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Reshaping the Modern RPG: BioWare's Greg Zeschuk Speaks
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Reshaping the Modern RPG: BioWare's Greg Zeschuk Speaks

April 2, 2010 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 4 Next

Talking specifically the point of the potions in Dragon Age, when I was playing that, a pop-up told me that when you get injuries, you've got to heal them with injury packs, but the text never told me how to heal with the injury pack.

GZ: [laughs] And if you looked at the status, it's like deaf, blind, broken arms.

Yes, yes. It was 10 hours in when I was like, "Alright. I've got to figure out how to do this." But I couldn't do it straight from the inventory.

GZ: Right, right. These are some of the things where you live and learn. Because we were making decisions, like, what should be exposed...

It's funny because we were really iterating the interface for Dragon Age quite late in the process. We took a ton of time, so we actually did a fair amount of usability testing, but probably not enough. That's just the reality of how fast we had to get done.

If you have feedback, though, yeah, send us some in. That's a good one. That's generally what Ray and I would try and use, because we actually were there for a lot of the meetings when the interface was being discussed, but then we would just play the results and then kind of freeze. We'd go, "How do I do this?"

Dragon Age wound up being my first real true entry into playing a Western RPG, which is a crazy thing to say because it's so late in the game. For me, there were a lot of elements that were just kind of assumed, and that I just didn't know. I was wondering why there was no kind of optional tutorial in there.

GZ: Well, there was, but it was minimal. That was the other interesting thing that we realized -- we created a problem for ourselves with the origin stories. Because you had origin stories, there was no real common tutorial you could have. So, instead, there was like semi-class-based tutorials that we did for each class, but we never had a really comprehensive tutorial. It was one of those things that we found out but we kind of figured it out after the fact. "Okay, now the tutorial. Wait, we can't make six of them."

So, we tried to make it contextual so that when you get an injury, it says, "Hey! Heal that injury." But if you forget the line of how to do that, then that would suck.So, that's how that ended up. That will be something we'll address in the future. There's a few different ways you can do that, but I think that's a good point as well.

When playing both Dragon Age and now Mass Effect, I got the feeling that these were two games coming from a similar mindset but with slightly different takes on it. Was that at all the case?

GZ: That was absolutely the case. I think there are sort of two reasons for that. One is because the RPG/MMO division has really a portfolio strategy, in the sense that there's multiple games that are serving multiple audiences. Absolutely, there's a crossover, but there's diversions.

So, by no means do we think that everyone that plays Dragon Age will play Mass Effect 2. There's going to be some crossover; there's going to be some difference. The second reason is that it's reflected by the respective teams. So we had absolute distinct teams in those two games. They have different things they're trying to accomplish, different things they're trying to do. The game is really a reflection of the game and what the team wants to accomplish. That's how things naturally diverge. We think that's to our advantage to try and cover more of the potential market that way.

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