David Gaider, Senior Writer at BioWare and a major creative force behind the Dragon Age franchise, recently posted a frank essay on romance sub-plots in RPGs on his blog. The manifesto, spotted by Eurogamer, explores the issues romanceable party members present, and explains why he doesn't advocate too much openness when it comes to who can get with whom.
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.
Being a writer for a studio that invests heavily in story must be something of a Sword of +2 Edges. Sure, there's the knowledge that their work has an important role in a player's experience. The downside is that, if those players are unhappy with an element of that story, the writer becomes a far more visible figure for criticism. That's a situation that Bioware are familiar with.
When asked about the tone of the Bioware Social Network, Dragon Age lead writer David Gaider gave an interesting and detailed rundown on the effect that angry feedback has, admitting that he largely avoids the studio's community forum.
This painting by artist Andrew Ryan (not that one) re-imagines the cast of Mass Effect as a band of warriors, mages, knights and archers from Dragon Age. The Normandy is a high dragon ridden by Joker, Garrus is an awesome crossbow-wielding knight, Jack's a blood mage elf, EDI is a golem. It works quite brilliantly.
Kotaku received word from the artist that the work was finally complete. Each character was designed separately before being combined in the final diorama. According to his Deviant Art page, Ryan is a recent graduate of the Manhattan School of Visual Arts and is "always looking for new and exciting art opportunities, primarily related to concept art/books illustration/ or card game art." Read on for more close ups of the individual characters. Which one is your favourite?
BioWare have confirmed there is a new Mass Effect game in the works as well as a new IP "built from the bottom-up with all new gaming technology". The announcement comes via a new blogpost from BioWare Edmonton and Montreal general manager Aaryn Flynn, in which he discusses the company's future following the departure of co-founders Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka.
BioWare co-founders Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk have announced their retirement from the company after a nearly 17-year run supervising some of the most well-known RPGs on the PC, including Dragon Age, Mass Effect, and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.
There's not long to go until the Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition lands, but it's not the only project trying to give those RPGs a spit-polish. The Baldur's Gate 2 Redux team is working on porting the sequel to the Dragon Age engine. One module came out in 2010, covering the opening torture dungeon, with the second, Athkatla, currently in the works, and the rest hopefully coming sometime this century.
The most recent release though is cool for fans even if it's not playable - a Dragon Age engine recreation of that act, after the player escapes the dungeon to find David Warner voiced baddie Irenicus, pictured above looking very bored with the programming on his crystal ball one Sunday afternoon, taking on the whole city in magical combat. First spotted on David Gaider's Twitter feed, you'll find it here.
Bioware points are going super cheap on one particular screen in the Bioware store. If you access the "add points" page through the Mass Effect 2 DLC section of the site, there's an option to buy up 1200 points for £4.33. Buy three lots of this and you'll have enough points to buy every single DLC episode, weapon pack and alternative skin pack available for Mass Effect 2. You'll be able to use these points to buy DLC for the Dragon Age games, too.
Dragon Age 2: Mark of the Assassin, is out, and it brings with it this acrobatic launch trailer. Mark of the Assassin is the second piece of DLC for Dragon Age 2, and stars actress Felicia Day as Tallis, an elven assassin, who is seen here leaping, stabbing and... kissing Hawke? It certainly appears so, although the trailer cuts away before we see any smooching.
There's also some more shots of those wyvern riding conquistadors Tom S was so impressed by. You can get Mark of the Assassin from the Bioware website for 800 Bioware points, or £6.19 in sensible money.
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."
The ones we love always hurt us the most, and the roleplaying genre has, over its many years, inflicted its rabid adherents with a few post-traumatic stress disorder-inducing moments. The most infamous occasion was the 1994 release of Ultima VIII: Pagan, the sequel to one of the most beloved RPGs. It completely abandoned the renowned features of its predecessor, and its reception prompted a written apology by series creator Richard Garriott. The simplified Deus Ex: Invisible War was another PTSD moment, as was Bethesda’s transformation of the Fallout franchise (for isometric perspective turn-based combat fans, at least).
The creator of comedy web series The Guild, Felicia Day, has announced that she will be starring in a six-part web series set in the Dragon Age universe. Day wrote the series, and will be playing the central role as an elf tasked with fighting back against the Darkspawn menace.
EA are offering bonus content for Dragon Age 2 with new purchases of Dead Space 2. Those who pick up Dead Space 2 next Friday will find a code inside to unlock Isaac's armour rig for their Dragon Age character. Read on for the details and a trailer.