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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, 2nd Jan '08, 4:42pm   #1
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Default Dragon Age Forum News II (Jan. 02, 08)

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

Things I don't want to see in DA (have we done this yet?)

No rapiers or katanas that I'm aware of.

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Thankfully, the heavier armors such as chain are pretty covering on both sexes.

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The gold coin in Ferelden is called a "sovereign" ...but it's not the base unit, really. If you go around waving a sovereign, you're likely to be mobbed by peasants. The more common coins are "silvers" and "bits".

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guns, futuristic vehicles and robots - I don't believe you'll do this anyway because you're cool.

And you would be correct.

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I don't know what your idea of superfast or supermassive is, but I suspect the issue is relative. It'll be pretty fast, if not vaulting you up to godlike levels of power.

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Well, the plot in this particular story is pretty urgent. The idea is not for you to be leisurely wandering about the countryside, doing whatever you fancy. There will be a little bit of that, but most of the quests all tie in to the events that are happening (if not the critical path). Those who are more interested in a total sandbox game need not apply.

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It's not an anti-alcohol sentiment, it's more "what's the point?" If we really wanted to make this into a gameplay element, I suppose we could concoct something -- but we don't.

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loadbearing boss-monsters - why must the Cavern of Final Confrontations always collapse?

Strange thing to pinpoint. Have we ever had this? If we did, I'd imagine it's a pretty specific reason.

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You'd prefer they all be super-competent guards like in MMO's? Where every city guardsman is 50th level and makes you wonder why he isn't out saving the world instead of you?

---

And I suppose the rest of this thread will now be filled by people listing anything that might ever have annoyed them -- even if only slightly -- even once in a previous game. Well, so be it.

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Tough noogies. There are a couple of hostile animals, though thankfully no badgers this time around.

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A complete lack of Zombie Kitten references.

We may have one, though it was tough to work in considering the word "zombie" doesn't exist in DA.

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A male romance-able NPC with a dead ex-girlfriend/mother/wife/ sister/dog/Nigerian Dwarf Goat who I remind him of.

Oh, get OVER it, already.

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Well... there's no overt dwarf pr0n...

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It's just what I said. They don't use the word "zombie" (and considering its Caribbean origins, I find it a strange word to include in standard fantasy as it is). This does not also mean that undead do not exist.

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I suppose, but what contrivance would I use to get players to drink in the first place just to have such a conversation? I have played games where there is alcohol that adds some type of negative effect -- and since there's also no reason on Earth to actually drink it, you end up doing it once and going "ha ha" and then never doing it again. Maybe there's some people who find it constantly amusing, but that would strike me as pretty strange.

Again, if we wanted to come up with some type of gameplay reason for players to hang out in taverns and get drunk -- maybe a game where you earn some type of long-term fatigue that can only be worked off by some hard drinking and R&R? -- and then tie conversations to that, that would be one thing. But we're not doing that, to my knowledge.

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And I said there will be some of that-- just that doing things that are completely unrelated and which take a lot of time, such as managing your theoretical estate, are not going to work.

Just because it is not one thing does not mean that it is automatically the complete opposite. I know you guys like to immediately jump to that sort of conclusion, but let's hold off on most of it until we can show you what we mean. I don't want to cause any heart attacks, after all.

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There are several types of creatures that could be called undead... but I can't go into what they are, right now, without also going into a whole bunch of other stuff. If you see a dead body walking around in DA, however (and you will), it's not going to be called a zombie -- let's leave it at that.

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Understood. Keep in mind, however, that even being able to rest in an inn is a gameplay mechanic -- it need not be so. We do have inns and taverns that players can go into, and on a case-by-case basis there could even be a situation where you ply someone with spirits, sure.

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We will talk about them more at some point, sure. As to those who are concerned about the amount of detail in ME's characters or romances, however, all I can really say is that DA's party members generally have more dialogue. But that's just the type of game DA is. Whether or not you will enjoy said dialogue more is really the question.

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Chainmail bikinis go against all logic and common sense, if I was a developer I wouldn't make any even if all forumites loved them.

In fact, chainmail bikinis make all kinds of sense. Just not the sort of sense one encounters on these forums.

acquiring ingame information (books)

Not unless it involves a specific plot. Finding books will open up entries in the Codex, most likely.

Party or one man show?


