The Sunday Papers

By Jim Rossignol on March 20th, 2011 at 11:24 am.


What is a Sunday? For some it is a day for considering how best to invent underwater weapons. For others it is a day to lament the inevitability of the future being very much like the present, only more expensive. For others still it is a day for worshipping a bossy giant named Gawd. For us, though – the unwitting minions of a vast, subterranean brain that has spent three decades using videogames to control our behaviour – it is a day for compiling and then browsing the words written regarding our special interactive lexicon. These here are some examples of that.

  • We’ll have more of our own breakdown of Dragon Age II next week, but in the meantime a really strong take on the game has tumbled from the fingers of Richard “Who Also Writes For RPS Sometimes” Cobbett. His big critique basically hangs on the role and delivery of magic in the game, but here’s a bit where he just poke it with words: “Much of Dragon Age II feels like every team working on it did so in complete isolation, only communicating via Chinese Whispers. I’ll say this up front – I enjoyed playing it. I don’t pump 22 hours into a game I’m not enjoying. However, it’s one of the most fragmented, half-baked fun RPGs I’ve ever played. In terms of world design, it’s a game where an elf member of your party is horrified at the cramped, poverty-stricken conditions of her peoples’ part of town, despite the fact that the level designers have given her nothing short of a mansion to live in. It’s a game where you, as a refugee in a city that doesn’t want any of your kind in the first place, can walk into a brothel, kill a hooker (it’s okay, she’s evil) and just walk out without anyone even noticing or caring.” He thinks it’s rushed and sloppy. What do you think, readers?
  • Richard Huddy, head of GPU developer relations at AMD, says DirectX is holding back game performance, and suggests doing away with it: “We often have at least ten times as much horsepower as an Xbox 360 or a PS3 in a high-end graphics card, yet it’s very clear that the games don’t look ten times as good. To a significant extent, that’s because, one way or another, for good reasons and bad – mostly good, DirectX is getting in the way.” Hmm!
  • Eurogamer’s Tom “Tom Bramwell” Bramwell has declared Shogun 2 to be Eurogamer’s Game Of The Week! Here’s a bit: “Shogun 2 is huge as well, of course. It has a 60-province theatre map and an Avatar Conquest multiplayer mode “so substantial it’s almost a game in itself”. If you like Total War so much, you could go live there.” That’s a good declaration you got there, Bramwell. We like it. Maybe we should start declaring our game of the week, too. Just not this week. Because I don’t want to be caught copying Tom’s homework.
  • Actually, this week’s top “Why Didn’t Jim Rossignol Write This Feature” feature is this one from Christian Nutt. It’s about what’s next for Eve Online. Why don’t I write about Eve anymore? Because I don’t play it anymore. That’s a shame.
  • A moderately bizarre rant about player housing in MMOs. I kind of agree, but that makes me feel awkward. It also reminds me that Quintin said he wants to play Mortal Online and write about it. A statement that he may soon regret
  • VG247 went and interviewed Kaos’ GM David Votypka, who admits – when talking about Homefront – that they are things they’d like to do better. Don’t worry Dave, there’s always Homefront 2.
  • This infographic comparing the crafting in Team Fortress 2 to the crafting in Minecraft made me craft. Craft! Crafty craft. Craftcraftcraft.
  • Jonas Kyratzes is documenting the process of making his new game, The Book Of Living Magic, in a series of video diaries. Here’s the first one, and here’s the second. Clearly there will be more to come.
  • This post and also this one on Brainygamer talk about how the console toy’s LittleBigPlanet games encourage game design literacy. And they totally do! Well done them.
  • Here’s something that Brendan Caldwell wrote. It mixes Mass Effect 2 references with commentary on the political situation in the UK. Well, it was inevitable, I suppose. Infinite typewriters, monkeys smoking cigarettes. Is that the metaphor that’s appropriate here? I get so confused.
  • There’s a contest to create a Linux-exclusive game. For some reason.
  • Quiet Babylon’s Tim Maly responds to my 2009 chat with BLDGBLOG. He asks “What kind of architecture do you end up with if you bring the main approaches of game design to real world architecture?”
  • Paste Magazine have a huge piece by Matthew Burns on his experiences of GDC: “Work on games for too long a stretch and they take over your mind and spirit. Sensation deadens and the hours bleed into each other as you grapple with the problems inside your virtual worlds. It’s partially a result of those long nights in front of the screen, deep into that many-day limbo world of crunch and looming deadlines—but it’s also the enveloping embrace of the medium, the way you can come to inhabit, or be swallowed by, your own creations.”
  • And I hope you’ve bookmarked/RSS’d/whatever-the-cool-kids-are-doing-to-track-sites’d Magical Wasteland.
  • Related to the top (at the time of writing) post on Magical Wasteland, here’s a video over at The Escapist about female characters in games.
  • This is a rather nerdy competition to win a top-notch PC.
  • So You Want to Work in the Video Game Industry?
  • This is my favourite headline this week: “God’s Wife Edited Out Of The Bible.” She wasn’t happy about him working six days a week.
  • But this is the best story of the week – a video of some bastards pouring concrete into a gigantic ant’s nest. It’s all in the name of make us saying “Crikey, that’s amazing”. Which we did. Because it’s amazing.

So yeah. That was a lot of off topic material. Here’s some more: remember this? Well then you will – at least if you are British – likely be amazed by this. Oh, Mike. Also, have a look at this.

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186 Comments »

  1. psycho7005 says:

    In terms of world design, it’s a game where an elf member of your party is horrified at the cramped, poverty-stricken conditions of her peoples’ part of town, despite the fact that the level designers have given her nothing short of a mansion to live in

    Um, surely the fact that she lives in a mansion would make her horror at the poverty valid and completely natural? I’ve never played the game but i don’t see where the criticism in that reaction is…

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      The conditions are her own conditions of poverty, since she lives there, so why the mansion?

    • psycho7005 says:

      Oh i misunderstood that it was the same town that she lived in. Just thought he meant they party goes to another town where elves are living and she’s horrified etc.

      See what he’s saying now, odd…

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      Yeah, you misunderstand (reasonably so though). She lives in a mansion in that ghetto. It’s meant to be crappy, but you walk through the door and find yourself in this huge map with multiple rooms and lots of furniture, completely at odds with what it’s meant to be and how much everyone complains. It’s the kind of place that should probably have at least five elf families in it to fit the world, not just one poor girl straight from the woods.

      (Edit: Curse the fast fingers of Rossignol!)

    • psycho7005 says:

      Just sounds like either really bad communication between the teams (like you said), or just complete laziness and lack of attention to detail.

    • Meat Circus says:

      You realise Merrill’s place is two rooms, with grotty bare walls and floors, right? I don’t hold it against Merrill that she’s decorated.

      In any case, are we sure she’s poor? Presumably she’s being bankrolled by somebody, because she doesn’t have a job beyond standing around moping dippilly about fucking mirrors.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      It’s not unlikely that she has some money from the Dalish, but the only time I remember anyone really discussing cash is when Varric complains about how much he’s paying to stop her getting mugged and killed every time she goes daffily wandering down dark alleyways as a shortcut.

    • Jimbo says:

      ‘Rushed and sloppy’ seems accurate based on what I’ve played so far. It’s an ok game, it just seems like they didn’t care about consistency or attention to detail at all. Oh, and the camera when indoors is just shockingly bad.

    • Premium User Badge

      Saul says:

      Yeah – right on the money for a second time this week, Cobbett.

    • Archonsod says:

      The reason Merrill finds the Alienage cramped isn’t because it’s a slum (it’s not), but because she’s spent her entire life living in the open like most Dalish. Pretty much anything with walls is going to feel rather small and confining. It’s probably also why she spends so much time roaming the streets.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      Not backed up by the fiction, I’m afraid. Alienages in DA are treated as ghettos, and this one is specifically in the poor part of town, in a city that’s canonically full to bursting point for big swathes of the story (even if you never actually see that due to another problem people have with the game). On top of that, her standard complaint about her house is that it’s dirty, which you’d think would be a very minor consideration to someone who’s always lived in the woods.

    • Lilliput King says:

      Saul: Echoing this sentiment. I think he actually got to the bottom of why DA2 is ultimately so unsatisfying, and it’s nothing to do with dumbing down or consolification. It’s that the world itself doesn’t seem to have been made consistently. My favourite example – when you arrive at Kirkwall for the first time, you’re told the entire place is packed full of refugees all trying to get into the city and bedding down outside the walls. What you’re actually greeted by is a gigantic square which could happily house a hundred people, but was only populated by a single refugee.

      This kinda stuff is part of the RPG territory, obviously, so it’s not a deal breaker (I’ll never forget the titty bar in Gomorrah in New Vegas. The dancer doing her thing all day and night, only ever patronised by a lone woman staring grimly in the opposite direction, like a scene out of an art house film). But the sheer weight of it in conversations and locations makes the world no longer feel consistent, so it’s infinitely harder to suspend disbelief to the extent necessary to really appreciate what’s there. Still a fun game, mind. Just not a great one.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      Yeah, Fallout: New Vegas was a little lonely.

    • bleeters says:

      Of course, as soon as you find him, the whole party can happily bounce around town at high noon, having epic fireball battles in public, without anyone even remotely giving a damn. Nobody even notices. Never mind the Templars. People just continue chatting to each other while the lightning bolts flash past their faces

      Indeed. It’s particularly silly in Anders’ case, as he – at least once, and very early on in the game – announces his status as a mage in front of a Templar. You’d think he’d learn some subtlety.

    • Archonsod says:

      “Alienages in DA are treated as ghettos, and this one is specifically in the poor part of town, in a city that’s canonically full to bursting point for big swathes of the story ”

      I wouldn’t say Lowtown was the poor part of town so much as it was the working class district. Undertown is the slums. The Alienages are ghetto’s, but we’re told in the first game the main problem for the inhabitants is the building owners kicking them out to use the building as a warehouse, which wouldn’t be consistent with smaller buildings. Run down, possibly not intended for habitation and certainly not the kind of thing anyone would choose to live in, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re small. It’s also implied that the Free Marches alienages are somewhat better off than the Ferelden ones, as are the inhabitants, but that could simply be Marcher – Ferelden antagonism.

      ” On top of that, her standard complaint about her house is that it’s dirty, which you’d think would be a very minor consideration to someone who’s always lived in the woods.”

