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May 19th, 2010, 21:03
I know Obsidian, hell all good RPG makers, work under the crappy kinda of pressure that Troika did to make a AAA RPG title with the time of an action title.

It sucks to hear gamers complaining about the most complex games being made, don't have the shiniest graphics. It has to do with Resources, in most cases you can't have great graphics with a very good RPG, due to the extremely difficult and time consuming task of testing complex game choices and consequences.

Personally I would much rather have a great incomplete RPG game like Bloodlines and Gothic 3 than have a half ass action game masquerading as an RPG with beautiful graphics.

This all falls back on m$'s plan with the xbox to force it out into the market back in 2000 or so. They co opted as many PC developers as possible forcing out games on absurdly short time schedules, just to shovel out games. As long as I have been playing games I never recall hearing the term Shovelware until the xbox, at least atm.

What's really unbelievable is the incompetence of the gaming press that allows this to happen. How many times have you heard of a interviewer asking the best RPG developers like Troika, Obsidian or PB, "how long, in there opinion would their games take to finish, to a state THEY felt was ready?". You know asking the actual people making the game how much time they need realistically, never. Why? Because the publishers own their asses, i.e. write a bad story about us and you have no access. So access to Most Press is more important than facts, which keeps many in the gaming public ignorant of the problem.

Trust me, most of the names I have been called you can't translate in any language…they're not even real words as much as a succession of violent images.
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May 19th, 2010, 22:11
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Yup, I agree completely.

I should add that I think NWN2 is a good game overall

It's not the kind of game that really NEEDS to look and run great to be good.
Main problem with NWN2 was that NWN1 was such a good game. And i dont mean game as campaign - I mean it was probably the best open engine for making games ever to be made (and unfortunately it will stay that way). Multiplayer , MMO, single player, live DM games. All made with minimum effort.

Many people expected the same. But better.

It didnt really work. The graphic made it to complex. And to hard to be flexible as the first NWN. Dragon Age is the proof of this. After all this time I am yet to see an adventure module for DA. And I used to make adventure modules for NWN in 20 minutes time…

So after all that disappointment. And after time passed , it was clear Obsidian did their best. But it was impossible mission.

Its really sad we will never see a game like NWN again
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May 19th, 2010, 22:45
Originally Posted by joxer View Post
Bad interiors? Who cares.
Far from awsome exteriors? Big deal.
Great models and animation? Ooo they've put 1 pixel more!

A game with a story, a game that is real role assuming one? It's christmas!
I don't agree.

Have played enough games over the years to want something new which includes better graphics.
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May 20th, 2010, 00:35
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
You have no idea what reason there is for the poor optimization. We can but guess, and my guess is that beyond the project being very big - their coders aren't at the same level as would be required for an optimised engine. NWN2 at release was horrible, and THAT was probably the result of not enough time. After a few patches, the game became OK - because they had the time to polish it up to a certain playable level.
I do have an idea, because I've done a ton of development myself as a programmer. It's not hard to tell rushed code from bad code. The scope is clearly the issue here; there's no way any gaming company without a (virtually) unlimited amount of developers could complete a project as big as NWN2 within that timeframe and still make a polished/optimized product. The game itself wouldn't be too bad, but adding multiplayer, toolset and so on certainly took its toll. Sure, there might have been a few bad decisions along the way (technical lead or design lead) leading to such a grand scope, but don't blame it on the programmers.

Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Haha, start from scratch to upgrade rule implementation from 3.0 to 3.5?

Let's get real, please.

Sure, lots of work entailed - but the groundwork was laid.
Read: I also said different mechanics. Inheriting an engine does not mean you automatically inherit the actual game - The Witcher used the exact same engine, did you see a lot of D&Dish effects? No? Both NWN2 and TW use the same engine, and both games were written more or less from scratch.

I have no doubt that Obsidian got bits and pieces from BW, but they certainly did not get the base mechanics of the game. Not even close.

Originally Posted by BillSeurer View Post
NWN2 didn't have to develop its own IP nor its own game system so all that effort could go elsewhere.

