There are currently about 70
bajillion fantasy based RPGs on the
market. So, why would a developing company make another? And, why would
someone make a single player fantasy-based RPG during the boom of
multiplayer and massively multiplayer games? Would they be nuts? No.
They’d be BioWare.
Mark Darrah is the Executive Producer of Dragon Age. He’s the man when it
comes to everything Dragon Age, including the books, the game, the
universe. So it seemed astute reasoning that he’d know a
thing or two behind the single player RPG, Dragon Age: Origins.
Following the trail, we sat down with Mr. Darrah to try to find out
some of BioWare’s philosophy behind creating this game, due
for launch November 3rd.
To Take a Page from
Like the fans of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables
there are literally millions of fantasy lovers in today’s
market, and BioWare recognizes the potential advantage in ancillary
products of fantasy, and more specifically, Dragon Age
this meant a musical, posters, CDs, clothing, and a plethora
of other memorabilia. With Dragon
, it means novels, pen and paper
RPGs, and game expansion sets.
“In our experience,” Darrah stated,
“there’s a great breadth of fans,” and
this opens up the opportunity to offer players more of the Dragon Age
experience than just the game.
In addition, the swing of current gamer flavor needs to be considered,
but not in the way one might think. “You have to be careful
to not chase the trend of the day. Paranormal, werewolves, and zombies
are pretty hot today. The problem is that with the amount of time it
takes us to build an IP up from scratch, and introduce it into the
market, the trend would probably be long gone. Fantasy goes through
cycles, but there’s always an audience for it. There may not
always be an audience for post-apocalyptic zombie worlds. It could be a
popular genre right now, but in five years, who knows?”
Even without brain-eating zombies, BioWare seems to be aiming the title
to a more adult audience than some other fantasy games.
“We really look at this as an opportunity to explore the
edges of the fantasy genre,” Darrah continued.
“This is a game that contains the elements of what
you’re used to in fantasy, like elves, dwarves and mages, but
everything is looked at in a slightly different tone. For example,
mages are distrusted heavily, and elves are an oppressed race. For us,
it was an opportunity to tell the stories we wanted to tell, but look
at it in a more adult way.”
Though more mature, the targeted audience is still large, and the best
way to target a large audience is to target several audiences.
“I think this is a game that manages to [target many types of
gamers]. For the Baldur’s
player, there’s all
that depth there if you want it. You can pause and play; you can dig
into the tactics; you can be very careful and very calculating on how
you play the game. For someone who’s looking for a little
more action, you can play the game that way too, especially on the
consoles where the controls are much tighter and much more designed for
an action experience. It feels like it’s a totally
different game, and much more geared to the Action RPG
It’s been ten years since we’ve played
, but Darrah believes Dragon Age: Origins
could hit home with those players too.
“It’s not the same game, but it still invokes the
same feelings, the same depth of story and tactical element.”
And depth is a major reason players will keep coming back to a game.
It’s what sets good games that trigger an emotional response
apart from bland games that are forgotten five minutes after playing.
So how does a developer drive an emotional response? There is a method
to it, and Darrah explained.
“We tell stories that are real in a way. It’s in a
fantastic environment, but it’s something you can imagine.
It’s brutal, but you can imagine it really happening. I think
that helps strengthen the emotions. Even though you may be suspending
your disbelief by playing a dwarf, you don’t [have to try to
believe] you’re a dwarf doing something really weird. What
you’re doing and the experiences that are occurring seem
logical. That helps anchor that emotion.”