BioWare Employee Busted in Dragon Age 2 Review Scandal - UPDATED

TheMadJack

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Another brick hits BioWreck.

When will this stop? Maybe someone will remove its EA hat and realize their in the deep end.

Oh and if you think, as an employee working for developer, to artificially inflate the score of said employer's release, at least have the brains to use a nickname that can't be linked back to you.

Really, a dumbass move.

To me, after ME3, it's goodbye to BioWreck. It saddens me, but at this point I don't have much choice. I profoundly hate unethical people/companies. That was the last straw.
 

Therumancer

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Nov 28, 2007
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I wrote a thread in gaming discussion called "Dragon Age II: The Truth" which covers my thoughts in detail. Of course with 11 views I hardly think many people have been interested.

In short though I think that the problems with "Dragon Age II" are many and myriad, but largely it comes down to it being a sloppily made game, which did away with everything that made the first game popular with the RPG crowd. It didn't just simplify things, which would have been bad enough, it went about it badly.

Understand that in "Origins" you went moving around through a lot of differant areas, and always had something new to see until the end of the game, also the encounters were carefully placed and balanced. In "Dragon Age 2" they have relatively few areas, and have you constantly re-enter the same maps, where they simply spawn massive groups of enemies which keep respawning to attack in waves. In this game you have backalley dregs jumping off roofs like ninjas or literally falling out of the sky to replace their fallen comrades as you battle. What's more, while I'm all for making combat cool, there is such a thing as maintaining an atmosphere. "Dragon Age" had a nice western fantasy vibe, where I felt like I was in one of the "Lord Of the Rings" movies squaring off with the forces of darkness. I have no objection to them speeding it up a bit, but they decided to make the combat the wrong kind of flashy and TOO fast. I feel like I'm in a brainless action Anime, or a kung-fu movie half the time.... not like a sword and sorcery hero. Doing all of these massive acrobatic moves, throwing gas bombs like Batman, and leaving broken bodies scattered around like peanut shells after a binge, while guys leap off roofs to atack over the bodis of their fallen comrades just doesn't work here. It's a differant type of fantasy, and has me oftentimes going "WTF".

People will sit down and say that they didn't dumb the game down but rather "streamlined" it, but the bottom line is a lot of options are missing. Above and beyond arguements about what you could or couldn't customize in the first game, the problem gets down to core gameplay mechanics like picking your party. In "Dragon Age: Origins" I had a real choice of what companions I wanted to use, I could set them up in whatever way I chose to support my main character. I was not saddled by having to use characters I don't like due to a complete lack of options, or having to say "that's a cool character, I like the banter, but I just don't need that skill set". In Dragon Age 2, you have few if any options. There is ONE tank companion, so if your main character is not a tank that means that for a balanced party you have to bring along their sword and shield character. Sure, the friendship/rivalry system gives you some latitude, but at the same time if your playing a criminal or bad guy, it's absolutly ridiculous to be dragging the ultra-strict "captain of the guard" along as your tank. What's more you constantly have to listen to the nagging and disapproval. It just doesn't work. By the same token if your hero isn't a healer, you have exactly ONE healer companion you can use. He's a mage, and not just ANY mage but pretty much the most vocal pro-mage character in the game, AND even goes so far as to write manifestos in the game (seriously)... having this guy glued to your party if your deciding to play Hawke as a Templar and do a pro-templar walkthrough is an absolute joy to listen to. Like the bit with the guard above, the whole question as to WHY you'd be teaming up with him arises, the only answer is "I need a healer, and there isn't anyone else".

It's not some small minority of contrarians attacking this game, it's a matter of the game being a HUGE disappointment compared to the first one for a lot of the players. Honestly I'd go so far as to say that I think the people who are experiencing "Dragon Age Rage" are the majority, it's just that a lot of them (like my father, who doesn't hang out on forums) are silent about it.

Truthfully, from what I've been seeing the professional, paid reviews have been positive. But that highlights a disturbing trend of how tainted by industry dollars they tend to be. Even before the current contreversy, the user ratings of for this game were pretty bloody low, and it's not surprising that you have Bioware sending staffers to try and pad it out, or try and counterbalance the word of mouth.

