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How Alexis Kennedy is writing the next  Dragon Age

How Alexis Kennedy is writing the next Dragon Age

May 22, 2017 | By Chris Kerr

Former Failbetter CEO and Sunless Sea creator Alexis Kennedy has been chatting to Eurogamer about leaving the world of indie development behind and becoming a scribe for BioWare. 

Since departing the studio last year, Kennedy has joined forces with the Dragon Age team and agreed to contribute some ideas of his own to the game's vast narrative. 

It's been a big move for both Kennedy and BioWare, with the Canadian outfit rarely bringing in remote writers. For Kennedy, one of the biggest challenges has been the lack of communication. After all, it's not always possible to get hold of your peers when they're on the other side of the world.

While the logistical hurdles can be troublesome, Kennedy has put his own processes and structures in place to ensure his writing goes (largely) to plan.

"I have one wall of my flat covered with whiteboard vinyl," he says. "One day will be breaking the story on the whiteboard wall for a proper scrawly arrows serial killer effect. [After that, it's] one day creating a skeleton of the quest with placeholder text in the editor; one day fleshing out dialog; one day for contingency and admin."

He also relishes some of the other challenges, such as having to account for voice actors -- a problem he never encountered while making text-driven titles like Sunless Sea and Fallen London

Kennedy says it's much easier to write huge quantities when you don't have to worry about what the voice actors are going to do with it. For example, it's more difficult to include player names in dialog, which is why BioWare uses surnames like Shepard and Ryder in Mass Effect

"It's much easier to breeze through [writing] huge quantities of text when you don't have to worry about it being voiced. [In text-based RPGs] you can hose people down with words and some will stick."

"[In bigger titles] you have to stand closer to your audience and put each word in their top pocket. There's a hard limit on the amount of words you're allowed to put into something. You have to choose those words more carefully. It's thrilling."

To hear more from Kennedy be sure to check out the full interview over on Eurogamer.

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