Space Ramblings

Dragon Age 2 Evolution or Devolution

as a genre, if RPGs can’t evolve and can’t change — and I know people yell at me for daring to use the word “evolve” — but if they can’t change or experiment, then the genre itself is going to stagnate. Not only in terms of mechanics, like in rehashes and stuff, which I think we mostly manage to avoid, but the bigger problem is that if we don’t have RPGs that present a different type of experience, then we kind of encapsulate our potential audience to people who enjoy just that experience, and we drive others away.

In of itself, that runs the risk of genre death — it becomes too referential or too reliant on people understanding that STR means strength which feeds into accuracy which results in damage done, and so on. You end up in a case where, the genre eventually burns out, or falls flat, or becomes too risky to take any risks in development, and so on and so forth, and that’s not something I want to see happen.

More of the Same from Mike Laidlaw. Dragon Age did not evolve, it devolved. An evolved game has more to offer. A devolved game has less to offer.

dragon ageIt’s not evolution when your choices in the game don’t matter. It’s not evolution when you’re stuck in the same bunch of levels. It’s not evolution when you can do less.

A page back Laidlaw admits that he didn’t have the assets to design original levels, so that assets had to be reused over and over again. Why were those assets available for Dragon Age, which had more available gameplay and content, but not for Dragon Age 2? They weren’t available because the plan was to dumb down Dragon Age 2, make it for less and orient it at a wider audience. Dragon Age was the investment is establishing the franchise. Dragon Age 2 maximized the audience.

Laidlaw keeps talking about the concept of the narrative framing, something that’s only interesting to pretentious designers. The user experience of the gameworld was badly neglected except for combat mechanics. That’s a devolution.

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