Space Ramblings

More Dragon Age 2 Apologia from Marc Laidlaw

Make of it what you will.

What Dragon Age II does, or what I perceive it as doing, is take a lot of those gameplay elements–working together as a team, functioning as a combat unit, having a story that unfolds with choices (all of those core things that I see as principal to both Baldur’s Gate and, more importantly, to Dragon Age)–and tries to bring some newer ideas to the table (elements of responsiveness, elements of interactivity in the way those fights are coordinated) into what I think is a more modern setting and expectation.

If you understand what that means you get a prize. Dragon Age II really doesn’t have choices since its choices all lead to the same basic outcome. Fights are less less tactical than before. And more modern setting? A modern setting with dwarves, elves and magic?

We certainly knew there would be some friction between what Origins players have come to expect and what Dragon Age II delivers. But I don’t see the two in opposition to each other. I’ve talked to Origins players who said, “As soon as I moved it to hard, I totally see where Origins is again.”

Does moving it to Hard create a better story, better characters or a better world? Cause if it doesn’t, it’s not Origins. Dragon Age 2 isn’t New Vegas where another difficulty level changes the way you play the game.

First, we did want to focus in on a more personal experience–the experience of one person and not the avatar of an organization. To be quite frank, that’s a story we told before, and while there’s nothing wrong with it, we really wanted to challenge ourselves to not have you end up in the Jedi Order or a Child of Baal, what have you.

Instead you end up as the Champion of Kirkwall. So huh. The city is your organization.

But really, what I want to see Dragon Age II set up is a world that’s evolving over time just in the same way that Ferelden, as the Blight advanced, evolved through space.

And Dragon Age II failed to set that up. Kirkwall doesn’t evolve. All that happens is your home base is in a different location with more goodies and the Qunari quarter is blocked off.

So, in that respect, I think the narrow focus of Dragon Age II really does what we originally hoped to do, which is to say, “This is an event. We want to change the world.” As our lead writer said, we want to kick over the sand castle we just built to change something and to show that this is a dynamic space.

Why am I picturing Charlie Sheen reading those lines? Maybe it’s because it sounds like his brand of ‘dynamic space’ gibberish.

In the same way that Loghain is a comprehensible villain, such as it is, we wanted to make sure that we were telling the story of a descent into madness in a lot of ways. It’s driven by miscommunication, suspicion–human motivations rather than some sort of overarching evil.

Actually it’s driven by a nutter with a magical Lyrium idol. And another nutter possessed by a spirit from the Fade. Did Laidlaw even read his own game’s script?

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