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Default BioWare - Muzyka Discusses Life after EA @ Gamasutra

May 19th, 2008, 19:27
Gamasutra has a four page Q & A with Bioware's Dr. Ray Muzyka about what the future looks like for the Canadian developer under the EA umbrella. (There's no mention of Dragon Age.) The discussion ranges over topics such as the cross-platform, console and MMO games Bioware is working on, their PC endeavors with Mass Effect, and on the impact of being acquired by EA:
…Another thing I'm excited about is being part of a larger company. It's like this big toy box where there's this cool tech over there and interesting ideas and smart, nice people that are willing to share and collaborate on a bunch of things from different studios. But none of it's forced. It's as much as we can enable. It's up to us, as BioWare. It's part of that.

It's part of EA. We are EA. BioWare is a publisher now. It's a weird thing to say, but it's true, and that's not a bad thing. It's all about how you approach it. Are you oriented around your design, and your fans and long-term goals, not just short-term goals? It's going to be a very healthy thing, because being a publisher actually really is about having a closer connection to your fans, in some ways. You're selling things to them, so if you're listening to them, you can take that stuff and bring it in and make your games better, which is our philosophy. And I think it's the philosophy of the new EA as well…
Conclusion:
…For us, our mission may [be] building the best story or narrative-driven games in the world, but I see narrative — and I talked about this in the [DICE] panel — as being very broad. I think you'll see more and more of that coming in BioWare games. It's the narrative of the explorer, and the narrative of the combatant and the hero's journey. It's the narrative of the story, characters, and the social space.
More information.

Where there's smoke, there's mirrors.
Last edited by magerette; May 19th, 2008 at 20:19.
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May 19th, 2008, 19:27
I think that for EA a dream has come true:

The inclusion of a company (Bioware) that covers parts of gaming that EA itself formerly lacked, especially the RPG part.

The inclusion of Bioware could shift the common perception of EA as an monolithic stone towards that of an conglomerate.

I wonder if EA would want this.


But apart from that I'm just wondering of what the "entity" of EA actually consists … A working body … I think I've read too much abour Neuroscience in the last three hours.

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May 19th, 2008, 20:12
Yea, Bioware is a great Addition to EA, just like Origin, Bullfrog and Westwood were…

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May 19th, 2008, 21:38
..For us, our mission may [be] building the best story or narrative-driven games in the world, but I see narrative — and I talked about this in the [DICE] panel — as being very broad. I think you'll see more and more of that coming in BioWare games. It's the narrative of the explorer, and the narrative of the combatant and the hero's journey. It's the narrative of the story, characters, and the social space.
You'll have to excuse me if I'm a bit skeptical but I'm reading that as :

We're broadening our definition of narrative to include combat and exploration. So we can remove some of the, you know, dialogue and story yet still claim to be "narrative-driven".

I would love to be less negative about it but in the looming shadow of the Evil Empire I'm reading subtle double-speak here. Maybe it is paranoia, maybe it is lessons learned through experience.

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May 19th, 2008, 22:41
Can't help but agree.
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May 19th, 2008, 23:18
Have to agree too. Seeing some of Ray's last few interviews, the man really does just talk pure PR speak. I especially loved how DRM was being added to improve the end user's experience (how does restricting the user's rights improve their experience?).

This is no less double-talk than that one. The amusing thing is that it's not EA that is getting an improved image from acquiring Bioware… it's Bioware that's getting a worsening image from being part of EA. Such as the image of a developer/publisher (hey he wants to be seen as a publisher now let him reap those rewards) that not only doesn't listen to repeated requests for draconinan DRM to be removed from a forthcoming release, they actively shut down even the mere mention of any discussion of said DRM on their forums. Way to go Dr Ray "having a closer connection to your fans" Muzyka.
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May 20th, 2008, 00:05
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
The inclusion of a company (Bioware) that covers parts of gaming that EA itself formerly lacked, especially the RPG part.
Yes, strange it took them this long, just imagine if they'd taken over a company making RPG's years ago. A company with a successful franchise, like Ultima maybe?
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May 20th, 2008, 03:24
Originally Posted by Naked Ninja View Post
You'll have to excuse me if I'm a bit skeptical but I'm reading that as :

We're broadening our definition of narrative to include combat and exploration. So we can remove some of the, you know, dialogue and story yet still claim to be "narrative-driven".

