Holly Conrad Debuts Female Inquisitor Cosplay from Dragon Age: Inquisition

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At the end of August, Jessica Merizan and Holly Conrad appeared onstage during PAX Prime to help BioWare devs kick off the Dragon Age: Inquisition panel by revealing the first concept sketches of the female Inquisitor.

Since then, Holly has been hard at work creating a costume to bring the look and feel of the female Inquisitor to life. We were so excited that Holly could join us at the Edmonton Comic & Entertainment Expo in September to debut the completed outfit!

Following the expo, Holly was gracious enough to answer some questions about her involvement with the female Inquisitor’s concept.

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[BioWare]: Holly, you didn’t just make a female Inquisitor costume—you actually worked with DA:I’s Lead Concept Artist Matt Rhodes on her in-game outfit design. What was that process like?

[Holly Conrad]: It was awesome! Matt is one of my artist heroes, and getting to work with him was such an honor. We went back and forth on the overall look of the character, making sure that if I did any tweaks, it would still keep the same silhouette, etc.  And I talked about aspects that I thought could be altered slightly to work better in the real world. I think I could talk forever about translating drawn or 3D rendered costumes into the real world.

[BW]: What aspect of the female Inquisitor’s design did you feel was the most important to address?

[HC]: I really like to be able to keep a female character armored properly so they can take a hit, but can still maintain a silhouette that’s distinct from the male character. That was my goal with this character: to keep her really kickass and functional, but not just be a block of armor or a chainmail bikini.

[BW]: What did you use as inspiration for this design, and how did you find balance between fashion and function?

[HC]: Matt did all the initial fabric choices, design, etc. The concepting I did involved a lot of mobility issues, like changing the large material sash over the waist into a belt with pouches (because adventurers need pouches for gold and lyrium and other goodies, of course). I also made it so the coat could be brought in close to the waist, just making the look a bit slimmer.  I picked materials for the actual costume that were historically similar, like a linen shirt and wool coat.

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[BW]: When you see the costume in person, you can see all the different layers and detail. How many pieces make up the entire outfit?

[HC]: Oh, man, lots. There’s eleven pieces of armor in total that snap/attach separately, including the helmet.

[BW]: Which part of the costume are you most proud of, and which part was most challenging?

[HC]: I’m really proud of just getting to have this experience and work with BioWare and Matt. It’s been so great and inspiring, and challenging for me as an artist as well. I’m proud that I had a small part in it. After that, it would for sure be the helmet. It’s actually patterned out of foam and not sculpted, which is something I haven’t done with helmets before, and it was super fun!

The most challenging part in the build was definitely the coat, since I’m more familiar with making armor. Thankfully, I found a wonderful seamstress (Samantha Terry of Double Monocle Cosplay) who created it for me. She did an amazing job, and the costume really came together thanks to her skills!

[BW]: Now that you’ve had the chance to wear the costume out in public, how would you describe your experience at Edmonton Expo (other than not being able to open water bottles)?

[HC]: Haha! Yes, in retrospect, I don’t think gauntlets were ever used for opening water bottles, so really it’s still realistic. I had an AMAZING time at the Expo and met so many wonderful people. They were all so interested in the costume and happy to see people visiting—it was really special.

Bringing a new character to life that no one has really gotten to encounter before is awesome, and has a kind of cool air of mystery about it. I can’t wait until we get to know the Inquisitor even better and see more cosplayers dressing us as him/her! I hope we can do it again next year!

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Our sincerest thanks to Holly for finding the time in her busy schedule to hang out with us at Edmonton Expo and give attendees a preview of the female Inquisitor. She looked fantastic!

The Dragon Age Keep

Hey, it’s me again,

In Dragon Age, choices matter. It has always been important for us that our fans have complete control and freedom in shaping their Dragon Age world. The decisions you make, the foes you vanquish, the relationships you forge. It’s all important and needs to be honored. Many of you have been wondering how your choices from Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age II will be supported in Dragon Age Inquisition. Today, I’m here to give you information on exactly that.

