|Dragon Age Official Forum Highlights & Comments For select forum posts by the game developers collected from the official Dragon Age forums, as well as comments on them. All the news items posted here also appear on the DA official forum news page of Sorcerer's Place.|
|Mon, 27th Aug '07, 10:46pm||#1|
Here are today's Dragon Age forum highlights, taken from the Dragon Age Official Forum. Please take into account that these are only single parts of various threads and should not be taken out of context. Bear in mind also that the posts presented here are copied as-is, and that any bad spelling and grammar does not get corrected on our end.
David Gaider, Lead Writer
How does DA deal with random and unnamed characters/enemies?
Why would it be a nice touch? Nice how? What purpose would it serve? These nameless characters are there strictly for ambient purposes. You watch a movie and there are extras milling about every city, for the sole purpose of adding to the ambience. Would that movie be improved if you knew the name of every one of those extras?
I don't think it would. Maybe if you could talk with every one of them and get to know them, but they won't have such dialogue simply because they are part of the scenery.
Ambient characters do have some lines, just as they did in BG or most of our other games -- and in DA these lines can change during the game based on what's happened plot-wise -- but I doubt most people will even see them, to be honest. As with these extras themselves, these lines are strictly for ambience.
Bio writers approach to creating characters
There actually isn't as much of a process as you'd think. As I recall, when it came time to thinking of party members, we sat around in a big room and threw out ideas for characters we wanted to try writing. Then we would have the usual discussion where either there would be mumbled support for one or another idea that someone really had their heart set on gets shot down for some idiotic reason. You know how it goes.
So then we have a tentative list as a first draft. That list will slowly change over time as developments in the plot require this or that from the party members -- party member X now gets associated with this plot, so has to be some NPC's son. Or is now a mage because we didn't have enough of those, and so we decide to change his concept a little. Or he becomes an elf.
And then, much later, we sit down and talk about the characters in detail when it's time to actually write them... and by that time we probably have a mostly different writing staff (true for DA, at least, as most of our writers moved on to ME or elsewhere and were replaced by the Estrogen Trio). Since these writers never came up with the original idea, now we need to sit down and find a way to make the concept work for them so it's writeable. And we talk about how the characters interact. Or how this character seems boring -- how can we make them interesting? Blah blah blah.
And then we sit down to write the characters individually. And chances are they change a bit again. "Oh, he just didn't sing, didn't dance for me. So I decided to make him into a talking bear." "Oh? How interesting."
Well, maybe not a talking bear -- we don't actually allow talking animals in DA as a rule -- but you get what I mean, I hope. It's an evolution. Maybe we should try the adjectives in a bag thing sometime.
Magic System and Magic in the DA 2
I don't know that it needs to be so completely different. The mage class has talent trees just as the other classes do -- the difference being that, with the mage, these talents have spells associated with them. As with the other classes, the mage can choose to be a generalist and select basic talents from all four schools of magic if he wishes -- or he can specialize, which (just as with other classes) is the only way you are going to be able to access the really powerful spells.
No, it's not that. I don't mind the use of the elements in a symbolic sense, but basing the magic system around them wouldn't be very interesting in my opinion.
Without going into detail on what they consist of (and I won't, so don't ask), the four spell schools are: Creation, Entropy, Spirit and Primal. Keep in mind that these are also not at all final and could change at any time.
Gay characters and/or romances within D. A. - Part unknown
What needs clarification, exactly. I said where we stand on the issue. I'm no more going to say whether there will be gay characters or gay romance in DA then I will any other kind of characters or romances -- dwelling on the gay specifically is a bit pointless.
Not every concept is going to turn out like you thought it would, and in those cases the concept was interesting enough to try. In at least one case I think part of the interest was in seeing if such a romance would even be acceptable. Frankly, I don't think we've yet taken a shot at an actual, full gay romance.
Whether we'd ever do that, or should, is difficult to say. If the only reason behind it was for parity, however, I'd be no more interested in it than I would in including extra female-oriented romances solely for the sake of parity.
