. While the main quest is often designed to increase the emotional impact and to create a certain feeling of tension, side quests are there to distract and to broaden the world. Their purpose is actually in many games to literally distract the player from the main quest, even if that means that there is a certain narrative break. I see the issues with that and I critized a lot of games exactly for that. With open world design the problem got imo even worse in the past few years (with Witcher 3 being the last infamous example for exactly the same inconsistent quest and narrative design). Bottom line: while I agree with you that many companion quests somehow compete with the main narrative, it doesn't mean that you can't improve upon that. And honestly, most RPG players I know just get used to the fact that the main narrative and the side content often just "co-exist". It's not the best of all solutions, but it's imo a lot better than just to reduce the overall amount of narrative content (basically scraping every side content that competes with the main narrative...). If you apply the same philosophy to every RPG (or other story-driven video game) a lot of awesome, heart-breaking, interesting, engaging, thrilling and just well-done content would be gone. Honestly, I don't want to sound arrogant, but I pity everybody who can't look over that narrative break and therefore isn't able to enjoy side content just for what it is on its own. Same is of course true for companions in many ways. As I've said, for me companions were one of the major factors of the old CRPGs like BG2 that made these games so great. Without that BG2 would just be a mediocre D&D simulator on PC if you aks me, ripped of a lot of its emotional impact. I would be extremely disappointed if that's the direction Larian wants to go with Divinity and DOS 2 in particular.

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Not to mention you may not get to choose the starting stats of the characters, prompting you to possibly choose between a char whose story you're interested in, but with bad starting caracteristics which would give you a handicap ; or a character with the exact attributes you're looking for, but a story that you can't even care about. Bioware is very good at forcing you to bring along characters you don't like because otherwise you would suck at fighting...

Actually I don't think so. I never had that issue with any Bioware game. I also think that taking people with you who "makes your party weaker" is a serious and powerful decision, for both the narrative and the gameplay. You can win every encounter in Bioware games even with an unbalanced group. It's just harder. It's a decision you have to make if you want your favorite folks to accompany you or the "best fitting ones" for the fight - and a meaningful one.

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TL:DR ; some people like creating a balanced team ; DOS2 should not suffer from the "handcrafted story for specific party member" like BG/lots of cRPG ; it's just a matter of enabling people to create as much characters as they want to and giving them full control.

BG never "suffered" from the story for specific party members. You were never forced to engage into them anyway, with a few (meaningful) exceptions.

The goal to "create a balanced team" though has actually nothing to do with the narrative after all. It's a pure gameplay decision that puts the narrative in second place - something that is against the vision of DOS 2 actually.

Last edited by LordCrash; 04/10/15 09:14 PM.

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Originally Posted by Brys Beddict
After playing Bioware games, I can't really get into the story when I don't have "buddies" with me, with whom I can communicate, share feelings and insights etc.
I tried Witcher (the first one) 3 times, but I was too alone in the world. If there wasn't Siegfried and Shani, I would have ended with it even sooner.


Very true, imagine Mass Effect without Garrus and his awesome voice actor.. or yeah, Tali.. or Dragon Age without Morrigan and the Dwarf (2/3) wink I guess the important companions are different for everyone. Let's just say that Dragon Age and Mass Effect are both my favorite "cinematic" RPG series. Doesn't mean I scoff at good RPG's, but it means that for example, I wasn't a huge fan of the way things were done in PoE....

But I agree that this can be taste... very subjective whether one likes that more movie inspired style or hates it. For me, I like all RPG's.. except the ones where I am puppet master. Funnily in D:OS I had a puppet and a companion. And at the end I really hated my 2 puppets because only my 1 companion (had 1x lone wolf) had any real character.

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Originally Posted by Madscientist
As far as I know, it goes like this:
- There are 4 escaped prisoners and you create 1 of them.


Where do you have that from? Any source? I can't remember that I ever heard that it will be that way...

But if that's really true I would be EXTREMELY disappointed. That would make "companions" even a lot worse than those in DOS and I actually don't think that Larian would do that, literally beating SP fans in the face (>80% of their actual customers) just to enable certain things in MP...

I do hope that "companions" for DOS 2 will mean that we can choose from various available people, just like in the traditional Bioware CRPGs. If there is anything that works in their games until today, it's the party creation aspect (a lot of people play these games almost exclusively for that aspect, me pretty much included). If there will really be only three pretty random "companions" that will start with you in prison the SP would indeed be a ton worse than MP - by design. I do ardently hope that this is not true though...

Last edited by LordCrash; 04/10/15 10:39 PM.

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@LordCrash:
In the videos of D:OS2 your group starts at a coast and I think Swen said that you just escaped prison and shipwracked at this island all of you want to get away from that island.
OK, I do not remember that anyone said that all companions are escaped prisoners. Maybe I understood something wrong.