      She complains about the mess rather than the dirt, which I think is given in one of the initial conversations as her not unpacking properly. Even then, complaining about the dirt wouldn’t be an issue. I think part of what those conversations try to get across is that she’s someone who’s read the music but never heard it – she has a general idea of the expected behaviour of someone living in a house, but never having done it she’s confused on it’s application (which also reinforces her ditzy nature). The initial conversation about the rats is a good example; she knows you’re not supposed to have rats in a house but she doesn’t seem to understand why, or how to get rid of them.

    • D3xter says:

      Pretty much wrote down here what I think if you scroll down, the somewhat long-ish Review with pictures & stuff but I largely agree with the overall opinion of it being lazy and/or rushed xD http://rockpapershotgun.com/rpsforum/topic.php?id=4236&page=4

    • DrGonzo says:

      Maybe I misunderstood it, but I thought the city was meant to be “full”. As in they didn’t want any more of the rabble getting in, they had room for it, but weren’t willing to sacrifice any more of their quality of living to help anyone else.

    • Lilliput King says:

      Yup, but this was outside the city gates, at least ostensibly. They let Hawke and the party in to that area with no protestation, and those soldiers that were milling around there were complaining about not being let into the city.

    • Archonsod says:

      They tell you at the gates they’re not taking anyone in and intend to shove the lot of you back on boats at the earliest opportunity, only those rich enough to bribe their way through are let in, and even then the Knight Commander is putting a stop to it.

    • cypher says:

      Hmm honestly I just assumed that no one wanted to live with an ex-keeper because they were too scared of apostate magi. And of course the creepy mirror does deserve it own room.

  2. Premium User Badge

    Norskov says:

    There seems to be a . too much in the TF 2 infomercial link.

  3. Dominic White says:

    Here’s something that slipped out just recently. A leaked internal video from Microsoft, illustrating their plans for the future of PC gaming:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uBPYdgy35KA

    Yeah…. No. No. Nononononono. NO.

    • Dinger says:

      “Buying things enhances my gaming experience.”

      Bam. P0wned!

    • Kaira- says:

      Bam. Titjob?

    • Callum says:

      I felt very uneasy watching that. If Microsoft really think this is the future that PC gaming is headed in/needs to head in they’re even more out of touch with the PC market than I thought. Microsoft need to be looking at what Valve and other companies are doing to make PC gaming relevant.

      “Buying things enhances my gaming and entertainment experience”

      Urgh.

    • ReV_VAdAUL says:

      The best bit was how happy men saying the lady’s avatar was pretty made her.

      If you buy the right virtual items men will finally appreciate you!

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      Stijn says:

      What exactly is wrong with that video? Most of it seemed to be about integrating social networking and “casual” gaming, which shouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. Obviously, the “buy a gun and win all your Dudeshooter multiplayer matches” isn’t exactly a good plan as far as I’m concerned, but that was only part of the video.

    • subedii says:

      But I don’t want to buy a new dress. :(

      “The future of PC gaming is upon us. The question is who will lead and who will follow? Are you ready to change the world? We are.”

      No offence to Microsoft but the only place they’ve been leading PC gaming is into the ground so far. Their entire approach has been nothing if not schizophrenic.

      As for the video itself, it was made over a year ago and:

      - There is no external client for GFWL in the first place. You need to be IN the game already in order to perform any of the interactions highlighted by that video to begin with. And cross platform integration is bad regardless because:

      - Microsoft has pretty much shut down the concept of cross platform play because it reflects poorly on the 360. All the more ironic When Portal 2 comes out next month and Valve with Steam seems to be giving that one away for free to Sony.

      - The emphasis of the video is clearly on microtransaction fluff, which not even their existing GFWL fanbase (as spartan as that is) are actually after. Especially not ones that are about BUYING in-game advantages

      - The video shows Halo 3 in the games list at one point, but of course MS refuses to allow the franchise onto the PC because, again, they want it to push the 360. And this applies to a lot of other titles, and in particular DLC.

      - Heck for that matter, he allegedly jumps into Battlefield 2, but BF2 isn’t even on GFW marketplace and isn’t even a GFWL title anyway (none of the Battlefield games are) so that kind of connectivity wouldn’t even be possible in the first place.

      - And it also raises the question of how this interoperability is supposed to then work. Even on the assumption that all 360 released titles will be interoperable in this fashion by default (and I’m going to say now that’s pretty unlikely. But I won’t rule it out completely), all PC titles won’t. I can’t imagine that MS is suddenly going to allow Steamworks games to piggyback off of their glorious new imagined social utopia. Or Gamespy. Or EA’s community system either.

      As an aside, I also like the dude who’s clearly at worked but still logged into Live so that at a moment’s notice he can do a bit of microtransaction advantage buying and gaming. Must be his own boss or something.

      MS’s whole approach to gaming on Windows is nutty, and that’s probably largely comes about because of the conflict of interest between the GFW and XBox divisions. It’s bizarre enough when they go around killing off succesful internal PC games studios only to then turn around and try to remake those franchises again and try to hire back the same people (oh, except on a microtransation or MMO basis). I can’t think of another word for that other than schizophrenic.

      You’ve also still got the unreconciled problem of subscription issues, because if you’re going to be providing a unified service with the PC (including the concept of “playing your game on any MS platform), then that effectively means that they either start trying to charge for subscriptions on the PC-side again, or they face a backlash from the 360 community who have to pay for these features.

      I guess this is something the must be allegedly pushing for in Windows 8. Problem is whether they’ll actually be interested in following through this time. If they truly want a uniformed platform, they need to do a crap tonne more than just allow for XBox style Avatars and microtransactions on the PC.

      Then again, maybe I’m just being overly negative because I don’t give a poot about Farmville?

    • Dominic White says:

      In MicrosoftLand, if you want to buy a game that costs $5, you have to buy $7.10 worth of credit in advance. Buy directly? That’s just crazy! Why would you want to do that? Also, multiplayer on servers with more than 16 players? That’s the way of the past. Region locking is in, too, because the internet being international is just soooo 2005.

      Granted, I’m basing these assumptions on how Xbox Live is now, because that video looked EXACTLY like it, but now with farmville integration.

    • Dinger says:

      I’m still fascinated by that thing. It answers the question “How can we make money?” without even considering “How can we make something that will make money?”

      Every single thing they showed involved monetary transactions explicitly and implicitly.

      Wealth, Love, Achievement and Friendship, all facilitated through WGX™ microtransactions.

      Looking Sassy, Jesse.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      two things I like about that video:

      “do you accept this cow?” makes me think “do you accept this cow as you god?”

      and, they think Myspace isn’t going to be dead

      but generally, Microsoft have no control over gaming on the PC, which is a mixture of them simply not getting it, and being unable to dictate what other people do on the platform (which probably pisses them off)

    • applecup says:

      Women sit at home shopping for clothes (pretend clothes, even!) and playing casual games. Men meanwhile have jobs and play shooters.

      Fuck you too, Microsoft.

    • Kdansky says:

      What that video taught me:

      - Girls sure love pink.
      - Ppl on teh internetz r txtin like pros.
      - Spending money is fun!
      - Playing games at 10:00 at work is fine!
      - Spending extra money makes me a better gamer.

      People should read some research on why playing games is fun: Because getting better at anything is fun. Our brain rewards us for learning. If you just buy epix, that will not have the same effect.

    • Dominic White says:

      “If you just buy epix, that will not have the same effect.”

      There are people dumb enough to pay big money for aimbots/online cheats, and buy them again after their account gets banned. For a depressingly large number of people, flaunting your K/D ratio and lording it over the less wealthy is far more entertaining than actually playing the game.

    • JohnnyMaverik says:

      Oh dear =/

    • The Dark One says:

      MS is the AT&T of gaming.

  4. Flappybat says:

    Nearly every comment I have seen on the internet makes it look like players feel that Dragon Age 2 is at best a below average game and does not reflect the review scores it has been getting, although the reviews do contain the same complaints. Before release everyone was scared it would be dumbed down but it turned out to be badly made instead.

    I had way more issues with playing a mage than Rich did. There were so many conversations where we were discussing apostates that felt totally out of place with my character carrying a staff, only a couple of times did anyone go “Hey you’re a mage too”. The rest of the time it’s like you’re a US marine following Don’t Ask Don’t Tell whilst wearing a pink Borat mankini and discussing homosexuals in the third person.

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      It’s definitely been reviewed a lot lower than the first, though, so I’m not sure the reviews are doing it that much of a disservice.

    • gganate says:

      The reason I visit RPS is because they honestly review a game and don’t just give a title an eight out of ten when it obviously has some major problems. I’m looking at you, gamespot/gamespy/ign/every other game review site.

    • Flappybat says:

      I was really happy to see the PC Gamer Call Of Duty Black Ops review as it reflected all the problems I had with the game, the score was very low for the title.

    • Zogtee says:

      RPG of the decade, innit? :D

  5. Meat Circus says:

    We were chatting about Dragon Age 2 at the RPS Social Club last night (perhaps inevitably). There’s widespread acceptance that DA2 is a well-written game at the quest level, with a much more human story than DA:O, and it all comes together nicely in act 3. It’s one of the few games that feels confident enough to actually lie to you, and throws a rather unpleasant surprise at you in act 3 via this mechanism.

    However, the game is badly let down by many broken mechanics that could or should have been ironed out at the testing stage:

    1) Reinforcing enemy trash mob waves look bad and make any attempt at tactics moot.
    2) Boss fights are boring and drawn out.
    3) Every quest involves fighting. Every one.
    4) Despite the fact that the game believes that Hawke is a Shepherd- style hero, he’s not. He’s little more than a cipher, and innocent bystander getting roped in to other people’s political battles.
    5) Much of the “three years later” stuff doesn’t work convincingly.
    6) The game tells you that Avelline is a ruthless guard captain that keeps crime to a minimum in Kirkwall with her patrol despite the fact that you CONSTANTLY GET ATTACKED by roving bands of thugs wherever you go.
    7) The first act is totally aimless and directionless. The main story doesn’t really appear until Act 3. It’s never really made properly clear why you take part in the deep roads mission. Knight Commander Meredith’s and First Enchanter Orsino’s appearance and rivalry in the third act is sudden and graceless.
    8) etc.

    So yes, slapdash. I’m not sure if it’s because it’s rushed. I think it’s more that DA2 suffered from the same problems as Mass Effect (1) where RPG mechanics and conventions were allowed to get in the way of the game that they wanted to make. Either try to make a “proper” RPG, or make the RPG mechanics not shoot the core game in the foot, and pare everything back until you end up with the game you actually wanted to make.

