Dragon Age: Inquisition writer on the necessary pain of cutting content

BioWare writer explains why cutting content is harder than you think.

A reality of game development is that a lot of great ideas and content are cut from the final product due to deadlines and available resources. As players, we’re always disappointed when a feature that sounded great didn’t make into the game. As Dragon Age: Inquisition writer David Gaider said on his Tumblr, this process is harder for developers than you may assume.

Gaider explains that Dragon Age: Inquisition is approaching Alpha, also known as “Content Complete.” The team is still creating content, but at this point it’s more concerned with making everything it already has work properly than adding something new. It’s also the phase in development when the team makes the biggest cuts.

The writers are mostly done with dialogue, which is currently being edited, recorded, and prepared for cinematics. At the moment, Gaider and his team are working on pretty much anything else in the game that requires text and responding to cuts.

“This is a pretty stressful time for everyone,” Gaider said. “Every cut feels like it’s reducing the overall quality of the game, until there are so many of them you feel like you’re producing a piece of crap—until you remind yourself that every game goes through this, and the alternative is shipping late or not at all.”

Gaider said that it’s not a process fans can really understand. “They’re usually oblivious to what’s going on, harping on what color the sails should be while the hull is rapidly leaking water,” he said. “Which is a strange dissonance from our perspective, let me tell you.”

Dragon Age: Inquisition launches October 7 for Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and PC. For more on the role-playing game, be sure to read GameSpot's previous coverage.

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emanuelmaiberg

Emanuel Maiberg

Emanuel Maiberg is a freelance writer in search of the Citizen Kane of burritos.
Dragon Age: Inquisition

Dragon Age: Inquisition

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350 comments
nazgoroth
nazgoroth

I read down the comments and see a lot of sarcasm towards EA.

And i can only conclude that i agree with pretty much all of it... this reeks like bullsh... i mean DLC.

Bellum_Sacrum
Bellum_Sacrum

We here at EA are trying to pretend that you're missing out on content that we had little choice but to cut. But rejoice! We are going to try hard and that content may very well show up as DLC! You should be happy!

kaeleron
kaeleron

Cutting Content AKA Designated DLC Packs

Diablo-B
Diablo-B

Bioware's biggest weakness is that they are such an open company that they keep telling the public how the food is made which enrages people. Just give the masses the finished product. We don't deserve to know how we got it. All we do is complain.

But Canadians are too nice for their own good

spenta
spenta

Just ship it late for Christ's sake!  Why haven't they figured out yet that we'd much rather wait then pay for a broken piece of crap.

Diablo-B
Diablo-B

Bioware has yet to release a functionally broken game

Bellum_Sacrum
Bellum_Sacrum

Keep making excuses EA, we know that "cut content" will show up as DLC.

virtualskill
virtualskill

Just dont cut so much that we end up with another DragonAge 2 situation. That was a crappy shell of a game. The alternative of "Delaying" the game is preferred..

Chernnunos
Chernnunos

@virtualskill Agreed. DA2 was just awful....Stop trying to add silly combat gimmicks to an epic RPG saga.

jark888
jark888

GS website is down it seems (Mon 12th May at 4PM). Can't use Google Chrome to log in :(

syllvanas01
syllvanas01

dear bioware.

NOW your fans know why you dropped the "III" from the original name of the game "dragon age III" to simply "dragon age: inquisition". you knew beforehand that you will have to cut down on its content, but realized that announcing both announcements (changing the game's name & cutting down its content) at the same time would spell disaster for you. we're not stupid bioware, I assure you. all of this is no mere/unexpected coincidence or inconvenience by you...


slappy54
slappy54

Bioware: we can't do this, we can't do that, lack of time, lack of resources, blah, blah, blah...


