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I agree I am loveable. And a troll. I will fight the Squee Faction on the beaches, on the streets, in the hills and on the landing grounds...

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No, Bioware dumped all the effort into the crapulous romances instead.

I think people overestimate how much is put into the romances. And even what constitutes the romance sometimes.

 

Their struggle with main plots seems like something deeper. But that's kind of true for the industry, so whatever unique challenges Bioware faces that they aren't quite overcoming is something I can only speculate. I'll just blame too-many-cooks. It's my default.

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Their struggle with main plots seems like something deeper. But that's kind of true for the industry, so whatever unique challenges Bioware faces that they aren't quite overcoming is something I can only speculate. I'll just blame too-many-cooks. It's my default.

 

Yeah, this is my single biggest problem with RPGs.  The player has to do the main quest, so often devs skip on making it a thing my character would actually want to do, Because Thou Must.  And taking account of different consequences, paths of accomplishment, and so forth is a lot of work on the scale of the main plot, especially since a fair number of players will never see some content if there are real choices to be made.  So the narrative meat of the RPG, to me, is really the side quest.  That's where the most interesting stories tend to be told.

 

I think BioWare is risking this problem again with the Fade tear.  It's a little like the Reaper invasion.  "Well, it's the end of the world, so everybody who knows their arse from the sharp end of a spear needs to be working on this."  OK, fair enough, but why is my guy suddenly head of Operation Let's Not Let Everything Get Completely Screwed?  I don't have high hopes.

Edited by tajerio
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"In BG it is strongly implied that Elminster and whatever other omnipotent authority figures are testing you, and this is confirmed in the conversations he has with you."

 

Eh. What a cop out.

 

 

"I repeat myself, but DA:O would have been better as plain old Dragon Age, and the sole content change would be to delete all the origin stories and have you start as someone who's already a Grey Warden."

 

No.

 

\People who bash being forced to be a Great Warden (which makes sense b/c without it your character would die as evidenced later in the game when npcs talk about the origin characters you don't play - they all end up dead) while defending  forced things by being a Bhallspawn, being a Twitcher, etc., etc. are obviously  being two faced and blinded by their own foolishness.

 

Also, you aren't forced to be the one to kill the Archdemon and/or sacrifice yourself.

 

 

 "Bioware dumped all the effort into the crapulous romances instead."

 

You jokin' right? Romances are a miniscule part of DA and their other games.

 

 

 

 "i'm not attacking Bioware"

\

Doesn't bother me if you do. I attack BIO myself. I've done it in these posts even. Just if you are to criticize them, it needs to make sense. Bashing NWN OC because Elminster didn't come swooping in to play hero and claiming it's okay he didn't do the same in BG is a double standard. As I said, there is only oen reason why he doesn't in either game - it is the PC's story. Plain and simple. He doesn't even show up in NWN. He does in BG but doesn't do a darn thing except  taunt the PC. LMAO

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Elminister didn't show up in NWN because he was too busy smoking crack with Drizzit in his wizard tower.

 

Also, I hated the cameos in BG.

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Elminister didn't show up in NWN because he was too busy smoking crack with Drizzit in his wizard tower.

 

Also, I hated the cameos in BG.

Smoking crack is probably the only way to deal with all the bizarre crap going down in the Forgotten Realms.

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"In BG it is strongly implied that Elminster and whatever other omnipotent authority figures are testing you, and this is confirmed in the conversations he has with you."

 

Eh. What a cop out.

 

 "i'm not attacking Bioware"

\

Doesn't bother me if you do. I attack BIO myself. I've done it in these posts even. Just if you are to criticize them, it needs to make sense. Bashing NWN OC because Elminster didn't come swooping in to play hero and claiming it's okay he didn't do the same in BG is a double standard. As I said, there is only oen reason why he doesn't in either game - it is the PC's story. Plain and simple. He doesn't even show up in NWN. He does in BG but doesn't do a darn thing except  taunt the PC. LMAO

 

I fail to see how Elminster and others watching your ascent is a cop out, they could end Sarevok with a single spell so he is no threat to them, but they seem interested in Gorion's experiment with you. In effect they are trying to ally with a potential good deity, hardly a cop out as a logical reason for their inaction Mr Volourn.

