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January 10th, 2008, 15:02
Is this the start of a Dragon Age PR rollout? I hope so but it's hard to tell because this new article at CVG only covers general territory that many readers will be familiar with. Still, it gives an overview if you aren't:
With authors such as George R R Martin producing grittier, bloodier takes on fantasy, and film-makers like Peter Jackson emphasising the war and corruption at the heart of Lord of the Rings, it's no longer enough to fill a fantasy game with comedy orcs. Fantasy has moved on, and games are only just starting to make the transition.

Hence Dragon Age's entirely new world of Ferelden, custom-written to emphasise the bleakness of existence. In the world of Dragon Age, magic is dangerous and weird, magic users feared, and the consequences of great spells still being felt by a downtrodden and broken populace. Gone are the D&D cliches: the flick-of-a-wrist fireball, the saving throw. In comes inter-species tension, religious hatred, and good old fashioned betrayal.
More information.
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January 10th, 2008, 15:02
There has been so little info on DA… Hopefully we will see more from now on. And I really hope they don't make this a game designed for consoles…
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January 10th, 2008, 15:08
Have to agree with one of the comments under the preview - it sounds a lot like the world in The Witcher. Not really a bad thing, but I hope they don't try to copy it. I doubt it's anything to be worried about though - BioWare certainly has enough good writers.
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January 10th, 2008, 15:55
It's hardy like The Witcher has the first gritty fantasy world though.
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January 10th, 2008, 15:56
I like the idea of a low magic world. To some extent, that's what D&D used to be, but it has sort of gradually evolved into a phat lewt and powergaming fest as the games have come along.
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January 10th, 2008, 16:39
Originally Posted by woges View Post
It's hardy like The Witcher has the first gritty fantasy world though.
Gritty, maybe, but hatred against other races could also be seen in Startrail.
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January 10th, 2008, 17:30
You're going to have to enlighten me on Startrail.
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January 10th, 2008, 18:14
Is anyone else worried DA, mechanics-wise, is going to be as much like NWN2 as they can make it? The NPCs-cannot-die mechanism is particularly troublesome. Don't know enough yet about the combat to compare it to NWN2's hateful (to me) system.

In one of the recent forum tidbits thingies, the developer said that the threat of death wasn't all that important in games, and in fact didn't exist previously due to resurrection. That *was* true and could be resolved by NPCs actually dying, which has been specifically ruled out for DA because they're too important.

Personally, I'm disappointed that they seem to be going the NWN2 route where the NPCs actually seem more important than the player, like you're piggybacking on some gamesprite's experience instead of making your own.
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January 10th, 2008, 18:39
Yes, it sounds like NWN 2.5. I'd be surprised if DA ever sees the light of day, so it may all be moot.
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January 10th, 2008, 19:11
For one they won't use D&D 3rd edition. But I agree I also read a while ago David Gaider telling about his philosophy on how death should works in the game and it scares me somewhat.

But still, I remain optimistic untill we have more informations.
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January 10th, 2008, 20:30
Originally Posted by woges View Post
You're going to have to enlighten me on Startrail.
In the town named Gashok, an Elf was driven out of town, and although Orcs had lais siege upon this area, still Elves and Dwarves couldn't get on well with one another (taverns closed etc. ).
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January 10th, 2008, 20:40
It makes sense considering that's the way they handled death in KotOR. NWN2's system was only because JE Sawyer said it was too late to change it. The game would have had to have a drastic overhaul due to balance.

Complaints about characters dying off too quickly in in BG1 and IWD1 were heard quite loudly at Bioware unfortunately.

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I would guess too that this is the first phase of PR. Knowing Bio I won't expect too much of what we don't already know except that there'll be a lot of it. They will probably spin how great the death system is just as they did how much "easier it was to level up in NWN than BG".
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January 11th, 2008, 11:35
I like how death is handled in PS:T - the main character has the ability to ressurrect (for obvious reasons), and whenever he himself dies he wakes up later on. Death is not a huge problem in PS:T, but not because of mechanics - it makes perfect sense for someone like TNO to deal with death without too much trouble.
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January 11th, 2008, 12:02
Originally Posted by screeg View Post
Is anyone else worried DA, mechanics-wise, is going to be as much like NWN2 as they can make it? The NPCs-cannot-die mechanism is particularly troublesome. Don't know enough yet about the combat to compare it to NWN2's hateful (to me) system.
I think some variant of NPCs-cannot-die is as good as inevitable. What happens if an NPC dies? You reload. How much fun is that? Not very, IMO.

