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July 19th, 2007, 00:55
Daily Game's preview of Mass Effect has a good explanation of how the dialogue system works in BioWare's space action/RPG:
The implementation of all this is remarkably smooth, especially considering BioWare doesn't exactly specialize in real-time tactical shooters. Had we not been in a private room with BioWare, in fact, it would've been easy to pass off Mass Effect as having come from a developer with a long history in shooters. That is, until we entered a bar in the 30-mile-long space station.
In this scene, we instigated a conversation with an alien who had some information we wanted. Like KOTOR (and most other RPGs), there were several ways to get this information, from sweetening her up with compliments to flat-out threatening her with a drawn gun. The conversation didn't progress with a simple conversation tree, though, as each expression was mapped to a specific direction on the D-pad. Throughout the game, similarly toned responses will be mapped to the same direction, so if players always want to have a "nice" response they would always press right, for instance, or if they always want to have a "mean" response they would always press down.
This gave the conversations a much more instinctual and fluid feel than reading entire chains of text, and it made them feel much more like cinematic cutscenes than interruptions in the gameplay. It also will help gamers who buy Mass Effect for the tactical-shooting elements breeze through what they might feel are the "boring" parts while still being engaged in the story. BioWare did assure us, though, that every line of dialogue will still be recorded, so hardcore RPG fans can sit there and listen to every voice-acted word if they wish.
I do love how the voice recordings are for the hardcore.
More information.

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July 19th, 2007, 00:55
This gave the conversations a much more instinctual and fluid feel than reading entire chains of text, and it made them feel much more like cinematic cutscenes than interruptions in the gameplay.
I miss the good old days when conversations were part of the gameplay and not cinema.
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July 19th, 2007, 02:13
Good point.

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July 19th, 2007, 05:55
Originally Posted by Briosafreak View Post
I miss the good old days when conversations were part of the gameplay and not cinema.
How so?

Not to be snarky, but while the time you spend talking to salarians is time you're not off shooting geth in the faceplate, the time you spent talking with Jaheira or Minsc was time you weren't off using that crazy kensai/mage combination with the sword that gave you bonus spells to blow beholders and mind flayers off the map.

If your argument is that conversation is as valid a gameplay element as monster-whacking, then Mass Effect should be fine — it has solid conversations, just like all BioWare games. If your argument is that conversation blocks gameplay, then it's been doing so in all BioWare games since BG1.

If your argument is that text-based, no-VO conversation integrates smoothly with monster-whacking gameplay, but voiced-over conversation does not integrate smoothly with monster-whacking gameplay, then I'm interested in hearing how, exactly, because in the seven months of playtesting I did, it didn't feel like any more of an interruption than the conversations in Jade Empire or KotOR or NWN or BG2.

Three notes:

1) I read fast enough that I usually skipped through KotOR and Jade's VO'd dialogue unless the line looked good enough that I really wanted to hear it delivered (that is, I read everything, and then I hit (A) or (Continue) before the speaker was done delivering the line). I do not consider myself a VO fanboy.

2) If your complaint is that the conversations will be too long or too wordy or whatever… no. I loved BioWare games, I bought all of 'em, and even I thought that some conversations were too wordy. That's not a new thing that will somehow be Mass Effect's fault. (And Mass Effect dialogue is shorter than Jade or KotOR dialogue, at least on a line-by-line basis, while still letting conversations be deep and long for people who want to explore dialogue options. The writers know that VO makes things seem longer, and they've adjusted their style to make it feel right.)

3) If you play the game and realize that you hate the VO and want to skip through it… do so. Turn on the subtitles and go wild. You'll be missing some nice cinematic touches, but if you're reading rather than listening and watching, I doubt your game experience will be ruined by not getting to see the cool emotive arm-wave that our cinematic designers spent a week getting right. Different people learn and engage in different ways (auditory learners, visual learners, kinesthetic learners), and with the option to subtitle and skip, you can get through the game at whatever speed you like.

