Dragon Age: Origins' Early Prototypes Didn't Have Dragons
It took over a year of development for BioWare to include dragons in the original Dragon Age.
Dragon Age without dragons seems incomprehensible now, as the monsters seem essential to the series. But early on in Dragon Age: Origins' development, the game didn't have dragons--or, as you might've guessed, a title. In fact, the title came first.
According to a new interview with TheGamer, BioWare hadn't considered adding dragons until it started coming up with a title for its new fantasy game. The studio had originally conceived the game as a fantasy epic set in a world past the age of giant monsters and high magic, where dragons had been driven extinct. After the name "Dragon Age" was created (literally by chance), the team was directed to find a way to bring living dragons back to the game.
"Early on, Dragon Age didn't have a name," environmental artist Ian Stubbington stated. "There were some ideas but nothing concrete, so it was decided that one of the coders would make a quick random name generator. They knocked something together and added a whole bunch of fantasy words to the list. It was fired up and produced some names and the one that got the final vote by the team at the time was of course 'Dragon Age.' [Lead writer] David Gaider responded [with] something like, 'Hmm, we better add some dragons to the story then.'"
Following the decision to go with this name for the game, a series of decisions were made to dramatically overhaul the direction of the game to incorporate the flying serpents. Perhaps most significantly was the change to the Archdemon, which was originally designed as a "big, freaky, anime-villain sort of thing that felt like Lovecraft does Final Fantasy," according to Dragon Age: Origins' managing editor Daniel Erickson. After coming up with the name "Dragon Age", the studio realized it had to change the enemy to a dragon.
What's striking about this is just how late in development it occurred, and how important the decision likely ended up being for the trajectory of the series. These discussions began over a year into development, and it resulted in some tense moments. Be sure to read through the rest of TheGamer's interview, which has a bunch of other interesting bits of information.
Dragon Age's fourth game is in the works, and chances are it'll be chock full of dragons. However, we've got a long time to wait: Dragon Age 4 likely won't come out before 2023. We know scarce few details: it will be set in Tevinter, and it's apparently still using EA's Frostbite engine.
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