I know Stardock hired some allegedly known author named Bucholz to improve the writing, and I know that taste in humor may differ greatly (especially the American and European concepts of humor), but the main problem is that the short texts accompanying quests, etc. are absolutely out of context with the rest of the game, and they go against the whole theme and atmosphere of the game.
The theme of the game is serious and grim (if a bit cliched) - the world is about to be destroyed while you rush to prevent it, and all the puns and laid-back bragging and forced one-liners really clash with it in a bad way. I can imagine it may not even be the writer's mistake - he was probably told to write, say, 200 short texts for quests that were supposed to be funny and witty, so he did what he probably always does. However, the result is quite mediocre. I know Stardock has problems with feedback, I remember the general mood when Elemental was launched and all the fanboi were praising how incredible the game is, and then the reviews and unbiased feedback started hitting back...
Compared to Elemental, SK is not a bad game. It's obvious that much time was dedicated to polishing, streamlining and generally improving the design of the game, the visuals are much, much better (if, once again, a bit too cheerful and clashing with the grim theme of the game), the inspiration from the AI war system sidesteping the flaws of contemporary AI tech in games is welcome, but I have to say this:
Sorcerer King suffers from the lack of art direction badly. It needs someone who will say this is okay, this fits with the theme of the game, and this is fine, but it does not really compliment the mood of the game, so either redo it, or bring something else. And if there is a person who is doing this, then he does not know what he is doing, and you need to find someone who does.
And I know this kind of feedback is not that welcome here, and that I will be chased away very soon with the loyal minions of this realm, so I am going already, but for the sake of sincerity, I had to say this aloud.
Cannot agree more.
I was always wandering why they desided to build all the interaction on humor, out of the sudden. While the rest of the game is not in a funny thematic.
Well, I can possibly agree they are out of place, but since Bucholz is awesome, I have to say it's not a problem for me.
I actually read every line of every quest, because many of them tickle my funny bone. And they are also short and to the point.
Go play Baldur's Gate again. Lots of funny subtext that wildly out of place for the over-arching theme of the game. I have to say, I like it.
Well I have played Baldur's gate, though not to till the end, and while there are Easter eggs and jokes, the main theme is serious, and most of the conversation and quests are consistent with the main theme and style.
In SK it's annoying, because there is too much of it and the impression is similar to a teenage kid who runs around a medieval castle and draws Hitler-style mustaches to all the historical portraits. Do you find it funny? Some may, I do not. Certainly not when I see a fifteenth painting "improved" the same way.
It really chokes the main theme of the game and does not even allow it to develop. If it was a book, it would give the impression that the writer was suffering from the split-personality syndrome.
I've never heard of Bucholz, but I'll admit to enjoying the quest narratives.
In most games I usually skim what people are saying, reading just enough to extract what I need to advance the quest. In SK, I find myself reading them all for the humor. To each his own I guess.
I think the writing is great. And I disagree with the assertion that it doesn't fit the "theme" or "art direction". The Sorcerer King is an over-the-top bad guy, and his over-the-top evil minions are all portrayed with a slightly cartoon-y style in tactical combat. The snark totally fits. Plus, the levity adds a tinge of irony to the array of standard fantasy tropes found throughout, making them bearable and demonstrating a level of self-awareness.
Games that take themselves too seriously are a bore. Can you imagine the periodic conversations with the SK if they were all dead serious? How about visiting 20 inns in search of quests, each one splashing up some humorless, tragic, and/or uninspired blurb before sending you off to fulfill some arbitrary requirement. It would be worse than having no plot at all.
Can a game successfully convey a serious, even grim tone and still have an engaging plot? Sure, look at the Banner Saga (but even that has bits of humor). But if your story centers around a cliche evil mastermind who wants to destroy the world and become a god, it sure as hell better be more Pinky & the Brain and less Apocalypse Now. I think SK gets it right.
If you are looking for insight into the development plan for the tone of the game read this interview with Brad.
this HTML class. Value is http://www.gamewatch
I think the humorous tone of this game is great. Something new and refreshing. I am thoroughly enjoying playing it!
I love the writing, but I do agree there is a bit of a clash of tones in this game. The visuals are bright and cartoony enough, but I think the humor of the writing should have been brought at least slightly into unit and item design. I have not encountered one jokey item, spell, ability, or unit in the game. That makes the bulk of the actual gameplay feel very serious, while the dialogue and quests are handled with much more of a wink and a nudge.
When I first saw the game in Early Access, I was very worried, because the visuals looked like they were inspired by a Free To Play mobile game's TV Ad. The resulting game didn't look fully look like that thankfully. Some complained about the logo, but I think it reminds me of some 80s/early 90s fantasy cartoons or games.
But after recently finishing Fallout 3 and playing too much Borderlands, I am seriously ready for a brighter game. And a game not up its own third point of contact with seriousness. I only want to be serious for about the length of a Modern Warfare campaign. I laughed a lot in this game, and humor in video games is hard. Look at Borderlands - they harder they try, the more they miss (except for Torque - he is solid gold).
I think I agree with peregrine, we need more humor throughout. Beefing up the item descriptions would be fun. A lot of fun could be had with monster descriptions.
Not sure if they took it out, but the Early Access had the early interaction with the Sorcerer King that gave you the option for diplomacy victory condition - for the Sorcerer King. I thought that was brilliant, and instantly set the tone of - you need to save the world, but lets have some fun on the way.
I would classify the writing as snarky, cynical, mean and juvenile. It was a nice change at first, but it get's stale quickly.
Yes, too many Hitler-style mustaches...
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