When one thinks of single-player PC fantasy RPGs, one doesn't necessarily think "social," but that's just what BioWare is striving for with much-anticipated Dragon Age
, says co-founder Ray Muzyka.
The company's prepared to connect with its community from the start, and Muzyka hopes the game and its player culture will grow in tandem. Speaking in a new Gamasutra feature
, Muzyka says strong community-building for a game like this takes preparation for it from the get-go. "We've been planning for a long time and been building it," he tells us.
"We're seeing the game as a service, as a long-term value-added offering to our friends that isn't just a launch, a fire-and-forget," he says, foreseeing a continuing evolution in the depth and breadth of the Dragon Age
community just as MMOs themselves grow and evolve over time.
"And post-release downloadable content, we'll continue to make that for a long period after launch," he says. "Different kinds," he asserts. "We're obviously going to listen to fan feedback. We've got a plan now, but we're going to evolve depending on what they tell us to make and what they make themselves, too. Maybe they'll complement what we're making, and then we'll focus on what people aren't making."
Muzyka's particularly enthused about the opportunity to connect with and respond to the audience in real time over the entire life of the game. "That's exciting, because I think RPGs historically have been very much a matter of, 'Here's your disc. Bye bye. See you later.'"
For RPGs to enjoy thriving communities and maximum possibilities, Muzyka says, it's necessary to think of them as a "value-added service, and think of them as an ongoing content offering and a social networking opportunity."
"They can be social even if they're single-player," he adds. "MMOs even moreso because they're multiplayer at the core anyway."
Tools for user-created content are a large part of the community-building in Dragon Age
, and BioWare has gotten a jump start in making these available to users, hoping to start engaging audiences with one another ahead of time. And with team-fostering mechanics built directly in, BioWare will help.
"We have telemetry built into them, so we can actually link together groups that are doing different kinds of content -- you know, if they want it," he says. "They don't have to. If they want it, then we can help create virtual teams of people making different kinds of content."
You can now read the full Dragon Age interview
with Muzyka in today's Gamasutra feature (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites).