Mike Laidlaw on Why You Can't Romance Varric in Dragon Age

The developer discussed the studio's approach to creating Dragon Age's companions.

In case you missed it, during Game Developers Conference 2023, PC Gamer held a discussion with five widely-known game developers – Josh Sawyer, Mike Laidlaw, Paweł Sasko, Strix Beltran, and Lis Moberly – dedicated entirely to writing and developing RPGs. During the talk, the developers covered a variety of RPG-related topics, discussing players' current expectations from RPGs, the current state of the genre, the production processes behind the games they worked on, and more, allowing gamers to learn more behind-the-scenes info about their favorite titles.

One of the discussion's highlights came from Mike Laidlaw, a CCO at Yellow Brick Games, known for such titles as Jade Empire, Mass Effect, Dragon Age series, who discussed BioWare's approach to creating Dragon Age's companions, known to many for their distinct personalities.

Replying to Josh Sawyer's question regarding BioWare's "standard method for the development of the cast of companions and individual companions", Laidlaw stated that the secret lies in dividing companions between different teams and collaborating to set up character interactions in the game:

"We would typically sit in writing rooms, and the writers would shout out, you'd have Mary [Kirby] owning Varric and Lukas Kristjanson would be like, 'Hey, what would Varric say to this thing that Sera says?' She'd be like, 'He'd probably be annoyed.' And she'd throw in a line or something like that," commented Laidlaw.

Additionally, the developer answered a question that bothered many DA fans for a long time, explaining why it is impossible to romance Varric in Dragon Age 2 and Inquisition:

"Mary, she's like, 'Not romanceable! Because I don't do that.' Fair enough. Mary just hates writing romances. I'm like, 'Good, they don't all need to be romanceable.'"

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