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-   -   Dragon Age - Forum Highlights @ Sorcerer's Place (http://www.rpgwatch.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2139)

Dhruin July 2nd, 2007 22:05

Dragon Age - Forum Highlights @ Sorcerer's Place
After a lengthy hiatus, Sorcerer's Place let us know they've started compiling highlights from the Dragon Age forums once again. Here's a sample, featuring David Gaider:

I agree with Mary mostly (big shock, I know), and I think the main difference between these kinds of games is how you determine the player's personal story.

In a more linear game, what the player experiences is largely controlled at any given time. And this has some advantages, primarily the fact that you can have a coherent narrative. You can pace that experience and deliver a better experience.

Personally I think the big caveat in that case is that the illusion of freedom needs to be maintained. The illusion being, perhaps, that the player is simply stumbling onto the story and that he could if he chose go off elsewhere even if it isn't true. There is a certain amount of buy-in from the player required, and I find when I know I am being railroaded my first instinct is to be contrary and push in the other direction. Depending on how fragile the buy-in is, that may suddenly reveal the tracks for what they are. And I don't think I actually require all that much convincing to ignore those tracks… but I do require some, and I suspect the average player out there isn't all that different.

Does this mean you couldn't have a story in a more sandbox-like game? No, not really. But that story is going to have to be about what the player themselves do— they have to drive it forward personally at all levels, whether or not that's realistic. And any narrative that exists is going to have to exist in isolation to the sandbox, if at all.

Fallout is a good example of that. You have a really simply set-up relying completely on what the player does. with the "story" being the voyage itself. As enjoyable as that can be, however, I think you can even look at that and see that there was very little in the way of narrative or larger events going on. Not that that hurt it in any way, but I think there's room for both. You're just not going to find a magic spot on the linearity/non-linearity scale where all stories will work. It won't happen.

More information.

screeg July 2nd, 2007 22:05

The more time passes, the more DA starts looking like a NWN2 clone, which itself is a NWN clone.
It seems to me when it was first announced, the developers raved about how different it would be from D&D. Now they're saying "Hey, D&D is the standard, so no one should have a problem with how we set up the classes and custom classes."
Real-time-with-pause combat, natch.
And my personal fave: they're going the "Party NPC's can never die, because they're too important to our plot!" route.
Why didn't they just write their entirely original world in a NWN2 mod? Think of the money to be saved using Bioware's engine!

Squeek July 2nd, 2007 22:31

I thought this was a great discussion and a good one to highlight. The points of view were carefully considered and interesting, and they were expressed well.

It didn't consider much new, though. What I'd really like from a future RPG is something along the lines of choice and consequence but with more subtlety, depth and mystery. The player's actions should affect or even drive the plot, but with every decision he makes throughout the game, not just the ones he makes when he's given a clear set of choices.

Maylander July 3rd, 2007 03:59

This game has been in production for a very long time now, isn't it about time we start getting some new, solid information instead of just various discussions and a three year old wallpaper? The first previews of Dragon Age were written after E3 2004, where Dragon Age was shown, so it must be getting close to completion unless something has gone wrong.

magerette July 5th, 2007 15:16

I agree, Maylander. I haven't seen any newsbits or pr anywhere for quite awhile, and this is just a forum discussion. On one hand, I'm kind of grateful to be spared the endless hype and overuse of current buzzwords, but on the other, I wonder why there is so little "developer diary" type of material, interviews, new screenshots, etc.

There may be something more on the actual Bioware site, but I stopped going there years ago as it is one of the most irritating visual hodge-podges around and slower than a one-armed paper-hanger.

Gallifrey July 5th, 2007 16:14

Look how long NWN took, though. Five years, wasn't it? Midway through that development process they essentially started over, so who knows what they're doing with Dragon Age.
Of course, if a Dragon Age development meeting or discussion on progress is anywhere near as lengthy as Gaider's commentary, they may just sit around all day listening to him talk and not actually get any work done :p

aries100 July 5th, 2007 17:22

eh ? what ? huh?

Dragon Age looks like it is going to be quite a different game from D&D. First off, there is no magic at all in Dragon Age! and the little magic there is is very low magic.
I happen to like realtime with pause :) in combat. There will be deaths to story vital NPCs as well as to party members NPCs! There will be no resurrection spells at all!
Healing will be done in quite a different way than D&D does it. You will need to heal your comrades and yourself after battle, and maybe even drag your and your party all the way back to base camp to get healed or get patched up.

Since this initial comment on DA from David Gaider —- there has been another comment on the rpgcodex board —- basically saying 'look, we do what we want to do, and if you don't like it, there's the door. Goodbye'. This may sound harsh, but there you have it…

There will also be no healer class in this game as you basically starts out either as figther, a mage or a rogue. If start the game as dwarf noble, this will make the game stort for you in the Dwarf town or city in the game. You will have a backstory to your character that eventually will catch up with you - after you've been forced the twon, city or village. I think you can play as an elf, human or barbarian.

