Are Bioware style party RPGs dead?

CaptJohnSheridan

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With the failure of Andromeda are Bioware style RPGs dead? Have RPGs including recent Bioware RPGs become too long?

A Mass Effect game from the original trilogy lasts 20-40 hours. I hear games like Witcher 3 Dragon Age Inquisition, and Breath of the Wild can take more than 100 hours.

Would RPGs have to become shorter without sacrificing story and gameplay to appeal to a wider audience of gamers?

What about writing? Did poor writing and poor storytelling kill Andromeda? Why don't today's video game writers have the same talent as the older generation?
 

Neurotic Void Melody

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I...what?

Is this some sort of bot bubble that's restricting easily accessible information? Reveal your algorithms!


...


What would you do if you came across a tortoise in the desert stuck lying on it's back?
 

Hawki

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Xsjadoblayde said:
What would you do if you came across a tortoise in the desert stuck lying on it's back?
I'd ask what the fuck a tortoise is even doing in the desert for starters. After that, I'd check to make sure it really is a tortoise, and not a turtle.
 
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Divinity Original Sin 1 and 2 are party based RPGs.
Pathfinder: Kingmaker is a forthcoming isometric party-based RPG based on the evolution of old D&D 3.5ed rules
Pillars of Eternity and it's sequel Deadfire are also isometric, party-based RPGs.
Shadows: Awakening is an interesting twist on the "party based" part of the isometric RPG. It is party based except you are ONE character and you switch between different people and dimensions. It's difficult to explain, watch the trailer. You control one character and change who they are to use different abilities. Looks awesome, still early access tho so caveat emptor.

If you mean "cinematic" RPGs, then not so many. BioWare are still working on Dragon Age 4, because the horse, although dead, hasn't been flogged quite enough. It'll be another SJW EA adventure just like Inquisition and Andromeda. They make action games now with some RPG elements, sacrificing story for a "wider audience" as you put it or for "mass market appeal" as EA would put it.

For Andromeda, it wasn't just poor story that killed it. It's already a subject discussed to death, but there's a litany of reasons, amongst which are: no replayability, poor story, poor writing/dialogue, terrible voice acting, retconning half the ME lore, awful characters, no role playing, medicore cover shooter, grindy and repetitive pseudo open-world gameplay (as established in Inquisition) made up of filler and no substance, social justice driven, poor design choices, tacked on multiplayer, rushed development, gamebreaking bugs, and more.

As for writers, I don't believe that contemporary writers are any less talented. Granted we've been lucky to have some incredibly talented writers and devs over the years, but many of them still make games and there are many talented people still in the industry. Eidos Montreal gave us two great Deus Ex games (and one awful Thief game we won't mention), CDPR gave us Witchers 1-3 and have CP2077 on the way. Obsidian still produce great stories, and even EA *spit* published Titanfall 2 which had a spectacular single player campaign. Great writers still exist, they just aren't employed at BioWare anymore.
 

Neurotic Void Melody

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Hawki said:
I'd ask what the fuck a tortoise is even doing in the desert for starters. After that, I'd check to make sure it really is a tortoise, and not a turtle.
Am refusing to bear responsibility for any flaws retained within that paraphrased reference. :)
 

Drathnoxis

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I don't know about their style of RPGs, but Bioware sure is dead. They died the minute they were bought out by EA and have been a programming flesh puppet ever since.
 

sXeth

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Was Andromeda a Bioware style RPG? <_<

Bioware style RPG, I'm guessing is supposed to denote their "party interaction" heavy fan-fiction esque style (and usually quality) of writing. Which I'm sure is still not without its exemplaries in the gaming sphere (I've heard all sorts of fun stuff about Fire Emblem games for instance).

But anyway, Andromeda's failings are not its length. Its the paper-thin to non-existent smear of content across that length. Like if you told me that they borrowed No Mans Sky's backend algorithm and used it to make every part of that game that wasn't one of the bare dozen or so of actual story beats, and just put more production value on it, it'd be entirely believable. Re-used assets are littered all over the place in it.
 

Hawki

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CaptJohnSheridan said:
With the failure of Andromeda are Bioware style RPGs dead?
Depends what you mean by "BioWare style" and "dead." We already know that Dragon Age 4 is in development, and that Mass Effect 5 will (presumably) begin development after the release of Anthem. But on that note, I think it's disingenuous to assume that any developer/author/director/whatever is obliged to stick with one style over time and not deviate from it. Anthem is a clear example of this. Yes, it's a shift from the "BioWare style," but that in of itself shouldn't earn condemnation.

