Update by Josh Sawyer, Project Director
Hello, all. The Pillars of Eternity team has been putting a lot of time into playing and fixing the game. In addition to the feedback that beta testers have given on our boards, we also conducted an internal play week so the developers could get a good feeling for how the game felt from start to finish (or at least as far as they could get).
We learned a lot from the play week. Most notably:
- Pillars of Eternity is a big game. Only two of our developers managed to finish. One was a designer who developed a lot of the crit path and sprinted straight for the end. The other found an early ending and decided to wrap his story up there. About half of the developers had not yet made it to Defiance Bay (the first big city).
- Most of the devs had a lot of fun playing the game. The players ranged from hardened IE veterans to fresh newcomers. There was enough challenge for the old guard but none of the new players were so overwhelmed that they couldn't learn as they went along.
- Even so, tutorial tips and the Glossary can go a long way. While some of the players picked things up quickly, most found the learning curve to be difficult. We're addressing the major points with tutorial messages, clearer and more descriptive Glossary entries, and refinements to the UI.
- Despite our bug fixes to animation and Recovery times, combat was still too fast. We increased the Recovery of most creatures and tuned the global Recovery factor to slow down combat overall. Movement speed was also tuned down for a large number of creatures (specifically, spiders, beetles, many spirits, and other creatures).
- Melee Engagement needs to be communicated more clearly. The arrows we currently use are really a secondary piece of information, who is Engaging whom. We will be modifying the selection circle itself when someone is Engaged to make the state very obvious at a glance. Additionally, we still need a visual effect to indicate when a Disengagement Attack is occurring.
- We also found that the standard casting and Recovery times were too long. People felt that they could not respond to threats quickly enough. The standard casting time was adjusted down to make casting feel less sluggish.
- Hiring adventurers, buying items, crafting, and enchanting were all much too expensive. These have all been made more affordable, especially crafting and enchanting.
- All classes need a per encounter ability to use at 1st level. Early in the game, it's easy to run completely out of per rest abilities and you may have few or no companions. Per encounter abilities ensure that every class has something to do other than auto-attack at low levels.
In addition to all of this testing and bugfixing, we've also been recording and integrating all of our voice overs for dialogue and character voice sets. The recording process is complete and we're now hooking them all up into the game. The audio folks have also been hard at work creating more varied combat sounds to better communicate what's going on in battle. Here's a sample of some of our companion VO:
Performance optimizations are ongoing, but we've already made great progress in the past few weeks. Adam and Roby were able to reduce memory overhead and loads times by a huge margin. Many of these optimizations were achieved by how data is packaged in our builds and loaded in when the game loads. Today, backers who are in the Backer Beta will notice that we have a Mac build available for download and testing. We are continuing work on the Linux build, but are still trying to resolve some resource management issues.
There are a lot of items in Pillars of Eternity and the artists have been working their way through the list. Here is a sampling of the new icons that have been going in for various treasure and quest items:
We also have some new portraits for Ocean Folk and Pale Elf characters. More are still coming!
That's all for this week. Let us know your thoughts on our forums. As always, thank you for your continued support.