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RPGWatch Forums » Games » Dragon Age » Dragon Age 2 » Bioware's Stanley Woo on the rushed dev cycle

Default Bioware's Stanley Woo on the rushed dev cycle

March 15th, 2011, 22:26
Interesting quote from here.

All right, how about this one: despite us having given you a thing in Dragon Age Origins, we are not necessarily able to give you the same thing in Dragon Age II for a variety of reasons. Usually, the reason is zots. Having a comparatively short developement cycle means that we either had to work faster and/or on a smaller scale. Faster was already a given, what with time being inexorable and linear and all, but a smaller scale means sacrifices, compromises, and cuts compared to the original, gigantic, epic game.

One small, tiny feature may not mean much to the end-user, but it migth mean fundamental changes to the game for a developer. Features may have dependencies that are complex or extensive, as they are rarely as modular as people believe. Ultimately, it is a disagreement between us, the developer, and you, the player. We can only implement features a certain way; we can't create a system that will please everyone. As always, we do what we can witht he time and resources available and try to please as many people as we can. After the fact, we can pay attention to feedback, both here on the forums and elsewhere, and try to do better next time.
Refreshingly blunt.
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March 15th, 2011, 22:34
So why does Bioware give itself these incredibly short development cycles then? Oh, that's right. EA is calling the shots now. And next time they'll have an even shorter cycle.

This quote from the composer make it clear:
Sure thing. I'm actually really anxious for the game right now, so I can pop it in and start playing. I'm really looking forward to see it. I know there are a few bugs that still need to be fixed. Unlike other titles from Bioware, this [score] was kind of a rush job. EA really wanted to capitalize on the success of Origins, so the game was really being pushed hard to be released now. So I'd like to know if there are bugs, or if there's anything we could patch or fix. [Editor's note: Zur is speaking about bugs in the score only; he had no involvement with the rest of the game's development.]
Welcome to MacBioware. How may we serve you? Btw, love the note about "bugs" in the musical score.
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March 15th, 2011, 22:45
EA is not Blizzard.

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March 15th, 2011, 22:50
Originally Posted by JemyM View Post
EA is not Blizzard.
Is Blizzard even Blizzard anymore? I'm sure we don't need to stretch it to their standard though. Half would be just fine.
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March 15th, 2011, 23:05
Originally Posted by hishadow View Post
So why does Bioware give itself these incredibly short development cycles then? Oh, that's right. EA is calling the shots now. And next time they'll have an even shorter cycle.
It just baffles me that corporations still don't get that lowering quality will eventually lower sales, even if not right away. Dragon Age 2 might sell a lot based on the name and Bioware's street cred but the cut corners and rushed feel will surely impact sales of Dragon Age 3 or whatever else.

Though like Activision and the Guitar Hero games I am sure EA will just bleed Bioware until it's no longer profitable, then cut them all loose.
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March 15th, 2011, 23:17
Originally Posted by DoctorNarrative View Post
It just baffles me that corporations still don't get that lowering quality will eventually lower sales, even if not right away. Dragon Age 2 might sell a lot based on the name and Bioware's street cred but the cut corners and rushed feel will surely impact sales of Dragon Age 3 or whatever else.

Though like Activision and the Guitar Hero games I am sure EA will just bleed Bioware until it's no longer profitable, then cut them all loose.
Just like every other publisher out there. Im still pissed at EA for shutting down westwood studios.

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Last edited by Couchpotato; March 16th, 2011 at 00:47.
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March 16th, 2011, 00:07
Not to mention my favourite: Origin!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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March 16th, 2011, 02:27
Super mega corps, always do that. They are massive black holes in the free enterprise world.
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March 16th, 2011, 03:32
Short Dev cycles wouldn't be so bad if they didn't want to change everything. There is absolutely no reason in my mind why they couldn't upgrade a few things while having a new story.

In my mind it has been proven already that you can use the same engine while upgrading just a few things and people will still buy the game. If this wasn't true then Jeff Vogel would have gone out of business a long time ago.

It's so funny how different these interviews/reviews are when compared to DA:O. Everyone was praising them in that and now Bioware has to go on the defensive with DA 2. I just wanted an upgraded version of Origins with a few tweaks here and there and a new story.

Call me weird, but I wonder what kind of reaction they would be getting if they had done that. Sure people would be bitching about the graphics and how they weren't upgraded enough, but would that have been such a bad thing?

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March 16th, 2011, 08:43
I believed Awakening based on same engine of DAO has been quite a failure. For the graphics I don't remember well but I think they was already a bit dated at release. I also don't think they changed that many things, for me the fights was requiring a lot of tuning and I quote many has been done in DA2. It was also a necessity to increase vastly the number of talents for each class and its been done in DA2. Rogues and Fighters was a lot too close and it was a necessity to make them really different in term of role, this has been done in DA2. Skills was quite a failure in DAO, they fixed it… by removing them entirely, lol. But have let them identical I'm not sure this was that better, fixed them was a necessity.

The point is more that I don't remember so many complaining that DA2 release was planned one year plus few month after release of DAO. This on start and long before DA2 release, is insane and it's amazing this didn't trigger a wide movement of contest. Now I wonder why I didn't open any thread at Bioware forums to complain about that.

That very short delay planed was crazy and not fixing anything to fit the year would have been awful, for me DAO has plenty big holes.

I do remember few posts including in this forum quoting this absurdity but well too minor to be heard.
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March 16th, 2011, 13:30
Yeah, Awakening did not sell well on consoles from what I understand. That probably solidified the new direction in DA2.

