Dragon Age: Origins - All News
Friday - June 26, 2015
Dragon Age - Interview with David Gaider @ The Edge
Andy Borkowski news anchor and host of tech show VGS across Corus Entertainment in Toronto, had a 3 hour talk with former lead writer of the Dragon Age franchise, David Gaider about the history of the game series. In Part 1, David discusses how the idea of Dragon Age first began, what characters he believes failed and what HUGE section of the game ended up on the cutting room floor.
Here's a link to the interview and transcript.
Thursday - October 09, 2014
Dragon Age - Free On EA Origin
Dragon Age is being offered for free by EA until October 14th. You will need an origin account to download, and play. Also this does not include the Expansion & DLC.
Thanks go to the multiple posters for the links on various threads.
Discover the true path of a hero and download Dragon Age: Origins to your PC. In this third-person heroic fantasy, you return to the days of character sheets and attribute plans that shaped the paths of your favorite roleplaying games. Build a last-of-his-kind crusader destined to save the world from the terrible blight of the Darkspawn.
Thedas lies weakened, ripe for the Darkspawn to creep into its lands virtually unnoticed. The sinister Arch-demon is assembling minions to draw the world to the brink of destruction. The legendary Grey Wardens have served as the last line of defense for Ferelden, but after centuries with no trace of the Darkspawn, their numbers have grown dangerously sparse. The Arch-demon has slipped from the minds of the kingdom, and the conscripts of the Grey Wardens have all but disappeared. The kings of the land, distracted by the realities of civil war and internal power struggles, remain oblivious to the signs of the Blight’s return.
Choose from three races — human, elf and dwarf — and three fighting classes — warrior, rogue and mage. Your initial choices determine your outward appearance, which changes the way others perceive you. Travel from town to town, searching for traveling companions to aid in your struggle to save the countryside from the forces of evil. Your actions ultimately shape the hero you will become, as you venture through the world. You are the master of your destiny; the fate of Thedas hinges on the choices you make.
Tuesday - August 26, 2014
Dragon Age - Keeper of the Rose Mod
Challseus the maker of some of the best mods for NWN has announced on our forums his latest Mod called Keeper of the Rose for Dragon Age. Here is the video intro.
Since the beginning of time, the Rose Of Eternity has been in the mystical Garden Of Roses, tended to by the Keeper Of The Rose. It is said that the Keeper Of The Rose has the most beautiful singing voice, rivaled by none. However, she does not sing for joy, but rather out of pain, for she is a prisoner in these gardens, forbidden to ever leave. Humanity is to blame for her misfortune, for as long as there is war and strife, she will be doomed to stay in the Garden Of Roses, and sing.
As she grows older, as petals fall off of the Rose Of Eternity, she continues to sing, in the hopes that mankind will change, but they do not. As she begins to become an old woman, people pure of heart are born into the world. These people have the opportunity to change things, but alas, they make the wrong decisions, and the Keeper Of The Rose is left to her prison. And her singing.
As the age ends, she is born anew into the world again, hoping that mankind will change their ways. She has been going through this cycle for 4000 years. Will she ever be freed from her prison? In this life cycle, 6 unknowing people will have the opportunity to make her wish come true...
If any of you are still playing NWN check out his other two mods.
Wednesday - March 19, 2014
Dragon Age - Retrospective @ Continue Play
Continue Play has a new retrospective/review for Bioware's RPG Dragon Age: Origins.
Dragon Age: Origins can be summed up as a culmination of Bioware’s long-standing strengths. It’s a story that is engaging, exciting, and enthralling, but doesn’t care about needing to be thought-provoking or philosophizing. While its gameplay and design isn’t the best, it hides its weaker components through a beautiful, haunting score and a zealous fixation with detail. It’s a solid story meant to grab gamers and keep them ensorcelled in the world of Thedas. It’s not laconic; it doesn’t make use of quietness and solemnity in the same vein as The Last of Us does, and it isn’t as cowboyishly confident as Mass Effect. It’s flowery and frilly, and…well, I kind of like that.
Wednesday - December 11, 2013
Dragon Age - 75% Off On Steam
Steam is selling Dragon Age: Origins - Ultimate Edition for 75% off. Now is the time to buy it if you never played it, or give it as a gift fo the holidays. Thanks go to Joxer for pointing out the sale.
Dragon Age: Origins
You are a Grey Warden, one of the last of this legendary order of guardians. With the return of mankind's ancient foe and the kingdom engulfed in civil war, you have been chosen by fate to unite the shattered lands and slay the archdemon once and for all. Explore a stunning world, make complex moral choices, and engage in bone-crushing combat against massive and terrifying creatures.
Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening Expansion Pack
The story of the Grey Wardens continues as you are named their commander. Fight new enemies, learn new skills and spells, and explore an all-new area of the world, Amaranthine.
All Nine Content Packs
Extend your adventure with The Stone Prisoner, Warden's Keep, Return to Ostagar, Feastday Gifts, The Darkspawn Chronicles, Feastday Pranks, Leliana's Song, The Golems of Amgarrak, and Witch Hunt. Collect new rewards, gain new party members, and more as you delve deeper into the Dragon Age storyline.
