The Mass-Effectification of Dragon Age 2

By Jim Rossignol on July 13th, 2010 at 9:37 am.


Why change a winning formula? That’s what I was left wondering after discovering that, on the one hand, Dragon Age sold better than any Bioware game ever as of November, and on the other, that the formula is changing dramatically for Dragon Age 2. It’s worth noting that the PC version isn’t changing as much as the console versions of the game. We will apparently retain “strategic combat”, which is a good news, while console chums will be “playing to their strengths” with more actiony combat mechanics. Conversation will also now be handled via Mass Effect’s wheel system. The biggest change, however, is that Dragon Age 2 will be getting its own equivalent of Shepard, with player character options reduced to the male of female versions of “Hawke” (pictured? I think). Bioware confirmed on their forums that you will have to play a human.

Hell, I enjoyed Mass Effect 2, but you have to wonder why Dragon Age was so successful in the first place. Not because it was copying its less successful sibling, that’s for sure. I enjoy almost all of Bioware’s work, but I think boiling one game down to another just makes gaming a less interesting place. Diversity is important.

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289 Comments »

  1. int says:

    Well this is a bit disappointing. Will all their games be like that now?

  2. Taverius says:

    Genius, EAware, pure genius.

    After a single ME2 playthrough I’m frankly thoroughly sick of Shepherds and the ME2 structure … hopefully they’ll stop before giving us the ME2-style overlong middle, irrelevant companions and weak-ass ending.

    • heartlessgamer says:

      I was sort of sick of the Shepards after 10 hours into ME1… I still have to go back and try to beat that game some time :P

    • sebmojo says:

      When I played through Dragon Age it was the best game I’d ever played. Then I played ME 2 – which took its place. Different experience, but amazing.

      We need a verb for this kind of nerd macho bullshit opinion whiplash. I suggest ‘Bioshocking’.

    • Damien Stark says:

      What sebmojo said.

      Well, okay, maybe not “best game ever”, but I think the “wheel” dialog is fantastic, and the voice acting makes a huge contribution to the excellent characters, and the main character having a voice makes it feel a lot more like “role playing” (even with a smaller set of options) and less like stat crunching.

      After all the effort I put into customizing my character in DA, it felt a little… creepy… watching them stand there mute while the other characters spoke.

      That said, I do agree that the wide range of character possibilities was one of the specific strengths of Dragon Age – the origin stories were the stand out feature that everyone talked about first. It does seem sad to lose that. Then again, I feel like my “main character” was far more interesting in ME2 than in DA…

  3. qeloqoo says:

    Well, if that allows them to make player character more lively, then why not? In ME1, 2 Shepard showed emotions in conversation mainly due to voicing of all dialogs. PC in DAO looked like a puppet all the time compared to his buddies.

  4. Nihilille says:

    I’ve been thinking about DA:O recently. When I played it last year I loved it and pushed through it it 4-5 days or something like that. But thinking back I have the nagging feeling that I only thought I loved it because it was so “true” to the classic crpg formula. I have no desire to ever replay it, I bought Awakening and didn’t play more than 2h because it was so… slow. The problem with Dragon Age was that it was so epic in scope that the product itself couldn’t be polished enough, and if ME2 proved something in my opinion it was that a more tightly knit experience can be considerably more polished and optimised.

    Well, not sure if that rant was meaningful at all. I’ll just say that I trust Bioware to take their franchises where they want to take ‘em, and I think the shift from ME1 to ME2 proves that they can make things a lot better.

  5. Mithrandir0x says:

    So no more custom character and classic conversation style?

    I guess experimentation won’t be the right word in this context. I don’t think I’ll be surprised when they abide for a oversimplified item system like ME2.

    • BlooDeck says:

      The inventory system in Mass Effect 2 was fine… for Mass Effect 2, it fit the game better than a traditional one. However if they do the same for DA2 I will be most disappointed.

      The main thing that bugs me about this is the ME2 conversation wheel – for heavens sake, I want to see what I’m going to say, not a small description goddamnit.

    • JKjoker says:

      a “small description” that often doesnt mean what the player thinks it means (they could at least color it to imply the tone, jeez), i remember this one line in Alpha Protocol during the “tutorial”, you get tasked to do something and you get one option to say “No problem” then you character says something like “No problem, dickface (-1 reputation with x)”, they need to stop it, this is seriously stupid

  6. ChaK_ says:

    I hated ME2 with passion. hey let’s grab 8 unknown guys and do 8 secondary quest for a boss fight. man that was absolute crap.

    Who on earth not insane would pick jack in his team??

    i’m not confident in EA at all, so yeah. cautious

    • ChaK_ says:

      and I want black isle back, with a baldur’s gate saga HD

      Man, one could do wonder with 3d isometric for an old school RPG

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      I’m amazed one of the smaller devs hasn’t done that, actually. Small team, classic isometric RPG. There’s got to be a decent market for it now. I mean, I know there are a few indie projects out there, but there’s clearly a commercial hole to be filled.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      Eschalon? Not 3D, but still…

      http://store.steampowered.com/app/25620/

      Or Mr Robot. That one is 3D, but a puzzle/JRPG combination rather than a western fantasy RPG.
      :)

      http://store.steampowered.com/app/20710/

    • ChaK_ says:

      Yeah, i’ve heard good things about that one. Might give it a try one day,

      when I’m done with close combat longest day. Oh dear, that’s not anytime soon :(

    • sfury says:

      The Broken Hourglass is such very BGII-ish project but it’s been delayed and delayed, and their site is very broken though comments on other boards I know they’re still working on it, but who knows when it will be released if ever…

      http://gry.o2.pl/publicystyka/?co=pokaz&id=309

      So I guess it’s not so easy after all…

      But surely it must be way more easy than doing a game in 3D and trying to compete with the big fish, right? There should be more projects like that.

    • Heliocentric says:

      The jrpg combat strangled the life out of mr robot. Now, fallout tactics combat/jagged alliance(i love how i’ll get crap for putting them in that order) combat is the kind of rpg combat i can get behind. The only infinity engine which actually had good combat were icewind dale 1,2 and planescape for totally opposite reasons (maximalism and minimalism respectively). The bg games were just a mess of micromanaging and munchkining or getting screwed because you didn’t micromunch.

    • AndrewC says:

      Munchkining? Micromunching? Good lord I barely know what a tank is – what are these new horrors? Can you maximunch?

    • ChaK_ says:

      looks good eh.

      Too bad I’m not really polish-friendly when I come to read it

    • The Colonel says:

      Second. ME2 was terrible. Although I don’t see how DA:2 could be as bad if they’re not using the combat system from ME2. Who ever played as a human in DAO?

      This is a very bizarre event. We always knew that EA et al. work by finding a formula they think is super popular and churning out a hundred games with said mechanics. Regen health and chest-high walls being the biggest culprits in FPS’s. But here we have an example where a more classic, less arcadey style of game outsells the consoley counterpart and yet they want to supplant it with the structure from the less successful game!

      This brings back the old debate of market force vs. consumer demand I suppose. You WILL like chest-high walls! You WILL want an overly dramatic CINEMATIC EXPERIENCE. Well.

    • Heliocentric says:

      Micromanage: its actually not a gaming thing but a an employment thing. But for gaming think what those korean guys do to starcraft. However, baldurs gate had pausing so it was more like employment micro.

      Munchkin: a strain of min-maxing which doesn’t even need the min. You can do everything perfectly, example in bg series a 3 intelligence fighter can use long words and carry about 400 swords, hell, i had a character a paladin i finished the series with from the begining who had 15+in every sat (except int). That said, he was godspawn.

    • Tei says:

      Munchking is also a game where you munchkining. Like, you get a blade with 4 arms, so this blade can mount another 4 blades. So you get the bonuses of 6 blades ( 1hand + 1 hand + 4 x 1hand ). This is a minor example of the horrors you see in a normal munchkin game. Is a game that turn people into munchin. And the verb exist in other games. Lots of games have a unofficial rule “Not too much munchking”.

      Talking about muncking probably violates the 1st and 2th rule.

    • Bluebreaker says:

      Yeah I agree on ME2 being shitty compared to the masterpiece that ME1 was.
      Also they don’t understand that the most interesting (or perhaps the only) part of DA1 was the different origins?

    • Deuteronomy says:

      ME1 was a HOLY SHIT WTF masterpiece. ME2 is sordid garbage in comparison. DA:O was mostly great, except for a slight lack of tactical variety in the combat.

  7. Tweakd says:

    Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

    Looks like I’ll have to re-install DA:O and give this one a miss :(

  8. bytez says:

    Great, now we only have Witcher 2 left to be a proper crpg.
    Thanks bioware, whats the next title you will ruin?

    • James G says:

      Errm, the Witcher has 1) Action orientated combat. 2) A fixed PC.

      Yes, it has conversation trees, rather than a dialog wheel, but I’m not sure its any more Classic RPG than DA2 could end up being.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Yeah, I think this might even be a response directly to The Witcher 2 as their main competition.

    • ChaK_ says:

      though dragon age feels generic from g to c.

      witcher really has something original. Gameplay might be simplistic, but background really pulls it apart.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      True, but – being cynical – the generic fantasy template might be one of the reasons Dragon Age did so well. People know what they are getting. The Witcher games are a different kettle of fish, even if they don’t fall too far from the tree, if you will allow me to make alchemy of my metaphors.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      “True, but – being cynical – the generic fantasy template might be one of the reasons Dragon Age did so well. People know what they are getting.”

      Agreed. Personally I would *love* to have a game set in a more unusual fantasy environment – something create by the fertile imaginations of Clive Barker, China Mieville or someone like them. But I suspect it would be box-office poison, so I’m not holding my breath.

    • Zaphid says:

      RPG based on China Mieville’s stories? MAKE THAT HAPPEN.

