Your impressions of the narrative path

For discussing Torment's story as it slowly gets unveiled, as well as discussing the game's setting. Ninth World discussions encouraged. Spoilers allowed.

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otokage
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Re: Your impressions of the narrative path

Post by otokage » March 10th, 2017, 8:59 am

Colin McComb wrote:Hello, assembled humans and other non-human-sentients!

I’m curious about your experience with the narrative path of the game. Any answers you give will be incredibly helpful in fine-tuning the story experience. I promise your critique won’t hurt my feelings, so don’t be afraid to be honest - just don’t, you know, be a jerk about it.

Specifically:
1. What was your personal path through Sagus Cliffs? This shouldn’t include the Labyrinth. :)
2. What were the high moments in the story for you?
3. What were the low ones?
4. Did you feel your goals were sufficiently clear?
5. What did you think those goals were, anyway?
6. Is there a way that you think this information could be conveyed more effectively?

I’m sure it goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway: We all appreciate your constructive feedback, your suggestions, and… well, you.

Thanks!

-Colin
I know this was made during beta, but I will take the oportunity to give my feedback too so you can maybe use it to your next titles.

1) I followed my usual cRPG pattern: complete all sidequests before progressing in the main quest. This tought me a couple of hard-to-swallow things about the game. Side stories are, overall, quite uninteresting and so there's no really major incentives to do them. NPCs are often confused/half-crazy people, redundant and I personaly couldn't care less about their lives and, therefore, the tasks they were trying to give me. I believe devs made an effort to not use "fetch-quests" in the game, but this is not enough to make a good side quest. A good side quest will present you with a genuinely interesting NPC, or an exciting new area, or a story that will affect the main quest somehow, or at least will give u a piece of important/hidden lore. Sidequests containing these elements were quite scarce.

Another thing I learned from talking to so many NPCs, was that the writing in this game was going to be a problem for me. Game is filled with walls of text that are overall tedious to read, this is both because the quality of the writing was not good enough (it is clear the writer deliveratedly avoided synthesis in every single text, text that was most of the times not interesting enough to justify such a lack of synthesis/concretion) and because the spanish translation was a huge disaster and so I was forced to play in english which is kind of annoying when the whole point of the game is to read-read-read...

2) High moments for me were:
-Miel Avest in general (the "welcome" by Paj Rekken, the setting, the NPCs, the climatic arrival of the Sorrow, etc.).
-Pretty much every interaction between the Changing God and the First, like the part were he gives her the mask.
-The text adventures of the village built in the back of a whale and the ones concerning the Changing God escaping the Sorrow.
-Callistege in general. Her design, concept, personality.
-Rhin coming back to help me as an adult.

3) Most things not related to the main quest were of moderate/low quality to me, and overall too tedious to do. I think you should have added areas which are unpopulated, with more emphasis on crisis, like forests/dungeons/roads that are more action oriented to have the possibility to rest from the "text oriented" content.

4) You know, it was pretty clear that my main goal was to find a way to stop the Sorrow. Anything beyond that, was blurry.

5) This is an interesting question because I "thought" one of my main goals was to understand "what does one life matter". But I don't think this game has helped me much to answer that question.

6) Definitely this is one of the main problems of the game. Info is conveyed through walls of too often uninteresting text. This is pretty straight-forward to fix: 1) be more concise and avoid big texting unless you are willing to do supreme quality writing for an specific part and this part is not slow-paced by itself, because a wall of text will only make action loose momentum. 2) Avoid text altogether whenever possible! Anything you can show as a cutscene, do it. A videogame is not a book, nor will gamers approach your product like if it were.

I would also like to add to my critique that I thank the effort of making an CRPG which is one of my favorite videogame genres, and I hope my info will be helpful to your future titles :)

Hendle
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Re: Your impressions of the narrative path

Post by Hendle » March 13th, 2017, 5:04 pm

First off, thanks for asking for this input!

1> I began with exploring as much as I could to gain a better sense of the world, then set about looking for interesting NPCs to interact with. I didn’t go for either the Cultists or Order of Truth right away, as I tend to zero in on “side-quests” first. I would have liked more game-time to interact with both Callistege and Aligern before having to make a choice on which one to have in the party, as I didn’t feel I knew either one very well and the choice felt out of left-field so suddenly.

