Following the report of Anthem and its development, Kotaku has a new report on the development of Dragon Age 4. The report goes through how the game and franchise has changed behind the scenes. It starts about how Dragon Age 2 influenced Inquisition, which ended up influencing the first version of Dragon Age 4; and how Mass Effect: Andromeda and Anthem has led to the Dragon Age 4 that is being made today.
The first version of Dragon Age 4 was code-named Joplin. It was set to be “something very cool, a hugely reactive game, smaller in scope than Dragon Age: Inquisition but much larger in player choice, followers, reactivity, and depth.”
Joplin was going to have players play as a group of spies in Tevinter Imperium, a country ruled by Wizards to the North of Thedas. The goal of the game was to focus as much as possible on choice and consequence. There would be smaller areas and fewer fetch quests and put the emphasis on “repeat play”.
Bioware wanted to make areas that changed over time and missions that would branch in interesting ways depending on the choices that were made. The game was also going to center on heists. The developers wanted to build systemic narrative mechanics that would allow players to perform actions like persuading or extorting guards without having it be a hand-crafted thing. In the end, this would not be made as the team was moved to work on Mass Effect: Andromeda.
After that was completed, a new game was also being developed. That game was Anthem and similar to Mass Effect: Andromeda, the team needed help; so Joplin was canceled and the majority of the team who worked on it was moved to help on Anthem.
The rest of the team who wasn’t working on Anthem was working on the next version of Dragon Age 4 being made today, code-named Morrison. It is being built using Anthem‘s tools and codebase and will have a live service component, built for long-term gameplay and revenue.
When it was first reported to be a live service game, Bioware General Manager responded saying “Reading lots of feedback regarding Dragon Age, and I think you’ll be relieved to see what the team is working on. Story and character focused. Too early to talk details, but when we talk about ‘live’ it just means designing a game for continued storytelling after the main story”.
Dragon Age 4 was teased during the 2018 Game Awards. We’ll have to wait and see how the game turns out to be and if any ideas that were being developed for Joplin make it into the game when it gets released.