Dragon Age writer David Gaider has spilled some of the secrets behind the bestselling BioWare series.
Dragon Age was a bit of a gamble for BioWare – one of two new IPs produced after an almost unbroken history of licensed properties.
Speaking to Canadian radio station Edge, Gaider said the team wasn’t certain they’d ever get a chance to make a second Dragon Age game, and made some regrettable design decisions as a result of that.
“At the time the idea was that maybe Dragon Age: Origins was going to have to live on its own as its own game. Like, Jade Empire never got a sequel,” he said.
“It didn’t seem so unrealistic to consider the fact that this might be our only shot at this one particular story.”
“So at the time it didn’t seem so unrealistic to consider the fact that this might be our only shot at this one particular story. Ideally, we were hoping that we would put out Dragon Age: Origins and it would be successful. We didn’t know.”
Luckily, BioWare was wrong.
“Then Dragon Age: Origins went out, and it was a big hit. But that wasn’t a guaranteed thing in our heads at the time,” Gaider said.
“Was this before the Lord of the Rings movies? Before or maybe around the same time. But before Lord of the Rings came out, I don’t think the idea that traditional fantasy could have commercial weight was really a thing.”
As a result of this mindset, BioWare wasn’t perhaps as careful as it should have been in crafting the epilogue slides players see at the end of Dragon Age: Origins.
“The Dragon Age: Origins epilogue existed because initially I don’t know that we were certain we would get a second game,” Gaider said.
“The epilogue came late in the game. The epilogues were put together very quickly and some of them cast so far into the future that, okay, now we are doing the sequel and it takes place two years into the future or whatever.
“And it’s like, we’re trying to have a plot and we’re trying to have some call backs, yet there are things that were forecast that went so far ahead that now we’re contradicting it. Can we honor those all? Here we have a plot which works in every facet expect for this one epilogue slide. And it’s like, god dammit, past Dave! Why did you write that?”
As a specific example, Gaider cited details of Cullen’s later adventures and events on Orzammar.
“That’s a giant check to write,” he added.
“Especially, if you are then asked later, now pick up the plot and have some tie backs. You’re sitting there and you’re laying out all the epilogue slides in front of you and you’re figuring, how do I honor every single one of these? Wow. I didn’t think that through at the time.”
The full interview has some great discussion about how the world of Thedas changed during the project’s conception, and what BioWare had to cut from Origins.
Gaider, who was the lead creative for Dragon Age, has since moved onto a mysterious new BioWare project.
As you may recall, Origins did spawn a sequel – one that was rushed to market. The third entry, Dragon Age: Inquisition, benefited from a much longer incubation period and released to a very positive reception late last year.