Some stories from inside game development are fun little anecdotes about weird bugs or hidden Easter eggs. Every once in a while, one surfaces that for whatever reason completely blows our collective minds, and this Dragon Age story is definitely one of them: It seems Thedas, the Dragon Age setting, actually stands for “The Dragon Age Setting,” or “TheDAS.”
The fact first resurfaced via a tweet from Sam Sharma, a director for Bungie working on Destiny 2: “Ever since I’ve learned that Thedas stands for The Dragon Age Setting I’ve never been the same.”
As reactions poured in over that observation–from those learning about it for the first time to others who knew and relished in others finding out–lead writer and creator of Dragon Age David Gaider quoted the Tweet with some observations of his own, confirming that the name Thedas was indeed an abbreviation, and originally meant to be temporary.
I still remember the meeting where we (reluctantly) decided to keep the “TheDAS” temp name because nothing else “sounded right”. We’d had the internal temp name for years, by that point. Definitely a lesson learned about what temp names should be (and not be). https://t.co/u5xztKIyRp
— David Gaider (@davidgaider) January 6, 2022
In the corresponding thread Gaider goes on to explain why the world was given a temporary name to begin with, citing a creative difference with his then boss. “It’s because (as I recall) James Ohlen had a name he wanted to use which… I didn’t really like,” Gaider wrote. “But he was my boss at the time, so I couldn’t very well just tell him no and name it something else.”
Gaider also revealed that Thedas isn’t the only temporary name that became part of established Dragon Age lore: “This lesson was one I used for the Qunari, actually. When I first named them, everyone was weird about it,” he explained. “‘Sounds like canary!’. With Thedas in mind, I said ‘let’s keep Qunari as a temp name and come back to it in 6 months or so.'” We did, and voila. Qunari stuck.”
There are countless examples of development stories like this, including the time a bee nearly ruined Skyrim’s intro or how Halo Infinite was meant to have a Breath of the Wild-esque open world at one point. Though in this case, now that we know what Thedas really means, we won’t be able to hear it the same way again.