    I think there’s a sense that Bioware felt that Dragon Age: Origins was already an anachronism when they released it. Like with Mass Effect 2, they’re trying to move “beyond” classic RPGs. With Mass Effect 2, they released a stone cold classic. Dragon Age 2 in the end has no idea what it wants to be, or why it wants to be it.

    • Daniel Rivas says:

      This Social Club business all sounds a bit ‘intellectual’.

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      jaheira says:

      “Reinforcing enemy trash mob waves look bad and make any attempt at tactics moot.”

      Nope. You guys need a broader definition of tactics. You have to adjust to circumstances on the fly, rather than treat everything as a set piece attack (which is what normally happens in DA;O). You have to re-group, change your plans etc. as the waves come and go. I love the combat DA2.

    • Meat Circus says:

      This was before we got on to the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox, the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics and the necessity of Popperian falsifiability in post-positivist philosophy of science.

    • Meat Circus says:

      @jaheira:

      Trash spam is not good design. DA2 is not an MMO, why do we need waves of trash mobs?

    • Premium User Badge

      jaheira says:

      “why do we need waves of trash mobs?” – fun?

      Why aren’t they good design?

    • Meat Circus says:

      Because they don’t emerge from the needs of the mechanics or the story. In an MMO, trash mobs serve a useful purpose. In DA2, they serve primarily to irritate by getting in the way of the game.

      It’s lazy game design.

    • Archonsod says:

      “The first act is totally aimless and directionless. The main story doesn’t really appear until Act 3. It’s never really made properly clear why you take part in the deep roads mission. Knight Commander Meredith’s and First Enchanter Orsino’s appearance and rivalry in the third act is sudden and graceless.”

      Erm, you’re told by your sibling why you’re participating in the Deep Roads mission; you’re out of cash and the expedition offers enough money to not only set you up for life, but possibly buy back your mansion too.
      Meredith and Orsino’s conflict is built up from the initial act too (though for obvious reasons, it’s the second act when it’s really developed). In fact I fail to comprehend how you could manage to get to act 3 without noticing the worsening of the Templar versus Mage antagonism. Avoiding spoilers, given what you find out about Meredith in the end I thought the portrayal of the Templars steadily becoming increasingly more brutal in their methods was remarkably well done.

      Regarding the three years later stuff one of the funny things is none of the characters seem to visibly age. It’s not that hard to do, so I’m mystified as to why Bioware didn’t bother. Ok, dwarves and elves mightn’t look that different over the course of a decade, but given Hawke is going from at least 19 to 29 you’d expect some physical changes. And Hawke appears to be the youngest human character.

    • bleeters says:

      Regarding the waves mechanics, I’d be more willing to accept it if waves of enemies didn’t appear so unpredictably or non-sensibly. Fully armed soldiers in bulky plate armour appearing out of nowhere from a wall or dropping from the bloody ceiling is not a design feature to be praised. It’s up there with ‘buildings which spawn infinite troops until destroyed’. Frustrating and lazy.

      Which is quite honestly a tremendous shame, because there are several boss fights in the course of the game which are both challenging, imaginative and far, far better designed than anything Origins had. It’s extremely disappointing that the bulk of the combat throughout the game relies on ‘kill them until they stop spawning’.

      And, well; http://www.penny-arcade.com/images/2004/20040220l.jpg

    • Premium User Badge

      jaheira says:

      @ Meat
      Well they’re only going to irritate if you find them irritating. I suppose it depends on how much you enjoy the combat in general.
      “Lazy” is an over-used word in games criticism. It conjurs up an image of Bioware lying around in bed. They haven’t done combat like this before, which makes it innovative. Which is in a way the opposite of lazy.

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      Innovation is the opposite of laziness? Say that to the inventor of the siesta.

    • Deano2099 says:

      Spawning trash is bad design in this context, as mana and stamina are limited resources.

      If I don’t know how many enemies I have to fight, I can’t plan to space out the usage of my abilities most effectively. The best option then, is to be as frugal as possible, use as few as needed to get though, as you don’t know how many more waves are coming.

      And that isn’t fun, for obvious reasons.

    • Archonsod says:

      They’re not limited. Warriors regain stamina whenever they kill, Rogues regain it whenever they hit and Mana regenerates constantly. That’s before you consider the abilities which increase the regeneration or initial pool.

      It’s down to your build if you’re running out. All abilities can be split between low/high cost, if you put too many high cost spells or abilities on a character they’ll use up their mana/stamina faster than they can regain it, which is fine for one or two if you’re willing to micromanage and back them up with potions, but crippling if it’s your entire party.
      Optimally most characters should be able to cycle their main combat abilities without dropping below 25% mana or stamina most of the time, and that 25% should be reserved for an emergency get-out-of-trouble ability like stealth or mind blast.

    • Premium User Badge

      jaheira says:

      Well said Archonsod. DA2 does reward, and on Hard and above even necessitates, tactical thinking.

    • bleeters says:

      I think the problem is how ‘tactical thinking’ differs from Origins. There, tactics were more down to forward thinking. You’d look for mages, elites, traps and so forth, and then figure out a way to counter using the abilities you have before any fighting starts. If there were mages, or large numbers of archers, you’d try and spread people out. Throw on an anti-magic ward before you tank charges in. Put your healer over there, try and tank things over there.

      Dragon age 2 is far more on-the-fly management, responding to threats as they come. My problem isn’t so much that more enemies show up, it’s that they show up unpredictably and -as is often the case – completely contrary to anything remotely approaching common sense, or of a cohesive world. When, say, clearing out a dock warehouse controlled by slavers, having more of them come through a door is reasonable. Jumping through a second story window or from the rooftop of a building is slightly less believable, but I’ll roll with it. Perhaps Freemarchers just have especially durable ankles. But having them appear from thin air or inexplicably drop from the ceiling is intolerable, and that’s generally been my experience so far.

      I’m generally inclined to agree with what Cobbett is arguing. When the gameplay is often at such an odds with the background setting and story so as to apparently not take any of it seriously, why should I?

    • malkav11 says:

      I was with you right up until the point you ascribed DA2′s (many) flaws to “RPG mechanics and conventions getting in the way”, which is patently ridiculous as none of them have anything to do with RPG mechanics or conventions in even the most confused way. What Bioware was apparently trying to do with DA2 could easily have been accomplished within the usual parameters of RPG gameplay. It’s not at all unknown to have quests without combat involved, and set piece encounters are far more the RPG standard than the waves of trash DA2 foists off on you. But then, I also disagree with your conclusion that ME2 was a “stone cold classic”. I would label it either Bioware’s second or third worst game (first worst being the original NWN release – not counting expansions, which were improved somewhat; alternate second worst being Baldur’s Gate 1, but for all its flaws I suspect I might actually prefer it to ME2′s incredibly lacking gameplay.). Still a decent enough game – I don’t think Bioware’s made anything I would label -bad- (NWN, at most) – but not even close to being among their classics.

    • Archonsod says:

      “I think the problem is how ‘tactical thinking’ differs from Origins. There, tactics were more down to forward thinking”

      Pretty much. One of the things I find somewhat ironic is people claiming it’s dumbed down when the combat has actually moved away from the previous action RPG system (where any character is capable of killing just about anything given the right equipment) to one that actually requires some co-ordination and planning (cross-class attacks being pretty much necessitated on anything beyond normal, at least if you want to do more than single figure damage).

      I don’t mind the waves coming in, it might be silly having them abseil down the warehouse or something (I mean do the thieves guild just hang around rooftops with grappling hooks handy in case people come wandering past?) but then in any game where you can pull fire out of your arse and throw it around without burning yourself I think realism is overrated.

      The main problem is they just make the whole thing cheap. It’s like rather than think about how to make the encounters challenging or interesting, they just decided to chuck more enemies at the player and hope that would suffice. And it’s every battle; they’d have been better served constricting the waves to the random mook fights and spending more time making the set piece battles more interesting.

    • Premium User Badge

      jaheira says:

      @ bleeters
      “But having them appear from thin air or inexplicably drop from the ceiling is intolerable”

      Why? Because it’s not realistic? Well, neither is making a fireball out of thin air with the power of your mind, turning into a dragon, going invisible at will etc. Are you suspending your sense of disbelief or not?

      I’m willing to put up with things not making much sense if they’re fun.

    • bleeters says:

      @jaheira

      Magic is explained, it has a feasible reasoning to it, and in no way am I criticising its involvement. This isn’t me arguing that games should mimick real life, whatever their setting.

      Men dropping from the ceiling in no way makes any kind of practical sense, yet occurs every single time you fight indoors. How do they get there? Why are they up there? Do they wait in an attic and drop down from a secret hatch? Heck, I’ve seen them drop down from inside a solid rock cave roof at various points. If the room must periodically food with new enemies, what would be so wrong with them using doors?

      I acknowledge that this must seem like nitpicking. Perhaps it is. DA2 just strikes me as a somewhat silly, make-your-enemies-explode-with-arrows game to play, slotted uncomfortably withing a serious, well-written and engaging setting like a round peg in a square hole, and the two are continuously at odds with each other.

      I wouldn’t criticise being able to shoot fire from my hands. I would criticise nobody batting an eyelid whilst I publicly do so, in a world where mages are supposedly feared and despised.

    • Archonsod says:

      If you look at it logically then the real question is why Anders is so worried about them. He’s still a Grey Warden, so presumably the Templars couldn’t actually do anything about him even if he started summoning demons in front of Meredith, he’s outside of their Jurisdiction.

      Hawke I’m not sure of. By Act II it’s irrelevant because he’s got the ear of the Duke and thus attempting to do anything about it is likely to draw political heat. Initially I suppose it’s feasible that the Templars might be undecided; he could after all be a respectable member of a Ferelden Circle who’s fled the Blight or is otherwise operating with full sanction (it’s demonstrated in Origins that Mages aren’t necessarily bound to the Circle for life; Wynne even mentions it, most of them remain there by choice, because outside they tend to meet nothing but prejudice and suspicion).

    • bleeters says:

      Hmm? Anders states he escaped the circle of magi seven times, and seven times they dragged him back kicking and screaming. Not to mention the Templars tried to capture/kill him again during Awakenings, and that was before he a) merged with a fade spirit, and b) left the grey wardens. Wynne’s first apprentice who you meet in Origins ran away as a child, and the Templars ran him through and left him for dead. There’s not a whole lot to suggest mages who tire of their shackles can just pick up and leave whenever they like.

      Honestly, given the core plot and events of DA2, that’s a bizarre conclusion to draw.

    • JackShandy says:

      “Why? Because it’s not realistic?”