- Includes the 2009 'RPG of the Year' Dragon Age: Origins, the Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening expansion pack, plus all nine additional content packs.
- Critically acclaimed winner of more than 50 awards including over 30 'Best of 2009' awards.
- A tremendous $114 value at one low price.
Saturday - December 08, 2012
Dragon Age 1 and 2 - Promotional Items Giveaway
BioWare has a holiday offer, giving away all the DLC promo items for Dragon Age, Awakening and DA2, such as The Wicked Oath, Staff of Parthalan and so on. There's probably two dozen trinkets you can overpower on.
Saturday - June 23, 2012
Dragon Age Legends - Now available as a free standalone game
As promised, BioWare's social media app Dragon Age Legends is available as a standalone executable because the online servers are being shut down. I'd suggest this is a win for most gamers, who now play without the social media trappings:
Enjoy this epic, free RPG adventure game from BioWare. Battle demons and darkspawn with your friends, earn loot and build the ultimate castle.
1. This game requires Adobe Air to run. Please download and install Air from http://get.adobe.com/air/ if you do not already have it installed.
2. Download the game to your computer.
3. Double-click the file to install Dragon Age Legends. It will install into your program folder under BioWare.
If you have played the online version of Dragon Age Legends on either Facebook or Google+, you will soon be able to download your character as a Saved Game and continue playing in the single-player game. We are gathering all the data now and it will be available within a few days. Check back soon for instructions on how to download your character from the online game!
Wednesday - May 23, 2012
Dragon Age Legends - Shutting Down in June
I've had this in my inbox for a few days but I'm only just getting to it. I doubt many will shed a tear but the social game Dragon Age Legends will be shut down in June. On the other hand, a free downloadable version will be released after the servers have been closed, which seems like a win to me:
Sad news to report today: On June 18, 2012 we’ll be turning off the Dragon Age Legends servers. This is by no means a reflection on the quality of the game; the awesome team who created it; or the incredible, passionate community who has supported it. The unfortunate reality is that DAL doesn’t make enough revenue to sustain itself.
While it’s never fun to say goodbye, consider it only temporary. We’re also hard at work on our next core social projects, and we promise you they will be even more epic than anything we’ve done before. We hope you’ll join us again when they launch.
Head over for the exact details. Originally spotted at GameBanshee but a new post at RPS reminded me.
Wednesday - March 28, 2012
Baldur's Gate 2 Redux Mod - Dragon Age Mod Interview
Baldur's Gate 2 Redux is a Dragon Age mod aiming to recreate BioWare's epic classic in a 3D environment. The first part has already been released and, apparently, 100 levels of Athkatla have been developed. Gamers Nexus has an interview on the project with Lorne "Cuv" Ledger, current organizer of the team's production:
Gamers Nexus: How's progress on module 2? How are things looking?
Cuv: Things are looking great! The progress we are making is incredible, considering the actual time everyone has to contribute. We have roughly 30 times the content of the first module so far.
GN: Wow! What kind of content? Levels, items, characters? The whole shebangabang?
Cuv: We have currently over 100 brand new levels completed and final. Some items have been made, but there is more work to do on that front with quest items as the quests begin to take shape. All joinable NPCs are made and working. Some need minor tweaking, but their individual quests are beginning to take shape. Anomen, for example, has his knighthood and sister's death quests mostly in place. Creature models are at a standstill at the moment, with Ablaine [the modeler] pursuing a 'real' gaming job.
Thursday - November 24, 2011
Dragon Age - v1.05 Patch
You may want to skip the latest patch for Dragon Age: Origins. The v1.05 patch barely addresses anything and from reports at the forums and GameBanshee it seems to cause more problems than it fixes. Here are the patch notes:
Dragon Age: Origins 1.05
Downloadable content will properly authenticate once installed.
Fixed an issue where some users with DirectX10-era video cards were experiencing significant lag within menus and interfaces as well as sudden spikes in area load times.
Dragon Age: Ultimate Edition Fixes
The Ultimate Edition installer for the EA Download Manager (EADM) version of the game was placing the CD-Key in the wrong location in the Windows registry. EADM has been replaced with EA's Origin system and this error has been corrected in the new Origin installer. For those who purchased and installed the Ultimate Edition via EADM, the Patch 1.05 installer will copy that CD-Key into the correct Windows registry location.
Tuesday - October 25, 2011
Dragon Age - Legends Review @ GameBanshee
BioWare San Franciso's social media game Dragon Age: Legends has been reviewed over at GameBanshee, in a fairly positive article:
Like most free-to-play Facebook games, DAL faces a couple of issues, namely how to make the game fun enough to play for those people who don't spend money on it, while simultaneously preventing it from being too easy for those people who do spend money. So far I think BioWare has walked the tightrope pretty well, and I've enjoyed the time I've spent with DAL. Just be aware that the game is all about fighting battles, and there is very little in the way of dialogue or story. This isn't a typical BioWare game, although BioWare seems to be working their way towards this direction.
