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September 19th, 2007, 09:45
[QUOTE=Acleacius;45851instead of funding maximum creative abilities as their pre-console days, they are weakening the industry since this forces development to the lowest common denominator.[/quote]

Lowest common denominator? What's that? You mean to say that a console is the lowest common denominator? That's kind of a limited way of looking at things, isn't it? It's like saying it's more difficult to be creative on a console. Besides, and I'm not sure if I understand you correctly, most of you people don't care about graphics as much as gameplay, right? It comes down to a choice: do you like playing games on your PC or on your console? But yeah, maybe the PC market is diminished by these exclusive deals.

"Here we go with personifying companies again. "M$" is doing nothing;"
Either I misunderstand you or your joking.
No, I was just saying that companies aren't human. They don't have emotions. People are always going, "Blizzard doesn't care! Microsoft is evil!" Well, a big company is run by thousands of people and do not work like humans do. Of course they care about how much money they bring in. Why should that come as a surprise?

"Multi-platform development will actually result in a higher quality product overall"
How is this possible if you are always building and thinking from the lowest common denominator?
It isn't.
So you subscribe to the crowd that always wants the latest and greatest and have a recent $2000 gaming rig, do you? Why is a console the lowest common denominator again? It's been possible to have works of art on console machines for years now. Do we need more horse power? Or do you just hate gamepads?

It's possible to end up with a better product, because developing for multiple platforms will expose the developers to more development environments, forcing them to test more and naturally have more potential problems exposed that they need to think about. They only thing that is important here is that they consider the differences in user experience for all platforms they release for.

Maybe, but an example would help.
Final Fantasy?

Sony and Nintendo have been in the console industry longer and have not tried to overthrow the whole PC industry so they could get console market share, iirc.
Have MS tried, though? How?

"Multi-platform development will actually result in a higher quality product overall.
Then would you mind defining what you consider higher quality, becasue at least from a technical stand point that's not possible due to the hardware limitations?
So how would you define quality? I see it as a fun game that is creative, without any major bugs, has tons of polish, value, has been streamlined for each particular gamer type, basically a game that is fun and interesting to play without being frustrating. You're saying that's not possible with current console hardware? What hardware limitations are you talking about?

Multi-platform only means that the dev has a bit more work to do in the UI design, polish and playtesting departments, and yeah, so maybe they'll run into problems with time and money and screw that up, but that's possible with an exclusive (be it console or PC) title as well.
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September 19th, 2007, 10:28
Dhruin
I mean that m$ development goals are to develop as many games asap for the console and the console with the exception of about 6 months at time of new hardware release will always be a weaker platform than the PC.
While I wont get to see ME for 2 years, what I have seen looks great for the console.
I did notice from what little I have seen in the videos, the full range of facial expressions seems less than say even Bloodlines, which is 3 years old.

"You're also putting all the blame for not pursuing cheaper games entirely on the publishers"
Not really, what I am saying is that they have been offering tons of money to PC developers to make console games, which takes away from PC games being developed since m$ decided to lose 5 billion in the first 5 years and has in the last couple of years increased it since they are getting big enough fast enough, of course crappy hardware doesn't help.

I really don't know about Bioware anymore, they maybe too big to do little titles, might be easier for them to fund new and smaller indie studio like CD Projeckt.
Your right, for me it;s so hard to tell who the hell Bioware is anymore, they have been under m$ development mentality and money train for so long now, I hope they still remember their strong roots.

Oh I agree all the emphasis on "always the best graphics" is bad news and that would be worthy of a whole article and thread of discussions.

"I also don't recall a golden age of MS publishing prior to the Xbox."
True, I was mostly refering to what they are doing, not they stopped doing something great to persue this stratigy.
However if they would have focused equally on PC and Console, they wouldn't have stabbed themselves in the back by damaging their main money maker the PC industry to create a new department.
Sony had sold tons of PS games because they had some good quality titles and it coexisted with PC, i.e. PC was the fastest growing entertainment sector in the late 90's inspite of PS existing, but m$ made consoles at the expense of and instead of supporting the PC industry sought to undermine it.

"I think your M$ stuff is overly simplistic and ignores everything else."
You might be right, I think of it as focusing on m$, not ignoring other factors.
I see other problems but when you have huge effect factor like m$, it can sometimes be hard to see something clearly without knowing m$'s level of involvement and influence, since it runs very deeply.

"but saying "that's the way it was advertised at least at one time" makes it sound like that has changed"
Well then it was just my poor wording, I meant to say;
"I recall it being PC only at one time, but don't currently know if that's still the case, but I am currently betting it will be multiplatform."