      Realism is uneccessary – believability is not. Having a mage shoot fire makes sense within the universe. Having men drop from the ceiling does not.

    • Kadayi says:

      I found the combat in DAO to be far more akin to that of an MMO than that in DA2 tbh. It was extremely easy to draw single opponents using spells and arrows.

    • Wraggles says:

      I dunno about the trash mob thing, from what I’ve seen, only bandits and spiders tend to drop from ceilings, I’m willing to forgive both of those. Regular soldiers seem to spawn the vast majority of the time around a corner, from behind a doorway, or in a long corridor far away, 80% of the time out of sight. Undead and shades pop out from the ground. So it hasn’t seemed that disjointed for me.

      As to tactics, I think its retarded that people claiming there are no “tactics” expect to have “all” the information instantly. An unknown number of mobs, is the same as not knowing what special ability a mob has, or not knowing that an assassin can appear behind you and 1 shot you. It just means that within your “tactics” you need to be able to determine whether u need to pop aoe now, or save it (cooldowns), you need to manage energy and stamina more carefully rather than just burning through it asap. It makes efficient kills more important in the same way that timing your heals are important. Additionally it makes boss fights that more tricky, as you can’t just burst down the boss or you’re left with no mana/stamina for the mobs.

      Additionally control becomes a more priority skill, as you can’t just stun lock the one enemy like you could in DA:O and finish them, instead you need to handle manage groups of enemies…..besides…. I’m a Primal/Force Mage aka a Jedi, hurling groups of enemies around is my specialty, and is enormously great fun.

  6. Navagon says:

    A lot of reading to be done here. As for the Direct X argument, there’s probably some truth in it, but I think it’s mostly down to publishers not wanting to do more than a barely adequate job on the PC version. That said, a move over to Open GL would be in most people’s best interests, I think.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      yea, I was thinking how much those issues effect OpenGL.

      I’m really not sure how much “drop APIs all together” would work when PCs have massively varied hardware.

      If I remember correctly though, Windows actually pushes OpenGL though DirectX (for Vista/DirectX10+)… or at least I remember that being how it was “done” when Vista/DirectX10 turned up.

    • gganate says:

      When this was posted on Slashdot, some people correctly pointed out that no matter what problems you have with Direct X, the situation is much better today with a single API compared to the lawless days of 3dfx and all the other companies, when you didn’t know whether or not a game was going to run on your card.

      The problem with graphics not fully taking advantage of the pc platform is really the fault of designers making lazy pc ports that look identical to the console version.

    • Navagon says:

      Compatibility has improved since the dawn of Direct X. That much is very true. Although such things could really have benefitted from the introduction of the Games For Windows standard (NOT Live) sooner.

      It’s also true that most of the poor performance and low visual quality issues are due to poor optimisation. But how much of that is also down to the API being inadequate for the ever increasingly powerful hardware out there? After all it was a long, long gap between DX9 and DX10 with some rather substantial gains made in the GPU market over the same period.

      When it comes down to it I don’t know how well OpenGL measures up to Direct X now. But it seems fairly logical to conclude that had the open API been the one that was most supported (or indeed if MS had bought it instead of going with the cheapest, most lethargic option) then we may be looking at a better state of affairs now than we are.

      Albeit one that’s still being held back by consoles…

    • Baboonanza says:

      Not necessarily. To my mind OpenGLs primary problem in competing with DirectX (for games at least) has been it’s open nature and a lack of a single entity developing it with a clear focus. If OpenGL had remained the most popular API I think we would be further behind in game graphics personally, with even worse compatability problems than we get now (from venders implementing their own extensions while ARB drags it’s feet incorporating them into the core feature set).

    • bob_d says:

      @gganate: It’s not laziness – it’s economic necessity. How many extra resources are developers going to spend on the PC version when it typically makes up only about 10% of their sales? Answer: not very much. Spending the huge amounts of money needed for higher quality assets and reworking environments for relatively high-end PCs makes even less sense, as you end up losing sales to cater to less than 5% of your audience.

    • Premium User Badge

      fiezi says:

      DirectX and OpenGL are no different in performance, really. The Wolfire people have a nice blogpost about that here.
      Also, as far as I know, people only slowly start to get to grips with CUDA and OpenCL and there’s already some funky stuff happening with that, but since many people don’t have Graphics cards that support it, it’ll take a while to find its way into games.

      I have to say though, it’s not the graphics API that holds games back but the relatively uncreative use of it and the naturalistic art direction every AAA game seems to have these days. If we had more people experimenting with graphics like Eskil Steenberg does, we would be much better off. And you can totally do that with OpenGL and DirectX.

  7. Kadayi says:

    “In terms of world design, it’s a game where an elf member of your party is horrified at the cramped, poverty-stricken conditions of her peoples’ part of town, despite the fact that the level designers have given her nothing short of a mansion to live in”

    I’ll be honest I think he’s reaching. Fenris lives in a mansion, Merrill lives in a shack with a couple of rooms. Games are not reality especially when it comes to the internal dimensions of buildings (I’m hard pressed to think of any game where doorways or passages are never at least 2 + people wide) , so to make it a point of criticism/oversight is being disingenuous. What’s next on the criticism agenda? Everyone of a race being the same height? There are certain mechanistic aspects/conceits/concessions to games that you have to simply accept are part and parcel of the functionality and the limitations of what can be achieved at this point in time technologically. Take the game spaces of BG2 and translate them into 3 dimensions and I’m quite sure you’ll find the game environments are of an equivalent size.

    I’m also of the opinion that with a game like DA2 it’s pretty much essential to play it through a couple of different ways before one can draw any real conclusions.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      No, his next complaint was about killing an evil hooker with fireballs. Which is equally trivial, but hey, trivial things add up…

    • Kadayi says:

      Hate to break it to you (person who speaks about himself in the 3rd person) , but it’s a fantasy game. Suspension of disbelief is a requirement.

      I don’t think DA2 is perfect (far from it), but one has to criticize it legitimately. There’s a big difference in terms of the sort of game spaces that a game where you have one player character and three npcs in tow can operate around, Vs say a game like say the Witcher, where you are directing a singular individual.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      So is internal consistency. Suspension of disbelief is a two-way street.

      As far as game spaces go, if they can make it work in an area as cramped as the Hanged Man, along with far more dramatic cut-scenes and fights and camera angles, they can make it work in a much smaller area than Merrill’s assigned house.

    • Nick says:

      Sounds like you only read the tiny extract here.

    • Kadayi says:

      “As far as game spaces go, if they can make it work in an area as cramped as the Hanged Man, along with far more dramatic cut-scenes and fights and camera angles, they can make it work in a much smaller area than Merrill’s assigned house.”

      The Hanged man is not a small environment. If you compare it to say the tavern in Lothering in DAO it’s enormous. Sure if they’d made it so that only you as the player could enter Merrills house that might of given them a bit more leeway, but then again doing so would restrict the development team from exploring their options (I’d say it would naive to assume the game world was made after the storyline was finalized). Demanding internal consistency is fine, but one has to be measured in how far one takes it.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      Yes, and now look at its design. However large it is in real terms, the Hanged Man is a cramped, tight environment. It doesn’t matter whether or not it would fit in its environment because it feels ‘right’. Your introduction to Merrill’s house is a huge gaping square, with the size reinforced by elements like all her furniture being over to one side and how little of it she’s using. Its problems have nothing to do with technical limitations, and everything to do with it being a cack-handed piece of area mapping.

      But eh, if you don’t agree, you don’t agree.

    • Kadayi says:

      Save a couple of ‘public’ spaces such as the hanged man, very few of the environments have furniture anywhere but against the walls. Sure from a ‘realism’ perspective it’s daft, but as almost every space potentially has to operate as a combat environment it’s a necessary concession, in order to allow for player/character manoeuvrability (esp for rogues given the evade & backstab abilities).

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      Yes, agreed. Except that Merril’s house doesn’t have to function as a combat space, while the Hanged Man actually does. There will always be concessions, you’re absolutely right. This is not one of those cases though.

    • Kadayi says:

      Well from a design perspective, it’s better to have the space and not need it, than not have the space and need it.

      The more telling distinction between DAO and DA2 is that the base install of the game for the former is around 16GB where as the latter is around 6GB or so. That’s the difference between having a 360 version that spans two discs or more (and thus incurs Microsoft’s punitive multi-disc licensing charges) and one that comfortably fits on one.

      I’m fairly sure the designers at Bioware no doubt would want to have added a lot more richness to the game environments and not repeat them so much (though it’s not quite as bad as ME1 was in that respect), however clearly the directive from EA (in these penny pinching times) was to keep the overall game size down below the magic 6.45 GB 360 disc limitation this time around (remember DAO was initially a PC only game), and asset management becomes a real issue in those sort of situations (Mafia 2 was another game that suffered similarly, esp when it came to character models).

      In an alternative universe where Microsoft elected to go with HD-DVD & a guaranteed HD in the 360, developers like Bioware wouldn’t be so hamstrung when it comes to game design as they are now.

      You see I don’t believe that Bioware are being lazy or that the game was rushed (a terms that been repeatedly latched onto DA2 ever since the musical score director used it to describe his own work). I just figure they made the best game they could within the constraints given to them. I think it’s exceptionally easy to criticise a project when your comparison is simply the blank canvas of what you want to see, rather than what’s possible logistically within the constraints made upon the developer.

    • Jimbo says:

      What difference does it make really? Everybody involved is an EA employee. Bioware are EA. They -the company that created this game- rushed it. I’m sure the people at the coalface did try their best, but it doesn’t make the game any less rushed.

      You can’t turn around RPGs in ~15 months and expect to remain the best RPG developer in the industry for very long. It may be some EA suit calling the shots, but it’s the Bioware brand that suffers.

    • Archonsod says:

      Given they conceived of it as a trilogy originally, I’m pretty sure it’s been at some stage of development for longer than fifteen months.

    • Kadayi says:

      @Jimbo

      You simplifying a situation doesn’t make it a simple situation I’m afraid, especially when it comes to the workings of massive companies. They are not of a single mind.

    • Jimbo says:

      You say that you don’t believe that the game was rushed, yet the game was clearly turned around in far less development time than a game like this usually gets. The constraints given to them included “rush this game”.

      I don’t see what difference it makes in this regard whether EA ordered them to rush it or they did it of their own accord, the game was still rushed either way, and -by Bioware’s standards- it shows. If you’re saying blame whoever made that decision and not the people that built the game then yeah I agree with you. I certainly don’t think they were lazy -they can’t have been to have achieved so much in so little time- but they aren’t going to get a pass for trying hard and getting the game out quickly. They’ll get judged on the final product like everybody else.