Let me be honest, people can argue about the streamlined mechanics themselves which is why so many people defending the game talk about that. You cannot however defend them recycling the same maps so much for quests, or the way they are having monsters just pop up, the wave attacks, and guys falling out of the sky (or jumping off rooftops) as they spawn or whatever. That's just horrendous and sloppy game design, and there is no excuse for it.

What's more even the quality of the much-lauded writing is debtable, because partof what made the first "Dragon Age" cool was that it used Bioware's typical techniques to give the illusion of making desicians. You could decide which factions to pursue first, or leave a given quest chain if your getting annoyed and go play around somewhere else for a while if you wanted to. "Dragon Age 2" in comparison has far less enviroments and versatility of activities and settings, and is also very linear. I suppose it does prevent casual gamers for getting lost, but it's also very noticible when your handed a bunch of main plot quests that have to be completed in a very specific order to progress the story. You can't prioritize things, or come up with an entire campaign strategy. The only real variance you have is the side quests and secondary quests, and they also just involve selecting the quest, going to the right map (which you've already visited for other quests usually.. there are exceptions) and then killing some arbitrary spawn of more or less identical looking guys who respawn constantly until you've killed enough of them.

... also

I was critical of Bioware for their entire stunt with asking the community if we agreed with a design desician... giving people a heavily predetermined protaganist (ie Hawke), getting a negative response, and then acting like it was a positive one and going ahead with it anyway. I think this says a lot for their current mentality, and their tendency to want to try and create the reception that they want. It's pretty sad, but honestly them trying to load the metacritic scores for advertising purposes as opposed to letting them game succeed on it's own merits does not surprise me.

I also think Bioware is paying the price for being idiots with "Mass Effect". I'll be blunt in saying that a LOT of people were unhappy with the way they turned "Mass Effect 2" into a shooter with it's RPG elements stripped away to almost non-existance. The game sold well, but that was mostly due to the positive reception of the first game. Bioware dismissed the complaints, and chose to only listen to the people who praised their design desicians, assuming that those who were upset were a tiny minority of contrarians and probably looking at the sales figures to reinforce their attitudes without bothering to consider that most of those sales occured (like happens frequently with video games) before anyone had seen the game or real word of mouth had gotten out there.

By creating their own reality and ignoring the criticism, I think Bioware figured it was okay to make a sloppy and dumbed down game for "Dragon Age 2" because they think it worked with "Mass Effect 2". I honestly think they are going to be in for a BIG surprise with Mass Effect 3 and it's reception if they don't put in the time to develop it as a proper RPG because I think they lost a lot of "brownie points" with "Dragon Age 2", especially from people who dismissed the Mass Effect thing by saying "well, at least us real RPG gamers have Dragon Age".

Basically, nobody should have been surprised that this game isn't exactly overflowing with critical praise from the actual consumers. A lot of people saw this coming. Heck, read some of my messages over the last six months (A lot of them have probably been archived). I wanted to see "Dragon Age 2" prove me wrong and succeed, but I suspected this was going to be how things would turn out.

Hopefully Bioware will prove me wrong, but I'm saying right now that if "Mass Effect 3" is more like the second game than the first one, the results are going to be even worse than what your seeing here.

The best move Bioware could make right now is to start ensuring "Mass Effect 3" is going to be a very deep RPG experience (in mechanics, not just story) even if that means pushing it up, and to make a BIG deal about promoting it that way. A professional company can't really come out and say "wow, we [email protected] up guys, we're sorry", especially not thise close after a release, but that's the sentiment they need to embrace in their actions.

