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Default BioWare - The Steady Decline of BioWare

March 1st, 2019, 18:58
USGamer writes on the steady decline of BioWare.

But looking back, the success of Mass Effect feels more and more like a poisoned chalice. It propelled BioWare to undreamed of success, but it also robbed it of its soul. It's hard to imagine it ever returning to the heights of Baldur's Gate 2, when BioWare was an independent PC developer catering to a limited but ferociously loyal audience. Anthem is the natural endpoint of a process that began more than a decade ago, when BioWare decided its traditional approach was incompatible with large-scale success.

The kicker is that hardcore RPGs are in vogue right now. Witcher 3 is the best game of the generation. Divinity Original Sin 2 has proven that there's still an audience for hardcore isometric RPGs. Even Assassin's Creed is an RPG now.

[…]
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March 1st, 2019, 19:24
@Couchpotato also posted a similar video from GamingBolt about Bioware. Likewise, it's worth taking a look.
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March 1st, 2019, 19:27
When you give your project the codename of "Dylan", because it's going to be the Bob Dylan of video games, you're already in trouble.
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March 1st, 2019, 19:41
BioWare has had a tone of hamfisted arrogance that comes through in their games for a long time now.
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March 1st, 2019, 19:59
Bioware has become a company catering to the bottom of the barrel -- MMO, microtransactions-thirsty audience of idiots…how far they have fallen!

I hope Anthem will put Bioware out of its misery. As I said in another thread, it might be the only good thing to come out of the crap Anthem game.
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March 1st, 2019, 20:08
Bioware is only a label EA stuck on a DEV studio. It is just that.

It is like when people expected EA to do a good Dungeon Keeper because of "Bullfrog".
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March 1st, 2019, 20:21
Issues with Bioware start to creep in much earlier, starting with BG2.

When they openly stated their love for Diablo we started seeing some of that creeping in with BG2 and we also started seeing the hamfisted way the put some 3d rendering it. Throne of Bhaal was worse in that regard - I mean, teleporting to your homebase? That isn't D&D; that's Diablo.

We then see their version of Diablo, but using the D&D ruleset, in NWN. Many of the mechanics would become staples of their development such as handling the players with kid gloves instead of challenging them: no one dies at first level; using a familiar as a meatshield; 50xp loss for dieing; spam all your spells in one encounter then instant sleep; instant level up; overpowered custom spells like Bigby's; a treasure drop system that drops so much coin and gear the economy is pointless.

In KotOR dieing doesn't mean dieing - as long as your entire party isn't dead. It doesn't even cost you a rez spell. I loved KotOR but its not that challenging - its a continuous linear grind through the story.

In 2003 Bioware came with a system of Focus Groups. This meant they were near abandoning any further development on the DM Client and MP in spite of the fact that's what NWN was built around even as they continued working on it.

This became a policy at Bioware that they obviously went back and forth on.

The author of the article points out that Mass Effect was ready to be released a month before they were bought out, so she does point out the problems at Bioware are older than the EA purchase. She doesn't recognize though the seeds of the troubles go back much further.

She doesn't recognize, for instance, the company started to drink its own Kool Aid and didn't recognize the "shill" culture that appeared in the company that started ignoring any and all criticism and shut out honest discussion of their products. Its a shame because they used to be quite open. This infamously spiralled out of control as we know, on their ill-conceived "social" forums but they are still loathe to admit it was their own making.

