The first isometric party-based computer RPG set in Pathfinder fantasy universe
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Paizo Brings The Kittens

Dear Pathfinders,

Check out our new trailer!

Teaming up with legendary Paizo writers

As you all know, we really want Pathfinder: Kingmaker to feel like the real thing. We want our game to be as faithful to the source material as possible. We could just give you our interpretation of how adventuring in the Stolen Lands should feel. But how much cooler would it be, if we asked the good folks at Paizo to lend a hand, to contribute and to write for our game? 

So that's exactly what we did! Paizo's own Creative Director James L. Sutter and Organized Play Lead Developer John Compton teamed up with our authors to work on Pathfinder: Kingmaker. Here is what they have to say about their experience:

(WARNING: Some spoilers ahead!)

I've been excited about Pathfinder: Kingmaker from the first day I heard about it. As a kid who grew up playing endless hours of Diablo, the Gold Box D&D games, and other classic RPG computer games, I'd always fantasized about working on one. That fantasy only gained steam as we started creating Pathfinder and Golarion back in 2006, as I think all of us couldn't help but imagine what it would be like to one day see our world translated into a video game. So when I heard about Owlcat signing the deal to make Pathfinder: Kingmaker, I was thrilled. When they later approached me about writing for it, I of course jumped at the chance. Be part of the team turning one of my favorite adventure paths into a video game? Work under industry legend Chris Avellone? Sign me the heck up! There was only one problem:  

I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.  

While I'd written plenty of tabletop game material, and even dialogue for some mobile app games, I'd never actually written for a CRPG like this. I knew nothing about the code tagging involved, or even what software was used. So I found myself in the somewhat awkward position of saying, "I'd love the job! Also, can you teach me how to do the job?"  

Fortunately, the developers at Owlcat were kind enough to take me under their furry wing and show me the ropes, teaching me best practices for computer narrative design and how to build out text trees that flow properly without the help of a Game Master. What's more, they let me be shockingly self-indulgent in the subject matter of the quest, pointing me at some of my favorite parts of the canon and then turning me loose. Fey tied to the First World? Check. Meet one of the Eldest? Double check. They even let me incorporate a certain inquisitor of Pharasma, whom you might remember from my Pathfinder Tales novels Death's Heretic and The Redemption Engine... I still shiver at the idea that people are going to actually get to talk to Salim!    

But the most surprising part was yet to come. As somebody who's sat in the conductor's seat on projects with a bunch of different teams and freelancers, flexibility is a luxury you can rarely afford. Once everyone's in agreement and the train starts rolling, there are too many people working simultaneously to change direction. Yet as I was talking through my ideas for the side-quest, the Owlcat team shocked me by taking one of them and running with it, with the result that the game now has a whole additional secret ending! All in all, I had a blast working on the game, and after seeing behind the scenes, I'm more excited than ever to play the final version. I hope you are, too. And when you do—tell Salim I said hello! James L. Sutter

Armor concept art
Armor concept art

I first learned of Pathfinder: Kingmaker when several of the Owlcat crew visited the Paizo office, set up a computer to run a remarkably polished demo of the game, and invited in a bunch of developers to give it a spin. I loved it. I also watched my party die horribly to a hodag, which didn’t tarnish my experience. On top of that, the team was very receptive to my feedback about controls, dialogue choices, and characters’ mannerisms. A few weeks later, I received word that changes had already occurred based on my notes.  

This openness in creative decisions and the design process has really defined my relationship with Owlcat. That was especially welcome because I had never written for video games before. Not only did this mean having access to lots of design documents, plot synopses, and style guides that I eagerly devoured, but it also meant lots of enlightening emails back and forth. As someone who’s been managing tabletop adventure design for about five years, I know that keeping on top of communication with freelance authors takes a serious time commitment, and that’s why I was so impressed by and grateful for the amount of feedback I received from the team — Alexander Komzolov, Lead Writer of the Moscow development team in particular. He put up with a lot, from answering my very precise questions about formatting to offering detailed pointers after I wrote a practice dialogue in which Amiri tries to buy a kitten she names Headchomper.  

I’m still kinda holding out hope that Headchomper appears.  

It was humbling to see how much faith the Owlcat team placed in me for my quest, for the assignment basically boiled down to 1) it needs to happen during this chapter, 2) it should start in approximately this way, 3) we would like you to make up some important people as characters, and 4) including one or more canonical characters you find in this area’s article would be nice. It took me a while to wrap my head around the possibilities, but by the time I had read through the supporting material, I had a story of loyalty, betrayal, patriotism, love, and ambition. Naturally, the player blunders into the middle of it, makes a mess of things, has to make tough choices, and then realizes those choices determine the wellbeing of not only these characters, but also the surrounding region.

