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'It Was A Good Time To Make A Change,' Says Ex-Dragon Age Director

Former BioWare executive producer Dan Tudge tells Gamasutra why he decided not to see Dragon Age through to completion, and why an executive position at Disney-owned Propaganda Games was such an alluring opportunity.
For former BioWare executive producer Dan Tudge, the dragon age was a few months too long. Tudge announced this week that he would be leaving his highly-visible position as director and executive producer of BioWare's core-focused RPG Dragon Age for an executive position at Disney-owned Propaganda Games, a Vancouver studio whose only shipped game to date is the 2008 FPS Turok. At Propaganda, he'll be serving as VP and general manager of the four-year-old studio, overseeing two projects currently underway. But with Dragon Age not due to launch until the second half the year, why would Tudge, whose credits include Mass Effect and Sonic Chronicles, leave one of the most respected RPG developers on the planet midway through a highly-anticipated project? "With the lead SKU (the PC version) of Dragon Age: Origins in its polish stage and a focus on the console conversions, it was a good time to make a change. I have a passion for creating great games and managing great companies," Tudge explained to Gamasutra. "The role of general manager at Propaganda Games and vice president within Disney’s video games business allows me to do both." BioWare's Mark Darrah, whose credits include Sonic Chronicles, Neverwinter Nights and the original Baldur's Gate, has promptly picked up the slack, taking over Tudge's role of executive producer on the game. BioWare did not return request for comment regarding the fate of BioWare's handheld division, which has only released Sonic Chronicles for Nintendo DS. Prior to Tudge's hiring, Gary McKay was serving as interim studio general manager. McKay will stay on board with Propaganda as a studio director. Tudge, who had also founded the now-defunct Exile Interactive (he shut down the business when he left to lead BioWare's handheld division), plans on bringing some of his RPG expertise to Propaganda. One of the studio's unannounced games is an action RPG, he confirmed "The studio will continue to create action games, however we have focused this direction to include an action RPG. Propaganda has had the opportunity to acquire talent from many leading RPG developers and that expertise will be crucial for the success of our upcoming title." Tudge said that one of the main reasons he made the jump to Disney Interactive Studios was because of its parent, which happens to be the largest entertainment company on the planet. "The fact that Propaganda Games plays a key role among Disney Interactive Studios’ development studios was a major reason for my move," he explained. "At Propaganda, we can leverage the resources of Disney, including drawing from numerous well known intellectual properties and top talent. We also have the ability to collaborate and consult with other divisions, such as other game development studios and creative centers throughout the company." Disney has been making big moves to become a more prominent player in video games. In recent years, DIS acquired Propaganda, Avalanche Software and Climax Racing, as well as Warren Spector's Junction Point Studios. Propaganda would appear to be digging deeply into the action RPG project. The company is currently hiring for key positions, and a "love for paper RPGs" is listed as an important asset for potential hirees. Ultimately, Tudge wants to build the young Propaganda into "one of the premier" game development houses. "Many of the industry’s top development studios have cultivated their own brand not only known throughout the industry but among their fans as well. We are working hard to become one of those studios over the next few years and to do that, we’ll need to continually develop industry-leading games and we expect our next two titles to be just that." As for his old crew in Edmonton, he offered a polite farewell: "My former team at BioWare will be finishing up an amazing dark heroic fantasy RPG with Dragon Age: Origins," he said, adding that he "wishes [Darrah] well."

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