UI, Controls, QoL : Part 1
, Part 2
, Part 3
, Part 4
, Part 5
Roleplay, Story, Immersion : Part 1
, Part 2
, Part 3
Mechanisms : Part 1
, Part 2
, Part 3
, Part 4
ROLEPLAYING THROUGH CONVERSATIONS Mechanisms for skill checks in conversations and during exploration.
The game mechanisms for skill checks in conversation and during exploration need to be looked at properly. The items below focus on the current system, and it may seem that tweaks and fixes can resolve the issues. But it is probably preferable to rethink and redesign those systems completely. Just like the hotbar and action bars feel as if they were put there quickly and temporarily, it feels as if the current skill check systems were not designed to accommodate a party of adventurers or the array of spells with roleplay-only usages.
This is an extremely important point. You aim to give BG3 a tabletop roleplaying feeling. But since this is a video game, which must be programmed, there will be limited room for creatively solving problems and taking the story in directions that were not planned for. As a result, conversations will be the main area of the game where we can roleplay. So it needs to be looked after.All characters, or the one chosen by the player, should roll for a skill check during conversations.
When the whole group is talking to an NPC, it makes zero sense that the person who initiated the conversation does everything.
The fact that companions sometimes interject or appear behind my PC in the cutscenes proves that they are canonically assumed to be there, and that my PC is not reporting the content of the discussion to them after it has taken place. And since they are there, they can help. The slogan of the game is "gather your party" and one loading screen recommends to form a well-balanced party ... I hope I didn't assemble a team of free-riders who will just stand back and watch me do everything.
How to involve everyone should probably depend on the type of check :
- If the check is for "notice/recognise something", everyone should make an attempt. This will typically concern skill checks like Insight, History, Arcana, etc. This is the same as everyone rolling for Perception, Religion, etc, when we explore the world.
- If the check is for "attempt something", it makes more sense to let us choose who makes the attempt. This will typically concern skill checks like Persuasion, Intimidation, Deception, Performance.
Note : it is the situation that determines who rolls, not the skill. Some skills, like Medicine, can be used in "notice/recognise" and "attempt" situations.
Without improved conversation mechanism, we can be exposed to totally-credible scenes of Epic Fail proportions. Examples :
- My party wants to intimidate a guard but lets my low charisma PC do it because that happens to be the character who initiated conversation.
- The low-wisdom fighter couldn't crush the tadpole of brother Edowin. The rest of the team watched the tadpole escape, calmly chilling by the side. Thanks team.
- A character was mind-controlled by an illithid and the companions didn't help because the Fundamental Laws Of The Game Universe rigorously forbid stepping in someone else's conversations. Casting skill-boosting and roleplay spells during conversation : the talking character cannot cast them.
During a conversation, I can only cast helping spells with the characters that are not talking. This is very annoying.
Pre-emptively casting these spells before absolutely every single conversation in the game, just in case an opportunity to use them shows up, is something that I could do, but it would make conversations incredibly tedious. The alternative is to not cast them, and when I come across a skill check, I just sigh, roll the dice, and if it fails, I reload.
I'm happy that you encourage players not to reload, and that you want to provide content regardless of whether or not the attempt is successful. I want to go with that proposition. I don't want to abuse reload (which is made even less appealing by the long loading times). But I also don't like failing an attempt when the game did not give me a fair chance. The mechanisms should not give us very good reasons to reload. All characters should roll for a skill check during exploration cutscenes.
Example : when entering the wetlands. There's an Investigation check ... why should only the entering character do it, when everyone gets a chance at finding traps or identifying a god's statue ? If I just so happen to have been controlling the lowest intelligence character of the party at the time I unknowingly walked into this skill check and I failed, everyone else in the party is going to just accept this and not have their own wits about them ? You publicly said you wanted to encourage us not to spam-load. Give us good reasons not to. All characters should roll for a skill check when I search a container.
That is to say ... if we assume that any skill check should take place when searching a container, in the first place. Which already sounds quite dubious in the motivating example.
When searching the bookshelf in Ilyn Toth's cellar, only the character searching the bookshelf does in Investigation check. If I fail, I need to select another character, open the container again, and repeat until I succeed or I have failed with the four of them. This is tedious. Also, this is playing the mechanisms, not the story. But it still makes sense for a roleplayer to do that because the mechanism is so un-credible that it makes no sense to accept it and go with it. Indeed, if there are marks on the floor to the left of the shelves, it is not by inspecting the content of the shelves that I will notice them (in fact, it would make it harder). I think the trigger for this skill check is wrongly located.
