Summer of Bioware

#1 Posted by Neezie (118 posts) -

I am fascinated by the evolution of Bioware. The company started with a few people and has grown into a brand, with many different companies branded with the Bioware name. I'm dedicating my summer to playing and reviewing the games of Bioware, starting with Baldur's Gate and ending with Mass Effect 3, sharing my views on the company's evolution along the way.

There are some rules however, I will not be going into expansion pack. I will also not review Shattered Steel and MDK 2, as I am more focused on the comapany's development as a RPG maker. Since I can not complete The Old Republic, I will put in as many hours as needed to create a verdict on the game, however many that will be.

I will start this as soon as I can, with finals ending on May 8th I will try to have a review of Baldur's Gate as soon as possible.

Follow my blog for the reviews of the games

#2 Posted by Pinworm45 (4088 posts) -

If you haven't chosen a class for SWTOR, go with the imperial agent. It's probably the "least starwarsy" story in the game, but in my opinion, it's the best story Bioware has told, that just happens too take place in an otherwise unremarkable MMO. Seriously, play the Agent, it's so worth it.

#3 Edited by ThunderSlash (1636 posts) -

The first 2 Baldur's Gate alone will probably take up that whole summer. Good luck!

#4 Posted by wordfalling (193 posts) -

No expansion packs? So no Deekin, such a shame. Makes me want to play HotU again, I wonder if NWN will have issues with Win7.

#5 Posted by Morrow (1829 posts) -

@Neezie:

Looking at the Mass Effect franchise, Bioware's evolution seems meh. Most people think the ME 3 ending debacle happened because a lot of the old team members who helped creating the ME universe left Bioware, and the people who replaced them lack talent/creativity/whatever.

So, I think you'll enjoy the older Bioware titles but will feel a little disappointed with the more recent titles (DA II, ME3).

#6 Posted by mordukai (7149 posts) -

@ThunderSlash said:

The first 2 Baldur's Gate alone will probably take up that whole summer. Good luck!

So true.

@Neezie: WHy won't you wait until they release that "enhanced edition" of Baldur's Gate. From what I've been reading the combat system will be virtually the same.

#7 Posted by Viking_Funeral (1757 posts) -

Ooof. Baldur's Gate 2 -> NWN's original campaign -> Knights of the Old Republic is going to be an interesting series of games.

The best thing about NWN was the mods. Bar none. To rate it as a stand alone game is almost doing it a disservice, but that is how it shipped.

#8 Posted by Redbullet685 (6031 posts) -

That sounds like it'll be fun for ya. I've really only played through ME2 but do plan on playing ME3. As you can probably see, I'm not a really big RPG fan.

#9 Edited by Fjordson (2448 posts) -

An interesting idea, though you're in for some major headaches and heartbreak. Especially if you go through the whole Mass Effect trilogy and Dragon Age II.

I would just play Baldur's Gate II and KOTOR and peace out, but that's just me. Maybe Neverwinter Nights as well for the countless community made campaigns that are fantastic.

#10 Edited by artgarcrunkle (970 posts) -

Sounds depressing. Good luck.

Do the Jaheira romance in BG2 to really drive home how embarrassingly bad the romantic writing in modern Bioware games is.

#11 Posted by mrfizzy (1527 posts) -

Think my first Bioware game was either Knights of the Old Republic on PC or Jade Empire on the original Xbox. Never played any of the Baulder's Gate games but have always heard good things, really should try one out. The scale all those games operate on has never failed to impress me.

#12 Posted by mandude (2669 posts) -

@Neezie said:

There are some rules however, I will not be going into expansion pack. I will also not review Shattered Steel and MDK 2, as I am more focused on the comapany's development as a RPG maker. Since I can not complete The Old Republic, I will put in as many hours as needed to create a verdict on the game, however many that will be.

Are you going to forgo Throne of Bhaal? I mean...while it is an expansion pack, it is the official conclusion to the series.

#13 Posted by Zlimness (548 posts) -

Even without the expansion, Baldur's Gate 2 alone is like 100-150 hours if you touch some of the side-quests. So the Baldur's Gate series is going to keep you occupied for most of the summer. Be sure to get the modification for BG1 that uses the BG2 engine though. The original ran in 640x480 and BG2 in 800x600. Both games hold up expectionally well today.

Don't know about KOTOR. It was good back when it came out, but not sure how it stacks up today. It's similiar to how Dragon Age Origins work mechanically, so it should be fine. I prefered the sequel, since KOTOR has a really slow start.

Jade Empire is probably the worst RPG Bioware put out. The world and atmosphere is kind of nice, but the RPG elements are really weak. Which doesn't leave much of a game left.

Don't remember much about NWN. I thought it was OK at the time. Not exactly the 3D Baldurs Gate or Icewind Dale I was hoping for. Maybe because I wasn't ready to leave the old isometric perspective yet. Hard to go back to and play again, having tried with NWN2.

Dragon Age Origins is actually one of my favorite Bioware games. It has the scope and ambition of Baldur's Gate but without the terrible Forgotten Realms fiction. Of course it's not as epic as BG1 or 2, but you don't see that kind of RPG anymore. So it's closest I got to the old Bioware.