Tuesday - October 11, 2011
Dragon Age - Felicia Day's Redemption Released
Thursday - August 11, 2011
Dragon Age - Legends on Google+
I'm not much into the social media stuff but Dr. Ray announces on the Bioblog that their Facebook game Legends is now on Google+ :
I’m very pleased to announce that Dragon Age Legends is available today on Google+! At BioWare, we’re always looking for opportunities to bring our franchises to a wider audience, whether it’s through movies, comics, novels or through extending our games to different platforms. Our teams continue to innovate in the social gaming space with Dragon Age Legends – providing our existing fans a new way to enjoy the universe of Dragon Age, while also introducing the franchise to millions of new players on Google+ and Facebook. Legends can be played cooperatively as you explore the Free Marches and progress your hero, or competitively against your friends in the Guild PVP arenas; I can attest that however you choose to play it, it’s a fun and highly addictive game.
Tuesday - May 17, 2011
Dragon Age - Legends Remix @ IGN
Remember Dragon Age: Legends, the Flash game? Apparently it's been "remixed" and is available to play at IGN:
Have you played Dragon Age Legends on Facebook yet? Were you aware there is a new spin off game where you can unlock items for your Dragon Age Legends character for completing adventures? The new Remix of Dragon Age Legends takes combat in a new direction and allows players to adventure through 5 levels of fun, killing darkspawn and dragons alike.
Monday - February 21, 2011
Dragon Age - Why It Was More Memorable Than Mass Effect 2
IGN continues their strange run of articles recently with a comparison of events in Dragon Age versus Mass Effect 2. A number of themed comparison videos are pitted against each other - "Acts of Evil" and "Sandals and Sports Drinks" (?), for example.
Tuesday - February 15, 2011
Dragon Age - Felicia Day in Web Series
Huh. USA Today writes that Felicia Day will star in a six-part web series called Dragon Age: Redemption.
Day's six-episode run, due to hit the Web this year, is set in Ferelden, the same fantasy land in which 2009's Dragon Age: Origins and the upcoming sequel Dragon Age II play out. In the Tolkienesque sword-and-sorcery adventure game, several races join forces to combat a scourge called the Darkspawn (think of them as cousins to the orcs in The Lord of the Rings).
Tuesday - February 01, 2011
Dragon Age - Legends Beta Announced
So the much anticipated announcement from BioWare turned out not to be a demo but the launch of the Legends facebook game beta:
BioWare and the Dragon Age Legends team are very pleased today to announce the closed beta test for our upcoming Facebook game Dragon Age Legends.
Before the launch of Dragon Age II, return to Thedas in Dragon Age Legends on Facebook. Take down demons and darkspawn with your friends in this action-packed, strategy RPG. Unlock 5 items that you will be able to use as you play Dragon Age 2! Be Legendary!
APPLY HERE TO BE PART OF THE DRAGON AGE LEGENDS BETA TEST
You can learn more about Dragon Age Legends on either the Dragon Age Legends Facebook Page or the Dragon Age Legends Website.
Rumours about a demo continue, so time will tel what happens on that front.
Friday - January 28, 2011
Dragon Age - Legends Preview @ IGN
IGN has previewed Dragon Age Legends - the Facebook promo game:
According to developer EA2D, the studio's mission is to make social games for gamers, and Dragon Age Legends aims to bring role-playing and turn-based combat to the Facebook space. You play as a trusted advisor to Viscount Ravi, who asks you to help rescue his son from danger, which of course sends you on quests where you'll end up combating enemies.
Unlike the majority of Facebook games, you've got to make strategic decisions, or you can screw up in Dragon Age Legends. You need to pick an appropriate balance of companions for combat. If you don't develop enough supplies in your castle, you can go in underequipped. You can attack enemies in the wrong sequence. Any of these missteps can leave you dead and having to start the quest from the beginning. In other words, there's actually some game in this game.
Thanks to Saberger and Archmage Silver for sending this in.
Monday - November 29, 2010
Dragon Age - Top Mods: Weapons & Armor @ RPGamer
Roy Burnet posts a list of the best mods he's found for Dragon Age: Origins over at RPGamer. The first part is for weapons and armor:
Grey Warden Runic Armor
This is the creme-de-la-creme of all Dragon Age armor mods, it has been voted by players as the best many time over. It is a set of massive armor with a sword and shield to match, and a greatsword if you're into two-handed weapons. While it was made for warriors originally, it also has a version for arcane warriors for the mages out there.
Dragon Blood Mage
Have you ever played Dragon Age, and realized that there are no good robes for your awesome new blood mage, well fear no longer, because the modding community has an answer to your plight. Featuring the Dragon Blood Mage robe, this set just exudes class and begs you to do something evil in it.
