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BRC Interview with Cameron Lee

Game-wise questions

BRC: Can we count on more spell combinations/cross-class combos as in ME3 or Divinity Original Sin?
Cameron: You sure can! You’ll be able to perform a range of cross-class ability and spell combinations. Along with lots of cross-class combo’s we’re adding a lot more buff and debuff opportunities for other party members to take advantage of in combat. Dragon Age: Inquisition is a party based game and using your party of companions in a tactical ways includes cross-class and spell combos.
BRC: How many specializations will each class have? Will there be a place for any race specific specializations?
Cameron: We’ll announce some of the specializations soon. There’s a nice mix of familiar and new specializations. Specializations are more meaningful to your character and party members in Dragon Age: Inquisition than in previous Dragon Age games.
BRC: We are all dying here to see more about the game. Are you planning to release any new gameplay videos before E3 2014?
Cameron: I’m sure you’ll see some more gameplay videos before E3.
BRC: Will there be any race restrictions on using armor and weapons?
Cameron: You’ll have a lot of freedom to equip and customize your hero and party members. Most armor can be used by anyone as long as it’s of a type your class can use, however if you find a special type of crafting material you can forge armor that breaks those class rules! Qunari can’t wear normal hats and instead have special horn ornamentations. There’s also some armor in the game that’s only for a certain races.
BRC: In earlier gameplay videos it looked like warrior was using “rage” instead of “stamina”, and in the latter ones “stamina” reappeared. Did you choose to drop this mechanic or is “rage” resource unique to some sort of warrior’s specialization (like the Berserker)?
Cameron: If you’re playing a warrior in Dragon Age: Inquisition you’ll be performing some really cool attack and defensive abilities, each of these abilities has a stamina cost. I can’t go into much detail on this topic because we’re working on a new party focused feature for combat that is related to stamina, rage and mana.
BRC: What is of utmost importance in game’s combat system in your opinion?
Cameron: Tactics and working as a team! Dragon Age: Inquisition is about your hero leading your party of followers into battle and working as a team overcome challenges together. It’s challenging, the environment plays a role in combat and enemies are intelligent. This, along with the NPC simulation creates opportunities for you to approach combat encounters in many different ways.
BRC: Will we see a more realistic combat animation like actual swords crossing and blocking?
Cameron: Indeed. As a Gen4 game Dragon Age: Inquisition combat animations are leaps and bounds ahead of what you saw in DAO or DA2. For example you’ll see enemies push back on the player, parries, blocks and lots of other reactivity in combat. There’s even a mage spell which improves your defense and you can see the individual arrows hitting the shield and deflecting away.
BRC: How important actually is balance of classes and specializations?
Cameron: Balancing is really important. We want to make sure each class and specialization is rewarding and has a powerful role to play in combat. Dragon Age: Inquisition is a game that gives you a LOT of choice about how to build your character and this makes balancing all the different races, classes, specializations, weapons, armor and talents you can pick from a really interesting job.
BRC: Will mages be able to use weapons other than staffs?
Cameron: If you decide to play a mage, your hero won’t be able to cast spells unless they are using a staff. However we know there’s some players who like playing a mage in a melee style… we may have a few new things ready to make those people happy.
BRC: Can you tell us approximate amount of dialogues we can expect from DA:I? DA:O contained about 1 000 000 words, in sequel this number went down to about 400 000. We understand that the exact numbers will be known only near the development finish line, but it would be nice to know rough answer.
Cameron: Dragon Age: Inquisition is around the same number of words as DAO. We’re also doing a lot more visual story telling so this vast world feels like a character in its own right.
BRC: Will we see tactic system and customization of characters’ behavior in combat?
Cameron: Absolutely. You’ll have the ability to change how your party members behave in combat. I can’t go into details on this feature just yet though.
BRC: How much of the game and Keep-system is done (let’s say percentage-wise)?
Cameron: Wow that’s a tough question because there’s no scientific way to measure quality. We have the entire story playable, most of the open world is done, lots of dungeons, side quests and many other gameplay and fun activities for the player are all working. We’re shipping in fall 2014 so we still have lots of work ahead to make sure we give you an amazing game.
BRC: Can you tell us about special features of game’s UI and overall control system in console versions? Are you implementing any voice commands or using features of new dualshock 4 controller?
Cameron: Fundamental gameplay control schemes are the same across consoles and the PC has its own custom controls. We’re playing around with some ideas for the Gen4 controllers but no details to share yet.
BRC: Are we going to see common NPCs standing in one place like before or will they be more active, walk, work and so on?
Cameron: The world of Thedas which is where Dragon Age games take place is a living and breathing world so you’ll see NPC’s going about their business. Guards patrol the roads, bandits attack merchants, farmers walk around town etc.
BRC: Will there be QTE in the game?
Cameron: There’s no quick time events in DAI. We’re making a world for the player to be immersed in and QTE’s aren’t a very immersive way to play in an open world game like Dragon Age: Inquisition.
BRC: What’s your take on realism in combat system? Is it important?
Cameron: Realism is important, it’s also important to allow the player to feel powerful in a fantasy setting so we strike a balance between those two.

