Lead dev speaks out on Dragon Age 2 issues

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#1 Edited by Anund (849 posts) -

Apparently there have been some discussions at the official Dragon Age forums and the lead dev decided to chime in.

Link to the full article here!

The most interesting bit, comments on the biggest issues the game had:

1. Area Re-use.

An obvious problem, and one we are keenly aware of. Not an intentional issue, and certainly not “by design” but something that happened and needs to be addressed. Players should not have to accept that Cave A is also Caves B through D. While -some- assets will be reused in the course of any game (and should be, otherwise games would simply be too expensive to create), they should be done so with considerably more discretion. In retrospect, I probably should have just cut content to reduce the re-use, but that’s a tough call to make in the moment.

2. “Wave” combats

When everyone talks about how it’s raining men in DAII, there’s clearly something wrong. Simple problem: waves were introduced as a mechanic and overused without enough time to tune them. Fan reaction prompted us to start making adjustments to the system pretty much immediately, and Legacy demonstrates the start of the result. I am amused when people note that waves are “gone” from Legacy. They’re actually there, just done much better. So, yes, the bad waves are gone. Still more work to do, but a good start.

3. Impact of choice

We knew we were taking a risk making a story about a major even in Thedas that was pretty much going to happen, and reaction has been very mixed. While some folks love the “sound of inevitability” that pervades DAII, there are a number of weak spots in the impact they feel they should have on the world. Fair point. If we’re going to offer you a decision, it should matter. Easy fix would be to cut decisions, but that’s not what DA is about, so we’re going to have to get better about clear impact of those decisions within the same game you’re currently playing. Addressable, but not within a DLC, as they are pretty self-contained items.

4. Follower customization

A mixed bag. Lots of folks liked unique looks for followers. Many more hated losing the ability to put new platemail on Aveline. Completely understandable, and likely aggrivated by finding platemail that your mage character would likely never be able to equip. Needs to change, but we’ll cement how before talking in detail. Also not really addressable in a DLC, as there would be fundamental changes to the core game needed, which goes beyond the scope of what a DLC can deliver.

#2 Posted by TheHT (10296 posts) -

I'm happy to hear about 1,2, and 4, but I'm one of those folks who kinda liked that you could influence some events (act 2) and others were out of your hands (act 1) and others yet hidden from you though hinted at pretty extensively (act 3).
 

#3 Posted by rjayb89 (7713 posts) -

So they knew it was going to disappoint me, rjayb89.

#4 Posted by Rawrnosaurous (768 posts) -

From the quick-look of Legacy I can still clearly see the waves only they come out of random doors instead of randomly jumping out of nowhere. Still not a good use of such a thing as tactical combat when tactics are useless. You can't surprise anyone when 30 guys are just waiting for their friends to die so they can fight.

#5 Posted by benjaebe (2783 posts) -

I liked Dragon Age 2 but there were a lot of issues, most of which were addressed by the lead dev. Still, there were things in DA2 that I vastly preferred to Dragon Age: Origins and if they could strike a nice middle-ground between the two games then Dragon Age 3 could be great.

#6 Posted by Swoxx (2980 posts) -

I still don't understand how Dragon Age 1 turned into Dragon Age 2.

#7 Posted by wolf_blitzer85 (5236 posts) -

Oh man I hope they're just making Dragon Age 3: Origins Too

#8 Posted by WinterSnowblind (7612 posts) -

I think DA2 gets a bit too much hate, it had its shortcomings but I can see why the developers might have thought they were good ideas at the time (for the most part). It's at least nice to see some of the designers speaking about the problems so soon, this is the type of thing I'd only expect to hear in interviews while they're trying to hype up DA3, so this is definitely a good sign.

But hopefully we do see DA3 going back to being a bit more similar to Origins, which is undeniably a far better game.

#9 Posted by Nictel (2312 posts) -

@Swoxx: Men at top saying this DA makes money bring it out! Devs: But we're not ready. Men at top: Is it playable? Devs: Well yes but... Men at top: BRING IT OUT!

