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Default BioWare - Jennifer Hepler Leaves BioWare

August 28th, 2013, 08:57
That's why games are so simple now, they just don't do any programming, alrik.

Originally Posted by TalsiStael View Post
To my mind, e.g Game of Thrones surely has a story, even one that I quite like when I can make meta-strory commentaries with friends, but quite certainly written in a context of a target group of youthful male audience. I dare say almost any female that has done sports can state that the barbarian no-hardware dancing scenes are rather silly for such a practical race.

While Ms Hepler possibly might have suffered the brunt of a culmination of an era of RPG low, to my mind this should have had nothing to do with DOA:2 that was still a pretty decent title.

Dragon Age Origin set aside, what was there anyhow after Baldur's Gate series, Torment, Morrowind or Neverwinternights 2 inbetween? In view of sorry state of RPG story telling in general, why should she have merited a hostile reaction?
I think a hostile reaction is warranted, just not on such a personal basis. You can't hunt someone down and cook and eat them over a video game.

But if there were more titles they'd just ignore bioware and play the next game. But they really can't, which is the only reason that sites and magazines which covered games like gold box series would cover the new stuff.

And they know it and capitalize off it. Like I said before, honesty. Don't sit there and BS me that this is how RPGs always were, what they were about. And don't tell me any fans who don't like it are misogynists because they want a game that's not aimed at juveniles and pedos.

I bought everything they pumped out before DA, people like me made it so they can have jobs in video games in the first place. All I've got in the last 10 years from them is a daily dose of some jackass telling me what a bad person I am for not loving their new games.

By contrast Bethesda is pretty unpretentious and hard as it is to believe, a lot more honest. They are still capitalizing on the name of fallout and their old titles but not pretending to cater to serious rpg fans!

In short they are like boyfriend caught cheating who not only won't admit it but is always bitching about how jealous his stupid girlfriend is.

Originally Posted by TalsiStael View Post
I would say that only The Witcher has been that interesting addition, yet assuming that female gamers shall take the "barbarian titty-dancing" humorously, as I do with Game of Thrones.

This said, I could no longer like the sequel TW2 due to attitudes portrayed in the gameworld (besides what I thought was a poorly console-port gameplay), and I cannot say there are so many titles that almost anyone can resonate to with an equal mesure be they a boy, a girl, a hetero or a gay.

Most often, these are Stories for Boys, really. And looking at BG:2 - a good story requires a lot of writing effort that needs craft besides money, IMO. The way Jaheira was inter-weaved into a lot of time or encounter triggered content in context of carefully written lore and dynamic to the lead player and party members… this has not been replicated, really - and is money the only obstacle there?
But again why does everything have to be watered down crap? Games used to be for nerds, and if there's anyone I would like to punch in the face it's whoever made it about emotional attachment to characters. Just like scifi has been completely ruined, it's even worse for games, and the same cheap melodrama has crept into almost every movie and tv show regardless of genre. At least I can believe a romance in a scifi movie even though it's usually a bit tacked on and lame, but it's just painful to see RPGs turn into girlfriend simulators.
Last edited by ManWhoJaped; August 28th, 2013 at 09:51.
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August 28th, 2013, 09:39
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
I personally don't believe that the costs to develop a story - just can't be that high. I just don't believe it. Any programming is imho much, much, more costly !
The funds allocated to story writing exploded relatively to the past.

In the past, often, stories were not written by a dedicated writer.
Today, even for games that do not push forward a story as a selling point, a dedicated writer is hired. Other games come with a team of writers.

Again, this is stated against the false point that the place of stories has shrunk in video gaming.
It is simply wrong. The importance of a story has been growing and growing.

A skilled writer needs only a few months for developing a good story - if it has to be better, longer, perhaps, although I'm not quite sure whether time & creativity really correlate with each other.

There are basically 2 kinds of writers : Spontaneous ones and planners. Both have completely different nethods & styles to write their stories down, but both have the same "amount" of creativity.

The industry might well prefer "planners", though, I guess, because that makes it easier to plan the money resources ahead.
That is irrelevant. The industry has shown they are ready to put more money on developping stories than they used to.

Story has grown big in video gaming, so much it predates gameplay for players.
Players no longer look at the gameplay, they look at the story.
As reported on this site, for some players, the measure of a good game is no longer its gameplay, but the story coming with it.

In this situation, it is false to report these days, games no longer come with stories.

It is the opposite: gameplay was pushed back in order to make room for the delivery of story. Interesting gameplay mechanics are removed when they put themselves between the player and the delivery of the story.
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August 28th, 2013, 09:53
And the value is inversely proportional to the price.

I think a lot of the issue on that fron is there's only so much talent in the world. And more and more movies and games made. Add in some handcuffs to keep the story "mainstream" and it's nearly impossible to expect something decent to get made.
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August 28th, 2013, 14:35
Great stories can rather be found in novels today, I tend to believe.

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August 29th, 2013, 00:59
Nah, scifi and fantasy are totally dead anyway. Everything is corporitized and chases the latest fads now, just like video games, with no real content either.