You're quite right, Gromnir -- this is an area where the zots argument doesn't really apply. But it's not specific to this alone. There are going to be a number of small features that are pretty limited in their interest and overall don't add a lot to the game -- but we're going to include them anyhow because there is a certain value in them even so. If games were constructed entirely out of things that were there only because the numbers crunched said that more than 50% of the player base would see them/want them -- then I think that game's going to be missing a certain spark.
As you said, not all zots are created equal.
That said, any such feature could not cost a great deal, either. The number of zots we would spend on a gay anything would necessitate that it be pretty limited. The idea that I would or could include a character that is gay and only meant to be gay and a full romance option only for gay players -- that's a bit hard to justify all around, despite any argument as to whether that's politically correct or even interesting from a writing standpoint. The fact that there are people out there who would really enjoy such a thing does ameliorate it somewhat, but the amount of work that can go into such a feature is by its nature very limited. And that's just reality.
Ultimately, the argument that we "must" include gay romances holds about as much water as the idea that we "must" include other minorities or any other politically correct nonsense -- if the intended audience doesn't justify the zots, the only way it's going to be included is if one of us developers finds the idea interesting (and I mean personally intriguing). And for all the people that bring this up in these threads I've yet to hear someone who brought it up in a way that didn't make it sound like it was meant to address some social inequity.
Because you know what? A character whose main feature and/or purpose in the game is that they are homosexual?
Now I'm getting scolded?
Whatever. I believe I was very clear and have said all I'm going to say on the subject. And if I take into account things that have been brought up in other threads than this one, such as the (recent) thread on why we should include more ethnic minorities, that's my business.
But I'll leave you guys to discuss this topic. Please keep it civil or it's going to get locked down. Thanks.
I do believe that Grom's only point was that gay romance doesn't exactly add much to the game itself that regular romances don't already, and thus the time it takes to put them in is hard to justify. Putting them in as part of a social agenda is out of place, especially in a fantasy setting, and the only other reason to do so is because they are "different and interesting" -- which, while arguable, still doesn't provide a justification for the effort. And I mean a quantifiable justification, of course -- don't mix that up. When it comes to assigning zots (or work-hours, if you will), things that are purely aesthetic don't count for much.
That's my impression, anyhow, and if so I certainly don't disagree with him. Nobody has said anything to explain why gay romances are worthwhile in and of themselves other than that the poster themselves might like them -- and really I don't think there's anything else that can be said.
Really, if any gay romance gets added to DA it will be because the writer in question found it interesting to do so. It can't be justified otherwise as a game feature, but as I said before that doesn't necessarily mean a very limited amount of zots couldn't be put towards such a thing if we cared to -- purely aesthetic touches may not count for much, but they do count for a little. We just need to be very choosy, as zots are in very limited quantity in these parts.
-- The thing I really hate about threads like these is that they put one issue under a microscope and suddenly everyone involved starts blowing it up and presuming the entire game hinges on this one thing. There is a whole other game out there, one to which the whole notion of romances (gay or not) is pretty tertiary. Let's not forget that.
I don't know about a social agenda... but we do tend to be pretty open-minded as a rule, and at least as far as writing goes this is still kind of no man's land and thus might pique our interest to include. But we're not making a "statement" with that than any other part of our game, really.
Personally, I'd be very much fine with having a game that has no romances at all. There are definitely other areas that the effort could be applied -- romances, gay or straight, are by no means the only way to go. There are some very cool possibilities.
I believe I already addressed this in my last post. Perhaps you skimmed over that part. Just because there might be some tiny segment of the player base out there that would appreciate it is not reason enough alone to include something -- if that were the case, where does such a thing end? You could use such reasoning to then justify almost anything. After all, somebody out there is going to like it. We have some discretion when it comes to little things we can put in, but ultimately our zots must go where they provide the most payback.
Because we are not here to make a social statement. And be careful about saying what an influence we are on the young -- because you cannot have it both ways. We cannot both be an influence on the young in good ways and then claim innocence when the PTA hordes descend upon us for our violent and deviant ways. Either we are an influence or we are not -- and we choose simply to be entertainment.
