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Pillars of Eternity 2 - What's New? We Chat with Bobby Null

William Murphy Posted:
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Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire is steaming along in development. We wanted to see what the team has been working on most recently, so we checked in with Lead Designer Bobby Null to find out.

MMORPG: Since the Fig campaign ended we’ve seen a lot of great updates from the game. How is production going?

Bobby Null: Production has been great! We have weekly, team blogs and it never ceases to amaze me how talented the people working on this project are. Not a week goes by that I don’t see something awesome; a piece of art, an animation, a snippet of dialogue, an area render or blockout. There is so much going on and so many things being added... it can be a little daunting, to be honest.

Very soon we’ll be closing that production window and begin the post production process. Post production is all about iteration and refining all the content that has been added. I’m really looking forward to that stage.

MMORPG: What can you tell us about Neketaka? Without giving anything away of course…

Bobby: Neketaka is our big city. It’s the hub of the region where the player will meet several factions vying for control, each in their own way. While the player is encouraged to explore the Deadfire, and all of the islands and ports within the region, many will return to Neketaka between adventures for various reasons. We wanted to make sure the big city stays relevant throughout the game, both from a narrative and gameplay perspective.

MMORPG: What player feedback has been taken into account for Deadfire?

Bobby: As it pertains to Neketaka, we’ve listened quite a bit. In Pillars of Eternity we had two big cities as part of the crowdfunding stretch goals. While we’re proud of what we accomplished in Defiance Bay and Twin Elms, we felt like we wanted to spend more time on a single city for Deadfire. There was a lot of feedback from fans about the two cities, what worked and what didn’t, and we’ve been working hard to address that feedback. By focusing on a single huge city, as opposed to two large cities, we’ve been able to create a city that feels far more alive. This has been accomplished with new features, better level design and improved art, among other things.

MMORPG: You have some new locations to share, which one stands out to you guys as a team?

Bobby: To be honest, it’s really hard to choose. Each of the locations we’ve shown is really cool in its own way. From team feedback during play days, I can say there has been a lot of positive feedback from Arkemyr Manor. Jeff Husghes and Paul Kirsch did a great job on the quest content of the area and Demi Warren’s art skills are on display as you can see in the video.

MMORPG: NPC behavior is a big asset to the game. How do you continue to tweak their actions to help the player and the story?

Bobby: We’ve added NPC schedules to improve the overall bustle of the city. These schedules also allow us to create additional ways for players to solve quests in creative ways; pickpocketing, reverse pickpocketing, time-of-day NPC locations. All these things can factor into solving quests now. Pathing has been overhauled along with major improvements to combat AI. In a nutshell, the NPCs will feel more like real people in Deadfire.

MMORPG: Neketaka is there to move the needle on story, but what other game elements are you excited about within this city?  

Bobby: The faction system is one of the things I’m most excited about. In Deadfire, it is far more reactive and complex than it was in the first game. We’ve been very conscious of letting the player approach these powerful groups however they see fit. You can murder faction heads, betray once-trusted allies, play one faction off the other. I’m really excited to observe some playthroughs and see how various players approach this dynamic.


William Murphy

Bill is the former Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.