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Bioware is lost for the RPG community

Discussion in 'Playground' started by Merlanni, Dec 19, 2010.

?

Is Bioware lost for the RPG community

  1. Yes, be happy with shooting/action games (ports)

    30 vote(s)
    62.5%
  2. Might be, they balance the border nicely

    12 vote(s)
    25.0%
  3. No, they still make good RPG's we expect to much

    6 vote(s)
    12.5%
  1. Shoshino

    Shoshino Irritant Veteran

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    really? If you think about BG2 the only reason you cant charge head first to the end is because your character isnt strong enough to do it, you have to proceed around multiple often repetitive side quests inorder to raise your level so that you have a chance of taking on the big bad guy. there was only one path to the actual end, you had to presue others to be able to complete the main quest. DOA is alot better.

    the main quest isnt that detailed, if you import a level 20 character and simply follow the main quest how long would it seriously take you? it is prolonged by things like "go to this tunnel, cut a swath through behloders and retrieve an eye stalk... now go to this tunnel and cut a swath through illithids and retrieve blood" it is made longer simply by the time it takes to do things, not by the intricacies of the quest itself.

    I dont think role play means having the freedom to do anything and everything after all.... a franch maid is a french maid... a teacher is a teacher ;)
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2010
  2. Marceror

    Marceror Chaos Shall Be Sown In Their Footsteps Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) BoM XenForo Migration Contributor [2015] (for helping support the migration to new forum software!)

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    Yes, really. I mean, the game isn't simply a matter of Chateau Irenicus, Choose a side (Shadow Thieves/Bodhi), go to Spellhold, Sanguin, Underdark, Confront Bodhi, Suldanessalar, Hell. Yeah, that's the basic structure and the primary straight line in the game, but if that's all we had there's no way this game would be as popular as it is. The game gives us a whole world to explore, primarily during chapters 2, 3 and 6, and these many, many possibilities allow the game to playout as a series of many lines and possibilities rather than just a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 straight-line approach.

    I have never viewed this as a shortcoming or a weakness of the game. I think it's great that you not only have an opportunity to explore, but you are given a good reason to do it in lieu of directly moving the plot forward the whole time. This allows the plot to be relatively simple, which isn't a bad thing, while letting the player wander a bit to see what he/she finds. The fact that there are some Fed Ex quests thrown in isn't any sort of significant deterrant for me.

    As for Dragon Age Origins, I love that game don't get me wrong, but for me it doesn't have quite the same magic as Baldur's Gate 2. DA is a not too distant second, but BG2 is my favorite CRPG.
     
  3. Caradhras

    Caradhras I may be bad... but I feel gooood! Veteran

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    Reading my previous post again I think it sounds a bit aggressive. Sorry about that.

    I don't know where you found that maxim. I really disagree with that assumption. The opposite could be claimed.

    Storytelling is not about showing, the following quote is taken from “On Fairy-Stories” by Tolkien:

    No offense but I trained as a teacher and your maxim isn't necessarily valid either as far as teaching is concerned.
     
  4. Shoshino

    Shoshino Irritant Veteran

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    I agree, I never saw it as a weakness, but alot of people will go through the game without ever, truly completing it, is it wrong of a game to give a player the course to do everything that the game has to offer, ME2 for example helps a player to find everything
     
  5. Marceror

    Marceror Chaos Shall Be Sown In Their Footsteps Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) BoM XenForo Migration Contributor [2015] (for helping support the migration to new forum software!)

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    Wrong? Certainly not. There really isn't a right vs. wrong here. If the game's formula works, and captures the players and causes them to love the game, then that's what's important. It doesn't really matter how you get there, I suppose. However, the BG2 formula has worked better for me than any other CRPG I've played.

    You will see nearly everything in DA, though there are a good handful of small quests that are optional, and that works well for that game. With the added downloadable content you get a little more freedom with some of your quests, albeit for an additional financial investment.

    It's interesting that you mention Mass Effect 2, as that played out in a highly non-linear fashion. There were tons of quests that you could easily ignore. There was an entire galaxy to explore, which could largely be done in the order you chose. So I view ME2 to be closer to BG2 in regards to it being a game that gives the player a lot of freedom on how and what to explore. Not surprisingly, this is something that I appreciate about Mass Effect 2.
     
