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moghedien · 4 months ago
the Origins PC and companions are genuinely the funniest group of people if you actually think about it, like you got:
The Warden who literally got their job yesterday and was put in charge of saving the world for some reason
the second-most-recent warden who immediately pushed all the responsibility on you and REALLY doesn’t want to tell you who his daddy is because that would mean more responsibility he does not want
this random swamp witch who’s mother may or may not be Baba Yaga but she personally has never been anywhere larger than a small village and does NOT understand human interactions also she can turn into a spider
a bisexual nun who you met in a bar who told you that God told her to tag along with you but actually she used to be a spy and has murdered a lot of people, but also she assures you that she never took vows of chastity so she’s dtf
a grown up child soldier giant man who you got out of a cage for some reason who spends half the time negging you and talking in circles but is apparently into that and also the only thing he likes about your country is cookies
an assassin that was hired to kill you and immediately started flirting with you the moment he failed at doing that and you just thought it was a good call to let him tag along
an elderly woman who has assigned herself the role of group grandmother, really doesn’t want you to fuck or talk about griffins, and also she’s possessed. let’s be real, she probably regrets being in this group
a dwarf who’s wife ended up being a psychopath and a lesbian, so he just decided to skip town with you
a magical construct that has spent the last 30 years getting shit on by birds and just is REALLY pissed off by that
A dog that is able to comprehend human language and uses that ability solely to beg for treats
And the optional:
Literally the guy that you have been fighting against the entire fucking game
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fraeulein-freya · 9 months ago
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I will just drop this here and leave and never look at it again lest I find more things to fix :’)
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bonksoundeffect · 4 months ago
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It’s all part of the Dragon Age experience (tm)
I saw this post by @bitchfeeet once and it has lived in my head rent free ever since
Dragon Age Origins: Why have I been in the deep roads for twelve years
Dragon Age 2: Why have I killed twelve different bandit leaders in this same warehouse
Dragon Age Inquisition: Where am I
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chaosroid · 7 months ago
Beginning of DA:Origins post-Ostagar like:
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kissingagrumpygiant · 5 months ago
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i am once again thinking about the inherent pining of morrigan’s friendship route. or also
dragon age: gay awakening 
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1ichen · 7 months ago
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+ book of answers +
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serphena · 6 months ago
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it is just the same as the mirror which Flemeth smashed on the ground so long ago...
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felassan · 8 months ago
Dragon Age development insights and highlights from Bioware: Stories and Secrets from 25 Years of Game Development
Some really tasty factoids here.
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Cut for length.
Dragon Age: Origins
The continent of Thedas was at one point going to be named Pelledia, a name initially floated by James Ohlen
“Qunari” was a temporary name that ended up unintentionally sticking, much like “Thedas”
Mary Kirby wrote the Landsmeet. To this day, nobody understands how it works, except possibly her. If she’s “really really drunk” she can explain how it works. There’s as many words in it as Sten’s entire conversations put together
Concept art for Thedosian art - as in in-world art - draws heavily on Renaissance-era portraiture, the Art Nouveau movement, religious styles and media like stained glass, and favorite pieces from the golden age of illustrations in the early 20th century
Andrastianism in-world (art-wise) is depicted in wildly different methods depending on who in-world made the art in question. “One religion, 3 different lenses”. There’s the Chantry take, the Orlesian take and the Fereldan take; each with its own different interpretations, different mediums and different stories
The stained glass images were drawn by Nick Thornborrow for DAI, to decorate religious spaces in that game “and beyond”
irl Viking art influenced Ferelden
Greek and Italian art influenced Orlais
The book also had other insights into and anecdotes from the development of DAO, but I’ve transcribed them recently as they’re essentially the stories DG has recently been relating on the awesome Summerfall Studios DAO playthrough Twitch streams. (On those streams he provides dev commentary while Liam Esler plays through DA. The ones with DG are currently once every two weeks. Check them out! Here’s a calendar where you can check when the next one is) Instead of repeating myself I’ll just provide the link to the first transcript. From there you can navigate to the subsequent parts. Note these streams are ongoing. At this point I will also point you to a related post which is cliff notes of the Dragon Age chapter in Jason Schreier’s book Blood Sweat and Pixels.
