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» Dragon Age Forum News (May. 24, 09) - May 25, 2009, 8:20 am
» Dragon Age Forum News (May. 23, 09) - May 24, 2009, 1:53 pm
» Dragon Age Forum News (May. 22, 09) - May 23, 2009, 9:47 pm
» Dragon Age Forum News IV (Jan. 02, 08) - January 3, 2008, 1:05 am
» Dragon Age Forum News III (Jan. 02, 08) - January 3, 2008, 1:04 am


Dragon Age Forum News (May. 24, 09)
Posted: May 25, 2009, 8:20 am by Ancalagon

Here are today's Dragon Age Forum Highlights, imported by permission from Dragon Age Central. 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.

Georg Zoeller, Senior Technical Designer

Companions?

Quote: Posted 05/24/09 23:12 (GMT) by Dark Specie


Quote: Posted 05/24/09 23:06 (GMT) by David Gaider


Quote: Posted 05/24/09 23:00 (GMT) by Nighteye2
"seen in party" could be a temp character, too - who only joins for a short time, or a specific quest.
Indeed. That complicates things, as there are probably equal numbers of characters that join the party only temporarily as there are characters that are with you until the end of the game. I don't know that we're interested in saying definitively who is who -- "this guy is temporary" and "this guy is a FULL companion!" or what have you. It will become obvious as you play the game.

eek smile . Now, that's a surpise. If we assume that there's around 10-12 characters that joins permantently, and just as many that can join temporarily, then... I can already see the slow, painful proccess of players trying to find out who is which in-game... ignore smile

Though of course, the Origins companions would seem to be temporaily as a matter of fact, without exception.
Temp characters' don't earn XP. There smile smile
forced party members
Friend and Area targeted spells can be cast any time. single target spells that require a hostile, well, require a hostile to be cast (but technically not combat, as you could lob the spell from outside perception range - the impact would then result in combat starting).
One GUI request
Yea, we got a similar buyback system in DA.
when do we get new screens?

Quote: Posted 05/24/09 22:21 (GMT) by lucy_glitter


Quote: Posted 05/24/09 20:57 (GMT) by Georg Zoeller
sigh

I don't think posting a sigh will stop fans asking for new information. Consider it a compliment... an irritating, nagging compliment.

Well, thank you then. smile smile
One GUI request
I guess that discrepancy just speaks to the size of the game... razz smile
The one thing that bugs me about party based rpgs.
There is many factors that play into such a decision. Here's some examples:

--- Cost: Pathfinding, AI, character updates, etc. are expensive. So are models. We're not talking about a bunch of 2d sprites here like in BG, our character models include complex facial structures for dialog, lip synch, high poly models, etc. Player party members are the most costly objects on screen most of the time, since their AI has to update almost instantly and we can't use level of detail on them as the player can switch between then any time. All this needs to run on a the minspec targeted machine.

Let's be clear here: In the 2d 'golden days', adding another creature to the screen was basically the cost of a bunch of sprites - roughly the same for each creature. Today, in 3D, adding a creature involves loading a custom 3D model and animation rig in many cases (e.g. dog) along with unique textures, facial structure, weapons, etc. There's a limited number of such unique appearances you can display before you run out of resources. An additional permanent party member could have meant we would have to sacrifice variation in enemies - something we thought was not worth it.

--- Non-permanent followers. If point each party member could summon another controllable follower, at which point do you cross from RPG into RTS. What if these temporary followers had abilities they can use on their own?

---- Dialog interjections and staging. Our conversation system follows Mass Effect's high quality cinematic approach. Your followers will interject themselves often in conversations and they often respond to comments made by other followers. Too many, and the complexity and amount of writing needed spirals out of control.
Additionally, you need to be able to fit the party into many cutscenes and conversation stages - you can chose to not show temporary followers - but that isn't true for real followers.


---- Combat complexity. Party members in DA have a lot more abilities available to them than the BG series. We don't have spell memorization, so you can cast any spell you have in your spell list at any time if you have the resources. In BG, memorization limited the amount of unique options in battle and therefore battle complexity. Also, Warriors and Rogues had less active abilities available to them in BG than in DA. Ultimately, we found 4 major party members the best number that supported the combat experience we wanted create.


All these factors together, the perfect number for DA is 4+(0-4) controllable characters
when do we get new screens?
sigh
One GUI request

Quote: Posted 05/24/09 07:50 (GMT) by MarloMan


Quote: Posted 05/23/09 14:20 (GMT) by Chris Priestly

Sorry, no. The notion of what "junk" is changes, so targetting things as "junk" makes no sense. For example, you have some low price gems that you will be selling at the next store you visit (something I suspect you may call junk). But as you are adventuring, you meet someone who offers you a quest to retrieve certain numbers of gems thereby changing the nature of the "junk" into a quest item.

Oh no, does that mean we should hang on to all of our gems just in case a quest giver wants them?

Not really. Chris chose a bad example.

It's not like there is a lot of these 'fetch' quests anyway. Very few indeed, and they make sense in the context they are presented.

Generally, our quest designers try to avoid putting you into a situation where you are selling items that might turn out useful later. Sometimes it can't be avoided due to the non linar nature of parts of the story - but in general those items would be apparent to the seasoned RPG player (e.g. no, there isn't someone who buys those rusty darkspawn gloves for recycling purposes.')
Mage Spells!

