I wouldn’t put the “blame” on the acquisition. The first of their games to disappoint me was NWN, and in all of their games after that was a watering down of the RPG systems. Mass Effect 2 in particular was fairly well done despite that, but it wasn’t much of an RPG. With or without EA, Bioware simply wasn’t particularly interested in taking the BG2 design model and improve it.
True. I understand their reasoning, to a point - they wanted to go console heavy, because that’s where the non-MMO money is (or at least that was the common knowledge back then), and a party based RPG is just not easy to do on those platforms.
Up to a point, it can be done - DA:O is proof - but compromises have to be made and there’ll always be some remaining issues.
Hopefully Project Eternity will prove that you can make a great party based RPG today and earn money in the process - we’ll see.
I’m reasonably willing to bet PE is an order of magnitude or three less expensive than any of Bioware’s DA or ME games. So it’s not really an apples-to-apples comparison, IMHO. You might as well point to Jeff Vogel being in business for the last two decades as “proof” that old-school RPGs are thriving. I’m certainly glad Kickstarter has given RPGs like PE and Shadowrun a path to market, but I’m not exactly expecting them to set the AAA dev world on fire, either…
I’m in the minority which preferred DA2 to DA:O, despite its many shortcomings. In the end, I think it comes down to DA2 being a smaller, more intimate, character-driven story. “Generic mute cipher saves world from Big Bad Menace” plots don’t really do it for me anymore. Dealing with squabbling companions and sorting out messy political dynamics is more my style these days.[Likewise, I preferred ME2 to ME1.]
So my wariness stems from Bioware (A) bringing in another generic Big Bad Menace (substitute “Inquisitor” for “Grey Warden” and “sky-demons” for “darkspawn”) and (B) has yet to show they know how to make interesting open worlds. Which is probably what most folks are looking forward to.
That said, Bioware is still more hit than miss for me these days, so I’ll be there next fall, one way or the other. :)
That’s a great point. Thinking back, I’ve never played an open world game from Bioware. Baldur’s Gate 1 was the closest to one, but thinking back on it now, it was fairly rigid in its linearity compared to true open world games like the ones Bethesda makes. You pretty much had to go down South first to unlock and get into the city of BG, but then things did open up a bit once you got to the city. And even before the BG portion, there was enough side quests and open area in the South that it felt pretty open-world-ish. I haven’t played Baldur’s Gate 2 yet, but I’m guessing that’s the most open-world game they’ve made. How open was that one? More like Bethesda? Or more like Gothic, where even though it’s open world, you’re sort of guided through the world by how powerful you are and which areas you can tackle first. To the point where Gothic was essentially a linear game set in an open world.
Just because you cannot become Lord Protector of the god realms at level 1 does not make a game linear. It means the world is more realistic because it doesn’t revolve around you.
I also didn’t think it was possible that someone would think DA2 was “smaller, more intimate, character-driven.” This is the game where instead of letting you see what is happening and influence it, it has a narrator telling you what happened and why you should care. This complete failure in narrative, this so called time skipping was my greatest disappointment in DA2, even more so than the insulting, budget game level maps. Instead of some epic story, you get a few, bland, unconnected mini stories.
I’m kind of skeptical of the ability of an open world game to be able to convey meaningful C&C in general. If anyone could pull it off though, it would be CD Projekt, not bioware, since the later occasionally has trouble with the meaningful part in a game as linear as DA2.
EDIT: yeah, like Murabella said, the post-hoc narration thing was the perfect thing to play with C&C, like Alpha Protocol showed. And then the whole 10 year span thing was the perfect set up to show the consequences half, but the game could have been set over a month for all it showed of it
Oh, I should clarify that I wasn’t making any value judgements. In fact, I might prefer the Gothic method of having a linear game set in an open world. But Gothic 1 is definitely a linear game, I’d say. Compare that to Just Cause 2, for example, where you can go anywhere and explore the whole place is a different kind of open world game for several reasons. Like the guy from Avalanche Studios said, there is a continuum of how open an open world game is, with Just Cause 2 being on the very open end of the scale. If Dragon’s Lair or QTE-only games like Azura’s Wrath are on the other side of that spectrum, then most games lie somewhere in the middle.
I’m most looking forward to the usual character writing and party drama, but I am very curious to see how they handle a sandbox world given their fondness for directed narratives. How will they marry the two, or will they even try? That plus the whole frostbyte engine thing makes this an exciting (if uncertain) time for unabashed Bioware fanboys.
Ooh, ooh, as long as we’re airing grievances, you know what grinds my gears? Romances. I’m gonna draw a Giaddonesque line in the sand and say I don’t want to have fake sex with fake elves anymore ever. I’m serious! It was a little odd to start with when it was just a little text in Baldur’s Gate 2, but it has become positively creepy.I don’t need a waifu to not have real sex with me, I have a wife for that! <rimshot>.
But Mark L, you say, can’t you just ignore the romance options in your game? I can indeed, rhetorical strawman, but the hypersexualization of the subject matter (I’m talking about tits here, always on parade) and the mere knowledge that grown men are out there somewhere jacking it to my pneumatic half-elf rogue gives me the heebie-jeebies. Not to mention the willies.
It’s kind of how you were sorta nostalgic about Thundercats until you found out about furries. Now, you might say that Bioware isn’t responsible for their scary fanbase, and that would be true if I didn’t get the distinct impression that they were pandering to these folks. I dunno. I just wish these weird little journeys into the uncanny valley would stop.