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Yeah, but the impression I got was that there were not JUST four, but you could only take three companions with your main character. If there are only like 4 or 5 possible options then that would be bad.

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Originally Posted by LordCrash
- snip -


Of course I want a better writing of companions, but this should be automatically the case for DOS2 anyway. EVERY companion will directly come from an origin story written in such a way it should be elligible as the main story, making every character a potential lead rather than a "mere" companion.

This is a blessing as we will be able to both get a story we are interested in and a character that will fit the design of the party. Yes, min-maxing IS a reality in cRPGs. Even on good ol' P&P games you'd at least try to agree with the other players on a balanced team before undertaking the DM campaign. Or you could go YOLO but just meet your end at the hands of some low level monster somewhere in the beginning, which is part of the game, sure, but not very productive.

It's not a mystery now that I can't care enough for handcrafted companions unless they really are tied to the main plot. I can't care less if they react to what I do or what I don't as long as I'll see them as simple placeholders, nothing more than some more stats for my character with a side-quest to go with. I have to admit I liked Liara+Garus in my ME playthrough, but really all they contributed to the game was a little quote here and there. It could have been anybody with me, it wouldn't have make a difference. So well, let's just take the companions that actually bring something gameplay wise if they have nothing to contribute storywise. Which isn't very different from getting a blank slate party right from the start. Hell, I can even relate more to Sir Pimpalot, the Rose Mage, as I created him with a backstory of mine, than to Grakkarian the Red Mage of the Fiery Hells, who I just tell to shut up everytime he addresses me because he annoys me but I still need my mage in the party. And it can be worse : if there is a risk he would want to leave because I constantly shut him up, I'd have to pretend I care just because I need my Mage. There would be a strong dissonance here between what I want and what I need, because, in the end, I have to beat the game.

As a completionist I tend to do every sidequest, so it's not really that I don't like sidequests. It's more that, as I mentionned, I don't see a real difference between the random NPC that will ask for your help and a companion, except that I need the companion to be able to beat the game ( unless I mastered the game and am able to beat it with one char, which IS a fun challenge too ). This is very diminutive of the companions, but still a reality in most of the cRPGs I played. DA:O is one of the titles that come to mind where they actually succeeded in getting some of the companions to be important characters in the main story - namely Allistair and Morrigan. They had a real part to play. BG was about the Son of Bhaal and His Inferior Friends.

As I said, I trust DOS2 should be able to bridge that gap. Heck, I don't even really consider the 3 other party members to be "companions" but rather "full fledged main protagonists" in their own rights. I don't see them as another Khalid, Garrus, Leliana, or even Adora. This is all thanks to the concept of the origins stories.
And all this comes by no mean against the vision of DOS2. After all, it tries to emulate a P&P session where every player will not only have the interests of the group at heart but also his owns. And when those players will make their characters they probably will discuss who will hold which role in the group. Hence, balancing the party beforehand. This can translate very well and easily to SP.

But really what's the matter with allowing people full control of each member of the party? As I said it probably only requires an option when starting the campaign, choosing between 1 to 4 customized characters. This WON'T break any of the writers work as the game is designed from the start around the idea that there is NO handcrafted companions. No Adora this time around. At worse, a Single Player could ask a few friends to just drop in his game, create the characters he'd like to have, and then leave. Voila, 4 custom characters. At this rate, let's just give the Single Players the ability to do just that.

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BG never "suffered" from the story for specific party members. You were never forced to engage into them anyway, with a few (meaningful) exceptions.


Maybe it didn't suffer, yes, but it didn't strongly benefit either. And you say it yourself : we were never forced to engage into them.. Because they didn't really matter. Have them or a blank party, story-wise the difference will lie in the fact they have a sidequest to offer at some point and maybe a few vaguely relevant quotes to offer during the course of the game.

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Well I feel like I randomly threw around my feelings in a very non organized manner in the spoiler section above, but really it's simple.
- I've been very disappointed by companions in the cRPGs I played, and felt more attached to my chars in, say, Eye of the Beholder or Legend of Grimrock, or during a fully customized party game of BG1. DA:O is the only exception I can think of, were the companions could turn out to be the real stars of the story. Okay, maybe Bastilla in Kotor1... ( I didn't do Kotor2 ).
- Thanks to the Origin Story concept, I don't feel like DOS2 characters are even companions. Since I see all of them as heroes of the story, it somehow makes sense we could be able to create all of them from scratch. I am not opposed either to the notion of RPing them ourselves. It's just another way to play the game.