  6. Morgoroth

    Morgoroth Just because I happen to have tentacles, it doesn'

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    Since I'm more of a adventure game fan really I appreciate the quality of dialogue, atmosphere, depth in characters, complexity of storyline and humour above many aspects of playability. I find myself going back to older games rather than the new ones even though older games like Ultimas can be really a pain these days when your used to a easy interface and low learning curve. Still I find them to be better in the end than games like Mass Effect or even KoToR. They are more rewarding and feel more like pieces of artwork than simple entertainment, which is what modern games really mostly feel like. I can't remember a game in the last ten years which would have truly been a rewarding experience, they have just been entertainment pure and simple. It's also probably why I haven't bothered to update my computer since my tabletop said kaboom, I really see very few games that would justify me getting a new computer for just gaming. My laptop manages everything else I need at the moment.
     
  7. The Magpie

    The Magpie Balance, in all things Veteran

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    [​IMG]
    So did I. I was trying (although I may have been unclear) to say that you have to account for different learning styles. Interactive media are probably unique in that they can do so many different things, and cover many different styles. Just catering for those who rote learn well (e.g. big manuals) limits accessibility, and doesn't guarantee that a game will have depth.

    "Show, don't tell" is a saying my old English teacher used to use, mainly in relation to plays, to mean that it's better to have something play out in front of the audience than simply be reported by a character 2nd hand. A good example of this is the latest Harry Potter film...
    ... where Hermione obliviates her parents' memories of her. In the book, she just tells Harry about it. That wouldn't have had the same impact in the cinema, so they show it happening, with family photos disappearing Back to the Future-style. This gives the sequence much more emotional impact than if it had simply been reported.
    Videgames could even have their own maxim, thinking about it. "Play, don't show". It's much better for the player to play through story elements, tutorials etc. than it is for them to sit through cutscenes, twiddling their thumbs. Funnily enough, that's probably the root of my turn-based hatred: why should I sit there watching whilst my guys get pounded?

    EDIT: just remembered this post which says most of what I wanted to say about BioWare, way more succinctly.
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2010
  8. Caradhras

    Caradhras I may be bad... but I feel gooood! Veteran

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    Sorry but I discard anything that is related to the obnoxious little potter. :p

    In any case If you've cared enough to read the quote I've posted earlier you will see the HUGE flaw in your old teacher's motto (especially if it's taken literally).

    For instance, in the first Lord of the Rings movie when Bilbo asks Frodo to show him the ring in Rivendell, we see the old hobbit morphing into some sort of goblin like creature who hungers for the ring while Frodo shrinks back in sheer terror whereas in the book it is as if a veil has fallen over Frodo's eyes and it seems that the old hobbit is turned into some sort of evil greedy little creature. The MAJOR difference is that in the movie we are shown the trasformation as being objective and actually happening as Bilbo turns into a greedy little monster whereas in the book we are told that Frodo sees the old hobbit as a monster. The transformation is subjective. We know that it is the effect of the ring on Frodo which causes him to see his relative as a greedy old monster and not the effect of the ring on Bilbo that has this effect.

    The difference is huge and points out the limits of showing vs telling. True you have to combine them at times but it is rather limited to claim that showing is superior to telling (even when it comes to dramatic arts). Shakespeare used both telling and showing and it can be argued that they both served different purposes (as they should).

    IMO showing is much more limited because it doesn't rely on the audience's imagination. The best horror movies are the ones that don't show anything. Think about Jaws or the first Alien movie. The audience is told that the shark/alien is there but is almost never shown the monster. Special effects can't beat imagination.

    Regarding the old games discussion I've stumbled upon this while browsing the net: Fallout's Forgotten Revolution. It's well written and explains rather well why the original Fallout is still vastly superior to new CRPGs like DAO.
     
  9. Shoshino

    Shoshino Irritant Veteran

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    if you want to use your imagination why would you use any form of media created by someone else? Everything gives you a description of whats happening thats not using your imagination thats simply visualising what someone else has created, I had a similar debate with a work collegue recently where I argue that even books dont technically allow the users imagination, because the picture is still painted for you. sitting down and writing your own is the only real way to use your imagination.
    this sentence for example:
    is an example of this, your not imagining the situation, your being told what frodo sees.
    I'm not a book reader, I tried, but I get so bored, I'm a visual person, I would rather be shown whats happening, rather then told whats happening.
     