Hmm, i think currently there are going to be 3-5 party members(including yourself). You create your main char, all the rest are brought into the team during the game. Direct control over the party members is a deffo.
The game will be designed for a party though solo play will be kept in mind.
More or less it i think.

Currently it is a party of 4 (including yourself), but the rest of that is all correct, yes.

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Set or not set, things can always change. Short of me including a legal disclaimer with each post, I will always discuss features in this sense until they are absolutely nailed down and certain -- which few features really are until the last stages of development.

A lot of fans seem to have the idea that game development is a series of tasks which are completed, after which we move onto the next one. We make the engine, for instance, and when the engine is done we write the story, and when the story is done we make the models and do the scripting... and so forth. The truth is that all these things are done more or less at once and none are fully finished until near the end. Even the engine thing -- most of the time, we are using a half-working engine to try and implement the game, and it gets re-vamped and changed constantly as we go along. It's all rather chaotic, with 90% of the work getting done in the last 10% of development as everything starts to get pulled together into something coherent. This is why there is nothing to show the public for most of the project -- with everything still being worked on and all in pieces, it's rare that we have something that can be put on display without actually interrupting the development process in order to put together (something that happens whenever a show like E3 comes around, for instance).

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The party size is 4, barring some unforeseen circumstance. It's not really up for discussion.

As for whether the upper limit will be changeable by modders -- I doubt it, but we'll see. Ultimately I suspect it would be a GUI issue. The fact that there would be already some people straining at the bit to turn the game into D&D before they know how the game actually plays or what the rules even are tempts me to roll my eyes again, but I know such hand-wringing is inevitable.

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Which is why I know the hand-wringing is inevitable. The comparisons are understandable, even if they are not always made consciously.

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However i would still like it if modders could still alter the upper cap : )

Where there's a will, there's usually a way.

...unless there isn't. In which case I guess there's a won't.

Um.

I had a point. I think. *wanders off*

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DA doesn't really start like either KotOR or BG/BG2. The entire first chapter of DA is completely unique depending on the background you've chosen.

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I dont suppose you can tell us roughly how many NPCs we will get access to?

Because things can change I don't know the exact number myself, but we're talking more than a few and less than, say, a baker's dozen.

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As much indication as you would upon meeting anyone. And if it turns out they weren't who you thought they were, you can always tell them to hit the road. Or just leave them at camp, I suppose. Up to you.

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Well, sure! With that logic, why stop at 6? Why not 8? Why not 12? If more automatically translates into more tactics, more character and more choices it really seems like a no-brainer.

Obviously I am exaggerating, and I think you understand the point anyhow. There are indeed other factors that feature in this decision, ones that make "more" not always a good thing. And while it worked well in BG, sure, I'm not so convinced it was solely because of that. Heck, perhaps it was in spite of that. Regardless, the number stands at 4 and you will simply have to trust that it belongs there. Or not. It's all good.

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And what do you think such a poll would tell us? Other than that most people think that a party of six (or thereabouts) would be better, based primarily on the fact that previous games they have liked also had that many.

...until proven otherwise. Which is always the way. It's always a cliche, or it won't work, or it's insufficient... until you enjoy it. Well, okay, then it was done fine. If I've learned anything about the hardcore, it's that you just won't like it until you do.

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It sounds like DA's camp system supports both options, which makes the silhouette model a bad fit in my opinion.

So... good thing we don't do that.

Please, No Level Caps Or XP Caps

I have certainly played games where one might encounter the cap even in regular play (Arcanum comes to mind-- I think I hit the cap about 3/4 of the way through the game), so it's possible that a game's level cap might be unrealistic-- but unless you're dealing with some kind of system where each level gives you only statistical bonuses ultimately a cap is necessary as only so much content is possible. I know that, for the progression-oriented player, the urge is to keep on playing and keep taking those levels and ability higher and higher-- but the game only goes so far, I'm afraid.

Giving Quests to NPCs?

Ignoring for the moment the tone of your post (or your apparent need for ego deflation), I'll just point out that I never said that assigning quests to NPC's was impossible. In some cases I think it might be an interesting feature, so long as it was not used to simply replace the player experiencing actual game content himself. May I suggest you go back and read the original post before simply accusing me of things out of hand?

Breaking Up

Okay, to be clear:

The game keeps track of your relationship with each party member. If you are not romancing the character (and, no, it is not possible to romance everyone) then having a good relationship means you are friends.

