I Think Therefore I Am (BioWare Speculation and Retrospective)

For everyone wondering, no, this is not yet another thread tripping about the internal integrity of everyone's favorite space opera. This is instead a general discussion about the developers of everyone's favorite space opera. Don't worry, this'll be quick...

I'm sure most if not everyone here remembers when BioWare was a small, simple, somewhat out-of-the-way game developer from the wild outskirts of Canada. They created many timeless classics such as MDK2 (didn't know that one, did you?), Star Wars: the Knights of the Old Republic, and, my personal favorite, Jade Empire. Good times were had by all and it seemed BioWare was one of the few developers who simply knew how to make great games.

Then in the late "oughts" (2000-2009), BioWare was purchased by Electronic Arts for an astronomical sum of dosh that I'm sure we wish we all had at least a portion of. This put many, myself included, in a state of unease as EA had already been scratched off many people's Christmas card lists and was said to mark the undoubted downfall of the acclaimed Canadian developer. The recent debacles, for lack of a better term, involving the Dragon Age and Mass Effect series' only seemed to confirm that.

So here's my question: suppose BioWare stayed self-contained, or under Microsoft Game Studios? Do you think they'd be in their current mess? How about this: what do you think would have became of Dragon Age and Mass Effect? What do you foresee happening to BioWare in the future while under EA's reign? Do you see BioWare breaking off from EA to become their own company again (in whatever fashion), and if so, then what?

You, with the glasses, what do you think? How about you, the one looking up Skyrim mods, opinion? What say you, the "brony"? You there, the one wishing you had one of BioWare's 400 cupcakes, do you have any speculations and theories? Anyone?

If Bioware wasn't bought by EA I am sure that some other game publisher, or even Microsoft, would start pulling the exact same shit as EA is doing, and we would be exactly were we are now but replace all instances of EA with whatever game company bought Bioware.

Bioware could have remained exactly as they were before and because of things like nostalgia for past games there would a group, albet smaller, of people who think Bioware turned to crap.

Well...as a guy who had never played a WRPG before this gen and has been on the consoles my entire life, I hadn't heard of Bioware until Mass Effect came out so I have no idea what they used to be like but the ONLY game Bioware has impressed me with is Mass Effect 2.

The first Mass Effect wasn't a good game, it was a great idea with a great story but it felt like the company had no idea what to do with the shooter aspects and general gameplay.

Dragon Age: Origins wasn't a good game, at best it was Final Fantasy XII and The Lord of the Rings had a child who had down syndrome.

Mass Effect 2 was a huge improvement over Mass Effect in every way possible. They fixed the combat, added in more relate-able, more important characters, much more though into the back story of the universe, less samey environments and on top of that made the set pieces and the story more epic.

Mass Effect 3 was just Mass Effect 2 only it made much less sense and was full of promise but just took the easy way out.

These are the only Bioware games I've ever played (I was interested in Jade Empire but as I never had an Xbox I obviously missed out on it). I'm interested to see what Bioware do for their next IP but I've never really understood this massive, endless love for them on this site.

I guess being pretty much console exclusive since 1989 is probably the reason why my favourite companies tend to come from Japan but this is where I stand on Bioware.

I'm a fan of Mass Effect
I'll try their next IP, if I like it, I'll be a fan. If not, I'll leave Bioware well alone.

SajuukKhar:
If Bioware wasn't bought by EA I am sure that some other game publisher, or even Microsoft, would start pulling the exact same shit as EA is doing, and we would be exactly were we are now but replace all instances of EA with whatever game company bought Bioware.

Bioware could have remained exactly as they were before and because of things like nostalgia for past games there would a group, albet smaller, of people who think Bioware turned to crap.

That's a little pessimistic, don't you think?

Veldt Falsetto:
Well...as a guy who had never played a WRPG before this gen and has been on the consoles my entire life, I hadn't heard of Bioware until Mass Effect came out so I have no idea what they used to be like but the ONLY game Bioware has impressed me with is Mass Effect 2.

The first Mass Effect wasn't a good game, it was a great idea with a great story but it felt like the company had no idea what to do with the shooter aspects and general gameplay.

