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Bioware Developing an MMOG 75

Posted by Zonk
from the that's-a-nice-monday-news-piece dept.
Gamasutra reports that Canadian developer Bioware has opened a studio in Austin, Texas. The new studio will be the base of operations for development of an as yet unnamed MMORPG. From the article: "Joining the Austin team as lead designer is James Ohlen, BioWare's creative director, whose previous credits include lead or co-lead design roles on Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Neverwinter Nights, Baldur's Gate and Baldur's Gate II. Also leading the BioWare Austin team are MMO veterans Richard Vogel and Gordon Walton." That's some serious firepower. Can't wait to hear what that's about.
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Bioware Developing an MMOG

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  • by JordanL (886154) <jordan.ledoux@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Monday March 13, 2006 @01:07PM (#14908593) Homepage
    ...I play WoW for the incredible story li--wait a minute...
    • by dc29A (636871) on Monday March 13, 2006 @01:31PM (#14908819)
      ..I play WoW for the incredible story li--wait a minute...

      Lot of people don't notice the stories of the WoW universe. There WoW universe has a great background story that is rich and interesting. And infact, it's not just WoW. Earth and Beyond had an awesome story and many expansions (and original) EQ too. One of the coolest things cropping up from EQ was a weird designation of mobs from the zone Vex Thal (well some where in Akheva too). Mobs had some weird name that at first sight one would think some coder collapsed on the keyboard and that resulted in the name, but upon further research some players found the patterns. And Diabo Xi Va Temariel was no longer some weird name, but "Weapon Master" or "Master of Weapons". The name of the zone itself means "Heart of Shadow". Of course there is a rich backstory about this zone, as there is about many other things in EQ. There was a whole political like intrigue about the Planes of Power expansion, which God likes the mortals, which is incompetent, which is trying to backstab another and grab more power, and so on.

      Even seamingly disconnected dungeon areas in WoW like Stratholme and Anquirajsdflsfsfsomething (AQ) have common things: Kel'Thuzad seems to be working with the big boss of the insects, C'htun. There are also some very interesting single quest lines like the one you are required to kill Baron Rivendare, you discover along the quest line that one of his minions is infact controlling this anti-horde faction, The Scarlet Crusade, that his big priest is nothing more than a demon in disguise (Grand Crusader ForgotTheName, Balnazzar (sp?)). Another quest line related to this cult starts with a touching story about a father losing his son to some idealistic cult (The Scarlet Crusade). The horde side of the Onyxia key quest has also an interesting story. There is also the demon quest line in Blasted Land which is interesting.

      I agree, on surface these games don't seem to have any major stories other than go there kill that and come back with his head and you get phat lootz.

      But there are great stories in these games and most of them have a very rich backstory.
      • I agree, on surface these games don't seem to have any major stories other than go there kill that and come back with his head and you get phat lootz.

        But there are great stories in these games and most of them have a very rich backstory.


        I was actually more making a joke about how no one in the game cares about the story line... only if they can get their Arc Trans for less than 5g...
      • I have to agree with you there. WoW was the first MMO where I actually found myself reading up on the history in game. I'd actually find books lying around in game and sit and read them to take a break from 'LFG xxx'.

        If you want to get into names, CoH had some great ones for the Freakshow. They were all h4xx0rz.
      • "I agree, on surface these games don't seem to have any major stories other than go there kill that and come back with his head and you get phat lootz."

        Unfortunately I don't see any MMORPG ever becoming MAJORLY story driven. Why? Because it is not as satisfying for the majority of their players to actually have to think through the story to progress. Remember, all MMORPGs are in essence...are glorified Skinner Boxes. Having to think through the story is simply a barrier in their clicking through of men

        • THe Matrix Online is majorly story driven.... or is was meant to be, but SOE keeps stalling the story since there takeover of the game (which WBIE still supply the content for).

          1 year after going live and we're about 5-6 months into the story :)
      • And then there is the storyline for the Forsaken, the ending of which seems to be up in the air. An NPC who seemed to know what the banshee queen is really up to is in a cage in SoS but dies before revealing anything (at least in the quest line I found). Clearly the Forsaken are out for themselves and this will come to a head at some point, but I wonder if Blizz has the stones to really make some kind of world event that will radically alter their faction\reputation\etc.

      • I agree, on surface these games don't seem to have any major stories other than go there kill that and come back with his head and you get phat lootz.

        I used to try and read the storylines for the quests, but eventually, since the result was the same, I just stopped caring. Once in awhile I'll tune in, esp if the target is harder to find and I need to pay attention to the description to do so. But that's not often the case.

