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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.

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Old Wed, 19th Sep '07, 1:50am   #1
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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

Background, Race and Parents

I'm trying to think, here... as far as I can recall, only two of the backgrounds have locations that you can't return to later on. And even those two aren't "destroyed", per se. We don't "always" do anything.

Differences between male and female NPCs II

I'm not sure that would actually work well as an interactive romance. As one that plays out in front of you, sure -- but in that instance I can control the interactions and script the kind of narrative build up that it would require. Otherwise I've found that it's a very fine line between having a romance where there is tension at the beginning and having a character that is potentially annoying or unlikeable.

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No, of course not... and that's not going to be the case even if you try. But you do want a romance to be at least sympathetic -- having them be hostile or combative off the bat is a big gamble, since the chances of that hostility turning to passion is difficult to control.

Having initially envisioned the Carth and Bastila romances as a sort of "battle of the sexes", and seeing the difficulty of engineering that when you can't control the context that the player experiences, I know whereof I speak.

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I'm sure that idea sounds nice in theory, but it simply doesn't work well in practice when the romance in question must be interactive as opposed to scripted. Either way, it's not someplace I'd care to start again.

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You mean other than them being completely different personalities? The thing I really don't get is that nobody would ever write a character by deciding how to play off the gender dynamic -- well, at least *I* sure wouldn't! If the best I could say about a character is that they are very male or female (or that they have long hair, to go back to an argument someone made that long hair is a roleplaying option) then there probably wasn't much of an idea there to begin with.

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But we're not talking about said character being bald. This is not the only alternative, and suggesting that the lack of really long hairstyles is the same as being forced to play a bald character (or having "generic character concepts") is a straw man argument. No artist is going to come back to me with a bald concept when I say the character has long hair.

We're talking about the character having hair that is long enough -- and, yes, I'd be satisfied with that. If my character concept revolved around the character having long, flowing hair past the shoulders and nothing else was acceptable then I'd say that would have to be a pretty weak concept.

There's plenty of variety that will be possible in hairstyles -- we're not talking about only having female characters that are bald or who can only have boyishly short hair.

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I have nothing against someone saying "I like feature X and would like to see it in the game because it would enhance my enjoyment of it". That's the reason these forums exist, and you saying you find characters more feminine when they can have really long hair and that this is important to you is entirely subjective -- your call. Where I draw the line, however, is when you tried to insinuate that there was something more fundamental added to the game in order to justify the work it would require, that not having it denied the masses the ability to "roleplay" long-haired characters or what have you. It's a purely aesthetic feature, and while it may be your preference that's where it ends.

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"More options = better" may be acceptable forum logic but it doesn't hold water insofar as making an argument over what makes for a feature that actually adds something tangible to a game. Adding appearance options is an aesthetic feature -- period. Pleasing, but hardly necessary (especially when we're not talking about the feature being entirely absent, even -- it's not as if you can't have long hair at all -- you just can't have hair longer than your shoulder and that still leaves a LOT of room for variety). If this wasn't the case, then making any kind of distinguishment between the two would be pointless. Any feature that added something that somebody liked could be considered to add to their ability to roleplay.

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Features that aren't simply aesthetic? Seriously, we're not talking about having a variety of hairstyle or even having long hair -- we're talking about how long you want that hair to be.

You like long hair. If it limits your ability to play a character in any way, however, I think the issue is yours -- not ours. Even so, it really is enough to say you like this feature and would like to see it in a game. That is worth something. Trying to make more out of it than that, however, is a bit silly. If you can't see the difference then you're probably just not going to.

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We generally provide what we think the character's appearance should be when we do the initial concept design -- anything we see as important, even possibly "long, flowing hair" if we thought that was an issue.

The artists would then come back with a concept sketch based on that -- their vision of the character from the design, and taking into consideration the kind of features likely to be in the game (if that's known). Sometimes we'll suggest a change, and it'll go back and forth. Often in the end it will be a compromise of sorts. The idea is to communicate the character we have in mind based on what we have available to work with -- and relying on appearance to do 100% of the job isn't going to cut it.

Nuances of XP distribution

Ignoring that we don't really have a priest class, keep in mind that priests/thieves/mages DO have a role in combat. This may not be the same role as a warrior, but they are just as much involved in the killing as he is.

Why should a mage, after all, get less XP for casting spells in combat than a warrior does for swinging his sword? And a thief is not ALL about picking locks and disarming traps -- if he was, that would be a very boring class. He has his role in combat and can be just as deadly as the warrior when used correctly.

Which is not to say that they should not also receive experience for doing other things. However, in order to be priesty/thiefy/magey one need not avoid combat. And considering this is game that focuses on tactical combat, it would be a bit counter-intuitive to remove the rewards for engaging in it.

Visible Helms please!

Those are shots from the concept demo, back before even DA's world was created. They are indicative of nothing other than the fact that James Ohlen has a slight Conan fixation -- which, I assure you, I do not share.

How does DA deal with random and unnamed characters/enemies?

"Unnamed creatures" as you call them (the equivalent to the nameless henchmen / soldier / orc from movies) exist.

While there are plans regarding scaling, they are not finalized and so we are not ready to talk about this topic yet.

Georg Zoeller, Designer

Randomness in DA

Spells don't really work on a 'save' or die system. Their effects get diminished, modified or replaced by enemy resistance.

