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Default Bioware's Stanley Woo on the rushed dev cycle

March 21st, 2011, 18:32
Originally Posted by DoctorNarrative View Post
They have said bluntly on their forum that DAO did not sell well enough and EA would only green-light a sequel if it was more console-focused and streamlined.

The funny part is I bet DA2 sells worse.
They must have insanely high standards then:

Bioware's Dragon Age: Origins Reaches Triple Platinum Sales

Leading video game developer BioWare, a division of EA, announced today that Dragon Age: Origins has sold-in over 3.2 million*
That seems pretty strong unless I am just really out of touch.

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March 21st, 2011, 18:50
If this is like the electronics industry, then 'sell in' means how many went to retail stores, whereas 'sell out' means sold to customers. So perhaps the 'thru-sell' was't high enough. EA has been famous about putting out 'we need to sell 5 million copies' sorts of numbers.

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March 21st, 2011, 18:53
Originally Posted by DoctorNarrative View Post
Great post Alrik, I think developers really do think in milestones. Once a feature or style is popularized they feel it is now a standard they must use… quest markers, regenerating health, modern warfare setting, dialogue wheels, checkpoint saves, etc. I think often times it is less about what is a good change and more about what is a trending change.
It is interesting then that PC shooter fans get flack for doing the exact opposite - over the last half-decade we've watched a number of core features that made games like NOLF so great just slip out of use … of course because they would overload console controllers …

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March 21st, 2011, 19:08
Not sure if its been said or not but rushed development cycles have been the main complaint of developers at EA. As Corwin often cites with Ultima9 unflexible policies at the company regarding release dates have soured a lot potential.

I've seen people blame this on the Sports Games franchises that EA shills out. Sales of these games are hefty and predictable. A new release of the product and costs and development times are kept down by reusing/building off of old assets.

This is a mistake when marketing RPG's because traditionally, a decent RPG can sell for years. It just doesn't fit into a convenient SWAT analysis.

Developer of The Wizard's Grave Android game. Discussion Thread:
http://www.rpgwatch.com/forums/showthread.php?t=22520
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March 21st, 2011, 19:11
Originally Posted by DoctorNarrative View Post
They have said bluntly on their forum that DAO did not sell well enough and EA would only green-light a sequel if it was more console-focused and streamlined.

The funny part is I bet DA2 sells worse.
Somebody need to go check his facts:

DA:O is BioWare best selling title of all time and they started working on DA2 8 months before Origins was released.
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March 21st, 2011, 19:25
Originally Posted by azarhal View Post
Somebody need to go check his facts:

DA:O is BioWare best selling title of all time and they started working on DA2 8 months before Origins was released.
I guess Bioware need to check their facts then, since they are the ones that said it.

Also they have said they want to sell 10 million copies. Did Origins sell 10 million copies? Nope.
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March 21st, 2011, 19:33
Where did they say they wanted to sell 10MM copies?

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March 21st, 2011, 19:44
Originally Posted by blatantninja View Post
Where did they say they wanted to sell 10MM copies?
Here is the link and text:
In a marketplace where one game can sell 25 million copies, 10 million is the sales target BioWare is aiming to achieve with its future releases, studio co-founder Dr. Greg Zeschuk has told VideoGamer.com.

At the Develop conference in Brighton earlier this month Zeschuk spoke about BioWare's fortune to have had a few "minor" hits. But if the likes of Mass Effect and Dragon Age are considered minor, what's needed to be classed as a major one?

"Well, we need to sell 10 million units," said Zeschuk. "That's actually the new target, right? We do Top 10 games, our stuff is quite successful. I know Mass [Effect 2] is number eight so far this year, in North America.

"Sometimes I'm facetious when I say some of those things, knowing that we can sell a few million but seeing that someone else can sell 25 [million]. You're kinda like, 'Well, that's a hit!' We always joke that if we only do half as well as Blizzard on Star Wars: The Old Republic, we'll be quite satisfied.

