Obsidian Gets Difficult

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A couple of weeks ago, we debuted Pathfinder Adventures on the Obsidian Plays Twitch Stream. Viewers got to see a new feature that many card game players have been begging for: adjustable difficulty. Now you can play in several modes: Normal, Heroic, and Legendary Difficulty, with or without permanent character death. To kick things off, I played Black Fang's Dungeon on Legendary Difficulty with 6 characters. Even though I've played Black Fang literally hundreds of times at this point, I still sweat bullets in this, my favorite play mode.

Let me walk you through another good scenario...

I recently jumped into Trouble in Sandpoint in "Burnt Offerings." After selecting the scenario and watching a short cutscene, we see the scenario preview which would normally show a power telling me that after encountering a Wrathful Sinspawn, I would have a 1 in 6 chance of discarding blessings from the blessings deck. As you see below, things have changed... a bit.


Who needs a blessings deck anyway?

Instead of a 1 in 6 chance of losing blessings, it's 1 in 2. Given that most of the henchmen, one of the location closing conditions, and the villain's summoning power will trigger this, my time is limited.

But wait, there's more! I've also been given two "Wildcard" powers. Wildcards are additional randomly chosen increases in difficulty. Night is approaching which means that each time I fail to get a boon, I lose another blessing, and coupled with the driving rain, those boons will be even harder to get. Time is definitely not on my side.

But wait, there's even more! I can move only to an adjacent location. Let's see what that means.


Amiri and Seelah leap into danger, while Ezren and Lem chill at the Apothecary. Yeah, that's about right.

This is our location selection screen to place characters before the scenario begins. There are now connections between all of the locations and now movement is limited to those travel lines. No longer will healers be able to parachute into any location they're needed. So I have to place each character carefully using a strategy that takes into account location deck composition, location power, closing check, connections to the locations around it, distance from other characters, and an ideal path

I see a couple challenges immediately:

  1. Two Intelligence/Knowledge location closures are spread far apart, but for Lem to be effective, I want to group him with Ezren.
  2. Shrine of Lamashtu is connected only to the Old Light, so it's isolated. I decide to post Seelah there because, let's face it, she was made to face the Shrine.

So we're set! Let's take a look at what this looks like in game.


Welcome to Sandpoint, where you'll find bunyips aplenty in Ven Vinder's general store.

From this view, which we call the scenario view, you can better see the spatial and thematic reasons that the travel lines are configured in this way. The Village House is acting as a hub and the Shrine to Lamashtu is the most remote location on the map. Not all locations map exactly to a place in Sandpoint, but if you look at the map of Sandpoint in the Rise of the Runelords Anniversary Edition, you’ll find that the Old Light, Junk Beach, and the Glassworks are all in the right places; the Apothecary is located at Pillbug Podiker’s, and the Village House is at the White Deer tavern and inn.

Speaking of the Village House, let's fast forward to the end of the Scenario. I have 2 blessings left before the scenario ends. Those blessings went fast! Ezren's moved over to Village House, Lem and Harsk have converged on the Waterfront, Amiri and Merisiel are tied up at their starting locations, and Seelah's just closed the Shrine. Ezren defeated the henchman last turn so he knows he's about to fight the villain. The Old Light is open.

If only I had a way to get someone over to Old Light...

Ezren knows that he's got a useful spell in his deck and he just drew Detect Magic. Ezren understands that the best way to hit a dangerous enemy is... carefully. And he embarks on some rather arcane planning. He casts Detect Magic to look at the villain he already knows to be there, and activates his Expanded Spellbook and comes across...


Swift like a Sajan!

...Stride! Perfect!

Stride is Obsidian's version of Levitate. We found that while Levitate was a good card (particularly for Legendary difficulty), it would have to prompt at the end of each character’s turn to activate properly, which can get old real fast. We pitched an alternate version with less versatility in some ways and more in others to Mike Selinker, Chad Brown, and Vic Wertz. Vic made an excellent point that we'd be diverging enough from the original Levitate card that it would make sense to call it something else. And since it's a new card, new art!

Anyway, back to the matter at hand. It's time for Seelah to move to The Old Light and do hero's work. Ezren pulls Erylium from the location deck and trusts in his friends to close their locations. Everyone does their part, leaving Seelah to try an Intelligence check.


