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Default Dragon Age 2 - Mike Laidlaw Interview

February 27th, 2011, 11:11
Originally Posted by MasterKromm View Post
Wait, what? Skills were for all intents and purposes removed, you no longer put points into skills(Coercion, trap making, pick pocketing, ect). Instead, the now omitted skills are based off various stats(STR, DEX, CON, ect), which seems silly as someone with zero training yet immense dexterity/intelligence won't be able to magically unlock a door or chest. The removal of stat(tier) based non-combat skills is ridiculous, even more so when looking back at DA:O which had them…
Well I admit I had no good remembering of skills in DAO. So here the list: Coercion, Stealing, Trap-Making, Survival, Herbalism, Poison-Making, Combat Training, and Combat Tactics. And with Awakening: Runecrafting, Vitality, Clarity.

In your arguing you are forgetting two points, it's party, there's four members in your party, but you pick them among a little army in camp.

So here a review:
  • Combat Training: It opens next fighters talents, you had no choice but pick all this skill at max level for all classes but mage. Pointless because it's just mandatory for almost all classes.
  • Survival, Poison-Making, Runecrafting: No choices here either, you just sacrificed one member of your camp army to learn this skill at max. Pointless because it involves no choice.
  • Stealing, Trap-Making: No logic to make them general skills, it's clearly a class skill for Rogue and perhaps another if there was another like Ranger. It's good they removed from general skills, but bad if they removed them entirely, they should be Rogue talents.
  • Survival: Well I don't like this skill at all, and I would have an option to just remove radar detection. But same for DAO1 and DAO2 demo.
  • Combat Tactics: No choice here either, either the player want use tactics and then put point here asap, either they don't care and get an unfair advantage because they choose do it manually. As a player using tactics I was for removing this entirely from skills.
  • Coercion: In DAO1 there was high requirement on combat talents so players hadn't much choices of high dex with Rogue, high intelligence with mage, high strength with 2H. How Coercion was working it was an option only for High STR so not an option for most character building.
  • Vitality, Clarity: More life or more mana/stamina: Well you have already the dilemma through attributes points. I feel them quite tedious.

So yeah skills lost isn't a good thing, but if we stick with DAO1 and not RPG in general, we don't lost much, and even in term of character building choices most are fake choices and some are very bad choices like tactics. The real choices was rather limited, yeah Coercion vs Survival… How great it is, sarcasm.

If you want debate RPG in general, that will be different but from DAO1 this change a lot the picture, it's sad to quote it but DAO1 skills removal lost almost nothing here is the truth.
Originally Posted by MasterKromm View Post
Honestly, I'm trying to see a positive in the removal of stat based skills, but I'm not having much luck… Tell me how that's a positive, beyond the obvious,
Many positive and I do agree it's sad it's positive:
  • Removal of Combat Tactics, Survival, Vitality, Clarity: Good because they was pointless or forced choices.
  • Removal of Combat Training: Good because the influence on the class management was too huge and more a fake choice and a frustration when you tried skip it.
  • Removal of Stealing, Trap-Making: Good because it should be Rogue talents
  • Removal of Survival, Poison-Making, Runecrafting: Good because it was too easy and tedious to sacrifice a member at camp and switch when needed.

Well for your other points of your gigantic post I have some arguing too, but well I'll shorten this and will answer some quickly:
  • Darkspawn looking the same: Agree on this one, but a question, is this was different in DAO1? I don't remember complains about that in Awakening or DAO1. But yeah a bit more diversity was required but not that much a big deal if there's at least some diversity per Darkspawn class and type.
  • Dialogs wheel: I wonder what your brother expected when he choose "He's not alone" and "He" is a dead? I already detailed about this, there's good and bad, and it adds a trap, check my previous posts.
  • "Mages seem more resistant to dmg": Play a mage and you'll disagree with yourself.
  • "Backstabbing is a new teleportation technique": Not that easy to use when there are obstacle, but what's wrong, it's just very short teleportation, I don't see how this is streamlined, it's another tactical option like some other fights system has with brutal move forward attack that can be used for positioning purpose.
  • "Mages do some sort of contrived choreographed dance when attacking": Why not?
Ha well you got me tired.
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February 27th, 2011, 11:46
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
It's as simple as not designing the quests that way to begin with.
Not exactly, well I agree but many players will disagree because the quest will be a story and some actions to do.

