Gamasutra had the opportunity to sit down with Sonic Chronicles project lead Mark Darrah and fire off quite a few questions about the design and technology behind the Nintendo DS RPG.
Did you adapt the BioWare dialogue tool? I saw it demonstrated at Austin GDC.
MD: We're actually not using the one that was used for Mass Effect, because the Mass Effect one is really designed to do cinematic conversations.
This is moving away, because it's not really practical for us to do cinematic conversations, so we're using a version of the dialogue tool that was developed for Dragon Age, where it's able to deal with more traditional style of storytelling.
Now, Dragon Age has since layered on something like what Mass Effect has, in order to tell a much more cinematic story, but we don't need that here, so we've got a traditional BioWare-style conversation system without the additional trappings of a complicated cinematic system.
Again, we're talking about ramping up with DS, and building a tools pipeline for DS probably wasn't as challenging.
MD: Yeah, the interesting thing is that a lot of the RPG elements that we have are just as complicated as you'd have on a next-gen platform game. So our designer pipeline is just as complicated, or maybe 80% as complicated, where, yeah, the art pipeline is a lot simpler.
Again, yeah, you've got textures and models and animations, but you don't have shaders and vertex programs, and like 47 other different things. Bump maps. You don't have those things. So the art pipeline is a lot cleaner, a lot easier, but the design pipeline, because it's a BioWare game, is just about as complicated.