Dragon Age Designer Says DLC Not Meant to Rip Off Players

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Dragon Age Designer Says DLC Not Meant to Rip Off Players

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Was the day one Dragon Age: Origins DLC designed to steal your money? Not in the least, according to a BioWare designer.

Dragon Age: Origins has finally been released to the public and is also really, really good, but a slight controversy still exists over the day one release of the $7 Warden's Keep DLC expansion. This expansion adds a player keep, new items, abilities, and a pretty important sounding quest that details the history of the game's Grey Wardens, but controversially also adds a storage chest that can't be gotten through any other means.

The main complaint, as Tom Chick explained at Fidgit.com, is that there's a lot of stuff in Dragon Age, so a storage chest is pretty important and useful. To include it only in something that players must pay additional money for, rather than a free patch, is seen by some as a way for EA to "bilk" its customers of more money. Chick's article attracted a response from Georg Zoeller, the Lead Systems Designer at BioWare.

Said Zeoller, "I categorically reject that any features or game systems in this game were designed or removed to 'bilk users for more money.'" According to Zeoller, the player's inventory limit was never questioned during any phase of the game's development, and was added by the DLC team as a "cool feature for your own keep"; EA had nothing to do with the contents of the Warden's Keep DLC. A storage chest was implemented at one point, but players were losing their items due to the camp area constantly changing, admits Zoeller, and there wasn't enough time to fix this problem. Warden's Keep provided a permanent and central location for a storage chest to reside.

While I fully believe Zoeller, I also have to agree with Tom. Not only because we both have the same name, but because a storage chest in a game with tons of items is such a must have that I can't imagine a company like BioWare not thinking that it would be important. The storage chest in general has evolved over time since its notable appearance in Diablo, sometimes even allowing us to share items between different saves. So, a universal storage chest that has the same items no matter where you access it from is not exactly a new idea, and I'm curious why BioWare wasn't able to implement one while they had the original idea, rather than scrapping the item entirely.

More likely than not, there was no intentional foul play on anyone's part, with more than storage chests on the mind of BioWare as it developed Dragon Age: Origins. Regardless, day one DLC that must be paid for will likely continue to cause frustration in the future, especially when it includes aspects that can improve the play experience.

Via: 1up

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To me, the entire Warden's Keep (and Stone Prisoner, but at least that one's free) quest feel like they've just been ripped from the game just to create some DLC. I really don't understand why they weren't a normal part of the game in stead of DLC, other than to make money.

One reason I could imagine is that it discourages piracy, since they can't get the 'full' game this way. However in the end the pirates still win, since the DLC will get cracked sooner or later and they get it for free while honest customers still have to pay.

*sigh* Great game from what I've heard and I have been jonsing for a new Western RPG so I am going to have to save up for this and the DLC. Damn...

DeathWyrmNexus:
I am going to have to save up for this and the DLC. Damn...

The game itself with no DLC's is 60 freaking hours. It will probably take at least 1 or 2 weeks to finish the game unless you're going for a hardcore 3 day no sleep, no food playthrough.

So has you can see, there's more than enough content even without the DLC. Just get the DLC next month, no need to deprave yourself any more from the great experience that Dragon Age is.

EDIT: The official Dragon Age: Origins website says over 100 hours of gameplay. Really, just go for it.

And, really, the Collector's Edition wasn't much more than DAO+DLC. I think they should (in a future patch) implement a storage chest, though. As it says, there was one but it wasn't working as it should, so they removed it. Well, now the game is out, I think they should work on implementing it in some form.

I've not got the game yet (decided to put my purchase off for a period, so I can clear some other games first etc), and I'm kinda looking forward to it.

AndyFromMonday:

DeathWyrmNexus:
I am going to have to save up for this and the DLC. Damn...

The game itself with no DLC's is 60 freaking hours. It will probably take at least 1 or 2 weeks to finish the game unless you're going for a hardcore 3 day no sleep, no food playthrough.

