As I mentioned in my previous post, I was very intrigued by the tactical view in Dragon Age: Inquisition. After rereading Alexander Galloway’s essay on Gamic Action, I found his description of a subjective algorithm as a style of gamic action, what he defines as “a code intervention exerted from both within gameplay and without … Continue reading “Dragon Age’s Tactical View as a Subjective Algorithm”
As I mentioned in my previous post, I was very intrigued by the tactical view in Dragon Age: Inquisition. After rereading Alexander Galloway’s essay on Gamic Action, I found his description of a subjective algorithm as a style of gamic action, what he defines as “a code intervention exerted from both within gameplay and without gameplay in the form of the nondiegetic operator act”, very relatable to this feature (37). Likewise, in reference to the graph pictured below, this style of play falls squarely into the quadrant of nondiegetic operator acts as a configuring action executed by the operator that acts on the interior game world.
After playing around with this feature, I found it to be actually quite challenging. It creates a situation where the operator must be totally in control: I had to know how to play each class correctly and effectively in order for their skill sets to complement each other in the context of a battle. When playing in third person combat mode, it never occurred to me what the other playable characters in my party were doing- as long as they weren’t dying or in my way, they were essentially irrelevant in the context of my experience. In fact, for a long period of play I had a companion who was doing less than 1/10th of my damage. This severely limited the effectiveness of the group, but it took a while to notice as I was only focused with my main character. With the tactical view, this mind set goes away, and you assume a role that requires the knowledge of all. This view in a way encapsulates what a modern war represents. Generals and high ranking officials in a room as the operator, weighing their options and considering the weapons they have at their disposal as they decide which is the best proceed in the given scenario.
While modern day warfare is miles apart from a mythical video game, the interpretation of the nondiegetic operator as a proxy for real life examples is accurate. Galloway provides some basis for this, referring to these nondiegetic operator acts derived from subjective algorithms as allegories for the informatic culture of today’s algorithmic structure. To close with a quote from Galloway: “Video games render social realities into playable form” (17).
Galloway, Alexander R. Gaming: Essays on Algorithmic Culture. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota, 2006. Print.
Having already played Dragon Age: Inquisition, I was familiar with the combat controls, character classes and races, and the general storyline. But after sitting down to play again, I realized a feature that I had all but overlooked prior to replaying- the tactical view. The tactical view takes the diegetic action out of the combat, … Continue reading “A Change of Pace- Actually Using the Tactical View”
Having already played Dragon Age: Inquisition, I was familiar with the combat controls, character classes and races, and the general storyline. But after sitting down to play again, I realized a feature that I had all but overlooked prior to replaying- the tactical view. The tactical view takes the diegetic action out of the combat, and instead lets you control your team of four from above. This view allows for the use of nondiegetic actions, such as pausing the action or speeding up time as you please, as well as gives you total control over the team, choosing which abilities they use and when and where they are positioned throughout the battle.
This is by all means a very cool and unique feature in DA:I. One thing that it does is it allows the combat system to be multi-dimensional, and gives the player a choice between an experience similar to a real-time strategy game or that of a third-person combat game. I frequently find games with a repetitive combat style, like Assassin’s Creed for example, to become boring the further into the game I get as all the fights are the same- counter, attack, counter, counter, etc. But with the tactical view, this goes away. DA: I allows for the in-game combat to take upon both a diegetic style and nondiegetic style, letting the player choose freely between the two as he/she progresses. The extra dimension reminds me of the lean-forward or lean-back style of play previously discussed in class, and the use of the tactical view allows for the combat in DA: I to be both. Lean forward and be focused on the real time combat, or lean back and control the whole party from afar.
While it a fun and useful feature of combat- I am not sold on how useful it will be in a difficult fight. Is it possible for it to be even more effective than controlling my character while the CPU controls the others? As I continue to play, I hope to experiment further with the tactical view, and see how it practical it is as the game’s difficulty progresses.
The 2009 Bioware game Dragon Age: Origins tries to present a free, open game space that players can navigate at will, but at certain moments in the game, that illusion breaks. Once past the initial cut scenes, a player can move around the freely and talk to anyone they encounter. Depending on who the person…
The 2009 Bioware game Dragon Age: Origins tries to present a free, open game space that players can navigate at will, but at certain moments in the game, that illusion breaks. Once past the initial cut scenes, a player can move around the freely and talk to anyone they encounter. Depending on who the person is, the player may be able to have a full conversation with them or they may just get a simple response. The longer dialogues usually reveal important information or at least deepen knowledge about the game world. Some of these dialogue exchanges trigger automatically, when the player enters a certain area or approaches a character, while other must be actively sought out. The automatic triggers do not violate the freedom of the game because they normally make sense in context (your mother stops you to speak with you about a pressing issue, a guard calls you over to deliver a message, etc.) and the others allow the player to express their freedom by choosing who to talk to.
Your mother introducing the player to her friends.
However, the simple response conversations jar the player from the game. When speaking to the guards at the Cousland Castle, almost every one responds to a female player character with “Good day, my lady” in the exact same voice. The guards essentially exist as mindless clones, repeating the same phrase over and over again, regardless of how many times they’re spoken to. Some of these characters say different things each time, but even then a player can cycle through the responses with repeated clicks. It makes the player aware that the game world is not actually real. Similarly, while the player can move from place to place within a given area, they cannot always leave that area. In the Cousland Castle, the player can move about its rooms, but cannot go out into the rest of the world. The player is given the illusion of freedom, but only to a certain extent.
A map of the area you can explore when first starting a Cousland playthrough.
Dragon Age: Origins seems to suggest the coming of the open-world genre. It seems then that these jarring moments come from a lack of computing power, as well as to force narrative. In 2009, the game and the computers it was played on didn’t have the memory to handle a full open world with every character being different. The player also cannot always go where they wish because then the story could not progress in the chronological order the writers laid out.