Any classic Bioware fan should already recognize the name of this weeks guest, while Drew Karpyshyn (Pro tip: Rhymes with Suspicion) may no longer be a part of the great RPG manufacturers he has left an indelible mark and a formula that is essential to all Bioware Games.
Lifted straight from his bio, this is everything you need to know about Drew:
“In 2000, I started working for a little video game company called BioWare. I worked there for almost twelve years as a writer, and I contributed to a number of games: the Baldur’s Gate series, Neverwinter Nights, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Jade Empire, Mass Effect and Star Wars: The Old Republic. I retired in February of 2012 to focus more on my own projects, and to spend more time golfing.”
This is part one of our interview with the great writer, in it we talk all about his work; examine his last project, ask him point blank how to get a job in the industry and discuss the possibility of Drew coming back to write MORE Star Wars content! (GASP)
What was the role of a scenario writer for games like Baluder’s Gate, KOTOR to Jade Empire?
“I think at Bioware it was a little different than most of the industry…in a good way. So at Bioware, you would have a writing team, usually 5-6 people and the writing team works very closely with the design team and the art team. The lead writer would work with all of the other leads and just talk about what we want to do about the story, or even just outline the setting, answering the question early on “What kind of game are we doing?”
We would kick around ideas and have several meetings, the writer would then come up with a clear format, or possibly a background setting and bring it back to the group who would make iterations and just keep doing that over and over again. Then we would bring other writers on and go through that process all over again. Then when we finally start working on the game, each writer would be given responsibility for one chapter of the story, one planet, or perhaps particular squad members and that would be your focus on the project.
We sort of…felt are way around day to day. You were in the office every day and you really had to live it to understand how it works.”
How has the job changed now after working on SWTOR or Mass Effect, with new advancements in technology are you doing more?
When we first started on Baluder’s Gate 2 and NWN and KOTOR- back then the games were a lot mechanically simpler and since pretty much all of the writers had some design skills, often we’d do little bits of our own levels and create our own dialogue in the editors.
As it got more and more complicated into Jade Empire and Mass Effect the technology just advanced so much and it became harder and harder for writers to keep up with the needed design and programming skills. So we focused more on the writing side of it, with the use of more voice over the creation of scripts all of sudden became very important- the design elements fell by the waist-side. We became more and more specialized and that allowed us to do more interesting things in the writing.
Just to pitch an idea…Bioware has the Star Wars Brand again….How about a new Darth Bane series?
(Thunderous Laughter at my Brilliance) I’ve been asked that a lot too, but like I said, I enjoyed the Darth Bane series, I know it’s very popular and down the road…..I might return to it – I don’t like to rule anything out- but I did leave video games to focus on different things, like focusing on my original fantasy series- and I really hope listeners give it a shot to, especially if you like the kind of stories I tell.
Keep listening for more and make sure you check us out next week for Part 2!