|I’m excited that BioWare is ‘trying something new’ with Dragon|
Following the purported Dragon Age: Dreadwolf leak (opens in new tab) from a few weeks ago, I was hoping that BioWare might consider spilling the beans, maybe even just a couple of beans, to give us an idea of what it’s actually making here. But no, instead we get a “Game Design 101 (opens in new tab)” blog that describes, in granular detail, the process of prototyping skill trees, without giving us even a single bean.
I’m kinda torn, though, because I’m very much in favour of developers giving us a peek behind the curtain. There’s this massive disconnect between players and developers that stems from people fundamentally misunderstanding how games get made, which isn’t helped by developers doing a bad job of demystifying the process. So a glimpse of how the sausage gets made can be invaluable. The problem here is that what people really want is to see the damn game.
It’s been a while since BioWare’s had a slam dunk, and after Andromeda and Anthem there are a lot of completely reasonable doubts about the studio’s ability to make something that will become as beloved as their older RPGs. The alleged leak showed us something that looked very different from what we’re used to with Dragon Age, with combat that’s fully embraced a style more commonly seen in action games. It raises a lot of questions, and not one of them has been remotely addressed in the latest blog.
So much time is spent explaining what game designers do, and the considerations the UX team have been making; while game design philosophy is genuinely quite interesting, there’s very little meat here.
The most relevant section comes near the start, and isn’t attributed to a specific BioWare designer.
Past Dragon Age games have all handled RPG systems, such as the player’s progression, differently, so naturally, we’re being just as experimental on Dreadwolf, taking the learnings of the past while also trying something new.
Skill Trees are a fundamental part of a deep RPG experience and give our players the ability to customize how their character functions in combat. A key belief on the team is that when a player invests a skill point, it should have a clear, tangible effect on the game, such as an ability or impactful perk.
The rest of the blog really just serves to emphasise this. Skill trees should be clear, with explanations and videos to make sure players know what they’re selecting, and the ability to plan builds right from the get-go. Every point you put into them should be meaningful, and you shouldn’t have to waste points on incremental nonsense just to get to the good shit.