Trust me, most of the names I have been called you can't translate in any language…they're not even real words as much as a succession of violent images.
Last edited by Acleacius; September 19th, 2007 at 10:50.
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September 19th, 2007, 12:31
I think you're contradicting yourself. You agree the emphasis on the best graphics is bad — but you keep talking about crappy hardware, which - as far as I can see - is only relevant to graphics.

Which RPG on the PC demonstrates gameplay improvements (*not* graphical improvements) that would not be possible on a console?

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September 19th, 2007, 12:55
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
Which RPG on the PC demonstrates gameplay improvements (*not* graphical improvements) that would not be possible on a console?
I think that last year's LotR RTS game demonstrated that genre is best left on the PC. I will be interested in seeing how the console Civilization game comes out.

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September 19th, 2007, 13:04
Because of "crappy hardware"? Or because the genre doesn't fit with a gamepad and remote screen in the same way that beat-'em-ups aren't so good with a keyboard?

I don't have a console, have no intention of getting a console and wish they'd all go away and just let Troika get on with making Fallout 3. Back in reality, however, none of the problems I see with gaming have to do with crappy hardware.

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September 19th, 2007, 13:24
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
Because of "crappy hardware"? Or because the genre doesn't fit with a gamepad and remote screen in the same way that beat-'em-ups aren't so good with a keyboard?
Strictly because of the control system not fitting. I see that tons on handhelds - the DS is wonderful for some things because of the touch screen, but the PSP having a nice analog stick allows motion options a D pad cannot deliver. And so on …

But the ability of the PS3 / XBOX to deliver PC-level graphics to a big screen at the price of a video card is not something to sneeze at I don't think crappy hardware is an issue - it is just a matter that consoles are frozen at the decisions made based on price / performance / components in the design phase.

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September 19th, 2007, 14:03
Originally Posted by Acleacius View Post
I did notice from what little I have seen in the videos, the full range of facial expressions seems less than say even Bloodlines, which is 3 years old.
What are you saying with that? My Xbox 360 has more juice than my PC and my PC is about 2,5 years old. Currently, Xbox 360 can hold its own in terms of power compared to medium to not-so-extremely-high-end PC's and PS3 has even more potential. The fact that Mass Effect is being developed for Xbox 360 has nothing to do with the supposed lack of a full range of facial expressions.

Originally Posted by txa1265 View Post
I don't think crappy hardware is an issue - it is just a matter that consoles are frozen at the decisions made based on price / performance / components in the design phase.
Yes, it's always a money issue with consoles, isn't it? That's why those games are so outrageously prices and the hardware is relatively cheap. But let's talk about lowest common denominator. What about titles developed for PC? The PC developers have to deal with this "lowest common denominator" much more than console developers. It's just called differently: system requirements. There is a vast array of different hardware available that they have to develop to and they need to make it run well on all or most of them. So they make scalable engines, which should produce good quality on both consoles, current high-end PC's and mid-end PC's. Everybody's happy. Then there's just the issue of UI and platform-specific polish.

Speaking of that LOTR RTS, I remember reading in a review that the title showed that RTS games can work on consoles. I wouldn't know, not having played it.
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September 19th, 2007, 17:36
Lots of interesting points. To respond haphazardly to one of them…

BioWare can't really make a $500,000 game these days — at least, not without losing money. BioWare has committed to using cutting-edge tech, and that means that the ramp-up time on any new project will be huge, even if the project is using another game's engine (like KotOR using NWN's engine). You spend $500,000 just making sure that your project has a decent server and that all your project's employees' paychecks go through.

There are two situations where BioWare could come close, though:

1) Live content. NWN premium modules that were produced in-house usually used small teams, which meant that the costs were lower (and while there was new art, it was small in relation to the amount of art already existing in the game). That's the good news. The bad news is that a) no premium module ever sold well enough to be worth the money it took to build it, in terms of employee-hours of work, and b) this wouldn't satisfy the people who wanted a hardcore CRPG, because live content by its nature uses another game's engine, and that would mean that you'd be getting, say, a new Dragon Age downloadable content pack, not a completely new game that was turn-based and such.

(Note: The "not selling well" thing isn't a slam. I love some of those modules, but they weren't released to make money; they were released to show continued support for Neverwinter Nights.

2) Handheld games. Because it's produced on a handheld, with technology and graphics requirements that are a lot more stringent, handheld games have to be lean and mean, which means small teams and shorter production schedules. I don't know that BioWare could produce one for $500,000, since every project at BioWare is inherently kinda large, but you'd be able to produce one for a lot less than we spent producing Mass Effect. That's the good news. The bad news is that, well, it's on a handheld, and that wouldn't satisfy the PC grognards.