Personally, I'm disappointed that they seem to be going the NWN2 route where the NPCs actually seem more important than the player, like you're piggybacking on some gamesprite's experience instead of making your own.
You do realize that the other option is to pull a Witcher -- that is, hand you a complete, well-rounded character with a personality and a history? You can't have it both ways -- the freedom to make whatever kind of character you like, *and* have a deep story about him/her. I don't know about you, but most BioWare fans would yell bloody murder if they did that, even post-Witcher, which (I'm sure) made the solution more palatable to many.
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January 11th, 2008, 16:09
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
I think some variant of NPCs-cannot-die is as good as inevitable. What happens if an NPC dies? You reload. How much fun is that? Not very, IMO.
Be reckless and suffer the consequences. Part of the charm in bg1 is how fragile your party is.. Yes there is a resurrection spell, but it won't help you much if the party's only mage dies inside the monster infested dungeon My oppinion is that god-mode using party members water down the tension from combat. Why not take it even further..lets make player immortal too! Oh two worlds already did it Besides immortal party easily leads to silly situations and tactics like using Carth as a bulletmagnet :-)
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January 11th, 2008, 16:53
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
I think some variant of NPCs-cannot-die is as good as inevitable. What happens if an NPC dies? You reload. How much fun is that? Not very, IMO.
Uh, no. If an NPC dies, I choose to reload or not for whatever reason. I don't see how having immortal allies is superior to choosing what to do myself.

You do realize that the other option is to pull a Witcher -- that is, hand you a complete, well-rounded character with a personality and a history? You can't have it both ways -- the freedom to make whatever kind of character you like, *and* have a deep story about him/her. I don't know about you, but most BioWare fans would yell bloody murder if they did that, even post-Witcher, which (I'm sure) made the solution more palatable to many.
So the two viable models are NWN2 and The Witcher? That shows a lot of imagination.

What I'd prefer is a game where no NPC is essential. No one was essential in BG or any of the sequels or spin-offs that I'm aware of, or Fallout or a lot of other games with great stories. Obviously you couldn't solo it in BG, but if somebody died the game didn't compel you to reload, did it?

But to get even pickier about what *I* would like: permanent death without resurrection, just because resurrection doesn't make sense. How come your enemies don't resurrect their bosses? How would a king (or anyone wealthy) ever get assassinated when resurrection is available for 1000 gold? If it were "realistic", it would skew every aspect of society.

The only reason I gripe so much about DA is that in the very early stages their whole "low magic" shtick sounded very appealing, gritty and fun. The more I hear now, the less I like it.
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January 11th, 2008, 18:36
Originally Posted by screeg View Post
Uh, no. If an NPC dies, I choose to reload or not for whatever reason. I don't see how having immortal allies is superior to choosing what to do myself.
Come now, hand on your heart: how many times have you continued playing after a party member died and you were not able to resurrect him?

I agree, though, that the mechanic could be improved. PS:T had a nice in-game rationale for immortal allies, for example. You could also add a "death's door" mechanic -- say, when a party member goes down, you have some finite amount of time to administer first aid to keep them from going over the edge.

But making death permanent and keeping everything else the same would just lead to every battle being a dance on eggshells. That is, you'd have to save before every encounter, and expect multiple reloads; surviving an encounter with everyone alive would be due to luck as much as strategy or skill.

Try Dwarf Fortress, by the way, if you want an example of a game with realistically lethal combat -- you'll even occasionally have people suffer permanent brain damage in sparring accidents. It works, it's a lot of fun, but it only works because your characters are expendable -- as much as you might've grown fond of little Såkzul, there's always another dwarf out there to pick up his masterwork steel battle axe.

So the two viable models are NWN2 and The Witcher? That shows a lot of imagination.
They were examples, not models. But they do represent two ends of a continuum -- one, a story where you know almost nothing about the protagonist, and consequently the story is about the sidekicks; another, where you know a great deal about the protagonist, and can consequently make the story about him.

I repeat: you cannot write a deep, compelling, personal story if you don't know anything about the person the story is about. This imposes an impossible constraint on the writer.

What I'd prefer is a game where no NPC is essential. No one was essential in BG or any of the sequels or spin-offs that I'm aware of, or Fallout or a lot of other games with great stories. Obviously you couldn't solo it in BG, but if somebody died the game didn't compel you to reload, did it?
Once more: how many times did you continue playing without reloading if your party member died? I don't know about you, but when I played Fallout, I did my damnedest to keep my sidekicks alive; and because of the nature of things, that did mean saving before every encounter. I eventually lost Dogmeat anyway.

And… that part of Fallout was *not* fun. Every time the game kicks you out of immersion and forces a metagame action -- "oops, must remember to save!"… "dang, gotta load!" represents a design failure. Usually a little one, often so little we don't even notice, but if it's the dancing-on-eggshells variety, it's a big one.

