PAX DAY 4 (Monday): Bioware Base Panel Breakdown

PUSHING TECHNOLOGY
Gaming is shifting and expanding to an environment built for the gamer’s physical experience. Games can be more physical with peripherals (tablet apps for First Person Shooters, cloud computing across platforms) or literally physical like the Oculus Rift. The Oculus shows good, initial promise for pushing the gaming experience. Hopefully, games will push towards experimentation in gameplay.

(Note, however, that Inquisition will not have Oculus support. A third-person view in a third-person environment is too “anachronistic” to the immersion that Bioware seeks for players.)

Facial-expressive detection technology that exists, such as Peter Molyneux’s Milo and other emotionally-reactive games, is possible in a few years with next-gen technology. Possible, but needs games to push.

CAPTURING THE AUDIENCE
Places like GOG.com are revitalizing older games for consumer consumption. Today, more distribution channels exist. Gamers have a freedom of choice to buy games from multiple sources, even from the developers themselves. Kickstarter and Steam’s Greenlight help developers find the core audience and evaluate worth. 

Game prices today are broad; indie games average around $10-15 while an AAA title is about $60. Competing for gamers’ money isn’t the issue - it’s time. In a day where free-to-play games and MMOs with daily quests grab the immediate attention of gamers, the return on investment for players is more important than expense.

MONETIZATION: NOT A BAD THING
People have to eat. Many methods of entertainment exist for monetization: movies, Youtube, books, etc. The term has turned inherently evil in the social sphere; however, if a company or group cannot continue to sustain, games and other creative drives may falter. Many venues besides games exist and while game companies can release a game every few years, the lore and worlds can continue to persist. 

INQUISITION AND THE RPG EXPERIENCE
Inquisition strives to become a real, hardcore RPG experience that immerses players in the meta-fiction. The plot is a study of flawed characters, lost in the self. Self-absorption is not sustainable; one must rise above and set aside personal desires for the overall goal. 

Devs brought up the “uncanny valley,” describing the interesting character development and visual fidelity for Inquisition and other RPGs. DAI’s characters aren’t photorealistic people, but consistent in the world they exist inside. Is it fun? Is it immersive? These points attribute to the success of an RPG. 

(OOC: The developers feel the difficulty slider is not enough to create depth in the challenge.)

BIOWARE AT PAX
Back in PAX 2012, Bioware’s panel was so overwhelmingly well-received that they decided to do it again. In most cases, providing new information is typical of E3 or Gamescom. Instead, they wanted to show off Inquisition at a consumer event. Namely, of course, PAX.

Although they compressed a lot of footage for the media, Bioware wanted to let the fans see and share the Inquisition demo first. Media hated it - they were still under embargo until the end of the Saturday panel. But to BW, sharing with the fans was priority.

THE PAST IMPROVING INQUISITION
The developers dubbed Inquisition “The Successor of Dragon Age: Origins.” Obviously, this hints a specific notion. Although Dragon Age 2’s responsiveness was noted and implemented into the next game, the scope is to have Inquisition as a huge improvement. As mentioned in previous panels, this huge shift and movement towards improving DAI (the year delay, gameplay improvements, return of playable races, etc) was because of the fans and their feedback. For that, they’re happy that they’re able to place all their ambition and ideas into the next game.

FROSTBITE
Bioware continuously praised the Frostbite engine the entire weekend. The devs explained Inquisition as the “realest piece of code” they have ever made. No smokes or mirrors. The devs noted how “satisfying” to have moved from multiple toolsets to Frostbite, where everything is concise and permits more freedom. Though they had difficulty implementing RPG elements like conversations into the engine, now it’s streamlined for ease of use.

CONSOLE SUPPORT
As mentioned before, Inquisition will release on all the following platforms: PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, and PS4. Xbox 360’s version will not be as powerful as PC and the next gen consoles, considering the amount of horsepower needed to load the massive areas. However, it will still look beautiful.

Also, in a funny turn of events, Mark Darrah forced a promise mid-panel that Inquisition on PC will support controllers and offer a different interface.

THE DEMO
Inquisition’s demo was not meant to show specifics, but intent. The devs divulged different bits of info, including:

  • Players will experience a lot less load screens, by transferring from one massive zone to the other
  • Huge opportunity for synchronous combat. (Example: One warrior stunning, one attacking during the stun, mage crowd-controlling)
  • Voice actors in-game are tentative, but most likely the actors for the final game
  • Tactical camera was nothing more than an idea, up until 8 weeks ago

Beyond the demo, a few more details were described:

  • Can throw grenades
  • Dynamically named and translated ring names. For example, “Ring of Pyre” instead of “Ring”
  • While everyone knows about horses as mounts, more specifically, the devs assert that you will be getting a “mount”
  • Armor has specific sounds when you shrug and trees dynamically creak
  • Inquisitor can walk away from conversations, which will also feature interactive banter

And...Chris Bain.