HavenCon 4, “The Only LGBTQ+ Geek and Gaming Convention of Texas,” was held over the weekend. As part of the event, a panel was held featuring Patrick Weekes, Karin Weekes and David Gaider of BioWare.
One Reddit user, ArcherAnders, was in attendance. They had the chance to attend the panel and speak with all three in person. Their post on Reddit features some incredibly interesting information about BioWare, EA, Dragon Age and Mass Effect.
BioWare EA – Saved by the Bell
One of the most interesting pieces of information to come from HavenCon 4 regarding EA and BioWare is the state of the latter. According to ArcherAnders, both Weekes and Gaider confirmed that BioWare would have gone out of business without EA’s help.
During the production of Dragon Age 2, BioWare had essentially run out of money and without EA’s involvement would have gone bust. EA’s involvement kept BioWare afloat, but it also meant that Dragon Age 2 was rushed to completion.
According to the three BioWare staff member, EA’s chief concern is money, but it rarely gets involved with BioWare’s internal development process. EA doesn’t push BioWare to do or not do something and takes a step back from the development of games.
Even when BioWare wants to attempt something risky, EA doesn’t try to stop development. Instead, it plays devil’s advocate and asks questions like “Do you think you can get it right?”
This is a refreshing piece of news. EA is seen as the boogeyman of the gaming world and it’s nice to hear from the people directly involved that this is not the case.
The cost of Romance
Another interesting tidbit from HavenCon 4 is the cost of romance options in BioWare games.
Romance in Mass Effect and Dragon Age games isn’t considered a part of the core experience. This is due to many players not engaging in the romance options.
Because of this, Weekes, Weekes and Gaider said that BioWare has to pick and choose where to go with romance options. When adding in multiple sexual preferences in romancing subplots or multiple player character species the costs of development can skyrocket.
According to the panellists, these romance subplots can end up costing over half a million dollars. The costs come from writing, acting and animation.
Writing diverse characters and being inclusive is not something BioWare has ever shied away from. Being that HavenCon 4 is an LGBTQ+ event, the panellists discussed writing these characters and what the team tries to achieve.
Writing LGBTQ+ Characters
Gaider said that he was not out as gay when he first started working at BioWare. However, after Jade Empire featured a same-sex romance, Gaider ensured he was able to include the same in Dragon Age.
In Dragon Age, Zevran was supposed to be gay, but was made to be bisexual as it was believed that gay men were the smallest player-base. According to player analytics, more players had a female character romance Leliana (19%) than played Rogue at all (16%).
Gaider joked that when fans complain about BioWare pandering by including same-sex romance options, the company whips out this statistic and claims it makes more business sense to leave same-sex romance options in and remove Rogues altogether.
The character of Krem was originally written as cis, but was made trans after a non-binary fan asked BioWare at a PAX panel for more inclusion. The fan wanted to see positive representations of trans people in games as generally, they are depicted in a negative way, e.g. prostitution, murder victims etc.
BioWare had wanted to include a trans character in-game, but wanted to make sure the character fit in and wasn’t simply added in “just because.” When Krem was changed from cis to trans the decision was made as Krem would represent a strong trans person and would show the Iron Bull as an accepting and inclusive companion.
There’s plenty more information on the Reddit post.
It’s always great to hear directly from the developers and it’s especially great when they’re so open and candid.
Let’s hope for some information on Dragon Age 4 and BioWare’s future soon.