BioWare Veteran Critiques Mass Effect and Dragon Age, Suggests Alternative Gameplay for Dragon Age
A Mass Effect and Dragon Age veteran game designer has come out to critique the two franchises and suggest alternative gameplay for the latter.
Joshua Rubin, who has been a game designer at BioWare since 2002, recently posted his thoughts on the Mass Effect and Dragon Age franchises. He suggests that the original Mass Effect trilogy, which many consider to be one of the greatest science fiction games ever made, has “too much structure to the plot” and “tends towards linearity”, making it ‘too constrained to reach its potential’. On the other hand, the Dragon Age series, which Rubin identifies as a franchise with “an amazing depth of story and lore”, has developed a draining level of repetition which “obscures the brilliance of the bigger picture”.
Rubin believes that in terms of game design, the original Mass Effect trilogy leaned too heavily on providing the player with a pre-planned path towards a predictable endgame, which made the entire experience feel more like a theme park ride than a meaningful story. He instead suggests that future Mass Effect titles “embrace player choice in a more meaningful way”, so that gamers can choose their own adventure through a galaxy of varied outcomes and situations.
As for Dragon Age, Rubin believes that the series has suffered from an accumulation of minor gameplay elements that inhibit the overall experience. He suggests that the franchise should “remove cumbersome mechanics and systems”, while also utilizing the “vast worlds” and “clever writing” to create a more “engaging story-focused RPG adventure”.
Overall, Rubin’s insight on the two different franchises provides a unique perspective on the successes – and failures – of Mass Effect and Dragon Age. It will be interesting to see if BioWare takes on his suggestions for future games.