So has you can see, there's more than enough content even without the DLC. Just get the DLC next month, no need to deprave yourself any more from the great experience that Dragon Age is.

EDIT: The official Dragon Age: Origins website says over 100 hours of gameplay. Really, just go for it.

More like I hate the idea of not having a storage space. And there is that whole saving up part too. Adult responsibilities suck though my kids are great. That whole chestnut of nonsense.

I have no issue with quests, backstories, cool canon and great items being accessible by paying for DLC, but gameplay enhancements should really be the realm of a (free) hotfix / patch. I personally feel that the storage chest represents more of a gameplay enhancement than a new item. Please note - I also feel that unique skills / abilities should not be granted via DLC (except via an item that confers said ability while it is equipped, with pros and cons like any other item).

Just my thoughts

Tom Goldman:
The storage chest in general has evolved over time since its notable appearance in Diablo*

*Diablo II, though I wouldn't be surprised if there were precursors to it. Original Diablo didn't have one, unless there was one in the Hellfire expansion? Never played that.

want it but i suspect the system specs will be a bit more than my current pc can handle so ill skip and wait for GOTY edition with all the DLC in one

If you release DLC within a month of a game's release--much less on day one--then you have spent at least a portion of that game's development cycle on said DLC, meaning that you could have implemented into the game, meaning that by charging us additional money for it you are ripping us off.

Extra maps, characters, optional side quests...all of that is fine for paid DLC. Core game mechanics is never fine for additional costs, and no paid DLC is ever fine for when a game is still hot of the press.

level250geek:
If you release DLC within a month of a game's release--much less on day one--then you have spent at least a portion of that game's development cycle on said DLC, meaning that you could have implemented into the game, meaning that by charging us additional money for it you are ripping us off.

I disagree.
Dragon Age was finished early to mid summer, and the extra time was taken to ensure the game ran properly on the consoles. There fore, during that time while part of the team was working on the console optimization, the other team members worked on the new content.

I don't mind the day one DLC. With a game this massive when it's vanilla, it's hard to feel like you're being ripped off when they give you DLC for free for buying it, and then offer a quest day one that it totally optional.

level250geek:
If you release DLC within a month of a game's release--much less on day one--then you have spent at least a portion of that game's development cycle on said DLC, meaning that you could have implemented into the game, meaning that by charging us additional money for it you are ripping us off.

Extra maps, characters, optional side quests...all of that is fine for paid DLC. Core game mechanics is never fine for additional costs, and no paid DLC is ever fine for when a game is still hot of the press.

I have to say I can do nothing but agree here

That really is a stupid excuse made up by some developer. Saying that moving the player camp to another place makes the item in the chest disappear is like saying your character loses all his items when changing area.

Wait, this was released on the same day as the game. Uh, so why wasn't it included in the game?

Eric the Orange:
Wait, this was released on the same day as the game. Uh, so why wasn't it included in the game?

Because it was developed as DLC while they were waiting for console optimisation/QA testing to finish?

Bioware has gained enough Good Karma points with me over the (many many) years to believe what they say.

Furism:
That really is a stupid excuse made up by some developer. Saying that moving the player camp to another place makes the item in the chest disappear is like saying your character loses all his items when changing area.

You've seen the coding for Dragon Age? All of it? You know how every bit of code works?

Baby Tea:

I don't mind the day one DLC. With a game this massive when it's vanilla, it's hard to feel like you're being ripped off when they give you DLC for free for buying it, and then offer a quest day one that it totally optional.

So if it's so vanilla, then work it into the game proper, or at least give it to us for free. Or, at least be subtle about it and sit on that DLC for two months and keep your mouth shut about it, and THEN charge us seven bucks for it. At least TRY to convince us that you're not ripping us off instead of feeding us a line of BS.

level250geek:

Baby Tea:

I don't mind the day one DLC. With a game this massive when it's vanilla, it's hard to feel like you're being ripped off when they give you DLC for free for buying it, and then offer a quest day one that it totally optional.