Have RPGs including recent Bioware RPGs become too long?
Don't know about "become," but this is a problem that RPGs share in general - they're a massive time sink.

By my (subjective) reckoning, even the shortest RPG will take about 20 hours to complete. On the other side of the spectrum, as you point out, RPGs can take over 100 hours to complete. In more open-ended RPGs, I reguarly see people claim that they've sunk thousands of hours into an RPG. Whether this is a problem or not is down to personal opinion, but speaking personally, the time investment does put me off RPGs these days, because it would be such a massive investment of time to see the whole thing through.

Would RPGs have to become shorter without sacrificing story and gameplay to appeal to a wider audience of gamers?
Eh, maybe?

But that aside, greater length doesn't necessarily mean greater quality. Something like Golden Sun takes 15-20 hours to complete, 10 if you're really efficient. Xenoblade Chronicles on the other hand took me 100 hours to complete. Still prefer Golden Sun though, even if it's a much shorter game.

What about writing? Did poor writing and poor storytelling kill Andromeda? Why don't today's video game writers have the same talent as the older generation?
If anything, I think writing's improved across the board over the years. I'm not talking about just RPGs, I'm talking across the full spectrum.

Also, what "killed" Andromeda is actually a variety of factors, but if I had to sum it up in one word, it would be "mismanagement." (see https://www.kotaku.com.au/2017/12/the-story-behindmass-effect-andromedas-troubled-five-year-development/)

Seth Carter said:
Bioware style RPG, I'm guessing is supposed to denote their "party interaction" heavy fan-fiction esque style (and usually quality) of writing. Which I'm sure is still not without its exemplaries in the gaming sphere (I've heard all sorts of fun stuff about Fire Emblem games for instance).
Fire Emblem is similar in as much that characters can romance each other (and not just the main protagonist), but it goes without saying that the format of the games is really different. Off the top of my head, I think Star Ocean kind of has a similar romance scheme (least SO4 did), and Wing Commander III is another example (on a ship, choose your girl). BioWare doesn't have a monopoly on character romance, even if they tend to put more focus on it.
 

sXeth

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Hawki said:
Seth Carter said:
Bioware style RPG, I'm guessing is supposed to denote their "party interaction" heavy fan-fiction esque style (and usually quality) of writing. Which I'm sure is still not without its exemplaries in the gaming sphere (I've heard all sorts of fun stuff about Fire Emblem games for instance).
Fire Emblem is similar in as much that characters can romance each other (and not just the main protagonist), but it goes without saying that the format of the games is really different. Off the top of my head, I think Star Ocean kind of has a similar romance scheme (least SO4 did), and Wing Commander III is another example (on a ship, choose your girl). BioWare doesn't have a monopoly on character romance, even if they tend to put more focus on it.
Oh yeah, Bioware doesn't have the exclusives on it. I'd actually cite Final Fantasy 6 as a pretty solid example (and as a notable case of the party interaction not revolving around the main character, which helps to offset the cringey fan fiction feeling). Which ironically made Octopath's near complete lack of interaction look even worse with having name dropped it as an influence. As to whether we'll see such interaction between a cast of characters again, on the AAA level, probably not. The mo-cap and voice acitng and all that schmozz that's become the standard is miles too expensive to start doing for 6/8/12 characters who are present across the entirety of even a modest length RPG.

Its not really the romance aspect that causes it either. Its the general scheme of the party simply being the harem for the main character to pick from. Which yeah, isn't entirely Bioware's own niche. Final Fantasy did it in 7. Skyrim (as much as companions had any interaction at all) also did that. As did Fallout 4 (which took other obivous cues from Mass Effect).

(The other main contributor to Bioware's stuff being fan-fictiony is their tendency to have every party member be either some weird super unique chosen one or the one member of a race/faction that defies the norms of that faction. Which also goes all the way back to the Baldurs Gate days.)
 

Catnip1024

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Tyranny? Off the top of my head.

Xsjadoblayde said:
What would you do if you came across a tortoise in the desert stuck lying on it's back?
Shoot arrows at it to see if they actually hit it or not. To solve two philosophical dilemmas at once.
 

