Long read: Who is qualified to make a world?

In search of the magic of maps.

If you click on a link and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Read our editorial policy.

Dragon Age saves "absolutely come across" to Inquisition

BioWare on Witcher 3 competition, dialogue and modding.

The choices you made that were saved in other Dragon Age games will "absolutely come across" to the third instalment, Dragon Age Inquisition.

BioWare producer Cameron Lee made the comment during a PAX Australia panel at the weekend, the recording of which has now been published by GameSpot Australia.

He was asked whether BioWare knew how it would tackle saved game imports in light of Dragon Age Inquisition also appearing on new consoles - new technology.

Some concept art shared at the panel - note the similar horns.

"We know what we want to do," he said. "It will absolutely come across - your decisions carry [and] will matter." But he could say no more.

"The goal," added writer Patrick Weekes, "is that you can have an equally rich experience no matter which platform you're playing on." Could he be hinting at some kind of interactive prologue?

The ties to the previous games' stories couldn't be elaborated on, but long-standing community manager Chris Priestly (who's actually departing at the end of the month) reminded the audience that while the Mass Effect trilogy revolved around a person, Shepard, Dragon Age revolves around a world.

"There will absolutely be some ties to some of the previous games, maybe some of the books or that sort of thing that you'll recognise if you've played the previous games, but they're not going to be reliant on the previous games," he said. Rather, they'll be cornerstones you can touch upon.

Whether the Grey Warden from Dragon Age: Origins will reappear was another awkward question asked. Three of the BioWare team enthusiastically agreed it was a "good question" before turning knowingly to Cameron Lee to bat the question away. Would they do the same if the Grey Warden wasn't a part of Dragon Age Inquisition?

Watch on YouTube

The conversation then moved to the upcoming autumn 2014 showdown between Dragon Age Inquisition and The Witcher 3, which are both medieval fantasy-style RPGs, although quite different in their own particular ways.

But whereas The Witcher series has gone from strength to strength, the Dragon Age series has stumbled - Dragon Age 2 putting many noses out of joint. Can Dragon Age Inquisition compete, BioWare was asked?

"The team is brilliant and we have the time," Lee answered, "we pushed the date out by a year than originally planned. So absolutely [it can compete]."

"Compete is the wrong word," Weekes chimed in, to nods of approval from the others. "There's a story people want to tell that the video game companies hate each other and 'our game is going to crush theirs', and that's really not true. I came to BioWare because I love games, and I hope that the next Witcher game is fantastic, and I hope that ours is fantastic and I hope that people buy both and play both.

"Every time another really great game comes out and raises the bar: that's not threatening - it's only threatening if we don't think we can ever do anything better. We look at other games and go 'that's a fantastic game - how am I going to incorporate that thing and do it in a BioWare fashion?'"

"Our biggest competition," he added, "the only thing we absolutely want to crush, is what we've done in our past games. That's one of the reasons I'm so proud to be on the Dragon Age team, it's one of the reasons I was proud to be on the Mass Effect team. Every new project we said 'OK, let's look at the best things we did on our previous game and let's see how we beat that - let's see how we make that look antiquated and quaint as we go into our next game."

This is a Fear Demon, apparently.

How BioWare will right the wrongs of Dragon Age 2 is a familiar question levelled at the studio. But it wasn't all bad, as the team reminded us, and Dragon Age 2's finer points haven't been overlooked during the design of Inquisition.

"Both games had great points to them," said Patrick Weekes. "Both games had things people want an improvement on, and both games had areas where they excelled."

The fast and fluid combat in Dragon Age 2 was one of those, for Weekes, and it helped move characters better around the space. "I wouldn't want to lose that," he said. "What I would want to do is make sure DAI still allows the more tactical options that Origins had."

However, he conceded with a wry smile, something like reused level art won't happen again.

What also won't happen again is having a silent protagonist as in Dragon Age 1. Hawke wasn't perfect in Dragon Age 2, but that was only a first attempt. And people liked it, apparently, liked the responsiveness. But whether you'll be able to choose a voice in DAI or even choose a unique first name were things BioWare couldn't discuss.

"What we don't want to do is have every difficult moral decision rendered moot by the presence of brightly glowing text."

Patrick Weekes
And this is a Nightmare - good day for those.

Dialogue paraphrasing is being looked at for Inquisition because "some people were concerned that what they picked from the paraphrase text didn't necessarily reflect what Hawke or Shepard said", added Cameron Lee. "We can improve on that."

Also, BioWare is wary about using something like those red (Renegade) and blue (Paragon) dialogue options from Mass Effect 3.

"The good news and and bad news was when you looked at the persuades, the highlighted red or blue text, the joke became 'oh, complex moral situation! Wait, does it have blue or red text? OK well then that's how you win'," said Patrick Weekes.

"What we want to do, at least on Inquisition, is we want to be aware of that. That doesn't mean we never use anything like that, because the idea of having some kind of pre-requisite-based dialogue option that allows you to get a more optimal outcome is cool. Whether that is something you get by putting points into a stat, or by having someone in your party, or by making choices earlier in the game that unlock that dialogue option - that rewards the player playing the game. I like that.

"What we don't want to do is have every difficult moral decision rendered moot by the presence of brightly glowing text."

The other point of note, besides some discussion of the trailer shown at E3, was about modding and whether it could be supported properly in Dragon Age 3.

"We've talked about it," Cameron Lee said, "we've looked into it, but I mean the Frostbite engine: it's very hard to do that stuff.

"Maybe we'll do something on that, I don't know, but it's a lot of effort to put something like that together in a way that all fans can use it, not just your hardcore game students or game developers."