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-   -   Dragon Age - First Impressions (http://www.rpgwatch.com/forums/showthread.php?t=11464)

Alrik Fassbauer September 23rd, 2010 13:34

Dragon Age - First Impressions
 
Hello,

well, I do know tht I'm THAT late … ;)

But I'll write down what I find, regardless.

First - it's called the age of the dragon(s) … But so far (I haven't started the game yet) I cannot find any hints towards that in the game.

Second - the handbook doesn't exactl describe all points of the menu. It just seems to jump to and fro from character classes, feats, stats etc. descrption with a few menu options (like game difficulty) embedded within these.

So, I still don't understand what "plot support" actually means.

Third, there's an imho really bad part from the handbook.

You'd imagine this would be a carefully translated game into international languages ? Bioware is capable of that, and EA has the money for that.

So now read this (translated by me) :

Quote:

OTHER KEYBOARDS THAN NORTH AMERICA

If you are playing in English, all of the descriptions of the keys are related to North America Keyboards.

If you don't use a North American Keyboard, then it can be that the game refers to other keys than stated.
For example the key for the batle tactics (the "\" key in North America) die "#"-key which is located left next to the Enter-key.
Okay, what does this mean ? It means basically nothing but "we were too lazy to properly adapt all of the keyboard descriptions and layouts to international keyboards ( = Non- North American Keyboards). Everyone is playing with North American Keyboards, so why should we care ?"

This is - in my opinion - simply bad behaviour against international customers.

To show what effect this has on me, I'll try it the other way round :

Quote:

OTHER KEYBOARDS THAN FRANCE

If you are playing in French, all of the descriptions of the keys are related to French Keyboards.

If you don't use a French Keyboard, then it can be that the game refers to other keys than stated.



Background :

For example we here in Germany just don't hve a stand-alone key with \ on it.
We here in Germany can ONLY access the \ character with pressing ALT + CTRL + the key labelled on German keyboards as "ß", which is a common letter called a "sharp s" here in Germany.
Fortunately, someone once invented the AltGr key, which makes things much shorter. Now, we Germans only need to press AltGr + "ß" , and then we get "\" .

The actual KEY which has on "North American Keyboard" the \ character, is on German keyboards the key having the "#" on it.

Dwagginz September 23rd, 2010 13:41

Quote:

Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer (Post 1061026201)
First - it's called the age of the dragon(s) … But so far (I haven't started the game yet) I cannot find any hints towards that in the game.

It's more along the lines of:
Spoiler


Quote:

Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer (Post 1061026201)
So, I still don't understand what "plot support" actually means.

I think, I don't have the handbook (Digital Deluxe edition), it might mean options that affect the plot. Coercion, which is a sort of persuade/intimidate skill, can be used to affect how the plot goes whereas taking the Rally talent wouldn't. I think most of the skills do factor into at least one quest, but I could be wrong.

Alrik Fassbauer September 23rd, 2010 13:56

Okay, I see it a bit clearer now.

By the way … almost 3/4 of an hour for the installation - is that normal ? o_o

Dwagginz September 23rd, 2010 14:01

It's a huge game. I think it takes up about 14-15GB, and that's not including the DLC and Awakening.

Alrik Fassbauer September 23rd, 2010 20:27

Ostegar or what's the name heavily reminds me of Osgiliath, by the way …

Plus, I've seen a few more things : The theme of "fallen gods" which can turn into some kind of demons isn't new, either. The lore of TDE has at least one example of that. But Charyptoroth never came back …

Alrik Fassbauer September 23rd, 2010 23:14

The whole game is so closely modelled after (A)D&D (without being so) I'm surprised no-one sues them for copyright infringement.

Dwagginz September 23rd, 2010 23:26

You'll notice a lot of parallels with other fantasy universes, not just D&D.

The thing with Dragon Age, in my opinion, is that it tweaks existing fantasy clichés. I don't know what Origin you did, so I won't go into it as it could spoil how you experience the others.

Alrik Fassbauer September 24th, 2010 14:18

I did the Danish , err, Dalish Elves. ;)

They appear a bit like Gypsies to me, with some north-american Natives intervoven … Just imagine NA Natives would be expelled like the Dalish Elves in DA, then you'll have it, I think. And - in reality, they actually *were* expelled to some extend. "Only a dead Indian is a good one" - the full cliché of "white" racists not even knowing that the Natives had different cultures and names each.

The whole culture is rather grim - or rather : the world. The Grey Wardens ace a little bit like a mixture of scientists/policemen to whom the people listen, because thy are the only available spearhead of civilization. Without them, everything would go down.