The quests marks are an awful design point replacing only quests location hints.

For sure I got lost some time and turn in circle a lot before to find some quest location in Morrowind. But when well done it's just a way to explore more area. I also got some bugs in Morrowind from false directions probably coming from a translation error. But despite the nuisance Oblivion is unable to compare to Morrowind just because of this quest marker system and lack of hints location design in plenty quests. (I don't mean it's the only failure point of Oblivion).

Originally Posted by Anderson View Post
I understand, but it doesn't have to be a toggle on/off. It could be an alternative system. For example, disabling the compass marker and displaying the location on the map. Or, highlighting a particular area on the map, rather than a specific location. That wouldn't require a lot of development effort…
Highlight an area seems a little tedious not as worse than a precise point but it's as tedious or almost because it's a stupid marker, no need read dialogs or something.

Search an area on a map (well done so not like in FNV), find the location mention in the dialog, and and then search around "Hole of Death", "Destroyed Church", or some other location you can quote on a map, is just a lot more pleasant. Search for Henry then ask someone if he has been seen and where, and so on… it's just a lot more pleasant. Move to an area and see from far some smoke when you search someone that should be in the area, that's a lot more fun, and so on.

But it generates bugs more easily, it's not as simple, and it require a design imagination effort which has some costs. But me too I'm hoping RPG design team will realize all the problems involved with stupid quests markers. And there's been good example of modern RPG that could work well without them. In DAO2 demo you have an official option to remove them so for sure the game will be fully playable without them.
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February 27th, 2011, 12:22
Originally Posted by Dasale View Post
[*]"Backstabbing is a new teleportation technique": Not that easy to use when there are obstacle, but what's wrong, it's just very short teleportation,
It's wrong but it's still teleportation ?

The impression it makes is that of teleportation. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw this for the first time (played a rogue myself).

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February 27th, 2011, 12:32
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
It's wrong but it's still teleportation ?

The impression it makes is that of teleportation. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw this for the first time (played a rogue myself).
Mmm well it's perhaps not teleportation, it's hide, move fast, and hit from back. Myself I enjoyed the tactical aspect, it was very efficient against the Ogre when using at right times.

To check if it's teleportation of not try it through obstacle.

My answer was in fact for the normal Rogue Attack, lol I was tired to read and try answer the very long post (not that I consider it bad just very long and too many contents).

The same for Rogue "special" standard attack, I enjoyed the tactical aspect even if a bit hard to use, for example interesting to move fast and get out of a pack. But one point seems a bug it's when used through obstacle, the result is a bit weird.
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February 27th, 2011, 12:33
I'm not one for long posts so all I want to say is be prepared to play more games like fable then. The trend is every game that comes out gets more streamlined to the point stats aren't needed. If you buy an rpg or even played the original tabletop games you know what your getting into.

Everyone knows I hate Bioware and I dont care if your offended but seriously there getting very close to killing the rpg tag on there games. If Laidlaw and Gaider think rpgs should be like GTA or COD its time to quit the business of making rpgs.

I have played every game since the company was founded and every release has lost more and more features. The Docs have lost there mind. The project lead who made the original dragonage even left the project.

Im sure there games will sell while losing the older rpg base and pulling in the newer generation who like streamlined games. The company will eventually wind up like Squaresoft.

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February 27th, 2011, 13:03
DAO is the last A RPG series with party and companions. I don't want it died at all. Even less because bunch of superficial players that react to the special demo like if it was the full game.

I'm not fully agree with companions design orientation but if at least they gave up using the weird companion camp dialogs design, it's already a huge plus. Also quite more talents and more freedom to use them (dex and str requirements had the very unpleasant effect to almost disable fully mixes) are a huge improvement if they really allow various building in a same class. And myself I feel it will also bring more tactical choices from the talents choices and much better management of pauses and players orders.

Yeah removal of skills instead of fixing them is a very bad point but you should have already complained a lot about bad skills design in DAO1.

