This is in English, mostly because I just sent it off (in a slightly different format) to Jessica Merizan, Community and New Media Manager at BioWare.
This is how this all starts. In October I was invited to an event with select parts of the BioWare Edmonton crew who are of course working on the new Dragon Age game, Inquisition, which by the way drew huge applause yesterday.
The event was at Sjätte Tunnan, a middle ages inspired restaurant in Gamla Stan. I didn’t think too much about it, but contrary to my “normal” way of handling these things, I actually said yes to the invitation. And I’m really happy I did. I spoke to Jessica and Holly during the evening and they were very sweet and just as huge fans as I was, which was lovely. I never got to talk to Chris, but I did tweet him. So this is my letter. I think everyone should know just how awesome BioWare is and how much they care about their fans, if there was ever any doubt.
First off: thank you guys for a lovely evening. You were very gracious, accessible and professional.
– Lovely venue and a lovely sort of setting for this kind of thing. It felt like a good place to eat piglet and drink mead
– Nice swag – the pendant was a nice touch. I think everyone at our table ended up wearing it about three minutes after it was passed out, the t-shirt, well, some did but I think most save it for today
– The cake was not a lie! Awesome way to celebrate good ideas. I’m sure you’ve earned at least two extra loyal fans. If nothing else, you showed with action and not just words how important you think your fans are and that you take their input seriously.
– Wonderful setup with letting us talk to David Gaider and Mike Ladilaw. Since those guys are responsible (in part) of making Dragon Age II the awesome game that it is, it was really fantastic to know that they care enough about their fans to talk to us, even if it’s just over Skype. I know I got a very thoughtful and interesting answer to my question, and I would have loved to continue talking to them (I’ll get to the technical issues). What I caught from the discussion is that they love to talk about their game, and they like their fans well enough to do these kinds of things. And BioWare/ EA is generous enough with their time to let them, which I find amazing. I work with game development (game designer/ producer/ UX designer) so I know the demands placed on at least my time, which makes this phone call even more appreciated for me. Plus I got to talk to some of the people who made my gaming experience so much more wonderful by actually adding some emotional content, and also people that I admire both from a professional perspective and as a fan of the series.
– Mark Meer?! Really?! The only way I could have had my head explode any more was if you’d have brought Jennifer Hale online. Seriously well played. I think everyone in the room loved it and I know that Christian was glowing with happiness. In Sweden we are not spoiled when it comes to meeting the people who sort of “embody” our fandom, so that was a really nice touch. Mark Meer also seemed like a really nice person, very down to earth and like he enjoyed talking to us, so thank you for that.
– Jessica, Holly and Chris – you did an awesome job of putting all of us at ease. As I said, very accessible and easy to talk to, so thank you for that. Lion I sort of know since before, which of course makes him a lot less intimidating ;).
Are actually almost all of them about failing tech.
– Bad connection
– Bad sound to start (but that got fixed)
– Loud venue – a lot of noise going on in the background
As you can see, the pros outweigh the cons by about a million. As a fan, I felt really special and taken care of, like you were there to make sure I had a good time, not just in game but also as a part of a fan experience. It makes me think that BioWare really cares about their fans (which I know you do) and it also gives me a lot of hope for the future game releases from the company. I already know I’m “doomed” to spend hundreds of hours on the Mass Effect and Dragon Age series, but it’s nice to know I’m not insane and that there are others just as drawn in to the experience as I am and it was nice to meet some of them. This is a chunk of goodwill that will last a long time for me. I already held BioWare in high esteem. It got doubled or tripled last night.
Now, if you excuse me, I have to go play through Dragon Age for the 7th time.
For me, asking Mr Gaider and Mr Ladilaw about Anders’ motivations was a huge thing. I love Anders, and I thought I knew why he acted like he did, but discussing it actually brought forth some nuances that I didn’t see previously (and this is coming from a girl who has played the game maybe 4 or 5 times straight through) and I’ve always wondered about. Now I know.
For those of you who weren’t there, I asked how Anders could betray me the way he does at the end of the game. The explanation is that the devs wanted to explore the act of terrorism, and what it would take for someone to become one. For Anders it was also a journey from the carefree, freedom loving mage that he was in Awakening, to Justice, the spirit of justice living inside him, not being able to take the injustice towards mages anymore.
For me, Anders’ betrayal was one of the strongest gaming experiences I’ve ever had, and it made all the difference. Anders, to me, is the linchpin of Dragon Age II. Without him evolving into Justice, the game would not have been as excellent as it was.
And with that, I shall rest my fandomish ways, and my voice, and do some writing.