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Building a better RPG: The BioWare Way

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Building a better RPG: The BioWare Way

Game News - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Thu 24 February 2011, 10:06:43

Tags: BioWare; Dragon Age 2

It looks like BioWare is concerned about the first impression their RPGs deliver ever since they learned that a large amount of people stopped playing Dragon Age after a few hours. First impressions are important, Mike Laidlaw ponders.

BioWare's made no secret of the fact that they keep a running tab of player metrics, and Dragon Age: Origins was no different.

They learned a few neat tidbits -- "more people played warriors than rogues or mages" explains lead designer Mike Laidlaw -- but they also learned something that changed their approach to Dragon Age II.

"We saw a lot of people disengaging at hour one, hour two. Not pursuing it, right?" explains Laidlaw. The Dragon Age team might have chalked some of those lost players up to rentals, but the statistics didn't back it up: a significant number of people simply stopped playing Dragon Age: Origins after a few hours.

"I think what it really spoke to is something RPGs have been wrestling with for a long time: that first impression," says Laidlaw.

So they fixed it.

"You get to an RPG and fire it up, and ... it hits you in the face with a thousand stats. Those stats are very cool, but you may not be mentally or emotionally prepared to deal with them as your first thing to do in the game," he says.

To keep people from checking out early, Laidlaw's team totally reinvigorated Dragon Age II's intro. The result is so seamless and subtle that players might not even realize they're being taught to play the game. Sure, there are some button prompts here or there, but the way Dragon Age II introduces its combat and narrative are remarkably elegant.

Are you an emotionally and mentally prepared enough dude for a BioWare RPG?

Spotted at: GB

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