The Bittersweetest Thing

Lead Writer of BioWare's Dragon Age game series, lover of fan tears. This is where I blog about game development, fandom, and narrative design. Anything I say here is my opinion alone.

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do you have a plan if a zombie apocalypse were to occur?

Anonymous

Yes. I have a group of close friends (a tribe, really) who have discussed this at length. We have a rendezvous point, talked about who’s going to grab who to get there, which people have the weapons and know how to use them, where would be good Edmonton spots to hold up in if we can’t reach the rendezvous, etc.

Of course, we’ve also discussed which of us is going to hide our zombie bite from the rest of the group, who’s going to end up shooting who, who should probably be shot at the outset just to make things simpler, who’s going to go crazy and lock everyone else out of the safe house… so maybe we approach this whole thing as less of a “plan” and more as a “disaster narrative just waiting to write itself”.

Does it ever bother you that most people literally care more about the romance options than the rest of the game?” — fan question

Yes and no.

Yes, because it almost seems to devalue everything else we put on the table—as if characters almost have no value whatsoever unless they can be romanced. It strikes me as oddly obsessive, and it’s also a bit odd to watch people form instant attachments to characters they haven’t even met and may not end up actually liking.

And then no, of course not… because they’re excited. Gosh, what a terrible thing to have some people excited about a part of the game I’m making? It’s no different than people who obsess about other parts of the game… and, quite frankly, if I’m finding the constant conversation about it a bit too much to bear, it really falls on me to then stop seeking out those conversations. Nobody’s forcing me to read any of it, are they?

I’ll never understand fandom’s general intolerance for those who like something they don’t, or who want to discuss something they don’t. Nobody needs me to police what they have to like about the games I make, and they probably don’t need anyone else to do it either.

Most of what I used to be had vanished in the waves
The memories of the boy I’ve been were drowning and you saved them
Now I remember the joy and the meaning of the fate
The color of the truth and the sound of sunny days. (x)

My heart clenches a little when I look at this, but it’s perfect. Thank you.

Cheers, I'm happy to hear that you bandage got taken off today. Your leg injury did not sound fun, I'm happy to hear it's feeling better now.

fiveforchibis

Thanks! I have the most delightful series of pictures showing the healing progress… though I’m told I should never, ever, show them to anyone. Not unless I want to get out of a dinner date really quickly.

Sounds like you need fun questions! Answer any you wish or not. favorite video game character who neither you nor a co worker wrote? favorite badly written dialogue/plot that you scrapped because even gold star writers can write weird when sleepy. Worst/best crunch, exhaustion story? Ever had a crush on a fictional character and whom? What kind of Star War character are you? or any other question that piques your interest?

Anonymous

1) In recent memory, I’d say Lee from the Walking Dead. Possibly also Ellie from the Last of Us. Ranging further back, I’d say maybe SHODAN.

2) I was happy when we finally scrapped the Human Commoner origin in Dragon Age: Origins. I mean, I would have preferred if we could have started over and replaced it with something else, but that plot was a stinker, and no amount of revisions was going to bail the water out of that boat.

3) During the rundown to BG2’s writing deadline, I slept at the BioWare offices for almost a week. Thankfully, they’d installed a shower. I also recall that once, during KotOR’s crunch, I became so stressed and exhausted I burst into tears and just got up and went home. I honestly thought I’d essentially quit and didn’t have a job to go back to. Everybody else was so busy crunching, however, that they didn’t notice.

4) No, I’ve never crushed on a fictional character… though I was quite fond of my Space Girlfriend, Tali. I mean, I killed an entire race for her. That’s gotta mean something.

5) If Star Wars Galaxies was any indication, I’d be a tailor working in my shop on the ass end of Tatooine.

So why all the secrecy around the last two LI's? Is there something really unique and special about them, like would knowing who they are be a spoiler? I hope bioware isn't planning on not announcing them at all. The wait to know is killing me.

Anonymous

No, there is nothing earth-shatteringly special about the two remaining love interests. Nor does knowing who they are count as a massive spoiler—outside of knowing who any of the romances are counting as a spoiler. If it were up to me, we wouldn’t announce who can and can’t be romanced prior to the game’s release at all… talking about the fact that we have romances, as a feature, would be as far as I’d want to go.

But that ship has sailed insofar as Inquisition goes, I suppose. If all the potential love interests haven’t yet been announced, it’s probably because none of them were planned as “announcements”. I imagine details on the rest will come in good time—when they figure out the best way to do it.

Or not. I really have very little input on the subject, and I can’t discuss things which haven’t already been announced without due authorization. At this point, I wouldn’t mind if we just revealed the rest and got it over with… so folks can stop treating it like some kind of sweepstakes lottery, if nothing else.

Either way, trust me when I say BioWare is very aware there are many fans intensely interested in knowing more. :)

Don't answer this if you think it will give you trouble, but I was curious how after you get companions and make them, how do you pick who is romanceable and with the new system, by whom? I mean some people it seems obvious(Oghren is an obvious no) but others it may be difficult. With everyone speculating about sexualities it is interesting to think how you guys decide that sort of thing, especially since so many groups follow you.

Anonymous

If you look up previous posts I’ve made regarding the character creation process, I’ve already gone into this. But, in a nutshell:

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Hey, I love your guy's work and can't wait for the game to come out! Also, is it horrible if when I read a previous question about spiders my first thought was "Maker, no... dragon spiders..."

Anonymous

Hmm. Dragon spiders, you say?

I’ll have to mention that one to the artists.

fruitoverdose:

Aveline by olivegbg

This is gorgeous.

On Positive Messages

I’ve seen you getting a few messages lately that I would call at least somewhat grumpy. I am amazed that you take the time to answer messages and questions that (and maybe I’m being overly sensitive here) feel sort of negative and sometimes even accusatory.

I’m sure you also get plenty of messages that are full of sunshine and kittens as well… but just in case you weren’t currently, I just wanted to break up any potential string of unpleasantness to say YOU ARE AMAZING. Granted, I’ve never followed the team behind the games I love quite like I do with DA, but I’ve not seen someone with his hands in so many pots and still willing to give more like you do. I can’t imagine how stressful this time must be for you and you’re still being gracious. — fan message

I do get many positive messages, actually. Some are very emotional, almost confessional, in nature, while others are simply people dropping me a line to say “I like the stuff you’ve worked on, thanks!” They’re great, and they make me smile. I sometimes reply (usually just with a “that’s very kind of you, you’re welcome”), but I get so many messages it sometimes falls off the radar. Hopefully that doesn’t make them think I appreciate their thoughtfulness any less.

I don’t tend to post those messages publicly, however. For one, I’m not eager to open folks up to those who would twist their words. I’m also not eager to open myself up more to those who would think I’m fishing for even more praise—the same people who appear to enjoy regularly sending me negative messages like “omg you’re a monster” and “get off Tumblr”. Yet it occurs to me more and more that I shouldn’t really care what those people think, as they’ll think what they wish regardless.

So THANK YOU. I wouldn’t say things have been particularly unpleasant lately… either that or my skin is thick enough to view even mild confrontation as par for the course these days. Regardless, work on the project is stressful enough as we slowly come in for the landing that I’m absolutely positive anyone on the team would be really glad to receive kind thoughts right about now. It’s fans like yourself that make what we do all the more worthwhile, after all.

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