Q&As// Dragon Age II’s Product Manager, Randall Bishop

Posted 14 Dec 2010 16:41 by
Games: Dragon Age II
Oh, Dragon Age! Your filthy sex-fuelled escapades have given you a name around these parts. Youíre chock-full of the naughty stuff and we all awkwardly blush when you show them off. But Iím being told that Dragon Age II is not all about preparing your team for a romptastic adventure this time around and I thought I should get to know a little more.

With Dragon Age II BioWare is pushing the console version further making sure that the PC version is no longer seen to be the ultimate Dragon Age experience available. There is still plenty of blood and magic to sink your Ye Olde teeth into, but what kind of major changes are afoot with the sequel?

SPOnG sat down with Dragon Age IIís product manager, Randall Bishop, to talk about sex, PC wars and character classes. Thatíll do quite nicely.

SPOnG: Everyone talks about the PC version of Dragon Age: Origins being the definitive version to play. What pushed you to make the sequel more console-friendly?

Randall Bishop: Well, obviously the controls are different between the PC and the console. The console version (of Origins) didn't work out quite the way we wanted it to, which is why we've made these changes to the controls and the combat. We want to move more into the action RPG realm, so it has a lot more of an intuitive feel for the console and it's something that console gamers will be a lot more used to.

You get into the midst of the action with the hack-and-slash, but we still definitely offer the same kind of tactical depth, so you can still customise your class and plot out exactly how you're going to attack. You can still pause the action, plan out attacks and so on, so it's really just the best of both worlds this time.

SPOnG: In Dragon Age II we are playing as Hawke - is there still the same kind of customization available like the first game?

Randall Bishop: You still pick male or female and you customise your class, but this time around we're actually telling a particular story, so Hawke is the main character and the hero.

SPOnG: Despite being a different story featuring a new character, do any of the decisions you made in Dragon Age: Origins have an effect on the narrative in Dragon Age II?

Randall Bishop: We're not talking about what decisions carry over yet. I'm not even saying that they will. It's something we're not revealing yet. It's a new story in the same universe, but there is some crossover.

So, for example during the blight in the first one, there was a village that was burning down and your character (Hawke) is actually a refugee from that village. This story arc crosses over with Dragon Age: Origins so you'll see some of the events unfolding there in Dragon Age II and that overlap is really cool.

SPOnG: Apart from the Rogue and Warrior, what other classes are there yet to see?

Randall Bishop: We've shown the Warrior already and then there's the Rogue class obviously that we're showing right now and then we'll do a deeper dive on the Mage class later on.

SPOnG: Is there still going to be a whole bunch of characters to pick and choose from when organising your party? Any personal favourites?

Randall Bishop: Yeah, there are a lot of characters to choose from. Isabela is my favourite. She's a sexy, sultry pirate and she has a lot of attitude. And I like the way the Rogue characters play, especially in Dragon Age II, so I'll always have her in my party. She's a temptress and one of the characters you can romance.

SPOnG: BioWare are not a studio to shy away from sex scenes. What sexy encounters do you have in store for us with Dragon Age II and how is it handled?

Randall Bishop: Tastefully. Clearly we're not making porn here. I mean you want the kind of soap opera romance sex scenes and well, the sex isn't really what we're basing that on. What we're basing it on is the interactions with that character, building a relationship and having the discussions to make the decisions that lead to that romance. Having sex with a character is not the end goal, it's interacting with that character.

SPOnG: Will Dragon Age II be sticking to the classic swords, bows, shields and axes or will we see some new weaponry?

Randall Bishop: Yeah. Varric right here Ė I forget the name of the weapon Ė has this badass crossbow that's really, really cool. That's his signature weapon that he uses throughout. It's still that kind of Medieval themed though, with swords, axes and that kind of thing.

People really identify with and love that universe, so we'll do our swords and shields here, and then we have our Mass Effect for the laser blasters and so on.

SPOnG: The PC version of Dragon Age Origins had a lot more features than the console version. Will the two versions still have these differences?

Randall Bishop: The biggest challenge is making the best use of each of the peripherals, so that in itself, going from a keyboard to a controller, you want to have the same feel.

But obviously there's however many buttons there and so what we've done for the console is we've changed the GUIs (General User Interfaces) around so it's easier to select powers and we've changed the way that we actually distribute abilities, points and stuff like that.

For example, in DAO if you were a Mage you had about thirty-six spells by the end of the game, but on the console, you didn't really have access to that. What we've done instead for the spells and the skills is that you pick the main ones that fit your play style and you can upgrade those.

Again, for example you could use a fireball and if you really like that fireball spell, you can upgrade that, so it has a bigger blast radius, it burns longer and does more damage. If you have a particular play style, you can customise and stick with it as you see fit.

Of course, there's a finite amount of skill points to distribute and we don't want you to be a jack-of-all-trades, because then your character isn't interesting any more and they don't really hold a defining role within your party.

We definitely want it where perhaps you have one melee character who is a defender and maybe you want to go down that path. It brings that tactical depth to the game where you have to make the decisions that are best for your party.

SPOnG: Thanks for your time.
Games: Dragon Age II

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