Could a Bioware-style game work in a Bethesda-style world?

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I'm currently replaying Dragon Age Origins and was in Ostagar - the ruins and the wilds are really cool areas, and I just wish we could explore them more (in the style of Skyrim perhaps).

So yeah, do you think it would be possible to make a heavily story based (perhaps party based?) game like DA:O in a Skyrim type world where there's way more freedom to explore than simply hub zones and Dungeons like in DA:O?

I think so - recent entries in the "like Bioware, but good" vein of ARPGs like Witcher 2 and DX:HR have large hub and/or world areas to mess around in. I think the main limiting factor is that both a detailed world and a detailed plot incur substantial costs and don't necessarily synergize that well.

Kahunaburger:
I think so - recent entries in the "like Bioware, but good" vein of ARPGs like Witcher 2 and DX:HR have large hub and/or world areas to mess around in. I think the main limiting factor is that both a detailed world and a detailed plot incur substantial costs and don't necessarily synergize that well.

Neither of the games you mentioned allows even near as much freedom as an Elder Scrolls game though, unfortunately. I wouldn't mind the Witcher 3 being only half as open as an Elder Scrolls game, although with story-telling on par with the Witcher 2.

The level of cinematics and way of doing conversations wouldn't work for an open world game because there is just too much content to animate/voice act/cinematize that way.

The gameplay style though could work, a third person party based game. We already see this to an extent with Bethesda's companions in their games, it's just that their system for party members is utter pants.

Granted, companions would have to be either very general in their nature, given the rather "open" plot enviroment, or something created by the player. Truthfully I'd love to see the later option since there are so few games where you can create your own party (like Might and Magic or Wizardry) anymore.

AlotFirst:

Kahunaburger:
I think so - recent entries in the "like Bioware, but good" vein of ARPGs like Witcher 2 and DX:HR have large hub and/or world areas to mess around in. I think the main limiting factor is that both a detailed world and a detailed plot incur substantial costs and don't necessarily synergize that well.

Neither of the games you mentioned allows even near as much freedom as an Elder Scrolls game though, unfortunately. I wouldn't mind the Witcher 3 being only half as open as an Elder Scrolls game, although with story-telling on par with the Witcher 2.

The only thing lacking in TW2 was exploration - the areas were very small (but well detailed), however if the world was bigger it could be infinitely better - I loved it when I stumbled across a cave or crypt in the game - they were all story relevant but some more random stuff wouldn't go amiss.

Yes, BioWare have the potential to create an ES style open game. No, I don't think they will any time soon. Their games are pretty formulaic and people have jokingly pointed that out, to which somebody from BioWare came out and basically said "Well, yeah we stick to the same formula because we know it works and you people seem to like it" in a butthurt way. I don't want to look right now but I think I can find the actual quote if anybody is interested.

So yeah - they are capable but I don't see them doing it. Technically Blizzard can make a FPS game (or at least a first person one), and a pretty good one at that, but nobody expects they'd do one, right?

AlotFirst:

Kahunaburger:
I think so - recent entries in the "like Bioware, but good" vein of ARPGs like Witcher 2 and DX:HR have large hub and/or world areas to mess around in. I think the main limiting factor is that both a detailed world and a detailed plot incur substantial costs and don't necessarily synergize that well.

Neither of the games you mentioned allows even near as much freedom as an Elder Scrolls game though, unfortunately. I wouldn't mind the Witcher 3 being only half as open as an Elder Scrolls game, although with story-telling on par with the Witcher 2.

Bethesda Games offer freedom of exploration. Freedom of choice is Obsidian, Bioware and CDProjekt Red's forte.

And yes, a Bioware story can be integrated into a Bethesda style open world. If Obsidian was able to make it work with New Vegas, than Bioware could do it to, albeit with far less subtlety.

Bioware can write decent stories, but intricacies are not their strong suite.

The thing here imo is that hubs are often trying to convey the idea of having a larger scale. Like the Citadel, Ilium, or Taris. Where as ES open world type games are trying to make it so almost everyone has a place to eat and sleep. With the ES style, you lose that sense of implied scope. With a hub, you lose the exploration (from the if you can see the mountain you can climb it aspect).