The only reason to get up in arms and say we should be including gay romances is because you feel there is some kind of social inequity that prompts it. Not unlike those folks who get upset when they feel there is inequity when there are more male-oriented romances than female -- that's not fair! Where does fairness come into it? We are not here to dole out romances with political fairness and equity in mind -- we do what we feel will be enjoyable with the little time that we have. We do not do it for congratulations or to appease anyone, and just because you can imagine that it might be "kinda cool" please do consider that there are a hundred other things that we consider which are also kinda cool and which we discard with great reluctance. I am not saying whether gay romances will or won't be one of them for DA, but if they are it will be because we focussed on something else. No other reason.
NPCs doing Quests!
That's where I'd sit on this one. It seems a bit pointless to actually put together a quest, with dialogue et al, if the player need not even experience it.
I wouldn't mind the idea of party members being sent off to perform some kind of tasks -- like gathering ingredients in the woods for your potions, going off and selling loot that you hand off to them, or even going off and stealing money on their own. These are tasks that could be set up fairly easily as a game system -- they're gone for X amount of time and when they come back, they either will or won't have completed their task (or will have had complications, perhaps as a quest set-up). Having them perform quests that you yourself could otherwise do, however? No, that makes no sense. That would be like asking them to play the game for you. What's the point?
Keep in mind that the petrified adventurers in ToB was a specifically-scripted thing. It's one thing to have a one-off scripted sequence. It's quite another to have a system that would allow for the same thing to occur whenever the player desired.
Well, if we're talking about specifically scripted events, then sure... there's no reason why that wouldn't be possible. The real question is whether or not it's worthwhile. In some cases I could see the benefit of sending a party member off to perform some part of the quest that you wouldn't want the player to do personally, but in those cases that would have to be the only way that quest was completed (as in it's scripted that way). Having content which the player could send a party member to experience for him seems a bit pointless.
Mods/Addon handling in DA?
We haven't gotten to the point where we'll know just how friendly DA will be to mod -- but I doubt it will be very. It's not NWN, after all, so it's not like we'll be producing lots of wizards and helpers to speed you along your way. You'll just have access to our tools (which are, mind you, powered by pure awesome).
Or at least that's my assumption.
Mythical DA Creatures
Err... well the original question related to whether or not there would be any mystery to the monsters in Dragon Age. And considering that the DA player knows no more about these creatures than his character will, you'll be learning about these creatures together -- a very different place from D&D where the lore is so firmly established that deviations of any kind often border on heresy.
I don't suppose the fact that you pedantically point out exactly how a D&D skeleton could, indeed, kick your butt strikes you as a bit ironic? To me, that's an excellent example of what I was talking about.
There will be a codex of lore that you can examine which will expand as you encounter new things in the game, acquire books, and so forth. Unless I'm mistaken, this will include lore on creatures.
Magic Equipment Restrictions
As has been mentioned above, the fact that there is no good/evil meter means that there's no way to hook items to it nor any way for the items themselves to be intrinsically good or evil. This may have worked fine in BG with the D&D alignment system, but I don't think it's particularly compelling or necessary -- if we want to restrict the use of an item, there are other explanations for magical wards other than "you're too evil/good".
Faith is not a source of magical power.
Why is basic survival always optional?
All the hand-wringing over the possibility of being stripped of your party members is a bit amusing -- but only because I already know it doesn't happen at any point in DA. You can fight alone at your option, and there are some battles where you fight alone which are not critical path, but at no point do we strip you of your party as an attempt to "mix things up a little".
Combat is a big part of the game. It will be a big part of Dragon Age, as well -- not just by virtue of the gameplay, but by virtue of the story.
As I said, combat is a big part of Dragon Age. One big way to get XP is through killing things. Some fights are avoidable (and in those cases you would tend to get the XP you would have gotten for fighting them, if not more), but many are not.
