Avowed’s combat wasn’t ready to show at reveal, Obsidian admit, but they’ve made it “feel more juicy” since

Obsidian have spent a lot of time tuning up Avowed’s combat in response to negative reactions to the new action-RPG’s initial reveal footage at an Xbox developer direct, with gameplay director Gabe Paramo conceding that the team could have oiled the hinges and buffed the contacts a little more before showing the game off.

Speaking to Windows Central, Paramo noted that Obsidian had always planned to give the game’s sword-and-sorcery component some love, but were persuaded by the reaction to prioritise this aspect before showing Avowed off again at this year’s Xbox summer showcase. “Sometimes you can lose sight on the importance of the prioritization of some things,” he told the site, adding that “we thought [Avowed] was good enough to show as is… A lot of that stuff we knew we were going to get to before shipping.” The developers took the feedback in their stride: “We just went ‘Okay, let’s look at this, this is a big deal, people are noticing this, we should polish this sooner,'” Paramo said.

So where and how have they added some jazz? “We really analyzed the feeling and moment when the player swings their weapon and the moment of impact,” Paramo explained. “Were there any delays, was there any system that might have been preventing it from being immediate?” The developers also “looked at posing… to give that visceral, immediate feedback” – posing being, in my very dim understanding of videogame animation, the introduction of character poses that are designed to catch the eye and stick in the memory. “We really focused on that, and the blood impacts, and VFX feedback, and the audio,” Paramo went on. “We basically went and looked at all the pieces that make [combat] feel more juicy.”

I find this story interesting not least because I’m always interested, and alarmed, to hear about what developers can change after showing a videogame off without giving themselves tonnes of extra work and losing sight of what they’re making. Paramo’s description sounds like it could be as elementary as changing some speed values somewhere, but it probably isn’t. In my experience, every videogame production is a Jenga tower where every last piece is somehow the one right at the bottom.

Here’s one thing Obsidian likely couldn’t have introduced in response to reveal trailer feedback: Avowed’s choice of a first or third-person perspective, because no, it’s not as simple as yanking the camera out of your character’s head. “[Third-person perspective] is definitely something that requires work to be done after you solidify and understand what game you’re making,” Paramo commented elsewhere in the piece.

“If I make a swing in first person, I now need to make a swing in third person, in another type of view. They’re not shared meshes or animations — they are different, and our system supports playing them at the same time,” he went on. “If you look at your shadow, you’ll be able to see the same third-person animations as the first-person representative mesh is doing. So, we had to do it early, because we basically needed to double the amount of animations.”

There’s more in the full chat, including thoughts on whether Obsidian considered adding multiplayer given the success of Baldur’s Gate 3 on his front, and given that Avowed was “really pushed” internally as a co-op RPG to begin with. Tl;dr it would have messed with the game’s storytelling, and Obsidian don’t have Larian’s long experience of mining the co-op coalface. Here’s everything else we know about Avowed at the time of writing.

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