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David Gaider On The Brighter Side Of Short Development Times

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In an interview with a community writer over at Bitmob, Dragon Age II's David Gaider talked about all sorts of things: the challenges of writing for a protagonist that actually talks, making your choices from Dragon Age: Origins matter in this game, and his favorite character (it's Aveline, BTW). At the end, he brings up what's probably the most common charge against the game by disgruntled fans: that it was rushed out in just over a year at the expense of making it a proper sequel to the first. While he can only speak to the writing side, he doesn't shy away from the challenges that a shortened production schedule can cause, saying "You have less time to do everything, less time to iterate, and less opportunity to do little extras or follow up on moments of inspiration."

However, while the rush was his least favorite thing about making the game, he says that the efficiency it provided was also what he liked best:

The positive side of that probably wouldn't be obvious to anyone outside of game development: When you have lots of time to work on a project, you can often use that time in a very nonconstructive way. You stop being objective about a part of the story because you're spending so much time with it and start second-guessing yourself. When that happens, it is literally possible to spend years developing a game and yet never make any significant progress. And that's not good, either. Somewhere in the middle would probably be ideal.

I think I'm in the minority (or silent majority) that had relatively few complaints about Dragon Age II, at least as far as the story and characters are concerned. Still, it would be nice if the next game moves the middle ground a little bit away from the hasty end of the spectrum.


Interview: BioWare's David Gaider on writing for Dragon Age 2
[Bitmob]

8 Comments

oldtaku said:

The writing was one of the one things I had no complains with in DAII - it's one of the reasons I kept playing to the end.

I think the worst bit of the short dev time is that it doesn't let you make something that feels epic. At least it didn't here.

Zach Risso said:

I agree with oldtaku. The writing was what I liked about the game. It was the lack of any sort of sweeping scope that I disliked... hell, even the parts in the Deep Roads felt small.

Rosa said:

I liked that it didn't feel "epic." DA2 was supposed to feel small and personal, not big and sweeping. That isn't a flaw, it's a stylistic choice.

DA2 had flaws for sure. Every game does. But I didn't think the scope was one of them. I thought it was unique and interesting to have an RPG take place in a single city that you come to know and understand inside and out.

gaymer_geek said:

Overall I sorta preferred DA2 over DAO.

I like the smaller scale of story, the more personal touch.

I have a big feeling that DA3 will have a much greater scope and feel of "epic" to it though.

There hasn't been anything in the Dragon Age or Mass Effect line that will turn me away from the next few Bioware products, they definitely hold my interest and have my consumer support.

Briker Ed said:

I liked DA2, it made me feel like I really lived and built my life in Kirkwall over the course of years. That's what was epic to me. My life and rise, and ultimatively the impact it had on the (quite grim) city.

The only thing I could still moan about is the lack of variation, regarding locations during quests. Either within or outside the city. Could have done with some more varied alleys, warehouses, passages or landscapes frankly. Nothing too big, but just visually different to break the feel that the devs went lazy on that part.

And, of course, enemies coming in super-predictable waves. Now that one really made me feel like it was ripped out of a cheap action-adventure, hack & slash or beat-em-up game.

That aside, no complaints. I don't see it as a 'lesser' sequel to DA:O in any way. Just different and love both games for different reasons.

g_whiz said:

To be honest, I really felt connected to the story, and thought the length of time it took to both become the Champion of Kirkwall and watch the characters grow and change over time was an enjoyable aspect of the story.

And yes, I really liked Aveline a lot too, and I loved that she wasn't pining for the hero and oblivious to our advances. Between she, Anders, Varric and my dear naieve blood magic using elf druid the cast, as the story grew, seemed really cohesive through the bits of dialog. All nice touches as far as I'm concerned

Rosa said:

I completely agree, Biker Ed. The waves of enemies, I hated. Found they just took a crap all over any attempts I made at being tactical. What's the point in carefully positioning my party when a rage demon is just going to spawn and stunlock Anders?

And I would have liked better level design. Awakening had fantastic level design, much better than Origins -- which was so-so -- so I had high expectations for DA2's level design, thinking it would be an upgrade from Awakening. But outside of the Deep Roads mission, it was boring and simplistic and repetitive.

And I miss healers being viable party cornerstones. I GET this change, I just don't like it.

But those are my only complaints with the game. I loved every single other thing. The battle system (barring waves), the art style, the storyline, the dialogue, the pacing, the characters, the quests.

Gumba Masta said:

Personally I would've bought Patapon 3 instead of DA2 if I had known the game then as I do now.

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Gumba Masta on David Gaider On The Brighter Side Of Short Development Times: Personally I would've bought Patapon 3 instead of DA2 if I had known the game then as I do now....

Rosa on David Gaider On The Brighter Side Of Short Development Times: I completely agree, Biker Ed. The waves of enemies, I hated. Found they just took a crap all over any...

g_whiz on David Gaider On The Brighter Side Of Short Development Times: To be honest, I really felt connected to the story, and thought the length of time it took to both...

Briker Ed on David Gaider On The Brighter Side Of Short Development Times: I liked DA2, it made me feel like I really lived and built my life in Kirkwall over the course...

gaymer_geek on David Gaider On The Brighter Side Of Short Development Times: Overall I sorta preferred DA2 over DAO. I like the smaller scale of story, the more personal touch. I have...

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