All this reviewer is saying, really, is that the conversations look good — better than they did in Jade, and worlds beyond KotOR in terms of face effects and animations. I fail to see how a conversation looking good is a threat to your roleplaying experience.
Last edited by PatrickWeekes; July 19th, 2007 at 05:57. Reason: Adjusted a point to clarify that while conversation lines are punchier, we aren't hacking conversations to "Go kill 10 geth".
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July 19th, 2007, 06:30
in 3rd person and 1st person games text strings are somewhat immersion breaking but if they are coupled with camera and character movements as well as voice over then that is a best case scenario for my gaming experience. in a isometric or top down view though long text strings work fine as the game comes alive at a slower place through reading actions and watching static visuals more like an adult picture book versus a cinematic experience in 3-d. though i do prefer 3-d, i'd choose the better quality version whatever the format. a poorly 'shot' 3d game seems far less immersive to me than a well written iso/top down game.

so Patrick, how many years 'til you think mass effect emmerges on the pc? in time to take good advantage of most people having dx10 i would presume?
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July 19th, 2007, 08:02
Originally Posted by curiously undead View Post
so Patrick, how many years 'til you think mass effect emmerges on the pc? in time to take good advantage of most people having dx10 i would presume?
Interesting points. I hadn't thought about top-down versus 3-D as making a difference in re text versus VO. I'll have to tinker with that and see what comes up. There are some projects in development that are going to put that to the test in some ways (which is not to say that they'll ship that way — "put to the test" often results in "Holy mother of Zeus, that went poorly" and a swift cutting).

Regarding the ME PC port, I can quite honestly say that I don't have an answer — on the Jade PC port, they outsourced most of the conversion and had a very small in-house team vetting the process, so it's not something that gets a lot of press inside the office. I do know that while I haven't been ordered to deny that a PC port will someday happen (because, uh, you know, since it happened with Jade, I think we can probably assuuuuuume…), my big fat writer butt would be ten kinds of fired if I even hazarded a guess.

So far, I haven't managed to convince any of my non-360-owning friends to get a 360 specifically to play a game with my name in the credits, but I'm optimistic. I got a 360 myself so that I could play the final version. Whenever a PC port does come out, I'm sure my little laptop will be far too old, small, and slow to handle it.
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July 19th, 2007, 08:04
Hey patrick you work for bioware? If so whats the other xbox360 rpg in works?
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July 19th, 2007, 14:03
@ Patrick

Glad to see you here again, Patrick Keep up the good work

I have watched the 20 min. or so gameplay video from gamespot.com, and apart from being somewhat distracted by company Prez.'s hairdo (sort of a mohawk thing going on there ) I was also distracted by the conversation system. It didn't feel like I was playing the game. It felt more like the game was playing me. And by that I mean that yes, the conversation looked nice and went fluently, but I felt like I was watching an interactive movie, not playing a game.

And by interactive movie I mean that it looks like (at least from the presentation in the gamespot gameplay video) a scripted story in which I can have some say in what the (main) character are saying towards other characters, but the plot just goes ahead, no matter what I say. There seems to be no real choice and consequence to what I'm saying, it just seems like I'm choosing a conversation topic leading to a predefined goal. But that may just be how the gameplay was on that particular point??

I have no doubt that Mass Effect will have an very engaging and interesting story, but I want to play a game, have influence on how the game's story is going to be resolved, not just watching an interactive more or a cinematic game….

and txa sums up my feelings about this…nicely…

Originally Posted by rune_74 View Post
Hey patrick you work for bioware? If so whats the other xbox360 rpg in works?
erm —- My best qualified bet is that you won't get an answer from Patrick regarding this one, other than what is commonly known, that some people
are moving onto the Mass Effect project. You see, each developers in a developing house, such as Bioware, has something called an NDA, a Non-Disclosure Agreement, if they say something that breaks this, they're out the door faster than you can say —— non-disclosure-agreement.
Last edited by aries100; July 19th, 2007 at 14:18. Reason: content added+spelling
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July 19th, 2007, 14:09
Patrick - for many of us 'cinematic' anything tends to mean being taken out of the game and shown a fancy and high-priced CGI cutscene (or in-engine) with pre-determined dialog that might or might not have anything to do with you or your character.

I think that compared to BG2 that KotOR was 'more cinematic' since you saw people talking. But I was just playing Halo 2 on the PC and there were entire sections that you thought 'that would be cool to do' but the game did it all in a cutscene and you were just the audience. That sucks. (as does Halo 2 on the PC, but that is another story)

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July 19th, 2007, 18:00
rune: What Aries said.