"We've been very fortunate. I always joke about that, but…"

Zeschuk added that he's under no illusion that BioWare is in a position few other studios find themselves in.

"I think we know how lucky we are," he explained. "When we're saying that, we always know that we're super-fortunate that we have a nice combination of things going on - really great support from EA, a budget to make great big giant games. We recognise that in a sense it's a privileged position we're in."

BioWare is currently working on continued DLC for Mass Effect 2. The studio has also announced Dragon Age 2 and Star Wars: The Old Republic for release in March 2011 and spring 2011, respectively.

You'll find the full interview with Dr. Greg right here.

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March 21st, 2011, 19:44
Afaik DA:O sold around 4 Million copies worldwide. I doubt Bioware was realistically aiming to sell 10 Million of DA2.
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March 21st, 2011, 20:27
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
Afaik DA:O sold around 4 Million copies worldwide. I doubt Bioware was realistically aiming to sell 10 Million of DA2.
It seems to me that they truly did expect to at least get close to that goal, as they have stated that as an objective several times. OF course, you could be right, but perhaps the upper management at Bioware/EA truly are arrogant/greedy enough to believe that this was possible. I still maintain that this is a completely unnecessary goal and that DA:O's sales numbers were extremely healthy, but some disagree with me and buy into the argument that selling more and more copies is the only way for Bioware to "survive" - even though every game they have ever produced has been a financial success. Of course, given EA's treatment of studios throughout their history, it might be true that reaching close to 10 million sales on each game truly is what is required to avoid being shut down. Seems absurd to me, but this is how the giant publishers tend to work.
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March 21st, 2011, 21:04
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
Afaik DA:O sold around 4 Million copies worldwide. I doubt Bioware was realistically aiming to sell 10 Million of DA2.
I don't think they expected DA:O to sell 10 million, which is part of the reason they changed some things up for DA2. Unfortunately while they made the combat more mainstream it was at the expense of a lot of other stuff that went down in quality.

Bethesda's RPGs sell a lot more than Bioware games. If Bioware really want that 10 million dollar pie they should probably make an open-world action RPG.

I personally would rather they just budget for 2-3 million sales and make a high quality game, but that's me.
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March 21st, 2011, 21:11
Maybe it's just me, and I have no numbers or figures to back this up, but it seems like there's far less advertising for DA2. I remember seeing (pretty misleading) DA1 ads on TV all the time, and I think I've only seen one single DA2 ad.

I wonder how the marketing budgets compare?
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March 21st, 2011, 21:42
If fights are necessarily easy most players including me won't bother look further to find tactics and will let automatic fighting win the fights.

But a Hardcore player can notice that and then will try level up the difficulty level. In DAO at half of game or a bit later it stop be of any challenge at any level of difficulty. I do agree that 1/2 in DAO means a lot because the game is long but still it was a flaw that has been targeted in DA2.

Consider that all game should match your own skill level because most game do, is quite a casual player attitude I wouldn't expect from someone like txa beta testing games like Avernum, particularly when last game he beta tested had its difficulty level lowered at normal level.

I do agree with JDR that you don't need play the whole game to give a deep feedback but it's not what I wrote. I wrote that play only the demo or few hours of it, I quote 2/3 hours isn't fair and when you comment a game your played only 2/3h you should highlight that. When I comment PS:T i always highlight it's only very first parts.

Also see that difficulty is too easy for you at normal difficulty level, not like that and continue, it's unfair.

I wonder, are you used to such superficial and unfair ways to evaluate a game or is it just for DA2? I would expect people of this forum dig more a game before harass it. You played first chapter, or half of first chapter, tried found the difficulty level matching your skills, didn't skip all dialogs and gave a good chance to the game. Yeah fine then for sure you can give a quite deep feedback on the game, but also quote you played only half of chapter 1.