    • Xercies says:

      @Lars

      Personally i would love to have a fantasy RPG in like a modern Fantasy setting. Something like a neil geiman world. Can you imagine an RPG in the neverwhere universe? Be brilliant. Definitly a setting that could b used more often then the trad fantasy.

    • Wulf says:

      I’d hug Lars if it wouldn’t create all sorts of public/social awkwardness. That said, I completely agree with him.

      I said elsewhere that I find it tiresome that – outside of books – entertainment has fallen into this downward spiral of unchallenging familiarity, where people need to be able to immediately relate to their hero in order to play a game. It’s only going to get worse, really, because the attitude is encouraged, which I oppose, and I believe that we should instead be encouraging people to think outside the box, just a little bit.

      Is total familiarity really that necessary? Is it? Do movie goers and gamers feel that unless their character is something they can relate to within picoseconds of sitting down to be entertained, that they’ll not be able to enjoy the proceedings at all, just because their entertainment might challenge their imagination and tickle parts of their brain that they’re not used to having tickled?

      I’m going to use an example here, it’s a kid’s movie, but I think it’s a good one and it’ll help me to illustrate my point. Is it impossible to relate to Wall-E? He was a completely different sort of protagonist. He didn’t have a mouth, he didn’t communicate in human words, and yet he was expressive. Are people put off by having to perceive expression in another way? Do they need to immediately be able to read things?

      I think so. And this is why we get such boring settings, and boring characters. The reason that Dragon Age had only humans (and humans with mild physical variations) as characters, and such a generic setting is because people have settled down into this malaise, their creativity pours like molasses and ekes out only in tiny amounts. They’ve been taught to work that way because they don’t need to flex any amount of creative thinking in order to understand their entertainment.

      I suppose it’s fair to say that people feel entitled to entertainment they can immediately understand, and I can grok that, but I still find it exceedingly depressing. This is why people like myself can’t have nice things. Instead, as I pointed out before, we get humans in a setting which is almost modern day, but with a blanket of illusion draped over it to make it look a little more like a fantasy or sci-fi setting.

      When it comes to settings, there are so many interesting options. I remember playing the Gateway text adventures and stepping out onto brilliantly detailed (at least, via text) alien landscapes, but games tend to not do that any more. We get metal buildings which we recognise, rocks, we know rocks, and sometimes we get trees. This is what annoyed me about Mass Effect 2, really. It genuinely didn’t feel alien. There was never anything that made me feel as though I were on another planet.

      And that’s precisely what I’m getting at. With characters, if you were to introduce animal characters, mechanical ones, sapient plants, and so on, you’d have the problem of people needing to read emotions differently. With Wall-E it was all in the eyes, with an animal character a lot of emotion might be expressed via the eyes and the ears, and that seems like too much effort for the majority.

      What do I long for? Fantasy and Sci-Fi actually meaning Fantasy and Sci-Fi again, in which we see things which Earth couldn’t easily show us, things which are truly bizarre and exotic, to stir the deepest recesses of the mind with disturbing creatures, to inspire with alien beauty, and the chance to flex my almost long-lost desire to explore. And it’s not that hard to be creative, and if it makes people think twice about what they’re seeing, then all the better!

      Why have just another dungeon of stone bricks? Why not have… oh, I don’t know… some bizarre creation of technology and plantlife that seems to have grown out of the ground into a vast, sprawling, and very vertical city; one which appears to be living, and constantly reconfigures itself to the needs of its occupants, and staffed partly by seemingly mindless platforms, who move from place to place and maintain the giant construct, helping it to build itself ever higher. The mystery might be why it’s doing this, why it exists, and other races might even have settled there, since it’s not hostile.

      It’s almost like though that entertainment these days is terrified to push against the cling film-thin suspension of disbelief that the masses suffer with, because the average person apparently seems too small minded to even try to understand an alien world. My suspension of disbelief isn’t based on reality, it’s a sturdy thing and it’s based on continuity and consistency. As long as a world is true to itself, then I relish the strangeness, I lap it up eagerly.

      Alas, Dragon Age and games like it will continue to be incredibly familiar, humans living in wood/stone houses being threatened by threats we’ve all seen before, just dressed up a little bit differently. And… I’m sorry, but Gods that’s boring. D:

    • Ian says:

      Wulf: “The reason that Dragon Age had only humans”

      What about the elves and dwarfs? Though obviously that doesn’t change the fact that dwarfs were just a slightly more shitty (as in unpleasant, not as in not good) version of Tolkien’s dwarves and while elves weren’t entirely Tolkien I’m sure they had similarly strong influences that I’m unaware of that made them subjugated, etc. rather than Tolkien’s aloof, mystical buggers.

    • teo says:

      I think Dragon Age just showed how dated all those RPG mechanics are, I’m fine if they dump them. For how much everyone talked up the combat it wasn’t very interesting, mute protagonist sucks etc.

    • Wulf says:

      @Ian

      I actually covered them, in the full quote. Here’s the full quote: “The reason that Dragon Age had only humans (and humans with mild physical variations) as characters [...]”

      I classify elves and dwarves as ‘humans with physical variations’.

      A dwarf in Dragon Age is technically a stocky human, perhaps with a beard. Not exactly that far from human, we have humans that look like that.

      An elf is basically a slender human with pointy ears, a reasonably fit person cosplaying Spock can stand in for an elf.

      So I see them as really just all human, or rather – humans that are just a little bit different physically.

      I have nothing against humans, but they are ubiquitous and it’s depressing when human – or something that looks very much like a human – is the only option.

      I lean more toward really out there things, plants, wisps, spirit collectives, bestial critters, mechanical beings, and whatnot. And I still haven’t seen anything outdo Shining Force when it comes to strange critters (like the hamster, the flying octopus, and the armadillo in steam-powered armour).

      I’m fond of the Guild Wars 2 Charr for example, leonine critters with horns, multiple rows of teeth (apparently, a bit shark-like), and four goat-like ears, I find them so unusual, and yet so compelling too, and they’re rather aesthetically pleasing.

      But don’t mind me, I know some people consider an elf to be different from a human. It’s just a matter of perspective, I suppose.

    • ChaK_ says:

      we have humans that look like that

      I WANT NAMES !

    • AndrewC says:

      All fantasy and sci fi races are humans-only-a-bit-different. I’m not sure what your point is.

    • Dean says:

      Obvious comparison is, as ever, Planescape Torment. Party characters include a floating skull, a man perpetually on fire, a fallen angel, an animated suit of armour… and you play a zombie pretty much.

      Though what is interesting is it’s always cited as the great CRPG and it had a fixed character.

      And yes we’re lacking real out-there sci-fi/fantasy RPGs. But we’re also lacking any real-world RPGs. Or Western RPGs. Or historical. or horror. well… anything that isn’t sci-fi / fantasy. It’s not just about characters we can immediately relate to. It’s about restricting things to genres that offer a sense of familiarity.

      I mean really, you’re telling me with Pirates of the Caribbean doing so well, a piratey RPG wouldn’t work? (well one can always play Dark Waters I guess).

    • Lambchops says:

      I’m with Lars and Wulf here. You can base unusual species of characters on animals or something different than just plain old humans.

      One of my favourite game world’s was that of Little Big Adventure 2. You may have been playing a member of a humanoid type race but it also included elephant like creatures (one had a jet pack!), sausages on roller skates, gigantic bees, a cute flying donosaur and more. So many games fail to bring things even up to this level of imagination. It isn’t exactly revolutionary but it does make such a difference in creating a rich enjoyable game world. I’d also single out Beyond Good and Evil for this sort of praise.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      @Wulf and the others
      Thanks, glad to know I’m not the only one who would like to see something like that.
      :)

      @Andrew
      “All fantasy and sci fi races are humans-only-a-bit-different.”

      I don’t agree. I mean, they are human in the sense that they are understandable to us, and have something that we would recognize as a personality. Otherwise it would be difficult to tell a story. It would all be like “Solaris” the book. We meet the aliens and find that we can’t comprehend each other at all.

      But apart from that human-understandable trait, there are plenty of aliens in literature and film that are psychologically and physiologically different….

    • Ian says:

      @ Wulf: Ah, okay.

      Although I don’t think your example of the GW2 Charr is the best example to illustrate your point. It’s an interesting design and I like it but it doesn’t make me think “Woah! Imagination!” It just looks like another humanimal.

      But yeah, certainly in terms of wanting something more interesting to look at dwarfs and elves are essentially if nothing else a type of human.

      Half the problem is that when you get, say, plant-like intelligent things in games they’re often baddies so their intelligence is often limited to “I’m gon’ fuck you up, son” and you don’t get much deeper into them than that. Planty things that aren’t just a-plant-that-can-walk-about is probably an area where there’s more room for exploration than humanoids and beasties.

    • AndrewC says:

      @Lars: yes, it would be like Solaris. All these works are written by humans for humans, and ultimately they are about humans. Beneath all the Elephants with jetpacks, there are humans.

      A dwarf can be just a shorter human, or have six eyes and arse-antlers, but they are still just a metaphor for the lower-classes, or Northerners, or immigrants or whichever – deep down, they are still humans-but-a-bit-different. All sci fi is about our present, and all fantasy is about our lives.

    • Dean says:

      Actually the first Mass Effect had the Thorium (mind controlling plant life-form) and the Rachni (looked like Aliens at first but was a lot more to them).

    • Mrfox says:

      @AndrewC

      Precisely – I think a little too much emphasis is being placed on the visual element here. Sci fi should be the literature (or video games) of ideas, and any “non human” character only has value insofar as it sheds light on the fuzzy liminal zones of humanity – what is it to be us? Why is this sentient plant virus different? What do the differences reveal about the puzzle of humanity, our cognition, our sapient natures?

    • Wulf says:

      Okay, now let’s put this in the right place! Wheeee.

      @ChaK_

      I can’t describe the amount of times I’ve seen the media describe an actor as having elf-like beauty, and there are short people who’ve appraised the roles of dwarves in films past.

      The point being is that they are very human, just with mild variations.