The upshot is that BioWare can't make small games any longer. The company is too large to be able to take on a project like that.
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September 19th, 2007, 17:55
Originally Posted by PatrickWeekes View Post
(Note: The "not selling well" thing isn't a slam. I love some of those modules, but they weren't released to make money; they were released to show continued support for Neverwinter Nights.
I loved those and did big write-ups on them at GamerDad that got loads of mileage … too bad they didn't sell that well, they were a great value!

Originally Posted by PatrickWeekes View Post
2) Handheld games.
w00t! Maybe do a solid D&D implementation on the PSP! (oops, bit of a reveal on D&D Tactics?!?!)

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September 19th, 2007, 19:04
I phrased that badly. It's not that they didn't sell well. It's that BioWare is a large enough company that, well, devoting even a team of 5 or 6 guys to that for long enough to get it to a professional state ends up costing the company a bunch of man-months of employee salary and computing resources.

For a smaller company, I imagine that they would have been profitable, comparing the costs to the revenue. It's not like they didn't bring anything in — but their main benefit was as a promotional tool to show our continued support for Neverwinter.
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September 19th, 2007, 19:31
What's a small game?
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September 19th, 2007, 19:45
Originally Posted by Thaurin View Post
What's a small game?
Spiderweb? Eschalon?

But I think his point is that Bioware now has 'big company infrastructure'

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September 19th, 2007, 20:22
So, the nature of becoming a large company precludes the possibility of, to borrow a movie term, "prestige" games? I understand the dynamics are different but it seems that a company that is beholden to no one could set aside some part of the budget for a project that would be expected to get close to breaking even but reward the company with more intangible results (and always the possibility that a minor project turns into a smash hit).
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September 19th, 2007, 20:41
Originally Posted by mactbone View Post
So, the nature of becoming a large company precludes the possibility of, to borrow a movie term, "prestige" games?
Not at all. But it does largely preclude niche games.

For my money, a classic turn-based western RPG is a niche game, not a prestige game. The only intangible you'd get from doing a game like that is the support of the old-school hardcore community — which has proven repeatedly that it will find something to rag on anyway.

There's no prestige there, no boundary-pushing, no interesting new development.
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September 19th, 2007, 23:58
Well, I can understand that BioWare sees no upside but "can't" because "BioWare is committed to using cutting-edge tech" just doesn't have to be that way. Not being high-tech is kinda the whole thing behind a 500k game and tech level is purely a matter of choice.

Anyway, I'm not trying to target BioWare - you guys were just the subject of the original discussion. I can just see (and don't pull this apart on the specifics - I'm sure it's a bad example) an opportunity to, say, take the IE engine and put out an occasional modestly profitable game to support a niche of the community.

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September 20th, 2007, 00:10
Yeah, I'd like to differentiate my opinion from the company's. Personally, I'd be great with seeing a niche game come out, if there were a small team that could do it on a budget. (Heck, I wanted to write a Jade Empire premium module.)

But everything I've heard from the levels above mine says that it cannot be done profitably without lowering the quality below the level that BioWare has chosen (and you're right — it's a choice) as their quality standard.
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September 20th, 2007, 00:53
I guess I can understand that. The market would probably have trouble differentiating between "BioWare the AAA product" and "BioWare the cheap niche stuff"…but in my perfect world fantasy, there would be a place for these smaller endeavours, in the same way there is an art house movie market. I know we have plenty of small casual games but they're all Bejeweled variants and I also know movies aren't the same as games…but still…

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September 20th, 2007, 01:09
Originally Posted by PatrickWeekes View Post
There's no prestige there, no boundary-pushing, no interesting new development.
What about a niche game would preclude those things? I am not talking cutting-edge technology, but ideally, the boundary pushing is more than that.

Also, do people many really buy consoles just for an exclusive game?
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September 20th, 2007, 01:38
You make a good point Dhruin on the problem with differentiating products. The mini-games that Lucas Arts released years back like the Yoda thingabob got all sorts of bad press for its lack of quality. And yet it was cost effective and served the purpose it was designed for.

The devs for Galactic Civizations said the same thing about their budget titles because that's what they mainly did. Budget titles garnered them a lot of bad press and was one of the reasons for making GC2 as ambitious as it was and sell it as a $50 title. In short, even critics don't seem to distinguish between a budget title and a AAA title.

Niche gaming is a different issue however. NWN and even IE premium mods I could see still doing well, issues with Hasbro and WotC aside.

Companies have often protected their brand image by creating new studios with different names to deflect that sort of thing. Black Isle was Interplay's RPG division. Marvel Comics developed their Epic brand to distinguish it for a different market. Philip-Morris changed their name to Altrea as another example.

Developer of The Wizard's Grave Android game. Discussion Thread:
http://www.rpgwatch.com/forums/showthread.php?t=22520
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September 20th, 2007, 01:43
That is fairly common - our company has smaller companies we farm small jobs out to - basically giving away millions in business we deem 'too small'.

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