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Georg Zoeller on innovation in Bioware games

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Georg Zoeller on innovation in Bioware games

None - posted by Vault Dweller on Mon 26 July 2004, 23:42:25

Tags: BioWare; Georg Zoeller

Georg Zoeller, a BioWare designer, posted his thoughts on innovation in Bioware games and what we should or should not expect to see in Dragon Age.

Let's put it this way: When you are moving on new ground (i.e. own IP, new rules system, etc), you better make sure that the game you are developing still retains some of the elements that made people buy and love your previous games.

It wouldn't be very smart to *completely* change your winning recipe in one step, because if you throw too much of what you've done in the past overboard in a single game you

a) lose the advantage of your team's experience. If you start over with too many things at once, you lose technical and creative experience you gained with your previous games and your development time will skyrocket.
b) run a huge risk of alienating your loyal fans/customers and potentially losing them.

Innovation is good and necessariy to keep on top, but there is no need for radical innovation if your system works. Stepwise improvement is much smarter

BioWare is innovating - with Jade we are entering new ground in many ways (Action based combat, no "classbased" system, etc), with NWN we entered new ground (modable RPG, 3D engine) and with DA we will again enter new ground. But all of these games also have BioWare signature elements that most of the people that buy our games expect from us. NWN went a small bit too far from what people expected and there was quite some critique about it - and we went in with hordes and tried to fix those (i.e. henchman interactivity, number of henchmen) and the review scores tell us that we were on the right track.

In the end there is only space for so much innovation in a single game, and you will do a risk analysis and see if "that piece more of innovation" is really worth a significant higher development time or potential lost base customers.

Finally, not doing certain things doesn't mean we are not willing to innovate, it can also mean that we think these things don't work, don't work in a BioWare game or that market / technology are not ready for them yet. If we think that i.e. "turnbased combat" or "learning by doing" doesn't belong into a BioWare game, there is no way you will see it.

I mean, if it was all about the big buck and such, it would be a lot easier for us to do what most companies seem to be doing these days and throw a couple more sequels at you guys, these are so much cheaper to develop and tend to sell pretty good.

I like his choice of words: "NWN went a small bit too far". Sounds like it was too advanced for its time or something. How about NWN fell short? I also like that one: "the (HotU) review scores tell us that were on the right track". Didn't NWN review scores also tell you that? Anyway, discuss!

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