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Bioware: "We wanted to change how we tell stories."

Bioware: "We wanted to change how we tell stories."

Dragon Age 2 will represent a new approach to storytelling for Bioware.

GamesCom 2010: Speaking in a behind closed doors presentation at GamesCom, Bioware's David Silverman has said that Dragon Age 2 represents a new way of telling stories for the RPG developer.

"We wanted to change the way we tell stories," David told bit-tech, discussing Dragon Age 2's framed narrative approach.

Framed narrative is when media use stories within stories, in this case by having two characters discuss the legend of your character and switching between two points in time – the characters telling the story and the story itself.

"This approach allows us to play with time and show the long-term consequences of your choices," Silverman said. "It also lets us use exageration in funny ways too."

One sequence we saw had the main character fighting a horde of Darkspawn with just his sister, Bethany, to help. After a dragon appeared the story cut forwards to two other characters, one accusing the other of lying about the story. Cutting back, the story re-told the scene, this time with less Darkspawn and more allies.

Dragon Age 2 will feature other structural improvements too, such as a new "unifying art style" which ties the world together in a more stylised way.

"If you put two screenshots from different areas of the first game next to each other, without watermarks, then you might think they were totally different games," admitted Silverman. The new art direction should help fix that.

We'll have a more in-depth Dragon Age 2 preview coming soon, but in the mean time you can let us know your thoughts in the forums.

14 Comments

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SoulLance 19th August 2010, 18:49 Quote
"If you put two screenshots from different areas of the first game next to each other, without watermarks, then you might think they were totally different games."
And that's a bad thing how?! I guess diversity is a thing of the past in this "next-gen" console generation. Since it's being more console oriented they should go with Fallout 3 **** gray, at least Fallout has an excuse with the post nuclear war aftermath.
How about instead of "fixing" the old game, improve it....uuu....I guess they've never taught of that. The second part sounds more and more like a joke with every new released info.
Joe Gamer 19th August 2010, 19:03 Quote
Soooo The ancient Dwarven fortress that had been abandoned for centuries didn't look the same as what? The modern city? The elven forest? The tower of mages? What a load of marketing.
Gunsmith 19th August 2010, 21:00 Quote
I call bullshit, they just want to tap the console revenue even more.
Hovis 19th August 2010, 21:09 Quote
Framed narrative is auto self fail. There can be no drama without threat, there can be no threat if there are people surviving the action to discuss it safely afterwards. Dragon Age had drama because people could, and indeed did, die a lot. Towns were burned, massively tough decisions had to be made and in the end it was clear that there would be more to it than just everybody lives happily ever after. Awakenings too forces the player to deal with consequences, big scary ones. Firing up Dragon Age: Origins and starting that first quest for the first time, you have no idea how things are going to end. If the end is already in place, and the tale is told looking back, then things are much, much trickier in terms of creating drama.

What seems odd to me is that this style of story telling is necessary if you are working with that time honoured medium of just telling somebody a tale, spinning a yarn through word of mouth, but it's not as good as being there in the moment. I mean imagine somebody telling you the story of the Three Little Pigs, that's a great old tale, but imagine instead the story of the Three Little Pigs as a game in which you played one of the pigs (or hell, it's 2010, let's say it's co-op three player). It's going to be loads more exciting to be the little pig trying to deal with a big bad wolf than just be told about it, no matter how well the tale is told. Just seems to me like they shot themselves in the foot from a narrative perspective.

Now I can imagine ways in which it might still work and I must admit it is a fairly unusual approach, plus it's Bioware, so if anybody can pull it off it's them, but it does make me cautious.
Tyinsar 19th August 2010, 21:10 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Gamer
Soooo The ancient Dwarven fortress that had been abandoned for centuries didn't look the same as what? The modern city? The elven forest? The tower of mages? What a load of marketing.
Nice first post - though I wouldn't have used the word "marketing"

I guess that makes me at least the third to think that the unified look is rather silly.