But to get even pickier about what *I* would like: permanent death without resurrection, just because resurrection doesn't make sense. How come your enemies don't resurrect their bosses? How would a king (or anyone wealthy) ever get assassinated when resurrection is available for 1000 gold? If it were "realistic", it would skew every aspect of society.
That's why I run my PnP campaigns without resurrection… or, rather, where resurrection involves truly epic adventuring, à la Orpheus going after Eurydice in Hades.

I too would like to play a game like that. However, in order to maintain immersion and not get into the save-and-reload mechanic, it would have to be pretty different from games as we know them. Combat would have to be rarer, and enemies less epic. In a real swordfight, even a skilled swordsman runs the risk of death or permanent injury, which is why real-life swordsmen spend a lot more time training and sparring than fighting. But yeah, I'd like that -- for one thing, it'd force the devs to think more about the story aspects.

The only reason I gripe so much about DA is that in the very early stages their whole "low magic" shtick sounded very appealing, gritty and fun. The more I hear now, the less I like it.
Well, a little counter-hype never hurts, that's for sure.
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January 11th, 2008, 22:32
Originally Posted by screeg View Post
the developer said that the threat of death wasn't all that important in games, and in fact didn't exist previously due to resurrection.
Absolute hogwash. It may not be important for all gamers, but it most certainly is important to some and to games in general.

Originally Posted by Prime Junta
And… that part of Fallout was *not* fun. Every time the game kicks you out of immersion and forces a metagame action -- "oops, must remember to save!"… "dang, gotta load!" represents a design failure. Usually a little one, often so little we don't even notice, but if it's the dancing-on-eggshells variety, it's a big one.
Only if you consider immersion to be the primary factor by which you judge a games design. I do not. It is, by nature, a game. My primary factor by which I judge a game is gameplay. Part of gameplay is the challenge and tension created by that challenge. If it's a fair challenge, but significant enough to trigger a big reward-response in me when I succeed, I think that's good design. For me, I have to feel that I can "lose", in some sense, for the game to be meaningful. Otherwise, I may as well watch a movie that most likely will have much better plot, writing and acting than I can find in a game. I play games primarily to win. Not to watch/read.

Don't get me wrong. Immersion and story are big factors in a games success, and I enjoy them as well. But to claim a design is bad because you might die and have to reload more than a couple of times is a bit silly, imho.
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January 12th, 2008, 12:20
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
Come now, hand on your heart: how many times have you continued playing after a party member died and you were not able to resurrect him?
Depends upon the NPC. When Dynaheir died, I was like, "Yes! Now I can keep Minsc and I don't have to keep her!"

Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
But they do represent two ends of a continuum -- one, a story where you know almost nothing about the protagonist, and consequently the story is about the sidekicks; another, where you know a great deal about the protagonist, and can consequently make the story about him.

I repeat: you cannot write a deep, compelling, personal story if you don't know anything about the person the story is about. This imposes an impossible constraint on the writer.
I think you're speaking truth -- you can't write a deep story about an unknown PC. However, I do not think that games have to be at the two ends of a continuum as you suggest. In fact, I've seen this with some NWN 1 mods. You could make any character, but then when you got into the game, there was a pre-game environment where you could pick from dozens of background stories and such. So you did make an open-ended character -- gender, class, race, even background and attitude/alignment -- but then you clued in the game as to your choices, and it reformed itself to tell a story that fit. Now, I'm not holding that up as the pure awesomeness. Of all the modules I played, the two or three like that never made it into my "must replay" memory bank. But if a couple dudes could crank out something like that with no pay, I suspect a serious business venture could do at least a little better.

Thus, I think the person you replied to -- who suggested that somehow there were more than two options for gameplay -- was right. You do have a point, Prime Junta, it just doesn't obliterate the other person's point.
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January 12th, 2008, 12:33
Originally Posted by chamr View Post
My primary factor by which I judge a game is gameplay. Part of gameplay is the challenge and tension created by that challenge. If it's a fair challenge, but significant enough to trigger a big reward-response in me when I succeed, I think that's good design. For me, I have to feel that I can "lose", in some sense, for the game to be meaningful.
QFT.

Originally Posted by Lucky Day View Post
Complaints about characters dying off too quickly in in BG1 and IWD1 were heard quite loudly at Bioware unfortunately.
That's too bad. I actually felt that the BG1 & BG2 system of resurrection was pretty OK. It was too cheap at low levels, but then you could die in a single shot at low levels, so the poor game balance necessitated a compromise. However, I rarely minded questing and gathering gold to resurrect a fallen comrade. I tried to never reload, and the game gave me an in-game option that seemed reasonable.

Contrast that with the KotOR series, which was pretty annoying. I'm fine with keeping all the companions, but their implementation was so cheap. At least do like PS:T or BG series and give us some in-game remedy that tricks me into thinking the gameplay is fair. I don't like winning by cheating; it's a hollow victory. That's what KotOR felt like to me, at least a little bit.
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