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Lilura1 commentary on Beamdog's livestreams

LiluraLilura Member Posts: 148
edited January 2018 in General Discussions NWN:EE
Hi, guys. Here is another write-up on Beamdog's NWN:EE. Talks about the visuals, the UI, and certain game-play issues with regard to the original NWN. Links to my critical commentary of the OC, too.

Post edited by Lilura on


  • DrHappyAngryDrHappyAngry Member Posts: 1,385
    A quick cast menu would be so awesome! That was definitely a huge enhancement nwn2 brought to the table interface wise.

    I'm not sure how I feel about the radial menu, it's sort of a love/hate relationship. A right click menu is probably the right choice. It does look slick, though.

  • cherryzerocherryzero Member Posts: 129
    I enjoy your write ups Lilura, very well thought out and articulated, thanks.

  • LiluraLilura Member Posts: 148
    Thanks, cherry. And thanks for the triggering Tweet, Trent!

  • DoubledimasDoubledimas Member, Mobile Tester Posts: 1,210
    Just a thought: could you do a kickstarter for updated art/textures only? As Trent said doing stuff like that is way too expensive (and probably too time-consuming) to do this during the road to the full release. So if Beamdog works on the technical part (bug fixes, unhardcoding, implementing new techniques) a kickstarter could gather funds for revising art and textures.
    People would know the kickstarter only funds extra art. The base game will be released anyway.

  • MadHatterMadHatter Member Posts: 145
    I think the difficult part of funding just the art assets would be how to get people to pledge for it without having planned NWN:EE as a Kickstarter campaign to begin with.

    For example, I already bought the Digital Deluxe version here and don't really care about upgraded visuals (ProjectQ combined with Zwerks' stuff is literally perfect for me--don't *need* to go above and beyond that). I wouldn't be inclined to pledge more money for just that feature.

    Compare that with having built high def work into a Kickstarter campaign before it launches. "If we achieve $1 million we will rework the game's assets as a high def patch hak/override." Now everyone is on board and happy if we hit the stretch goal but the project isn't a fail if that goal isn't reached. Most importantly for Beamdog, the expense would have been planned into the project.

    That said, it wouldn't necessarily NOT work. See @highv_priest making Windows NWNX happen with the proper application of financial incentive. Beamdog would just need to do some research on what exactly it would take to get the art done.

  • FreshLemonBunFreshLemonBun Member Posts: 756
    I think objectively Pillars of Eternity was a huge success, it saved the studio from closing down, put money in their savings account so they could already partly develop Deadfire before even announcing it. Feargus Urquhart even floated the idea of self publishing the sequel on the fig streams and said he was inspired by studios like CD Project Red. In contrast Tyranny was funded by Paradox (meaning they own the IP) and supposedly didn't do so well meeting expectations. Their second crowd founding campaign was also extremely successful despite being on a new platform that hasn't entered player vernacular like Kickstarter has.

    I think there's valid concern about democratic development, players have diverse backgrounds and interests so that the input they can provide isn't of equal quality or consistency. However I don't see that Kickstarter really democratizes game design at all. If we look at Pillars of Eternity as an example I don't think that backers just really wanted a bleak story about an undead baby pregnancy curse, I doubt they asked for wizards to cast spells with their muscles either. I think putting in homages to high paying backers is a much lesser evil than compromising fundamental design concepts for a publisher, not to mention who ends up owning the IP can have a longterm beneficial effect for the owner.

    Now I'm not saying Pillars of Eternity is one of the best games that will scratch everyone's itch but it seems to have saved and totally revitalized a studio that looks like they're doing really good for the first time ever. Another huge Kickstarter success story of course is Divinity Original Sin II which just released to streams of endless praise.

    I think if the idea is a smaller art funding boost then it might be better to look into Indiegogo or patreon depending on their terms.

  • cherryzerocherryzero Member Posts: 129
    It’s funny, the one place I disagree with Lilura is that Pillars of Eternity came from Kickstarter and I thought that was a really enjoyable game. And I’m quite looking forward to the sequel, which I believe is also Kickstarter backed.

