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  1. #1
    Senior Member Stratagemini's Avatar
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    Stratagemini's Alpha Impressions Thread

    Alright. As some of you may be aware, I have access to the Alpha and have been playing it. Most of my notes on it have been limited to the Alpha Forum because they're geared more for the devs and deal with bugs that may or may not be fixed, but there are soem things that I can bring over. I'm also going to link some streams of other people who have played the alpha like GamekNight so that you can see for yourself what is going on and make your own judgements.

    THERE WILL BE SPOILERS.

    These spoilers will be unmarked, you have been warned.

    The Alpha so far consists of:
    A fair amount of Module 1, which currently tops out around level 4 or 5 and deals with defeating the Stag Lord.
    Most of Module 2, which tops out around a level I'm not sure of because I'm usually power leveled to hell and back, and deals with a Troll Uprising in your Barony.
    and A bit of Module 3, which is currently kind of buggy since It's still under rapid development but deals with a whole lot of random monsters invading your barony and killing people (well, sort of anyway, it's more complicated than that).

    The scenery is beautiful, almost all the features promised in the Kickstarter have made an appearance so far (some of these appearances are limited because an Alpha by its nature is not yet feature complete). For reference, those things are: A single player game, A real-time with pause battle system, A setting and plot based off of the Pathfinder: Kingmaker Adventure Path, Additional encounters and events that weren't in the adventure path, a kingdom-management system, Camping (with cooking while you camp!), 14 Classes, All core Rulebook races, 11 Companions, A cool looking spell system that lets you cast Pathfinder spells, An underlying combat system that while adapted for RTWP feels like playing a game of Pathfinder on a tabletop, Feats, Magic Items, Archetypes, and Prestige Classes.

    Several things promised have not yet made an appearance: the final story chapter, Silly cheat codes, the faerie dragon pet.

    The game should be out late summer, around August. This is a tentative deadline, but so far the Owlcats have hit every deadline they have set for themselves on coding by delivering what they promised by that deadline, which is honestly incredibly impressive.


    But you didn't come here for a feature list (If you did, you'd have come to my other thread). So here are my impressions:

    The game so far is incredibly fun, I judge games like Kingmaker, Baldur's Gate, and Pillars of Eternity on three prongs: Companions, Immersion, and Gameplay.
    I value each prong slightly differently based off of my own preferences, but I'm going to give you my overall analysis of each so that you can get a sense of my thoughts and make your own judgements.

    As with any feedback on the game so far, this is an Alpha version. it's not feature complete. They're still adding stuff, and taking stuff out that doesn't work. The companions, the gameplay, and everything else is subject to change to a degree, so take what I'm saying with that in mind.

    For ease of Reference I'm going to divide each Section into a Post below and Link it here:
    Companions
    Immersion
    Gameplay Part 1: Kingdom Building
    Gameplay Part 2: Adventuring
    Gameplay Part 3: Combat
    Final Post: Overall Game feel
    Errata: Classes, Weapons, and Book Challenges

    I also Promised some streamers:
    Eltimar's "Let's Alpha" of Kingmaker
    Adam Koebel's Let's Play of the First Alpha
    Game kNight's Alpha Playthrough. Cool Guy. He's sometimes on the Kingmaker Discord.
    Colonel RPG's Alpha Playthrough
    Last edited by Stratagemini; 03-16-2018 at 04:19 PM. Reason: Finishing up table of Contents

  2. #2
    Senior Member Stratagemini's Avatar
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    Okay, Lets start with companions.

    I judge companions based on two criteria, are they fun to talk to and are they fun to play with. if they aren't fun to talk to I don't want them in my party. If they aren't fun to play with (mechanically) I don't want them in my party. if I don't want a character in my party, I don't play with them, and I feel they're a failed companion. Keep in mind that this analysis is fairly subjective on both points. I dislike Ekundayo and tristian, but a lot of people in the Alpha forums love Tristian, and really like having Ekundayo in their party.



    My usual Party is: Harrim, Linzi, Amiri, Valerie, and Octavia, but I've played with all the other characters, and I recently switched Octavia out for Nok Nok (since I play a sorcerer and we defeated the fire immune troll fortress where she was an absolute necessity).

    My favorite companions are Nok Nok, Regognar, Linzi, and Harrim. They're extremely well written. They also, with the exception of Linzi) happen to be on the more "evil " end of the party (though Harrim is Chaotic Neutral, he does worship the god who ends all things).

    ______

    Nok Nok is written by Chris Avellone. I've actually been hit or miss on Chris' stuff before, but Nok Nok I think is one of the most charming characters he's written so far.

