Dragon Age World Trailer, Screens

By Jim Rossignol on October 6th, 2009 at 2:45 pm.


Dragon Age designers talk architecture, history, archaeology in the latest Dragon Age trailer. There’s a lot of discussion of level design, world design, and the way that the game was prototyped in the Neverwinter Nights engine. That makes for an interesting “compare and contrast” for tech and design between the two games. This is the kind of trailer we were expecting, I think? That said, it’s an odd choice of trailer title with “Making A Living World,” because it’s definitely not making a living world in the sense we understand it as gamers. I’ve also posted a bunch of the new (and old) images EA released earlier today, and you can click for big versions.






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81 Comments »

  1. Tei says:

    Looks awesome, can’t wait. Wasting time with Risen, and having fun.

    Re: dragon5.jpg

    I can read the spelss from the icon (from Left to right):
    Fireball.
    Another firebal.. probably huge
    I am angry.
    XMax is comming to kill you.
    Acid is EMO.
    Lets talk about wheater
    Is blitkiegf of fun!
    My hands stink
    Another bad whater
    Everyone loves fireblades!
    Lets talk about USA healthcare.
    Lets talk about Hard Metal
    Emo shield is Emo.

    Sounds about very Ok to me. But I suppose theres more options, to have more flexible characters.

  2. Sobric says:

    I like how the video opens with the devs claiming how exciting it was to do something original in the saturated fantasy genre, when they’ve called their game “Dragon Age”.

    I really don’t think that DA, history or lore wise, is very original at all. Obviously I’ve yet to play it, but the broad themes in the story, the races and the landscape don’t strike me as breaking any fantasy boundaries.

    Not that this necessarily makes the game shit, but games like Morrowind were vastly improved by original and alien landscape designs, races etc. Hell even the D&D classics like BG2 felt very original at times. Dragon Age just isn’t quite doing it for me in this respect.

    • wm says:

      Yeah, it’s amazing how the developers manage to speak with such passion about bog standard fantasy elements. Everything here I’ve seen before. About one hundred fackjillion times.

    • Kamos says:

      Meh. It’s always the evil forces trying to destroy the world.

      Also, I wish the in-game rendering looked more like the 2D concept art.

  3. The Hammer says:

    At the risk of sounding easily impressed and optimistic (oh no!), that trailer did a lot for me. I particularly enjoyed the comments on architecture, especially considering it is quite unique to see developer interviews chatting about facets of the game such as that. The tone was a lot obnoxious (classical music, for a change!) and some of the game footage was appealing. Dragon Age certainly isn’t a pretty game, and it’s clear to see that, out of the three projects Bioware have in development, it’s the one getting the least amount of love, but it’s still going to be a game to get your teeth into.

  4. Sartoris says:

    Thank god for those IN YOUR FACE BLOOD SPRAY moments, otherwise I would forget this was a mature game.

    • Sajmn says:

      Yeah… it’s something like:
      No blood = mild game
      realistic blood = mature game (though blood is a really poor criterium when determening “maturity”)
      lots of blood= childish game (not a game for children, but childish nontheless)

      And retarded running animations are so two thousand and late.
      .
      Actually most games have retarded animations (and not just the running ones)

    • We Fly Spitfires says:

      The more blood, the better :D

  5. GabrielC says:

    Ferret Baudolin. I always smile when i see the name of this dude.

  6. Alexander Norris says:

    I find it hilarious that they're convinced that this is new and original. End-of-the-world sentient-races-versus-undead-horde scenarios are hardly new, and all they've done is palette-swapped the cultural influences on the various races (Aztec dwarves! Norman humans! Native American elves!). Even the much-touted "dark fantasy" grit is recycled – "oppressed slave race," "opportunistic humans" and "backstabbing overly-political race" have been recognised tropes for a while. I wouldn't go so far as to claim they're marketing this for people who haven't read anything beyond Tolkien, Jordan (ugh) and Eddings (uuugh) because then I'd have to get offended and I'd look like a right twat, but I definitely feel as if they're aiming for gamers who've dabbled in RPGs rather than genuine fantasy enthusiasts by claiming that their game is super-duper-original (no, wait; that still makes me sound like a twat).

