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Default Dragon Age - Preview @ Eurogamer

July 23rd, 2008, 19:29
Oli Welsh writes up his not so impressed with Dragon Age preview.
Visually, Origins is technically impressive and flows smoothly, if not rapidly, from story to combat to exploration to conversation, within an elegantly restrained interface. It rarely excites, though. Its looks are as coolly handsome and restrained and hedge-betting as the characters who never say anything with feeling, because they have to deliver three responses the same way. There's grace and detached splendour here, but not much imagination, or guts, or glory. Dragon Age: Origins looks and sounds like a war in a library.
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July 23rd, 2008, 19:29
This preview echoes my own feelings somewhat. I can't help but shake the feeling that Dragon Age is so much "by the numbers" that it's not going to excite. Been there, done that. The Bioware formula is starting to get a bit old, no matter how they dress it up.

Shame, as I'd love a decent BG-style romp. I just want the setting, plot and character to not feel like they've been transplanted from various other Bioware RPGs.
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July 23rd, 2008, 19:50
The Bioware formula is most certainly not getting old or uninteresting in my view. Judging a game by a demo can work fine for action-based games which rely on graphics and wow but for a Bioware game it's the story/quests and the way everything is so well implemented which is a main strength and that can't be captured in any sort of demo.
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July 23rd, 2008, 20:27
Eurogamer: A site that gave 10/10 to Oblivion.

'Nuff said.
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July 23rd, 2008, 21:10
I wonder what this paragraph meant

"NPC party-members are controlled by autonomous AI in real-time, but once controlled offer up their own limited action bars, providing some variety and tactical flexibility."

Hm, is he implying that, unlike BG/Kotor, you *can't* control every character as fully as the "hero"? I hope not - that would be crap (one of the things I hated about NWN). I do understand the undertone of cynicism - but I liked the old party-based BG formula and I'd love to see it updated for the new millenium. Of course, it would have been even better to see something new and daring, but I ddn't really expect that. I hope more details will be forthcoming about how closely this game really implements the party dynamic - I don't give a toss about "coordinating shield bashes" etc. I want tactical combat, that I can control completely (well, as completely as I could in the old BG titles).
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July 23rd, 2008, 21:20
Originally Posted by booboo View Post
I want tactical combat, that I can control completely (well, as completely as I could in the old BG titles).
Keep dreaming, booboo. I don't think you're going to get that from any of the bigshot developers.

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July 24th, 2008, 00:51
Originally Posted by booboo View Post
I wonder what this paragraph meant

"NPC party-members are controlled by autonomous AI in real-time, but once controlled offer up their own limited action bars, providing some variety and tactical flexibility."

Hm, is he implying that, unlike BG/Kotor, you *can't* control every character as fully as the "hero"? I hope not - that would be crap (one of the things I hated about NWN).
I took it to be like KotOR - I can take control of each character and queue some actions but I can't control their positioning once I jump out, for example.

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July 24th, 2008, 00:53
Originally Posted by booboo View Post
I wonder what this paragraph meant

"NPC party-members are controlled by autonomous AI in real-time, but once controlled offer up their own limited action bars, providing some variety and tactical flexibility."
My guess would be that it means exactly that….. Similar to the way your "heroes" are handled in Guild Wars.
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July 24th, 2008, 02:42
I enjoyed the preview for two reasons.

First, and the smaller of the two, because it was well written.

Second, because here's someone who is not simply toeing the line at which all other media are standing, lauding the game and all that is Bioware with a unified chorus.

The reality is that turn-based, tactical combat has already been done and done very very well. We know (and love, right?) pioneer games like Pools of Radiance, BG and Silent Storm which allow you to participate in every aspect of combat. There's obviously a lack of games of this time, so much so that even NWN2 is trying to capture this (admittedly small) target market with the world map in its new expansion pack.

Where have the tactical turn based games gone? Simple: it is no longer financially viable to produce such games. We're in the world of FPSs and genres that have "action" prefixed to them (ARPG) and everyone wants eye candy and gore and action and adrenaline. Sitting back and thinking for minutes on end (oh no, not minutes!) about the next turn is becoming (or has already become) the province of the stodgy curmudgeons that are the older gamer generation. While they may be numerous and have the disposable income to fund such games, they no longer have the time to commit to them … certainly not in volumes that accompany the halcyon days of the younger generation.
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July 24th, 2008, 04:39
Originally Posted by martink View Post
Where have the tactical turn based games gone? Simple: it is no longer financially viable to produce such games. We're in the world of FPSs and genres that have "action" prefixed to them (ARPG) and everyone wants eye candy and gore and action and adrenaline. Sitting back and thinking for minutes on end (oh no, not minutes!) about the next turn is becoming (or has already become) the province of the stodgy curmudgeons that are the older gamer generation. While they may be numerous and have the disposable income to fund such games, they no longer have the time to commit to them … certainly not in volumes that accompany the halcyon days of the younger generation.
I'm a proud and ancient curmudgeon, and let me add that I created a mage in WoW named Curmageon, and according to the WoW armory, I'm the only one of us 10 million losers who thought of that, and what does that say about me? But to continue, as a Jagged Alliance 2 fanatic, I can think of no happier fantasy than a return of some turn-based strategy goodness. I mean, even those Paradox games like Hearts of Iron, etc are ostensibly in real time (and they do succeed, but because or in spite of is debateable). But tactical combat especially benefits from the time to consider, for the coordination of each character's precise position and perfectly-timed special abilities.

Anyway, I can think of no happier fantasy. But classic PC gamers have to be hardened realists by now (or at least had ought to be), and we recognize that a fantasy is just a fantasy. There's been a new generation, far more numerous, who don't object to swords and Orks and fireballs; but they do find it hard to understand why that particular band of Orks stays frozen in absolute stasis for the 10 seconds it presumably takes the mage to cast his fireball spell, or why that fighter stands perfectly still while another group of Orks advance one at a time to a square next to him, and take exactly one swing each.