Agreed on the gameplay. It was remarkably slow for a shooter, third-person or otherwise.

Dragon Age: Origins wasn't a good game, at best it was Final Fantasy XII and The Lord of the Rings had a child who had down syndrome.

Arguable. While I wasn't a fan of the gameplay (I'm sure if a game pouts you to sleep as you're playing it, that's bad), I did like the lore and atmosphere, even if they tried to make anyone with magic affinity seem like a potential terrorist.

Mass Effect 2 was a huge improvement over Mass Effect in every way possible. They fixed the combat, added in more relate-able, more important characters, much more though into the back story of the universe, less samey environments and on top of that made the set pieces and the story more epic.

Mass Effect 3 was just Mass Effect 2 only it made much less sense and was full of promise but just took the easy way out.

Again, arguable. I found the gameplay in ME2 a little too formulaic; there was a definite shift from "narrative" to "combat" and you could see that from the environments alone. Chest-high barriers (complete with musical shift)? Combat area, ready your guns (that's not inherently bad, just sayin')...

These are the only Bioware games I've ever played (I was interested in Jade Empire but as I never had an Xbox I obviously missed out on it). I'm interested to see what Bioware do for their next IP but I've never really understood this massive, endless love for them on this site.

We must traverse different parts of the site. There's a definite schism between those who think BioWare hasn't done right since KotOR and those who think even under the "whip" of EA, metaphorically speaking of course, BioWare can do no wrong and they've just had a few hiccups.

SageRuffin:

We must traverse different parts of the site. There's a definite schism between those who think BioWare hasn't done right since KotOR and those who think even under the "whip" of EA, metaphorically speaking of course, BioWare can do no wrong and they've just had a few hiccups.

It's just something I've noticed, before Dragon Age 2 and Mass Effect 3, Bioware were up at the top of this sites most loved games companies just below Valve, Bethesda and Obsidian...and I guess Mojang too now...that or it's the vocal minority.

All 4 of whom I had never really been introduced to until this gen (I knew about Half Life but had only played the demo on Ps2), and all of whom I fail to see what makes them so special.

Bioware (in my eyes), specialise in making western made JRPGs but with less focus on polished gameplay. (If there's one massive difference in western and japanese game design it's the polish)

Valve, yeah I can get the love for Portal, Half Life and Team Fortress but these guys aren't the be all and end all of games design and creating a decent physics engine doesn't make them so.

Bethesda, I must admit, are the only really big western developer I've fallen in love with but only for the reason that they seem to be the only developer that makes games like they do, or at least the only developer on consoles. I love the vast, sprawling worlds, full of life and energy (even if the NPCs are just puppets), I love the focus and change on perspective and freedom and you just being whoever you want to be. Not one other developer (that I know of) can create these big, beautiful worlds that are so easy to get lost in and lose your entire month to.

(Finally) Obsidian, now I never played a Black Isle game (console, obviously) but Obsidian seem to be a company just riddled with GREAT ideas but no idea how to use and implement these ideas into a game that both works and is fun to play. The closest we've gotten is Fallout: New Vegas and even then, they still managed to create bugs in an already pretty buggy engine, it's crazy.

SageRuffin:
So here's my question: suppose BioWare stayed self-contained, or under Microsoft Game Studios? Do you think they'd be in their current mess?

No, this is more a tactic of EA than Bioware's track record. I will go into this more on the next answer.

How about this: what do you think would have became of Dragon Age and Mass Effect?

We would only have one of them right now most likely. If you assume 2K had bought them, we would have probably had Mass Effect 3 concluded by Bioware. It is possible they would have handed Dragon Age 2 to Obsidian, but this was also the time where Obsidian was trying to push Alpha Protocol as their own IP as well as work with Bethesda on FO:NV. It's hard to say from our perspective what Obsidian and Bioware would have done if this were even proposed in this hypothetical situation.
I do believe Bioware would have shifted Dragon Age's gameplay away from Baldur's gate to evolve it. However, considering that, they may not have wanted anyone to handle the sequel except them. It certainly wouldn't have had the ridiculous DLC stuff to it. Like buying Dead Space 2 new gets you armor in the game and such. It also would have been more fully realized.

