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Tweaking the Beamdog NPC's a bit

lujolujo Member Posts: 236
I've been doing a bunch of trolling / survey over on the codex boards and came across a line of reasoning the deplorable trolls over there consistenly share. It's not in itself unreasonable, and paying attention to this might improve the image of BG:EE.

They are almost universaly complaining about the added NPC's initiating dialogue too much, and praise the old NPC's for not doing so. I... I don't care much for the old NPC's, don't think the new guys don't fit in or anything, but I have to agree with the codex trolls on that. The new NPC's kind of force themselvs on the player and it does get irritating even if you don't mind the NPC's otherwise. This is a very legit complaint, honestly.

I think Beamdog would do very well to make the NPC's which do have dialogue the player can explore, to not automatically initiate dialogue. They do it way too often. Let the player talk to them instead. I find mostly everything else I got on the feedback front to be mostly laughable/insane/stupid, but this is a very good point.

The old companions might mostly be just cheezily portraited, lousily voice acted, stock fantasy cardbord cutouts for the most part (pardon me for not having much taste for classic fantasy), but they're pretty unobtrusive, and the new ones are pretty obtrusive in comparison. This can even be grating to someone who doesn't even care enough for Baldurs Gate to get worked up about it, but it seems to be very grating to a lot of people who do care about Baldurs Gate (even if they're evidently and undeniably not right in the head otherwise and seem to have repulsive worldviews and stuff).

It seems a lot of that anger could easily be remedied. Just make the new NPC's be talkable to but not initiate dialogue.

Post edited by lujo on
QuartzArdanis
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Comments

  • thelovebatthelovebat Member Posts: 218
    edited February 6
    I mean to be fair, some of the NPC Project type mods give the old NPCs non-player initiated conversations and such, along with added quests and interactions related to them. And dedicated fans of the games seem to enjoy those a lot. It really just comes down to moderation, and to me placing the new NPCs in a place where you're not forced to interact with them to progress the game or the main story. Both Neera and Dorn are placed in such a way that you really aren't going to be able to avoid interacting with them, so those who don't really enjoy them have to deal with their opening dialogues and events every playthrough. Rasaad at the very least is more passively placed where you can choose to talk to him or don't, which is much better and he will help you fight enemies in his vision range even if he's not in your party (which correlates to his good alignment).

    Then of course there's the drow Sorcerer you can get later on, but that comes with a minimum level cap and you can just tell him to take a hike without being forced into any heavy interaction if that's what you want.

    Personally I found the voice acting for Dorn and Rasaad fine, their interactions were generally the best as well as their related stories/quests. The other two were less well done, even if useful party members if you need a spellcaster. Also one of the new added female voice sets from the Enhanced Edition sounds like a clone of Neera, so I don't really know why Beamdog did that since it doesn't really sound great.

    All in all I don't mind NPCs occasionally initiating dialogues with you if you have them join your party. But if you don't want to be forced to interact with them when they're not in your party, or at least not be forced into combat because of their event, there should be an option for that.

    tbone1
  • GallengerGallenger Member Posts: 380
    edited February 6
    The problem, from a game design perspective regarding NPCs that can talk being added to a game where NPCs couldn't talk before, is that, again assuming the player is *used* to or expecting material *like* the vanilla experience, they won't know to initiate dialogue with the NPCs. Granted, various NPC mods and the NPCproject do allow you to have *something* resembling a talk with your NPCs, but even then they all interject from time to time as a means to getting the player's attention to make you aware of this added content.

    Neera's presentation gets a lot of flack for potentially forcing you into combat, but she is in a pretty out of the way location overall, and if they'd put her anywhere else in Beregost she'd either be encountered *more* or not be findable by a typical player. And the combat is typically quite easy (I'm far more afraid of the spiders and the assassin which are also in Beregost, though behind doors - not that a player who was playing for the first time would really know those things). To make no mention of a budding evil NPC encounter FF and bounty hunters there. There's only 2 other encounters in the game that I can think of where a person you stumble upon requests your aid - and you can refuse them. I've never refused Neera because she gives me a gem bag which is by far one of the most useful items in the whole game.

    Dorn's can be *totally* avoided by simply not speaking to him in the FAI if you don't like him/don't intend to use him.

    Bealoth is an Easter egg that was popular enough to end up in SoD, and it's entirely possible to miss him completely.

    Rasaad is totally passive, but he has a lot of on-screen flourish to show you he is there (his voice line and kicking motion).

    So you can see they went a different route with each available character and I'm sure it was because they wanted to experiment with how to introduce new characters and best utilize the content they were allowed to add.




