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Mass Effect Franchise Put on Ice, BioWare New IP Delayed, Montreal Studio Downsized

Good Riddance

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#41
marelooke

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I feel like they have their business model, and they see indy developers doing really well with a decent fan base and they say "We want that" then they try to incorporate them into their business model, and it ends up destroying what made that indy dev successful in the first place(IE forcing Bioware to jam multiplayer into every game despite being known for their single player experiences.)


I don't know in general, but that's certainly not what happened with Bioware. The obligatory MP mode started with ME3, and the multiplayer component in that game was handled by a completely different studio (Montreal, while the main game was developed in Edmonton), and it was a stripped down version of what seems to have been initially prototyped as a standalone Battlefield-esque FPS. It was also such an unexpected success that its monetization model was copied and has more or less become standard. Their focus on multiplayer can be said to have begun with the choice to make SWTOR an MMO instead of another single player installment in the franchise, and whose development begun before the company was acquired by EA.

 

 

EA basically appears to be a cliché American "enterprise" with everything that entails (I expect to walk straight into a Dilbert cartoon should I go to work there). So yeah, the company culture is likely a big part of the reason why big names have been quitting (if not for what I wroter earlier). Those that stay either do so out of convenience or because they can't afford to leave for some reason.
 
(1) the problem here being the "low wage" part, not the "country" part, as my girlfriend always says: "If you pay peanuts you get monkeys".

 

 
I would disagree here. It's not a matter of pure cost cutting, it's a matter of a corporate culture at your destination.
 
For example in Poland you'd often get as good programmers on average if not better than your average in high cost locations. Just look at various global contests in this field and what these guys can do on technical universities with funding of 0.01% of what US top schools get (might exaggerate the cost part a bit, but the disparity is huge)
 
Then look also at the studios, which bring on average similar quality products to the high cost locations in terms of games and sometimes they can produce a real gem (see the Witcher franchise for example)
 
Same goes to other technically low cost countries. if these countries have good education, they can easily compete with their work force. however the problem often lies with mentality and corporate culture.
 
For example, if in India employees get financially punished even for minor errors and are thought to adhere the procedure to the letter, then do not be surprised that your email with a problem will bounce 20 times, including three times telling that you should raise an error ticket.
 
If the culture pushes for cheap drones, then you will get those. If the culture pushes for problem solvers, you will get those as well, as long as you pay competitively in relation to the local market and purchase power of a dollar. That way you can still save 60% and get similar if not better quality.

 

 

I don't think we disagree, I think I just wasn't clear enough, so let me try to clarify and hopefully not make the misunderstanding worse...

 

Since you were talking about Poland (not the country that comes to my mind first when talking about low cost countries, but hey ;) )

 

The reason why they outsource is *cost*, *what* they outsource is generally "the boring stuff". That Polish employees are relatively cheaper than, say US employees (and I don't think the difference is quite as big as you'd think at first if you factor in social security, retirement funds and all that). Generally these companies pay decent wages by local standards (not high, possibly slightly above average) but the work they have is usually, well, boring. So they get an influx of average, at best, programmers. The good ones can simply get better jobs elsewhere (better, or at least equally well paid; more intellectually stimulating,...)

 

Simply put: you get paid the same to go work on The Witcher, where you likely have some creative freedom or at least input in the process. Or you can type out code to exact specifications for, say, EA for the same wage. Where are the good programmers going do you think? (and in practice I think that the first job would actually pay better too since they actually *want* you to think, the second just requires drones). That's not to mention that I somehow suspect the atmosphere at CDPR is, errr, different from the one at EA companies.