The … "enemies" … they remind me a little bit of the … Morlocs, or what were their names ? Of the old time-travelling story … Uh, my bad name memory …
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morlock

At one point I thought : What, if in a Sci-Fi enviroment, these … "enemies" were machines ? Robots, sort of ?

And humanity has got to fight them ? Or they'll go "the borg way" ?

Zaleukos September 24th, 2010 22:32

The enemy mostly reminded me of Tolkien's orcs. Quite a dull and faceless bunch actually. The non-darkspawn side of the game is fairly interesting though.

You'll find tonnes of parallells to other fantasy worlds and the real world. Some links are genuine, some are just figments of our imagination. The human mind is very good at seeing patterns even if there is none!

Alrik Fassbauer September 25th, 2010 12:11

Yes, I do know that, especially, since I'm writing my own fantasy short stories myself. ;)

I use inspiration every now and then. ;)


Another thing that struck me as odd is two sentences - or rather parts of them - in the hand book, about the "Origins" :

Translated by me :

"An arranged marriage gives the hope to get away from this life of discrimination and indignity - even if only for just another day."

"The subjection under a local crime lord seems to be the most safe way to stay alife - even if only for just another day."

Personally, I'd add :

"To the author of the hand book it seemed a best way to incorporate chewed-through clichés into the hand book for surviving in the company - even if only for just another day."

Phonix September 25th, 2010 19:01

At first the Dark Spawn’s look like the typical Tolkins Orc’s, but then you get to know the lore, they actual remind me of the Zerg from Blizzards Star Craft series, as a over mind (the Arcdemon) control them, and the land gets corrupt then they stay there fore a longer time.

The Dark Spawns get a lot more interesting if you have read The Calling.

Dwagginz September 25th, 2010 19:21

Quote:

Originally Posted by Phonix (Post 1061026758)
The Dark Spawns get a lot more interesting if you have read The Calling.

As someone who's read that book, I strongly disagree. The implications of The Calling, bar the very final events, have absolutely no bearing on Origins. If Alrik goes onto Awakening then I'd possibly recommend reading a summary, but that's it.

The book is really not that great, and it raises more questions than it answers. It's rare that I give up on a book halfway through, and The Calling is one of those few books.

Phonix September 25th, 2010 23:44

I disagree, I think it’s a great book, it do settle the ground fore some important event in Origins and Awakeing, even if it did not that it’s still a fine book to read, but that is of cause a matter of taste. I fore one love it.

Spoiler – The Calling Spoilers

Alrik Fassbauer September 26th, 2010 03:11

I was playing a long way through it - this night, actually.

The plot apart from the fighting is imho quite interesting.

What struck me was the amount of detail that was put into the game to make it "mature".
There are very rough and cruel themes among all of these things … I'm speaking of the refugees in Lothlorien … err, what was the name of the first town ? ;) I mean the town after the Battle Of Ostagar (not Osgiliath, though ;) ).

I wonder, by the way, why these "arch-demons" have chose shape or body of dragons ? Why not anything else ? Why not quadruped, for example ?

I'm astonished how much detail was put into this game to let it look "bloody" in so small details as … the waiting screen when a new area is loaded. Other games use progression bars, status bars or something … But Dragon Age uses a circling thing that looks like a circling thorn-crown of some sorts. And to show the progress, there are more and more blood spots added to that screen.

It's kind of … as if they were thinking that people would enjoy the look of blood spots everywhere within the game.
It' kind of … as if they were thinking that people would actually hate such things like colourfulness, friendly, sparkling fairies and of course Unicorns. ;)

Everything looks so much … bland. There's only muted colours … No, that is not right. thre *re* colours there, but thre is NOT any colourfulness to be seen. This world is totally devoid of - anything that looks like a Rainbow.

To a sensitive mind, this game is so much … strongly made, almosed pressed into being grim, that it is almost over-the-top again … And THEN I could find subtle hints that someone actually tried to avoid that, this "over-the-top" image. Because there someone tried to put a kind of balance into the graphics : Bloody, grim-looking, yes, but not too much… The above mentioned loading screen isn't *full* of blood spots - no, it is only for 1/3 or 1/2 of the loading screen, whereas the rest consists of a more or less decaying parchment …

So, someone must have thought : "okay, we represent the grimness by using the looks of decaying materials, and the cruelness and the violence of this world by using [and carefully placing at some places] blood dots."

It looks like … as if someone was rummaging in a drawer to do as if there was chaos within it … But everything within the drawer is carefully layed so, so that it appears to the unthinking mind that there might be chaos. (I have this idea from a bok we had to read during school, where a malevolent teacher does exactly this; it's called "Der Schüler Gerber". There, this teacher - a truly logically working mind - tried to trick any people who might look onto ir into his desk that he was a "bohéme", someone unsteady. But he was the exact opposite of that. His "chaos" was carefully planned and layed out. )

What disturbs me most of this game is the impression that someone - a whole team ! - might've been thinking that people actually [i]enjoy8/i] this grimness and the cruelty and the blood.