Adam Jensen_v1legacy

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KingsGambit said:
If you mean "cinematic" RPGs, then not so many. BioWare are still working on Dragon Age 4, because the horse, although dead, hasn't been flogged quite enough. It'll be another SJW EA adventure just like Inquisition and Andromeda.
Maybe not after the whole Battlefield 5 controversy. And with their chief design officer leaving the company, things might improve on the gameplay front as well. But knowing EA they'll most likely just make things worse.
 
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Adam Jensen said:
KingsGambit said:
If you mean "cinematic" RPGs, then not so many. BioWare are still working on Dragon Age 4, because the horse, although dead, hasn't been flogged quite enough. It'll be another SJW EA adventure just like Inquisition and Andromeda.
Maybe not after the whole Battlefield 5 controversy. And with their chief design officer leaving the company, things might improve on the gameplay front as well. But knowing EA they'll most likely just make things worse.
You may well be right, but EA/"AAA" publishers have ground me down and turned me into a cynic. I played Titanfall 2 and I couldn't believe something so good could come out of an EA studio. BioWare is different tho and I think being in Canada might be part of it. Canada is crazy liberal and all Canadian university graduates getting jobs as games designers now are bringing their social justice values into their jobs, and the result was Inquisition and Andromeda.

When Mass Effect was created, it was a world meant to rival Star Wars. It had depth and rules, politics and history. Characters in the first game explained why shields would stop bullets but not chairs, why guns didn't need magazines, why the Normandy could stealth and how the mass effect worked, the technology that drove the relays (which themselves enabled FTL). They created this living, breathing universe so that we would get sucked in...there might've been minor issues in the plot, but no major holes. Then EA bought them.

ME2, a game I should say that I still adore, was not the sequel we should've had. The Collector storyline was nonsense, killing Shepard and the Normandy only to bring them both back was awful. Liara's "arc" made no sense and happened entirely off screen. We were forced to work for Cerberus, the Reapers were not just sidelined, but "forgotten". The Spectre thing was also forgotten. They took so much of what made the first one good and said ignore all that, make a third person cover shooter with reloading. Forget that other stuff, just add more mooks. Arrival retconned the whole story of ME1 and ME3 negated both ME1 AND Arrival. Then Andromeda retconned everything that was left, not the least of which was the very name of the game, the "mass effect".

All the great stuff established by the first has been dragged thru the mud now. Prior to Episode 7, the Star Wars universe continued for years in the form of books and comics. All built on and continued the adventures of Luke, Han, Leia, their kids and loved ones. Each book, by different authors, respected the continuity and lore. Different authors wrote each others characters and developed them, such as (my favourite) Mara Jade, Talon Karrde, Kyp Durron, Coran Horn, even Kyle Katarn! EA treated Mass Effect (and Dragon Age) like video game "backdrops" instead of lore-filled universes with rules and continuity (kinda what Disney are doing to SW now).

The result was the world of DA:Origins, a world of shades of grey, violence, racism, treachery and more was a liberal utopia in Inquisition. One of the best moments in Origins was when Sten lectured my female Warden on why she couldn't be a warrior, only at the end of the game to acknowledge her victory. I loved returning to the Slums where she began, seeing what they were doing to the downtrodden elves and exacting justice on the Tevinter slavers. All that gone in the name of social justice and Iron Bull's lectures. I don't have it in me to say anymore about ME:A. I suspect the pseudo open-world "collect fuckabout points" gameplay is going to influence their future game design too.

The doctors left, Drew Karpshyn left (and Mac Walters is a crap writer who isn't in the same league as Karpshyn or David Gaider)...I don't know what to make of Casey Hudson's return...it's a good thing, but is probably too little too late. My love of BioWare for many years, from BG to BG2, ToB, NWN, KOTOR, JE and ME has taken many hits; they're an EA studio now, existing only as brand name and intellectual property ownership. They are no longer capable of making a deep, reactive, single-player, story-driven RPG/Action game without MTX/lootcrates. I will be delighted if they prove me wrong, nothing would make me happier, but I just don't see them being able to.
 

Kerg3927

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Bioware has shifted focus to massive open world fetch quest games with a heavy-handed identity politics agenda. The story and character writing that once made them great was promptly thrown in the trash in the process.

I've been looking for a DAO or ME trilogy style game since ME3, and I haven't found anything the comes close. Tragically, it may be a dead (sub)genre.

I tried really hard to get into Pillars of Eternity, but the religion-themed story just wasn't my bag.
 

Trunkage

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Bioware writing has always been lacklustre. Baulders Gate being a prime example. I couldn't care less about any characters or villian in BG1. The Story is incredibly basic compared to newer things like Wasteland 2, Pillars of Eternity or Divinity OS.
 