I'll also be honest in saying that I don't think it's all 100% Bioware's fault, other than them joining with EA to begin with. Simply put they are currently assigned to multiple projects. Their success was originally because they were a relatively small group of developrs who worked on one project at a time, and insisted (like Blizzard) in taking as long as they needed to get the game done right. Under their current management they have increased staff (and that means it's not as elite as it once was), and are expected to keep three balls in the air at once (at least). Rather than focusing soley on say "Mass Effect 2" or "Dragon Age 2" they have their attention divided by simultaneously developing those franchises. What's more they have that huge "Old Republic Online" game in the pipe, and due to the massive price tag the investors doubtlessly demand that it takes most of their best people and attention, no matter whose name actually shows up on one project. I think what we're seeing is that like a lot of companies, Bioware can't operate at their old level under
these conditions.

In short, I think that overall the problem is that "Dragon Age 2" is just a flat out sloppy game. It still shows some of the glow that made Bioware in areas, I mean they aren't dead or anything, but it's just not what we'd expect from the company, or what they would likely have turned out if they had ALL of their resources and best people focused on that one project until they were satisfied with what they were turning out.


Such are my thoughts, thank you for those who read this far (whether you agree with me or not). I take the time to express my thoughts, and I know a lot of people gloss over them due to me saying too much or going into too much detail. I appreciate people taking the time to read what I write.
 

Dogstile

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Jan 17, 2009
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So, let me get this straight.

They reviewed their own game, which they're proud as hell of, and thats wrong? Its a couple of reviews, not going to change much. They used their actual forum names, which shows honesty, so they didn't want to hide it either.

Why the backlash?

And if its a troll who did this, well done sir, well done
 

rsvp42

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Jan 15, 2010
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Dany Rioux said:
Another brick hits BioWreck.

When will this stop? Maybe someone will remove its EA hat and realize their in the deep end.

Oh and if you think, as an employee working for developer, to artificially inflate the score of said employer's release, at least have the brains to use a nickname that can't be linked back to you.

Really, a dumbass move.

To me, after ME3, it's goodbye to BioWreck. It saddens me, but at this point I don't have much choice. I profoundly hate unethical people/companies. That was the last straw.
A bit overdramatic of you. So the Metacritic score goes from 4.2 to 4.2001? That's "inflating?"

Whatever, if people want to get up in arms about BioWare on this site for stupid reasons, that's their choice. The belligerent self-righteousness on the Escapist is getting almost unbearable.
 

Popido

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Oct 21, 2010
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Well, thats it. Bioware has gone senile.

Better give them the pillow before they start repeating old stories again and again.
 

Danpascooch

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Apr 16, 2009
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Sephychu said:
danpascooch said:
Irridium said:
Why the hell do people all of a sudden care about Metacritic? Before this, all anyone did is dismiss it as stupid. Why now is everyone pointing to it as proof for DA2's shortcomings?
Because it's strong evidence of DA2's shortcomings.

People can yell that Metacritic is flawed all they want, but that doesn't change the fact that every other Bioware game on Metacritic had to deal with the exact same set of flaws, and don't have a score like this one.
One could argue that it's stronger evidence of Metacritic's flaws.

This doesn't seem like the kind of thing everyone should get uppity about. It's so easy it has almost definitely been done before. Just stupid to get caught.
Didn't I just say that's not valid because all of these games are on Metacritic? They all deal with the same set of flaws so the playing field is level, the only difference is the game being reviewed.
 

Danpascooch

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Apr 16, 2009
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Irridium said:
danpascooch said:
Irridium said:
Why the hell do people all of a sudden care about Metacritic? Before this, all anyone did is dismiss it as stupid. Why now is everyone pointing to it as proof for DA2's shortcomings?
Because it's strong evidence of DA2's shortcomings.

People can yell that Metacritic is flawed all they want, but that doesn't change the fact that every other Bioware game on Metacritic had to deal with the exact same set of flaws, and don't have a score like this one.
So then why hasn't anyone used Metacritic to show a game's good points?
Mass Effect 2 has a 9.0 user score on Metacritic, that score highlights all of its good points, and the reviews there are largely positive.

Are you saying the media doesn't freak when games get good scores, only when they get bad? Because that's not a problem with Metacritic, or with the scoring system, that's a problem with the reporters.
 

