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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » BioWare - Jennifer Hepler Leaves BioWare

Default BioWare - Jennifer Hepler Leaves BioWare

September 4th, 2013, 21:34
Originally Posted by ManWhoJaped View Post
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.
Just a very good RPG. Possibly one of the best, maybe even the best if they can pull it all off. Of course, if P:E ends up as some disaster or completely mediocre game, I too may become a believer in the power of passion.

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September 4th, 2013, 22:26
I'm a developer. I'm a programmer for life and I can be very passionate about this topic. Especially when dealing with non-passionate, I'm going home at 16:00 o'clock, business as usual, fixing the bugs after the weekend, uninterested in the end-product and customer programmers.
In my experience enthusiastic programmers are going the extra mile for a perfect product, all others just want to earn money for a living.

For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong. - HL Mencken
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September 4th, 2013, 22:52
Yeah, in general products made without passion and caring for the end product are usually pretty mediocre. Unless it's all been well automated by robots.
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September 4th, 2013, 23:55
Originally Posted by HiddenX View Post
I'm a developer. I'm a programmer for life and I can be very passionate about this topic. Especially when dealing with non-passionate, I'm going home at 16:00 o'clock, business as usual, fixing the bugs after the weekend, uninterested in the end-product and customer programmers.
In my experience enthusiastic programmers are going the extra mile for a perfect product, all others just want to earn money for a living.
Well, programmers are a bit different than most people, so I don't know if you can apply the same yardstick.

For me, mostly it's having a challenge or making things just right that makes me want to continue. Normally whatever your end result is has so little to do with the daily nuts and bolts that I'm not sure how much it matters. Usually if I can do things my own way then I can ensure there's interesting stuff to do and it will go smoothly, but generally I get pretty bored doing too simple of tasks even if the pay is great.Tthat's a lot of the reason I have been making a game instead of doing random crap I don't care about lately. But a lot of the best programmers are also pretty robotic about it and could slug through doing just about anything without flinching, but most people aren't quite that cerebral, and cerebral is probably the opposite of what you need for creating entertainment.

So I don't think it's mandatory to have a love of the playing part of games to be a writer I'm sure it helps, and geez what a stupid comment to make. Ultimately you can't make any entertainment without having it come from people who the end user can relate to, that I do believe. So how can you have someone like her and expect her to appeal to the old bioware fans? Certainly all her stuff makes me cringe, and most all the DA on stuff, even origins, gives me a twilight zone feeling to watch it.

She could maybe write stuff to appeal to twilight fans, but you can't appeal to everybody. I don't think you have to love every aspect of a game but for the big budget games it seems mostly you are paying to watch the 50 million bucks worth of cut scenes, so if you don't like those may as well boot up Q3: Arena and look for a space map game to join.

Like I said they could have brought out someone to talk about the cool game changes they are making for the next game version, that appeals to these fans. Or they could have flat out said they are not quite aiming for the same thing any more, like bethesda did. Instead they chose to call their old fans misogynist trolls and ignore all the complaints and les Hepler take the brunt of all the rage that caused, and take no responsibility for any of it for themselves. In short they are scumbags.
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September 5th, 2013, 00:11
An example would be how story is told in torment, with the flashbacks. Now avelone may not be the big hack and slash fan but it wasn't all just a word dump like it is in most games. He took the time to use the game medium itself to tell the story. That doesn't sound like someone who just skips over the game itself.

That was the case in the old BG games, too. You had barely any dialog really, compared to the time you spent exploring etc. Most the so called RPGs today I feel like it's a big word dump of ren faire fan fiction.

And of course, Hepler just isn't in the same league. If Avelone wrote about his dingleberries it would probably be entertaining. But he'd probably do much better on subjects he likes more.
Last edited by ManWhoJaped; September 5th, 2013 at 00:26.
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September 5th, 2013, 00:18
Is something done with passion always better? No.
Is something done with passion often better? Yes.
Ergo writing for a video game without a passion for gaming < writing for a video game with a passion for gaming.

Now someone might say Hepler probably has a passion for writing itself, but I don't think you can disconnect the writing from the gaming aspect when it comes to video games.
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September 5th, 2013, 07:35
Originally Posted by HiddenX View Post
I'm a developer. I'm a programmer for life and I can be very passionate about this topic. Especially when dealing with non-passionate, I'm going home at 16:00 o'clock, business as usual, fixing the bugs after the weekend, uninterested in the end-product and customer programmers.
In my experience enthusiastic programmers are going the extra mile for a perfect product, all others just want to earn money for a living.
Hum… so passion is the willingness to work harder/ longer? By that definition, yeah, the product may profit from it.