2> The highest moments in the story for me all took place in Sagus Cliffs; the feeling of a new world to explore, strange NPCs to meet, new factions and creatures to learn about, and a mystery unfolding regarding the Changing God and all that entailed. I particularly enjoyed piecing together the story of the “Ghost Woman”, and the quests in the Underbelly.

I enjoyed arriving at Miel Avest, but that whole sequence felt too short.

3> Lows… (broken down into subsections)

The Sorrow: The biggest letdown for me was the revelation of The Sorrow, and its lack of any meaningful connection to the Changing God (it being just a “space monster”), and to a similar extent, that “The Tides” were just “magic! But scary-bad magic!”. A more satisfying revelation (in my book) would have connected both the Tides and the Sorrow it to the Changing God’s daughter and the dissonant psychic energy created by the numerous castoffs and their endless war; i.e, that the Sorrow could literally have been a Tidal Manifestation of the daughter’s grief, an aspect of her sundered Psyche… “Sorrow” is literally in the monster’s name, and it turned out to be irrelevant. I was left with the feeling of, “So, what was the point of the Tides anyway?”

Bloom: To a lesser extent, the story dragged for me in the Bloom – the quests were fine, but the area felt like it went on too long for me and was too repetitive (find out what the maw wants to eat, feed the maw).

Linear Story Progression: I also was let down that we never returned to Sagus Cliffs, in the way that PS:T had you return to Sigil with new agendas/quests. It made the game feel more “railroad-y” to me than its spiritual predecessor. I understand this isn't a sandbox experience, but I was really surprised to find we never went back to the city after the tombs.

NPC Companions: The NPC companions were unfortunately, largely uninteresting, with the exception of Erritis and Rin (and I found Erritis to be too over-the-top and annoying, but felt compelled to use him since he was the only Glaive option). There wasn’t very much interaction with the other characters, so I never gained a sense of them like I did with Dak’kon, Annah, and Fall-From-Grace. I was also very surprised at the lack of any non-human NPCs… I understand character models can be restrictive, but there weren’t even any abhuman or android NPCs. It was a let-down.

Combat: It was very refreshing to have a game that didn’t rely on combat to solve all its problems, but I feel like Numenera went too far in the opposite direction... I found I started to miss a real sense of conflict. Playing a charismatic Nano with lots of Intellect and Edge meant I had 100% on almost every Intellect challenge, making a lot of the quests/persuasions/dialogues almost too easy. I would have enjoyed an occasional straight-forward battle every now and then to break up the “talk-your-way-out-of-every-situation”, instead of my choice being an easy-button. Sometimes I would engage in a violent solution, just to see what would happen, but would reload because it usually wasn't as beneficial (for instance, killing the slavers robs you of Tidal Affinity for the first half of the game! What?!) Most of the compulsory Crisis’ relied on a lot of environmental factors that sometimes made them too cumbersome (btw, I really wish you could save in Crisis mode, because the game bugged out several times on complicated scenarios, forcing me to repeat the whole process).

No Factions to Join: Upon meeting the Cultists of the Changing God, we were teased with the promise of joining interesting factions. But then that turned out not to be the case (for instance, I would have enjoyed joining the Order of Truth).

4> Goals: I think the goals were clear enough, though their resolution didn’t always end up feeling meaningful (see #5).

5> What are the Goals? In the beginning, I considered the main goals of the game to be: Understand the mystery of the Changing God, Discover what the “Tides” are, Find a Way to Stop the Sorrow, Find a way to stop the Endless War. Along the way, the mystery of the First Castoff was introduced, and she was built up in a way that seemed significant, but I felt like her final revelation was underwhelming. Of those goals, I felt the end of the game more or less resolved them, but it didn’t leave me with that “wow!” feeling I got when finishing Planescape: Torment. The choices at the end didn’t feel like meaningful choices.

6> I would have liked more direct evidence of both the Changing God’s and First One’s deeds – we were told about them a lot, but never really shown, and too many important details were left to the Merecasters (which were interesting, but shouldn’t have been primary storytelling devices!)

The Sorrow also didn’t feel like a real threat – it might have been nice to have some earlier close-encounters with it inside your mind-Labyrinth. The game felt like I was being rushed-along after getting to Miel Avest, and the end sequence felt very short. I suspect a lot of this had to do with cut-content and the reality of budget shortfalls.

