Marc Laidlaw, former creative director of the Dragon Age franchise, explained that the writing team had overcome the resulting limitations in BioWare games.
We recently reported what was said about Josh Sawyer (Pillars of Eternity) at the GDC roundtable discussion organized by PC Gamer. Still, today we’re focusing on another developer, Marc Laidlaw, who, in addition to his work on Dragon Age, was the designer of the first Mass Effect and lead writer on Jade Empire. Sawyer asked, “At BioWare, was there a standard method for developing the cast of companions and individual companions?”
“We were firmly in the [camp of] ‘You own this character; you are the voice holder for this character. I imagine that’s fairly common—then you have someone do a pass at the end of the game to go through the character and make sure it fits. But we would typically sit in writing rooms, and the writers would shout out, you’d have Mary [Kirby] owning Varric, and Lukas Kristjanson would be like, ‘Hey, what would Varric say to this thing that Sera says?’ She’d be like, ‘He’d probably be annoyed.’ And she’d throw in a line or something like that,” Laidlaw replied.
Speaking of Varric (he was in Dragon Age 2 and Dragon Age: Inquisition), he represented the dwarves, and the reason there was no romance option with him was that Kirby simply didn’t want to deal with it, and Laidlaw agreed to it because he didn’t think that was an option that everyone should have. He’s been in love with BioWare since Baldur’s Gate II: ” Seeing Jaheira, Aerie, and Viconia represent not the complete, but a very disparate elf experience, I was like, it’d be nice to do more of that. We would talk about ‘What kind of questions are we asking the player in the game?’ Whether it’s mages versus templars, freedom, security, overreach of power, or whatever kind of stuff was being dealt with, we almost chart like, ‘OK, we need characters that represent different viewpoints on these,'” Laidlaw added.
It’s always nice to get that kind of background information.