Quote: Posted 05/24/09 18:10 (GMT) by Alodar


Quote: Posted 05/24/09 17:09 (GMT) by Chris Priestly


Quote: Posted 05/24/09 15:16 (GMT) by Mansse


Quote: Posted 05/24/09 15:07 (GMT) by Alodar

The spell lists at the Wiki were from a build that is at least 2 years old that was shown at the NYCC(New York Comic Con).


I did not realize it was that old. I shouldn't quote that then.

Me either, and I took it to NYCC. It was, at the time, about 2 weeks old, but hardly 2 years.
evil smile

When talking about the spell descriptions Georg had referred to the info at the NYCC demo as a year and half old build. It's been about 4 months since then so I just added and rounded up.


Alodar smile smile

Actually, I think I said 'from last year' - The comment was made this year. smile smile

However, even at the time of the demo, the descriptions were several months old - we don't update them continuously. There's description passes to sync the descriptions against what the spells do - and since spell effects kept changing until pretty much a few weeks ago. Radically changing smile smile

David Gaider, Lead Writer

Companions?

Quote: Posted 05/24/09 23:00 (GMT) by Nighteye2
"seen in party" could be a temp character, too - who only joins for a short time, or a specific quest.
Indeed. That complicates things, as there are probably equal numbers of characters that join the party only temporarily as there are characters that are with you until the end of the game. I don't know that we're interested in saying definitively who is who -- "this guy is temporary" and "this guy is a FULL companion!" or what have you. It will become obvious as you play the game.
Dalish marriages

Quote: Posted 05/24/09 07:00 (GMT) by Saltamontes
And how about the Dalish? Do they match within their own clan or do they seek partners in other clans? I presume the former due to the fact that dalish clans rarely encounter each other. In that case each clan should be a large extended family. Or maybe I'm getting it all wrong?
The Dalish provide matches within their clans, yes, and such matches are always approved by the Keeper -- probably because, as you surmise, you end up with a group that's very much an extended family. There is occasionally an infusion of new blood, if a city elf arrives from the outside and integrates, but that's not always possible. Fortunately individual clans tend to be pretty large.

Even so, that's suddenly raising this whole Ozarks image in my head which I find incredibly amusing. I'm totally going to have to write in a remote, hillbilly Dalish clan at some point. smile smile
Jactancy Romance
I find it an intriguing question only because there is, I feel, a difference between the kind of character that most people would feel made an ideal romantic partner and the sort of character that would make for an interesting romance.

Possibly it's because the ideal never actually exists, or because the entire premise of adventuring and having a romantic relationship under such extreme conditions is not ideal in and of itself -- but really if a romantic character was as nice and well-adjusted and as willing to commit as we'd like to think we want, would that actually make for an interesting story in a game?

I can think of ways that it might work, but I'm not sure how much of that is me thinking that it should be possible in theory and how much is me actually knowing a way to make such a dynamic actually compelling. It doesn't have to be boring, after all, but I tend to come from a school that says dramatic romance -- as opposed to the romance we aim for in our real lives, which stems from compatibility -- stems first and foremost from conflict.

But then I think of someone like Anomen. He was pretty arrogant, and did that romance "work" from a story perspective? Naturally you're not going to appeal to everyone in such a subjective format as romance -- some things are just never going to tweak someone just right, no matter what you do, and Anomen's probably more polarizing than most -- but on the whole I'd still say his story was more effective than a potential romance character where you got along just fine, talked a lot and had sex and then moved on to discussions of marriage and babies. Again it doesn't have to be only that, but if you don't have some kind of conflict inherent in the relationship what else is it going to be?

Mary Kirby, Writer

How do you pronounce "Dalish?"

Quote: Posted 05/24/09 22:55 (GMT) by Dalish-Elf

Is it:
"Day-lish"

"Dal-ish"
or
"Daw-lish?"

So far I've been saying it "Day-lish." Can anyone clarify? The technicalities are driving me crazy lol.

The first one is correct. The Dalish get their name from the Dales, the last homeland of the elves.

Chris Priestly, Community Coordinator

Companions?

Quote: Posted 05/24/09 22:41 (GMT) by lucy_glitter


Quote: Posted 05/24/09 22:34 (GMT) by Chris Priestly

Don't base too much on that list. It is a fine starting point, but much is incorrect.

frown smile Look, even I figured out that a lot of those "companions" are wrong, but please don't write it off like that. We try really hard over there.

And you do a pretty good job. The problem is you (and I don't mean you Lucy, I mean many people) direct others there and they do not know that it is not 100% correct. For example, I don't see a disclaimer on that page saying something like "this is our best guess so far" or "these entries are not 100% proven yet".

Part of my job is to stop the spread of misinformation about the game (as much as I can anyways). The DA Wiki you (and the rest) have put together is top notch, but it is not 100% correct. I'm not "writing off" your efforts, just making sure that people understand that it is not accurate, just the best work of fans such as yourselves given the information we have given you so far.
Companions?
Don't base too much on that list. It is a fine starting point, but much is incorrect.
Official FAQ has again been UPDATED. Keep asking your questions here.
I see any more bumping, and I'll close this down. We'll give answers when we are ready and not sur to mindless bumping from impatient people.
One GUI request
No not really. Georg shouldn't put words in my mouth that don't belong there.