Thursday - November 25, 2010
Dragon Age: Ultimate Edition - 50% Off on Impulse
Impulse is offering Dragon Age: Origins - Ultimate Edition for $24.97. This offer is only good for North American residents. The Ultimate Edition includes the following:
Dragon Age™: Origins
You are a Grey Warden, one of the last of this legendary order of guardians. With the return of mankind's ancient foe and the kingdom engulfed in civil war, you have been chosen by fate to unite the shattered lands and slay the archdemon once and for all. Explore a stunning world, make complex moral choices, and engage in bone-crushing combat against massive and terrifying creatures.
Dragon Age™: Origins – Awakening Expansion Pack
The story of the Grey Wardens continues as you are named their commander. Fight new enemies, learn new skills and spells, and explore an all-new area of the world, Amaranthine.
All Nine Content Packs
Extend your adventure with The Stone Prisoner, Warden’s Keep, Return to Ostagar, Feastday Gifts, The Darkspawn Chronicles, Feastday Pranks, Leliana’s Song, The Golems of Amgarrak, and Witch Hunt. Collect new rewards, gain new party members, and more as you delve deeper into the Dragon Age™ storyline.
Wednesday - October 27, 2010
Dragon Age - Ultimate Edition Released
For those hanging out to get Dragon Age with all the DLC, VG247 reports the Ultimate Edition has now been released:
As previously announced and outed by multiple retail sites, this edition contains all of the game’s post-release downloadable content, meaning: the core game, Awakening, Warden’s Keep, The Stone Prisoner, Return to Ostagar, Darkspawn Chronicles, Leliana’s Song, Golems of Amgarrak and Witch Hunt.
Monday - October 25, 2010
Dragon Age - Walkthrough @ Sorcerer's Place
Sorcerer's Place let us know that they have a walkthrough of Dragon Age: Origins and all DLC online.
Tuesday - October 12, 2010
Dragon Age - Toolset Community Contest
BioWare has kicked off an "ongoing" contest to encourage the use of the Dragon Age toolset. Here's a partial snip from the BioBlog and the full details are linked below:
Members of the Dragon Age Toolset community have taken the initiative to promote the use of the toolset and encourage new modders to learn the craft by holding the Community Contest. This is an ongoing contest open to all modders, experienced and new alike, consisting of various categories to allow participants to focus on their own areas of interest. You can win prizes, including DLC releases from BioWare, gift cards from the BioWare Store, gift cards for Amazon.com and more.
For more information on the Community Contest, visit the Community Contest Wiki Page. The winners of the first contest categories focusing on Settlements and Prop Models have been announced, and you can download all of the entries from Dragon Age Nexus. But there is still time to enter the Head Morph, Character, and Mini-Game/Puzzle categories.
Thursday - September 30, 2010
Dragon Age - Ultimate Edition Announced
Well, it's no surprise but BioWare has officially unveiled the Dragon Age Ultimate Edition, which offers DA, Awakening and the seven other DLC pieces all in one retail package. According to GameSpot, the release is October 26th.
Tuesday - September 21, 2010
Dragon Age - Witch Hunt v1.1 Patch
BioWare has released a patch for Witch Hunt, apparently fixing the issue with Morrigan not recognising certain previous choices:
Witch Hunt version 1.1 is now available for the PC. This updated version contains the following changes:
- When importing from a post-game save, your conversation with Morrigan in the Witch Hunt module will properly reflect the choices you made in Dragon Age Origin's "Dark Ritual" plot.
- The game will automatically save after Witch Hunt's final cutscene.
Source: Blues News
Monday - September 20, 2010
Dragon Age - Witch Hunt Micro Review @ Kotaku
There's a "micro review" of Witch Hunt at Kotaku and they aren't impressed:
Witch Hunt would be bad enough if it presented us with an hour of new gameplay, but having players wandering through areas they already explored for 60 minutes to deliver an ending that could just as easily have been released as a free teaser trailer bridging the gap between Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age II is an insult to players who've invested so much time and energy to playing through this epic tale.
Wednesday - September 15, 2010
Dragon Age - Witch Hunt Review @ GameShark
GameShark has slammed Witch Hunt, handing down a rating of 'D' in their review:
The truth is it felt like BioWare provided this pack as something they felt like they had to do rather than something they wanted to do. Given that there are no tangible character benefits for your character, no cool items, no new spells or powers, nothing at all to give you other than more experience if you need it and the promise of a resolution that never comes, one has to wonder why this was even developed. Yes, using a group of high level characters is always good for a little entertainment, but you can only kill so many Darkspawn before you start getting tired of the same enemies in every encounter and honesly, that time came about three content packs ago.
Maybe if Morrigan's ending had been a satisfying one I would have been fine with paying for a 45 minute side quest through places I've already been but it wasn't—so I'm not. What's even more oddly infuriating is that this is how Dragon Age: Origins ends, with a glimpse of your character blankly standing alone as companions walk away before the player is kicked to the menu. This is the ending we're supposed to accept? Perhaps more of Morrigan's story will be told in Dragon Age 2 but rest assured, I no longer care. The only trick this witch pulled off is making my interest in the franchise disappear.
Tuesday - September 14, 2010
Dragon Age - Witch Hunt Walkthrough
GameBanshee writes they have a walkthrough and database updates for Dragon Age: Witch Hunt.