  • lujolujo Member Posts: 236
    edited February 6
    Sure, sure, I like your replies and appreciate your perspectives :) Also agree! I just wanted to point out to any Beamdog devs listening that their interventions in the game are taking major flak for this specific reason - they add to the vanilla game NPC-s who feel more assertive than what other NPC's are. It could be avoided if they just didn't do that and had them behave like other NPC-s do, but instead had accessible dialogues like NPC's in PST for those that want to interact with them.

    And to reiterate - this seems to be a dependably universal complaint. I'm not sure they were aware this bothered people as much as it does, but this seems to be a VERY sore point and it's generating randomly bad word of mouth. That wouldn't be a problem if it was just raised by truly repulsive marginals, but, unfortunately, even broken clocks are right twice a day.

  • lujolujo Member Posts: 236
    edited February 6
    About my voice acting comment, and general disdain - I simply wanted to demonstrate in clear terms that I'm not any sort of emotionally attached purist when it comes to BG. This is not one of those "they changed X in my favorite game, now it sucks" things, as I wouldn't get worked up even if they re-recorded every spoken line, changed all the potraits or whatever. This complaint is different, very common and well worth paying attention to.

    Quartz
  • PaulaMigratePaulaMigrate Member Posts: 1,201
    As player of this game since day one of the classic release, I agree with @subtledoctor. When EE was released, the standard of NPCs was the one set by BG1NPC project and all the numerous mod NPCs that were created with the same depth of character. Having new NPCs and going back to a 15 year old concept would've been a laughing stock, just like completely ignoring that time has moved on. Also, it would've meant that beamdog would ignore all the work done by modders - which after all was a main factor to keep the game alive.
    And for anyone who disagrees there is http://www.shsforums.net/files/file/1135-disable-enhanced-edition-npcs/

    Kuseltbone1
  • lujolujo Member Posts: 236
    edited February 6
    UM, I have no idea when the new NPC-s were introduced and under what circumstances. The problem with them is that they are actively more intrusive than the old ones, or even the ones in Planescape Torment. I don't mind being able to interact with them at all - I come from the PST direction - the problem I (and a bunch for trolls apparently, and some normal people), have is that the NPC-s initiate dialogue with the player a lot. Just that, and it's kinda jarring even to me.

    I'm not bashing Beamdog, I'm pointing out that if the NPC's they added were exactly the same as they are now EXCEPT that they only talked to the player when the player initiated dialogue, it would be much better. The way it is now really does feel like they're being pushed into the players face and it gets annoying even if you like the way they are written. The way they are designed just needs that one tweak, that's all.

  • Artemius_IArtemius_I Member Posts: 2,631
    edited February 6
    lujo said:

    I'm not bashing Beamdog, I'm pointing out that if the NPC's they added were exactly the same as they are now EXCEPT that they only talked to the player when the player initiated dialogue, it would be much better. The way it is now really does feel like they're being pushed into the players face and it gets annoying even if you like the way they are written. The way they are designed just needs that one tweak, that's all.

    BG is one game and PST is another. BG almost never makes use of PIDs with party members so no, it would not be better. And as an NPC modder who’s had this discussion with other modders before, PIDs are an awful and unintuitive way to add dialogue content in BG.

  • PaulaMigratePaulaMigrate Member Posts: 1,201
    Sounds like
    - always walk one step behind me
    - only talk when you 're spoken to...
    which decade are we living in - or which part of the world?
    Disgusting.

    Kuselverlaine
  • ArctodusArctodus Member Posts: 996
    edited February 6
    I personnaly don't mind the extra content given by the new npcs, because I agree that Beamdog couldn't have realistically created them in the mold of the original BG1 npcs. If they would have gone with the BG1 style, the critics would have then called Beamdog lazy developpers that only added barebone content for cashgrab, etc. Damn if you do, damn if you don't.

    And I like the new npcs. I don't love them, I generally think they're ok. I grab one of them on my team once in a while.

    However, where I agree with you, is that NEERA is intrusive. In BG1 you can still avoid the area where she is, but in BG2, her cutscene in the Bridge Disctrict grates me a bit, especially when I don't plan to take her along. When you're interrupted by her when you get out of the area, it's just tedious. If only there was a way to avoid that encounter... At least, the other new npcs are not as intrusive, because you can simply ignore them.

    Skatan
  • lujolujo Member Posts: 236
    edited February 6

    BG is one game and PST is another. BG almost never makes use of PIDs with party members so no, it would not be better. And as an NPC modder who’s had this discussion with other modders before, PIDs are an awful and unintuitive way to add dialogue content in BG.

    I pulled PST into the discussion to explain that I don't mind NPC's being more than empty shells. Far from it. And while I get what you're saying, having NPC's pester you every other map transition feels worse than being able to miss dialogues with them completely. (And also BG doesn't use PIDs because it's characters are essentially cookie cutter and disposable. There's so many of them because it was believed they'd be dropping dead all the time.)

    Sounds like
    - always walk one step behind me
    - only talk when you 're spoken to...
    which decade are we living in - or which part of the world?
    Disgusting.