What do you foresee happening to BioWare in the future while under EA's reign?

Bioware will become EA's "stamp of quality" for anything they want high sales insurance on for the next few years until the name means nothing to consumers. They are already starting this by having a different company work on C&C under the guise of 'Bioware'. Of course, all their games will be heavily marketed through DLC as that is EA's approach to game making. (Make a bare bones game and sell content as DLC)

Do you see BioWare breaking off from EA to become their own company again (in whatever fashion), and if so, then what?

No, I am pretty sure this is locked in. The only way for them to become their own company is for the original group to leave and start up again under a new name. If that counts, you will end up seeing another case of Black Isle where they won't end up under the same roof but instead they will form new game companies.

SajuukKhar:
If Bioware wasn't bought by EA I am sure that some other game publisher, or even Microsoft, would start pulling the exact same shit as EA is doing, and we would be exactly were we are now but replace all instances of EA with whatever game company bought Bioware.

Bioware could have remained exactly as they were before and because of things like nostalgia for past games there would a group, albet smaller, of people who think Bioware turned to crap.

THIS

If it hadnt been EA, it would have been Activision, Ubisoft, Microsoft or hell even Sony.

boag:
THIS

If it hadnt been EA, it would have been Activision, Ubisoft, Microsoft or hell even Sony.

Because Activision forces Blizzard into rushing their games out early?

They're all evil, but EA is a special kind of evil, and has a storied history of ruining developers in a way those others can't lay claim to.

If Bioware wasn't bought by EA, we would probably have got Mass Effect 2 in 2011. Everyone would be excited for Mass Effect 3 in 2014 or 2015. Dragon Age 2 would either have been Dragon Age: Rise to Power (an experimental expansion pack for DA:O), and it would have come out in 2012, or Dragon Age 2 would be coming out in 2013 as a fully polished game.

And the games would have been much better.

Wow... this is definitely not what I expected (that's not a bad thing, mind you). I wonder what others have to say on the subject...

BloatedGuppy:

Because Activision forces Blizzard into rushing their games out early?

Activison forces people to rush, Blizzard is different because they ARE Activison now.

This isn't "Blizzard is owned as a sub-company", this is Blizzard IS Activision, they threat themselves better.

It is like insted of bioware being owned by EA, Ea and Bioware merged into EAware.

Also
A CoD every year isn't rushing?
and lets not forget the Guitar Hero series that they bled into death also.

SajuukKhar:
Activison forces people to rush, Blizzard is different because they ARE Activison now.

This isn't "Blizzard is owned as a sub-company", this is Blizzard IS Activision, they threat themselves better.

It is like insted of bioware being owned by EA, Ea and Bioware merged into EAware.

Also
A CoD every year isn't rushing?
and lets not forget the Guitar Hero series that they bled into death also.

Well, when Activision murders Ultima then I'll rank them alongside EA in the pantheon of publisher arch fiends. Until then, they remain a lesser evil.

BloatedGuppy:

SajuukKhar:
Activison forces people to rush, Blizzard is different because they ARE Activison now.

This isn't "Blizzard is owned as a sub-company", this is Blizzard IS Activision, they threat themselves better.

It is like insted of bioware being owned by EA, Ea and Bioware merged into EAware.

Also
A CoD every year isn't rushing?
and lets not forget the Guitar Hero series that they bled into death also.

Well, when Activision murders Ultima then I'll rank them alongside EA in the pantheon of publisher arch fiends. Until then, they remain a lesser evil.

ultima has been doing a pretty good job of raping itself from the beginning. Remember this is a fucking game that has you start out in a fantasy world and then dumps you into a Tie fighter just because.

boag:
ultima has been doing a pretty good job of raping itself from the beginning. Remember this is a fucking game that has you start out in a fantasy world and then dumps you into a Tie fighter just because.

We all did embarrassing shit when we were kids, yeah? Yes, the early Ultimas were a tad risible, but starting with Ultima IV and moving through Ultima VII, and throwing in Martian Dreams and Savage Empire and both Underworlds if you're feeling kitschy, there was never a more inventive or revolutionary CRPG series. Naturally, the right thing to do with it was fuck it up completely and run the brand into the ground.

