Badger, Badger, Badger

Lots of fan questions from Inquisition have been tweeted at the DA developers lately. The devs have been very nice to answer as many as they possibly can (within reason). However, I know Laidlaw mentioned today that he will not reply to questions as much, as well as Gaider reiterating his strong stance on not revealing so many things ahead of time. I don’t blame them.

It’s with good reason: lately, a lot of people spam questions about Inquisition to the devs. Hell, even the people I know are doing it. In my opinion? Chill out.

I’ve noticed a lot of repeat questions spammed from one person. A lot of aggressive attitudes. A lot of “WHY ARE YOU IGNORING ME, MY INQUIRY IS OF MOST IMPORT”. Essentially…a lot of badgering.

Now, this may not be you. Or lo and behold! This might be exactly you. All I’m saying (and this goes for all games, not just Inquisition) is that the developers are totally in their right to not answer your question. And sometimes, you just have to let it go. Or google it…because sometimes it’s been answered once or ten times already.

We’re all excited about Inquisition and whatever game we’re interested in. However, remember that these are the people that are in the middle of developing the game. What would you prefer: a developer sitting 8 hours a day to answer each question from each individual fan or a developer finishing the game so it comes out on time?

Yeah. That’s what I think, too.

Let’s chill out and let them release info on their own time schedule. We should be expecting a dev diary, Followers Friday, and other goodies soon. E3 will definitely have some juicy content. If you’re really excited for news when it drops, just have Twitter send automated notifications to your phone when they tweet.

Til then? Enjoy life. Get off twitter cause it sucks. Hug a nug. Have fun.

Romance confirmations, Release Date hints, Dragons and more! Everything about Dragon Age: Inquisition mentioned at PAX East that’s relevant to your interests.

Watch it on Youtubehttp://youtu.be/LuFJBtohNxU
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Transcript:

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Important Clarification on “Discover the Dragon Age” …again

I’m here to clear up the confusion over my original post, as well as the clarification post that I released last week from PAX East.

For reference, here are the two excerpts I wrote:

"Discover the Dragon Age" Original Panel Summary

Romances in Inquisition in Dragon Age* are not one in the same: some for affection, humor (like Varric buddying with you), or hate-fueled forbidden love (i.e rivalry love). Don’t worry, guys: you don’t need to romance in Inquisition. Just consider it an option. 

First Clarification Post

Question: “Anyway, I’m a little confused about the part where you mentioned the way DAI is handling romances. You said about Varric’s being humorous and being a buddy, was that just an example used based on the way the DA2 relationships worked? Or were they hinting that Varric might be romanceable?”

Not hinting Varric romance at all. The examples there are reasons why Hawke or the Warden romance (or rather, buddy up wtih) other characters: affection, humor (similarly to how buddy buddy Varric is with Hawke), or painstaking affection (rivalry). They were just examples used to preface what romances mean to people.

Now, it looks like another gaming journalist website missed out on the clarification post, because a few sites are speculating that there are only "affectionate romance, a rivalry-based forbidden romance, even a humorous romance" based off what I had originally wrote.

No, this is incorrect.

Those examples of romances are what we have already experienced in the past with Origins and 2, and examples of what we could experience in Inquisition. Anders was that forbidden romance, as he knew he would ruin Hawke’s life by rivaling the Templars and Chantry. Affection lies for many romances, like Alistair displaying his visible admiration through giving a rose to the Warden. (To further clarify, my Varric example does not pertain to an actual situation in Inquisition.)

Your possible relationships in Inquisition will vary, depending on character. However, your romance experiences will not fall under a numbered restriction of relationship conditions as simple as affection, humor, or rivalry. 

I apologize to those who were initially confused, as the original post did say “in Inquisition”. On Sunday, I did my best to clarify these statements in my additional post. However, other journalist sites are still claiming this error as recent as yesterday. As the original source of this information, I ask that you ignoreany claim from a site regarding this specific topic (unless Bioware). 

Thank you.