As you grow in experience, you get to unlock skills etc. and the experience you get will be skill-based (somewhat similar to te TES-series, I guess?), not XP-based as it is in D&D. One of these skills may or may not be the ability to heal someone i.e. do doctoral work on them. It might also be that you will rely in your companions to do this. IN NWN1, NWN2, you only had henchmen, but in DA you will (again) have companions as you did in Baldur's Gate…

The game can take its time, though, since iirc, DA hasn't found a publisher yet.
Bioware announced the game in 2004 at the very beginning of the developing cycle, maybe even before pre-production really got started. They did this to quell the rumors that Bioware didn't intend to develop PC games anymore. Therefore,
DA was announced as a PC only game…

However, 3-4 years is a very long time. And I don't think that BIoware would want to compete with Bethesda's Fallout 3 in Fall 2008, so it is possible that this game, DA, will be released sometime in 2009. It takes about 4½to5½ years to make a good (pc) rpg game. And will rather see Bioware taken its time to get DA just right instead of rushing it out the door.

My guess is that as soon as Mass Effect is released sometine this year? we will se much more DA coverage just as we have seen much more ME coverage in the last
6-12 months related to Mass Effect.

David Gaider is the Lead Writer on DA. This means he just writes the story, is responsible for the plot etc. where some other people (the lead producer?) is responisble for the design docs etc. And basically, the OK need (still) to be given
by the good doctors of Bioware, I think…

The Lead Writer, in this case David Gaider, then assigns quest & storylines to the writers working on DA. And then he puts it all together and sends it up higher for approval, I think. At least that's the impression I have gotten from reading David Gaider's posts on the Codex and Patrick Weekes's posts here on this forum.

Maylander July 5th, 2007 22:01

I don't think any solid RPG ever took 5 years to make unless they almost restarted (as they did with NWN). 2-4 years is common. I know World of Warcraft took 5 years to complete, but developing an MMO as big as WoW takes quite a bit longer than single player games.

I get a weird Duke Nukem Forever feeling from all of this, hehe.

Corwin July 6th, 2007 00:13

Aries, I'm confused by your post. First you say there is NO magic, then you say there is only LOW magic, and finally you say one of the classes you can play is a MAGE!! Doesn't that seem silly to play a Mage if there's NO magic??!!

PatrickWeekes July 8th, 2007 08:09

Dragon Age has been in development for awhile, yes, but it's a game on a brand-new engine. The last time BioWare did that was with Neverwinter and the Aurora engine, from which NWN, KotOR, and Jade Empire all sprang, so it's natural for the game to be in development for awhile.

(Mass Effect uses a third-party engine, which makes it difficult to compare (easier in some areas, likely harder in others, and I'm not a programmer, so I'm certainly not the one to ask). I do know that being the first BioWare game to use the Unreal Engine is kind of an uphill fight in the snow, and Mass Effect programmers are doing a lot of work so that future projects have an easier time and a tighter schedule.)

As for what Dragon Age will be as a game, I can't say. I mean, I could, but then I'd be looking in the want ads. :) David Gaider is the guy to listen to in that regard. I do know that there is magic, but it's not dime-store magic. Magic in Dragon Age is dangerous and scary, and if you run into someone who's using magic casually, you know that it's someone you really want to take seriously. Rather than misspeak, I'll just keep pointing at Dave.

And as for the lack of publicity, that's purely because of Mass Effect. Dragon Age has a big team doing a ton of work. Their plan is to run quietly until Mass Effect is out the door, and then blow the doors off the public with what they've got ready to show. They haven't canceled the project. It's not going to be a NWN2 mod. It's quiet now because now is the time to talk about geth and krogan and turians. The time for unicorns will come soon. :)

Fenris July 8th, 2007 09:51

There are already a lot of design-decisions for Dragon Age, that I don't like:
- Only a Party of four
- NWN2 Death-System (maybe with a little penalty)
- Only 3 Races and 3 Base-Classes (but with a special twist…)
The more I read about it, the more I fear it turns into a medival KOTOR. Well, I suppose it could be worse…

Corwin July 8th, 2007 10:08

Thanks for the comments Patrick. Could you perhaps ask Dave G to drop by here occasionally and give US a few insights!! :)

Maylander July 8th, 2007 10:31

Indeed, that was very helpful, I was beginning to get worried. The basic idea of the game is top notch, so I'm looking forward to see if they can pull it off (multiple starts, dynamic story etc).

aries100 July 8th, 2007 13:36


Originally Posted by Corwin (Post 34661)
Aries, I'm confused by your post. First you say there is NO magic, then you say there is only LOW magic, and finally you say one of the classes you can play is a MAGE!! Doesn't that seem silly to play a Mage if there's NO magic??!!