    Nok Nok hews very close to Paizo's Goblin Lore without being too stereotypically Goblin. His conversations are a delight to read, and I love his opinions about both Linzi and goblin oratory. You get him pretty late in the game (in chapter 3), so he's not fully fleshed out yet, but what is there is excellent.

    Nok Nok has a fun sort of subtle sense of humor, and it's easy to read his Goblin-like syntax.

    Mechanically, he's a pretty solid rogue, but suffers a little from the lack of Rogue specific feats in the Alpha and the fact that he uses Kukris, and of the light weapons currently present in the alpha, none of the Kukris is really in the top tier in terms of Enchanted weaponry. Still, I like his portrait, as well as his general demeanor. I haven't run across any of his campfire chats, but I have high hopes for those too once I do.

    ________________________

    Harrim is also great. He could have been a depressive emo nutcase, or a omnicidal maniac, but instead he's this amazing character who decided to make the choices he did because they made logical sense. His transition to worshiping Groetus from Torag makes sense, you really feel and empathize with his history. His alignment (CN) also really fits him really well in light of his past.

    Harrim is a worshipper of Groetus, the god of the end times who will eventually break free from his confinement in Pharasma's boneyard and end all things. He sort of represents the inevitable entropic heat death of the world. And Harrim plays to this interpretation. Harrim isn't in a hurry to destroy anything (unless that thing is sacred to Torag), he's kind of a wise old uncle type? But his wisdom is that "everything dies eventually, sanity is relative, and you should accept the inevitablility of entropy and ruin." Mind you, I don't think he ever uses the term entropy, but the concept describes his outlok.

    Despite expectations, Harrim feels energetic and full of vigor. using the kingdom system you can make him your High priest. In that role he's very passionate about religious liberty (which may or may not be a good thing in a world where people worship Cthulhu), and very effective at raising teh religiousness of your kingdom. Harrim is a constant delight in his campfire conversations as well. He definitely has a sense of humor that I really enjoy, sort of subtle and sly, but a little bit biting.

    Mechanically, a cleric is essential in the game (especially in the early game when you're being blinded and taking ability damage), and Harrim feels really solid and well suited for the role. I gave him heavy armor proficiency (to match his portrait) and his survivability is consistently really high as a result. Between that and his buffs? He feels like he performs the best in terms of buffing out of my usual party (Well, second after my sorceress Baron). Also he channels positive energy which is nice because I need positive energy to heal basically all my party members.

    Overall, Harrim is great.

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    So, I really like Linzi (despite the stupid hair in her portrait). She's consistently cheerful (except when it would feel off to be so). She's open to new experiences and trusts that the main character will have her back. Linzi is constantly working on her book chronicling my awesome rise to power, it comes up in both her regular conversations and her campfire conversations. There's a fun campfire conversation she has with Amiri where she lists all these foes that she's got the party written down as having defeated that day, Trolls, Kobolds, Hodags, and so on. She then sort of turns to Amiri and basically says "you know, I don't think anyone will believe we killed all of this." and Amiri says "But it's all true! I would have slain each and every one of them myself, if I could only find them!" I'm paraphrasing a bit, but it's a great moment and a fun joke. It also demonstrates one of the thinsg I like most about Linzi; Linzi cares more about writing a good and enjoyable story to read rather than accurately chronicling your rise to power.

    Linzi's lines are still rough in a few places they need proofreading and another go through for some of them which ended up translated strangely, but the core of her character is pretty heartwarming and fun to be around. She's consistently in every party I make.

    I love how by her mere existence as a book-writing Bard she terrifies the hell out of Nok Nok. I like the way she's constantly asking party members questions for her book, and talking about the difference between fiction and reality. She's just a really fun character.

    She's also a really sound bard. Starting a bardic performance immediately triggers any enemies in range to attack you, which is a fun tactical tidbit that I've used to my advantage many times to set up ambushes. There aren't a whole lot of Bard Spells so far in the Alpha, but that'll change before the game ships. Even with less Bard spells available than I'd like, I never regret taking Linzi along with me.

    ________________________


    Octavia is a sort of delight to interact with. I'm not actually sure if I like her as a person or not, but she brings a sort of joie de vivre to the party that serves as a nice contrast with Valerie, and Harrim. She seems to mesh well socially with all the characters, and though I didn't put her together in a party with Reongar she feels like she fits in with the bunch of lunatics I did put her in with, so that's fine.