Aries: I wonder how much of what you're experiencing is due to the fact that it was a demo. In the demo, the conversation was pretty much predetermined, so that the demo team had a reasonable goal. On top of that, you're watching somebody else play the game, not playing it yourself (and you're watching somebody else play a conversation in such a way as to maximize the cinematics of it; everybody knows that BioWare can do dialogue trees, so the selling point of the demo is that our dialogue trees can now look more cinematic — of course they're gonna time things to make it look as movie-ish as possible).

This isn't to say that some conversations aren't pretty linear — just like in any BioWare games, there are some conversations where we need you to walk away with some new information, and you're not getting out of that conversation until you've learned that the evil unicorns are in the valley to the north, and that they've been using pixie dust to send nightmares up into the mountains. Good writing can disguise those on-the-rails moments pretty well, but to an experienced gamer, they're always going to be there.

txa: By the definition you're using, aren't most conversations in BG2, NWN, and KotOR also cinematic, since those conversation options were going to appear regardless of whether you were a human or an elf, a paladin or a sorcerer, or a scoundrel or a soldier? I guess I'm not understanding what makes the conversations look more intrusive in Mass Effect.

Is it the letterboxing and facial zoom-in? Or is it the fact that the PC lines are VO'd? Or is it that we haven't shown dialogue being different because of your character's actions?

If it's the letterboxing and camera effects, there's not much I can say. Mass Effect developers wanted the game to approach movie-level cinematics when you were in major conversations, and while you can control the timing (and skip lines as desired) when you're the one playing the game, it's definitely going to look more polished than, say, KotOR. In my mind, that's not a bad thing, since you still have the options to subtitle and skip through dialogue rapidly if that's the way you want to play the game.

If it's the PC VO, then there's also not much I can say. Mass Effect went that way after a lot of thought and a lot of testing, and at least in internal tests, it seems to have worked pretty well. The bad news is that you don't know exactly what your character is going to say (although with the paraphrases, you've got a pretty good idea). The good news is that you can actually hear your character deliver some badass lines. Time will tell whether that tradeoff was worth it.

If it's the fact that we haven't shown a lot of reaction to your character, there is something I can say. What you're seeing is a demo. As "guy who didn't write much of it, but did go in to edit a lot of it late in the process", I can attest to the sometimes-absurd number of dialogue branches where people react differently to you based on choices you've made. It's always a tradeoff, of course — an extremely reactive character is about twice as long as a non-reactive character, since you need all the different options, and that extra length doesn't make the game any longer. If you went to an extreme, you'd be looking at a choice between a very long game in which you always see the same dialogue and nobody reacts to you, and a very short game that's tailored to who your character is and what he or she has done. On Mass Effect, we tried to pick our battles. A minor ambient character is short enough that we can sometimes afford to double their effective dialogue by making them reactive. A minor plot character probably isn't worth the trouble, except in a few choice lines. A major plot character absolutely needs some reactivity, provided that it doesn't propel their word-count from "high" to "truly absurd", so you have to figure out where you can get the most bang for your buck.

I'm probably not explaining this very well. All I can really say is that, looking at the game from the dialogue toolset, it doesn't look all that different from previous BioWare games in terms of how conversation works. It's just that the cinematics are better for those people who care about cinematics. (Generally speaking, I don't care about cinematics, but even I'm impressed by some of the little touches in the big scenes.)
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July 19th, 2007, 18:27
Originally Posted by PatrickWeekes View Post
txa: By the definition you're using, aren't most conversations in BG2, NWN, and KotOR also cinematic, since those conversation options were going to appear regardless of whether you were a human or an elf, a paladin or a sorcerer, or a scoundrel or a soldier? I guess I'm not understanding what makes the conversations look more intrusive in Mass Effect.
I wasn't complaining, as I don't see an issue. I was trying to guess the feelings - much of my stuff comes from FPS-land, and I know that whenever there is a conversation I can lean back and watch because I am not 'really' involved.

My other guess is that through so many things lately people are getting about game developers as movie-maker wanna-bes. There is an example of this in GTA: Liberty City Stories on the PSP, where the mob boss is taken and you have to rescue him from a car about to be squashed by a wrecker. Everything about that mission is scripted and triggered and it is obvious that the designers saw it happening in a specific was and were very unforgiving about anything else. It is clear that they were going for a 'cinematic feel' … but it was unsatisfying as a game moment.

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July 19th, 2007, 22:27
cin·e·ma (sĭn'ə-mə) Pronunciation Key
n.

