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BioWare On Why Making a Blockbuster Game Is a Poor Goal 192

BioWare co-founder Greg Zeschuk spoke at the 2010 Develop Conference about the current focus within the video game industry on making huge, blockbuster titles, and why that is the wrong approach. Quoting Gamasutra's coverage: "'While blockbuster game creation is everything that most game developers working today growing up wanted to do, it's precisely the wrong thing to chase in gaming's contemporary landscape.' Risk-taking from publishers and investors has dramatically declined in recent times, the Mass Effect and Dragon Age studio-runner noted: 'As a result, innovation and creativity [are] being squeezed. Where the bottom of the market had dropped out at one point, now it’s the middle of the market has dropped out. Unless you can be in the top ten releases at one given time, it's unlikely that a triple-A game is going to make money.'" Zeschuk also commented that consoles aren't necessarily the future of game platforms, and that BioWare is experimenting with smaller scale MMO development in addition to working on their much larger upcoming Star Wars title.
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BioWare On Why Making a Blockbuster Game Is a Poor Goal

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  • Not 'Why try?' (Score:5, Informative)

    by Aladrin ( 926209 ) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @06:27AM (#32911194)

    This reads like 'Don't even bother trying to make games that are awesome.' They are actually trying to say, 'Don't overspend and try to make a blockbuster game just by spending money.'

    It's perfectly possible to make and amazing hit game without the budget that Bioware and Square Enix put into games. Do games care about graphics and cutscenes? Yes. Do they care more about gameplay and controls? Absolutely. It's just a LOT harder to come up with good gameplay and refine the controls, so they throw money at the pretty pictures instead. It's never been a good idea, but they do it anyhow.

    The #1 killer for videos games (for me) is bad controls. If controlling the character doesn't feel like an extension of myself, if the character doesn't always do what I think it'll do when I hit buttons, if the character is slow to react or I have to wait on its actions, it's absolutely killer for me. It's the reason I now rent games instead of buying.

    Some of the better games, like Fallout and Resident Evil, I've never played because I felt like I was fighting the controls instead of fighting enemies. It's just not fun.

    A coworker was just saying the other day that Sonic on the iPhone sucks because the controls are so bad, even though it was one of his favorite games. And that Street Fighter is amazing because the controls are perfect. Not a word about graphics or gameplay, just controls. (2 separate conversations, too, so it's not like he was comparing them.)

  • by Edge00 ( 880722 ) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @08:17AM (#32911734)
    Chrono Trigger is a really bad example of the point you are trying to make. Today it does seem like a rudimentary game, but when it was released in 1995 it was anything but. The game was released by the biggest RPG maker in the world at the time and was made by a "Dream Team" of developers, including Akira Toriyama (creator of Dragonball Z). The graphics, gameplay, music, and multiple endings all went way over the top of what was expected in a game. This game was designed, ground up, to be a blockbuster...and it was.
  • by mcvos ( 645701 ) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @10:29AM (#32913354)

    From an economical standpoint, you could've spent those 120 hours into creating more value which would exponentially enlarge your initial investment and pay someone 50$ to be entertained in your place, so you could free up those 120 hours for a decent return-investment.

    Just saying...

    Just saying that the only value in life is in making money? Personally I prefer to see money as a tool to make my life enjoyable, rather than a goal that requires the sacrifice of all joy in my life.

  • by Jarnin ( 925269 ) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @09:51PM (#32922270)

    My beef with DA is that it lacked a convincing villain. We had a big bunch of orc-like Darkspawn, led by an infested dragon who periodically rose up to take over the world. The motives therein were not addressed at all.

    You must have ignored all the codex entries you pick up throughout the game.

    The dragons taught human barbarians how to use magic. Eventually this leads to the foundation of the Tevinter Imperium, which is sort of like Rome led by mages. The people of the Imperium worship dragons. Eventually the dragons influence the mages to invade the golden city of the Maker, and all hell breaks loose, literally. The mages corrupted hearts taint the golden city and it turns black (The black city in the fade). The Tevinter mages are cursed, becoming the first Darkspawn, and then cast into the deep roads. The dragons are cast to the deepest parts of the world for leading humans astray. Part of the Darkspawn curse is that they can hear their former gods calling to them psychically, which causes them to seek them out, but, also due to the curse, as soon as they come into contact with one of their former gods it is immediately cursed as well, turned into an Archdemon. This archdemon then leads the horde of Darkspawn to the surface and there's a blight, which only a Grey Warden can end by killing the Archdemon.

    The blight in Origins is the 5th. There were only 7 "Old Gods" the Tevinter Imperium recognized. This means that there can only be two more blights. Sounds like the makings of a trilogy, doesn't it? One Archdemon to kill per release. But that went out the window when Awakenings came out. I'll let you discover out why that is.

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