Though I can say that I understand it to a point - instead of looking at it as wanting all areas to look similar (which none of us want) look at it as having all levels have an equal amount of realism. How silly would it be for a game to have one area look like the latest "hyper-realistic" looking FPS, the next area to have only half the level of detail, and the next area to look cartoony like WoW or Torchlight? Admittedly it might work in some games (esp anything dealing with alternate realities) but in most games it would seriously break the immersion.
Blackie Chan 19th August 2010, 21:28 Quote
Yuck, I ave been rooting for Bioware since BG2:SoA. I like the way Bioware tells stories. That's why I play their games. I don't think anyone does it better than them. This sounds like it will suck. If you are so removed from the stories then you won't be able to develop that close interest in your characters like you can with a good book or previous Bioware game. Definitely lost interest in the sequel.
BobsLawnService 20th August 2010, 10:30 Quote
I don't think they quite mean that everything is going to look the same. I think that they are just going to unify the style. Some of the original DA textures and models were hideous and outdated while others looked really good.
Unknownsock 20th August 2010, 10:55 Quote
I love the art styule of the first, few updates and it would have been perfect imo.
I'm still abit sceptical about this.

I have no doubt it will be a brilliant game though. Although let's hope they fix the spelld/proffessions etc this time around! And difficulty
Tsung 20th August 2010, 13:34 Quote
The way I read and understood the text above is they are not saying "everybody lives becuase there is someone around to tell the tale". To Quote LOTR "And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend, legend became myth and for two and a half thousand years, the ring passed out of all knowledge"

So the future tales could be wildly different to the truth. You might listen to history/legend/myth but then discover the truth when you play. Ofc.. when you play the game you could change the future tale based on your actions.

So to take the 3 little pigs example above... You might watch/hear the original story of the 3 little pigs, but it's only one possible scenerio. You might decide whilst playing it to get a shotgun and shoot the wolf. The future story could then be changed to "If you're going to build a straw house, buy a shotgun".
thehippoz 20th August 2010, 13:53 Quote
or take this scenario.. you are bi and you bang a dwarf in the past- now your characters strait and what has been seen cannot be unseen
fatty beef 20th August 2010, 14:32 Quote
This game will be nothing like the first game mechanically story wise or have any type of discernible free-movement. It will basically be mass effect with a sword and fireball spells. Which may be cool if they didnt already start in one direction with the franchise. Very irritating.

Loved the first game, closest thing Ive seen to Baulders Gate since NWN. Your character doesnt even get to continue on? Really? Good thing the first one had all these epic decisions that would translate into the franchise. I would have been fine with another 60 hours of game play on the same engine with the dated graphics then deal with this half ass attempt to make a game for the sake of making a game.

Absolutely terrible the direction this game is going way better options being released in the next year.
Bauul 20th August 2010, 14:46 Quote
Or that it's just an amusing way of telling back stories: I don't think they meant the whole game was going to be one big flashback.
TWeaK 20th August 2010, 15:52 Quote
Now I haven't actually played the earlier games (I suck, I know) but the way I see them doing this is more of an introduction to gameplay. So the character will introduce a story then you'll play through it. Taking the example they used with dragon appearing, it could be a tough battle up until then and then when the dragon appears you'll **** yourself, then you cut from the gameplay to the narrative then back to the game where you'll have more allies.

Not saying I particularly like the idea, mind. It definitely seems less immersive and more aimed at the casual gaming market - I don't really want to break from the gameplay unless it's me pausing it, especially not mid-fight.
pimlicosound 20th August 2010, 17:52 Quote
What's with all the criticism? You don't even know how all of this will work yet, but you're still ready to write off the whole game, even though it's being made by people whose reputations you know and trust.

Also, why do so many of the criticisms allege that this is all the fault of consoles. What on earth do a unified art style and a story framing device have to do with console games specifically? I think you're just using "consoles" as a bogeyman - a scapegoat for when things don't go your way. It's no better than publishers blaming poor sales exclusively on piracy.

All in all, reading these comments is a pretty depressing reminder that so many gamers prefer repeats of what they've had before to something new with which the developer is trying to do something different.

I'm fully behind BioWare in their attempts to improve Dragon Age - and I've no doubt that they are sincerely trying to do this, not just to "dumb down" for the sake of it. I've enjoyed their games so far, and I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.
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