I would love to be less negative about it but in the looming shadow of the Evil Empire I'm reading subtle double-speak here. Maybe it is paranoia, maybe it is lessons learned through experience.
I can agree with your skepticism, since it does reflect my views on the ways Bioware is changing. Whether if it's for better or for worse, I still get this sinking feeling every time I read a new interview, Q&A, etc. due to the slow changes being made. I understand things can't stay the same and must evolve to conform to the current market, but what's being sacrificed that made their RPGs something special? For me, it feels like each new game is stripped of something that peaked with BG2.

I remember reading a magazine interview with Casey Hudson involving Q&A for Mass Effect detailing how feedback from 'gamers' felt that their previous games were 'too wordy'. WHAT?! You can make a game as cinematic as you want, but without detailed motives using said words there would be no emotional impact. Since Mass Effect is part of a trilogy, I can't see the whole picture, but I didn't feel much attachment due to there being more action and less character interactions. It felt bland for lack of better words to describe the way I feel. As for the upcoming book and the eventual two games, I don't feel much in the way of excitement like I have for anything Bioware has produced in the years gone by.

I wonder if I'm just an old, jaded CRPG gamer?
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May 20th, 2008, 06:01
Join the club, I'm all of the above. I've made my position clear on EA many times and Fenris re-iterated it above. I'll most likely buy DA sight unseen; Bioware's pedigree will suffice for that, but any future purchases will depend on far more!!

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May 20th, 2008, 06:33
I concur with all of the above.

It's really quite obvious when you combine the direction of their games for the past ~5 years or so, and the EA buyout. The extremely apparent PR style the once pioneering top people have adapted is pretty much the last piece of evidence we need.

Bioware = dead
EAware = newborn

They used to make money by focusing on the art, so I have to wonder exactly what they're hoping for with this compomising approach. I guess it's simply about the acquisition of even more wealth and the recognition of the mass market.
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May 20th, 2008, 07:04
But trying to make these improvements, sometimes they have exponential effects and multiple effects when they work together. You can really see it. Because the tactical infrastructure stuff is already there, and there's the opportunity for really interesting tactical battles, which I think PC fans love. The fact that you can run-and-gun it down the center while your guys are deployed on the side of the squad individually is a subtle enhancement, but it's a huge impact on the gameplay in a good way.
As a side note, I found that quote particularly interesting.

It's obviously a heavy PR piece, but is it just me, or is that not a more or less direct statement supporting how flawed the Xbox 360 interface was. Maybe it's the jaded gamer speaking, but come on, isn't it profoundly sad that a developer is publicly recognizing that basically the core gameplay (which is the combat system and supposedly tactical depth of Mass Effect) doesn't really work in the console version, and that they had to wait until the PC version before it behaved as it was always intended to behave - seeing as how the tactical infrastructure was already there.

That's just how it seems to me, but maybe I'm too harsh?
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May 20th, 2008, 10:57
I've always believed that you could probably do equally much with a gamepad interface as you can with a PC mouse/keyboard interface. I really do. The question is: do you want that? Since living room gaming has an entirely different feel, you probably want to get different things out of it. I mean, there are console games I wouldn't want to play on PC and vice versa.

I guess they just saw some opportunities to extend the gameplay on PC that wouldn't fit on Xbox 360. The interface on that platform could probably be better, but this rethought PC interface is an iteraction of what they initially envisioned. I don't really believe that this is "the way they've always wanted it to be." Maybe they thought about it, but obviously they had a plan with the game on Xbox 360, and it didn't include deep tactical gameplay.

I don't believe that means deep tactical gameplay isn't possible on consoles.
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May 20th, 2008, 11:10
Originally Posted by Thaurin View Post
I've always believed that you could probably do equally much with a gamepad interface as you can with a PC mouse/keyboard interface. I really do. The question is: do you want that? Since living room gaming has an entirely different feel, you probably want to get different things out of it. I mean, there are console games I wouldn't want to play on PC and vice versa.

I guess they just saw some opportunities to extend the gameplay on PC that wouldn't fit on Xbox 360. The interface on that platform could probably be better, but this rethought PC interface is an iteraction of what they initially envisioned. I don't really believe that this is "the way they've always wanted it to be." Maybe they thought about it, but obviously they had a plan with the game on Xbox 360, and it didn't include deep tactical gameplay.

I don't believe that means deep tactical gameplay isn't possible on consoles.
Anything's possible - but the challenge varies.

I think designing a complex and deep interface that's also intuitive is MUCH harder to do on a console.