      @AndrewC

      All? If you say so.

      Of course, Guild Wars 2 has the Charr, Everquest had… golly, Everquest had lizardmen, dragonfolk, cat people, frogs, bird people, and others, Wizardry had lizardmen, cat people, and the Rawulf (wolf people), Shining Force had… errr… oh my, let’s see… dragons (quadrupedal), dragonfolk, beastmen (of all sorts, from wolves, to birds, to rats, to turtles, to armadillos, and even a hamster), mechanical life forms, and many others…

      So, I suppose our experiences differ? It’s true that commonly fantasy tends to have humans with only minor variations. What’s my point? I thought I’d made it, a couple of times. My point is a question: Does it have to be that way? There were a few times where people clearly thought it didn’t. The exemplar admittedly being the Shining games.

      If you want humans, then more power to you. I never said I was against humans, despite how ubiquitous they are, I just think it would be nice if we could branch out a bit, in the ways that past examples have taught us we can. It leads to a more storied, detailed world when we do.

      @Lambchops

      Yes! I loved LittleBigAdventure! Both of those games were set in such a wonderfully unique Universe. I’ve replayed those games so many times.

      Anyway, I agree with you completely. That’s precisely the point I’m making: Variation makes for something that’s more visually diverse, more exotic, and more interesting. If it’s just things that we’re completely familiar with, well…

      I suppose I could put it like this? I don’t know if this works, but… I’m completely familiar with a bit of art I have hung on my wall, why would I want to go out to a gallery – filled with many pieces I’d never seen – when I could sit at home and stare at this picture on my wall? Fantasy always being set in a near-Earth, with only humans (and humans with minor physical variations) tends to be sort of like that.

      It’s like someone is thinking “Why bother with creativity? Let’s just go with what everyone knows, and do the same old thing all over again, even if it is completely familiar to the point of being trite. People know elves, dwarves, and humans, so we’ll do that. If we put in anything even remotely interesting, we might scare our valuable customers away, so we’ll just stick to what’s boring and unchallenging.”

      This leads to worlds that aren’t very visually diverse at all, and there’s nothing in them to capture the imagination. And I have a big and fairly demanding imagination, I’ll admit that, but I won’t apologise for it because I don’t think it’s a bad thing.

      @Lars

      You’re welcome! Frankly, I’d kill to see more interesting fantasy setting used in entertainment franchises.

      Also, yep, what you’ve said to Andrew is a point I tried to make elsewhere. Could anyone really say that Wall-E wasn’t emotive? He didn’t have a human face, he didn’t express himself with words, he was almost entirely a creature of emotion, and he he came across so clearly because he could be understood. With animals, you have clear representation of emotion in the ears, the tail, and the eyes, and so on, and so on.

      Even with dragons and birds, you have expression that can be shown via the wings as well as the face, see Dragonheart for an example of this, since that dragon was quite emotive, especially considering the more limited special effects. The thing is, it’s all about body language, and sometimes all you need is to understand the visual cues. I think that people are better at picking up on body language and related cues than they realise, they might be afraid of strange things, but they get used to them fast, they adapt.

      This is something that animation houses like Disney realise years ago, since even young children – from a very early age – have that ability to read visual cues to understand emotion and intent, it’s a talent we need and therefore we have. This means that we could have more strange creatures parading around in more grown-up fantasy settings, and we’d still be able to read their visual cues, just as we could in animated films when were younger.

      I would love to see more developers understand this, and create really strange, exotic worlds, filled with interesting creatures. I don’t think people would be scared off, they’d adapt, and in time they might actually learn to enjoy the variety and cast aside their familiarity safety-blanket for things which are more intriguing and compelling due to that they’re not immediately familiar.

      If films have done it, and films continue to do it, why can’t we see this in games. Just once I’d like to be surprised by seeing something as interesting as Neverending Story’s Luck-dragon in a game. It would be delightful. Something exotic, and strange, and yet with that human understandable element to bridge the gap between us, as Lars pointed out. I think that providing you have that element, you could make something as strange as could be.

      I just think that right now, we’re stuck in a bit of a creative dark ages, where we’re just too scared of the unfamiliar to even try. I long for the day when we pull out of this rut and experience some sort of Renaissance 2.0.

      @Ian

      They are different though, they’re not just ‘humanimals’ as you put it. I mean, I can show you an anthropomoprh, a blend of human and animal, but the Charr aren’t that, they’re a whole bunch of things blended, and then some, and they really stand out because of that. So I think it’s unfair, and perhaps underestimating them to just call them ‘humanimals’.

      Then again though, maybe you haven’t seen the Guild Wars 2 designs? They’re… quite different. Even more peculiar than the Guild Wars 1 Charr were.

      But anyway, the point is variety. The Charr could simply be one piece of a far more interesting mosaic, where instead of just having the Charr as a stand-out example, everything would try to be as visually interesting.

      Anyway, for reference, let’s see if I can’t find it…

      Here we go: http://media.pcgamer.com/files/2010/07/guild-wars-2-charr.jpg

      As for plants, they – to me – seem like a prime candidate for some kind of pseudo-hivemind system, especially via spores or even some symbiotic relationship with intelligent insects who act as couriers. That’d be something!

      @AndrewC #2

      Hrmmm. I don’t know if that’s semantics, really?

      I can sum up what you said as ‘behind every sapient creature is a sapient creature’, which is a little obvious, but my point was ‘there’s no reason that sapient creatures can’t be incredibly culturally and physiologically diverse’.

      The point was that dwarves and elves aren’t physiologically diverse at all, beyond a few incredibly minor cosmetic changes, and their cultures, whilst interesting, could be so much more. If they were more physiologically diverse, then they could also have a more intriguing and alien culture built upon that. We could start extending out from what we know, and trying to imagine how something could be – yes – sapient but very physiologically different from us, and how their cultures would be effected.

      I think it’s a fair point that the biology of a creature can have an impact on its culture, no? So something that is very physically different from a human might also have a vastly different culture, and I think that exploring that sort of thinking would be worthwhile.

      @Dean

      D: I never got around to completing the first Mass Effect. Now I want to.

    • Wulf says:

      You know, I think I can simplify my points, too.

      - The more you have of things that don’t look identical, the more visually diverse the output is, and the more enjoyable the game is for some people (people like me). Therefore, Shining Force > Dragon Age.

      - As a sub-point to both the above and below points, creating something that is exotic and unfamiliar is a good place to start, because you could create a world which would provide the correct environment for the more interesting creatures you wish to see living in it. To take a visual cue from Ryzom, you could have part of your world encased in vines, vines which sport very nutritious and delicious fruit, it’s likely that at least a few species of the fauna of that world would evolve to take advantage of this.

      - If a creature is very physiologically different from a human (look at the example I made about sapient plants perhaps having a symbiotic relationship with intelligent insects whom they use as couriers, perhaps as a part of their physiology), then it’ll be very culturally different too. If you have something that’s very similar to a human, physiologically, then it probably won’t be all that different culturally. Therefore, for an interesting setting, it can help to have a range of races whom are all very different from each other, physiologically and culturally.

      That’s… pretty much my view. Yay view!

    • Zwebbie says:

      @Wulf: I fail to see the point in having different races altogether. In Tolkien’s works, the immortality of the Elves is actually significant, but that’s hardly ever a big theme for them in video games. Why not just have tree hugging humans and beardy humans? That way, you don’t have to bother explaining life expectancies or making a ton of different models. Plus, the whole thing gets more ambiguous, because you can change culture, but you can’t change race.
      An African tribe or even my own ancestors 1000 years ago feel far more alien to me than Elves and Dwarves anyway…

    • Ian says:

      @ Wulf: if it came across that way, I certainly didn’t mean to say that the Charr look like one animal + man-features. They’re clearly designed from potential features rather than “Hey let’s meld a cat and a chicken and put it on two legs” or whatever. But it is still, ultimately, a humanoid with a bunch of animal features. They look cool and it’s certainly visually a step above the Khajit from Elder Scrolls (for example) but they’re not wildly imaginative. It still, at a glance, just looks like a beastman.

      I like your plant idea though.

      I also like the idea of something like the kind-of-sentient-without-being-ents in LOTR. But… sort of more sentient. It being a properly sentient being that can communicate with it’s fellows but without being able to move as such. Though that might open them up to a too-obvious “and all the sitting around makes ‘em crazy!” idea.

    • Wulf says:

      @Ian

      I didn’t mean to imply that they were wildly imaginative though, sorry if I gave that impression. More that, simply, well… it’s a start, at least it’s something. It’s not a hobbit, it’s not a dwarf, or a gnome, or an elf, it’s a big feral thing with four ears, shark-teeth, horns, and a bizarre predator-dominated mixed industrialised Mongol-Roman culture.

      They’re not the greatest feats of creativity, but at least it’s something. They’re interesting, and compared to the usual fantasy fare I actually find them to be a breath of fresh air, but mostly because fantasy at late has been leaning toward the Dragon Age approach, and I’m starved of anything that’s a little different.

    • Wulf says:

      Basically, I hunger for interesting things. The Charr, at least, are very interesting, and they’ll suffice as a meal for my ravenous, demanding imagination for a little while, probably pulling me out of my malaise a little. So I like them for that. And for actually existing, since the likes of them are so, so rare.

  9. James G says:

    Glad to hear that ‘strategic combat’ options will be staying in the PC version. I’m assuming that we’ll have something a bit stripped down, but depending on how this is implemented we could end up with something that has as much depth in real terms. (For example, if you reduce the number of skills required, but increase the usefulness/appropriateness of them)

    The limitation to a single PC doesn’t bother me one bit, if done well, it opens up more opportunities for a more personal plot, which is nice. Less keen on the implementation of the wheel, it makes nuanced conversation more difficult, but there’s no reason to assume they’ll be implementing it in EXACTLY the same manner as the ME system.

