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Comparing the presentation of companion characters in DA:O and DA2


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#1
jillabender

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I've been thinking a bit about my feelings about the way interactions with companion characters were handled in DA2 compared to DA:O. I love the companion characters in both games, and feel that they're all strong and entertaining characters in their own right, but in terms of how interactions with the companion characters are presented, I prefer DA:O to DA2, and I thought I'd share some of my thoughts as to why.

In DA:O, my characters' relationships develop in an organic way – my Wardens chat with their companions about their pasts in a way that feels true-to-life, and over time, some of them eventually open up enough to confide some of their personal problems. If they grow or change as people as a result of knowing the Warden, it feels subtle and natural, and I have a lot of freedom to imagine for myself how my Wardens are affected by the people around them.

As much as I loved the companions in DA2, Hawke's relationships with most of the companion characters seemed to focus on a single personal problem of theirs, which Hawke helped them to resolve (this was less true of Aveline and Varric, but I'd say it applies to my experiences with most of the other companion characters, to varying degrees). I appreciated the variety of ways that companion characters could respond to Hawke's actions, but something about the influence that Hawke had over them didn't quite ring true to me – I wasn't always sure why they accepted Hawke continually giving his or her opinion about how they should resolve their problems, and about the direction their lives should take.

I think it comes down to my not feeling that I had enough time to get to know the companion characters before being introduced to their quest arcs. I didn't have a problem with the idea of Hawke having opinions about his or her companion characters and their personal problems, but I sometimes felt that I was being asked to make decisions that affected them before I'd really had a chance to get to know them, or to develop a strong sense of their relationships with Hawke.

I found this to be a problem especially with the romances in DA2. I appreciate that some people might want to "get right to the action," so to speak, but when I arrived at the DA2 romance scenes, I sometimes felt as though something was missing. My problem wasn't with the scenes themselves – it was just that I had been expecting them to have a a bit more context. I sometimes found myself wondering "Wait, how did they get to this point?"

Of course, I could, in theory, imagine interactions between Hawke and his or her companions that take place off-screen. I do this frequently when playing DA:O, and it makes each of my characters and their relationships feel much more personal. But I find that for some reason, I don't quite feel motivated to do that when I'm given a voiced protagonist.

When I'm playing DA:O, I feel as though my character lives his or her life in my imagination, and the in-game cinematics are there to help me imagine my character more vividly. But in a game like DA2, with a voiced protagonist and a more cinematic presentation, it feels more as though Hawke lives his or her life on-screen – and that means that in order to feel part of events in Hawke's life, I need to actually witness them.

In short, I enjoyed seeing the ways that interactions with companion characters played out in DA2, but I think that their romances and quest arcs would have been more satisfying if I'd been able to see Hawke spending more time with them in a casual way beforehand.

Edited by jillabender, 06 October 2012 - 07:24 PM.


#2
Tootles FTW

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It's funny considering the in-game time we are supposed to have with the DA2 companions is pretty significant (6 years) compared to what we have in-game with the DAO party (several months?).

I think some characters were more hit or miss than others. Merrill, to me, suffered the most as far as lack of dialogue - most of your exchanges with her after the 3-year time jumps seem to be over after just one dialogue option ("How does Carver like being a templar?" [insert dialogue response] "Okay, well, see you later, Hawke!"). And her romance seemed lacking in depth when she randomly shows up to your house after 90% of Hawke's available flirts seem to soar right over her head.
Fenris, on the other hand, had the lion's-share of conversation & dialogue branches - I'm *assuming* because he was the sole companion written by Mr. Gaider, but who knows?

Also frustrating when you see certain companions walking towards OBVIOUS disaster (Merrill and the Mirror of Bad Judgement & Ander's entire Act 3 spiral) but you're unable to carry on a substantial dialogue with them in regards to it. You either have to go along with their quest of doom, or you're shut out.