So if it's so vanilla, then work it into the game proper, or at least give it to us for free. Or, at least be subtle about it and sit on that DLC for two months and keep your mouth shut about it, and THEN charge us seven bucks for it. At least TRY to convince us that you're not ripping us off instead of feeding us a line of BS.

There was already a discussion on this when the Day 1 DLC was announced.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/7.148186#comment_form

lumenadducere:

canadamus_prime:
Ok if they're developing the DLC content now so it's ready to be released with the original game, why don't they just put all this shit IN the original game? Besides the fact that their greedy exploitative fucks of course.

There was a good post by one of the devs on the DA forums about this. Basically the milestone deadlines get locked months before the game actually ships, and in that time the designers and writers are basically doing jack-diddly squat while the programmers and QA folks are working on optimization and bugfixes. And the PC version of the game was done months ago but got delayed to have a simultaneous launch with the console ports, so the actual game has been done for at least six months now.

So with that extra time that they got from the PC version being done, they put their designers and writers to working on DLC. Since the deadline for what's actually on the disk was already locked and gone (and no, you can't put content on a disk after the deadline for it has passed), there was no possibility of adding the extra content onto the disk. Instead it gets tacked on as DLC, even if it is done by the time the game ships.

The GameSpot thread where this was originally announced was painful to read. It's like nobody understood the concept of deadlines and milestones within the game industry, instead ranting and raving about how they were entitled to free content. Made me wish I had the power to reach through the monitor across the interwebs and backhand some people.

But honestly with this game the only thing that's going to cost people who buy the game is the Warden's Keep DLC. Stone Prisoner and the Blood Dragon Armor are going to be free to download to anyone who buys the game new. It's primarily a way to get some extra money from used game sales, which normally completely undercuts developers and publishers and the retailer gets pure profit (I'm looking at you, GameStop). This way if someone buys the game new, BioWare can still make some money because they may decide to purchase the DLC.

Would I like it if Warden's Keep was free as well? Well, yes, of course I would. But given it's only $7 and given that it's more money to BioWare's coffers, I'm not really complaining that much.

The game was already done when they started working on the dlc. They couldn't just add it on to the disk.

Regardless of the intention of the developers, this still looks like an opportunity to squeeze out a few more dollars from a customer base that has already spent $60.00+ USD on the game.

nikki191:
want it but i suspect the system specs will be a bit more than my current pc can handle so ill skip and wait for GOTY edition with all the DLC in one

This game is very cool but I'm thinking I'll just wait for goty regardless.
If they're already rolling out dlc, there might be a ton more to get by the time goty hits.

hURR dURR dERP:
To me, the entire Warden's Keep (and Stone Prisoner, but at least that one's free) quest feel like they've just been ripped from the game just to create some DLC.

level250geek:
If you release DLC within a month of a game's release--much less on day one--then you have spent at least a portion of that game's development cycle on said DLC, meaning that you could have implemented into the game, meaning that by charging us additional money for it you are ripping us off.

Eric the Orange:
Wait, this was released on the same day as the game. Uh, so why wasn't it included in the game?

I am always struck by exactly how ignorant many gamers are of how game or software development actually works. Let me try to explain this for you all:

First, any studio-developed game has a set time limit and budget for development. This should be common sense. All of the time that artists, writers, voice actors, programmers, and QA testers spend working on content is time that they are paid for.

Because of this, there is a set amount of content that can be included in a retail game (which pretty much has a fixed price). This is typically decided early on, and as the game development progresses things are added and removed depending on the difficulties the developer encounters. At each point, a decision is made as to whether X feature is important enough to increase the time/cost of the game development - if it's not, it can get cut from the game. Many of these features might be very cool, and developers can be sad to see them cut, but this happens with every game.