    Not that I disagree with her assessment of NWN:EE and Kickstarter, just that it is possible to use it to fund a good game....

    I guess I’m just saying I agree with FreshLemonBurn in a long winded way.

  • BelleSorciereBelleSorciere Member Posts: 2,045
    Yeah, I found Pillars of Eternity quite enjoyable. I haven't finished it yet, but these days I really suck at finishing games.

  • voidofopinionvoidofopinion Member Posts: 1,242

    Yeah, I found Pillars of Eternity quite enjoyable. I haven't finished it yet, but these days I really suck at finishing games.

    I know the feeling.

    I am normally pretty good but I realized that in 2017 I finished a whopping... 6 games.

    To be fair one of those was Persona 5 with 189 hours but still...

  • LiluraLilura Member Posts: 148
    edited January 2018
    Updated my post. Thanks, JB.

  • TheBarbarianTheBarbarian Member Posts: 58
    Do I smell an opportunity to rub my personal opinions all over the place?!

    ::glows with all the unholy glee of people who really like debating things just for the sake of debating things::

    I'm not going to get into the Kickstarter thing or the Trello; I haven't enough experience with either to have opinions on them, but I think I profoundly disagree on that disregarding the playerbase/customers/citizens is a good idea, for a business or for society as a whole. Consider some other examples of businesses that view, and thus come to treat, customers as "rabble" whose opinions do not matter, such as in recent airline scandals. I can only assume that speaking out in favor of a world like that goes hand in hand with expecting to never be on the receiving end of this kind of callousness - or else with being so used to being on the receiving end that it just feels normal. It may not seem as immediately relevant when it comes to videogame development, but this kind of mentality spreads.

    I'll start by joining in some democracy-bashing:

    Yes, a major problem with democracy is that it needs voters to be well-educated in the matters we're voting on, as well as to be willing to mitigate the detriments their choice would have on others. But, videogame players are extremely well-qualified to comment on a range of topics, such as controllers, interfaces, or which overall game elements (puzzles, dialogues, combat, visuals, music/sounds, overall playability of the game) work well and which don't. It'd be foolish not to ask for and listen to the opinions of experts - and the player is definitely the expert on what they did or did not enjoy about a game.

    Using player feedback and 'democratized' video game development voting well depends largely on which questions you put to the vote and which you don't.

    So there's the other problem with democracy - what happens when the majority votes for things that cause major problems for everybody and *have* to be overturned for the sake of The Greater Good(TM)? Giving people the false idea that they have a choice just leads to more trouble, as they'll be disappointed and grow disillusioned in the system if it later turns out that their choice will just be ignored. If something cannot be allowed to be up for debate, it's more honest and less troublesome to just not put it up for debate in the first place.

    But, I'd like to challenge the idea that the "creative vision" of the few is guaranteed to be better than the creative vision of the many. Develeopers/Writers/Content creators in general are just people, with their(our) own experiences, opinions, and preferences. Every book ever written, every work of art ever crafted, was made by a minimum of one person expressing their personal experiences in life best as they were able. And while the real masterpieces are widely advertised and remembered, in number, they're vanishingly few beside the sheer masses of "failed" works, frequently made by people who neglected marketability and usability of their product in favor of pursuing their 'creative vision'.

    Far as I've heard, it wasn't democratization and involvement of *more* people rather than *fewer*, that led to, for example, the Mass Effect 3 ending, which disappointed a great deal of people for whom the franchise was almost or just as much a part of their life as it was part of the developers'. I've seen fanart of Tali that was just mindblowing, long before her canon photo (personally, I liked it, but having seen the fanart beforehand, I understand why the expectations for the 'real thing' were high) was revealed. When it comes to creative work, as a professional, you can actually be at a disadvantage compared to people that have the freedom to think and tinker on one thing until it's absolutely perfect. Professionals need to meet deadlines, hobbyists don't. Professionals need to avoid repelling customers, hobbyists don't.