Monday - September 13, 2010
Dragon Age - DLC Roundup
Eurogamer has a review roundup of all the Dragon Age DLC released, with a short wrap and a score for each. Obviously Witch Hunt is topical, so the score for that one is 6/10 and here's the conclusion:
Witch Hunt mimics the structure of a decent Dragon Age quest, and is at least fully voiced, but it fails to make the emotional connections that would make it work. Once again, you're stuck with a party of anonymous new characters rather than the colourful companions you grew to love over 30-plus hours of gaming, and Witch Hunt doesn't even have the good grace to offer a compelling reason why you're suddenly on Morrigan's trail. You just are, because that's what the DLC is about.
As an excuse to spend another mildly diverting evening in Ferelden, Witch Hunt does its job, but it's a functional offering rather than an inspiring one. Hamstrung by the piecemeal nature of Dragon Age DLC, and squandering a lot of the brilliantly constructed narrative from the full game, it's for completists only.
Friday - September 10, 2010
Dragon Age - Witch Hunt Fix and Reviews [Updated]
A lot of players of this DLC has been bugged during the game. Bioware is aware of this and is working on a fix. Mark Darrah from Bioware, started this thread at the Bioware Social Network. Here's his post in full:
Thank you to everyone who has downloaded the Witch Hunt DLC pack. As everyone here knows, Dragon Age: Origins is a huge game with a lot of choices for each individual player. Unfortunately, there is a continuity bug that is causing issues with a subset of our player base. While this issue is not affecting the majority of people, it is still a significant issue that we will address. We apologize for any inconvenience this may be causing anyone.
Clearly, it was our responsibility to catch this sort of issue in the interaction of Witch Hunt with Dragon Age: Origins.
Our team is doing everything we can to fix this in a timely manner so those who are affected can go back to enjoying Witch Hunt as soon as possible.
Stay tuned here for an update soon and thank you for your continued support.
On a related, there's a couple of new reviews out for this DLC. One is at Spawnkill with a score of 1/10. As usual, an excerpt:
The trailers and announcement of Witch Hunt gave me the very strong impression that this DLC would be the one to rule them all. This DLC would tell the tale of Morrigan, and possibly even put to rest the many questions we were left with so many months ago.
It does not. In fact, it only adds more questions, and not the kind we want or expect. And quite frankly, it’s a bigger let down than even I, with my raging cynical streak, could have ever imagined.
The other is from MMO Gamer Chick with no score, so here's a snippet:
Regardless of how I feel, I’m not sorry I purchased Witch Hunt. Like it or not, it did bring closure — Bioware’s own brand of strange and messed up closure, maybe, but it’s still closure. I hate to be cryptic about it myself, but in the end, whether or not Witch Hunt delivered all that it promised really depends on who you ask.
[Update] Rather than create a new post, here's another Witch Hunt review. GameSpot's score is 5/10 and and their headline alone uses words like "disappointment" and "vapid":
Morrigan's sharp tongue and vain indifference made her one of Dragon Age: Origins' most intriguing characters, so you might have been excited to learn of her return in that role-playing game's newest downloadable content, Witch Hunt. Sadly, you should temper your expectations: Witch Hunt is a lifeless escapade without wit, soul, or character, with Morrigan herself appearing in a cameo so brief that she might as well have not appeared at all. The contemptuous apostate mage is simply a MacGuffin--an abstract plot device that provides a reason for you and your party members to embark on a simple fetch quest that's explained with as little dialogue as possible. The story, such as it is, fizzles long before it reaches its limp climax, and its blandness is barely veiled by easy and predictable combat. A few odd moments jump out to remind you what made Dragon Age: Origins so wonderful, such as an enjoyable battle versus a creepy, multilegged beast and its minions. But these are small delights in a short, disappointing adventure that isn't worth the $7 asking price.
Dragon Age - Witch Hunt Review @ IGN
IGN has a review of this DLC for Dragon Age: Origins. The score is 6.5/10 and here's a snip:
Considering Dragon Age 2 is following along with a different main character, it's difficult to say what how what happens in Witch Hunt connects with anything else in the future. As you'll see at the ending, there's a choice that needs to be made that potentially has serious consequences, though something tells me it'll all be smoothed over should you ever encounter Morrigan again.
Thursday - September 09, 2010
Dragon Age - Witch Hunt Issues, Review
Apparently the Witch Hunt DLC has a "continuity bug", which means Morrigan doesn't respond to some players properly with their choices from DA:O. As you can imagine, a DLC specifically about your relationship with Morrigan is rather broken if it doesn't even recognise that relationship. From the official forums:
Thank you to everyone who has downloaded the Witch Hunt DLC pack. As everyone here knows, Dragon Age: Origins is a huge game with a lot of choices for each individual player. Unfortunately, there is a continuity bug that is causing issues with a subset of our player base. While this issue is not affecting the majority of people, it is still a significant issue that we will address. We apologize for any inconvenience this may be causing anyone.