#3
thats1evildude

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A big difference in the way that DAO and DA2 presented companions was that each of your party members had their own story arc.

DAO's party members had companion quests, sure, but they were just bumps in the road that netted minor benefits and, in a few cases, were necessary to complete a romance. Sure, it'd be nice to reunite Wynne with her old pupil or bring Oghren to meet his old flame, but it hardly makes a difference if you don't.

On the whole, I peg the level of interaction with each companion to be about the same. There's less investigative dialogues but the amount of time spent hanging out with companions is equal to or greater than in DAO.

Tootles FTW wrote...

I think some characters were more hit or miss than others. Merrill, to me, suffered the most as far as lack of dialogue - most of your exchanges with her after the 3-year time jumps seem to be over after just one dialogue option ("How does Carver like being a templar?" [insert dialogue response] "Okay, well, see you later, Hawke!"). And her romance seemed lacking in depth when she randomly shows up to your house after 90% of Hawke's available flirts seem to soar right over her head.


Merrill really only fails to pick up on your first attempt to flirt with her, in Act 1. (Which, to be fair, is an extraordinarily bad attempt at flirting. Maker's Breath, Hawke.) The rest don't slip by her.

Regarding the conversation where she asks about how Bethany is doing at the Circle, I sort of took that as an indication of their blooming relationship, as Hawke is willing to confide in Merrill that he let Bethany down, something he never says to any other companion.

Edited by thats1evildude, 30 September 2012 - 04:55 AM.


#4
Tootles FTW

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I only romanced Merrill (I dumped her afterwards) in one playthrough for variety's sake, so it's not as fresh in my mind. I'll YouTube it to refresh my memory. I just remember being surprised when she showed up at my house - the other romanceable companions telegraphed their intent more when you reached that 'flirt of last return' moment.

I liked that she asks you about your sibling, but seeing as this is your "catching up" conversation after a supposed 3-year in-game time jump, it was very very brief. To get off of Merrill, though, I feel the time jumps were poorly used in general.

#5
jillabender

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that1evildude wrote…

On the whole, I peg the level of interaction with each companion to be about the same. There's less investigative dialogues but the amount of time spent hanging out with companions is equal to or greater than in DAO.


That's true – I think my difficulty was that the dialogue in DA2 was more spread-out. There was a great deal of time between each of my interactions with each companion, and the amount of in-between time wasn't within my control.

I appreciate that BioWare gave each companion character in DA2 a very involved story arc – my difficulty was that I sometimes felt as though I was thrown into that story arc without having the chance to get a strong sense of Hawke's relationship with each character beforehand.

Edited by jillabender, 30 September 2012 - 05:09 AM.


#6
FINE HERE

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@OP, I agree with you on the voiced protagonist ruining the imersion/role playing factor. I didn't care about Hawke as much as I did my Wardens. The voice was the same on every play throught too, so I didn't really replay DA2 as much as DA:O.
As for the romances, I hated how DA2 handled it. It felt disconnected and like we were missing parts of it. Time cuts? Really? So, for three years, Hawke didn't keep in contact with their 'friends?' Not one of the companions really goes over to see Hawke in their fancy new mansion before the three years are up, or while he/she was waiting to move into their mansion? Three years is a long time, they should be completely different people or at least slightly different with new experiences and stories. But it felt like nothing had changed, that the characters just sat in their home bases and stared at the wall for three years. And the romances were... not really that great either.

Example:
Anders- We've only spoken intimately maybe three times(according to the cutscenes) but for the past three years I thought of nothing but you.
Hawke- Really? So... why didn't you come over and say hi? Or, I don't know, invited me to the hanged man? Or, hell, just told me you loved me three years ago? Why wait then?
Anders- ... Well, with Justice, I-
Hawke- And for that matter, why couldn't I have met someone else while waiting for you? What if I did have a fling in those three years? What would you have done? Why don't you shut up about oppressed mages and ask me about my likes or something? Why can't you tell me some amusing stories about yourself and your life?
Anders- Are we going to kiss now?
Hawke- And another, why did I have to come here and talk to you? What if I just didn't visit you for three years because I didn't like you? What if I never planned on seeing you ever again? What would you have done?
Anders- ...