    It's not a pure advantage to attempt to decide everything yourself and insist on the sovereignty of the 'artistic vision' behind it. If people love something, they will start developing their own thoughts on it, just as the original creator has done - and this multitude of people *thinking* together on improving the same 'work of art' can absolute come up with a better collective 'artistic vision' than a single person could have, if the creators will *listen* and respond to the expectations they're building in their audience. That's not an 'artist' skill - that's a storytelling skill. If you're aware where your audience *thinks* the story is going, and what they like and dislike, that's when it's possible to really lead them through a rollercoaster of imagination - not just your own, but theirs.

    Content development (let's consider a game or a story 'content' of reality) is an interactive back-and-forth of creation and consumption. Speaking from my limited personal experience with "customer" interaction as a creative hobbyist, every request I've ever received and completed has yielded me major skill gain and improved the quality of everything I've made thereafter (not that that's much, yet). I've benefited from every person who felt that there was a point to giving me feedback and improvement suggestions. I think that might play a part in the reasoning of 'famous developers "lowering" themselves to ask "mere players" how to make a game. Frankly, I kinda love the people who've given me feedback, good and bad alike, and I greatly dislike seeing this kind of devaluation directed at them.

    If we create an environment in which the broad mass of people feel that there is simply no point to speaking out, as the 'arrogant elites' who view them as 'mere rabble' will simply ignore and deride them, all of us content creators - commercial or otherwise - stand to lose the benefits of the feedback they have to offer.

    And that's an effect I think blogposts like this, just like professional opinion pieces in journalism, can have on society. Not meaning to say "Lilura, don't say stuff like this" - I just want to see this point raised in response to pieces like this, in general. It's the dev team that will be on the receiving end of the hostility and suspicion we raise amongst eachother, in the long run, which seems kind of unfair since they're 1) just people too and 2) less able to be as outspoken and opinionated as we are, given that our jobs aren't on the line.

    Opinions can differ wildly; what is useful to a player may not be useful to a modulebuilder, what is useful to a modulebuilder may not be useful to a 3d modeler, what is useful to a 3d modeler may not be useful to an audio engineer, what is useful to an audio engineer may not be useful to a blogger. We all have our own reasons for speaking out in favor of particular solutions.

    This is going to sound a good bit harsher in writing than I really want it to; please read in a neutral-thoughtful sort of tone:
    What objectively sets this blogpost apart from any of the posts by the "'butterflies' who want their opinions to be heard"?

    I'd argue that, rather than demotivating eachother and telling eachother that our opinions don't matter, or blaming democracy, we simply ought to be holding eachother to high standards for research and benevolence in casting our votes. There is nothing wrong with closely interfacing with the playerbase, and certainly nothing shameful in showing respect and appreciation for other people (most of all, the people that appreciate the work we do enough to spend time of their life attempting to bring about improvements of it, in whatever way they're able).

    Honestly, I think I personally ought to be doing more of that, rather than less. I'll readily agree that that can be difficult to manage, though. I know I've seen more conflicts I thought were born from extremely silly reasons than ones I thought were well-founded, and most of the time want to just smush people together and go "NOW KISS, YOU'RE BOTH PRETTY!" at them/us more often than not. o_ô We're a funny sort of critter, people.

    Jump to next poorly connected line of thought:

    Videogames are capable of providing some important benefits to humanity. Playing is one of the best ways for mammals to learn, and RPGs in particular are the opportunity to take us out of our situational context, to be placed in a position where we can experience that it can make sense to make decisions we ordinarily never would. This is one of the few things in the world that might actually stand a chance of broadening large amounts of people's horizons to a point where we become capable of respecting and appreciating viewpoints opposite to our own well enough to be able to work together for a common future.

    Democracy is theoretical at best if it is not *lived* in the population, and online communities for hobby activities are probably the absolute best kind of place to do this, as they bring a broad spectrum of people from different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds together in enjoyment of something. If we, as a species, want to stand a chance of creating a future in which broad masses of people aren't branded and discarded as being a "lesser race", intellectually or otherwise, then far as I can see, places like these are one of the best shots we've got.

