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A Constant Evolution: BioWare's Doctors Talk Present And Future
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A Constant Evolution: BioWare's Doctors Talk Present And Future

April 17, 2009 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 5 Next

Your next two games, Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age, are obviously both RPGs with some common heritage, but they do exhibit two divergent avenues from BioWare to an extent. Mass Effect 2 continues the more modern action-infused RPG thing you did with Mass Effect, whereas Dragon Age is more an evolution of the classic computer RPG BioWare made its name with. Strategically, what makes you think you can sell that to someone who hasn't played Baldur's Gate or other games in that style?

GZ: It's simply the number of people who keep on asking us to do that. It's one of those forgotten gems. There are very few examples of that style of game, which I think is still popular. Secondarily, because we're also going to consoles, and we're going to customize the interface on them for Dragon Age: Origins, while it will still be at its core that kind of good classic role-playing, at the same time it's going to feel very natural on the 360 and PS3.

I think people have been wanting it. There are very few examples in the same milieu -- Neverwinter Nights 2 and The Witcher, for example. Those all still did well, so it's exciting to do those and realize in many ways we helped to start that whole ball rolling, or restart it.

You know, it stopped for a while. We helped to kind of poke it and get it going again with the original Baldur's Gate.

Coming back to it now, we can do a super job on all the platforms. Some people who haven't played Baldur's Gate have heard of it, and in many cases, they think, "A spiritual successor to this great classic game? It's probably worth checking out."

Then the folks who have played it, no matter where they're playing, they're going to be able to play it as well, whether on PC or consoles.

RM: It's more than just Baldur's Gate and Baldur's Gate II. It's definitely a spiritual successor to those, so you see a lot of things that familiar and comforting for fans that enjoy that kind of gameplay. And frankly, it's just fun, because that kind of gameplay was fun, and is fun.

But we definitely are innovating and pushing the envelope on a lot of fronts. Some of what we're doing is emerging in the best-of-breed things we've done on recent games with cinematic presentation, characterization, or the emotional engaging narrative of a game like Mass Effect.

You can see that in a lot of the things we've done in Dragon Age. A lot of the same storytelling techniques were applied. But we've focused more on first-person voice in Dragon Age, rather than third-person voice.

That was a conscious decision, but we've invested in the responses back -- the lens through which you see the world, the mirror by which you see the consequences of your actions or the non-player characters around you, your party, and the people you interact with in the game story. Dragon Age has that in spades. It's a very cinematic approach.

BioWare's Dragon Age: Origins

The combat is also very tactical. When you play the game, the camera way down by the ground is very cinematic, reminiscent of Knights of the Old Republic, an over-the-shoulder kind of view.

This is also something different and unique, we think, in the fantasy genre. This is a new type of fantasy. It's dark heroic fantasy. You've seen examples of high fantasy and low fantasy, on either end of the spectrum -- very dark on one side, very heroic on the other side. But this is the best of both. It's the dark heroic experience. You are a hero in a very dark world, making choices that have mature consequences. They're not free of peril. You have to make decisions with that in mind. That's a unique experience.

One of the reasons we're unifying the platforms and making this a big launch and a big event, building a community, building the toolset and launching that early, building all that plans for post-release content, is that people at EA have seen the game, and are really excited about it. We see this as a landmark in gaming and in fantasy.

We think it's the kind of thing where people are going to stand up and take notice and say, "I have to check that out because, wow, everybody is talking about how good it is, and there's nothing like it in the market. It's a new kind of fantasy. This sounds kind of intriguing." People who maybe aren't into fantasy are going to want to check it out because it may be the one thing in fantasy they want to see in the next few years. That's our goal.

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