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Default Alpha Protocol - First Review

May 21st, 2010, 11:58
Originally Posted by Dean View Post
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?
I guess it's relatively simple : Their [i]main gioal[/i9 is NOT o present everything in a highly-sophisticated way of animations, but rather to present everything in ways of RPGs.

In Ego-Shooters, for example, you don't have rule sets that such away additional developing power. In Ego-Shooters, you can clearly concentrate in the apect of graphical representation.

I don't know about Fallout 3, but in Mass Effect there aren't so much complicated rule sets in the background like … let's sy in (A)D&D. So, this meansd, they don't need to be implemented, which makes free more developing power for the graphical representation.

At least that's what I guess.

Imagine it as a pair of scales : One side has for example rule sets to implement, while the other side has the grapical implementation to be implemented.

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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May 21st, 2010, 12:06
Fallout 2 was massive in scope compared to Fallout 1 and developed in roughly a year. It also had a couple of engine tweaks and of course new assets, and the bugs were almost always a result of scripting, not of the engine itself, so I'm not sure what you meant there Dartagnan.
Not wanting to excuse Obsidian, mind you, the fact that they had short timeframes for their first two projects doesn't correct the game's faults, and the Obsidian guys AGREED with the deadlines.
They also acknowledged the faults of the games and the mismanaging, and seem to have been learning from their errors so I'm moderately positive about the technical aspects of their new games. Moderately, since anyway, Obsidian is nowhere near Bioware when it comes to polishing (well… Bioware pre-EA considering their support is rapidly becoming thinner and thinner.. they still haven't released a patch for Awakening, and that's an incredibly buggy game considering how short it is… and it also had the same lead as NWN2.. coincidence? I dunno).

Anyway, talking about Alpha Protocol, the scores for now seem to place it in the mid-to-high 80s. Some strange fact : some people who have completely missed the point of the game and played it as an action game and reviewed it as such have actually gave it an high score. Let's hope that means that the gameplay is just as rewarding as the writing and C&C department.
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May 21st, 2010, 12:07
@Dean
They have to spend their resources differently because there are so many other aspects with a higher priority. In shooters and similar, animations and physics are both very important.

Also, only Bethesda and BioWare (among RPG developers) actually have enough resources to match the budgets of the bigger action game developers out there.

@WUE
Good point there about the gameplay. From what I've read, it's a bit sluggish compared to most action games, but the variety that OE has talked so much about seems to be present. We all know the writing will be good enough, so I'm actually more interested in getting confirmation that the rest of the game is good as well.
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May 21st, 2010, 12:16
Originally Posted by WorstUsernameEver View Post
Anyway, talking about Alpha Protocol, the scores for now seem to place it in the mid-to-high 80s. Some strange fact : some people who have completely missed the point of the game and played it as an action game and reviewed it as such have actually gave it an high score. Let's hope that means that the gameplay is just as rewarding as the writing and C&C department.
Yeah, and that's my entire point right there.

To me, Obsidian is DESERVING of high praise - but I'm afraid they're not going to get it with Alpha Protocol precisely because of their strengths lying elsewhere.

But that remains to be seen, and maybe the casual market has matured enough to appreciate depth even amongst technical flaws and aesthetic oddities.
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May 21st, 2010, 12:23
About animation quality.

As with other things, this is not simple or black/white.

I think it has to do with the focus of the developers and their strengths as a team.

People aren't bots educated to do everything, they have interests and passions - and things they care more about than others.

That's why you're not going to see Carmack working on a deep and complex CRPG - because his passion is to develop efficient and brilliant rendering engines. He obviously isn't about gameplay mechanics.

Troika and Obsidian, traditionally, have been about giving the player a strong and deep gameplay experience. They've likely focused on getting people with the same kind of passion, and even though I'm sure they can get technically skilled people like everyone else - that needs to fit well into their vision and budget concerns.