Dragon Age II
DAO had the longest development period in BioWare history. In contrast DA2 had the shortest
Initially DA2 was going to be an expansion to DAO. A few months in EA said “Yeah, expansions like these don’t sell very well, so let’s make it a sequel.” So it suddenly became DA2 and they had to make it even bigger, although they still only had 1.5 years of time in which to do this
Production of DA2 officially lasted only 9 months, and at the time the team was still supporting live content for DAO! They finished development that January after the design team crunched all the way through the holiday period that year. Then it went to cert 9 times
The limited time they had is why the story takes place mostly in and around 1 city, and over 7 years (so it was temporal, rather than over physical distance, because a more expansive world would have taken more irl time to make)
They had no time to review even the main plot. Mike Laidlaw pitched the idea of 3 stories taking place at different points in the PC’s life, tied together by Varric’s recollections of events. DG rolled with this and made 1 presentation on the idea. This presentation was then approved and off they went
As they were writing DG realized that there was going to be no oversight and that everything was going to be a ‘first draft’. “Because nobody had time.” He sat down with the writers and said “Look, here’s the conditions we’re working under. A lot of what we’re putting out is gonna be raw. We’re not going to get the editing we need. We’re not going to get the kind of iteration we need. So I’m going to trust you all to do your best work.”
Looking back, DG has mixed feelings on DA2. “A lot of corners were cut. The public perception was that it was smaller than DAO. That’s a sin on its own.”
Despite this he thinks DA2 has some of the best writing in the series, especially character-wise. The DA2 chars are his favorite
The pace with which production progressed may in some ways have helped. “When we do a lot of revision, we often file away [as in buff off] some of the good writing as well. Somehow DA2′s whirlwind process resulted in some really good writing”
The pace meant chars landed on the writers in various stages of completion. For example Isabela was fairly defined due to appearing in DAO. In contrast Varric at the start was just that single piece of widely-shown concept art
Varric was conceived as a storyteller not a fighter. His skills are talking and bullshitting. Hence the question became, so what does this guy do in combat? The direction was to make him as different as possible to Oghren, so not a warrior. He couldn’t be a dual-wielding rogue in order to differentiate him from Bela. But you can’t really picture this guy with a bow. “For a dwarf, it would probably be a crossbow. We didn’t have crossbows, or we only had crossbows for the darkspawn. And they were part of the models. We didn’t have a separate crossbow that was equip-able by the chars. They had to like, crop one off a darkspawn and remodel it. And that became Bianca” (quote: Mary Kirby)
“Dwarven mages are exceedingly rare.” [???]
If DAO was a classic fantasy painting, DA2 was a screenshot from a Kurosawa film or a northern Renaissance painting. (Here Matt Rhodes was commenting on art style)
John Epler: “In any one of our games, there’s a 95% chance that if you turn the camera away from what it’s looking at, you’ll see all kinds of janky stuff. The moment we know the camera is no longer facing someone, we no longer care what happens to them. We will teleport people around. We will jump people around. We will literally have someone walk off screen and then we will shift them 1000 meters down, because we’re fixing some bug.” John also talked about this camera stuff in a recent charity Twitch stream for Gamers For Groceries. There’s a writeup of that stream here
Designing Kirkwall pushed concept artists to the limits of visual storytelling, because it has a long history that they wanted to be present. It was once the hub of Tevinter’s slave empire, so it needed to look brutal and harsh, but it also then needed to feel reclaimed, evolved, and with elements of contemporary Free Marches culture
The initial plan was for DA titles to be distinguished by subtitles not numbers, so that each experience could stand on its own rather than feel like a sequel or continuation. (My note: New PCs in each entry make sense then when you consider this and other factoids we know like how DA is the story of the world not of any one PC). Later, DA2′s name was made DA2 in a bid to more clearly connect the game to its predecessor. For DAI they returned to the original naming convention. (My note: so I’d reckon they’d be continuing the subtitle naming convention for DA4)