  8. Premium User Badge

    Diziet Sma says:

    I actually agree with Greg Dean’s rant on player housing, does that make me weird? Yeah, I happen to read Real Life… and I’m also an avid UO fan.

    • Hallgrim says:

      I have to say it should be terrible for *everyone* that Istaria (Horizons) is on his “got it right” list!

      I still remember working for an afternoon with a few friends to gather enough materials to repair a forge in that game (to help us players fight the undead legions). It teleported itself 2m into the air, and didn’t do anything else. Man that game would have been great if it actually worked. Too bad the lead designer made the clone-iest wow clone ever instead of Horizons2 (now with functioning graphics engine and functioning everything else).

    • Hoaxfish says:

      I’m inclined to go the completely opposite direction, that MMOs don’t need housing at all… wtf do you need with a house anyway? You’re adventurers, not housewives/interior decorators.

      It always strikes me as slightly at odds that “roleplay” in MMOs equates to standing around like idiots, talking about stuff “you’ve done/will do”… rather than actually doing it. Roleplay simply isn’t “built” into the game systems, and roleplayers don’t seem to want to work “within” the limitations, but to kinda be mutually exclusive to actually playing.

      Same goes with crafting in a way… why am I both a master blacksmith, and a master of combat? It’s a weird Clark Kent/Superman combo, except it’s applied to everyone.

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      Isn’t Real Life just randomly generated from existing assets?

    • Chris D says:

      I didn’t get why he thought it necesary that each house should occupy it’s own space. Or even why that would be desirable. I don’t particularly want to have to commute to quest areas. I’m not sure I want random players to be able to drop in either.

      I thought it was odd that he seemed to assume all of this was given and spent the rest of the time addressing the practical considerations and not why you’d want that in the first place.

  9. Kaira- says:

    http://blog.wolfire.com/2010/01/Why-you-should-use-OpenGL-and-not-DirectX

    Oldie but goodie article why OpenGL should be favored over DirectX. Tesselation, for example, has been in OpenGL since 2007 (if I read the article correctly), and just recently hit DirectX, and that on only DirectX 11 (Vista & Win7).

    • TechRogue says:

      OpenGL/OpenGL ES:
      PC (Windows, Mac, Linux…heck, even Amiga)
      PS3
      iOS
      Android
      Wii
      DirectX:
      Windows
      xBox

      Steamplay is making OpenGL even more important, it seems…most new games I’ve seen are “releasing on Steam”, meaning Mac+Windows.

    • Dan Lawrence says:

      On the other hand Carmack cited in that article as the great OpenGL defender is now saying DirectX is better and that he only remains with OpenGL out of inertia:

      http://www.bit-tech.net/news/gaming/2011/03/11/carmack-directx-better-opengl/1

      I’d say the only good, practical reason to use OpenGL on the PC is for portability to Mac and Linux. I hope it picks back up but a lot of internal squabbling is what really doomed it not Microsoft:

      http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/opengl-directx,2019.html

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Well, there’s a pretty clear choice to be made: Direct3D for PC games with bleeding-edge AAA graphics, OpenGL for broad compatibility.

      If you’re John Carmack, of course you’re going to use whatever gives you every last drop of power from the GPU. But if I’m creating a slightly more modest 3D game, OpenGL is still fantastic. If you’re an indie developer, you either go the XNA route (meh), or do OpenGL and deploy on PC, Mac, iOS, and Android.

    • Premium User Badge

      fiezi says:

      It’s a common misconception that DirectX is for bleeding edge graphics and OpenGL is for compatibility. I guess Microsofts press-department got that one into peoples heads alright, and it’s worrying to hear how often it is presented.
      There is NO difference in what you can do in either of those APIs and DirectX will NOT run faster/prettier/etc.
      Fun fact though: ATI has had ridiculously horrible drivers for OpenGL. How about they get their act together and support an open standard instead of trying to get rid of things altogether.

  10. Om says:

    I really should read more Richard Cobbett. Quinns, make it so!

  11. MadTinkerer says:

    “This is my favourite headline this week: “God’s Wife Edited Out Of The Bible.” She wasn’t happy about him working six days a week.”

    Oh man, not another “history scholar” trying to pass off fan-fiction as the “original” ancient Jewish beliefs. They only do this to get attention, you know.

    Of course the scriptures were heavily edited! Because my thesis outright contradicts the established view, either I am making crap up or they are making crap up! And I say they are making crap up because I am an enlightened scholar in the 21st century and they were a bunch of ignorant beardy mysogynists in ancient times! Because I say so! I am so smart!

    And original, incidentally. No one has ever thought to take a few passages and completely twist them to completely the opposite meaning such that this or that deity that we thought Yahweh disapproved of (as written in the edited version) is actually a deity that Yahweh is pals with! And/or is the real one and Yahweh is the faker! I’m sure no one has ever been so very postmodern as to come up with something like that before!

    • Daniel Rivas says:

      My favourite of those is this one: http://hilobrow.com/2009/08/01/the-yhwh-virus/

      God as alien invader, anyone?

      I like this sort of stuff; it’s usually fun.

      And it’s all nonsense anyway etc etc etc.

    • karry says:

      “Oh man, not another “history scholar” trying to pass off fan-fiction as the “original” ancient Jewish beliefs. They only do this to get attention, you know.”

      You are completely ignorant on the matter. The fact that Yahwe had a wife is actually true. He also had celestial lovers, and children, and demigod children, much like Zeus and many other gods in other mythologies. Not to mention that Yahwe was just a minor chaos god living in some Middle Eastern volcano originally, hardly “THE MAKER” Jews presented him to be.

      However, this is hardly news, Dead Sea scrolls were decyphered years ago, and all this is public knowledge, its just that its not really talked about all that much.

    • omicron1 says:

      Even more disturbing is this guy trying to pass off Asherah as new news. In point of fact, Asherah was one of three (IIRC) major female deities of the neighboring Ugaritic culture, heavily tied to Ba’al the storm god, and imported (unless you are willing to believe any story that casts the Abrahamic religions as having no basis in reality) by Israelites who intermarried/intermingled with their neighbors. This foreign religion’s influence informs the Bible’s negative view of one of her symbols, the Asherah pole, as mentioned quite often in the historical books as an indicator of whether a particular king was holy or not.

      So, yes, Asherah was part of a cult in Israel. But I see no reason to claim either that she was part of the official Hebrew religion of the time, or that she was “erased” from the Bible.
      Heck, considering that he makes most of his assumptions based on Ugaritic items, I’d say he’s not even looking in the right spot!

    • omicron1 says:

      @Karry: That right there sounds like a pastiche of every “alternative theory” ever come up with to explain away the God of the Bible. It’s not particularly good scholarship to start from a position of “this can’t be right” and go from there, you know – let alone to assume that any theory which seems to paint a different picture from what the Bible says should get a free pass. This has been going on for at least 150 years, and it’s not getting any more reliable as time goes on.
      For instance, did you know that at the beginning of the last century, nobody knew Ugarit existed, and it was “common scholarly consensus” that Ba’al was in some way a Hebrew invention/deity/part of YHWH? Then they dug up Ugarit, and suddenly all those theories didn’t work anymore. They had to move on and find new ways of discrediting the Scriptures. And that approach – where theory and research are based on an attempt to discredit – is something I very much have a problem with. That is all.

    • Xercies says:

      I only have this to post

    • Muzman says:

      The scriptures were heavily edited though. And the concept of god has changed over time. Or are we rejecting the documentary hypothesis outright here?

    • Bret says:

      Great.

      Now I’m remembering the Achewood about Bible fanfiction.

      Nice Pete’s stuff is probably about as historically derived, come to think.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      @Muzman: Yes, Muzman, I am rejecting the Documentary Hypothesis outright, for similar reasons.

      To paraphrase the God of the Bible: “I am eternal and unchanging. There are many false prophets who will preach in my name. There are many who wish to lead you astray. I not only tell the truth, I am The Truth.”

      The God of the Bible is a god of absolutes, among other things. Fuck with this, and you make him into a liar. If Jehovah is not eternally consistent in what he says and does, and has allowed people to fuck with his scriptures to the point where the truth about his very nature is obscured beyond reckoning, then he is not a god worth believing in.

      Basically, if the scripture fanfic writers are wrong, then God is right and I am right to worship him. If they are right, then the details of their scholarly wanking are also utterly pointless BECAUSE THEN IT’S ALL LIES. They’re not giving me a reason to worship Asherah alongside Jehovah, they’re really just trying to persuade me that Jehovah is a liar.

      EDIT: Also, I like PC games. Minecraft is nice, eh?

  12. Premium User Badge

    Feste says:

    A Linux-exclusive? But for what distro? For true geek-cred it should only come in a Gentoo Portage-based source format.

  13. TechRogue says:

    Regarding the Linux-exclusive game…Yes, I see how some people (myself included) get disappointed when new games come out exclusively for Windows; or when an indie game studio gets bought by Microsoft and becomes an xBox exclusive. I get that. But I don’t understand why the Linux community feels like this is a good response to the problem.

  14. Premium User Badge

    Rinox says:

    “I don’t pump 22 hours into a game I’m not enjoying”

    Does that means the game is ‘only’ 22 hours long or that Mr. Cobbett hasn’t completed it yet? Just wondering, because Origins took me much longer to finish.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      It took me about 22 hours, start to finish. I wasn’t rushing through, though I wasn’t sweeping for stuff either – if a quest was presented, I did it, including all the personal quests of people on my team who I hung out with and poking around in any area that interested me. The big disconnect between other times is probably that I turned down the difficulty to Casual about half-way through, not because I was having trouble, but because I was bored of the constant trash mobs and just wanted to get straight through them and back to the story stuff that I was much more interested in.

    • Archonsod says:

      I clocked 36 hours, doing as many quests as I could find and playing on normal. I don’t think it’s quite as long as Origins (although I’m not sure how much of that is actual length and how much of it is caused by the Deep Roads, which felt like half the bloody game) but it’s not a short game. I’d say 20 – 30 hours would be about right, depending on how much you go off the beaten track. I know I missed Fenris’ quests completely and one or two sidequests.