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I’m excited to announce the Dragon Age Keep. Within the Keep, you’ll be able to customize a Dragon Age historical world state to your exact specifications. How did you modify your Warden and Hawke? Who were your companions? Who did you choose to romance? Who rose to power, and who fell in defeat? What legacy did you leave?

Within the Keep, you’ll be able to customize as much or as little about the world of Thedas as you wish. Then you’ll be able to import your saved world state into DAI at the start of a new game. Have you lost or corrupted your save files? No problem — remake your world state on the Keep, and preserve it for the future. For those folks new to the Dragon Age franchise, the Keep will serve as a great way to understand the people, places, and events that shaped the world leading up to DAI.

I’d like to give some history on how the Keep came into existence. Very early in the planning of DAI, we began to think about how we were going to address the issue of importing save game files. We were dealing with a brand new game engine, plus the next generation of consoles. It was a priority that our fans be able to have their decisions carry forward, regardless of their past or future platform.

We realized that in order to make this work, we’d have to look into a cloud-based solution. Moving to the cloud allows players to take their unique world state into any platform (present or future) and even other media. For existing fans, an advantage of being in the cloud is that (if you are ok with spoilers) you can fully explore what-if scenarios, and become aware of events and consequences in our past games that you may not have known were possible.  You can then fire up the previous games and go exploring for those moments.

Even if you don’t go back and re-play the previous games, you can still establish that scenario as part of your world state, and import it at the start of a new DAI game to see the consequences of your actions.

What about actually importing your save games? We are continuing to investigate ways in which save files from previous games could be used to populate the initial world state of the Dragon Age Keep. We’ll provide more information on this in the months to come.

An additional benefit offered by moving to the cloud is being able to fix issues in plot logic, which historically we have not been able to do because of client side complexity or platform holder limits. Under the hood, the Keep has a logic validator which ensures you’ll always have a valid world state free from errors and conflicts.

Choices in our games are immense, and on occasion subtly perceived.  In some cases, the consequences of decisions you’ve made in a past game won’t reveal themselves until some future story.  Handling all these permutations is complex. Really complex. Tracking all possible prerequisites and potential knock-ons, even just to create the simple acknowledgement of a choice is very detailed — and prone to error.

As an example, an import from DAO to DA2 brought across something in the order of 600 different data points, most requiring complex logic solving to answer correctly the question of “how did the player settle this choice at the end of the game.”  As a result, some current save imports are buggy, which is our fault, and something we’re committed to fixing. Permanently. The Keep allows us to do just that. Users of the Keep won’t have to suffer with these types of logic inconsistencies any longer.

Starting today, you can visit the Dragon Age Keep and register for its beta, set to kick off early next year. We’re eager to hear your feedback and get your impressions before it launches publicly in 2014. The Keep will be available to everyone a few months before DAI gets released, in order to give fans plenty of time to experiment with scenarios and make their history exactly how they want.

More to come soon, and thanks for reading.

Mark Darrah
Executive Producer
Dragon Age

BioWare Coming to PAX Prime 2013

The BioWare Summer Event Tour continues, and we are pleased to announce that we will be attending PAX Prime in Seattle, Washington from August 30th to September 2nd. We’ve got a robust slate of activities happening at the show this year and we’re looking forward to spending some quality time with you!

Main Event: The Next Dragon Age: An Introduction to the Inquisition

When: Saturday, August 31st – Paramount Theatre @ 1:00PM PDT

Description: BioWare formally invites you to learn more about the next installment of their fantasy RPG franchise Dragon Age: Inquisition. Join the team’s creative leaders to hear – and see – where BioWare is taking the next generation of Dragon Age.

 Panelists: Mark Darrah (Executive Producer) and Mike Laidlaw (Creative Director)

We’ll also be hosting the BioWare Base again this year on the second floor in room 2AB and will be featuring a slew of panels with special guests from the studio to enjoy.