    The err what are you going on about? The problem with how things are is that other party memembers mostly don't get involved, and even the main "plot" of the game is rather non-intrusive. But suddenly you have these guys who aren't supposed to be any more important than any other NPC (or the main character) pushing themselves to the forefront all the time. It doesn't matter if you like them or not like them, it feels like they're forcing themselves on the player and on the narrative. After a while it starts getting on your nerves.

    This seems to be a very common complaint, and it's not culture specific. Hell, your "which part of the world" comment is pretty chauvinist, I have to say.
    Arctodus said:

    However, where I agree with you, is that NEERA is intrusive. In BG1 you can still avoid the area where she is, but in BG2, her cutscene in the Bridge Disctrict grates me a bit, especially when I don't plan to take her along. When you're interrupted by her when you get out of the area, it's just tedious. If only there was a way to avoid that encounter... At least, the other new npcs are not as intrusive, because you can simply ignore them.

    I have no idea about Neera, I only did her cutscene thingy. I didn't have her in the party. I also don't know what Baeloth's like I also only picked him up for the achievement and dismissed him. Dorn was way too chatty and so was Rasaad and while I didn't mind either of them as characters, having them chat me up every other screen transition got tiresome pretty quickly. One guy described the situation as "It's like unwanted sexual advances, it ought to be banned in Sweden", and it's not really inaccurate.

    EDIT: The reason it all freaks trolls out is that if they don't like a characters personality, they can't avoid having it shoved in their face all the time. If it was a PID thing they just wouldn't initiate dialogue and there'd be less backlash, the way things are it's inevitable. I mean, I don't like... about 90% of the orignal characters in BG. Really, I don't. I'd like the game much less if they kept pestering me all the time, it'd be unbearable.

    Anyway, it's something to seriously think about.

    AMP1972
  • subtledoctorsubtledoctor Member Posts: 9,779
    The reason it freaks out the trolls is that they were looking for something to freak out over. If the NPCs were empty shells like the Bioware BG1 NPCs, the trolls would have gone nuts over "how can they presume to charge for this when they didn't even put any effort into it??" or something.

    The point you aren't addressing is the "intrusive" character of the Beamdog NPCs compared to NPCs in BG2. IIRC Nalia, Anomen, Haer'Dalis et al. are just as intrusive. (Probably moreso, in the case if Haer and Jan.)

    They designed the new NPCs to be like the BG2 NPCs. It's that simple. That's what the available evidence suggested customers wanted. The vocal trollish minority of fragile snowflakes who are just devastated by the "intrusions" of these characters were just ginning ip a canned controversy. I wouldn't be surprised if Devin Nunes was leading them. :tongue:

    I will say, the forced cutscenes when you neet Neera are obnoxious. Just crappy design. But then the Firewine Ruons dungeon is crappy design as well. You can't expect perfection. Hopefully Beamdog realizes players don't like the Neera cutscenes and do better next time. That's it.

    ArctodusAstroBryGuyThacoBellRaduziel
  • lujolujo Member Posts: 236
    Again, I have no idea what you're talking about, I don't know what BG2 is like, I don't know what everyone is complainging about Neera for, and I don't care for trolls unless they have a point. It just so happens that this time they do - the rather too frequent dialogue triggers make the experience less enjoyable for a variety of people. It freaks trolls out because they overreact to anything, but you don't have to be overly sensitive to notice that it's annoying.

  • JuliusBorisovJuliusBorisov Member, Administrator, Moderator, Developer Posts: 16,564
    Just a small opinion: please, try BG2, what it's like, what kind of NPC interaction it has, and more, and return to this thread, @lujo (yes, it will take time but it will be interesting to hear). After all, the EEs have been made taking not only BG1 but also BG2 in mind (at least you can tell that considering BG:EE brings kits and other BG2 stuff into BG1).

    lujoQuartzRaduziel
  • lujolujo Member Posts: 236
    edited February 6
    Sure I will, but I'm not in a hurry because I need to check out the siege of dragonspear first, and well, I have PST:EE modding projects and real life, and well, EE's are pretty pricey. I got PST:EE for under 10 E on a sale, and I consider it a vastly superior game to any of the other infinity games, not remotely in the same league. I kinda only bought BG1:EE as a form of fan support because playing PST:EE and being able to report bugs in it made me feel good about the company. I don't know if I'd ever even consider buying BG2, and I'm sure I wouldn't buy Icewind Dale or Neverwinter Nights. I mean, I only ever played BG up to a certain point in all these years, but I never in all these years could get into BG2 enough to do a single quest past the first dungeon. I could probably do a good job of playtesting it, looking up bugs, you know, development work, but I would not likely be having much fun. Giving 20E and a lot of time for that kind of experience... It's kinda hard to motivate oneself.