For Hardcore game about roleplaying, lol I don't think you played for example Pool of Radiance.
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March 21st, 2011, 22:49
Originally Posted by Dasale View Post
Consider that all game should match your own skill level because most game do, is quite a casual player attitude I wouldn't expect from someone like txa beta testing games like Avernum, particularly when last game he beta tested had its difficulty level lowered at normal level.
I guess I need to address this …

It isn't just about the difficulty level. Vogel has tried very hard to work on the *balance* of difficulty his games, because he was getting loads of complaints that folks couldn't get very far even on 'Easy' mode, and that fights he thought were winnable in a single shot on 'Normal' were stumping a wide percentage of his audience … and another chunk of the audience said the games were too easy. In other words - the games were too hard, but even worse they were not balanced well to the potential of players to make uber-characters or gimped-characters.

And his beta testers, being all experienced folks, were very used to the normal buff, prep, combat, potions, heal, etc tactics we all take for granted. He has been very explicit in saying things like 'if any of your party die fighting X, let me know'.

My biggest issue in Dragon Age 2 isn't the difficulty decrease - I understand why folks do that and it actually often makes sense as noted above. It is that the entire game is a massive 'trash mob'. Heck, at one point you are fighting a dragon (OMG spoilerz plz!) and even THAT fight ends up as a trash mob attrition battle! That approach removes any personality to the fights …

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March 21st, 2011, 23:14
Originally Posted by txa1265 View Post
My biggest issue in Dragon Age 2 isn't the difficulty decrease - I understand why folks do that and it actually often makes sense as noted above. It is that the entire game is a massive 'trash mob'. Heck, at one point you are fighting a dragon (OMG spoilerz plz!) and even THAT fight ends up as a trash mob attrition battle! That approach removes any personality to the fights …
Yup.

Funny enough, the battles which are the most fun are usually ones with smaller enemy counts like the templars in the chantry during Anders' first companion mission. My party in a room taking on a few templar assassins and a commanders is fun stuff. When the game puts you up against 10 archers only to spawn another 10 archers halfway through it just drives you up the wall, and on hard mode it can easily kill you even if you had a good strategy going. All it takes is a couple of archers concentrating on your mage to kill him/her in seconds.
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March 22nd, 2011, 02:42
Originally Posted by Ovenall View Post
Maybe it's just me, and I have no numbers or figures to back this up, but it seems like there's far less advertising for DA2. I remember seeing (pretty misleading) DA1 ads on TV all the time, and I think I've only seen one single DA2 ad.

I wonder how the marketing budgets compare?
I think they're at least equal. If not, then I'd guess DA2 was more advertised. I'm surprised you haven't seen more tv ads. I've seen quite few, and I don't watch a great deal of televsion.

In my experience, sequels usually receive more advertising than the original.
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March 22nd, 2011, 03:26
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
I think they're at least equal. If not, then I'd guess DA2 was more advertised. I'm surprised you haven't seen more tv ads. I've seen quite few, and I don't watch a great deal of televsion.

In my experience, sequels usually receive more advertising than the original.
I think it is the 'what' and 'when' … I can't remember what we were watching in 2009 but we stumbled all over the commercials. Not so now, but we watch even less, and most of it is on the Roku

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March 22nd, 2011, 04:29
What to say that I imagine tactics and differences between fights? It's quite more probable that you don't see all the possibilities. Notice something that doesn't exist is big, not notice something is happening constantly.

For a wall of archer send a warrior against them, retreat the mage after one or two area damage spells if you have any, and use the numerous mage possibilities to slow down close fighters. There's plenty different possibilities depending of your team and talents of each member.

I don't understand the complain about dragon being trash mob, it's about some of the few dragons that spawn to you small pack of small dragons? For me it made quite more fun those fights and it's a typical example of waves you can expect and prepare. If it's about the other dragons being simple tough opponent well those of DAO has nothing better about that, both are ok fights for a change.