        I would actually prefer to have more involvement, but since it doesn't really matt

      • by Sylver Dragon (445237) on Monday March 13, 2006 @05:54PM (#14911139) Journal
        While the storlines in WoW are nice, they suffer from the same problem all persistent worlds suffer from, they are persistent, a.k.a. static. No matter how many people raid the Scarley Monestary Cathedral, no matter how many times I personally kill Scarlet Commander Mograine, he's still standing there the next time I walk into the cathedral, the Scarlet Crusade suffers no setback. If I complete a quest, I get some text talking about what is happening as a result, but that result is completly ficticious, nothing ever changes.
        Of course, you can't expect the world to actually change for every quest, it would be unmanagable. This was tried with Ultima Online with rather poor results. Origin would have a would event occur and a few high-level players would do it so fast, few other people had heard about it before it was done. So, unless you were one of the hard-core players, and powerful enough to get involved, the quests might as well have not existed.
        So, while the writing that went into WoW is very good, it still is not a story driven game. The backstory is there to provide a framework to hang the "go here, kill X number of Y monster quests" on.
        • by mbourgon (186257)
          Funnily enough, in Guild Wars I found it odd the first time a particular baddie I had killed _did_ come back, because one of the people in the group still had that quest. Instanced _Worlds_ have an advantage there. It's quite a bit why I play it - there's not 500 "heroes" waiting to kill the same critter, only to have some guy run through and steal the "Spear and Magic Helmet" before you get it. It's you, the other people in your party, and The World. That's it.
        • It *IS* a story driven game you buffoon. If you turn on quick quest text and ignore the story thats your problem.

          Its as much story driven as Lord of the Rings. No matter how many times I read chapter 23, Frodo still does the same thing.

          WoW is an interactive novel that plays out with *you* as the lead protagonist. It doesn't matter that thousands of others have killed the scarlet commander mograine. Thousands of other people have also read LOTR.
        • I believe City of Heroes/Villians are attempting something to make the zone/s dynamic based on who is winning in the storyline for the zone. Or something to that effect. Until I get a look at it hard to know what else (maybe a CoX zealot can fill in the blanks. ;)

          Asherons Call had this somewhat as well. I recall the destruction of Rithwic was due to a random player being teleported to the gods in the game and asked what city he didn't like. Also when the Spires attacked some shards (servers) were able to fe
  • by creimer (824291)
    Do we really need a MMOG called Neverwinter Knights of the Old Marsh?
  • by smaerd (954708) on Monday March 13, 2006 @01:31PM (#14908822)
    Bioware just likes good eats. They have maple syrup, beer, and putin (sp?) in Vancouver, now they'll have Barbeque Ribs, Barbeque shrimp, Barbeque Steaks, Barbeque Pork Loin....etc

    Now they just need to start a development house in Wisconsin for some cheese, brats, and uh... cheese.... and they'll be all set!
  • by 0biter (915407) on Monday March 13, 2006 @01:41PM (#14908920) Homepage
    Hopefully BioWare will take a page from Second Life and avoid the mistakes made by WoW. In a recent speech [kotaku.com] at the Game Developers Conference, a designer noted that the players of Second Life contribute over 20,000 design hours per day to the content of the game, which would otherwise cost Linden Labs $400 million per year to produce in-house. To be the "next big MMO", BioWare's game needs to empower players to create their own content and produce player-driven conflict. Otherwise, it'll just be another linear "RPG on rails" a la WoW.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The "mistake" spawned like 6 million subscriptions, growing the MMO market by 1000%. I'm sure they will try to avoid it.
      • by masamax (543884)
        Just because WoW is popular doesn't make it perfect. Think of how much more interesting the game would be with user created items, or guild halls? User created buisnesses with actual store fronts, not just spamming "ENCHANTS. W ME IM AT THE AH BRIDGE". Things like that help bring in a lot more people to a game while providing more entertainment even to those with no interest in such things, because it grows the user base and gives even power gamers more options.
        • In my experience in DAoC, guild halls and player housing didn't add much to the game at all. Yeah it was neat to run around and see what guilds had done to their housing...but in the end the the "real game" was going on outside the hall or house.

          If a game can exist and grow in popularity, like WoW has, without any sort of guild housing, I question whether or not it really adds anything to the game (other than it's a demand from the user base--which I grant you is an ends unto itself).
    • by Anonymous Coward
      You mean the "mistake" of being wildly popular and hugely profitable? ;-)
    • User designed dungeons! But the user who designs it can't crawl it, and treasure is scaled by both the challenge rating and statistical results.
    • Have you actually SEEN Second Life? It's ugly to the point of giving eye cancer. Perfect example of the "hey wouldn't it be cool if...." mentality falling flat on its face.

      People have been pushing the "design your own content" angle for a decade at least, and it has yet to come to fruition because it's a bad idea spawned by ignorant k00l dewds that think they can design better games than the professionals despite the lack of any training or skill.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        People have been pushing the "design your own content" angle for a decade at least, and it has yet to come to fruition because it's a bad idea spawned by ignorant k00l dewds that think they can design better games than the professionals despite the lack of any training or skill.

        Yea, I can't think of any content that has been created by users that has been worthwhile or even popular. Of course, that's because I haven't played a video game in 25 years so I don't know of things like Counter-Strike or countless
    • Simple economics shows you are not correct. World of Warcraft earns orders of magnitude more money than Second Life.

      It's great to argue that player created content would be awesome for a leading mmo, but it's clearly not required.
    • Otherwise, it'll just be another linear "RPG on rails" a la WoW.

      Yeah. What kind of gaming company would pass up a chance for a commercial smash-hit like Second Life: The Second Coming in exchange for a derivative also-ran like World of Warcraft.