There are "little" quests like these sprinkled through the game as optional activites for those that want to pursue them. I'm not sure how recently Georg played the game, but I think there are a fair number of these quests. Sure, not all of them are "fetch X item" but those are in there too.

My point is, there really isn't 'junk" in the game. There are different elements/items in the game that will mean mroe to some players than others. If you are into crafting, then the crafting items are valuable. If you aren't, then they are "junk".

Value is in the eye of the person who makes use of the item and how.
Mage Spells!
That must be the confusion. There is a differnce (to us) between a "build" and the content of the build. We get new builds of the game all the time. Sometimes a new build can be created just to fix one bug. Sometimes a build can represnt a huge change to something (maybe new text, new effects, whatever). The build that went to NYCC was very recent (for the time), but the content of the build was old.

Hopefully that clears things a bit.
when do we get new screens?
We release new screens quite regularly. We've released screens each week for the last month or so and I see that trend continuing for quite a while. In fact, with the upcoming E3 conference, I would expect to see quite a bit soon.

As for "top down, BG type screenshots", you likely won't see much of them. Why? well, honestly, they don't sell the game much. While the tactical "zoomed-out" look is really useful (I play with it a lot myself, especially in some of the larger battles), the more common "over the shoulder" look best illustrates the graphics and overall visual look of the game.

That doesn't mean we won't release any top down shots, just that most will be the sort you are already seeing. smile smile
Mage Spells!

Quote: Posted 05/24/09 15:16 (GMT) by Mansse


Quote: Posted 05/24/09 15:07 (GMT) by Alodar

The spell lists at the Wiki were from a build that is at least 2 years old that was shown at the NYCC(New York Comic Con).


I did not realize it was that old. I shouldn't quote that then.

Me either, and I took it to NYCC. It was, at the time, about 2 weeks old, but hardly 2 years.

We haven't revealed all of the spells or effect yet (and I doubt we'll reveal all of them before launch). However, magic plays an important part in DAO. It is powerful and can be combined in cool ways to create even more powerful effects.

While we won't reveal everything, we will be revealing more soon. So stay tuned. smile smile

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Dragon Age Forum News (May. 23, 09)
Posted: May 24, 2009, 1:53 pm by Ancalagon

Here are today's Dragon Age Forum Highlights, imported by permission from Dragon Age Central. 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.

Mary Kirby, Writer

Origins
No origins force any personality or attitude on you.

Chris Priestly, Community Coordinator

One GUI request
Sorry, no. The notion of what "junk" is changes, so targetting things as "junk" makes no sense. For example, you have some low price gems that you will be selling at the next store you visit (something I suspect you may call junk). But as you are adventuring, you meet someone who offers you a quest to retrieve certain numbers of gems thereby changing the nature of the "junk" into a quest item.

So, no. You cannot "tag" something in your inventory. (I also forsee people complaining "but I didn't MEAN to tag superawesomesword as junk! Why did you make me sell it!").

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Dragon Age Forum News (May. 22, 09)
Posted: May 23, 2009, 9:47 pm by Ancalagon

Here are today's Dragon Age Forum Highlights, imported by permission from Dragon Age Central. 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

forced party members

Quote: Posted 05/22/09 22:22 (GMT) by ztemplarz
I am really not sure if this has been answered yet, and have been going through the forums for a while, without finding the answer, so here it is: are party members going to be forced as in NWN 2?
As noted by the other poster, there is only one character that you can't tell to take a hike if you so desire (or simply not recruit in the first place). That character you can choose to leave behind at the party camp, if you wish, and solo the game if that's your preference. The game's balanced for a party, and party members have a lot of content, but we're not going to foist them on you.

Quote: On a different note, is it 100% confirmed that you can't kill any of your companions?
There are situations that can occur where you will end up in a fight with a party member (or potential party member) and you can kill them. Sometimes you can elect to start such a fight, depending on the circumstances. If what you are asking is whether or not you can kill any party member at any time, however, then the answer is no.

A question relating to the Noble Origin and how it relates to the "Vengence" trailer. **SP

Quote: Posted 05/22/09 15:09 (GMT) by barbarianbarbie
With that in mind, the information in the "Vengence" trailer seems to imply the discovery of who was behind the attack on Highever.
I don't think there's anything in that trailer that relates specifically to the Human Noble origin.

Quote: My question is this, how are you able to exact revenge if you're now a member of the Grey Wardens? I mean of course you would want revenge, but doesn't that conflict with the whole Wardens never meddle in politics thing?
It might. You'll have to find out, won't you? Why would you want to know the answer to this question now?

Gaider the Maker?

Quote: Posted 05/22/09 04:44 (GMT) by devSin
I believe he's said he came up with the "framework" for the game world, but when a particular designer or writer needed to work in an area that he only briefly sketched out, it pretty much turned into whatever that person wanted, regardless of what his original intent may have been (of course, it's entirely likely that he didn't even know himself what his original intent was by that point, so maybe they're right on the mark razz smile ).
It's more like I did a lot of the initial work on creating the setting, but that included a lot of blank spots which have been filled in by others since then and areas which have changed out of necessity -- sometimes what seems like a good concept down on paper does not turn out to be all that fun to actually play in. So it's evolved, the same way any setting will evolve once lots of creative people start getting their hands on parts and making them their own.

