February 14, 2008

The Obsidian-BioWare Trilogy

Part 1: Neverwinter Nights 2 Gets A 5
Part 2: The BioWare All-Stars
Part 3:

It finally ends, unless I run out of other material. See you tomorrow, then.

All signs
point to BioWare developing the third Knights of the Old Republic. I'm a little surprised since BioWare had seemed eager to focus on their own IP with Jade Empire, Knights of the Old Republic-surrogate Mass Effect and... Sonic. Although I loved the first Knights of the Old Republic, I'm not particularly thrilled with this announcement, because I loved the second game too.

It was a story-focused, continuing series that switched developers (and therefore writers) and that's typically a bad sign. Prince of Persia: Warrior Within. Myst, which went totally off the rails after Riven. The terrible-looking, thankfully-cancelled Full Throttle 2. Even the great Curse of Monkey Island was somewhat at odds with the previous games. Maybe Deus Ex 3 will end up on this list? Obsidian handled it better than anyone. They drew a new story from the established KotOR backstory, wrote mostly their own, all-new characters and ended up with a game which drove the series forward in a very exciting way without really touching what BioWare had done.

They didn't end it, though. They positioned their game as the second part in a trilogy and established a clear direction for the third installment. Now I'm not sure if it'll ever get there.

Obsidian's put BioWare in a relatively good position -- a basic premise, a setting, and certain important characters for the third game, which still leaves a ton of room for BioWare to put their fingerprints all over it. Still, it's limiting, and BioWare would still have to conclude another writer's story. I've never seen any evidence from them that they're happy to follow someone else's lead.

My fear is that BioWare will ignore the second game almost entirely in favour of a "next-gen Knights of the Old Republic" -- basically a reboot, basically a brand new Star Wars Adventure, basically Another BioWare RPG with all the BioWare trappings. They can do this easily because Obsidian didn't give the series the momentum of "Finish the fight."

I like BioWare, and they'll make a good game. But I liked Obsidian's story more. If they change direction, whether it's because of ego, commercial reasons or whatever, it'll be a waste. It really was going somewhere good, and no one's going to ask BioWare if that's where they're going. They'll ask them how many new force powers there are.

1 comment:

Ajriaz Skaya said...

Obsidian, from Black Isle experience, do create rich and solid stories and characters.

But that's all they do. They are severely lacking in the programming skill department.

KotoR2 ? Unplayable unless you save the game every 5 minutes because of broken or unfinished scripts, nodes and maps.

NWN2 ? It's been 3 years already and they haven't corrected numerous classes bugs yet - bugs that shouldn't have existed to begin with if they had tested their algorithms.

And good stories riled with bugs, that's an awful experience.

Obsidian, you are wonderful storytellers. Now, please, hire real programmers too, or leave.