Sunday, January 22, 2012

INTERLUDE: When 4chan Meets Bioware

It's hard to tell who's worse here.

Click for full-size image:


  1. "If my wife could play Mass Effect without the combat, she would. For the characters, story and choosing dialog."

    Isn't marrying retarded people illegal? Even if it isn't, IDK if I would be so ready to admit it.

    1. Even the mentally deficient deserve love and compassion, Shadow Isaac. Be a little more tolerant.

  2. I kind of like the idea of being able to skip combat. I've even come up with a cool implementation for it. What happens is, before you enter combat, you're allowed to talk to the enemy and then you just have to persuade them or threaten and intimidate them or maybe even bribe them into not wanting to fight you. You could also have some sort of stealth skill that allows you to just sneak past the enemies. Hell, there's all sorts of interesting mechanics you could potentially come up with to allow players alternatives to combat for solving problems! The only issue with this sort of implementation is that you have to be developing a game on a reasonable timescale, not just shitting something out in a year.

    1. Well, that's sort of the problem, isn't it? If there were ways to avoid combat like you said, then that would just be another part of the gameplay. The problem with the whole issue is what "gameplay" means to companies like Bioware. The argument of "skipping combat is bad because ____" generally relies on combat being relevant to the story unfolding, rather than just sort of something that's there. I mean, really, think about Dragon Age 2: if you took out all the doglords and trash mobs, are you really losing anything meaningful? That's what "gameplay" means to people like Hepler: obstacles in the way of story, rather than something meaningfully adding to that story.

      Some people would say "hey maybe they should make the gameplay good rather than just cutting it out entirely", but then I don't claim to know the mind of a Bioware fan.

    2. Here's the reason ME3's 'Story Mode/Action Mode/RPG Mode' piss me off. It's not about there being an easier way for people to experience the story I had to work for (We have Lets plays and Youtube for that) it's about how everything made in the game, has to be made to gel together. The combat, the music, the story, the graphics. Everything has to work in harmony or the symphony that is the game will devolve into discord.

      So if you set up a mode that say... removes all the dialogue choices, that means that those dialogue choices become tacked on and not part of the game experience in the overall symphony.

      If you say, turn down enemy encounters, then the question is asked as to why those encounters existed to begin with. Why is it when Valerie steps anywhere 5 waves of dog lords attack?

      This is especially weird when you consider limited encounter games like 'Dragon Age: Origins' where each encounter had to make sense for it's location, and work in cohesion with the place. A lesson that Bioware forgot for DA2 when they considered "More enemies, in more waves" to be legitimate encounter plotting.

      So since Story/Action/RPG isn't the difficulty setting (they have a separate difficulty setting) we have to assume that they do more than just make enemies weaker/remove dialogue options.

      Which is why RPG mode isn't going to be an Orchestra singing the final tunes of magic across the night sky. It's going to be two opposing bands, trying to play their pieces together, and falling apart because the composer doesn't know who to direct.

      Most of all, the returned action encounters will most likely be there for the sake of being there. What's the point of that? So I can shoot things with a gun? because I don't have enough games to do that in.

      Why would I think about my dialogue choices when it's clear that the story has one true way to flow, and that's 'Story Mode' Will they basically be 'Goofy and Dickhead' and I'm supposed to be impressed with my 'choice'?

      Think about Bastion, what if there was a 'Remove Narrator' game mode (not simply turning the volume down) that utterly removed Rucks overall narration. Would it have worked? What about if the original Dragon Age: Origins had an option that made all the bosses into cutscenes, so you basically dungeon crawl and then the game takes over to finish up.

      Elements work in harmony, or they break in discord. And if they can be removed without breaking the harmony, why were they there in the first place?

    3. It seems that what Bioware is doing is recreating the old gameplay-cutscene-gameplay-cutscene dynamic where the story is essentially just a non-sequitur TV show that plays between levels of the game. It's just that from their perspective the TV show is the content and the gameplay is just some elaborate way of hitting "play" on the remote control. Or maybe it's more that they perceive gameplay as a way of allowing marketing to claim that the game is 50 hours long.

      This really does remind me of, I think it was Alone in the Dark, where one of the back-of-the-box bullet points was the ability to skip chapters and it was huge warning sign that the game was a piece of shit. Who advertises the fact that you don't have to actually play the god-damn game?!

