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Former BioWare GM says Dragon Age and Mass Effect became "too homogenous"

BioWare veterans lament over the homogenization of Dragon Age and Mass Effect, noting the loss of their distinct identities.

BioWare, the creative force behind giant franchises like Mass Effect and Dragon Age, has left an indelible mark on the industry. While these series have captivated gamers with their narrative prowess and memorable characters, Aaryn Flynn, former BioWare General Manager, believes BioWare may have veered toward homogeneity. Flynn noted that Dragon Age has straddled its roots and the cinematic aspirations of Mass Effect while sharing insights in the EDGE magazine November issue #389 about his 17-year stint at the company.

"We got a little too homogenous between Mass Effect and Dragon Age," Flynn observed. He believed Dragon Age should have remained true to its PC modding roots and its inspiration from Neverwinter Nights.

This sentiment resonates not only with Flynn but also with the dedicated fans who have closely followed the franchise's evolution.

Flynn also fondly recalled how many BioWare developers began their careers by modding Dungeons & Dragons RPGs, perhaps shedding light on their rapport for Neverwinter Nights. While the first Dragon Age drew significant inspiration from Neverwinter Nights, subsequent installments began to deviate from this origin. Dragon Age 2 adopted a more action-oriented style, while Dragon Age: Inquisition incorporated both action elements and MMO-style quests.

Mass Effect: Andromeda, celebrated for its cinematic storytelling, according to Flynn, could have benefited from a more focused, multiplayer-oriented approach, unlike the sprawling "include-everything" approach. This shift marked a decline for the franchise, evident when BioWare canceled Andromeda's planned DLCs to prioritize Anthem - a move that ultimately led to Anthem's underwhelming performance.

The Mass Effect franchise is known for its cinematic narrative approach.

BioWare's challenges in balancing development teams between Dragon Age and Mass Effect had a detrimental impact on both franchises. Flynn expressed, "One of the unfortunate consequences of us going all in on Andromeda was that we didn't have the time and capacity to work more on Dragon Age: Inquisition. The pendulum was going back and forth on these titles."

Flynn currently heads the development of Nightingale at Inflexion Games, an open-world PVE survival game with crafting mechanics powered by Unreal Engine. You might be wondering why a game engine needs to be addressed here. The significance of addressing the game engine arises from the recent Unity Engine controversy

David Gaider, the former lead writer of the Dragon Age series, has voiced his interest in a "PS5-era" remake of Dragon Age: Origins, complete with modern enhancements. Gaider also commended Baldur's Gate 3 as a fitting RPG successor to the Dragon Age series.

This retrospective from Flynn hints at the challenges faced by BioWare, with Dragon Age: Inquisition, released in 2015, being their last success, leaving fans curious about the next installment amidst recent layoffs.

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Hassan Sajid

Hassan Sajid // Articles: 694

Gaming has been a part of Hassan’s life for as long as he can remember, and he has an excellent grasp of all types of games. Hassan is best known for his the in-depth written and video guides that he produces for Xfire. He graduated with a degree in engineering from the National University Science & Technology (formerly known as Caledonian College of Engineering). The research and technical writing skills he earned throughout his time in the university have allowed him to contribute to the gaming community by creating guides. Find Hassan on LinkedIn or find him gaming on Steam.
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