The Beat

DAI_Tuesday_Exclusive_header5.png POSTED BY EA Staff ON Nov 18, 2014

Discover the Story of Dragon Age Inquisition

The wait is finally over for Dragon Age: Inquisition fans in North America, and in just a few short days the game will be available all around the world.

Bioware’s epic RPG features a vast, open world full of dynamic choices you can make alongside unique characters. Customize your Inquisitor and explore all the different regions of Thedas.

We sat down with David Gaider, lead writer on Dragon Age: Inquisition, to learn how the team at BioWare crafted the epic story behind the game.

What were the earliest inspirations for the story in Dragon Age: Inquisition?

Parts of it existed as far back as Dragon Age: Origins. When we made the first game, we had a long-term plan for where we wanted the story of Thedas to go, and what would need to happen in order to get us there. There was also an expansion initially planned for Dragon Age 2 called “Exalted March”, and while the expansion got cancelled there were elements of it that we wanted to keep. So what we ended up with, as we prepared to make Dragon Age: Inquisition, was a blend of those initial ideas with the story of the expansion—something that grew naturally out of the conflict set up in Dragon Age 2, but which also pushed forward that overall narrative. It was definitely an interesting place to begin our planning.

How did the DAI story evolve over time?

Well, the first thing we had to contend with is that we had too much planned. This isn’t uncommon when it comes to narrative design—but in this case we had two games worth of plots that we either wanted to resolve or somehow bring to fruition, in addition to adding new things. By the time we had finished drawing up our original plans, we realized that we’d need to decide which elements were more important for us to focus on, and then deliver those in as impactful a manner as possible.

We also had to contend with the introduction of the exploration mechanic as present in Inquisition. We wanted the game to have a BioWare-style story like the fans would expect, and yet to also have open world questing that integrated seamlessly with that. It was a tall order, and not something with which we’d really contended before. It meant a lot of iteration not only in the story we were presenting, but HOW we were presenting it.

You can make your Inquisitor any race or gender. How important are choices like that to BioWare?

BioWare’s roots are in Dungeons & Dragons, which is an RPG where you can make your character any race or gender you like—so I think that’s the default from which we always start. It just makes sense, and is a way for a player to personalize their experience right off the bat, as opposed to being handed a character to play.

How has player feedback helped shape the story of Dragon Age: Inquisition?

We always listen to player feedback, whether it be on our personal forums or elsewhere, both negative and positive. It’s not prescriptive in the sense that we’re making a laundry list of every individual persons beefs and ensuring we tackle those—we can’t possibly do that, as our players cover an incredibly diverse group of interests—but we do want to hear what people enjoyed and didn’t enjoy, and that’s definitely going to sit with us as we start planning the next iteration of our game. Certainly it was there as we planned Inquisition—we heard loud and clear what people wanted following Dragon Age 2, or what they missed from Dragon Age: Origins, and while ultimately we have to do what we personally feel works best, these are the people for whom we made this game. That’s always going to be present in our minds.

What would surprise fans about the scope of the Dragon Age: Inquisition story?

The sheer amount of exploration, really. Considering that exploration and side quests have been pretty limited in the past, even in a game that was as big as Dragon Age: Origins, someone could be forgiven for being skeptical at descriptions of how much exploration we have in Inquisition…or at believing that we couldn’t present it as a quality experience next to the “main story”. That is, however, what we’ve tried to do, to use it to help impart a real sense of building their own Inquisition from the ground up.

Across entertainment – including movies, TV shows, other games, etc – did anything stand out in terms of inspiring the story arc of Dragon Age: Inquisition?

It’s difficult when you discuss inspiration, as some people take it to mean “we looked at that and tried to copy it”. Inspiration comes in many forms, and usually it simply amounts to an element of something that you really liked and which influenced you. I suspect Skyrim would be an obvious choice, when it came to our incorporation of exploration elements. Game of Thrones would be another one, particularly with regards to its focus on character and politics as a part of its fantasy world, as opposed to solely focusing on the fantastical. That’s what we’ve always tried to do with Dragon Age, as well.