#10 Posted by Swoxx (2980 posts) -

@Nictel said:

@Swoxx: Men at top saying this DA makes money bring it out! Devs: But we're not ready. Men at top: Is it playable? Devs: Well yes but... Men at top: BRING IT OUT!

Yeah I guess. But I'd honestly rather they'd just used the DA1 engine in that case and made it much more similar with just a completely new story. Cheap and fairly fast. Oh well :/

#11 Edited by Octaslash (435 posts) -
@Rawrnosaurous said:

From the quick-look of Legacy I can still clearly see the waves only they come out of random doors instead of randomly jumping out of nowhere. Still not a good use of such a thing as tactical combat when tactics are useless. You can't surprise anyone when 30 guys are just waiting for their friends to die so they can fight.

It's still vastly improved from the main game. There aren't nearly as many waves and they don't spawn in plain sight.
#12 Posted by Malphye (413 posts) -

Reading his comments just irritates me. Just don't half ass the next one.

#13 Posted by ArbitraryWater (11034 posts) -

At least they're willing to admit that they messed up. From Laidlaw's comments, it seems like some of those design decisions were made in haste, which makes sense considering that game had at most 18 months of active development. However, the major one for me isn't the lack of environment variety nor the endless waves of enemies (both still fairly significant issues), but how the element of choice basically boils down to intent more than anything else, since literally every plot point of note is out of Hawke's control. If they can bother to fix that one, and then make their story not have the single most facepalmingly stupid ending of any Bioware game, I will consider Dragon Age III to be redeemed, regardless of whatever other problems it may end up having.

#14 Posted by SlashDance (1762 posts) -

there’s a game out there that’s better than both Origins and DAII

Yep. It's called Baldur's Gate 2 ! Sorry I just had to say it.

#15 Posted by Rawrnosaurous (768 posts) -
@Octaslash: They didn't really have to try that hard to make it improved from the main game, a lot of these mistakes/problems were issues I would have attributed to a franchises first outing. They had the first game and the expansion and DLC's to figure out how to best make everything work, it's almost like a completely different team worked on this game.
 
This reminds me of Obsidians work on trying to follow up on any good franchise they have been stupidly given to play around in. It's a sequel to a game everyone loves but you play it and there are so many problems with it, that you can't help but notice that someone else was making it.
#16 Posted by McGhee (6091 posts) -

The biggest problem with DA2 is the ridiculous number of bugs. It makes New Vegas look polished.

#17 Posted by Dunchad (460 posts) -

@Rawrnosaurous said:

@Octaslash: They didn't really have to try that hard to make it improved from the main game, a lot of these mistakes/problems were issues I would have attributed to a franchises first outing. They had the first game and the expansion and DLC's to figure out how to best make everything work, it's almost like a completely different team worked on this game. This reminds me of Obsidians work on trying to follow up on any good franchise they have been stupidly given to play around in. It's a sequel to a game everyone loves but you play it and there are so many problems with it, that you can't help but notice that someone else was making it.

Obsidian makes me sad. I want my Black Isle Studios back.

#18 Posted by DEMONOLOGY_24 (521 posts) -

I liked dragon age 2 but hearing that there going to change things is good
#19 Edited by EmuLeader (556 posts) -

@Delphye said:

Reading his comments just irritates me. Just don't half ass the next one.

I completely agree about how the next one should go, but they were also pretty much forced to make the game in way less time then it actually needed. Not the devs fault as much as the people in charge, who want their money fast. If they would have taken their time to make a great game, instead of rushing to get a DA game out as soon as possible would have helped greatly. Thats why i was happy to hear that ME3 was delayed.

#20 Posted by ajamafalous (11592 posts) -

@Rawrnosaurous said:

@Octaslash: They didn't really have to try that hard to make it improved from the main game, a lot of these mistakes/problems were issues I would have attributed to a franchises first outing. They had the first game and the expansion and DLC's to figure out how to best make everything work, it's almost like a completely different team worked on this game. This reminds me of Obsidians work on trying to follow up on any good franchise they have been stupidly given to play around in. It's a sequel to a game everyone loves but you play it and there are so many problems with it, that you can't help but notice that someone else was making it.