And in any case despite whatever problems it might have had Dragon Age was vastly more polished and better developed than NWN2. Obsidian always seems to have great ideas but bites off more than they can chew and turns out something that has the potential for greatness but is just off a bit. That wouldn't be so bad but they seem to do it *EVERY TIME*.
That's the whole point: Dragon Age is significantly more polished, but it also had 250% development time. Do you honestly believe that NWN2 would not've been a polished product after adding a whooping 3 years to its development time? As for the whole "own IP and game system thing" - they've done exactly that with AP, and AP certainly did not have a 5 year development time (which probably means it'll lack polish).

And saying they do it every time is simply not true. They did it with KotOR2 (first game) and NWN2 (second game). Both add-ons to NWN2 are rock solid with very few bugs, though they still don't run too well on mediocre computers.

Unlike Dragon Age: Awakening which is a buggy mess. Awakening is not comparable at all to Mask of the Betrayer in terms of "technical skills", which is what we are discussing here, despite being built upon a far more solid game. Why? Again: Scope vs development time, not lack of technical skills. Awakening was, similar to NWN2, pushed out far too soon. It could've used several months of polishing.

Or is BioWare also lacking "technical skills" all of a sudden? After well over a decade of developing polished games their technical skills went down the drain? Please get your facts straight people - there's a vast difference between having greedy publishers and poor programmers.

Of course, poor design decisions and bad management can affect the outcome, so I'm not saying things never go wrong at companies like BW or OE - all I'm saying is that claiming they "lack technical skills" is redicilous.

The same goes for Troika to be honest: Their downfall was the fact that they were rubbish at setting limitations; they wanted everything to be so fantastic there was no possible way to get it done in time. Arcanum is a perfect example - even Blizzard would not be able to get that over ambitious project done in time (of course, Blizzard has enough cash at this point, so they'd probably just push back the release date untill it was polished).

I'd like to see anyone mention a company making advanced RPGs that actually do make polished games. Anyone? I can't think of any. Such games are too advanced and would require a crazy amount of polish before it could ever reach the standard of most shooters and similar - it would simply not be profitable to spend 3-4 years per RPG (which is needed to make something like NWN2 a polished product), as they don't sell millions of copies.

BioWare and Bethesda generally make more or less polished games. They've messed up as well from time to time, but I think that's as close as we'll ever get to bug-free RPGs.
Last edited by Maylander; May 20th, 2010 at 01:02.
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May 20th, 2010, 05:44
What specializations will you choose for first run? For me, assault rifle and martial arts.
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May 20th, 2010, 07:43
Originally Posted by Anderson View Post
What specializations will you choose for first run? For me, assault rifle and martial arts.
IIRC devs stated the game can be finished without killing anyone and thats what Im gonna try on the first run. Hopefully Obsidian will deliver on this front and Ill be able to play the game avoiding the way too usual and mandatory carnage galore without feeling gimped and drenched in tedium .
Meaning, probably some kind of stealth/tech hybrid.
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May 20th, 2010, 08:57
Originally Posted by Maylander View Post
I do have an idea, because I've done a ton of development myself as a programmer. It's not hard to tell rushed code from bad code. The scope is clearly the issue here; there's no way any gaming company without a (virtually) unlimited amount of developers could complete a project as big as NWN2 within that timeframe and still make a polished/optimized product. The game itself wouldn't be too bad, but adding multiplayer, toolset and so on certainly took its toll. Sure, there might have been a few bad decisions along the way (technical lead or design lead) leading to such a grand scope, but don't blame it on the programmers.
I've done a ton of development myself as well, both as a coder and an artist. I've even modelled 3D art and a bit of animation.

That doesn't make any one of us psychic - and you might be right, but so might I.

Again, we differ in opinion about whether their technical ineptness is part of the equation, and I'm convinced it is - given the reasons I've already laid out.


Read: I also said different mechanics. Inheriting an engine does not mean you automatically inherit the actual game - The Witcher used the exact same engine, did you see a lot of D&Dish effects? No? Both NWN2 and TW use the same engine, and both games were written more or less from scratch.
The Witcher?

Come on, that's an entirely different way of using the engine and the ruleset is nothing like the first one.

You're being unreasonable here.

I have no doubt that Obsidian got bits and pieces from BW, but they certainly did not get the base mechanics of the game. Not even close.
Again, there's no use in your guesswork. There's absolutely nothing to prove your ridiculous claim that they didn't get the base mechanics from NWN1 to work with. Why wouldn't they? They were working on the SEQUEL.

