Building Experiences the BioWare Way

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Building Experiences the BioWare Way

Postby GameBanshee News » Mon Sep 28, 2009 8:20 am

Gamasutra recently had the chance <a href="http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/4146/building_experiences_the_bioware_.php">to grill BioWare co-founder Greg Zeschuk</a> about various development-related topics pertaining to Dragon Age: Origins and Mass Effect 2. An excerpt from the four-page interview:<br><blockquote><b>What do you think about the current state of RPGs? It's interesting that your two upcoming games [Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age] represent almost two different eras, the more modern action RPG and the more sprawling, traditional RPG.</b><br><br>GZ: Yeah. From the perspective of what our overall strategy is for all the games we make, I think one thing that's really important is to make games that play and feel very different. Mass Effect 2 has got a really strong shooting component. The shooter is really good. And of course, you've got the incredible cinematic conversations. We describe it as a third-person conversation where you're directing Shepard, and he's doing stuff. <br><br>Whereas Dragon Age is very much, right from the beginning, an intimate playthrough of who you are, where you came from, and the decisions that got you to the point in the game where it starts. That's a very personalized experience. It's a little more traditional in that you've got a party and you can directly control the party members. You said "sprawling," which is a good word to use, because really it's a gigantic game. <br><br>It's funny -- I've been teasing the lead designer about that while we're here because I'm almost done with my [Dragon Age] playthrough.<br><br>...<br><br><b>On the topic of choice -- looking back to, say, Baldur's Gate -- having a choice in a game now is a lot more expensive than having a choice in those days. Now, you need all these unique assets to represent the various options, whereas in many cases back then it was just a matter of telling the player, "This is what your character is saying, and this is what's happening," with text boxes or straight dialogue. Do you find that limits you now? In Mass Effect, although I really enjoyed it, with a few big exceptions, my critical path through that game is basically the same as everyone else's. It looks like Dragon Age puts more emphasis on that.</b><br><br>GZ: It does. I was asking Ray a couple days ago -- I did this one big event one way. I ask, "How did you do it?" He says, "Oh, I did all the ways." "So, how many are there?" "Nine." And to think they're actually really dramatically different. They do have a meaningful change. <br><br>The interesting thing is that even as big as the game is, with the way you get so engaged with it, when you miss something, you almost feel like you've gotta do it over again. One thing we did in Dragon Age is that you can't see everything in one playthrough. It's impossible, literally impossible. Depending how you design your character and what things you value and don't value, certain quests are going to work and some won't work. There are a lot of quests you just can't do. <br><br>My first character wasn't that great at certain dialogue skills like persuading and intimidating. I'd walk up to guys thinking, "Oh, I'm going to persuade him to tell me what this is about." But he's like, "Nah, you didn't convince me," and just walks off. <br><br>In some ways, it's almost crazy, because we actually will create a lot of content that people don't see. Not only is Dragon Age a gigantic game, there's also a lot of unique content when you can make the quest trigger, or find certain things. <br><br>This is all stuff we've ruminated over at BioWare. In Jade Empire, there was a really good example of that. We had a really intricate quest line for one of the characters, very obscure and incredibly cool. But we realized almost no one found it. So we said, "Okay, just don't make the great stuff obscure. If you have great stuff, at least make sure it's out there and that people can find it."</blockquote>