    Ultimately, though, I won't be buying this on the strength of its story-telling and world-building but on the strength of its mechanics. If it's a solid CRPG, I'll get it; if not, I won't. Apart from a brief tryst with Mass Effect ("At last," he exclaimed, "an RPG where your character actually has the credentials to save the world!"), I've found BioWare's post-Black-Isle output universally boring (or at least, not as engaging as the Baldur's Gate saga), so I can't say I've got my hopes high for the writing on this.

    Edit: front-page comments seem broken for me; my forum login isn't carrying over (as of 5-10 minutes ago), for some reason. I'm posting this from the forums instead (as an aside, break tags are the only thing that can repair your spacing after it gets screwed over by editing, I have discovered).

    • Azradesh says:

      I agree.

    • Clovis says:

      I’d really like to play an RPG where I don’t have to save the world. I just want to play the role of someone going on a few adventures. Maybe I’ll just find a kewl treasure chest or something. I’m tired of always having to fight the big bad. Can’t I just have some personal thing to overcome. Can’t there be important things happening in the world that I don’t personally have to take care of?

    • Alexander Norris says:

      Oh god yes.

      I would love for there to be more CRPGs where the roleplaying and the adventuring serves no purpose other than your characters. Give me a game where you need to raise enough money to buy yourself a plot of land and build a farm (and obviously, at the end, you get to pick whether you stay true to your original, humble goal or decide you like the taste of this life of adventuring), or where you need to travel the length and breadth of a continent to join the King’s army for no other reason than it’s the King’s army, there is a perfectly normal and non-threatening war going on, and you are one of the King’s sergeants, or where you adventure solely to kill time and meet people with nothing being accomplished except for making a few local villagers’ lives less painful.

      I’m only part of the way through The Witcher, but this is half the reason why I love it so. For once, there doesn’t seem to have some stupid “the fate of the world is in your hands!” bullshit, and Geralt is just doing what he’s doing to get his memories back and do his job. Why can’t I just play a competent, intelligent, normal guy for once?

      Hell, I’d even be satisfied if more “omg teh wurld is ended n only u cn saev it!” games had the PC play as someone who actually could save everyone’s bacon in a pinch. Mass Effect had Shepard, a special forces veteran of ten years and CO on a warship; Dragon Age would have been way more interesting if you played as the old Grey Warden mentor guy we’ve seen multiple times so far.

    • Vinraith says:

      Yup. This is a large part of the appeal of the “remove the main quest” mods for TES games and the like. It leaves you free to explore and adventure in your own way for your own reasons without all the messianic crap that inevitably gets piled into EVERY RPG for some reason.

      Look, I play RPG’s to get the closest approximation of the Pen and Paper experience without having to find a good group of players and schedule sessions. I don’t recall ever having played a D&D, Millenium’s End, Sun and Storm, or any other campaign where I was the savior of the world, and certainly none where I was actually a god or something.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      No, see, I like main quests – I just wish the main quest would be something more pedestrian. I guess I wouldn’t half mind having the main quest be “save the world!!1!” if the character were actually someone capable of saving the world instead of a bloody promoted peasant (why can’t we have a Forgotten Realms game where you play as Elminster or Blackstaff?).

    • Simon Jones says:

      The problem with the grandiose stuff is that it actually just makes everything feel a bit irrelevant and small. Why care about a character in your party having a crisis of faith or whatever, when THE ENTIRE GALAXY is about to explode? Given that kind of setting, literally *nothing else matters* except saving the galaxy, yet so many RPGs still try to get you to care about random little things.

      That’s also why the “kill X number of monsters” quests in The Witcher worked: it was still just Geralt doing his job. Because he was involved in a slow-burn investigation to figure out what was going on, helping out the locals for information made sense. In Mass Effect (which I nevertheless really enjoyed) every single side quest feels like a waste of time, givent the overriding ANCIENT EVIL THREAT.

      Make the overall plot smaller and it makes everything else feel bigger and more important.

    • Andy says:

      Not exactly an RPG, but Mount & Blade’s ‘story line’ usually ended up being that you were just some joe-smoe with a twinkle in his eye who sets off first by clobbering some bandits, hiring a few meat shields, helping out the local towns and villages with their mostly mundane tasks (just don’t do the cattle quests), eventually getting enough gold, renown, equipment, and improved meatshields that you could hire yourself out as a mercenary troope to a faction.