Maybe it said somewhere in their dialog they did keep in contact, but I didn't see them interact, or know what their relationship was like for those three years, so it feels like they avoided each other...

#7
thats1evildude

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It was fun following those arcs to the end, even though you couldn't convince some companions (like Merrill) to avoid the head-on collision they were speeding towards. But then, you can't always keep people from making mistakes, and sometimes you shouldn't.

I doubt the same will be true in DA3. Those story arcs were possible in DA2 because the game never had a definitive goal beyond providing for your family, helping your friends and achieving a measure of power.

From what little I've heard is that the plot of DA3 will have a definitive end goal. Companion quests may be more involved than those in DAO but they probably won't take up the bulk of the game.

FINE HERE wrote...

So, for three years, Hawke didn't keep in contact with their 'friends?' Not one of the companions really goes over to see Hawke in their fancy new mansion before the three years are up, or while he/she was waiting to move into their mansion


Not at all. Actually, you do have interactions with them over those three-year time skips, but they're glossed over because nothing significant happened in those time periods. (For instance, Hawke tried helping Isabela to find the relic, but the search was fruitless. At the start of Act 2, you see Hawke getting rather tired of the search.) Cutscenes are not the only interactions that Hawke has with his companions.

Before you say "DAT NEVER HAPPENED IN ORIGINS DERR", it did. In fact, I can think of one very prominent example: when romancing Leliana, she speaks of the nights you've spent on guard together when she falls alseep and "wakes to find you still watchful." That NEVER happens at any point in the entire game.

Edited by thats1evildude, 30 September 2012 - 05:25 AM.


#8
jillabender

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thats1evildude wrote...

FINE HERE wrote...

So, for three years, Hawke didn't keep in contact with their 'friends?' Not one of the companions really goes over to see Hawke in their fancy new mansion before the three years are up, or while he/she was waiting to move into their mansion


Not at all. Actually, you do have interactions with them over those three-year time skips, but they're glossed over because nothing significant happened in those time periods. (For instance, Hawke tried helping Isabela to find the relic, but the search was fruitless. At the start of Act 2, you see Hawke getting rather tired of the search.) Cutscenes are not the only interactions that Hawke has with his companions.


That's true – the codex entries describe in broad terms what happened between Hawke and his or her companions during the time skips. However, I do agree with FINE HERE that the pacing of interactions with companion characters felt a bit off in DA2. I would have preferred to have more opportunities for Hawke to interact with the companion characters before getting involved in their personal quests.

Edited by jillabender, 30 September 2012 - 05:59 AM.


#9
FINE HERE

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thats1evildude wrote...

FINE HERE wrote...

So, for three years, Hawke didn't keep in contact with their 'friends?' Not one of the companions really goes over to see Hawke in their fancy new mansion before the three years are up, or while he/she was waiting to move into their mansion


Not at all. Actually, you do have interactions with them over those three-year time skips, but they're glossed over because nothing significant happened in those time periods. (For instance, Hawke tried helping Isabela to find the relic, but the search was fruitless. At the start of Act 2, you see Hawke getting rather tired of the search.) Cutscenes are not the only interactions that Hawke has with his companions.

Before you say "DAT NEVER HAPPENED IN ORIGINS DERR", it did. In fact, I can think of one very prominent example: when romancing Leliana, she speaks of the nights you've spent on guard together when she falls alseep and "wakes to find you still watchful." That NEVER happens at any point in the entire game.

