How BioWare Plans Who You Can Romance In Their Games

How BioWare Plans Who You Can Romance In Their Games

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!


    Colour me curious, Australian Kotaku Kommenters:
    Do you like romance in your games, are indifferent, or do not like it?

      I enjoy romance if it's done well, like with anything in games. I like when RPGs include the option, because to me RPGs are all about the players interaction with the story and its characters and the ability to influence those things and craft your own story, so the more choices you have with what sort of relationships you can form with characters, be they romances, friendships, rivalries or straight up enemies, the better.

      Could not give a fuck, whether it be homo or hetero, as long as it isn't jammed down my throat (no pun intended) and I can avoid it if i wish to. That said it seems to be a waste of resources to me as they always come off as cheesy, cliché and entirely predictable - adding nothing to the overall story, but i guess some people love that shit so it's not going anywhere.

      Personally I would much rather more story\character development, choices with real consequences and the ability to fail. I just want a more intelligent game, not one that treats me like a bumbling idiot. I know it's wishful thinking as everything in the last 7 years has been about taking away choice to the point where you have funny/snide remark, good guy answer, bad guy answer.

      It gets me down that 99% of the advertising / PR for DA:I has been about companions and romance. Like, really gets me down. I cancelled my preorder because of it.

        Part of it seems to be gaider pushing his own agenda. Do we have to cater to every sexual preference? Next da we'll have a transvestite with option of permanent sex change. IMO romancing is pretty silly and doesn't add to the game at all (any romance).

      I like storyline romances (I'm a sucker for romantic plots), but character driven romance mechanics are just another system like "moral" systems. You figure out what makes the numbers go up or down and then do whatever is necessary to get the best abilities, ending, loot, or whatever. I've played many games that have romance systems and have yet to see one that actually feels like anything other than a game mechanic.

    It's bioware, If you couldn't fuck everything that moves in your party regardless of a/s/g I'm pretty sure they'd feel like they're letting themselves down.

    It didn't used to be like this, once upon a time people actually cared about things OTHER than what you'd be able to get with in their games. Mass Effect was a great game but sadly I feel it was the end of an era, and the beginning of the spiraling decent bioware has had in recent years.

    Romance options in dragon age games adds depth to the story and allows for replay that isn't a complete repeat. If you want to shoot and kill everything...go play a combat game! I love the romance varieties, and it is like playing a novel with love, loss, war and triumph! Good for Bioware. Keep up the fantastic work and visions!

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