Really, man - you're far out.

I don't see any point in this, as you're just going to go from claim to claim with nothing to base them on.
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May 20th, 2010, 09:59
That's fair though. It's the same thing your doing. Your just jousting about whose guess is the better one. In my opinion, his sounds more reasonable than yours.
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May 20th, 2010, 10:28
Or is BioWare also lacking "technical skills" all of a sudden? After well over a decade of developing polished games their technical skills went down the drain? Please get your facts straight people - there's a vast difference between having greedy publishers and poor programmers.
No one said Bioware can't make mistakes. NWN1 was buggy as hell for months, even years. Savegames were corrupted for I don't know how long. But we're not just talking about bugs, we're talking about visual polish and quality control in terms of how the game performs and the aesthetics.

Then again, Bioware did all the groundwork, both in terms of the engine, ruleset implementation, multiplayer/DM structure, and the editor and creation tools. Obsidian had all that to work with, and yet they messed up the interface, and though they managed to improve the visuals - the game ran like a dog, and the animations were poor. The editor became too complex, because it was no longer just placing tiles - and many other odd decisions.

It's like they completely ignored the VERY strong multiplayer component of the first game - which is supremely evident if you ever try to coop the main campaign, which I did. It was like coming back to Baldur's Gate - with constant interruptions and a horrible multiplayer flow. Again, they messed it up.

Whether you're able to admit it or not, NWN2 had subpar animations and models, and the interface was a mess to work with. KotOR2 was riddled with technical flaws and compared to KotOR it ran like a dog, especially during certain sequences involving smoke effects and what not. In fact, I played both games recently on a high end rig, and KotOR2 is STILL not smooth during the initial mining colony sequence - and it looks BAD compared to anything in KotOR.

Mask of the Betrayer and Storm of Zehir benefitted from being merely expansions running on the engine after months and months of patching. They still don't run well, and the models/animations are still pretty bad.

You keep insisting that they overcommit, but they didn't in those cases - and yet they don't look very good. Storm of Zehir, for instance, with the overland map feature is so obviously half-assed in that way. It's slow and cumbersome and is simply not a polished addition - though it's a great idea.

Obsidian are great in terms of design and they have strong visions, but they don't know how to give that AAA level experience, which is why I think they're aiming for the wrong thing with Alpha Protocol. That game targets a kind of audience that's going to expect a certain level of polish and animation quality - because the audience is used to Splinter Cell. I strongly doubt you'll see many of such gamers able to overlook this aspect.

The game will most likely be called out on that, and I think that's unfortunate - because I'm certain it has great depth which might not get the attention it deserves.

It's really strange to me, that you completely ignore the aspects of NWN2 that have nothing to do with time constraints. Again, WHY are the models so poor and the animation subpar? With 2-3? years of development, why couldn't they have the main PC skeletal structure animate well, if they're so good? Why is the enhanced editor of NWN2 not used by more people? Why did they choose to make areas and dungeons so hard to make, going away from the tilebased engine? That was a mistake, and the modding community was ruined.

Then you go on about Troika being the same way.

We agree they're both too ambitious, but have you played Arcanum? Have you seen the animations and have you experienced the combat flow/visuals?

I love Arcanum, but you'd have to be downright blind to overlook that it's not a very pretty game.

Please note that I agree completely about Obsidian "aiming too high"- and yes they DO overcommit and reach for the stars.

They might not have enough time and resources - sure - I don't really know. But they keep planning for things so poorly I'd have to question their reason, in that case. But you CAN'T remove the fact that their games just don't look very good, and they never FEEL like a polished smooth experience. Part of that is lack of time and resources, I'll grant you that, but you've got to grant me something in return.

Do you honestly feel that both Obsidian and Troika are at the same artistic and technical level as Bioware?
Last edited by DArtagnan; May 20th, 2010 at 10:48.
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May 20th, 2010, 10:36
Originally Posted by Dean View Post
That's fair though. It's the same thing your doing. Your just jousting about whose guess is the better one. In my opinion, his sounds more reasonable than yours.
No, I'm arguing my point of view without claiming inside information about why the games are lacking.

