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BioWare On Building a Community For Dragon Age

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the let-me-tell-you-a-story dept.

Role Playing (Games) 34

Ray Muzyka, co-founder of BioWare, sat down with Gamasutra to discuss upcoming RPG Dragon Age: Origins, as well as some of the features they're working on for release alongside the game. In particular, they are interested in building a framework for players to show off their characters and share stories about the gameplay they encounter. "We're creating a community site that's going to enable the fans to get revved up about what each other is doing. They're showing their choices and consequences to friends. Even though it's single-player, you can still reveal those choices to each other and have fun doing it. It enables some of that stuff that occurs anecdotally amongst friends at the water cooler: 'Hey, did you play this yet? Did you go this way?' 'No, I didn't run into that. I did it this way.' 'Really? I didn't run into that at all!' You can meet people who are across the world and enable them to see those kinds of things, too, which I think will lead to a lot of fun discussion and collaboration in the community."

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34 comments

Where's the Mac OS X client? (-1, Troll)

SL Baur (19540) | more than 4 years ago | (#29283127)

Oh wait, it's published by EA and sure to suck. Never mind.

BioWare - Downhill Since BG 1&2 (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29283217)

Baldur's Gate was amazing.

Baldur's Gate II was amazing.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic was ok.

Jade Empire was meh.

Mass Effect was an embarrassment.

Selling out to EA just made it official. They either lost the magic the had back in the BG days or simply don't give a shit anymore.

Re:BioWare - Downhill Since BG 1&2 (2, Informative)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 4 years ago | (#29283245)

You completely left out Neverwinter Nights.  You know, community going strong 6 years & running.  Almost the Starcraft of RPGs.

Jade Empire was pretty fun too, so your taste in games obviously ain't that great anyhow.

Re:BioWare - Downhill Since BG 1&2 (2, Insightful)

palemantle (1007299) | more than 4 years ago | (#29283315)

Not to mention Knights of the Old Republic (2003), Mass Effect (2007) and Mass Effect (2009), both excellent RPGs or hybrid RPGs in their own rights.
Bioware continues to release really solid games.

Mass Effect??? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29283349)

You have to be joking...

The game wasn't even an RPG. Silly high rez screenshots. Shitty in game graphics. Clunky combat. Tons of glitches and bugs. And worst of all, nothing you did actually affected the story line in any meaningful way.

BioWare let themselves get caught up in trying to promote the game as some sort of proof of the Xbox 360's graphical power instead of the actual gameplay itself. Ended up failing on both accounts.

Re:Mass Effect??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29284801)

get your nose out of the air mate, it was a fun game and while not a classic style RPG was a decent Action RPG that had lots of style in its own right.

Re:BioWare - Downhill Since BG 1&2 (1)

SL Baur (19540) | more than 4 years ago | (#29283251)

Selling out to EA just made it official. They either lost the magic the had back in the BG days or simply don't give a shit anymore.

It sounds like a cool game and I might buy it if it were available on a Mac even if it is EA. I've had too many bad experiences with EA titles to really trust them.

Re:BioWare - Downhill Since BG 1&2 (1)

Salgak1 (20136) | more than 4 years ago | (#29284389)

Indeed. Anyone remember a certain flaming turd called Hellgate: London, pushed out to fail by EA ? Forums rife with publisher censorship ? Hell, HGL CREATED the word "flagshipped [urbandictionary.com] " as synonymous with epic game management failure, much of which can be attributed to EA pushing to deliver before really ready. . .

Re:BioWare - Downhill Since BG 1&2 (3, Insightful)

darthvader100 (1482651) | more than 4 years ago | (#29283355)

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic was perfect.

Jade Empire was amazing.

Mass Effect was fun, for a RPG/FPS.

There, fixed it for you...

You say KotOR was ok? and it won like 30-40 Game of the year awards? are you sure we are talking about the same game?

And while Jade Empire was not perfect, it was still extremely fun(from the guy who is playing it for a third time...)

Michael Bolton - Multiple Grammy Winner (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29283399)

The guy must be great!

Re:BioWare - Downhill Since BG 1&2 (1)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 4 years ago | (#29283809)

You're entitled to your opinion, but clearly a lot of people don't share it.

Re:Where's the Mac OS X client? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29283223)

So let's see, you have to use Microsoft Windows because that's the only platform that runs games, but when anyone else requests games on other platforms that's dumb because no one writes games for those platforms. Great logic!