The author also doesn't seem to be aware, or won't admit, that the top brass at Bioware was forced out after the debacle that was KotR. The expectations for this game were over the top and these heads rolled because of Bio's ivory tower mentality.
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March 1st, 2019, 20:24
Interesting article and I agree completely with it. I'm not sure they have more chances though. If they don't return with a tight, REAL RPG as the next game then I think they might be done. Anthem is shaky enough and they might not even get another chance because of EA and Anthem flopping. I doubt we see any real RPGs coming from the studio anymore but who knows, they could surprise us with DA:4 on a new Star Wars RPG that actually leans more toward the RPG side of things, but EA just isn't going to let that happen at this point methinks. If BioWare was already declining when EA showed up, they have very little hope now with EA calling the shots.
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March 1st, 2019, 20:40
It was said before that Bioware is just a label now. Accurate enough. But in their and EA's defense if everyone followed Codexian hopes and dreams for RPG's we'd be back in the late 90's with small market games and sales volumes. Then we wouldn't have games funded like Witcher 3 at all. Its worth tolerating some of these "please the masses" games so we can have the occasional outstanding AAA RPG title.
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March 1st, 2019, 20:46
Art and profits are immiscible pursuits. Many successful computer gaming companies will experience this cycle of artistic boom then profit-oriented bust.
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March 1st, 2019, 20:57
For me, it's actually the writing and the tone that have put me off recent Bioware games. Anthem is the first one with a game style that's fundamentally unappealing to me. All the others, despite the flaws, I could have enjoyed a lot with better writing. I sometimes wonder if the departed founders were quite hands-on, and had better taste and judgement.
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March 1st, 2019, 21:19
Baldur's Gate had a team about the size of the one that worked on Pillars of Eternity. They were a tight nit group of people who often joined the crew because of word of mouth. The two company heads were med students and the lead designer was chosen because he ran a cool D&D campaign. Many of the npcs in Baldur's gate were characters from his pen and paper campaign. How big is the Bioware team now? How many of them have actually played a real pen and paper rpg? I think they are hired and the company is structured in a completely different way then when it once was.

Originally Posted by Ripper View Post
For me, it's actually the writing and the tone that have put me off recent Bioware games. Anthem is the first one with a game style that's fundamentally unappealing to me. All the others, despite the flaws, I could have enjoyed a lot with better writing. I sometimes wonder if the departed founders were quite hands-on, and had better taste and judgement.
Old Bioware games actually felt like you were playing an rpg. The new ones feel like they've hired some English students who are looking to express themselves. I enjoyed Mass Effect 3 and Dragon Age 2, but they don't feel like pen and paper rpgs, neither in their characters, nor their stories. It feels like they've got people trying to write a mediocre fantasy or sci-fi book, not a game where you have any sort of freedom to play a character in multiple ways.
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March 1st, 2019, 21:29
Originally Posted by Lucky Day View Post
Issues with Bioware start to creep in much earlier, starting with BG2.

When they openly stated their love for Diablo we started seeing some of that creeping in with BG2 and we also started seeing the hamfisted way the put some 3d rendering it. Throne of Bhaal was worse in that regard - I mean, teleporting to your homebase? That isn't D&D; that's Diablo.
Speak for yourself. You're nitpicking if you're going to list things like that as some kind of decline.

The real change started with games like KotOR and Jade Empire.
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March 1st, 2019, 21:40
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
Speak for yourself. You're nitpicking if you're going to list things like that as some kind of decline.

The real change started with games like KotOR and Jade Empire.
I agree that KotOR and Jade Empire were a clear decline but Throne of Bhaal, while good, did show some signs. Specifically the power gaming nature of it, whereas Shadows of Amn felt like your build didn't need to be min maxed really. But thats my only issue with it really. That and the fact the expansion should of been a full game.

I don't mind the things Lucky Day had issues with but agree that there are some signs in the expansion of mass market appeal being the driver rather than being purely a d&d adventure.
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March 1st, 2019, 22:26
Originally Posted by henriquejr View Post
@Couchpotato also posted a similar video from GamingBolt about Bioware. Likewise, it's worth taking a look.
Here's the video as linking to the forum post somehow destroyed the video.

loading…
There are some studios in this industry that command a level of respect and trust just on the basis of their names, their histories, and their brand. There's not a lot of them- these studios have built up a reputation for themselves by consistently delivering industry-defining experiences, and by specializing in a few particular areas to the extent of becoming absolute masters of their craft. Until not too long ago, BioWare was one such studio- and their marks of mastery? Story. Storytelling. Characters. World building. Lore.

Starting with Baldur's Gate in 1998, the studio went on a run of one masterpiece after another that lasted decades. No, it wasn't a perfect run, and there were blips here and there – some more significant than others – but by and large, during those years, when you saw the BioWare logo, you almost treated it as a guarantee of quality. In recent years, things have been very different, and the run that BioWare have been on has been a very different one- each new major game they have put out has furthered their downward trajectory.
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March 1st, 2019, 22:31
Originally Posted by Silver View Post
I agree that KotOR and Jade Empire were a clear decline but Throne of Bhaal, while good, did show some signs. Specifically the power gaming nature of it, whereas Shadows of Amn felt like your build didn't need to be min maxed really. But thats my only issue with it really. That and the fact the expansion should of been a full game.