    In other words, my feelings about the changes will depend on how they end up implementing them. I have no major affinity for the details of the DA:O combat system, but I hope we’ll retain a system which is slower paced than ME, more strategic, and provides enough interplay of skills and situations to allow for more than just spamming the enemy with fireball. (TBH, the original wasn’t great in achieving this, as cone of cold was FAR too powerful) Similarly, I hope the conversation system allows for more options than ME’s Paragon/Renegade split.

    • SanguineAngel says:

      Got to agree with you there, James old bean. I enjoy being able to create my own characters as much as the next RPG fan. I mean, I really really do. But! I also love a well crafted story based around a fixed character. This harks back to the RPG definition argument I guess but being able to make your character from scratch does NOT a RPG make. It is the act of playing out the role you are given or have chosen. The freedom of choice within the confines of that character. So I’m not concerned about being forced into one character. What does concern me is that this character is called “Hawke” which does not speak to the possibility of a deep, subtle and compelling story.

      Also, as much as I DID love ME2 (&1), I love DA:O for completely different reasons. this dialogue wheel concerns me. Partly because the choice in ME2 was all about defining your character’s personality. The wheel worked well for this due to it’s rather basic nature. (it wasn’t perfectly implemented though by a long shot)

      DA:O was all about making choices within given situations. Those choices influenced by who your character IS. It’s kind of the reverse, in fact, of ME where choice affects personality almost.

      Point being, I am concerned because of the directing they appear to be heading in – missing the entire reasoning behind DA:O’s success. They need to focus on improving those areas DA:O implemented well and fixing those it did poorly in.

      If every game is the same then the gaming world will be very boring indeed. And I do have to say that things do seem to be heading increasingly in that direction as publishers chase those safe investments of proven FORMULAS. “Formulaic” has never been used as a compliment, hint hint.

    • skalpadda says:

      I was very relieved as well to see them state that they want to keep the more tactical approach on the PC, and hopefully they can keep the “PC feel”.

      At first I was very worried about not being able to make your own character (the origin stories were among the things I liked most about Dragon Age), but thinking about it for a moment I actually had a stronger connection to my female Shepard in Mass Effect than I did to my mute female dwarf in Dragon Age. I just really hope they do it well if they have a fully voiced protagonist.

      Still, it does seem a bit like they’re trying more to tighten it up for the console versions (which didn’t review nearly as well as the PC version from what I’ve seen) than trying to improve the experience for everyone.

  10. Gundrea says:

    One step forward, two steps back…

  11. PiP says:

    this is plainly retarded; PC customisation is one of the most important features that allow identifying with the character and immersion. They should know better than that. #$% if I care about console version of the game though.
    As for dialogues, it’s about the quality of writing, not if it’s presented in a wheel or square. Or is there something about the wheel dialogue that I don’t know? (and I wouldn’t)

    • Hidden_7 says:

      The issue most people have with wheel dialogue isn’t that it’s presented in a wheel rather than a square, but the attitude it takes towards dialogue. That is, it only tells you a very VERY general idea of what you’re going to say. Sometimes the summary it has veers far afield from what is actually said, and you can often be caught saying something you didn’t at all intend to. Also, the implementation, at least in ME and its sequel tended to lack nuance. For most situations you were presented with three responses, one polite, one nuetral and one rude, and their position on the wheel told you which was which. The was that and “investigating” things, which simply brought up a list of topics for you to ask about. In those situations you had no idea what specifically about that topic you would ask about, or how you would ask it.

      For someone trying to play a specific sort of character the wheel dialogue can make it very difficult.

    • Matt W says:

      Planescape: Torment was terrible

    • mrmud says:

      @ Matt
      Now thats just trolling

    • Ravenger says:

      That was my biggest problem with Mass Effect 2′s dialogue wheel. You’d pick an option and Shepard would say something completely different to what you’d expected. I often felt that I hadn’t wanted to say what he eventually said.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Yes exactly. I hate Mass Effects conversations. I really like the game but the character never says what I expect.

      And I don’t need or want a damned voice over for my character. The character is me in my head so it just feels very weird and unimmersive to have an irritating American accent.

    • Bioptic says:

      The issue I had with Mass-Effect style dialogue wheels is that they trivialise dialogue. The game rewards you for sticking to a single, binary ‘alignment’, the response for which is always highlighted. You also know that responses on the left are not required and will prolong the dialogue. Conversations, 90% of the time, are just a case of ‘exhaust all options, clicking red/blue when you can’. Even Alpha Protocol, whilst using a very similar system, deployed this more effectively – conversations only flowed in a single direction, under a time limit, and so you were at least kept on your toes and engaged with the content of the dialogue.

      I also love the switch from DA:O from “Look at all the cool origin stories you can choose for yourself, each with varying races, and unique NPCs and plotlines” to “You’re playing Hawke. Deal with it”.

    • teo says:

      Sure, that’s a problem with ME2′s dialogue system, it’s far from perfect, but I still prefer it over Dragon Age’s. Maybe you have more options during conversations in Dragon Age but I never felt like it mattered anyway. Threatening someone in ME2 is awesome because of the acting, in Dragon Age it’s just some dumbface NPC barely reacting at all

    • PiP says:

      Matt
      I knew someone would bring Torment up when I was posting my previous comment ;)
      Yeah it’s a great game yet it doesn’t render my point invalid. It only proves you can have a good game despite the lack of character choice.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      I don’t understand people who can’t figure out what their character is going to say using the wheel system in ME or AP. The location of choices on the wheel is based on what sort of choices they are – in ME you always have “information gathering” options on the left, paragon choices on the upper right, and renegade choices on the lower right, with the odd paragon/renegade options in the upper left/lower left. In AP you have suave choices on the left, professional on the right, aggressive on top, and “special choices” on the bottom. That’s about as simplified and easy to understand as a conversation system can get.

    • Reiver says:

      @Jason
      There’s a problem with the vehmence or intonation that the character can put on it, even with the unmentioned action that goes along with the dialogue (this interview is over=punching a woman in the face). I like to have more control over my character than that as well as have more input into a conversation than selecting a stance. At best i found the ME/AP conversations failed to engage me and at worst they were flat out jarring.

    • suibhne says:

      The “dialogue wheel” in the ME games (which I put in quotation marks because it’s not really a wheel, obv) is awful. I agree it’s not structurally awful. The problem is the poor writing – in both ME and ME2, it seems as if the actual dialogue and the “shorthand” versions of it were put together by entirely different writers, allowed to communicate with one another only via semaphore on a foggy moonless night, while stoned out of their minds. I can’t count how many times I felt genuinely irritated by the game because my choice produced a fundamentally different result from what I thought I was choosing – sometimes even an opposite result (rarely – but still…). Bioware’s implementation of this system throughout ME and ME2 leads to repeated invalidation of player choice.

      Bioware apparently doesn’t have skilled enough writers, or doesn’t know how to manage its writers well enough within a workflow, to pull off this sort of “abbreviation” approach. This doesn’t bode well for DA2.

  12. Lars Westergren says:

    If we focus on the positive side, they are putting resources into making two completely different version of the game with regards to UI, controls etc. So the PC version doesn’t have to make any compromises to the console crowd and combat may by a bit more hardcore this time.

    Yeah, a bit sad to see the origins concept go, I liked it. But if the writing and characters are really strong this time, I am willing to forgive them.

    • bytez says:

      Having UI adjusted for a PC is not a feature to put on marketing list, it should come as naturally as keyboard and mouse controls.
      The idea behind DA was to reboot old-fashioned cRPG’s.
      With the details of a sequel we have so far, what we getting is Mass Age Dragon Effect.
      Not Dragon Age 2 with improvements, bells and whistles. They are cutting features OUT, I cant really be positive about that.

    • Phinor says:

      Do you really believe it though? That they are going to spend meaningful amount of resources to make the PC version stand on it’s own. I highly doubt that but I suppose the surprise will be pleasant if they indeed do that.

      Every change they have mentioned so far sounds like a change towards inferior game. I really liked Mass Effect 2 but I really don’t want Dragon Age to be like Mass Effect. But that’s just based on few marketing bullet points so have to wait and see really.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      “Do you really believe it though? That they are going to spend meaningful amount of resources to make the PC version stand on it’s own.”

      Yes, why not? The PC version outsold the console versions by a wide margin I believe (well, maybe not both consoles combined, but still).

    • skalpadda says:

      And they have put a lot of effort into adapting UI and some mechanics for the different versions in both the Mass Effect games and in Dragon Age, so if you instead ask “Do you really believe they’ll go one step further than they’ve already done?”, then it doesn’t seem all that unlikely.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      The first game was already developed with the PC as the primary platform, so I’m not entirely sure what sort of concessions to consoles you’re referring to.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      @Jason Moyer

      Well, it went cross platform more than a year before it was launched. You don’t know how it might have been if it had remained a PC exclusive (but Bioware have said that given a year extra and oodles of extra money allowed them to make it a big title, so I’m not complaining too much, mind).

    • jaheira says:

      @ Lars

      “Yes, why not? The PC version outsold the console versions by a wide margin I believe”

      I don’t believe. Any evidence?

  13. Coldwave says:

    I wonder what music are they gonna use for a reveal trailer.

    • Hidden_7 says:

      That’s actually, I feel, a really good example of licensed music in a trailer. The trailer pretty accurately reflects what it’s like to play MW2, and the tone of the song fits really well with the action in the trailer.

      Obviously Eminem would be a terrible choice for any sort of Dragon Age trailer, however.

      My vote is for either Journey, The Who or Lady Gaga.

  14. Choca says:

    ’tis sad.

  15. Archonsod says:

    Waitaminute, so you’re stuck to a single hero named Hawke, and you can only pick the gender?

    So I could be Ladyhawke?

    I wonder if they’d get Rutger Hauer in for a voiceover …

    • AndrewC says:

      Stringfellow Hawke from Airwolf?