Clearly, it was our responsibility to catch this sort of issue in the interaction of Witch Hunt with Dragon Age: Origins.
Our team is doing everything we can to fix this in a timely manner so those who are affected can go back to enjoying Witch Hunt as soon as possible.
Stay tuned here for an update soon and thank you for your continued support.
...and they're taking applications to test the patch here.
Meanwhile, Joystiq has a pretty negative review:
If you're importing your Grey Warden into Witch Hunt (the game will import a level 20 replacement from Orlais, otherwise), you'll be eager to see the consequences of decisions you made in the Origins campaign. Witch Hunt acknowledges these and even some from the Awakening expansion, but addresses the big questions so vaguely that it feels like the game's just trying to dodge the conversation. If you were hunting Morrigan for answers, you'll find she's about as enlightening as the fan discussion on the official BioWare forums.
It wouldn't feel like such a trick if there was more effort evident throughout the add-on. In your quest to locate Morrigan and a mysterious mirror, you'll battle through several locations, each and every one recycled from the main game or earlier DLC. An encounter with a frightening new creature was blunted by the reminder that I had fought a boss in the exact same spot before, in Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening. Somebody should put up a warning sign or something -- Caution: Boss Fight Zone.
Wednesday - September 08, 2010
RPGWatch Feature: Dragon Age - Witch Hunt Impressions
Witch Hunt is the last DLC for Dragon Age, with one of the most interesting premises - finding some answers to the Morrigan enigma. If you're thinking of pulling the trigger on this DLC, read on for my impressions. A sample:
Even with my enthusiasm for Dragon Age, I haven't played any of the DLC packages beyond those packaged with my version of the game (Wardens Keep and The Stone Prisoner) and the expansion-sized Awakening. I'm quite open to the idea of DLC but firing up a game I spent over 100 hours with to play some little two-hour segment in isolation just doesn't seem that enticing.
Until this one. Morrigan was a central part of my game - a mainstay of both my standard party and the focus of the most interesting decision in the game. Completing that story sounded like a good way to close the book on Dragon Age.
Tuesday - September 07, 2010
Dragon Age - Witch Hunt Released
Witch Hunt has also been released, according to BioWare. This is the last Dragon Age: Origins DLC and continues the Morrigan story.
Monday - September 06, 2010
Dragon Age - Witch Hunt Preview @ GameSpot
A preview of Witch Hunt is up at GameSpot - this one's full of spoilers, so be careful:
In any case, Witch Hunt will let you revisit several locales from the original game, such as Flemeth's old home in the swamp and the Circle of Mages (from the original game's mage origin story), while meeting up to three new companions who can join your party. We began the adventure outside of Flemeth's home, searching for clues as to Morrigan's whereabouts and were greeted by the first companion, a Mabari hound (who, if you've imported a character who played through the original game, will be your original dog character, or will be an all-new companion if you're using a new character to play the DLC). After being joined by the faithful hound, we entered the hovel to find the female elf warrior Ariane who also hunted Morrigan, since the sorceress had apparently stolen away an ancient elven tome from her tribe. After striking a quick truce with the elf (who became our second companion), we then made our way to the mage's circle--both to research "eluvian," the topic of the mysterious elven book and also to meet the DLC's third companion, the mageling Finn.
Friday - September 03, 2010
Dragon Age - Witch Hunt Preview @ IGN
IGN takes a look at the last Dragon Age DLC, Witch Hunt. It's a short piece but a couple of details are revealed. On dialogue:
Although I wish I was playing Dragon Age 2 because the combat feels so much better, the dialogue was a real treat in Witch Hunt. There were numerous occasions where I chuckled at some bit of conversation. My favorite was the friendly jab at Harry Potter: "What sort of mages would use owls for pets?" a student at the Circle library mused.
For those wondering, you will come face-to-face with Morrigan during your time with Witch Hunt, though how you handle the situation is entirely up to you. Your dialogue options are dependent on your previous relationship with her, so the experience is customized for your particular Warden.
In semi-related news VG247 notes the BBFC has just rated the Ultimate Edition, so that confirms the unsurprising rumours of a complete package.
Tuesday - August 31, 2010
Dragon Age - Witch Hunt Character Profile
BioWare has kicked up a character profile for Finn (and Ariane, which we may have previously missed) for Witch Hunt, the concluding DLC for Dragon Age. There's a small render and a paragraph description for each.
Dragon Age - Golems of Amgarrak Review @ Platform Nation
A review for this DLC can be found at Platform Nation. They do warn that the DLC is mostly combat heavy. As usual, an excerpt:
Your goal is to travel from the dwarven city of Orzammar into the Deep Roads to find the fate of an expedition sent to the city of Amgarrak, once a source of golems and research. Something went horribly wrong, and a concerned relative has begged for the aid of a Gray Warden.
Saturday - August 28, 2010
Dragon Age: Origins - Golems of Amgarrak Explored @ GameBanshee
GameBanshee has made an in-depth look at the new DLC for DA: Origins, Golems of Amgarrak. They've made a walkthrough, an updated equipment database, and much much more.