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Currently scheduled events include*:

Friday – August 30th

  • 10:30am – 11:30am: How to Get a Job at BioWare
  • 11:30am – 12:30pm: The Art and Design of BioWare
  • 12:30pm – 1:30pm: Art Signings and Portfolio Review
  • 1:30pm – 2:30pm: Dragon Age: Inquisition – Crafting and Customization
  • 2:30pm – 3:30pm: Storytelling at BioWare
  • 3:30pm – 4:00pm: Writer Signings
  • 4:00pm – 5:00pm: LGBTQ Character Discussion
  • 5:00pm – 5:30pm: Signings
  • 5:30pm – 6:00pm: Mingle with the team!

Saturday – August 31st

  • 10:30am – 11:30am: How to Get a Job at BioWare
  • 11:30am – 12:00pm: Human Resources Q &A
  • 12:00pm – 12:30pm: Mingle with the team!
  • 12:30pm – 3:00pm: Base Closed
  • 3:00pm – 4:00pm: Dragon Age: Inquisition – Tactical Combat
  • 4:00pm – 5:00pm: Dragon Age: Inquisition – Making Your Mark on the Dragon Age
  • 5:00pm – 6:00pm: Dragon Age: Inquisition Team Signings

Sunday – September 1st

  • 10:30am – 11:30am: Women in Gaming
  • 11:30am – 12:00pm: Women in Gaming Signings
  • 12:00pm – 1:00pm: Dragon Age: Inquisition – Playable Races
  • 1:00pm – 1:30pm: Dragon Age: Inquisition Team Signings
  • 1:30pm – 2:00pm: Get a first look at the Heroes of Dragon Age mobile game
  • 2:00pm – 2:30pm: Product Feedback
  • 2:30pm – 3:30pm: Meet Team Leads from Dragon Age: Inquisition
  • 3:30pm – 4:00pm: Dragon Age: Inquisition Team Signings
  • 4:00pm – 4:30pm: Get a first look at the Heroes of Dragon Age mobile game
  • 4:30pm – 5:30pm: Crabcat Panel and Cosplay Parade

Monday – September 2nd

  • 10:30am – 11:30am: How to Get a Job at BioWare
  • 11:30am – 12:00pm: Human Resources Q & A
  • 12:00pm – 1:00pm: The Future of Gaming
  • 1:00pm – 2:00pm: QA: The Importance of Testing
  • 2:00pm – 2:30pm: QA Team Signings
  • 2:30pm – 3:30pm: Seventeen Years of BioWare Development: From Baldur’s Gate to Dragon Age: Inquisition
  • 3:30pm – 4:00pm: Team Signings
  • 4:00pm – 5:00pm: Dragon Age: Inquisition – Behind the Scenes
  • 5:00pm – 6:00pm: Trivia!

* All panels are tentative and subject to change.

If you can’t make it to the base, or won’t be attending PAX Prime this year, our friends at Nerd Appropriate will be on hand to record and post later as podcasts. Stay tuned for more info about that at a later date.

That’s not all! We’ll also have a cosplay panel in the BioWare Base hosted by Holly Conrad & Jessica Merizan, followed by a costume parade on Sunday, September 1st at 4:30PM PDT. Did we mention that there will be a super cool grand prize?

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One lucky winner will take home this gorgeous Mass Effect Commander Shepard Bishoujo statue courtesy of our partners at Kotobukiya. Be sure to connect with them on Facebook for updates on all the fantastic stuff they’ve got coming!

We’re already tired thinking about it, but it’s going to be an amazing time and we can’t wait to see you there!

BioWare Down Under at PAX Australia

BioWare has taken part in Penny Arcade Expo (or PAX) events before. Whether it’s Boston PAX East or the Seattle PAX Prime conventions, BioWare enjoys the chance to get our staff and development teams out with our fans. This year marked the first ever PAX outside the United States, and we were excited to send a team down under to Melbourne to meet our Australian fans.

BioWare sent a team made up of Cameron Lee (Dragon Age Producer), Patrick Weekes (Senior Writer), Karin Weekes (Lead Editor), and “Evil” Chris Priestly (Community Specialist) to the other side of the world to talk to fans that rarely get to see our game developers.