I'm not sure how this ties into your whole idea about having "options" for classes -- the party set-up is a tactical one, and thus primarily meant to deal with combat and the roles of each part member in a combat situation. This does not mean that everything thus automatically hearkens to D&D. DA might not be what you're looking for, I don't know, but you do seem to be making a lot of strange assumptions.
So... unless you create your own party members, you will thus be forced to take along the same characters every time? In the larger sense that's true -- there is a finite number of party members possible -- but I think the idea is that we would provide party members in sufficient variety so that you could assemble a team that focused on the roles that you find preferable. I'm sure some people will think certain characters are "obviously" better than others, but my experience with that is that it's always subjective.
You will do some of those things you mentioned, but the focus is still overall on combat. I'm not sure why that should be surprising. This was true even with BG and BG2 -- those games were about 80% combat-focused. Does this make them not RPG's? If so, I'd say that's a pretty narrow view that's setting yourself up for disappointment, as there aren't many RPG's out there in that case. That's especially true if you're expecting less combat from Fallout 3, I'm afraid.
What you say is interesting, and I'm sure there may be some games that focus on that, but I'm not sure what you want is what we're making. That said, a focus on combat doesn't mean DA will be all combat like a FPS any more than BG2 was. Considering that all our games have had a similar focus on combat, I'm not sure what it was you were expecting.
A humorous female joinable NPC?
You know what's a bit strange? At one point we actually did sit down and tried to think of how we could write a comedic female character -- and the problem we encountered is that, while there are indeed some comedic archetypes that work for female characters there are less of them than work for male.
Specifically the slapstick archetype just doesn't seem to work as well. Any character that requires a degree of self-deprecation (Minsc comes to mind, or Xan) just seems less funny if he character is female. Perhaps it's a cultural thing? I'm not sure. Everyone might not feel the same, but I know we writers did -- and that's really the important part, because if we don't find it funny then you sure won't.
In the end, we did come up with a few female comedic idea -- characters that were funny either due to their wit or simply because of how they played against type. Even so, they weren't the knee-slapping variety and we ended up abandoning the notion because it seemed a bit forced.
That's pretty much it. I don't consider Imoen a comedic character, for instance -- she had some funny lines, but that's not what her character was about. Personally, I'm not sure that Viconia or Jaheira even had many funny lines. And, in the end, I'm not sure that we need a female character that is also primarily comedic. They need not all be the ultra-serious, purse their lips, tug their braids type either, mind you.
I should perhaps clarify that I see a big difference between a character that is occasionally funny and a comedic character -- which is a character that is primarily intended for comedy.
In the right circumstances any character can be funny. I don't think there's a single party member in DA that doesn't get a laugh or two somewhere. It's very easy for a character to be funny, especially if they've any wit to them. We had no problem imagining a female character that was funny because they were witty, as I already said, and there are plenty of examples out there.
What we were aiming for was a female comedic character, and one that also worked as a functional party member. And I only observe that it was much more difficult than with a male character, nothing more. You would think that gender alone wouldn't affect how funny a character might be, but it does. Make Minsc a female character and is he suddenly quite as funny? I don't think so. Perhaps it's just me, but the other writers felt the same.
More emotional NPCs
Having people scream in terror sounds good in theory until you step into the voice-recording studio, I've found. There seems to be a fine line, it seems, between "more emotive" and "cringe-worthy".
You guys complain about how annoying your party members are now, and you want them to start screaming in terror and getting the jitters?
Huh. What a cacophany that would be, being followed by a party of characters that is constantly grunting, moaning, singing and farting. You'd have to yell at them to keep the racket down just to engage in some stealth every now and again, from the sounds of it.
Oh, I don't mind the idea of making characters seem more responsive and even humane -- though it does make me wonder whence came these zombie-like NPC's that everyone seems to be picturing -- I just don't think some people realize what it would be actually like should they receive what they're asking for.