Hey Everyone! It's A 'Mac Gamer'! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29283317)

Everyone point at the retard and laugh...

Re:Where's the Mac OS X client? (1)

je ne sais quoi (987177) | more than 4 years ago | (#29284909)

There's no linux client either. NWN was absolutely the most amazing game not because of the graphics (which were better elsewhere), not because of the single-player story-line (which was mediocre), not because of the game mechanics (which had problems), but because they wrote versions for everybody (Windows, OS X, and linux), they kept updating it until a couple of years ago, and they let people run their own servers as well as opened up the content to the community. There was a huge community of people who just loved making their own 3D models of armor, weapons, creatures and other stuff. I can't believe that bioware didn't make a boat-load of cash on nwn, why haven't they learned their lesson and tried to reproduce it with a more modern game?

Incidentally, I'd love to have an honest to goodness MMORPG that was open source. Heck, I bet all of the community models for nwn could be used since I've never actually found a license for any of it.

Does Anyone Actually Care About BioWare Anymore? (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29283261)

After that stinking pile of fail Mass Effect, BioWare getting eaten up by EA is of little consequence.

To go from Baldur's Gate where people are still playing the game in new ways to this very day to Mass Effect where BioWare seemed to be entirely focused on putting out silly fake Unreal Engine marketing shots of faces than actual rpg gameplay. One linear story with some token choices along the way that have no effect on the actual storyline.

Interest level in the next project. Zero.

 

Re:Does Anyone Actually Care About BioWare Anymore (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29283637)

Your face sucks! :P

No, really, I enjoyed both Baldur's Gate and Mass Effect. I don't know why anybody would only like the kind of RPG Baldur's Gate was and nothing else. Mass Effect was a good game on its own merits and did have some role-playing in it. Some of that even affected the story line--yes, it did. Or would you not count saving or killing a party member a consequence?

Re:Does Anyone Actually Care About BioWare Anymore (1)

_PimpDaddy7_ (415866) | more than 4 years ago | (#29283923)

Mass Effect fail? LOL

Clearly you have no idea what you are talking about. Mass Effect was a great game and created many new fans for BioWare. If ME2 improves on ME few setbacks, it will prove a great game.

My only concern is the economy right now.

The first DLC was pretty good, but the second, Pinnacle Station was terrible and a waste.

But overall, the Mass Effect story is really good.

Re:Does Anyone Actually Care About BioWare Anymore (1)

Lemming Mark (849014) | more than 4 years ago | (#29284097)

I agree, Mass Effect was awesome and well worth repeat playthroughs. What it perhaps lost, compared so some RPGs, in the multitude of paths through the game (although there was still a decent amount of choice here) it more than won back through the cinematic presentation, well-directed cutscenes and great voice acting + dialogue. It felt like playing through a great movie. And your choices could have pretty epic effects on the fate of your party and the galaxy - effects which will be carried through to ME2 and ME3, continuing to affect the plot!

Both the DLCs, on Xbox Live, were very competitively priced - you paid less and got more than most DLC available on there. It's a shame Pinnacle Station didn't have more plot, I'd heard it hyped up (though this was subsequently somewhat withdrawn) as more than that. However, the combat in Mass Effect was pretty fun, esp with advanced use of powers. Being able to indulge in combat whenever I want rather than just when the missions allow it is probably worth the amount I paid - it's just perhaps not quite such good value as the more substantial plot-based additions from Bring Down The Sky. I really like the way they simply enlarged the game world with the DLC, rather than tacking on extra missions for those who had completed the game. It would be slightly unfortunate to have to play through the game again to get to the DLC except for the fact that the game is *worth* playing through again!

I've heard that the DRM on Mass Effect harmed its adoption on the PC platform and annoyed a lot of people. On the Xbox the DRM is no more obnoxious than for any other game, thankfully - no phoning home, unlike the PC version and no install limits.

Re:Does Anyone Actually Care About BioWare Anymore (1)

walshy007 (906710) | more than 4 years ago | (#29284117)

Mass effect may be a decent game, but baldurs gate 1 and 2 are considered by many to be the gold standard of rpgs, the attention to detail and quality in them is pretty darn hard to equal, let alone surpass.

Eh. (1)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 4 years ago | (#29285861)

I liked the BGs; I like Mass Effect more. (I don't love its combat system, but BG's was the weak point of those games for me, too.) I say this as someone who was an old-school FR/D&D gamer and who generally doesn't care for the kind of Sci-Fi that ME's setting/story is.