I wait to see the full game, in no way I can get a good analyze only from the demo. But I do agree there's some bad clues. Not that I won't enjoy a lot DAO2, I have good clues I will, from fights to story and companions. But that DAO2 will perhaps be more an Adventure game with party, companions, quests, combat classes, and fights. I don't say it will be like that, just that there's clues, but it needs wait the full game to be sure.
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February 27th, 2011, 13:25
Reading some of your replies it seems you forgot Baldur's Gate and Morrowind were not only bought by a small niche of hardcore RPG:ers, but sold millions of copies and that Obsidian has launched 3 successful D&D 3.5 games (2006,2007,2008) in recent years that I imagine sold well enough to keep them in business.

I doubt people who bought Mask of the Betrayer are the same costumers who think that the simple mechanics of Dragon Age 2 are an improvement and I find it hard to believe there's suddenly no market for the former type of game.

What we have here is big publishers pushing for simpler games because they think it will increase their margins, which is completely different from complex games not being profitable. Russian PC games tend to more complex, is this because they sell more than American games? No, in fact they sell a lot less, it's because the publishers over there are fine with smaller profit margins.

At least Obsidian don't seem to be too happy about it:
http://cloud.steampowered.com/ugc/59…67CFD5CD03D30/
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February 27th, 2011, 13:38
Originally Posted by TheSisko View Post
Reading some of your replies it seems you forgot Baldur's Gate and Morrowind were not only bought by a small niche of hardcore RPG:ers, but sold millions of copies and that Obsidian has launched 3 successful D&D 3.5 games (2006,2007,2008) in recent years that I imagine sold well enough to keep them in business.

I doubt people who bought Mask of the Betrayer are the same costumers who think that the simple mechanics of Dragon Age 2 are an improvement and I find it hard to believe there's suddenly no market for the former type of game.

What we have here is big publishers pushing for simpler games because they think it will increase their margins, which is completely different from complex games not being profitable. Russian PC games tend to more complex, is this because they sell more than American games? No, in fact they sell a lot less, it's because the publishers over there are fine with smaller profit margins.

At least Obsidian don't seem to be too happy about it:
http://cloud.steampowered.com/ugc/59…67CFD5CD03D30/
I haven't forgotten about obsidian. There one of the best rpg makers out there.Sure there games have bugs but they at least know what there doing.
According to recent news they have another major project in the works also. I just hope they dont fall prey to biowares system of removing parts they cant fix.

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February 27th, 2011, 15:00
Originally Posted by Dasale View Post
Yeah removal of skills instead of fixing them is a very bad point but you should have already complained a lot about bad skills design in DAO1.
What, because I didn't complain about a poorly implemented RPG mechanic that somehow means my criticism is invalid? For what it's worth, DA:Os less than stellar approach to skills is better than DA2 approach… If it's broke or too difficult to understand then chuck it!

I think the "haters", outside of the codex, would be less up in arms(if at all) if DA:O had originally been delivered as DA2 is now… The changes are stark, and for anyone who enjoyed DAO or at least thought it had potential. This is a let down…

But what about these points you failed to address in your other post,

A)Inability to pan out(as far) with the camera in a tactical top-down view.
B)Combat is too fast to be tactical.
C)Enemies magically spawn out of thin air and come in manageable waves.

Do you honestly like all the changes? Or are you willing to gloss over them so long as you have a party based RPG?

Many positive and I do agree it's sad it's positive:

* Removal of Combat Tactics, Survival, Vitality, Clarity: Good because they was pointless or forced choices.
* Removal of Combat Training: Good because the influence on the class management was too huge and more a fake choice and a frustration when you tried skip it.
* Removal of Stealing, Trap-Making: Good because it should be Rogue talents
* Removal of Survival, Poison-Making, Runecrafting: Good because it was too easy and tedious to sacrifice a member at camp and switch when needed.
Could you expand on your pointless, forced choice and fake choice charges? I can only disagree, and again, you justify their removal because of what you believe was poor execution/implementation… Not because stat(tier) based skills are a bad RPG mechanic(or do you think that too?).