"If we do our job, you’ll tell us in 6 months. Probably on a forum somewhere."
The Panel
Andrew Farrell, Senior Artist
Dean Roskell, Senior Level Designer
Jason Barlow, Development Manager
Leah Shinkewski, Associate Producer (DA Keep)
Mike Laidlaw, Creative Director
David Hulegaard, Community Manager (and panel’s Moderator)
"[Bioware] spent a long time in pre-production," as Frostbite originally was used for first-person shooters like Battlefield 4. Everything was hacked by the level designers to prepare for dialogue, communication, and other Dragon Age elements. 
Adventuring
The Frostbite engine allows Dragon Age: Inquisition to implement and use big spaces. Players will travel through multiple regions, similarly to Origins of a fast-travel across the nation. The developers have kept three goals in mind:
Area Variety. Keep the environments fresh and organic for the player to explore.
Make the areas significant. “Why is the Inquisitor here?” Each place has purpose.
Re-discover discovery. Allowing players to traverse the world in any direction they want to go.
The Inquisitor will experience and shape the world through directly influencing the world. With the antagonist hidden and an environment clouded in conspiracy, soldiers are uprooting evildoers at your command and the Inquisition is gaining prestige and power. Your party is the “vanguard” that heads change. By sending troops to fix towers and gain extra areas, your power rises. You, as the Inquisitor, have very unique abilities, involved with closing the rifts, that no other man or woman can do. It’s up to you how to handle the chaos in the world.
Because of multiple regions, every level offers its own challenge. Enemies are unique to the ecosystem, while environmental elements like desert ruins or the coastline with steep hills offer different conflict. 
Highlands
A snowy area where “something goes wrong” and may force conflict with the Red Templars (templars influenced by red, raw lyrium). The location is not simply a small camp - it’s a territory strongly owned and enforced by the Red Templars. The Inquisition’s job, if the player chooses to engage this area at all, is to keep the front moving into this entrenched area by slowly pushing up the mountain.
The main base of operations is protected in the back. War camps protect the front. Red crystals scatter across the snowy fields.  It’s impossible to freely roam this area, as the soldiers litter across the war camps, until the Inquisitor and armies complete certain tasks to alleviate the Red Templar command. 
Highlands is a Tier-2 encounter, scripted like a puzzle. They are not simple highwaymen walking down some path; it’s an army. The Red Templar faction is a full force, dabbling in powerful lyrium and gaining new powers. However, it’s hard to leave them alone, as their base is a big supply position and its continued presence will only help the Red Templars thrive.
Beyond the Red Templars, the Behemoth will be a challenging opponent. A great creature of raw, red power that influences the environment around it. As it will stand firm, with the help of other templars to distract, it’s up to the Inquisitor’s judgement how to handle such a strong opponent. 
The quest line is a terrible risk, but the prize… “You may have gone somewhere else entirely. Like not going to this area at all, but still progressing in this part of the game.” You can drive the story without needing to stop to help at every turn, though it may help the Inquisition for better purposes. Gold is the most immediate treasure, but influence and a new location of a good supply position will help. Your choice.
(Small note: A character from The Masked Empire will appear in the Highlands. It apparently makes sense that they are present.)
Hunting and Gathering
If you want to go dragon hunting, you can. If you want to pick herbs, you can. If you want to hunt deer or nugs (HOW DARE YOU), you can. 
Keep in mind that ecosystems deplete over time, if you hastily wipe out an area. Sometimes you will have to wait for certain areas to repopulate. The developers are not encouraging grinding/farming in these systems, but to make sure that the ecosystem is organic to how an area would naturally feel. 
Kill a few wolves. Let them live. Come back a few times every now and then, and you get a new coat. Maybe down the line, you’ll make a pair of shoes. 
But, kill them all at the same time and you might wait be out of luck the next time you need fancy armor.
Short Things
Elfroot is rare
Specific kills against a creature faction will benefit combat against that faction in the future
"Big *** creepy spiders" are in caves. And possibly in crates. Do not open. (You’ve been warned)
Time to crate, a term to describe “how long does your game manage until you have to break a crate”
A Moment for Combat
Traps, stealth, and abilities were improved to help preemptively plan for battle. Walls of ice (edit: magically made ice walls) and blockades will force archers to move into line of sight. 
Dragons
Dragons are designed to rip your head off. Good luck getting in direct contact enough to swing a blade, as they are terrifyingly difficult encounters. In most cases, you will target the limbs enough to attack the head. Dragons have dynamic flight patterns, where it adjusts to certain details: your health, your in-combat/out-of-combat status, and your location. However, dragons are not simply generating out of the sky; each dragon is an individually scripted encounter. It exists for its environment.
Preparing to kill a dragon is your first step. Gearing and preparing your party is second. Dragon hunting alone is giving yourself quests, as many prerequisites exist to not get utterly torched by one.
Quick tip: THE FLOOR IS LAVA.
Ah, well. Not really. Just a tip that dragons can scorch the earth and its fire can damage an Inquisitor’s pretty feet.
DA Keep
The free, web-based experience Keep will “allow you to shape and share your experiences”. The best part of Keep is its ability to help discover and illustrate new areas that the player may have not seen before. Developers are happy with using Keep, as it builds confidence in making sure it’s not detrimental whether the player has or has not played Origins or 2. Going into the future, the Keep will be an effective tool in helping players import worlds and share stories with others. 
Quick Answers
Happenings outside the DA games franchise (i.e books, movies) will relate in the timeline of all events. - Mike Laidlaw, said right before The Masked Empire being referenced in Inquisition
Day and Night cycles? No, as it is driven by story. Not on a dynamic system, as a stylistic choice. This way, different environments can have very strong atmosphere and mood in sync with the crafted music and script. On a long term basis, however, it is something the developers may look into.
Weather changes? Yes, as demonstrated by the rain in the Dragon Age: World of Thedas environmental trailer.
Overworld travel map is currently instant-fast travel between nations. Random encounters experienced in between fast-travel, like Origin’s system, is still being investigated and nailed down by the developers. The issue is that entering an area involves scripted encounters for your base. The context of the game has changed so much that it feels unnecessary, but is still being evaluated for Inquisition.
Elements from the novel Asunder will, at the very least, be explored. At least one character from Asunder will appear.
No MMO planned, as of now. While they do have gameplay fundamentals mirroring MMO-mechanics, they want to concentrate on building story. Experience is for “one player coordinating actions of the party”.
Scouts are sent out to show possible places to overtake, like old keeps or outposts. They will tell you the initial storyline and purpose/advantage for the Inquisitor to venture out. These bases captured will be safe harbors for that regional area, once claimed.

