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‘Dragon Age: Inquisition’ writer explains why enemy models are gender specific

Dragon Age: Inquisition
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Photo courtesy of Electronic Arts, used with permission

Many video game fans might have wondered in the past why it’s a common practice for games to only feature enemy types that all belong to one gender. Traditionally, this common occurrence causes gamers to oftentimes face strictly masculine opponents such as the male-only bandits and soldiers that fill action titles. Discussing the reasons behind such limited model variety, Dragon Age lead writer David Gaider shared an inside look at the real-world technical barriers behind the issue in a post made to his personal blog on Aug. 7.

As a writer rather than a member of the art team, Gaider admits that he isn’t an expert on the subject but he can provide a firsthand account on the process since he has seen it in action. The reason the Dragon Age: Inquisition scribe decided to shed some light on the inner workings surrounding the creation of enemy and creature models was because he wanted to answer a question that is regularly posed by fans of Bioware’s fantasy franchise.

Apparently, many gamers inquire why there the Dragon Age series has only featured female desire demons. The answer, according to Gaider, is due resource management on time needed to create new models as well as memory issues that arise with each additional unique model. Since there can only realistically be a set number of differing enemy types in any given title, the art team has to decide which models make the cut.

Different factors are considered when choosing what models take precedence. For example, a common enemy type that will be regularly encountered will be worth the resources as will an important character such as a named boss character. However, specialized enemy models that might only be used for one specific occasion will be much lower on the priority of adding.

Once the base models are created, it’s much easier for the art team to then build variants around those rather than making entirely new models. This explains why in-game enemy types are often gender specific such as the ever popular male bandit since it is simply more resource efficient than making both a male and female model for everything.