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March 17th, 2010, 00:11
1Up's The Grind column examines the recent GDC presentations by BioWare Christina Norman and Square Enix' Motomu Toriyama and found common ground, despite the wildly different approach:
And ultimately, I think this is what Final Fantasy and Mass Effect have in common: Both series are looking beyond their own boundaries for cues to growth and evolution. Cliff Bleszinski famously said last year that the future of first-person shooters is RPGs, but more realistically the future of games is the blurring and breaking down of genre boundaries. Every genre has a little bit of RPG in it somewhere these days, and the RPG needs to continue to evolve in order to keep from seeming like a relic. Neither Toriyama nor Norman had much to say about the future of their respective series, but both made it clear that neither Mass Effect nor Final Fantasy will be lingering around the point they started, either.
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March 17th, 2010, 00:11
It seems that it is basically an accepted tenet at this point that streamlining = evolution. As if there was an environmental necessity for games to move in the direction of simplified interactivity. While I guess one could argue that there are indeed market forces which are pushing games in this direction, in many ways it seems like a devolution where there is no real selection and everyone is expanding into the same niche. Also seems like evolution is being used as something of a rationalization for dumbing things down. Its not my fault that people only want interactivity in a limited and non-taxing form, it is just the natural evolution.

I am not doubting that these market forces exist or that they can be realistically resisted by an industry which by its nature is focused on profit. However, I hope this is more of a trend. At some point, once all games are all the same interactive movie type-thing that "evolution" will eventually swing back to more complexity. And this would likely have to be supported by market forces clamoring for differentiation in gaming experience.

However, I doubt this will happen any time soon. People seem very happy with improved graphics and production value and less real active involvement. While there is nothing necessarily wrong with this, I think you are eventually "evolving" away from game into something else. For example, Heavy Rain is a great experience in a lot of ways, it is a different and somewhat more visceral experience than a movie, but I think most of us would agree it is not really a game at all.

Edit: Just reread this and apologize for the rambling and weak and inexact science metaphors.
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March 17th, 2010, 06:02
If this is the future, than it looks like I will no longer be a part of the RPG scene. Oh well I have other hobbies.
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March 17th, 2010, 07:26
I wouldn't worry too much. There will always be indies around to scratch that RPG itch. I think that the direction the mainstream is going, will only strengthen the indie sceen. There will always be people that want to do things their own way.
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March 17th, 2010, 11:59
This seems more like an trend to me, too. It reminds of the interactive movie trend in the 90s, the C&C clone trend (everyone had to have an rts, everything had to be real time), the Diablo clone trend, etc.

And although there are many 'streamlined' games out there (ME2 for example) there are also a lot games out there who aren't really dumbed down or streamlined (Dragon Age is the best example. You can call the game all you want but it isn't streamlined at all.)
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March 17th, 2010, 13:01
Originally Posted by Roi Danton View Post
Dragon Age is the best example. You can call the game all you want but it isn't streamlined at all.
You've just been brainwashed by "hardcore-RPG" marketing. DA's RPG system is about as complex as it was in Mass Effect - pick a few of the character's improvement directions and invest points in them until the end of game.
Even when compared with Bioware's past works (hundreds of spells and abilities in Baldur's Gate 2), it is streamlined as hell.
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March 17th, 2010, 13:54
Our hope lies in Russia and Europe. In the US it's basically polarized because of the acquisitions of the big companies (EA, etc.). Basically, if a game is not AAA it's not worth making it, so it's either a streamlined mega project, or it's an "indie" made by 1-5 people. There is no middle ground.
But that's not quite the same everywhere else. Games like King's Bounty, Elven Legacy, Heroes of M&M, Disciples, Drakensang, etc. are not AAA and are not indie, and they are successful. Let's hope that beacon of light never goes to the 'dark side'.
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March 17th, 2010, 14:25
I agree with wolfing. Europe is the place that may make a game with more depth. For whatever reason though, European developers can't seem to master polish. If they could, then their marketability would explode. Germany seems to be the beta-test market for most games and even when they reach the States, those games have glaring flaws most of the time. Translation is still far behind its needed level for mass consumption but I think that Europe is heading in a much better direction than North American gaming. DAO was pretty good, but not any deeper than Drakensang or Divinity II. The polish/production values of those two games were okay, but not in league with Dragon Age. Europe could dominate the market if some of the mid-level developers combined to build a powerhouse equivalent to the 3B's of North America (Bethesda, Blizzard, Bioware).