I would, and no doubt it would be one of the best games I'll have ever played. The only thing missing in the Elder Scrolls, for me, was some actual characters with back stories and personality. The followers in Skyrim were a step closer, but there's definitely something missing. However, a game containing so much depth and detail is bound to have some serious issues somewhere.

Volan:
I would, and no doubt it would be one of the best games I'll have ever played. The only thing missing in the Elder Scrolls, for me, was some actual characters with back stories and personality. The followers in Skyrim were a step closer, but there's definitely something missing. However, a game containing so much depth and detail is bound to have some serious issues somewhere.

I tried replaying a bit of Skyrim and got bored after 5 minutes - however my replaying of Dragon Age is going great - it's because there's a really engaging story in the world of Dragon Age, but in Skyrim there's nothing really.

If the two could be combined it would be awesome.

I can't help but notice that I misread the title when I first commented. I thought you meant can BioWare make an ES type game rather than can a BioWare style (story-wise) game be made sandbox.

I still don't see why not. It's perfectly possible it might just take too many resources. Think of how many distinct and interesting characters there should be. In DA:O you rarely have more than several in a hub. A lot of times less maybe even a couple or so. They are there to make the place feel unique. Imagine trying to pull off the same in Morrowind (it's smaller than Oblivion/Skyrim IIRC). There are a lot of small villages and towns. You will also need some wandering characters or maybe some trapped in the wilderness, some that might track you (assassins that don't jump on you when you sleep but rather ambush you like in DA:O). It's just lots of work but not impossible.

DoPo:
I can't help but notice that I misread the title when I first commented. I thought you meant can BioWare make an ES type game rather than can a BioWare style (story-wise) game be made sandbox.

I still don't see why not. It's perfectly possible it might just take too many resources. Think of how many distinct and interesting characters there should be. In DA:O you rarely have more than several in a hub. A lot of times less maybe even a couple or so. They are there to make the place feel unique. Imagine trying to pull off the same in Morrowind (it's smaller than Oblivion/Skyrim IIRC). There are a lot of small villages and towns. You will also need some wandering characters or maybe some trapped in the wilderness, some that might track you (assassins that don't jump on you when you sleep but rather ambush you like in DA:O). It's just lots of work but not impossible.

It has a lot of potential.

It could possibly work, I recall Bioware say for Dragon Age 3 they were taking inspiration from Skyrim.

Sure it has a lot of potential the problem is that it consumes many resources, so it pushes the release date back. If given a choice between DA:O now and a DA:O/Skyrim mix five years from now (complete guess for the time) most people will choose DA:O now. Publishers, developers and gamers alike.

I suppose a more feasible way to do it will be start of small-ish and then add expansions to the game which add more land mass you can freely travel populated with more characters. This is rather MMO-y way to do it and you do hit new problems if you do it tht way (how do you keep them playing the game? how much do you price the expansions? graphics getting old. Etc.) but at least you get something to make everybody happy. The idea might be worth considering as it could be made better but I'm not sure if it's actually usable.

Alternatively, rather than a full open world, we can still have hubs but bigger ones with slightly more freedom to them. Also, instead of using the map to navigate, the illusion for a more cohesive world could be maintained by connecting the zones Fable style - so you can go to a zone and from there move to another zone but not straight up "choose where to go". I believe NWN did it, too.

AlotFirst:

Neither of the games you mentioned allows even near as much freedom as an Elder Scrolls game though, unfortunately. I wouldn't mind the Witcher 3 being only half as open as an Elder Scrolls game, although with story-telling on par with the Witcher 2.

The problem is, it's really hard to do this. Without a long, long development time, making an open world with excellent story telling is nigh impossible. I mean, if you look at Skyrim, the writing is "decent", at best. Bioware, on the other hand, makes a directed experience. This makes it much easier for them to present the story in a manner that makes sense.

Just think about it. You're in a situation where the world is in huge danger, and... you walk off to help a farmer with his crops. It's (probably) possible, but it'd take ages.

Soviet Heavy:

And yes, a Bioware story can be integrated into a Bethesda style open world. If Obsidian was able to make it work with New Vegas, than Bioware could do it to, albeit with far less subtlety.