A film or movie.
A movie theater.
Films or movies considered as a group.
The film or movie industry.

Films or movies considered as a group.
The film or movie industry.
The art or technique of making films or movies; filmmaking

cinematic

adjective
of or pertaining to or characteristic of the cinema

Some of us like games called rpgs because they provide a different experience than watching a movie. I don't want to feel like I'm watching a movie or reading a book. I want to feel like I am playing a role that I created. I know it might seem crazy, but thats why I play rpgs. At one time crpgs were more bookish, now they are more movieish, I'd personally like them to become more rpgish. But, it seems, the more technology (i.e. graphics) improves the less likely that dream is of being achieved. But that makes sense since the more my disposable income improves, the less likely I am to waste money on action games labeled as rpgs.

edit: just to add something else. Books, movies, plays, and now 99% of video games are just different mediums that tell a story. The rpg genre is unique in that it's core goal is not telling a story, but creating a story. Instead of trying to tell me a story in a more cinematic and extreme way, I'd like to see Bioware try and make a game where I can create my own story. Try and emulate the activity this mislabeled genre is named after.
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July 20th, 2007, 00:23
Originally Posted by roqua View Post
Some of us like games called rpgs because they provide a different experience than watching a movie.
Much as I appreciate you explaining to me what cinema is, you still haven't explained why improved face effects are bad. The difference between Mass Effect and KotOR is that Mass Effect has better face effects, and the player's lines are VO'd.

If KotOR is a CRPG, but Mass Effect is not, then I'd like to hear why.

If KotOR is not a CRPG, then your definition of a CRPG is narrow enough to be useless; you're defining all CRPGs that you don't like as something other than CRPGs, and I doubt that the vast distance between our two points will allow for any meaningful exchange of ideas.

The rpg genre is unique in that it's core goal is not telling a story, but creating a story.
That's not the core goal of CRPGs. That's your preferred form of CRPG. There's a world of difference between the two.
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July 20th, 2007, 00:59
Originally Posted by PatrickWeekes View Post
Much as I appreciate you explaining to me what cinema is, you still haven't explained why improved face effects are bad. The difference between Mass Effect and KotOR is that Mass Effect has better face effects, and the player's lines are VO'd.

If KotOR is a CRPG, but Mass Effect is not, then I'd like to hear why.

If KotOR is not a CRPG, then your definition of a CRPG is narrow enough to be useless; you're defining all CRPGs that you don't like as something other than CRPGs, and I doubt that the vast distance between our two points will allow for any meaningful exchange of ideas.



That's not the core goal of CRPGs. That's your preferred form of CRPG. There's a world of difference between the two.
My critique is the general direction of the genre as a whole. With Kotor being a shift in the wrong direction, along with Mass Effect. It might be a fantastic shift for the gameís Bioware makes, and the amount of sales made. And what games I like and what games are more rpgish than not are two separate issues. I like what I like and that has no impact on what a RPG is or has always been.

A while ago you posted on dialogues. I admitted I donít just skip hearing the VOís, I skip the reading. Because it doesnít matter 99% of the time what is said. I can figure it out by the responses Iím allowed to pick and if I need detail I can read the quest log.

Most of the people here love PS:T and would love to see another game like it. I also think that would be a step in the wrong direction for rpgs, since, regardless of how great the story, characterís, and dialogues were, it had a very narrow and focused story that felt more like playing a great book, than playing a rpg. A great game will be a great game regardless if itís a great rpg or not.

This gave the conversations a much more instinctual and fluid feel than reading entire chains of text, and it made them feel much more like cinematic cutscenes than interruptions in the gameplay.
More cinematic equals less rpg. What types of games do Bioware make?

That's not the core goal of CRPGs. That's your preferred form of CRPG. There's a world of difference between the two
Please, tell me what the core goal of a rpg is and what makes it different than other forms of media or entertainment?
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July 20th, 2007, 08:09
Originally Posted by roqua View Post
My critique is the general direction of the genre as a whole. With Kotor being a shift in the wrong direction, along with Mass Effect. It might be a fantastic shift for the gameís Bioware makes, and the amount of sales made. And what games I like and what games are more rpgish than not are two separate issues. I like what I like and that has no impact on what a RPG is or has always been.
Except that you're saying that KotOR isn't an RPG by your definition. That puts your definition far enough out in left field that I don't quite know where to go with it.