Okay, yeah, the codex. But for a game that has almost every conversation shown in a cutscene, that doesn't seem enough. It's just not the same as watching your character interact with the companions. And comparing it to that instance in Leliana's dialog isn't the same. Those 'nights you've spent...' instances happened in the span of maybe a few weeks to a couple of months. The plot jumps in DA2 happen over the course of three years. THREE YEARS. A lot happens in three years. Plenty of things change over the course of one. They're talking about three. We miss huge chunks of the character's lives with those time jumps. It just takes away from our connection to them.

 "DAT NEVER HAPPENED IN ORIGINS DERR",

Charming. And what, pray tell, did I do to deserve that?

Edited by FINE HERE, 30 September 2012 - 06:36 AM.


#10
jillabender

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FINE HERE wrote…

Okay, yeah, the codex. But for a game that has almost every conversation shown in a cutscene, that doesn't seem enough. It's just not the same as watching your character interact with the companions.


I agree – as I said before, imagining events that happen off-screen doesn't seem to work as well in a more cinematic RPG like DA2, compared with a silent-PC RPG like DA:O.

#11
David Gaider

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thats1evildude wrote...
A big difference in the way that DAO and DA2 presented companions was that each of your party members had their own story arc.

DAO's party members had companion quests, sure, but they were just bumps in the road that netted minor benefits and, in a few cases, were necessary to complete a romance. Sure, it'd be nice to reunite Wynne with her old pupil or bring Oghren to meet his old flame, but it hardly makes a difference if you don't.

On the whole, I peg the level of interaction with each companion to be about the same. There's less investigative dialogues but the amount of time spent hanging out with companions is equal to or greater than in DAO.


That is indeed the case-- the weighting of where the dialogue was applied is different, but the overall volume is about the same (save only for Alistair and Morrigan in DAO, who had a great deal more interaction with the main plot).

It's clear that some people missed the investigative dialogues, but when they translate this into "there was less interaction", that's not really so. I can only surmise that they consider the three companion quests per character to be "quests" rather than "companion interaction". Either that or they just value the investigative conversations more highly.

Either way, my personal leaning is to move the companions to somewhere inbetween-- not the minor quest of DAO or the three quests of DA2, but something in the middle-- and put more content back into the personal dialogues. We have some things (things!) planned which actually make that more economical for us, which is nice and allows us more options. And, yes, random kissing and so forth too (since that appears to be a thing, and doesn't really cost us much to do-- so there's one feature I can say did indeed come from the forums).

We'll probably also get rid of the notifications that told you when a follower had new dialogue. That was intended as a convenience feature, since you had to go to so many different areas to talk to followers we didn't want the player going around Kirkwall repeatedly just to discover they had nothing new to say... but I think for some it also had the end result of depriving them of agency, in that they felt it was the followers driving the interaction rather than them. So we'll figure something else out for that.

There are other things (things!) which make some of the feedback on followers and interactions moot when comparing them to DA2... but that's not something I can really discuss without opening a whole other bunch of questions. ("What do you mean by X? We're going to have an X??")

So there you go. My sort-of-vague update of the day.

Edited by David Gaider, 30 September 2012 - 08:44 AM.


#12
upsettingshorts

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David Gaider wrote...

And, yes, random kissing and so forth too.


Oh good, I was missing that with Gamlen.

#13
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Upsettingshorts wrote...

David Gaider wrote...

And, yes, random kissing and so forth too.


Oh good, I was missing that with Gamlen.

Gamlen? What about Dog?

#14
upsettingshorts

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Plaintiff wrote...

Upsettingshorts wrote...

David Gaider wrote...

And, yes, random kissing and so forth too.


Oh good, I was missing that with Gamlen.

Gamlen? What about Dog?


True story:  My first instinct was to respond with, "Does that mean dog is back in as a companion?"

#15
Dave of Canada

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The only thing I didn't care much about interaction was friendship/rivalry dictating your stance on the character's issues. I mean, **** Hawke pisses off Anders and he's raging at me for not protecting the rights of mages despite that particular character waving their pro-mage flag or Aveline says I'm unlawful despite me just being an ass.