I don't think that's what DArt meant though; especially when we're talking about a writer. I don't think writing necessarily profits from you working over hours.

The industry as a whole is getting more and more professional. Back in the days when Garriott wrote Akalabeth, he did so because he had the creative urge to create a computer game, therefore that's what he did. Nowadays, people study to land a job in this industry. They research all kinds of topics from AI to real world languages and history for the benefit of the product. We can of course assume that they have some passion for making games, and gaming in general; but I think a 9-to-5 mentality isn't so inappropriate for this job.

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September 5th, 2013, 08:53
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
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.
You would do really well to take your own advice - nowhere do I say you said she should be disqualified. The example I gave was a general one and addressing the general reaction of many gamers who have "disqualified" Hepler, not your comment in particular. No need to engage in shadow fencing.

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.
Then we pretty much agree. Of course there have to be people passionate about gaming on the team, people that ensure that the many parts come together. I am just saying that the people that work on the many parts need to be passionate about the parts and not necessarily about the whole, to do a good job.

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.
Exactly, the quality of Bioware games has nothing to do with the issue at hand.

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.
Sure, but it's just icing on the cake for most jobs in the game industry (not for lead designers etc., of course). I say passion for and skill in the task you are actually doing is very obviously much more important. You can be super passionate about games and still be a total dunce at writing, and thus totally useless for that part. While e.g. for a dialog writer position, being a passionate writer and good at it, while being a dunce at gaming may make you slightly less good than a person who is just as skilled and also good and passionate about gaming, but the skill is the far more important factor. And I thik it's only natural that the best people for certain jobs in game production do NOT come from passionate gamers, but are professional specialists at what they do. Talking about large teams of course, it's different for small productions, where everyone has to wear different hats and without passion you don't have the glue to hold it together.

and he has his nice-guy complex,
I'd prefer if you would refrain from personal stabs like this.
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September 5th, 2013, 10:15
Originally Posted by Sacred_Path View Post
Hum… so passion is the willingness to work harder/ longer? By that definition, yeah, the product may profit from it.

I don't think that's what DArt meant though; especially when we're talking about a writer. I don't think writing necessarily profits from you working over hours.
Being passionate about your end-product means (in my case)
  • think of the product as it is "your little baby" -> care for it
  • make the goals of your customers your goals -> cooperate with your customer (agile software development)
  • don't look only at your technical part, look at the other teams working on the product to see the bigger picture of the whole product
  • think outside of your little box
  • be creative with your team and customer, the best solutions can be worked out in a dialog
  • work hard if necessary, but not on regular basis (no burn out, please)

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September 5th, 2013, 10:33
Originally Posted by HiddenX View Post
I'm a developer. I'm a programmer for life and I can be very passionate about this topic. Especially when dealing with non-passionate, I'm going home at 16:00 o'clock, business as usual, fixing the bugs after the weekend, uninterested in the end-product and customer programmers.
In my experience enthusiastic programmers are going the extra mile for a perfect product, all others just want to earn money for a living.
You're completely missing the point though. Hepler is no doubt very enthusiastic about the writing, and willing to go the extra mile there, but that doesn't mean she has to be enthusiastic about every other aspect. In your example, everything has something to do with the programmer's job, and is a direct result of it.

It's entirely possible to be the world's most badass AI or physics programmer without caring about whether the logo on the box of the product is white or beige, or whether it's placed 2 or 2,5 cm off the right edge of the box. That's why marketing departments exist.

In fact, a few of the best programmers I've worked with were so extremely obsessed with their programming they wouldn't even notice if you bombed the rest of the building. I strongly suspect Aspberger syndrome or a similar condition, but that doesn't change the fact that their programming skills are peerless. Inside their bubble of programming, they are the masters of their world and will stop at nothing short of perfection. Pull them out of it and they simply couldn't care less.
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September 5th, 2013, 11:03
Except that she could care less about presenting it in a coherent manner for a video game, which comes through in their end products. It's like a talking novel with some game elements tacked on, not a game with a story, stuff that can happen, conversations overhead, etc.

Originally Posted by Sacred_Path View Post
H
The industry as a whole is getting more and more professional. Back in the days when Garriott wrote Akalabeth, he did so because he had the creative urge to create a computer game,
More "professional" means the corportate world. I have spent all too many years in that environment. For software development it means that you have a hundred people doing the work 2-3 would have previously done, and doing it much worse with 10 times the meetings. It's not hyperbole in the least. Corporations and government simply cannot function without contractors (like me, or like Cleve for that matter) to come in at the last minute and do all the work. Cleve's little rants on the subject were the first time I knew he was the real deal and not some chump, unfortunately making a game in your spare time is practically a lifetime project.

