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Default Bioware's Stanley Woo on the rushed dev cycle

March 21st, 2011, 03:23
I really regret buyign the game. It is clear that bioware wants no part of my money and rather cater to the casuals.

The radial dialogue system is my biggest gripe. I like to know what i am going to say before i say it. It really bug me when i say stuff in the game that is out of line with what my character would say. Also the very few choices bug me too.

Secondly i really dont like having to press buttons when i dont need to. Havign to press R everytime bugs me.

Anyway unless bioware decides to give a damn abotu me and my likings i am not buying naother bioware game again. Nothing personal agaisnt Bioware but i rather give my money to dev who cater games towards me.
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March 21st, 2011, 03:53
Originally Posted by DoctorNarrative View Post
It is certainly harmful to tactical planning to have enemies randomly spawn, but that in no way makes it not a tactical game. Also once you realize enemies come in waves every fight you can plan around that, making it somewhat moot.
Save for the times that Anders or someone else gets smoked by an assassin that teleports in without you knowing - it's a little difficult to plan for. Also, it's impossible to tell whether or not the next wave of bad guys is going to show up when you kill the leader of the current group, wipe out the entire group, or just kill a grunt. Quite often, especially during boss fights on hard, I find myself resorting to the tried and true "tactic" of running in circles, double-fisting potions, and taking cheap shots at bad guys. The only real combat tactic of the game is: When the enemies start dying off, stop using your abilities, so that when the next wave of assholes show up, you're not praying that your cooldowns last longer than your health. The constant war of attrition that goes on in these fights isn't tactical; it's maddening.

It would be one thing if there were some kind of gladiatorial scenario, or a mission where you had to defend a besieged position; where resource management and tempo was part of the tactical plan, but it seems like the whole purpose of the Neverending Tides Of Trash Mobs is simply an excuse to show off the neat-o battle animations and give sociopaths-in-training a little chubby watching meatbags explode in clouds of blood and dismemberment. I now know why Kirkwall is so empty at night, because I've probably killed almost 15,000 people by now.
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March 21st, 2011, 04:29
I don't need to be told the game's shortcoming and since I already said the waves of enemies hurt tactical gameplay I don't know what else there is to say. I agree with you, yet the game is still very tactical. It is not like Mass Effect, where player skill in real-time is all that matters (even on insanity difficulty I beat that game without ever directing a party member).

It's not Origins, but it's not God of War with stats. It's something in between.

Even if it was God of War with stats that wouldn't be much different from Oblivion or The Witcher 2. The real reason the game is disappointing has little to do with combat in my opinion and everything to do with the story issues and extremely rushed development cycle which lead to insane amounts of asset re-use and limited scope.
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March 21st, 2011, 04:57
Originally Posted by DoctorNarrative View Post
I don't need to be told the game's shortcoming and since I already said the waves of enemies hurt tactical gameplay I don't know what else there is to say. I agree with you, yet the game is still very tactical. It is not like Mass Effect, where player skill in real-time is all that matters (even on insanity difficulty I beat that game without ever directing a party member).

It's not Origins, but it's not God of War with stats. It's something in between.

Even if it was God of War with stats that wouldn't be much different from Oblivion or The Witcher 2. The real reason the game is disappointing has little to do with combat in my opinion and everything to do with the story issues and extremely rushed development cycle which lead to insane amounts of asset re-use and limited scope.
I can agree to that. I wasn't trying to insinuate that you were passionately arguing the tactical aspects of the game. I'm just drawing a difference between a game that is actually tactical vs. one that equates metagame thinking with tactics.
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March 21st, 2011, 08:27
There are some serious misunderstanding here about tactic, some clearly confuse with strategy. I suggest them search around to see the difference.

But also the idea that unknown future destroy any strategic level is ridiculous. You could not setup a complete plan from start to end of fight but you can setup a plan at any point of a fight for the current forces in presence. And anyway a plan is bound to evolves depending of the evolution of the situation, including to manage reinforcement. Icewind dale had quite many fights with waves and ambushes and traps, and it's incredible to conclude this destroyed its tactical level or even strategical level.

So possibly because of the static fights design of DAO, this make its strategy level a bit better in the fights well designed. But myself I never ever considered DAO to be a strategy game, fights was so short that only the tactical level was really significant and interesting. And in fact many of DAO best fights are using reinforcement. But in both games, even with future waves you setup small plans, ie general direction of fights, so a strategical level.

And in both games there's a rather good tactical level, ie how I manage exactly the current situation, because in both games there's a nice choice of actions that really mean something different and have influences on the current fight. For me DA2 is just better, I have more choices and need manage more different situations, and more interesting my pieces are more balanced and have more significant choices, that's important when you control only 4 pieces. And at my surprise the increased speed doesn't change much, even if I agree slower would be better.

