Dragon Age III: Inquisition

They’ll incorporate their lessons learned about the ME3 ending, but then go totally bonkers on something else that no one wanted them to change. Like minigames or some grindy timesink.

They’ll add a feature in which you’ll have to build up a Readiness number or you won’t get the “good” ending with the [INSERT COLOR HERE] beam.

Man, no one really cares about the damned Seekers faction.

So fucking soulless.

I assumed the pic was fake.

I don’t know if that’s fake or not, but there’s nothing inherently soulless about focus groups, marketing studies, and customer surveys. Valve does it all the time and I doubt you would call them soulless.

That said, I don’t necessarily disagree that EA is soulless! :)


Nope. There was a whole set of questions from the EA/Dragon Age 3 focus poll that leaked out in August. Most of the images were taken down from the Bioware Social thread, but some of it survived.

For example, here’s some of the concept art that was on the survey that depicts two possible companion characters:

A couple of years ago, this would have been very exciting… now all i can think about is how EA has declared war on single-player games and MEs ending.

My tone was perhaps too strong, but listen. When I experience a story, I like to think I am experiencing a person’s singular vision. It came to him or her through long hours at their computer, going on walks, watching their favorite movies. It came to them in dreams. It came to them when they were going through a terrible time, or when they had so much happiness they thought they would burst. It was sounded out through hours of conversation with friends, with their husbands or wives, through one-sided ramblings with their faithful dog as they walked in the little patch of wood outside their dad’s cabin. I want to feel, for good or ill, that there is a person out there who looked up at their computer screen, at the last blinking period at the end of their manuscript, who thought

“This is it. This is my story.”

I don’t want to feel like I’m consuming processed cheese, like everything I am experiencing was hammered together by a team of suits looking at charts showing the breakdown of the book’s demos. “How naive”, you’re thinking. Pretty much everything is made that way today, right? Well I don’t believe it. I don’t believe that it has always been that way, or that it always will be that way, and much less that it should be that way.

And I believe that it would be the easiest thing in the world for the suits to fix. All they would need to do is to go up to one man or woman, point to their name on an office door above the words WRITER and say “Go ahead. This is your story.” All they need to do is to loosen their grip, just that little bit, and let someone make something great.

So when I see them taking stuff like the title and shopping it around as part of market research, I wince. I think, yeah, they’re probably doing that for everything in this game, huh? It’s gonna be created by committee. Gonna throw in some multiplayer, gotta have multiplayer. Make the elf girl’s tits bigger. No, BIGGER! Did I stutter? Make the lead a chosen one. Yeah, and a prophecy! He was prophecized to be chosen by…ancient elves. That’s how he MEETS titty elf! Wait, the Avengers made huge bank this year. Hear me out: what if the player’s party formed a sort of fantasy-based super hero team…

So yeah. I’m sorry. Maybe I’m totally off base. I’m surely blowing this out of proportion, at least somewhat. You’d be perfectly reasonable in asking me “U mad bro?” because it’s pretty clear that yes, I mad. I care about this stuff too much. I love too deeply. What else can I say? I see this everywhere I look and it just gets to me sometimes.

That’s ironic, since distrust of the writing staff has been a central theme of Bioware hysterics for a long time. No one would accuse the ME3 ending of being excessively focus-grouped.

After DA2 and ME3, you will forgive me if i wait until it is $30-40.

I’m sure it will be a pretty good game, but at this point hoping that it recaptures the magic from Bioware’s earlier days seems like the first step on the road to disappointment.

I don’t mean to be flip, but you should probably stick to reading books. That’s not how computer games, movies, or TV generally work. A writer’s work has to fit well with game design, and it has to be expressed by voice actors, and animators, and environmental artists. I understand your sentiment, and I’m as keenly aware as anyone what a big corporate entity EA is.

But to give you an example, do you think Erik Wolpaw just wrote a funny story for Portal, gave it to the rest of his team, and then went home for a year? Have you ever heard Ken Levine talk about how his ideas for Bioshock evolved over the course of the game’s development? Writers have to collaborate intensively when they’re making videogames, and that collaboration often involve compromises, committees, suits, and sometimes even focus groups.


I would think Indie titles would be closer to the ideal of one person’s or a few people’s vision as opposed to a focused group attempt that might appeal to someone with this kind of want. Of course you’re sacrificing some visuals and audios and a lot of other things, but it seems that “vision” will be there.

I was just about to mention that, Nesrie. I agree.

Tom, when you say that this is simply the way games are made, are you being prescriptive or descriptive? That is to say, are you saying “That’s the way it is” followed by a period or followed by “…and that’s the way it should or must be.” Because, clearly, Indie games don’t work this way. So is it a matter of money? Once a game gets a certain budget, it must be written by committee? What is that number, and why? Is it because EA is a publicly held company, beholden to it’s shareholders? But as Brad says, they clearly were able to leave things in one person’s hands, they are just choosing not to do so here.

@Brad- I did not like Mass Effect 3’s ending, but that’s okay! I don’t need to like everything! Not everything made by a singular writer is gonna be great. That’s okay!

Mark L, it’s the way things are. A game made by a big team – this is a Dragon Age 3 thread – has very specific requirements from its writer and there’s nothing inherently wrong with focus grouping it, or adapting it to game design decisions, or soliciting input from your team.

But, hey, I like indie games, too. Waking Mars, Bastion, and Braid had great writing.


As to whether there is anything inherently wrong with focus grouping it, that’s the point at issue. I tried to explain why I preferred a single vision to focus grouping and the suits, but I did so only by trying to convey my feelings through aesthetics. If I failed to convince then so be it, it’s not like I can point to an equation on a board or anything- this isn’t the sort of thing one can argue through logic.

As to it being the way things are, hey, I’ll take your word for it. I lack industry experience myself. I wish it wasn’t, though.

I think the issue is when you spend the kind of money these companies are spending on AAA titles, it would be irresponsible to release a product with no research, market test, and no feedback… irresponsible to their shareholders. Personally, I think there is a fine line between artistry and creativity and marketing to your crowd. The fu you this is my artistic expression approach… isn’t going to play so well in the market place, especially if it tanks a profitable franchise. On the other hand, sometimes new and unexpected seems capable of doing well… in a big way.

For Indie titles though, they don’t have to sell a million copies so they can get away with getting only the truly interested to pay for and play their game and of course taking their game in the direction they damn well feel like taking it.

DA to DA2 is the worst drop off from an original to a sequel that I can think of in 30+ years of video gaming.

Really? I can think of better examples i.e.:

  1. Deux Ex to Deux Ex 2
  2. KOTOR to KOTOR 2
  3. Witcher to Witcher 2

There’s more but you get the idea…

True, Witcher 2 was loads better than the first one, but the others its the other way around. Well, kinda since KOTOR 2 was actually pretty good. It was just forced out the door before it was finished,leading to some weirdness at the end.