There's a notable difference.
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May 20th, 2010, 11:04
Artistically, no. Technically, yes. BioWare simply has more resources and time available. The one time they rushed a game, Awakening, it became a buggy mess.

In fact, Awakening is also an add-on, just like MotB, yet it's technically inferior with far more bugs and crashes. Why is that, coming from a company you claim is superior from a technical aspect?

Scope vs development time, that's why.

Again, I'd love to see examples of advanced RPGs (not Mass Effect) that are actually polished, thus made by people you consider technically skilled. There's Dragon Age - which took five years to develop - and.. ?

Simpy put: It actually takes five years to make something of DAs scope and complexity if you want to even out all the bugs and performance issues.
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May 20th, 2010, 11:27
Originally Posted by Maylander View Post
Artistically, no. Technically, yes. BioWare simply has more resources and time available. The one time they rushed a game, Awakening, it became a buggy mess.
Well, at least we agree on the artistry then - thanks.

In fact, Awakening is also an add-on, just like MotB, yet it's technically inferior with far more bugs and crashes. Why is that, coming from a company you claim is superior from a technical aspect?
First of all, I don't think of these things in rigid terms like there's only two kinds of developers and two kinds of games.

Secondly, I haven't personally played Awakenings, so I can't speak about comparison.

What I CAN do, though, is speak my mind about Bioware/EA and DLC. To me, it seems they're rushing content out based purely on opportunism.

That's what I think is the main reason their current stuff is buggy. But I can't know.

Scope vs development time, that's why.
In this case, I'd actually call it pure greed and laziness - but I don't know who's to blame. Unfortunately, I think Bioware has gone bye bye in terms of creative pride where DLC is concerned.

I respect Obsidian a lot in that way, but I don't respect Bioware/EA.

Again, I'd love to see examples of advanced RPGs (not Mass Effect) that are actually polished, thus made by people you consider technically skilled. There's Dragon Age - which took five years to develop - and.. ?
Drakensang, WoW, Lord of the Rings Online, Guild Wars, Aion, KotOR, Risen, and several others.

Without remembering specifics, I think is the only game to have 4-5 years development time of those is WoW. LOTRO is based on an engine that's been used by Turbine before (like DDO) - but considering the scope of the game, it's AMAZINGLY polished. But the animations still need work.

But all of those games give a MUCH better experience in terms of polish and a smooth feeling.

Before we get into launch issues with WoW - let's please remember that MMOs are different beasts. I'm talking about the overall polish and visual qualities of the games, not the level of bugs upon release. But the other games were largely free of issues.

I'm not going to claim that creating an advanced CRPG with a strong multiplayer component is easy - and Obsidian has had quite a challenge, but they've succeeded in the important ways. Unfortunately, they've also repeatedly demonstrated that they don't do polish or quality control well - and they don't plan well.

They key thing to remember, though, is that NWN2 is built upon a strong groundwork.

It's one thing to develop everything from scratch, which Bioware did with both Baldur's Gate AND NWN - and then to create something with such a powerful groundwork.

Obsidian might not be that big, but they're a team of decent size and they've had years to develop NWN2.

Simpy put: It actually takes five years to make something of DAs scope and complexity if you want to even out all the bugs and performance issues.
I don't believe in stiff cardinal rules like that.

It takes time and effort, but it certainly takes skill as well.

Bethesda, for instance, are not particularly good at animation either - and they have a LOT of resources. So, it's not just time and effort.

Fallout 3 and Oblivion had years and years of development, and yet they both suffer from pretty severe bugs (in my opinion, as it's a subjective thing afterall) - and they both have subpar animations. Even after years of patching (as well as fan patches) - I haven't managed to play either game without (too frequent) crashes. This is over 3 rigs with different specifications.

Again, Bethesda needs to hire better animators. Others have had better success with the Gamebryo engine, so it can't just be a lack of resources.
Last edited by DArtagnan; May 20th, 2010 at 11:42.
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May 20th, 2010, 12:04
Bottom line: Noone is skilled? That seems to be where this is all leading.

- Risen was exceptionally bug-free, but their previous title was Gothic 3 - obviously not the result of a scope gone wrong or over ambition, but technically inept people.