      Gradually building yourself up enough that the kings start begging you to join them as a vassal, then you get given a hamlet which you can improve slightly, and you can help your faction gain more territory – eventually you get pissed off at the King not rewarding you your hard earned castles and seek out the claiment to the throne to use as a pawn so that you can decide who gets what.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      @Simon

      I want an epic RPG where every time you’re tempted to go do a side quest, your party members shout at you for half an hour and point out how stupid, crazy and irresponsible you are for wanting to deal with an abortion metaphor in disguise when the whole universe is about to end.

      Even Baldur’s Gate (which is about as epic an RPG as you can get once you’ve reached the end) had pretty mundane plots. The first one was about saving the local economy, and the second one started out being about finding your captured friend.

  7. Premium User Badge

    Sagan says:

    They are EA. They have got the Sims AI, which is probably the best AI in the world when it comes to creating a realistic world. Bioware should make an RPG around that AI and around the Sims game systems in general. THAT would be a living world.

    • Lilliput King says:

      Plus you could lock your main character in a room and watch them piss themselves until they die.

  8. JKjoker says:

    ooh, generic screenshots of a game that will not win any graphic awards and so far had epic fail trailers, yay!, im so … uninsterested!

  9. Duffin says:

    It looks more generic than a pissed leprechaun river dancing by a pot of gold whilst munching on a baked potato.

    • Sartoris says:

      Except I’d actually play a game about said leprechaun. Sounds more fun!

  10. KilgoreTrout XL says:

    Don’t know what it was about that particular trailer, but all of a sudden I’m very, very psyched for the game that I was probably going to buy anyways.

  11. phil says:

    Horribly generic, though it’ll probably feel like slipping into a warm bath comforting bath of ork’s blood and troll guts come release day, providing they don’t mess up the mechcanics.

  12. Premium User Badge

    Dr.Evanzan says:

    It's Oblivion with… er… dragons!
    But seriously, does anybody else think the dungeon at the end (of the video) looks a lot like the dungeons in Oblivion? Maybe it's just the lighting?

  13. Meatloaf says:

    Am I the only one who is rather depressed by the fact that there is a “Lead DLC Designer”?

    • Tei says:

      Is like a “rat hunter” in a hotel. If theres a guy that work on a hotel, and his only job is to hunt rats, bets hare something may walk over your face this night…

    • Azradesh says:

      Nope.

  14. Ybfelix says:

    Is there an EA logoes collection on the web? I like the change they made to fit it into each game.
    (What’s the English word for fancy logos that film publishers place before movies. I vague remember it’s called “something-plate”?)

  15. Rye says:

    There’s another trailer just came out with this one that’s quite top notch, name of Sacred Ashes, best one I’ve seen.

    • Tei says:

      Great video. Delicious, hiper realistic, vicious, violent… 9/10.

    • EyeMessiah says:

      I particularly appreciate how its all in-game footage, and 100% representative of how the game will actually play.

    • Tei says:

      It looks like a argument against “all eggs, one basket” of internet. Is already banned. I hope video become something more universal *sakes fist at nokia and all these patents landlords* so this is imposible. With a single centralized video service is easy to block stuff :-(

  16. syllopsium says:

    I'll wait to see what the implementation is like. Yes, it sounds hackneyed – but so what?

    All of the Baldurs Gate series were incredibly hackneyed as was IWD1. IWD2 seems pretty hackneyed so far (not finished it yet). Morrowind? Oblivion? Divine Divinity? Standard fare, through and through.

    In particular the play balance of Icewind Dale was perfect, tweaked just right to disguise the lack of plot and interaction. Normally I wouldn't touch a game that's almost entirely a hack n slash with a bargepole..

    It'd be quicker to list a series of RPGs which *don't* follow the usual conventions. Off the top of my head I'd list Planescape:Torment (scenario not used very often), Ultima VI, Ultima IV and not much more than that..

    • Kamos says:

      Also, Fallout? (Other than Wasteland, I can’t remember another post-apolyptic CRPG.)

  17. Boom says:

    can you play in 1st person?

  18. Azradesh says:

    I really am sick of RPGs with a pure evil race that the player must defeat to save the world. Undead, geth, the blight, whatever, it’s all just so…..stupid. Give me a RPG set in the hundreds of thousands of years in the Malazan Book of the Fallen world/s with politics and betrayal and highly complex intra and inter species conflict. One race’s big bad is anothers hero. I am sick to death of black and white in games, or even black, white and grey. Give me a world with only shades of grey, shades so close that you find yourself questioning every action you make and the consequences always surprise.