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We spent the first day of PAX Australia scanning the convention hall for fans wearing BioWare clothing or cosplay to give them exclusive BioWare pins and to discuss our games with them.

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We held our panel on Friday afternoon in front of almost 300 fans who lined up for two hours! Our apologies to those who didn’t get in.

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We had a great time talking to everyone in attendance. While it was a little too early to reveal new information about Dragon Age: Inquisition, we did talk about the Mass Effect series and other past BioWare games. If you didn’t get to attend the panel, you can watch it here.

That night, after getting trapped by a winter rainstorm, we hosted a gathering of 100 guests and Community VIPS. We had snacks, beverages, and a great time talking to our guests who all went home with a signed Mass Effect or Dragon Age lithograph.

On Saturday we hit the convention floor again to find more fans and giving away our BioWare pins. It was a wet day, so it was great to see that many BioWare fans had made it out. The day was capped with Patrick & Karin taking part in a panel where they discussed why mainstream media portrayals of gamers matters.

On Sunday, before heading back to PAX, Karin, Patrick, and Chris went to the Healesville Sanctuary to see Australian wildlife. They saw wombats, Tasmanian devils, koalas, platypussesses… platypi… more than one platypus, and a host of other indigenous animals. Here’s Patrick and Karin meeting a mob of kangaroos.

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The team returned to PAX where the enforcers kindly set up an autograph station for the team to meet fans and sign autographs. Spending face-to-face time with our fans was a great way to end our first visit to PAX Australia.

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A big thank you to all of our new friends who made us feel so welcome. We hope to see you all again soon. Too right!

BioWare GM Aaryn Flynn Reflects on E3 2013

Before the world premiere of the Dragon Age: Inquisition teaser trailer aired this past Monday at E3, BioWare GM Aaryn Flynn waited patiently backstage for his name to be called. He was tasked with introducing the video to the hundreds of people in attendance, as well as the hundreds of thousands of people watching the conference live online and on Spike TV. Then, in a matter of two minutes and twenty-eight seconds, it was all over.

We caught up with Aaryn after the event to get his thoughts on what his experience was like, and to confirm the first few known details about Dragon Age: Inquisition.

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What did it feel like to show the first glimpse of Dragon Age: Inquisition to the world during the E3 press conference?

[Aaryn Flynn]: Very humbling. Many team members who are much closer to the game could have stood up there, but I got chosen because I’m more ‘expendable’! To represent their collective effort, in front of thousands of people is a big responsibility.

I wish I could convey how hard the team has been working for the past couple of years on the game. They had a vision to not do a CG trailer, but instead to show a trailer made from in-game footage, and they accomplished that in spades. But beyond that, there’s so much we haven’t shown yet, and we will very soon. This was just the team’s way of showing a small window into the game for fans that’ve been with us from the beginning.

The cheers of the live crowd came through loud and clear during the livestream. What was the reception from the crowd like in person and what did it mean to you?

[AMF]: That was crazy! When Peter Moore, EA’s COO, mentioned Dragon Age in the opening of the show and fans in the audience cheered, that was so nice to hear. It was funny to hear Peter call them “BioWare employees”, because in some ways we’re all part of the same extended family. We owe our fans everything, and the time and effort being put into Dragon Age will absolutely reflect that when all is said and done.

You shared just a few of the first details about the game during the conference, but for those that weren’t able to watch, could you leave us with a refresher?

[AMF]: Dragon Age: Inquisition will launch in the Fall of 2014 on PC, PS4, Xbox One, PS3, and Xbox 360. We’ve shown Varric, a Qunari (who has a name, we’re just not releasing it yet!), Cassandra, and Morrigan.

With the breach of the Fade happening in the sky, demons have poured out and created a pretty big problem for the Inquisitor, the character you will play. You’ll have to cover huge areas of Thedas to uncover what happened. As you do, the choices you make will impact the world and bring everything to an ultimate conclusion.

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