 

As I explain above to me the two situations seem radically different, one has Sarevok aiming to start a small local conflcit in the hopes of seizing some of his fathers powers, something that the Harpers can step in and curtail at any time they see fit if the protagonist fails. The Lizard people are a threat to the whole world however and warrant the attention of important indiividuals rather than an unproven adventurer, Khelbun who shares Elminster powers is on hand so why does he not act? All this seems perfectly logical to me, and hardly a cop out.

Quite an experience to live in misery isn't it? That's what it is to be married with children.

I've seen things you people can't even imagine. Pearly Kings glittering on the Elephant and Castle, Morris Men dancing 'til the last light of midsummer. I watched Druid fires burning in the ruins of Stonehenge, and Yorkshiremen gurning for prizes. All these things will be lost in time, like alopecia on a skinhead. Time for tiffin.

 

Tea for the teapot!

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Elminster was stuck in hell; Khelben and the other Chosen of Mystra were busy with even greater world-threatening events at that time.

Edited by Drudanae
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To be fair, Monte - A strong plot has never been BioWare's best seller - Some people will argue Baldur's Gate begs to differ but I never liked it myself - So maybe that's just me. It's always been the characters who stole the show. even Gaider thinks so. They are at the very least more compelling than most characters in games I know. From Kotor & onward, the plot has always been tirelessly predictable, not to mention how easy distinquishable the good guys and bad guys were. 1 dimensional villains and everything.

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The Forgotten Realms is Baltimore. We need a FR version of The Wire, where Detective Elminster has to reclaim Baldur's Gate corner-by-corner.

 

Bubbs is the LI.

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To be fair, Monte - A strong plot has never been BioWare's best seller... It's always been the characters who stole the show. even Gaider thinks so.

 

In which case shame on Bioware. They should at least aim for decent stories and plotting.

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To be fair, Monte - A strong plot has never been BioWare's best seller... It's always been the characters who stole the show. even Gaider thinks so.

 

 

In which case shame on Bioware. They should at least aim for decent stories and plotting.

Look at the goalposts move!

You're a cheery wee bugger, Nep. Have I ever said that?

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Well, one could argue that the characters 'make the story' - I mean, the story in Kotor isn't bad it's just a cop-out of A New Hope, where the Empire is replaced with a Sith Enpire & the Rebels are the Republic. Oh, and the Darth Vader equivalent is now a 1 dimensional brute, who is about as interesting as a pine cone. What made the game for me was characters like Canderous or Jolee - The sprawly open feel the game had. I had played Sith Lords first so I found it less interesting than Obsidian's for lots of Reading. Characters & plot being one of them. So, I suppose it's true that a stronger plot is needed for Bioware but it's never been what made them at first to me anyway.

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" fail to see how Elminster and others watching your ascent is a cop out, they could end Sarevok with a single spell so he is no threat to them, but they seem interested in Gorion's experiment with you. In effect they are trying to ally with a potential good deity, hardly a cop out as a logical reason for their inaction Mr Volourn.

 

As I explain above to me the two situations seem radically different, one has Sarevok aiming to start a small local conflcit in the hopes of seizing some of his fathers powers, something that the Harpers can step in and curtail at any time they see fit if the protagonist fails. The Lizard people are a threat to the whole world however and warrant the attention of important indiividuals rather than an unproven adventurer, Khelbun who shares Elminster powers is on hand so why does he not act? All this seems perfectly logical to me, and hardly a cop out."

 

No, they aren't. They are the same thing.  Sarevok's goal isn't simply one of starting a small war but take over his father's mantle and cause as much destruction on Toril - something Elminster opposes in principle. The only reason he doesn't intervere because it is the PC's story. The lizard people are only threatening NWC and surrounding areas.

 

Keep trying to make excuses for BG. It is stretching credibility.

 

\It doesn't make sense to attack one and defend the other. It comes down to the fact you like BG and dislike NWN. JUst be honest though, and don't make mombo jumbo up.

Edited by Volourn

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Mr Volourn, I assure you with all honesty that I like neither, and as I pointed out above the two situations seem eminently different to me.