    RPGs need to grow up damn it!

  19. EyeMessiah says:

    The concept art is lovely though.

    I’d probably feel more confident about dropping £25 on a hardback DA concept Art Book than on the game though. Maybe it won’t be MMO #854, we shall see.

    I have just started playing BG2 on my netbook though and am enjoying it more than I expected so that gives me some confidence, but that said I’m not sure the two games are at all comparable.

    If there is one thing I have learned its that regardless of all the grand promises and portents of difference, MMOs tend to end up being much of a muchness.

  20. TroikaLuv says:

    @syllopsium

    Also Arcanum (starts off almost mocking the whole “chosen one” cliche), Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines.

    • Azradesh says:

      I’d forgotten about Arcanum, I’ve still got it somewhere. Maybe it’s time for a replay. :)

  21. patton says:

    I know your pain.
    I hate the fact that writers cant just make them all realistic and selfish, and actually seem like realistic kingdoms that have their own agendas and needs, instead of GOOD/EVUL thing.

    • Taillefer says:

      But they’re ugly, they must be evil!

    • tmp says:

      I hate the fact that writers cant just make them all realistic and selfish

      Wanting to wipe out what one perceives as threat rather than bother to negotiate with them (especially when the threat is seen as too alien/inferior) is about as realistic and selfish as it goes. Plenty enough of that is in our own history. But when it happens in a game people go all “eeew, they made another of those good/evul things” because for some odd reason they jump the gun and readily presume their own side is “good” and so the other side must be “evul”.

  22. Xercies says:

    Ergh This is not Dark Fantasy, The Witcher is what Dark Fantasy is really like. This is more like regular fantasy with a dark edge and i mean dark in how a teenager would say dark.

    Anyway I am actually looking forward to this game now, there was actually no rubbish rock music at the end. Hurrey for progress!.

  23. tmp says:

    Give me a world with only shades of grey, shades so close that you find yourself questioning every action you make.

    If there’s nothing but grey, why would you ever need to question your actions? Especially when no matter what you choose the game is supposed to jump at you with a “gotcha!” anyway, turning your decisions into little more but picking the Door Number Two over the Door Number Three (this, much like twists of M. Night Shyamalan would get irritating rather than exciting after first couple of times)

    If the RPGs “need” to grow up then they shouldn’t just go from childish polarity into unadulterated teenager rage against the parents, imo. Black and white can be well a part of more complicated picture, and help to add contrasts and highlights where they’re needed for better overall effect.

    • Kamos says:

      If there’s nothing but grey, why would you ever need to question your actions?”

      Because it’s harder to see what is “right” and “wrong”. If everything is black & white, you just have to choose if you want to be good or evil. If there is grey, you must choose what agenda you want to support.

    • Sobric says:

      I think that the big gripe is black/white on a large, sweeping scale. People get bored by races that a wholly defined as “bad” (although you rarely get races wholly defined as ‘good’ any more – usually because the ‘good’ race is human and it’s easy to acknowledge and replicate human flaws).

      What makes moral choices interesting in a game is how the consequences of your actions affect you, the player. What makes BG2 such a gripping story-line is the fact that you’re trying to recover your own soul (I just mistyped this a sole, which would be an entirely different but also gripping tale). Yes, Irenicus is fairly obviously a baddy (but a really, really interesting one), as are a few of the races in the game, but on the whole any socio-political good/bad line is blurred significantly enough to not feel too cookie-cutter, while personal motives drive the players action.

      We don’t know enough about DA yet, i.e. what are the motives of your character? Perhaps there is a good personal story tucked away here somewhere. My guts tell me there isn’t, but I’ll probably not buy this game for its story, because if the combat is fun and chunky (which, it’s often forgotten, BG 2′s combat is nice and chunky) then I’ll just skip the cutscenes and get on with the murder.

    • Taillefer says:

      Certainly. One of the reasons things degenerate into black and white so easily is because of the player interaction. As a reader, one can observe different sides with unbiased neutrality, consider their actions noble or abhorrent. But once one side attacks a player, they pretty much become the bad guys automatically. Because then …it’s personal.

