Developer Introduction

Discuss our dark fantasy adventure tabletop roleplaying game based on BioWare's computer game, Dragon Age Origins.

Developer Introduction

Postby Jeff Tidball » Wed Oct 21, 2009 8:05 am

Hi, everybody!

I've recently come on board with GR to help Chris and the crew develop the Dragon Age RPG, especially releases downstream from the first core set. I'm a freelancer, rather than a full-time GR staffer, but GR has brought me on under a long-term contract so I can lend a hand where needed, rather than getting myopic about single projects. The upside and bottom line is that with this arrangement I'll have a much better opportunity to help field questions here, build community around the RPG, handle ongoing playtesting efforts, and so on.

I have extensive experience in RPG development. I've served as the line developer for Ars Magica and Feng Shui at Atlas Games, and The Lord of the Rings RPG at Decipher. I've written for many other RPGs, including WFRP under GR. More recently, I worked at Fantasy Flight Games as a creative executive, designer, and developer. I decided to become a freelancer in May; I love the freedom, and the opportunity to work with a variety of different publishers. It's been great working with the GR team again.

In anticipation of a new round of "When's the game coming out?" questions, let me say up front that I don't have any new information about that right now, but that once a date's announced, you'll hear it here.

Thanks, everyone!
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Postby Ryngard » Wed Oct 21, 2009 8:00 pm

First off: WELCOME! Nice to meet you and glad to have you on board!

Secondly: I am SO sorry you came on the BOARDS. :) I feel nothing but sympathy for devs on forums. Poor bastard...

Thirdly: Can you guys give us ANYTHING?! A stat block, an update, a tidbit... an annoying riddle that once solved tells us nothing but hey, at least it was DA:O related? :)

Thanks!
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Postby Arcanus » Thu Nov 12, 2009 12:55 am

Obviously not ;)
Could we at least know whether to expect it to be released before the end of the year, 1Q 2010 etc? That would help, a little :)
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Postby The-Broken-One » Thu Nov 12, 2009 1:20 am

well if there currently pulling the boxset together i'd say it'll be a tight sqeeze to get it out before the end of december what with printing and whatnot, unless printing is done and we're abit behind the curve on the process?
either way i think it'll be best guess: first week in december.
Worse/more realistic guess: mid december-early january.
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Postby Jeff Tidball » Thu Nov 12, 2009 6:45 am

I don't have a date, sad to say, and speculation on my part—even given that it would be relatively well-informed speculation—would only make people irritated when it turns out not to be precise.

A thousand perfectly normal things can cause unpredictability at the end of a product's production cycle: sickness, printer problems, approval delays, distribution snafus, and many more. Please don't try to read any tea leaves in that particular list; none of these problems are happening on this project, right now, but I've seen enough strange situations delay products in my the past that I think Chris's decision not to publicize a date until he knows it will be met is very wise.

When we know, you'll know.
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Postby Arcanus » Thu Nov 12, 2009 2:48 pm

OK Jeff, Thanks for the update.
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Postby miburo530 » Fri Nov 13, 2009 8:09 am

Ok, then it's just polishing up the product, something I will always be willing to accept as legitimate. I'd rather wait a little longer and get a really high-caliber product, than get it quick and realize there are a ton of mistakes and have to sift through what seems like dozens of pages of errata or have to deal with numerous spelling errors (cough*white wolf*cough) or just have an utterly broken system (cough*Wizards*cough).

Thanks for the update!
Last edited by miburo530 on Mon Nov 30, 2009 8:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Divyr Cousland » Sat Nov 28, 2009 6:38 pm

Good to hear from you, Mr. Tidball. Is there any way you can mention how the stunt system will play into the game mechanics?
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Postby Jeff Tidball » Sat Nov 28, 2009 6:44 pm

Divyr Cousland wrote:Is there any way you can mention how the stunt system will play into the game mechanics?

My thinking is that it would be bad form to steal the boss's thunder on that one, save perhaps to say that it's lots of fun in play. :D

I imagine that Design Diary 4 will give more details.
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Postby CHiLLFiRe » Sat Nov 28, 2009 11:51 pm

I have two questions Jeff.

1.) Is it possible to take a character beyond level 5 with the First Core Set? Or is Core Set #2 absolutely required?

2.) Is Dwarf Mage 100% impossible? Or is it a possibility in a future supplement? Or would it mess things up too much?

Thanks again!
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Postby Divyr Cousland » Sun Nov 29, 2009 6:46 am

Hmm... OK, how about the ability foci then? It seems that this is the most equatable thing to a skill system. Some people have been wondering if there is a way to improve upon the character's ability focus beyond the initial +2.
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Postby Jeff Tidball » Mon Nov 30, 2009 10:56 am

CHiLLFiRe wrote:1.) Is it possible to take a character beyond level 5 with the First Core Set? Or is Core Set #2 absolutely required?

You'd have to make up a fair amount (and increasing, as levels continued to increase) of material in order go much past level 5 without set 2.

2.) Is Dwarf Mage 100% impossible? Or is it a possibility in a future supplement? Or would it mess things up too much?

