Dragon Age lead writer details Bioware writing process from start to finish
In interviews I've found that some designers are a little reluctant to talk about the nitty gritty of their day to day work, perhaps because from their perspective talking about meetings and workflow doesn't seem interesting. The actual block-by-block process of putting a big game together often goes undiscussed, and the hard work that goes into making games passes unseen.
All of which makes David Gaider's account of writing on a big project at Bioware especially interesting. He details the entire process in a series of articles on his blog, communicating the ups and downs of life in the "Writer's Pit," as they call it. It's illuminating, full of advice and offers neat insights into the sort of arguments and exchanges that ring through the corridors of Bioware Edmonton as the production cycle picks up.
There are lots of juicy bits like this, for example:
"...it’s not like we sub-leads go, “yes, sir, Mr. Lead Designer sir!” and then run off to do his bidding. We argue. We argue like nerds on an Internet forum argue, albeit with a slightly greater grasp on the reality of the situation. If you’re not someone who’s willing to collaborate, who understands what that entails, you won’t last long in game development. Throwing a tantrum and going, “I’m a writer! I refuse to allow such things as budgets and technical limitations to affect my art! How dare you, you philistine, presume to have ideas on the story! The nerve!”… well, that wouldn’t go over very well. You’d be out the door in no time.
"...from time to time I’m asked “I have an idea for a game! Who do I tell to get it made?” …and the answer is “nobody”. The people like Project Directors, the ones at that level? They have their own ideas. Getting the chance to make a brand new IP occurs so rarely in one’s career, do you honestly think they wouldn’t have some thoughts? Do you think they got into game development with no dreams about what kind of game they’d like to someday make, they’re just waiting for someone who hasn’t paid their dues to come along and tell them what to make? As the marvelous Ken Levine said— well, he didn’t say this exactly, but I still smile at the memory of the panel where he mentioned it— “Fuck your ideas.” Everyone in the industry has ideas. I have ideas. Ideas are cheap. If you have an idea you want to turn into a game, don’t tell anyone about it— make it."
And there's lots, lots more in ten parts. They went up November/December last year, but it's all still relevant. Here's PART ONE.
Oh, and speaking of Ken Levine, Polygon have a huge profile on him that may also be relevant to your interests.