So, in short, no, I am not "the Maker" (though Mary and Sheryl like to joke that I am). The initial world design may have been mine, sure, but what it has turned into is not something I could have come up with on my own.

Mary Kirby, Writer

Starting DA:O

Quote: Posted 05/22/09 20:33 (GMT) by Nighteye2

How efficiënt is DA:O in starting up? Does it waste much time with logos and other stuff?

I just saw this, and I really hope DA:O will do better. At the very least, make such things skippable with the escape button. shades smile

We were thinking of having an unskippable sequence like this one. Only with our logo, and the soundbites would be from Morrigan.

And maybe having that run every time you save.

Chris Priestly, Community Coordinator

Website Update: Redcliffe updated with new video
We have added a video to the Redcliffe page. Check it out for your hint at the darkness that lurks beneath the surface of this town.
Click Here

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Dragon Age Forum News IV (Jan. 02, 08)
Posted: January 3, 2008, 1:05 am by chevalier

Stanley Woo, QA Ninja

Some General Questions About Dragon Age


(3) How long has DA been being worked on?

Probably five years so far. It's quite a neat world and the story is rather intricate.

Motion sickness sensitive: Will I be able to play?


I've had that sort of problem with fast-paced games, but Oblivion and a game like BioShock both worked okay. The critical factor was that I was able to mostly move or turn slowly, unlike in games which require a lot of quick movement in narrow corridors. I've learned to accept the over-the-shoulder (ots) viewpoint, and even have coped with the first-person viewpoint if I had to do so, but I'll always be partial to the top-down isometric. That's what I set The Witcher in when I played, and it's a good thing. I tried the ots view and it was incredibly bad; I couldn't handle it for more than a few minutes. A KotOR viewpoint was okay, and I had no problem there.

So, if DA offers a view like KotOR, at least, then I should be able to manage fine. I don't expect it to be terribly fast-paced, but I'd love it if there was a top-down isometric choice. Sounds like that's not going to be there, though, so I'll have to deal.

Kevin Lynch, Dragon Age would probably be okay for you.

more:


Errm, ok then, I guess I can’t help you. You do seem to have it on a much more severe scale than some of my friends or Sliphawk, Kevin etc who’ve found some solution to it.

Perhaps Stanley Woo may wish to elaborate a bit more on his posts…

Cheers

I really can't, since my responses are based solely on what I'm interpreting of people's complaints and what I've seen of the camera movement so far. I can neither predict what the final camera system will be like, nor can I accurately gauge individual camera movement tolerances.

It's just easier to say than prefacing every response with "Based on a correct interpretation of the accuracy of individual articulation of their subjective problem and assuming the camera movement system remains the same as it does at the moment that I am posting a response..."

I don't have a problem with camera movement and have very few problems with motion sickness in FPSs (save for the garish colours in Wolfenstein 3D, which did make me ill). Some people have problems with the camera movement and weapon bob, some with the character animation, and some with the camera focused on a part of the character which moves.

more:

Possibly; it's way too early to say what options/settings the game will or will not have.

And those are some really good suggestions. Many people I know have as large a monitor as they can afford yet are still sitting a metre away from their screen. And then they lean into it when playing. That would make anyone ill, and not just with games.

more:

No, that's not what I mean. Again, without knowing the precise colour/movement/speed/direction triggers that make individuals uncomfortable with the cameras, I can't really really say for sure. All I can say is that, based on what my friends and family have told me about games they didn't like, and based on my own experiences with those same games, certain movements with Dragon Age's camera, framerate, and movement as they currently exists may mean it is unplayable to those with increased sensitivity to such things.

*whew* And you wonder why companies put all those warning and disclaimers on things.

Seriously, though, right now the camera stuff is still being worked out, but if they stay the same or very similar to the way they are now, some of you might not enjoy it. Then again, final art, animations, and framerate might help. Or perhaps there are camera settings that offset some of the more severe problems. But I don't know that. You're asking a subjective question now with the information you have at hand, I'm answering a subjective question as best I can with the information I have at hand.

Ultimately, you won't know until you play it.

Mary Kirby, Writer

The Bioware Plot Model [MANY SPOILERS]

I am a huge fan of exploration in games. That was what persuaded me to play CRPGs in the first place. However...

Why do I want to explore any given rich, detailed world or interact with the people in it? I have found, in my own experiences with games, that the plot is what fuels my interest in the world and even in my party members.

The first time I picked up Morrowind, I hated it. I wandered around a few cities and poked my head into a smugglers' cave and promptly got bored. At several friends' insistance, I picked it up again almost a year later and tried playing through the critical path. I fell in love with the island I was on, and the people on it only when I started to explore that story. I played Morrowind to learn more about my character's relationship to Nerevar, Azura, the Tribunal, and Dagoth Ur. When I finished the main plot, I lost all interest in playing further. In BG2, Irenicus was the carrot that lured me through Chapter 2. Jolee has been, quite possibly, my favorite character to date in any game, but I only found him and his stories appealing because they were relevant to me; I knew he was telling me something about myself, that he knew things about me I didn't know.

