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David Gaider answers fan questions

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David Gaider responded to some of the fan questions which were not asked at PAX on BioWare Social. Apologies for the length Tonguesmiley

  • Q: Are there going to be darkspawn in DAIII?
  • A: Darkspawn are a part of the DA setting, so yes they'll appear in future games. That doesn't mean they need to be the major focus of them however.
  • Q: Acknowledging the fact that hunger demons have appeared in Awakening and DAII, I was wondering why hunger demons don't have a unique model and whether they will get one in DAIII.
  • A: That's a good question. They didn't have a model originally because we didn't have time to make one. They may certainly have such in the future, however, as may other new classes of demons.
  • Q: Were the Grey Wardens indeed supplying specially-stamped cheese wheels to Kirkwall? (And if so, will we eventually learn their motives?)
  • A: Our level artists are very strange people. Did you know there's a cheese wheel hidden somewhere in every level of DA2? Some of them cannot be seen by a player, but trust me-- they're there.
  • Q: Will Marethari/Merrill's clan play a role? I only ask because I had a Dalish Warden and was happy to see the clan return again in DAII.
  • A: Doubtful. I think there are other groups of Dalish that we could move onto, as would make sense, no?
  • Q: Will the Morrigan plot ever get resolved?
  • A: Absolutely. Enough teasing, am I right?
  • Q: If one did not play a specific DLC is it going to be one of those "it happened anyways" kind of things like Mass Effect did with their DLC, comics and books?
  • A: If you're referring to the DA2 DLC's, then yes-- considering they were events that Varric "forgot" to initially tell Cassandra, it makes sense that they occurred regardless. I don't think we would assume player knowledge of those events, however, so how we keyed to such events (if we ever do) could vary.
  • Q: I know Isabela escaped if you handed her to the Qunari but will she ever come back for revenge?
  • A: Isabela's not really the vegeance type, but who knows? A lot could happen to her between now and then.
  • Q: Is there any chance that a toolset will be included for community use in DA3?
  • A: Mark answered this at the panel: he said he wouldn't rule it out just yet, but a full toolset for a future DA game was unlikely.
  • Q: What kind of disadvantage will those of us who don't play Multiplayer (you guys know you're doing this) be at?
  • A: This is the sort of question that will be easier to answer when we talk about what kind of multiplayer we will have. Mike mentioned at the panel that we were looking more towards Baldur's Gate style co-operative multiplayer as our source of inspiration, but more than that will need to wait.
  • Q: Will Hawke and/or your Warden be making a cameo appearance or be playable?
  • A: Not playable, no. If they appear, it will depend a lot on how importable they are and/or our ability to let the player make decisions on their presentation. If we do it, it's probably best we do it right.
  • Q: Will we see Anora again?
  • A: If we return to Ferelden or have a plot involving the Fereldan monarch, then yes-- if Anora was made Queen in Origins than she would definitely re-appear. That idea pleases me a lot. (King Cousland approves Ico Appr Heart approves (Expression error: Unexpected = operator.) )
  • Q: Will we get to have more than one city to visit? Say for instance...Tevinter AND Orlais?
  • A: Those aren't cities, those are entire nations. I believe Mike has talked about us wanting to have more variety in the environments-- and that includes a bit more scope in terms of the parts of Thedas that you get to see, yes. That doesn't mean wandering over every square inch of it, of course.
  • Q: Will Morrigan's child be involved in the plot ?
  • A: If Morrigan had a child, then any involvement of Morrigan in the plot would need to take that child into account. And, yes, that would have to be more than an off-hand mention by her of having a child stowed away in some extra-dimensional cupboard.
  • Q: I loved the whole concept of having a sarcastic, diplomatic and aggressive option in the dialogue wheel. I also loved the way that Hawke's tone changed in accordance to how you respond to people. How are you gonna do the dialogue wheel this time around? Are you gonna keep this concept and develop it further?
  • A: We haven't decided yet on what the changes to the wheel's presentation will be (or the tones you mention). There will probably be some, though. There's always room for refinement.
  • Q: Do we meet characters from the book Dragon Age: Asunder?
  • A: We could meet some, sure. Though we'd have to introduce them in a way that didn't require previous knowledge.
  • Q: I would like to have a Seeker of Truth in party or be one. Could it be possible?
  • A: It is possible, yes.
  • Q: Do we see some new monsters and opponents?
  • A: Isn't that generally the case with new releases?
  • Q: Do we ever find out who Flemeth really is?
  • A: The Big Answers regarding Flemeth, Morrigan and all that lies between them will come. Maybe not all the answers, but definitely the big ones.
  • Q: How is it that Fiona is still living, and does she have any knowledge of or interest in contacting her son?
  • A: Fiona no longer had the darkspawn taint at the end of the Calling, if you remember. So technically she wasn't even a Grey Warden any longer. As for her knowledge of/interest in her son-- well, for that you'll have to wait and see.
