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Op Ed

Hooked Gamers - Dragon Age II: The Decline of the Classic RPG.
There is no question about it, the classic cRPG is dying out. So why bring it up now then? The reason is because one of the few big developers who have remained adamant about catering for players who want to play the classic cRPG is BioWare. Their breed of cRPG was popularised with the Baldur’s Gate series just before the new millennium. This consisted of some defining aspects: detailed character creation (not just customisation); immersive character interaction; strategic-based combat that required thought and timing; and a deep, engaging story that was shaped by the player’s choices. This was a game that could only truly be experienced on a PC. It required a fair amount of work on the developer’s part, but players were rewarded greatly for their efforts and paid the developers back justly.

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67. Re: Op Ed Mar 8, 2011, 17:27 Prez
 
nin wrote on Mar 8, 2011, 13:10:
It leads back to my question for BioWare. It is not "wrong" if they do not want to, but does anybody at the company want to go back to making those types of games or some new type of game? Or will it just be the corridor-combat RPG company?

It sounds like those folks were the ones that left during development of DA2.

Wonder what they're working on?


The spiritual successor to the spiritual successor to Baldur's Gate?
 
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66. Re: Op Ed Mar 8, 2011, 13:10 nin
 
It leads back to my question for BioWare. It is not "wrong" if they do not want to, but does anybody at the company want to go back to making those types of games or some new type of game? Or will it just be the corridor-combat RPG company?

It sounds like those folks were the ones that left during development of DA2.

Wonder what they're working on?

 
http://www.nin.com/pub/tension/
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65. Re: Op Ed Mar 8, 2011, 13:05 Ray Marden
 
The only problem I have is that BioWare has basically released a similar style of game for a number of years now. At least with DA, it stated it was attempting to follow up on what it did with BG...

Of course, that game had a long development time (for various reasons) and now it, too, is heading back toward that one type of game BioWare makes.

Which is fine if that is what the enjoy, but I am already getting a bit bored with them. I can't control this? I can't go there? Combat is just this one thing? This is the blatantly good choice and this is the blatantly evil choice? My party is weak/useless? Not too much exploration? This is blocked off? This is scaled back? Okay...

If they keep heading this route, they may as well include the year in the title. I'd make a pun-tastic EA joke, but they're already owned by the company.

It leads back to my question for BioWare. It is not "wrong" if they do not want to, but does anybody at the company want to go back to making those types of games or some new type of game? Or will it just be the corridor-combat RPG company?
NWN started it...KotOR, JE, ME, DA, and all the sequels in between.
Waiting for the GotY edition,
Ray
 
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64. Re: Op Ed Mar 8, 2011, 09:45 Verno
 
I think it'll be like what happens to other great studios, people will peel off one by one to have more creative freedom or form a splinter studio. Then eventually they will sell their souls to EA and start the cycle anew  
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63. Re: Op Ed Mar 8, 2011, 09:33 Prez
 
It is certainly looking like DA2 will turn out far inferior to the original based on the demo and preview material. Maybe I'm a naive optimist, but I wonder if it really was a conscious decision for Bioware to "consolize" the classic CRPG feel of the series, or if this is essentially a by-product of other business pressures.

Though I'm not a developer, it seems logical to me that when saddled with an arbitrary deadline so close to the release of the first, that corners will inevitably need to be cut to make the deadline. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the majority of the regressive design decisions relative to the first game seem like Bioware's solution for dealing with an unrealistic deadline by which they were under mandate to have the game finished. When faced with the decision, isn't possible that they simply opted for the simpler, easier design (which we know as consolized) out of necessity?

I guess my point is that maybe this is not what Bioware wanted to do, but it was the only viable path to take because of the stringent parameters set by their publisher. In light of this, I'm not ready to call Bioware "finished" just yet. Hopefully they can either convince EA to lay off or free themselves from their grasp entirely in the future, and then we'll know.
 
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62. Re: Op Ed Mar 8, 2011, 09:03 Verno
 
This is pretty telling to me:

Brent Knowles (Lead Designer on Dragon Age: Origins) posted:

We were nearing the end of active work on design content for Dragon Age... there was still a lot more bug fixing/polishing/ and fill-content generation ahead but the core plot/writing and level design was finished. My work was rapidly shifting into that of reviewing what the team had put together.

Discussion on Dragon Age 2 began around this time and looking ahead I knew that I wasn't going to be satisfied with what Dragon Age 2 would be. Party control/tactical combat are huge factors in my enjoyment of a role-playing game as is adopting the role of the hero (i.e., customizing my character). I was fairly certain Dragon Age would transition towards more of a Mass Effect experience, which while enjoyable is not the type of role-playing game I play. Could I be the lead designer on such a title? Certainly... though if I were going to work on a game adopting a set-in-stone protagonist I'd rather work on something lighter, like a shooter.