The only decent thing you can read any more is history, if you can find any that doesn't have an unbearable political bias.
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August 29th, 2013, 13:16
Conquistadores didn't seem to sell that well ?

“ 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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August 29th, 2013, 13:23
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
Great stories can rather be found in novels today, I tend to believe.
Well Novels have always had stories, that is not the point though, right? I think Chien Aboyeur is right here - Video Games today invest a lot more in stories than they used to. Your problem Alrik I think is more with the kind of stories that are told (too often dark and gritty for your tastes) and with the game mechanics they are embedded in (often involving action and violence). I am not saying we have many GOOD stories yet in video games, but I agree with Chien that story has become more important overall.
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August 29th, 2013, 14:53
I agree. At least if we compare with the 80's and early 90's. But what if we compare with games 5-10 years ago?

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August 30th, 2013, 15:15
Originally Posted by GhanBuriGhan View Post
Your problem Alrik I think is more with the kind of stories that are told (too often dark and gritty for your tastes) and with the game mechanics they are embedded in (often involving action and violence).
I can agree to that.

Perhaps it is really so that my distaste for certain game elements kind of "overshadows" everything else in my view.

“ 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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September 1st, 2013, 12:46
They spend more money but in the linear sense less and less time, which is the corporate way of doing things. I am sure one decent author can do a better job crafting a story in 4 years than half a dozen better authors splitting the story up and each doing their own chapter separately in one year, which is how games and tv work today. And of course they will be writers who can't get work in tv or movies for the most part as well.

Corporatization seems to ruin basically everything, as far as end product quality goes. From games to cars to life in general.
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September 2nd, 2013, 13:51
Originally Posted by ManWhoJaped View Post
than half a dozen better authors splitting the story up and each doing their own chapter separately in one year,
Well, they did a similar thing with SWTOR, the class stories, I mean.

With the result of bthe Imperial Agent's story being extremely good, and the rest being crap (I'm biased, though, and didn't play all of them yet, my view is based on polls and such. I'm also biased insofar as I sense an "imperial faction favouritism" there, even if it wasn't intended to be there).

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September 4th, 2013, 14:20
I still remember the harassing of Hepler. It was a disgrace. She's just a writer, she has zero executive power whatsoever. So what if she prefers the story to the gameplay in games? Again, she doesn't actually affect the gameplay.

Look at Jennifer Hale. She has openly admitted she rarely plays games. She's just not into gaming, yet she is one of the best voice actresses in the gaming industry.

You don't need to love games in order to do work in the gaming industry. It all depends on what your job really is. I'm not particularly passionate about big, corporate computer systems, yet I've spent my entire career working on them. Why? Because I like programming, just as I'm sure Hepler and Hale enjoys writing and voice acting.
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September 4th, 2013, 14:26
Not that I would ever endorse harassing anyone - but there's little doubt that being passionate about the big picture is better for the end result than not being passionate about it.

Everyone working on a game will affect it in some way - and if you don't care about games enough to actually enjoy gameplay - then your work will reflect that.

I don't think it's a secret that I think Bioware games have been quite reflective of that kind of position for years now.
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September 4th, 2013, 15:23
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Not that I would ever endorse harassing anyone - but there's little doubt that being passionate about the big picture is better for the end result than not being passionate about it.
It depends.

The haters of Mrs. Hepler will surely see her leaving as a success of their harassment.

Which makes them go like this : "If it worked this time, it might work next time, too !"

And then they might develop even stronger forms of harassment - like swatting - until the harassed person kills himself or herself - and then, the harassers will rejoice. Especially if no-one drags them to court.

What develops out of this is then an cynical "harassment is okay" culture.
And if these people grow up and apply what they've "learned" to Real Life - good night, then.

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September 4th, 2013, 15:59
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Not that I would ever endorse harassing anyone - but there's little doubt that being passionate about the big picture is better for the end result than not being passionate about it.
I don't think that is self-evident. I think there is a place for specialists as well as generalists on a large team such as bioware's. Do we really expect all the artists on the team to be passionate about games. Or RPGames in particular? If, e.g. The best armor designer on the teams passion is Cosplay instead of games, would that disqualify him? IIRC, Hepler said she is passionate about writing, but doesn't enjoy combat (she did not say games, just that she would like to skip combat in games), how does that disqualify her as a writer for games?
In the end I think it was just a gut reaction by many gamers that doesn't hold up to scrutiny, and yes, the instinct for bullying the big kid with glasses that most of us have in us somehow.
It's really quite shameful.
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September 4th, 2013, 20:51
Originally Posted by GhanBuriGhan View Post
I don't think that is self-evident. I think there is a place for specialists as well as generalists on a large team such as bioware's. Do we really expect all the artists on the team to be passionate about games. Or RPGames in particular? If, e.g. The best armor designer on the teams passion is Cosplay instead of games, would that disqualify him? IIRC, Hepler said she is passionate about writing, but doesn't enjoy combat (she did not say games, just that she would like to skip combat in games), how does that disqualify her as a writer for games?
In the end I think it was just a gut reaction by many gamers that doesn't hold up to scrutiny, and yes, the instinct for bullying the big kid with glasses that most of us have in us somehow.
It's really quite shameful.
You would do well to read what I'm saying, instead of conjuring something up that I haven't said.