At some point in the development process, the designers have to stop adding new features and content. At this point, the programmers and QA become very busy testing, optimizing, and porting content. In the past, this is the stage where most of the writers, designers, and artists either get fired or get moved to another game.

Instead of firing the content creators, many newer games are deciding to instead have them make more content, to be tested and released separately from the game as DLC. This does not mean that the time that is used to create this is free, or that it is a part of the retail game. In some cases, the designers go back to stuff that was cut from the original game and rework it and fix the problems, because they really didn't want to see it removed in the first place.

While this is happening, the final "gold" version of the game is created. This is the version that first needs to pass the console manufacturers' certifications, and then need to be sent to manufacturing. This can take several weeks. During this time, the programmers and QA can test the DLC content that the rest of the team had been working on. Because they're working off the final version of the game now, and this is just extra content, this process goes a lot faster. It is easily possible that digital content can be tested and ready to be released before the retail versions of the game are even done being manufactured.

But all this time isn't 'free' - the assumption that the people working on this content would otherwise be being paid to add things to the retail game is just stupid. That game development time and budget has already been spent - they would either be working on something else entirely, or looking for a new job.

To create this new stuff, it has to be paid for somehow. For The Stone Prisoner, it's being paid for to see if it helps make up for used game sales - a particular problem for a mostly-linear story-based RPG. The Warden's Keep content, on the other hand, is a marketing promotion to sell the more expensive digital collector's edition (sans cloth map). If you aren't 'paying' for the content in one of those two ways, then you should expect to pay for it directly.

There are numerous posts regarding this on Bioware's forums from the devs themselves, and for the most part in boils down to the delay the game had. The game was meant to come out in March, but when it was delayed until November, the devs spent that time doing bug-fixing, optimisation and general polishing. Alongside this, their DLC team was working on Warden's Keep and Stone Prisoner. Stone Prisoner, for the record, was intended to be in the game originally, but they couldn't finish it before the aforementioned content deadline, so the DLC team took it upon themselves to finish it, whereas Warden's Keep is completely original content (qualifier: a storage chest was meant to be in the game, but was dropped because they couldn't get it working in time for the deadline, the DLC team had no such deadline, and so carried on creating a storage chest of their own). It simply happens that the DLC team had finished Warden's Keep and Stone Prisoner at (roughly) the same time as the game was completed, and Bioware saw no point in delaying Warden's Keep, so they released them at the same time.

If Dragon Age had been released in March, as was intended, Warden's Keep would have still been released now, but people wouldn't be complaining.

e: It appears Virgil ninja'd me, darn you!

e2: Found the developer's quote I was looking for, but it's fairly long, so:

This kind of shit is what is driving me away from gaming. DLC turns me off a product entirely. For instance, knowing what Bioware did for Dragon Age's DLC, I won't buy the game now. Call me old-school, but I don't like buying digital copies of anything. No disc, no sale. And I don't like paying for extra content in piecemeal. Give me a true expansion pack, I'll buy it, but not DLC.

Virgil:
I am always struck by exactly how ignorant many gamers are of how game or software development actually works. Let me try to explain this for you all:

First, any studio-developed game has a set time limit and budget for development. This should be common sense. All of the time that artists, writers, voice actors, programmers, and QA testers spend working on content is time that they are paid for.

sorry for snipping that great post, however what you did say was 100% true and i don't know why people can't understand how games work, they don't get pressed a week or so before the game is released. it's pretty sad that people don't understand how video games are made and released to the general public and they assume that everything is done at the very last minute.

tho i guess i'm a bit blessed having known a developer or two in my time and it's only the non-disc based ones that are usually working until the 11th hour on the project

Khell_Sennet:
This kind of shit is what is driving me away from gaming. DLC turns me off a product entirely. For instance, knowing what Bioware did for Dragon Age's DLC, I won't buy the game now. Call me old-school, but I don't like buying digital copies of anything. No disc, no sale. And I don't like paying for extra content in piecemeal. Give me a true expansion pack, I'll buy it, but not DLC.