BloatedGuppy:

boag:
ultima has been doing a pretty good job of raping itself from the beginning. Remember this is a fucking game that has you start out in a fantasy world and then dumps you into a Tie fighter just because.

We all did embarrassing shit when we were kids, yeah? Yes, the early Ultimas were a tad risible, but starting with Ultima IV and moving through Ultima VII, and throwing in Martian Dreams and Savage Empire and both Underworlds if you're feeling kitschy, there was never a more inventive or revolutionary CRPG series. Naturally, the right thing to do with it was fuck it up completely and run the brand into the ground.

The thing is, you are implying that the ultima series was good. It never was.

I could go into a whole diatribe of why the series of games sucked so much, but Spoony already did that.

http://spoonyexperiment.com/category/game-reviews/ultima-retrospective/

BloatedGuppy:

We all did embarrassing shit when we were kids, yeah? Yes, the early Ultimas were a tad risible, but starting with Ultima IV and moving through Ultima VII, and throwing in Martian Dreams and Savage Empire and both Underworlds if you're feeling kitschy, there was never a more inventive or revolutionary CRPG series. Naturally, the right thing to do with it was fuck it up completely and run the brand into the ground.

Origin Systems made the killing blow themselves with Ultima VIII, EA just made more cuts to kill it faster.

boag:
The thing is, you are implying that the ultima series was good. It never was.

I could go into a whole diatribe of why the series of games sucked so much, but Spoony already did that.

http://spoonyexperiment.com/category/game-reviews/ultima-retrospective/

Have you actually WATCHED those? His Ultima 5 and Ultima 7 retrospectives are about as close as you can get to penning love letters to games. He's hard on Ultima 6, and I can understand his criticisms.

Berenzen:
Origin Systems made the killing blow themselves with Ultima VIII, EA just made more cuts to kill it faster.

Pagan was a bad game, but Ascension was an absolutely contemptible game on every possible level. It was IX that killed the series, and they've done sweet fuck all with it since.

BloatedGuppy:

boag:
ultima has been doing a pretty good job of raping itself from the beginning. Remember this is a fucking game that has you start out in a fantasy world and then dumps you into a Tie fighter just because.

We all did embarrassing shit when we were kids, yeah? Yes, the early Ultimas were a tad risible, but starting with Ultima IV and moving through Ultima VII, and throwing in Martian Dreams and Savage Empire and both Underworlds if you're feeling kitschy, there was never a more inventive or revolutionary CRPG series. Naturally, the right thing to do with it was fuck it up completely and run the brand into the ground.

All I'm going to say is Westwood...

...actually, no. I'm going to say something else as well, because it still bugs me to this day. Fucking Pandemic Studios.

This was the studio that made Mercenaries, Full Spectrum Warrior, and motherfucking Battlefront. EA paid $800 million to acquire both Bioware and Pandemic, equating to about $400 million for each. What kind of sick son of a bitch publisher spends $400 million on acquiring a studio, only to run it into the ground and close it down in the space of a couple of years? That's a new kind of perverse depravity, and not even Activision can claim to have been that twisted in how they handle their studios.

Fuck EA. If they hadn't bought Bioware out, then we'd probably have a Jade Empire 2 by now. But apparently, wuxia-inspired RPGs aren't what's hot right now.

BloatedGuppy:

boag:
The thing is, you are implying that the ultima series was good. It never was.

I could go into a whole diatribe of why the series of games sucked so much, but Spoony already did that.

http://spoonyexperiment.com/category/game-reviews/ultima-retrospective/

Have you actually WATCHED those? His Ultima 5 and Ultima 7 retrospectives are about as close as you can get to penning love letters to games. He's hard on Ultima 6, and I can understand his criticisms.

Berenzen:
Origin Systems made the killing blow themselves with Ultima VIII, EA just made more cuts to kill it faster.

Pagan was a bad game, but Ascension was an absolutely contemptible game on every possible level. It was IX that killed the series, and they've done sweet fuck all with it since.