To a degree, it's already something we're aiming for anyhow. In the NWN expansions we had party members commenting on their surroundings more and even just making little comments aloud from time to time -- in addition to banter. And we're always trying to make the player respond emotionally, if we can. From experience, however, I simply know that it's a short step to reach the realm of over-acting and annoying -- and if I poke a bit of fun it's only because my first thought is always to try and picture how something would actually be implemented. Very often things that seem good in theory just do not work well in practice. But it could be that I'm just not understanding what's being asked for. Some of them are things we already do. The rest -- making characters more obviously "emotional" -- is well-intentioned but difficult to picture not being either unintentionally funny or possibly annoying.
NWN2 was not one of our games. And while the comment is fair for KotOR, that is one of the reasons that we started adding those kind of party comments in the NWN expansions -- which came afterwards.
So I gathered, but that's a long time ago for me. As it is, the stuff where party members comment on the world as you move through it is something we will retain from the expansions.
The passing of info between game development teams
Art, Design and Programming can still be broken down further.
Design, for instance, consists of Writers (such as myself) as well as Technical Designers (such as Georg), with some people (like Ferret) doing a bit of both. Technical Designers are the people who do all the implementation -- they do the scripting, they put together the levels and provide all the stats to the models and some of them, like Georg, focus on the game systems themselves. So Georg has a lot of say on the combat system, the magic system and so forth. We all have input on these things, but those things would be Georg's particular bailiwick just as setting and story would be mine.
Well, as far as I can tell, if you don't have to choose between who you take into your party and who you leave behind where you found them, that means your choices don't matter. Never mind that the party members in your camp can't be swapped out wherever you happen to be (you have to actually return to the camp, which is not always possible or a simple matter) and the arrangement is only slightly more convenient than, say, BG/BG2 where you would simply have to travel to wherever you left the rejected NPC's behind -- no, THIS arrangement means there are no consequences.
Well, it's one point of view, I suppose. I'm not sure what there is to get heated and indignant about, however -- you neither know how the camp system works nor do you know anything about the context of the game system it fits into. If you're so certain it's terrible (or wonderful, for that matter), I'm pretty certain that you're filling in the blanks from somewhere. Before you guys get all excited, please do keep in mind that this is indeed what you are doing.
My original point about you all not knowing everything about the camp system was meant simply to say that there's no point getting upset over a system that you don't know all the details of -- and what details you do know you don't know their context.
And, no, I'm not going to explain it. Sorry.
Please keep a civil tongue here, thanks -- I don't care who you do or don't like or how misunderstood you feel. If you want to discuss the virtues or lack thereof of game systems, fully understood or not, that's great. Personal attacks and inflammatory remarks will not be tolerated.
Yeah, this is pretty much a no-brainer. You aren't actually allowed to spell "epic" unless you pound the word out in bruises on the backside of something sinister with a club first wielded by a heroic ancestor that carved it from the thigh bone of a dragon large enough to swallow a mountainside.
Well, that may not be a rule so much as a guideline, I guess. *shrug*
If part of the game is having you make choices amongst limited skill-sets, why would we negate that by allowing you to swap between them like that? Why have seperate weapon skills at all at that point?
So long as every weapon skill is a valid option -- as in you don't unwittingly decide to specialize in something where there are no decent selections available to you -- I don't think we need to promote metagaming, like telling you that the best weapon available in the game is a flail just so you can make sure your character has that skill maxed out ahead of time. Why would we do that? Why would you want us to do that?
Chris Priestly, Community Coordinator
Bio writers approach to creating characters
Focus testing is getting external testers (usually local Edmonton volunteers) to come in and play through part or all of the game and provide feedback.
It is something we started doing with Jade Empire, but we have done it pretty much ever since.
Stanley Woo, QA Ninja
Bio writers approach to creating characters
Someone who is well-read and has a passion for writing. Really, that's all the background you need to be a game writer. Specific employers may require other things, but that's really all you need to get started, just like any other writing job.
Georg Zoeller, Designer
Attack is countered by Defense.
Shield rating adds to Defense.
Armor is countered by Armor Penetration.
