As a developer, what do you do if you've already created a handful of
the most beloved roleplaying games of all time? How can you ever top
games that are already considered the best of the best. The folks at
BioWare Edmonton had to deal with those questions, and more, when they
began work on Dragon
. With the release date of Dragon Age quickly
approaching, a number of questions still remained in the air for eager
fans. Ten Ton Hammer sat down with Lead Designer Mike Laidlaw in
Edmonton to try to hammer out some of the lingering questions.
Ten Ton Hammer: The
choices that we're making in Dragon Age seem much more... pivotal than
what we've seen in Baldur's
Nights, and Mass
Effect. Was this a decision that was made early on, to
have each of these decisions actually influence that outcome of your
game? Not only that, but there are also more options available to
player than what we've seen previously, as well.
Yes, we wanted to make sure the game was very reactive to the things
you're doing, because it all comes back to this idea of building a
"customizable" game. We wanted to make sure that this was a game that
really was your experience and something that your origin story really
The origin stories, especially, are a great area to see these decisions
showcased. What you see there is actually a mix of things that are
going to carry forward and decisions that only affect your immediate
outcome. Not everything carries forward, but a LOT of things do.
That's where we're really forging new ground and being more reactive
than we have been in the past. It's a really just a conscious choice to
make sure that there's a number of things you can choose and do so when
we introduce particular characters or go back to a player's origin
city, people are going to remember how you behaved and reacted.
To me as a player, that's incredibly gratifying.
Ten Ton Hammer: How does
it really play out in the game? Are players going to be traveling back
to their origin city very often?
Every origin story has at least one element that is a direct call back
to their specific city/area. There are other lingering effects that go
on throughout the game, like if you choose the mage origin, people will
react to the fact that you're a mage. They're going to be intimidated
by you simply because you are a mage. I mean, mages are scary in our
If you're a dwarf, your existence on the surface will make people
wonder what you're doing above ground. Elves will be treated like
second class citizens. All of those things will carry forward. Even
male and female characters elicit different reactions. Different people
will flirt with you, and the Grey Wardens will react to you
differently. Some even might try to take advantage of you.
You may think they're simple, basic choices at the beginning, but they
really, really matter. They all matter, and that's what people are
Ten Ton Hammer: So even
from the basic character creation selection, players are making
decisions that will affect how their characters are going to be seen in
the world. Are the classes thrown into that mix as well? Do warriors
and rogues have different stories?
and rogue classes have the same origins, but the way they're played out
may be entirely different. The tactical standpoint is certainly much
different. If a warrior moves behind a guy, he gets a slight bonus to
hit, but if a rogue moves behind someone, they start getting bonus
damage based on cunning and the animation even changes.
The progression trees are also different. For example, rogues are the
only class that can pick locks. If you play a rogue in the early game,
you're like "open chest, open chest, open chest." You're opening all
kinds of stuff and getting loot and money. If you're a warrior, you're
staring at the chests glowering because you can't open them. But once
you get a rogue in your party, you can start popping chests open.
That's a new and different choice for characters. If you're playing a
rogue, you should be rewarded for that choice.