Through a series of circumstances it was decided that with my not wanting to participate on Dragon Age 2 it was time to transition in a new lead to finish the Dragon Age console versions and ramp up for Dragon Age 2. I moved out of an active lead role though I stayed on for several months performing quality assurance and helping with the transition. I completed the game several times during this period and racked up the second or third highest bug totals... so, still busy but doing something quite different.

After this was over and the content locked down I took a sabbatical. When I returned to work I was hoping that there would be a new project lined up for me.

There wasn't, not really. I did some high level design for a potential new project but a few months later I realized that, given cutbacks and other things that it really seemed unlikely that the project I had been 'assigned' to was ever going to materialize. I can't/won't go into any other details other than to point to an old entry I made about this and reiterate: "I'm not the same person I was when I started, and BioWare isn't the same company. "

So I quit, giving a couple months notice to finish up my obligations on the new/hypothetical project and then in early September 2009 I left BioWare.
 
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61. Re: Op Ed Mar 8, 2011, 07:11 InBlack
 
Great article.

I really dont understand the development process at BioWare. What the fuck were they thinking?

Hey look, Origins made a shitload of money! MOOLAAHH!! DOLLAAHS!! It was loved by both the average JOE and the hardcore hard/to/please crowd. So why mess with that formula? Why? I dont get it. I must be dumb.
 
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60. Re: Op Ed Mar 8, 2011, 07:09 avianflu
 
Last night I watched several different gameplay movies of DAII.

I am not wholly against an action RPG, but the combat looked too frantic (too much going on outside of my control AKA the game is playing itself) and the "story" frankly looked kinda adolescent when I would have liked a darker-themed story-line.

its a pass until it goes down to 20 bucks.
 
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59. Re: Op Ed Mar 8, 2011, 01:17 Jerykk
 
Well let's see what the actual difficulty level designed for party control plays like before passing that judgement.

Fair enough. My predictions up until now have been based on the trend that the series has taken since DAO's original release but it's entirely possible that DA2 will surprise me.
 
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58. Re: Op Ed Mar 8, 2011, 00:48 StingingVelvet
 
Jerykk wrote on Mar 8, 2011, 00:05:
My only... what's the word... issue with the complaints is people, including yourself, acting like it is a hack n slash game now, or saying the combat is like Mass Effect.

I don't think I ever called it a hack 'n slash game. I only said that the enemy AI is so stupid (they prioritize your melee characters instead of your ranged ones) that you can play it like a hack 'n slash, by virtue of not managing your party or using any tactical thought. Sure, you can turn off your companion tactics and manually control their every move, but the game provides no reason for you to actually do so.

Well let's see what the actual difficulty level designed for party control plays like before passing that judgement.
 
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57. Re: Op Ed Mar 8, 2011, 00:05 Jerykk
 
My only... what's the word... issue with the complaints is people, including yourself, acting like it is a hack n slash game now, or saying the combat is like Mass Effect.

I don't think I ever called it a hack 'n slash game. I only said that the enemy AI is so stupid (they prioritize your melee characters instead of your ranged ones) that you can play it like a hack 'n slash, by virtue of not managing your party or using any tactical thought. Sure, you can turn off your companion tactics and manually control their every move, but the game provides no reason for you to actually do so.
 
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56. Re: Op Ed Mar 7, 2011, 23:51 StingingVelvet
 
Jerykk wrote on Mar 7, 2011, 22:49:
Maybe one of the reasons I don't see the dumbing down of DA2 is because I expect mainstream RPGs from Bioware because that is what they do.

DA2 is dumbed down compared to DAO, which is also a Bioware game.

And I don't disagree with that. My main point of disagreement is that it is dumbed down to the point of being a different genre. My only... what's the word... issue with the complaints is people, including yourself, acting like it is a hack n slash game now, or saying the combat is like Mass Effect. I disagree vehemently with that point of view.

Is it a dumbed down tactical RPG though? Fuck yes it is.
 
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55. Re: Op Ed Mar 7, 2011, 22:49 Jerykk
 
Maybe one of the reasons I don't see the dumbing down of DA2 is because I expect mainstream RPGs from Bioware because that is what they do.

DA2 is dumbed down compared to DAO, which is also a Bioware game.
 
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54. Re: Op Ed Mar 7, 2011, 22:08 Dades
 
KotoR was a great game but it was railroaded as much as DA2 is.

Well Kotor was still quite tactical until everyone gets kitted out with lightsabers and crystals of overpower +5. The main story was railroaded but you could approach the planets in any order you liked. You didn't spend the whole game in a single town or a copy pasted cavern either for that matter.

And forums are for stating opinions, so I state mine.

We heard you the first dozen times. I could draw you a literal map of the problems with this game but you will never agree so who cares. You play your game and we'll lament the changes, everyones happy. Hell even the pirates will be happy, the PC version has been cracked.