And, frankly, it's not worth my time. You didn't like KotOR. My incredibly safe bet is that if you didn't like KotOR, you're not gonna like Mass Effect. Rather than debate what an RPG is, I should just wish you luck finding games you like.

And yet, I respond…

A while ago you posted on dialogues. I admitted I donít just skip hearing the VOís, I skip the reading. Because it doesnít matter 99% of the time what is said. I can figure it out by the responses Iím allowed to pick and if I need detail I can read the quest log.
Okay.

As I said, good luck finding games you like.

More cinematic equals less rpg. What types of games do Bioware make?
I disagree with your premise.

Please, tell me what the core goal of a rpg is and what makes it different than other forms of media or entertainment?
No.

I don't believe that rpgs have a core goal, just an infinite number of possible goals… just like every other genre. Your attempt to define a core goal and then categorically state that some of the most popular games in the field are not RPGs because they don't meet that core goal is like declaring that all coins are nickels, and that dimes, by dint of being very bad nickels, are not coins.

Defining an RPG in the first place is one step from Godwinning a thread, but I don't see a game's genre as a "choose one of the above" choice. I see many games having elements of different genres, and most of the time, you call it whatever will sell the most copies, and the question of whether or not it's an RPG and/or a shooter and/or a platformer and/or a beat 'em up game depends on what characteristics it has. Say, for example, that core elements include character customization, inventory systems, progression of abilities, resource management, free-exploration areas, tactical combat, narrative interaction, and narrative influence.

KotOR, Jade Empire, Oblivion, and Dungeon Siege all have enough core elements to be RPGs. They're very different games, because they hit different elements harder (or not at all), but I consider them all RPGs. KotOR and Jade had story immersion as their core goals — get the player inside a good story and let him feel like his actions influence it in meaningful ways. Oblivion and Dungeon Siege have much different goals and strengths.

It sounds like BioWare's games are not the games you enjoy. I try to avoid playing games that I know I'm going to actively dislike, personally. I don't even really bounce around messageboard threads about games I'm going to dislike. (You know Bioshock? Holy heavens, I hate the entire premise of that game. That is a game with a trailer scene that caused me to say, aloud, "Wow, that's disgusting and unpleasant, and I really dislike it." Then, in an interview, the producer says that if the scene in question shocks and offends you, it has done its job, and it's said with this "Haha, we're manipulating you into feeling just what we wanted! How great are we?" attitude. And you know, my response was, "Congrats, geniuses. You convinced me to not buy your game."

And yet, I manage to avoid going into Bioshock threads and suggesting that Bioshock's creators should instead make games that I'd rather play, 'cause, you know, there are people really looking forward to the game, and more power to 'em. There's no gain for me in telling everyone in the Bioshock forum that the game they're looking forward to is one that is bad by my personal definitions.)
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July 20th, 2007, 08:18
at least bioshock is simultaneously being released on the pc
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July 20th, 2007, 08:34
Heh.

I really, really, really hope that BioWare's future contracts let us simultaneously release on multiple platforms. I love the Xbox 360 like the overheating-prone older brother I never had, but none of my friends (except BioWare employee friends) actually own a 360, and have reacted to my suggestion that they buy a 360 just to play the game with… skepticism.

I know it's happened — people on the BioWare forums have said as much — but it still doesn't get my non-360-owning mom to play my game. (And this is my mom, who read every novel I wrote, including the really bad ones where I obviously needed a girlfriend.)
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July 20th, 2007, 11:31
Originally Posted by PatrickWeekes View Post
Defining an RPG in the first place is one step from Godwinning a thread, but I don't see a game's genre as a "choose one of the above" choice. I see many games having elements of different genres, and most of the time, you call it whatever will sell the most copies, and the question of whether or not it's an RPG and/or a shooter and/or a platformer and/or a beat 'em up game depends on what characteristics it has. Say, for example, that core elements include character customization, inventory systems, progression of abilities, resource management, free-exploration areas, tactical combat, narrative interaction, and narrative influence.

