Dragon Age: The Meaning Behind the Dreadwolf – Designers Working in Collaboration
The article begins by explaining that the term designer (designers) that they use does not refer to someone who visually creates outfits or environments.
The designers work in collaboration with artists, programmers, writers and many others.
Their role is to help to design, balance and conceptualize the players’ journey.
In this blog, there will be a question of a key system and how distinct types of designers are involved:
Systems designers work on a variety of features through the game, such as skills trees and difficulty levels.
Their goal is to create a vision of functionalities that will have a direct impact on the player’s experience.
User experience designers (UX), in collaboration with systems designers, adopt vision and explore how players will interact with it by creating models and first user flows.
UX technical designers then build this in the engine, working with UX systems and designers in a constant back and forth, keeping the player’s experience and conviviality at any time.
There are also many other types of designers.
Gameplay designers focus on the creation and balance of gameplay, technical level designers create construction blocks so that level designers trace the player’s journey through places, technical user interface designers adapt
The way in which information is clearly presented to the player, the film designers scenes for the best narration experience, and the narrative designers ensure that the flow of information from history to the player is a coherent experience.
Bioware writes that previous DA games have each managed systems differently such as the player’s progression.
And so naturally, they are experimenting just as much on Dread wolf, by drawing part of the past lessons.
They explain that skills trees are a fundamental element of a deep RPG experience, as it allows you to personalize the functioning of the character in fights.
The team of designers is convinced that when the player invests a competence point, it should have a clear and tangible effect, that it feels that there is a difference.
This aspect is the responsibility of several designers, starting with the system designer.
Luke Barrett (system designer) explains that when they envisage something new, they face a lot of problems that they have to solve.
They are then useful to integrate constraints and requests from players.
After work sessions and meetings, they arrive at a visualization table, with images of skill trees, talents, etc., with lists of advantages and disadvantages, then put this in competition.
They take all this into account and write reference documents, very digestible, which present the problems, the needs.
This therefore sums up the objectives so that the design can resolve them.
As a player, I can increase the power of my character thanks to the acquisition of knots
Nodes offer significant power gains.
Each purchase has a meaning
All nodes purchases are additive power gains;
Nothing looks like an unnecessary purchase to access the real knots
A variety of types of nodes develop the character in several ways, not just statistics
As a player, I can explore the different nodes of the skill tree and make a plan
The player must be able to navigate entirely in the skill tree, whatever the investments
Nodes have clear descriptions and videos if necessary
The player has an idea of the total number of points with which he must work
Luke continues by explaining that they really want something that allows the player to build his character in a way that allows him to reach his player fantasy.
Thus, they have designed something that can be largely personalized, as opposed to a more linear progression system.
Once there are enough constraints and declarations of united players, they start to build design.
This is where prototypes and work with UX arrive to expand ideas in order to see how a design can feel, both as a clean entity and how it works with the rest of the game.
Once a game designer like Luke has established the vision of functionality to solve the problem of the problem, he then goes to one of the UX designers to start exploring how players could interact with her.
Bruno Portion (UX designer) explains that his work consists in approaching design in Dread wolf from the point of view of the player’s experience.
His team associates with other developers throughout the project and thanks to the ideation, prototyping, iteration, research and comments, they help to shape the vision of the way players will interact
With the game, signs in the world and how the player affects the world to the user.
Design of interfaces and interactions.
After several cycles of iteration and validation, they arrived at the finalized design of the skill tree.
It was very important for them that the fantasy of playing a certain class and the personalization options appear clearly and at a glance without overwhelming the player.
It was essential for the team to take something that is generally complex and to make it accessible and simple to read.
From there, another designer intervenes to take vision and models and transform them into something tangible in the Frostbite engine.
They call these developers their technical designers UX.
Game designers, UX designers and UX technical designers are constantly working together, providing reciprocal feedback on everyone’s work until a functionality is completed.
Kelsey Wicentowich (UX technical designer) explains that once the design is in place and that the system has been set up, it is transmitted to a technical designer for implementation.
UX technical designers are actually a relatively new position at Bioware.
The former were introduced a few years ago to help fill the gap between UX designers, programmers and artists as technologies of the user interface (user interface) evolved and progressed.
The models provided by the UX designer are used as a starting point and allow you to build the user interface in the game, including the general arrangement and the screen navigation.
Each user interface is a collaboration effort between the XD team (Design Experience) and other pillars of the game team. But the work does not stop once the functionality is functional in the game. C’ It is at this stage that they can really start to assess how it feels and reads for a player.
Does navigation work well?
Is the information overwhelming or confusing?
The conceptions change and the iteration continues until a good balance between the designer’s vision and the player’s experience is found.
The explanations end with a message stating that there is a lot to say about RPG features.
The design is a subject to which they will probably come back when they speak of other parts of the development of the game.
As often, Bioware takes the opportunity to highlight some community creations, fan-art, cosplay, etc.
The article ends with an encouragement to follow Twitter, Reddit or Discord.
They will keep an eye on the questions asked.
And if they cannot obviously not answer questions like when a trailer?
Or When will the game come out?, Will they try to answer some in other blog articles.