Seelah's got this because she's literally the best character.

It's tough, but with the power of prayer and Irori's blessing...


Faith is just as good as brains to Seelah.

She nails it! Now all that's left is for Ezren to blast Erylium to bits with all of the remaining dice.


Lightning never gets old!

Boom!

Now that you have a sense for how Legendary Difficulty works, I'll give a super-brief history of this feature. One of the first big shifts we made from PACG was the use of maps and points to show the locations. Almost immediately, it was clear that we could do something more with maps, but we held off for a long time. We started developing the concept for having increased difficulties based on a number of factors. We knew that there was a strong desire to replay scenarios from Rise of the Runelords and many of you have run through Perils of the Lost Coast many, many times. I also spent some time checking out a lot of homebrew mods people had done to make the game their own. I put this version of restricted movement together before PaizoCon last year (along with some other stuff we will talk about soon) and requested a meeting with the original PACG development team at the convention.

I think I led with, "We love your game! Development is going really well! Here's my plan to screw it all up." Mercifully, the whole team was excited and on board! They gave us a lot of fantastic input across the board.

The plan simmered for a while as we were nailing down other parts of the project, like the tutorial and roles. At the end of last year, David Williams (Designer for Legend of the Five Rings, Doomtown, and so many more) joined the team here at Obsidian and locked down our difficulty design and added the concept of randomly chosen Wildcard powers which makes such a big difference in replayability and challenge level.

Dave will be joined by art lead and UI designer Andre Nguyen and artist Lindsay Laney in another Twitch stream this Friday at 4 PM Pacific time! Be sure to check it out!

Nathan Davis
Game Director, Obsidian Entertainment
@nathan_J_davis
(Previously Harsk in Rise of the Runelords and Ranzak in Skull & Shackles; currently Alain in Wrath of the Righteous)

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Tags: Licensed Products Obsidian Entertainment Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Pathfinder Adventures
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1 person marked this as a favorite.

This should just release today.

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Good article. I must say the mention of cutscenes has me interested any chance of a sample of one of them in the future?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Wow. This is way above what I was expecting. Too bad I don't have a tablet.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Pawns Subscriber

I cannot wait.


I really wish those wildcard powers were available for the tabletop game.


Gilou wrote:
I really wish those wildcard powers were available for the tabletop game.

It wouldn't take a great deal of work to add them in - just create a deck of cards, or a numbered list, and draw a card/ roll a dice to choose 1 (or 2 etc) at the start of each scenario.

If you're going to be playing the app version, you'll be able to see most of the wildcards over time, and if not, you can make your own up as you go along.

Sovereign Court

Open, Open, Open, Open...


*grabby hands*

My Adowyn would like a copy of Stride for our Wrath run please.

Sovereign Court

Loving the difficulty increases. Especially in Runelords where I think most agree it could use them. Looking forward to playing this, especially with the ability to unlock adventures just by playing!


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

I may be wrong in trying to anticipate its effect, but Night Approaches looks a bit absurd, to the point of making a game un-fun really quick. When you think about it, this make encountering a BOON much more dangerous than a MONSTER, which just ain't right in my book.

Oh, well, I guess, we'll be able to restart scenario until we roll decent wild cards at least...


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
MightyJim wrote:
Gilou wrote:
I really wish those wildcard powers were available for the tabletop game.
It wouldn't take a great deal of work to add them in ...

I wonder how fast we can build that list between us :-)

Or maybe if I very very nicely ask Nathan and/or Vic we can have it now and start using it on the table... They know we gonna buy the game day one anyway :-)

Pleaseeeeeeeeee


Rebel Song wrote:

*grabby hands*

My Adowyn would like a copy of Stride for our Wrath run please.

Skitter (and one of the Scales)? Plus Stride is an Arcane card.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Is online co-op in development?


Still can't figure out why this is restricted to tablets and smartphones and does not have a PC version. The game is shapping up quite nice Id love ot play it on my big beautfull high res monitor instead of my small screen smart phone.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Obsidian was looking a game that would be playable in tablet, so They Are trying the ice with this. If everything goes well They may make more tablet games, if not, well then this will be unique.
They Are looking for new market Areas. They allready have PC games that Are doing quite well, if They can get tablet customers, the better to them. The PC version is not so important to them at this moment. When the multiplayer online version come out, the PC-version can be much more important... maybe.