 

Now if EA was willing to pay top money (again, by local standards) they might be able to snatch some real talent and they'd still get it cheaper than having to find an equally skilled programmer (or artist, or w/e) in the US. But that's not what they want and it's not what they do... (however, that is very much what Google, for one, does)

 

And this is assuming it's the company (eg. EA) itself that does the outsourcing, if they are using a dedicated "outsourcing" firm then you usually get the bottom of the barrel (they get programmers as cheap as possible as long as they are still competent enough to get the job done somewhat satisfactorily so as to not lose a customer), regardless of the country you're dealing with (though I guess one could argue that some barrels might be deeper than others...). Not sure if there are of those firms for Poland tbh, I think that the wages in Poland just aren't low enough for two companies to profit off of it (the outsourcing firm + the firm hiring the "resource"(1))

 

Of course there are companies that open entire branches somewhere to get entire projects done at location, that's an entirely different discussion though (we have an office in Eastern Europe and those guys are great, but they're not *so* much cheaper that I need to fear for my job or maybe I'm just underpaid by my country's standards ;) )

 

(1) ugh, how I hate that term, I think I need to vomit now :(



#42
Zoraptor

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EA does sports games well, and that's it.

 

The Sims is an entire division at EA, equivalent to all their sports games put together. It's successful. The Battlefield franchise is certainly also successful. Whether you like them as games is subjective, but then whether you like their sports games is also subjective.



#43
Nonek

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Is anyone else here old enough to remember Origin Systems?  Origin made Ultima and Wing Commander. It was the "crowning jewel" of EA in the 1990s.  This is very reminiscence of what happened to Origin after Ultima IX.  Soon afterward, projects got delayed... and then quietly cancelled a few months later.  Then, over the next couple years, EA shut down Origin, part by part. 

 

I recognize the pattern here.  It seems that another EA-acquired studio is gonna bite the dust soon.

 

Well, good riddance.

 

The comparison isn't quite fair in my opinion, Origin were at the top of their game (and the market) when Elizabeth and Abraham acquired them: Underworld was the top dog in almost every aspect. The Black Gate, Serpent Isle and their expansions had refined the Ultima series into something legendary that a quarter century later is still waiting to be matched. Ultima Online was redefining and pioneering the multiplayer model etcetera.

 

Bioware had already begun a steady decline, and the settling into well worn grooves that it still treads to this day: Lifeless cities and hubs with almost no organic interaction or sense of place, such as is seen in Jade Empire and NWNs hubs. A reliance on iterations of the same character archetypes. The one note cheesy, squeeing humour that they still think is amusing. A protagonist who always ends up being a blatant power fantasy, while at the same time not showing anything but a capacity to collect trash and grind mobs. Static, poorly executed cinematics. Narratives that are disjointed and more holy than the Popes socks. Very poor to non existent attempts at thematic relevance and entanglement.

 

In short i'd argue that Origins loss and mismanagement by EA was a tragedy for the industry, whereas Bioware are not and have not been relevant since parts of KotOR and Dragon Age 1, they're no real loss to the genre or industry.


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#44
Yonjuro

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"more holy than the Popes socks. "

 

 Up voted for "more holy than the Popes socks. "



#45
the_dog_days

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The one note cheesy, squeeing humour that they still think is amusing.


And all this time I thought I was the only one annoyed by that.

#46
kensu

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I'm not so sure I would blame EA for what happened to Origin. Richard Garriot and Chris Roberts have both gone on to have spectacular failures ever since. Also some of those canceled projects were pretty insane. BioForge 2 was supposed to cost several hundred dollars and ship with VR equipment; and this was in the days before USB, so you probably would've had to plug something into your motherboard to get it to work.



#47
Darkpriest

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@marelooke

 

Poland and eastern block countries are low cost. The average pay is low depending on what you use. if straight average, then it's around 900 EUR a month, if using median, it is around 750 EUR a month. You can get high quality specialist in the range of 2,500 - 3,000. At the range of 3,000 you usually have wages of upper management in most larger companies. wages at 5,000k plus are very rare and only in the largest and richest companies, but in that range you also get people who earn 100k a month, so disparities get huge, depending on the owner's capital.

 

now for comparison - in US in the west coast area i read some articles recently that IT engineers earning in 80k USD a year are on the very poor side of this career. So this is something like 6k EUR a month?

 

for comparison, the minimum wage in high cost locations - two weeks on minumum wage is more than a whole month for 50% of working people on various jobs, including accounting, basic IT etc.

 

Yeah, Poland is by comparison a low cost country.