The good ole days of Expansion Packs are gone, although I do miss them, I don't believe that DLCs is all that bad, when for PC gamers at least, we have the mods tools to mess around with. I mean, it's only $7 for how many hours of gameplay again? It can be all that bad to feed those who work to entertain us with extras, right?

I won't even touch the DLCs content until I'm at least done with the Redcliffe/Ealmon quest line.

The purchasing of DLC is not mandatory

Virgil:

hURR dURR dERP:
To me, the entire Warden's Keep (and Stone Prisoner, but at least that one's free) quest feel like they've just been ripped from the game just to create some DLC.

[pointlessly long rant]

I wasn't referring to the zero-day release of the DLC as much as the fact that references to the quests still exist in the vanilla game. If the DLC quests were really added after the rest of the game was already done, these loose ends shouldn't exist. They at least strongly suggest that the DLCs were at one point part of the main game, but were removed later on.

cainx10a:

Khell_Sennet:
This kind of shit is what is driving me away from gaming. DLC turns me off a product entirely. For instance, knowing what Bioware did for Dragon Age's DLC, I won't buy the game now. Call me old-school, but I don't like buying digital copies of anything. No disc, no sale. And I don't like paying for extra content in piecemeal. Give me a true expansion pack, I'll buy it, but not DLC.

The good ole days of Expansion Packs are gone, although I do miss them, I don't believe that DLCs is all that bad, when for PC gamers at least, we have the mods tools to mess around with. I mean, it's only $7 for how many hours of gameplay again? It can be all that bad to feed those who work to entertain us with extras, right?

I won't even touch the DLCs content until I'm at least done with the Redcliffe/Ealmon quest line.

Seven bucks here, ten bucks there, it all adds up. But when the dollar figures add up to what an expansion pack would cost, often, the amount of new content from DLC falls far short of what an expack would have. Not that the Sims are the best example, but with Sims3, thirty bucks for the online store doesn't even equal a tenth of what their expansions contain, and still less than half of what a "Stuff" pack does.

jamesworkshop:
The purchasing of DLC is not mandatory

Ok. Lets say you went out and picked up a new novel. And say that when you got home, you found that there were three extra chapters for the book that you could download online. That makes the book you have incomplete, and any sequel novel will be based in part on the developments of those extra chapters. So no, it's not mandatory in the sense that you couldn't read the original book without them, but it does kill the experience, and any potential for enjoying the future releases.

hURR dURR dERP:

Virgil:

hURR dURR dERP:
To me, the entire Warden's Keep (and Stone Prisoner, but at least that one's free) quest feel like they've just been ripped from the game just to create some DLC.

[pointlessly long rant]

I wasn't referring to the zero-day release of the DLC as much as the fact that references to the quests still exist in the vanilla game. If the DLC quests were really added after the rest of the game was already done, these loose ends shouldn't exist. They at least strongly suggest that the DLCs were at one point part of the main game, but were removed later on.

Did you not pay attention? For the sake of meeting deadlines, developers must sometimes omit stuff that they would otherwise put in the game. Because of that, they did not include WK in the actual game. They left the references to it in, because they knew that they might be able to work the location back into the game later, via DLC.

It's sort of like how Oblivion worked: you can hear stuff about the Shivering Isles being mentioned among the townsfolk, even if you don't have the SI DLC. The mentioning of these locations piques the interest of the player, especially when they don't find the location normally. Odds are that the SI were another part of Oblivion when the game was on the drawing board: but thanks to time constraints, Bethseda cut the idea from the game, leaving only the mentions of the location in.

In other words, WK was likely originally part of the game, was never made because they figured they wouldn't be able to meet the deadline, and was brought back as DLC thanks to the time period the developer has while the console versions get worked out.

