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Joined: Aug 2014
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The Witcher 3 would be a thoroughly mediocre if still technically impressive game without its varied and fascinating monsters. Between dozens of variants of spectres, necrophages, draconids, ogroids, elementa, and so on, you're constantly fighting (and talking to) new, cool and creepy enemies that often became great characters and not just fodder. It highlighted to me how disappointed I was with the baddies in D:OS, and how I hope this improves in the sequel. Here's the aspects of a "good monster experience" as I see it.

Good Hook

What makes this monster special? Is it where they came from, or their motives, or their biology? This can be in general for the species, or for a more specific individual, though I think it's best when the general and the specific hooks converge, or when they contradict each other in an interesting way. It's best when these traits come out in the gameplay, graphics and interactions with the monsters, but bestiary descriptions are nice for things too subtle to convey in gameplay/story.

Foreshadowing

Finding out about monsters before you fight them amps the whole experience up, especially if they're really creepy or menacing. You don't always need full bestiary descriptions with diagrams; juicy rumors can be good too. In fact, balancing the amount of information you get beforehand and the mystery is quite the task. Some monsters can be a complete surprise, of course, but in general, some subtle and sometimes detailed hints of what's to come and can build a lot of anticipation. A lot of the bosses and monsters in D:OS were just sort of... there, suddenly.

Sounds and Graphics

Obviously good monsters should look and sound, the part. TW3 really does well for a lot of the baddies. Making creatures intimidating or creepy in an isometric/turn-based view is a lot harder, but I believe Larian can pull it off. Also, awesome lairs and ambient sounds are important too.

Specific Tactics, Strengths, Weaknesses

Different monsters should have different behaviors, unique skills. Doing research into these statistics ahead of time should pay off. This was a problem in D:OS. Every enemy behaved fairly similarly. Loremaster was a good way of conveying their basic stats, but not their tactics.

Lore-Friendly Loot

This is where a LOT of games drop the ball, and TW3 does alright with. Monsters drop mutagens, which you can turn into powerful decoctions, long-lasting potions that you can use after every rest. The decoctions bonuses usually relate quite well to the creature's behavior. Too many games just make monsters drop random loot from other adventurers, or they're just guarding a chest for some reason (even TW3 does this quite often).

This is okay for some monsters, but I'd like to see a lot of monsters dropping special crafting loot for potions, special relics or trophies that afford magical bonuses of some kind, or even the creature's carapace or horns usable as armor or weapons. TW3 let you get trophy from kills, though they were extremely generic (some mods have fixed this, though, by making them interesting and varied). Trophies might make for another gear slot, item that gives passive bonuses in your inventory, or they could just be amulets and rings and the like.

And if a creature does collect loot, make it specific. Maybe a certain creature really likes potions because they smell nice, or an intelligent demon might collect lots of tomes of black magic that boost stats at the cost of others (like the Codex of Pestilent Thought).

In short, my main ideas: add trophies or monster-specific loot; loremaster or other means should reveal more about enemy behavior, not just stats; add a bestiary or lots of books that describe monsters; make more monsters characters, not just fodder.

Last edited by Baardvark; 23/10/15 03:33 AM.
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TW3 was a great game (from what I have heard and seen in TW2 and the trailers) and it definitely created a great halo effect around itself (I think it accommodates for at least half the Swearing and Sexuality votes if not the whole movement). However there is a lot of storytelling that you want to mix into D:OS lore. TW3 is a game about a monster hunter; every monster within their game adds to the experience whereas in other game the same procedure could result in inefficient storytelling.
In high fantasy scenarios it can lead to questions which should not ask for an answer (How did the giant get into this cave? If undead need human flesh, what do mummies eat? Do Demons have partnerships/marriages? mother-in-laws? as for in-game jokes).
Realism works in low-fantasy genres mostly. I don't say that monsters should not be thought out. Their level of detail must be proportional to how well the game itself can (and wants to) let you get to know them.

Then there is the problem of both 3rd person view and real-time vs isometric view and turn-based combat. The main factor for how epic a monster is becomes size instead of realism. It is not just size in relation to your tiny characters but perceived size as in pixels on your monitor. In 3rd person view you basically have blinkers on, while from above you cannot see a lot of details otherwise.
TW3 lets you experience scripted camera scenery and real-time interactions (including rag-doll physics). Then dangerous encounters are perceived as dangerous, training your reflexes against single/few enemies. The same situation in D:OS becomes a challenging puzzle vs their team composition. Animations are gamey and reactivity occurs - if anything - in context of a ruleset.

I would not specifically call for intimidating or creepy designs - more like stereotyped ones (which includes creepy ones ofc). When you see a water dragon you should recognize it immediately, not because he spills something at you that is hopefully water. He should (as an example) have colours of a sea creature, a streamlined body and interdigital webbing.

Atmospheres, ambient sounds and stereotyped environments on the other hand have a chance to dominate your perception and create immersion. I partially agree on that, it is just that I find them even more important than the monsters themselves instead. That's why I think holistic design approaches will benefit the game. If you have a cool environment ofc you think of creatures to fill these places but if you have a cool monster design you should not back off from changing the environment around to befit the creature.

From what I have seen in the D:OS 2 test area and the new Kickstarter update I am pretty sure they are already doing a pretty decent job at monster/environment design.