At the risk of being a total downer... does it concern anyone that this releasing may be the death of the physical card game? It's shaping up to look like this is the superior version of the game in every way and if it delivers, I can see Mask of the Mummy being the physical game's last AP. Part of me is disturbed by the idea but the other half would be happy to convert. As I write this I'm sitting in a room lined with games from the modern consoles running back to the Atari, so I definitely can't say I wouldn't get behind a video game version.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
TFGenesis wrote:
At the risk of being a total downer... does it concern anyone that this releasing may be the death of the physical card game? It's shaping up to look like this is the superior version of the game in every way and if it delivers, I can see Mask of the Mummy being the physical game's last AP. Part of me is disturbed by the idea but the other half would be happy to convert. As I write this I'm sitting in a room lined with games from the modern consoles running back to the Atari, so I definitely can't say I wouldn't get behind a video game version.

I really don't see that happening. The digital release may be more convenient for solo play, but that's about it, even with new features. Board games lovers like the physical feel of their games, even if that means sorting their cards themselves. Websites like boardgamearena offer free online multiplayer board games for years, with little if no consequence in term of market.


cosined wrote:
Rebel Song wrote:

*grabby hands*

My Adowyn would like a copy of Stride for our Wrath run please.

Skitter (and one of the Scales)? Plus Stride is an Arcane card.

Whoops I didn't notice that. My brain just assumes most spells are both. We tried to get her a Skitter but failed that check pretty miserably.


TFGenesis wrote:
At the risk of being a total downer... does it concern anyone that this releasing may be the death of the physical card game? It's shaping up to look like this is the superior version of the game in every way and if it delivers, I can see Mask of the Mummy being the physical game's last AP. Part of me is disturbed by the idea but the other half would be happy to convert. As I write this I'm sitting in a room lined with games from the modern consoles running back to the Atari, so I definitely can't say I wouldn't get behind a video game version.

I don't see what they have to gain by limitting their userbase, it is not like having this tablet only will make ppl crave for the next Obsidian tablet only release or will make the game sell better. Having this on both plataforms would make way much more sense. And there is presedent, Hearthstone could be compared to this game and Hearthstone is a smashing sucess and it isn't a tablet or PC only, its on both.

Developer, Obsidian Entertainment

We are initially launching on tablet with single player and pass and play features. Online multiplayer and PC is scheduled for a future release. After that we plan to keep expanding our platforms and content. We intend this to be a living game just as the physical version is. Tablets are just our first step!

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

TFGenesis wrote:
At the risk of being a total downer... does it concern anyone that this releasing may be the death of the physical card game? It's shaping up to look like this is the superior version of the game in every way and if it delivers, I can see Mask of the Mummy being the physical game's last AP. Part of me is disturbed by the idea but the other half would be happy to convert. As I write this I'm sitting in a room lined with games from the modern consoles running back to the Atari, so I definitely can't say I wouldn't get behind a video game version.

I really doubt this will kill the physical game because they're not planning on "catching up" with the current adventure. There are already three base sets available in the physical game, and this digital version is starting off with the first one of those, several years after its release. If they stick with that general timeline, I can't imagine people saying "i'll just wait two years to play it!"

I actually think this will have the opposite effect.. people will try out this free-to-play digital version, get hooked, and go out and buy the other two physical sets.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
TFGenesis wrote:
At the risk of being a total downer... does it concern anyone that this releasing may be the death of the physical card game? ...

Zero risk as soon as you are not playing alone. Nothing beats the fun of a group of old RPG babes and grumpy old guys around a table, some beers and minis, and a real physical die that really only wants to roll "1s".

And there is nothing that the digital version creates that cannot be immediately used on the physical game. While the opposite may take a while.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Nathan Davis wrote:
We are initially launching on tablet with single player and pass and play features. Online multiplayer and PC is scheduled for a future release. After that we plan to keep expanding our platforms and content. We intend this to be a living game just as the physical version is. Tablets are just our first step!

The day you come up with a Bluetooth version enabling us to play with 6 friends' tablets in a train or car (i. e. not needing Internet access or WiFi router), your game instantaneously becomes number one in my all time hall of fame.

You have a real opportunity : Ticket to Ride lost that spot recently by removing that feature.

We are all with you.

Grand Lodge

Can't wait for this game!