They were too tied to their personal issue that your relationship with them somewhat felt artificial, it's quite humorous doing rivalry path with friendship decisions on their quests. Merrill has split personalities if you ****** her off (100% rivalry) but give her the thing in Act 2.

Edited by Dave of Canada, 30 September 2012 - 08:47 AM.


#16
jillabender

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David Gaider wrote…

It's clear that some people missed the investigative dialogues, but when they translate this into "there was less interaction", that's not really so. I can only surmise that they consider the three companion quests per character to be "quests" rather than "companion interaction". Either that or they just value the personal conversations more highly.


I'd have to say that I do miss the more investigative style of conversations in DA:O somewhat, because it felt more true to the way most people actually begin to get to know one another in real life. As I said, though, I realize it's a matter of personal preference and that other people might prefer to "get right to the action."

I would certainly say that I value personal and casual conversations with companion characters very highly. I loved being able to discover Sten's love of cookies, or listen to Leliana's stories, or joke around with Alistair about lamp posts in winter.

I don't feel that every conversation with a companion character necessarily needs to be tied to one personal dilemma or quest arc (not that I would describe all of the conversations in DA2 that way – they just tended more in that direction). In fact, I feel that in a game like Dragon Age, having conversations with companions that are somewhat tangential can make a character feel more multi-dimensional and true-to-life.

Just to clarify, though, I didn't mean to suggest that DA2 had less character interaction than DA:O, and I definitely enjoyed the character interactions during the companion quests in DA2. As I said in another thread, I appreciate the variety of ways that the companion quests could play out depending on Hawke's choices.

My issue wasn't that there wasn't enough character interaction in DA2 – my difficulty was that I would have liked more opportunities for Hawke to interact with companions in a casual way before getting into their personal quests.

David Gaider wrote…

Either way, my personal leaning is to move the companions to somewhere inbetween-- not the minor quest of DAO or the three quests of DA2, but something in the middle-- and put more content back into the personal dialogues. We have some things (things!) planned which actually make that more economical for us, which is nice and allows us more options. And, yes, random kissing and so forth too.

We'll probably also get rid of the notifications that told you when a follower had new dialogue. That was intended as a convenience feature, since you had to go to so many different areas to talk to followers we didn't want the player going around Kirkwall repeatedly just to discover they had nothing new to say... but I think for some it also had the end result of depriving them of agency, in that they felt it was the followers driving the interaction rather than them. So we'll figure something else out for that.

There are other things (things!) which make some of the feedback on followers and interactions moot when comparing them to DA2... but that's not something I can really discuss without opening a whole other bunch of questions. ("What do you mean by X? We're going to have an X??")

So there you go. My sort-of-vague update of the day.


That sounds intriguing – I'll be looking forward to hearing more once you're further along in production!

Edited by jillabender, 30 September 2012 - 04:53 PM.


#17
ElitePinecone

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David Gaider wrote...

Either way, my personal leaning is to move the companions to somewhere inbetween-- not the minor quest of DAO or the three quests of DA2, but something in the middle-- and put more content back into the personal dialogues. We have some things (things!) planned which actually make that more economical for us, which is nice and allows us more options. 


Intriguing - more economical in terms of zots, or in terms of the amount of content that can be devoted to personal dialogue? I would think there'd be a fairly inflexible base cost in terms of paying voice actors and doing digital acting recording, which would limit the amount of conversations (well, at least the ones that require voices and movement).

I did prefer the sprawling conversations (or at least, they seemed that way) from Origins; even if the actual amount of dialogue per follower was roughly the same in DA2, the overall level of interaction didn't quite feel equal. 

#18
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This is kind of related...i guess - but i wish when your companions disagree with you they would say something, in origins they would stop you and say "No, i dont agree with this" You could tell them to shut up, agree with them and change your mind or convince them you were right...it happened many times in the games and even created crises points. In 2 you just get the "+2 rivalry" with no chance to explain or argue it.