In Conclusion: Despite all my negative criticism, I found it was a decent game all-in-all, and enjoyed it a lot more than last year’s “Pillars of Eternity”. While I think the castoff’s stories have been told, I would very much like to explore more of the world of Numenera again in another game or dlc.

Thank you for listening :)

Atnas
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Re: Your impressions of the narrative path

Post by Atnas » March 15th, 2017, 5:32 pm

I know I've been a really sour grape, but I had very high hopes when I backed the game. I'll try to keep it short and to the point with the feedback, not being a jerk about it:

1. All over the place, I can't quite remember. I did sidequests wherever I picked them up- I like that psychers tavern place a lot.

2. Very few, I must admit. I liked the Merecasters, they were intriguing. Other than that, I never really felt involved or as if I had any stake in any of this.

3. The many "twists", and bossfights. The escape where saving people doesn't matter, and the fight against the First Castoff are just a bit lackluster, and when I finally realized there's no incentive to really keep non-partymembers alive, I lost interest.

4. Yes, although I never felt the urgency of being chased by a cosmic power.

5. Find out why we're being hunted by The Sorrow I guess, and how to stop it.

6. By having The Sorrow actually tie more into the sidequests, instead of doing stuff that felt largely irrelevant. Seldom "gather 10 wolftails" of course, but often it felt disconnected from the main story.

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Hawke64
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Re: Your impressions of the narrative path

Post by Hawke64 » March 19th, 2017, 9:30 am

1. What was your personal path through Sagus Cliffs? This shouldn’t include the Labyrinth. :)
I tried to clear area after area without talking to the Changing God's cultists before reaching the Order of Truth. The exact order was Circus Minor => Government Square => Cliff's Edge => Caravansarai => Underbelly. Then running around to complete the side quests taken with as little progression as possible on the main one (turned out it wasn't the best idea, though).

2. What were the high moments in the story for you?
  • Escape from Miel Avest,
  • Duel (gank'ing) with Waits-for-Prey,
  • Sending Rhin home (I'd prefer to just throw her through the maw without talking),
  • Resolving Erritis' and Callistege's quests,
  • Tidal Surge'ing the Specter,
  • Inifere (it was kind of entertaining to convince him to commit suicide on the 1st pt and to try to actually save him on the 2nd).
3. What were the low ones?
  • Necessity to drag the kid along, no reaction from the said kid on the actions around (she killed an Endless Gate cultist and was totally cool about it), the said kid being increasingly annoying after the party reached the Bloom, the said kid returning after being sent home.
  • Inability to save everyone at Miel Avest (even if all named NPC were alive, when I activated the portal, some are counted as dead), odd survival/death tracking for NPC (e.g. Paj Rekken died in Memovira's Fortress, but appeared in the Labyrinth after).
  • Inability to destroy the Sorrow and get a happy ending.
  • Tides as DnD-esque alignment system. It doesn't favor reflective analysis, long-term goals or complex motivations, only straight-forward approach with shouting your reasons at everyone around. Which is ironic, considering the protagonist/antagonist is supposed to be a master-manipulator. In the end, it's either min-max'ing or trying to guess how the writers see each reply (that's some reflective analysis, though)


4. Did you feel your goals were sufficiently clear?
Yes.
On the 2nd pt, it was a bit harder to remember what I've done already and how I should proceed (meta-knowledge at its finest).

5. What did you think those goals were, anyway?
  • (main)To stop the Sorrow for good. Considering, that the thing wanted all castoffs dead, diplomacy was out of the question. On the other hand, at least one companion dies, if the tentacle monster is destroyed, so the choice was between "bad" and "worse".
  • (optional)To assist the companions in achieving their goals, without turning the landscape into desert (or similar).
  • (optional)To assist random NPC for different reasons.
  • (optional)To find the biggest and baddest thing and prove that we are badder (goes along perfectly with the main objective).
  • (optional)Not to turn the Sagus Protectorate into hell in the process.
Though, I didn't consider the Sorrow too much of a threat before Miel Avest and just was going where the journal led (i.e. I had to stop the Sorrow by fixing the resonance chamber with the help from the person who built it and who was last seen at Miel Avest).