      If only you could talk to…

    • Azradesh says:

      By shades of grey I mean that I want to be able to find “good” and “bad” reasons and consequences in every choise I make. I want to be able to, if I so choose, find the “human” side of some monstrous race in the game. To be able to understand and empathise with people/races/nations even if I don’t agree with them. I want “good” choises that have costs. Am I willing to acept the cost? Or choises that appear to be good, but if you care to delve a little deeper, aren’t. I want a world that makes you wonder if pure good and evil can even exist.

      Sobric you mentioned BG2, sure this game had a big baddy, but he was well written and I could understand his choises even if I didn’t agree with the ones he made. I just can’t care about the geth or the blight. Why do they want to kill everything? Erm…..because, I know the repective games to give reasons why, but they are paper thin and boring. It’s like they just aren’t trying any more.

      Anyone else read the Malazan books? You spend the whole series wondering if characters like Karsa Orlong and Draconus are good or bad. Both are very interesting and I’m still not sure if I agree with their motives, heck I’m still not sure what Draconus’ motives are. Give me a game where I’m questioning everyones motives, including, perhaps, my own.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      @Azradesh

      Regarding the Geth, I suspect that a great deal of this is due to our lacking a synthetic point of view. All of the characters in Mass Effect are organics, and the Quarians have an obvious resentment towards the Geth while being viewd as the Council expert on the Geth; this is bound to tint people’s perceptions to a degree.

      Mass Effect 2 apparently has a Geth party member, so even though I’m not overly confident in the quality of BioWare’s writing, I’m hoping that they won’t pass up this opportunity to make the Mass Effect setting both more coherent and more interesting. Even something as simple and cliché as the Geth wishing to exterminate organics out of fear for their own future would still make Mass Effect neater by virtue of the genocidal antagonist maniacs having justifications for their actions.

    • mrmud says:

      You could replace shades of grey with allowing for different ethics. Kantism is the dominant moral philosophy in games but why not allow Utilitarianism as well?
      The feedback doesnt have to be the game telling you if you did the right or wrong thing, all that is needed is real consequenses of your actions.

  24. Wooly says:

    Nobody’s going to mention that the Dragon Age character creator comes out on the 13th? D:
    http://daforums.bioware.com/viewtopic.html?topic=696540&forum=135

    • Tei says:

      I hope this one is not like Spore, where you have to uninstall one to install the other, and stuff.

  25. Wooly says:

    EDIT: Also found this: apparently Gameinformer has already reviewed DA. Something of note: “Sound:Lots of quality voice acting and an atmospheric soundtrack. Thankfully, none of the crappy metal from the trailers made the final cut.”

    I know I’m relieved.

  26. Dante says:

    Actually, I'm told there's not even a karma meter in Dragonage, which should be interesting.

  27. Kadayi says:

    Their concept sketches are great, unfortunately the final product leaves a lot to be desired. From the footage it’s clear that they are using Sketchup (www.sketchup.com) as their basic modelling package (just as they did with Mass Effect) which is a great application (I use it a lot as it’s fast & responsive), however, old buildings are never exact in their dimensions and that lack of imperfection in terms of scale tends to stand out in cases like this even with the odd chips and truncations. Also judging by a couple of shots, someone on the development team needs to understand that columns aren’t like Stalactites, if the bottom is missing the top isn’t going hang from the ceiling. Still nice concept sketches though.

  28. tmp says:

    Because it’s harder to see what is “right” and “wrong”.

    But there is no “right” and “wrong” in the setting that’s supposed to mix these factors as evenly as possible all across the board. When your choice is between a wistful douchebag and an asshole who has a soft side (and by the settings neither of them is allowed to be really “better”/”worse” than the other) what does it really matter which one you choose? And why would you want to choose either at all?

    If everything is black & white, you just have to choose if you want to be good or evil. If there is grey, you must choose what agenda you want to support.

    Choosing black or white is also choosing the agenda you support. Typically it boils down to choosing between benefitting others or your own character. This doesn’t really go away or changes in these grey settings, not when you’re still sticking to the concept of choosing between “right” and “wrong” in them.

    And while at it the “black” and “white” is often just our minds simplifying the process for us, filtering out inconvenient factors which would make a decision harder.

    As example, the geth who were cited earlier as “pure evil” boring game threat can be also seen as slaves uprising against their own creators and masters, a race then simply striving to ensure their own survival against these hell-bent on exterminating them. Which would make the player’s side “evil” … except the player’s side from their own viewpoint is also just trying to deal with a threat they’re unable to negotiate with. In short, a very example of flawed, realistic sides with their own agendas. Something people ask for, and yet when it’s served to them they discard it as “oh it’s just black/white, boring”.