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March 17th, 2010, 14:48
You've just been brainwashed by "hardcore-RPG" marketing. DA's RPG system is about as complex as it was in Mass Effect - pick a few of the character's improvement directions and invest points in them until the end of game.
Even when compared with Bioware's past works (hundreds of spells and abilities in Baldur's Gate 2), it is streamlined as hell.
I'll agree with you somewhat on the spell area, since Dragon Age lacks resistance spells. But that's all that BG's spells have over DA spells. The damage spells are very similar and DA's spells combination system is vastly superior to that of BG.

As for the abilities that aren't spells, I strongly disagree with you. In Baldur's Gate, you had very, VERY little abilities apart from spells. It was nigh impossible to mess up with a fighter, paladin, rogue, ranger, ect…

Compare this with Dragon Age, with half of the community yelling that 2 handed warriors are worthless simply because they don't know how to use their abilities. And that's just one example of many for Dragon Age.

So ability wise I'd say Dragon Age is above the Baldur's Gate series (which I'm replaying as we speak). On stat importance I'd say that they are similar, but I'm inclined to give Dragon Age the edge here also (since Baldur's Gate makes it difficult for you to have bad primary stat scores). Tactic wise, both game are similar. Positioning and the right use of abilities are important in both games, although Baldur's Gate is a lot more punishing on higher difficulty levels due to RNG.

The only thing that I'd say that Baldur's Gate really has over Dragon Age is its main story (in certain areas) and better party members. Also, after replaying the Baldur's Gate series for the 3rd time, I still don't understand the people that say that Dragon Age is filled with "filler combat" while Baldur's Gate is not (or less).
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March 17th, 2010, 15:03
Originally Posted by Roi Danton View Post
This seems more like an trend to me, too. It reminds of the interactive movie trend in the 90s, the C&C clone trend (everyone had to have an rts, everything had to be real time), the Diablo clone trend, etc.
Really? Those were trends? ME2 was just lauded for being a new level as an interactive movie.

Other than a few old cash cow series (Civ, HoMM) I can't recall the last time an A or AAA TBS title was released, all new strategy games these days are RTS.

Diablo clones are still everywhere and they haven't evolved a whole lot since. What was the last non-action RPG released? Wizardry 8?

Now the trend is streamlining RPGs.

I think all these "trends" have even started merging together into one steaming (streamlined!) pile of brainless goo. Personally, I call it Dragon Age.
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March 17th, 2010, 15:50
Originally Posted by LuckyCarbon View Post
Really? Those were trends? ME2 was just lauded for being a new level as an interactive movie.
The memory of the masses is quite short-lived …

“ 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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March 18th, 2010, 07:17
Originally Posted by LuckyCarbon View Post
I think all these "trends" have even started merging together into one steaming (streamlined!) pile of brainless goo. Personally, I call it Dragon Age.
Seriously? It has plenty of flaws and I can see that these would diminish the game for many people but "streamlined pile of brainless goo" is ridiculous hyperbole.

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March 18th, 2010, 14:06
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
Seriously? It has plenty of flaws and I can see that these would diminish the game for many people but "streamlined pile of brainless goo" is ridiculous hyperbole.
I'll readily admit I'm one of the more fierce critics to DA:O here but from my stand point it's not that much hyperbole. At least not to a ridiculous level.

It is streamlined, the character system is very simple, straight trees nicely grouped so even a RPG newbie can figure out they should invest in them as a group to make an effective character.

I don't remember using my brain either. The levels are linear, the quests were standard straight forward, no twists, no creative problem solving required (except for the annoying try until you get it right bridge puzzle). There was no meaningful consequences to your actions. The dialog options were 99% extremely obvious the response I was going to get. The items are nicely labeled with "Level IV" so I knew it was better than "Level III". Besides, there wasn't enough character mechanics that I really had any choices to make between items anyway.

I had the plot and the characters figured out by the time I was done with the first conversation with the King. The NPCs were Bioware cliches. Look out! Here comes witty comic relief character with a secret past! Of course any Bioware veteran knows we're going to have to play amateur psychologist to all the companions every time we stop in camp if we want to unlock side quests.

I guess for RPGers that enjoy conversation more than combat it was a decent game. For players like me that revel in the math and character development ( from a numbers standpoint ) it was a let down.