  • Q: Will the Grey Wardens have a prominent role in DA3's story? They were so important in Origins, Awakening, and the second book that I had a sense the Dragon Age story would revolve around them. Now, it seems like we are straying away from them; moving Dragon Age into a different direction and following the mage vs templar war. I'm just curious if we will see more of the Wardens and darkspawn.
  • A: Funny you should mention that. The Grey Wardens were up to something in DA2... you will get to find out exactly what.
  • Q: Also, will we have new class or specialisation options available? Rogue, Warrior, and Mage will obviously make a comeback. Will we see anything else? Perhaps a druid or cleric type class or spec?
  • A: Yes, Mike mentioned that there will be new specializations-- though, at the same time, he also mentioned that a specialization would have a more profound impact, both on the story as well as your character, so you'll likely be limited to just one.
  • Q: I completely forget what the story-telling mechanism used in DA2 was called (with Varric and Cassandra) I thought it worked well, but I can also see how it could start to seem overdone. Will this be making a return? If not can you comment on possible alternatives?
  • A: I thought the mechanism was interesting, but I have no burning need to repeat it. We'll probably try something new... or maybe something old. We'll see.
  • Q: Has the problem with importing previous games been solved.? (I heard there might have been problems with importing DAO information)
  • A: We have several possible solutions that we're working on. More on that to come.
  • Q: Will some of previous games companions,be companions in DA3?( I'd like Alistair back)
  • A: Possibly. Ideally I'd like a mix of old and new.
  • Q: If you decided to kill Anders does he really die?
  • A: Yes. If you killed him, he's really dead. Justice may be another story.
  • Q: You've said that you'll be checking out Skyrim aggressively, this obviously means that you'll draw inspiration from Skyrim. So on to my question then: Which parts of DA's future (C'mon man, cmon, we all know it's DA3) are you hoping to improve by learning from Skyrim?
  • A: The Elder Scrolls games do exploration pretty well-- while I doubt we'd do it in the same way (that would change the basic nature of our game), there are good lessons to learn from the sorts of gameplay that exploration engenders. If we're talking about having future DA games feel less "constricted" in their scope, that would definitely play an element. It does not mean copying the Elder Scrolls style verbatim. People who want that can always play those games.
  • Q: Will there be any dynamic environment elements? Weather, a consistent breeze, etc.
  • A: That depends a lot on whether there's an engine change. Such a change would open up many possibilities, but also bring in a host of other necessary changes. Always fun times.
  • Q: Is this something you will persuit to do in DA3? If so, what will work as "Normandy" for the companions, the return of the Camp? Or a house with a reunion room in every place?
  • A: I liked the idea of having the followers spread out, following their own lives, but I think in practice this made for more difficulties than it was worth. Ideally there's a middle ground between having the followers more accessible and having them feel like they're standing around, waiting only for the player to engage them. We've some plans, though I'll likely be picking the forumites' brains on this point.
  • Q: In the past, we've heard team members (Mike Laidlaw, I believe) say that they want to be sure that, in the future, Bioware is designing encounters rather than fights. Can you explain what you mean by this and what it means for the future of the Dragon Age franchise, specifically the next full game (as much as you can at this point, anyway).
  • A: It's not really my field, but my understanding of the difference between an "encounter" and a "fight" is that a encounter has more set-up involved. You have enemies that use the environment, require the player to change their approach or otherwise use more tactics. So more encounters and less fights (meaning less combat overall but perhaps more significant combat when it occurs) is probably the theme the gameplay team is going for.
  • Q: What feature from DA2 do you guys MOST want to get rid of?
  • A: The re-used environments? Specifically levels that were used several times to represent different in-world locations. I wouldn't really call that a feature, mind you, but it's nice to have it acknowledged that it's not a viable option.
  • Q: What feature from DA2 are you DEFINITELY keeping?
  • A: The voiced protaganist.
  • Q: What features, if any, from DA2 do you think is a cool idea but needs better implementation?
  • A: Most of them. Iteration is key. I'd say combat is probably the one that Mike is focusing on the hardest.
  • Q: Is the friendship/rivalry system going to get redone or remain pretty much the same?
  • A: There's a thread on this particular forum where I've discussed my thoughts on that. I'd say it needs some refinement, but overall I liked what we did with it in DA2.
  • Q: Will female dwarves be making a return? In a similar vein, will female kossith be making their debut?
  • A: Yes. And I sure hope so.
  • Q: If Hawke does appear will his love interest be with him?
  • A: Depends on how/if Hawke re-appears, doesn't it?
  • Q: Do Qunari artisans and farmers also wield a 'soul' item like Sten's Asala?
  • A: No.
  • Q: Are Qunari phrases created on the spot or do you tap into a lexicon/compendium/dictionary that was created beforehand?
  • A: We have a pretty large lexicon, but if the phrase we needs doesn't currently exist than we add to the existing one. Mary is generally our source for whether we've made a word that's "Qunari" enough. She's the one that mostly created the language in DAO.
  • Q: Why was the ability to wear any kind of weapon removed in DA2? (eg: Warriors with a bow)
  • A: To more distinguish the classes.