Pathfinder ACG Developer

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Kevin B wrote:
Can't wait for this game!

Just three weeks to go!

It's really awesome being able to smash through a dozen scenarios in rapid succession, then go back, up the difficulty, and do it all again as a very different play through.

Obsidian Entertainment

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Gilou wrote:
TFGenesis wrote:
At the risk of being a total downer... does it concern anyone that this releasing may be the death of the physical card game? It's shaping up to look like this is the superior version of the game in every way and if it delivers, I can see Mask of the Mummy being the physical game's last AP. Part of me is disturbed by the idea but the other half would be happy to convert. As I write this I'm sitting in a room lined with games from the modern consoles running back to the Atari, so I definitely can't say I wouldn't get behind a video game version.
I really don't see that happening. The digital release may be more convenient for solo play, but that's about it, even with new features. Board games lovers like the physical feel of their games, even if that means sorting their cards themselves. Websites like boardgamearena offer free online multiplayer board games for years, with little if no consequence in term of market.

Hey hey! I work here at Obsidian on Pathfinder, I just don't have them cool tags that Nathan has.

Anyway, I don't think this will affect the physical game in anything other than a positive way.

Our tablet version has quite a few cool things going for it, being a digital version. You don't have to shuffle, fast setup and break new, tons of new content, etc.

However this doesn't replace the physical version at all. Solo players may prefer the digital version for ease of use. But when your gaming group gets together the physical game is going to hit the table. In my opinion you just cannot replace a good physical gaming session. Sure you can use pass and play and pass around a tablet. But I think the physical game is going to win out. There is a charm and a bit of magic to holding your cards and rolling your dice.

Before I started here at Obsidian I was a HUGE PACG fan and a huge board game fan in general I think I own somewhere around 300+ board games and I used to go to my local shop weekly.

From what I have seen, board games coming to a digital form has been a good thing and a boon to the hobby. We had people come into our local store and ask about Sentinels of the Multiverse or Catan after they played it digitally. That way they could have a physical copy to play with their friends and family.

TLDR: I wouldn't worry. I think this is going to do good things and raise awareness and interest for the physical hobby that we all so love. :)

Sczarni

I watched them demo this at PAX Prime last year... all weekend. Looked like a blast and I heard no complaints about it.


It really looked fantastic on the Twitch livestream a couple weeks ago.


Looks good, can't wait for it to make me unproductive.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Fun question - when the Night Approaches condition is out, does that also trigger on choosing not to attempt a boon, or only when you choose to attempt the check for one and fail?

Adventure Card Game Designer

4 people marked this as a favorite.
TFGenesis wrote:
At the risk of being a total downer... does it concern anyone that this releasing may be the death of the physical card game?

Nope.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

There allready Are really good Computer games, and still I like board games better, because the other peoples Are there. So no.... Computer games does not kill tabletop games yet. Maybe never.
But when friends Are far a way, a Computer game can be reasonable good substitute. If there is online chat, voisi chat and so on...


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Mike Selinker wrote:
TFGenesis wrote:
At the risk of being a total downer... does it concern anyone that this releasing may be the death of the physical card game?
Nope.

Best classic one-word Not-this-Mike answer to date.


Keith Richmond wrote:
Kevin B wrote:
Can't wait for this game!

Just three weeks to go!

It's really awesome being able to smash through a dozen scenarios in rapid succession, then go back, up the difficulty, and do it all again as a very different play through.

Is that a confirmed date?

Pathfinder ACG Developer

1 person marked this as a favorite.

"Pathfinder Adventures Will Be Released March 29th!"


thank you


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

This looks great.

What is the twitch schedule?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Keith Richmond wrote:
Kevin B wrote:
Can't wait for this game!

Just three weeks to go!

It's really awesome being able to smash through a dozen scenarios in rapid succession, then go back, up the difficulty, and do it all again as a very different play through.

Weeeks or years?

Anticipated release date seems to be the year 2019 to me...

Grand Lodge

Did anyone else notice that hand in the bottom right of the screens on Ezren's and Seelah's chests? Might be worth moving that icon about half an inch to the left...

Adventure Card Game Designer

FattyLumpkin wrote:

This looks great.

What is the twitch schedule?

Friday at 4 Pacific, I believe.

