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What You Didn't Know About Dragon Age: Origins

by Andrew Reiner on Feb 25, 2010 at 12:00 PM

Game development often lasts for years. And in that stretch of time, studios have their fair share of ups and downs. From humorous game bugs to stress-relieving antics, Game Informer peers behind the curtain of game development. In this Tidbits column, BioWare shares the stories behind the development of Dragon Age: Origins.

  • Dragon Age had ‘developer achievements’ for all kinds of things, such as successfully crashing the game.
  • 12,212 of those Achievements were awarded to developers during production of the game.
  • Dragon Age contains 742,000 words of dialogue, and 202,000 words of non-conversational text that were translated into eight languages besides English – Czech, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Russian, and Spanish. Four of those other languages have their own voiceover, whereas the other four subtitle the English VO.
  • QA analyst Bruce Venne played 1,957.55 hours of Dragon Age PC in 5,352 games.
  • At the end of each month, an Achievement called ‘The Bruce’ would be awarded to people who played more hours than Bruce Venne that month. It was awarded only once.
  • BioWare president Ray Muzyka got 134 developer Achievements across 385 hours of play PC and console builds of Dragon Age: Origins before release. He crashed 35 times and filed 311 bugs.
  • Ray Muzyka likes to play mages. Mike Laidlaw prefers dual-wielding rogues.
  • The in-game animation department used the same stunt actors that were used in the movie 300 for motion capture.

In-game animators ‘larped’ with wooden sticks for video reference.
  • Words of dialogue in Dragon Age: Origins: 790,856 (The average novel has 80,000 – 100,000 words.)
  • Lines of character dialogue: 68,260 (The average movie has 3,000 lines of dialogue.)
Lelianna's Song was composed and recorded within 24 hours.
  • The Ogre was once affectionately known as Fluffy.
  • The Dragon Age team goes through 1,400 cups of espresso-sized coffees in a single week!

  • The orchestrated pieces in Dragon Age: Origins were performed by the Seattle North West Sinfonia.
  • The 44-piece orchestra was recorded twice and melded together to form, in essence, an 88-piece orchestra.
Chris Bleth was the woodwind soloist who has played on numerous Hollywood blockbusters like Up, Star Trek, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Fast and the Furious.

  • The grey warden used in all of the promo trailers was created by the senior product manager and bears a striking resemblance to him.

  • A full-scale dwarven tavern and an 8-foot-tall dragon were created for rabid trade show enthusiasts.

  • 144 voice actors contributed to the English version of Dragon Age: Origins.

  • 1,015,977 PC games played in the last 2.5 years of development totaling 8,145 days of runtime.
  • 4,212 different crashes captured and fixed in the last year of development.

  • QA Analyst Mark Ramsden filed the most bugs (2,699) for a single user.

  • 459 people at Bioware/EA played the game on 582 different computers in the last year before release.

234 different area layouts were used for or during the production of the game.
  • Number of unique icons created: approximately 1,400.

  • Number of mini-maps (including expansions): 182.
  • The first creatures in the Dragon Age engine were the Ogre and the Human Male with Medium Armor.

  • There are over 1,600 inventory items in the Dragon Age universe so far. 

  • There are over 3,200 creature/NPC appearances in the Dragon Age universe so far.
  • There are almost 1,600 faces in the Dragon Age universe so far.
  • There are over 20,000 models in the Dragon Age universe so far.
  • There are over 5,500 animations in the Dragon Age universe so far.
  • There are about 3,000 cutscenes in the Dragon Age universe so far.
  • Storm of the century was a result of maverick VFX lead breaking content lock permission.

  • There were nearly 3,000 individual props made for the game.

  • The lighting data for the game took our render farm two weeks to calculate.
  • 54.1 hours of audio when played back-to-back.
  • Number of actors in game: 1,535 (Head morphs)

  • Number of items: 1,463

  • Number of playable areas: 221.

Number of unique creatures: 209.

Complete pass on the game took over 90 hours by an experienced QA lead.

  • Record QA speed playthough was over 12 hours using cheats on skipping all dialogue.
  • One of our development staff creates chain mail from scratch.

For other Tidbits entries, click the desired game name: Mass Effect 2, Shadow Complex, Borderlands, DJ Hero, Scribblenauts, LEGO Indiana Jones 2, Prototype, Fallout 3, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2, Ghostbusters, Star Wars The Clone Wars: Republic Heroes, Overlord II, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Red Faction: Guerrilla