CDPR: what's that you want? We'll get it to you in the next patch. For free.

gameroflegends
gameroflegends

Good job guys! I can not wait for Dragon Age: Inquisition! 

sjansen100
sjansen100

Reading thru these commets.....Makes me wonder why game developers even bother giving interviews anymore. All he was trying to do was give some insight into the game development process and all he got back was cynicism. They have deadlines to meet, just like lots of other ppl in their jobs. 


The problem is not the devs themselves or even to an extent EA. The true root of the problem is that EA is a publicly traded company and therefore beholden to it's shareholders.


I wonder if all these ppl rant about extended cut movie releases on home video? "I paid $10 to see it in the theater, and now I have to $35 to get and extra 10 minutes I didn't see before!?!?!"

DanielCorfour
DanielCorfour

@sjansen100  and also, even if it wasn't a publicly traded company, at the end of the day, a game has to make a buck. If it takes 10 years to develop, it probably won't. The video game industry is a high risk market with high investments. It's incredibly risky thing to do the so-called "right thing". A lot of good games flopped precisely because they were good games. Too much time and money went into them and they catered to a very niche audience. There was no way to make the money back. That's the sad reality of the business 

DanielCorfour
DanielCorfour

Jesus fuck. Everyone here is bitching without knowing anything. Here's a little insight for all you lovely people:


Before the Alpha phase a lot of different content is being worked on. When the game goes to Alpha, some of this work-in-progress content is cut and never ends up in the final product, because it would take a lot of time to finish it, you don't have the money for it, or some other reason. This happens with every game. I'll say that again: this happens with every single video game ever released. It doesn't mean it will end up as DLC.(although some of it might). It means most often that it will never see the light of day. It happened with Skyrim, it happened with the Witcher. It happens with every single fucking game. It's not news, and it isn't outrageous. 


What the writer said that this is a thing that sucks for him, because some of the content that's being cut, is something he was working on, maybe even his idea. It';s not a difficult thing to comprehend. 

musalala
musalala

@DanielCorfour  Only   problem is EA/Bioware are notorious for cutting content out only to resale it as day on edlc, dlc or microtransctions. The issue is  here is trust, the content is not being cut to make the game better ( as in most cases in game development )  its been cut to nickle and dime customers.

DanielCorfour
DanielCorfour

@musalala @sjansen100  and this time they're not doing it. They already said there won't be day-one DLC, there won't be extra characters sold separately as dlc, and the preorder DLC is merely a weapon pack, the deluxe edition has some extra cosmetic stuff, and that's within the acceptable range of pre order DLCs. It's not a necessary component of the game or story, so they are free to sell it separately to make an extra buck. No one needs to buy that to experience the full game.


"the content is not being cut to make the game better".. how the hell do you know that? You're just assuming things. And it's a wrong assumption to begin with... first off, the developer specified that it is a thing that happened with Origins, and he also said it is a necessary thing for the game to release on time. And do you honestly think the developer would have blogged about it if that was the case??... From everything I've seen about this game, they seem to be doing this to cater to the fans, who arguably they themselves pissed off... but when someone is trying to right the wrongs they made, and basically apologize... showing them the middle finger is childish and stupid. I personally feel cautiously optimistic about this game.  The things I've seen about it are pretty good.


Anyway, we won't know anything until the actual game comes out, so how about we keep the "I know this game is going to be shit, because I have psychic abilities" kind of comments to a minimum. Cause you actually don't have any psychic abilities, but rather a need to hate on things. And I do mean that. Hating a game that's out and sucks, a-la DA2, is fine and dandy, but hating a game that doesn't even have an official gameplay reveal.... then you have problem.

tightwad34
tightwad34

Um, who ever said anything about cutting content being easy? I sure as hell would have never thought that. Why would one think it easy?

roguedev
roguedev

Yeah I mean look at Dragonage 2, that was obviously only 5% of an actual game repeated over and over and over again to make a full length game r_r

Jokes about the godawful lazy no excuse for game that was 2 aside, 3 should be better although I personally am not expecting it to be as good as the first game or expansion which I consider to be fairly well crafted as far as modern RPGs go, nothing to the level of witcher 2 writing wise and falling short of older games like baulders gate 2 or even the neverwinter nights series in mechanical depth but still a worthwhile game.