Adventure Card Game Designer

Myfly wrote:
Keith Richmond wrote:
Kevin B wrote:
Can't wait for this game!

Just three weeks to go!

It's really awesome being able to smash through a dozen scenarios in rapid succession, then go back, up the difficulty, and do it all again as a very different play through.

Weeeks or years?

Anticipated release date seems to be the year 2019 to me...

Three weeks from now. The game is fantastic.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Pawns Subscriber

Sadly my wife and I will have to wait for the launch when it releases for the PC. :(

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

4 people marked this as a favorite.
the Haunted Jester wrote:
Sadly my wife and I will have to wait for the launch when it releases for the PC. :(

There are actually some very decent Android emulators that should work for those people who just can't get ahold of an Android tablet. I recommend Droid4X. You'll need to search for a mini-tutorial on how to enable tablet mode on it, but it works flawlessly for Android games similar in scope to Pathfinder Adventures.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Iammars wrote:
Fun question - when the Night Approaches condition is out, does that also trigger on choosing not to attempt a boon, or only when you choose to attempt the check for one and fail?

The wording in the screencap is 'fail to acquire', and one hopes they were as precise with the terms as the physical game is (see all the cards with 'is not defeated' [evade will trigger] rather than 'is undefeated' [evade at no penalty]).

As to the physical game concerns, I certainly have none. No game that I know of that has a digital companion (from Ticket to Ride to MtG to Sentinels) has seen that companion do anything but boost sales.

As to the game itself, man, does it look good.
Caught a whiff about Dave Williams being involved from either a previous post or the last twitch episode. In any case, I'm a bit of a fan, so I'll call his involvement a good thing. Especially if it gives us more/better replayability via the difficulty levels and wildcard effects.

-Vic


1 person marked this as a favorite.
the Haunted Jester wrote:
Sadly my wife and I will have to wait for the launch when it releases for the PC. :(

I'm also waiting for a Windows version; there's no point in buying it twice.

Re: Digital obsoleting physical: I had a Commodore 64 version of Risk back in the 80s, and that doesn't seem to have slowed down physical sales at all. :)

I love digital versions of board games because they save setup time, but I prefer to play in a group in person without screens. Maybe that'll change in the future; who knows?

Adventure Card Game Designer

Iceman wrote:
Caught a whiff about Dave Williams being involved from either a previous post or the last twitch episode. In any case, I'm a bit of a fan, so I'll call his involvement a good thing. Especially if it gives us more/better replayability via the difficulty levels and wildcard effects.

I am a huge Dave Williams fan. He's one of my favorite designers, and when he came over to help on PA, I was delighted beyond measure.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
cartmanbeck wrote:
the Haunted Jester wrote:
Sadly my wife and I will have to wait for the launch when it releases for the PC. :(
There are actually some very decent Android emulators that should work for those people who just can't get ahold of an Android tablet. I recommend Droid4X. You'll need to search for a mini-tutorial on how to enable tablet mode on it, but it works flawlessly for Android games similar in scope to Pathfinder Adventures.

Also try Android remix!

http://www.jide.com/en/remixos-for-pc

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Some things to note from my questions on the stream:

Initially, only a few characters are available for play. From the hands-on previews a few weeks ago, I believe Kyra and Merisiel are the only two to select.

You can unlock additional characters with gold that you earn from killing monsters and winning scenarios. However, if you purchase the season pass, not only do you unlock all the Adventure Decks as they become available, but all of the characters as well.

Also, when you begin a new Adventure Deck, it doesn't look like all the boons get added to the mix right away. There are treasure chests that you will unlock that have new cards in them, which then get added to "the Vault", which is their term for the game box. So you have to unlock new boons into the Vault first before you'll see them pop up in play.

Developer, Obsidian Entertainment

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Cards from Treasure Chests are added to your box, yes. However, if you have bought or unlocked Burnt Offerings, all deck 1 cards will be in the box as well. Think of Treasure Chests as mini-Deck Cs.


Nathan Davis wrote:
Cards from Treasure Chests are added to your box, yes. However, if you have bought or unlocked Burnt Offerings, all deck 1 cards will be in the box as well. Think of Treasure Chests as mini-Deck Cs.

This is an idiot question, but I suppose you guys are using something akin to the tabletop rules where in later adventure decks the basic and lower AD cards have the option to be removed from the game when encountered?

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