They're all good games and what appeals to you more is largely, I think, a matter of personal taste.

Really, the gamers want this? (3, Insightful)

readthemall (1531267) | more than 4 years ago | (#29283271)

What about moderation on such site and deleting content that the company doesn't want others to see? It has happened before.

The community is mature enough to create their own sites, and these sites are usually much better and useful then the sites provided by the companies creating and publishing games. Just look at Wikia gaming [wikia.com] , Strategywiki [strategywiki.org] , and so on.

Re:Really, the gamers want this? (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29283427)

... and so on

Well, quite. The official forums form a useful first port of call for all players, and if the idea is to brag about your 1337 character build, then presumably you want the biggest audience for your ego.

When the Forum Nazis take over, then 3rd party sites become necessary, but proactive fragmenting of the community seems a little premature.

Re:Really, the gamers want this? (1)

readthemall (1531267) | more than 4 years ago | (#29283459)

I do agree, to some extent. A community site can have news, forums, guides, maps, and many other useful sections.

The official site is good for news and updates. It is the first place where one should go if he needs the news from the source.

On the other hand, for forums, guides, maps, trading, and other similar stuff the non-official community sites are just better.

Meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29284147)

Why would they make it single player only? NWN was an amazing game. I started playing it because it had a Linux port. I kept playing it because of the toolkit and scripting language, and collaborating on a project with friends.

NWN2 (Obsidian, not BioWare) was a huge letdown. Between not adding many of the promised features, the PWC files that needed to be distributed to connect to a server, crippling bugs at launch, and general uglyness of all the character models, I barely even played it.

Dragon Age sounded like it was going to be the NWN replacement, with modern graphics and BioWare's own rules instead of D&D. When they announced it was going to be single player only, it was a huge letdown.

Wait a minute... (1)

Virak (897071) | more than 4 years ago | (#29284215)

We're creating a community site that's going to enable the fans to get revved up about what each other is doing. They're showing their choices and consequences to friends. Even though it's single-player, you can still reveal those choices to each other and have fun doing it. It enables some of that stuff that occurs anecdotally amongst friends at the water cooler: 'Hey, did you play this yet? Did you go this way?' 'No, I didn't run into that. I did it this way.' 'Really? I didn't run into that at all!' You can meet people who are across the world and enable them to see those kinds of things, too, which I think will lead to a lot of fun discussion and collaboration in the community.

Is this supposed to be some sort of social networking web 2.0 porn site? Because that's what it sounds like.

Re:Wait a minute... (1)

Dr. Impossible (1580675) | more than 4 years ago | (#29322821)

To me it sounds like... a forum. Just an ordinary forum.

Is it suprising that BioWare is apparently re-inventing the wheel? No, because in another BioWare interview they talked about inventing adventure games. I mean what they were describing was simply an adventure game, but they were making it seem like some totally new concept.

I don't know what their problem is.

Dragon Age will never have the community of NWN (5, Interesting)

Kirin Fenrir (1001780) | more than 4 years ago | (#29284527)

The reason is entirely because of custom content. Despite the increased graphics of Dragon Age, the toolset is extremely limited in comparison to the 8-year-old NWN1(and much further behind the clunky, but powerful NWN2 toolset).

From early testers, here's the list of missing features and/or limitations: some of these are insane.


From: _______________________________________

The following aren't in the game, probably as no surprise to anybody at this point:

-Multiplayer/DM client.

-Climbing.

-Jumping.

-Swimming.

-Mounts.

-Pushing/grabing objects around in real time.

-Path over path. You can do this but the pathfinding doesn't support it. In drive mode it works fine, but if you move with point and click or use scripting to move a creature it fails.


The following can be done, but only in hacky ways and were rarely done in the main campaign:

-Day/night. This can only be done with area transitions. No real time

-Placing/picking up objects in the world. Unlike NWN, you can't drop items into the world, or pick up anything that's not in a container. For picking up you have to put placeables into the world (and no model exists for most items). For placing you'd have to put an invisible placeable into the world which you click on, which spawns another placeable.

-Destroyable environments. Placeables can be destroyed, but they tend to stick beucase the lighting is different, especially large ones that you're trying to disguise as part of the background level art. Our artists have found ways to bake the lighting texture into the diffuse texture to pull a decent blend off, but it's hacky and hard to maintain.

