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Reshaping the Modern RPG: BioWare's Greg Zeschuk Speaks
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Reshaping the Modern RPG: BioWare's Greg Zeschuk Speaks

April 2, 2010 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 4 Next

As far as the marketing push from EA on Dragon Age, it was very much oriented toward high-action, bloody battles. The way I was seeing it marketed made me feel like, probably, some guys who don't really know what's actually going on in the game, are going to pick it up. I think that sort of marketing probably worked in Dragon Age's favor, but not so much in, say, Brutal Legend's favor. 

GZ: Well, I mean, it's interesting to me obviously because of the controversy with it. I think we were trying, and we've always said that certainly, what the real objective for us was, was to show what was in the game.

Obviously, the advertising wasn't in any way representative of the proportionate time split. Everything from the advertising was from the game, but it was only part of the time. There's a lot of other stuff.

I think it worked in the sense that it got a lot of attention for it. It got people really looking at the title. I think it probably expanded the audience a little bit into people -- it's one of the hits of thee fall, and it's one of the big games -- and they're like, "Okay, well, it looks action-y enough that I'm interested in it," and I think that was actually the reason that it worked.

That potential new audience, those are the people especially that need the extra hand-holding.

GZ: Yeah. I definitely agree.

In terms of balance of action and roleplaying, and here when I'm saying "roleplaying" I'm talking mostly of dialogue and fetch quests and that kind of stuff, because I actually personally really enjoy those a lot. It's different on a title-by-title-basis -- but what is the ideal balance of "Here's my area where I'm going to do diplomatic things" and "Now I'm going to slice a bunch of dudes up"?

GZ: That's a good question. I don't know if I know the right balance yet. We've explored different balances. We did an experiment years ago and it, during [the period] right after Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and I think James Ohlen, who is the creative director down in Austin, said, "Okay, let's do an experiment. Everyone write down what they think the percentage of time they spend doing traveling, in your inventory, combat, and dialogue."

And everyone wrote down the percentage, and then we had someone play it, a bunch of us played it and time it all out, then compared it. It was totally different. You didn't perceive that, actually, the amount of time you were fighting was way less, but that's what stuck in your mind. Everyone kind of over-expanded the combat stuff.


GZ: It was interesting. And we didn't realize how much time we were spending on other things. I think it's a reflection of memorable moments. I think that's something where we've been focusing a lot of our effort, because those can happen a lot of times in the cinematics. Like the interrupts for Shepard -- memorable moments that really stick with the player. Those are the things that they remember and emphasize as part of their experience and share with other people.

For both Dragon Age and Mass Effect there is a great deal of lore. How many people are writing this? Because even me, I'm definitely interested in it, but I couldn't read all of it. It's so much.

GZ: It's a lot. Structurally, there's about three or four writers on each of our teams, one lead and three other writers, and they'll spend really the first year just creating all the back story elements.

That doesn't shock me.

GZ: Yeah. No, as a company with really prolific writers and folks that can pound it out, so there's a lot of info. We will figure out what we want to use, we'll strip some of it down, put it in, say, the books in Dragon Age or whatever. What's really amazing about those, I think for our games, it's an essential ingredient to make it all whole together, because we're creating not just the game but the world the game is in.

If we're effective in creating the world, making it believable and everything makes sense and it's well-rounded, then we get to reuse that potentially indefinitely -- forever. And I think that's where the value comes in. After the trilogy of Mass, there will be other Mass stuff, but now we've got this fertile ground to plant it in. So, it is a huge endeavor, but it's something that we think that if we didn't do it, it just would not be any good.

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