It came close to this once by my count, when you find an elf girl on a quest with fenris and Fenris asks when you decided you were into slavery...

#19
zevranarainais

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David Gaider wrote...
 
And, yes, random kissing and so forth too.


What, ~~**kissing**~~? THE MAKER BLESS YOU ALL. :wub:

Also, the rest of that sounds very intriguing. Thanks so much for the update and for paying attention to us rattling on about everything! <33 Whee, I'm excited.

#20
Amirit

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David Gaider wrote...
Either way, my personal leaning is to move the companions to somewhere inbetween-- not the minor quest of DAO or the three quests of DA2, but something in the middle-- and put more content back into the personal dialogues. We have some things (things!) planned which actually make that more economical for us, which is nice and allows us more options. And, yes, random kissing and so forth too (since that appears to be a thing, and doesn't really cost us much to do-- so there's one feature I can say did indeed come from the forums).

 

Oh, David, you've just got yourself unquestionable unconditional support from all the forums! (At least until the game is released and we see how that wonderful features were implemented.)

Thank you so much for those reassuring words! The most positive thing about the game I have heard so far!

Edited by Amirit, 30 September 2012 - 03:18 PM.


#21
R2s Muse

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Awesome. Thank you for the update, David!

David Gaider wrote...

It's clear that some people missed the investigative dialogues, but when they translate this into "there was less interaction", that's not really so. I can only surmise that they consider the three companion quests per character to be "quests" rather than "companion interaction". Either that or they just value the investigative conversations more highly.

Indeed, for me this was the case. I liked the quests, but less of it was personal interaction with character probably because it was quest-related, and therefore strategic and such. "yes, Fenris, let's go kill Hadriana. where is she? slave caves. got it." Of course, I also loved the Hadriana quest and the character moments we got with Fenris... But, it  meant I didn't get to sit around and ask more about his tattoos, or even probe more later about what exactly happened between him and Hadriana.

Either way, my personal leaning is to move the companions to somewhere inbetween-- not the minor quest of DAO or the three quests of DA2, but something in the middle-- and put more content back into the personal dialogues. We have some things (things!) planned which actually make that more economical for us, which is nice and allows us more options. And, yes, random kissing and so forth too (since that appears to be a thing, and doesn't really cost us much to do-- so there's one feature I can say did indeed come from the forums).

This sounds perfect! Hooray for random kissing and so forth!

We'll probably also get rid of the notifications that told you when a follower had new dialogue. That was intended as a convenience feature, since you had to go to so many different areas to talk to followers we didn't want the player going around Kirkwall repeatedly just to discover they had nothing new to say... but I think for some it also had the end result of depriving them of agency, in that they felt it was the followers driving the interaction rather than them. So we'll figure something else out for that.

Hmm, you know I had mixed feelings about those notification. Honestly, I did appreciate them. Everytime I saw the loadscreen tip about going by to visit my companion frequently in case they had something to say continued to give me hope that I could just drop by and they would have something new for me... But these new conversations were so few and far between that I did need the notifications since I eventually got annoyed at all the same same they had to tell me in between their quest points.


So there you go. My sort-of-vague update of the day.

thank  you!!

#22
Blackrising

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David Gaider wrote...

thats1evildude wrote...
A big difference in the way that DAO and DA2 presented companions was that each of your party members had their own story arc.

DAO's party members had companion quests, sure, but they were just bumps in the road that netted minor benefits and, in a few cases, were necessary to complete a romance. Sure, it'd be nice to reunite Wynne with her old pupil or bring Oghren to meet his old flame, but it hardly makes a difference if you don't.

On the whole, I peg the level of interaction with each companion to be about the same. There's less investigative dialogues but the amount of time spent hanging out with companions is equal to or greater than in DAO.