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Replaced by enemy resistance? Like...a hold type spell becoming a slow type spell kind of thing?

something like this.

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Actually, there's a bit more randomnessthere than you think. Eg. the derived value that is based on strength is -partially- randomized in the damage equation

Tactical party-control

Control and Camera details are always subject to tweaking and optimization based on tester feedback, etc, so don't expect any definite statements about this topic for a while

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You do realize that party members in Baldur's gate were scripted too? The difference in NWN was that you could not control them at all, which is not the case for DA.

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That would work if there was a 'round'

Nuances of XP distribution

Obviously, if you find a smart way to resolve a particular situation, you'll be rewarded appropriately

However, if you are looking for a completely peaceful path through the game without any combat, you'll be quite disappointed.

The Darkspawn your character meets however, will be quite pleased to listen to your negotiation skills while eating your party.

Dual Wielding

There is currently dual wielding in the game, but it does not work as you describe.

Attributes

Stamina is indeed derived and not an attribute. It's what we call a resource (meaning it has a current and a max value).

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Creatures have either Stamina or Mana.

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You can make a strong mage that is quite comfortable with melee weapons and armor. Of course, this would come at a price...

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Not all NPCs have the same total sum of their stats. Even if that was the case, it would still not lead to equality as the level/experience mechanism RPGs use in this case reflects the fact that more talented / trained individuals exist.

Visible Helms please!

There are helmets. If you wear them, you see them in game.

If you don't wear them, you see your hair (assuming you're not bald). That's it.

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Historically, long haired people wrapped their hair under a net / cloth before adding their helmet to prevent ripping their scalp off when trying to remove it later.

Long hair and and chainmail doesn't mix (and even heavy plate mail had chain gear to protect otherwise exposed bodyparts)

But just for you, we might add a chainmail bikini to remind you of the gender of your character j/k

How does DA deal with random and unnamed characters/enemies?

You will never fight a rat that survives for more than a few seconds, if that's what you are concerned about.

There are no high level rats either, as rats don't generally go out and train and become awesome power rats that then run around and attack random heroes.

Mary Kirby, Writer

Background, Race and Parents

I don't know yet how much you can change your skin tone in character creation (I think they might be limiting the palette choices a bit), but no, your family members will not change to match whatever you pick.

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Does this mean the PC's family members appear in the game?

That depends on your origin. Most, but not all, have families.

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I did!

(cue flashback sequence)

Athkatla, Day 26

I bought a very nice +3 longsword today, only paid half the marked price on it, since it had a notch in the blade, but still got cheated on the cost of having my shoes identified. Still, its shininess does nothing to dull the pain of losing a good friend. I still can't believe I'll never see Guy in the Tank again. He made me laugh, he made me cry, we traded recipes for ankheg pot roast, he gave me 6 AA batteries. . . and now he's gone. Oh Rielev. . . Reelf? Rilav? Whatever your name was, you were like a brother, or possibly a cousin to me. I think of you whenever I see a barrel, water bottle, flask, cistern, or emo kid.

Starting Chapter 2

Maybe it's just me, but I find the person who is not the favorite child of Fate to be a much more heroic figure than the one who is. The ordinary person who risks their life in a battle that seems overwhelming because it's their world at stake is inspiring to me. (You know how many times I watched Theodin's "Where is the horse and the rider?" speech in Two Towers? I'll give you a hint: A lot of times. Aragorn, I could not possibly care less about, however.) I don't think a hero needs to be the long lost True King, or the child of a god, or born under mysterious portents in order for their story to be epic. I think they need to have reason to act, terrible risk, and the results have far-reaching consequences.

Sheryl Chee, Writer

Background, Race and Parents


Does it mean that your character's starting location/village/town is not completely obliterated during the game?

It's possible... depending on who you are. I know I felt awful when I came back to Candlekeep in BG1 and realized that everyone was dead and turned into a doppelganger. Which reminds me... I need to figure out who it was that was responsible for that, walk into their office and shake my fist at them.

Differences between male and female NPCs II

Interesting. I do suspect, however, that most women would want their men to be "funny", "charming", "sensitive" and so on even though each individual woman might have a different idea of what those adjectives mean.

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But anyway, I have my own suspicions about who our characters will appeal to. I'm pretty sure, for instance, that the romantic interest for the guys is a guy's girl.

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Freeing Vic was part of the critical path, however, sleeping with Metzger was optional. You could pay full price for Vic, if you wanted to remain chaste and virtuous. If the quest required you to sleep with Metzger, as a female PC, I might have problems with it. Since it is optional, I don't. I don't believe any quests in FO2 required you to sleep with anyone.

I don't think Fallout 2 was particularly misogynistic. Both male and female PCs could drop their pants to complete quests or get bonuses. The choice was there. What's important is that it was always a choice. You could choose not to drop your pants.

And as for the wife that embodies every negative stereotype known to man... sure, she was in the game, but so was First Citizen Lynette, Tandy (Tandi?), Rebecca (who ran a bar in the Den and hated the slavers) and several other strong women characters. I think if you're actively looking for characters that offend your feminist sensibilities, you're going to find them in any game, even DA.

Ferret Baudoin, Senior Designer

does DA deal with random and unnamed characters/enemies?

There will be some form of random encounters. Or at least I hope there will be, otherwise some of the stuff I'm working on is some elaborate prank by Georg and Yaron. I wouldn't put it past them.
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