I just think there are multiple ways of playing the game, which is a VERY nice thing. Let's not corridor-view ourselves into thinking there is only ONE WAY to play a game, this is wrong and a bit naive. There are powerplayers, explorers, min maxers, completionists, speedrunners, Roleplayers, Single Players, Coop players, Players Vs Players, people that hate magic, people that hate melee... Within the scope of DOS2, all these type of players can be accomodated for quite easily imho, so let's just do that !


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Originally Posted by Stabbey
Yeah, but the impression I got was that there were not JUST four, but you could only take three companions with your main character. If there are only like 4 or 5 possible options then that would be bad.


I believe they are going for 1 origin story per writer, which would make 8 of them plus the Mask.
So I reckon they will pre-make 8 characters and depending on what you selected for yourself you will get to choose between the 7 left ?


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The companions need to do something in regards to the narrative. DA:O was actually atrocious for this. The companions never actually do anything and their relevancy is just railroaded plot - Alistair just happens to be what he is, Morrigan's thing is only possible because of Flemeth, and that's it for major involvement in anything. Even in their own side-quests they do nothing and wait for our input. That's weird and they start feeling like meat puppets for the player's enjoyment rather than equals in the narrative. I can't stress this enough. Controversial statement - DA2 is the best Bioware game in terms of narrative. Why? Because of its focus on characters who move the plot. Arishok, Varric, Meredith, Anders, Isabella and even Hawke in the first act. It went bananas at the end, but I expect nothing better from BW. Sadly, the bad production of everything else in the game means Bioware won't do anything like this ever again. This is exacerbated by the fact that players criticized it for the wrong things. There is nothing more frustrating than seeing people criticizing something you do as well, but are criticizing it wrong. Enough about that.

I don't know what else to say on the topic of companions really.

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Originally Posted by Dr Koin
Yes, min-maxing IS a reality in cRPGs. Even on good ol' P&P games you'd at least try to agree with the other players on a balanced team before undertaking the DM campaign. Or you could go YOLO but just meet your end at the hands of some low level monster somewhere in the beginning, which is part of the game, sure, but not very productive.

Well, apples and oranges. PnP is a "true" MP approach, while CRPGs in SP are completely different imo. There is a huge difference between interacting with real people and with pre-written AI companions. PnP and co-op are pretty much based on the interaction itself. It's the core of the experience and there is a completely different approach to gameplay requirements. Min-max in PnP/Co-op is based and dependent on the interaction with other players. Nothing of that is true for SP. In SP you basically just have to make it up with yourself, which opens completely different approaches to both narrative and gameplay decisions. You can easily scrap min-max approaches for a preferred narrative experience because there is nobody you have to justify for that, for example. It's true that many people in SP follow min-max strategies as well (and many of those who do actually come from PnP...) but it's neither a requirement nor does it have any benefit of its own. You don't help your party with it (like you would in co-op/PnP), you basically only make the rest of the game easier for yourself (while, weirdly enough, an overal easier gameplay experience is just one mouse click away...). So balancing a party in a SP CRPG or min-maxing your char is in no way a requirement. It's an option, another level of freedom, that you can value against other elements (like taking your fav companions with you). Myself, I often ended with taking the same companions with me in Mass Effect, for example, even though I knew that the gameplay would be a lot harder with them in my party. But I valued having them with me higher than having a balanced party. That was a conscious decision of mine, which is pretty much at the core of what SP RPRs are all about in the end imo.

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It's not a mystery now that I can't care enough for handcrafted companions unless they really are tied to the main plot. I can't care less if they react to what I do or what I don't as long as I'll see them as simple placeholders, nothing more than some more stats for my character with a side-quest to go with. I have to admit I liked Liara+Garus in my ME playthrough, but really all they contributed to the game was a little quote here and there. It could have been anybody with me, it wouldn't have make a difference.

Honestly, I think we are of such fundamentally different opinion here it's pretty much impossible to find common ground. I care for handcrafted companions if they are well written. That's pretty much it. If they have a certain take in the main story only the better, but it's not a requirement. Well handmade companions always improve the emotional impact of any narrative in a party CRPG for me. They are basically what a party CRPG is all about for me.

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So well, let's just take the companions that actually bring something gameplay wise if they have nothing to contribute storywise. Which isn't very different from getting a blank slate party right from the start. Hell, I can even relate more to Sir Pimpalot, the Rose Mage, as I created him with a backstory of mine, than to Grakkarian the Red Mage of the Fiery Hells, who I just tell to shut up everytime he addresses me because he annoys me but I still need my mage in the party. And it can be worse : if there is a risk he would want to leave because I constantly shut him up, I'd have to pretend I care just because I need my Mage. There would be a strong dissonance here between what I want and what I need, because, in the end, I have to beat the game.