      Thinking about it, there's actually another way of implementing skipping combat that we've had for ever, it's called god mode. The ability to skip or expedite parts of the game that aren't fun is not a bad thing but it's a safety net, something to allow people to to enjoy the good parts of a game and to minimise the impact of it's flaws. When a game designer hears someone say that they used something to skip a part of the game their reaction should be "Oh hell, I hope you at least enjoyed the other parts of it" not "I know, isn't it great!"; people skipping bits is indicative of the fact that you fucked up in making a part of the game and isn't something that you should be using to advertise it!

    4. Speaking of, When did we get rid of 'Cheat Codes'? I know they must be worried about achievement whoring but just disable achievements in that case, If someone is really playing 'for the story' they wont care that they didn't get a nice 'ding'.

      Hell Super Robot Wars has a GREAT way to allow it's players to eventually move through the story, since you keep all experience/money at Game Over, meaning even when you LOSE you're moving forward. The downside of course (for the games that have them) is usually becoming Ineligible for the stages 'Skill Point' which is used to unlock secrets in the game. So how about making non-respawnable enemies? You die, they don't get back up when you do! Even if you suck at shooting games (Like I do, terrible at them) eventually you'll pick through all the enemies.

      Oh wait this doesn't gel with the 'Waves' concept Nevermind I was being dumb, lets go back to mindlessly slaughtering identical mooks who didn't even have the decency to wear helmets to cover up their genericness.

      Ooh, final insult. You want something to do in the Dragon Age universe, but NOT waste your time on shitty ass DA2? Why not download 'Dark Times Act 1' or 'Quests and Legends' for Dragon Age: Origins? both are huge quest mods that add a lot to the game (though the first is an 'Act' in a series, and the second isn't done yet)

      Regardless it does a lot to add to the story of the Warden, Are pretty minimal on the creep (but not on the amateur voice acting) with some unique features (Party Members for both, Specializations for Dark Times, and Multi-Classing for Q&L) Long and Short of it is, they are worth checking out if you would rather make DA:O's campaign longer.

      Now I'm going to go back to writing 'Dragon Age 2: Good Edition' because once you start something at 4 AM in the morning you must see it through to the end.


      OH WAIT BEFORE I GO! There's someone who sometimes runs around on /v/ calling himself Fired BioEmployee. Well, not literally fired but he claims that if he's caught he will be fired. Nothings come through to verify his statements yet but, according to him.

      ~DA3 is set in Orlais (Most likely, Bodhan said he was going there, there's a Civil War going on according to 'Asunder')
      ~Flemeth is not going to be the Big Bad of the DA Universe, but rather an Andraste level Big GOOD (This is the deal sealer now isn't it, since nothing implies Flemeth is a good guy)
      ~Sandal is going to be important to the reason Flemeth is a Good Guy, and IIRC is NOT a 'Dwarf Mage' or the Maker (Sandal being important is obvious, the latter not so much)
      ~The Warden and Morrigan are going to be plotholed in a comic most likely.

      Other interesting tidbits.

      ~He bitched that DA2 wasn't actually built as a seperate game until EA decided they wanted a separate game, originally it was an expansion for Origins under the name "Dragon Age: Exodus" Which we knew to be the codename of DA2, but the interesting thing is that all the console commands for Dragon Age 2 are DAE.
      ~He claims that Exodus was more of an 'Awakening' expansion, but that the plot was basically just Act 3's plot. Though none of the original companions would be returning (And talks that the Warden would not have shown up)
      ~Witch Hunt was made to get the Warden out of the way, since they didn't want to account for the choice of him popping up in DA2. Even though FBE claims that it would have been rather simple to program.
      ~DA2 was rushed out the door to generate more money for TOR, so they shot their best selling new fledgling franchise in the kneecaps, to pay for the crappy MMO.

      Welp that's all I got time for. Hasta

    5. "...people skipping bits is indicative of the fact that you fucked up in making a part of the game and isn't something that you should be using to advertise it!"

      This is exactly right. Remember the "skip the Fade" mod for DA:O? There's a reason it's popular, because the Fade sucks. It's a sudden gameplay change (from squad RPG to solo), takes way too long, and you know the Bioware playtesters probably skipped it as much as possible because they hated it to and were ignored because someone at BW didn't want his poor wittle feelings hurt on hearing that his level sucked ass.

      LA Noire lets you skip combat sequences, but at least you can make a case that the focus of the game was detective work/interrogation and not the lovely awful action sequences with awful mechanics.

      "DA2 was rushed out the door to generate more money for TOR, so they shot their best selling new fledgling franchise in the kneecaps, to pay for the crappy MMO."

      This is probably true, I knew someone at Bioware Austin who left a year before the game shipped, and they *never* left in the middle of a project. Bad sign for DA2 and TOR.