      Man, it’s almost like Hawke is a staggeringly cliched tough-dude name or something.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Agreed. Let’s create a petition for a less cliched naming tradition for fantasy RPG protagonists.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      Outcast: “You play the American Marine Cutter Slade”.
      Me: *grooan*

      “SLABCHEST MCRUNFAST!”

    • AndrewC says:

      It’s guaranteed to work!

      I would suggest letting the player choose the name, but we are gamers, and will use swears. We get the terrible names we deserve.

      But being semi-serious, in things like LOTR (and The Oddysey and stuff), heroes were mostly referred to by nicknames, depending on how the person talking thought of them – Aragorn is also Strider, or Longstride or Heir Of Elendil or something. So the player can still call their character ‘Willybum’, but the game will refer to you by your actions and relationships.

      I only got into games to stare at Lara Croft’s boobs, so have no idea if any game does this – does any game do this?

    • robrob says:

      BLAST HARDCHEESE

    • Lars Westergren says:

      BUFF DRINKLOTS!

      For those who don’t get the reference…
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5xhfCGcAYw

    • Lambchops says:

      Cheers Jim, now i’m not going to be able to play the game without constantly thinking of the ‘best’ worst film of them all.

    • Simes says:

      BIG MCLARGEHUGE

    • Simes says:

      Time for another MST3K marathon, I guess.

    • Clovis says:

      @AndrewC: In Fable people would call you by a nickname. I think the default at the beginning was “chicken chaser”. You could actually buy better titles though, or maybe earn them by completing certain quests or something.

    • The Hammer says:

      @Clovis: Actually, the default one was “Hero”. Chicken Chaser was just the cheapest optional title you could get!

      And yes, the worst thing about this news for me is the main character being called Hawke. This does not bode well.

    • AndrewC says:

      They should call the character Woolf.

    • Archonsod says:

      I always remember scrimping and saving in Fable so that I could be known by the title of Arseface. Piemaster was another good one too, particularly if you got the character fat.

      The problem with the fantasy genre is everyone comes out sounding like cheesy heavy metal bands. It’d be much better with proper nicknames, like King John “Fartpants” the Third asking Gazza “Shortarse” the Dwarf to go save the kingdom. Or at least I think it would.

  16. Rhade says:

    Ah that’s kind of annoying. I actually want more actiony combat. I never liked the combat model in Bioware RPGs, it was everything else in the games that made them worth playing. The fact that you get a static main character doesn’t appeal to me either, as that’s part of what I love about RPGs, shaping the character you want from the bottom up.

    It doesn’t make sense to me to have a tedious and boring combat system in a game with so much combat as Dragon Age.

    I suspect it’s not the combat in Dragon Age that made it sell so well either.

    But now I’m speculating.

    ’tis sad indeed.

    • ExplosiveCoot says:

      I think we’re in the minority, but I would also quite like it if they gave PC users the option to choose more “actiony” combat. I enjoyed Dragon Age, but I enjoyed it in spite of the combat not because of it.

    • Saul says:

      The combat was atrocious. I never got to the end of the game, and it was because of the constant, grindy, painful battles (and I was playing on Easy for most of it). I approve of all the changes they’re talking about making, and may actually prefer to play the console version…

      The name Hawke is a bit of a worry, however.

  17. Duoae says:

    “Hell, I enjoyed Mass Effect 2, but you have to wonder why Dragon Age was so successful in the first place. Not because it was copying its less successful sibling, that’s for sure.”

    “We will apparently retain “strategic combat”, which is a good news, while console chums will be “playing to their strengths” we more actiony combat mechanics.”

    Maybe i’m reading too much into this and maybe it’s my own personal bias on where they went but certainly the misleading marketing helped them with sales – probably more so on the consoles. From the early marketing material it looked much more hack and slashy than it ended up and i’d bet that a focus group or two would have shown that this is the reason why they’ve gone in this direction for the sequel.

  18. Crush says:

    Well no PS3 version of Mass Effect is the simple reason why Dragon Age sold more. As to changing it I think it will work out for the better even if it is slightly disappointing your losing some choice if the player dialog and the character inter actions are better.

  19. kororas says:

    oh dear Bioware, what are you doing puppet?

  20. Swyyw says:

    What ? No one has mentioned Planescape Torment yet? tsk tsk….

  21. Goomich says:

    Thing that they shpuld copy from Mass Effect 2 is it’s DLC thingy. You know that one which actually worked.

  22. JonathanStrange says:

    That’s a damn shame, I felt that the Origins part of Dragon Age was the best part overall. Being able to choose your race and starting area is always a fantastic concept and Bioware did it extremely well with DA. Allowing the player not only chances to create their own hero and play they how they choose, but to explore situations from multiple angles and viewpoints like few other games can! By the end it really felt like the character was ‘yours’, something ME1 and 2, for better or worse, failed to do since ultimately you’re playing Shepard and this is *their* story, not yours.

    I was really hoping that DA2 would simply take the originals concept and run with it, with more options, new stories, more refined combat, and bigger worlds to explore. You know; Like Baldur’s Gate 2 did with the original Baldur’s Gate. Adding to and refining an already fantastic experience!

    Instead it seems Bioware went the opposite route… why? DA is Biowares most successful brand now for a reason (news to me, I would have thought ME): People enjoyed it. I know change is good or things get stale, but its not exactly like there are many other RPG out that do what DA did… or any recent examples at all I can think of. They were kings of their genre, and now they’re throwing it away to jump back into the masses. Noble, but stupid!

  23. bill says:

    Is there not some rule that any movie (and by extension – game) that has a character called Hawk(e) will be crap?

    (airwolf is obviously the exception that proves the rule)

    • Conlaen says:

      <3 Stringfellow :)

    • bill says:

      I hadn’t realised that John Terry was THAT old, that explains a lot about the world cup…

      Is it bad that i’ve watched that movie?

    • MWoody says:

      That’s not what “exception that proves the rule” means. That saying, a transliteration of a Latin phrase, actually means “if a rule specifies a single exception, all instances not covered under said exception can be considered absolute.” So if you park by a sign that says “No Parking, except Sunday” on a Saturday, and try to argue in court that you thought it didn’t apply on weekends, the judge will tell you to take a hike: if the signmakers went so far as to say “except Sunday,” it’s obvious they didn’t mean Saturdays too, or they would have written it. The exception – “except Sundays” – proves the rule of “No Parking Monday through Saturday.”

  24. Oogie says:

    I wonder if Age of Decadence will deliver?

    Also, BG1 plays perfectly in EasyTutu (the Bereghost bug is fixed, hallelujah). Which means widescreen support… and stuff.

  25. Man Raised By Puffins says:

    Dragon Age sold better than any Bioware game ever

    It’s worth pointing out that this was only as of last November, by which point it had 3.2 million sales, but I suspect Mass Effect 2 has overtaken it by now given it did 2 million in the first week.

    I can’t say I particularly mind the shift, being a big fan of both Dragon Age and Mass Effect 2, but I rather liked that Bioware’s singleplayer output had two distinct strains; the tight fully-voiced cinematic squad shooter and the sprawling tactical party RPG. It just feels like a bit of a shame Bioware felt the need to mush one into the other (though it does make more sense for the consoletoy versions).

    Also, Hale for femHawke kthx

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Worth noting that Jim links to a story that came out this week which supports his fact. Bioware are saying that DA has sold better, and I suspect they should know.

      KG

    • Lars Westergren says:

      @Kieron

      All references that I’ve seen comes from that article, where they say:

      “Dragon Age was an extremely successful title for us – last November it was the single most globally successful title we’ve put out to date,”

      And since ME2 came out in January this year, I suspect Puffins is correct. Sadly. Unless Dragon Age has done incredibly well in the Steam sales and the like.

    • Man Raised By Puffins says:

      Yeah, it was that wording I was picking up on. It seems rather implicit that if they’re specifically saying “as of last November” then it’s a good bet that ME2 has done better.

      Also, I seem to have terribly misread that IGN article. Dragon Age actually sold 3.2 million between November and February (rather than just in November alone).

  26. Ravenger says:

    Seems like a fundamental change of development focus to me. Dragon Age was developed for PC, then ported to consoles, so there were more compromises on the console side of things than the PC side.

    I imagine that this Dragon Age is a multiplatform title, with equal focus on both platforms, or worse more focus on the console platform. So more compromises will be made from the PC side of things.

  27. Heliocentric says:

    I’ve not read the comments yet, but i came to the comments to hear Wulf complain. I’d play mass effect which forced you to be a krogan, maybe during the wars against those bugs and the following political fallout?

  28. Tei says:

    Baldurs Gate, I love it, mostly because the characters and areas and story, and inmersive quests.

    KOTOR 1 and 2, I love then, for the settings, the interesting story, the rpginess of it all. the great great great characters.

    Mass Effect 1, I have very fond memories of it, very interesting story, interesting characters and areas. Great final. Maybe a bit short.

    Mass Effect 2, I like it. But is a serie of hiring missions, and is RPG Gears of Wars. It never clicked to me deep way, but Is a game that have all my simpathy.

    Dragon Age 1, I like it, I enjoyed the brokeness of the wizards (nuker + healer FTW), love the story that force you into dificult decissions. I reloaded a savegame to try different output for a talking scene. I think this is a interesting achievement for a videogame. I have buy a DLC’s, and not finished it, actually, buying that was a bad decission. The game is not fun that way.

    “Mass-Effected Dragon Age 2″, I will probably enjoy it a million times, if is nothing like ME2, and more like ME1. Another way to see this is Dragon-Agefication of Mass Effect.

    Hope the best of lucks for the devs.

  29. Pew says:

    DA:O was absolutely unplayable on the console. Sadly I haven’t had the time to play it properly on the god machine. Still, as long as they can make one really good story for one, yet diverse, main character I don’t see a problem with that. Would you care if Baldur’s Gate 2 would’ve had Minsc as the main character a la Hawke? I think not! Especially not if you went questing in the miniature space hamster orbital station after drinking a potion of miniaturization.