Choices matter, and it was a pleasure to have the freedom to make so many choices in creating this story. And the Owlcat team — including Studio Head Oleg and Creative Director Alexander  — were there cheering me on the whole way. It’s been a great experience, not only in experiencing the narrative possibilities of video games and how to work in this new medium, but also in working with new colleagues and learning new ways to support and mentor the writers I hire. — John Compton 

First World concept art
First World concept art

As a little treat for you, we've enclosed John's practice dialogue for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!

C1: An elderly woman waves to you from the side of the road. She stands next to an open-topped cage that contains a dozen kittens that are meowing and stumbling about adorably. “All of these fluffy creatures are available for adoption,” she croons before smirking and continuing with growing malice. “All it will cost you is a piece of your soul!” She cackles uproariously for before her mirth triggers a coughing fit.Alist1toC1:A1: “A piece of my soul? Isn’t that a little…expensive for a kitten?”  A2: “I want a kitty!”  A3: “We are adventurers and have no need for pets.”  A4: “Ha ha! I am a ruler and do not need to pay for anything! I shall take these kittens by force!” (Begin combat, and evil alignment shift) 

(In A4, is this the appropriate way to signal an alignment shift?)

C2toA1: “Do not be so quick to dismiss the humble cat,” the woman chides. “These kittens are hardly humble, for they are descended from the same mighty beast that bit Erastil, chasing him away so that these woods would remain forever wild. So a mere sliver of your soul is a small price to pay, yes?” 
A5: “Those are impressive kittens. I will take one.” 
A6: “I’m unwilling to give away any of my soul, but perhaps you would accept 50 gold pieces instead?” (Diplomacy check / Difficult Diplomacy check / Diplomacy DC 20) 
A7: “Um, no, no need for any god-biting kittens today.” (Dialogue ends, and woman stays in area) 
A8: “That sounds ridiculous. You shouldn’t spread lies like this. Begone!” (Dialogue ends, and woman leaves)

(In A6, I am unsure whether you just want a prompt for a Diplomacy check (option 1), a prompt that includes some recommendation about difficulty (option 2), a prompt with a DC (option 3), or something else. )

C3toA6 (if the check is a success): “Very well,” grumbles the woman. “I will settle for gold. Enjoy your new pet.” (Buy a kitten, and lose 50 gold pieces)

C4toA6 (if the check is a failure): “My terms are very clear,” the woman insists as she stamps her foot on a tree stump. “One piece of a soul for one god-chasing kitten. Do we have a deal?” (Return to Alist2, and remove A6)

(I am basing the success/failure format on the book events example you provided. Does this look right?)

C5toA2 (Linzi interjection): Linzi shakes her head vigorously. “Wait, are you serious? First off, I’ve already told you that I’m allergic to cats. Second…she wants a piece of your soul. Those don’t grow on trees.” Linzi pauses to think for a moment before absentmindedly digressing. “Well, I think some scholars believe souls originate from an extraplanar raspberry bush, but that’s more allegory than literal translation. Either way, we need you in good health to run the kingdom. Please don’t buy a soul kitty.”Alist3toC5:  A8: “Look, I promise to feed him and keep him from sleeping on your face. I’m the ruler of a small nation, and I want a kitten. Deal with it.” (Gain a kitten, and take a negative level) 
A9: “Okay, that’s fair. I’ll keep your advice in mind.” (Return to Alist1) 

(Is this the best way to indicate a party member’s interjection?)

C6toA3 (Amiri interjection): Amiri’s eyes go wide as she tosses aside her weapons. “I…want a kitten. I dream of traveling with such a mighty companion. I long to rush into battle with it roaring by my side.” She shifts sheepishly. “I would also like to rub its belly, listen to it purr, and name it Headchomper.” 
A10: “Very well, Amiri. Old woman, I shall take one of your kittens.” (Gain a kitten, and take a negative level) 
A11: “Amiri, I’m not willing to give away a piece of my soul for a cat. If you want a kitten, though, you can pay the price.” (Gain a kitten, and Amiri takes a negative level) 
A12: “No. You said the same thing about adopting a dire wolf last month, and we’re still paying that repair bill. No kittens.” (Dialogue ends, and woman stays in area)


Beta One is coming!

We have been a little quiet these past few weeks. That's because we've been working very hard on the first beta build. Unfortunately, we are probably not quite making 1st quarter of the year now. Things got delayed a little bit and we're currently looking at the 5th of April for the start of our beta. Sorry for making you wait! We will notify all of you via email, Kickstarter and social media once it starts. Instructions and a list of content of features will be provided, as well. Not much longer now - hang tight!

Also, those among you, who have pledged for physical editions and rewards, can now enter their shipping information on the backer portal. 

End of Physical Pre-Orders

Finally, please be aware that our physical pre-orders are coming to an end. We need time to produce all the boxed editions ordered so far to have them ready for launch, so we are going to remove all physical versions from the pre-order store. If you haven't already pledged via Kickstarter or pre-order and still want to support us, you will only be able to do so via orders for a digital version. Thank you very much for your support!

Hail to the Kings!