Bioware claims fans of casual titles like Farmville and popular shooters like Medal of Honor shouldn't be frightened of diving into RPGs. Managing your resources and gaining XP in such titles is no different to grinding and looting in the likes of Dragon Age, lead designer Mike Laidlaw believes. "They've gained XP and have received awards as a result. That's an RPG mechanic". Bioware is intent on gathering newcomers with Dragon Age 2, but not at the expense of their hardcore following.
Instead of following, say, Fable's route of simplifying the core principles of the RPG genre in an effort to appeal to non-gamers, Bioware has tried to ease newcomers into the experience without compromising on their design goals. "There were decisions that we made as a team that said, Okay, this is, I think, more welcoming", Laidlaw explained, "Not 'dumbed down' or anything like that, but welcoming".
And with the likes of Farmville and Medal of Honor retrofitting traditional RPG mechanics like gaining XP and whatnot, Bioware believes it's up to them and other RPG developers to make people realize that all these features they enjoy in such games can be found in their titles, too. "It's honestly on RPGs to try to figure out how to take the mechanics that people are actually loving in other genres and say, 'No, no, no. We had those years ago, but we understand that they kind of were scary".
We previewed the Dragon Age 2 demo for you this week, and while it's hardly accessible - it sort of throws you in at the deep end and tasks you with surviving - you can see how the smoother, slightly more simplistic combat and easier to manage party controls seem tailored towards non RPG-fans rather than hardcore aficionados who'd eat up anything Bioware has to offer. It'll be interesting to see how the final game is received by the public. [Eurogamer]