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Default Mass Effect 3 - Jeff Vogel Review

July 10th, 2012, 09:34
Originally Posted by qpqpqp View Post
i suspect that's dripping with sarcasm, jzeborg.

There is no sarcasm. Bioware answered to the demand of players who want to play an exceptional character.

That is one thing Bioware did not fail to deliver in ME2/3: the sense of exceptionalism.

And mechanics are sound.

Players should be cautious in the way they formulate their criticism, especially when a studio succeeds in delivering an offer that fit their demand.

You cant blame Bioware for making menial tasks menial and giving hence an opportunity to make your character even more exceptional by offering to solve menial tasks.

You should accept the consequences of your own demand, especially when this demand is met very successfully.

That is what Bioware did with that exceptionalism feeling.
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July 10th, 2012, 14:10
Originally Posted by qpqpqp View Post
and “PC gamers pick a sniper rifle, console players pick up a chainsaw.”
Which is why I call the PC platform a "degenerated gaming platform" - there's nothing but fast-paced, action-like, shooter-like games out for it anymore.

And for consoles … Well, maybe chainsaws instead of rifles … But not much difference anymore …

Except Wii, of course.

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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July 10th, 2012, 15:13
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
Which is why I call the PC platform a "degenerated gaming platform" - there's nothing but fast-paced, action-like, shooter-like games out for it anymore.
Isn't The Sims the best selling PC game? Followed closely by the likes of Peggle etc.
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July 10th, 2012, 16:10
Yeah, I honestly think xbox 360/PS3 games focus a lot more on action than PC games do.
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July 10th, 2012, 17:39
Originally Posted by aries100 View Post



Another thought could be this: I agree that Bioware now seems to think that getting the game out on time e.g. on the announced release date is more important than anything else, especially so, since if they don't, their parent company, EA, loses money…..

And to me, somewhere along the line, Bioware seem to have forgotten that their vision is to 'tell the best stories in the world through the game medium' - not just make much much money…..
I agree with you, wholeheartedly.

Although we can't really know all of the actual reasons behind the changes, I suspect there's also a major 'not losing money' factor at work here. As I see it, at the time BW allowed itself to be acquired by EA, BW had 2 unreleased projects representing huge investments; DA:O and ME1. Both had been under development for years and hadn't yet been released or funded by outside publishers. So BW was in a financial hole, having invested and probably borrowed money to pay salaries and development costs for these projects.

It's said that determining human motivations is particularly difficult because almost always a human decision results from multiple, often conflicting, motivations. It's particularly rare for any action to have a single motivation. But even with that in mind, I also believe that at the time of the sellout to EA, BW had worked itself into a position where there was a real risk that the entire company could go under without a major infusion of funding. One major reason for the merger was probably to save BW.

It seems to me that the BW docs probably came away from the merger bound and determined not to let the company get into a financially strapped position ever again. Both EA and BW seem to agree that the best way of stemming massive losses is to get games out on time and on budget.

In business, as in sports, there's a difference between playing to win, and playing not to lose. As a practical matter, the difference probably boils down to the degree of risk and type of risk an enterprise is willing to take. Ultimately, a singular focus on avoiding big loses produces different results than a singular focus on generating big wins.

Of course I just said that human motivations are rarely singular, and this probably applies here also. So there's a balance at work; time and effort avoiding big losses verses time and effort generating big wins.

Seems to me that the production personnel fall into the 'avoiding big losses' category. It's important to have and apply these assets to the business, but if they're out of balance, then you have a company that doesn't produce big wins any more. Because that's not their major focus.

I'd like to see the new BW evolve backwards at least a bit. Change the balance between avoiding big losses and generating big wins. I agree with you that BioWare needs to reconnect with their great strength, as you put it, "their vision … to 'tell the best stories in the world through the game medium.'"

Regards.