Quite an experience to live in misery isn't it? That's what it is to be married with children.

I've seen things you people can't even imagine. Pearly Kings glittering on the Elephant and Castle, Morris Men dancing 'til the last light of midsummer. I watched Druid fires burning in the ruins of Stonehenge, and Yorkshiremen gurning for prizes. All these things will be lost in time, like alopecia on a skinhead. Time for tiffin.

 

Tea for the teapot!

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Meh, this is variant 200 of the same old argument.

 

You cannot have genuine flexibility in a game with any sort of 'strong' narrative. It's simply impossible. You could not write DAO so that you can choose to become a grey warden- or alternatively remain a dwarven rogue, elven ranger type, mage in the tower. It's impossible, they'd be four different games. In most of the origin stories it is made quite clear that the choice is join the wardens, or die/ game over, fundamentally there is no way to get around that bottleneck as you end up writing a whole different story if you do- and there are dozens of such 'but thou must' points in every game that has a strong narrative. Some are well hidden, some aren't. If you like the game you'll generally accept them (YOU WILL OBEY SEBASTIAN LACROIX AND DO HIS BIDDING; right up until the point you stop doing so by narrative fiat), if you don't like the game then you won't.

 

In the general sense this is like the old Lord of the Rings argument- why not use an eagle to drop the ring into Mt Doom right at the start. Surely, Gandalf, Radagast, Elrond, Galadriel plus extra eagles etc can hold off some ringwraiths and Sauron long enough for that?

 

Well, maybe, but then you wouldn't have LotR, you'd have a different, far shorter, story.

 

That argument is usually made by those who don't like LotR, or whatever is being critiqued. LotR is 'illogical', 'lazy', 'poorly plotted' or similar, when the reality is usually that the person making the argument are looking for a reason to justify their dislike using an objective rather than a subjective yardstick, they want something more than just "I didn't like it" as a reason- and they often won't accept the same logic used against something they do like. If you're going to use such reasons then you really need to provide a useful improvement or alternative* to it, else you're not railing at the quality of the narrative but at the fundamental nature of narratives themselves. You can nitpick any story if you want to. Why was Ned Stark such a moron? Why does Batman not kill enemies when they will inevitably break out of prison? Haha I'm going to stand still and never do anything in Bioshock, take that theory of narrative determinism!

 

*So rather than saying- as something that has come up 200 times as well and which I don't like plotting wise- that the Catalyst in ME3 was 'lazy' it would be more accurate to say that it was poorly implemented and should have been set up earlier. Because the problem there is not 'laziness' per se it's poor planning leading to it being a deus ex machina sprung in the 3rd game, the same general plot device is used in a fundamentally similar way but successfully in multiple other stories.

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Meh, this is variant 200 of the same old argument.

 

You cannot have genuine flexibility in a game with any sort of 'strong' narrative. It's simply impossible. You could not write DAO so that you can choose to become a grey warden- or alternatively remain a dwarven rogue, elven ranger type, mage in the tower. It's impossible, they'd be four different games. In most of the origin stories it is made quite clear that the choice is join the wardens, or die/ game over, fundamentally there is no way to get around that bottleneck as you end up writing a whole different story if you do- and there are dozens of such 'but thou must' points in every game that has a strong narrative. Some are well hidden, some aren't. If you like the game you'll generally accept them (YOU WILL OBEY SEBASTIAN LACROIX AND DO HIS BIDDING; right up until the point you stop doing so by narrative fiat), if you don't like the game then you won't.

This is why I feel the error was in creating the intro sequences for six different games then trying to dovetail them all into one continuity as soon as you're done with the tutorial. Granted I haven't played all six, but some do flow into the main story better than others. Point is, you don't have to get around the bottleneck if you don't create the bottleneck in the first place.

 

It's never been about railroading or not-railroading in CRPGs. It's between good railroading and bad railroading. Good railroading is when the path matches well with what you wanted to do anyway, bad railroading is of the "why the hell did I just agree to do that?" variety.

