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Obvious Connections in Bioware Games
While it’s true that most of these titles are Role Playing Games (RPGs) or Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) this isn’t what makes them special. The market for RPGs is there for sure, but so is a seemingly endless supply of other titles, both good and bad, AAA and indie. Just look to the upcoming Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim to see a non-Bioware RPG that will likely do well for the genre. Simply being a part of this genre had relatively little impact on the strength of Bioware games.
However, it should be noted that these games almost fully fall into this category for one simple reason. Bioware games are built around one simple philosophy as stated by Bioware co-founders Dr. Ray Muzyka and Dr. Greg Zeschuk: “BioWare's vision is to Create, Deliver, and Evolve the Most Emotionally Engaging Games in the World” [sic]. This is simple, but it is by no means easy to achieve. So let’s look at what it is that gives these games this advantage.
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The Heart of the Matter
Jade Empire may not have been the first game ever to allow the player’s choices to impact the story, and it is certainly not the last, but it has become a benchmark that many other Bioware games relate back to.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Dragon Age: Origins, Mass Effect, and all their sequels use a similar system to track the player’s choices. Again, it’s a simple system, but it’s not easy. Endings change depending on the choices made, and this gives the player a feeling that their actions have import more than the obvious.
A player whose character is trying to save the world will weigh decisions more carefully, while another might choose haphazardly, and this will be reflected in the actual game play. This engages the player in the story more thoroughly, and giving their choices meaning. With this increase in importance of choice, the player is not only engaged in the joy of victory or pure entertainment, but they place a stake in the outcome of the story.
Their heart is included as well as the mind. Gamers are no longer seen only as the anti-social recluse. They are real people with emotions. They want to feel important, not just in acting in the story, but in directing it.
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At the end of the day though, simply making decisions doesn't make a game exciting. At least, not to the degree that Bioware games have become. The real trick to making games stick with the fan base, and that will carry them through less stellar releases like Dragon Age 2 is something that even the quickly released sequel wasn't lacking in: story. It is the story of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic that drew gamers in. The same stands for Jade Empire, Mass Effect, and Dragon Age: Origins.
The upcoming releases of Star Wars: The Old Republic and Mass Effect 3 promise just as enthralling a story to keep gamers enjoying not only the story, but the gameplay as well. Bioware has shown that they know how to make every game last, and make it worth every hard earned penny that the gamer spends to purchase the title.
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Quote from www.Bioware.com/about
First image found on dragonage.bioware.com
Second image found on swtor.com