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July 10th, 2012, 18:14
Originally Posted by RPGFool View Post
As I see it, at the time BW allowed itself to be acquired by EA, BW had 2 unreleased projects representing huge investments; DA:O and ME1. Both had been under development for years and hadn't yet been released or funded by outside publishers. So BW was in a financial hole, having invested and probably borrowed money to pay salaries and development costs for these projects.
Don't forget Star Wars: The Old Republic. TOR was the main reason EA paid as much as they did for BioWare, as an MMO of that size is worth a lot more than any single player game.
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July 10th, 2012, 18:46
Originally Posted by RPGFool View Post
I also believe that at the time of the sellout to EA, BW had worked itself into a position where there was a real risk that the entire company could go under without a major infusion of funding. One major reason for the merger was probably to save BW.
In 2008 BioWare or the docs probably didn't have too much to say about the takeover by EA. BioWare was at the time already owned by a third party, Elevation Partners, a private equity fund (which held BioWare via VG Holding). The docs were not leading participants/key decision makers in the fund, afaik. So BioWare's owners decided to feed them to the EA monster (though doubtless the docs were among those employees of VG Holding receiving $155m in stock options, not to mention capital gains that Elevation made having sold VG for almost $1bn.

In private emails with a BW employee, it appears that RPG costs were escalating eg with VA and improved graphics, while core fan numbers were stable and prices were stable. And the trend was — ever more graphics/VA work, while more core gamers exiting the market (dying of old age/becoming too senile to remember how you install a game). That's the predicament BioWare needed to get out of.
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July 10th, 2012, 23:24
Yes, human motivations can be vastly complex, but I think the Bioware docs have witness - as have most Bioware employees - the demise of Troika, Iron Lore, Interplay/Black Isle, Westwood, Origin. And at some point said to themselves - 'never again, never shall Bioware go the way of these companies.'

It is also true that Bioware in 2007 was owned by a private firm, Elevation Partners, started and funded by John Riccitiello, the former CEO of EA. He quit EA to form this company in 205, I think, and bought both Pandemic and Bioware when he was with Elevation Partners. Then EA bought Elevation Partners in 2007-2008, after John Riccitiello returned to EA as CEO. Something smells fishy here, if you ask me….
But in the US and Canada this is probably legal….

The devs. in the DA2 forums, especially Lead Writer David Gaider, and Stanly Woo of QA-fame, are very candid and honest about what Bioware are now all about. They ask fans the questions 'where are troika now? black isle? Origin?' All gone, because they didn't tend to the business side of things….

However, I think Bioware got a sort of wake up call with DA2 and the criticism of it, I also think they got another wake-up call with the criticism of ME3, especially about the endings. And I clearly remember a Bioware forumite telling a tale of how a friend of his asked him (the Bioware forumite) if he had done something wrong when it came to the endings. And as the Bioware forumite said, 'my friend is the type who only plays gears of war and those types of games'. And if Bioware loses these gamers as well, then….

The point is this:
Success can also be had for too little money….meaning that people witll buy games - and things - if they feel they are high quality….it doesn't matter if they're quality in itself, it matters what people feel about the product being sold….

Apple under Steve Jobs knew this better than anyone…

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July 11th, 2012, 06:57
Originally Posted by ChienAboyeur View Post
The mechanics of the game have to be boring, impersonal, unimaginative.
No. No they don't. If that's the goal then they suck at game design. Might as well make the player wait in front of a blank screen as their characters sleeps in real time. It's cheaper to program and accomplishes the same goal.

My boring life provides all the contrast needed for the exceptional stuff to stand out. . I don't need to play virtual wack-a-mole with a single hole and a mole that moves at a snails pace. That drags down the good parts with it.