I also like the waves design of DA2. The first point is that when you lost a fight you can predict them, the second point is they allow setup the challenge in different way. But at least nope, waves doesn't damage in any way the tactical depth of DA2.
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March 21st, 2011, 08:41
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
@txa1265 - The Bioware glasses are pretty thick on some of the DA2 fans here. There's no point in trying to make them understand your view. To some of them, if you don't like DA2, you obviously haven't played it yet.
I just finished chapter 2 and it's totally obvious that DA2 isn't a crap game like ton of players shout everywhere, and yes many just having play the demo. That you fake ignore many players still comment the game in deep but didn't played the game, is wooo. Anyway it's a common player behavior, comment what they didn't played or played one or two hours for a 50 hours game.

And about glasses it's exactly the reverse problem, the current problem is the mass of DAO fans that need remove there glasses.
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March 21st, 2011, 09:19
It is painfully obvious that the game isnt meant for "hardcore" rpg players though.
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March 21st, 2011, 10:02
Originally Posted by Damian Mahadevan View Post
It is painfully obvious that the game isnt meant for "hardcore" rpg players though.
OK, now I just have to ask after reading comments like this for the last 10 years: Is there anywhere a definition of what a hardcore RPG player is supposed to like? Please? I really would like one, because although I see myself a as rather avid player many RPGs (and strategy games) for years now I have no idea if I am hardcore or not. And I would really like to know that so I can put in my cv.
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March 21st, 2011, 10:29
My best example of a hardcore rpg player is one that likes to play their role in an RPG. For example:

Do you really think about dialogue in terms of what the character you made would say? Do you choose specific alignments to match that aswell?

Do you like what you do to affect the game world, do you complain about generic npcs that shouldnt really be generic?
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March 21st, 2011, 11:44
Originally Posted by Dasale View Post
I just finished chapter 2 and it's totally obvious that DA2 isn't a crap game like ton of players shout everywhere, and yes many just having play the demo. That you fake ignore many players still comment the game in deep but didn't played the game, is wooo. Anyway it's a common player behavior, comment what they didn't played or played one or two hours for a 50 hours game.
The misperception is that someone would need to play 50 hours to develope an opinion of the game. If you're talking about the story, then sure. But you don't need that long to judge game mechanics, combat, visuals, etc. It's not as if those things suddenly change half-way through the game.
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March 21st, 2011, 11:50
Originally Posted by Damian Mahadevan View Post
My best example of a hardcore rpg player is one that likes to play their role in an RPG. For example:

Do you really think about dialogue in terms of what the character you made would say? Do you choose specific alignments to match that aswell?

Do you like what you do to affect the game world, do you complain about generic npcs that shouldnt really be generic?
In that case I am a hardcore RPG player.

But honestly, the most arguments I hear have something to do with diffculty (hard..HARDER…HARDCORE), numbers (the more the merrier) and tactics (army officer training level, at least). And for those things I would still like a definition (I know I'll never get one, but I like asking ).
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March 21st, 2011, 12:37
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
The misperception is that someone would need to play 50 hours to develope an opinion of the game. If you're talking about the story, then sure. But you don't need that long to judge game mechanics, combat, visuals, etc. It's not as if those things suddenly change half-way through the game.
I am in the midst of Chapter 3 at this point and should be done soon. I have tried to find and complete every possible companion quest, side quest, and so on.

… nothing has changed in my opinions since I wrote my 'Day 1 Impressions' after playing for 4 hours.

Originally Posted by Roi Danton View Post
In that case I am a hardcore RPG player.

But honestly, the most arguments I hear have something to do with diffculty (hard..HARDER…HARDCORE), numbers (the more the merrier) and tactics (army officer training level, at least). And for those things I would still like a definition (I know I'll never get one, but I like asking ).
I look at 'hardcore' as a generic stereotype, with a massive gray area between casual and hardcore. But sometimes it works to help you understand the motivations of a developer. This is why I wouldn't call Dragon Age 2 a 'hardcore western RPG' compared to the original Dragon Age … it is all in the contrasts
- For the original you had a full character creation system which included some appearance items. For the sequel it is class, gender, *first* name … and 42 detailed options about what color eye liner to use! That is a 'Sims' scenario, not a hardcore RPG.
- The original game was very difficult at Normal, with a focus on assessing battles while paused, fully fleshing out tactics, pulling back to strategic view, and so on. Now the Normal mode is designed so you seldom if ever have to pause, nor do you need to use special attention to tactics, and of course you can't pull back the camera. The focus has shifted to an action-RPG 'feel' - sure you *can* make it more like Origins, but that is clearly not how the developers intended it to be played.