"If we do our job, you’ll tell us in 6 months. Probably on a forum somewhere."

The Panel

  • Andrew Farrell, Senior Artist
  • Dean Roskell, Senior Level Designer
  • Jason Barlow, Development Manager
  • Leah Shinkewski, Associate Producer (DA Keep)
  • Mike Laidlaw, Creative Director
  • David Hulegaard, Community Manager (and panel’s Moderator)

"[Bioware] spent a long time in pre-production," as Frostbite originally was used for first-person shooters like Battlefield 4. Everything was hacked by the level designers to prepare for dialogue, communication, and other Dragon Age elements. 

Adventuring

The Frostbite engine allows Dragon Age: Inquisition to implement and use big spaces. Players will travel through multiple regions, similarly to Origins of a fast-travel across the nation. The developers have kept three goals in mind:

  1. Area Variety. Keep the environments fresh and organic for the player to explore.
  2. Make the areas significant. “Why is the Inquisitor here?” Each place has purpose.
  3. Re-discover discovery. Allowing players to traverse the world in any direction they want to go.

The Inquisitor will experience and shape the world through directly influencing the world. With the antagonist hidden and an environment clouded in conspiracy, soldiers are uprooting evildoers at your command and the Inquisition is gaining prestige and power. Your party is the “vanguard” that heads change. By sending troops to fix towers and gain extra areas, your power rises. You, as the Inquisitor, have very unique abilities, involved with closing the rifts, that no other man or woman can do. It’s up to you how to handle the chaos in the world.

