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BioWare guy on carrots at GameSpot
Interview - posted by Saint_Proverbius on Sun 3 July 2005, 21:09:58Tags: BioWare
GameSpot has a little interview/editorial about leading the player and getting inside his head with BioWare guy Karl "Doc" Martens. Here's a little bit on freedom not being free:
GS: Are there any tricks that give a player a greater illusion of freedom than they actually have?
Kevin Martens: Freedom means different things in different genres. In single-player RPGs, a player might say that he wants to have the freedom to go anywhere and explore the world, just like in real life. If we take that statement at face value and create a huge continent-sized world with hundreds of towns and villages and a million characters, there's no possible way we can write all of those characters, add enough plots, or spend time on every encounter to make it compelling, and even if we could, it wouldn't be able to run any machine out there with our level of complexity. So we'd resort to generic systems to fill the world with generic things to do. The player tells us this is boring and that it's not what he wanted at all.
So what we've done at BioWare is the area system within our greater world. Baldur's Gate II and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic both have huge epic adventures that, in one case, spans a continent, and in another, several solar systems. We pick the most compelling adventure areas within these regions and stuff them with hand-crafted content to offer players the most focused and most fun-per-hour gameplay that we can.
Exploring the entire wookiee world in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic would have to be, by necessity, much more generic than the fewer, much more fun areas that we did put in. Likewise, in Baldur's Gate II, the City of Athkatla had many large areas filled with subplots, encounters, treasure, unique characters, and other fun things while still remaining much smaller than a real city of a million people. A real city would take a day to walk across; in the game, you can use the map and get across in a few minutes, seeing only the most interesting parts.
To still give the player freedom, they have a lot of different areas to explore with a lot of different themes and can do them in any order. This is the freedom that the players are actually telling us they want and giving us positive feedback on.
Frankly, real life and life-sized areas are filled with a large amount of drudgery and boredom. Games shouldn't be.
While I agree with the statement that large cities with gobs of useless people wondering around that don't do anything for the player is lame, pointless, and boring - I also thought it was kind of silly to have multiple planets in a planet hopping Star Wars game where each planet was just a small town. Saying you can visit four or five planets is technically true, but implies a little larger scope than what's actually in the game.
Thanks, Taluntain of Sorcerer's Place!