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March 21st, 2011, 13:19
Originally Posted by txa1265 View Post
I look at 'hardcore' as a generic stereotype, with a massive gray area between casual and hardcore. But sometimes it works to help you understand the motivations of a developer. This is why I wouldn't call Dragon Age 2 a 'hardcore western RPG' compared to the original Dragon Age … it is all in the contrasts
- For the original you had a full character creation system which included some appearance items. For the sequel it is class, gender, *first* name … and 42 detailed options about what color eye liner to use! That is a 'Sims' scenario, not a hardcore RPG.
- The original game was very difficult at Normal, with a focus on assessing battles while paused, fully fleshing out tactics, pulling back to strategic view, and so on. Now the Normal mode is designed so you seldom if ever have to pause, nor do you need to use special attention to tactics, and of course you can't pull back the camera. The focus has shifted to an action-RPG 'feel' - sure you *can* make it more like Origins, but that is clearly not how the developers intended it to be played.
The two points you mentioned above are valid, of course. But they aren't definitions and IMO don't help in that case. There are PRGs that don't even have a character creation (e.g. Gothic) and last time I checked the Gothic series has never been called casual (maybe an Action RPG although I think that this distinction is not necessary). So yes, your point is valid but it is not a must have argument and in my opinion can't be used to describe hardcore or casual but rather personal preference.
Your second argument centers on the difficulty level, and here I have to disagree: I did not have to pause in DA:O except for Boss fights and some fights against a number of enemy mages. For the rest a mix of the right AI tactics and special attacks of my rouge (no need to pause because of the combat speed) and the game played itself. I guess that in at least 80% of my combats I didn't use pause once. Also a point of personal preference and play style.

See, my problem with all those "They don't make any hardcore rpgs anymore" is that this reads like there is an ultimate secret code developers have to adhere to in order to make those hardcore RPGs. It reads like "this installation is wrong according to ISO norm XXXXX". And that is something that is as stupid as the notion that every RPG has to have romance options or that no RTS player likes base building (I do, if you must ask ).

Please note that I don't necessarily disagree with the arguments in favor of those "hardcore" rpgs, I just don't like it that this phrase is thrown around in lieu of real arguments or at least a sentence that starts "Meh, I don't like the game because…".
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March 21st, 2011, 13:58
Originally Posted by Roi Danton View Post
OK, now I just have to ask after reading comments like this for the last 10 years: Is there anywhere a definition of what a hardcore RPG player is supposed to like? Please? I really would like one, because although I see myself a as rather avid player many RPGs (and strategy games) for years now I have no idea if I am hardcore or not. And I would really like to know that so I can put in my cv.
I think a lot of old PC gamers define it as "like Baldurs Gate." Or, even further back, "like Ultima." Insert any old series really, it all works out. Then you have people who started with pen and paper RPGs and anything not adhering to that style is not really an RPG for them.

I don't really know what "hardcore RPG" would actually mean. Gothic is surely hardcore if the term has meaning and it's an action-RPG. There is no litmus test for strategy and tactics that makes a game an RPG or a "hardcore" RPG. If hardcore means anything it just means the game takes more effort and dedication to play than a casual game, which DA2 certainly does.
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March 21st, 2011, 14:07
Originally Posted by Roi Danton View Post
The two points you mentioned above are valid, of course. But they aren't definitions and IMO don't help in that case.
I agree. The whole 'hardcore vs. casual' thing is sort of a BS argument. I like the Gothic point you make - it is clearly an action RPG, yet most here very much consider it a hardcore RPG and see it as espousing values that join it with the 'grand tradition of western RPGs'.

My point, as noted, wasn't to define DA 2 objectively as hardcore / casual - because I think taken as a standalone it is still easy to call it a 'traditional hardcore western RPG'. My point was that it is also easy to say that the game is 'moving away from traditional PC RPG values that Bioware formerly espoused' - and the evidence is in the contrast between Origins and DA2.

But as noted, they are all opinions and nitpicking, and if DA2 wasn't such a blatantly mediocre rush-job that is getting hammered pretty much everywhere as the worst game Bioware has made (and still a 75-80% game at that ) … we wouldn't even care.

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March 21st, 2011, 14:19
Originally Posted by aries100 View Post
However, I find it interesting that EA and Bioware obviously still think that console players are 16-25 year old adoloscents who have an interest in blood spatters, boobs, and fast paced action. Assasin's Creed, Heavy Rain and other console games beg to differ, I find. Console gamers today are as diverse as people playing pc games.
Yes … But what I find really interesting is the fact that in the recent times no colourful or light-themed game made it to the PC … Or, as an editor of a non-gaming computing magazine (the German " c't ") wrote a few months ago in an article containing suggestions of bew games for the PC (quoted from my memory) : "The gaming has never been that dark". Quoted from my memory, I don't remember the exact ording anymore, but it was in this sense.