    These “grey” settings people ask for, maybe what they really ask for is to have the game spell it out for them that “X has some good reasons to act the way they do and Y isn’t all about unicorns and roses” … because without, they’re unable to see it for themselves?

    • Premium User Badge

      James G says:

      I quite enjoyed the scene where I went all Doctor Who* on Tali and chewed her out for the attempts to disable the Geth when they realised they were self-aware. I am hoping that in later games we might have the opportunity to reconcile with the Geth, and have both biologicals and robotics stood together against the reapers.

      * I realise that that should technically be just ‘The Doctor’ but it is somewhat ambiguous that way, plus it doesn’t work quite as well as an adjective.

    • Kadayi says:

      @tmp
      There is no choice with the Geth when it comes to how you interact with them as a player. Regardless of how one could see them as victims themselves within the context of the storyline, there exists no opportunity in the game world or mechanics to ‘not fight’ them on the larger scale. They are indeed the ‘Pure Evil’ enemy, in the same way as Orcs are in LoTR or the Combine in Halflife 2, because there is no negotiation of grey in your conduct towards them. They are there to be overcome as obstacles, though violence nothing more.
      “Typically it boils down to choosing between benefitting others or your own character”
      As regards player gain I suggest you look at the Witcher, there are a few situations in that where players decisions have very little to do with personal gain, because each decision simply cuts off other avenues of potential gain. There is no right or wrong in the moral or capitalist sense of sacrifice Vs personal gain, all there is, is the player opting for a decision based on their personal take on a situation. Do you give the weapons over to the elves who are fighting a war with the humans, or do you keep your word to the smuggler? Suddenly it’s not about the meta game, it's about who has the most convincing argument.

      Yes You’re right, I’m deliciously evil

  29. Lafinass says:

    @tmp

    Spot on.

  30. Fenchurch says:

    I love seeing all the lovely concept art.

    :-3

  31. tmp says:

    As regards player gain I suggest you look at the Witcher, there are a few situations in that where players decisions have very little to do with personal gain.

    When i said choosing personal/someone else’s gain, i meant it in context of typical black/white choices presented in games. The Witcher strays from this model and so naturally the situation it presents to the player are quite different.

    And for what’s worth, going by the Witcher books a typical reaction of Geralt when put in these “grey” situations (when they involve siding with whoever for that side’s own benefit at the expense of someone else) … is to tell them *all* to go and fuck themselves. He has his mind pretty made up, and little interest in hearing justifications of selfish actions. *If* he chooses to get involved, then it’s ironically enough in situations which get as white/black as the settings allow (defending those who couldn’t defend themselves, protecting these important to him personally, etc)

    • Kadayi says:

      You seemed to be proposing that there is no distinction between black & white Vs grey decisions as an argument of invalidation from what I’ve read, because to quote you again regarding grey decisions -

      ‘Typically it boils down to choosing between benefitting others or your own character’.

      However it seems The Witcher doesn’t fulfil that profile as a game in terms of how the grey decisions play out. Also what might happen in The Witcher books is moot to the discussion, because all that truly matters is what happens in the game.

  32. tmp says:

    You seemed to be proposing that there is no distinction between black & white Vs grey decisions as an argument of invalidation from what I’ve read

    The way i see it in a typical black/white game the player is usually put in position where they choose between two factions — their character and someone else (deliver the hapless puppy to its owner, or to the nearest restaurant for profit) In a “grey” game the player may be presented with choices between factions that doesn’t include them personally, at least not directly. However at the end of the day this still boils down to giving support to a faction, one that’s based on whose needs the player finds to hold the most weight… which would lead to conclusion that there’s indeed no distinction here.

    • Premium User Badge

      luminosity says:

      There’s definitely a difference between the two in tone, etc, though. Black/white tends to be I give pretty flowers to people and save their children vs I murder anyone who gets in my way and take whatever I want. I think what people really mean when they talk about shades of grey is interesting decisions which have unforeseen consequences both positive and negative, and which players can then argue with each other about which was the better choice, without the game developers picking a clear side.