    So, personally, I favor the idea of having more democratic discussion and decisionmaking in business and art rather than less. Anything that gives people reason to believe that their thoughts and actions matter, and that there is a point to attempting to change things for the better, is a good thing.

    The venture's financial success and thus survival are important, yes, and the dev team should absolutely have the freedom to focus on the product itself the best they can. Sometimes, this means disregarding ill-informed majority opinions. It's good for them to know that they're the ones doing the work, so they're the ones who get to call the shots.

    But derogating their customers, or them having friendly interactions with their customers, is not the right way to go about supporting them.

    Some suggestions for constructively supporting the venture could include:
    - Educating the masses. Well-researched summaries for pros and cons on individual matters would make it easier for people to judge whether or not their requests are reasonable, and to tell what they should or shouldn't be voting for.
    - Reinforcing the humanity and individuality of the dev team; if they are not raised to pedestals and have impossible expectations piled on them as being in some way superhuman, they won't face the same kind of backlash over failures and mistakes.
    - Motivating more players to take up modulebuilding or content creating (this comes with a chance of producing new RPG indie devs!), to bolster the unofficial parts of the workforce. One of the healthiest things for NWN would have to be an active, engaged modding community.
    - Challenging the arguments of naysayers, or coming up with solutions to the things that give the naysayers cause for concern.
    And, of course, as Lilura has done,
    - Supporting the dev's freedom to make decisions that are at odds with community wishes, when that stands to benefit the quality of the final product.
    ::inclines head, respectfully::



    also, I'm sorry if this is needlessly confrontative of me. I'm actually using this as an excuse not to do some real-life-relevant stuff I wanna avoid and if I don't use this for a distraction then the next most convenient escape route is to try to get the dishwasher to stop leaking which isn't working so then I'd have to acknowledge that I can't get the damn dishwasher to stop leaking please help I don't understand what's wrong with that thing I've read tutorials and watched videos and tried to reseal it like twelve times by now and it just won't stop leaking. >_<

  • PlasmaJohnPlasmaJohn Member Posts: 26
    Part of the 'democratization' of KS is that it cuts out the publishers which have been increasingly disconnected from the desires of their customers. EA binned one of their Star Wars projects specifically because it didn't focus on lightsabers or The Force. The story sounded super interesting and I think the game would have been quite successful.

    I've KS'd a few things including a few games one of which, Wasteland, has had some critical success. I've had one spectacular failure so far (a piece of hardware) but I knew the risks but mostly Kickstarter has been a positive. I do avoid concept-only projects or things that heavily depend on post-launch support (MMO's).

    As a content creator I value input and feedback both positive and negative. Putting the blinders on is an excellent way to totally miss the mark. ME:3 and the last two SW:TOR story expansions are great cautionary tales on how to lose your core fans. What's worse in TOR's case is that the 2nd story expansion came with a fundamental mechanic change that managed to anger those left who weren't overly bothered by the awful story.

    Obviously not every suggestion is going to be spot on, achievable, or even in the best interests of the project. But thinking of customers as "rabble" and holding their opinions in contempt is just asking for a critical failure.

  • FreshLemonBunFreshLemonBun Member Posts: 756
    In an ideal democracy everyone is informed, has the same facts, and has full control over their choices yet in real life we have psychological biases and very big differences in both depth and breadth of knowledge, as well as many other differences. An unrestricted democracy quickly runs the risk of becoming a dictatorship of the masses, where the popular opinions overrule insightful minority opinions. Scientific fields also greatly benefit from the recognition that popular theories are not necessarily the correct theories.

    I think it's good that consumers remain informed and they generally speak loudest with their wallets and their adoption rates. It serves no greater purpose if a company just makes products to satisfy popular opinions only to find out after investing a lot of time and resources that it wasn't such a good idea. We can say that it's likely the best ideas will be mentioned by somebody during democratic brain storming process but there's no guarantee that those ideas will bubble up above the rest as the most popular. With upvotes, downvotes, and likes all over the internet we can see how it does no good and also how correct information can get buried under a lot of nonsense that gets voted up.