    As for the subjec at hand - I'm just saying that this one aspect of the added NPC's, overly frequent dialogue initiation and reliance on them rather than the player to prompt interaction, doesn't work well for BG1. This should be taken into account. Plenty of things make the experience better, this happens not to and seems to rub plenty of people the wrong way.

    And apparently people are upset about the non-voluntary nature of Neera's cutscene. For whatever reason. They might have a point there, too, I'm not sure any of the orignal characters initiated dialogue with you unless you clicked on them, and respecting that would have also caused less backlash. Folks feel like the new NPCs are forced on them (or forcing themselves on them), why they think so can be pinpointed and remedied comparatively easily.

  • semiticgodsemiticgod Member, Moderator Posts: 11,015
    I personally am not a fan of the EE NPCs, yet still consider them more interesting than many of the original BG1 NPCs, simply because I played BG2 before I discovered BG1 and found the former relatively shallow. As for the Codex, I don't really like the caustic atmosphere there.

    That said, I really don't think we should get in the habit of generalizing other communities or calling anyone deplorable trolls. It sets a bad precedent for the tone of the forums here.

    tbone1Loldrup
  • lujolujo Member Posts: 236
    edited February 6
    I don't care for the Codex, or any number of stupid/subjective/insane arguments various trolls there might present for this or that, but I have noticed this both on my own and as a reccuring element in the complaining past the general insanity/hatefulness that tends to sneak into any discussion over there. And gave feedback on it. The thread has been acknowledged, and I thank Julius for that, nobody needs to get worked up. The way characters are written - not a problem. The way characters are more fleshed out - not a problem. The way characters look - not a problem. The way characters interact with the player - root of all the various complaints and negative feedback when you get down to it. That can be helped to varying degrees, even in the next patch. Make the Neera cutscene not mandatory unless you talk to her, for example. Small thing, goes a long way. All there is to it.

  • subtledoctorsubtledoctor Member Posts: 9,779
    edited February 7
    (Note, I never said you were wrong. :wink: Just that there were pretty good reasons why the game was made the way it was, and that it's unlikely to change at this point.)

    Someone should definitely make a mod to change the way the Neera cut-scenes trigger, though.

    Post edited by subtledoctor on
    tbone1
  • subtledoctorsubtledoctor Member Posts: 9,779
    edited February 7
    No I mean to keep her in the game, but give her introduction different conditions. Like edit the area script so Neera doesn't appear until chapter x, and let the player decide the value of x at the time the mod is installed. I'd personally delay it until after you've cleared the Nashkel mines. Then I wouldn't have to tear my mind out of the game and force myself to avoid the whole east side of a village because I'm low level and don't want to recruit her yet.

  • lujolujo Member Posts: 236
    Yes, something like that. Except not force customers into looking for mods. It doesn't take much research/survey to figure out that people have problems with the way Neera is introduced from different angles.

    At the very least what subtledoctor said probably leads to what happened in my case - the game pushed her into my party at a very low level, and I simply had to kick her out. Then because she remained lvl1 I never really took her back. This probably happens a lot.

  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 7,707
    You do realize that at no point do you actually have to take Neera right? Its no different than how Viconia is introduced in either game.

    AstroBryGuytbone1QuartzRaduziel
  • Artemius_IArtemius_I Member Posts: 2,631
    @ThacoBell

    Agreed. The only reason people seem to hate it so much, besides blatant favoritism (which I'd rather not get into) is because it's a hard fight. It'd be more reasonable to ask for it to be toned down, or at least give Neera the invincibility flag like Dorn has.

    ThacoBellAstroBryGuyAMP1972
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 7,707
    It is? What problems do people have with it?

  • Artemius_IArtemius_I Member Posts: 2,631
    @ThacoBell
    1. The Thayan Wizard likes to lead with Mirror Image, which if not disrupted makes it nearly impossible to stop his Flame Arrow and Magic Missile which are effectively instant kills (and level 1 OHKO immunity doesn't help since they're multiple-instance damage)
    2. The wizard is also backed up with two fighters unlike the Flaming Fist who is alone
    3. Viconia's AI reliably casts Command unlike Neera who randomly casts a spell which can actually harm the party if she pulls out a Color Spray or something. Vic is also a neutral NPC unlike Neera so she's not targeted by enemies unless no one else is nearby
    4. The encounter is generally met super early unlike Viconia in Peldvale which makes the whole fight an RNG-fest
    I won't deny the execution of the fight has serious issues, but the premise is nothing new. Personally if any of these issues were fixed I'd have no problem with it.

    QuartzSkatanRaduziel
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 7,707
    Wait, Neera is scripted to use spells other than color spray in that fight? I've never seen her use anything else, and she has always targeted the mage. Consequently, I have never seen that enemy mage cast a spell. Am I just really lucky?

    tbone1
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