Saturday, July 10, 2010

Dragon Age 2: The Coming of Trolls

BioWare's announcement of Dragon Age 2 has caused no small amount of controversy and conversation.  From rehashing old arguments about the Awakenings dialogue system, to not being able to pick your protagonist, to having a fully voiced PC, to a hundred other complaints that are being made with virtually no information about the game whatsoever.

My initial thought was "it's possibly a little soon". After all, we've still got bugs with the original game, Awakening and the toolset that have been known and not resolved for quite some time. I realise that QA takes time and that different developers are working on Dragon Age QA as opposed to working on DA2, but it still feel like we're moving on a little too early. However, one thing that was brought to my attention by a friend was that the time between BG1 and BG2 is roughly the same as between slated to be between the two Dragon Age games. So keep that in mind before declaring it a "rush job" or "EA influence" or the usual banal rhetoric.

So dealing with the three most common issues:
1) The Awakenings system provided more content per line of party member dialogue than Origins. If you can't see that, then I'm sorry, but you're a fool. No, it's not a perfect system, but it was a step in the right direction. Providing contextual conversation rather than a laundry list of questions in repeated camp conversations is a significant improvement. That's what it was designed to do, and succeeded to a degree.
2) Being able to "pick" our protagonist was something unique to Dragon Age: Origins. That was where the "Origins" moniker came from. Are we suddenly demanding a repeat of something that hadn't been done (well) before?
3) Voiced PC... well, this one I could take or leave. I understand the arguments both ways, and can find ridiculousness is both the supporters and nay-sayers. A voiced PC will change the tone of the game somewhat, will likely reduce the variety of PC responses (because it now impacts the budget more), but will make the game more cinematic.

The question I'm more concerned about is "what will happen to the modding community?" I don't want players to abandon DA:O in favour of DA2 before some of the larger DA:O projects are finished. But that's not up to BioWare.

I find the amount of backlash, vitriol, complaints and wild accusations more than a little ridiculous given the game has only just been announced and virtually no information about it has been provided. Before decrying it as "the death of Dragon Age" or "BioWare selling out" or the myriad of other doom and gloom predictions... how about you wait until you actually know something about the game? Heaven forbid that people on the Internet let facts get in the way of a good rant.


  1. At least it provides for amusing reading over on the Bioboards, haha.

    That said, I can't help but share some of the concerns I've seen. I felt DA:O was a great game because it placed a bit more choice in the hands of the player, and the origins really enhanced that. It really encouraged roleplaying and character concepts. I played my Dwarf Commoner very differently than my Human Noble. I also viewed it as, well...

    They have ME which is great for people wanting a game with a "tighter" story, cinematic with a voiced character and all that. And then they have DA, which is a throwback to more old-school RPGs but with a "dose of next-gen" injected into it.

    I'm not gonna scream bloody murder just yet but it just would not surprise me if they brought DA closer to a ME type of game because that seems to be where the market is going (and ME2 is really succesful). And that would be a real shame. Not because I hate ME, but because I like variety in my games.

    More info is definitely needed though, haha. But I will say that I am not a fan of including a set main character, not with the precedent that DA set.

  2. Let me begin with saying that I am a BioWare/Dragon Age fanboy and probably have biased opinions. I giggled in ecstasy when I saw the DA2 announcement, because my connection here sucks.

    First of all, as long as people prove that Dragon Age is a successful franchise, this won't be its "death." An interview with one of the BioWare heads had something about "17" (translation: a lot of) Dragon Age games. There may be more if this one is successful, and they will likely be varied (a good thing for everyone, I believe a statement of variety was on this very blog somewhere, AH. Different topic, but still: variety.)

    I like the idea of having a fully-voiced main character, mostly because of the blank stare in DAO. Call me strange.

    The idea of a set character (human only, predefined background) is also good for this game, I think. It seems to fit with the (extremely little) information released. Watch, a Dragon Age game with an elf-only lead will get 500 topics saying nothing but variations on "I don't want to play a lithe, pointy-eared person that excells at poverty. I'm bombing EA!" Anyway, origin stories were great for DAO and may make a comeback (maybe), but I'm fine with the direction of DA2.