      • Yeah. What kind of gaming company would pass up a chance for a commercial smash-hit like Second Life: The Second Coming in exchange for a derivative also-ran like World of Warcraft.

        You kid, but the nature of World of Warcraft, and its immense success makes it a tough act to follow. Blizzard made it big with WoW because they produced a game that was exceptionally polished (at least compared to other MMOs out there) and to a lesser degree, because they had a name many people knew and trusted. The game too

    • Hopefully BioWare will take a page from Second Life and avoid the mistakes made by WoW.

      Obviously you are talking about the Paladin class.
  • New Perspectives (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ClamIAm (926466)
    Hopefully the inclusion of people who have worked on games like these guys have will bring some fresh air to the MMO space. I guess I just have a problem paying for games that aren't really all that much different than everything else.
  • by RogueyWon (735973) * on Monday March 13, 2006 @01:45PM (#14908958) Journal
    On the one hand, Bioware have made some of my favorite RPGs ever: The Baldur's Gate games, the first Knights of the Old Republic, Jade Empire.

    On the other hand, they've always specialised in story-intensive stuff. A MMORPG is a pretty big departure.

    But then again... Square-Enix came from the same place when they made FFXI, and that went on to be a major success by the standards of most MMORPGs (leaving aside WoW). Plus Bioware are arguably one step ahead already, as Neverwinter Nights was online focussed, even if it was a long way from being a MMORPG.

    But then... bigger development houses than Bioware have struggled and buckled under the insane workload required to produce and maintain a MMORPG.

    It'll be interesting to see what license, if any, they're using. I was kinda surprised they didn't get drawn into doing D&D Online, given they've basically made the only D&D games in recent memory that don't suck. If they had, maybe that game wouldn't be getting such dire launch publicity.

    It'll also be interesting to see if they follow up on the work they did with NWN by trying to make a MMORPG that allows for at least some player storytelling capacity (perhaps via a limited player Dungeon Master facility). That would certainly be a new direction for a mainstream MMORPG.
    • It would be awesome if they could somehow incorporate player-controlled and/or player-created "modules" into the game, a la NWN. But if they did this, they'd basically have to abandon the concept of slow character development, because a generous DM could just hand out rewards out of proportion to the difficulty of the encounters. In other words, I think they have to make a choice between user-created content and structured character advancement. I also think the game may well stink, because Bioware's bigg
    • It'll be interesting to see what license, if any, they're using. I was kinda surprised they didn't get drawn into doing D&D Online, given they've basically made the only D&D games in recent memory that don't suck. If they had, maybe that game wouldn't be getting such dire launch publicity.

      I'm guessing they'll use the setting from Dragon Age [wikipedia.org] or Mass Effect [wikipedia.org]. IMO it's a good thing that they're dropping D&D, I mean it's a great RPG and all, but there is only so much you can do within it's limits.
    • Interesting tidbit: the original baldur's gate was going to be an MMORPG.
  • Oh why oh why couldn't Star Wars: Galaxies have been operated by Bioware. These guys are the ones that made such a great game in KOTR that I felt the story was equal to that of the original trilogy. Wishing against odds, but it'd be nice if Lucasarts was so fed up with the backlash from fans against SOE's handling of the franchise that they gave Bioware a shot.

    While I'm dreaming, I'd like a pony.
  • Bioware is one of my all time facorite RPG creators. But the MMOG is such a huge undertaking. Just look what it's done to Blizzard (aside from making them even richer). They've got a huge MMORPG fanbase, but for the moment it has seemingly nullfied any strong motive to create good solo RPG and RTS games. I can't blame Blizzard. I just hope Bioware doesn't follow down that road.
  • by Rib Feast (458942)
    I personally would love to see the universe of Planescape: Torment come to life... ahh the early morning stroll down the streets of Sigil...
    • This was precisely the comment I came hear to read - I loved Planescape Torment.

      But they need to take it outside of D&D - so that they don't get caught up with Wizards of the Coast and all the d20 nonsense - and instead use a more free form system. I know that's a big plunge, but if anyone can do it successfully, I'd lay my investment in the hands of the company that brought Sigil to life!

  • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Neverwinter Nights, Baldur's Gate and Baldur's Gate II... Would any of these games be any fun at all without the pause button?
    • I played through Jade Empire without pausing!
      • Never played JE. Is it any good? I only heard mediocre reviews, but then I saw it get some award at UGO.
        • Jade is damned good; it's a bit slow in parts, but similar in a lot of ways to KOTOR. It's a departure from the standard swords-and-armour environment too, and has some very cool backstory. It's worth checking out if you play xbox games, and someday it might make it to PC...

  • Star Trek.
    • With so many new MMOs coming out, I think that the Star Trek niche is one of the last potential heavy hitters. Theres still enough Trekies out there to make that successful. A few years back, I vowed not to pay for any MMO while there was still a good single player game out there. City of Heroes almost made me break that vow. A Star Trek MMO, if done right, will most certainly send me the way of the MMO. Especially if Bioware gives up on solid, single player RPGs in a quest to make the next WOW.

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