  • Q: Is there a link between Sandal and Flemeth?
  • A: That seems unlikely, but who knows? Wait... I do, I guess. Well, I ain't tellin.
  • Q: What do you think was the most morally ambiguous dilemma in Dragon Age so far?
  • A: Probably the Nature of the Beast resolution in Origins.
  • Q: What villain/antagonist did you enjoy creating the most? Which would you personally like to see more?
  • A: Toss-up between Loghain and Meredith, really. I'm glad I got the chance to delve more into Loghain in the books, but both of them were a little sparse in the main game. Ideally I'd like to have a "villain" who the player feels more of a connection to.
  • Q: Will the homophobic letter campaign to EA get rid of all characters who were same-sex LIs in the previous games?
  • A: No, nor in future games.
  • Q: When you guys set out to make the Dragon Age storyline, did you have an overarching plot line in mind, and outline to last several games, or are you guys making up as you go, installment by installment?
  • A: Has to be a bit of both. We created an overarching plot which has needed to be modified as time goes on. We knew that was likely to be the case when that plotline was first created, however.
  • Q: Does a return of full racial options...rather than one race per game, human or not...look possible for DA3? I realize it's comparatively a minority viewpoint but it would mean a lot to have this option back. City elves, surface dwarves, many humans and even Tal Vasoth could for example conceivably share a basic story and single voice/accent that IMO could make this a possibility.
  • A: This is still a point of ongoing discussion, so it's not really something you'll see us discussing until we can talk about it in full. There are pros and cons for doing so... more pros than cons, really, but the cons are big ones that affect a great many other systems in a dramatic way. If we aren't doing racial customization in the end, however, I'm sure we'd want to include what we are doing rather than just tossing off an answer. We're well aware that a large number of people would like to see this return (as would I).
  • Q: Will LIs be different in terms of their sexual preferences as in ME series and DA:O, or will most (I guess all if you don't count the DLC Prince) be BI-sexual by default as in DA2?
  • A: Not sure. I'm fine with both approaches, myself. So long as everyone had an equal number of options, I'd have no qualms against using the system in ME3-- so long as we had the resources to do so.
  • Q: Who are the writers for Dragon Age: The Next Thing?
  • A: Same as the writers for Dragon Age: The Last Thing... plus Sylvia.
  • Q: Forgot to ask this question at PAX (and if I missed it earlier in the thread, sorry)...but is there a chance that whatever iconic character gets picked for marketing is female (or a female option?) I loved having femshep marketing items and picture on my CE game case. Hope that can happen for Dragon Age.
  • A: There's a chance, sure, but it's not really a decision I have any visibility on. So there's nothing I can even speculate regarding what our approach will be, sorry.
  • Q: With the success of Kickstarter projects bringing back more "old school" RPGs, like Wasteland 2, Shadowrun, The Banner Saga and the upcoming Baldur's Gate Enhanced Editions, would it be possible to do a Dragon Age game in that style? Namely, a lower budget DA game with minimal voice acting, isometric view, party of 6, lots of text and so forth? DA just seems well suited to that, especially as a means to more easily convey meaningful and significant consequences to player choices.
  • A: It'll be interesting to watch if the Kickstarter projects actually translate into finished projects. Either way, crowd-sourcing isn't really an option for a corporation/publisher-- that's a little unrealistic. If it's an option for smaller companies to get the funding they need to make smaller games, then that's fantastic. I coughed up a pretty penny to support the Shadowrun Kickstarter, myself.
  • Q: Is it possible that Morrigan's child may be a playable character? Perhaps even the main character?
  • A: Depends on the timeline-- as of the end of DA2, Morrigan's child would be, what? 8 years old? He also might not exist. That are pretty dicey qualifications for a main character.
  • Q: Will we have more options for love interests? For example, at least one for each of the good, neutral, and "evil" player characters?
  • A: We don't split up romance options by neutrality. I'm not even sure that would work. At best we try to cover at least a couple of very different romantic archetypes so there's some basic difference in the kind of story they present.
  • Q: Can we expect to have more interactions with our companions, and more character development?
  • A: There was plenty of these things in DA2. Even so, the nature of your interactions with followers is likely to change-- there's another thread where I've discussed a little bit of it, though the plans are not yet set in stone.
  • Q: My girlfriend would be upset with me if I didn't ask this one. Can we get more feminine looking outfits for female player characters?
  • A: That's not really my field. It'd be nice, depending on the context of the outfit-- though "more feminine" could mean many things to different people.
  • Q: Can we expect a more manageable and user-friendly codex this time around? One that won't mark everything else as read while we're searching for that one new entry...
  • A: I know there's been some discussion on the codex GUI. So maybe?
  • Q: Will we see something like the Reputation System from ME3 appearing in the next DA title?
  • A: No, probably not.
  • Q: Have you considered ocean exploration for the next DA title? Perhaps one that allows the player to have a ship?
  • A: Ships and water adventures would be great for a story that centered on it.

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