Well, there is nothing wrong with having annoying people in your party in the first place imo. I don't get why some people mistake well written characters with likeable characters. I can enjoy a companion that is "problematic" if it's well established. I guess it's my love for well written characters and stories in general, which is the prime reason why I love story- and character-driven games in the first place.
On top of that your second argument has no big weight in DOS since you could already reskill your companions in DOS. So if you hate mage X that much that you can't have him in your party anymore, just reskill your rogue to be a mage and your good. DOS gives you actually that much gameplay freedom that you can even get around narrative "issues".

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As a completionist I tend to do every sidequest, so it's not really that I don't like sidequests. It's more that, as I mentionned, I don't see a real difference between the random NPC that will ask for your help and a companion, except that I need the companion to be able to beat the game ( unless I mastered the game and am able to beat it with one char, which IS a fun challenge too ). This is very diminutive of the companions, but still a reality in most of the cRPGs I played. DA:O is one of the titles that come to mind where they actually succeeded in getting some of the companions to be important characters in the main story - namely Allistair and Morrigan. They had a real part to play. BG was about the Son of Bhaal and His Inferior Friends.

Sorry, but every companion in BG2 had a ton more depth than anybody in DA:O, no matter if they were part of the main story or not. Also, you can't see a difference between a random NPC asking for your help and a well established CHARACTER? Wow, that's pretty much denying that there is character writing in general if it's not intended to be part of the main narrative completely. I think that this is totally not true. BG2 for example had a shitload of extensive dialogues with your companions (between various group members, between them and the PC and a ton of ambient dialogue as well) that gave them a lot of depth as characters. Comparing that to a random NPC is completely pointless, even if you think that the companions have too little meaning for the main narative.

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As I said, I trust DOS2 should be able to bridge that gap. Heck, I don't even really consider the 3 other party members to be "companions" but rather "full fledged main protagonists" in their own rights. I don't see them as another Khalid, Garrus, Leliana, or even Adora. This is all thanks to the concept of the origins stories.

I think this approach is designed to fail tbh. It's something that might work well in co-op (for which it is designed) and miserably fail in SP if it will stay that way. There are various reasons for that, starting from typcial player psychology to design obstacles to be honest. I'm pretty sure Larian themselves have not a single clue how to really pull that off in SP at this point in development...

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And all this comes by no mean against the vision of DOS2. After all, it tries to emulate a P&P session where every player will not only have the interests of the group at heart but also his owns. And when those players will make their characters they probably will discuss who will hold which role in the group. Hence, balancing the party beforehand. This can translate very well and easily to SP.

No, it can't. Simply because PnP and SP RPGs are fundamentally different in a lot of core aspects of how and why you do certain things in the game. You might want to play a SP RPG just as an imaginary round of PnP but that's actually not how others envision SP RPGs to work at all. They (like me) see it as an interactive version of the traditional choices novel.


Last edited by LordCrash; 04/10/15 11:35 PM. Reason: ...

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Originally Posted by Dr Koin
But really what's the matter with allowing people full control of each member of the party? As I said it probably only requires an option when starting the campaign, choosing between 1 to 4 customized characters. This WON'T break any of the writers work as the game is designed from the start around the idea that there is NO handcrafted companions. No Adora this time around. At worse, a Single Player could ask a few friends to just drop in his game, create the characters he'd like to have, and then leave. Voila, 4 custom characters. At this rate, let's just give the Single Players the ability to do just that.

And how should dialogues work then? If these companions are just mindless robots only created for an optimally balanced party, how do you suppose companions to weigh in in dialogues and narrative decisions. Typically, SP RPGs with a full party are written to integrate companions into the decision making by at least giving their opinion on certain actions or even leading to consequences like leaving the party. I can't see how that should work for a custom party. A lot of dialouges were either to be designed from the start to only integrate the PC or they had to be different while having such a party. While the first option would be the worst that could happen the second option is bad as well because it would indeed increase the work load for the writers, while basically telling them (and yes, you DO that!) that you don't care at all about their character writing and that you deem it so bad that you either go without any character writing at all.

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Maybe it didn't suffer, yes, but it didn't strongly benefit either. And you say it yourself : we were never forced to engage into them.. Because they didn't really matter. Have them or a blank party, story-wise the difference will lie in the fact they have a sidequest to offer at some point and maybe a few vaguely relevant quotes to offer during the course of the game.