    As far as personality goes, Octavia is obsessed with Freedom and it causes her a lot of problems. Not Obsessed like prothyletizing the virtues of freedom, but obsessed as in constantly worried about having her freedom taken away. It's understandable given her history as an escaped slave, and it sort of comes off as a mild feeling of PTSD. You can't help but feel for her, but she's overcompensatedon teh freedom to the point where she objects to Reg (who is her best friend and who she regularly sleeps with) calling her "my Octavia" because she thinks it means he's trying to take away her freedom and treat her like a possession or a slave. I actually like how her relationship with Reongar is portrayed too. They're best friends and lovers in an open relationship, but it isn't portrayed as perfect or without any flaws. Also important is that neither of them seems to be "the bad guy" responsible for those flaws.

    Octavia has a strong moral code that feels like it stems from her experiences as a slave. If you're acting too evil, or too tyrannical she wil call you out about it.


    Mechanically though, she feels like a necessity for most of the second act because of he ability to use acid splash at will. Given there's only ONE corrosive weapon available and it's a greataxe that's actually pretty hard to get, Octavia's sneak attacks with acid splash feel like they're necessary. even more so if you aren't some sort of arcane caster yourself. I'm sure you'll be able to buy or find more corrosive weapons in the final iteration of the game, so that will be better, but crrently, for most of Act II, I kind of feel like I have to use Octavia, and I don't like that feeling.


    ________________________


    Valerie is sort of... frustrating. I feel like her reaction to not wanting to be a paladin is kind of foolish and stupid. I know she has nuance because there's that whole embroidery campfire conversation. and It seems like she might have friends? But I don't actually see her getting along with anyone on screen. she feels more prickly and hedgehog-like than Jubilost, and I'm sort of left wondering why she's even following me around at all? Especially since she doesn't seem to like me or any of her comrades. Or at least isn't showing it. Valerie really feels like she needs a friend. She isn't a bad character, I like having her in my party for combat, and I like her campfire dialogues, but she's very very touchy about her past and where Shelyn is concerned. She' shares her experiences easily, so she's not secretive, she's just not the kind of person I like.

    I'm actually a bit worried because I've heard that she's a possible straight romance for a Male Baron. Given that a lot of her life is built around the trauma of repeated romantic harassment, I just sort of want to avoid getting entangled in that. I'm almost certain that Chris Avellone had a hand in coming up with this idea of a Romance. It's got all the Hallmarks of exactly the sort of thing that ends terribly that he likes in romances.

    Mechanically, Valerie feels like a decent tank in terms of soaking hits. She's made to be a Sword and Board fighter and she does that exceptionally well. I don't find tanks all that exciting, but Valerie makes it into my party regularly to tank with Harim while Amiri and my casters destroy the enemies.


    ________________________


    Amiri feels fun, and there are some plot hooks which are pretty, especially regarding her past and how she came to start with a large enchanted greatsword, but there's also times when I just have to smack my forehead and roll my eyes at her decisions (like trying to solo some encounters by herself on her personal quests). Ocassionally she feels like instead of sort of losing herself in the moment and the joy of combat and getting carried away when she decides she wants things, she's more of an angry yet broken bird who is putting on a tough guy image to hide her trauma. I'm not a huge fan of that sort of character in general? I know some people are though, so They might like Amiri more. I also feel like she's in an earlier draft state than say, Harrim. So there's probably going to be a fair amount of editing on her lines and tone to make everything more consistent, which I am in favor of.


    Mechanically, Amiri is a straight up murder-machine. I gave her a Greataxe named Troll Reaver, and she consistently does the highest damage in the party, making encounters that would be impossible without her, doable. If she dies, then chances are I'm going to have a total party wipe, she's just that good. And she does die. I've given her regenerative abilities and a bite (because there currently aren't a lot of Rage powers currently available in the Alpha), and even with those she ends up losing a lot of health in battles. She feels pretty well balanced on the battle field and I love seeing her turn enemies into bits of Giblets. Mechanically, she feels just about perfect, and I have no complaints about her in that field.

    ________________________


    Lets deal with the elephant in the room. I don't like Tristian. Frankly? I think Tristian is sort of boring, and what's worse is that there's every reason that he shouldn't be! Tristian comes from a far off exotic land, full of djinn and adventure, and exotic customs! He traveled to the Stolen Lands due to a vision, and by all accounts he hasn't been there for more than a year or two (maybe less) and yet Tristian doesn't seem like someone suffering from culture shock, or even at all surprised by cultural differences, or even climate differences! He's dressed in a loose flowing white robe suitable for a more arid climate yet he never mentions the difference in weather. He never mentions the abundance of water and greenery, or the way the almost anarchist culture of the river kingdoms contrasts with his home. He doesn't talk about the way different gods (like Hanspur) are worshiped, or his experiences talking to a Cleric of Groetus. He doesn't talk about how his favorite foods aren't available, or how he enjoys or dislikes the new foods that are available in the River Kingdoms. Nor the sights or the wonders he misses. Not the things he thinks that you could do as baron (and king) that his homeland does well. It feels like a wasted opportunity not just to give a window into another part of Golarion that's not seen often, but also a wasted opportunity to not use tristian as a sort of stranger's lens on the Stolen lands. As it currently sits, Tristian could be from anywhere and it wouldn't really change much about his dialogue, and that's sort of sad.