Because it is still a "game", not a movie like "Apocalypse Now!"

And now here we have the spirit of a "game", of actual "playing" being intervoven with … well, how do I call this watching and - in a way - participating of a cruel world ?

Isn't this in a way raping the spirit of playing ?



Edit : Or it could be an entirely new thing … I'd call it "interactive fiction", or an "interactive movie". There's no "playing" there anymore, then, only "participating". The "playing" part is on its way to be replaced by "participating".

Which could mean that video games - interactive video games ! - are the birth of a new genre of … media, of art. Of something entirely new, maybe. Like a movie where the watcher goes into it and "changes" things (or not).

Dwagginz September 26th, 2010 09:52

Quote:

Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer (Post 1061026800)
What struck me was the amount of detail that was put into the game to make it "mature".

And then didn't succeed :p

Quote:

Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer (Post 1061026800)
There are very rough and cruel themes among all of these things … I'm speaking of the refugees in Lothlorien … err, what was the name of the first town ? ;) I mean the town after the Battle Of Ostagar (not Osgiliath, though ;) ).

Lothering ;)

Quote:

Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer (Post 1061026800)
I wonder, by the way, why these "arch-demons" have chose shape or body of dragons ? Why not anything else ? Why not quadruped, for example ?

I think that's more to do with what the god was before. One of the codex entries briefly touches on it, but I think it's basically Old Gods = Dragons.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer (Post 1061026800)
I'm astonished how much detail was put into this game to let it look "bloody" in so small details as … the waiting screen when a new area is loaded. Other games use progression bars, status bars or something … But Dragon Age uses a circling thing that looks like a circling thorn-crown of some sorts. And to show the progress, there are more and more blood spots added to that screen.

I know. It's so boring, isn't it? What's wrong with the good ol' load bar.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer (Post 1061026800)
It's kind of … as if they were thinking that people would enjoy the look of blood spots everywhere within the game.
It' kind of … as if they were thinking that people would actually hate such things like colourfulness, friendly, sparkling fairies and of course Unicorns. ;)

Everything looks so much … bland. There's only muted colours … No, that is not right. thre *re* colours there, but thre is NOT any colourfulness to be seen. This world is totally devoid of - anything that looks like a Rainbow.

So, so, so true. And have you seen what they've done with DA2? It's the complete opposite! I think only Free Realms manages to be more colourful.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer (Post 1061026800)
To a sensitive mind, this game is so much … strongly made, almosed pressed into being grim, that it is almost over-the-top again … And THEN I could find subtle hints that someone actually tried to avoid that, this "over-the-top" image. Because there someone tried to put a kind of balance into the graphics : Bloody, grim-looking, yes, but not too much… The above mentioned loading screen isn't *full* of blood spots - no, it is only for 1/3 or 1/2 of the loading screen, whereas the rest consists of a more or less decaying parchment …

So, someone must have thought : "okay, we represent the grimness by using the looks of decaying materials, and the cruelness and the violence of this world by using [and carefully placing at some places] blood dots."

I just think it was BioWare trying too hard. They've said that it's the spiritual successor to Baldur's Gate (OK, perhaps a successor to a Baldur's Gate game drenched in the blood of a thousand whales) and that they took inspiration from George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, which is one of the most popular (If not the most popular) dark fantasy series around.

But, unlike the Witcher, it looks like they've decided to throw buckets of blood everywhere in the hopes that it looks even slightly mature. No, it doesn't. It looks silly.

Phonix September 26th, 2010 10:45

Quote:

Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer (Post 1061026800)
Which could mean that video games - interactive video games ! - are the birth of a new genre of … media, of art. Of something entirely new, maybe. Like a movie where the watcher goes into it and "changes" things (or not).

No, I think you have misunderstand something, its not new, its jus another genre that you are used to? There are two kind of Fantasy genre, High Fantasy and Dark Fantasy, there Bioware has tried to make Dragon Age the later.

High Fantasy.

Used in games: Newerwinter Night, Drakensang and Divinity.

High Fantasy is much Tolkin inspired, elf are noble, dwarf are grumpy and orc are evil. The colour patten is often colourful, and often more cute creatures can be found, like pixies and unicorns.

The them in High Fantasy is often a unlikely hero save the world from a greater evil, against all odds. The villains are often evil, just because they are evil.


Dark Fantasy.

Used in games: The Witcher.

