In what was possibly the most in-and-out trip in this writer's career (except for maybe flying to Japan for one day), we sped to a posh hotel in the green fields of Hampshire (UK) for a natter with Greg Zeschuk, co-founder of BioWare, VP at EA and group creative officer of the MMO RPG group.
Three hours of travelling for a 20-minute chat turned out to be worth it though, because Zeschuk had plenty to say. Part two of our chat focuses on everything from BioWare's take on the state of games to motion control and Wii development. Here we talk about Dragon Age.
Let's begin with Dragon Age. We're told there's a greater focus on action in the console versions. Can you explain those changes?
Zeschuk: It's primarily been the whole interface. We literally tore out the PC interface and rebuilt it. It's been a six month process and that actually does change the fundamental experience.
On the PC you almost have a sense of directing the action, whereas on the console side it feels like you're in the action.
Other things that we have to tweak on console versus the PC are some of the balance aspects, because you don't have that huge view of the battlefield that you do on PC. But the story itself, the characters and the main gameplay are the same.
The motivation to redo the interface on the console was because we didn't want console players to feel that they didn't have all the powers that the PC gamers have access to. We didn't want to dumb it down for them, but we wanted to make sure that it was easy to use.
You have a history of creating top-class RPGs. How much influence did you draw on from your back catalogue for Dragon Age?
Zeschuk: We refer back to our own games - the overall themes and structures of Dragon Age: Origins are very much like a Baldur's Gate experience. World of Warcraft did a really good job of characters playing different roles during battle and all those influences are essential to be successful.
So we thought it the right thing to do to go back to our old games and others that are similar to create those easily understood types of roles for the characters and make it easy to play.
Funnily enough, if you actually look at KOTOR, you'll see that the camera, the layout and the way it actually looks is actually very similar, and I think that was very specific.
What are your plans for post-release DLC?
Zeschuk: We've a lot of DLC plans. There's a slight difference on PC and console, because on PC we provide full user tools that let you modify and create your own levels and stories. You can browse a lot of that user content from within the game.
On the console side, it's obviously not really feasible for us to provide the toolset, but we are actually looking at ways to potentially share the content created on the PC on consoles. There aren't really any huge technical hurdles to that.
On top of that, we are creating a lot of downloadable content that'll be on offer shortly after release. We already have a team working on it, because the core content of the game is pretty much done.
DLC will be a big part of this game, continuing the story of the Dragon Age universe. Some DLC might be equipment or loot, but the interesting thing about that is that we won't just give you a new sword, there'll be a little story or new dungeon built around getting that sword. And full expansions packs are a possibility down the road.
What about a demo?
Zeschuk: We've not really talked about a demo. There's a few different ways we could do it. The way the game's set up actually makes it hard for a demo because there are six origin stories and we don't know whether to just pick one or a couple.