Former BioWare General Manager Reflects on The Witcher 3’s Biggest Advantage Over Dragon Age: Inquisition


Fair or not, Dragon Age: Inquisition has often been compared to The Witcher 3. Released just months before it, Dragon Age: Inquisition won Game of the Year and was generally praised by critics, but ultimately drew unfavorable comparisons. with the role-playing game CD Projekt Red.

Speaking to GLHF, former BioWare CEO Aarin Flynn noted that CDPR’s decision to focus on PS4, Xbox One and PC was a huge benefit to the project compared to Dragon Age: Inquisition, which was also supposed to run on Xbox 360 and PS3.

I would say the biggest compromise came from the fact that we had to release Dragon Age: Inquisition on Xbox 360 and PS3 at the same time, just like we did on PS4 and Xbox One.

It ruined so many ambitions because we didn’t have the team size or the time to really differentiate these things. So you had to sort of work out the lowest common denominator. And when it did, it certainly shattered some of the expectations and ambitions we had for certain fun features in the gameplay. In contrast, CD Projekt didn’t do that with The Witcher 3 a few months later, and I think their game was better for it.

Released in late 2014, Dragon Age: Inquisition was a sprawling RPG based around exploration, relationship building, and recruiting new characters to your growing headquarters. It was praised for the size of its world, but criticized for its somewhat basic combat system and repetitive MMO quests.

Flynn says that BioWare struggled not only with the integration of its massive RPG on the previous generation of consoles, but also with EA’s proprietary Frostbite engine. Flynn describes working within the constraints of an engine originally built to support DICE’s Battlefield series as a “titanic effort”.

Bending it to make RPG elements was definitely a challenge. This has led to compromises and things that we certainly wouldn’t want to do were it not for technological limitations. But the team has always found incredibly clever and sensible ways to get around this. I haven’t touched her in five years, so I can’t tell where she is now, but I still see the bugs that players write down and I think, “Ah, that’s too bad.”

Frostbite has been a sore point for EA for years. Both FIFA and Madden struggled to adapt to the engine, with the NHL refusing to use the technology until the release of NHL 22. Whenever EA had development problems, the Frostbite Engine tended to be at the center of the problem.

But BioWare fought harder than most. Dragon Age: Inquisition, Mass Effect: Andromeda, and Anthem had problems as BioWare dealt with poor internal support and built new tools from scratch. His most successful project since Dragon Age: Inquisition – Mass Effect Legendary Edition – is stuck on the old Unreal Engine 3.

As a programmer, I underestimated the complexity that Frostbite presented to our development teams, and I wish I could better communicate this to EA’s senior management. Too bad I didn’t understand the friction the engine created for us by making a completely different game. I see it now in the news and in the press, so I kind of get it, but I think I could do a better job. I could use the fact that I had an engineering background to better communicate things, rather than believing and relying on engineers being smart, we’ll figure it out, as we’ve sometimes done in the past.

Flynn is currently the CEO of Inflexion Games, a new studio that is working on Nightingale, a survival game that will allow players to explore a “seemingly endless” number of worlds inhabited by faeries.

As for BioWare, it’s still working on Dragon Age 4, which has reportedly been rebooted several times during development. BioWare says it’s currently “right in the middle of production” and that the new game will focus on the single-player experience. There is no word on a release date for the project.

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