Oh I know his reviews for 5-7 are his most beloved ones, but he still rags on them and he still shows just how stupid and retarded the games were.

boag:
Oh I know his reviews for 5-7 are his most beloved ones, but he still rags on them and he still shows just how stupid and retarded the games were.

Uh...no, he really didn't, but you go on thinking that if it makes you feel better.

Is there a reason you've chosen to be abrasive? Or are you just having your man-period?

BloatedGuppy:

boag:
Oh I know his reviews for 5-7 are his most beloved ones, but he still rags on them and he still shows just how stupid and retarded the games were.

Uh...no, he really didn't, but you go on thinking that if it makes you feel better.

Is there a reason you've chosen to be abrasive? Or are you just having your man-period?

What the fuck are you going on now?

Someone disagrees with you and you start throwing insults?

You are as bad as zeel.

.... No. It might be worse and it might be better but it certainly wouldn't be here. "Where is here?" you might ask. Here is a place that if you really think Mass Effect 3 is a good game (not even great or excellent, just good) we can't be friends. If I can't convince you that ME3 was unnecassarily rushed, changed tones in just a ridiculous manner or was just "not good" - it'll never work. Bioware hit it's peak somewhere between Baulder's Gate and KotOR and it'll never reach it again with the cock wagons it has running it into the ground right now.

I've stuck around Bioware for the last couple years because I've been such a fan of many of their previous games but somewhere in the middle of ME3 I realized, "I'm just not have having fun anymore". That nagging feeling pulled up in Dragon Age, ME2 and DA2 but I put up with because I was a fan of the company. But being a fan and ultimately betrayed by Bioware has left me with a realization: it's all about me. Now that might sound very egotistical but it really comes down to: This is entertainment. If I'm not enjoying myself I should find something else to enjoy. I'm not bound to 'X' company because I've enjoyed other games they've made. Fuck it, I free myself from the constraints of fandom.

ME3 made me reconsider all of the other propeties that I consider myself a fan of and whether I had fooled myself into liking them too or not. I've been cleaning house the last few weeks, rediscovering things I love and throwing away things I realized I didn't enjoy as much as I thought I did. This is the lasting impression that ME3 and Bioware has left on me. It's their final gift and their damnation. They have lost me as a fan but I think I've grown up a little bit more.

OT: If Bioware had "stayed the same" I would still call them one of the best developers in game making and if it had been much worse I probably would've arrived to this conclusion sooner. As for the future of Bioware... do you remember the "cock wagons" I mentioned earlier? I can't see those "cock wagons" leaving such a comfortable position in the arms of EA anytime soon, they are cock wagons after all.

snarky
snark
snark
snark

boag:
What the fuck are you going on now?

Someone disagrees with you and you start throwing insults?

You are as bad as zeel.

Jesus christ, is it opposite day? You're being INSANELY argumentative.

1. Randomly shit on classic game series.
2. Post glowing reviews of classic game series as evidence of how much they suck.
3. When it's pointed out that they are glowing reviews, say "He shows how stupid and retarded they are anyway".
4. When asked why you're acting this way, turn everything on its head, accuse other person of being Zeel.

Like, guy...you're entitled to your opinions. The way you're expressing those opinions is obnoxious. "I don't like X, and these are the reasons why I don't care for X" is how a sane person disagrees with someone. "X is stupid and retarded, nyah!" is how a child disagrees with someone. Generally I've found you to be fairly sane and agreeable, possibly only because we've argued the same side in the interminable ME3 debate, so I was honestly more than a little surprised to see you being weirdly argumentative with this "black is white" bullshit regarding Spoony's reviews.

But if that makes me Zeel, alrighty then. Booga booga. And uh...fanboys. And biodrones!

BloatedGuppy:
Is there a reason you've chosen to be abrasive? Or are you just having your man-period?

boag:
What the fuck are you going on now?

Children, play nice. This isn't the place for mudslinging. If you two are that distraught over the other's words, take that to the PMs.

SageRuffin:
Children, play nice. This isn't the place for mudslinging. If you two are that distraught over the other's words, take that to the PMs.

I'm not even mad at him! I was chumming around and giving him a rough time because he was my ME3 end hatin' buddy. And he bit my head off! He's mean! He's so mean. (runs from the room sobbing)

 

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