For those that are romanceable, you'll have the opportunity to flirt and be flirted with. If you shut that down ("not interested") they'll stop. At some point either you or they will need to determine if there is actual interest-- and if so, then the romance begins in earnest. Otherwise they can just be a friend you flirt innocently with throughout the game, up to you.

While in the romance, there are certainly things that can happen that can cause them to end it. Alternatively, you do indeed have the option to talk to them and say that the romance is over. In either case, the way it ends will determine the effect on your relationship. It's not impossible to end the relationship and stay friends, depending on the situation.

Naturally this is discussing the romances outside of the context of the rest of the plot-- but I think you get the point.

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Ending a roamnce with a Follower will have the following effects:

If you break up with them:

- The Follower will leave the party and the next time you see them they are married to an NPC that looks exactly like you.
- If you enter a Tavern after the break-up, the Follower will be there performing songs about the break-up.
- The Follower's friends will approach you, in random encounters, to tell you what a jerk you are.

If the Follower ends the romance with you:

- You can only wear black-coloured armour for the rest of the game.
- You gain access to the Emo Advanced Class.
- You gain access to the Advanced Brooding Feat and Bad Poetry Writing skill.
- Ambient NPCs will point and laugh at you when you walk by.
- 25% of all NPCs you encounter will look exactly like the Follower who stomped on your fictional heart.
- On the Character Sheet, your hometown gets set to Dumpsville!

Dialogue

All NPC's will have voice over, not just some. But otherwise, yes, PC dialogue is silent with your options fully written out verbatim. Where there will be a similarity with Mass Effect will be in the cinematic quality to the conversations, I expect.

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Well, I only know what is planned, so I can't really say. At this point I'm lucky if someone's scalp isn't being sucked into their skull as they talk, so nuance of emotion isn't quite on the table just yet.

Codex


Will there be anything similar to the codex in Mass Effect in DA?

That's what we're considering, yes, though the DA version probably won't be so... science-y.

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I don't believe the DA version of the Codex is going to be VO'd at all, actually. But I guess we'll see how it ends up.

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Good, and please don't go into so much fine detail. A lot of the ME codex stuff is good, but the real "technical" nitty-gritty just bores me to tears.

Well, part of the thing about something like a Codex is that all the information given is optional. Some people are going to like the technical nitty-gritty, after all. Others are going to skim it. That said, having an un-science-y Codex does mean the nitty-gritty will also be less science-y.


I don't see a problem with codex VO though, because obviously it's magic and has a personality of its own.

Not having VO does provide us a bit more freedom in this case, however. Personally I don't think it is such a terrible thing to ask someone to read, so long as it's optional.

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Also having to skip over a lot of nitty gritty you could skip over something really interesting.

Well THAT part is up to you. I don't advise skipping, I'm just saying that you can read or not read, as you like.


I guess part of it is in how it's organized too.

Indeed. For that you'll want to stare directly at Mary.

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I will say this once. Players have different motivations for playing games. Some play just for combat, some like progression, some like exploration and others are just in it for the story. Most fall into two or even three categories to one degree or another.

The uncharted worlds provide something for some of those players. THEY SERVE A PURPOSE. Even if we could combine a bunch of those worlds into something that you would find more personally pleasing (and we couldn't) we wouldn't want to.

If you want to complain about ME, I suggest you go to the ME forum and do it. I, for one, am getting a little tired of you bringing it up here in every thread you can under the guise that it applies somehow to DA because "this is where Bioware is going".

Realistic numbers (or: foes vs toughness) and the Tardis effect

Insofar as party control goes, that's an abstraction that is there for the sake of convenience. There are only so many characters you can recruit, after all, so having some high-level control over their skills and abilities means that you will be able to make them fit better into your party.

If there's anything we've learned from previous games it's that having an interesting personality only goes so far -- we are, after all, talking about a tactical party game where you spend a lot of your time in combat. If a party member isn't considered to be useful, he's simply not going to end up being used, period. So since your own character can be of any sort, we'd rather put the power over the party member level-ups in your hands.

