Avowed - Interview

HiddenX

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Windows Central checked out Avowed:

"If we were going to do romance, we were going to really, really, really do it right -- or not at all." Avowed developers talk companions, quests, and more for Obsidian's upcoming Xbox RPG

After speaking with some of the Avowed team leads, my excitement for this RPG is through the roof.

One of my most anticipated games of 2024 is also one of the biggest first-party releases of the year from Xbox. Avowed is the next major title from legendary studio Obsidian Entertainment and is a semi open-world fantasy RPG that will give players an all-new perspective on the world of Eora - the universe that gave rise to both Pillars of Eternity games.

Many have described Avowed as being Obsidian's take on The Elder Scrolls, but I'm personally just excited to see the studio tackle a more traditional fantasy RPG for the first time. Ahead of Avowed's release later in the year, I was fortunate enough to get the chance to talk with Avowed Creative Director Carrie Patel and Gameplay Director Gabe Paramo at Obsidian Entertainment to talk about their upcoming Xbox RPG -- including the recently revealed gameplay improvements, quests, choices and consequences, companions, and much more.

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Thanks Couchpotato!



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Nothing but excuses they should just admit they can't write romances or just despise them in general. Yes there not needed but a lot of gamers are interested in romance.
 
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I normally ignore romances, so no loss for me, but I wouldn't mind if they included it either. I am in favor of games having optional content that can be attractive to more types of players. It doesn't affect me, it makes others happy, it's a net win for everyone.

That said, I do respect the decision to not to do romances if they don't think it would work with the game. The easy thing would be to hire a cheap novelist to write up some uninspiring teenager hookup stories and slam them into the existing dialogue trees just to increase their potential target audience without providing anything worthwhile or meaningful. Plenty of games which do that as it is.
 
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I'm leaning towards someone high up on the chain hates romance. It's not just this game as all recent Obsidian games have not had any player romance.

There was a recent article were a developer claimed they can't write romance as none of the team had the experiance. So they should just confess already and stop lying.
 
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I'm leaning towards someone high up on the chain hates romance. It's not just this game as all recent Obsidian games have not had any player romance.
NWN2 OC had romance.. but it was terrible (Casavir and Elenee... *shudders*). PoE2 had romance too which I found pretty bad too (altho not as bad as NWN2).

There was a recent article were a developer claimed they can't write romance as none of the team had the experiance. So they should just confess already and stop lying.
LoL - whatever the true reason might be, I think its best they don't include romance in their game as their track recorda been really bad.
 
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NWN 2 was old Obsidian though and PoE 1 and 2 romances were terrible. Outer Worlds started the new trend and it looks like it will continue with Avowed and Outer Worlds 2.
 
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I'd slightly prefer not to have romance in RPGs if that means other issues are worked on, but they're usually okay. An exception is when a specific romance is built into the game such as in Banishers Ghost of New Eden in which the romance worked well and was central to the game's story.
 
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Relationships should be vastly more nuanced than banal romance/fuck buddies that most games do. That was the one fault of BG3 but luckily the writing was good enough to carry it. PoE had some great characters and the player had to peel back the layers slowly during the game to really understand their motivations i.e. Greiving Mother and Devil of Carroc. MCA knows how to write good characters. The story could have been better though!

Problem is Obsididan doesn't really have any legendary writers anymore.
 
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Relationships should be vastly more nuanced than banal romance/fuck buddies that most games do.
I don’t disagree but this statement varies widely depending on one’s culture, age, gender, and religious beliefs. I think it made sense for BG3 and probably most games given the circumstances.

We’re generally talking about people that have gone through extreme, fantastical circumstances. How would two people not bond very quickly *if* it were reality?
 
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I honestly hardly ever see a distinction between the quality of the romances in a game compared to the rest of the writing in the same game. It's interesting to read how romance writing gets singled out when the rest of a game that has bad romances is just as shallow.

I am pondering if romances are some sort of sacred thing that requires a higher level of scrutiny to certain audiences, or it's just another thing to have negative opinions about, because gods forbid people having a nice day in their lives with nothing to hate.
 