- KotOR certainly had its share of bugs back in the days, and had quite a few issues that would lead to crashes. Luckily most of the issues are gone now through patches. Also, KotOR probably built as heavily upon NWN as NWN2 did, using the rewritten Odyssey Engine (Aurora) where NWN2 used the Electron Engine (also based on Aurora). Both engines are more or less rewritten from scratch, so I'm not entirely sure what they actually inherit from Aurora. Probably combat mechanics or some such thing.

Also, BioWare programmers are clearly technically inept because of their very bugged title Awakening, so they're ruled out by default.

- Hmm Drakensang. I don't know enough about the previous titles of Radon Labs. They might just have nailed their one attempt at making an advanced RPG - very impressive if that is the case, and certainly an exception.

- MMOs are not comparable as they are completely different in both scope and development time, which is why I ruled them out when asking for examples a few posts ago.

The reason why I rule out entire companies based on single games is simple: We're talking about the same programmers here. Their technical skills do not vary from project to project. The developers of Risen did not all-of-a-sudden become redicilously good compared to the developers of Gothic 3.

Of course, from my point of view, their technical skills have nothing to do with it - there are other circumstances determining the stability and performance of a game. I'm not saying skills have nothing to do with the outcome of a project, but I am saying that technical skills have nothing to do with these specific projects - the developers here are experienced and have proven their skill previously.

In the RPG genre, the key issue is development time (costs) VS scope: Basically, an RPG is not profitable if you take too long before releasing it, because you can't expect stellar sales (unlike some genres where you can expect millions of copies sold). On the other hand, the mechanics, rules and overall size of most RPGs tend to be significantly more advanced than that of a comparable game in most other genres (i.e FPS games).

Bigger scope + less copies sold = you have to pay the price somewhere. That is quite logical. Usually that price comes in the form of instability, bugs and performance issues, because these things take the longest to fix. It takes forever to fix all the bugs of a project of a certain size.

Again, the "skill" of the individual programmer is not the issue here.
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May 20th, 2010, 12:24
I've always wondered why so many RPG's have such sub-par animations. Is it because they can't afford the processor cycles to have smooth, well flowing animations, with so much other stuff going on in the background, unlike FPS games?
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May 20th, 2010, 12:33
Originally Posted by Maylander View Post
Bottom line: Noone is skilled? That seems to be where this is all leading.
Ehm, no. We're talking about patterns.

- Risen was exceptionally bug-free, but their previous title was Gothic 3 - obviously not the result of a scope gone wrong or over ambition, but technically inept people.
You're thinking in rigid terms. I'm taking the entire history (as far as I'm aware of it) of companies into consideration, with as many nuances as I can before I start speaking about this kind of thing. I think back to Fallout 2 - where Obsidian people were involved under a different name. Exact same case here. Established engine, established ruleset - incredibly buggy game.

Again, the original Gothic is an entirely different thing - because we're talking about limited funds and a game created entirely from scratch.

Gothic 3 was definitely a case of biting over too much, because PB have demonstrated their skill time and time again. Obsidian haven't.

The fact that PB managed to create a streaming engine at the level they did, at the state they must have been in - starting out - speaks volumes about their competence. Even if I must mention that Gothic had severe UI issues, and in that way they were lacking - starting out.

- KotOR certainly had its share of bugs back in the days, and had quite a few issues that would lead to crashes. Luckily most of the issues are gone now through patches. Also, KotOR probably built as heavily upon NWN as NWN2 did, using the rewritten Odyssey Engine (Aurora) where NWN2 used the Electron Engine (also based on Aurora). Both engines are more or less rewritten from scratch, so I'm not entirely sure what they actually inherit from Aurora. Probably combat mechanics or some such thing.
I don't recall any significant bugs, and I personally had a very smooth experience. I specifically remember KotOR as one of the very best gaming experiences of my life.

Also, BioWare programmers are clearly technically inept because of their very bugged title Awakening, so they're ruled out by default.
Didn't I just present an alternative explanation? Why ignore it?

- Hmm Drakensang. I don't know enough about the previous titles of Radon Labs. They might just have nailed their one attempt at making an advanced RPG - very impressive if that is the case, and certainly an exception.
To be honest, you're right here. I don't really know them well enough. I only have that one game to base my opinion on, and I'm open to being wrong. But the game was certainly extremely competent.