Bioware can write decent stories, but intricacies are not their strong suite.

How was Obsidian able to do it with New Vegas? To me, New Vegas didn't work on the same level as a Bioware game at all. It just felt messy.

Not very easily, but if someone could pull it off it would be amazing! If DA:O was as big as skyrim the world would have been buggered because the warden would be off collecting daedric artefacts instead of saving the world.

AlotFirst:

Kahunaburger:
I think so - recent entries in the "like Bioware, but good" vein of ARPGs like Witcher 2 and DX:HR have large hub and/or world areas to mess around in. I think the main limiting factor is that both a detailed world and a detailed plot incur substantial costs and don't necessarily synergize that well.

Neither of the games you mentioned allows even near as much freedom as an Elder Scrolls game though, unfortunately. I wouldn't mind the Witcher 3 being only half as open as an Elder Scrolls game, although with story-telling on par with the Witcher 2.

Yeah, I would enjoy a more open world to explore in those games alot. Compared to Skyrim, Witcher 2 doesn't have alot of wilderness essential to explore, but to me it proves that open areas can fit with a focused narrative. Come to think of it, a large explorable space could go so far as to justify something like Kirkwall - I would be 100% fine with a game being set in a single area if that area was explorable enough.

Yes it could work. SWTOR is just that. The problem is that it's very expensive to make.

Maybe. Having Bioware-style polish in bethesda-style worlds would be awesome, but also friggin' expensive.

Plus, on the whole Bethesda storylines are more unfocused, which they have to be since you're given free reign to go anywhere in the world; that's actually true of all open world games. The stories need to be less focused and tightly woven simply due to the constraints of the open world design.

could do, they'd need a bigger engine but a fully explorable Fereldon would be amazing, i hope bioware consider something like that in the future, doubt it for dragon age 3 but who knows

wouldn't that be just ADDING a worth while story like to TES?

I think Read Dead Redemption showed that it's possible to have that kind of awesome story while still having a sandbox world. Now if only more RPGs and space games could follow that route.

No reason it couldn't work - the question is how much money how many people would be willing to pay for it, because it would cost squillions and take years to develop, so it'd probably only turn a profit if it sold in Modern Warfare 3 quantities...

Yes. Oh so very yes.

ME3's ending aside, Bioware are wonderful at telling engaging stories and creating fascinating backgrounds, but their overall level design has been kinda meh.

Bethesda has the opposite problem: their worlds are an absolute joy to explore, but the stories tend to be a bit average.

If they worked together on a game and did their damned best to make it amazing, we'd end up with something that would blow all other games out of the water. Perhaps even years after its original release. :P

Blargh McBlargh:
Yes. Oh so very yes.

ME3's ending aside, Bioware are wonderful at telling engaging stories and creating fascinating backgrounds, but their overall level design has been kinda meh.

Bethesda has the opposite problem: their worlds are an absolute joy to explore, but the stories tend to be a bit average.

If they worked together on a game and did their damned best to make it amazing, we'd end up with something that would blow all other games out of the water. Perhaps even years after its original release. :P

Just have Bioware make the story and dungeons, and Bethesda make the world. It'd be perfection.

endtherapture:
Just have Bioware make the story and dungeons, and Bethesda make the world. It'd be perfection.

Yeah, that'd pretty much be the idea. :P

Already has. It's called Fallout: New Vegas. Excellent story, interesting and engaging characters, and an exciting world to explore.

I think it's safe to say Obsidian out-Bethesda'd Bethesda and out-biowared Bioware in one fell swoop.

I love the idea of having deep, character driven storylines and relationships whilst wandering an open, sandbox world, but I can only imagine that it would be very difficult to develop and harder still to "gel".

The latter point I make because it's usually story-driven narrative in BW games that prompt character growth and development. ie. The player-character evolves and grows alongside the story. Meanwhile in the sandbox world, we evolve our PCs however we see fit, jumping in and out of stories as we like. This makes it hard to tie character growth to story elements.

The other point, of development as raised by others above is also telling. The time (and thus cost) of developing a cast of believable characters with whom to adventure is likely as high as the time/cost of developing a large, interactive world. Thus to have both would need a larger team or more time and thus cost proportionally more.