Because of multiple regions, every level offers its own challenge. Enemies are unique to the ecosystem, while environmental elements like desert ruins or the coastline with steep hills offer different conflict. 

Highlands

A snowy area where “something goes wrong” and may force conflict with the Red Templars (templars influenced by red, raw lyrium). The location is not simply a small camp - it’s a territory strongly owned and enforced by the Red Templars. The Inquisition’s job, if the player chooses to engage this area at all, is to keep the front moving into this entrenched area by slowly pushing up the mountain.

The main base of operations is protected in the back. War camps protect the front. Red crystals scatter across the snowy fields.  It’s impossible to freely roam this area, as the soldiers litter across the war camps, until the Inquisitor and armies complete certain tasks to alleviate the Red Templar command. 

Highlands is a Tier-2 encounter, scripted like a puzzle. They are not simple highwaymen walking down some path; it’s an army. The Red Templar faction is a full force, dabbling in powerful lyrium and gaining new powers. However, it’s hard to leave them alone, as their base is a big supply position and its continued presence will only help the Red Templars thrive.

Beyond the Red Templars, the Behemoth will be a challenging opponent. A great creature of raw, red power that influences the environment around it. As it will stand firm, with the help of other templars to distract, it’s up to the Inquisitor’s judgement how to handle such a strong opponent. 

The quest line is a terrible risk, but the prize… “You may have gone somewhere else entirely. Like not going to this area at all, but still progressing in this part of the game.” You can drive the story without needing to stop to help at every turn, though it may help the Inquisition for better purposes. Gold is the most immediate treasure, but influence and a new location of a good supply position will help. Your choice.

(Small note: A character from The Masked Empire will appear in the Highlands. It apparently makes sense that they are present.)

Hunting and Gathering

If you want to go dragon hunting, you can. If you want to pick herbs, you can. If you want to hunt deer or nugs (HOW DARE YOU), you can. 

Keep in mind that ecosystems deplete over time, if you hastily wipe out an area. Sometimes you will have to wait for certain areas to repopulate. The developers are not encouraging grinding/farming in these systems, but to make sure that the ecosystem is organic to how an area would naturally feel. 

Kill a few wolves. Let them live. Come back a few times every now and then, and you get a new coat. Maybe down the line, you’ll make a pair of shoes. 

But, kill them all at the same time and you might wait be out of luck the next time you need fancy armor.

Short Things

  • Elfroot is rare
  • Specific kills against a creature faction will benefit combat against that faction in the future
  • "Big *** creepy spiders" are in caves. And possibly in crates. Do not open. (You’ve been warned)
  • Time to crate, a term to describe “how long does your game manage until you have to break a crate”

A Moment for Combat

Traps, stealth, and abilities were improved to help preemptively plan for battle. Walls of ice (edit: magically made ice walls) and blockades will force archers to move into line of sight. 

Dragons

Dragons are designed to rip your head off. Good luck getting in direct contact enough to swing a blade, as they are terrifyingly difficult encounters. In most cases, you will target the limbs enough to attack the head. Dragons have dynamic flight patterns, where it adjusts to certain details: your health, your in-combat/out-of-combat status, and your location. However, dragons are not simply generating out of the sky; each dragon is an individually scripted encounter. It exists for its environment.

Preparing to kill a dragon is your first step. Gearing and preparing your party is second. Dragon hunting alone is giving yourself quests, as many prerequisites exist to not get utterly torched by one.

Quick tip: THE FLOOR IS LAVA.

Ah, well. Not really. Just a tip that dragons can scorch the earth and its fire can damage an Inquisitor’s pretty feet.

DA Keep

The free, web-based experience Keep will “allow you to shape and share your experiences”. The best part of Keep is its ability to help discover and illustrate new areas that the player may have not seen before. Developers are happy with using Keep, as it builds confidence in making sure it’s not detrimental whether the player has or has not played Origins or 2. Going into the future, the Keep will be an effective tool in helping players import worlds and share stories with others. 