- MMOs are not comparable as they are completely different in both scope and development time, which is why I ruled them out when asking for examples a few posts ago.
They're very different, but they're also much harder to do right - which is why they're especially relevant.

The reason why I rule out entire companies based on single games is simple: We're talking about the same programmers here. Their technical skills do not vary from project to project. The developers of Risen did not all-of-a-sudden become redicilously good compared to the developers of Gothic 3.
You're forgetting the past, and the fact that Gothic is an amazing accomplishment considering the entire thing is made from scratch by an unknown developer. Gothic 3 is obviously a case of over-ambition, and we can be reasonably sure based on countless interviews with PB.

Of course, from my point of view, their technical skills have nothing to do with it - there are other circumstances determining the stability and performance of a game. I'm not saying skills have nothing to do with the outcome of a project, but I am saying that technical skills have nothing to do with these specific projects - the developers here are experienced and have proven their skill previously.
But we agree here, and I think PB are incredibly talented in most ways. They're not QUITE as good as Bio or Blizzard in terms of visual aesthetics - and Risen was not particularly well animated, for instance.

Then again, Blizzard probably have the best craftsmen in the entire american part of the industry. THEY are skilled. Creative? Not so much.

By the way, Lionhead of Fable "fame" - are people I consider INCREDIBLY talented as well. Everything they've done has been amazing in terms of polish and technical quality.

In the RPG genre, the key issue is development time (costs) VS scope: Basically, an RPG is not profitable if you take too long before releasing it, because you can't expect stellar sales (unlike some genres where you can expect millions of copies sold). On the other hand, the mechanics, rules and overall size of most RPGs tend to be significantly more advanced than that of a comparable game in most other genres (i.e FPS games).
We agree. But my world is not black and white, it's shock full of nuances.

I have to look at a lot of things before I can make a judgment call.

It's simple in that way, because we simply see different things when we look at Obsidian. You seem to think of them as highly skilled coders and artists, and I think of them as merely competent.

Every single thing they've done has been based on the finished work of others. Maybe once they do something from scratch, we'll know for sure.

Bigger scope + less copies sold = you have to pay the price somewhere. That is quite logical. Usually that price comes in the form of instability, bugs and performance issues, because these things take the longest to fix. It takes forever to fix all the bugs of a project of a certain size.
Agreed.

Again, the "skill" of the individual programmer is not the issue here.
We already agree on the artisty, which is probably my biggest problem with Obsidian.

Their ability to code a game into a smooth and polished experience is perhaps feasible, but I have yet to see it happen.

So, my conclusion has to be that they're not that good, because I refuse to believe everything they do wrong is about poor planning. At least, I have no evidence of that - and all their games suffer from being poorly optimised.

But we're going in circles, with guesswork.

If you want to pretend we're doing anything but guessing based on our experiences, then go ahead.

I see it as a disagreement based on somewhat insubstantial evidence. But that doesn't mean I'm not convinced they're lacking in technical terms, as I am.

—-

Maybe it would help if I emphasized WHY I think they're lacking.

If their games had been done from scratch, using their own engines or a licensed engine without groundwork - THEN I would be willing to believe they could be highly skilled technically, and not overly committed as the single reason.

But that's not the case.

I think they know this, actually, and I think they understand that for games of the kind of scopes they've been doing to be feasible, for them, they NEED to have stuff to work from. I doubt they could develop a truly competent engine from scratch. I doubt they have a strong coding team - and I think they're really mostly about design and mechanics. Troika = the same thing.

It makes sense, doesn't it?

Afterall, both Obsidian and Troika came from Black Isle.
Last edited by DArtagnan; May 20th, 2010 at 12:51.
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May 20th, 2010, 13:26
Anyway - we're completely dominating the thread now.

I think I'll let this rest, and I think we should just agree to disagree.

People should have the opportunity to discuss the actual game, I think
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May 20th, 2010, 14:36
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Ehm, no. We're talking about patterns.

