The Lazy Designer

BioWare-Brent Year 9 (Fall 2007 – Summer 2008)

This is the ninth of ten posts, one for each year that I worked for BioWare.

Though Dragon Age’s release was still a long ways off we entered a bit of a mini-crunch period with things getting hectic and tempers flaring. While you bond with teammates when you are working with them late at night everyone also starts becoming a little bit grumpy. We had no major problems but I found crunch on Dragon Age to be a bit more wearisome than crunch on past projects like Neverwinter Nights. Still don’t really understand the difference but we survived it.

Overall I think the team was starting to come together. We were continually revising the story to accommodate the technology, time-line, and budget available. Yes I’m sure some of you are horrified that Dragon Age, huge game that it is, could have actually been larger. There was some great stuff that we just would never have been able to finish to quality.

Around October/November we learned BioWare was sold to Electronic Arts. I wasn’t keen on being part of such a large company but I so focused on Dragon Age I didn’t have too much time to think about it then.

On a personal level I also placed as a finalist in the Writers of the Future Contest for the first time (and then lost)… it was a nice boost to my writing confidence however and would help encourage me later. In early 2008 I also found out that I sold my first story to On Spec, one of my favorite magazines. So the beginning of good news on the writing front. Oh yeah, and our second son was born around then too and we moved into a new, larger house. Busy busy busy times.
A game!
Anyways we pushed Dragon Age forward. A lot of work was thrown away during this time and a lot of subsystems were experimented with, many discarded, some kept. We also did some prototyping on the console versions. It was fascinating — examining different ways we might port Dragon Age to the consoles and how the gameplay systems might have to change. I don’t think much of that prototyping work made it into the final console release (haven’t played it) but I learned a lot about console interface during this time.

And I was able to play the game… a lot. Not complete playthru experiences — those would happen soon however — but enough that I was getting a feel for the game and excited that the team’s hardwork was clearly being rewarded as a quality gameplay experience manifested.

At the time, even considering some of the turbulence we were hitting, I had no idea that I would only be working for BioWare one more year. But that’s what ended up happening…

Previous: BioWare-Brent Year 8

“BioWare-Brent Year 9” copyright 2010 by Brent Knowles

Former lead designer at BioWare (Dragon Age: Origins, Neverwinter Nights). Creator of Raiders of the Serpent Sea.