  30. Conlaen says:

    I can understand the single protagonist angle. Easier to voice, and animate that way. It always did seem kinda strange that a stool or something magically appeared when my dwarf and Morigan went for a smooch.

    The conversation wheel though… I fear it will limit the Dragon Age potential quite a bit. The Mass Effect one really only allows for paragon and renegade to choose from. The roleplaying aspect severely diminished. Maybe if they extend to conversation wheel to go up to 8 options in stead of 6, they can add a bit more range to your characters “alignment”.

  31. Langman says:

    To be fair, Jim, there are plenty of people who realise Dragon Age wasn’t exactly a ‘winning formula’ – it had many issues, so it’s not unreasonable for developers to be analysing ways to alter the experience.

  32. Lambchops says:

    Hmm. I’ll wait it out and see.

    Overall i probably enjoyed Mass Effect 2 more than Dragon Age (despite the fact that I played Dragon Age a second time whereas I have no inclination to play Mass Effect 2 again until near the time when the third game is released). However I want them to be different games, I doubt I could have played them one after the other (which I did) if they didn’t have their major differences.

    As for conversation systems, I’ve got a lot of thoughts on them. Short version, I’d love to see Alpha Protocol style conversations but more subtle, so that the reputation system behind them isn’t thrown out with numbers in front of your face and you have to figure it out for yourself.

  33. toni says:

    DA:O would be how I explain the world to a moron and assume he never read any good book because then he would smell my stolen plot and quests a mile away. It’s also the game where I only enlist my C-team of designers and tell them “to not make it too outlandish” and where I forget that the PC can actually display textures bigger than 1kbyte. Still I cater to a game genre that’s lost and I can sell the game to the oldschool-HC crowd without any marketing.
    TheWitcher would be how I explain the world to a teen/young man straight out of puberty.
    ME2 was good for what it was: An Action-Game, I would say ME2 is less RPG and more Action. Considering all this, I can’t see how “TheWitcher” is a competition, Bioware USED to make those games but just don’t make them anymore.
    DA:O’s success was that it is alone, no other games of that type came out in a long time and its extremely tasteless and bad marketing campaign got them alot of attention and new buyers (which constantly complain that the game is too hard …. on normal) additionaly to the ones like me that buy everything that has “pause-party-combat” written on it.

    I just don’t get it. controller-”button-bashing” versus “spacebar-bashing” on the PC ?
    say what ? I think Bioware has lost it here.

    We still got no game-equivalent RPG for a grown-up person

    • Spd from Russia says:

      “RPG for a grown-up person”
      That market is targeted by SIMS and MMOs ofcourse!

    • Rinox says:

      Arx Fatalis?

      Didn’t take you by the hand but managed to etch a vivid ‘universe’ from relatively little (seeing as you spend all your time underground).

      You can even open the gate to the frozen surface if you steal the key from the king. The consequence is…rough. :-D

  34. Spd from Russia says:

    here we go again – simplifying to make a game more casual, more accessible and appeal to wider audience … less reading and thinking! less ambiguity! less control! down with the strategy! quickly tap x to jason!

  35. ffordesoon says:

    Honestly, I think it’s great. The actual graphics kinda look like crap at the moment, but that’s always – always – been true of early BioWare screenshots. The art direction, though… it’s got some swagger to it, no? It looks like it was art-directed, whereas the first game looked like it was art-politely-suggested, you know? The “dark heroic fantasy” idea was cool, but the way most of the game ended up looking was kind of bland and LARPy. This is, at the very least, a style.

    I’m not so keen on the whole “origin story” bit being taken out. My bittersweet reunion with the elven sister I left to get raped by Arl Vaughan was a really affecting moment, and it was one that felt like it was completely unique to me. This one will probably be a more even experience, and maybe even a more involving one in some ways, but I can’t help feeling a little disappointed that I won’t be able to continue the City Elf Elissa’s story directly. However, it seems one’s save does carry over, and if this Hawke fellow is truly so important, I’ll be interested to see what problems my character’s actions cause for him. As long as what I did in the first game (and, hopefully, the expansion) matters, I don’t mind that I am now Ladyhawke Black Mombazo or whatever the crap the PC’s name is.

    So yeah, I’m pretty optimistic. As long as there’s no Good Mans/Bad Mans meter and decisions remain somewhat gray, I’m cool.

    Also, to be frank, DA’s combat system was… unwieldy. When it worked, it really worked, but when it didn’t – which was often – it was like pulling teeth. And yes, Idid play it on the PC. First on Normal and then on Easy, because the random and ridiculous difficulty spikes made me want to stick lit matches in my eyes.

    • jaheira says:

      The difficulty level was probably the only real flaw in the epic magnificence that was Dragon Age: Origins – it was too easy. It started out about right on Hard difficulty, became far too easy about halfway through and by the time I started Awakening there was almost literally no challenge at all.

  36. GrubLord says:

    … you people are ridiculous. Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 were far better games than Dragon Age, with stronger storylines and better balance.

    Why wouldn’t they capitalise on what they did right in Mass Effect, just because fantasy dwarves and elves are more popular?

    They’ll still be there.

    A stronger lead character allows for a stronger story, which makes for a stronger game. You should be thanking your respective Gods that BioWare realises this, and will continue to deliver the highest-quality RPG gaming.

    • ffordesoon says:

      Dr. Muzyka?

    • Ian says:

      “Why are you having a different opinion to me you crazy, crazy bastards?”

    • Rinox says:

      I liked Mass Effect 2 but strong storylines? Jeez.

      SPOILER

      You wake up from the dead by people who tell you you need to compose a team to fight the Collectors. They give you coordinates of 7-8 people. You find them. You get the IFF from the ancient reaper, go through the Omega 4 relay and destroy the human reaper. THE END.

      That’s not even an exaggeration – that was all there was too it. It was amazingly executed, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a pretty crappy storyline. It wouldn’t even pass a writing 101 class.

      Dragon Age was no Ulysses either, but claiming that ME2 was surpreme in the story department is just bizarre.

    • Spd from Russia says:

      Dawngreeter: but thats roleplaying. you have choices that affect where story goes. game plays differently for different charachters. Thats the whole point. You dont want to sacrifice choice in favour of a more elaborate story and cinematic effect or you going to get Final Fantasy

    • Dawngreeter says:

      Rinox: could you, just for kicks, please try to sum up in a similar fashion the plot of, say, Romeo and Juliet. Or Lord of the Rings (yeah, I’m slummin’ with this example). Or pretty much any important novel. Compare to see if it more resembles DA or ME2.

      Execution is all there is, fantasy-style garbage piling plotlines are cheap and meaningless.

    • Rinox says:

      @ Dawngreeter: Execution isn’t “all” there is. Powerful stories follow along similar lines and have carefully crafted structures (I’d recommend Joseph Campbell’s ‘The Hero With a Thousand Faces’). ME2 has none of those, it’s just a straight line from A to B. You know from the first 10 minutes of the game what you’re supposed to do and who you’re supposed to do it with, and you execute it without any detours or changes of pace.

      Great cinematic experience, but a bloodless story. DA did it better.

    • Miko says:

      I’m with GrubLord here. I thought the origin I went through in Dragon Age was a particularly terrible example of a perfunctory intro/tutorial sequence and would’ve been much improved by not being there, and in the main story it was reflected by “Hello there, $character, I see you are a filthy/beautiful/(neutral reaction) $race” and nowt else. An actual lead character instead of an interchangeable cipher makes for a much more compelling story. DA:O didn’t manage to keep me hooked, I lost interest and stopped playing.

      It didn’t help that the combat somehow managed to be dull, fiddly, and unpleasantly hectic all at the same time, too. I’m definitely tempted to get the console version of part 2 instead of the PC.

    • Dawngreeter says:

      @Rinox: You’re still stuck on execution, though. The lack of significant plot twists is part of the execution, and were there any the basic plot would remain largely the same (and, in fact, being the second part of a trilogy it would be hard-pressed to come up with a meaningful plot twist; its purpose is to deepen both the protagonist and the antagonist). Again, I maintain that execution is all there is. People who look for interesting plots are people who haven’t seen them all. It’s the same sort of people who claim Avatar is bad because it’s like Pocahontas. You don’t say? Notice perchance that Lion King was Hamlet? Sons of Anarchy as well? And that Pocahontas was the goddamn Romeo and Juliet? Variations on the basic plots are limited and uninteresting. We’ve seen it all, ages ago.

      Now, I like what’s going on in Dragon Age. I really do. It’s not a story, though. You are a nameless narrative tool wandering through disjointed pieces of narrative. An interesting narrative, mind you, but a good story it isn’t.

    • qrter says:

      The main story of ME2 doesn’t even go from A to B – it leaves A, and turns right back around and re-enters A.

      If you look at where you were at the end of ME1 and where you end up at the end of ME2, nothing much has changed at all.

    • Urthman says:

      A stronger lead character allows for a stronger story, which makes for a stronger game.

      Or a less-rigid lead character allows for more choice, more variety, more role-playing, a greater sense of agency, the ability to make choices that really matter and make a difference to the character and the story, which makes for a stronger game.

    • Urthman says:

      Also? Totally not convinced Bioware can deliver a more compelling protagonist than the one you’d create for yourself with silent but deep dialogue options.

  37. Ybfelix says:

    Is this the new art style? What’s new in it? I thought it would look like in concept pictures..

  38. Dawngreeter says:

    Dragon Age was more successful than Mass Effect because more people buy fantasy stuff.

    I liked Dragon Age. It was in no uncertain terms a good game. But it felt like playing something from the 90′s, only not as authentic. As if game design slept through everything that happened in the 21st. century and only woke up to find that MMOs are a big deal. “Ok, let’s do that tanky-healy thing…”

    This is nothing but good news.

    • The Hammer says:

      I was under the impression that sci-fi was a more popular genre than fantasy.