 

***All amounts are in Employees Gross wage/salary

 

@Zoraptor

 

yeah forgot about SIMS - i treat that as a child of Maxis studio, although it is getting worse with each next installment and riddled with more DLCs on each installment. I recall there was a big negative noise at the launch of Sims 4...

 

Shame they killed simcity series.

 

Battlefield - not my cup of tea, but this is something that was for a long time with DICE, not EA per se. It also seen rushed installments suffering later with lower financial results. I feel like the Battlefield 1 was make or break the franchise after some previous fiaskos.


Edited by Darkpriest, 17 May 2017 - 10:22 AM.


#48
Zoraptor

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The spin off Battlefields have not gone well for the most part and recently, but the main franchise ones have all done well. They're not universally loved of course, but then nothing is. I still reckon they'll try a 'genuine' Mass Effect shooter game based on Battlefield at some point.

 

 

The one note cheesy, squeeing humour that they still think is amusing.


And all this time I thought I was the only one annoyed by that.

 

 

A lot of people dislike it- I've usually seen it described as a poor quality attempt to mimic Joss Whedon's humour. That sort of humour relies very much on having well written and well liked (in the appreciation sense, not necessarily 'nice') characters though, if you don't like the characters you tend to end up wishing they and all their 'charming' quirks would be fired into a sun.


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#49
kensu

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The spin off Battlefields have not gone well for the most part and recently, but the main franchise ones have all done well. They're not universally loved of course, but then nothing is. I still reckon they'll try a 'genuine' Mass Effect shooter game based on Battlefield at some point.

 

 

The one note cheesy, squeeing humour that they still think is amusing.


And all this time I thought I was the only one annoyed by that.

 

 

A lot of people dislike it- I've usually seen it described as a poor quality attempt to mimic Joss Whedon's humour. That sort of humour relies very much on having well written and well liked (in the appreciation sense, not necessarily 'nice') characters though, if you don't like the characters you tend to end up wishing they and all their 'charming' quirks would be fired into a sun.

 

Or use the Force to make their wookie friend kill them. >:)



#50
Zoraptor

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That is actually one of the few Bioware set pieces that I'd (almost) unequivocally praise. Credit where due, for once they didn't pull their punches on dark side/ evil options.

 

I'd have to admit to liking Mission though. If only you could have got big Z to throttle Carth instead, but no, he's got less courage than a 14 year old girl and just runs off.


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#51
kensu

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I dunno, Mission seemed like what Han Solo would be like if played by Mindy Kaling. I think I was okay with Mission the first time I played through KOTOR, but the companions are such a joke compared to what Obsidian did in the sequel. I don't know if people still think of it this way, but at the time, KOTOR2 was seen as a spiritual successor to Planescape:Torment, with most of the companions having similar level of depth and interaction.



#52
SonicMage117

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I dunno, Mission seemed like what Han Solo would be like if played by Mindy Kaling. I think I was okay with Mission the first time I played through KOTOR, but the companions are such a joke compared to what Obsidian did in the sequel. I don't know if people still think of it this way, but at the time, KOTOR2 was seen as a spiritual successor to Planescape:Torment, with most of the companions having similar level of depth and interaction.

They were a joke... I always thought almost everything about Kotor 2 was better than the first.

I've never heard of Kotor 2 being a spiritual successor to Planescape: Torment so that's new to me. I guess I have a modern way of looking at Kotor 1 ans Kotor 2. The first Kotor is like Fallout 3 while Kotor 2 is more like New Vegas. I think that's a safe way to put it anyway.

#53
ktchong

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#54
GhostofAnakin

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I dunno, Mission seemed like what Han Solo would be like if played by Mindy Kaling. I think I was okay with Mission the first time I played through KOTOR, but the companions are such a joke compared to what Obsidian did in the sequel. I don't know if people still think of it this way, but at the time, KOTOR2 was seen as a spiritual successor to Planescape:Torment, with most of the companions having similar level of depth and interaction.

I only brought along the Jedi in my party.  I don't think I ever used Mission (been a while since I played).