So yes they are less passionate, and less competent, and accomplish far less. It's quantity over quality, and for programming and entertainment that doesn't work well.
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September 5th, 2013, 11:06
@Maylander

See my post #89 -> See always the whole end product, be a generalist and a specialist.
You can use Asperger people, but they need leading and you have to know their comfort zone.

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September 5th, 2013, 11:33
Originally Posted by HiddenX View Post
@Maylander

See my post #89 -> See always the whole end product, be a generalist and a specialist.
There are relatively few people with that skillset, I think. And a herarchical project leadership structure is almost a requirement from a certain size up - too many people feeling responsible for the whole can even easily lead to problems if there is no clear leadership.
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September 5th, 2013, 12:26
Originally Posted by HiddenX View Post
Being passionate about your end-product means (in my case)
  • think of the product as it is "your little baby" -> care for it
  • make the goals of your customers your goals -> cooperate with your customer (agile software development)
  • don't look only at your technical part, look at the other teams working on the product to see the bigger picture of the whole product
  • think outside of your little box
  • be creative with your team and customer, the best solutions can be worked out in a dialog
  • work hard if necessary, but not on regular basis (no burn out, please)
I just don't see where PASHUN, i.e. a burning desire to realize some ideas that you're fond of, is the necessary driving force here. It seems to me that you could achieve all of that with a strictly professional mindset. People can work hard because they're passionate, but they can also work hard because they need/ want the moneez.
The only thing where I see PASHUN as important is creativity, but then: PASHUN might cause you to be less creative, too. If you have a strong vision of what you want to realize and achieve that may as well turn into tunnel vision and make you less flexible/ open minded.

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September 5th, 2013, 13:20
In German I wouldn't use the word "Passion", I would use these terms

Motivation
Interesse am Gesamtprojekt
Teamgeist
Kundenorientiert
Über den Tellerand schauen
Ein wenig Ehrgeiz ist auch nicht schlecht
Stolz auf sein Produkt sein
Ziel: 100% Qualität und 0 - Fehler

You can achieve all of this with a professional mindset and skillset in good quality, but IMHO (and experience - I have more than 20 bigger projects under my belt) some positive emotions (passion) are good to achieve something better/close to perfect.

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September 5th, 2013, 13:33
Originally Posted by HiddenX View Post
@Maylander

See my post #89 -> See always the whole end product, be a generalist and a specialist.
You can use Asperger people, but they need leading and you have to know their comfort zone.
Of course, but Hepler's not a leader. The leader most certainly needs to care about every aspect, but specialists don't.
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September 5th, 2013, 14:09
Originally Posted by Maylander View Post
Of course, but Hepler's not a leader. The leader most certainly needs to care about every aspect, but specialists don't.
For project leaders and team leaders it is a necessity, for specialists it's a good thing, too. They don't need to know every detail of the whole project, but they need to understand the vision and the goals of the project, to support the whole project in their special function in the best way possible. Only then you have a good chance that every part of the project fits well together in the end.

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September 5th, 2013, 14:16
I consider myself an author, too.
And you all know what I think of games …

So, if I say that I don't like the fighting part in games (I actually don't like Action-RPG fighting, with endless respawns, too), would that entitle people to unleash their hatred at me in the same way they did at Mrs. Hepler ?

No, they will say, drifting into their "I haven't dine a thing !" mode : They'd argue that I'm not a part of a game developing team, and therefore I wouldn't "deserve ( ! ) such a hatred.

To me, that's pure double-speak. I should be different than any other author ? I should be different than her ?

Come on, that's pure nonsense. You can't just say "I hated her because she wrote a bad story, so her harassment was deserved", and "no I don't hate him although he wrote a bad story, so harassment towards him wouldn't be deserverd".
To me, this is just BS.

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September 5th, 2013, 14:19
Originally Posted by HiddenX View Post
For project leaders and team leaders it is a necessity, for specialists it's a good thing, too. They don't need to know every detail of the whole project, but they need to understand the vision and the goals of the project, to support the whole project in their special function in the best way possible. Only then you have a good chance that every part of the project fits well together in the end.
I agree, but understanding the vision and goals is something very different from passion for both. Understanding is something you can achieve intellectually. Passion isn't.
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September 5th, 2013, 14:54
Originally Posted by GhanBuriGhan View Post
I agree, but understanding the vision and goals is something very different from passion for both. Understanding is something you can achieve intellectually. Passion isn't.
My point is: Get your team (and the customer!) involved in the whole development process of your product and let them learn what your product is all about.

For some team members this is a pure intellectual process (professionals), some need emotions and fun (Kick off with party and beer), some are nearly mad and passionate (nerds).
I don't believe in in onetrack specialists/restricted experts (German: "Fachidioten").

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