Glaive_21842

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Dec 21, 2009
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everyone who posts on metacritic has an "obvious conflict of interest", otherwise they wouldn't be stating their opinion. So Bioware likes their game and wants to say so on a website where anybody can say damn near anything they want about it? Oh heaven forbid! I can't help but wonder how many of the people on this site are actually working for some video game company and are also shilling/discrediting games on a daily basis. Besides, this is METACRITIC! If anything, the website needs game developers to shill for their games to counterbalance the inevitable impossible-to-please-fan backlash that occurs with damn near every AAA release so far.
 

rsvp42

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plikis1 said:
Nobody said one 10/10 is going to change the world, but this is not an honourable practice. Make a shitty game, deal with it. If you don't and lie to the public in the most pathetic way, you deserve to be named and shamed, if only to discourage further attempts at this charade.
The problem is that it's not a "shitty game." As a sequel to DA:O, I can see why it might upset, but there is so much bile from parts of the community it's absurd. It's simply a different game and people can't take that for some reason. And this is from someone who liked DA:O on the PC. DA2 isn't as good in some areas, but much better in others. At the very worst, it might deserve a 5. Some of these reviews are just insulting to the people that worked on it.
 

InevitableFate

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May 10, 2009
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danpascooch said:
InevitableFate said:
I'd be surprised if just about every other developer and publisher out there haven't done this at one point or another. Probably before realising how pointless it is since Metacritic reviews aren't exactly reliable as people tend to rate a game 0 for the slightest flaw.
Yeah, that evidence-less assumption totally makes this ok.

Metacritic user scores are valid when comparing to the user score to the user score of other games, since every game on Metacritic deals with the same disadvantages because they are all using the same user scoring system.
Oh yeah, I'm talking about the user reviews only, not the actual ones from critics who won't give a game 0 because they've decided Bioware have done... something (I honestly do not know why DA2's got so much negativity around it at the moment).

Just go and read some of them. I'm convinced at least 80% of them are trolls and the other 20% people who seem to have taken umbrage at some particular fault (most of which don't even exist).

My "Evidence" is that website. Even if every single complain there was valid, it still wouldn't warrent a 0.
 

Slycne

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Feb 19, 2006
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stranamente said:
You know who else gave this game a 100% in its review?
The escapist [http://www.metacritic.com/game/xbox-360/dragon-age-ii].
I'm pretty sure Greg Tito wasn't paid for it, and doesn't work for bioware.
I think it's an important distinction that we didn't in fact give it 100%, this is a common failing disconnect between aggregate sites and sites that don't give reviews on arbitrary 100 point scale.

We even acknowledge that a 5/5 is not in fact a perfect game, see - What Our Review Scores Mean [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/editorials/7149-What-Our-Review-Scores-Mean]. I do however feel strongly that a 5 point scale is a better way to recommend games though as it gives a better feel for the game as a total experience without getting buried in the minutia of a number between 1-100 or even 1-10. I've made this example before - Are Baldur's Gate, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Half Life all 10's, or maybe they are 9's or are they just simply games that should be recommended for everyone to at least try once?
 

Necromancer1991

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Way to discredit the fans guys, by doing this you've giving your attackers ammunition, and took the guns from your defenders while you were at it....Officer Bell if you would so kind:
 

Zing

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Oct 22, 2009
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Funny, almost as strange as giving DA2 it's only perfect score on metacritic. [http://www.metacritic.com/game/xbox-360/dragon-age-ii/critic-reviews]

edit: ahh someone beat me to it.
 

icame

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It's pretty bad that you would review a game that you made, but honestly can you blame him? I'm sure he's pretty angry about a game he worked on for a long time's metacritic page got bombed by trolls and wanted to try to get the score up.
 

Sniper Team 4

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Apr 28, 2010
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Oops. Understandable wanting to do this seeing as how much hate this game is getting (I agree with the statement that it's overraction from people's preferences), but to actually go out and do that is just a wee bit stupid.

I like Dragon Age 2. I give it an 8 out of 10. Some things are better in it than in Origins, some things are worse. Still fun though.
 

Raven's Nest

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Feb 19, 2009
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plikis1 said:
Did say that this could be a pretty smart troll attempt.

