Dragon Age: Origins

Why does this one tiny thing have to be so annoying? That's basically the subject of today's PCG Q&A, where each of the PC Gamer writers discuss their petty grievances with the games they otherwise enjoy. These range from how resolution options screens work to the quality of ladders in games.

What minor flaw in a game makes you madder than it should? It can be a specific thing in one game, or an issue that recurs across a bunch of the games you've played. In our case, we picked things that crop up regularly in the games we play. Well, regularly enough that we decided to complain about them here. 

We always like to read your answers in the comments, so please do share them with us. 

Samuel Roberts: Bad ladders and dialogue that stops halfway through a sentence because you triggered more dialogue

Every ladder in GTA could be my last. As summed up nicely in Chris's round-up of the best and worst game ladders and the gif above, GTA's ladders feel like a 50/50 punt. It's a very easy death. That's generally fine with me, because you don't spend much of the game climbing them, really. But there's one mission in the Online heists where you have to climb to the roof of a building in order to pick off targets with sniper fire, and the journey back down those things is far scarier to me than being shot at by NPCs. 

The finale of the heists should've just been climbing down fourteen ladders in a row without dying. It's the most heart-stopping set piece GTA could possibly muster. 

My other choice is dialogue—either from an audiotape or an NPC who's talking to you—that's cut off when you activate a new bit of dialogue. Either you never hear the rest of what you were being told, or you have to start an audiotape again. This is so minor, though, and I want you to know I'll somehow be okay if no one ever solves this.

Jody Macgregor: Arbitrary party size limits

There's a mod for Dragon Age: Origins that lets your dog be an active party member without having to kick out one of the fully voiced companions. It's essential. Don't make me choose between my dog and my videogame boyfriend, that's cruel and also Alistair might cry. Same goes for Shadowrun: Dragonfall, which is one of the best RPGs around but makes you choose between all of its cool characters and the one who is a bit boring but happens to be a hacker. It's a cyberpunk game, as if I'm going to leave behind Hackerman. Let me bring them all. 

I don't care if the fights are longer or it makes some of them trivial, I just hate having to play favorites with my imaginary friends. Some of our nostalgia for old school RPGs is misplaced, but having your entire party available all the time is one thing I do miss about them. I will fight for my right to parties of six or more characters.

Philippa Warr: Birds I can hear but not see

Whatever else there is to say about BioShock Infinite, it sure as hell has a bird in it that you can see.

I get that adding birdsong feels like just another tool for making a forest feel normal rather than a dead space filled with trees which don't move in the breeze correctly. But if you are accustomed to walking in actual woods or forests or being outdoors, loud birdsong with zero visible birds really highlights how artificial and strange the digital space is. There are, of course, tech limitations and time limitations to factor in. Those elements (and others) mean that it's often not worth a developer trying to fill these spaces with life when you can use a shortcut like birdsong to imply life. I get that. But it breaks the spell of a space so completely for me that I find it disproportionately aggravating. Give me a blackbird or a bluetit or SOMETHING!

Wes Fenlon: When the title screen tells you to press a certain button to continue, but you can press any button to continue

Look, this doesn't matter at all. But it's common, especially in console games, to say something like "Press A to Start" (or "Press Enter to Start"), as though that's the only acceptable input. But then any damn button will do the same thing! Don't lie to me, game. You're being sloppy! Don't you even know what your own commands do? Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy. And it's rampant! There's a whole Giant Bomb wiki page dedicated to pointing out the inconsistency.

Jarred Walton: Hard 60fps (or higher) framerate caps

Some of you are probably thinking, "Wait, that's not a minor issue..." but the truth is, much of the debate about framerates beyond 60fps is exaggerated. There, I've said it. I have 1440p 144Hz G-Sync and FreeSync displays, and 4k 60Hz G-Sync and FreeSync displays, not to mention plenty of 60Hz fixed refresh rate displays. I hate it when a game limits me to just 60fps, or even 144fps (eg, PUBG), but does it really matter? I've been playing Dark Souls Remastered, locked in at 60fps and 4k, and if I have FRAPS running I get angry at the developers for putting in that limit. But if you took away the framerate counter in the corner and just had me play the game, I'd likely never notice. (Note: 30fps caps are a completely different matter—I can and will notice choppiness at sub-60 fps.)

Chris Livingston: also a button thing for me

Press E to open this crate. Done looking inside the crate? Then press Escape to close it. But why? If I tap a key to open something, be it a crate or some menu or the inventory, I should be able to tap the same key to close it again. In game where you're constantly looting, opening, scavenging, scrounging, and inventory-ing, especially in a game where you control your character using WASD, it's annoying to have to move not just your finger but your entire hand to close something that you just opened a moment ago by just moving your finger. Open and close. Same key.

James Davenport: Clicking too many times on a resolution menu without back and forth selection arrows

The graphics menus in all games need little arrows beside the resolution settings. In the long term, it's an inconsequential touch. I'll only ever change the resolution if I'm playing on a new computer, or if new drivers screw up my existing settings. But when I do need to mess with the resolution and all I can do is click on the resolution name to change it, I'm going to get impatient and click one too many times. And I'm going to get impatient every time I try to land on the resolution option I need. 

I suppose part of the problem is personal, but I wouldn't ever have to confront my issues if there were just back and forth selection arrows to jam on. It's less of an issue with modern games, but I still wonder how many minutes of my life have been spent clicking one too many times in nearly inoperable graphics selection menus. I could've used that time to write a bad screenplay or get better at making sandwiches. We'll never know. 