Which would have been fine with me honestly if they had just been given the time to actually make the game. I like the new art style, I like the faster combat which is still tactical as hell on hard mode. What I don't like is seeing 8 or so locations the entire game and having every sidequest feel rushed.
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March 16th, 2011, 13:39
It's ok to have a short development cycle, but it's not ok - to me - to claim that every inevitable change is for the better when being interviewed.

It's the dishonesty I have a hard time appreciating. Giving excuses after bad press, is not exactly a good compensation.
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March 16th, 2011, 14:13
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
It's ok to have a short development cycle, but it's not ok - to me - to claim that every inevitable change is for the better when being interviewed.

It's the dishonesty I have a hard time appreciating. Giving excuses after bad press, is not exactly a good compensation.
This is a good point actually. Woo makes it clear above that certain things were sacrificed due to the schedule, but in interviews before release Laidlaw and others were acting like those were quality-based decisions.
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March 16th, 2011, 14:38
Originally Posted by DoctorNarrative View Post
This is a good point actually. Woo makes it clear above that certain things were sacrificed due to the schedule, but in interviews before release Laidlaw and others were acting like those were quality-based decisions.
Of course, you can't really blame them from a business point of view. I mean, obviously they're going to want to sell their game. My problem is that they're saying these things like they really believe them - which would be the scariest thing of all.

I know it's the "way of things" - but I will never learn to appreciate the marketing standard of covering up every obvious flaw, and pretending it's an advantage - proclaiming your own genius.

I just despise such things, but I don't blame employees for following the corporate line.

It simply doesn't speak well for their internal development environment.

Apparently, according to random strangers on a forum I visit, who were at some convention where Bioware showed/talked about Dragon Age 2 at an early stage, the Bio people there were open about not being happy about the direction of the game - but that they couldn't do anything about it, really - as it was out of their hands.

Obviously, it could all be a fabrication - but I heard about it some months before DA2 was in the hotspot - and it certainly makes sense given the result.

If true, it's a very telling thing - to have developers who don't agree that what they're doing is right.

It can't be good for the final game.
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March 16th, 2011, 15:03
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Of course, you can't really blame them…
…It can't be good for the final game.
Solid points.

What blows my mind is: The stated reason for Bioware and EA to get into bed together was for Bioware to have the autonomy to make what they wanted to make without having to worry about finding financial backers for their projects.

How could Bioware not see that, once EA was in control financially, they were pretty much done for? Did the execs at Bioware honestly expect EA to just give them money and otherwise leave them alone?
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March 16th, 2011, 15:08
I'm not at all sure that EA is responsible.

More like the merging of the EA norm with Bio management.

I think the doctors want to be rockstars - and EA just wants to be EA
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March 16th, 2011, 15:14
Fallout —> Fallout 2 a year later. Bugs GALORE, but it would go down in history as a fan favorite. What was changed? Pretty much nothing, save the quirky humor addition.

I bought Awakenings but simply don't have any zeal to play it. Having said that, what exactly was wrong with it that merited any "sealing of the deal" for DA2?
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March 16th, 2011, 15:17
Originally Posted by Drithius View Post
I bought Awakenings but simply don't have any zeal to play it. Having said that, what exactly was wrong with it that merited any "sealing of the deal" for DA2?

Nothing.. Awakenings was quite good actually.

Imo, I think a lot of people were simply burned out on Dragon Age at that time.
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March 16th, 2011, 15:20
Originally Posted by Drithius View Post
Fallout —> Fallout 2 a year later. Bugs GALORE, but it would go down in history as a fan favorite. What was changed? Pretty much nothing, save the quirky humor addition.

I bought Awakenings but simply don't have any zeal to play it. Having said that, what exactly was wrong with it that merited any "sealing of the deal" for DA2?
Mechanically, Awakenings was just Origins with a couple of tweaks and a different story. As far as expansions go, I thought it was solid, and, unless you're under the effects of some powerful hallucinogens, I don't see how you extrapolate DA2 from it…
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March 16th, 2011, 15:23
It would be interesting to know what the trade-offs were. I could see how something like the choice to stick to set companion armour might be easier as then they don't have to invest in as many graphical assets for the same suit of armour worn by different shaped characters.

The re-use of exactly the same dungeon layouts . . . feels a bit lazy, I'd have thought they could do a few more and not add that much to the time (although given they did exactly the same on ME2 and people still enthused about the game I'm not surprised they thought they were fine to do it this time round). It's annoying that they don't communicate it more clearly though, I spent a bit of time the first couple of goes trying to work out how to get into the locked off bits in some dungeons that showed up on the map, without realising that they're never meant to be opened in that dungeon, just re-used in another. If they're going to save time they could at least have taken two minutes to properly wall each one off and truncate the map.

Overall I do appreciate the bluntness there and would prefer to get more direct information on it. Ultimately I like getting games more frequently, if they can find a sweet spot of efficiency that gets the most player enjoyment for the least development resource then I'm okay with that.

Indeed better than okay, I'd prefer that. Blizzard development cycles are all very well, but I was still only ever going to play starcraft 2 the once and I'd rather they released more often and made a few more compromises.

I can also accept that the process of finding the sweet spot is going to mean some flawed decisions. For my tastes, they've put some effort into the skill system and kept the focus on story and voice acting and got a game out damned quickly, and none of the compromises ruins it for me.
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