Good looking animations in the modern real-time 3D world is INCREDIBLY complex, and you either need godlike hand-animators ala Blizzard, or you need expensive motion-capture setups, and the resources to develop all those transition-based animations for the zillion states of movement and stops.

People can't just do that without having worked with that kind of technology for a long time, and if you're going to develop deep CRPGs, I doubt you'll attract too many technically brilliant people. Not unless, of course, you choose to focus on that specifically when hiring - and then you need to be able to pay them, and they'll likely get paid better somewhere else, like with Bioware or Bliz. Maybe not paid better, but they'll be where they've always wanted to be.

I guess it's like the people working with Avatar - and the resources poured into such a huge project. It's not just about money, it's about getting the right people who've worked at the forefront of technology. You can't expect such results from people working on smaller productions - no matter how many money you pay them. It's a symbiotic relationship between the people, their interests, and their assets.

Obsidian is most likely not focused on that at all, and as a result - they don't have people experienced with sophisticated 3D modelling and mo-cap equipment on the AAA level.

So no, it's not just skill - but it's a matter of overall focus and priorities. You need resources to pay the right kind of people, and if not - you'll end up with people who're not tailored for high-end AAA level animations. You can't put just anyone down in front of 3D studio and expect the best results.
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May 21st, 2010, 13:07
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Yeah, and that's my entire point right there.

To me, Obsidian is DESERVING of high praise - but I'm afraid they're not going to get it with Alpha Protocol precisely because of their strengths lying elsewhere.

But that remains to be seen, and maybe the casual market has matured enough to appreciate depth even amongst technical flaws and aesthetic oddities.
I disagree here. Obsidian has shown more examples of non-linear storytelling and writing with Alpha Protocol than with any of their other games. Also the idea that the casual (casual is a word I hate btw) market wants only top-notch graphics is flawed and wouldn't explain the success of titles like Fallout 3 and Dragon Age (and Alpha Protocol, going by previews, gameplay videos and screenshot doesn't look worse than those two titles).
Not saying that Alpha Protocol will be mind-blowingly successful, mind you, since I'm not a psychic and we'll only know when it comes out, but the precedents are better than what you seem to think.
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May 21st, 2010, 13:19
Originally Posted by WorstUsernameEver View Post
I disagree here. Obsidian has shown more examples of non-linear storytelling and writing with Alpha Protocol than with any of their other games. Also the idea that the casual (casual is a word I hate btw) market wants only top-notch graphics is flawed and wouldn't explain the success of titles like Fallout 3 and Dragon Age (and Alpha Protocol, going by previews, gameplay videos and screenshot doesn't look worse than those two titles).
Not saying that Alpha Protocol will be mind-blowingly successful, mind you, since I'm not a psychic and we'll only know when it comes out, but the precedents are better than what you seem to think.
I don't think it won't be a modest success - I just don't think it will get the kind of praise it deserves, if it's as good as I know Obsidian could make it. Well, it's not that I really know either way - but I FEAR it won't get the attention to warrant future projects of the same kind.

I haven't personally seen it in action, but I very much doubt it will look as good or perform as smoothly as either F3 or DA. Both those games were very polished and they were marketed a lot more efficiently than AP seems to be.

You can buy success if you're rich enough - and I very much doubt F3 and Dragon Age would have sold well in the casual market without a ton of cash to drown them in marketing campaigns. The "THIS IS THE NEW SHIT" ring a bell?

Whether you like the concept of the casual market or not, it's what AP targets, if only partially.

I have no issue with casuals at all, because I recognise that they're simply not as invested as I am in gaming. Why would they be? They have other interests - and that's fine. But the reality behind that, is that they're generally not willing to settle for games that don't look as good as they're expecting, at least not without bitching about it.

