The Old Republic writer: "A Bioware writer is a games designer"
In an interview in PC Gamer UK issue 228, Bioware writing director Daniel Erickson gave some insight into the Bioware writing process and how it is at the forefront of their game design. "A BioWare writer is a game designer." He said. "What I’ve learned though, and what the rest of the industry is still wrestling with, is: you can teach a writer to be a junior game designer. You cannot teach a junior game designer to be a writer. You need somebody who is a senior master level writer and then you teach them the basics of game design."
Erickson also talked about the training process for new Bioware writers, saying: "When you come in as a writer at BioWare in general, and especially in the Austin studio, we have a three month training process where nothing that you ever touch will ever appear in game. Which is a fundamental difference – when I tell this to people at other studios they’re like “WHAT?” It’s a huge investment of resources, but it’s how we get the stories we do."
The trainee writers apparently spend those months generating pitches and script material, culminating in full mod piece which is: " that will be scripted by the scripters, reviewed, tested, shown to be a good piece and then thrown away." When asked if particularly good practice peices were ever used he replied: "There have been – very, very rarely – there have been pieces that actually did get kept. Or at least inspired. The Mage Origin story from Dragon Age was a re-write, but was actually inspired by Jennifer Hepler, who is one of the writers on there, inspired by her training module."
Read the full interview, with more on the Bioware writing process and the unique challenge of writing for an MMO in issue 228 of PC Gamer UK, which also contains features on Assassin's Creed and Dwarf Fortress, previews of Deus Ex 3 and Mass Effect 3, and our Witcher 2 and Brink reviews. You can buy it online here. Suscribe here. Or buy it digitally here.