-EDIT-

Coercion: In DAO1 there was high requirement on combat talents so players hadn't much choices of high dex with Rogue, high intelligence with mage, high strength with 2H. How Coercion was working it was an option only for High STR so not an option for most character building.
In some cases, but I thought Coercion was more often affected by the cunning modifier…
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February 27th, 2011, 15:06
Originally Posted by TheSisko View Post

I doubt people who bought Mask of the Betrayer are the same costumers who think that the simple mechanics of Dragon Age 2 are an improvement and I find it hard to believe there's suddenly no market for the former type of game.
Well I bought and enjoyed a lot MoTB, but I don't consider MoTB as an almost perfect RPG, from very far and yes I prefer DAO1 and will probably prefer DAO2 too but not sure until I play the full game.

What simple mechanics? Have more dialog options? Have a lot more talents to build your character? Have more tactical possibilities during the fights?

Because the demo is straight forward, no inventory,…. I bet you didn't even quote:
  • The first fight was fake,
  • that the second part was a shortcut to a part much later,
  • that the town was closed on purpose to keep the discovery in the full game,
  • that the level up automatic between the first and second part was to let the players have the fun to explore the classes during the full game,
  • that the inventory was disabled for the demo,
  • that linearity of the demo is to not expose more of the full game,
  • that because you don't have any inventory, there's also no crafting and equipment management
  • and quite more coming from the demo.

So come with solid argument about simple mechanics in the full game, and I'll consider your post not a vain empty manipulation post.
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February 27th, 2011, 15:22
Originally Posted by TheSisko View Post
I doubt people who bought Mask of the Betrayer are the same costumers who think that the simple mechanics of Dragon Age 2 are an improvement and I find it hard to believe there's suddenly no market for the former type of game.
I like both games.

Of course I don't get the whole "OMG Dragon Age 2 is so dumbed down" thing. I consider it streamlined but still very tactical and it fixes a lot of Dragon Age's chunkiness.
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February 27th, 2011, 15:30
Originally Posted by Dasale View Post
Well I bought and enjoyed a lot MoTB, but I don't consider MoTB as an almost perfect RPG, from very far and yes I prefer DAO1 and will probably prefer DAO2 too but not sure until I play the full game.
And some people prefer MotB to DA:O.

Originally Posted by Dasale View Post
What simple mechanics? Have more dialog options? Have a lot more talents to build your character? Have more tactical possibilities during the fights?
Compared to what? Not MotB atleast.

Some people like this stuff in their games:
MotB
And others prefer interaction like this:
DA2
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February 27th, 2011, 15:35
Originally Posted by DoctorNarrative View Post
I like both games.

Of course I don't get the whole "OMG Dragon Age 2 is so dumbed down" thing. I consider it streamlined but still very tactical and it fixes a lot of Dragon Age's chunkiness.
I'll probably like both games too. But it's not like I'll be thinking "OMG, this game is so complex and hard to get into, I wish it was just like DA2 when I play MotB."
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February 27th, 2011, 15:50
Originally Posted by MasterKromm View Post
But what about these points you failed to address in your other post,
Your previous post is really too long.

Originally Posted by MasterKromm View Post
A)Inability to pan out(as far) with the camera in a tactical top-down view.
DAO1 had a real problem with that if I remember well, no choices in between. In the demo, you can rise up the demo and get a larger view of the area. I agree that higher would be better but no this isn't what will kill the tactical depth of the fights.

I agree they should allow some more higher but not that it makes the game a superficial crap.
Originally Posted by MasterKromm View Post
B)Combat is too fast to be tactical.
I disagree, one more time, the point isn't the speed because combat is automatic even with no tactic. The point is the cooldown time for all the special atttacks. And yes for (very) few it's too short cooldown to manage a whole team with no tactics.

I always used tactics in DAO1 and many pauses and for me it's just another world of depth than RPG like FO3, FNV, AP, and ton more. Even Oblivion, Venetica, DKS, and many more can't sustain the comparison. And from far and it makes me smile that players find their fights more tactical.

BUT DAO1 had holes and with a small subset of tactics, not really that simple, but simple once you master them, they could allow you rush through the whole game or almost. I consider the players doing that not interested by tactical fights. If you really enjoy tactics you'll enjoy discover new tactics, and DAO1 had ton of good one to discover, only RPG very far in the past could compare or are perhaps better, certainly the BG series for example or Fallout 1&2.

For DAO2 the demo isn't enough to get a good idea. But I got good clues that there are interesting new possibilities. And yes I consider the sneaky attacks in DAO1 was very tedious to use.