DA2 was initially code-named “Nug Storm”, strictly internally
The Cancelled DA2 Expansion - Exalted March
This was a precursor to DAI
It was meant to bridge the gap between DA2 and DAI
It focused on the fallout from Kirkwall’s explosion, with Cory serving as the villain
Meredith’s red lyrium statue was basically going to infest Kirkwall and it would end up [with what would end up] the red templars taking over Kirkwall and essentially being Cory’s army
To stop him Hawke would have recruited various factions, including Bela’s Felicisima Armada and the Qunari at Estwatch, forcing Hawke to split loyalties and risk relationships in the process
It was meant to bring DA2′s story to an end and end in Varric’s death. DG was very happy with this because all of DA2 is Varric’s tale. The expansion was supposed to start at the moment Cassandra’s interrogation of him ended in the present. “And we finished off the story with Varric having this heroic death.” It tied things up and would have broken many fan hearts, something BioWare writers notoriously enjoy. But between a transition to the new Frostbite engine and the scope of DAI, the decision was made to cancel EM, work any hard-to-lose concepts into DAI, and in the process save Varric’s life. DG has talked about the Varric dying thing before
Concept art for EM explored new areas previously not depicted in the DA universe, with costumes that reflected next steps for familiar chars. Varric was going to war, what would he have worn? With Anders, if he survived DA2, the plan was to present a redeemed Warden
A char that vaguely resembled Sera in DAI was first concepted for EM. This fact was mentioned near this concept art (see the female elf) and this concept art of Bethany with the blond bob
The writers sketched out plans to end it with Hawke having the option to marry their LI. This included alternate ceremonies for party members like Bethany and Sebastian if the player opted not to wed. There was even a wedding dress made for Hawke. This asset made it into DAI (Sera and Cullen’s weddings in Trespasser). The dress can also be seen in DAI during an ambient NPC wedding after completing a chain of war table missions
The destruction of a Chantry was explored in concept art as it might have happened in EM. This idea ended up carrying over to the beginning of DAI. (My note: Lol, the idea that DA2 could have had 2 Chantries being destroyed in it 😆)
World of Thedas
Sheryl Chee and Mary Kirby started with “a disgusting little dish called fluffy mackerel pudding”. In the middle of DAO’s busy dev period one of them (they can’t remember who) found a recipe online for this, scanned in from a 70s cookbook. “I don’t understand why it was fluffy. Why would you want fluffy mackerel pudding?” MK says. “We loved it so much we included it in a DAO codex.”
This led them to create more food for Thedas, full recipes included, like a Fereldan turnip and barley stew from MK and SC’s Starkhaven fish and egg pie. The fish pie became Sebastian’s favorite. “To me it made sense for it to be fish pie because a lot of the Free Marches are on the coast”, SC says, “It was something that was popular in medieval times, so I thought, let’s make a fish pie! I looked at medieval recipes and I concocted a fish pie which I fed to my partner, and he was like ‘This is not terrible’”
For WoT the whole studio was asked to contribute family recipes which might have a place in Thedas. SC adapted these to fit in one Thedosian culture or another, including a beloved banana bread that localization producer Melanie Fleming would regularly bake to keep the DA team motivated. “Melanie’s banana bread got us through Inquisition”
It says part of DAI takes place in or near the border with Nevarra [???]
This game was aimed to be bigger than DA2 and even DAO in every conceivable way
The first hour had to do a lot of heavy lifting, tying together the events of DAO and DA2 while introducing a new PC, new followers etc in the aftermath of the big attack. DG rewrote it 7 times then Lukas Kristjanson did 2 more passes
DG: “Our problem is always that our endings are so important, but we leave them to last, when we have no time. I kept pushing on DAI: ‘Can we work on the ending now? Can we work on the ending now? Can we do it early on?’ Because I knew exactly what it was going to be. But despite the fact that it kept getting scheduled, whenever the schedule started falling behind, it kept getting pushed back... so, of course, it got left til last again.”