I am expecting/hoping inquisition is more like what the two mass effect sequels were to the original. Games with less character, less plot strength and scope, but were fun none the less.

DanielCorfour
DanielCorfour

@roguedev  Awakening was not "well crafted" or really good for that matter. It was a fairly average expansion with waaay too many bugs. I had to install about 10 mods plus unofficial patches to fix the game. And I still had a major plot bug which I couldn't fix. That's not a sign of a good game...


As to DA2 being "obviously" 5% of the actual game? You have no idea what these cuts are, do you? Noo.. it was the game that was intended. Shitty, yes... but I bet you they cut more from Origins than 2. DA2 had a short dev cycle and they probably planned for that in advance.


And the Witcher is extremely overrated by it's fans. Both of them. I'm sick and tired hearing about it or Dark Souls on every RPG forum. They're good games, but just shut the fuck up with them already. Every single comment section: "The Witcher 2 is da best game Evvaa, and this "inser game name" sucks." Gods, am I tired of hearing it. 

roguedev
roguedev

@DanielCorfour @roguedevYou have heard of Hyperbole right?
Heck I thought the "jokes aside" part of the very next paragraph would have tipped you off... Obviously not but oh well.

Good for you, I appreciate the witcher 2's writing (hence my specifically mentioning it's writing) you don't like the writing, awesome... thankfully I was expressing an opinion and it has no bearing on you nor was it "going on" about it.


As for the expansion being "well crafted", please read and comprehend entire sentences before commenting "fairly well crafted as far as modern RPGs go" see the qualifiers I put there... Changes the entire meaning of the sentence. It was also referring to Origins and Awakening as a whole, amusingly I was able to play through awakening without issue at launch. It is more of a comparison of what we get these days, rather than actual overall quality.

DanielCorfour
DanielCorfour

@roguedev @DanielCorfour  yeah, missed the joke part, sorry about that, but I was just reading comments here, and got somewhat frustrated by the sheer stupidity of most of them. 


And I didn't say that the Witcher was bad. It had it's problems, both of them, but I did say they were good. I only said I was tired of hearing about it on every single forum about rpgs. It's like that's the perfectest game ever made, and frankly it's frustrating. That is all. 


Awakenings bugs is not something you easily notice. You really have to play the game to know they're there. They're not the obvious "trapped in a wall" bugs. It's missions not triggering,loosing all your equipment, and the plot flags not being correctly set. And add to that the 40 price tag with not enough content to justify it(when compared to Origins), it wasn't one of the better rpgs either. 

shnelle
shnelle

My problem wasn't with cutting content.  Mine was with advertising said content THEN cutting it.  The collector's edition of ME3 was supposed to come with an INTERACTIVE robot dog, a lithograph and an art book and a few other things.  You got a robot dog that didn't do anything but walk in a circle and ignore you, a post card and a tiny half book.


Later you can actually go into ME3 files and find half finished data for that robot dog showing the interactive part was cut from the entire game.  It was said that it was an 'artistic' decision.  I find this unconvincing.  If you advertise something and it is not there it is simply false advertising.


That is just one tiny example.  There was a lot of that with ME3 and DA2.  It was never acknowledged by the company at all.  It was all swept under the rug or ignored.  All said 'artistic' decisions aside, my real problem is the false advertising.  It happens again and again and again and no one ever gets called on it.


If the company had taken responsibility just a little I'd have more faith in them.  That is what broke the camels back for me.  I want to have faith but I just can't.  I don't think it's any one person's fault.  I think it's just the system of huge publisher and developer getting too big and faceless.  I still hope they do well with the next Dragon Age.  I hope it restores my faith, but I really doubt it will.  Once faith is gone it's almost never coming back.

orgod
orgod

Bioware should learn from Projekt cd RED & From Software regarding special edition and DLC.