    In Tristian, I was hoping for a glimpse of an exotic land shown through the eyes of a native, but instead I got... a decent sense of humour coupled with a sort of bland monk-like reservedness? He's almost single-mindedly focused on Sarenrae, and that's sort of cool, but I want to know more about Tristian, he's my companion, not Sarenrae. He doesn't seem to have any friends in the party (which is made even more noticeable from the way that Nok Nok, Regonar, and Octavia all have people they feel strongly about. No real enemies either (maybe Harrim? But barely anyone is going to take two clerics in their party at the same time, and his home base dialogue doesn't really mention him). This all combines to make Tristian sort of boring.

    He does have a sense of humor, as I have mentioned earlier, but that really only shows up in Campfire dialogues. If you don't take him with you, you're not really going to see it. He's a goody two-shoes pretty boy, which... okay, I guess that sort of character isn't to my taste in teh first place, but I still don't really like him enough to take him with me adventuring more often.


    Mechanically, He's a cleric, but he's a cleric using a sword with 10 strength and 12 dex and no real armor. Compared to Harrim he doesn't really impress. Given a choice between him and Harrim? I'm pretty much always taking Harrim. The only reason I think anyone would take Tristian is if they disliked Harrim and needed a cleric. He does well as a casting-focused cleric, instead of the Melee Tank that Harrim represents. But I like my clerics as melee Tanks, so that's not really a point over Harrim in my mind either.


    ________________________


    Jubilost is a sort of 'love to hate him' character. He's well written on that front, except that something like every third time I talk to him I want to slap that smug frown off his arrogant face. He's well written and his characterization is consistent, but he's a patronizing asshole with very few redeeming qualities (he cares about commoners, his advice is usually solid, and he's a good treasurer). In short, Jubilost is a jackass. He has a sharp sense of humor, but he's not quite witty enough to make him tolerable outside campfire conversations. It's fun seeing him trade barbs with the rest of the party members, but once you talk to him in your home base that sort of sours a bit since instead of trading barbs with your party members he's insulting you instead.

    Jubilost doesn't have much respect for authority, and sometimes he makes me want to find a portal to a section of the First World filled with giant mutant fey hornets and push him through it.

    He's smug too, which is fine because he's frequently right, but he's smug in a way that's kind of annoying.

    I like that he cares for common people. I like that he takes things seriously and points out legitimate issues and how to solve them. But Jubilost is abrasive and probably not a companion everyone will enjoy.Which, I suppose is why there are 10 other companions who are not Jubilost.

    Mechanically, because we're still in teh Aplha state, Jubilost is weird. The Alchemist restrictions on how spells work don't seem to be completely in place, so some spells work like spells instead of like potions that he drinks (i.e. he can effect others with them). This makes him more useful as a buffer and healer than he should be without the right feats. His bombs are good, his skill with a crossbow is solid, but he doesn't really shine in any particular area; especially compared to Linzi. He's not bad, but as a player his biggest draw for having him in my party would be his personality, and not everyone will like him enough to use him.

    Jubilost is alos one of the few voiced characters in teh Alpha. whoever his Voice actor is? they did an incredible job of conveying his smug punchability into words. It's really kind of impressive.

    ________________________


    Ekundayo needs to get out of my party and leave his dog behind with me.

    Personality-wise, Ekun is lacking. I met him early on in Act II and he wouldn't tell me anything about him until I killed the boss troll of Act II (who killed his family). Practically speaking this means he's pretty much a complete mystery until Act III.

    He's taciturn and doesn't feel like a particularly vengeful person, except that he hiked across half a continent to kill this one troll, bringing a doggie along with him that he doesn't care about or take care of. His excuse for that is that it's not his dog, it just follows him around. He just calls it 'Dog', by the way.

    That's my biggest problem with Ekun, his treatment of Dog. His lack of investment in Dog annoys me; especially since in the Alpha as the Baron, I can't get my own pet (that'll change since we unlocked a Faerie Dragon pet as a social goal though). Like, if Ekun was a dog lover, that's relateable, that's something that makes people feel things about him as a person. But he's just this dude with a dog that he doesn't really care about? and that's just sort of weird and disappointing. For me Ekun has the personality of a wet blanket. Honestly, Dog is a more compelling character than Ekun. I'd love to talk to Dog instead.I'd love to be able to play fetch with him, or give him treats with Ekun telling me off because I'm going to make him fat.