Whitbane

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Bioware has become shit because it's another soulless cog in the machine that is EA. RPGs do well, shitty RPGs not so much.
 

CaitSeith

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Seth Carter said:
Was Andromeda a Bioware style RPG? <_<
Damn! Ninjaed!

Anyways, what's "Bioware style"? And why is the OP talking about lengths?

Seth Carter said:
Bioware style RPG, I'm guessing is supposed to denote their "party interaction" heavy fan-fiction esque style (and usually quality) of writing. Which I'm sure is still not without its exemplaries in the gaming sphere (I've heard all sorts of fun stuff about Fire Emblem games for instance).

But anyway, Andromeda's failings are not its length. Its the paper-thin to non-existent smear of content across that length. Like if you told me that they borrowed No Mans Sky's backend algorithm and used it to make every part of that game that wasn't one of the bare dozen or so of actual story beats, and just put more production value on it, it'd be entirely believable. Re-used assets are littered all over the place in it.
As the inside info tells, it was like that at some point; and not just planet, but a dozen or so. I suppose the saw that NMS-like planet surface exploration with the Mako equivalent was even less trilling than with a spaceship and it was too expensive to not reuse assets.
 

Kerg3927

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CaitSeith said:
Anyways, what's "Bioware style"? And why is the OP talking about lengths?
Here is what I consider to be the classic Bioware formula...

Baldur's Gate 1-2
KOTOR
Mass Effect 1-3
Dragon Age 1-2

Create a character and meet NPC's along the way that join your party. Characters are well-developed with lots of dialogue. Some are romance options. Relatively linear story with maybe a few branches. Main story is the focus, with a moderate amount of sidequests along the way.

DAI and then Andromeda was a major departure from that formula. They expanded the maps to massive open world. They then filled that open world with a million tedious side quests. The size and breadth of the massive open world and the endless fetch quests detracts from the main story, and at the same time they made this shift, the overall writing went to shit, IMO.

The stories were never Shakespeare, but I'd say they were original Star Wars trilogy (IV-VI) action flick quality. But not anymore.
 

Trunkage

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Kerg3927 said:
CaitSeith said:
Anyways, what's "Bioware style"? And why is the OP talking about lengths?
Here is what I consider to be the classic Bioware formula...

Baldur's Gate 1-2
KOTOR
Mass Effect 1-3
Dragon Age 1-2

Create a character and meet NPC's along the way that join your party. Characters are well-developed with lots of dialogue. Some are romance options. Relatively linear story with maybe a few branches. Main story is the focus, with a moderate amount of sidequests along the way.

DAI and then Andromeda was a major departure from that formula. They expanded the maps to massive open world. They then filled that open world with a million tedious side quests. The size and breadth of the massive open world and the endless fetch quests detracts from the main story, and at the same time they made this shift, the overall writing went to shit, IMO.

The stories were never Shakespeare, but I'd say they were original Star Wars trilogy (IV-VI) action flick quality. But not anymore.
Never played KOTOR but I can confirm that all your other examples were filled with a lot of tedious side quests. Followed the main story? There are 4 missions out of.... What a 100 that was related to the main story in ME2. Sure that's the worst example (a lot worse than ME:A or DA:I), but your detested examples were just doing exactly what they done before. About 10 main mission and a bunch of time wasters. BG 1 main mission had four steps. Survive the first battle. Get to the city. Get sidetracked by political in fighting. Kill Saverk. That was the COMPLETE main plot. Even ME2 had a more in depth main story (BG1 wasn't overblown with filler quests so it's not as bad in this instance.) Here's the funny thing, a lot of mission in ME:A were related to the main mission - making Andromeda viable. Clear enemies, deal with political intrigue, boost defences, hunt monsters, build alliances and gather resources. I think ME:A problem is that too many side quests are related to the main mission that it gets bogged down in boring quests.

As to characters, Liara was pretty trash from day one and only got cool through the sequels. I never cared about Garrus until ME2. Remember Jack, that trash fire. Wannabe Wrex? Freddie Prince Jnr? Or how Tali was interesting in ME1 and then was squandered. Anders and his absolute nonsense. Sebastian and Fenris having huge stick up their asses... Or Alistair, making the game pretty unpleasant. Oghrim is the worst character ever written by Bioware. Don't get me wrong. PB etc. is pretty bad. She's just par for the course.

Endless fetch quests can go suck an egg though.