    • President Weasel says:

      took me 50, but I played it on hard so some fights, particularly the one-on-one duel with the Arishok with me playing as a 2H warrior, took ages. I don’t know how many times I had to restart that fight after ten minutes when the Arishok got me with a cheap series of knockdown-knockback-knockback-swurly choppy move, taking all my health before I could stand up and move. It was immensely satisfying when I finally beat him though.
      I did also do every single side quest apart from the Qunari Swords (not sure how many you;re meant to find, but I didn’t get them all) and ‘Who am I supposed to rescue’ which is bugged.

      Also I did leave it on pause for an hour or two a couple of times while I went away to read a book, so depending if it counts those as time played I may only have spent 45 hours.

    • Meat Circus says:

      I clocked up 41 hours, including the Exiled Prince DLC.

    • gganate says:

      It took me 72 hours to finish Origins, which is the longest I’ve ever spent on a first playthrough in a single-player game, and I think I may have left a quest or two unfinished. Sounds like DA2 is much shorter.

    • Premium User Badge

      Rinox says:

      Thanks for all the responses. Yeah, seems like it is shorter than Origins then (even though the Deep Roads remark is spot on). Still, around 35 is a very respectable length.

    • Archonsod says:

      My first playthrough of Origins was 42 hours or thereabouts.

      I wouldn’t say it’s significantly shorter. The pacing is a little more rapid in 2, and the levels are smaller (or at least sectioned off to a smaller area) so most quests get you straight into the action rather than have you tramp around for a bit beforehand. It’s a bit more direct in other words, in DA:O it felt like I spent a considerable amount of time scouring maps to ensure I’d got everything, there was none of that in 2.
      There’s certainly less sidequests, but unlike Origins they’re all fairly substantial i.e. they’ll all require you go somewhere and do something, there’s none of the “fetch me three herbs” fedex style stuff or the “pass messages between these two characters” runabouts.

    • Vinraith says:

      Let’s see, DA:O took between 60-70 hours (and many people reported 80) if you did pretty much everything. It sounds like DA2 is averaging around 30, so roughly one half to one third as long. I suppose length doesn’t matter much if the game is shit, though.

    • Archonsod says:

      DA:O had a lot of padding though, which is why it takes so long.

      Compare the Deep Roads to the Circle. Most people think the Deep Roads are longer, yet if you compare them they both have roughly the same number of maps. The key difference is that several of the Deep Road maps are ‘empty’; that is there’s nothing there but some random mook fights. No story advancement, sidequests or similar, just Darkspawn group > tunnel > Darkspawn group. The Circle on the other hand has similar sized maps but more going on in them, from treasure hunts to incidental details or plot/quest development (the DR maps do have some hidden item piece quests, but you’re never told about them until you find them, which is a big mistake). Thus it feels shorter (at least till you hit the Fade).
      DA:2 removes the empty maps, so you go straight from Orzammar to the Thaig, and simply has the random mook groups attack you while wandering the town instead.

    • Nick says:

      “DA:O had a lot of padding though,”

      Unlike DA2?

    • bleeters says:

      @ Archonsod

      There’s certainly less sidequests, but unlike Origins they’re all fairly substantial i.e. they’ll all require you go somewhere and do something, there’s none of the “fetch me three herbs” fedex style stuff or the “pass messages between these two characters” runabouts.

      I’m not quite sure what you’re getting at, there. There’s a frustrating number of ‘bring Item X to npc-you’ve-never-otherwise-encountered Y for 50 silver reward’ quests in DA2, far more than I remember there being in Origins, and those always came with a specified motivation for wanting health potions or elfroot, or whatever it was they wanted. DA2 just has you loot an item, often something not especially distinct or noteworthy from the other junk I’ve been hoovering up so far, and turn it over to someone else in some other location with no real sign of an explanation as to how or why.

      Not that such quests represent the bulk of the content, but there’s plenty of them around.

      DA:2 removes the empty maps, so you go straight from Orzammar to the Thaig

      This is true. Though a more accurate description might be ‘you go straight from Orzammar to the Thaig, which looks exactly like Orzammar. Only this time, which doors are openable has changed slightly, making your route from one side to the other marginally different’.

    • Tom Camfield says:

      Ugh, Deep Roads, that’s where I stopped DA:O; so disenchanted by then … playing as an Elf who murdered the two humans in the opening cutscene quite cold-bloodedly, I was never given the opportunity to a good elf who was therefore a killer of humans … I even romanced a human. Sickening. Elf-shame.

    • Archonsod says:

      ““DA:O had a lot of padding though,”

      Unlike DA2?”

      Yup.

      “I’m not quite sure what you’re getting at, there. There’s a frustrating number of ‘bring Item X to npc-you’ve-never-otherwise-encountered Y for 50 silver reward’ quests in DA2, far more than I remember there being in Origins, and those always came with a specified motivation for wanting health potions or elfroot, or whatever it was they wanted. DA2 just has you loot an item, often something not especially distinct or noteworthy from the other junk I’ve been hoovering up so far, and turn it over to someone else in some other location with no real sign of an explanation as to how or why.”
      The point is that they’re completely pointless lol. Most of those are in-jokes, there’s no conversation or anything given for them, just take an item to a person and collect a sovereign. You can happily ignore them without it having any effect on the game whatsoever. It’s when your forced to do it to advance the main or sub plot they can become annoying, particularly if completing them requires going out of your way solely to finish the quest.
      Plus there’s something jarring about being a Dragon slaying, Darkspawn killing, Blight averting Chosen One and finding out that in a time of crisis, the first thing people think of when you offer to help is “will you collect my groceries”. Particularly when asked by NPC’s who do nothing but stand in the same damn spot all day anyway.

    • noodlecake says:

      The game took me 40+ hours to get to the end of, doing most of the side quests but not all of them. I thought it was absolutely fantastic and I think most of the criticisms are overly picky. The combat is more satisfying than in any RPG I’ve ever played and the twists in the story genuinely puts you in some very tough emotional situations. It basically does everything that the guys on Rockpapershotgun rave about working well in Vampires: the Masquerade: Bloodlines but better and in a much more polished and inviting package. I did play as a rogue though and I think that playing as a mage might have been annoying because of the lack of a real reaction to your illegal mageyness. :)

      Also, Merril does get access to Blood Mage powers…. I have no idea why I keep reading articles that criticize the game for not making her a blood mage, She is actually more suited to being set up as a blood mage than any character you can make yourself because if you pump stats into constitution instead of wisdom on your main character you’re pretty screwed for what armour you can wear. Merril doesn’t have that problem if you use her blood magic skills. (You’ll know what I mean if you get the game)

      But yeah. The most fun PC style RPG I’ve played in my life. I never got to the end of Dragon Age: Origins because the pacing and repetitiveness of the combat bored the pants off’ve me but I’ve gone straight into a 2nd playthrough after playing this solidly from start to finish. It’s completely original and the setting, pace and storytelling are unlike anything ever seen in video games.

    • Premium User Badge

      jaheira says:

      Hugs to noodlecake.
      “The combat is more satisfying than in any RPG I’ve ever played” Amen brother
      I’m genuinely surprised that you guys aren’t loving the fights in DA2. I wonder if I got lucky with composition of party of skills or something, or maybe some of you are playing on “Normal” (“Hard” is the new “Normal” btw) but combat in this game is twatting awesome. A constant balancing act of skills use, movement, and choice of targets. It’s all here. Plus it looks (and sounds) great.

    • malkav11 says:

      Again with the “it’s completely original” without specifying anything that makes it original. (I am assuming this is because there’s not actually any such thing.)

  15. Premium User Badge

    drewski says:

    What I don’t understand about DA2 is just why it was so seemingly rushed. Surely Bioware can’t be hard up for cash, what with EA’s backing and the mountains of gold they must be sitting on from the success of the Mass Effect games.

    Surely they could have spent at least another 2 or 3 months polishing it, not just in superficial ways but just making it internally consistent.

    • ReV_VAdAUL says:

      The Old Republic is very expensive and not inspiring as much praise as EA would like. Making as much money as quickly as possible is becoming a pressing issue for Bioware with regards to that.

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      Good point, I’d forgotten about TOR.

      Must be a strange position to put yourself in, having to pimp out two successful, established franchises just for the chance to bet your company on an MMO.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      But DA2′s release date was announced a whole year in advance, via a card tucked inside copies of Awakening. I feel like if BioWare really wanted to make some cash, they could’ve released 2-3 more expansions for Origins over the same time period. Why not? A few smaller stories to fill the time before releasing a proper sequel.

    • ReV_VAdAUL says:

      Well Release dates can and do slip but you make a fair point about smaller expansions. To speculate as to why they didn’t go for more expansions, maybe diminishing returns were coming in to play, you’re limited to people who had already bought DA:O AND who’re still interested in it. A lot of people play through a game once and they’re done. So DA:2 probably had a much larger potential revenue. Plus it was already in development and by the time DA:2′s release date was announced I think the whole F2P craze had begun, or at least there were rumblings of it probably making EA uneasy.

      At the end of the day it is impossible to know for sure but TOR is very expensive and a quick release with lots of DLC would seem to be due to a need for money ASAP.

    • Jimbo says:

      I think you are wildly overestimating the success of the Mass Effect franchise. It sells well, but not *that* well.

      Bioware don’t have to worry about cash anymore anyway, because they’re just a part of EA now. It’s EA’s money at stake in this bet, not Bioware’s future, and EA as a company are far too big to be taken down by TOR even if it’s a total disaster. There’s no real need for them to run DA and ME into the ground in order to fund TOR, though it wouldn’t exactly surprise me if that’s the crazy logic they’re working on over there.

    • noodlecake says:

      Luckily they aren’t because Dragon Age 2 is fantastic and moving in totally the right direction. It’s just a nit picky few who live on the internet that don’t like it. PC Gamer gave it the most intelligent and realistic review in my opinion.

    • Vinraith says:

      I think we simply need to make peace with the fact that big companies don’t publish old-school RPG’s anymore. DA:O was a blip that got all our hopes up, but it couldn’t possibly last. Fortunately there’s a world of old and indie RPG’s that fill the niche, so it’s easy enough to simply ignore dreck like DA2.

    • ReV_VAdAUL says:

      @Jimbo
      I dunno, I mean if it failed utterly which I understand you were just being hyperbolic about, then EA, who’ve sunk several hundred million dollars into the project would be in a considerable amount of trouble.

      I think the issue is more about operating capital and keeping the shareholders happy. DA2 coming out ASAP means Bioware are showing some income alongside a massive outgoing. Plus any money Bioware brings in from other projects helps fund TOR and lessens the amount TOR has to make to pay for its’ development.