    I get that Ekun's supposed to be a sort of wounded duck; taciturn and withdrawn, but I just don't really feel drawn into his character. Okay his entire family was murdered. But I fixed that and now he's just sort of... there. I guess that appeals to some people? Stoic warriors like that aren't my cup of tea though. It's part of my issues with Valerie too.


    Mechanically Ekun fills a pretty specific Niche and shines in it. Ekun Murders shit from afar, and he does it very very well. If you want someone or something across that river, or in that treehouse, or on that overhanging ledge murdered? Ekun is your dude. As ranged DPS he's really hard to beat.


    ________________________


    Jaethal is interesting. She's an Undead Elf on teh run for a crime she definitely committed. She murdered her relatives (and probably ate them?). For this crime, she was exiled, because Elves aren't really big on prisons, I guess? She was then hunted down by vengeful elves who thought her punishment wasn't bad enough and murdered. She then got better. She is now an Undead inquisitor of Urgathoa, goddess of undeath, pestilence, gluttony and hedonism.

    Talking to Jaethal is great, she has a good reason for being with the baron (she needs protection from the people hunting her), she's an interesting take on the token evil team mate (a lot mroe evil, but willing to help out in return for your protection). She actually feels devoid of morals save for her own hedonism, and is sort of curious as to why others would have morals at all. Jaethal is a sociopath. She was conceived as a sociopath and she feels liek one. She only became undead a month or so ago so she's still sort of finding herself and getting used to Undeath, which is sort of cool too. I like her campfire banter with Regongar as well.


    Jaethal revels in her own depravity. I like what I've seen so far of her, but I also want to know more about her too. I'd like to know more about her life before undeath? That sort of thing will likely be revealed in the parts of the game that teh Alpha doesn't cover. Also Jaethal wasn't in Alpha 1, so there's probably more dialogue for her waiting to be written.


    Mechanically Jaethal's a bit challenging thanks to being undead, but she's not hard to play with since as an Inquisitor she can cast Inflict spells to heal herself. She's fun to use, and fits really well into the same sort of support slot as I have Harrim (she gets up close and stabs the enemy while casting buff magic before the fight and sometimes healing). The teamwork feats she gains actually enticed me to give Amiri and some other teamwork feats (like precise strike) and I like how she plays. The "cannot heal from positive energy" bit is a weird wrinkle, but a fun one, and she's easier to micromanage than Regongar and a lot easier to use without her dying at Lower levels.

    Overall I like what I've seen of Jaethal, but I really need to learn more about her before I rener my final judgement on her.


    ________________________


    Regonar is just the best.

    He's a lovable asshole. He's a smug jackass who is really well fleshed out. I love talking to him. I love his relationship with Octavia which feels deep and complicated. I love that he's a swinger. I love that he's evil because he's a selfish asshole rather than because of some sort of ideological reason. I love how he cares so deeply about his own freedom but is willing to step on anyone else to get what he wants. I love that he actually has a deeper understanding of love and possessiveness than Octavia. I love his snarky sense of humor. In fact, I don't think there's anything about Regonar that I don't love. Regonar is definitely one of my favorite characters in terms of both motivation and his writing. I wouldn't trust him as a kingdom adviser, but he's a laugh riot.

    Mechanically though, Reg is needy. Like all Magi, He's a glass cannon that wades into melee combat. He gets a lot better later on when he gets access to heavier armor and more spells like displacement, but he dies like a chump early on. He also requires a lot of micromanagement and burns through resources (like spells) pretty quickly, which makes him a bit less attractive to take along in longer treks exploring. I like him, but he's not really worth dragging along around 5th level. This will probably get better later when there are more interesting Magic items and armors available to him. and even though mechanically he may not be worth dragging along? His personality makes me want to take him with me anyway.


    ________________________


    Overall? Characters are a win. There are more companions that I like than Baldur's Gate or Pillars of Eternity, they feel more real and three dimensional, and mechanically they're well built and fun. So Companions gets rated as a win.

    I'll talk about Immersion in my next post.
    Last edited by Stratagemini; 01-23-2018 at 06:32 PM.

  3. #3
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    Actually when you get Jubilost you can give him the Acid Bombs discovery, and then he can replace Octavia against the trolls pretty well.
    The Infusion discovery works differently from PnP - instead of converting extracts into potions, it makes them work like normal spells, potentially affecting all the party. This makes alchemists somewhat more powerful as a buffer compared to core rules, but to me it's a welcome change.
    I think that Jubilost, Jaethal and Linzi together can make a party without clerics viable, which is a good thing in my book.