Lore-friendly Loot is a really noble and beneficial design goal. It would definitely reduce questionability/ player doubtfulness and wouldn't necessarily clash with most games. However I don't mind if it has to be subordinated to encounter and level design.

Last edited by transfat; 23/10/15 12:28 PM.
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I get your point, that every encounter should feel meaningful, but I don't think monster hunting should have this kind of focus in Original Sin. The Witcher is about a monster hunter and CD Project Red did the best they could to make this a fun part of the game (compared to the first two games). One of the main themes of The Witcher series is: "Who are the real monsters? Those who are, or those who do?". In Original Sin 2 the theme is how will your past shape your future, or something similar. I think the quests that emphasize this theme should have a very different structure.

If you look at Original Sin 1, I actually think they've already done a lot of what you are proposing, just not with monsters. MINOR SPOILER: You are two source hunters who come to a quite town, that has reasonally had a lot of trouble, with crazy orcs, undeads and a murder. When you start to dig deeper you realize that it all has one source - a sourcer (pun inteded). The resembles a lot of the mystique behind the monster hunting in the witcher intentions and so forth. You go in thinking it's just side-quest, but it's actually the main narrative and the theme that is introduced.

What they didn't do in Original Sin was having you research the best way to take down monsters and finding the enemies weak spots. I loved this in The Witcher, but it also goes a little bit against the philosophy of Original Sin as this game is about doing everything in you own way, finding your own solutions and being creative with the systems.

I think you have some good points, but I would personally prefer Original Sin 2 to be even more like Original Sin than more like The Witcher.

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I'm not saying monsters should be the focus of D:OS like it is in The Witcher, but they should still be more fully fleshed out where they appear. To be honest, my impression of the test area, though admittedly limited, made it seem like a lot of monsters were just...sitting around. I suppose the beetle sand-ambush was thematically appropriate, but the oozes just seemed there. Of course, nothing wrong with that, since it's just a test area, but I'm just hoping that's not the feeling of the final game like it was in D:OS. You can have epic origin stories and competitive questing and great human antagonists and still have some great monsters.

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Hi Baardvark,
I want to propose that you also fill your ideas into the ideas section: http://larian.uservoice.com/forums/314766-divinity-original-sin-2-game-ideas/filters/hot

Although not many people are voting anymore, it is the right place to put your ideas. And Larian told me at the end of the KS campaign that they have a look on all ideas, not only Top10 or Top50.

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Yeah i've been meaning to reply to this thread for a while, but only just now have I had to the time to do it.
Overall I think D:OS did okay with its bestiary, although it was a bit repetitive with some types of enemies.

Like, undead-swordsmen, undead-mages, undead-clerics, undead-archers, undead-pyromancers, undead-macemen and so on, and then we have ghostpirate-swordsmen, ghostpirate-mages, ghostpirate-archer, ghostpirate-pyromancer and so.

I know D:OS does not have such a deep monster lore, as the Witcher universe have. The guy behind the books has been writing about Geralt since the cold war (1980's) and the whole Witcher universe revolves around a monster hunter, so the monster is one of the core pillars of the lore and therefore much more detailed and varied.

I hope they expand the creature rooster for D:OS 2, they don't have to be as detailed and original as in the Witcher (okay, many of the Witcher monsters are taken out off Slavic mythology and folklore, which makes them pretty outlandish and original to people like me, who are used to western RPG lore), but there is already a huge amount of monsters/creatures in standard RGP lore, so they shouldn't have trouble adding many more monster to the game.
Since I've have been making up the lore and settings for a MOD for like a year or so, I was really glad to see that Lizards and Dwarfs are coming for D:OS 2 (if only they would add minotauras now).
What I really don't wanna see, is the Guild Wars 2 approach to creature lore:

Guild Wars 2: "So, then we have these frail framed creatures who lives in the forests, where they have built cities of their own, where they live in peace and harmony with nature..."

Normal RPG logic: "oh, you mean elves?..."

Guild Wars 2: "No no no not like elves at all, their called Sylvari."

Normal RPG logic: "oh, okay..."

Guild Wars 2: "But we also have these small humanoid creatures who really likes to tinker around with mechanics and magic as well...

Normal RPG logic: "oh, you mean gnomes?...."

Guild Wars 2: "no no no not like gnomes at all, they are called Asura"

Normal RPG logic: "aha, I see..."

Guild Wars 2: "Don't despair yet, cuz' we also got this race of really brutal creatures who are obsessed with warfare and these guys who have a proud warrior culture similar to the one in Norse mythology..."

Normal RPG logic: "Okay, I'm gonna go with Orcs and Nords from the elder scroll universe, which is probably wrong?..."

Guild Wars 2: "What, Orcs?. No its called Charr, and what did you say "Nords?" what a stupid name, no they are called Norns."

Normal RPG logic: "I give up."


P.S. Please for all that is good, DON'T go steampunk with D:OS 2. Only a few games successfully implement steampunk into the game lore and than only because it is a core element to its lore like in "Arcanum of steamworks and magick obscura" and "Thief: the dark project". Otherwise it really breaks my immersion when you see someone riding a steampowered mechanical horse or a submarine sails past a wizards tower.


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