      IOW, KOTOR’s dark/light side isn’t all that interesting because even though the dark side people have some legitimate grievances, if you choose to go dark side you’re clearly in the wrong. But look at the end of Deus Ex — would the world be better off in a dark age, ruled by an AI, or managed by a secret group of people behind the scenes? I’ve heard passionate defences of every one of those choices, and it makes for a really interesting discussion.

    • Kadayi says:

      “However at the end of the day this still boils down to giving support to a faction, one that’s based on whose needs the player finds to hold the most weight… which would lead to conclusion that there’s indeed no distinction here.”

      In a Black/White game you have no choice as to who your faction is, where is a ‘grey’ game its entirely up to you who you put your support behind based on your personal evaluation of events. I’d say that’s a big difference. Deus Ex as luminosity rightly points out is a great example of this. You personally have to articulate your decision as to why you elect to support one faction over the other, where as in the Black & white style of game there is really very little need to genuinely ‘think’ about what to do.

      You can pretty much play Mass Effect and after a while know that whenever you reach a three choice conversation point know that the top is paragon, middle is neutral and bottom is renegade without actually having to listen to the arguments most of the time. Even worse is that because the game provides variable XP rewards based on verbal choices (and neutral tends to give the worst payout) as well as achievements for good/evil paragon/renegade behaviour, it incentivizes consistency towards the extremes in player behaviour rather than promoting an individual weighing of the arguments in every case. .

  33. bill says:

    what’s with the horrendous artifacting in the screenshots? Is that from the jpeg compression? Or the textures? Or were they screencapped from the video?

  34. bill says:

    The video looks great in places, and terrible in others. When it’s showing huge vistas, large marching armies, or dragons swooping from the sky it looks good… more epic than many other RPGs that often feel constrained.

    But when it’s showing a few guys in a room, it looks pretty poor, generic and even oldfashioned.
    But i guess graphics aren’t everything, particularly for RPGs. Hopefully it’ll have enough up it’s sleeve to be more than 5 guys going through rooms.

  35. bill says:

    The video looks great in places, and terrible in others. When it’s showing huge vistas, large marching armies, or dragons swooping from the sky it looks good… more epic than many other RPGs that often feel constrained.

    But when it’s showing a few guys in a room, it looks pretty poor, generic and even oldfashioned.
    But i guess graphics aren’t everything, particularly for RPGs. Hopefully it’ll have enough up it’s sleeve to be more than 5 guys going through rooms.
    Sorry, forgot to add great post! Can’t wait to see your next post!

  36. TeeJay says:

    However “good” I am in RPGs re. the missions/quests I always seem to end up spending a large amount of time stealing stuff from people’s houses. :D

  37. tmp says:

    In a Black/White game you have no choice as to who your faction is, where is a ‘grey’ game its entirely up to you who you put your support behind based on your personal evaluation of events.

    I really don’t see the ‘grey’ game options as something different in this regard — the factions you choose from are still predefined and you cannot change that. And in black/white game it is also entirely up to you who you put your support behind, there’s no one else making these choices.

    You can pretty much play Mass Effect and after a while know that whenever you reach a three choice conversation point know that the top is paragon, middle is neutral and bottom is renegade without actually having to listen to the arguments most of the time.

    Err yes, it’s an UI convention put there to avoid situations where the player misinterprets the dialogue options and picks one they didn’t want, thinking it was going to be something else.

    However, i’d argue if you play the game by picking the reaction options without actually listening to the arguments, then you’re simply playing with your mind all made up when it comes to the choice of factions. It’s hardly different from say, a player always blindly picking options that support elves in the Witcher “because they’re right”.

    Regarding the Deus Ex vs KotOR thing — DX choices boil down to “Rule world openly as a god-like cyborg, Rule world secretly, Burn the world”. KotOR choices are “Rule world openly as a god-like jedi, Leave the world as it is”. Does the former really offer that much more freedom when it comes to the selection? I’d say they’re comparably limited. KotOR suffers from the enforced black/white dichotomy that’s cornerstone of Star Wars settings, but you only need to look at its sequel to see all these shades typically swept under the carpet.