You-wise questions smile

BRC: Living in Canada what is it you miss the most from Australia?
Cameron: I miss a lot of things from Australia. The sunny weather, great food, live music scene and I miss being there for my friends and family when they need me. I have a nephew who was born just before I left and I’ve only seen him once which really sucks.
BRC: Were there any funny moments/situations at work? Can you tell us about some of the most memorable ones?
Cameron: Gee there’s always something crazy going on at the studio. I often laugh at bugs like when we first created mounts and there was a bug which caused a horse to be riding another horse down a road!
BRC: What’s you take on beards and hats?
Cameron: Hrmm, I like the option to have hats and bears in games like DAI but I don’t think I’d look good with a hat in real-life. There’s a lot of dev’s with beards working on DAI, maybe I should try growing one?
BRC: How do you spend your free time?
Cameron: Playing games and hanging with friends.  I’m currently splitting my time between Assassins Creed IV and EverQuest 1 which I felt the need to go back and play over the Christmas break. Work takes up a lot of time and it’s going to get crazy this year as we finish DAI so I’m not expecting to have a lot of free time.
BRC: What brings you inspiration to work?
Cameron: You guys loving the game is what inspires me. It sounds cliché but it’s incredibly rewarding to work on a game for years and see people all over the world enjoy what the team has put so much time and effort into creating.
BRC: How does it feel to be responsible for developing combat system of such an anticipated game?
Cameron: I’m actually not the producer for combat in DAI. I know there’s a list of developers on the BioWare forums which lists me as such, but Scylla Costa is the producer who works with the combat team. I work closely with the Mark Darrah (Executive Producer) and Mike Laidlaw (Creative Director) across all areas of the game.
BRC: How did you end up being a producer? Share the wisdom with us, would you kindly!
Cameron: I started my career in software. I had my own software company before for about six years before realizing it boring! It was around then that a friend asked me what I was passionate about, this question made me realize I wanted to make games for a living. So I closed my company and joined a small Australian developer as a producer. I’ve being making games ever since and wouldn’t do anything else. 
BRC: Do you have any pets? Like say a ninja-turtle? smile
Cameron: Haha I’d love a ninja turtle! No I don’t have any pets, I’ve wanted to get a cat but with all the travel I do I’d be worried it would die on me like all my plants do.
BRC: And finally, how do you like working in BioWare?
Cameron: I love it. I’ve learned so much in the time I’ve being here. The people are genuine and the studio really tries to look after all of us. Most importantly I love the games we make. When I first started in the game’s industry I told people my dream job was to work at BioWare. It took seven years but it was worth it.
Cameron Lee, BioWare