One reason I think it could work...for those of us who've played Baldur's Gate II, I ask you to cast your minds back to Chapters 2-3 of that game. From the time we left Irenicus' dungeon until we got on the boat to Spellhold we were free. We had all of Athkatla to explore as well as the many other areas along the sword coast. There were many, many side quests, a player-home, challenging encounters and what have you. In that time, our party members might have changed and dialogue with them would advance their individual plots/romances.

Excluding the incredible story and wonderful places we got to visit (and the incredible party-based gameplay), it was those two chapters that hit the sweet spot of RPG gaming nirvana. Now imagine that in full, modern 3D, full VA (while I'm wishing, developed primarily for the PC and later for a console port) and perhaps a little more story/secondary-story (maybe DA2 style?). Damn, I'm shivering just thinking about it!

Yes it could. And I hope they'll do that...

...for Jade Empire 2 if it's ever announced.

The thing is what people dont seem to be aware off is that the 2 concept kinda fight each other.

If you make everything fully open you make I harder to make an intimate connection to a single char or scenario, because as you expand your area you remove restraints from the player.

And if you go the other way around you have a much more controlled exp to influence the player, but takes away player freedom.

The key is finding the golden middleground.

Do you make a lot of linked smaller areas where you can control the individual area (ME/DA) or do you go for the full exploration (TES) or do you pick a medium sized hub area for exploration and moves the world as the plot advances (the witcher)

DoPo:
Their games are pretty formulaic and people have jokingly pointed that out.

Jokingly?

endtherapture:
So yeah, do you think it would be possible to make a heavily story based (perhaps party based?) game like DA:O in a Skyrim type world where there's way more freedom to explore than simply hub zones and Dungeons like in DA:O?

To your original question - yes, I think it's possible to have the best from both worlds. HOWEVER, it would require extensive amount of development time (we are talking about years and years). And I doubt any investor would agree with it.

For me personally the offspring of DA:O and Skyrim would be one of the best RPGs ever made, but given the current state of programming technology it's highly unlikely will see it anytime soon.

The compromise is to either have a large (but not very deep) explorable world, i.e. Skyrim or hub-based story-driven set of quests.

There is only so much a group of programmers can do and adding additional coders will sooner or later start diminishing to the point where they all just communicate with each other instead of writing a code.

I enjoy both "versions", whether it's based around story (Mask of the Betrayer being a prime example) or around exploration (Morrowind, because it didn't have fast-travel). But we can't have both in one game.
Cake or pie. Not Cakie :).

Draech:
The thing is what people dont seem to be aware off is that the 2 concept kinda fight each other.

If you make everything fully open you make I harder to make an intimate connection to a single char or scenario, because as you expand your area you remove restraints from the player.

And if you go the other way around you have a much more controlled exp to influence the player, but takes away player freedom.

The key is finding the golden middleground.

Do you make a lot of linked smaller areas where you can control the individual area (ME/DA) or do you go for the full exploration (TES) or do you pick a medium sized hub area for exploration and moves the world as the plot advances (the witcher)

I suppose TW2 is the best idea, just wish that world was bigger and had more stuff to explore.

If Skyrim was in the style of TW2 I imagine each hold and it's terrotory would be a self contained area.

No. And it would suck if they tried it.

What Bioware does is offer a mostly hub-based sort of game. A deadly concentrated amount of storytelling within one area.

So if you stuck that in a game like Skyrim, you'd have two main areas with ALL the main quests and dialogue crap, and 50 square miles of vast nothing.

With ME3's nearly perfected combat (or a sword and spell equivalent with less repetition than DA2) and characters, and Bethesda's environments and landscapes. It could potentially be a very good game.

Well...hard to say. To amount to the same level of storyline while having an open world (and a REALLY open world) that works dynamically would require an insane amount of work. At least 5 to 10 more voice acting, script writing, and some new game and level design in place. The flow of the game would be vastly different too. Not only that, but the choices in ME1 and 2 were already vast in only a linear sense. To apply that in a more open ended way seems like a design nightmare =p.

It is POSSIBLE, yes. But it could take very much as long as Duke Nukem Forever to come out in a good shape

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