I'm more than willing to accept the idea that there are gamers with tastes and motivations different from mine. But the first task we writers have (whether we're talking games or plain old print fiction) is to persuade the audience that the world we are inviting them to explore is worth their time. A good villain can do that better than almost anything else. Irenicus, or Malak, or Sephiroth, or Dagoth Ur immediately makes the world around me relevant. It is no longer a sea of details that have no meaning to me, personally. I know where my character fits into it, I have an urge to find out what is at stake, I know that if I look around enough, I will find the roots of what caused all this. And now I can go exploring, which is what I love to do.

more:

Haven't you read The Tick? Protagonists with no villains to thwart wind up needing a lot of therapy. (Though I would definitely be interested in writing a ninja hedge into a game some day... *sigh*)

Honestly, the game you're describing here exists. It is The Sims. There are no villains to fight. There are choices to make, and characters with stories of their own to interact with, and there's progress to be made. It is the story of your character and/or characters versus everyday existence, possibly with alien abductions or plagues caused by your pet guinea pig, but you never win. It's a good game. And obviously that model can work. (I really only liked building houses, though.)

more:

What we're not going to do, what I think nobody who hopes to produce good work should ever do, is take risks just for the sake of being "different," or "edgy." We're as interested in innovation as you are, but to truly be innovative, you need inspiration -- not just a desire to rebell. We'll break the rules when we want to.

more:

Did I say that they sat around waiting for lightning to strike? No. But that they obviously had an idea and worked to bring it to life? That should be obvious. They were not breaking with traditional forms just because they disliked traditional forms. They did so with a full understanding of what those forms were and how and why they worked, and for a reason. "To be different," is not a reason. Lots of things are different. That doesn't necessarily make them good. Cheese-wiz in my coffee instead of sugar would be different. Pouring my coffee over homemade vanilla ice cream would be different and good.

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Dragon Age Forum News III (Jan. 02, 08)
Posted: January 3, 2008, 1:04 am by chevalier

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

Classes ?

Actually, no -- stamina would only get used by employing special attacks and abilities. You can indeed swing your sword all day in regular fashion (if not dramatic).

Dressing up and dressing down

There are a couple of quests that I can think of where you have the option to disguise yourself in an outfit, but no "formal attire only" tea parties that I can think of (though that's a neat idea).

As for armor, there are indeed different types and variances within each. Whether one is prettier or more stylish than the other-- I guess that will be subjective. There is also regular clothing if you want to put it on, but wearing armor certainly isn't out of place in this environment.

Arena

The dwarves use arenas as a method of clan distinguishment and bloodsport entertainment -- they call them Provings (and the arena itself is a Proving Ground).

more:


Sounds cool. Can non-dwarves participate in provings?

Only the regular ones -- the ones meant to entertain the bloodthirsty masses.

more:

While the Proving Grounds can be a means to an end, I don't think there's any point at which you are forced to compete.

more:

Would you miss content? *ponder* I suppose you might decide to go to the Proving Grounds just to see what it's like. It's less a side quest, however, and more of an optional activity -- not UCW optional, perhaps, but optional nevertheless. If you decide to act out of character so you can go Prove your worth, don't blame me.

Why is it so difficult to end a game well? [MANY SPOILERS]

Well, let me say this: the more linear the story, the better you're likely going to be able to wrap it up neatly. Which is to say if you know exactly who your protaganist is, and you know exactly what your plot is going to encompass and when your climax is going to occur, it's going to be a bit easier to bring it all together to make what will likely be at the very least an appropriate ending (though naturally tastes vary and it may not be an ending you like, much).

Add in such complications as a variable protaganist or an open-ended plot and things become much more difficult. You can never quite anticipate what the player's story was (meaning what they experienced as their personal narrative throughout the game) so wrapping it up in a way that will be satisfying specifically for them becomes more challenging.

I do like the Fallout method (if you want to call it that) -- we used it in Throne of Bhaal and in Hordes of the Underdark, as I recall. The thing there is that it's not so much an ending for the player's character as it is an ending for every other character and/or place in the game, right? And since I know exactly what those things are about for certain, I can give them an ending that is appropriate.

It certainly doesn't help that, in most cases, we tend to work on the ending last. Which is to say we usually end up working on the game's ending in a period where we might not have time to do it justice. I would say that maybe we should do it first (or earlier) but then I think of all the times when we have had to radically change things in the story due to outside pressures (like an axed cutscene or some change to the engine) and I wonder how viable that kind of plan would be.

You'd think that the needs of the story would dictate everything else in the game-- but no. Alas, it's a bit more of a dance (or a frantic scrabble, as the case may be) and that complicates something that is already not that easy to do.

It's something that we're constantly trying to work on, anyhow.

more:

Tsk tsk. You are on the verge of punting kittens there, sir. The problem with time management on projects of this scope is that there is nothing simple about it. No plan meets contact with the enemy, not ever. Entire schools of thought are devoted on how to do this sort of thing properly. And while, yes, delaying the project another week might indeed give it a better ending that tends to be a slippery slope towards delaying it for all sorts of other reasons. And we won't even look at feature creep, which is a whole other ball of wax.

Like I said in another thread, there is so much being done right at the end of a project that you can't just split it all up into things that are "done" and "not done". At no point are we going "okay, we're all done everything else, now let's work on the ending!" -- it's more a matter of working on the ending while you're also simultaneously finishing off every single other part of the game all of which is at various stages of completion.

It might be hard to imagine, but the short story is that we always reserve plenty of time to work on something like the ending. Because we do it last, however, by the time we get to it the reality is far, far from ideal. (And, frankly, this applies to a lot more situations that simply a game's ending.) Such is simply how it has always been. I have no good answers, myself, I'm afraid.