Quick Answers

Happenings outside the DA games franchise (i.e books, movies) will relate in the timeline of all events. - Mike Laidlaw, said right before The Masked Empire being referenced in Inquisition

Day and Night cycles? No, as it is driven by story. Not on a dynamic system, as a stylistic choice. This way, different environments can have very strong atmosphere and mood in sync with the crafted music and script. On a long term basis, however, it is something the developers may look into.

Weather changes? Yes, as demonstrated by the rain in the Dragon Age: World of Thedas environmental trailer.

Overworld travel map is currently instant-fast travel between nations. Random encounters experienced in between fast-travel, like Origin’s system, is still being investigated and nailed down by the developers. The issue is that entering an area involves scripted encounters for your base. The context of the game has changed so much that it feels unnecessary, but is still being evaluated for Inquisition.

Elements from the novel Asunder will, at the very least, be explored. At least one character from Asunder will appear.

No MMO planned, as of now. While they do have gameplay fundamentals mirroring MMO-mechanics, they want to concentrate on building story. Experience is for “one player coordinating actions of the party”.

Scouts are sent out to show possible places to overtake, like old keeps or outposts. They will tell you the initial storyline and purpose/advantage for the Inquisitor to venture out. These bases captured will be safe harbors for that regional area, once claimed.

Panelists: 
Jessica Merizan, Lead Community and New Media Manager
David Hulegaard, Community Manager
Leah Shinkewski, Associate Producer (working on Dragon Age Keep)
Conal Pierse, New Media Production Coordinator
Working with Community
"I listen to everything."
When servicing communities, multiple areas of different disciplines and responsibilities exist. It’s important to be amiable with the community, but also interactive with the internal development teams as well. If you need resources, you need to know where to get them. Working with a team is essential. Analysts, content creators…many facets are used to help promote something that the players love. Have good taste. Empathy. No man’s an island. Believe in your ideas. All these things encompass what it means to work within a community.
The Bioware Community
Letting the people experience the games, the same way Bioware has revealed screenshots, blogs, character kits, and more, have been essential. 
Restructuring social.bioware.com was vital to convert BSN from a place where people were talking at each other (toxic is a very common word in describing old BSN) into a place where people were conversing with each other. It now serves as a “marketplace of minds.” The forums serve that purpose, while social encompasses everything: Keep, HQ, Bioware blog, N7 HQ, registering games, and all Bioware’s social media. 
"Why don’t we bring the Bioware base online?" Without anyone having to leave their house, Bioware created the Bioware base Youtube and Instagram. As an effort to bring content directly to viewers, new efforts like the "Take Your Place in Inquisition" contest and behind-the-scenes voice over videos were made available.
In the end, Bioware feels it is their responsibility to create spaces, manage boundaries, and educate fans towards constructive discourse. Of course, in the kindest way by “politely [pointing] out ‘please don’t do that’” for the betterment of the community mind. 
Dragon Age: Keep and the Community
Keep is in closed beta, with the main goal in opening up the Keep to fans. By developing Keep on a manageable scale, they are taking ultimate care of the product to make sure fans down the line enjoy what they see. In its agile devlopment, there is a waver in “where our features are going”, but in providing the Keep to fans overtime, the analytics and feedback provided by the players will be invaluable. “It tells us what our priorities should be,” and tuning the development of the Keep will ensure its helpfulness for fans in the future.
Q&A
"Fan content is half of what gets us through the day."
UGC stands for user generated content, for example: fan art, machinima, cosplay, movies, videos, music, and more. The panel admitted that Bioware has a wall with pictures of pinned up fan art, cosplay, “inquisitor helmets”, youtube videos, fanfiction, and other creations. 
While there’s no guarantee or official plans laid out yet, the community staff is “heavily looking” into promoting creators through new mediums. Character kits are the best example of their efforts to help cosplayers and artists in creations. We will see more to come. 
Regarding “Take Your Place DAI”  
Take Your Place was a voiceover contest held recently by Bioware, offering the chance for a person to voice a character for Dragon Age: Inquisition. Unfortunately, this contest was restricted to only certain countries due to legal regulations in certain countries and timing. ”We need to do a better job,” Jessica Merizan stated in regards to involving all regions into community events. As of recent, their team is in talks with international community teams in order to be more inclusive for future contests.
Becoming a Community Manager
Many facets of a CM are important, but the following are good recommendations for prospective applicants.
Volunteer in community-related endeavors, like forum moderator
Understand Youtube analytics, Google analytics, Twitter
Knowing why the Facebook algorithm is messed up (shows only a small percentage of fans your content)
Do anything with community management experience and get it on your resume
Read anthropology books (obviously this tip comes from Jessica Merizan), as it helps you learn how to differentiate between a person having a bad day or being a troll, predator, or sociopath