Games like Mario are extinct on the PC. Nothing but extinct. And Spellbound did the Giana Sisters (the remak, I mean) for handhelds, not for he PC either.

So … - to me this means that no-one does develop colourful, light-hearted games for the PC anymore.
And ain a reverse deducion you can see by this what publishers and developrs alike think of the PC platform.

“ 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 21st, 2011, 14:28
Originally Posted by txa1265 View Post
Tactics are not about an approach but ensuring you will survival multiple waves - which isn't about actual RPG strategy but instead about playing a tower defense or combat simulator game.
Tower Defense … Yes, this is what these multiple waves of the demo reminded me of, although I couldn't find a proper name for that …

Originally Posted by Captain Buzzkill View Post
I now know why Kirkwall is so empty at night, because I've probably killed almost 15,000 people by now.
Interesting point.

Now, I'm a bit surprised that noone had thought of it earlier … But I guess that's the "framed narrative", too …

In Nadoret, there are surprisingly few people.
But to me, this feels rther real than hese … waves … Although I must admit that the amount of people in Nadoret might actually be a bit *too* low …

Originally Posted by Roi Danton View Post
But honestly, the most arguments I hear have something to do with diffculty (hard..HARDER…HARDCORE), numbers (the more the merrier) and tactics (army officer training level, at least).
That' some of he points, yes.

Originally Posted by DoctorNarrative View Post
I think a lot of old PC gamers define it as "like Baldurs Gate." Or, even further back, "like Ultima." Insert any old series really, it all works out. Then you have people who started with pen and paper RPGs and anything not adhering to that style is not really an RPG for them.
That's another point in my view.


What we have here - as a general problem - is that also RPGs are affected by fashions.

Fashions say that in some years some elements of games are great - then decades later they are considered crap.

Just take a look at what sold well let's say 10-15-20 years ago. What was "en vogue" then. In terms of gaming, of course.

Map-drawing, for example. Absolutely gone with the in-game auto-drawer.
Text adventures : Gone with the arrival of graphical adventures (LucasArts, Sierra).
Quest makers : Unknown of 10 or 20 years ago. "What's this [supposed to be] ?"
Now : Almost unthinkable to do an RPG without it. Those RPGs without them are nowadays the exception, not he norm.

Tables, not there nowadays, too. Drakensang is in this respect very "hardcore" or/and "old school".

Which leads me to the question as if "hardcore RPGs = old school RPGs ?"

What's "New School", then ?

And, to quote the inner booklet of OMD's newest album :

"What, if Modern becomes History ?"

[The art fashion of Modernism is meant there.]

“ 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)
Last edited by Alrik Fassbauer; March 21st, 2011 at 14:49.
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March 21st, 2011, 16:18
Great post Alrik, I think developers really do think in milestones. Once a feature or style is popularized they feel it is now a standard they must use… quest markers, regenerating health, modern warfare setting, dialogue wheels, checkpoint saves, etc. I think often times it is less about what is a good change and more about what is a trending change.

I remember a PC Gamer article when Fallout 3 came out about modding the original Fallout games to get them more playable on modern machines. In the article the author mocked people who thought Fallout 3 was a poor sequel and he mentioned that Fallout 3 "has that real-time action combat you just have to have in the post-Oblivion era." I remember thinking that was so odd… why does one HAVE to have it because a successful game had it? I think your post illustrates a reason.

That said old-school gamers like you and me are also often critical of change. Imagine some kid who grew up on Halo and its regenerating health playing a game with a life bar, he would flip out and call it terrible, like we flip-out and call quest markers terrible or whatever else.

In the end it all boils down to your experience. What made you fall in love with gaming or RPGing will probably always be what you want from a new game.
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March 21st, 2011, 16:37
I guess the one thing I don't understand is why they felt they needed to significantly alter DA2 from DAO in the first place? To be fair, I haven't played either yet, but it seems from the complaints that the game was streamlined and 'dumbed' down to a good degree from DAO.

I get that the product cycle is shorter, but why not just leave the system largely unchanged and focus on content for DA2? Seems like they would have had plenty of time to do that as that's basically what they did for BG1/2.

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March 21st, 2011, 17:24
Originally Posted by blatantninja View Post
I guess the one thing I don't understand is why they felt they needed to significantly alter DA2 from DAO in the first place? To be fair, I haven't played either yet, but it seems from the complaints that the game was streamlined and 'dumbed' down to a good degree from DAO.

I get that the product cycle is shorter, but why not just leave the system largely unchanged and focus on content for DA2? Seems like they would have had plenty of time to do that as that's basically what they did for BG1/2.
They have said bluntly on their forum that DAO did not sell well enough and EA would only green-light a sequel if it was more console-focused and streamlined.

The funny part is I bet DA2 sells worse.
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