I've said nothing resembling that I think she should be disqualified.

I'm saying that if she was passionate about gaming and gameplay - it would be better for the game.

In that same way, I think a writer for a movie would be better if he or she was passionate about movies.

Stories can be written for games without any knowledge of gaming - but I have no doubt that intricate knowledge and passionate people would make much better game writers. For instance, I think Ken Levine did an amazing job with Bioshock Infinite - and I think that's precisely because he understands gaming.

That's not the same as saying she can't be great for the game, in theory.

Unfortunately, there's nothing about modern Bioware games indicating much passion - which is definitely something to think about.

There's no reason to confuse the issue here.

Obviously, that level of personal harassment is completely uncalled for - and unacceptable. But that doesn't mean there's no valid reason to question her position on gaming.

So, yes, I think it's completely and utterly self-evident that passion for gaming is a very, very good thing to have if you're writing for a game.
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September 4th, 2013, 21:10
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
I'm saying that if she was passionate about gaming and gameplay - it would be better for the game.

In that same way, I think a writer for a movie would be better if he or she was passionate about movies.
I disagree. Case in point study: Project: Eternity.

Several people in high places for this project aren't passionate about traditional fantasy games.

It's shaping up to be one great game.

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September 4th, 2013, 21:38
Originally Posted by Sacred_Path View Post
I disagree. Case in point study: Project: Eternity.

Several people in high places for this project aren't passionate about traditional fantasy games.

It's shaping up to be one great game.
Unfortunately, that has no logical connection to what I said.

I haven't said anything about great games being impossible without passionate gamers writing the story.

I've said that being passionate about gaming will result in a better game than not being passionate about gaming - all else being equal, naturally. It might not be significantly better - but still better. It's not the kind of thing you can prove - as no one can know what something would have been with or without something that was or wasn't there. It's simply common sense that passion for gaming will make you a better game developer, even if it's just writing.

As in, a great game would be better with passion - even if it's great without it as well. Even though I'd claim that having no passionate gamers on the team will make it very, very hard to create a truly memorable game.

Conveniently enough, I think SWtOR is one of the finest examples of why design-by-committee doesn't work - and why you need passionate people leading development and calling the shots.

In fact, arguing against it smells like emotional bias - as I know GBG is smarter than that, and you seem reasonably smart as well. GBG is probably disgusted with the harassment - and he has his nice-guy complex, so it makes sense that he'd argue against anything like this.

You, however, don't strike me as the sort to take something like that to heart. So, your motivation arguing something like this would be….? Well, it's hardly important - just interesting

As for Project Eternity - using an unreleased game as an example is pretty weak. We have no idea how the released game will be - and we certainly don't know how the story and lore will work in anything resembling a final state.

You have a very bad habit of talking on behalf of developers. I'm curious, though. Could you provide a link where the developers all say they don't have any passion for fantasy? I'd like to see that in their own words, please.
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September 4th, 2013, 21:53
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Unfortunately, that has no logical connection to what I said.

I haven't said anything about great games being impossible without passionate gamers writing the story.

I've said that being passionate about gaming will result in a better game than not being passionate about gaming - all else being equal, naturally.
Which is without basis in reality or fact, of course. Why do you have a quasi-magical belief that passion can somehow pervade the design to the effect to simply make things "better", and why is it so critical as to be a missing ingredient in those cases where there is no passion?

You have a very bad habit of talking on behalf of developers. I'm curious, though. Could you provide a link where the developers all say they don't have any passion for fantasy? I'd like to see that in their own words, please.
No, I actually don't (often cite developers). I'm specifically talking about Avellone (who is one of the main writers) and Sawyer (design lead). I can't provide you with links though, I'll have to direct you to the Codex for that. Someone there will help you (or not).

Since you criticise me for speaking "on behalf of developers", I'm curious how you justify speaking for the entire industry as far as "passion" as a vital ingredient is concerned. Can you support that with quotes and links too, at least?

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September 4th, 2013, 22:11
Originally Posted by Sacred_Path View Post
Which is without basis in reality or fact, of course. Why do you have a quasi-magical belief that passion can somehow pervade the design to the effect to simply make things "better", and why is it so critical as to be a missing ingredient in those cases where there is no passion?



No, I actually don't (often cite developers). I'm specifically talking about Avellone (who is one of the main writers) and Sawyer (design lead). I can't provide you with links though, I'll have to direct you to the Codex for that. Someone there will help you (or not).

Since you criticise me for speaking "on behalf of developers", I'm curious how you justify speaking for the entire industry as far as "passion" as a vital ingredient is concerned. Can you support that with quotes and links too, at least?
But they don't seem to have anyone at all over at bioware, and you can't say he wouldn't do better if he did have more passion for gaming part. Their games have not been nearly as good at obsidian as some old stuff. Maybe guys like guido henkel etc. had a bigger impact on making them good than they get credit for. And as for PE don't count your chickens, I gave up on it, not sure why you think it will be best game ever.
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