6. Is there a way that you think this information could be conveyed more effectively?
I guess, it was clear enough.
Though, in-game encyclopedia with the info collected on each particular playthrough would be most welcome.

Edit. Noticed the year of the original post. My apologies, if the answer was unnecessary.

Guguma
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Re: Your impressions of the narrative path

Post by Guguma » March 21st, 2017, 10:36 pm

Colin McComb wrote:Hello, assembled humans and other non-human-sentients!

I’m curious about your experience with the narrative path of the game. Any answers you give will be incredibly helpful in fine-tuning the story experience. I promise your critique won’t hurt my feelings, so don’t be afraid to be honest

- just don’t, you know, be a jerk about it.

Specifically:
1. What was your personal path through Sagus Cliffs? This shouldn’t include the Labyrinth. :)
2. What were the high moments in the story for you?
3. What were the low ones?
4. Did you feel your goals were sufficiently clear?
5. What did you think those goals were, anyway?
6. Is there a way that you think this information could be conveyed more effectively?

I’m sure it goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway: We all appreciate your constructive feedback, your suggestions, and… well, you.

Thanks!

-Colin
1. What was your personal path through Sagus Cliffs? This shouldn’t include the Labyrinth. :)
I tried not to handle Sagus Cliffs area by area. I immediately went to Order of Truth and then I was all over the place. In my personal opinion Sagus Cliffs was the pinnacle of the game, I enjoyed playing through Sagus Cliffs a lot

since I thought it would be the starting area, I did not expect any major developments in story there. But after Sagus Cliffs my experience went downhill rather quickly, as the main story kept unfolding in a really obscure manner. I

might have been more optimistic but I knew how the areas were in the game, and how many chapters it would take me to the end, so I was like "Ok, the main story is not going to get any better or interesting after this point, just finish

the game and hope for some interesting encounters"
What were the high moments in the story for you?
You see, this is the actual problem, there was none!

I mean, I loved playing through Sagus Cliffs, interacting with strange objects and npc's. Names like Loss-of-Self give me a sense of nostalgia etc. Everything in Sagus Cliffs was great, but then as the major story kind of unfolded, as

the more important players were revelaed I did not feel a moment of high at all! I had absolutely no reason to emphatize with any castoffs or the First, or the Changing God, or any faction. The major characters, I believe, are not laid

out well at all. 50% of the castoffs and the world talk about the Changing God as a selfish fellow, but as the rest admires the man he must have shown remarkable feats apart from beating the tabaht, what makes this man change so many

bodies, he must be putting himself in some sort of danger trying to accomplish something, why did the First hate him so much that there was this Blood War, ahem, I mean Endless War. We never get to truly understand the Sorrow either. It

turns out to be a big bad monster protector of tides who gives me my end game choices.

Long story short, there was a story, there were motives, but they were really vague, vain and unrelateable by the player.
3. What were the low ones?
As an Area, Valley of the Dead Heroes. All that Endless Gate stroyline seemed like a minor sidequest that got out of control.

In General, the Merecasters. I enjoyed that these text stories existed, but the writing there was trying to be too flashy and obscure. I get that we should feel confused and not understand everything that is going on in the mere since

we plunge into someone elses memory at a random point in time but there were very few mere events that I could relate to the main game, or characters in the main game. I expected them to be about some characters I have met, or will

meet, or about some events and places I have witnessed, or will witness. Maybe they are, but most of them did not ring a bell for me, and trust me I played a full dialogue oriented nano and tried to skip absolutely nothing. Even entered

the mere's a couple of times (after loading) to see if I missed something and tried different outcomes.
4. Did you feel your goals were sufficiently clear?
5.What did you think those goals were, anyway?


Yes, I was to restore the resonating chamber and somehow dispense with the Sorrow, which is exactly what we did........Oh, wait!

What happened to ulterior moties, plot twists, realizing that Sorrow was actually justified to be so brutal. Was one of the Callistege's knew how to revive Miika, or was Miika slain by the First after she used a merecaster of the Changing God? Was Miika the Sorrow, or a manifestation? Not really being creative at the moment, but we know you guys are why was not this story more creative?
6. Is there a way that you think this information could be conveyed more effectively?
At this point, I think it is only possible with a new game. You can change the writing here and there but I do not think it will impact the main story greatly. Asking for things is easy, like more voice acting, more portraits, more cinematics etc. these require money, and of course, I will daresay, forgiveable. But the rushed main story and underdeveloped characters and motives are not.