Originally Posted by MasterKromm View Post
C)Enemies magically spawn out of thin air and come in manageable waves.
I didn't noticed and yes if they could avoid it without to have performance drop down, I'm for they fix it.

But all in all I prefer that to have more structured fights than a pointless pseudo realism. Waves is a great design element of fights and I'm for some lost of realism if there's a price to pay. So better have some sort of spawning and waves and ambushes that no spawning and no waves and no ambushes. Obviously have all would be better if that doesn't kill performances.

Once more it's difficult to judge from the demo, not much content and no difficulty level.

Originally Posted by MasterKromm View Post
Do you honestly like all the changes? Or are you willing to gloss over them so long as you have a party based RPG?
The first point is that it seems many players don't care for party RPG and yes I do a lot and they disapeared.

Now DAO series is a dinosaur and the single exception (knowing that alas Drakensang series died recently, not helping at all party RPG survival), and I don't consider ME as RPG, I don't like the RPG shooter anyway.

Anyway it's not really the point yet, the demo doesn't offer enough to evaluate the game. My main whining about that is that so many players are so superficial to look at it without to realize all the points coming from the demo. Perhaps the full game will disappoint me but for now I can't say.

For the skills I already detailed the answer including that yes they should have fix them instead of removing them, but also that if it was so important then DAO1 should have been quite bad too for you, at least on this aspect. If you disagree, please explain in detail the points.
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February 27th, 2011, 15:53
Originally Posted by DoctorNarrative View Post
I like both games.

Of course I don't get the whole "OMG Dragon Age 2 is so dumbed down" thing. I consider it streamlined but still very tactical and it fixes a lot of Dragon Age's chunkiness.
If I give the feeling I don't like them both, then it's wrong. Here what was one of the last top ten RPG of all time, probably not the last (because there's no DKS), but one of the last I post somewhere:
  • Gothic 2 + NOTR
  • Fallout
  • Dragon Quest V DS Remake
  • The Witcher
  • Dragon Age: Origins
  • Neverwinter Night 2: Mask of the Betrayer
  • Baldur's Gate
  • Infinite Space
  • Drakensang
  • Might & Magic Clash of Heroes
See? MoTB and DAO1 quite close.

For DAO2 i enjoyed the Demo, notice some bad clues like skills removal, but need play the full game before to make any fair comment about it.
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February 27th, 2011, 15:57
Another comparison between MotB and DA2:

It's obvious that the changes in MotB were made by taking a look at what worked well in NW2 and improving that while also introducing new mechanics.

It's equally obvious that DA2 was made by taking DA:O and simplifying and removing elements that were deemed too inaccessible to non-RPG fans.

I hope no one is so naive to thing that DA2 represents how Bioware wanted DA:O to be, because if anything, it would have been cheaper for them to make DA:O more like DA2 from the start.

Did Bioware originally envision DA:O as a niche RPG that would sell less than a million copies? Does Bioware think that the majority of those 3.2 million DA:O buyers found the game too complicated? Do they think that RPG-fans will simply buy anything they make so their only concern is to make their games more attractive to non-RPG gamers? I have no idea.
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February 27th, 2011, 16:03
Originally Posted by TheSisko View Post
I'll probably like both games too. But it's not like I'll be thinking "OMG, this game is so complex and hard to get into, I wish it was just like DA2 when I play MotB."
Same here.

Variety is good if you ask me. DA2 will feel like a badass and fun tactical RPG and then hopefully later in the year I will play Dead State, which will be more thoughtful and slow. Both should be great!
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February 27th, 2011, 16:15
MoTB isn't a sequel it's an expansion, and I already explained it's wrong to see series as static, just because it can't be static.

MoTB hadn't great items interaction, I don't remember for DAO1 and for DAO2 you can't say as nobody here already played it.

For MoTB there's more solid points to highlight than items interaction. For items interaction example, pick Ultima 7, or Divine Divinity and Beyond divinity but not MoTB.
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February 27th, 2011, 16:39
Originally Posted by Dasale View Post
MoTB isn't a sequel it's an expansion, and I already explained it's wrong to see series as static, just because it can't be static.
My point was to illustrate the difference in the companies attitudes.