Nobody said one 10/10 is going to change the world, but this is not an honourable practice. Make a shitty game, deal with it. If you don't and lie to the public in the most pathetic way, you deserve to be named and shamed, if only to discourage further attempts at this charade.

I hope the guy gets sacked.

Freedom of speech my ass, the guy was covering his employer's ass by trying the game look better. Besides, the review was just so... Moronic, I guess, is the word, he just does not deserve anyone's sympathy.
I agree, if it does turn out to be true (and it seems likely), people will slam the guy for doing it and more attention will be brought to the issue. But in all likeliness it's just the one lowly developer who is pissed with all the overinflated negativity that the game is getting. When an artist gets passionate about something they might have poured everything they had into a game it's not surprising they've acted this way. He's been pretty stupid and unethical about it, but it's not surprising.

Bioware will have to shoulder some additional flak, but it's nothing they or EA can't handle. And for the reasons stated above, it's unlikely they sanctioned the "review" in the first place. Marketing Directors for those companies aren't that stupid contrary to popular belief.



Therumancer said:
Such are my thoughts, thank you for those who read this far (whether you agree with me or not). I take the time to express my thoughts, and I know a lot of people gloss over them due to me saying too much or going into too much detail. I appreciate people taking the time to read what I write.
Ha, I was scrolling up through this thread and thought this looked like a Therumancer post. Your input is always appreciated and I agree with you for the most part. Any developer, even Bioware will suffer under that much corporate pressure. I believe we have already seen the peak of what Bioware will produce in their lifetime.

Which is a great shame obviously.
 

Danpascooch

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Apr 16, 2009
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GrandmaFunk said:
danpascooch said:
...You don't blame the guy for committing fraud...
while it's not a very ethical thing to do, this isn't fraud.
Fraud: "deceit, trickery, sharp practice, or breach of confidence, perpetrated for profit or to gain some unfair or dishonest advantage".

This reviewer gained a dishonest advantage by attempting to deceive people into thinking he was an impartial customer of the game. That is fraud.

It is also in violation of the Metacritic terms of use, which say you cannot:


"? Impersonate any person or entity or otherwise misrepresent your affiliation or the origin of materials you transmit; or"

Misrepresentation by the omission of information this important is generally fair game in a court of law, the wording in both the definition and terms of use give this enough room for interpretation to make it to court.

I'm sure nobody is going to pursue this legally, but in my opinion it's definitely fraud, and even if you disagree the legality of his action is questionable at best, it certainly can't be said that this definitely isn't fraud.
 

Danpascooch

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Apr 16, 2009
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InevitableFate said:
danpascooch said:
InevitableFate said:
I'd be surprised if just about every other developer and publisher out there haven't done this at one point or another. Probably before realising how pointless it is since Metacritic reviews aren't exactly reliable as people tend to rate a game 0 for the slightest flaw.
Yeah, that evidence-less assumption totally makes this ok.

Metacritic user scores are valid when comparing to the user score to the user score of other games, since every game on Metacritic deals with the same disadvantages because they are all using the same user scoring system.
Oh yeah, I'm talking about the user reviews only, not the actual ones from critics who won't give a game 0 because they've decided Bioware have done... something (I honestly do not know why DA2's got so much negativity around it at the moment).

Just go and read some of them. I'm convinced at least 80% of them are trolls and the other 20% people who seem to have taken umbrage at some particular fault (most of which don't even exist).

My "Evidence" is that website. Even if every single complain there was valid, it still wouldn't warrent a 0.
I'm not saying the score is valid in and of itself, I'm saying it can be used to generally rank games by quality in comparison to each other.

Since Bioware's games traditionally score high (such as Mass Effect 2's 9/10, remember all the rage on the lack of inventory? Still got a 9) and this scored low, and all variables were constant besides the game being reviewed, it's more than fair to say that the general public found this considerably worse than ME2.

Am I saying the score is a valid standalone indicator of quality? No, but it is valid in comparing to other games that also deal with the problems of Metacritic.

Anyone who thinks this is organized trolling on this scale are deluding themselves, that's entering the realm of conspiracy theories.