ghoulishvisage said: What made you guys decide to not include the potential extra companions despite the fact that the backers seemed largely for it?

Timeline logistics, mostly.  The writing schedule for additional companions wouldn’t line up well with when all of the other aspects of the game were together and ready to go.

rideroid said: What sort of overall tone can we expect from PoE? Will it be more towards ultra-grim and violent (ie Game of Thrones) or will it be more inline with the adventurous and fun feeling from BG1 & 2? After playing Divinity Original Sin lately I find a lighter atmosphere is pretty refreshing.

I don’t think PoE is quite as grim as Game of Thrones, but it’s also not as light-hearted as Divinity: OS.  Our subject matter can be pretty grim but I think there are plenty of funny moments as well.

silkvalley said: Is there any incentive to wear armor parts from the same "weight category" in PoE, other than style? The drawback of heavier armor (body slot) is slower action speed, but what about helmets, boots and gloves? Leather armor + plate boots and gloves + barbute vs fully leather; any systemic differences?

PoE uses a D&D-style “body only” armor system.  Items equipped in the hand/feet/head slots can be magic items, but do not contribute directly to Damage Threshold like armor does.

nomahaatman said: Is there going to be some sort of animation or trigger that makes the user know that an effect like "Wild Sprint" is active or not?

There will almost always be a visual effect or animation of some kind.  For abilities/spells that are connected to speed of movement or attack — or quick reactions (e.g. Thrust of Tattered Veils) the animation will be very short or it will be a visual effect only.

enverxis said: Will Pillars of Eternity have a "ready" stance that is used during the recovery time between attacks, similar to what units did in Baldur's Gate when they were "active". A feature that was missing in Icewind Dale, where units looked idle in between attacks.

When we (at Obsidian) talk about this stuff, we use these terms:

* Stance - Refers to a way of holding a weapon (or weapons).  A quarterstaff uses a different stance from a dagger.

* Idle - This is the default animation that plays in any stance, whether in combat or not.  It always loops and is the thing that other animations come out of and return to.

* Fidget - These animations play occasionally when the character has been idle for too long.  It could be the character simply stretching or looking around or it could be something more elaborate (like the knife-flipping in Fallout).

When combat starts in PoE, characters do from their non-combat stance into their combat stances (based on equipped weapons).  I don’t think we currently have a lot of combat fidgets, but we also don’t have a lot of dead time in between attacks.  BG used 6 second rounds with characters who typically made one attack per round, so they filled in a lot of the space between attacks with “dummy” swings.

bubbonicus said: If there are things you hate - like for example, fascism, racism, fanatism, other -ism, slavery, child abuse etc. do you still try to make it a viable choice for players in your games? With a goal of representing a different choices players have, a lot of games tend to downplay "evil" and "ruthless" choices in favor of "good" and "venerable" ones. How hard it is to make something you hate and loathe an equal choice for the players and their desire to play different roles in a RPG?

Sure.  I think it depends what it is.  Something I’ve brought up more recently with designers at work is defining the boundaries of expression for any given game.  I.e., determining where the player can take their character in terms of developing their personality, morals, ethics, etc.  If you decide that sadism is “in”, you have to develop a consistent method of expressing that in a variety of situations throughout the game.  I think “evil” is too abstract to work with, but something like “cruel”, “brutal”,”selfish”, “domineering”, or even “anarchic” are narrow enough to start defining those boundaries.

I believe human beings of all sorts, myself included, are capable of doing abhorrent things in the right circumstances, so I look for places where that alternate me, you, or the stranger on the street might want to engage in what I would normally consider horrible behavior.  There are a lot of games where spontaneous cruelty and general nastiness comes across as absurd and silly.  Emotions can be unpredictable, so circumstances don’t have to always be tightly controlled, but it’s helpful if an “evil” (broadly capturing a variety of behaviors) response seems to be invited by the situation.  This is generally true of all responses/behaviors, but “evil” behaviors are often out of the norm and shocking, so the reader’s/player’s mind puts them under more scrutiny.

ashtonw said: What role doe sexism play in the cultures of Eora?