This comment was edited on Mar 7, 2011, 22:22.
 
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53. Re: Op Ed Mar 7, 2011, 21:54 StingingVelvet
 
Dades wrote on Mar 7, 2011, 20:47:
StingingVelvet wrote on Mar 7, 2011, 20:33:
I like how you quoted that line and ignored the one after it where I say "maybe I am missing something."

The end point is when I play DA2 I don't see the losses others see. I see some changes, just not the "OMG HACK n SLASH GAME!" changes people say are there. Failing on my part or yours, I don't know.

We're not posting to make you get it. No one cares if you get it or not, peoples complaints with the game are not directed at you personally.

And forums are for stating opinions, so I state mine. And forums are for discussion, so I discuss my opinions compared to yours.

Verno in the other thread and now you here... I'm not going to feel guilty for challenging your opinions and arguing for mine dude. That's the whole fucking point of these comment sections.
 
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52. Re: Op Ed Mar 7, 2011, 20:47 Dades
 
StingingVelvet wrote on Mar 7, 2011, 20:33:
I like how you quoted that line and ignored the one after it where I say "maybe I am missing something."

The end point is when I play DA2 I don't see the losses others see. I see some changes, just not the "OMG HACK n SLASH GAME!" changes people say are there. Failing on my part or yours, I don't know.

We're not posting to make you get it. No one cares if you get it or not, peoples complaints with the game are not directed at you personally.
 
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51. Re: Op Ed Mar 7, 2011, 20:34 StingingVelvet
 
space captain wrote on Mar 7, 2011, 20:03:
personally i dont really understand how this is a "shocking!" revelation or something like this.. bioware has been doing action/rpgs exclusively since NWN - KOTOR was the first step, it set a fairly high standard but it was their first foray into that hybridized genre and everything since then has followed that formula down a primrose path to further idiocy and dumbed down wankery.. DAO was a strange and weird exception, taking a step back evolutionarily but not really hitting the mark in terms of being an "awesome game" IMO, but at least it was an epic, sprawling RPG that attempted to revive the genre of yore in some way

its more of the same from bioware, as it has been for nearly the past 10 years.. perhaps if people were able to remain aware of the passage of time as it occurs they would have less confusion about these ever repeating cycles, or perhaps not, its basically a moot point anyway.. just more noise for the crowd

This is very true. Maybe one of the reasons I don't see the dumbing down of DA2 is because I expect mainstream RPGs from Bioware because that is what they do.
 
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50. Re: Op Ed Mar 7, 2011, 20:33 StingingVelvet
 
Dades wrote on Mar 7, 2011, 19:30:
Yeah that's fair, we all just hate Bioware. Nothing to do at all with the dozens of changes people have been complaining about and you've been denying for weeks. Maybe it has something to do with you being a more simple minded gamer who is pleased by the changes. Since today is stupid assumption day and everything Rolleyes

I like how you quoted that line and ignored the one after it where I say "maybe I am missing something."

The end point is when I play DA2 I don't see the losses others see. I see some changes, just not the "OMG HACK n SLASH GAME!" changes people say are there. Failing on my part or yours, I don't know.
 
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49. Re: Op Ed Mar 7, 2011, 20:05 Jonny
 
Wondering if anybody at BioWare cares about making deep RPGs anymore

Did they ever? Other than BG 1 and 2 are any of their games "deep" RPGs? NWN was a showcase for a toolset, with a couple of reasonably good expansions. KotoR was a great game but it was railroaded as much as DA2 is. Jade Empire was an entertaining ARPG, same with Mass Effect 1 and 2. Even Origins was a linear drive with no real consequences and masses of filler combat.

Out of the pantheon of great, deep RPGs Bio have made one, split into two halves, over a decade ago. In the meantime they've made a number of very entertaining games that generally aren't considered to be that sort of RPG, so why do we have this kind of reaction for every new title they release?

*edit*

Bloody ninja'ed as I was writing. What were the chances of that?
 
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48. Re: Op Ed Mar 7, 2011, 20:03 space captain
 
personally i dont really understand how this is a "shocking!" revelation or something like this.. bioware has been doing action/rpgs exclusively since NWN - KOTOR was the first step, it set a fairly high standard but it was their first foray into that hybridized genre and everything since then has followed that formula down a primrose path to further idiocy and dumbed down wankery.. DAO was a strange and weird exception, taking a step back evolutionarily but not really hitting the mark in terms of being an "awesome game" IMO, but at least it was an epic, sprawling RPG that attempted to revive the genre of yore in some way

its more of the same from bioware, as it has been for nearly the past 10 years.. perhaps if people were able to remain aware of the passage of time as it occurs they would have less confusion about these ever repeating cycles, or perhaps not, its basically a moot point anyway.. just more noise for the crowd
 
Go forth, and kill!
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