That's why I refer to myself as an enthusiast, and not a "hardcore" gamer - because that implies there's something "cool" about being an invested gamer. I don't think there is, but it's what I am
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May 21st, 2010, 13:30
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
I don't think it won't be a modest success - I just don't think it will get the kind of praise it deserves, if it's as good as I know Obsidian could make it. Well, it's not that I really know either way - but I FEAR it won't get the attention to warrant future projects of the same kind.

I haven't personally seen it in action, but I very much doubt it will look as good or perform as smoothly as either F3 or DA. Both those games were very polished and they were marketed a lot more efficiently than AP seems to be.
A lot of people would disagree with you when you said that Fallout 3 was polished, considering the incredible number of technical issues (mind you, I think it's normal considering the size of the game, and I personally wouldn't complain) and considering the graphical quality of both titles, which IMHO is good but simply not as good as other AAA titles on the market.

As for 'performing' smoothly I honestly don't know, the previews on the consoles looked like they had an honest framerate though not spectacular, and they had the usual issues that Unreal Engine 3 has (texture popping and no anti-aliasing).
The AI seemed pretty stupid at times, but not really more than say, Fallout 3 AI or Deus Ex AI (incredible how games haven't progressed much in that department, huh?).

It doesn't look as polished as Dragon Age or Mass Effect, but certainly on par with Fallout 3. That's IMHO of course.
Last edited by WorstUsernameEver; May 21st, 2010 at 13:31. Reason: Tried to make the message more legible :P
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May 21st, 2010, 13:35
Originally Posted by WorstUsernameEver View Post
A lot of people would disagree with you when you said that Fallout 3 was polished, considering the incredible number of technical issues (mind you, I think it's normal considering the size of the game, and I personally wouldn't complain) and considering the graphical quality of both titles, which IMHO is good but simply not as good as other AAA titles on the market.
I agree, but polish is a multifaceted word, really. It's polished because it looks great and performs extremely well. But it suffered from severe crash bugs - just like Oblivion still does. So it's also NOT polished.

But playing F3 on my Xbox 360, I had no bugs of any kind that I can remember, and I think it crashed once. But it ran very well and felt like a competent product.

I can't say the same for anything Obsidian ever did, sadly.

As for 'performing' smoothly I honestly don't know, the previews on the consoles looked like they had an honest framerate though not spectacular, and they had the usual issues that Unreal Engine 3 has (texture popping and no anti-aliasing).
The AI seemed pretty stupid at times, but not really more than say, Fallout 3 AI or Deus Ex AI (incredible how games haven't progressed much in that department, huh?).
I'll wait until I see it, but bad AI is pretty unfortunate if true - in a title like this.

It doesn't look as polished as Dragon Age or Mass Effect, but certainly on par with Fallout 3. That's IMHO of course.
I hope so
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Default Alpha Protocol review has been out (Gladriel.com)!

May 27th, 2010, 22:24
Offical Alpha Protocol Review from Gladriel.com has been out!


http://www.gladriel.com/reviewFull/content/1581/Alpha-Protocol-review/
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Default First video review has been out! (7.5/10)

May 28th, 2010, 11:07
First video review has been out! (7.5/10)
LOL, should be 9/10 at least! Fantastic story!

http://bit.ly/bIhUQJ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1yDhZYoWk2E
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May 28th, 2010, 11:24
I think I smell fanboi…
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May 28th, 2010, 11:32
Originally Posted by ayreon View Post
First video review has been out! (7.5/10)
LOL, should be 9/10 at least! Fantastic story!
Nah… such marks are reserved by Beth and Bioware.
I'm certain AP will not get such high marks from a non-specialized site, even if it does deserve it. I bet its 'soooo last year' graphics guarantee a one or two point decrease in any case.

"I am not interested in good; I am interested in new, even if this includes the possibility of it's being evil"
(LaMonte Young, 1962)
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May 28th, 2010, 16:03
What's the score, eh, GameSpot?
Alpha protocol score at Gamespot LOOOL


http://bit.ly/c3JcJR
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