    • Dawngreeter says:

      If that’s a joke, it’s brilliant.

    • The Hammer says:

      Avatar?

    • The Hammer says:

      In fact, Star Wars, Star Trek, Blade Runner, The Matrix, ET, Doctor Who…

      There are a lot more successful, popular sci-fi series than there are fantasy ones. There’s Lord of the Rings, sure, and Harry Potter, but broadly speaking, in terms of popular, mainstream products, sci-fi enjoys a far wider range.

    • Wulf says:

      It’s because most fantasy is intellectually lazy and painfully dull, fantasy is a group of LARPers trotting through the woods, into a rustic town, to down a few ales before taking on a dragon and its orc minions who’re terrorising the townsfolk.

      If fantasy was like fantasy is in my head; a far more challenging, chaotic, exotic, and frequently bizarre thing filled with deeper ethical dilemmas and plot twists (deeper than “Wot, the dragon wasn’t really the evil one? GASP!”), then it might give Sci-Fi a run for its money.

      I really can’t get over how ‘fantasy’ got so boring, there’s too much reality in that fantasy.

    • Dawngreeter says:

      You won’t get an argument from me that quality of what science fiction currently offer is light years (see what I did there? :) ) beyond the mediocre fantasy droppings surrounding us at every turn. To say that Sci-Fi is more popular, though, is either some pretty bold wishful thinking or incredibly uninformed. Just look at the MMOs, to start with. Look at tabletop RPGs. Look at what Hollywood is churning out year after year after boring goddamn year.

      Even if you look at what’s popular with Sci-Fi, by and large it’s not really Sci-Fi, it’s fantasy with guns or and/or lasers. Warhammer 40K and Star Wars (which isn’t the least bit Sci-Fi, it’s western wuxia) to name a few.

    • Jake says:

      Wulf, I know I will never persuade you, but there is no direct correlation between imaginative creature concepts and quality within fantasy. Most fantasy tends to be poor, this is true, but it’s not because it focuses on boring humans, it’s because it is badly written, and often derivative (usually of Tolkien). Dragon Age, like some of the best fantasy books, for the most part eschews fantastic creatures and is no worse off for it. However Dragon Age falls flat because it lacks imagination and depth to the story.

      Compared to the George RR Martin books – cited as an inspiration for the Dragon Age story, the story in Dragon Age is weak, unengaging and messy. Obviously Dragon Age is constrained in how well it can tell a story by the fact that it isn’t a full shelf of books, and by the way that the player can dictate how the story is related even if it makes no dramatic sense – eg spending an hour talking to Alastair in the middle of a dungeon about nothing important. Dragon Age did pretty well considering, I thought.

      Fantasy races are a lot like alien races in sci-fi. The story can fall flat if they are not interesting, or not relatable. Fantasy often relies on conventions to cut corners – I can’t stand Dwarves (erm, in the fantasy context) – they are always fat, beared, drunk and northern – why? Why do they always exist in games or books in this exact same state? Imagine if Space Dwarves were in every single sci-fi. I suppose you could argue that Spock is a space elf, and elves are pretty insidious too.

      One of the best alien/fantasy races I can think of are The Affront from Iain M Banks’ books. A very alien culture, something he writes very well. But the books were not automatically great just because of their inclusion, it still takes good writing.

      Personally, nothing turns me off fantasy or sci-fi more than some terrible anthropomorphic human/animal race. Lizard people, cat people, cow people – it’s generally all nonsense. Cosmetic differences with aspects of different parts of human cultures mashed together. How did these things evolve? How can their vocal chords work, or how do they reproduce, etc. Lazy writing means you end up with a story full of stupid cat people who come from a distant land where apparently evolution favoured the kittens.

      Oh, I thought the k’chain che’malle from the Malazan books were a great fantasy race, but again this is mostly because those books are so well written.

  39. Simon Dufour says:

    I go with Joystiq. I’m unconvinced but optimistic.

    No need to bash, cry or breakdown. It’s a game and I’m convinced that Bioware can make a 2nd interesting experience in that setting that I loved. If I ever want to play the original Dragon Age again, I just have to install and play it. Or play any of the fan scenario that will be out by then. What’s the problem exactly?

    I didn’t want DA2 to be a big DAO expansion pack anyway. I’m happy that they actually put money to actually correct what most people were complaining about when DAO was first released.

    - No PC voice-over
    - Graphics
    - Some art decisions
    - Combat

    • Duffin says:

      Who needs a PC voiceover? I want to know what I’m ACTUALLY going to fucking say. In ME way to often all the different options were really vague and seemed to lead to Shepard saying the exact same thing. Atleast in Dragon Age I had some idea how each of the dialogue options might actually vary from each other. I’d much rather that than having to listen and cringe thinking, “thats not what I wanted to say at all”.

    • Arkose says:

      Having a voiced player character does not preclude conversation options being written out in full. With the exception of ME1/2 and Alpha Protocol, basically every RPG with a fully-voiced protagonist uses a sentence-selection mechanic identical to DA:O, with the only difference being that your character actually says the sentence after you have selected it. They sometimes go into slightly more detail due to text length considerations enforced by the dialogue menu, but what is said is written out almost entirely so there is none of the guesswork of the “fragment” system.

      BioWare’s decision to go with this system for DA2 was due to streamlining (or “consolisation” if you prefer), not the voiceovers themselves.

    • Clovis says:

      I love ME/ME2 dialogue. I love the fact that he doesn’t say exactly what the blurb says; it gives me a reason to actually listen to what he says. Having to read through several possible lines just brings conversation to a hault. ME/ME2 were the first dialogue heavy game that I’ve played where I turned the sub-titles off. It was great to actually sit back and listen to the dialogue and the cool cinematic way it was handled.

      While once in a great while Shepard would say something that made me cringe, it was usually pretty easy to understand what the options meant. Easy enough that I could pick the option that fit my character without a pause in the conversation like 90%+ of the time.

      I guess the thing is, I want to play a game, not read a choose your own adventure book. I like to read, but I pretty much never read sci-fi or fantasy. I do like to watch or play those genres though.

    • Simon Dufour says:

      I only detailed what people complained about. Sure, there was the niche that claimed it was alright to have a KOTOR style dialogue. Others would have liked to have VO for their PC. VO for PC mean restricting PC choices a bit.

      I understand how they got there. I hope they have a really good plan for it. Bioware actually think that DA2 will be better than the first. They think they’re refining the experience. Well, I believe them. Let’s check it out.

      I stopped searching for the perfect game long ago anyway. Bring me some strenght and an interesting experience. I think I’ll be more satisfied if DA2 is on its own track. Give me something new and unique that I’ve never seen. That’s what I need. Not a DAO clone, nor a ME2 Clone.

      I think that using ME technique in the DA Universe would be drastically different too.. So.. I’m optimistic. I loved how Bioware innovated their successful game to make it better in ME2. I’m happy they’re doing the same for DA2.

  40. Duffin says:

    This is just insane. The whole marketing ploy they used behind DA:O was that this was YOUR story, to shape and change how you liked. Hence the 6 different origins. How can you go from that to selecting an essentially premade character?

    As for the combat changes, whilst it says that ‘strategic combat’ is being kept for the pc, is it really going to be as polished or as balanced when they also have to work on some dumbed down hack and slash crap for the consoles?

    I really can’t understand the logic behind this, sure ME and ME2 games are ones that I really enjoyed but from the outset Dragon Age has been marketed and designed as a traditional fantasy RPG, it was even described as “the spiritual successor to Baldur’s Gate”. Bollocks.

    • Dawngreeter says:

      I’m confused about the “YOUR story” bit. Really? If you have a number of stories to choose from, the one you pick is deemed yours? Your impression of DA:O storyline was that you were creating it, not that you played through one out of a handful of available permutations? That’s mighty peculiar.

      Because I felt like sections specific to your chosen permutation were pretty obvious, and I’d prefer a more unified storytelling frame. Are we really still so fascinated that game narrative responds to our actions that we have to pretend in-game stories are not a narrative served to us, but a narrative created by us? Because it isn’t. It really, really isn’t.

    • Duffin says:

      I think the point I am trying to make is that Dragon Age is much less linear than the Mass Effect games, and Bioware made a big thing of this, especially concerning the origins. It seems odd that now they are totally reversing this by making you choose a premade character. Did they not think the origins were a success?

    • Wulf says:

      Have to agree 100% with Dawngreeter, here. I can’t say any of the choices felt much like my story, and I was often alienated by how limited it was, and the choices I simply had to pick from. In my opinion, I actually think that Mass Effect 2 provided a far more broad series of options.

      I know, it wasn’t as granular, but it’s like there were sub-choices granularly spread over one (or sometimes two, if you were lucky) choice, and many of the outcomes were the same, just worded slightly differently. Mass Effect 2, whilst not providing that feeling of granularity, did feel like it was responding to what I chose to do, at least.

    • Ian says:

      I liked that in Dragon Age you could do unpleasant (not evil) things without everybody going; “Aha, you’re a cunt then. I’ll note that down for future reference.” Whether they were trying to I don’t know but Dragon Age didn’t try to hide the “This is because you did this earlier, see?” moments.

      But then I liked that in Mass Effect doing something unpleasant didn’t instantly make you an unspeakable baby-eater, just somebody who’s kind of a dick.

      Re: “my story”, that must surely be down to each individual whether they think they’ve shaped the narrative in a way that pleases them. At the end of the day I never forget that I’m playing a game and never forget that I’m just picking some options from a list, but there’s no point waiting for that knowledge to go away so I can become immersed or attached to the story because it won’t.

  41. 7 Seas says:

    RANT MODE ON!!!! Grrrreeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaat….

    Now we get Bioware’s shitty take on Gears of Dragons. I predict this is going to suck BALLS.

    Seriously Bioware I know you <3333333 the money, but does it require you to hate on the rpg so much?