  10. Caradhras

    Caradhras I may be bad... but I feel gooood! Veteran

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    What I'm pointing at has been expressed in a better way by Tolkien (so I'm quoting this again for your benefit):

    In other words when we see a picture we see a visual representation that is the same for everyone (same lines, same colours) -I'm not taking into account things like colour blindness obviously. You're a visual person so you like being shown, you like seeing the scene so you can have a picture of what is happening. The advantage of visual representation is that everyone shares the same visual elements so it establishes a stable frame of reference for everyone.

    What Tolkien argues is that any visual representation is limited because it is only one instance of the representation of an idea, a concept that varies from one person to another.

    If you think about a tree and I think about a tree we won't picture the same tree in our mind's eyes. The mental images we will picture will be different, it will be personal. Thus if we're being told a story we will picture different stories in our minds. We will imagine different settings and we will use imagination to fill the gaps.

    Another example: you're British and I'm French, if we both think about the word bread, you may think about a loaf of bread while I will be thinking about a baguette or a "pain de campagne" if you google these for images you'll have many different examples of different types of bread and some will be quite different from the mental images that the word "bread" creates in your mind or mine.

    The way literature works, when you read a word or a sentence you become your own director. You're the one picturing the scene by reading the description on the page. If some details are missing you'll use your imagination to add the missing elements.

    That's why we all imagine a slightly different version of any given character when we're reading a novel (provided that we are not influenced by illustrations or movie adaptations). Sometimes the writer describes everything and sometimes much is left to the reader's imagination. But even if the writer describes everything you're still the one who is picturing the scenes or the characters using your own frame of reference, your own palette if you will. The way you picture a character will always differ from the way someone else will picture the same character because all this representation is taking place in your own mind. In other words, even if the written description is exhaustive and even if someone is to capture an "ideal" representation on paper of such a description it would still be only one instance in a paradigm that remains open and is ultimately contingent on the limits of the reader's imagination.

    This can't happen when you're shown everything which can be the case with visual representations that are based on showing and not telling (painting, drama, movies -although some directors use clever ways to work around such limitations). That's why literature is more personal and -like Tolkien pointed out- at the same time more universal (it speaks to all of us directly, "from mind to mind").
     
  11. The Magpie

    The Magpie Balance, in all things Veteran

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    [​IMG] @Cara:

    Firstly, before we stray evermore recklessly into exceedingly pedantic territory, any maxim is a generalisation. Naturally, "show, don't tell" is a generalisation that doesn't have 100% reach. It also appears from your examples that you haven't fully understood the meaning of it. I would define "showing" as seeing an event -- in whole or part -- unfold. "Telling" would involve trying to inform the audience of events purely by reported speech or written text. The skill in showing comes in pacing what is shown, how to show it and how to get actors to convey emotion appropriately.

    There may well be situations where Star Wars-style scrolly text is appropriate, and when used succinctly it's fine. And the monologue is a fairly well worn stage device, that takes a phenomenal actor to pull it off on screen (largely because they need to be skilled enough at showing emotion through their expressions alone to hold an audience). But you can't generate atmosphere in films, TV or games using text or speech alone. Even if the monster isn't seen, the dark spaces and looks of fear on potential victims' faces are. Having a character say "there's a really ugly monster out there and it ate Bob" neither generates any terror or helps us empathise with a character -- in short: show, don't tell. (And if the storyteller's really good, they'll leave blanks to fill in gradually over the course of the piece.) Is it more affecting to have a character say "I'm sad" or see them break down in tears?

    To bring in Shakespeare, remember that the highest form of dramatic expression in his time was considered to be the ability to convey a story without words. Of course he used reported speech (and his plays are exceedingly wordy), but mostly he showed events with characters speaking as a way to convey emotion that could not have been seen by 90% of the audience on the actors' faces. The reported events were generally less significant. For example, the way Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are summarily dealt with at the end of Hamlet, in just one line: "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead". Essentially, Shakespeare was deeming them to be so unimportant as to not be worthy of showing their deaths.