When I played ME, I was constantly frustrated at how cumbersome and clunky it was to select powers and giving individual orders to my team members - but the possibility was clearly there. It's not like they didn't intend for people to make use of it, I just suspect most people played it more like a regular shooter than anything else. The tactical depth and nuances were deeply hurt because of that interface - at least that's how I see it.

Maybe other people didn't mind or had no problems with that controller, even if I find that hard to believe.
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May 20th, 2008, 11:54
I think I need to learn more about reading between the lines - in English language.

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May 20th, 2008, 13:09
We are EA.
Like, "We are Borg"? I think it's pretty obvious that BioWare have successfully been assimilated, their stylistical and technological distinctiveness added to EA's own and their culture adapted to service the EA collective. In other words, BioWare is not unique anymore. Resistance was futile.

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May 20th, 2008, 13:10
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Maybe other people didn't mind or had no problems with that controller, even if I find that hard to believe.
Running around and selecting powers didn't really bother me, but I have to admit I didn't really make much use of giving orders to my squad mates. The inventory UI was also notoriously lacking and cumbersome; that should not have been necessary.
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May 20th, 2008, 16:31
Originally Posted by Arhu View Post
Like, "We are Borg"? I think it's pretty obvious that BioWare have successfully been assimilated, their stylistical and technological distinctiveness added to EA's own and their culture adapted to service the EA collective. In other words, BioWare is not unique anymore. Resistance was futile.

So … Is this the first step we all see in the drowning of a giant ?

In the vanishing of a once popular developing company like Origin ?

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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May 20th, 2008, 18:06
Originally Posted by Sythlia View Post
I remember reading a magazine interview with Casey Hudson involving Q&A for Mass Effect detailing how feedback from 'gamers' felt that their previous games were 'too wordy'. WHAT?! You can make a game as cinematic as you want, but without detailed motives using said words there would be no emotional impact.
Id qualify that slightly: without *believable* motives using *well chosen* words there would be no emotional impact. Tolerance for quantity is relative to its quality. With that in mind I inclined to agree with the opinions of the focus group.
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May 20th, 2008, 21:42
It is said that he who pays the music, also gets to decide what music is to be
played? Maybe this can be transferred to the game industry as well ? Microsoft did give Bioware the money to make Mass Effect for the Xbox 360, and maybe Microsoft wanted the core gameplay to be like the current one in Mass Effect for Xbox 360? I mean who are yoy to argue with a 500 million dollars or 50 million dollars…

When Bioware got a chance to make Mass Effect as they might have originally envisioned it, of course they did it. For the PC. Ray is also basically saying that there is a difference in what the console audience wants and what the PC audience wants from a game. I have to admit that maybe, just maybe he could be right.

As for gamers wanting less text in a game, I don't mind that there's a lot of text in the game like in BG2, PS: Torment or some adventure games. I also don't mind a dialouge system like the one used in Mass Effect - as long as it makes sense within the game. What I mind, though, is when say David Gaider says something like 'well, if we had the technology to do it 10 years ago, maybe we would have made a lot of text in BG2 as a voice over'. It just seems very weird to me, since imo, just because you can do somethjing, it doesn't mean you should do it.

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May 20th, 2008, 22:18
Originally Posted by aries100 View Post
It is said that he who pays the music, also gets to decide what music is to be
played? Maybe this can be transferred to the game industry as well ? Microsoft did give Bioware the money to make Mass Effect for the Xbox 360, and maybe Microsoft wanted the core gameplay to be like the current one in Mass Effect for Xbox 360? I mean who are yoy to argue with a 500 million dollars or 50 million dollars…

When Bioware got a chance to make Mass Effect as they might have originally envisioned it, of course they did it. For the PC. Ray is also basically saying that there is a difference in what the console audience wants and what the PC audience wants from a game. I have to admit that maybe, just maybe he could be right.

As for gamers wanting less text in a game, I don't mind that there's a lot of text in the game like in BG2, PS: Torment or some adventure games. I also don't mind a dialouge system like the one used in Mass Effect - as long as it makes sense within the game. What I mind, though, is when say David Gaider says something like 'well, if we had the technology to do it 10 years ago, maybe we would have made a lot of text in BG2 as a voice over'. It just seems very weird to me, since imo, just because you can do somethjing, it doesn't mean you should do it.
Of course you're right.

The quest for more gold is a popular one, and that's all fine.

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