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Tell me something I don't know. Even so, the plain fact is that the needs of the story often have to take a backseat when it comes to more practical considerations, much as we might like it to be otherwise.

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You are twisting the facts there, I think. Their goal is to save the world, and they do just that. For some characters this is a pyrrhic victory, sure, but it is still a victory -- Sauron does not conquer Middle Earth. Evil is vanquished. To portray the Lord of the Rings as a tale where the heroes do not complete their quest is more than a bit off -- it is, I suspect, the most classic example of such.

Some General Questions About Dragon Age

Yeah, DA's a funny project if you're going to talk development time, because it hasn't been developed on a normal schedule. It all depends on what you consider to be "in development", really. Do we count the period where DA was just being planned and there were talks about it? Do we count the time where there was a handful of us passing around design docs and working on the background material? Do we count the period where there was a small team putting together the tech demo for E3 in 2003? Personally, I can't even pinpoint for you when the "full" team came together, as it's been done in bits and globs over the last few years.

I'm not sure how other companies do it, but I suspect you all wouldn't normally be privy to those periods of a project. All that stuff would be going on behind the scenes, with you all blissfully unaware that anything was even going on. Not that this hasn't been a long process, sure, but I suspect it seems longer than you're used to because of the extra early announcement. Whether you consider that to be a good thing or not is debateable, but there it is.

Party banter topics

I'll ask a question, here, because I'm curious:

Is being able to ask your party member anything at all and strike up conversations with them really that important?

And I don't mean this from the perspective of "oh they don't want to read all that!" or anything of the sort. Naturally I love dialogue. I do wonder, however, if having all these discussions with a party member really doesn't offer diminishing returns.

Now, before you scoff and knee-jerk to "but more is better!" think about it. In Baldur's Gate 2, the only party members you could speak to directly outside of directly quest-related conversations were the romances. And even then they initiated on their terms. Did that make you feel less close to them? Did you feel less close to the non-romance characters?

Part of the issue is that I think you get a lot more characterization out of doing than simply talking. When you're talking about something immediately relevant, like the quest at hand or the statue that's in front of you, you're getting characterization in context. But just talking to them seems like the dialogue equivalent of exposition, at times.

Another possible issue is one of expectation. If you can chat with the party member at any time about anything, wouldn't that build up the expectation that you should be able to talk to them about anything?

I'm all for having some flavorful dialogues, and it certainly seems like talking to your party member should just be like dialogue in a book or a movie -- but you have to remember that in those other mediums it's always staged. It's always at the perfect moment, or with the proper sub-text. Not to mention that sometimes I think we almost get more bang for the buck with things like banter between the party members themselves, or the little comments they make at random (the pop-up comments in Hordes of the Underdark were wonderful, I thought, compared to how much work they required).

Maybe the responses I will get will suggest that maybe we're just not doing it right, and maybe we're not, but I find this is one area where my experience says that expectations of what should work do not always match reality.

Questions on magic in Upcoming Dragonage

There are a couple of questions in there, but let me see if I can sort them out.

As far as the power of the individual mage goes, I would say that, yes, they can be quite powerful. A lot depends on the sort of magic they specialize in, but in general magic tends to be pretty blatant in its effect. By and large, spells are crafted for use in battle -- but that is primarily because that is what is taught. Other magics do exist, like mind control, but they are forbidden and obviously not the sort of thing one gets taught at Hogwart's (so to speak).

Which is not to say that an interested mage couldn't learn such forbidden arts, just that he's not going to start off with it.

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1. Can a Mage call fire from thin air? Or does there need to be a source present to manipulate.

Effectively, yes, you can call fire from thin air. Transmutation of such energies is the meat and potatoes of the Primal school, but regardless of the explanation the end result is the same.

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Hmmm. There are limitations as to the scope of magic in Dragon Age -- it's not a power that let's one just "do anything". You couldn't, for instance, just whip up a house... or change the weather patterns, for that matter. Spells are often more blunt in their nature, the application of (or transformation of) energy, and any repercussions are going to be local and immediate. There is also the sort of enchantments practiced by the Tranquil, but that is way on the other end of the spectrum and even less like what you're talking about.

As I said, however, the reason for this is largely because this is what mages are taught -- as in this is what they are allowed to be taught. There are likely more things that magic can be employed for, even going so far as breaking the "rules" of magic -- certainly your average renegade would claim such -- but none of that is going to be common knowledge you start off with.

Does that answer your question?

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No, if your mana is used up, it's used up. There are ways to slow down your mana use, but no ways to simply replenish your mana unless you-- well, no. That would be forbidden. Mustn't discuss that.

Motion sickness sensitive: Will I be able to play?

Dragon Age may not be the game for you, then.

Toolset?

If you're going to put a toolset out there, you want it in a shape so that it would be useable by the general public. And, yes, it would have to be supported. Since the focus of DA is not on having a toolset, it's not going to get as much attention as the game itself is getting -- but that's not to say that we don't want to put it out there. Just that it's too early for us at the moment to judge when & how.

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Err... did we say we would withhold it? You're not talking to a company that doesn't know the value of a modding community, after all. All I'm saying is that whenever we put it out, it's going to work. If we really decide not to put the toolset out there, it's probably because it wouldn't benefit anyone -- not even hidden away secretly somewhere.

