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Game Writing - Nuts and Bolts (Part 4)


(See Part 3 here)

A lot of great comments and analysis on the last write-up. I’ll go through a few of the comments here, and then post my amended narrative overview for the quest.

Thanks to everyone who partook— and note that there is no wrong answer when it comes to quest design. I have experience, and I can say what might work specifically for Dragon Age, but beyond that there’s no magic trick as to what makes for a good quest and what doesn’t. This is all trial-and-error, with a bit of judgement and personal preference. That’s game design in a nutshell, though.

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autoslizer asked: In your game writing posts you've been talking at length about your line budgets, so I've been wondering. Did the lack of constant voice acting in the Baldur's Gate series mean that your budgets were merely bigger overall or were they effectively unlimited (I'm thinking sidequests involving nothing but stock phrases)?


Back before cinematics became a central part of BioWare’s oeuvre, we did still have word budgets—our work still had downstream effects on game length, translation and especially testing—but they were generally larger. I say “generally” mainly because the costs of our writing, even if they were lower than today, were still very high in comparison to the expected overall sales of the game we were making (and thus after BG2’s massive scope creep, our word budgets clamped down hard even before cinematics and VO reared their collective heads).

Which is not to say that a development bottleneck did not exist back in the days of BG2 (the part of development which was the most expensive and which limited everything else). Back then it was simply art rather than writing.

There’s always something. The only thing different is whether the thing that is the most limited is something about which you care more than the other things.

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It’s been a little while since we first unveiled our first Mabari and Nug plushes at PAX, so we’re now proud to offer them both here online at

These two are our first Dragon Age items, and we look forward to bring you more as Dragon Age Inquisition approaches.

Mabari Plush at $19.99 (comes with his very own Mabari Crunch)

Nug Plush at $19.99 

Note: Mabari and Nug do not come house-trained, and we are not responsible for any antics or mischief that they may cause. 

I have a nug that perches atop my monitor.

The mabari will now soon be mine. Oh yes.

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AMBROV X: A Sime~Gen Roleplaying Game


So Jennifer Hepler is signed on to join the Ambrov X team as a stretch goal! Press release for that bit of news is here. Jennifer tells me she’s quite excited about the project, so if you’re keen I’m certain she’d be incredibly grateful if you helped out!

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The Bittersweetest Thing: Fun Times


My favorite Twitter Exchange of the morning:


This part is always fun. The longer fans have been left to speculate, the more an imaginary DA3 has built up in their head— and thus the revelation of what the game actually will be simultaneously murders all the imaginary babies that could have…