KotOR, Jade Empire, Oblivion, and Dungeon Siege all have enough core elements to be RPGs. They're very different games, because they hit different elements harder (or not at all), but I consider them all RPGs. KotOR and Jade had story immersion as their core goals — get the player inside a good story and let him feel like his actions influence it in meaningful ways. Oblivion and Dungeon Siege have much different goals and strengths.
Agreed. Taste differs and arguing over it would be a waste of time. So, how about some analysis on the preferences? In PnP RPG, there is a theory called GNS theory, which divides the tendencies of gameplay preferences of game systems into three categories, means, Gamist, Narrativist and Simulationist. Gamist is more of interested in competition trough character builds and tactics. Narrativist is focused on story and character development. Simulationist concentrates on the simulation of the world and the exploration of it. The concept itself is quite old but I think this concept fit even CRPG today. For example, Diablo clones such as Dungeon Siege can be considered as Gamist, Bioware and Obsidian games can be considered as Narrativist while sandbox RPGs such as TES are Simulationist. Of course, because they are categorized under tendencies, an RPG can have different aspects. For example, Fallout and Gothic are probably both Simulationist and Narrativist.

Interestingly, it turns out that this categorization are not necessarily related with gameplay, so, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and Bioshock, for example, can be considered as Simulationist with much more limited area both in terms of space and social interactions. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. employs some scripted events while Bioshock appears to use in-game writings and probably some scripted events to keep some Narrativist aspects. If I remember correctly, Levine explained that the current AI is just enough to simulate much more robotic existence than human-beings, which eventually resulted in a sandbox imaging a deserted dystopian city populated with people lost their humanity, tied with Narrativist theme in the game. I miss some aspects of CRPG but I still find other aspects, which I applicate in PnPRPG still in some works even if they are categorized as FPS.

Originally Posted by PatrickWeekes View Post
It sounds like BioWare's games are not the games you enjoy. I try to avoid playing games that I know I'm going to actively dislike, personally. I don't even really bounce around messageboard threads about games I'm going to dislike. (You know Bioshock? Holy heavens, I hate the entire premise of that game. That is a game with a trailer scene that caused me to say, aloud, "Wow, that's disgusting and unpleasant, and I really dislike it." Then, in an interview, the producer says that if the scene in question shocks and offends you, it has done its job, and it's said with this "Haha, we're manipulating you into feeling just what we wanted! How great are we?" attitude. And you know, my response was, "Congrats, geniuses. You convinced me to not buy your game."

And yet, I manage to avoid going into Bioshock threads and suggesting that Bioshock's creators should instead make games that I'd rather play, 'cause, you know, there are people really looking forward to the game, and more power to 'em. There's no gain for me in telling everyone in the Bioshock forum that the game they're looking forward to is one that is bad by my personal definitions.)
That explains a lot, and I think, settles the score. Between Bioware and Irrational, the design philosophies are totally different. What Irrational is doing may scare away the majority. Why do they take the seemingly unnecessary risk? Is that their strategy of attracting juvenile desires? Probably not - since Levine complained of the content of GTAs or lack of it. I wonder if Bioshock is going to be successful but he definitely has the idea or at least direction of what kind of game he would like to make "omnivorous"ly mixing every single factor which he found useful. Although Rand is not my favorite, I am still glad to see some game designers value works outside of games, fantasy and/or Sci-Fi novels, movies and TV shows. As I said, taste differs.
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July 20th, 2007, 12:45
I don't know whether or not this belong in a new topic, but if you head over to gamespot.com, there's really nice article in which the doctors and casey talk about Mass Effect.

Here's the link

http://www.gamespot.com/xbox360/rpg/…om_clk=topslot

to sum up:
Finally, Ray and Greg + Casey talks about the rpg elements of the game, e.g. the different endings and such things you can get to ME, depending on how you play the game. (nothing new, I know, but at last we've got some good news for the rpg fans ).
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July 20th, 2007, 21:47
Originally Posted by roqua View Post
edit: just to add something else. Books, movies, plays, and now 99% of video games are just different mediums that tell a story. The rpg genre is unique in that it's core goal is not telling a story, but creating a story. Instead of trying to tell me a story in a more cinematic and extreme way, I'd like to see Bioware try and make a game where I can create my own story. Try and emulate the activity this mislabeled genre is named after.
Sorry, but previous attempts at that have failed. Darklands tried that and it was roundly dissed (even after it was aall fixedup) for NOT having a story. If you look at all the RPGs that people consider the best they all have strong stories. You can affect the details of the story but you are playing the game's story none-the-less.

Even with a "live" RPG if there is no story 99.44% of groups will flounder around a while and then stop showing up. I've seen this with many groups over the 30 years I've been playing and GMing RPGs.
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