Unfortunately, we’ve long since lost the war on romances. Talimancers are their core demographic now
Childish. It is always the people who are hugely over defensive that are the most guilty of what they denounce.
Who cares if some guy is using your favorite npc for jacking off? I don’t really see how this affects you. Are you that attached to the character that you feel some kind of ownership over it?
And what hyper sexualization? There might be a small degree of fan service in the previous games, but nothing like what you talk about.
All of this stuff is optional as well. You could use an all male party if you want, or pick different clothing or just ignore the romance stuff.
To paraphrase Tom Chick: Bioware doesn’t do open worlds so much as boxes connected by tunnels. Some of their games do a better job of creating lots of boxes with lots of different tunnels between them, thus creating more of an illusion of an open world. But compared to Bethesda’s games, Bioware’s “open” worlds are a lot more constraining.
That’s not a complaint per se; I don’t enjoy open-world-y-ness for its own sake. But it’s definitely not one of Bioware’s fortes either.
To quote some wise words, “the world is more realistic because it doesn’t revolve around you.” :)
Hawke is pretty central to DA2’s narrative, but she isn’t the only actor on the stage; in many cases she’s not the most important one, either. Instead, she keeps getting thrown into the deep end of situations beyond her control and having to make the best of them, starting with fleeing from the Blight and ending with how she deals with the Mage-Templar conflict. The final denouement was, shall we say, less than satisfying (for reasons I covered in the DA2 spoiler thread, I think); but in the end I found DA2’s plot & characters more interesting than DA:O’s utterly generic “Beat the Foozle” story.
Dude, if you let the thought of what other people jack off to interfere with your enjoyment of things, then pretty much everything will be ruined forever if you think too hard. :)
Are you kidding? Don’t you remember the Morrigan? I don’t say the game is creepy for that reason myself, though it certainly is silly for her to dress that way. It would be bad enough if she lived in a city, but since she spends all her time running through brambly marshes and fields, I suppose half her magic pool goes to an invisible bra and torso shielding.
But quite apart from that character, I do think the Bioware treatment of romance, relationships, and sex is very weak.
Yep. Don’t get me wrong - sex is awesome, but that’s one of the reasons why you have real relationships. Instead, most games treat us with epically bad relationship simulations. I honestly wouldn’t mind the sexualization of some games so much if I felt the same amount of effort went into making those more realistic as what goes into things like blood splatter, rag doll physics, and other graphical devices used for the supposed sake of immersion. I get that RPG’s satisfy a need for a power trip, and we all unfortunately have felt a little powerless in relationships at some time in our lives, but what’s given to us feels like a sell-out instead of actually taking advantage of that opportunity to connect with the gamer.
I think the problem is less about how Bioware handles sex/romance and more about the limitations of the medium. The big problem is that creating a believable romance in the context of a game is very hard to do even when you only have one romance option. Now try creating three or five or whatever. No wonder they all come out looking flawed, especially compared to a real world where we have almost unlimited options in comparison. In a game you sort of end up choosing the one you hate the least. Morrigan vs Avelline (assuming you are playing male hetero) - nobody is perfect.
Of course they could go the Skyrim route - tons of choices, most so vaguely defined that there is plenty of room for the player to fill out the details in their own mind. On the other hand, I don’t even remember who my character married despite 150 hours of play time, so there is that downside.
Which might be reason enough to just drop the whole thing. But have you seen some of those people on the Bioware boards? There is a pretty significant contingent of fans (mostly women) who take their game romances very very seriously. I wouldn’t want to face their wrath.
So I think we are stuck with a very imperfect solution. We can only hope it improves over time.
I don’t think an all male party is a good solution.
Well, since there is, to my knowledge, no rape in any bioware game, you’re always free to say no to the romantic advances of your party members. Someone else saying yes or even making up explicit fan art of your favorite character (Rule 34) does not affect your game at all.
I personally like them.
To me, an rpg is about story, characters and the world itself. Relationships of various types improve all three of these aspects. Being lord of a castle makes you care more about the castle as your home, the surrounding towns as your people and the characters in your castle as connected to you, especially if you take an active role in these things (neverwinter nights 2 for example). Being in a military squad with another person and fighting through many missions with them makes you care more about them and want to save them more (the mass effect games love to do this). And yes, being friends, sisters, or lovers to a party member attaches you more to them than you would be if the game just stuck you with a mute stat stick (ie elder scrolls).
In my opinion, anything that lets me feel more attached to the characters in the game and lets me have more influence over things is hugely positive.
I think bioware could do better of course, but they are basically in the top couple companies at this. I’d maybe prefer if they were a little less “we’re about to go die, lets have sex” similar to older games like Baldur’s gate and even knights of the old republic, but i do feel they add to the game and they are completely optional.
I don’t see this as a limitation of the medium at all. These things don’t have to be perfect. Skyrim is certainly not a believable combat simulator (this is a polite way of saying that the combat in skyrim sucks). Did that stop you from playing it?
Yes, actually, along with various other aspects of their systems I don’t like, but that’s beside the point :)
If i only played games that were absolutely perfect in every aspect, i would still be waiting to play my second game after i finished baldur’s gate 2.
It is odd saying I agree with Murbella when it comes to RPGs but, well, there it is. I find the actual romance aspects fairly lightweight anyway, a minor addition to what is an otherwise engaging character. I have never explored the romance option for any other reason than to see more dialogue options for a character whose writing has particularly intrigued me. The very idea of romances in video games makes me roll my eyes, but when they are used as a vessel for narrative ala the Thane missions and his ultimate, ah, predicament (not wanting to spoil things…) then I think they are a worthwhile addition.