That is indeed the case-- the weighting of where the dialogue was applied is different, but the overall volume is about the same (save only for Alistair and Morrigan in DAO, who had a great deal more interaction with the main plot).

It's clear that some people missed the investigative dialogues, but when they translate this into "there was less interaction", that's not really so. I can only surmise that they consider the three companion quests per character to be "quests" rather than "companion interaction". Either that or they just value the investigative conversations more highly.

Either way, my personal leaning is to move the companions to somewhere inbetween-- not the minor quest of DAO or the three quests of DA2, but something in the middle-- and put more content back into the personal dialogues. We have some things (things!) planned which actually make that more economical for us, which is nice and allows us more options. And, yes, random kissing and so forth too (since that appears to be a thing, and doesn't really cost us much to do-- so there's one feature I can say did indeed come from the forums).

We'll probably also get rid of the notifications that told you when a follower had new dialogue. That was intended as a convenience feature, since you had to go to so many different areas to talk to followers we didn't want the player going around Kirkwall repeatedly just to discover they had nothing new to say... but I think for some it also had the end result of depriving them of agency, in that they felt it was the followers driving the interaction rather than them. So we'll figure something else out for that.

There are other things (things!) which make some of the feedback on followers and interactions moot when comparing them to DA2... but that's not something I can really discuss without opening a whole other bunch of questions. ("What do you mean by X? We're going to have an X??")

So there you go. My sort-of-vague update of the day.


I realize that there are probably more important things in this post (like those things! you mentioned), but right now all I can think of is 'Yay, I get to kiss my LI whenever I want!'. *does happy dance*

I am awfully easy to please.

#23
obZen DF

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David Gaider wrote...
Either way, my personal leaning is to move the companions to somewhere inbetween-- not the minor quest of DAO or the three quests of DA2, but something in the middle-- and put more content back into the personal dialogues. We have some things (things!) planned which actually make that more economical for us, which is nice and allows us more options. And, yes, random kissing and so forth too (since that appears to be a thing, and doesn't really cost us much to do-- so there's one feature I can say did indeed come from the forums).


I still remember kissing Leliana 5 times in a row, and afterwards going to bed ! 
That was so awesome. This is good news.

#24
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I liked the way you could be more spontaneous in Origins. So we have a particularly hard battle and Alistair got knocked out - after he revives my mage warden just gives him a kiss to show she cares. Occasionally a a particularly long quest arc away from camp, I would stop the action to have a quick chat with one of the characters. It just seemed more natural that way. Let's take a breather and catch up. Obviously it was easier just to go from character to character in camp to see if they had anything new to say but it felt less contrived than getting a message telling you to go and talk, so I am glad that the writers have already taken that on board.

I would also prefer it if we were allowed to get to know a character before hitting on them. I found it excruciating that we were given flirt prompts almost immediately with Fenris and Anders and for me it seemed totally insensitive to what they had just told me.
Fenris "Denarius wants to flay the skin off my back"
Hawke "Oh what a waste of a handsome elf".
Anders "I've got this problem, I've a spirit living inside me."
Hawke "Oh at least he can't complain about the body he's inhabiting."
The first time I didn't know if ignoring these prompts would prevent future interaction, so took them and hated it. If the companions had initiated the flirt (like Zevran does), that would be a different matter. So holding off on the heart icons would be appreciated.

I'd also prefer it if we were given some indication immediately that sleeping with one character has totally turned off the other or alternatively, as with Orgins be challenged on the issue and allowed to make a decision on who you want to be with. Having a casual fling with Isabella and then not finding out until I had played through the entire Act 2 that it had stopped my chances with Fenris was frustrating to say the least.

#25
Wulfram

Wulfram
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One thing I thought that DA2 did very well was making the companions feel like a group, rather than a bunch of people only really connected via the PC - the little scenes you walked in on helped, as I guess did the fact you were more often passing through banter triggers than in DA:O.