There is armor with different Armor value.
There is weapons with different AP value.
... you get the picture
Attack determines how well you are at hitting
Defense determines if you get hit at all.
Armor determines how much of successful hit makes it through to your health.
Most of those stats are not not flat numbers, they are derived from a number of factors (e.g. a character's physical attributes, object material and quality, your position on the battlefield, class, level, equipment, etc, etc.). A strong character's melee attacks usually end up having higher armor penetration than others, etc..
By the nature of the system, some weapon types are better against some armor types than others.
Running combat calculations on paper can be done, but it would take quite a few minutes per interaction.
Mods/Addon handling in DA?
There are no 'hak packs' in Dragon Age.
As Dave said, DA is a different beast than NWN.
As a former community member, I'll make a few assumptions / predictions here:
* If you managed to mod Baldur's Gate, I doubt you'll have trouble modding DA. (Don't confuse this for 'DAs architecture is like BGs, it isn't).
* If you are familiar with scripting in NWN, DA won't be a big shock for you, in fact, you will find that the language has a lot more power this time around.
* If you expect modding DA to be easier or more 'userfriendly' than NWN, you will be disappointed.
* If you found NWN's resource organization (hak vs. override vs. module vs. ...) confusing and 'hacktastic', you may be pleasantly surprised with DA.
* If you exect to be able to do all the things you could do with NWN, you'll be disappointed - but if you expect to be able to do things you couldn't do before, you may be pleasantly surprised.
Leave My Documents alone
Note that this doesn't necessarily mean that this would happen for DA, however, if we were to pursue certification, it would be a requirement.
Stacking damage over time effects
If it comes to realism vs. gameplay, gameplay wins in my book 90% of the time.
Thankfully, often enough, the situation isn't exactly 'vs.'
Magic System and Magic in the DA 4
Don't worry, we are more creative than that. There are no mage advanced classes that are 'school based'.
The passing of info between game development teams
There's a single team working on Dragon Age, the Dragon Age Team. It consists of programmers, designers, artists, animators, qa ninjas and producers.
I'm the Systems Designer for DA ... and that tree artist isn't working on DA
Sheryl Chee, Writer
Ferelden's inhabitants are primarily human and the kingdom is governed by humans, though elves and dwarves may be found there also. Most of the dwarven race, however, lives in their own kingdom. As for the rest of the elves... well, you'll just have to wait and see.
Mary Kirby, Writer
Why is basic survival always optional?
I like being able to sneak or talk my way through obstacles as much as anyone, but when you know, as you almost inevitably do in any roleplaying game, for adults or otherwise, that your goal in the long run is to defeat in battle someone or something, that's a little cruel to the player, isn't it? You get to spend all the game up until the critical battle getting by on your wits and then have to rely on the combat skills you didn't hone because you never needed them. At least if there's emphasis on combat from the beginning, as well as problems and encounters I can solve with non-combat skills, I'm decently prepared.
Why does it matter how many camps there are? It's entirely cosmetic. You go back to camp. Whether or not it looks like the same place you camped before, you have exactly one at any given time. You don't get a choice of camps. "Camp" is in the general vicinity of wherever you are. So the camp appears to be in a forest when you're in a forest, all the same people and tents and supplies are there from when you camped in the swamp.
Honestly, I don't understand how this is an issue. The plot is not going to allow for you to buy a permanent piece of real estate and settle down. You are going to get tents and bedrolls: how mobile they are is sort of irrelevant.
Yes, the idea is that your party sets up camp. Why would you assume otherwise? In KOTOR, were you surprised to find a ship that looked just like yours on every planet, or did you just sort of understand that it was yours and you just kept taking it with you?
|Tue, 18th Sep '07, 7:07am||#2|
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: A Pocket Plane somewhere in NJ.
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The more I read about this game the more interested in it I become. Is there any word on when the game will be released?
|Tue, 18th Sep '07, 3:35pm||#3|
Join Date: Jun 2000
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Nothing official, but definitely not before the end of 2008 or later.
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