BioWare didn’t know how to start Dragon Age: Inquisition

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Writing compelling narratives are difficult. Writing ones that twist and turn like the tale in Dragon Age: Inquisition are far more complex than I can even imagine, and I envy the skill of writers that are able to craft such stories. But it’s a daunting task – even for the best writers – and Inquisition’s prologue suffered the most during development.

During a guest lecture at the Department of Game Design at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, BioWare creative director Mike Laidlaw, senior writer David Gaider, and actor Freddie Prinze Jr. sat down to discuss the narrative structure of Inquisition, and what the team found the most difficulty in creating. It seems like the start of the game was particularly troublesome, with the entire thing being re-written nearly seven times.

BioWare seemingly struggled with crafting a palpable reason as to why player’s characters would want to undertake the seemingly impossible mission of closing the Breach, with the team messing with various character combinations and motives to get the feeling just right. Laid law describes the first encounter with Chancellor Rockerick, who wasn’t even considered in some versions.

“That scene is one that we re-worked probably seven times over the course of the game. It needed to setup that initial opposition… we needed the sense that people weren’t willing to step up and solve the problem… I remember one of my clearer pieces of direction that I said to David [Gaider] and his team was that we basically needed that guy that shuts down the Ghostbusters containment unit,”

In some versions Rockerick didn’t exist, leaving Cassandra as a more hostile opponent for players to diplomatically deal with. In other versions Leland took the Chancellor’s place, but all of this eventually boiled down to the pretty effective prologue the game has today.

Also, could someone possibly fund a semester for me at this university? I’ll love you forever.

Last Updated: December 5, 2014

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