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Interview With Ex3 Developers John and Holden

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  • Interview With Ex3 Developers John and Holden

    Hey all! I got a really great chance to sit down and interview John and Holden for my podcast recently, and here are the fruits of that discussion. They have a lot to say about upcoming products (yes, Arms will provide useful info for homebrew artifacts and evocations) and about their design philosophy and the journey to EX3. There's a lot of great stuff that they discuss, and I'd love to see it discussed here. They talk about some upcoming exalts and touch at their design thoughts approaching those, they talk about how they engage with the content and sought to liven up Creation for another edition. I had a great time and I hope you all enjoy listening!

    HOWEVER! I want this to be a hype thread, filled with excitement about the things the devs had to share. Posts to the effect of "I'm not sure how I feel about X, Y or Z are totally kosher, but please, if there is a major backlash that you are having to the content, split off and make a separate thread! Again, not asking for it to be above reproach, but please take major, serious lines of discussion revolving around disagreements that you have with the content elsewhere, I'd prefer that not flood my notifications.

    That being said, here's the interview! Go wild and I look forward to seeing what everyone thinks!


    Pronounced "Monkey Pie"

    Find my actual play content here!

  • #2
    It was actually very interesting. I do like the small tidbits of information dropped about their designs philosophy of the exalts.

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    • #3
      How long is it? I'm kinda pressed for time this week and next week.


      He/him

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      • #4
        its pretty long, 2 hours (1 hour 45 min).

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Eltacolibre View Post
          It was actually very interesting. I do like the small tidbits of information dropped about their designs philosophy of the exalts.
          Absolutely. I think a lot of their talk on design philosophy looking at the general system as well was very enlightening as to how and why different parts of the system came to be as they are.


          Pronounced "Monkey Pie"

          Find my actual play content here!

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          • #6
            Can't wait to listen! I should have a minis painting session tonight in which to catch up on podcasts.


            Check out my RPG podcast: The Story Told
            Follow my ongoing Exalted Campaign: The Fall of Jiara
            Check out my Community Content: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/browse....hazz%20Kellner

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            • #7
              I went ahead and started to give it a listen; John and Holden's description of back-and-forth cinematic combat reminds me of Harry Plinkett's reviews of the Prequel Trilogy and why the lightsaber action in it was so awful.


              He/him

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              • #8
                Nice to hear the updates on DBs near the end, and very good to hear that Arms is going to be such a robust aid to Artifact and Evocation home brew.

                I liked the discussion on new Exalts, especially Getimians and their main theme. The idea where the setting is going from now, "better before it gets worse", was also interesting to hear.

                Overall it was engaging, I heard all of it, which says something cause I usually give up on podcasts.

                Grats on the interview, let us know 8f you get more!

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                • #9
                  Any chance of a transcript appearing? or at least a summery? While I do appreciate the effort that goes in to these interviews, more often than not they're full of information that I either already know or aren't that interested in, and I'd like to skip past that and get to the more interesting bits like design philosophy or potential spoilers.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by JayTee View Post
                    Any chance of a transcript appearing? or at least a summery? While I do appreciate the effort that goes in to these interviews, more often than not they're full of information that I either already know or aren't that interested in, and I'd like to skip past that and get to the more interesting bits like design philosophy or potential spoilers.
                    While I'd love to, just editing the interview added about 8-9 hours to my work schedule. On top of the average 15 hours a week that goes into the podcast regularly and I need to do actual work that pays me.

                    It's also hard to say what's new or old: most of this is about design philosophy, not about features to hook in new players, so it digs past system basics. A lot of which I think could serve to add a lot to understanding designer intent in a lot of the mechanics discourse here, but it's dense and there's a lot of it, and I don't have time to transcribe that. For other areas in brief, though: DB's hit a hitch about halfway through the development. They're keeping a lot of what they've written, but they are getting some power ups and tweaks to better serve their thesis of "elemental power". If they can, they'd like to demo them at Gencon, assuming the set is ready. Arms of the Chosen is going to be a robust aid for artifact and evocation development. More so, perhaps, than any prior supplement. Some of the upcoming charmsets are going to be demanding of the players, or ask more of them than the Solar charmset. They say that they won't be impossible or inaccessible, but they'll definitely engage with mechanics differently. It sounds like they have a lot planned rolling out presentation of the setting for the next little while, with some hints about the portal to Zen Mu in Palanquin, and a looming Darkness on the Horizon. Two of the Exalt types on the exalt spread at the end of the Exalted chapter are ancient, and 3 are new players on the stage.


