BioWare Never Expected Dragon Age to be a Franchise

Dragon Age: Origins was a big hit for BioWare when it was released in 2009 but the Canadian developer never expected the fantasy RPG to spawn sequels.

Speaking to Canadian radio station Edge, Dragon Age writer David Gaider said the team weren't sure they'd get the chance to make a another entry in the series and admitted that this led to some poor design decisions as a result.

“At the time the idea was that maybe Dragon Age: Origins was going to have to live on its own as its own game. Like, Jade Empire never got a sequel,” Gaider said.

“So at the time it didn’t seem so unrealistic to consider the fact that this might be our only shot at this one particular story. Ideally, we were hoping that we would put out Dragon Age: Origins and it would be successful. We didn’t know.”

Thankfully, the game was a hit and the series took off.

“Then Dragon Age: Origins went out, and it was a big hit. But that wasn’t a guaranteed thing in our heads at the time,” he commented.

“Was this before the Lord of the Rings movies? Before or maybe around the same time. But before Lord of the Rings came out, I don’t think the idea that traditional fantasy could have commercial weight was really a thing.”

As such, BioWare made some choices the team has since come to regret in terms of the epiloge slides shown to players at the end of the game. 

“The Dragon Age: Origins epilogue existed because initially I don’t know that we were certain we would get a second game,” Gaider explained.

“The epilogue came late in the game. The epilogues were put together very quickly and some of them cast so far into the future that, okay, now we are doing the sequel and it takes place two years into the future or whatever.

“And it’s like, we’re trying to have a plot and we’re trying to have some call backs, yet there are things that were forecast that went so far ahead that now we’re contradicting it. Can we honour those all? Here we have a plot which works in every facet expect for this one epilogue slide. And it’s like, god dammit, past Dave! Why did you write that?”

Gaider cited details of Cullen’s adventures and events in the dwarven kingdom of Orzammar as specific examples.

“That’s a giant check to write,” he added, “especially, if you are then asked later, now pick up the plot and have some tie backs. You’re sitting there and you’re laying out all the epilogue slides in front of you and you’re figuring, how do I honour every single one of these? Wow. I didn’t think that through at the time.”

Since Origins, there have been two Dragon Age games: Dragon Age 2 and last year's Game of the Year winner Dragon Age Inquisition. More story-based DLC is planned for Inquisition, but Gaider will not be involved as he's moved to a secret new IP being developed at BioWare. 

Edge's interview holds lots of other interesting nuggets about Origins, particularly the content which was cut from the game.