Basically this.

#21 Posted by Vorbis (2748 posts) -

I don't see the need for waves at all, fewer but tougher enemies are better than wave after wave of scrubs. Or at least if you plan to do waves makes sure they don't spawn behind you because that just throws all attempt at tactics out of the window.

#22 Posted by ryanwho (12082 posts) -

First step to recovery. With all of the Bioware enablers out there, they could have lived in denial forever. 

#23 Posted by Yummylee (20618 posts) -

Now if they release an Awakening esque expansion to DA2 with those points in mind, they may just redeem themselves. Even with the backlash from fans, I recall the game still sold relatively well; enough to hopefully release an apology in the form of said expansion-pack down the line <3 
 
They're apparently on their way according to what I've read about Legacy, though I still wasn't willing to shell out £8 for something as minor and irrelevant as that. Not to mention the short length.

#24 Edited by Octaslash (435 posts) -
@Rawrnosaurous said:

@Octaslash: They didn't really have to try that hard to make it improved from the main game, a lot of these mistakes/problems were issues I would have attributed to a franchises first outing. They had the first game and the expansion and DLC's to figure out how to best make everything work, it's almost like a completely different team worked on this game.  This reminds me of Obsidians work on trying to follow up on any good franchise they have been stupidly given to play around in. It's a sequel to a game everyone loves but you play it and there are so many problems with it, that you can't help but notice that someone else was making it.

It is pretty bizarre going back to DA:O, where none of the mentioned issues exist. DA2 just feels so rushed; I doubt anyone at Bioware thought copy/pasted environments or wave based combat was a good idea.
#25 Posted by Mr_Skeleton (5118 posts) -

He brings up good points, a lot of the times the best ways to deal with most of the complaints would be to cut a lot of the parts out. Im glad they didn't.

#26 Posted by Marz (5609 posts) -

#4 is what I wanted addressed the most, it's just kind of silly that you can't use most of the loot you get to equip your party members because they wanted them to look a certain way in the game.

#27 Posted by niamahai (1402 posts) -

did they ever come out and say that this is the first title they collaborated with Mythic? if you stay and watched the credits, a lot of EA Mythic guys worked on DA2. I always got the feeling DA2 was teething problems from a new development team.

#28 Posted by Origina1Penguin (3500 posts) -

So when he keeps saying "addressable" does he mean it won't be like that in DA3, or something more like DA2: Enhanced Edition?

#29 Posted by BraveToaster (12590 posts) -
@Delphye said:

Reading his comments just irritates me. Just don't half ass the next one.

Damn straight. Development time should be longer as well.
#30 Posted by Hailinel (22739 posts) -

Reading the full article, I don't know if he actually gets it. On the one hand, some of his comments as requoted here are spot on, but he also talks about people thinking that they're stripping the RPG out of Dragon Age just to be mean. I don't know how many people's reactions actually fell into that hyperbole, but I can say that I never thought that. I only thought that they were oversimplifying things that didn't need simplification and as a result made a far lesser game. The tactic might have worked for Mass Effect 2, but it did Dragon Age II no favors.

#31 Posted by FunExplosions (5407 posts) -

This guy needs to be fired. It's great that he's coming out and addressing the issues, and I'd like it if everyone was as forthcoming about flaws in their games, but the fact is that he's the lead developer and all this shit did indeed get released. Also, he's still completely blind to the enemy 'wave' problem. He really doesn't know what goes into making a game great, and when you're making a game as big as DAII, you really need someone who knows what they're doing.

#32 Edited by DonPixel (2585 posts) -

“If I’m going to piss you guys off, it’s going to be because I still firmly believe that RPGs do need to be more accessible to new players,” Laidlaw adds. “Not diminished, but made less imposing and less terrifying to new players.

I'm fucking tired of this cliche.. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE.