    • malkav11 says:

      I think labelling DA2 dreck is unfair to it. It’s got a laundry list of flaws, to be sure, and it’s a distinct downgrade from the first one, but like even Bioware’s worst games, it’s still got moments of brilliance. That’s why it’s so upsetting to me that a) they seem to be leaving the gameplay I like in the dust, and b) people seem to think it’s a good thing.

    • Vinraith says:

      @malkav11

      Context is everything. DA2 is most certainly “dreck” when measured in terms of its quality as an old school RPG. It may simply be “deeply flawed” when measured against the standards of modern, mainstream games.

      Regardless, I certainly agree that the gameplay direction the series has taken is a disappointment, I’m just angry with myself for having expected anything else.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Whatever else it is, DA2 is first and foremost a crap game (my opinion etc etc). Story and atmosphere and characters and the rest are important, but decent gameplay is a non-negotiable prerequisite when you’re making a game.

      It’s like having a film with a great script and good actors, but the direction and cinematography are garbage. There’s something decent in there, but you’ve got the fundamentals of the medium all wrong, and it’d work better as a stage play.

    • Jimbo says:

      Origins was very successful commercially -more successful than either Mass Effect game- so there’s no reason it needed to be a ‘blip’. In the event, I don’t think DA2 has moved massively in the wrong direction (I didn’t find Origins to be all that special mind), they just needed to have gone into it planning for a 24 month dev time instead of a 15 month dev time . Personally, I think they were surprised by Dragon Age’s success, and maybe a lot of the decision making regarding DA2 was based on the assumption that it wasn’t going to do very well.

      EA has annual revenues of ~$4 billion. They lost ~$700 million in 2010, ~$1 billion in 2009, ~$500 million in 2008… yet they’re still around. Losing hundreds of millions of dollars isn’t unprecedented for them. It wouldn’t be nothing (far from it) but TOR isn’t gonna land them in any trouble they aren’t already in. As ridiculous as TOR’s budget is (allegedly $300M), it’s about equivalent to what they make from their FIFA game every year.

    • Vinraith says:

      Origins was very successful commercially -more successful than either Mass Effect game- so there’s no reason it needed to be a ‘blip’.

      You’ll notice I didn’t say “big companies don’t publish old-school RPG’s anymore because they don’t sell well.” I don’t honestly know why major publishers are allergic to depth, but I presume it’s less a direct pursuit of cash and more a pursuit of the lowest common denominator (which, in turn, they believe will lead to even more cash). Regardless, it’s an observable fact that major publishers don’t produce old school RPG’s anymore, DA:O was just a singular exception that proves exactly how silly the trend really is.

    • Lilliput King says:

      I don’t understand this conversation. With the exception of the sad loss of friendly fire save on nightmare (moddable back in at reasonable levels of difficulty, but still) the combat is extremely similar to Origins. The main difference to the actual gameplay is that party members respond to instructions immediately rather than waiting for the round to end, but the same trickery was pulled with the baldur’s gate series. All it needs is some clever soul to mod a proper camera back in and it’ll be practically identical.

    • Archonsod says:

      “I think we simply need to make peace with the fact that big companies don’t publish old-school RPG’s anymore. DA:O was a blip that got all our hopes up”

      There was nothing particularly old school about DA:O. No turn based combat, no spreadsheet like character sheets and the combat stuck pretty firmly to aRPG sensibilities. About the only thing I could nominate as being a nod to the old school was it’s habit of stashing random loot pretty much everywhere.

    • malkav11 says:

      Identical except minus lots of skills including a heavy loss of healing abilities and a substantial reduction in crowd control ability. And the giant waves of spawning enemies. And the apparent loss of the normal/lieutenant/boss tiering distinction (though maybe it’s just not highlighted at all anymore). And the heavy nerfing of certain enemies, such as revenants. And the absence of multiple varieties of enemy, such as genlocks and shrieks among the darkspawn (also the children, but those were probably not widespread so I can forgive that). And the removal of spell combos in favor of “cross class combos”, for better or for worse. And something got tweaked so my characters have much less health than they had at similar levels in DA:O – I think you have to put points in constitution to have it go up -at all-, which was not true in the first game. And there’s no top down camera angle. So…not really identical at all. Rather a lot different, in fact. And noticeably worse.

    • Lilliput King says:

      There seems to be pretty much equivalent levels of CC and healing. For the most part the healing skills are very similar, though like in DAO, the only decent ones are character specific. I’ll give you the waves mechanic, it’s awful. The normal/lieutenant/boss thing is clearly still very much in evidence (just look at the health bars), which is a shame because I thought it was rubbish. There are fewer different types of enemies, although given that the enemies all acted (and indeed continue to act) the same, it doesn’t result in the combat being any different (I did say practically identical). I dunno if an enemy having the same name but not the same stats as in the first game is really pertinent. If mage combos were ‘old school’, so are “cross class combos” which are just mage combos that the other classes can initiate.

      The combat remains pretty damn similar, to be honest. The problem with DA2 is that nearly everything else is badly made. It’s dreck in the regular sense of the word.

    • malkav11 says:

      Er, no, there’s really not equivalent levels of healing. In DA:O I had two easily accessible healing spells on every mage – Heal and Regeneration. In addition, I could give them all the Spirit Healer spec for Group Heal and whatever the resurrection spell was called, and neither spell required the activation of a bullshit sustained spell that prevents offensive casting. Also, potions weren’t on cooldowns. In DA2, there is one Heal spell generally accessible, which is on a 30s cooldown. Health potions are also on a 30 second cooldown. Spirit Healer is only accessible to a mage Hawke and Anders (in a limited form), and requires the bullshit sustained spell that turns off offensive casting. Similarly, there isn’t really an equivalent level of crowd control. Some spells that provided it are gone entirely (Mass Paralysis, for example – pretty sure that’s out) and several of the spells that still do exist require one or more upgrades before they apply something resembling the amount of CC they used to. And, of course, there’s no spell combos, so the old Glyph of Paralysis/Glyph of Repulsion combo no longer works. Blood Magic is substantially less immediately usable because of the much lower HP totals and the complete prevention of healing while it’s active.

      I could go on. There are radical changes to almost every facet of how combat operates, for better or for worse, and in my opinion mostly for worse. I can understand feeling differently about whether it’s good, but not feeling it’s the same.

    • Vinraith says:

      There was nothing particularly old school about DA:O. No turn based combat, no spreadsheet like character sheets and the combat stuck pretty firmly to aRPG sensibilities.

      Pausable full party combat with a wide angle tactical view, friendly fire, and a complex variety of ability interactions is definitely closer to old-school RPG combat than modern aRPG combat. The loot system, as you mention, was a simplified version of an old school model as well. The character development was unpleasantly simplified, yes (was hoping for more complexity in the sequel, silly me). Regardless, DA:O was a close enough approximation of old school in enough ways that, for many of us, it scratched that itch. I gather DA2 is scratching that itch for no one.

      They created an RPG franchise designed to evoke old school RPG’s with some modern streamlining, and then proceeded to run full tilt away from those old school sensibilities despite it selling well. That’s the very definition of “exception that proves the rule” in my book.

    • Lilliput King says:

      Malk: Right, but rogues start with a solid area of affect stun, warriors with a taunt, and there’s masses of easily accessible aggro control further down the line with those classes. It’s no longer all on mages, but it’s roughly equivalent. I guess you’re right in general, though. It is different.

      What’s been bothering me about the removal of friendly fire is that it doesn’t seem to make any sense with the game as is. It feels like the game has been designed with FF in mind, and then it’s just been mystifyingly ripped out. Example: That spirit spell that makes corpses explode. It does 100% of the corpse’s max health in spirit damage. That means on non-FF mode, you can send your tank in, gather the enemies around him, throw every damage spell you have at the lieutenant then cast walking bomb on him just before he goes down, and as lieutenants have more than or as much health as every other creature in the mob, it’ll kill the entire group. 8+ people for the price of one, guaranteed, every fight. Absurd.

      With FF on, though, it remains a usable power – you could use it at long range to kill a group of archers, etc – but also the tactic previously detailed remains viable. However, as enemies have vastly more health than PCs, for the tank to have a chance at weathering the storm he is required to be equipped and runed exclusively in that direction, and even then as you don’t know how many HP the enemies will have before you enter the fight you can’t know for certain whether he will survive. So you must commit, possibly to your detriment, there’s risk involved, and there’s a big payoff if you’re lucky and you play it right. The same applies to the mage/warrior freeze/dash combo, and loads of other tactics involving AOEs.

      Just seems really odd, is all.

    • malkav11 says:

      Warriors and rogues had abilities like that previously, as far as I know, although my DA:O party was PC mage, Morrigan, Wynne and Shale, so aside from the very early game and a couple of forced sequences with Alistair/Oghren in the late game, I never really played much with warriors and not at all with rogues. But the mage abilities are substantially fewer and start out much weaker. Hell, where DA:O started you with a decent single target damage spell as a mage, DA2 starts you with Mind Blast, which for the life of me doesn’t seem to do a goddamn thing.

      Now, I’ll readily concede that warriors and rogues needed a redesign – their abilities just weren’t appealing to me (part of why I didn’t take them unless I had to), and the way most of their ability trees were based on the particular weapon loadout they were using severely limited build options – but while it looks like that situation improved somewhat in DA2 (except that both classes have multiple trees that require you to invest points in mutually exclusive sustained abilities to get anywhere – wtf, Bioware), I can’t say as it’s been worth the rest of the changes to me.

    • Lilliput King says:

      The rogue/warrior classes did have CC beforehand, yeah. It feels like they have a more even share of it this time, though. Certainly rogues have a way more interesting time now, as they get loads of aggro-controlling moves. They did noticeably get the short end of the stick in DAO. I guess mages suffer as a result, to some extent. Certainly in the early stages of the game, anyway. They get dramatic game changers later on, and there’s evidence of some really smart design in some places (the way Merill’s unique abilities tie together was pretty good, I thought), but DA kind of started with the game changers. I think the end result of that particular alteration is positive – that mages feel like part of the team rather than all of it – but that’s obviously down to taste. Still, properly involving all three classes in the combat can only be a good thing in terms of gameplay depth.

      I think mind blast is supposed to be a kind of primitive CC. It applies force and diverts attention, though it doesn’t do either of those things particularly well till it’s upgraded. Pretty disheartening to use it and have nothing at all happen in response, I agree. Obvious spell effects intended to big up the player is something both DAs generally do pretty well, so it’s a shame to start with such a weedy spell.