Oh, I suspect we'll have some kind of "auto-level" option for them if you don't want to spend the time. And there's a couple of more extreme options which some characters might not be willing to take even so ("you want me to do what?") but I think this really has to be looked at from a gameplay perspective and not a storytelling one. If you really MUST look at it as you barking orders at your party members and telling them what skills and such they will learn and such -- well, that's up to you. But like most genre and game contrivances of this naturs, it really is up to you to determine how you interpret them.

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As someone who has played around with AI in the past (I did my own plucking away at various scripts for the Ascension mod after ToB went out), I will say that there's more trickiness to it than you might suspect. Most people don't want good AI. They want opponents that appear intelligent but are still defeatable. When you're up against actually good AI, part of the problem is that it's like going up against the computer in a chess game -- you don't say "wow, this AI is good", you say "gosh, this game is hard". A computer, after all, doesn't know when to ease up -- it's always going to be relentless, and since it thinks 100x faster than any human player it can often appear to be cheating when it's being truly intelligent.

So then you come up against the fact that the level of AI is linked to the overall difficulty of the game. So the quick answer offered by a forum person is, naturally, "why not have AI scale according to the difficulty level? It can't be that hard!"

And that's where I cackle as the poor kitty smashes through the plate glass window. Poor kitty.

Naturally, it doesn't get made any easier due to the fact that AI is generally the last thing that gets worked on -- and thus often gets short shrift as it's squeezed out by schedule overruns elsewhere. But there's quite a bit more to it than just summing it up as programmers being lazy or short-sighted.

Mary Kirby, Writer

Party or one man show?

You have a camp. Characters that you have recruited are there, if they are not in your active party. However, if you don't recruit a character, in most cases, you're not going to find them waiting around for you to change your mind. And if you provoke your party memebers into leaving, you won't see them again.

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No alignment. No paladins. You can recruit people who decide over time that you're evil, and they may attack you.

Codex

Well, one of the purposes of the Codex is to contain the entirely optional information: The stuff that really shouldn't have in-game dialogue devoted to it. Want to know about the ancient history of the dwarven kingdom? Find out who the first king of Ferelden was? Read bits of the Chant of Light? It's all in the Codex. Do you need to read this stuff? No. It's there for the people who want all the background information. All the details of dwarven history, the Ferelden royal family, and the prevailing religion, that directly relates to the story is in the game dialogue. We just don't want to turn the experience of playing Dragon Age into an interactive encyclopedia of TheDAS.

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Wrath of Dagon, I understand that you didn't care for the uncharted worlds. That's perfectly valid. The effort, however, put into writing Mass Effect's codex was not taken out of the uncharted worlds. Entirely different people worked on those features. This particular criticism is akin to suggesting that if a game has an excellent musical score and bad camera control, it must be because all the zots went to the score. The people who design and build that system are not also composers.

In Dragon Age, for example, all the quests were written first. The codex is being written last. Quite a few of us worked on those quests,, but the Codex? That's being written pretty much just by me. If I weren't writing the codex, would I be writing or expanding more side-quests? No. That part has already been done by now. If, when you play the game, you aren't satisfied with the quality of the quests, well, that will be a shame, but it won't be due to the fact that I wrote a codex entry on Fluffy Mackerel Pudding. (Now, if you aren't happy with the entry on Fluffy Mackerel Pudding, that will be my fault. But I can live with that.)

Scott Meadows, Senior Programmer

Can you undress your female characters?

No.

Sheryl Chee, Writer

Codex

Wrath of Dagon, I understand that you didn't care for the uncharted worlds. That's perfectly valid. The effort, however, put into writing Mass Effect's codex was not taken out of the uncharted worlds. Entirely different people worked on those features. This particular criticism is akin to suggesting that if a game has an excellent musical score and bad camera control, it must be because all the zots went to the score. The people who design and build that system are not also composers.

In Dragon Age, for example, all the quests were written first. The codex is being written last. Quite a few of us worked on those quests,, but the Codex? That's being written pretty much just by me. If I weren't writing the codex, would I be writing or expanding more side-quests? No. That part has already been done by now. If, when you play the game, you aren't satisfied with the quality of the quests, well, that will be a shame, but it won't be due to the fact that I wrote a codex entry on Fluffy Mackerel Pudding. (Now, if you aren't happy with the entry on Fluffy Mackerel Pudding, that will be my fault. But I can live with that.)

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I'll take a shorter high quality game over a longer one padded with filler any day.

Yes, that's called the main plot. If you don't like what you call the "filler" you can ignore it.
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