Monday, March 16, 2015

Lore consistency, story depth, and changes

Modding has been a little light on in the last few weeks, because I'd been told that there were some significant lore reveals in Dragon Age: Inquisition (DAI). Since I care about how my story relates to lore as it stands in the Dragon Age setting, I wanted to make sure that I wasn't writing anything that would contradict established. Admittedly changing things now would be pretty tough, but I just wanted to check nonetheless, just in case there were any inconsistencies and if there were any corrections I needed/could make. I will, however, keep the post spoiler free for DAI

This actually took a lot longer than I was hoping. The problem is that DAI is *big*, but a lot of its size comes from breadth rather than depth. The main story arc is actually pretty damn short - my initial assessment when I started playing DAI was that it was more of a Skyrim approach, and the more I played it, the more it felt that way. There is a lot of "content", but a lot of it doesn't really have much relevance. There are a bunch of lore tidbits hidden away in various sidequests here and there, but many of the quests are very shallow in terms of story depth. There are a handful that have some lore in them, albeit in a subtle world-building style, small mentions and snippets of information, meaning that you really need to do a *lot* in order to dig into the depths of the lore. Given that there were a couple of instances relatively early on in the game where I was doing a quest that seemed "insignificant" (even including a couple of the War Table operations), but actually gave some very interesting lore information, I realised that this would be a serious undertaking. On the plus side, it has reinforced my dedication for getting The Shattered War complete, because DAI has left the lore and world in a far more interesting state than at the end of DA2.

Fortunately for me, there were no issues with anything that I've written. Now, I'm actually pretty happy about this. Keep in mind that I wrote this story in its entirety after finishing Dragon Age: Origins. While yes, I'm taking damn forever to release the mod, even though I went out on a fairly serious limb for some of the lore, everything I've done has slotted in nicely with some fairly significant developments that have occurred in Dragon Age 2 and also DAI, and only a few minor details needed tweaking. What's even more interesting is that I feel I definitely captured some of the themes and precursors to events I knew nothing about while writing and developing the story.

This isn't to say that the mod hasn't changed during development. Various plot ideas and quests were canned, others changed in terms of implementation or details for various reasons, and a couple of new smaller items added along the way. Sometimes it was toolset limitations that meant I could not do particular set pieces or level designs that I was hoping for. In other cases, my playtesting made me realise that a particular approach wasn't really working that well and I needed to take a different tack in order to make it more interesting for the player. It's my hope that I will have created an interesting and enjoyable adventure for people - and given the different ways that things can play out, one that they'll be willing to revisit and make completely different choices when they do.