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magerette February 22nd, 2008 23:14

BioWare - Q & A @ Gamespy
Gamespy has posted an interview with Bioware's Drs. Muzyka and Zeschuk, discussing EA and the new MMO they have in the works, possible competition with WoW and their traditional story-heavy approach to games:

GameSpy: Following Microsoft's cancellation of Marvel Universe Online, it's easy to be cynical about big publishers' willingness to invest in the MMO space. Are you afraid that EA will be hesitant to support BioWare's MMO if it doesn't reach WoW's critical mass?
Dr. Ray Muzyka: No. We have brought ambitious goals, but we're competing with ourselves as much as anybody. That's how we're looking at it. It's a good thing that World of Warcraft has such great quality standards for that kind of game. It is the highest-rated MMO that's been launched to date. There are others that are very innovative, but it's the one whose [Metacritic rating] is the highest. It's grown the audience, and that's a good thing….We're ambitious and cautious and humble at the same time, so we're not afraid on taking on that challenge. But we're not going to make an assumption that we're going to get every person that's played WoW. But we're going to get people that didn't, because we'll have things they don't have, and that's a good thing for the industry. Our goal is to [continue to] grow that industry that they've grown, and we're going in a new direction.

Dr. Greg Zeschuk: We want to make something that is first and foremost great. It's a great business to be in, but we also have to be moderately successful. We're very confident that we have a great team in Austin that really knows what they're doing. We have a lot of faith in the kind of stuff that they're thinking of for the genre.

Muzyka: It's an expensive business to be in, and we're not going into it with our eyes closed.

Zeschuck: It's not for the faint of heart.

Muzyka: We've waited 15 years. That's how long we've waited to build this.

Zeschuck: Our first design was an MMO, though.

Muzyka: But we waited. We waited until we felt we were ready as a studio, and we had the right team in place with people who really respect the right design [philosophy], the right community, the right brand, and the right partners.

Zeschuck: One of the things that's probably the least-understood outside the [MMO] space is how challenging it is [to develop one]. There's a very high technical bar.
GameSpy: No one's really figured out multiplayer storytelling yet, especially in a persistent world. Your fans will probably expect you guys to be the first to really tackle it. Do you guys have a plan?
Muzyka: Definitely. When you say it and I imagine it, it gives me a chill down the back of my spine, because that's what we're trying to do.

Zeschuck: We can't really talk about the mechanical details, but you nailed it in the sense that we're trying to figure out a way where you can actually have a fun, social experience, and enjoy a story together.

Muzyka: Not separately, but together.

Zeschuck: We have all this great technology now from all of the games we've made, and we can try different things. We've gotten to a point now where I think we have a pretty compelling system which creates a fun experience. The other side of it is that you have to be very careful with story because if it gets too pedantic and overpowering, it turns people off. You've got to have just enough, and that part has to be fun. We've gotten to a point now where I wouldn't say we've solved it, but we have a legitimate shot.

Muzyka: We're definitely striving to solve that.
More information.

blatantninja February 22nd, 2008 23:14

I really hope they can do the story part well. Might actually get me to play it!

I have my doubts though. Origin had a great reputation for story telling and that didn't translate over to UO.

Majnun February 23rd, 2008 19:46

Lord of the Rings Online does the storytelling thing fairly well I think. Definitely a LOT better than WoW or any other MMO.

I'm not exactly sure how it could be done in a better way…unless they mean the *quality* of the writing (as in the ideas involved). If they make a game with Planescape: Torment quality writing (actual writing, AND interesting things to think about) and put it in an MMO…then sure, that would be better. But honestly now…do you think that will happen? Planescape Torment is way more than what your average Walmart shopper wants to be bothered with reading…nevermind having to *think* about. It does not have mass appeal. The fact that people in general (nevermind gamers) don't exactly seem to be getting smarter doesn't really give me hope for that quality of writing being in anything other than an indie/niche game for a long long time (The Witcher and Bioshock did give me hope though).

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