You only see the negatives. It's like you don't see a certain thing to be fulfilled and immediately scrap the whole concept, even trying to tell me that a companion would be on the same level of a random NPC just because they have no direct impact on the main narrative (which is by the way not true at all because by helping the PC in combat they have an extremely important impact on the story also on a narrative level, coming from emergent gameplay).
That you're no forced to engage in their own quests is regarded as good game design, not only by fans of Bioware but also by a ton of game designers. Pretty much every RPG is created with a main narrative and optional side content. I know a ton of awesome side quests of various RPGs that had little to no impact on the main narrative. Many of them were even better than the main narrative. You know, content in video game can be good for themselves, on the small scale, even if the bigger scale leaves a lot to be desired. I don't support your view at all that there was any alleged prerequirement to make every companion ultimately meaningful and 100% important for the main narrative in everything they do and say. I think their content and interaction with the PC can be fun no matter what - if they are just well written characters that offer well written and fun content. You know, there is more for me than just black and white. I can have fun with non-perfect companions, much more than having no companions at all.

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- Thanks to the Origin Story concept, I don't feel like DOS2 characters are even companions. Since I see all of them as heroes of the story, it somehow makes sense we could be able to create all of them from scratch. I am not opposed either to the notion of RPing them ourselves. It's just another way to play the game.

Maybe it's all my fault and I completely misunderstood the narrative concept for DOS 2. Maybe it was just wishful thinking on my behalf (I actually fear that the longer I think about it...). But what you say here is something I don't see possible and something I don't see fun for SP. Maybe (probably?) DOS 2 is indeed a co-op game with an inferior SP that tries to mimic PnP MP without ever getting the basics of why SP usually works differently in video game RPGs. If that's the case DOS 2 will be actually a lot worse for me than DOS because this time we have 4 of these "I want to play PnP with myself" chars than only 2 (with 2 "real" companions). And I very much agree with you that if SP is only envisioned as a solo version of basically the same PnP gameplay making a complete party for yourself makes even more sense than taking AI controlled and predefined characters.

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I just think there are multiple ways of playing the game, which is a VERY nice thing. Let's not corridor-view ourselves into thinking there is only ONE WAY to play a game, this is wrong and a bit naive. There are powerplayers, explorers, min maxers, completionists, speedrunners, Roleplayers, Single Players, Coop players, Players Vs Players, people that hate magic, people that hate melee...
Within the scope of DOS2, all these type of players can be accomodated for quite easily imho, so let's just do that !

I have to disagree strongly here. I mean, that's what many people think and what make many games really bad in the end. Focus is imo a games best friend, while making it accessible and playable for everyone is its worst enemy. It's typically the reasons why all AAA games feel and play more or less the same, following a common denominator approach, that should a little bit fun for everyone while it lacks the depth and focus to really offer expectional fun to a specific group of people. You know, I rather have some games I really don't want to play than only games I only want to play for certain aspects. So in general, I don't agree with your notion that it's easy to accomodate to all different kind of players because in my experience (based on playing a shitload of video games in the past 15-20 years basically each and every day) that's almost never true or even possible.

Back to DOS 2, I have to say that the way the MP is envisioned already hurts the SP by a mile, especially if you don't seperate the two in core elements. Maybe it's time then to actually declare DOS 2 a MP/co-op game at its very core without trying to convince people that SP will be just as good. Because I fear that this is a promise they won't be able to stick to with the current approach. Or maybe it's just me and my weird old-school opinions about traditional party CPRGs and their narrative and emotional impact. I can't really blame Larian for wanting a Bioware game in good I guess... wink


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With such a quote war going on I don't know who is saying what, lulz. Just going to reply to nobody in particular: The main advantage of writing pre-made companions is, *drum roll....* being able to logically tie them to the whole and develop their idea! In a PnP session, it's pretty much impossible to do such a thing if you are improvising. The same way a huge musical idea can't be done while improvising and it needs to be thought up and written down. Beethoven can't improvise his 9th Symphony :p. If you don't do this then the companions become token and they aren't any better than adventurer's hall husks. They literally mean nothing and they can be substituted with *anything*. That's why writers are on the team, the main plot can be written on a napkin by the janitor and it would serve its purpose. This is what writing (any kind) is about - developing and expanding upon an idea and the elements of it to form a coherent, logical whole. Everything else is dilettante-ish scribbling which amounts to nothing and goes nowhere. Climaxes, changes and everything else that has to do with the plot, are all necessitated by the involvement of the characters within it and leading to a logical point where these things are forced by their actions and don't simply happen because we have to go somewhere with this whole "plot" nonsense.

It feels like I'm beating a dead horse here, but so many video game writers treat the writing like some random slice that is their pet project rather than a mover and shaker of the whole. That's what Chris Avellone gets and that is why he is such an outstanding writer, his characters *matter* and are the focal point of the whole narrative. That is also why it's so coherent, logical and satisfying. This also comes with the perk that by tying the plot to the characters you are less likely to trip over plot holes and inconsistencies that jar you out of the story and break the fundamental principles of storytelling.