I enjoyed playing this game, way more than Pillars mind you, that game is a massive disappointment for me especially with all the pseudo-welsh language creation obsession of Josh Sawyer, but we have to hold you upto the standards of Baldur's Gate 2 and Planescape Torment. T:ToN is not close to those standards.

Valrog
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Re: Your impressions of the narrative path

Post by Valrog » April 26th, 2017, 12:24 pm

I'll edit update my answer after I'm done with the game.

For now:

Specifically:
1. What was your personal path through Sagus Cliffs? This shouldn’t include the Labyrinth.
I'm parallely playing two paths.
a) Pacifist Nano with maximum dialogue and persuasion options and Anamesis and Read mInds and no combat abilities.
Callistege, Makina and Rhin as companions
Gold and Blue as Dominant TIdes
b) Combat Glaive with maximum fighting potential. Maximized evasion. Talks himself into fights on purpose, shows no mercy and proclaims himself as the Changing God.
Erritis, Aligern and Tybir as companioins
Silver and Red as Dominant TIdes

2. What were the high moments in the story for you?
The meres are simply amazing! I reloaded multiple times until I chose the best outcomes for me. I loved the meres.

Rhin as a daughter to protect felt wonderful and very satisfying. I was intrigued and wanted to find out more about her gods.

Aligern was a great companion. I loved the Changing God's laboratory and using Anamesis and Lore skills to discover strange alien technology. Amazing stuff!

3. What were the low ones?
The weakest part was the characters, especially the companions.

Erritis feels like a parody of a hero:( Why can't you allow us to have a satisfying companion like a cross between Minsc and Keldorn? I really hate that he feels like a victim not a hero and that he's really a terrified shepherd and that you have to choose between saving him or having him become weak.

Tybir is the most irritating companion ever created. It seems intentional. Especially his offering himself as a prostitute to the slaver, Tol Maguur. Are you intentionally trying to insult the player?

Aligern seems interesting, but I hated his "romance" with Callistege and that he comes off very weak and needy from it. Callistege's warping was interesting, but otherwise she's not likable. I'd rather have given her warping to Aligern and replaced Callistege with another character.

Makina was very unlikable. I wanted to stomp her into the pavement. I didn't find anything redeemable about her character. You could have at least given us the option to force her to give us the information we wanted and then to kill her.

The only amazing companion is Rhin. But I heard the ending ruins her character. She doesn't remain the sweet, innocent daughter but tough as nails and more powerful than a castoff. How come a normal human is so powerful? I'm also told that that gods aren't explained at the end.

The First Castoff... should have been the weakest of them all, as the Changing God keeps improving them, while the Last Castoff should have been the most powerful. And the Changing God should have been equal to the Last Castoff. Why was the weakest - the First Castoff equal to the Changing God?

Speaking of castoffs... why are they so hilariously weak in Mel Aviest? They're supposed to be very, very powerful. Any one of them should have been able to destro 109872397721873 fragments. They should only have had to flee from the unkillable creature called the Sorrow, instead of running around like headless chickens.

You guys have a well-deserved reputation for being the best writers in the gaming industry. So, I'm really bewildered as to why the characters are so bad. Hope you won't be hurt by my constructive feedback.

4. Did you feel your goals were sufficiently clear?
Yes! I felt very well-guided to my objectives. The interface of the quest updates could have been improved a bit, though.

The only gripe I have is that we aren't warned about time-limits in Cliff's Edge. I played as I would act naturally without referring to walkthroughs (initially) and got heavily penalized. It's like you're forcing us to tightly follow walkthroughs.

5. What did you think those goals were, anyway?
In Sagus Cliffs, you mean? First, I had to repair the Resonance Chamber. For that I had to find someone who could help me repair it. Then, I had to find Makina. Then I had to find Mazoff. For that, I had to travel to the Valley of Dead Heroes to find a way into Mel Aviest.

6. Is there a way that you think this information could be conveyed more effectively?
No, I think you did it perfectly.

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