    Tristian's main foil in the party seems to be Jaethal, not Harrim. I agree on the general 'meh' feeling about Tristian in his current draft state.
    It might be worth mentioning that the companion dialogues for each of the companions are hinting at a possible hook for a character development arc and also a reason for inter-party conflict. Some are more fleshed out than the others at this stage. Octavia/Regongar pair are definitely the stars of the show so far and IMO approach PS:T level of depth in their characterization.
    Last edited by CyberMephit; 01-23-2018 at 07:25 PM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Stratagemini's Avatar
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    I forgot to include the Streamers I promised. I have edited them in the opening post above.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Pathfinder's Avatar
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    You forget Spidey1958 from your list: https://www.youtube.com/user/spidey1958/videos

    This was interesting to read and I am waiting to see what you write from gameplay because as I see it that is biggest way to either make or break this game (more pause options, can we program party/companion AI and stuff like that). Naturally there are still plenty of other stuff to make better but still.
    "Road to the man's heart go through the chest"

  6. #6
    Senior Member HenriHakl's Avatar
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    That was a very enjoyable read on the companions; I'm looking forward to all the other bits. Thank you!

  7. #7
    Senior Member Stratagemini's Avatar
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    Immersion

    Immersion is a tricky subject. Fundamentally, immersion is a game's ability to make you stop thinking about the real world and transport you into the world of the game. It's the ability to make characters feel like real people, to make you want to visit the locations, and to make you forget about your proubles.

    Immersion is always going to be harder to judge in an Alpha because it isn't a finished product, there are rooms that are plane white panels more akin to a game of Portal than the interiors of a dank and rotting cave that they're supposed to be. There are going to be strange bugs that enable you to walk through walls. There's going to be some clunky and unpolished dialogue. There are going to be people summoning Invisible Murder Ponies that hunger for the eyeballs of your party. I'm going to ignore all of those issues in the alpha because they're obviously still being worked on. I've seen marked improvement in all of those areas since the first alpha, and It's very unlikely that the Owlcat team will leave areas looking like the interior of a scientific testing facility instead of like wilderness.

    So then, given all of the issues inherent in an Alpha, what is my judgement? Kingmaker is a Win on immersiveness. I've got around 100 hours clocked in the Alpha, so trust me when I say that you can definitely lose track of the outside world while playing it.

    Kingmaker pulls you into the world of Golarion. You all probably don't know this about me , but I'm a huge Golarion enthusiast. It's important to me that tehre aren't for instance, Rhinos running around the stolen lands (less important to me is that there are no Dinosaurs running around the stolen lands, which sadly is also true).

    It's clear from playing the Alpha that the team has been incredibly careful to get all the deatails and lore right. The setting is explained and described in meticulous detail in a way that doesn't feel like an info dump. All of the pieces fit together and the companions and other characters feel like actual residents of the world of Golarion. Linzi complains about the King of Pitax being tacky because he exiled her from Pitax (also because he is incredibly tacky). Regognar and Octavia hate slavery and fear the Technic League because they were slaves of the Technic League. They talk about how slavery is technically illegal in Numeria, but that since Might makes right, it never actually matters what the law is (though they phrase it differently). Harrim and Jubilost are incredibly rooted in the cultures of their homelands, Harrim is defined by his exclusion from taht culture through no fault of his own and Jubilost wears glasses in a world with Healing magic because "most of my readers cannot afford to have their eyes healed with magic, and I need to keep myself on their level." There's a storyteller who collects shards of ancient artifacts and tells you tales about where they came from and how they were used (he also repairs them for you, and gives you money for thinsg like ancient coins or relics of bygone wars).

    if Immersion is about making the world come alive for the player, then the Owlcats have certainly done that. The environments are carefully crafted, grass sways in teh wind, water flows beautifully, blood spills out of corpses and pools below them. When you explore the woods of your Barony/Kingdom it really feels like the place has a sense of history to it. You meet people already living there like a tribe of lizard folk, and ruins of civilizations past like the tower on Candlemere Island and the Dwarven Outpost that is now home to a Troll "kingdom." Even in the current Alpha state with the Kingdom systems only half-implemented if that, the world feels like a living breathing character that is just as carefully considered as any companion. You can tell that great care has been taken by the folks at Owlcat to work with Paizo to get everything right.

    As a result, when you're actually playing kingmaker, there aren't many places where you stop and think to yourself "Oh yeah, this is a game." And in each case where it did happen to me, it was in a place that was clearly being worked on by the Owlcat team. When playing Kingmaker, you will get sucked into the game and lose large amounts of time. The world is beautiful, the Campfire conversations make your characters feel like real people, the monthly visits by ambassadors and petitioners makes it feel like you're actually running a kingdom, and being recieved personally by fellow rulers when you visit them makes you feel respected for your accomplisments in doing so.

