If there’s one studio that this generation of consoles managed to take from a beloved studio to an acclaimed juggernaut – and deal with the problems that a rise to fame often brings – it is BioWare. After making their name in the mainstream, the company is at work on their next-gen Dragon Age: Inquisition.
Although fans are eager to see how the developers will be improving on their existing formula, and just what next-gen tech can make possible in the Dragon Age universe, BioWare isn’t placing any bets on what new forms of input or secondary game experiences – Kinect, SmartGlass, PlayStation Move – preferring instead to see what changes are met with approval from gamers.
Speaking with OXM, Dragon Age: Inquisition producer Cameron Lee pointed out that as the fantasy series (and BioWare as a whole) enters into the next generation, not being one of the first major titles lets them pick and choose how new gameplay and functionality will be integrated into their titles:
“We’ve looked at it, the SmartGlass stuff, Kinect, PS4’s Move and all that… One of the advantages of shipping a year after everyone else is that we get to see how everybody responds to these things, during the new generation.
“We want to take the time to look at how they work, and how players react. Because it may not be what players want, it may not be a good experience. We have the luxury of time, to see how people respond and craft something where if we want to do that, it’s the right thing to do.”
Patience usually pays off when it comes to experimenting with new technology, and since the line between motion controls and gimmicks, or social integration and clumsy connectivity seems thinner than ever, we don’t blame BioWare for playing it safe. The good news is that the company has some history with Kinect, specifically with Mass Effect. The decision to use the Kinect’s voice control for things like quick saving, commanding squadmates or even selecting dialogue options were all far more promising than less-inspired attempts at shoehorning motion controls into controller-based games.
As yet another sign of just how much the Dragon Age and Mass Effect teams will be sharing the leap into next-gen, Lee explains that Mass Effect‘s successes (and shortcomings) with the device may inform their design as well:
“It was an interesting experience with Kinect on Mass Effect, and we’ve got a lot of the telemetry from Mass Effect 3 about how players used it… So we’ve certainly investigated quite deeply the difference between options.”
With the growing emphasis in the RPG genre on bigger, more highly-detailed game worlds, the ability to use physical gestures, voice commands, or mobile devices is mostly an afterthought. And if a majority of gamers continue to feel that way, hopefully BioWare will take note, and not focus too highly on those technologies during the final stages of production on Inquisition.
Besides, if BioWare can deliver a game as open-ended and impacted by player choice as they claim (not to mention visually stunning) then inventing a new form of Kinect or SmartGlass functionality won’t be something they’ll need to worry about.
Do you think there’s potential for developers to do something truly groundbreaking with these types of next-gen integration and technology? Or are you hoping the fad will have run its course by the time Inquisition is released? Sound off in the comments.
Dragon Age: Inquisition is expected to release in 2014 for the Xbox 360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4 and PC.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.