I can understand why you are confused. We all were like over at the DA forums when David Gaider told us that there will be no magic in DA, at least not the magic in the D&D sense or the TES sense where every tom, dick and harry seem to be able to throw fireball at goblins. And, there won't be any goblins in DA as well. There might be some other sort of species doing what goblins do in D&D.
The things is that we are all very steeped in pre-formed notions of an RPG being like a D&D, so we expect to see goblins and that everyone (sort of) can use magic.

That's what I meant by there's no magic in Dragon Age. DA isn't TES or D&D.
I think of it as some sort of European medieval society in which there are powerfull wizards, but they live far off the normal lands, and far away, on high mountains, or in deep caves, where normal people seldomly ever comes.
Magic in Dragon Age will be low magic meaning that you won't have access to any spells or the like, but you will (maybe?) be able to create and then cast a spell using the lifeforce within you, or by drawing the lifeforce from the 'ether' in the air. Thus magic suddenly becomes very dangerous and scary as you will NEED to know what you're doing.

I always somehow think of Gandalf using his innate (wizard) powers to manipulate and reshape the environment. Let me also point you to the magic seen in Angel, the magic the witch Tara? uses is not to be taken lightly, whether by friend nor foe, as Tara's use of magic also uses up her lifeforce (or hp in an rpg, if you want). Maybe this sort of dangerous and scary form of magic also makes it into Dragon Age….

As for there being mages in DA, I am just retelling what I've read over at the DA forums on Bioware's website. And David G. did say that there will be three (main)classes, a fighter, a rogue and a mage. If you choose to be a mage, you will start out in some sort of town, village or citadel where the mages live. And you will probably at level 1 only be able to transform pigs or something similar to that.

Magic in DA is supposed to be scary and dangerous, not something to be taken lightly…

(PS: patrick, how's the wife and newborn kid?)

Alrik Fassbauer July 8th, 2007 14:40


I happen to like realtime with pause :) in combat.
Not that you have much of a choice, nowadays … games are either rea-rtime or, real-time-with-pause, but no more turn-based.

All (A)D&D games I know of have real-time-with-pause fights, as far as I can remember. Maybe except Pools of Radiance 2.

aries100 July 8th, 2007 16:10


Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer (Post 34881)
Not that you have much of a choice, nowadays … games are either rea-rtime or, real-time-with-pause, but no more turn-based.

All (A)D&D games I know of have real-time-with-pause fights, as far as I can remember. Maybe except Pools of Radiance 2.

Yes, and POR2: Ruins of Myth Drannor was (and is) a terrible game. And the turnbased combat in that game was - well, lets just say- not that great…

bjon045 July 8th, 2007 19:02


Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer (Post 34881)
All (A)D&D games I know of have real-time-with-pause fights, as far as I can remember. Maybe except Pools of Radiance 2.

Errr the only ones with RT-with pause are the infinity and aurora engine ones. The majority are turn based (dark-sun + TOEE + POR2 + gold box) or something completely different like eye of the beholder or arcade hack and slash like Al-qadim.

Alrik Fassbauer July 9th, 2007 01:23


Originally Posted by bjon045 (Post 34901)
The majority are turn based (dark-sun + TOEE + POR2 + gold box) or something completely different like eye of the beholder or arcade hack and slash like Al-qadim.

You suggest that I have played them, and thus know it.

I haven't. I was very, VERY lucky to finally find the Eye of the Beholder Trilogy on CD-ROM on a flea market in this area here ! I have never seen the "Gold Box Games", and Dark Sun is also quite difficult to track down.
I know a big second-hand shop with very old games in Cologne, near where I live, that's where i might try finding them, but the last time I saw it, the whole building was severely overhauled.
My last resort would ebay, then, or amazon, but prices of older games usually get quite high, because some sellers know very well that there are some collectors (like me) out there …

The best findings can be made on flea markets where the sellers don't know what they are actually selling. :D

This way I recently found a CD-ROM Multimedia version of the second Laura Bow adventure … the people did know that these old adventures are worth a thing, but I chattet with them, and told them that there are two kinds of buyers, imho: The collectors, willing to pay rather high prices, and those who don't (the "non-collectors", as I call them right now), and maybe a third group that overlaps partly with both: Those who still want to actually play these games … ;) That's where I am. ;)
I both collect some older games (not all of course, because I have only limited room ;) , but I also want to play them. :)

Corwin July 9th, 2007 03:18

Another future buyer for Grimoire!! :)

Dez July 9th, 2007 15:45

intresting talk about magic. The way I magine (from the small info we know) the magic in dragon age is something similar to Lord of the rings where only few very powefull persons could handle magic. And the magic was very subtle but yet very powerfull. Or maybe something similar to old medevil tales about wizzards like Merlin, who were mostly feared by the people..etc :)

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