    It's possible that you have a vision for a niche product, let's say hypothetically you want to create an experience as free form as table top D&D but also allow groups to share the same giant world with adventures criss crossing over the entire setting. You get half-way through it but as an RPG developer you know that most fans prefer preset stories. Now you have to choose do you compromise your vision to make another story game that goes on their shelf of 50 other story games, or do you follow your vision to make something unique that will never be replaced in 15 years?

    So there are definitely reasons to maybe not ignore but certainly question popular opinions, not only of customers but also of your peers.

  • ThorssonThorsson Member Posts: 187
    I named my Dwarf Dwarfy McDwarfface. It's great to get social comment into the name of your toon, especially if it's oblique.

  • scriverscriver Member Posts: 1,854
    How dare you criticise the perfect name of Boaty McBoatface

  • LiluraLilura Member Posts: 148
    Looking forward to Trello card reshufflings, Twitch blatherings and micro-patch updates for the next year! (IE:EEs are still being patched and updated after 5 years... entire games are made in that space of time...)

    Time to step up your game, Beamdog.

  • scriverscriver Member Posts: 1,854
    @MrDamage - I feel your post is lacking in communicative nuance.

  • TheBarbarianTheBarbarian Member Posts: 58
    Wonder whether those contributing authors will also be considered "no-name bottom-feeder content creators on the Beamdog boards" (quoth Lilura, before erasing it from her recent blog post after MrDamage's cyberbullying pointer). That might be a poor attitude to take when looking to benefit from volunteer workers - a would-be manager expressing outright disrespect for their would-be subordinates does not bode well for their ability to create a healthy and productive working environment.

    This disdain will worm it's way into everything you do until you do something about the source of it, Lilura, whatever that is. Be wary of dragging innocents into it - as with any of us, their time is limited, and they will not be getting any of it back. There are more dangerously mentally unstable people in this world than you might think - both the type that lash out against others, and the type that lash out against themselves. Others who've gone this path before you have found themselves inadvertently causing children to commit suicide.

    It may seem in good fun, and may make you feel strong in the here and now, but there are many other ways to enjoy yourself or feel capable and respectable - ways that raise others rather than push them down, and leave you standing alongside competent equals who are well-disposed towards you, rather than surrounded by neurotic underlings who carry a grudge from a plethora of small cruelties you've done unto them - and who live in fear of being treated as they have treated others under your guidance. I'm sure you know the feeling, given your policy of strictly vetting the comments you permit to appear on your blog.

    This is the only life we can reasonably assume we will have; none of these moments here are going to happen ever again. You're worth more than this.

    (Insert L'Oréal commercial here to take the dramatic pompousness off a little bit... "Because I'm worth it!")

  • LiluraLilura Member Posts: 148
    You are rather dramatic, aren't you?

    So, I generated a lil' butthurt on the Vault and Beamdog forums. Whoop-de-doo. It's nothing compared to what I generate on the RPGCodex. Don't ever go there: you will be eaten alive, but I call it impotent trolling. Great, great community for those with thickish skins.

    I removed the paragraph because I decided to remove it, not because of what someone said here. It's been quoted by the news guru on the 'Dex, though. I'd much rather focus polemics on devs and their games, rather than forum-goers. However, I have no qualms against the tactic per se; I'll employ it if and when it strikes my fancy in the future.

    given your policy of strictly vetting the comments you permit to appear on your blog.

    To what do you refer? I approve commenter counterpoints to my arguments all the time; even the odd trollish remark. Overall, you're filling your head too much with this stuff. Maybe it's time you went back to working on BarbarianHeads. You have a lot of work to do on them, it seems.

  • ThorssonThorsson Member Posts: 187
    Best entertainment on da 'net. Can't wait for the next episode.

  • LiluraLilura Member Posts: 148
    The RPGCodex is the best general RPG community out there. Born of a love for Fallout (the greatest RPG of all-time) and turn-based combat in general (ToEE, Jagged Alliance 2), it could not be otherwise. Among other things, it is hosting the modding efforts of Grognards from Hell, and one of its members developed Age of Decadence, one of the best RPGs ever. :)

This discussion has been closed.