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There was a recent article were a developer claimed they can't write romance as none of the team had the experiance. So they should just confess already and stop lying.
I think in addition to this, in 2024, the scope and cost of including romance to accommodate all the different genders and preferences has got to be absurd. There's also a significant risk of backlash from a certain audience if it isn't inclusive enough, and inevitably a lot of backlash from the other side wanting simpler / more traditional options. With that said, it's a can of worms.

Baldur's Gate 3 had a lot of options, but it no doubt cost them a lot to cover all the bases they did.
 
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I honestly hardly ever see a distinction between the quality of the romances in a game compared to the rest of the writing in the same game. It's interesting to read how romance writing gets singled out when the rest of a game that has bad romances is just as shallow.

I am pondering if romances are some sort of sacred thing that requires a higher level of scrutiny to certain audiences, or it's just another thing to have negative opinions about, because gods forbid people having a nice day in their lives with nothing to hate.
I do think some of it is SF fans looking down on the romance genre and holding those kinds of stories to higher standards than the rest of the game. But as someone who likes the idea of romances in RPGs but is rarely sold on the execution, I also believe their writing tends to be trite and fanservicey and is missing any genuine chemistry, connection, or compelling narrative beats.

It helps a lot if the game has a more or less preset protagonist. Then the writers can actually pen a love story between two people instead of the awkward but all too common scenario of a fully realized NPC falling in love with a cypher. The best RPG romance arcs I can think of are probably the ones in The Witcher 3 and specifically the Liara romance from Mass Effect 3, and they all benefitted from that.
 
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I do think some of it is SF fans looking down on the romance genre and holding those kinds of stories to higher standards than the rest of the game. But as someone who likes the idea of romances in RPGs but is rarely sold on the execution, I also believe their writing tends to be trite and fanservicey and is missing any genuine chemistry, connection, or compelling narrative beats.

It helps a lot if the game has a more or less preset protagonist. Then the writers can actually pen a love story between two people instead of the awkward but all too common scenario of a fully realized NPC falling in love with a cypher. The best RPG romance arcs I can think of are probably the ones in The Witcher 3 and specifically the Liara romance from Mass Effect 3, and they all benefitted from that.

I'm divided about your post. In principle, I agree with the first paragraph. But it's once again something that's not dissociated from the rest of the game. Games with romance are usually those with generous difficulty sliders, save scumming incorporated, and plenty of accessibility options that aim to please everyone as a way to increase their potential audience. The fanservice is not exclusive to the romance, it's just the game was designed to be fanservice as a whole.

Games which don't care about all that (ie Soulslikes or Roguelikes) rarely have romance added to them. The developer simply doesn't care to bow to every player's particular needs or bend the integrity of their design just to attract more people. What there is, difficulty included, is what you get; and if you don't like it, play something else.


Starting the second paragraph, about the fixed protagonist; that only works if you can relate to the protagonist I suppose. This is a personal feeling, which will vary from person to person, but to me, that's a problem when writing anything in a RPG, not only romance. Some games are more of an interactive movie in which you play somebody else's character, and experience somebody else's story, and while that story can be fantastic, it's still somebody else's and I generally play RPGs to make it my story, not somebody else's. Movies or TV shows are generally better written and easier to consume than a videogame, when it comes to experiencing somebody else's charcters or stories, although it's true that a videogame can manage to connect better with the "viewer", making it feel more personal.

I am not a fan of either Mass Effect or the Withcer games, while I will agree they are great games, The Witcher has a protagonist that I can't relate to and has you chasing points of interest all over the map which is a type of gameplay I generally don't get along with; Mass Effect plays like an average shooter, and while I did enjoy the story in general and it had some great moments, the gameplay kept me from considering it a personal favorite. I can't speak of the quality of the romances as I skipped (despite your Liara's repeated attempts to mindsex me), but the writing on both games is above industry standard, so I imagine their romances are. That said, Mass Effect allowed for full character customization, the only mandatory trait being that you are "Commander Shepard".
 
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I think they just have a tight budget and took the decisions on what to do with it. I think under those circumstances is the right choice to leave romance out.
 
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As long as they include likeable characters, I'm okay with a lack of romance. It's all just robosexuality.
 
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