Good Morning PAX - Friday Wrapup

Hello from PAX!

The first Bioware Base panel on Friday was a Question and Answer segment featuring the developers of Bioware. Both fun and serious questions ahead, so here's all the basics you want to know.


Matt Rhodes - Lead Concept Artist
Blair "Blar" Brown - Producer
Matthew Goldman - Art Director
Conal Pierse - Community Lead

Questions and Answers

Favorite Characters?

Conal's favorite character is Loghain, for his voice and background within the world. Blar's favorite is Scout Harding, and wishes he could actually romance her. Rhodes enjoyed making dragons, rebuilding from the ground up.

Mage or Templar?

Conal is definitely pro-mage. Blar is pro-mage, but rolled Templars. Goldman likes massacring mages, jokingly saying that the templars had a point. Rhodes sides with the mages because "they're more fun to watch" and believes it feels more fair to fight templars because they're armored and trained for combat. But he'd rather not have "rainbow sparkled comets" at his face.

The Development Process for DLC

Developing a DLC starts with a pitch. A lot of the negotiation in crafting a DLC involves evaluating the game's pieces, twiddling around what story and which characters are available. As far as "The Descent" DLC, Mike Laidlaw loves dungeon crawling and wanted to emphasize that in the DLC. 

The writers and artists often collaborate on different things in the creative process, such as character designs and armor. One of the few examples where a character resulted from a singular drawing was The Iron Bull, where Casper Konefal drew a Qunari looking like a badass. (Not sure if said in jest, but something about a rocket launcher arm, too?) As far as armor, Rhodes states it took 284 iterations to create the iconic Mass Effect helmet. For the Inquisitor helm, 84. In any case, the writers and artists sync with each other with multiple iterations to create characters. 

Varric Romance?

Two distinct answers:
1. There's Bianca
2. You can't make someone love you

Jade Empire?

"Imagine, if you would, you're fresh out of school or a couple years of experience, and someone says "you're going to make a kung-fu game." Jokingly, Goldman said "I have extensive plans to revisit that world, and just need EA to agree." 

Dragon Age Nations and Real Life Cultures

Orlais plays off either 16th or 17th century France. Ferelden is Nordic/Viking and if Viking culture weren't ever disrupted. Also, a few dabbles in Russian/Ukrainian motifs. Tevinter plays off the Roman empire.

Hard Characters to Design

Who were the most difficult characters to "nail down" and create? Vivienne was tricky, and a lot of effort was put into creating her. Solas, too. Cole was "fun" and challenging, because his character was already established in Dragon Age Asunder. Dorian was tricky and they tried drawing him up as a sympathetic character from Tevinter. They needed 3 words/3 pillars to absolutely describe Dorian in order to focus and create his character. 

Creating characters in Dragon Age is a constant process of negotiating and reiteration. Sera's face came from listening to the voice actress. Solas's look was changed because of his voice actor having a Welsh accent. Josephine was redesigned because not only were there too many Irish actresses, but the Italian voice clicked well. On the other hand, none of the characters' had their sexual identities established when the Art team designed them. "We can just design them to who we knew they could be," Rhodes said, indicating that there were no subconscious influences other than what the writing team described their core pillars and descriptions.

Flemeth's Evolution

Goldman: Back in 2009, there were a few errors in creating Dragon Age: Origins. One of them was giving Origins a distinct visual. Flemeth, as an "old woman in a boot" in the middle of the woods, worked extremely well. When they moved into Dragon Age 2, the Art team decided to do an incendiary approach to Flemeth. Working with a dragon motif, the team made her intentionally intimidating, guns blazing. The second game worked on stronger color palettes and revamps in a new prism of visual language, and Flemeth shined as one of the results. 

quick facts:

  • Mass Effect's design resembles French curves, while Dragon Age utilizes points and triangles.
  • Illustrations for "Dragon Age: The World of Thedas" Volume 2 took 4 months after the art team was done with Inquisition
  • Greg Rucka, writer for the upcoming novel Dragon Age Magekiller, worked a lot with Nick Thornborrow (Concept Artist) and Mike Laidlaw (Creative Director) on Magekiller
  • While Mass Effect concentrated on the story of Shepard, Dragon Age's aim is to concentrate on different moments in time.