David Gaider did a little Q&A today at PAX — streamed via Ustream Live on BioWare's website — and showed viewers his eyebrow waggle while answering some burning questions about the sequel to Dragon Age: Origins.
After starting out with an explanation of his Inception-like dreams featuring his Dungeons and Dragons characters, Gaider — lead writer for the Dragon Age series – -got down to business.
Poster Question/Comment: I'm deadly scared of the new dialogue system.
David Gaider: I can see how that’s a concern. The point is the interface doesn’t really change. In Origins there were six entries in any given dialogue. With the new interface it’s pretty much the same, just laid out differently. [Writer's note: The new system is similar to the Mass Effect series' dialogue wheel].
Player VO [voice over] makes it different. Player VO has benefits. If we’re going to do a cinematic game it’s best to go all the way and let the person be a personality in the game… otherwise you end up as a silent participant.
We’re allowing you to craft a place in the story like your followers.
P: Will you write any DA2 books?
DG: I sure hope so; I hope I get the chance to write something new.
P: Is this Mass Effect 2 with melee weapons?
DG: Dragon Age: Origins wasn’t very responsive.
We’re not trying to make the action frenetic, but we want the ability for when you press something, it happens. People get nervous by the phrase action RPG… they go right to Diablo. There are many variations to that. We still have the same concept that still makes Dragon Age, Dragon Age. It’s about hard choices and characters playing important roles. It’s a dark heroic fantasy; we’re not changing that.
P: Will we get a tool set?
DG: If we do it, and we're not making promises, it's going to be a little bit after release. If it comes it will probably come as an update to the Dragon Age: Origins toolset.
P: What was the deal with the glowing red eyes in the [DA 2] trailer?
DG: It’s blood magic.
P: Is the nudity level bigger or smaller?
DG: I hope you mean more or less. I think it’s about the same. But obviously, we’ll see. There are some things we are doing that might be considered more risqué.
P: What’s the deal with Flemeth?
DG: You’ll see Flemeth in DA2 more than once. As to the part that she plays, I’m not going to tell you. If I did that'd be a spoiler, and I don’t spoil my own writing.
P: How long did it take to grow your sweet goatee?
DG: It took a week and a half to grow.
P: How long is DA2?
DG: Longer than Awakening, shorter than DA:O.
P: Will we ever see the Old God baby?
DG: Like I would answer that.
P: Do you have an overall story arc for the DA series?
P: Is the empress of Orlais hot?
DG: According to our concept art she is!
P: If Ferelden is medieval Europe, what are the Free Marches [Writer's note: This is where DA2 takes place]?
DG: You could maybe say that they are the Holy Roman Empire — only in the way that it was made up of a lot of states.
P: How significant is Morrigan to the DA universe?
DG: Very significant. So is Flemeth. So is Hawke.
P: Does EA influence the writing in DA?
DG: They say what their goals are, and we implement those goals. In terms of do they come down and say don’t use that word or these phrases? No, no.
P: Do you have to use a four-member party?
DG: You can use the naked crazy guy option [Writers note: Gaider said to check the DA forums for what that entails].
P: Will Justice return?
DG: That’s an excellent question. Maybe.
P: Will we ever find out what happens with Fiona or Maric?
P: Will we see our played [Grey] Warden in the future?
DG: [Writer's note: Immediately met with a "can’t answer that" from the marketing team]. He’ll be involved in the future.
P: Will there be more spells?
DG: We’re focusing on spells that are upgradeable. Going for a smaller number with greater breadth.
Inon Zur will return to compose Dragon Age 2. As for characters making reappearances, so far Flemeth has been confirmed. Gaider couldn't name anybody else, but he did say Origins, Awakening, and DLC characters would make an appearance.
Your main Grey Warden won't make an appearance in the sequel; however, decisions that affected the world and characters in Origins and Awakening can be imported.
"The effects go from small to large," Gaider said.
Also, it sounded as though Alistair will make an appearance. Spoiler: Gaider mentions he may be a king or he may be a drunk depending on player actions in Origins. Keep in mind however, that was given as an example of what could happen in the sequel from past decisions.
Gaider also did the writing for the next — and final — batch of Origins DLC, Witch Hunt.
He used his poker face to shoot down some girl on girl Hawke romance options.
The new art style aims to give the races a unique look.
"We want races to have a more distinctive look," Gaider said. "Sten for instance, looked human to some. While we are changing the look, we're not throwing away what we have.”
There will be blood… err; there will be Dalish. Dalish apparently feature prominently in DA2.
Awakening had a word budget. That is why fans didn't get as much party member dialogue as they would have liked, and also why random objects initiated it.
Anyone with questions for Gaider can follow the biofeed twitter tomorrow for details on how to participate in Saturday's Q&A.