It seems Bioware lost their way, Again.

Since EA bought them they became shi**y company, always under big time restrictions and had to cut a lot of materials for DLC's.

DanielCorfour
DanielCorfour

@orgod  Wahhhat? Please calm the fuck down.. CD Projekt Red cuts things from their games as well. It's not even cuts... it's unfinished concepts which never end up in the final product. It's a natural part of game development which happens in every single game ever released.. 


What restrictions, what Dlcs...  no one said anything about it. They already delayed the game a year. It was supposed to come out last fall. The amount of hate and anger for the sake of hate and anger is getting fucking ridiculous. 

leikeylosh
leikeylosh

"They’re usually oblivious to what’s going on, harping on what color the sails should be while the hull is rapidly leaking water,”

Dude, you should know by now that "color" is a forbidden word in any kind of statement coming from BioWare.

WolfGrey
WolfGrey

Then take the dam alternative of shipping late. 


Should be far more concerned with your game than the dam deadline.

mattcake
mattcake

There goes my watermelon abuse then.

Anigmar
Anigmar

So the cuts undermine the product quality but when people say the game wasn't too goodyou say "people expected too much" and before the next product release the devs go "oh we had schedule issues, it was a bit rushed, this time is different". Bioware's been doing this since DA2 and rinse & repeat. We haven't seen any relevant gameplay, just some eyecandy, and now this is supposed to not make us worry? Terrible move, as much as I want to believe in Bioware again this doesn't help.

Trev9421
Trev9421

People on here should be winning the lottery, because apparently they're all psychic. I'll call this game crap after it releases if it is crap.

Trev9421
Trev9421

Or you could do this thing where you wait until the game is released and see. You know, stuff like: read reviews, watch gameplay videos, and whatnot. Zealotry is never the best option.

Trev9421
Trev9421

Sorry lol, it sounded suspiciously like sarcasm.

BuBsay
BuBsay

@musalala @001011000101101@Trev9421 I know, who do that expect to protect these multi-billion dollar corporations?! All they have is an army lawyers with questionable ethics who get paid hundreds of thousands every year! 

That's a hardly enough to feed yourself let alone a family!

LC1982
LC1982

@001011000101101 @Trev9421  Agreed. but at the same time they could surprise us. The internet has a way of bringing out the worst in all consumers. So I agree with the consensus lets see what happens on Oct7th, worst case scenario this is not a Day 1 buy. You still got Mordor, Which looks STELLAR BTW

001011000101101
001011000101101

@Trev9421  I's pretty pathetic yes. What happened to giving companies a third chance? I mean they only kind of screwed up their last two major releases with the same kind of promotion and media talk beforehand, but come on, give them a break! It's just a 60 $ game!

musalala
musalala

@001011000101101 @Trev9421  What really sickens me 001011000101101 is this absolutely disgusting down right filthy attitude that consumers have today ...Holding companies accountable for their actions ACCOUNTABLE WTF !!! I mean seriously  it saddens me when people attack these innocent multi billion dollar corporations<<<wipes tears from eyes<<<< You people need Jesus. 

001011000101101
001011000101101

@Trev9421  I was absolutely not being sarcastic in any way. I hate sarcasm. If sarcasm was my best friend I'd throw him in a lake.

Dark_Wr4ith
Dark_Wr4ith

I seriously hope Bioware are trying to downplay the title a bit so that we are all very pleasantly surprised when it comes out and it's amazing, fully redeeming them of the mess that was called Dragon Age 2. Please, please Bioware. T-T

001011000101101
001011000101101

@Dark_Wr4ith  Yeah I'm pretty sure that's what they're doing. Bioware have been known these last few years for downplaying things in order to show off some pleasant surprises on release day.

