Mike Laidlaw (that’s Mike, not Marc), creative director for Dragon Age, took to Twitter earlier today to tell the story of Dragon Age II’s Exalted March expansion. In a chain of tweets, he explained it had been cancelled because of the transition to the Frostbite engine, rather than because of DA2’s unenthusiastic reception.
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On the question of why Exalted March was cancelled, Laidlaw says “Easy to assume it was ‘the reaction’ to DAII, but not so! It was the move to Frostbite. We had an opportunity to do [both] at the same time, but knew as it would be the first time that engine did ‘RPG stuff’ we knew it would be hard… Had we tried to do both EM and the Frostbite transition, both would have suffered a lot, especially from lack of engineering folks. So Mark Darrah made the call to stop development on EM and go all in on what would become [Dragon Age: Inquisition].”
That announcement was made by Darrah, Dragon Age executive producer, on Twitter in 2012. It seems the call was made before much time was wasted, as “Exalted March didn’t make it too far past concept,” says Laidlaw.
He does share some plot details, though: the idea “was that it followed the red lyrium chicanery of DAII with the Chantry becoming very upset while various aspects of the qunari started to make moves on the turbulent Free Marches. And [thus] it fell to Hawke to stop things from going to hell (again) while working with Starkhaven and the pirates of the Armada.”
Another amusing tidbit: either Exalted March or Dragon Age: Inquisition was at one point codenamed ‘Project Nugstorm’, because Darrah felt silly codenames prevented people from becoming attached to them and influencing the final product name.
A missed opportunity, in my view. “Fear the coming of the Nugstorm” is a better catchphrase than whatever the Inquisitor had. Wait, did they not have one? Point proven.
Laidlaw’s first tweet is here, if you’d like to read the chain in full.