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[EG]BioWare's Mike Laidlaw: A defence of Dragon Age II

post #1 of 48
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Quote:
No more hype: Dragon Age II has landed and the reviews are in. "An enduring classic?" asked Eurogamer's Dragon Age II reviewer Dan Whitehead. "Not quite." He might as well have said, "An enduring classic like Mass Effect 2?" It's BioWare's own fault; if Mass Effect 2 hadn't been such a thunderous realisation of what Mass Effect started, perhaps we wouldn't have expected the same from Dragon Age II. And then there are the people miffed because they really liked Dragon Age: Origins and why did BioWare have to go and change it? I want Baldur's Gate II, stamp stamp.
A tricky position for Dragon Age II lead designer Mike Laidlaw to be in. So, what does he think? Is the criticism fair? The post-mortem interview is here.

...


Eurogamer: Are you happy with the reviews of Dragon Age II?
Mike Laidlaw: I am. What we're seeing is a pretty wide range; I've seen perfects, I've seen less than perfects. There are some things I think that are certainly fair criticisms: the re-use of the levels is something we knew was a bit of a risk, but we wanted to make sure there was more content rather than less, so re-using some of the spaces and coming to them again was certainly one we were careful about and tried to re-use as artfully as we could. When we look at reviews and certain concerns that gives us really good, solid feedback to work from in the future. When I see reviews that comment on the way the story is told or interactions with the followers, those are very, very positive, and I'm extremely gratified.

...


Eurogamer: Is Dragon Age II better on PC?


Mike Laidlaw: I wouldn't say so. We actually did extensive work to make sure the experiences were much closer aligned. I would say the gulf between the two was quite significant in Origins, simply because the consoles were tackled second as opposed to concurrently with the PC. There's some amazing visual work on PC - a high quality texture pack and DirectX 11 - and one that nicely scales to the PC's stronger hardware. In terms of the way it controls and the way it plays: the game's are quite identical, it's just that the interface is different.
The console experience doesn't fight itself as much as it did in Origins. The targeting is smoother than Origins was by miles. The console versions now have options like being able to pause and say, "Move to Point", so you can position your archers. There's a greater degree of parity between the two. Our goal was that it was always going to be personal preferences; you were going to get a great experience on whichever platform you chose to play.
There's this strange perception that because the combat is faster - characters leaping into place or charging forward - it's an inherently console thing. We designed that because we thought that the ability to whirl around and snap off a fireball at a guy who's charging you, rather than shuffling in and launching it usually a couple of feet behind him, created a much stronger sense of responsiveness. To me that benefits the PC players and the console players.


Eurogamer: What do you say when people accuse Dragon Age II of being a console game?


Mike Laidlaw: There may be some element of... I guess it's fear that if the PC has certain capabilities and they're not being used 100 per cent of the way then the game must have inherently had things removed because of that. I can understand that. I paid a fair amount of money for my gaming rig and I love to be able to crank it up and push it up. But the simple truth is that PC gaming has never been a platform of a single hardware spec. You've always had to support both lower-end and higher-end PCs. You don't want to design a game that cuts out everyone except the guy who bought his computer this month.
Origins had this legacy of being designed for PC. That was an early and strong opening message when it was first announced in yesteryear, back when we were working on Jade Empire, which was for console. There's definitely a sense that if you didn't design it for PC only then there's some sense of abandonment. Our goal was always to design a good game and move some sliders, as it were, in terms of how fantasy RPGS are typically presented, both from a story and combat standpoint. Doing that is not really a platform-specific choice.



lol, those high resolution packs, just made the game run like crap, didn't really improve the visuals that much at all.


http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2011-03-10-biowares-mike-laidlaw-a-defence-of-dragon-age-ii-interview?page=2
post #2 of 48
Very interesting read. Nice to see that there's some response from BioWare on the reviews. Parts of the answers make me think "Oh crap, what a cop-out" or "Oh crap, they aren't going to change anything in the next one". And then parts of it make me think the opposite.

His answer for "Are you happy with the reviews of Dragon Age II?" is a little concerning though. He comments on two of the biggest things that people complained about (reusing spaces and plot) and he didn't really say that they cared much about the negative reviews on those aspects:
Quote:
"When I see reviews that comment on the way the story is told or interactions with the followers, those are very, very positive, and I'm extremely gratified."

Ok, well what about the other majority of comments that aren't positive on that?

He does go on to say
Quote:
If the Metacritic isn't where we want it to be, and honestly our goal as a studio is to try and aim more for 90, then our next step will be to, very easily, go through those reviews, go through fan feedback, especially over some time - as opposed to the day-one initial response - and look at that in a measured way and say, what didn't work, what did work, where did we go too far, where did we not go far enough, where was there just an inherent dissonance, and try to refine the experience and try to move forward for any future products.

which is hopefully a good sign.

Also, regarding the Metacritic stuff. Sure, it got in an 81 (Xbox), 84 (PC), and a 83 (PS3) but those were all critic reviews. Look at the user reviews... 3.7 (PS3), 4.1 (Xbox and PC).
Edited by kurt1288 - 3/14/11 at 1:43am
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post #3 of 48
Funny enugh i played it on xbox360 and pc and found it much more fun on 360 the targeting system they setup was really easy and fun to use on 360, where on pc your mashing your button hoping to hit somthing i normaly dont like anything on 360 but sports games and i beat dragon age 2 on it almost twice.
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post #4 of 48
When people criticize DA 2 even just a bit on Gametrailers they receive a massive amounts of thumbs down so I think Bioware succedeed in conquering he console fanbase.
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post #5 of 48
Most reviewier staff consist of people who were/are in the gaming industry or people close to the gaming industry and they don't want to throw their fellow kinsmen into the fire with wild, bashing reviews so they pretend that the crap they're reviewing is actually good or worth playing.

The way reviewers feel overprotective about the developers sometimes makes them so blind that they recommend us a TURD like Dragon Age II.

My recommendation is: Never buy a game solely depending on reviews from PCGamer,IGN,Game Informer,CVG etc... The best is to read related forums or user critics in the metacritics section.
Edited by Nautilus - 3/14/11 at 2:02am
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post #6 of 48
What's wrong with DA2? I thought it was hyped to be good.

Why all the hate? DAO was pretty good IMO. What'd they do to DA2?....
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post #7 of 48
Its a good game, but it definitely doesnt have the sense of being an "epic" like the first one did. The constant reuse of areas and abundance of side quests made the game feel much more like an expansion than an actual sequel. The game perhaps does and excellent job of setting up DA3, but realistically little more than that.

Ultimately the only thing I felt was improved upon was the combat and some of the spoken options. The story, strategy, plot, and even the presentation are inferior to DAO.
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post #8 of 48
Haven't had a chance to play it yet, but I know my census is "Meh" for it as of now.

My wife loved DA:O and couldn't wait for DA2, oddly enough she is "trying to like dragon age 2 but it just doesn't feel right" for her opinion right now.

Made me question, maybe sometimes we do ask for too much in a sequel/installment in a franchise. But yet they pulled ME:2 off so well.
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post #9 of 48
Game runs like crap, plays like crap, it IS crap. Nothing EA/BioWare can get that image out of people's minds now.
post #10 of 48
As far as the game "running like crap" I havent had any issues personally.
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