Friday - August 27, 2010
Dragon Age - Leliana's Song Review @ GamingNexus
GamingNexus has a review of Leliana's Song for Dragon Age. The rating is C+ with the author disappointed with the length, story and characters:
If you explored conversation with Leliana in Origins long enough, she most likely revealed some of her history to you. I remember being interested in her tales because they involved deception, betrayal, and more of the blood and gore Origins is known for (including the Dragon Age trademark of blood splattered across characters’ armor and face). It came with a positive outlook, then, that I came to play and review Leliana’s Song. But then why, after completing the missions the DLC had to offer, did I come away feeling that the add-on was empty?
Reflecting on it, I realized there was too much disparity between what was meant to enhance your experience of the original game and the original game itself. First, there is the fact that the DLC took only 2 hours to complete. The content felt rushed, and ultimately unfulfilled. Whereas Origins is about discovering your story and going on to save Ferelden, Leliana’s Song is small story of betrayal laden with a few political qualms.
Wednesday - August 25, 2010
Dragon Age - Witch Hunt, New DLC Announced, due Sept. 7th
Bioware, via Victor Wachter, announced this new DLC for Dragon Age: Origins. It will be released on Sept 7th 2010 - and will have you Warden search for a certain witch. Here's a hopefully not to spoilerish snip from the announcement on the DLC's official website:
She has been sighted in the southern wilderness where she was first encountered. Is it truly her? If it is, then why has is she here and what secret does she carry with her? The Warden heads into the forest to find out and tie up this last loose end once and for all.
Who 'she' is, you can learn by clicking one of the links above, but be warned, spoilers abound.
Source: RPG Codex
Thursday - August 19, 2010
Dragon Age - Golems of Amgarrak Review @ SmashPad
A site called SmashPad has a review of Golems of Amgarrak. The score is 6.2/10 and they didn't enjoy the difficulty:
Golems of Amgarrak has you trekking through the underground city searching for Brogan and defeating the mysterious presence that is lurking down there. Most of the time will find you battling insanely powerful enemies who spam magic attacks like they have nothing to lose. We found ourselves dying constantly throughout this campaign, and even at level 36, with maxed weapons, armor and stats, our Grey Warden hero was falling to a group of four enemies.
It seems that Bioware felt that the challenge needed to be racketed up a notch, and even the description of the DLC clearly warns players of the difficulty. But was there really a need to do this? We played through Origins and Awakening on hard difficulty, and sure there were occasional problems and deaths, but that’s why it is called HARD. We don’t want to have to struggle and die constantly on normal or casual mode, and it is a bad design flaw that really makes this DLC not worth trying out at all.
Saturday - August 14, 2010
Dragon Age - Ultimate Edition Rumours
Joystiq has unconfirmed rumours of an "Ultimate Edition" of Dragon Age due for October, via a removed GameStop entry. No details on exactly what it would contain but it's easy to speculate on a bundle that includes all the DLC.
Wednesday - August 11, 2010
Dragon Age - Golems of Amgarrak Reviews
Amgarrak was fairly short, even for DLC, as it is roughly one hour long. The addition of the puzzle to advance to each section of the ruins did make the game a little bit longer, but it still feels too short and it really had nothing to do with the main story or serve as a backstory, like Return to Ostagar and Leliana’s Song which serve as closure for certain back story from the game.
For 400 Microsoft points for the Xbox 360, 400 BioWare points for the PC and $4.99 for the PlayStation 3 the content is cheaper than previous add-ons and is not too bad of a deal for a fan of Dragon Age, but for those that are new to the series and its add-ons this may not be the first one I would recommend picking up.
Dragon Age - Golems of Amgarrak Review @ GreyWardens
GreyWardens have reviewed the recently released Golems of Amgarrak DLC for Dragon Age Origins, stating it will give you two hours of gameplay and being very action oriented.
If I had to classify this DLC, I would rank it more toward a combat-oriented package than a story-based product. While it's not purely stripped down to the level of Darkspawn Chronicles, there's not much meat you're getting with the plotline here. You're in Amgarrak, you need to rescue Jerrik's brother, and while you're there, if you can discover the secrets of the golems and make it out alive, more the better. That's the plot in a nutshell and there's not a whole lot more to it than that.
Character development is also very light. If you read some of the preview material here about Jerrik and/or Brogan Dace, you got a lot more information about who they are and what their roles are than you do by actually playing the DLC. The characters in Golems at least feel like they are tied to the story though, unlike one of the downers of Leliana's Song, where it felt like your companions were just there to fill mechanical archetypes of tank/mage etc. The companions are tied more to the story than a need to round out a party and that's a plus compared to BioWare's last DLC offering.
Friday - August 06, 2010
Dragon Age - GoA Wiki Update #4
This Golems of Amgarrak wiki update on House Dolvish is fairly short, so here's the whole thing:
Talk to a dwarf about golems, and you’ll get an earful about Caridin, the legendary Anvil of the Void, and Amgarrak. Amgarrak is the dwarven word for "victory," but the halls of Amgarrak are considered a mere fairy tale.