On a completely different note, you wouldn't happen to know a Dr. Forrester would you? Does the phrase "Deep Hurting" ring any bells?
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July 11th, 2012, 07:55
Originally Posted by aries100 View Post
It is also true that Bioware in 2007 was owned by a private firm, Elevation Partners, started and funded by John Riccitiello, the former CEO of EA. He quit EA to form this company in 205, I think, and bought both Pandemic and Bioware when he was with Elevation Partners. Then EA bought Elevation Partners in 2007-2008, after John Riccitiello returned to EA as CEO. Something smells fishy here, if you ask me….
But in the US and Canada this is probably legal….
Riccitiello was indeed a director at Elevation (and VG) - but I doubt he was the driving force. That fund managed $2bn and I doubt any meaningful percentage of that was his. If he has that sort of cash, he wouldn't be in games! Afaik, Elevation was funded by a load of California celebs and run by professional fund managers with him somewhere in that decision making chain. At the time he was not with EA, just random employee #21.

So in this new spirit honesty at BioWare, are the devs or mods actually admitting flaws on BSN other than recycling in DA2? Last time I checked, in true Basil Faulty style, they were still convinced their games were fine, the problem was with the customers.
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July 11th, 2012, 09:00
Originally Posted by jbezorg View Post
No. No they don't. If that's the goal then they suck at game design. Might as well make the player wait in front of a blank screen as their characters sleeps in real time. It's cheaper to program and accomplishes the same goal.

My boring life provides all the contrast needed for the exceptional stuff to stand out. . I don't need to play virtual wack-a-mole with a single hole and a mole that moves at a snails pace. That drags down the good parts with it.

On a completely different note, you wouldn't happen to know a Dr. Forrester would you? Does the phrase "Deep Hurting" ring any bells?
The game mechanics behind menial tasks have to be boring, providing contrast for the exceptional tasks to be performed in the game.
The contrast has to come from within the game to turn Shepard into the exceptional character among exceptional characters.
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July 12th, 2012, 17:35
GameFront is reporting that EA CEO John Riccitiello could be replaced early next month; RUMOR: EA CEO John Riccitiello to be Removed, Peter Moore to Step In. GameFront's post is based on information from "an anonymous source close to the matter", who said that although Riccitiello's departure isn't "set in stone", EA is operating in a tense environment due to falling stock prices. The uncertainty over Riccitiello's future is likely to have a negative impact on BioWare, however it plays out.

EA stock has now lost half of it's total value since last November. The decline can't be attributed solely to generally poor economic conditions, as EA is underperforming both the technology sector (NASDAQ), and its closest game industry rivals, Activision Blizzard and Take Two. (Stock Ticker: Why EA's Market Valuation Has Crashed, Gamesindustry International)

Although EA is a huge enterprise with many holdings, analysts have tied EA's stock decline to BioWare's SWTOR. The GamesIndustry analysis, above, correlated the time frame of EA's stock woes to SWTOR. ("Firstly, there's Star Wars: The Old Republic. EA's stock price went into decline after The Old Republic's launch, and hasn't recovered yet - and that timing is unlikely to be a coincidence.")

A different analyst pins any possible EA stock turnaround on SWTOR. ("Where does EA go from here? That will depend, in large part, on the long-term success of The Old Republic. If subscribers stick around, EA could finally have the stable cash flow needed to push back against Activision's dominance." How Far Can Electronic Arts Fall? The Motley Fool)

Whether SWTOR is or is not responsible for EA's financial performance essentially doesn't matter at this point. Riccitiello or his successor will have to make some sort of change in SWTOR in response to the link between analysts' confidence in SWTOR and EA stock prices. Which brings us back to BioWare.

Despite gamers' belief to the contrary, Riccitiello has given BioWare essentially free reign in handling SWTOR. But that's likely to change. SWTOR might be removed from the BioWare management portfolio. That would prevent BioWare from shuttling staff to SWTOR between projects as we have seen recently and could threaten job security for staff across the board at BioWare.

Riccitiello's uncertain furture could hurt BioWare in numerous other ways. Any corporate shakeup would likely result in a long hard look at BioWare's performance over the past two years — which has been less than stellar. Bad publicity over ME3 and DA2 would almost certainly impact poorly in any corporate review of BioWare.