      I’d agree that on balance the changes haven’t been worth it. Half of them seem to have been made quite carefully and conservatively, and the rest by a madman. Still, if they reintroduced friendly fire and a decent camera I might well consider the question a little more carefully, as I do actually like the class rebalancing. With the exception of a few boring abilities, the rogue and warrior trees feel somehow more generous, and the cross class combos are significantly more tactically rewarding than the previous mage ones. Remove the wave mechanics and I think we’d have a marginally improved combat system on our hands.

  16. Freud says:

    I’m on my second play through of DA2. First was mage loving rogue and second is templar hugging mage. It’s becoming clear that the game basically don’t really care what you do or what you say. It’s going to show you the things it wants anyway. Most quests are identical no matter what choice you make (apart from refusing to do it).

    I even had dialog options where my character says (with the blunt icon) “I can’t help you with this” only for the NPC to say “wait” and then the damned quest ends up in my journal anyway. It is in many ways the serious RPG version of Call of Duty.

    But in the end it is an enjoyable fantasy romp if you don’t think too much about it. Combat is action filled and sparkly.

    I didn’t really love DA:O either. It was too long and too uneventful. But it did have better consistency in how it presented the world, better companions and it seemed choices you made mattered more than in the sequel. I didn’t bother with any DLC for the original and won’t for this one.

  17. starclaws says:

    “Richard Huddy, head of GPU developer relations at AMD, says DirectX is holding back game performance”

    That is because they quick develop a game in like 8 months for multiplatform of course. The only time they spend longer than 8 months is if they are building a gaming engine or heavily modifying a game engine. No major company spends more than 8 months because they begin to add in terrible ideas that make gamers go “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?”.

  18. Eight Rooks says:

    Not really sure who to reply to re: Dragon Age 2, but yes, despite my love for the writing and characterisation – so vastly improved over Origins – Bioware really, really need to learn to worldbuild. I was able to suspend my disbelief, otherwise I wouldn’t have put the hours in (about 29 for me, first play, I think). And the way the story stepped away from Bioware’s embarassing attempts at social issues in Origins meant I could avoid thinking about the little details so much – it’s much harder to ignore how clumsy the discussion of racial segregation is and how stupid the design of the elven ghettos are when the game’s constantly yelling ‘LOOK, THIS IS RACIST!!11!!1′ at you. It did help with 2 that I really liked the overhaul they gave the art design – it may have been the same locations over and over, but some of those locations were really nice looking.

    But yes, basically, the laziness and lack of consistency in the setting was inexplicable and markedly detracted from the impact of the game overall. Not really that bothered about combat – I enjoyed the basic game engine even if it was far too easy, and mobs spawning in is regrettable, but not let’s-burn-Edmonton-to-the-ground regrettable. Still, Bioware badly need to understand worldbuilding means more than writing lots of things down in a book and then having characters repeat these things back to you on cue. Compare them to Rockstar, or Sega’s Yakuza team – showing, not telling; if there’s a huge building towering over the skyline you actually get to go there; unique detail; NPCs personalising their environment; if you can’t let them go inside every building at least let them go inside some, to plant the suggestion there’s something behind locked doors… and on, and on.

    It’s a hard game to rate for me since it’s so much of an improvement over the mediocrity running through Origins it’s hard to acknowledge it’s still got some nasty, nasty flaws. But still! KOTOR 2 was a thing of beauty despite being mortally wounded, so eh… I hope The Old Republic was worth it, Bioware, I really do.

  19. spindaden says:

    Seems like you don’t actually win the pc you design in that nerdy competition, just these:

    The winner they will get:

    A copy of Crysis 2 for PC.
    A Thermaltake Tt Esports Black 4000 dpi gaming mouse (worth £30)
    A Thermaltake Tt Esports Challenger Keyboard (Worth £40)
    A Gaming Mouse pad.

    Shame :(

  20. mpk says:

    Dude, you’re not missing anything yet. Stay in hibernation.

  21. Premium User Badge

    Carra says:

    Will someone please think of the ants!

    • Premium User Badge

      jaheira says:

      Thanks ants.

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      If you watch the whole video they show that the excavation is still full of ants. I’m guessing they would likely have just rebuilt their colony in short order if the work crews hadn’t dug everything out for the film.

  22. Soon says:

    The Quiet Babylon article didn’t really go anywhere interesting and seemed a bit abrupt.

    Talking about the implications of game world architecture in the real world sounds great, but I’d want to see mock-ups of bits of a game taken out and inserted into photos. A nightclub would benefit from the layout of a Quake map, would it? Show me!

    • appropriate touching says:

      Being big open DM-unfriendly rooms hasn’t held back clubs like Ministry of Sound, so I think he’s overstating it a bit. However, nightclub-styled DM levels in games can be pretty cool – e.g. the Timesplitters one which felt like it was laid out in a mostly plausible way – so I think he could have at least shown that it’s possible to design something that works in both contexts.

  23. bob_d says:

    Re:”So You Want to Work in the Video Game Industry.” Yup, that’s the way it is.

  24. sfury says:

    That Flashman track is AWESOME!

    Too bad I see no digital buy option :/

  25. patricij says:

    In other news: RPS stil ignores Gemini Rue…one of the best adventures as of late…oh well…

    • malkav11 says:

      There were two articles prerelease?

    • JFS says:

      But it needs a WIT, or something. It’s brilliant, and been out for quite a while. Actually one of the precious few games I finished (I tend to get bored and/or distracted somewhere along the way of most games, but this isn’t one). And big plus, it’s Indie (TM)!

    • Wilson says:

      I really liked Gemini Rue, but I was also kind of deeply disappointed with it as well. I would have liked the plot to focus on the planet and the politics and stuff there rather than what it did focus on. Also, I would have liked it to be longer (but it’s an indie game made for the most part by one guy, so I understand why it wasn’t longer). Still, I had a good time with it, and I’m going to play it through and listen to the dev commentary at some point as well.

    • malkav11 says:

      Sure, I wouldn’t mind a bit of post-release attention. But it’s not like it went completely under the radar.

  26. Gazanator101 says:

    Went to my first RPS social club yesterday, and it’s not everyday you get to have a group hug with Quinns. It was lovely and all sense of hope was restored.

  27. Sondar says:

    Why link to only one extra credits?

    They’re all brilliant.

  28. Wooly says:

    Well, I really liked Dragon Age II. My complaints would be that there was no tactical camera and that they recycle areas (though this doesn’t really bother me that much). Nitpicking silly things like the size of a character’s house is just stupid.

    • Archonsod says:

      The really silly thing is that her house is in fact the smallest you can enter in the game. The only place of a similar size is the Ferelden Import store. Even your uncle gets three rooms in his slum.

  29. BobsLawnService says:

    Poor ants :(

    • Shadram says:

      Seeing the structure of their nest was pretty amazing, though.
      Thanks ants. Thants.

  30. Veracity says:

    if you’re going to draw a crate, you can actually draw ten crates just as fast as far as DirectX is concerned
    Progress!

    That kill the API thing seems to come from something of a parallel universe. I suppose I can see why an Epic or id might want the flexibility, but I’m not sure where adequate consumer demand to make it worth spending money on is supposed to be coming from. It’s also hard to reconcile with a market we keep being told can’t support its existing bloated development costs and that seems regularly to struggle with getting vsync’n'AA toggles into its console ports.

    • bob_d says:

      Yeah, every time he said something about the “developers I talk to” I had to wonder who the hell actually has talks about “what they want” with the hardware guys. I’m guessing it’s the top-AAA making-their-own-engine developers (i.e. Epic, Id and Crytek) who are looking to differentiate their engine from someone else’s just by how shiny the graphics are. For 99.9% of developers, “making things more difficult” is exactly the last thing they want, but for the top 0.1%, who sell games (or engines) based on graphics, they actually have the huge development budgets to deal with stuff like this.

    • SeeBeeW says:

      Yeah, there’s also some general weirdness to what he’s saying. I.e., that programmable shaders don’t provide enough variation from each other over the fixed pipeline, which is a little vague (how much variation is ‘enough’?), but I think kind of intensely misleading anyway. I mean, a major reason behind shader reuse is something like how most UE3 games tend to rely on a lot of the prepackaged shaders, which make said games look a bit samey. Technically you’ve still got enormous leeway in shader architecture. A comment like that strikes me as an attempt to market the concept directly to consumers so developers can use it as a bullet point later.
      Everyone’s really in the business of producing bullet points here. AMD wants more money, so they want to produce more bullet points, but AMD’s bullet points have to go through Microsoft’s bullet points, and Microsoft doesn’t care about anyone’s bullet points but their own, so AMD is trying to convince everyone to ditch Microsoft because then they will be able to make you SO MANY BULLET POINTS to put on the Steam page for Zombie Fist 4, and then you will make all the money.

    • Baboonanza says:

      Besides, I’m not sure what innovation he’s expecting to see. DX11 cards are highly programmable but they are still designed to rasterize polygons and removing the API doesn’t change that. Besides, removing the API is only half the story. What about the graphics card driver?

      if you’re going to draw a crate, you can actually draw ten crates just as fast as far as DirectX is concerned
      Well, yeah. You’ve got to copy the vertex information that represents a crate to the GPU before it’s rendered which is actually a significant amount of work hidden by the API and driver. Once it’s there it’s relatively low-cost to render it multiple times. Even when you render something in immediate mode in OpenGL it’s still doing this behind the scenes.

      So again, removing the API cannot change the fundamental necessities of rendering with an GPU.

      Either the guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about or it’s some sort of push for Fusion, which potentially could change some of that by using a memory pool that’s shared between the CPU and GPU.

  31. ezekiel2517 says:

    I had never heard of the escapist before. Thanks for linking them.

    OH LOOK AT ALL THOSE PRETTY VIDEOS OHHH

    • Lilliput King says:

      Prepare to be disappointed.

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      Lies. There is much hilarity to be found in them thar hills.

    • TsunamiWombat says:

      I regular there, some are really good, some are very bad. Unskippable, Zero Punctuation (their claim to fame), Extra Credits, their reviews, the News Room forum, are the best bits. Don’t get too excited about the comedy stuff. Except Doraleus and Associates and maybe Unforgotten Realms.

      TASTE THE STING OF CANADIAN LUMBER, KOBOLD SCUM.

  32. MD says:

    “# This is a rather nerdy competition to win a top-notch PC.”

    Looks like the prize is actually just a copy of the game and a mouse + keyboard + mousepad :(

  33. Tei says:

    This “So-You-Want-to-Work-in-the-Video-Game-Industry” is amazing.