Panelists: 

  • Jessica Merizan, Lead Community and New Media Manager
  • David Hulegaard, Community Manager
  • Leah Shinkewski, Associate Producer (working on Dragon Age Keep)
  • Conal Pierse, New Media Production Coordinator

Working with Community

"I listen to everything."

When servicing communities, multiple areas of different disciplines and responsibilities exist. It’s important to be amiable with the community, but also interactive with the internal development teams as well. If you need resources, you need to know where to get them. Working with a team is essential. Analysts, content creators…many facets are used to help promote something that the players love. Have good taste. Empathy. No man’s an island. Believe in your ideas. All these things encompass what it means to work within a community.

The Bioware Community

Letting the people experience the games, the same way Bioware has revealed screenshots, blogs, character kits, and more, have been essential. 

Restructuring social.bioware.com was vital to convert BSN from a place where people were talking at each other (toxic is a very common word in describing old BSN) into a place where people were conversing with each other. It now serves as a “marketplace of minds.” The forums serve that purpose, while social encompasses everything: Keep, HQ, Bioware blog, N7 HQ, registering games, and all Bioware’s social media. 

"Why don’t we bring the Bioware base online?" Without anyone having to leave their house, Bioware created the Bioware base Youtube and Instagram. As an effort to bring content directly to viewers, new efforts like the "Take Your Place in Inquisition" contest and behind-the-scenes voice over videos were made available.

In the end, Bioware feels it is their responsibility to create spaces, manage boundaries, and educate fans towards constructive discourse. Of course, in the kindest way by “politely [pointing] out ‘please don’t do that’” for the betterment of the community mind. 

Dragon Age: Keep and the Community

Keep is in closed beta, with the main goal in opening up the Keep to fans. By developing Keep on a manageable scale, they are taking ultimate care of the product to make sure fans down the line enjoy what they see. In its agile devlopment, there is a waver in “where our features are going”, but in providing the Keep to fans overtime, the analytics and feedback provided by the players will be invaluable. “It tells us what our priorities should be,” and tuning the development of the Keep will ensure its helpfulness for fans in the future.

Q&A

"Fan content is half of what gets us through the day."

UGC stands for user generated content, for example: fan art, machinima, cosplay, movies, videos, music, and more. The panel admitted that Bioware has a wall with pictures of pinned up fan art, cosplay, “inquisitor helmets”, youtube videos, fanfiction, and other creations. 

While there’s no guarantee or official plans laid out yet, the community staff is “heavily looking” into promoting creators through new mediums. Character kits are the best example of their efforts to help cosplayers and artists in creations. We will see more to come. 

Regarding “Take Your Place DAI”  

Take Your Place was a voiceover contest held recently by Bioware, offering the chance for a person to voice a character for Dragon Age: Inquisition. Unfortunately, this contest was restricted to only certain countries due to legal regulations in certain countries and timing. ”We need to do a better job,” Jessica Merizan stated in regards to involving all regions into community events. As of recent, their team is in talks with international community teams in order to be more inclusive for future contests.

Becoming a Community Manager

Many facets of a CM are important, but the following are good recommendations for prospective applicants.

  • Volunteer in community-related endeavors, like forum moderator
  • Understand Youtube analytics, Google analytics, Twitter
  • Knowing why the Facebook algorithm is messed up (shows only a small percentage of fans your content)
  • Do anything with community management experience and get it on your resume
  • Read anthropology books (obviously this tip comes from Jessica Merizan), as it helps you learn how to differentiate between a person having a bad day or being a troll, predator, or sociopath