I don't mind the things Lucky Day had issues with but agree that there are some signs in the expansion of mass market appeal being the driver rather than being purely a d&d adventure.
The mechanics in ToB were identical to SoA for the most part. The power gaming aspect comes from it being high-level D&D 2.0

As far as any additional mass market appeal compared to BG 1&2, I don't see it. If anything, I think ToB has less mainstream appeal due to the difficulty level and the need of being already familiar with the mechanics. While it's possible to play it without ever having played BG 1&2, I think most would find it a lot harder than the average RPG.
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March 1st, 2019, 22:39
After the drek that was Dragon Age the second, I had a feeling things were going sour. Mass Effect three made it a certainty, and I've not bought an Electronic Arts game since I had that piece of junk refunded. Rather than embracing their roots and sticking to what made their earlier games such a joy to play, they struck out in ways that just utterly amaze me. Out of the twenty-five or so people that I keep in close contact with, only two even use the Origin platform and I don't believe a one of us expects that old studio to ever return to their glory of yesteryear. They are gone, defunct, done with.
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March 1st, 2019, 22:49
My opinion is things started to change for worse with Dragon Age 2 & Mass Effect 3. This was when the culture & attitude of BioWare towards buyers & players changed.

All of a sudden we are now all toxic gamer's & they closed the official forums. Nowadays I see the BioWare logo and just roll my eyes and pray the new game is good & an RPG.
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March 1st, 2019, 23:20
Originally Posted by Lucky Day View Post
Issues with Bioware start to creep in much earlier, starting with BG2.

When they openly stated their love for Diablo we started seeing some of that creeping in with BG2 and we also started seeing the hamfisted way the put some 3d rendering it. Throne of Bhaal was worse in that regard - I mean, teleporting to your homebase? That isn't D&D; that's Diablo.
Yes, teleporting isn't a thing in Dungeons and Dragons. Besides the level 5 Wizard's spell in the player handbook, Teleport. And the level 4 Wizard's spell Dimension Door. And the level 9 Teleportation Circle. And probably around a dozen or so more, when supplements are added in.

I mean, yeah, Bioware has many mounting flaws. Teleportation wasn't one of them.
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March 1st, 2019, 23:47
I get that BG is a sacred cow to some people just as Gothic and Ultima 7 have been in the past. I love me some BG2 and feel its the best of the bunch combining the size and scope of BG with style and quality of IWD.

However, I stand by there alarming were signs in the game and from statements from BW themselves over their love of Diablo and how it affected development of BG2 and especially ToB. Something that was fully realized in NWN.

If this is not a decline, I don't know what is. JE and KotOR (as fun as KotOR is) continued that gradual slide in their commitment to consoles.

And I'm not saying this is when Bioware started failing, I'm saying there were signs of the problems to come.

Originally Posted by Silver View Post
I agree that KotOR and Jade Empire were a clear decline but Throne of Bhaal, while good, did show some signs. Specifically the power gaming nature of it, whereas Shadows of Amn felt like your build didn't need to be min maxed really. But thats my only issue with it really. That and the fact the expansion should of been a full game.

I don't mind the things Lucky Day had issues with but agree that there are some signs in the expansion of mass market appeal being the driver rather than being purely a d&d adventure.
The uber character nature of ToB does throw you off. I think part of the problem was that the story wasn't fleshed out and it was rushed as an expansion instead of a full fledged sequel as it was meant to be.

Originally Posted by Avantre View Post
Yes, teleporting isn't a thing in Dungeons and Dragons. Besides the level 5 Wizard's spell in the player handbook, Teleport. And the level 4 Wizard's spell Dimension Door. And the level 9 Teleportation Circle. And probably around a dozen or so more, when supplements are added in.

I mean, yeah, Bioware has many mounting flaws. Teleportation wasn't one of them.
You are deliberating misinterpreting what I am saying, and I never said anything about teleport not being in D&D.

When was the last time you told your DM in your PnP game that you need to quit in the middle of battle, go to your personal safe place that operates in a different time and dimension, talk with your buddy Caspenar, grab your uber equipment to bring with you, then return to the same place you were just at.

This mechanic is straight out Diablo and has no place in D&D - not in Throne of Bhall, not in Neverwinter Nights.
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