How long is the actual script for Dragon Age Inquisition – pages or word count?

If you’re talking about the amount of spoken dialogue, I think it’s in the ballpark of 500,000 words (or about ten novels long). If we include the amount of text written in the codex entries (where we impart of lot of the lore) or the operations (missions you engage in at the war table), then the number gets much, much higher.

All RPG’s have interesting supporting characters – do you have a favorite in Dragon Age: Inquisition?

Sera, probably. She’s an elven archer character written by Lukas Kristjanson, and is so impish and likeable and so unlike anything he or we’ve tried before. I’m really keen on her.

How do you keep a story arc consistent throughout such a gigantic, immersive world?

Practice. Mistakes. Iteration.


Dragon Age Inquisition is now available in North America and will release on November 21 around the world. Visit the Dragon Age: Inquisition site to learn more.

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Comments (7)

  1. 0 0
    "or at believing that we couldn’t present it as a quality experience next to the “main story”. That is, however, what we’ve tried to do, to use it to help impart a real sense of building their own Inquisition from the ground up." In my opinion that did not go too well. The main quest feels crammed in between all the optional content that don't relate to the main quest other than mechanically through a reward system that lets you progress with the main quest,
    Nov 26, 2014
    0 Replies
  2. +1 0
    I was wondering if this is the right area to make suggestions for any possible additions for the next installation of Dragon Age or not. If it is then one suggestion I have is making it where friends can play a co-op story kind of like WoW or even Elder Scrolls online but do NOT make it pay to play keep it free the $15 a month is a little outrageous. Its only a suggestion would like to hear some feed back. I know I won't hear from the DEV Team but would like to hear from you.
    Nov 26, 2014
    0 Replies
  3. 0 0
    Very disappointed in this game!! has crashed multiple times on me, losing all saved data after hours of play. 45 mins waiting to be transferred to "technical help" that never happened and the "live Chat" is just as long with no response. EA needs to get their act together if they want to complete with other companies on production of quality "working" games and customer service. Absolutely a terrible experience with your company!! KBort.
    Nov 29, 2014
    0 Replies
  4. 0 -1
    I am very very disappointed with the handling of this game. I expected more from a company that was sitting at $3.8 billion for 2013. I attempted many times to pre - order a copy of the inquisitor edition and was unsuccessful, only to bust my bum to find one for my wife for a Christmas present, give it to her early and watch as she opened a case that resembled nothing at all on the displays shown everywhere. I understand that there is a small disclaimer at the bottom, but this is ridiculous.
    Dec 13, 2014
    0 Replies
  5. 0 -1
    The loin head, castle and round eye where all broken, the lock pick kit was missing half the picks. The quill looks like it was pulled from a dead crow then run over. When I inquired directly with ea I was told there was nothing they could do, and when I contacted eb games they provided a similar answer. Plus there wasn't enough made to replace the damaged one let alone cover my second order. What happened to standards? And where's the loyal customer appreciation?
    Dec 13, 2014
    0 Replies
  6. 0 -1
    The biggest problem is that there are forums out there swarming with people who had the exact same experience. This game was a let down in every way. Glitches, missing content, lack of customization, no war hound, advertised Co - op that was misrepresented to mean that the main story was Co - op. This is why other large companies have ended up struggling or going under
    Dec 13, 2014
    0 Replies
  7. 0 0
    I appreciate that everyone has their own opinions but I have been playing this game since release. I only see complaints here and I could not agree with any of them. I have absolutely loved this game from its scope to it's attention to detail. I have played all the way through twice and I am now halfway through again on Nightmare. The story is brilliant and the dialog is witty. Wishes: Skyhold to finish repairing all the way. To be able to play with real people in the full game.
    Jan 18, 2015
    0 Replies