Sexism does not play a central role in Eora (the world of Pillars of Eternity, for those who aren’t familiar), but it does come up at times in the region covered by Pillars of Eternity, the Eastern Reach.  Aedyran and Dyrwoodan cultures have what people would think of as more traditional Medieval-Renaissance gender roles.  Less strict than historical gender roles, but men tend to have more official political power, they do most of the fighting and heavy manual labor, and typically “run things”.  Women from those cultures generally perform more domestic manual labor, run households, and are more present in their childrens’ lives.  The nearby tribes of Eir Glanfath are more fluid and egalitarian in their gender roles.  Also, there are some cultures where the women hold most of the power.  Among the Naasitaqi boreal dwarves, women run the villages and do most of the exploring and hunting.  Men are in charge of keeping homes and children in order.

thehaddockbanker said: I have always been curious of what WRPG developers think of JRPGs. What JRPGs new or old do you enjoy? If any.

I think due to my tabletop RPG and American/European PC CRPG background, I have had difficulty getting into a lot of JRPGs.  In RPGs, I like to make my own character or, if I have a “fixed” character, I like to be able to develop and express that character’s personality in the game.  However, I do like some of the tactical combat in JRPGs.  Specifically, I really enjoyed Final Fantasy Tactics and Front Mission 4.  Strictly speaking, Demon’s Souls and the Dark Souls games are JRPGs, though made with many stylistic elements that seem more “western”.  I haven’t played Dark Souls 2 yet, but I loved both Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls.  The combat, level design, and atmosphere are all fantastic.

silkvalley said: Several months ago you wrote: "Pretty much all of the status effects that are applied per-hit have scaling impact based on the base speed of the weapon." Let's say a weapon is enchanted to apply a per-hit status effect that lasts 5 seconds on a failed defense check and +15% burn damage. Would accelerating or slowing the attack speed of its holder, magically or otherwise, also automatically change/scale the duration or power of the effect and the burn damage percentage?

No.  The variable durations on weapon-based afflictions exist to keep fast single-handed, standard single-handed, and two-handed weapons roughly balanced with each other.  Additional effects that adjust recovery time will not change the durations of afflictions derived from weapon attacks.

battelbrotha said: You've said on occasion that you get inspiration from things you enjoy, however I know Chris Avellone said the except opposite that he gets inspiration from things he hates. Have the two of you ever butted heads over these two opposite approaches while making PE?

Not specifically, no.  When anyone on the team suggests removing or dramatically changing something they don’t personally like, I ask them how removing that element will make the game more enjoyable for our intended audience overall.  None of us are going to personally buy a hundred thousand copies of the game when it’s released, so we need to think of the audience at large first.

Here’s a story of something I don’t personally like: casino games.  In real life, I really dislike casinos.  Traditional casino games like roulette and most incarnations of blackjack are structured against the players and toward the house.  They prey on the worst tendencies of human beings to misunderstand probability and become caught up in addictive behavior.  I can’t stand them and never personally play them.

That said, as much as it was like stabbing a dagger in my heart, there was no way I could have directed a Fallout game set in Las Vegas, New Vegas, or another other Vegas and not had gambling mini-games.  New Vegas’ gambling games are mostly biased toward the player (Luck generally adds straight into your chances, pushing them away from the house).  They capture the enjoyable aspects of gambling (getting lucky, which is much easier than IRL, being given perks by the casino, etc.) and even hitting a casino’s limit and being booted out is presented with grudging respect.

People playing F:NV didn’t need me to “deconstruct” gambling or “turn it on its head”.  Like successfully charging ten armed raiders while armed with a tire iron, sweeping through the casinos of New Vegas on a whirlwind lucky blackjack streak is part of the same unlikely fantasy.  My personal loathing of casino gambling wasn’t — and isn’t — particularly important.

Sure, it’s ideal if all of the designers’ personal tastes and preferences align with those of their audience, but that’s never the case.  There’s a threshold of dissonance beyond which you should probably recognize that you and your audience are way out of sync (e.g. I have such a fundamental dislike of the zombie and mafia sub-genres that I don’t think I could successfully work on media in them).  For everything else, it’s about balancing your personal tastes with those of the different segments of your audience.  You want to enjoy what you’re working on, but you want the audience to enjoy it as well (unless you’re just making it for yourself, in which case, go nuts).

For me, it often comes back to a basic principle of creative work:  do whatever you want in life.  Just don’t expect anyone to pay or respect you for it.  If you can get away with being a 21st century Diego Rivera, awesome.  Most people can’t and unfortunately many are shocked to discover this.