Jade Empire™: Special Edition

Mike Laidlaw can still remember his first day at BioWare, even though it was over 15 years ago. He even remembers the date he answered the phone and found out he had got the job: 23rd December 2002. Laidlaw was used to answering the phone; at the time he was working at Bell, Canada's largest telecommunications company, in the province of Ontario. When Laidlaw first joined Bell's call centre, he worked the phones. Later, he got promoted to lead a team on the phones, "which was somehow way worse than being on the phones," Laidlaw told me last March, the day after his star turn at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. "I went in and said, I'm sorry, I'm quitting. I'm not coming in tomorrow. They said, 'you can't quit two days before Christmas! If you quit you'll never work here again!' I said, 'that is pretty much the plan, yes.' So I walked out, and a bunch of people high-fived me because - yay! - I got out."

We're upstairs at Zero Zero, a pizza and pasta place just a 10-minute walk from the begging mothers and the babies they cradle who sit on the sidewalks that connect the buildings that host GDC, the world's largest gathering of video game developers, a place thousands come to share, to learn, to network, and, occasionally - although I sense through gritted teeth - talk to press people such as me.

Laidlaw is instantly affable, entertaining and interesting. He is willing to talk about things, which might sound like an odd thing to mention, but in this business, it is a rare joy indeed to speak to people who are willing to talk about things. I get why they do not, why developers are hesitant to say too much, because when they do, the fans sometimes come calling - as they have at Mike Laidlaw at points during his career.

Read more…

Dragon Age: Origins - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (RPS)

podcast-36-best-mates-b

Hello chum! Sit down and have a nice glass of water and a pack of Bombay mix. That’s how we greet our closest friends on the RPS podcast, the Electronic Wireless Show. This week, best pals John and Brendan discuss how friendship is handled in videogames, and what characters felt most like close buddies. John felt a kinship with Alistair from Dragon Age: Origins, and sees Lydia from Skyrim as Wilson the football from Castaway. Whereas Brendan felt a habitual closeness to the undead woman in Dark Souls who sold him poisonous arrows. Takes all sorts, really.

(more…)

Half-Life - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (RPS)

best-pc-games-ever

There are more wonderful games being released on PC each month than ever before. In such a time of plenty, it’s important that you spend your time as wisely as possible. Thankfully, we’re here to help. What follows are our picks for the best PC games ever made. (more…)

Dragon Age: Origins - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

BioWare veteran Mike Laidlaw has parted ways with that RPG rabble after 14 years. He was co-lead writer on Jade Empire, a lead designer on the first two Dragon Ages and the creative director of Inquisition, and did a little design on Mass Effect. Laidlaw announced his departure last night with a tweeted statement. He doesn’t explain why he’s away but I suppose it’s not our business. What’s next? Well, for starters, a lot of Twitch and Twitter. (more…)

PC Gamer

Dead Space, Dragon Age: Origins Ultimate Edition, and SimCity 3000 Unlimited are the latest games EA has let slip from the grips of its digital distribution platform Origin. Now featured on the DRM-free GOG.com, the trio of classics has also been discounted to mark the occasion.

As a result you can snap up one of the best RPGs of all time Dragon Age: Origins Ultimate Edition for 5.99/$7.89. Or the abandoned space station scare em up Dead Space for the same. Or SimCity3000 Unlimited which dates all the back to 1999, but is decidedly better than the most recent series entry for 3.99/$5.20.

Each of today's three classic releases from Electronic Arts represents a pillar of game design: exceptional world building, mastery in storytelling, an admirable understanding of the balance between scope and focus, reads a statement from GOG. Head on over there to check them out.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Richard Cobbett)

Few game mechanics right now make me ‘urrrrrrrrrrgh’ quite like crafting. Bloody, bloody crafting. I hate crafting. I hate that just about every game I pick up can’t wait to introduce its crafting system to me, with its long shopping lists of finnicky items to find, and about as much care for being believable as all those shotguns and medikits Lara Croft used to find littering ancient tombs. Crafting is the worst, and unlike something like the escort missions of old, it manages to be the worst regardless of how much it actually ends up wasting your time.

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Adam Smith)

After seventeen years in the scribbler’s hotseat, writer and designer David Gaider has left BioWare. Gaider joined the RPG-builders back in 1999, putting in some time on Baldur’s Gate 2 before moving onto Knights of the Old Republic. His contributions to the Star Wars universe include snarky murderous human-hating droid HK-47 (a terrifying vision of our machine-doomed future presented as comic relief) and Carth Onasi, a sad space-man. Gaider’s greatest contribution to CRPGs came as lead writer on Dragon Age: Origins, the beginning of the series that, along with Mass Effect, has come to define modern BioWare.

… [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Richard Cobbett)

Since the dawn of RPGs, two things have remained constant: heroes require armour, and players will always want to find out what happens if they strip it all off and run around. Some would call it a secret test of a game’s devotion to world simulation – that if characters react, it says good things about the developers’ devotion to detail. Others just think it’s really funny. (To be clear, it’s very rarely even close to sexy.)

This week then, a random sample will answer the question the world has been waiting to realise it should have asked – objectively speaking, which RPG is the best? Specifically, if they all forgot their PE kits and had to go quest in their pants.

… [visit site to read more]

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