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Default BioWare - Scripting Its Classics @ CVG

April 6th, 2008, 12:27
An article called The BioWare Technique - Scripting its classics sees BioWare writers Drew Karpshyn and Mike Laidlaw discussing their approach:
BioWare create character bibles for most of the personalities in their games, and settle on three levels of importance - major, medium and minor. "Minor characters are typically the barkeep, where I'm not so worried about his family history, as in any interesting personality quirks he has - he's short and round, maybe has asthma…" says Laidlaw.

"But as a character grows in significance to the story we flesh them out a lot further, largely because we want these characters to be 3D, to resonate properly. You have to make sure that they have enough depth to go beyond [does lame tough guy voice] 'I am a guy with a gun!'
"The bibles then allow the artists to get a real grasp on the characters so they can then come in and provide concept art and models, and give their feedback," continues Karpyshyn. "Quite often you'll find they actually take what you were doing and emphasise a particular element that you had mentioned, such as push a character's appearance to be more humorous or more sinister - and it really helps us create that link between what you see in the game and the words that we're putting into the characters' mouths."
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April 6th, 2008, 12:28
industry legends
the greatest RPG creators for the past decade
their latest opus Mass Effect
company's respected writers
much-acclaimed
a project that is shrouded in mystery
great champions of the medium
KOTOR's killer robot HK-47 and his immortal line
Karpyshyn is brutally honest
All from the first quarter of the artice. Good thing is, once the actual interview part starts, the article writer has less to say, and the interview itself was somewhat interesting.

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April 7th, 2008, 00:34
Nice analysis, KazikluBey !

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April 7th, 2008, 17:29
-ehm-

I just thought they put all theur ideas about story and characters into the
Plot Manager - a device they're talking about here:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servl…sonalTech/home

This might also explain why so many Bioware characters seem to be made from the same stock…

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April 7th, 2008, 18:31
Aries - Plot Manager isn't described very well in that article. It deals with code scripting, not dialogue scripting. You can use it to quickly create quest flags and states that control the flow of conversations (in our in-house dialogue editor) and be used as Kismet hooks (Unreal 3 scripting). It automates all the pseudo-code that writers had to do by hand in the NWN engine.
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April 7th, 2008, 21:37
Originally Posted by Stormwaltz View Post
Aries - Plot Manager isn't described very well in that article. It deals with code scripting, not dialogue scripting. You can use it to quickly create quest flags and states that control the flow of conversations (in our in-house dialogue editor) and be used as Kismet hooks (Unreal 3 scripting). It automates all the pseudo-code that writers had to do by hand in the NWN engine.
Oh - I see -

Thank you for the explanation, Stormwaltz.

However, I still stand by some of my criticisms of the stories and characters in the later Bioware games. It seems that the story arcs and especially the story plots, twists and turns get way too overused e.g. the betrayal from one of your team mates or the some times too generic archetypal characters used in Bioware's lately.

As I haven't got an Xbox 360, I don't know if these aspects have been adressed in this game.

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April 7th, 2008, 22:52
Originally Posted by aries100 View Post
As I haven't got an Xbox 360, I don't know if these aspects have been adressed in this game.
If you mean Mass Effect, you just might wait until it comes out for the PC platform.

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April 7th, 2008, 22:59
While I personally believe the quality of Bioware titles has been in decline for a while, I must admit I always felt they did characters and story pretty well. As for whether those parts of ME are better or worse than previous efforts, well, that's hard to say - but I think the quality is similarly high. Lots of rich characters in a very plausible setting, coupled with a quality (albeit derivative) storyline.

Unfortunately, their gameplay mechanics are steadily being simplified to the point where any complexity almost seems an unwelcome feature they didn't manage to rid themselves of - which is sad. It's ironic that the Infinity Engine remains their best implementation of complex combat rules and that Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights have - by far - the most appealing character development system (and I don't think D&D was necessary for them to do a good one). KotOR was passable, but with Jade Empire they clearly announced their intention to focus on everything but rich and satisfying gameplay. They're into making interactive movies like so many others these days. By focusing so much on the cinematic and wide appeal, they've forgotten what originally set games apart from other kinds of entertainment, and why gamers loved to play them.

It seems rather plain that the original creative talent has become somewhat complacent in Bioware, and that it's much more a business venture than a pioneering game development house. I'm sure they're not fully aware of that themselves, and if they think their realistic technology can compensate for actual innovation in gameplay - well then I can only hope for them that the modern audience agrees.

It would certainly seem that the critics are quite taken with them, and we've been witness to the extremely warm reception Mass Effect has gotten, so I guess it simply means I'm too old. That, or hype+marketing+bribes were involved, but that's cynical?

However, until Dragon Age arrives, I won't know exactly how to categorize them. It may be that they're consciously using the Xbox 360 for commercial gain and technology innovation, whilst reserving all their creative power for the PC audience. Not particularly likely, but you never know.
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April 8th, 2008, 01:15
That's about right on. Good points and saved me from having to say anything.
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April 12th, 2008, 19:42
Bioware apparently pride themselves on “story-driven games[sic]”. If I want a good story I’ll read a novel; if I want a good game I’ll avoid anything with “Bioware” on the label. That company hasn’t produced a good game since Throne of Bhaal. And as for their stories… I wrote superior cliché-ridden crap when I was twelve. And no, that is not hyperbole, and yes, I realise there are talented people working at Bioware - but that has not translated into product. Maybe it’s a management issue but I don’t understand why every third party company that has used a Bioware engine has managed to produce better games than Bioware themselves: Planescape: Torment (better story), Icewind Dale (better combat), KotOR II (better story), The Witcher (better everything), and so forth.
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April 14th, 2008, 11:33
As I have stated quite a few times: I greatly enjoy BioWare games and still consider them among the best on the market. Besides Obsidian and PB, they are the only reliable RPG developers still in business, so I always look forward to new BioWare releases.

The story and characters might have a similar feel (Aribeth/Bastila for example), but as long as it's a good feel, that doesn't matter too much. Every topic and subject was used up years age, but that doesn't mean all books written today are automatically boring. You don't have to be surprised to enjoy a good story.

Why are clichès used all the time? Because they work, of course. There's hardly an author today that doesn't touch subjects Shakespeare didn't do better than most, but the subjects still work. Imagine if every book that copied his work was considered boring; we'd have a few dozen original stories, and several thousand boring ones.

I personally enjoy betrayel as a motivator in games. I really want to get back at that person (whoever joined "the dark side") and show them who's right and who's wrong.

Just my opinion.
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