Last edited by Lacrymas; 05/10/15 12:00 AM.
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But really, Larian didn't advertise any kind of scripted companion so far in any manner, unless I miss something at some point in time.
The characters are all going to be originated from the pool of Origin Stories, meaning there won't be any specific, handcrafted companion *at all*. There will be premades I reckon : class and race will probably be set in stone, like, Origin Story 1 is a warrior redhead Dwarf named Maximilian, OS2 is an archer blond elf named Legolass, OS3 is a mage brunette human named Raven, etc. ( all tremble before my mighty naming imagination ! )
The most handcrafted I can imagine to be beyond that is that the writer will probably give preference to answer A from origin story 1 in a certain situation while origin story 2 will prefer the answer C in the same situtation. Thanks to Love and Hate I expect this to be a bit more organic in nature, like if origin story 1 hates you, he will rather choose answer B whereas should he like you, he will go with A.

SP is probably going to not feel very much different than MP except the answer of the companions will be preselected by some writers magic rather than by another brain somewhere else in the world. As a player, you will still get to select your answer and watch what the other characters think of the situation. Only difference will be that you won't control the full party in MP.

Since this is how I expect things to unfold, you can easily understand why I'd say "please, don't force us to play a warrior dwarf as the Origin Story 1 companion, maybe let me at least choose his sex/class, and better even his race *if applicable*. If we can in MP, why couldn't we in SP ?".
It may then be way too complex to give a weight to each and every possible answer coming from race, trait, talent, and origin story, so ultimately choosing to create your own party member would simply lead you to having to assume full control of the character yourself.
Should you choose to pick the premade character though, well then, you're in for the standard companion action.
- You want your own custom team, create 1 to 3 more characters, and assume full control of them.
- You want scripted companions reacting by themselves to your actions and to the world, pick the premades.
Both type of players will have the same experience regardless because in the end, everyone pick a story from the OS pool. And neither solution will diminish in any way the work of the writers. One player will get something more unexpected as the scripts will play with/against him, and the other will get to see the full range of possibities.

It's really just a different take on things and none are less valid than the other, regardless of what I may think of 90% of the companions in cRPGs.
Because, do not get the wrong idea : I still see as perfectly valid the fact you like playing with prewritten companions. As I think I said, that's how I do my RPGs too. If given the choice, though, I will ditch them in subsequent playthoughs. DOS1 was actually the first time ever I immediately ditched the companions by going dual Lone Wolf. When I did BG:EE recently, I immediately formed my full custom party because I already had a go at the companions years ago and didn't want nor need to have them again with me. Sorry, Minsc and Boo! And this has nothing to do with the fact they are well or badly written : it's more about how well they contribute to the flow of the whole game, storywise as well as gameplay-wise.


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Originally Posted by Lacrymas
The main advantage of writing pre-made companions is, *drum roll....* being able to logically tie them to the whole and develop their idea! In a PnP session, it's pretty much impossible to do such a thing if you are improvising. The same way a huge musical idea can't be done while improvising and it needs to be thought up and written down. Beethoven can't improvise his 9th Symphony :p. If you don't do this then the companions become token and they aren't any better than adventurer's hall husks. They literally mean nothing and they can be substituted with *anything*.

I disagree very strongly. As I've said before, PnP and a SP RPG are fundamentally different.

PnP and co-op gameplay is all about interaction with real people. Everything you do is made with the other players in mind. It's a collaborate experience with the interaction between players (and consequently, their PCs) at its core.

SP RPGs though are (for many people at least) about the narrative experience at its core. A story-driven game is basically a narrative experience with a certain degree of interaction and choices of various kinds at your hand. Since it's a narrative experience well written characters can exist for their own good, just for the sake of offering a well done narrative experience. Well written companions don't necessarily have to be at the heart of the story to offer something to enjoy. To compare such companions to mindless henchmen is both wrong and pointless. The taks of a mindless henchman is to be a tool for gameplay. Such a henchman has no narrative value or purpose. A well written companion though is completely different for a SP narrative experience since they blend into the overall narrative, which is much, much more than just the main plot or the main quest path. Following that logic every(!) side quests that is not fully and meaningfully integrated into the main storyline was ultimately pointless, completely ignoring that there there is a lot of fun and value to be found besides the main path. Calling all of that pointless is sad because for some people it's not at all that way. It's just a testament of an ultimate black-and-white thinking that misses a lot of what makes SP actually fun in the first place for quite some people. I mean, if you play a SP (party) RPG like BG2 like a PnP session in MP you're probably doing something wrong because such a game is not really meant to be played that way (which is imo prettyclear given their basic game design and the way they create their quests and characters and so on and so forth). Their main value lies in the emotional impact that comes from the relationship between the PC and their companions, no matter if they are fully tied to the main narrative. They can co-exist and still have a big value no matter what. So no, it's not necessary to tie them to the whole, and it's no prerequisite either (although there is of course additional value in doing so, no question here) since it's not the basis of why they are so important for many people.