Its much more like the real world put in a fantasy setting, but often got a dark grim gothic look to it, and have thing like violence and sex in it.

The them used here is often real world problems like racism, politic, intolerance and war. The villains in Dark Fantasy are often driven by more human feeling as greed and lust, but sometime also driven by misguided good meanings.


While the main plot in Dragon Age actual are typical High Fantasy (save the world against a greater evil), anything else in the game is Dark Fantasy.

Dark grim gothic: Check.
Violence: Check (in buckets, even if you only kill a rat?)
Sex: Check (even gay sex).
Racism: Check (elf are threaded as native Indians in 1890)
Politic: Check.
Misguided villain: Check (Loghain)

Dwagginz September 26th, 2010 11:02

Quote:

Originally Posted by Phonix (Post 1061026815)
No, I think you have misunderstand something, its not new, its jus another genre that you are used to? There are two kind of Fantasy genre, High Fantasy and Dark Fantasy, there Bioware has tried to make Dragon Age the later.

Swords & Sorcery, Urban Fantasy, and so forth. There's by far more than two forms of Fantasy. What about Conan? That's not dark fantasy, nor is it high fantasy - It's the Sword & Sorcery series (If not the one that strongly inspired the subgenre).

Phonix September 26th, 2010 12:09

You are right, but I was merely explaining the different between that Alrik think Dragon Age is (or at least that I think he think) and what it is.

Out of curiosity can you explain how Sword and Sorcery are different from High Fantasy, a genre I have never read (or maybe I have and confused it whit High Fantasy?) And are it wort look into, if you like High and Dark Fantasy?

Dwagginz September 26th, 2010 15:31

What you did was (I mean no offense here) list a bunch of clichés and tropes in each genre along with examples.

Almost all fantasy, by definition, is "high fantasy" in that it takes place in a world that isn't our own. Forgotten Realms, The Witcher, Drakensang, Dragon Age and so on (But not Lord of the Rings). That's one of the key definitions of high fantasy. But I wouldn't say Drakensang and The Witcher were similar types of "setting".

The Witcher is thematically darker but its world is no less realistic. What we see via the two games and Die Hexxer (I think that's its name, the TV show/movie) is a very dreary world with a lot of deprivation and suffering. That's the sort of setting Dragon Age has tried to replicate, but hasn't managed to. It's added a ton of blood (The Witcher is surprisingly tame in regards to blood) and taken away, at least in terms of atmosphere, the level of suffering people experience.

Sword & Sorcery is and isn't different from High Fantasy. Conan is a great example of your typical Sword & Sorcery adventurer. It's generally more about a warrior carving a path for himself rather than a warrior (or group of warriors) saving the world from, say, a demon or something like a dragon.

Alrik Fassbauer September 26th, 2010 17:00

Okay, thankls for your input.

I wrote this text in the middle of the night, and my brain wasn't functioning properly anymore.

Besides, I wouldn't place Drakensang into "high fantasy". The setting is rather "low fantasy".

There's uncertainty about the definitions of high fantasy and of low fantasy - but nearly everyone who's playing TDE / Aventuri places it into "low fantasy".

The TDE setting of Myrnor/Güldenland instead is clearly positioned as "high fantsy".

I'm not sure, but I think that one point in the definition regarding high or low fantasy is the available amount of magic. The more magic, and the more … unique the creatures are, the higher is the chance or/and tendency to place a setting into "high fantasy". It begins with everyday use of magic. In a "high fantasy" setting - or so I understood it - magic is quite "norml", whereas in a "low fantasy" setting, magic is rather rare (as a tendency).

Unfortunately, due to the overwhelming popularity and dominance of (A)D&D as a system that is rather outlined to be for "high fantasy" settings, everyone assumes that in a fantasy world magic should be normal, or in other words : that "high fantasy" settings are relatively normal.

Which leads to people wondering wh there is "so few interesting stuff" to be found within the Drakensang games.

This is my opinion.


Edit Please note that in my opinion "low" fantasy is NOT the same as "dark" fantasy !

I'm not sure, but I think that "dark" fantasy could be both within a "high" fantasy or a "low" fantasy setting - according to my own definition.
For me, I rather define "dark" as a kind of "mood" rather than a "setting" … oh , my, now it becomes complicated … ;)

Another edit : I'm still not quite sure what to think of the "Sword & Sorcery" term, although I have read it several times now … I think I should research this a little bit …

And yet another edit ;) : The "high roads" concept is also something I know from TDE … but only from the Myranor setting. Sometimes I tend to think that someone at Bioware browesed through recent game world settings and themes, and took what looked interesting to him or to her. ;)

But I must admit that I sometimes do the same. ;)


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