Dragon Age: Inquisition - Interview @ Gamerzines
Gamerzines interviews Cinematic Director Jonathan Perry about how BioWare’s storytelling process has evolved. This is the interview that most sites are using for sensationalist headlines. So give it a look without all the bias.
How does the cutscene camera system actually work? In Mass Effect, the camera cycled through pre-defined templates. Will that system be used in Inquisition or will you adopt a more hands-on approach?
It’s a bit of both because of the scale of the games and how many conversations we have to do. In our previous games we had around 10,000 lines of dialogue and around 30 hours worth of custom cinematic content. A lot of games have maybe 30 minutes to a couple of hours, so we can’t necessarily hand touch everything or build everything from scratch.
We have what we call stages which are essentially a collection of co-ordinates where you can say, ‘Okay, in this situation where one guy talks to a party of three other guys, here is where they can stand’. We give them poses and emotions and really generate a performance based on those inputs. Early in production we can start to play through that dialogue to see that people are talking and doing things, which allows us to evaluate the narrative and make rewrites and changes where needed. Once we’re at that playable state we can then go in and start to customise a performance.
For some of the scenes, that aren’t as important as others, we might leave the default camera switching back and forth and in other ones we’ll go in and hand tweak; move the camera around, move the characters around etc. You’ll see a spectrum of different quality conversations or scenes with more action in them than others.
Dragon Age: Inquisition is one of the first titles to use DICE’s Frostbite 3 engine. What’s that like?
One of the things I’m excited about with Dragon Age: Inquisition is that we have all new tech allowing us to build a lot more reactive systems. So instead of just switching back and forth between these over the shoulder cameras, still using these stages, we can create cameras that are intelligent. They can react to what’s going on in scene, so if you’re really upsetting somebody or the relationship is taking a turn for the worse we can start to drop the camera down or pitch it up, so it feels a bit more hostile, or if you’re making all the right moves in that romance conversation, flirting back and forth, we can have the camera push in. I think it’s really cool that we have an intelligent camera at this point, so it opens up a lot more opportunities to make these scenes feel unique. We might experience the same lines, but the framing of the characters in the shot might be completely different based on what we’re doing. Previously when a character said a line they would always have the same emotion, but now we have systems depending on how you’ve been treating that person. They could say the same line, but have a stern look or a happy look based on how the conversation is going or what has come before that.
SP/MP: Single + MP