#33 Posted by Tim_the_Corsair (3065 posts) -

All problems with DA2 would have been immediately forgiven if you could just bang your sister once.

Beth was SMOKIN!

#34 Posted by Irvandus (2644 posts) -

His comments don't make me happy but I am glad they know they messed up, on the other hand he is totally wrong with the entire wave thing because from what I've seen they are just as in legacy as they were in the actual game.

#35 Posted by kingzetta (4307 posts) -

So he said be happy with what you got. I could have cut out a ton of stuff.

#36 Posted by Bulby33 (522 posts) -

My biggest problem with Dragon Age II was the lack of environments. You basically played through the entire game in a city, only going out to new areas once in a blue moon. Origins felt like a giant adventure whereas Dragon Age II felt like a short story. The last quarter of the game also felt thrown together at the last minute, and combined with myriad of problems the game already had, I wasn't very happy when I finished the game. Funny thing is, I actually enjoyed DAII's combat much more than Origins'. I didn't care for the haphazard enemy spawns, though.  
 
If Dragon Age 3 somehow manages to take the best of both games then it could potentially be something special.

#37 Posted by ryanwho (12082 posts) -
@DonPixel said:

“If I’m going to piss you guys off, it’s going to be because I still firmly believe that RPGs do need to be more accessible to new players,” Laidlaw adds. “Not diminished, but made less imposing and less terrifying to new players.

I'm fucking tired of this cliche.. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE.

I guess he thinks his audience is Agoraphobic and that's why there are only 3 dungeons in the game. So it stays a safe, familiar place throughout. Innovative geniuses.
#38 Posted by RandomInternetUser (6788 posts) -

I loved DA:O so very much.  One of my favorite games of all time.  Beat it in two days with a 33 hour playthrough.  I've struggled to even play DA2 for almost 10 hours and I've had it since release.  These problems don't sound like things I would totally despise a game over, but the re-used assets and cheesy wave mechanic was really grating over time.  I think the main problem is the fact that not a single character so far is all that like-able.  Anders is alright so far, but that's basically it.  In the first game, Morrigan is easily my favorite video game female of all time, with almost every other character in my party being like-able or very like-able as well.  I think that's what totally killed this game for me.

#39 Posted by Hailinel (22739 posts) -

@Tim_the_Corsair said:

All problems with DA2 would have been immediately forgiven if you could just bang your sister once. Beth was SMOKIN!

I'd honestly be shocked if an incest mod hasn't been produced for the PC version yet.

#40 Posted by Tim_the_Corsair (3065 posts) -
@Hailinel

@Tim_the_Corsair said:

All problems with DA2 would have been immediately forgiven if you could just bang your sister once. Beth was SMOKIN!

I'd honestly be shocked if an incest mod hasn't been produced for the PC version yet.

I'd honestly be shocked if it wasn't available before DA2 released.
#41 Posted by wjb (1554 posts) -

DA II was such a disappointment.  The recycled environments was what did me in; I couldn't enjoy anything after I realized I was stuck in the same four places.  The whole point of those type of games is the atmosphere and the journey through several different lands.  I've seen more settings in a grade school play.  
 
I was somewhat okay with the same side-dungeons ("But it's different!  That door was blocked off before, but now it's open and the other door is blocked off!  See?  Not the same.") until I got to the "Deep Roads" at the end of Act 1 and realized it was only a few rooms.  I thought, "Oh cool, the Deep Roads, like in Origins!  Now we're going places!"  Then you ended up back into boring Kirkwall 15 minutes later. 

Online
#42 Posted by Red (5991 posts) -

Completely agree with everything he said, which make up pretty much my only problems with the game. As was mentioned before, if they manage to strike a middleground from DA3, a really incredible game could be made. 
 
 
 
 
And, I know I'm in the vast minority on this, but I still believe that--if there was a different outcome had you not done it--Anders' quest and final actions in the game give some of the greatest player and character empathy I've felt in a game.