Turn-based gameplay is an abstraction, it's a game mechanism that's heavy on the game, and as computers have gotten mightier, the trend in ALL things is towards more "realism". I know, we're talking about Orks and fireballs, but one of the key differences between us (the Western world) and the Japanese is that we (as a game-buying public) are only willing to suspend our disbelief so far. We can imagine a world of Orks and fireballs, but a world of turns?

This is just to say that while I cherish and prefer turn-based tactical combat, I can also see the (majority?) viewpoint that turn-based gaming was an abstraction that was tolerated only because PCs lacked the power to render believable combat in real time. And now that the power is there, real-time is the only acceptible mechanism; exactly the way people feel about 2-D v 3-D. To that viewopint, turn-based's time has passed, and they say, 'good riddance'.

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July 24th, 2008, 06:39
The thing I like about turn based games is that I can control and see every aspect of the combat. In real time strategies control often become chaotic and you miss many cool things that happen in the combat (special moves,spells,"heroic actions" that saved the party, etc ) because you have only one pair of eyes. But I think real time games can be good too if you can control every unit and you can slow down the speed of the realtime. Som RTS games (C&C?) had a speed meter which enabled you to slow down the game to a level where it could as well be a turnbased game.

Guild wars npc are autonomous but most of the time I have no idea what they are doing, because I have hands full controlling my own character and there is no speed meter in the game. The only thing Im barely able to keep up is whether the ai healer keeps the party alive. Allthough somtimes Im not able to do that even and som fool runs away just to get himself killed.

The thing that worries me is the special stuff that happens in the dragon age. In the video characters cast neat spells, jump on monsters, etc. It all looks amazing but if the game is realtime and you cant slow it down I dont have any time to enjoy watching such actions - I will miss most of them because my eyes were somwhere else.

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Last edited by zakhal; July 24th, 2008 at 06:50.
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July 24th, 2008, 10:00
Originally Posted by Yeesh View Post
the trend in ALL things is towards more "realism". I know, we're talking about Orks and fireballs, but […] we (as a game-buying public) are only willing to suspend our disbelief so far. We can imagine a world of Orks and fireballs, but a world of turns?
Exactly, I loved your reply, very funny ;-)

I too am puzzled every time I hear developers talk about "realism" and "immersion" when talking about games that take place in totally unrealistic settings.

All the excuses against turn-based, are just that, excuses. It's just a matter of what the majority is used to : people want immediate action, no thoughts, no planning, just rush in and bash away. The result of a generation fed with the Diablo series, Half Life and Unreal engine games I guess.

It's like automatic vs manual cars, try selling a manual car in the USA, it just won't sell to the masses, and it won't matter if you explain it gives more control and "tactical" possibilities, they're just used to automatic so will only buy that.
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July 24th, 2008, 11:57
Originally Posted by Yeesh
We can imagine a world of Orks and fireballs, but a world of turns?
World of turns

http://www.giantitp.com/comics/erf0001.html
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July 24th, 2008, 13:27
Originally Posted by Yeesh View Post
There's been a new generation,
Sometimes I do wonder what this "new generation" might say in 10 years …

… Then, I'm thinking of talking like this :

"Oh, my these mindless games nowadays … Couldn't there be something more fleshed out ? All these action titles … There's nothing more than mindless action titles out there …"

"No. It's too late now. Back then, 10 years ago, you all voted with your money and said : This kind of gaming is good. Make more of this !

You could've changed the future by voting with your money differently.

But now it's too late. You got what you voted for."


Originally Posted by Hedek View Post
people want immediate action, no thoughts, no planning, just rush in and bash away. The result of a generation fed with the Diablo series, Half Life and Unreal engine games I guess.
Partly. I strongly believe that in part the industry grew its customers. No joke.

By feeding them with what they thought they wanted, the industryshaped and grew its own kind of customers.

Like in a farm : An animal will eat what it is fed with.

At one point, it develops kind of custom / habit (out of this). Like the dog of Pavlov.

To me, it's a two-sides thing.

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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July 24th, 2008, 13:47
It's highly probable that more people played real-time games in what's know as the 'good ol days' as well.
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July 24th, 2008, 16:28
What I've seen of Dragon Age doesn't show off very well. The first trailer that came out was crap. The Gameplay videos that have come out since then look good but not spectacular. They showed some combat and it was okay, but they didn't show off any use of tactics.
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July 24th, 2008, 17:38
Well, nobody is showing off much of their mechanics early on, not even Blizzard with a game like Diablo 3 so I'm guessing this is an advertising tactic. I've done a little study in advertising but nothing to do with building momentum to release. More on the denotation/connotation of adverts themselves - magazines, TV and the like. It's all so dull and contrived.

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While I'm on this it's one thing I really like about The Watch is that you can come here and not be bombarded with the dross that seems to be killing my Firefox.
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July 24th, 2008, 17:47
Originally Posted by woges View Post
It's highly probable that more people played real-time games in what's know as the 'good ol days' as well.
2D realtime action was the most popular genre but turn based rpgs were popular too. Once computers got
better the rpgs started to transform into realtime (did they try to attract the realtime gamers?). Nowadays theres no turn based rpgs left at all anymore - except from indies.

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July 24th, 2008, 17:57
Nope, but if Interplay were still going today (or should I say making games today) would even they be doing turn based now? - I'm not so sure. The Bard's Tale publishers last release was what? Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II?
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July 24th, 2008, 17:59
Bioware have never even done what people call a turn-based game, they arrived with real-time with pause so I don't see how you can even expect one from them.
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