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Wary of Fan Demands, Bioware Crowdsourcing Dragon Age 3 Development

How about a Linux port of Dragon Age 3?


Bioware as a brand may have fallen from grace in many fans eyes as of late, as between The Old Republic disappointment and Mass Effect 3 ending outrage, they’re not exactly the beloved developer they once were to many.

But if you can say one thing about them, they appear to be willing to learn from their mistakes. Before TOR and ME3 issues, there was Dragon Age 2, one of the most obviously rushed sequels in the current console generation. While it made a few improvements over its predecessor, had many problems and was very clearly haphazardly constructed as players ran through the same areas seven or eight times each in an egregious abuse of environment recycling.

This time around, Bioware is tired of guessing at what fans want, which is why they’re appealing to them directly. Bioware Community Manager Jessica Merizan posted this a few days ago on their official blog:

“Beginning today, we’ll do a series of questions and discussions around Dragon Age. Consider this a conversation between fans, the community team, and the developers. Everyone at BioWare is incredibly excited about the future of the franchise but we’re interested in what you have to say. Every month, we will discuss a topic or question about Dragon Age and game development. You will have one week to post your thoughts, desires, and hopes before we close the thread for review. Moderators and developers will pop into the thread to chat every now and again, so keep an eye out.

These questions and discussions are not only for future games, but other potential products like novels, animated features, pen and paper RPGs, and comics – all of which offer us opportunities to expand on parts of the world.”

Interesting. Not only are they asking for gameplay ideas, but story suggestions as well. Obviously this is influenced by the reaction to Mass Effect 3′s conclusion. Fan’s didn’t have a problem with any of the mechanical aspects of that game for the most part, but perhaps if Bioware had understood what fans wanted in the first place from the ending, they could have avoided all this drama.

That said, is it good to crowdsource a story? I can understand the appeal of certain feature ideas or what not that could be good ideas included in the game, but do we really want fans writing the scripts? I’m not so sure. The problem is, it’s hard to think of another example where fans have really contributed to the meat of a plot in a significant degree.

Take Star Wars for a theoretical example of the good and bad uses of this. Would The Empire Strikes back have been better if fans of the first movie contributed input about what should happen next? Assuredly not. But even if that’s the case, I’ve heard many fan rewrites of The Phantom Menace that sound leagues better than the final product that was put out. To cite another Bioware product, in the months since Mass Effect 3 was released, I’ve read many fan penned endings that were far better than what Bioware actually put in the game. They might be onto something here.

I think it’s good that Bioware is trying to win fans back with things like this. Whether it’s in their best interest or not to crowdsource their games, I’m not sure, but Dragon Age 3 will be a neat little experiment if they really do use fan input to a significant degree.


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