PC Personality

As someone who enjoys a little snarkiness, myself, and employs plenty of it in real life I will just point out that sadly it doesn't work quite like you'd expect it to in a game.

The problem is that in order to be snappy or witty you often need very specific lines -- much like the examples you've given. The problem is that they often become too specific. You get players who want to have a playful or cheeky character but who wouldn't opt for that tone specifically (in which case the option is wasted)... you might think it's weird, but when it comes to the funny responses there are a lot more nuances than you might think. Sarcasm is not the same as cheeky is not the same as witty. So which one do you pick?

Not that you can't occasionally find something that's still a funny line without it being so specific nobody wants to pick it -- there are lines like that in DA, for sure. The issue that you need to contend with, really, is just how much time you're going to spend giving the player options on how he says things rather than what he says. Considering that the "smartass" option is generally 100% a how-you-say-it option rather than a what-you-say one, it's often a difficult one to squeeze in.

I suppose we could make a game where there are dozens of option at every node which include all the various ways that a player could say a line, for the purity of roleplaying (and one assumes these dozens would be for every possible what-you-say option)... either that or you get to pick some option at the beginning of the game saying "I am stoic" or "I am a smartass" or what have you, and then all the what-you-say options were presented in that manner (requiring, of course, that we then write every single dialogue options in each applicable variety -- I'm really looking forward to THAT game, myself, wooo)... but, to me, that seems like spending an inordinate amount of time on something that I think you really would get a limited amount of return on. That may just be me, but I think there's a reason you tend to only get these sorts of lines in games where your protaganist is a set one that has already been assigned that smartass-type personality and there isn't any choice in the matter.

Just something for you to chew on. I suspect there are people who will profoundly disagree with me (as always), but all I'm saying is that this is one place where my experience has taught me that what you think might be neat doesn't always play out like you think it should when it comes to actual application in-game.

The Bioware Plot Model [MANY SPOILERS]

The plot model you point out isn't any kind of mandate. It is, rather, an observation of the route we tend to take-- for some very good reasons.

I know that it's very easy for the jaded to bemoan how very tired they are of it all, god forbid their delicate sensibilities have to endure yet another epic adventure, right? But we have our way of doing things, and I think it's pretty fair to say we play it pretty safe. We're not going to do something different solely for the sake of being different. That said, nobody said we won't do anything different. Dragon Age will have its distinctive features and innovations that make it Dragon Age.

Even so, I am quite certain some people will see whatever they expect to see. Break any story down far enough, after all, and you'll be left with the Hero's Journey or something that looks like that plot model. Not hard to do.

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As I said, I've got nothing against trying different things-- but different does not make it good, no more than familiar makes it bad. You seem to be saying that only by doing something different can we be creative, which I don't agree with.

Sure, I wouldn't mind doing something really different with the story, myself-- but I am a writer. If writing were all there were to making a game, that wouldn't be such an issue, but of course it's not.

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I will just point out that "mixing it up" is responsible for some of the worst bits of game design I've seen lately. I'll be playing a game, enjoying whatever element of gameplay that they've put out that's solid and polished -- and suddenly everything gets flipped on its ear and you very much get the impression that the designer suddenly decided to "mix it up" for no good reason and it's very much not fun.

I appreciate the "make it art" advice, but it honestly seems like you are imagining the process to be something it's not.

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I wonder that, myself. Perhaps it's because everyone expects the "next big title". Perhaps it's because any game that isn't pushing the envelope gets written off by the media and the industry. I'd like to think that there's room for a smaller title to be a hit sort of the same way that an independant art film can be -- but something tells me the mediums simply don't compare that neatly. If games were all about the story and the art & technology side didn't matter, maybe that wouldn't be the case... but, again, it really is.

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In other words, to do something great it takes talent, determination and a set of brass ones! And I for one am not questioning Bioware's talent or determination

Uh-huh. Well, thanks for the tip.


Shoot, Miranda is doing it at Ossian Studios with the Obsidian enhanced Aurora engine!

Is doing what? Paying the bills for a company with 350 employees? I suspect not.


Is it just fear that a low profit game (or a stinker) will tarnish the brand? If so, why not create a small sub studio for Indies? Disney created Touchstone...

Perhaps you forget that we did have the Live Team and are moving into creating stuff like the Sonic game -- which does take a much smaller team. I could even see us setting up a satellite studio, who knows? Perhaps we don't do more of that because we don't have the people to spare from the larger projects which we want to do -- or perhaps we're simply not doing the projects that you would like us to do? It sounds like you should be sitting down with the company guys and discussing their business plan with them. Shall we set up a meeting?

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Perhaps instead of holding your breath you should start your own company or get a job in the industry. You might think that unrealistic, but I'm thinking it might offer you some perspective. It is, after all, very easy to cheer from the sidelines when you've nothing to lose.

As for the rest, there's no harm in offering an opinion, so I'll just take it for what it is. Thank you.

How close do you want DA to be to BG?


1. Identifying weapons

No, you don't need to identify anything.


2. Longer story with more side quests
2a More twists and/or deeper story (probably would come with a longer story)

Hard to judge at this point... perhaps? Even so, if you're expecting BG2 kind of longer, that's not going to happen.


3. keep the D&D elements that has made BG II my favorite game of all time

Which are? The DA rules system has some things in common with D&D, but not much.


