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Dragon Age II Interview
Interview - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Wed 1 June 2011, 18:49:26Tags: BioWare; Dragon Age II
Codex' favorite cRPG and fantasy novel writer Dave Gaider and Associate Bio-Producer Heather Rabatich answer questions to Fantasy-Magazine.
During more than ten years at BioWare, David, you have written for some of the most iconic RPGs of the past decade, from Baldur’s Gate II to Knights of the Old Republic, Neverwinter Nights, and Dragon Age. What are some of the big lessons you have learned, and what big changes have you seen in the medium, from a storytelling standpoint?
David Gaider: I think the medium is quickly moving toward being far more cinematic than it was—which is both good and bad, I think. It’s good in that we can show as much as we tell, now. Bad because we suddenly have to show, and less can be left to the imagination … something which, in many ways, we will never be able to compete with. Far be it from me to be a Luddite, however. This is the direction the technology is moving, and hopefully we’ll reach a point where creating the cinematics is inexpensive enough that we can branch out as much as we did when it was primarily text we were working with.
As far as lessons learned? There will never be enough content added to make me satisfied, so it’s better to be satisfied that what you put in there is good. I remember right before Baldur’s Gate II went out just how anxious we were over all the things that were cut and half-finished in the game, and how certain we were that everyone would hate it. Perspective is a good thing.
You mentioned that you see games becoming more “cinematic.” This is a term that gets used a lot in discussions of video games, but it is hard to get a clear definition. Almost every game has cutscenes, so what makes a game cinematic? Mass Effect, Heavy Rain, and Uncharted all have elements that are “like a movie,” but does a game being cinematic mean more than that?
David Gaider: From my perspective, being cinematic is all about showing what’s happening rather than leaving something up to the imagination. Let’s take Baldur’s Gate, for instance … you never actually see your character. They’re little figures on the screen without even a proper face. Other than the occasional bit of voiceover, any emotions the player perceives are part of their interpretation only. Now, you’ll probably find a number of people who’ll vociferously defend one type of game over the other. Some find that cinematic games lose that imaginary element, while others say that non-cinematic games are harder to get into or emotionally involved with. I think they both have advantages, but the more cinematic a game—the more cutscenes you require, and the more effort you need to show anything (hand-waving or implying actions become quite difficult)—the more expensive the content becomes to create. That can be a problem for games that are traditionally as content-heavy as roleplaying games, but there are some storytelling benefits that we receive—and which you’ll see in games like Heavy Rain and Uncharted—as we become more experienced in how to incorporate these elements into a game environment.
cRPGs like Heavy Rain and Uncharted aside, what's more important, a crazy amount of cutscenes or enough actual content?
Spotted at: Gamebanshee