    I thought DA:O gave you a pretty solid sensation of choice. Now instead we are going to watch CHEESY MCCHEESEBALLS "HAWKE" be totally fratbro and like totally kill things yo. I swear to god this stupid shit is like Dragon Age: Poochy.

    You *suck* at action games Bioware, stick to your strengths and leave that genre to other developers. Do you seriously think you can compete with the likes of TF2, Halo, and CoD:MW2?? The people who play those games 8 hours a day WILL NEVER TOUCH YOUR GAME.

    $20 says they complete the ME2 Sodomization process and de-itemize the game as well. After all having to have a proper rpg system underneath the game costs time and money that they'd rather spend focus testing HAWKE FRUITSLURPERS Xtreme hairdo.

    I am so excited that all genres are converging into a tastless grey sludge. The games press must be thrilled, soon the whole "covering games" process will be so much easier. You can just write a single review for the year, and adjust the score based on how many ads the company buys on your site, then head down to the pub.

    I want to be in the next marketing meeting at EA/Bioware. So guys, we had a pretty succesful RPG last year, what should we do to follow it up? Well after ME2 we realized we don't need itemization either, or a coherent story, and we could rely on shitty action sequences and if we spend enough $$$ the press will judge us by a completely different measure than they judge other titles. So fuck those RPG nerds, lets aim for Fratbros, what do they like? Madden, Halo, Gears of War, and COD:MW2? What else? Well they also like Jersey Shore… OH SHIT I'VE GOT IT. Lets make a third person hack and slash starring a Jersey Boy!!!! We can strip out all the lame story and all the expensive itemization/complexity, and just make him be able to unlock a few upgrades…… WHICH ARE DLC!!! HALF OF THEM CAN BE BLOWOUT HAIR AND TANNING BOOTH TIME! HOLY SHIT, CHEST BUMP GUYS I THINK WE'RE GOLD!!!!

    DRAGON AGE: THE SITUATION BROUGHT TO YOU BY KRUNK JUICE

    • 7 Seas says:

      Actually I’d like to apologize for this rant. I think I am sullying the generally pretty good discussion here at RPS by using it as my personal nerdrage steam release valve. I think I will try to confine my nerdsplosions to other venues from now on.

      Peace!

    • Serenegoose says:

      My word that was epic. I’m not sure if I agree with you, but that’s like 162% of my RDA of hyperbole. Well played.

  42. Alastayr says:

    They’re really just playing to their strengths while constantly improving their formula. What made characterisation in Planescape: Torment so good? Being the Nameless One, a solid framework of decisions and backgrounds where the blanks could be filled by you. And interchangeability of the main character was one of the only weaknesses the Baldur’s Gate series had. Like in DA:O, you were a blank slate without internal and consistent boundaries.

    Dragon Age: Origins is a great game in many ways, but I found it lacking a lot of the strengths and innovations that The Witcher already championed. If this is BioWare acknowledging that, I’m okay with it.

  43. Hmm says:

    What is everyone’s problem?
    Bethesda turned Fallout into a dumbed down abomination known as Oblivion with Guns, yet you kept sucking Todd Howard’s ****. Now that Bioware is turning the “spiritual successor to BG” into Mass Age they’re suddenly evil in your book, even though the franchise won’t be raped nearly as much as Fallout was?

    Quite selective you are.

  44. WoopK says:

    Very meaningful. I played through DAO and thought “great game”, but that feeling was blown away by playing ME2. It felt far better, tighter, way more engaging in spite of it effectively having less scope and depth.

    And as such my immediate reaction was “why couldn’t they have made DAO as good as this”. Like you I really enjoyed the old school nature of DAO when I first played through, but frankly the lack of emotional engagement with the main character in particular was criminal (and frankly, I didn’t feel the NPCs were that well developed either).

    • tekDragon says:

      I agree with this and I’m somewhat surprised at the overall vitriol directed at the ME2-Wheel. I bought the DA:O expansion not long ago and after playing ME2 it was really really hard tyo stomach the puppet-like mute dumbfounded look of my character in conversations.

  45. fleacircus says:

    Perhaps its because when you ask people what they think of Dragon Age they say: Good game, didn’t finish it.

    • Dawngreeter says:

      And we have a winner. Nailed it.

    • Rinox says:

      So how does that work? People stopped playing a good game because their attention spans have been cut in half because of recent trends? Or was the game no good at all and they just said it was while not finishing it?

      Cause, you know, most people keep on playing a game that is good to the end. But maybe I’m crazy.

    • Wisq says:

      Honestly, I’m one of those people who generally liked it but got bored to the point that some other title distracted me and I didn’t return.

      This happened two or three times. Each time, I would return after a long enough delay that it didn’t seem sensible to continue my old character, since I had very little memory of where I was, what to do next, how I intended to build the character, etc etc. So I would start over. But that only made the boredom worse.

      Ultimately, no matter how much I tried to shake it up and play differently or make a different character, every fight ended up being roughly the same, and rather boring. Every dialogue ended up going the same way no matter what option I picked. Everything offered the illusion of choice while railroading me down a single, boring path.

      The voice acting is a major factor there. There’s very little option for dramatic forks in the story when every branch of dialogue has to be voice acted, and very little budget for extensive sidequests people might never see when you have to make every voice acting dollar count.

      But I suspect another factor (as compared to the older Baldur’s Gate titles etc.) was that it was focused almost exclusively on combat, and combat in RPGs tends to be rather same-y. Aside from much more interesting quests, the older RPGs also tended to have a lot more to do even on plain combat quests, like looting the environment, watching out for traps, etc.

      In streamlining and making things more realistic, they’ve removed a lot of the variety, and hence a lot of what kept combat from feeling like an MMO grind without the MMO rewards, IMO.

    • Ian says:

      @ Rinox: You’ve never drifted away from a game without there being anything that you actively disliked about it? I finished Dragon Age and loved it, but it’s happened to me with other games. Sometimes with games (or books, films, whatever) I can acknowledge that something is good without it having particularly clicked with me.

      @ wisq: Well DA did have environment looting (chests, etc.) and traps to watch out for. Though I’d not deny that if you don’t like the combat there’s probably far too much of it to wade through, even given the couple of occasions where you can avoid some fightage through saying the right things.

    • Jimbo says:

      To be fair there was about 30-40 hours of unnecessary padding in Dragon Age. I did finish it, but I got more out of the 20ish hours of Awakening than I did out of the 80 hours I put into Dragon Age.

      Game designers (Rockstar and Bioware in particular) need to step away from the lazy quid pro quo missions and figure out how to build missions relevant to the actual storyline. All too often you finish these games and then on reflection you realise that the main story arc barely even existed, because you spent the whole time doing random shit for other people so that they would ‘help’ you.

    • jalf says:

      @Rinox:so you’ve finished *every* game that you liked? And every game you haven’t finished is bad?

      I quite liked Dragon Age… On the whole, kinda, mostly. It had some good bits, and it was generally fairly interesting. But it was also very repetitive gameplay-wise and so I lost interest several times over. The gameplay may have been fun for a couple of hours at a time, but after 30 hours, I just got fed up with it. Not because it was bad, but because I’d had enough. Because it had nothing new to offer me.

      There’s a difference between a “good game” and a “perfect game”. You could argue that with a perfect game, there is no reason why you’d ever put it down. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be perfect.

      But a merely good game still has flaws. A good game can still bore you or annoy you on occasion. And if, for some reason, you end up spending too much time on that game’s flaws, you lose interest. Even if the game *on the whole* is still good.

  46. Simon says:

    I personally preferred ME2 to ME1, but there we go. In ME1 there were too many ridiculous weapons that could be picked up at one time, and I never understood what omni-gel did. ME2 just felt like a much tighter experience.

  47. Dean says:

    Maybe it’s an experiment and we’re waiting for the other shoe to drop? In a week’s time they’ll announce ME3 will have full dialogue trees, 10 equippable items per character, the option to play as Shepherd or any other character/race of your choosing and be 80 hours long.

    Ahh we can dream.

    And yeah, what fleacircus said. Remember the publicity for Dragon Age? That game was not what it looked like. And I mean, thank god. But I imagine there were a fair few miffed console gamers when they got it home. Achievements and Trophies mean that Bioware also had a damn good idea exactly how far through the game everyone got too.

  48. MrMelons says:

    I honestly think this is a great change. On the one hand we are losing the freedom of being able to play as multiple races, which really in part has nothing to do with the ME system but bioware’s own choice to remove that option. On the other hand we are actually going to be playing a character that has personality and A VOICE. Honestly I may be in the minority here but I am personally tired of playing heroes that don’t talk or exhibit any outward emotions. When I play ME and ME2 I feel like I am watching a movie but when I played Dragon Age it took me back to the 64 bit days of stopping the flow of the game to read the text. Now I loved Dragon Age, loved it, but I honestly was not happy to see the return to the bland hero character style after seeing the in depth character I was delivered in Mass Effect.

    • Tei says:

      We are still in the 32 bits era.
      The XBox 360 is a 32 bits machine. The PC 64 bits ear has just started, and about the 50% of the Windows Vist and Windows 7 are still 32 bits. On the ones compiled for 64 bits, you have a hell a lot of code that runs in 32 bits. Since the compatibility of 32 bits is very good. On other OS’s, like Ubuntu, running 32 bits code in a 64 bits version is a problem, so almost the 100.00% of the code is 64 bits (note: is doable, but is a pain in the ass).

    • Dean says:

      I mean this in jest, rather than aggressively, but have you ever read a book? :D

      There’s no link between deep characters and having voice acting. The character in Dragon Age was meant to be a bit bland so you could impose a personality on them, and the game gave you enough options to pretty much pick whatever personality you wanted. It was down to the player to keep their character consistent.

      Again, Planescape Torment had amazing character development all done through text.

    • MrMelons says:

      Gah, meant pixels, but that aside I meant the rest of it.

  49. Twigg says:

    owh .. i think i enjoyed playing through with a dwarf the best :(

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