Important explanatory note:

I think a lot of this discussiom has actually to do with player psychology and how we all play games - and ultimately experience them, on both an emotional and logical layer. There is little doubt that people experience games differently (empathy and its various manifestations are said to have a prominent role in that) and that different experiences lead to different wishes, opinions and expectations. That includes a whole range of topics from the question how one roleplays ("I am the character" vs "I care about/guide the character") to the question whether one is more interested in the whole picture of things ("logical") vs the emotinal impact of emerging gameplay ("emotional") (which is basically at the core of the discussion whether "choice" or "consequence" is of bigger important for an RPG). So I guess there is no one "right" way to play from the start, since we all play games in a certain way that is based on how our subconsciousness works. So we already start from different grounds when talking about game design and our convictions about what games should look like - and sadly there is little common ground between many of these manifestations. So what I call very important for a SP RPG might turn out meaningless or unimportant for sb else and vice versa and nobody of us is really right or wrong in the end (although I can get pretty angry if people claim that something is utterly pointless without ever thinking about the possibility that it might be of big importance for sb else who plays the same games quite differently...).

Last edited by LordCrash; 05/10/15 12:40 AM.

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Originally Posted by Dr Koin
But really, Larian didn't advertise any kind of scripted companion so far in any manner, unless I miss something at some point in time.
The characters are all going to be originated from the pool of Origin Stories, meaning there won't be any specific, handcrafted companion *at all*. There will be premades I reckon : class and race will probably be set in stone, like, Origin Story 1 is a warrior redhead Dwarf named Maximilian, OS2 is an archer blond elf named Legolass, OS3 is a mage brunette human named Raven, etc. ( all tremble before my mighty naming imagination ! )
The most handcrafted I can imagine to be beyond that is that the writer will probably give preference to answer A from origin story 1 in a certain situation while origin story 2 will prefer the answer C in the same situtation. Thanks to Love and Hate I expect this to be a bit more organic in nature, like if origin story 1 hates you, he will rather choose answer B whereas should he like you, he will go with A.

If that's true then it was indeed my fault all the way through and I just hoped for a much better Bioware experience (damn, that BG2 really hosed me...) while I missed the crucial information about the SP.

If SP is intended to be that way it will utterly worseless and inferior-by-design, at least for me. That pretty much kills of any anticipation I had for DOS 2 at this point... frown

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SP is probably going to not feel very much different than MP except the answer of the companions will be preselected by some writers magic rather than by another brain somewhere else in the world. As a player, you will still get to select your answer and watch what the other characters think of the situation. Only difference will be that you won't control the full party in MP.

I don't think at all that this is a GOOD design for SP at all. I think it's just an inferior version of MP actually - and that's bad. It's like Larian's telling me "Hey mate, you don't have real friends? Well, don't be too sad, we can at least mimic a PnP session for you with people who might sound like real people playing with you." That has imo nothing at all to do with how traditional SP (C)RPGs worked so far - for a good reason. But while we're at it? Why is there no competitive questing in SP? If SP is only mimicing MP why is some content cut without giving the player anything in exchange? Well, I fear that you were indeed right that DOS 2 is designed as a MP only game - that can be played in SP in some way as well, if you lack the friends, completely disregarding that the vast majority of people are actually looking for a thrilling narrative experience (of course with good gameplay) in SP. They want REAL SP, no MP mode with predefined bots. I mean, we have only began to speak about the love&hate stuff. While I don't like the discussion myself that much, the whole romance thing actually is pretty obvious to demonstrate the differences between MP and real SP. A rather deep and well written romantic story (like apparent in BG2, of course based on video game standards) is pretty much pointless in MP. There is a reason why there are no deep romances in PnP campaigns. Because it's WEIRD and also doesn't work that well when actual real persons interact with each other in a game, even when they're roleplaying (except maybe some die-hard roleplayers). Backstabbing can be fun in PnP or real co-op - romance usually not that much. Romance can be in SP - being backstabbed by AI companions out of the blue, well, not that much either. You begin to get the picture why I don't want the SP to be just MP with (maybe well written) bots? wink

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Since this is how I expect things to unfold, you can easily understand why I'd say "please, don't force us to play a warrior dwarf as the Origin Story 1 companion, maybe let me at least choose his sex/class, and better even his race *if applicable*. If we can in MP, why couldn't we in SP ?".

If you ask me I think the whole SP companion design like described here is - sorry - utter bullshit. SP should work like in any other traditional SP CRPG where you a wide range of well written companions to choose from and which you meet along the way (which doesn't mean that they can't be well integrated into the main narrative by the way). This whole origin stories for companions will be an ultimately inferior experience in SP, I can almost guarantee it - and it's very likely not really that what a lot of SP fans are looking for...

