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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, 2:13am   #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

Playing it Straight?

Fine. Then let me say this.

The point I object to is the one where so many people (and I'm not talking solely about you, here, Maria) seem to assume that writing is easy. That it's just a matter of coming up with ideas, and involves no alchemy whatsoever. And not to put too fine a point on that, but if one's only response to that is "well I'm the reader so I can think whatever I like, as interpretation is everything" then I'd say go right ahead... but perhaps you should then restrict your comments to those on reading as opposed to writing.

Nobody will, of course, but I'll just throw it out there anyhow.

more:

I've said this before, back when I first cited Martin as an inspiration in the first place. I find Martin's world more grounded in reality than many High Fantasy worlds. I find his tone darker and his characters more nuanced, especially when compared against the sacharrine morality of other books I've read. His characters struggle to be good, and even the ones that are vile are at least understandable and not cartoonish. I also appreciate the fact that the conflict in his books are based in politics, real struggles between Kingdoms as opposed to struggles between absolutes of good and evil.

Now, this doesn't mean I've taken all these elements verbatim into Dragon Age. Martin is not my only inspiration, nor am I the only writer. It is simply why I consider Martin's books to be good fantasy, and if someone found DA's tone and story to be comparable I would take it as a compliment.

Unredeemable, Redeemable, or Quasi-Villain?

If having a villain with more relateable motives is something you like, I think you'll be pleased with DA. Without giving anything away, I think I can say that the primary antagonist in DA is one who believes they are doing the right thing. The road to hell, as it's said, is paved with good intentions.

Ferret Baudoin, Senior Designer

It's done when it's done, but....

Every game I've ever worked on has a timetable and a deadline. Making a game is a massive cooperative enterprise filled with many unknown elements and constant revisions. It varies from project to project how far that deadline gets pushed as you go (I've yet to have worked on a project that hit it's original deadline).

As you move forward you get a better idea of how long it takes to make the elements of your game - the writing, creating a level, creature, etc. So you get a better sense of when you'll be on store shelves as you go. Usually in development I'm more curious than any fan on the forums of when the game is actually going to be done. Hopefully that provides some insight on why devs sometimes say, "It'll be done when it's done" or something like it.

Stanley Woo, QA Ninja

It's done when it's done, but....

No, it's more like Plan A to finish sometime around x date.

Further in development, Plan A gets refined into Plan B, which we hope to finish around y date.

Once a publisher gets involved, Plan B gets incorporated into Plan C to get the game out around z date.

It's all about how much information you have and how well your schedule was made two (or more) years ago. As with any large-scale project (and combat), plans don't necessarily survive contact with the enemy.

It's a generalization, as in a normal game's development cycle, there will be Plans A-ZZZZ, and dates x-zzzz.

more:

Um... having a "current internal deadline" would imply that we haven't surpassed it yet, wouldn't it? If we went past it, we'd have to have a new "current internal deadline."

So the answer is yes, we're still well within our "current internal deadline" for whatever part of the game you were asking about.

more:

Well, we have millions of dollars and a world-wide professional reputation to uphold, for one. And there is a definite art to marketing, for another. For yet another thing, the general public doesn't understand that corporations are made up of human beings who have to juggle multiple schedules and sometimes hundreds of people in order to devise, let alone stick to, any estimated date of completion.

The general public, which is who you want us to release information to, doesn't understand that release dates slip all the time. All they understand is that they want to know all the information, right now, and it had better be the information they want to hear. Look at the release date threads leading up to the official announcement on Mass Effect. No matter how many times we told the community that an official release date would come from us, and that all retailer dates were estimates only, we still got several threads a day asking if a certain retailer date was the right one.

This is also why we don't seriously comment on rumours, by the way. Control of information and consistency of message is the mainstay of any marketing.

more:

That's precisely it. Replace "BioWare" in that paragraph with "every single company in the world" and you have the basic psychology of marketing.

Georg Zoeller, Designer

Please leave randomly generated loot out of DA!

There will probably be a good variety of hand placed loot, especially better quality items, as well as items that serve as customized loot for plots or areas as well as for balancing reasons.

There will almost certainly be some randomly distributed loot. However, we plan on limiting randomization to places and types where it makes sense (no randomly generated diamonds or magical swords in the crate behind the bakery).

There may be some 'adaptive' loot in the same way it was used in Hordes of the Underdark. e.g. if our intention for a specific plot to provide a very special reward to the player, the actual object may be determined using statistics such as the players preferred weapon or party setup. I guess this makes most sense for quest rewards.

Magic System and Magic in the DA 4

Mages are quite versatile in Dragon Age. Knowing your position on the battlefield is helpful.

Knowledge is power.

Feedback from Combat!

Actually, I doubt a seperate screen would be useful. The rules system is written for a computer, not tabletop (like D&D), and therefore a printing a single combat calcuation can take several lines of written text with lots of floating points number - and there are several calculations per action happening - which can't easily be aggregated down into percentages. Now imagine battles between your party and 20 or so enemies, with factors like relative position on the battlefield, cover, item stats and materials, creature stats, spell effects and being evaluated multiple times per second.

There are plenty of examples how games with complex or very complex (think MMOs) rules calculations can be presented in an intuitive fashion to the player, without exposing the inner math.

Obviously we want people to understand the rule mechanics so they can build and tweak their characters as much as they like, but that shouldn't require reading books or seperate statistics page - all information required for that will be provided as part of the UI (e.g. information on items, etc.)

For the more hardcore people who want to understand every last bit and formula, the forums, a wiki we might create or maybe the toolset itself will be a more fitting place to find that information.

more:

DA combat is rules driven, not reaction driven. Think Baldur's Gate.

There may be number of features that use environment physics (such as projectiles being stopped by obstactles in their flight path), but that doesn't imply twitch mechanics in any shape or form.

more:

While a piece of wood may or may not deflect an incoming arrow, based on projectile trajectory (which is based on to hit) and physics, it's probably not going to help you too much if a huge, screaming hot bolt of fire is headed your way. The result will probably be the same for you and the piece of wood

more:


So Georg, you're saying you actually calculate every projectile's trajectory?

Physics.

Mary Kirby, Writer

Playing it Straight?

Assuming, of course, that a writer can tell any type of story he wants to. No matter how much I might ever want to tell a dark and gruesome tale, I probably couldn't. It would end up wry, and very likely sarcastic no matter what I did. What I want really doesn't make any difference there. Similarly, what I want to put into a story really isn't important. I leave out a lot of things I want in order to put in things the story needs, and I add elements the story needs whether I want them there or not. My job as a writer is not to do what I want. It's to craft what is hopefully a good story. If that means that I start out wanting to write gothic horror, and the story determines that it wants to be about two dogs and a cat crossing the wilderness, then I give up the gothic horror.
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Old Sat, 22nd Sep '07, 11:38pm   #2
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Yawn, Just an other day on the Bioware forums. A lot of treads, a drowning amount of data and still I have no idea what to expect. I suspect it is a RPG.

All I know it is not D&D so anything can happen from Oblivion to Two worlds. I learned one thing and that is to wait for a few reviews. I failed to do so a few times and paid the price.
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Old Sun, 23rd Sep '07, 2:20am   #3
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No worries, once the PR offensive for DA starts, it'll be as overwhelming as with Mass Effect.
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