Pillars of Eternity Interview

Article Index

Eschalon: Book II

Publisher:Paradox Interactive
Developer:Obsidian Entertainment
Release Date:2015-03-26
  • Role-Playing
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • Third-Person
Buy this Game: Amazon ebay

Buck: Can you please share the design approach you're taking toward character health, regeneration, death, and resurrection in Pillars of Eternity? Will characters sustain permanent injuries of any kind after being incapacitated during a battle?

Josh: Party members have two health-related resources to monitor: Stamina and Health. When characters take damage, the damage is first applied to Stamina, which represents resistance to short-term injury. Stamina is relatively easy to recover through items and spells and it replenished quickly once combat has ended. However, if a character loses all of his or her Stamina, they will go unconscious. Some abilities can revive an unconscious character, but otherwise they are out of the fight until combat ends.

Health represents long-term injury. Health loss occurs at the same time as Stamina loss, but at a fraction of the value (1/4). So if a character takes 20 points of damage (after armor is accounted for), he or she would lose 20 points of Stamina and 5 points of Health.

Health is much more difficult to recover. It doesn't regenerate on its own and neither items nor spells can bring it back. Only rest can restore Health. In standard gameplay, when a character hits 0 Health, they are not only knocked unconscious, but receive a Maimed status. They can get back up after combat, but they are stuck at 1 Health and suffer a variety of penalties until they rest. While a Maimed character can chose to participate in combat, they are much less effective and will typically drop from even a minor hit.

In Expert mode (or when optionally enabled in standard gameplay), players can opt to turn on full character death. In those circumstances, 0 Health results in the character permanently dying. There is no resurrection in Eternity.

Buck: How are you implementing party formations in the game? Will players have the ability to switch between multiple formations or customize their own, and will this be necessary to protect the weaker members of the party from ambushes or traps?

Josh: Players will have the ability to switch formations. We would like to support custom formations but we haven't finalized plans for that. Formations can be important for protecting more vulnerable characters in certain circumstances because we often design encounters to attack the party from multiple directions.

Buck: By default, will the party leader always be the one entering into conversations with NPCs and party members' attributes/skills will automatically come into play during dialogue? Or will we have to select the character we want to use for the conversation before entering into dialogue?

Josh: The story follows your main character, so your character is always the primary party speaker in conversations. As in the Infinity Engine games, companions will interject when it makes sense for them to do so.

Buck: Have you had any other notable collaborations with your backers regarding their special content? Do you see these requests as limiting, or a chance to do something fun or interesting that may not have occurred to you normally?

Josh: They're not limiting in most cases because we're creating our content to mesh with the backer-created content. Our expectation is that we will work together with the backers to make inns/adventuring companies/items that fit into the world while fitting their vision. That said, sometimes the things that stick out a bit help bring great flavor to the world, so I want to be flexible and have a good back-and-forth if I think it's going to produce something players will enjoy.

Buck: The stronghold you debuted in Update #66 had a before and after visual accompanying it. Can you give us an idea of what it's going to take for a player to restore such a stronghold to its former glory?

Josh: Time and money, mostly. :) First you need to get the stronghold in its dilapidated state, then you need to work with your steward to make the magic happen. As soon as you get the stronghold you can start interacting with the gameplay elements, but we expect it will take a long time to fully upgrade every element.

Buck: In update #63, Tim revealed that our strongholds will house prisons, and that "named NPCs" can be barred inside as tools for future endeavors. How often will we have the opportunity to take enemies prisoner? Is this a mechanic that is only going to be available during scripted events?

Josh: It's purely scripted, only when it makes sense to provide the opportunity. We'd rather have custom interactivity with prisoners than generic lines for any old person you meet in the world.

Buck: Are you drawing most of your inspiration for the combat system in Pillars of Eternity from the Infinity Engine games? Will we be facing a large number of foes during key battles, and are there any concessions you've had to make in regard to the number of enemies we're facing at a given time? Are you ensuring that most classes have some sort of crowd control ability to help even the odds?

Josh: We shouldn't have any problems with having a lot of combatants. Things can slow down a little when things get really nuts, but overall we can support big fights with a lot of combatants and spells/wacky things going on. Druids, wizards, and barbarians are the crowd-stomping powerhouses but several other classes have abilities in that field as well.

Buck: How are you approaching enemy design? We've seen a few previews of baddies so far, but what are you doing to ensure that enemies are unique from each other and need special tactics to bring down rather than just charging them with your fighters and hammering them with your biggest attack spells? Will enemies have special abilities or scripting not available to the player, to add extra challenge?

Josh: We're designing the enemies to be mechanically distinctive in a variety of ways, mostly through their basic statistics and abilities. To tune creatures, I take common party tactics and apply them until I've found an enemy behavior, placement, or stat setup that breaks the tactic. After that, I try to foster a variety of ways that different parties can overcome the enemy using other tactics. By combining different enemies who have contrasting strengths and vulnerabilities, the player has to prioritize and adapt from battle to battle.