Mike Laidlaw can still remember his first day at BioWare, even though it was over 15 years ago. He even remembers the date he answered the phone and found out he had got the job: 23rd December 2002. Laidlaw was used to answering the phone; at the time he was working at Bell, Canada's largest telecommunications company, in the province of Ontario. When Laidlaw first joined Bell's call centre, he worked the phones. Later, he got promoted to lead a team on the phones, "which was somehow way worse than being on the phones," Laidlaw told me last March, the day after his star turn at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. "I went in and said, I'm sorry, I'm quitting. I'm not coming in tomorrow. They said, 'you can't quit two days before Christmas! If you quit you'll never work here again!' I said, 'that is pretty much the plan, yes.' So I walked out, and a bunch of people high-fived me because - yay! - I got out."
Aveline. If there's something special that I took away Dragon Age 2, something I really want to share with others or hold up as an example of what made the game worthwhile, it's Aveline. The travelling companion turned colleague turned captain of the guard was one of the very best examples of a strong, decent, uncompromised and well-rounded female character in gaming in a long, long time. I'm glad I adventured alongside her, I cared very much about what she had to say and her support meant a lot to me. That's pretty impressive for a collection of polygons and voice samples.
No more hype: Dragon Age II has landed and the reviews are in. "An enduring classic?" asked Eurogamer's Dragon Age II reviewer Dan Whitehead. "Not quite." He might as well have said, "An enduring classic like Mass Effect 2?" It's BioWare's own fault; if Mass Effect 2 hadn't been such a thunderous realisation of what Mass Effect started, perhaps we wouldn't have expected the same from Dragon Age II. And then there are the people miffed because they really liked Dragon Age: Origins and why did BioWare have to go and change it? I want Baldur's Gate II, stamp stamp.
If there's a series less suited to preview events than Dragon Age, I'd like to see it. Actually, I'd like a colleague to see it instead.
Splattered with sexy blood and fairly creaking under all of that carefully-crafted history, Dragon Age was a decade in the making. The sequel, on the other hand, has been in development for a couple of years at most.
We strongly advise against reading the things people write about you on the internet. It is, as Peter Mannion once said on The Thick of It, "like opening the door to a room where everybody tells you how s*** you are." Nevertheless, emboldened by the hugely positive response to Dragon Age: Origins, BioWare has been on forums seeking inspiration for the sequel.
Yesterday, BioWare co-founder Dr. Greg Zeschuk delivered a keynote presentation to the Develop Conference in Brighton entitled Creative Game Development: How we do it at BioWare. In it, he discussed BioWare's rise from being two men in a Canadian garage to the triple-A developer it is today.