EA's John Riccitiello or his successor will have to do something to reinvigorate stock market confidence in EA. IMO, BioWare is likely to be caught in the fallout.

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Last edited by RPGFool; July 12th, 2012 at 17:53.
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July 12th, 2012, 18:08
To be honest, EA has done better under Riccitiello than previously. For us gamers I mean. The quality of their games is not always top notch, but series like FIFA and similar are obviously getting a lot more polish these days than they used to five or so years ago.

A new leader usually means budget cuts across the whole company, so I'd be fairly worried as a BioWare employee if Riccitiello gets sacked.
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July 12th, 2012, 20:20
The New Leader probably will cut costs, but Johnny would need to as well if he stays on. If I were a BioWare employee I'd have been worried in 2007. That's when the death sentence was passed. 2013 is simply when that sentence will likely be carried out for many. Still, might give some of them a wake up call to get onto kickstarter and monetize some of that CV cred before the word "BioWare" starts actually repelling donors.
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July 14th, 2012, 01:13
If I were a Bioware CEO and and CEO of EA, I would have canceled SW:TOR many many months or even years ago. The cost quickly rocketed to at least 300 US million dollars….

It is also surprising to me that John Riccitiello (JR, maybee?) have given Bioware free reigns in the SW:TOR development. One would think that EA might have been concerned with the spending or the budget etc. etc. But maybe JR thought that the SW: TOR fans would be many…….

As for the Bioware devs. on the DA forums at the BSN, they have always been fairly honest with us gamers, especially Lead Writer David Gaider who might have said some things that rub people the bad way but basically are true. Things like, "if you don't like the game then don't buy it" and "DA:O took 5 years to develop, while DA2 only took 18 months to develop."

Also, I do think that Bioware has suffered a lot from some of the old folks leaving no matter what the good doctors (Ray and Greg) say…..or what the other Bioware devs. say.

As for the future of the company, e.g. Bioware, I don't what will happen…..Time will tell…

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July 14th, 2012, 07:25
Originally Posted by aries100 View Post
As for the Bioware devs. on the DA forums at the BSN, they have always been fairly honest with us gamers, especially Lead Writer David Gaider who might have said some things that rub people the bad way but basically are true. Things like, "if you don't like the game then don't buy it" and "DA:O took 5 years to develop, while DA2 only took 18 months to develop."
I find that a little disingenuous - it's not "dishonest" but I disagree with praising his honesty. DA2 is inferior - in part - because they developed it so quickly, right? Have a look at his defence of the original DA when people questioned why it took so long - you'll find he says DA had a very long pre-production cycle and only had a full team for the last 18 months - two years. Seems to me he argues different ways depending on the point he wants to make.

He can't have his cake and eat it too.

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July 14th, 2012, 18:35
Originally Posted by ChienAboyeur View Post
The game mechanics behind menial tasks have to be boring, providing contrast for the exceptional tasks to be performed in the game.
The contrast has to come from within the game to turn Shepard into the exceptional character among exceptional characters.
All right. Let me rephrase what I meant by "truncated". I don't want to play so much virtual wack-a-mole and I spent a good portion of the game watching a movie.

The nightmares about the child for example. Turning away and not following the child in the dream could have resulted in the 4th option being available for refusing the other original 3 endings. Do you rescue Kelly Chambers or do you rescue Asari Commando base to help in the war effort?

There wasn't enough gray. It was either exceptional character being exceptional, helpless ( finding out second hand that Kelly Chambers was killed by Cerberus for example ) or bored ( "Ploink,… Thunk,… You saved 'Em! Yay!" ). With not enough of the first and too much of the latter two and almost nothing in between.

When the exceptional character got to be exceptional it was damn good but I think for a lot of people, including me, there wasn't enough of the former to carry them through the later. Ultimately, in hindsight, and regardless of the story ME3 told, it still had to be a game first.
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