The assassins enemies are a good example how they can generate much more diversity than rough equivalents in DAO. In one fight there was only two strong assassin and it was hugely fun and quite rude (at hard). You have again various way to manage it, like the paralyze rune, or gravitic ring is very efficient too, or wait more time before to use all spell that can immobilize an assassin before he use again sneaking or evade. Have your rogues sneak during assassin invisibility, and many more. And it's not about just casting the stronger spell or attack available but use them at right time can make a huge difference.

Another good example are also some category of mages allowing much better to manage them tactically. Instead of have them just throwing a mass of spell some alternate standard phase, immunity, and preparation of different dangerous spells, some are an immediate explosion, some a delayed explosion but with slow down effect before, some just a huge attack. This slow pattern is great to manage it tactically and again there's different way to do it.

And again the waves aren't just trash mob to make you busy, there are pattern of functionalities of the various pattern. But really it's pointless to debate about that if you don't like dig fights up to support play the whole game or a large part of it at a too low difficulty level.

One point I really appreciate in DA2 fights and improved when compared to DAO is that often it's not just about having the whole team attack one opponent. Because of the much better balanced classes there's often many different choices working quite better. Another point I also appreciate is that DA2 fights highlight much better positioning of each member, there's much cases of applying good positioning than in DAO.

And as I already mentioned the new balances are much better, between classes, but also potions use that was too easy to abuse in DAO, and mana/endurance usage, that in DAO had a tendency of quick exhausting pushing you to another abuse of potions, this time mana/endurance potions.

EDIT: One more quite great improvement in DA2, DAO had some control spells taking some time to cast and despite the slower speed of DAO this was reducting a lot their use because of the time delay. In DA2 most if not all of those spells have an immediate effect and the casting length is after the effect. The result is despite the higher speed you have much more control and precision about casting those spells and the consequence is that it offers more tactical possibilities.
Last edited by Dasale; March 22nd, 2011 at 04:48.
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March 22nd, 2011, 12:11
Originally Posted by Dasale View Post
I don't understand the complain about dragon being trash mob, it's about some of the few dragons that spawn to you small pack of small dragons?
'Trash Mob' in general means that rather than a 5 minute battle with a FEW challenging enemies who make you use strategy and tactics based on strengths and weaknesses, you are in a 5 minute battle facing a large amount of weak enemies who force you to assess the threats based on their ability to wear you down.

You are apparently fine with this, which is OK but somewhat surprising. When Jeff Vogel did the blog about trash combat and the need to minimize it there was almost universal agreement, and yet here Dragon Age 2 has it as perhaps the top feature you encounter in the game!

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March 22nd, 2011, 14:25
Originally Posted by txa1265 View Post
'Trash Mob' in general means that rather than a 5 minute battle with a FEW challenging enemies who make you use strategy and tactics based on strengths and weaknesses, you are in a 5 minute battle facing a large amount of weak enemies who force you to assess the threats based on their ability to wear you down.
I think it's the lack of variety that's the issue, there's a tactical depth to the attrition / trash mob / number of weak enemies thing that does require different management (particularly with a rogue, they've got bugger all crowd control ability and can get quite damaged by a few weak archers). It's the fact that the battles are mostly so dominated by trash mobs that spoils it a bit, there's too few fights that are really about one or two hugely significant opponents that you have to weaken and keep people out of the way of.

I certainly haven't found it uninteresting tactically though, especially with a rogue. The need to manage aggro I've found is much, much more significant this game, rogues and mages die very easily but are the serious damage dealers and on the higher difficulty levels I have found it needs a bit of management to make sure that everything keeps ticking over without anyone dying half way through.

I've found that the force thing is quite an issue for rogues and mages as well, they just don't have the fortitude and it can cause issues very quickly if they're not being managed well.

Anyway, sure I'm just going to get dismissed as a die hard dragon age fanboy. I don't think it's really a step back tactically though, it's just different. DAO needed more use of weakening abilities / buffs / good positioning of mages spells. DA2 needs more use of aggro management / application of force / management of cooldowns & potions / crowd control.
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