Once upon a time I made a blog about video games. And this is what's left of it (mostly tweets).

1 January 2015

Killed my first dragon. O. M. G.

(Wasted half my potions before realizing that the companion AI was no help at all, and taking control.)

4 January

A chaques soldes Steam je me fais avoir et j’achète des jeux Unity qui ne sont pas foutus de gérer correctement le pad sur Mac.

@patrickklepek:

Too many Dragon Age quests begin with a great premise but devolve into collecting objects and reading. MMO design without social elements.

6 January

8 January

Killing that wyvern was like killing a magnificent giant cat. It felt as bad as winning a fight in Shadow of the Colossus.

I’m quite pissed off that I had to abandon two companion sidequests in Dragon Age: Inquisition because they involved waiting a few hours for Farmville-like timers to expire. (As if that game weren’t too long already.)

Dragon Age: Inquisition (PS4)

Great characters. Great dialogue. Serviceable story. All the things you expect from a good Bioware game are there; sadly, it’s all drowned under a huge heap of (gorgeous) open world that turns the game into a complete slog. It’s hard to blame Bioware for overcompensating after the public reaction to Dragon Age II, but the end result is a sad, sad waste of talent and time that mostly left me feeling drained.

Skyrim works as a huge open world because it’s designed, from top to bottom, as a solitary experience. It’s you against the world, traveling across the continent with melancholy music as your sole companion — or maybe you get a single partner, but then you are two lone wolves traveling together; you don’t expect much in the way of conversation from her, and in the end you’re just using her as a pack mule. (Side note: I’m so tired of limited inventory.)

Inquisition, on the other hand, pits you as the leader of a huge organization, offers long conversations with each of your followers, and then launches you into large open worlds… alone except for the company of three automatons programmed to spout a couple of lines every twenty minutes.

That model works fine for the linear mission structure traditionally used by Bioware’s games (and still seen in Inquisition’s most successful sequences): your party is focused on the mission, ready for combat at all times, so it makes sense for everyone to be mostly silent. That doesn’t work in an open world, where you can be walking around for hours, harvesting herbs and looking for collectibles, with three mindless drones shadowing your every move, their lack of actual interaction with you making it only more evident that you are, paradoxically, alone. (To the point that they disappear the moment you climb onto a horse. Hello, JRPGs of the 1990s.)

That’s only made worse by the fact that ranged combat is very MMO-y — which is to say, boring. I always play ranged classes, and only realized ater playing two-thirds of the game that all of those open-world random encounters would have been a lot more enjoyable if I’d played as a warrior (thankfully I was then able to specialize as a Knight-Enchanter and wield a magical sword).

As a result, every time I unlocked a new location and it turned out to be an open world, I was cursing the gods instead of thanking them. And that’s a shame, because the visuals were gorgeous, and the environments wonderfully designed. But I almost ended up not finishing the game at all.

So, in summary: you can’t make a game that’s both Skyrim and Mass Effect, so just pick one.

And another tip: if you’re going to make a 90-hour game, maybe it doesn’t need to have the same villain from beginning to end? Because it’s really hard to make a single menace work over such a long runtime. (As a reference, 90 hours is exactly five seasons of Buffy, which switched the main antagonist almost every half-season.)

Actually, you know what? Just don’t make a 90-hour game at all, because that’s insane.

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