When talking about their games, I've often heard Obsidian devs said they tried improve gameplay elements to encourage the player to use skills and options that were deemed "useless" in previous games/expansions.

Bioware however, often simply cut features from their games and either state that they were unnecessary, or that they are trying to make the game more accessible.

Continuing to buy their games with the motivation that they're the last option left for party-based RPG's only encourages other developers to emulate them.
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February 27th, 2011, 16:46
Originally Posted by Dasale View Post
DAO1 had a real problem with that if I remember well, no choices in between. In the demo, you can rise up the demo and get a larger view of the area. I agree that higher would be better but no this isn't what will kill the tactical depth of the fights.

I agree they should allow some more higher but not that it makes the game a superficial crap.
I didn't say that… For me it lost part of it's tactical approach that is all.

Originally Posted by Dasale View Post
I disagree, one more time, the point isn't the speed because combat is automatic even with no tactic. The point is the cooldown time for all the special atttacks. And yes for (very) few it's too short cooldown to manage a whole team with no tactics.
I was thinking more along the lines of friendly fire, the game is nearly too fast to use any meaningful tactics… Which is why they removed friendly fire from all but nightmare setting. You would wipe your team out or freeze them in place at a minimum. The combat plays less like a mini-game and more like an animated movie…

Originally Posted by Dasale View Post
For DAO2 the demo isn't enough to get a good idea. But I got good clues that there are interesting new possibilities. And yes I consider the sneaky attacks in DAO1 was very tedious to use.
Positioning of the rogue was tedious, but so are a lot of things if you wish to maintain some believability.

Originally Posted by Dasale View Post
I didn't noticed and yes if they could avoid it without to have performance drop down, I'm for they fix it.

But all in all I prefer that to have more structured fights than a pointless pseudo realism. Waves is a great design element of fights and I'm for some lost of realism if there's a price to pay. So better have some sort of spawning and waves and ambushes that no spawning and no waves and no ambushes. Obviously have all would be better if that doesn't kill performances.

Once more it's difficult to judge from the demo, not much content and no difficulty level.
As opposed to meaningful concrete fantasy? Yes, waves can in some circumstances be a good design element, but not for a majority of the battles… Spawning out of thin air is fine if it's believable - an ambush, rogues/assassins, ect.

I'll give em the benefit of the doubt and assume their combat demo was just about the "wow" factor.

Originally Posted by Dasale View Post
The first point is that it seems many players don't care for party RPG and yes I do a lot and they disapeared.
I too like party based RPGs, but not at the expense of core RPG mechanics(be they removed or streamlined).

Originally Posted by Dasale View Post
Now DAO series is a dinosaur and the single exception (knowing that alas Drakensang series died recently, not helping at all party RPG survival), and I don't consider ME as RPG, I don't like the RPG shooter anyway.
DA2 did have a ME feel to it, but maybe that's just me…

Originally Posted by Dasale View Post
Anyway it's not really the point yet, the demo doesn't offer enough to evaluate the game. My main whining about that is that so many players are so superficial to look at it without to realize all the points coming from the demo. Perhaps the full game will disappoint me but for now I can't say.

For the skills I already detailed the answer including that yes they should have fix them instead of removing them, but also that if it was so important then DAO1 should have been quite bad too for you, at least on this aspect. If you disagree, please explain in detail the points.
Not at all. Like I said earlier, I was able to appreciate the fact that skill choice had some impact on C&C at least for my play through as a rogue. This goes to party build, but I wasn't going to take Leliana as I was the party's rogue… So I had to honestly decide which was more important for the party. My ability to do damage or my ability to sense and disarm traps, pick locks, pick pockets or pass speech checks(which was affected by cunning as well). Towards the end, it mattered less because the skill and talent points had been built up. But in an epic fantasy that is how it works, you build up to that level. You build your character, limiting the available choices limits ones ability to take ownership/immersion. I like that you could have somewhat varied builds, FWIW I was upset DA:O had so few classes, skills and specializations(comparatively speaking - MoTB for example).

Now I admit they weren't implemented perfectly but they weren't so bad that they needed to be scrapped. The skills became a victim of streamlining. I don't think you can deny that… What I don't understand, you have attempted to justify their removal(since they were pointless or broken), yet you think fixing them would have been better. Can you have it both ways?
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MasterKromm

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