Also I was disappointed there was no Towers of Hanoi puzzle, what the heck! Is this a Bioware game or not?
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March 18th, 2010, 14:32
Evolution created (and still does) some transitional species (like half bird - half lizard ones) , i think that gaming follows this trend . I feel that at the end all this barrier braking and technological improvement will give us new genres ; possibly games that will not try to be little bit of everything but everything out of all .

It is true that most recent games are either crap or unsatisfying , i think this is due to Devs having specific genres into mind , budgets being cut and customers having unrealistic expectations ; eventually this will lead to something new , i hope it is a new relation where the game is made with the active participation of customers ( this already happens in Paradox and Egosoft titles and the result is that every new release is far better from the previous holding both hardcore fanboys -like me- and new gamers happy).

As a bottom comment i have to say that what makes the € now may not make it tomorrow so the definition of "streamlined" doesn't takes us to one way road.
That for i am optimistic .
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March 18th, 2010, 19:04
What I find amusing is that the push to streamline video games is a quasi microcosm of society’s push for a multicultural and multiracial future. In many ways our precious genres(races and cultures) are slated to breakdown then coalesce. They will become more of a singularity rather than maintain their plurality as the industry(society) strives for a unified “gaming experience”(a single people).

Now I know the above is a stretch, it’s entirely tongue-in-cheek, but within that context the following *mis*quote is all the more humorous,

Originally Posted by wolfing View Post
Our hope lies in Russia and Europe.
All joking aside, I'm not an industry expert/insider… But the masses seem to prefer brain dead tedium inducing games.

http://www.gamepro.com/article/news/…e-in-feb-npds/
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March 18th, 2010, 20:01
Originally Posted by MasterKromm View Post
What I find amusing is that the push to streamline video games is a quasi microcosm of society’s push for a multicultural and multiracial future.
Interesting thought. I have never seen it that way. Thank you for that inspiration.

“ 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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March 18th, 2010, 21:04
Damn evil multi-national corporations.
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March 19th, 2010, 15:30
Originally Posted by LuckyCarbon View Post
no twists
This is not true. It doesn't matter whether you like those twists or not, they're still there.
annoying try until you get it right bridge puzzle).
Again, not true. I for one figured out the way it works, wrote down what every panel does and then, outside the game, came up with a way to cross the bridge. With one hand. While watching television.
There was no meaningful consequences to your actions.
If you choose to confront the demon immediately a kid gets killed. If you go get the mages first, a kid lives. Afterwards, if you tell him it was just a dream he becomes a respected mage. If you tell him the truth he grows up to be a slightly disturbed person. Aren't those consequences to your actions?

Generally I agree, story and characters are both cliches, but you're exaggerating.
Games like King's Bounty, Elven Legacy, Heroes of M&M, Disciples, Drakensang, etc. are not AAA and are not indie
And are not RPGs.

I feel like I could… like I could… TAKE ON THE WORLD!!!
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March 19th, 2010, 15:53
Originally Posted by Malk View Post
This is not true. It doesn't matter whether you like those twists or not, they're still there.
It's not a twist if I saw it coming. Keyser Soze, that was a twist. Power hungry father in-law abandoning his king to die so he can steal the throne? Orphan boy is really the true king? Really? Wow! yawn

Again, not true. I for one figured out the way it works, wrote down what every panel does and then, outside the game, came up with a way to cross the bridge. With one hand. While watching television.
Right, annoying. There was nothing in the game (if there was, I missed it) that tied the puzzle to the game. No lore, no previous hints, no book you could read before hand that would give you a clue. No statues pointing in a certain order to get you through. Just plain old trial and error, even if you figure out and wrote down each switch before hand, it was still just a tedious puzzle for puzzles sake.

If you choose to confront the demon immediately a kid gets killed. If you go get the mages first, a kid lives. Afterwards, if you tell him it was just a dream he becomes a respected mage. If you tell him the truth he grows up to be a slightly disturbed person. Aren't those consequences to your actions?
Ok, and how did that impact the rest of the game? Gain you any new allies? Open up any new zones? Any useful equipment? Consequence, yes. Meaningful? No.
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March 19th, 2010, 16:21
When I play an RPG I usually get into character, so just having a obvious consequence without getting any "rewards" is good enough for me. I made a choice and NPCs know that, story is shaped differently based on my choices… That's all I need.

I feel like I could… like I could… TAKE ON THE WORLD!!!
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