“The reveal of the story’s real antagonist, Solas, a follower until the end, when he betrayed the player”. “Solas’ story remains a main thread in Inquisition’s long-awaited follow-up” [these aren’t DG quotes, just bits of general text]
Over the course of development they had 8 full-time writers and 4 editors working on it. Other writers joined later to help wrangle what ended up being close to 1 million words of dialogue and unspoken text. While many teams moved to a more open concept style of work for DAI, the writers remained tucked away in their own room, a choice DG says was necessary, given how much they talked. All the talking had a purpose ofc as if someone hit a bump or wall in their writing they would open the problem up to the room
As writing on a project like DAI progresses, the writers grow punchier and weirder things make it into the game. This is especially the case towards the end of a project (they get tired, burned out)
Banter and codexes require less ‘buy-in’ (DG has talked about this concept a few times on the Twitch streams) from other designers. DG liked to leave banter for last as a reward because it was fun. Banter begins as lists of topics for 2 followers to discuss. These may progress over time or be one off exchanges. One banter script can balloon to well over 10k words. “The banter was always huge because we were always like, laughing, and really at that point, our fields of fucks were rather barren, so we would just do whatever”
The bog unicorn happened pretty much by accident. It was designed by Matt Rhodes and was one of his fav things to design. They needed horse variations and he had already designed an undead variant which was a bog mummy [bog body]. irl these are preserved in a much different way to traditional mummies. When someone dies in a bog their skin turns black and raisin-like. The examples we know of tend to have bright red hair for whatever reason. It’s a very striking look and MR wanted to do a horse version of this as he thought it’d be neat. 5 mins before the review meeting for it he had a big ‘Aha!’ moment, quickly looked up a rusty old Viking sword, and photoshopped it through its skull like that was how it died. “And I was like, ‘I just made a unicorn. Alright, in it goes!’” It got approved. “So we built the thing. It fit. It told a little story”
With the irl Inquisition longsword, one of the objects they tested its cleaving ability on was a plush version of Leliana’s nug Schmooples
The concept art team explored a wide variety of visuals for the Inquisitor’s signature mark. It needed to look powerful and raw but couldn’t look like a horrific wound. In some cases, as cool as the idea looked on paper, they just weren’t technically feasible, especially as they had to be able to fit on any number of different bodies
Bug report: “Endlessly spawning mounts! At one point during development, Inquisitors could summon a new horse every time they whistled, allowing them to amass a near infinite number of eager steeds that faithfully followed them across Thedas. “You could go charging across levels and they’d all gallop behind you,” Jen Cheverie says, “It was beautiful.” Trotting into town became an epic horse siege as a tidal wave of mounts enveloped the streets. Jen called it her Army of Ponies”
The giants came from DA Week, an internal period when devs can pursue different individual creative projects that in some way benefit DA. They also had a board game from one of these that they were going to put in but they didn’t have time. It’s referenced though. It was dwarven chess
Josie’s outfit is made of gold silk and patterned velvet, with leather at her waist. She carries “an ornate ledger” and she has “an ornamented collar sitting around her neck, finished by a brilliant red ruby, like a drop of Antivan wine in a sunbeam”
Iron Bull’s armor is leather. His loose pantaloons and leather boots give him agility to charge
On DAI in particular, concept artists took special care to make sure costumes would be realistic, at least in a practical ‘this obeys the laws of physics and textiles’ sense. “While on Inquisition, we thought about cosplay from a concept art perspective. Given how incredible a lot of [cosplays] are, I now am not worried about them. In fact in some cases in the future I want to throw them curveballs like, ‘All right, you clever bastards. Let’s see if you can do this!’”
2 geese that nested on the office building and had chicks were named Ganders and Arishonk (it wasn’t known who was the mom or the dad). Other possible names were Carver Honke, Bethany Honke, Urdnot Pecks, Quackwall, Cassandra Pentagoose, the Iron Bill, Shepbird, Garroose, Admiral Quackett, Scout Honking, HChick-47 and Darth Malgoose
Bug report: “The surprising adventures of Ser Noodles!” DAI was the first time the series had a mount feature, meaning this had a lot of bugs. A lot of the teams’ favorite bugs were to do with the mounts. There was a period of time where the Inquisitor’s horse seemed to lose all bone and muscle in its legs. They had a week or so where all quadruped legs were broken. It was a bit noticeable in things like nugs and other small beasties but the horse was insanely obvious. “The first time we summoned the horse [for this] and started running around, the entire QA exploration room just exploded with laughter.” Its legs flapped around like cooked fettucine, leading testers to lovingly nickname it Ser Noodles. At galloping speeds the legs almost looked like helicopter blades, especially when footage was set to classic pieces such as Wagner’s Flight of the Valkyries
For DAI the artists were asked questions like “What would Morrigan wear to a formal ball? Can Cassandra pull off a jaunty hat?”
On DAI storyboarding became the norm. John Epler: “Cinematic design for the longest time was the Wild West. It was ‘here’s a bunch of content, now do it however you want’, which resulted in some successes and some failures.” Storyboarding gave designers a consistent visual blueprint based on ideas from designers, writers and concept artists
Quote from a storyboard by Nick Thornborrow (the Inquisitor going into the party at the end of basegame sequence): “Until Corypheus revealed himself they could not see the single hand behind the chaos. A magister and a darkspawn combined. The ultimate evil. So evil. Eviler than puppy-killers and egg farts combined.”
A general note on concept art:
In the early stages of any project, before the concept artists are aware of any writing, they like to just draw what they think cool story moments could be. It’s not unusual for the team to then be inspired by these and fold them into the game as the project progresses
– From Bioware: Stories and Secrets from 25 Years of Game Development
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yaermina · 8 months ago
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