#43 Posted by JeanLuc (3525 posts) -
@benjaebe said:
I liked Dragon Age 2 but there were a lot of issues, most of which were addressed by the lead dev. Still, there were things in DA2 that I vastly preferred to Dragon Age: Origins and if they could strike a nice middle-ground between the two games then Dragon Age 3 could be great.
exactly my thoughts.
#44 Posted by SeriouslyNow (8534 posts) -

@ArbitraryWater said:

At least they're willing to admit that they messed up. From Laidlaw's comments, it seems like some of those design decisions were made in haste, which makes sense considering that game had at most 18 months of active development. However, the major one for me isn't the lack of environment variety nor the endless waves of enemies (both still fairly significant issues), but how the element of choice basically boils down to intent more than anything else, since literally every plot point of note is out of Hawke's control. If they can bother to fix that one, and then make their story not have the single most facepalmingly stupid ending of any Bioware game, I will consider Dragon Age III to be redeemed, regardless of whatever other problems it may end up having.

I find those comments he made to be really disingenuous considering they basically ripped the heart and soul from the DA :O to make II and profit in such a way as to minimise costs and sell people a really half arsed sequel. You categorise endless waves of enemies and lack of environmental variety as fairly significant issues but they would be utterly detrimental to any other game if it was the first title and not springboarding from the success of the prequel.

#45 Posted by Santa_8aby (97 posts) -
@xobballox said:
I loved DA:O so very much.  One of my favorite games of all time.  Beat it in two days with a 33 hour playthrough.  I've struggled to even play DA2 for almost 10 hours and I've had it since release.  These problems don't sound like things I would totally despise a game over, but the re-used assets and cheesy wave mechanic was really grating over time.  I think the main problem is the fact that not a single character so far is all that like-able.  Anders is alright so far, but that's basically it.  In the first game, Morrigan is easily my favorite video game female of all time, with almost every other character in my party being like-able or very like-able as well.  I think that's what totally killed this game for me.
Well said, my sentiments exactly. 
#46 Posted by SuperCycle (330 posts) -

Since they've acknowledged some of these problems, are they going to actually do anything about them? Am I going to be able to download a massive patch that will have more environments?

#47 Posted by Hailinel (22739 posts) -

@SuperCycle said:

Since they've acknowledged some of these problems, are they going to actually do anything about them? Am I going to be able to download a massive patch that will have more environments?

Not for Dragon Age II. Some of these problems can't be fixed by a reasonably-sized patch or an expansion. We'll probably have to wait for DA3 to see if they've really learned their lesson.

#48 Posted by mosdl (3223 posts) -

My fear is that they take "needs more environments" and make the game play like Mass Effect 2 - very linear and small environments. What I missed in DA2 compared to Origins were the larger, multi-pathed environments.

#49 Posted by Rawrnosaurous (768 posts) -

All of the problems he listed are some of the major problems people have with playing the game, and yes they should be fixed but it doesn't fix the core problem with the game. It's the environments just bland environment after bland environment filled usually with only enemies. For a city that is over flowing with people from ferelden there were only 20 people trying to get past the front gate. Even when you got past the 'massive crowd' the market area was a group of people and a giant empty courtyard filled with 1 merchant. This world wasn't believable in any sense some of the problems could have been lessened had they worked instead of filling the environments with randomly generated enemies you could fight. To randomly generated NPC's that are just walking about the city the biggest crowds you ever seen aren't when your walking through this giant city filled with refugees. It's when it's night and your walking around and 40 people jump from the rooftops and attack you on a moments notice. 
 
I wouldn't have noticed that the environments were the same as often as I did if I had to navigate my way through dozens of randomly generated people going about randomly generated days. Sure the problem still arises when you have to go through the same dungeons but at least you would have had a clear sense of what it is everyone is protecting. For all I know I'm protecting 30 people in the city, and 50 guys come into the city to just kill me cause hey why not.

#50 Posted by Lazyaza (2137 posts) -

All of the things he listed could have been avoided if they hadn't rushed the fucking thing out the door barely a year after the vastly superior original was released.  I'm willing to bet EA pressured them to do so, fucking assholes.

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