So, this item applies only if there is to be any exploration skill check associated with exploring a container, anywhere else in the game. Which probably shouldn't be the case. Conducting a reasonably credible conversation. Please avoid conversations that are cut short before I could talk through enough of it.
This is the extreme situation where you have several options, notably for asking questions, but as soon as you've chosen one option and heard the answer, the conversation is over. You cannot get back to asking questions. And it wasn't flagged. This often makes little sense. Especially if the conversion is not a plot point where you can either have this or that outcome, necessarily closing the door to the alternatives. In any normal, credible discussion, people don't refuse to discuss further after one question !
Typical example : Roah Moonglow. You are proposed 3 lines, and each of them has Roah giving you some information, which is completely non-critical and just fleshing out the world. But if you choose one, all the conversation opportunities are over, you cannot then ask the others. She becomes only a trading point. This is frustrating (all the more so that loading times are very long).
Note : the is the opposite extreme is where you can keep choosing dialogue options and hearing replies until only Leave is left. This is a video game trope and convention, somewhat of a necessity, and clearly preferable to the first extreme. Fortunately, I think I have seen few of those cases. And in those situations where I exhausted all options, I wanted to hear what the person had to say and it didn't feel awkward. Just keep it that way ! Why are there some people I cannot talk to ?
Occasionally, I can see characters, who are not hostiles, yet I cannot talk to them. Why ?
For example, this is the case with Warryn. Or Gimblebock and Taman. I can't talk to them. I have to walk and let a banter or cutscene conversation be triggered. Which is quite ironic if I precisely wanted to initiate a conversation. It doesn't feel consistent with the behaviour of the game elsewhere. Companions interjecting during conversations or reacting afterwards. Can you please ensure that all character that can interject in a conversation scene do so ?
When Abdirak gives a penance to my PC, Shadowheart comments but other don't, although they have lines to say too. Can please you ensure that all character that can react after a scene do so ?
When I let Arka kills Sazza, I know that Gale and Wyll can react after the scene, with an exclamation mark above their head, but if they are both in my team, only one of them gets the exclamation mark. I want to experience the content you wrote. Also, once I, as a player, know that they should both react, but only one does (because of the way this is coded ?), it makes less sense from within the game world, and is not good for immersion. Reacting to some game events or dialogues. Volo doesn't remember meeting me.
When finding Volo in his cage in the goblin fortress, it seems that the game does not remember that I have already met him. Why can I ask what kind of career he does and why does he introduce himself, given that I have already met him in the Druid Grove ? Giving blood to Astarion.
Could we have more dialogue options when we let Astarion have a bit of our blood ? At the moment I feel I can only say "sure, have some" or "no, you can't". I would like to have opportunities to react in less binary ways. For instance, "hm ... I would say no and this is crazy but I want you strong for us to have better chances of survival" or "I grant you a very extraordinary favour. Do not forget it and do not make me regret it". A Drow freeing Lae'zel.
If I play a good Drow (cleric of Eilistraee, as a completely random example), when I meet the tieflings around the encaged Lae'zel, I have no option to be nice and tell them to go. I can only choose between Intimidation or attack. I know a Drow should certainly expect some hostiles reactions
(just like that from Nymessa and Damays), but that doesn't mean that I cannot be nice in my actions
. That's a super-standard roleplaying path for a good Tiefling, Half-orc or Drow. Could we have more dialogue options here please ? Entering the overgrown chapel.
Could we have more dialogue options when knocking on the door ? With my good cleric, I did not have options along the line of "no, I'm not Gimblebock, but can I get in anyway ?". Playing a Githyanki or other PC who knows as much as Lae'zel.
I briefly tried an old Githyanki mage who knows her shit. It was a bit sad to have no option to tell Lae'zel "relax youngling, I know the protocol as much as you do". I understand that Lae'zel is a primary exposition vector in the prologue, and this will work for the majority of PCs (and players). But there will be created PCs, like Wizards, who are meant to be very knowledgeable and should have some knowledgeable about Mind Flayers.