    Your point about special effects is fair enough, though. Far too many movies try to amaze with effects but forget that using them all the time means they're not special any more. But that's largely an unrelated argument.

    Returning to videogames, my point was mainly that "play, don't show" should be the maxim. Yes, choice has suffered, but it's largely as a consequence of demands for voice acting to do the telling part, rather than text. Basically, the showing & telling part has taken over more of the playing parts. Whereas before written text would never take more than a few kBs even for the most branching, choice-filled story, we now have whole CDs of voice actors to tell us we have less choice than we had before. Choice is about how you play the game mattering, and is hugely important to RPing. BioWare have been busting their balls lately to try and shoehorn choice back in. They haven't always got it right, but they're working harder than anyone. But first and foremost, a game has to play well. If it doesn't, then all the choices in the world don't matter, as you're just choosing between flavours of dog poo.

    I totally agree with the article about Fallout. An absence of choices is the main plague that modern RPGs suffer from. Actually, I'd argue that it's your choices that make an RPG an RPG, more so than either levelling up or experience points. You need choices to RP at all, but the moral choice system in most RPGs (and this has been BioWare's problem since KotOR) is that there's often little middle ground, and you're left with a choice between being either Hitler or Ghandi. Most games' "moral choice" systems work this way, too. Unfortunately.

    Of course, what the article completely avoids mentioning is the combat system itself (it does make reference to character tactical specialisations, but not the system of actually playing the game). I've gone on record on how turn based combat is my personal bete noir, and it's the only thing really wrong with the original Fallout at all. I'd be more than happy for developers to pay more attention to Fallout's choices, but a return to its combat system would be a massively retrograde step.

    It's always worth remembering that old games had many great features, but that there were often flaws large enough to shove an elephant through. Games like Fallout and PS:T had enough great bits to outweigh the flaws. BioWare have been trying to mash the best of old & new together for quite some time now. I just don't think it's at all fair to complain about companies expending effort on improving gameplay (the "game" bit of RolePlaying Game), and hark back to a Golden Age that never quite existed. We do need more choices (the "RolePlaying" part) but as developers master technology, that becomes easier to implement, as proportionately less time needs to be spent on bells and whistles.
     
  12. Shoshino

    Shoshino Irritant Veteran

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    has it? I prefer the movies interpretation, that Bilbo is effected so much by the power of the ring that he physically emotes towards it.

    but on the other hand you get people who do not picture anything from these words, I take the word bread to simply be the word bread. I read a book and all I get from the experience is the words on the page, the phrase "the brown dog" to me is simply that, I accept "the brown dog" I dont picture a brown dog of any particular breed.

    isnt that what people want? isnt that why film is so popular? why film is a multi million pound industry while literature is dwindling? people dont want multiple instances of an idea, and either way, you will only ever picture it in your way, you cannot experience Joe Bloggs idea unless it is visually shown to you.
     
  13. Gaear

    Gaear ★ SPS Account Holder Resourceful

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    lol, there will always be as many opinions on what makes a good game or what a game should be as there are people playing them.

    Play styles vary widely. Some people actually love inventory management, for example, or party/character building, more than the games themselves. I don't consider myself one of those, but I have to admit to compulsively managing my inventories in Dungeon Siege long into the night (and that was a game that had absolutely no story).

    Whatever floats your boat, right?
     
  14. Caradhras

    Caradhras I may be bad... but I feel gooood! Veteran

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    @The Magpie: reading your post I don't think you understood what I was pointing at so let's leave it at that. I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. By the way thanks for the "definitions" of telling and showing, I find the whole explanation quite amusing... like someone trying very hard to explain basic notions to some kind of illiterate moron (at least I can spell "accessibility" and English is not even my native language). It only gets better when you use the word "pedantic" such an apt choice. Kudos to you. ;)

    @Shoshino: reading your post I'm pretty sure you don't like poetry either. I won't bother you with more booktalk, by the way you've misquoted me, when I said that Tolkien expressed it better I was referring to the bit about imagination and literature not the comparison between the book and the movie. I understand that you don't care for the ambiguity and the complexity of the written word but let me tell you that movies will always need books (if only the awful stuff like Twilight and Harry Potter). Still, you're probably right about the film industry. The truth is probably that human beings are lazy and reading is something that requires more concentration than watching a screen. People get dumb watching the TV, they don't get dumb reading books.
     