#55
Nonek

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That is actually one of the few Bioware set pieces that I'd (almost) unequivocally praise. Credit where due, for once they didn't pull their punches on dark side/ evil options.

 

I'd have to admit to liking Mission though. If only you could have got big Z to throttle Carth instead, but no, he's got less courage than a 14 year old girl and just runs off.

As a father the mere inclusion of a little girl in Revan's cadre made me somewhat uncomfortable, and yet I was not at all troubled by taking along Spark in Ultima 7, maybe a double standard or maybe a response to the differing amounts of combat indulged in per game. I have to agree though that spurring uncomfortable and challenging options (such as Mission's murder) is a far more brave move than Bioware usually indulge in.

 

 

I dunno, Mission seemed like what Han Solo would be like if played by Mindy Kaling. I think I was okay with Mission the first time I played through KOTOR, but the companions are such a joke compared to what Obsidian did in the sequel. I don't know if people still think of it this way, but at the time, KOTOR2 was seen as a spiritual successor to Planescape:Torment, with most of the companions having similar level of depth and interaction.

They were a joke... I always thought almost everything about Kotor 2 was better than the first.

I've never heard of Kotor 2 being a spiritual successor to Planescape: Torment so that's new to me. I guess I have a modern way of looking at Kotor 1 ans Kotor 2. The first Kotor is like Fallout 3 while Kotor 2 is more like New Vegas. I think that's a safe way to put it anyway.

 

I believe Mr Avellone wanted to explore the character he began developing with Ravel Puzzlewell, and thus began the genesis of Darth Traya, which obviously also bore some elements of Trias the Deva. There are some other themes and mechanics utilised in Torment that crop up in the Sith Lords as well, such as a wound eating away at reality, the odd fascination Mr Avellone has with visual impairment, and the metaphysical link the Exile and his companions share etcetera.


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#56
Zoraptor

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There's also Nihilus <--> Vhailor and Sion <--> Ignus as well as Atris <--> Trias (and Kreia <--> Ravel*). You can go for parallels on most of the other new party NPCs as well, though they're less direct, eg Atton <--> Morte. It is mostly the thematics though, which fit PST a lot better than the rather vanilla 'standard' Star Wars. Mask of the Betrayer also has the strong thematic parallels to PST, though with less of the direct parallels.

 

*Kreia actually has a strong philosophical parallel to the EU now non canon character of Vergere though, even more so than to Ravel.


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#57
Nonek

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Yes the differences between Kreia and Ravel are also quite interesting: For instance Kreias brave, lone crusade against the force, and her belief that apathy is death is an almost perfect opposite to Ravels self imposed exile in her prison, where her only desire is to once again puzzle at the only riddle she cannot unravel, and leave the planes to grind against themselves. Ravel almost seems like an after image of Kreia, one who has struggled, lost and accepted their defeat. Perhaps a lesson to the Nameless One that some victories carry too high a price?



#58
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most memorable Avellone character will always be Annah

 

she had big b00bs


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#59
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Well whoever is to blame the mantra seems to hold true. Everything EA acquires turns to ****. 

It certainly did for Westwood, and Bullfrog.  Not only that, but IRRC, EA took them off DK3 and set them to work on a Harry Potter game.

 

 

most memorable Avellone character will always be Annah

 

she had big b00bs

I think it was the 28 foot naked statue of her that cemented it.


Edited by Gizmo, 21 May 2017 - 01:15 PM.


#60
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*Kreia actually has a strong philosophical parallel to the EU now non canon character of Vergere though, even more so than to Ravel.

 

Not surprising given that MCA stated he's read through much (if not all) of the EU novels to prepare for writing a Star Wars game.

 

The New Jedi Order series also has a scene early on where Anakin Solo travels with Mara Jade Skywalker to a planet for some R&R and she chews him out after using the force to set up camp because Jedi often forget to train other skills in favor of the force - and has him do everything withot aid from the force.

 

Kreia's skills rant is pretty much the same. Except it was always misplaced because every time I play Kotor 2 I end up with an INT 16 Sentinel and loads and loads of skill points. *shrug*






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