Creating romances in a BioWare game isn't just a matter of writing and art. It's also a matter of maths. That's one of several insights in a really good 48-minute talk delivered by the writers of Dragon Age Inquisition at last week's GaymerX2 convention. The topic was romance (read: who your character can eventually have sex with). I recommend listening to it.
This official BioWare recording has all the audio from the panel (audio-only, sadly)...
The first 33 minutes is mostly about process: how they decide who can romance whom, how they write friendships, flirtations and romantic relationships, how they even sort out what your romantic partners might look like and what that says about attraction and how they work with voice actors on all this stuff..
The final 15 minutes of Q&A get to some unexpected and interesting topics. For example:
- At 33:30 they talk about the possibility of having polyamorous relationships in BioWare games, enabling a player-character to be in more than one romantic relationship at a time. They want to do it, but it's not worked with the way the games have been programmed so far — "It's not something we have a problem with on any level beyond the [computer] scripting has broken us every time we've tried. " — though it sounds like they will get to this eventually.
- At 38 minutes or so they talk about the idea of using things other than gender or race to determine who can romance whom. For example, why not make some characters not be into you unless you supported a certain faction in the game? It sounds like it's a word-budget issue in terms of writing and voice-acting, as good idea as it is and that segues into...
- At 40:00, from David Gaider, lead Dragon Age series writer: "We have often talked about there's something to be said about how maybe we don't need to have romances be automatically successful [and that we could have] more failure conditions. You could actually fail a romance and then you'd actually need to work a little harder to get through it, and it's not just saying, 'Do you like me? OK, that means we're going to start the romance and we're automatically going to get to the end. That is something we've considered as well."
- And at 40:40: A question about whether BioWare would write an asexual romance. One of the writers noted that there's been a growing number of requests for that. Gaider noted it's something they're interested in.
Again, the whole thing is worth a listen.This write-up about the panel is worth a look too, if for no other reason than to see a chart showing who the romance options are, as announced so far, for October's Inquisition. The Iron Bull is available, everyone!