4. Keep the classes more strict (I think this one may be out already but i'll explain anyway) A mage should not be able to pick up a sword and use it just as good as a warrior/fighter class.

Definitely not in the works. Mages are strict in the sense that they're the only class that can spellcast, but otherwise there's a lot of leeway allowed in which direction you want to take your mix of classes and abilities.


5. Armor that "makes sense" I had a Light armor that was just as good as my heavy armor in ME (this could not happen in BG 2) It could maybe have special abilities but it would not have an armor class just as good as the best heavy armor.

The DA armors are pretty distinct, though it's not clear-cut when it comes to usefulness. Some types of armor are better against certain classes of weapons. Heavier armor provides more protection, but is not always desireable depending on what kind of fighter you're going for.


6. More Cities/different types of locations. (after awhile it seemed like ME looked the same except on the main quest).

We've got some pretty distinct areas, including cultures which have a distinct look, but I'm not sure if this would be more or less distinct than ME. Re-use of art is always going to lead to a little bit of this, but without re-use of art you're never going to get to any sort of volume of content, I'm afraid. If you want longer games with more areas, you'll need to give a little on this area, I think.


7. Less mainstream than ME (ME for the masses BG for true RPGers)

Without question. ME was an Action/RPG for a reason. DA is intentionally aimed more towards the core RPG audience.

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Ha. I think I can say with certainty that dialogue alone is not going to expand your playing time by that much. Some, perhaps, but ultimately more story requires more resources. This is why we designers spend so much time hat in hand imitating Oliver Twist at our project meetings.

This is not to say that DA is going to be short, by any means. The focus is on content, for sure. All I'm saying is that if your expectations run to thinking that the amount of content in BG2 is or should be the norm that you're setting yourself up for disappointment. BG2 is fine and all (I reserve a warm little place in my black, black heart for it, as well) but even had we the capability I'm not sure we'd want to make a game as long again. I'm sure y'all appreciated the effort that went into it, but even as we were doing it we recognized that it was excessively indulgent.

There are lots of things that went into the kind of experience that BG2 offered which can (and are) being brought into DA -- amongst other things. Massively-almost-overlong game length is not all that BG2 had going for it, after all.

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but if you have trouble coming up with a huge amount of new content

This is really not the issue.


But that's *why* people love and remember it.

That's super. I love it, too. It also doesn't change anything.

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I wasn't trying to be snarky. All I was trying to say was that the fact that you or I or anyone remembers BG well doesn't change the reality we're facing today. And someone can be cynical about it if they like and suggest how we "just don't care" about those fans who liked BG anymore, but it's not even about that. BG was a product of its time -- and while you may look back on those days with rose-coloured glasses, *I* certainly wouldn't want to relive most of those difficulties that went into making it. Not for anyone.

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We're still considering our options when it comes to post-release content -- do we want to expand the current story or continue on to new places? That sort of thing. Add-ons like you're suggesting are certainly not out of the question, however.

Chris Priestly, Community Coordinator

What do we want from a Demo?

I would not expect a demo.

That isn't to say that it couldn't happen. But we are not a company that generally does demos. Sorry.

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videos,

Maybe


screenshots

Possibly


concept art

Could be.


gameplay videos

Feasibly


trailers

Perhaps.


big news update?

Perchance.


Any talk about any of this at all for 2008?

Conceivably

But not necessarily.

Toolset?

The important thing for EVERYONE to remember here is that everything is still in the works and no decisions have been made yet. So don't get over emotional one way or the other as nothing has been set in stone regarding toolset, support, release, etc, yet.

When we do have news about Dragon Age and/or a toolset for DA, we'll make it known. Stay tuned.

Scott Meadows, Senior Programmer

Toolset?

Of course there is a toolset.
How else would everyone do their work.

Will it ship to you though... I don't know.
The above link is a good summary to read.

We are trying to focus on making Dragon Age a great game.

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You are not part of a developement company then...

Ever hear of distractions, changes in scope, etc...

I say trying, I could change it to say trying and succeeding, but I am sure someone else out there will come along and twist my words.

To quote Bart and Homer.
"I tried really hard and still failed."
"Well then, you learned a valuable lesson; Never Try."

Georg Zoeller, Designer

Classes ?

There are no class based item usage restrictions (e.g. if you want to wield a sword with your mage, go ahead).

Sheryl Chee, Writer

Arena

Not necessarily. There are different kinds of Provings. The rules of each match are decided before the match begins. It can be a duel to the death (and tends to be, if one is fighting for honor) or to first blood. Breaking these rules, for instance, killing someone during a fight to first blood, results in pretty serious consequences. And the Provings that serve as entertainment don't normally result in a death. They'd just run out of combatants that way, and the fans would be annoyed.

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When such things happen--and they happen very rarely--it's usually an accident. Someone got carried away and went too far. The Provings are almost sacred in dwarven culture, and choosing to disregard the rules of the Proving Grounds is like giving the ancestors the finger. It's not acceptable and you're pretty much bringing shame upon your entire house. Most dwarves wouldn't do it if they could help it.

Whether or not we give you the choice to do it... well, that's like asking if we're going to give you the choice to go on a mad killing spree and murder everyone in a town. No, you don't get that choice. Sure we could give you that choice, but what would it add to the story, really?

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