It's not possible as set 1 stands. Anything's possible in future supplements (but at the same time, no guarantees, either).
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Postby Krovikan » Mon Nov 30, 2009 11:43 am

Is there going to be a collectors edition? If so what items would be included in this?
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Postby Jeff Tidball » Mon Nov 30, 2009 12:09 pm

Divyr Cousland wrote:Hmm... OK, how about the ability foci then? It seems that this is the most equatable thing to a skill system. Some people have been wondering if there is a way to improve upon the character's ability focus beyond the initial +2.

I'm not sure I understand the question. Can you elaborate?
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Postby Jeff Tidball » Mon Nov 30, 2009 12:10 pm

Krovikan wrote:Is there going to be a collectors edition? If so what items would be included in this?

There's nothing like that planned at this time.
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Postby ledgabriel » Mon Nov 30, 2009 1:47 pm

Jeff Tidball wrote:
Divyr Cousland wrote:Hmm... OK, how about the ability foci then? It seems that this is the most equatable thing to a skill system. Some people have been wondering if there is a way to improve upon the character's ability focus beyond the initial +2.

I'm not sure I understand the question. Can you elaborate?


I believe his question is the same as mine (a very important one by the way).
Can we specialize more in a skill? Can we "buy more slots" for a given skill to get a bonus higher than +2.

Say, I have the Ride skill, which gives a flat +2 bonus on Dexterity checks to Ride, if I want to improve it a bit more, can I "buy a +3 bonus" or the only way is to increase the Dexterity attribute?
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Postby Divyr Cousland » Mon Nov 30, 2009 2:10 pm

Yeah. What he said. I was under the impression that the ability focus was the closest thing to skills.
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Postby Jeff Tidball » Tue Dec 01, 2009 7:27 am

ledgabriel wrote:Can we "buy more slots" for a given skill to get a bonus higher than +2.

Gotcha. Speaking only for the contents of Set 1, the answer is no.

In anticipation that this may not be a popular answer for some of you, I'd like to add that there are other ways the game allows your character to be awesome at the things he's good at. Yes, focuses in DARPG are somewhat like skills in some games, but that comparison doesn't tell the whole story.
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Postby lordmalachdrim » Tue Dec 01, 2009 7:32 am

How much longer are you going to make us wait to give you guys money for this?
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Postby MD » Tue Dec 01, 2009 9:26 am

Dear Mr. Tidball
What are you talking about?

It's a very popular answer....at least for me ;)
If I wanted to play a game with a highly complex skill subsystem that forces me sooner or later to keep track of all the different boni for certain skills, or books full of official character types that I'm 'allowed' to play, I would certainly not wait for Dragon Age, but simply pick a copy of D&D or one of it's many clones.
In my opinion the 'simplicity' of the game, or better, lack of a needlessly complicated system is actually it's greatest strength as it is nowadays
something unique, that sets it apart from the rest of the market.

I sincerely hope that this design philosophy is as well maintaind for the following publications.
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Postby mhensley » Tue Dec 01, 2009 10:24 am

lordmalachdrim wrote:How much longer are you going to make us wait to give you guys money for this?


Yeah, who at Bioware do we have to threaten to get them to hurry up and give the ok already? :wink:
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Postby Reef » Tue Dec 01, 2009 3:20 pm

mhensley wrote:
lordmalachdrim wrote:How much longer are you going to make us wait to give you guys money for this?


Yeah, who at Bioware do we have to threaten to get them to hurry up and give the ok already? :wink:


Ditto :). I keep hoping against hope it'll get released in the next week so I can add it to my Christmas list.


Yes, I know how unlikely that is....
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Postby Divyr Cousland » Tue Dec 01, 2009 3:46 pm

If you look at the actual video game, skills such as Herbalism and Trap-Making do increase as you invest in them (such as Potionmaking, Improved Potionmaking, Expert Potionmaking, and Master Potionmaking.)

They may even advance skills in other ways than with arbitrary bonuses that we may not even be thinking of. I wouldn't be too critical about the system and how it handles skills at least until the game is released!
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Re: Developer Introduction

Postby Project Icarus » Wed Dec 02, 2009 10:14 am

Jeff Tidball wrote:I have extensive experience in RPG development. I've served as the line developer for Ars Magica and Feng Shui at Atlas Games, and The Lord of the Rings RPG at Decipher. I've written for many other RPGs, including WFRP under GR. More recently, I worked at Fantasy Flight Games as a creative executive, designer, and developer. I decided to become a freelancer in May; I love the freedom, and the opportunity to work with a variety of different publishers. It's been great working with the GR team again.


Hey, I just wanted to say that I have thoroughly enjoyed Decipher's LOTR game (too bad that it wasn't supported better by Decipher, by the way), and that your involvement has definately upped my interest in this game even more!

On an unrelated note, I was wondering if you know when the next design diary will be coming out? (And how many there will be?)
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Re: Developer Introduction

Postby Jeff Tidball » Wed Dec 02, 2009 2:58 pm

Project Icarus wrote:Hey, I just wanted to say that I have thoroughly enjoyed Decipher's LOTR game (too bad that it wasn't supported better by Decipher, by the way), and that your involvement has definately upped my interest in this game even more!

Thanks! I'll forward Chris a copy of that when my contract's up. :)

On an unrelated note, I was wondering if you know when the next design diary will be coming out? (And how many there will be?)

I don't have any inside information on that front.
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