Darkhol0w
Darkhol0w

@Dark_Wr4ith The biggest mistake that I think they did is that they decided to go with the "action" rpg type route like DA2. 

That's what is making me very skeptical about this game..I hated the combat from the second game alongside the other obvious reasons.

xantufrog
xantufrog moderator

' Gaider said that it’s not a process fans can really understand. “They’re usually oblivious to what’s going on, harping on what color the sails should be while the hull is rapidly leaking water” '


Ugh, you had to get all "talk-downy"? I appreciate the need to cut stuff, and as a writer this may be a tough part of your job. But don't go all "MS PR" on us

LC1982
LC1982

@xantufrog  This is what happens when someone's craft is shot at before the finished product arrives, YOu build up this wall and defense of I can attack first before they hurt my feelings, which at the end of the day they have professional or not. The age old saying of if it dont apply let it fly rings true here

EdmundKain4682
EdmundKain4682

Well content gets cut out all the time. ( While I say a game can never be too long)  there is a point to where it can be come down right tedious. If they put some of it out as DLC I guess I'm not too bothered by that since its up to me to buy it or not. At least their dlc will not be my oh so dreaded MAP PACKS. 

RossRichard
RossRichard

Of course cutting content is harder than we think. "Do we make this day-one DLC, or preorder DLC??"

shingui5
shingui5

Time for a bit of devil's advocacy. 

Content gets cut from almost anything before it gets released. Some of the best movies/TV series/Games, whatever, they all have things that were left out, things that had to be cut for either budgetary reasons, deadline reasons, or just because the people making it, didn't think it would be any good.

In game terms, most of the cutting gets done in the early-alpha stage, like Gaidar has said above. This is the phase where the content is in the game, but it isn't particularly implemented fully, or doesn't necessarily work. 
So, let's say something gets cut from the game at this point. A mechanic, a piece of story content, whatever. And it gets cut for any of the above reasons. Would it be such a bad thing that, in a few months, once the game is complete, the developers return to this cut content and then expand it, make it work, make it something better than it was before, and then sell it as DLC? 

The content that was cut was never intended to be in the main game anyway so the main game is still a full game, and the developers save some time in designing something from scratch, but they still spend resources fully implementing it and expanding it, and they get to revisit something that they might have liked, but just couldn't fit in. 

chuckles471
chuckles471

@shingui5  Yes, but with Bioware it comes out on day 1(or in some cases leaked onto the store a few weeks before the game is actually out).


We get this violin story every time, and the hardcore BSN'ers eat it up.  


Once with Shale and Zaeed, "ok, we get it free with a new game, I can live with that.  It's kinda like an online pass."


Then with Sebastian, "Well, it's only pre-orders.  I supposes it's kinda OK, they are giving us the chance to get it for nothing".


Then From Ashes,  "Only special edition copies that cost more... F U Bioware".


The slippery slope has become a trend.

001011000101101
001011000101101

@chuckles471 @shingui5  You should be grateful these awesome video game developers even give you a chance of paying even more of your money on day-1 for their art!

youre_a_sheep
youre_a_sheep

@shingui5 If that was representative of DLC I'd have no problem with it, in fact I think it largely began that way.  Unfortunately greedy companies do deliberately withhold things now for extra cash, consciously deciding their work will net them $80 rather than $60.  I'm among the minority who think the industry has outlandish expectations put on it to deliver more content than $60 justifies, but their sleazy DLC tactics with skins, multiplayer maps, weapons, in-game money, etc. paint an ugly picture.

Trev9421
Trev9421

I honestly can't think of any game that has any of that stuff except map packs on multiplayer FPSs. Then again, I never check.

I Take that back. Kingdoms of Amalur had level appropriate gear for sell. Still a good game though.

001011000101101
001011000101101

@shingui5  Yeah this. It's especially important to let customers know that stuff is being cut months before release so that they can feel good about looking forward to and pre-ordering the game. Telling people what the game actually will have on release is pretty boring.