#14 Posted by Raven10 (1759 posts) -

I have only played bits and pieces of Bioware games outside of the first two Mass Effect games and Jade Empire. I think the biggest thing you'll find is the move from tactical turn based combat to fast paced action combat. It seems like with each game they made Bioware moved further into the action column. I would also mention that as you said there are multiple studios under the Bioware banner. So in many ways you see less of an evolution of a single team, and more the evolution of the vision of the company heads. Also I'd suggest playing the expansions to the Baldur's Gate games as they are supposed to be some of the best parts of the series.

@Morrow: The only senior staff member to leave Mass Effect between 2 and 3 was Drew Karpshyn who was the lead writer on the first game and one of the two lead writers on the second. The other lead writer, Mac Walters worked on the series until its conclusion. The lead designer, director, art director and lead programmer remained the same throughout the whole series. I guess you can say that Drew's departure was maybe a driving factor behind any writing changes, but he remained with Bioware until after the game was released, just mostly working on The Old Republic. He still effected the general direction of the story in Mass Effect 3. So as far as I can tell none of the senior staff members left Bioware at any point during the development of the three games so whoever said that doesn't know what they are talking about.

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#15 Posted by Morrow (1829 posts) -

@Raven10:

Oh, that's odd, I read in one of the ME3 threads that Bioware had a change of personnel, and that this is the reason the ending of ME3 seemed not to fit to the rest of the franchise... ^^;

Maybe some of the smaller writers left Bioware, and they had a bigger impact on the story than expected... I could imagine being a lead writer doesn't necessarily mean they write most of the story, but are in charge of what ideas make it into the final game. Or maybe the person was really just misinformed... :D

#16 Posted by endaround (2142 posts) -

I would play the Throne of Bhaal expansion pack. In many ways it is BG3, it concludes the Baldur's Gate storyline.

#17 Posted by GunslingerPanda (4687 posts) -

@Neezie said:

I'm dedicating my summer to playing and reviewing the games of Bioware, starting with Baldur's Gate and ending with Mass Effect 3

I am more focused on the comapany's development as a RPG maker.

lol

#18 Edited by falling_fast (2204 posts) -

@Neezie said:

There are some rules however, I will not be going into expansion pack.

I would argue that in order to get the full Baldur's Gate experience, you NEED to play Throne of Bhaal. Tales of the Sword Coast you can safely skip, though.

Neverwinter Nights 1's single player component is utter shit imo. It works best as a multiplayer game, using player-created adventures.

#19 Posted by Neezie (118 posts) -

@mordukai: They have only announced a "summer" release, and I want to start this as soon as possible. I'm afraid it will come out late summer and mess up the order of the games.

@GunslingerPanda: Glad someone got my joke

#20 Posted by Raven10 (1759 posts) -

@Morrow: Bioware has a team of in house writers who move freely between different projects. Almost all of those writers have been with the company since at least the start of this generation. Not every one of them has worked on all of the Mass Effect games (some worked on Dragon Age or TOR) but the team of writers that came up with the Mass Effect universe still works at the company, whether they wrote a great amount of actual text for the final game or not. Regardless, the creator of the series, Casey Hudson, directed all three games, so I find it hard to believe that the initial vision was changed too greatly between the first game and the third. Most likely whoever told you that was just very misinformed as the vast majority of the team has remained the same through all three games.

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#21 Posted by 9cupsoftea (652 posts) -

@Raven10: They really haven't remained the same at all. I'm not sure if it was on here or another forum but someone posted the main writers for all three games and most of them were changed from game to game - certainly from 1 to 3 about half were different. Drew Karpashyn being the main guy in charge of the first two and not really having anything to do with the third.

I also remember BioWare hiring a tonne of writers a couple of years ago, although I think they were mostly for work on DA2 and SWTOR.

#22 Posted by Neezie (118 posts) -

@damnable_fiend: I should review Neverwinter as a multiplayer game, when I get to it I'll post on here or on my blog and we could get some games going.

#23 Posted by Raven10 (1759 posts) -

@9cupsoftea said:

@Raven10: They really haven't remained the same at all. I'm not sure if it was on here or another forum but someone posted the main writers for all three games and most of them were changed from game to game - certainly from 1 to 3 about half were different. Drew Karpashyn being the main guy in charge of the first two and not really having anything to do with the third.

I also remember BioWare hiring a tonne of writers a couple of years ago, although I think they were mostly for work on DA2 and SWTOR.

Bioware has a fluid team of writers. Of the five who worked on the first game, all five remained on the second and two of those remained on the third. Of the three who left after the second game, two remained with the company until after the completion of the third game, just on other projects. Outside of the writers, all of the leads in other areas - programming, design, art, and audio remained the same in all three games. Of the writers added in the third game, all but one or two had a credit of some sort on one of the previous two games if not both, and again, all but a couple had worked on Bioware games since at least the start of the generation. There were some new writers added, but the majority of the writing staff was made up of Bioware regulars that had been with the company for years. I honestly haven't played the third game yet, so maybe it feels very different. But I wouldn't blame it on changing teams. The lead designer remained the same through all the games, and the creator of the series, Casey Hudson, directed all three games, and while he didn't write any of the dialogue himself, much of the creative vision was shared between him, the lead designer, art director, and three of the writers - two of whom remain on the team for the third game.

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