We weren’t at BAF Game in Bradford yesterday, so I don’t know whether they had a mop to hand or not. But I hope they did, because somebody asked Dragon Age 3 art and animation director Neil Thompson about Frostbite 2 and he gushed everywhere.
“Mass Effect was done on Unreal of course,” he said in a talk recorded by Eurogamer. “Dragon Age was done on the proprietary engine Eclipse. I think anyone who played Dragon Age 2 would agree that engine was starting to creak a little bit by the time that was released.
“Obviously Frostbite is the Battlefield engine built by DICE. It's a beautiful, beautiful engine. And what we've found is an improvement with DA3, is the artists who were really battling with the Eclipse engine have just embraced Frostbite.
“The work they're doing now is stunning. I think the screenshot I showed earlier is pretty stunning. That's unusual for pre-production. Usually you don't get to that kind of quality until a week before gold master.”
He continued: “It makes my job easier because then it's all about discussing the aesthetic and what you want to achieve. When you're a character artist or an environment artist you're focusing on a small aspect of the greater whole of the game. As an art director you're concerned about the whole, the frame and everything it contains and how everything sits and the consistency. An engine like Frostbite allows you to focus more on that rather than the technological challenges of just getting the damn thing to run.”
Dragon Age: Origins was one of the best RPGs of the last decade, but stumble about Orzammar’s marketplace and you can practically hear the sound of concept art being squeezed and broken up to fit its engine.
The sequel had something you could call art direction, but it wasn’t a direction many particularly wanted to follow in. If Frostbite eases the transition from page to asset, that’s all for the good, don’t you think?