 

I get that Duncan is basically forcing you to go along on pain of death at the beginning (one of my most hated NPCs of all time, but if handled correctly you could make that into a 'good' character trait). But what irks me is that the game forces some variety of Stockholm syndrome on you, it's like being a slave who upon finding his slavemaster is dead, chooses to remain a slave anyway. The game even teases you about it, you can tell Alistair that Duncan was a bastard who deserved to die, but all you get is some meaningless relationship hit and have to go along with the dead bastard's plans anyway.

 

Now I'm not suggesting my take on the game is universal, but what I am saying is that a large part of being a CRPG writer is in correctly anticipating how players will feel about a scenario and therefore building your railroad tracks in that direction. Say New Vegas for some reason had to be cut down to only have one endgame path for whatever reason - do you force the NCR path or the Legion path? I think the answer is pretty obvious there. Likewise, I have no problem that NV's initial setup is in trying to track down Benny for revenge, because I think it's a reasonable reaction for the majority (though as always, an 'out' is welcome). In Skyrim, I think I would be correct in saying most people loathe the character of Maven Black-Briar, but the only options presented are to either help her, or to not do the (thankfully optional) quest. I feel it would have been much better received had if only one solution was written, that it'd be to work against her. Writing resources permitting, write the reverse choice working for her.

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Actually, I like Duncan. You could view him as a sly two-fingered salute to the Galdalf / Obi Wan mentor trope: Duncan is sly, manipulative and a zealot. A liar who will do anything to get the best suicide commandos to join his band of martyrs.

 

BG2 at least gave you two paths to meet the same end - the Shadow Thieves or Bodhi. Are you really telling me that a game as ambitious as DA:O couldn't find a less jarring or obvious way to find you serving or working with / for / to an agenda for a character like Duncan?

 

I could.

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Under the strictures of the mythology you have to be a grey warden though, and the only path to that is Duncan unless you go traipsing off to Orlais or somewhere. The alternative possibilities aren't exactly brilliant- you say no to Duncan so he bops you on the head and takes you off to join by force (pretty literal railroading) or some set up where you work for Loghain, maybe? Difficult to see how that would either be worth the extra work or not come off as even more massively contrived than the current set up.
 
 

This is why I feel the error was in creating the intro sequences for six different games then trying to dovetail them all into one continuity as soon as you're done with the tutorial. Granted I haven't played all six, but some do flow into the main story better than others. Point is, you don't have to get around the bottleneck if you don't create the bottleneck in the first place.

I rather like the origin stories overall so I'll probably defend them more than they're worth, but, when it comes right down to it whether you have one or six there will be a compulsory bottleneck/ 1 way valve in the story where you become a Warden- or are made one compulsorily from the beginning. You still have the problem where you are told that you like or will at least obey Duncan no matter how you structure it.
 

Now I'm not suggesting my take on the game is universal, but what I am saying is that a large part of being a CRPG writer is in correctly anticipating how players will feel about a scenario and therefore building your railroad tracks in that direction.

 
That sort of problem is pretty much inherent in any game narrative though. Why does the PC care about Duncan and follow his wishes? Because without it you wouldn't have a game. What about people who don't like Duncan and hate the Grey Wardens? Well... what about them? You can't write a game to both sets of people because the story would not merely be different but converging such as the branch in TWitcher2, but actively and fundamentally immiscible. All you can do is say: "here's the story set up guy, you should care about him" and hope that it sticks, for most people. Otherwise it would be like...having the option to tell Hrothgar you don't want to leave Easthaven at all in Icewind Dale. In an ideal world of infinite possibilities it might be a nice option, but if it were there you would have two entirely different games, one stuck through in Kuldahar and the other... fishing and doing scrimshaw on the other side of the mountains until Maj. Charles Emerson Winchester comes along and asterisks things up.
 
I find it difficult to be overly critical about such things because, ultimately, they are a limitation of the entire genre and narrative in general. The only times I can think of when I've found things like that annoying are when I don't like the game anyway, and on a more intrinsic level in Bioshock when it's made a plot point/ metacommentary that it is happening, but nothing is done further with it.

Edited by Zoraptor
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Actually, I like Duncan. You could view him as a sly two-fingered salute to the Galdalf / Obi Wan mentor trope: Duncan is sly, manipulative and a zealot. A liar who will do anything to get the best suicide commandos to join his band of martyrs.

