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December 13th, 2006, 04:19
Originally Posted by Cormac View Post
So, Patrick, if you dont mind my adressing you directly, you'll understand if I'm a bit skeptical about Mass Effect's similar claims of a huge universe we'll be able to explore freely.
Definitely understandable. My only answer -- the best one that I can realistically give (since the PR guys have already said stuff like "Your galaxy map shows thousands of planets, and you can visit them all!" and then the programmers wiped the Mountain Dew off their keyboards) is to say that nobody at the company liked opening up a worldmap and seeing two locations. The decisions that needed to be made for that not to happen again have been made. M.E. may not have as many worlds as you want (freely? gah. no. really, no. there are worlds. they get unlocked. you can go to them. plots happen. but it's not Oblivion.), but it's gonna be a lot bigger than KotOR.

And none of that is bad, really. Every game is a step forward, and every game is a stab in the dark -- how much better can we make the character expressions, and what will it cost us? How many levels can we make if they look decent? How about if they look great? How about if they look photorealistic? Because we've leaped from engine to engine (and iterated so heavily within engines, comparing JE to NWN), it's never been possible to concretely say, "Okay, making a level THIS big takes THAT long." And that almost always means that we overreach and have to cut stuff later.

The up side of that is that every game has a deeper experience than its predecessor, though, and not just in terms of art. Jade was our first foray into arcade-RPG, and it had some of the most complex dialogue out there -- there are options at the end based on who's romanced and who's evil and who's been killed that we'd never have bothered to do in earlier games.

What's cool now is looking at how we're getting better at estimating the number of levels we can make in a reasonable time. Nobody liked losing the side plots in Jade, and going forward, you're not gonna see that again.

Like I said elsewhere, the BioWare goal, inasmuch as one peon understands it, is not "Mandatory 100 Hour Game", and it's also not "30 hours and you've seen everything". It's "20-30 hours to play the critpath, and a LOT of side stuff so that explorers are happy."
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