Space Ramblings

More Dragon Age 2 Apologia from Marc Laidlaw – Part 2

More of the same.

dragon age

What we tend to do when looking at companions is we start with who would be interesting and, honestly, who would make sense.

And then they came up with the least interesting characters and stuck you with them, then out of desperation went fishing for characters from Origins and Awakening.

Certainly, the main character having a stronger personality, one where you are able to provide sarcasm, [instead of] having you be the straight man and relying on someone else chiming in for the laughs.

That means you get the chance to either say something stupid or sexually harass a party member.

On first blush, it’s easy to dismiss the new people as nowhere near as cool as the old people. But what I see with Dragon Age II is that the characters, perhaps, don’t wear their hearts on their sleeves as much simply because they don’t have to, because we have more time for them to evolve and grow.

Wishful thinking much? They do wear their hearts on their sleeves and there’s nothing there. They’re boring one note characters.

The story arc around Aveline–to use one of our best examples–is more involved than any character story arc we had in Origins.

Are you kidding me? Aveline trying and failing to hit on one of her officers is more involved than a Golem on the loose trying to figure out its moral code only to learn that it began as a female dwarf? And that was only an Origins DLC character.

when you read a line of Origins dialogue for comparison, you see everything you could potentially say. In your brain, you’ve done the totality of that conversation. Whereas looking and saying, “Oh, I know that’s going to be a smart-aleck line, but I don’t feel it’d be right to use it,” you’re left with that temptation or that urge to pick it because you can’t tell exactly what you’ll say.

So the point of the new conversation is to give you conversation options without letting you know what you’re going to say. Why not also give you weapons with unpredictable effects?

The key driver behind it was the idea of unique visuals, being able to have Isabela stay Isabela instead of generic rogue put into the same leather armor your character is wearing. It lets us create a visual space between Hawke and the companions. And it gives the companions their own personalities [in the form of] unique body models and animations that are tied to how they idle

So Laidlaw is saying that they couldn’t create unique characters without fixing their armor in place?

It’s something that resolves one of the parts I really disliked about Origins where I’d see people’s screenshots with their badass team and they would kind of all look the same. Near the end of the game, everyone had the same set of suits of armor. It was kind of like, “Man, that’s not Morrigan if she’s not in those robes.” We ended up in this space where we decided to go with that visual style, and I think it’s something we’ll continue to iterate on in the future.

So Bioware gets its control freak on again. Pathetic. Controlled conversations, controlled outfits and tightly controlled choices.

The perspective we had for the tactical camera in Origins, with its extreme pull-up, created a very different approach for the way we designed levels. What it really created was restrictions on the way we designed levels.

But that’s okay because in Dragon Age 2, it’s all the same four levels repeated over and over again.

we’re quite happy with what we’ve done with Dragon Age II, and this is establishing a solid foundation that keeps a lot, in fact almost everything I want to keep about Origins, but still has tons of room to grow and, frankly, a more viable future for the franchise.

It’s more viable as a dumbed down console game, yes. Which is the real tell.

It’s one that’s more sustainable because we brought the world to a place that’s inherently more interesting than “Yay, we beat the Blight. Good for us!”

So hanging around the same city where hardly anything changes with no ability to explore is more interesting than traveling around a region and making decisions that actually matter? How does that work again.

That was always really the goal–to bring a fantasy property to life from nothing and to create a world and a space that makes people intrigued and curious to see more. They’re hungry to find out what happens next.

Not anymore they’re not.

We wanted to make RPGs, especially fantasy RPGs, accessible, cool, and interesting to people who have been playing RPGs for the last seven years and not realizing that every time they ate food or went for a long run in Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, they were essentially grinding constitution.

To me, that represents a huge audience that may have disregarded RPGs, especially fantasy, as being too hardcore or too confusing. And making certain changes to make the game palatable without ripping out the mechanics that make RPGs so fascinating to a stats guy or what have you. It keeps this genre evolving into something that’s fresh and not stagnating.

So dumbed down RPG’s aimed at the console audience. How many pages did it to get to that one moment of honesty? Way too many.

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