You're thinking in rigid terms. I'm taking the entire history (as far as I'm aware of it) of companies into consideration, with as many nuances as I can before I start speaking about this kind of thing. I think back to Fallout 2 - where Obsidian people were involved under a different name. Exact same case here. Established engine, established ruleset - incredibly buggy game.
They also developed the original Fallout. I always assumed that meant they also made the original Fallout engine? In any case, I can't remember Fallout being all that buggy (maybe my nostalgia has kicked in), the current v. 1.1 bug list is hardly anything to whine about:
http://strategywiki.org/wiki/Fallout/Bugs

Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Again, the original Gothic is an entirely different thing - because we're talking about limited funds and a game created entirely from scratch.

Gothic 3 was definitely a case of biting over too much, because PB have demonstrated their skill time and time again. Obsidian haven't.

The fact that PB managed to create a streaming engine at the level they did, at the state they must have been in - starting out - speaks volumes about their competence. Even if I must mention that Gothic had severe UI issues, and in that way they were lacking - starting out.
Developing the technology behind Gothic 1 took over four years. Four years! Now we're back to my original point about development time vs scope. Reference: Point 122 (at the bottom): http://forum.jowood.de/showpost.php?…2&postcount=32

Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
I don't recall any significant bugs, and I personally had a very smooth experience. I specifically remember KotOR as one of the very best gaming experiences of my life.
Definetly one of my favourite games as well, but I don't let bugs and crashes ruin my experience if a game is good enough. I still consider G3 a great game, even the 1.2 version (pre-community patches).

Most bugs have been removed by patches, but some bugs are still present, such as the ever annoying loot bug where the character stops responding after looting something. It also has a bunch of savegame and area loading crash-to-desktop bugs that can be quite annoying.

Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
They're very different, but they're also much harder to do right - which is why they're especially relevant.
They're not relevant because they have a completely different scope and budget. You can't compare a two-year project with a few millions as a budget to a 5-year behemoth with a 30 million dollar budget (or more). MMOs have to make an impact upon launch, so having a polished game is a win-or-lose situation with a pretty amazing carrot as a prize. That's just not the case for single player games.

Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
You're forgetting the past, and the fact that Gothic is an amazing accomplishment considering the entire thing is made from scratch by an unknown developer. Gothic 3 is obviously a case of over-ambition, and we can be reasonably sure based on countless interviews with PB.
See above. Yes, it is impressive, but I have no doubt Obsidian would be able to turn NWN2 into Dragon Age or beyond given four years to develop the technology behind it instead of re-writing the Aurora engine into the Electron engine on the fly during the project. They also re-wrote the entire toolset.

Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Then again, Blizzard probably have the best craftsmen in the entire american part of the industry. THEY are skilled. Creative? Not so much.
Blizzard has had the best artists in the business for well over a decade. Not sure what the relevance is, but I do agree.

Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
By the way, Lionhead of Fable "fame" - are people I consider INCREDIBLY talented as well. Everything they've done has been amazing in terms of polish and technical quality.
True, their titles generally are very polished. Simple, but polished. My point remains.

Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
We agree. But my world is not black and white, it's shock full of nuances.

I have to look at a lot of things before I can make a judgment call.

It's simple in that way, because we simply see different things when we look at Obsidian. You seem to think of them as highly skilled coders and artists, and I think of them as merely competent.
I never said anything about the artists, I pointed out the difference between artists and programmers in my first post on the topic. I'm talking about the technical skills each and every one of the developers possess. I would be very surprised if the level of technical competence was not roughly the same as it is elsewhere - some are good, some are bad. It's the same everywhere. BioWare programmers, Obsidian programmers, PB programmers - they're essentially the same people. All such companies will recruit the best programmers available, as they have the resources, names and projects to attract skilled people.

Take an example I know all too well: The difference between a company like CapGemini and Accenture. There is none. Some developers are good, some are bad. Microsoft and Apple? Same deal, they attract the best possible, but none of them have a big enough advantage to attract significantly better programmers than the other.

Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Every single thing they've done has been based on the finished work of others. Maybe once they do something from scratch, we'll know for sure.
Fallout.

Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
So, my conclusion has to be that they're not that good, because I refuse to believe everything they do wrong is about poor planning. At least, I have no evidence of that - and all their games suffer from being poorly optimised.
Poorly optimised? There's NWN2 and.. ? Experienced a lot of lag in Icewind Dale? PS:T? KotOR2? Fallout? Either I've always had stellar computers, or you've always had rubbish ones. I experienced bugs in those games, but no more than usual (though KotOR2 was incomplete with a lot of cut content), and I never had any problems running them.

Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
I think they know this, actually, and I think they understand that for games of the kind of scopes they've been doing to be feasible, for them, they NEED to have stuff to work from. I doubt they could develop a truly competent engine from scratch. I doubt they have a strong coding team - and I think they're really mostly about design and mechanics. Troika = the same thing.

It makes sense, doesn't it?

Afterall, both Obsidian and Troika came from Black Isle.
I have no idea why you are so obsessed with engines. Most games are built on top of lisenced engines, such as GameBryo (Oblivion, Fallout 3, Civilization 4, The Guild 2 and a wide variety of other games) or Unreal Engine 3 (Alpha Protocol, Mass Effect, etc).

Lisencing an engine is not something you do to make it easier - it's something you do to save money and time. As stated above: It took PB four years to develop the original technology for Gothic, an unreasonable amount of time for most projects. Dragon Age took five years to develop (though we don't know how much time was spent developing the technology). Neverwinter Nights and the Aurora Engine? Five years, with a peak of 22 programmers working to get it done (75 people in total at its peak). More info:
http://www.gamasutra.com/view/featur…r_.php?print=1

Of course, the end result is usually very good, as you control everything yourself and can customize it to perfectly suit your needs, but the cost is very high, so it's not profitable unless you have long-term plans for the engine.

Whether or not someone decides to make their own engine has a lot more to do with what resources are available and what long-term plans they have than whether or not their people are capable of making an engine.
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May 20th, 2010, 14:39
We could go in circles eternally about this, especially now that you equate Obsidian with Black Isle - ignoring the people who're not Obsidian. I didn't say Troika and the others were exactly the same, I said Troika and Obsidian focus on different things than AAA level developers - and both have issues with technical skills. But Troika, at least, developed engines from scratch (AFAIK). I have no idea who developed the Fallout engine, but if it's the same coders who're working for Obsidian, I'd be surprised. That would be the first sign of me being wrong, though.

Beyond that, you ignore the gigantic difference between a barebones engine, and a completely developed product - INCLUDING the engine - as a base for everything. Also, according to you everyone is the same everywhere, which is an interesting logical conclusion since you seem to understand that the skill of artists differ from company to company. For some inexplicable reason, technical people are the same everywhere - but artists differ in terms of skill. Yeah, sure.

The thing is, I don't think it's right to continously dominate the thread with what amounts to a basic difference of opinion about things we can't really know.
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May 20th, 2010, 14:45
You were the one starting the comparison to Black Isle:

"You're thinking in rigid terms. I'm taking the entire history (as far as I'm aware of it) of companies into consideration, with as many nuances as I can before I start speaking about this kind of thing. I think back to Fallout 2 - where Obsidian people were involved under a different name. Exact same case here. Established engine, established ruleset - incredibly buggy game."

I had no desire to bring Black Isle into it, but since you brought it up..

Edit: Sure, I can stop going on about this, as I am confident that more or less all major companies with interesting projects are capable of attracking roughly the same people.
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May 20th, 2010, 16:12
Originally Posted by Maylander View Post
You were the one starting the comparison to Black Isle:

"You're thinking in rigid terms. I'm taking the entire history (as far as I'm aware of it) of companies into consideration, with as many nuances as I can before I start speaking about this kind of thing. I think back to Fallout 2 - where Obsidian people were involved under a different name. Exact same case here. Established engine, established ruleset - incredibly buggy game."
Yeah, I know I made the comparison, but I didn't exactly equate the two. I just said that the people behind Obsidian were once behind Fallout 2. I didn't say 1, because IIRC - the team behind F2 were specifically Obsidian people - though I can't remember a source, and so I can't be sure. Feargus (sp?) spoke about this at one point.

Edit: Sure, I can stop going on about this, as I am confident that more or less all major companies with interesting projects are capable of attracking roughly the same people.
Sure, but there's a difference between dedicated RPG/nerds who care mostly about design - and then industry people who're there to be at the forefront of technology.
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