So I do understand why you think that way. But please understand why I think that the whole design might/probably result in an inferior SP experience (to both the MP AND other party CRPGs) for many people (me included). So I rather have the basic SP game design changed than even extending the options for people who actually already prefer co-op/MP and only want SP as a simple substitute for times in which there friends are out of house or whatever...

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It may then be way too complex to give a weight to each and every possible answer coming from race, trait, talent, and origin story, so ultimately choosing to create your own party member would simply lead you to having to assume full control of the character yourself.
Should you choose to pick the premade character though, well then, you're in for the standard companion action.
- You want your own custom team, create 1 to 3 more characters, and assume full control of them.
- You want scripted companions reacting by themselves to your actions and to the world, pick the premades.
Both type of players will have the same experience regardless because in the end, everyone pick a story from the OS pool. And neither solution will diminish in any way the work of the writers. One player will get something more unexpected as the scripts will play with/against him, and the other will get to see the full range of possibities.

I don't think so. Well written characters go well beyond their "origin story" imo. A well written character is the whole person, how they behave, how they look, how they talk, how they act, who they are. If you can make random characters and just assign a rather random origin story to them you have only pervertions of random henchmen but not real fleshed-out characters in any sense of the word. I really don't understand how you concentrate so much on the consistency with the actions of the companions with the main narrative while you have obviously no issue at all with them being no consistent PERSON in the first place. Reducing that to an origin story and how its consequences is scripted in dialogues is only one element I see necessary for well written and believable companions. Every other element must be fitting and consistent to actually reach that level to have an emotional impact on me (and that's what I ultimately look for in any story-driven game). The randomness of the system you (and Larian?) envision here actually defies that goal of mine and sorry - but I'm not at all happy with that, quite the opposite.


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Because, do not get the wrong idea : I still see as perfectly valid the fact you like playing with prewritten companions. As I think I said, that's how I do my RPGs too. If given the choice, though, I will ditch them in subsequent playthoughs. DOS1 was actually the first time ever I immediately ditched the companions by going dual Lone Wolf. When I did BG:EE recently, I immediately formed my full custom party because I already had a go at the companions years ago and didn't want nor need to have them again with me. Sorry, Minsc and Boo!

Well, I can understand that, I honstely do. The problem is though that I now fear that there won't be any real companions who are at least on the level of those in the CRPGs of old (or even DOS1) in the first place...

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And this has nothing to do with the fact they are well or badly written : it's more about how well they contribute to the flow of the whole game, storywise as well as gameplay-wise.

Well, there is a whole LOT of space for interpretation what "contribution to the flow of the whole game" means. I think we have pretty different interpretations about that actually.


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I generally agree with Lord Crash's position.

It's not possible to assemble an interesting and solid character from a bunch of tags slapped together by an algorithm. If you don't believe that, look at how the AI personalities from D:OS turned out - they don't really resemble coherent human thought. (For example, some personalities can encourage a thief to steal from the fish vendor, and then promptly turn them in. An actual person wouldn't do that, they would have a consistent position.

A tags-slapped-together personality would also not work for the love-and-hate relationship system. (See the ending to Vanilla D:OS, and how the way the characters act throughout the game conflicts with how the sudden attitude change at the end.)


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I've known people who would encourage rule breaking and then totally rat someone out the instant an authority figure showed up (primarily in school).

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Originally Posted by Dr Koin
On the other hand, you could call a writer schizophrenic because he writes full blown characters all by himself, including their conversations and eveery other kind of interactions =) Or children who likes to create their little world with their legos and stuff.
but I'm just nitpicking.

I dunno: I guess that's the skill to being a writer, and not being much of a writer myself, it's not a skill I possess in any great quantity! I think I'd rather let someone else do it... though I reserve the right to be generally disgruntled and discontented either way. laugh

Originally Posted by Brys Beddict
I tried Witcher (the first one) 3 times, but I was too alone in the world. If there wasn't Siegfried and Shani, I would have ended with it even sooner.

The solitude can sometimes be overwhelming, though I think that's maybe a core part of the game's intended "feel". It was bad enough even when I preferred the lone wolf approach, but after playing games where I'm part of a team (particularly the Bioware stuff) it becomes overpowering. That said, it's not entirely unlike the feeling I had when adventuring in Ego Draconis, especially with the sometimes haunting music.

At least The Witcher 3 has Roach on call most of the time, who has an impressive ability to appear in frequently quite silly locations.


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Just gimme the ability to create and RP as many or as few characters as I want and I'll be happy. Not too concerned with the other companions if I get my duos in...though I might find myself enjoying RPing all 4 potentially but right now I just want the same joy I had with DivOS and rping my couples.

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