-Ambient usage of objects. You can't hook an extra object up to an animation. So for instance, outside of a cutscene, you can't have people drinking from mugs, or working a forge with tools. We actually figured out too late that you can do this with visual effects, so hopefully the community can do a better job of it that we did.


Things that were in NWN that are different/missing from DA:

-Runtime local variables. All variables stored on an object have to be declared in a 2da.

-Custom equipment. NWN was more flexibile in allowing outfits to be made piece by piece and selecting different colours. DA's armors are one piece and the tinting is limited.

-Accessing objects. You can only grab/effect objects which are in the player's current area. If you want to change things in other areas, you set plot flags and update the other area in the area load script.

-Beam Effects. DA doesn't have beam visual effects.

-Using items. Plot items can't be usable in DA, and generally making items that are not consumed when used is a bit painful.

-Instancing. NWN allows you to modify any property of a placed object. DA has a much smaller list of instanced properties, and expects you to use more templates. I quite like the system, but it might take getting used to.

-Scaling. Creatures and placeables have a fixed size. NWN didn't have scaling, and neither does DA.

-Putting items into containers. DA doesn't let the player drag items from their inventory into a container. This functionality is actually included in the engine and can be accessed by changing a parameter in the function call to open the inventory, but users of the custom content probably won't realize they can do this.

-Placeable actions. Unlike NWN where the player can pretty much do any action on any placeable, DA only supports one action per placeable at a time. The state controller has a list of states and each one has an action. So a placeable can be bashed, or it can be examined, or it can be used, or it can be a container, or it can be an area transition or it can be locked, but it can't be multiple of these simultaneously. We did at one point have a second action accessed by shift-click, but I think we cut every place we used it in the main campaign and we might have cut the functionality from the engine. It's something to look into, but even then you're looking at two actions per placeable and not a radial menu.

Re:Dragon Age will never have the community of NWN (1)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 4 years ago | (#29284839)

That's uhm, wierd.

Re:Dragon Age will never have the community of NWN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29284985)

Wow, that's pathetic. I never played NWN, but Morrowind had most of those features, and Oblivion had them all in its own way except for multiplayer. If only BioWare could learn from a company that makes games in the same genre.

Re:Dragon Age will never have the community of NWN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29285221)

That sounds like game features, not toolset limitations.

Re:Dragon Age will never have the community of NWN (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29286365)

It's like Neverwinter Nights, only less so!

Let's face it; the golden age of PC gaming is over. It peaked with games like Morrowind and Neverwinter Nights, when you could buy one game and with the community built around it end up with fifty games' worth of extra content. Then the companies who made the games saw that and thought, "There's a market here. Forget letting the community create the content; let's make it ourselves and charge for it." Thus free community content morphed into paid Downloadable Content. The customizability of games these days is therefore an afterthought, if it's there at all.

It's the same thing with getting rid of LAN play, which is all about reducing piracy. If you have to log into their servers every time you play multiplayer, they can validate you and make sure you're not a stinkin' pirate. I can understand the attitude and sympathize with it somewhat, but it's still a symptom of a serious problem with games these days: the design department is subservient to the marketing department. They would rather make an inferior game that brings in more money than a superior game that brings in less.

I'll admit that to a certain extent, they have to do that, otherwise they end up with something like Duke Nukem Forever, trying to accomplish so much without regard to how they're going to pay for it that it never does get made. I just think most game companies these days have lost the thrill of making games for the sake of making them, and now just see dollar signs everywhere.

Re:Dragon Age will never have the community of NWN (2, Interesting)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 4 years ago | (#29288775)

Not true. Only the big companies like EA have sucked the fun out of making games for their drones (and hence why I never purchase a game the minute I see EA as involved with it). There are plenty of great games out there, you are not force to by substandard crap if you don't want to.

Re:Dragon Age will never have the community of NWN (1)

Dr. Impossible (1580675) | more than 4 years ago | (#29322799)

Let's face it; the golden age of PC gaming is over. It peaked with games like Morrowind and Neverwinter Nights, when you could buy one game and with the community built around it end up with fifty games' worth of extra content.

Neither Morrowind nor NWN can match the modding capabilities of FPS games. Also, NWN was pretty lame as a game.

Maturity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29285489)

What type of maturity level can BioWare expect when the use a song call "The New Shit" by Manson as a PR tool for Dragon Age?
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