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  15. NOG (No Other Gods)

    NOG (No Other Gods) Going to church doesn't make you a Christian

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    It's not just reading that requires work. Imagining requires it, too.

    For further defense of the written expression, let me add this. I have seen many visual interpretations of Poe's work. Not one was even a fraction as terrifying as when I read it for myself.
     
  16. olimikrig

    olimikrig Cavalier of War Distinguished Member ★ SPS Account Holder Resourceful Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) BoM XenForo Migration Contributor [2015] (for helping support the migration to new forum software!)

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    I'd say that depends on which books they're reading :p.
     
  17. The Magpie

    The Magpie Balance, in all things Veteran

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    [​IMG] @Cara: I respect you, so don't think I was attempting to patronise. But I've got bogged down in "definitional" debates before, I was simply trying to be as explicit as possible in my terms to avoid arguing at cross purposes. Besides, the original meaning of "pedantic" is "like a school master" so we were probably doomed to wander that path in advance.

    Also, nothing in my argument was aimed at books in general. I was trying to provide reasons, other than miserly publishers, for the decline of the printed manual (although they have certainly played their part). I was railing against unnecessarily verbose (somewhat ironically, I admit :heh: ) instructions, and to say that games that ignore a well-crafted tutorial in favour of pages of text are basically being lazily programmed. I was never, at any point, going against books, novels, newspapers or any other print media. To do so would have been off topic, so I avoided it.

    I was making a general point about the need to use the visual potential of TV, film & games for maximum emotional and narrative impact. Impact that can't be generated by reported speech -- or a text box. Heck, technically even Missile Command could tell a good (if simple) story, bringing themes of the horrors of war and the futility of nuclear conflict to the table without any text other than "THE END" when you (inevitably) cocked up and lost your last city.

    But my central contention is this: that to claim BioWare "lost" to the RPG community just because they're not making RPGs that are exactly like a couple of games they made over a decade ago is :bs:. (Particularly when that's pretty much what DA:O was.)

    The RPG genre is probably the broadest of churches. So who are "the RPG community"? People who buy & play action RPGs are as much a part of this community as people who played every tedious turn-based dungeon fest farted out by SSI when I still used a computer that had green writing on a black screen. BioWare are the only company at the moment making games for the entire RPG community. They can't be lost to it, not when they're its greatest champions.
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2010
  18. Enagonios Gems: 31/31
    Latest gem: Rogue Stone


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    Dragon Age was pretty good. Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 are awesome.
     
  19. Munchkin Blender Gems: 22/31
    Latest gem: Sphene


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    ME1 also has the content. In fact, I going to each area and exploring as much as I can before I go and complete Feros, which is the last of the 3 quest you go back to the counsel and maybe go after Saren. I'm still new to ME so no spoilers about the story please.

    As far Bioware is going; if ME2 plays similar to ME1 and the story is as developed or better than ME1 Bioware created another great RPG, I will eventually find out in the next few weeks.

    As for Bioware in general - I consider them EA RPG arm of the company.
     
  20. NOG (No Other Gods)

    NOG (No Other Gods) Going to church doesn't make you a Christian

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    While the RPG community is a wide 'church', it can be broken down into a number of sub-genres that, to some, are as disparate as the genres in general. For example, I despise action-RPGs. I understand there are those that like them, but to me, they're as foreign as shooters (literally, as I think of many of them as close to shooters). It's just an opinion, but if BioWare makes nothing but action-RPGs from now on, they're lost to me, and to my section of the community.

    Now, I'm not quite ready to say BioWare is lost, simply because it was a number of years since their last 'pure' RPG before DA:O (and DA:O was an excellent 'pure' RPG). DA:O may have been their last horrah into the tradition, but it also may simply be their latest horrah. Maybe they'll release another in 3 years, or 5, or 10. It's sad to see that it won't be DA2, but it may be DA3, or something else.
     
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