    • Kadayi says:

      You not seeing isn’t much of a counterpoint I’m afraid. All games have natural limits in terms of choice, but to argue that because there are limits there is no difference between them is kind of farcical tbh.
      There is much more opportunity for nuance in a game centred around shades of grey than one focused on dualities like good & evil. Regardless of whether having decided to help the Elves at the beginning of The Witcher, your not bound to it as a choice. You as the player are presented with plenty of opportunities to recant that decision if you want and given good reason at times to consider it. Nor are you punished for doing so if you do choose to. There is no external moral arbiter deducting points off your karma score for turning tailcoat.
      The point about the UI was not the layout, but the fact that the developers had boiled everything down to an apparent choice of 3, but which in reality was a choice of 2 very clear and distinct paths of behaviour, because being neutral had no dividend to it.
      With respect to Deus Ex, 3 choices if far superior to 2 when it comes to an ending, because there is no right answer. The player has to assess for themselves what the right answer is for them. The game engages you to think about your options, rather than simply defer to your instincts of being good/evil paragon/renegade Sith /Jedi open hand/closed fist etc etc.
      Blade Runner had 13 different endings based on a player actions, would you argue that there is no difference between that game Vs KotoR or Mass Effect?

      Yes You’re right, I’m deliciously evil

  38. tmp says:

    You not seeing isn’t much of a counterpoint I’m afraid. All games have natural limits in terms of choice, but to argue that because there are limits there is no difference between them is kind of farcical tbh.

    I’m afraid the logic works slightly different in this case, and so my counterpoint actually holds weight here — when you claim the difference between black/white and the grey games is, in the latter the player has full freedom to pick between presented factions *and* when it just so happens this is no different in the black/white games (because in these the player also has full freedom to pick between presented factions) … then there isn’t really a difference between them in this regard, is there?

    Regardless of whether having decided to help the Elves at the beginning of The Witcher, your not bound to it as a choice. You as the player are presented with plenty of opportunities to recant that decision if you want and given good reason at times to consider it. Nor are you punished for doing so if you do choose to. There is no external moral arbiter deducting points off your karma score for turning tailcoat.

    You can change your mind when it comes to which faction you support in the black/white game at any moment, also. Again, where is some actual difference?

    Regarding the punishment — of course there’s punishment for changing your mind in a grey game. You stop supporting a faction, the faction generally stops supporting you. Stand in their way to a degree they deem too large and they’re likely to turn hostile. The lack of visual meter means nothing here, under the hood the factions still count their beans to determine just where you stand with them. After all if they didn’t we’d get something even sillier than a black/white game — a game where your decisions have no consequences.

    With respect to Deus Ex, 3 choices if far superior to 2 when it comes to an ending, because there is no right answer.

    This is only true if you believe there’s the “right” answer in a black/white game. Which i think is silly given your claims of being “deliciously evil”.

    As for the Blade Runner, the irony here would be all these different endings are results of series of binary decisions — to do your job (supporting your faction), or not to do your job (siding with the opposing faction) Which i think you have to admit is pretty black/white-like in terms of options…

    (http://media.bladezone.com/contents/game/saved-games/ for the reference)

    • kadayi says:

      “when you claim the difference between black/white and the grey games is, in the latter the player has full freedom to pick between presented factions *and* when it just so happens this is no different in the black/white games (because in these the player also has full freedom to pick between presented factions) … then there isn’t really a difference between them in this regard, is there?”

      The logic would be all well and good if I’d actually said that, but given I didn’t the logic doesn’t really add up. Read again:-

      ‘All games have natural limits in terms of choice, but to argue that because there are limits there is no difference between them is kind of farcical tbh.’

      By your limited rationale there exists no fundamental difference between a game with 2, 4 or 47 of 2006 choices, because by virtue of there being limits they are one and the same. The only position that can be argued from is a mechanistic one which is hardly relevant when it comes to how as experiences they play, or how a player engages with them on a cerebral level in terms of engagement, it’s all about thinking.

      With an on rails game such as Halflife 2 as Gordon Freeman I might have to think about how I defeat the combine in a tactical sense, but I don’t at any point need to think about whether what I’m doing is right in terms of morality.

      With Mass Effect likewise I don’t have to think about whether killing the Geth is a bad thing, because there is no choice in that respect.

      With The Witcher however I do have to think about which side to support, because neither is initially against me. I choose my enemies as well as my friends based upon what they say.

      With Deus Ex who there isn’t a natural/obvious choice about who you throw your support around at the beginning so again you have to think about it.

      As regards being deliciously evil, its part of my sig.When you edit a post in the forum the sig carries a cross as text (its a bug).