Bioware panel - PAX Australia
First of all, everyone from Bioware was incredibly nice and enthusiastic, and Patrick Weekes is genuinely hilarious. They couldn't say much about DAI *at all*, and so the response to almost every question was "we can't talk about that yet". Cameron had a presentation prepared but most of the session was Q&A.
I wasn't able to copy exactly what people said in many cases, so don't overanalyse the language I'm using here - I got pretty much everything related to Dragon Age down on paper, but it's not exactly using the words that the Bioware staff used.
- The E3 trailer was made by approximately 30 people and took 5-6 weeks - they deliberately included certain scenes and characters because they wanted to get a few messages across to the fans.
- The DAI artwork of the Inquisitor reaching for a helmet (and wearing rings) is more about a representation of the player being immersed into the game, and that it's *our* story. This was a theme that they constantly repeated, they want DA Inquisition to feel like "our" story. Cameron said people had wondered a lot about who the helmet figure was, and what the rings were for - he never really explained either of them, though.
- They want to emphasise "an epic story and a world in chaos". A bigger, broader story like Origins. Cameron pointed to a few of the new creatures in the trailer: one is a new type of demon, the crystal/rock monster thing has a giant club to use in combat, and the thin, skeletal one is called a "Nightmare". At the same time as a demon invasion is happening from a breach in the Veil, chaos also engulfs human nations and factions as they go to war with each other. The story is a long one (that sounds obvious but it was part of a larger sentence and I forget the second part).
- Another section of the E3 trailer was intended to represent "decisions that matter". The scene with Varric and the dead bodies actually occurs in the game - a village is destroyed and its people wiped out because of actions that the Inquisitor did, or failed to do. They want consequences for our choices to ripple through the game.
- Old news, but the player leads the Inquisition - and the Inquisition is not part of the Chantry.
- The map scene with Cassandra from the trailer was the Inquisition plotting and planning an attack, with various people gathered around the table, plotting.
- Cameron showed a screenshot from the E3 trailer of the environment/fortress where lightning strikes (the one dotted with statues, I don't have a picture) and said this place appeared normal but strange things happened there. This location has been something they've been working on for the last few months.
- Three new pieces of concept art (I don't have pictures, but people were taking them):
- A desert scene, Cameron mentioned it had oases, with a door and some kind of symbol above it.
- A swamp landscape, "hidden ruins"
- A really interesting shot of a qunari sitting/lying in a sandy/arid location, next to a large-ish reptilian animal (someone said "dragon" but it didn't look like it?) that had *qunari-shaped horns*. Cameron made the connection between the qunari's horns and the animal's, which were exactly the same shape and type.
- Again, they're aiming for a mix between the tactical combat of Origins and the "fluidity" of DA2.
- Patrick Weekes seemed to imply that the tensions or conflict between Empress Celene and Grand Duke Gaspard will be a significant plot point in DAI. The reason he's writing The Masked Empire is that (to paraphrase) they wanted to give more background about internal Orlesian politics and the characters of Celene and Gaspard, and a novel was the appropriate narrative method to do it justice in terms of length, etc.
- Karin Weekes said dealing with the writers was occasionally like, I quote, "herding rabid cats"
- Lots of exploration, they mentioned Bioware's history of exploration in previous games and said it was a theme they were returning to.
- The player can explore maps and find new things, including (I have it quoted as, by Cameron) "small dungeons or big dungeons".
- DAI has a diverse range of environments. Patrick said (like Mike has said at other events) there won't be the same cave repeated seventeen times, etc. The team went through and listed some, as well as showing all the concept art we've seen so far (including the new ones they showed at PAX Aus).
- Desert, swamps, mountains, grasslands, ruins, snowy locations - possibly some more but I didn't catch them.
- On save-files, they can't reveal anything yet but decisions will carry across.
- They're not going to scrap "Bioware-style choices", and there was an interesting discussion of persuasion options (Patrick said Mass Effect arguably became 'pick the glowing blue/red option to win'). They want to have *some* other influence on dialogue and choice outcomes, whether that be stats-based, or having certain options require having a particular companion present, or having dialogue or choices dependent on other things said earlier in the conversation.
- Patrick said the best choices are the ones that get people genuinely thinking and debating the one they chose. He wants to write them so that each choice looks "right", depending on the player's worldview or philosophy - not just "save the baby or save the warlock", which are absurdly obvious binary good/evil choices.
- Patrick, Cameron and Chris (I think Chris was involved) talked about the proposal of using random numbers in determining the outcome of dialogue options or choices, and said they've basically rejected doing this. Players like seeing the consequences of their choices, and seeing a cause -> effect relationship, and introducing an element of randomness to choices/dialogue could be seen as unfairly punishing them. Also, players would reload if they "randomly" got a "bad" outcome, or something they didn't want, and anything that forces the player to constantly reload their saves isn't very fun gameplay.
- On dialogue:
- Patrick Weekes was talking about the reaction to Hawke and the way dialogue in DA2 was affected by previous things the player had said in the conversation. He said some players found this confusing and that they were looking at it for DAI.
- Patrick also said (unprompted) that they're aware of the backlash against ME3's 'autodialogue'
- People were also occasionally frustrated by dialogue paraphrases in DA2 (where the dialogue option they picked didn't really sound like what Hawke actually said), Patrick and Karin Weekes had an interesting and entertaining conversation about the difficulty of paraphrasing. It's an issue that they're kept in mind when developing DAI.
- Finally, they said more information is coming, eventually. They're asking us to be patient, but with an extra year of development the panel really seemed to be positive about DAI's potential.