 

BG2 at least gave you two paths to meet the same end - the Shadow Thieves or Bodhi. Are you really telling me that a game as ambitious as DA:O couldn't find a less jarring or obvious way to find you serving or working with / for / to an agenda for a character like Duncan?

 

I could.

 

I like Duncan too, for that same reason. I think a solution they could easily have come up with is to have Duncan kidnap an unwilling player--the guy solos an ogre at Ostagar, it's not like he couldn't beat down your lvl 3 ass.  Now *that* would have been cool.  But it would also have required the writers to provide the player some leeway in interpreting NPC characters, which has not been a strength of the Dragon Age games, and is something I hope DA:I will turn around.

 

Edit: I see Zoraptor and I have diametrically opposed views on this.  Well, I don't mind a bit of literal railroading if I have some choices based on that happening later on.

Edited by tajerio
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To be fair, Monte - A strong plot has never been BioWare's best seller... It's always been the characters who stole the show. even Gaider thinks so.

 

In which case shame on Bioware. They should at least aim for decent stories and plotting.

 

As much as I love BioWare, they give themselves too much credit, and the industry as a whole gives them too much credit.

 

Yeah, they made BG2, but ever since then, they've developed a company-wide overblown sense of self-reverence/relevance. My friend that worked on TOR once told me "you guys are right now figuring out what we've known all along - those guys are crazy". Now, I know not everyone is a Casey Hudson or Mac Walters, but you have to admit that this attitude is pretty clear throughout. You have David Gaider on the forums, who is not a stranger to going off on fans for understandable reasons but with a "woah, woah, slow down there, Gaider" slant. Going back to Casey Hudson, who could forget locking the entire writing staff out of writing the ending to a trilogy, or the lesser known ME1 GDD that actually says "THAT CLASSIC BIOWARE STORY"?

 

They wrote great stories in the context of the past, but ever since then, video games have increased in storytelling experience. 

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That sort of problem is pretty much inherent in any game narrative though. Why does the PC care about Duncan and follow his wishes? Because without it you wouldn't have a game. What about people who don't like Duncan and hate the Grey Wardens? Well... what about them? You can't write a game to both sets of people because the story would not merely be different but converging such as the branch in TWitcher2, but actively and fundamentally immiscible. All you can do is say: "here's the story set up guy, you should care about him" and hope that it sticks, for most people. Otherwise it would be like...having the option to tell Hrothgar you don't want to leave Easthaven at all in Icewind Dale. In an ideal world of infinite possibilities it might be a nice option, but if it were there you would have two entirely different games, one stuck through in Kuldahar and the other... fishing and doing scrimshaw on the other side of the mountains until Maj. Charles Emerson Winchester comes along and asterisks things up.

 

I find it difficult to be overly critical about such things because, ultimately, they are a limitation of the entire genre and narrative in general. The only times I can think of when I've found things like that annoying are when I don't like the game anyway, and on a more intrinsic level in Bioshock when it's made a plot point/ metacommentary that it is happening, but nothing is done further with it.

I don't mind the origin stories as self-contained viginettes either, but where I differ is that I feel they sabotage the overall game in that they set the wrong overall mood for the core storyline - colours the whole thing under a veil of oppression. Being coerced into doing something may well be a valid storytelling option, but crushed my motivation to actually accomplish anything, and so I ended up quitting the game about halfway through.

 

It's why I proposed trimming the fat at the start of the game - cutting out content sucks, sure, but I think it's a worthwhile sacrifice in this case as it actively detracts from the rest of the narrative. I've never played IWD, but in IWD2 You arrive in area as a band of mercenaries looking to do mercenary work, and do exactly that. You're not a bunch of peasants conscripted by the local lord, which is essentially what DA:O does. Now both are stories that could exist, and both probably result in the same fighting of waves and waves of goblins, but they are thematically opposite as can be, and colour the entire feel of the game from start to end.

 

If the very beginning of DA:O had established that I am a Grey Warden, and had been for some time, and that Duncan was definitively my commanding officer, then I'd have been much more motivated to follow through on his goals.

Edited by Humanoid

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