    I have decided to avoid all topics in the DA2 forums (besides the announcements) except for comedy material. Even when I'm prepared for whining and trolling, it makes me sad inside to read the stuff people post these days.

    Escuse me while I imagine my female characters being called "Hawke." It's a very cool name, even more badass than "Shepard." Let's just hope other people can wait a bit before pointing out "plot holes." I die a little every time I hear that phrase, and a game that's in early development is blamed for them.

    Like I said, I may be biased. As a Dragon Age fanboy, I am anxiously waiting for the trailer for DA2, and eventually the game.

    P.S.: Watch as a new enemy type is revealed next: Troll.

  3. I think everyone is overreacting, letting their grandiose expectations get in the way of what might be a great game. The story behind DA:O I thought was weak, a Lord of the Rings rip-off so to speak, and maybe BioWare wants to shift focus to a more story-oriented game (and hopefully better visuals than their boring brown-colored and unintuitive scenes).

    One thing is for sure, they can't please everyone, and what it all boils down to is personal preference. Most of the whiners will still buy the game anyways, so their complaints never do hold much water.

    I may not be part of the DA community, but I hope DA2 will not destroy the DA:O community. The toolset seemed to be one of the bigger features of Dragon Age, making up for what it lacked, much like the NWN series did. I certainly didn't buy NWN for their Mickey Mouse campaigns. Those things were horrible :P But.... it would be interesting if DA2 could tap into the resources of DA:O without the need for "hakpacks" or whatever DA calls them. Although as you pointed out before, most of the content seems to be centered around nude packs or other horny teenager related alterations.

    My two cents anyways. I don't really care which direction DA2 goes as long as its a good game.

  4. From Wizard of thay.

    played origins enjoyed it.

    played mass effect 2, loved it.

    the fact that da2 is spread over 10 years. is very interesting will be able to see long term effects of your actions from quests/relationships?

    limiting the player to 1 name and race isn't that bad really should be a lot of fun.

  5. Even with the BG-example (while wiki says 2 years), development time have increased by the years. I wouldn't be surprised if this was any other kind of game, I just find it hard to believe you can create a polished +40hr RPG in a year. Even if it is with the same engine. Still, I don't work in the industry so I shouldn't really say.

    I don't mind the Mass Effect 2-esque changes, seems like they're trying to bridge the gap between slow-paced PC-RPGs and action-oriented games. Whether this means watering down the RPG elements remains to be seen, I was personally very pleased with the changes done to ME2. There's no reason to think they would do otherwise, but I'd prefer if they did no changes to the player choices. Such as pre-defining a moral compass to describe your choices. The complex quest design and the ambiguity of the choices within was for me one of the best features of Dragon Age.

    I kind of like that they're changing the graphical style, I just don't hope this means it will be un-moddable or anything. Let's hope they change that lighting.

  6. Dragon Age was cool, really, but still a bit too dumbed down from the golden age classics to my liking - mostly, too few races and classes to choose from, the lack of proper auto-pause combat (or better yet, turn-based), and some downright poor design decisions here and there (e.g. the voices for dwarves and elves). I still managed to enjoy the game, perhaps because the CRPG genre has dried up so much and there are no real alternatives.

    From what I've read so far, we can expect Dragon Age 2 to be dumbed down further and geared to console gaming, which basically isn't good. If we can classify Dragon Age as a dumbed down Baldur's Gate, it seems that Dragon Age 2 will be a dumbed down Dragon Age... ugh.

    So I'm coming to the official forums to fight with all my ancient troll powers, and there will be much hate, fear and suffering.

  7. Hang on... are you trolling me?

    Non-turned based combat and accent decisions make Dragon Age a "dumbed down RPG?" I don't consider turn-based combat essential to the RPG genre, and accent decisions are a cosmetic choice.

    I can kind of understand if you felt limited by the lack of variety in races and classes, because it doesn't have the multitude of classes, skills and abilities of D&D. I'd argue that the designers dropped the ball a bit there too, because mages were the only ones that got real flexibility in character levelling and development. In this regard, I'm not a D&D min-maxer player who will spend hours planning out a perfect build, though I understand the appeal of doing so.