    So, my final judgement on immersion? There are a few alpha-related hiccups, but if the team continues to work as carefully as they are now on it? I have no doubts that Kingmaker will continue to draw me back into its world time after time.
    Last edited by Stratagemini; 01-24-2018 at 10:17 PM.

  8. #8
    Member Dr. Dre's Avatar
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    My God just hearing in detail about these companions just get me from someone who's actually experienced them gets me excited for the game like when i first heard the announcement of the kickstarter. Man I'm really glad you wrote this. Thank you.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Stratagemini's Avatar
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    Gameplay Part 1: Kingdom Building

    Gameplay is at once easy and hard to evaluate. If a program is so buggy that you can't get through it, it's pretty safe to say that the gameplay is bad, but a game can be perfectly coded and you might just not like it because it doesn't appeal to your sense of how a game should play. For the purposes of this post I'm going to assume that the reader enjoys playing isometric strategy games using a Real Time with pause system. Lets name some similar games to Pathfinder: Kingmaker that I have played: Pillars of Eternity, Icewind Dale II, Baldur's Gate, Neverwinter Nights: Storm of Zehir, Dragon Age: Origins, Tyranny, and Planescape: Torment. I'm going to be using some of these as reference points in terms of Gameplay. Keep in mind, the game is still in Alpha, and of all the things that are being worked on and adjusted, the gameplay is probably first and foremost of them all.

    Fundamentally, Pathfinder: Kingmaker is a sort of Hybrid of the Pathfinder Ruleset and real time with pause computer RPGs like Tyranny and Pillars of Eternity, on top of that base is an as of yet half-implemented Kingdom building simulation level (based off the Rules present in the Kingmaker adventure path for the Pathfinder Pen and Paper Roleplaying system).

    The Kingdom building simulation isn't really fleshed out and fully implemented yet. It should be done by the time the Beta Rolls around. It looks promising so far, and has been the cause of some great moments in the game, but because it is still in the first stages it's hard to judge it accurately in terms of gameplay. There's not really anything like it that I have played before, so it's also hard to analogize to another game (there are some elements of Pillars of Eternity, as well as some of Storm of Zehir). As a result I'm just going to describe what is in the game and what I expect to see in terms of the rules in the original Kingmaker Adventure Path.

    First off, you don't start off with a Kingdom to build. The kingdom building system kicks in after you finish the first act of the game and you get your stronghold and your barony. Before then you're just a sort of wandering adventurer with a charter to build a barony, and a mission to tame the lands before you, and no way to actually exercise that authority beyond your own strength of arms. Thankfully, you and your friends seem to have brought a lot of strength of arms with you when you joined up.

    Though I know that the delay is dictated by the story of the original adventure, I actually like it a lot, it gives you time to get used to the controls and the game as you wander around doing good and killing anything that looks at your strangely. When the Kingdom building system does pop up, you're familiar enough with the basics of the game that you're not overwhelmed by the new information needed to make use of this system.

    The Kingdom building system is a fundamental aspect of the game. There are only two ways to lose in Kingmaker. Get murdered in combat, and get murdered in your sleep when your kingdom implodes around you. I have been informed that there will be other ways to die through screwing up your kingdom once the Kingdom building system is fleshed out a bit (presumably you can be murdered by an angry mob, or be poisoned, or be invaded and murdered by a conquering army) but no one has told me what those options actually will be, presumably because they want me to actually experience them in the game itself and also because Owlcat absolutely hates to over-promise things and tends to keep information secret until it's completely 100% implemented.

    The Kingdom Building system as it is now exists in 2 parts (of what I believe to be 3 parts total). On the first day of every month you get notifications of new problems. There are two types of problems; there are problems that you solve, and there are problems that the team of misfits you picked up randomly in the woods and decided were the best people to wield absolute power in your new kingdom solve.

    The first part, the problems you solve tend to be similar to the Caed Nua fortress encounters in Pillars of Eternity. You get notified that someone has come wanting to talk to you about something (I've seen people upset that a team of adventurers conned them out of their money for exploring an island, a woman whose son wandered off and she wants you to retrieve him form the veritable murder-forest that comprises your kingdom, there's a guy who thinks he's being unfairly taxed, letters and envoys from neighboring nations, and there will probably be a whole lot of other encounters that you run into as the ruler of your kingdom. The resolution to about half of these is that you go out and solve it yourself like a normal adventurers. The other half is usually solved through negotiations and dialogue. The dialogue system is fundamentally the same as any CRPG on the list at the top of the page. You are give choices of how to respond to comments, you pick a choice from a numbered list, and the person you're talking to responds. Simple conversation tree configuration. Except that this time you can have people executed and start wars using it, so the stakes are a bit higher than "Lets try out every option and see how that works out?"