                    Pronounced "Monkey Pie"

                    Find my actual play content here!

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                    • #11
                      Fair enough, and thanks for the summery!

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                      • #12
                        Here are some notes I made as I listened - a sort of highlight reel of what I thought the most interesting parts were.

                        The devs essentially say that they intentionally meant for the their charm writing to be evocative, which might explain the "natural language" problem. They also say they tended to discover the need for new core systems as they were writing the charms, which might be a contributing factor to the sprawling nature of the systems and the odd placement of some subsystems and sidebars.


                        John is really keen on every part of the game reinforcing a story and/or narrative themes - mechanics included.*


                        Holden has confidence in STs and Players to make homebrew stuff and make ad-hoc decisions to fill in the blanks, so the mechanics can be used to reinforce the story instead of making the story about the mechanics.*


                        *The combat system in general and the charms in particular are designed, to an extent, to make things more dramatic. High and low spots in a fight can be keyed to specific charms. Tactics go beyond hoping for lucky dice.*


                        *Musashi's writing is an inspiration for the initiative system.


                        No other TTRPG was really used as an inspiration for Ex3's mechanics - most other *tactical TTRPGs tend to be about mechanics creating the story, which is something the devs wanted to avoid.*


                        Direct comparison between characters are not emphasized, deliberately. Even characters who suck at fighting can contribute meaningfully to a fight.*


                        The charms PDF is supposed to have some awesome ridiculous stuff in it.*


                        Part of the reason for the new kinds of Exalt is specifically to encourage new homebrew and reduce the amount of solid categorization present in the game. Same for the bigger world and a lot of the other weird, uncategorized stuff. Holden wants us to "make shit up."


                        Making the world feel lived in is important - Exalted aspires to be a 'realistic' world insofar as its societies need to make sense. Not just weird and spectacular. But [the devs] don't just transplant cultures - instead, they try to create believable situations based on what history teaches.*


                        The Realm book will detail the Caul - which draws inspiration from Normandy, the Crusades, and other famous invasions.*


                        Part of the reason of the Dreaming Sea was to not make 75% of the world a continuous landmass.


                        Rakan Thulio did not create the Gentimians - he found them. That should tell you something about the setting's new history. They are about "loss and finding your way."


                        Lunars are being retooled - some people are going to disappointed, but the devs' focus is always going to be on "how does this feel?" What attracted people to Lunars, and what was disappointing about them. They are currently still in flux.


                        The DB book is nearly complete, but is being held back because the charms need to be restructured (that's about half done). Charms need to be stronger, more elementally themed, and aesthetically different. Their charmset needs to be different from solars, but not much more mechanically complex. Some other exalts might be made for people with higher mechanical understanding, but DBs aren't one of them.*


                        DB thesis is "elemental control" where elements are volatile and tactile.*


                        Sidereals will be "tricky and bastardly." Lunars will be "savage and awesome," Abyssals will be "stylish as fuck."*


                        Exalted devs aim to be diverse. Prince Diamond's presence on the cover is deliberate. Diamond will be the heroic heart of a Circle of reprobates.*


                        Creation is in for "interesting times."*


                        The exalts on page 54 and 55 - 3 are relatively recent players, and 2 are really freaking old


                        On the frontier of the Wild South, there's only one woman with the grit to take on its most dangerous outlaws and bring them Back Alive, or Maybe Dead.

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                        • #13
                          An excellent Podcast! I hope you take them up on their invitation and do another one in the future. I totally volunteer to help with any logistics if you need it.


                          May you live in interesting times...

                          Storyteller of Sun Forged Oath

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by semicasual View Post
                            Here are some notes I made as I listened - a sort of highlight reel of what I thought the most interesting parts were.
                            Thanks so much for the summary!

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by TheCountAlucard View Post
                              I went ahead and started to give it a listen; John and Holden's description of back-and-forth cinematic combat reminds me of Harry Plinkett's reviews of the Prequel Trilogy and why the lightsaber action in it was so awful.

                              Oh, God, yeah. There are lots of crappy fights in cinema that are very pretty, but also very bad fight scenes. Man of Steel is probably the worst offender in this regard (it's maybe the only problem MoS had that Dawn of Justice didn't repeat, in fact). The lightsaber fights in the prequels are pretty, because watching Ray Park do flips is neat, and John Williams dug down deep for badass music, but there's just no real sense of weight or stakes. And that's the best of the lot-- all the rest fail to even tell a rudimentary story or have any kind of cohesion. Luke/Vader I and II are much slower and nobody does a 780 spinflip but dear God they have heart and they have art.

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