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.

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.

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.

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.

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.