    The second part of the Kingdom system is what I'm going to call the adviser system. Basically, it's hard to run a kingdom (or a barony) entirely on your own, so you assign people you know to the roles of specific advisers; Your General, your treasurer, your head priest, your head enforcer of justice (not actually the term that's used in game, but that's the role), your royal wizard/magic person. Because the vast majority of the people you know (11 of them in fact) are part of your party of angry murderhobos (I know that not all of them are angry, some of them are actually pretty laid back), they're the ones you decide to pick to run the country. You can also convince various NPCs you encounter along the way to help you run your country as well. For example, if you finish his quest-line correctly, you can entice a mad scientist wizard who likes to vivisect trolls to help you run your kingdom.

    This may not sound like a very sensible way to run a kingdom, but your advisors (whoever they are) tend to be at a baseline, pretty competent at their jobs. I guess that asskicking equals authority? It may sound like a terrible idea to put a stoic dwarf who worships the god who brings an end to all things and will eventually destroy the universe in charge of your state religion, but he's really good at his job. Periodically, your advisors will come to you with a decision that they don't want to just make on their own because if they fuck up you might get upset with them. Things like "Should I let these super suspicious cultists practice their suspicious religion that we know nothing about save that it's ancient and involves creepy idols practice their faiths freely in your kingdom or not?" You then get to weigh in on the decision and your adviser will make their inclinations on the decision clear (I said yes, of course). Your decisions on these matters change your kingdom over time, unlocking different events and consequences (like, choosing an example completely at random, a bunch of cultists doing creepy stuff like summoning eldritch abominations in your kingdom).

    Beyond these decisions your Kingdom has statistics that roughly measure how well you're doing at ruling. These are stats like: Economy, Loyalty, Security, and Stability. Who you pick to do the roles changes not only how they do the roles, but how well they do them. For example, Jubilost s a pretty good treasurer. These are tied to their states in some way. But I haven't probed in depth to figure out the underlying system. And I don't actually have to because each potential adviser has a little card that tells you how good they'd be at a role and a little description of what they want to do with the role. For example, if you put Octavia in charge of your justice system she prizes good outcomes over consistent enforcement of justice. This makes sense because she is Chaotic good (she may be chaotic neutral, I don't have her sheet in front of me but I think she's CG). Valerie on the other hand is Lawful Neutral and prizes consistent enforcement of the law as it is written. Octavia has no issues with making exceptions to the law if she thinks it's the right decision and will tell you to not enforce laws she things are wrong, Valerie doesn't like making exceptions. Similarly, Jubilost will bother you about the moral implications of keeping all the loot you rightfully stole from your fortress' previous owner; and he'd like you to try and give back what stolen riches you can. Presumably the mad wizard who likes to vivisect trolls would have fewer moral qualms about the same issue.

    In addition to the things that your advisers will bring to you there are also "Kingdom Projects" these are things like "Help Harrim raise the level of faith in the Kingdom" or "Help Jubilost boost your economy" These take a few weeks of your in-game time, roughly 2 weeks each I'd say? though it may vary later on based on the size of the project and at the end you roll based off of the modifiers of your adviser and it either succeeds or doesn't. If it succeeds your kingdom improves. If it doesn't? Your kingdom usually is harmed by the failure. this works pretty well, and you can get rewards and little descriptions of how you succeeded or failed out of it which is nice.

    The last system, which is not yet fully implemented, is the actual Kingdom itself. The kingdom is supposed to change over time depending on how you rule it. I expect, based off both the original AP and what was said in the Kickstarter, that we will have the ability to build buildings and special improvements to our kingdoms based off of our choices (a troll bridge was explicitly mentioned). There are also Artisans coming which will make magic items and even some artifacts for you. None of that is implemented yet. Given that the point of the Kickstarter was to raise money so that they could start to work on the Kingdom Building features, this is not surprising, though I am a bit sad it isn't in place yet.

    This post is actually getting pretty long, so I'm going to cut it off here and address the more standard CRPG gameplay in my next post when I write it.
    Last edited by Stratagemini; 01-26-2018 at 09:26 PM.

  10. #10
    Senior Member HenriHakl's Avatar
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    Does Kingdom Building (the still-to-come part) include the city building aspects of Kingmaker? Or is that a separate issue still awaiting future implementation?

    Is there anything known about the depth/possibilities here? To what extend does it capture the Kingmaker AP rules for that?

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