Khell_Sennet:

Ok. Lets say you went out and picked up a new novel. And say that when you got home, you found that there were three extra chapters for the book that you could download online. That makes the book you have incomplete, and any sequel novel will be based in part on the developments of those extra chapters. So no, it's not mandatory in the sense that you couldn't read the original book without them, but it does kill the experience, and any potential for enjoying the future releases.

There are two versions of The Stand, by Stephen King.

The first was released with some content cut, because his publishers felt the book was already too long.

The second was released later on thanks to sales of the first: and it included extra segments that added to the book.

Does this make the first book any less of a literary masterpiece? I think that you're confusing what Capcom did with Resident Evil 5 with what the situation actually tends to be with DLC in general.

It's not meant to rip them off, it just does.

Sevre90210:
It's not meant to rip them off, it just does.

Yeah, $7 is really breaking the bank.

What's that, like...3 cups of coffee?

Ouch. How will you manage?

Tom Goldman:
Said Zeoller, "I categorically reject that any features or game systems in this game were designed or removed to 'bilk users for more money.'" According to Zeoller, the player's inventory limit was never questioned during any phase of the game's development, and was added by the DLC team as a "cool feature for your own keep"; EA had nothing to do with the contents of the Warden's Keep DLC. A storage chest was implemented at one point, but players were losing their items due to the camp area constantly changing, admits Zoeller, and there wasn't enough time to fix this problem. Warden's Keep provided a permanent and central location for a storage chest to reside.

If they did finalise the game 6 months before the release and spent that time on the DLC, then why didn't they just patch the game on release day to fix the storage problem?

They way it looks now is that they ARE trying to scam more money out of people.

Amnestic:

Sevre90210:
It's not meant to rip them off, it just does.

Yeah, $7 is really breaking the bank.

What's that, like...3 cups of coffee?

Ouch. How will you manage?

/facepalms.

Listen, I've got a feeling this is going to turn into a massive argument so before we start lets define the purpose of DLC k bbz?

Downloadable content: "the phrase is used to refer specifically to content created for video games that is released separately from the main video game release."

We can agree that that's what it is? It's simply meant to add content to a video game. Now for an analogy, if I were to sell you a brand new computer, but not sell you the hard drive, well then I'm just as big an asshole as they are.

Don't get me wrong, some DLC is genuinely good and worth the cash, most of the time, like in the case of DA:O, it's just money grabbing.

I still don't understand the point of Day One DLC. If it's Day One either put it on the disc, or make it free!

Put either way it's only 7$, and you can really do without that storage chest right.

Sevre90210:

/facepalms.

Listen, I've got a feeling this is going to turn into a massive argument so before we start lets define the purpose of DLC k bbz?

Downloadable content: "the phrase is used to refer specifically to content created for video games that is released separately from the main video game release."

We can agree that that's what it is? It's simply meant to add content to a video game. Now for an analogy, if I were to sell you a brand new computer, but not sell you the hard drive, well then I'm just as big an asshole as they are.

Don't get me wrong, some DLC is genuinely good and worth the cash, most of the time, like in the case of DA:O, it's just money grabbing.

Well first of all I build all my computers with parts I buy separately, so such a thing would never occur ;) If I were to buy a new computer from, say, Dell, it'd say on the box that it comes with a hard drive. Thus, I expect it to come with a hard drive. If it didn't say it would come with one, I wouldn't expect one.

Thing is, Dragon Age wasn't meant to come with WK. If the PC release had hit back half a year ago when it was meant to (rather than being pushed back for console release dates), we probably wouldn't be seeing the DLC until...well, just now actually.

That's why it's DLC.

Because it was made after the game was finished.

This isn't rocket surgery, Virgil explained it all very well, far better than I could hope to do so and far less sarcastically than I would ever be.

If you're buying it for $7 and it's not bundled with the game, that sounds like you're purchasing it separately from the game's main release to me.

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