Before Queen Getha was deposed, it is said that she delivered the only remaining fragments of Caridin’s research to House Dolvish. Legends say that House Dolvish bankrupted itself by establishing a secret research laboratory in the Deep Roads. With the help of a Tevinter magister, they sought to recreate Caridin’s work. Fedrik, the last scion of House Dolvish, promised the Assembly a new golem fresh from Amgarrak, knowing it would raise the Dolvish clan again to prominence. But when no golem materialized, Fedrik was ruined. He died years later, and with his death, House Dolvish was no more.
Over the centuries, golems with strange abilities have been found in the Deep Roads. Some say that this is either proof that Amgarrak is real or that Dolvish descendants still work to this day recreating golems. Others say that something went horribly wrong. The truth may never be known.
Wednesday - August 04, 2010
Dragon Age - GoA Wiki Update #3
Caridin and Golems is the subject of today's Dragon Age: Golems of Amgarrak wiki update. A sample:
When Caridin unveiled his first golem to the Assembly, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that he was a living Paragon. His timing couldn’t have been better. Caridin's golems slowly appeared on the front lines just as relentless waves of darkspawn threatened to break though into Orzammar herself. The golem's devastating power turned the tide. At King Valtor’s urging, Caridin started to produce golems more quickly. For the first time in ten generations, the dwarves had hopes beyond mere survival—they started to believe they could reclaim their former empire.
Tuesday - August 03, 2010
Dragon Age - GoA Wiki Update #2
Brogan Dace is the next update in this week's Golems of Amgarrak wiki articles:
Few realize that the magnanimous Jerrik Dace has a brother. Brogan Dace, a faithful member of the warrior caste for decades, has fought alongside his brother in many critical campaigns, but never seeks or receives the same glory heaped upon his older sibling. His soft-spoken manner has meant relative obscurity.
Monday - August 02, 2010
Dragon Age - GoA Wiki Update
BioWare has an update to the Dragon Age wiki with the addition of the character Jerrik Dace from the upcoming Golems of Amgarrak DLC. They also promise updates all this week, so more to follow.
Wednesday - July 28, 2010
Dragon Age - Golems of Amgarrak DLC Interview, Trailer
BioWare has officially unveiled the latest Dragon Age DLC, Golems of Amgarrak, on the official site. Here's the blurb:
Delve deep underground to save a missing dwarven expedition in search of ancient secrets for creating monstrous constructs. Only you can uncover the gruesome fate that befell them.
Put your Warden back in action and adventure through new environments, meet new characters and defeat never before seen creatures. With an engrossing new storyline and challenging puzzles this is one add-on you don't want to miss!
- Import your character from Origins or Awakening or create a new, high-level hero!
- Face an all-new terrifying creature
- Earn powerful rewards that transfer into your Awakening and Origins campaign
An advanced challenge for even the most experienced adventurers
MMORPG.com: Give us some background on the new DLC – Golems of Amgarrak.Rob: Golems of Amgarrak is the next installment of downloadable content (DLC) for our hit dark fantasy title, Dragon Age: Origins. It will be releasing simultaneously for $5 on the Playstation Network and for 400 points on the PC and in the X360 Marketplace. Designed with our hardcore players in mind, it sends the player on an extremely challenging journey into the Deep Roads to uncover the lost secrets of the dwarves.Ferret: Rob isn’t joking. Golems is seriously tough. If you played through Origins and thought it couldn’t keep up with your mad skills, then this is the DLC for you. You face a brand new boss who has more than a few tricks up his sleeve, and unless you bring your A-game you won’t last long. Getting the hardest achievement for this DLC is a real badge of honor. Only a handful of BioWarians managed that accomplishment.
Although combat is front and center, Golems of Amgarrak has a tricky puzzle to solve, new characters to talk with and get to know, and an engaging story. All the things you’d expect from Dragon Age. You also can import your character from Origins or Awakening, so you can have further adventures with your favorite hero.
By playing Golems of Amgarrak you can unlock several reward items that show up in Origins or Awakening. It’s a good time to be a Grey Warden!
Tuesday - July 27, 2010
Dragon Age - Golems of Amgarrak DLC Preview
This is the first time I've seen the name of the new "combat oriented" DLC for Dragon Age, with Joystiq previewing Golems of Amgarrak from Comic-Con. The author describes his short gameplay experience but doesn't really reveal much:
So yes, alongside the public, I got a chance to see the upcoming DLC. And the first thing I heard about it is that it's hard. Really hard. Dragon Age: Origins is already a game that requires some thinking, but BioWare has apparently turned up the difficulty on this one -- there's lots of big enemies, I was told, that will provide a challenge even on the easiest setting.
Sunday - July 25, 2010
Dragon Age - Upcoming Combat-Oriented DLC
1Up seems to have the scoop on BioWare's Comic-Con revelations at the moment, with news of an upcoming, unnamed DLC for Dragon Age on display. Apparently this one will be particularly action-oriented (the others weren't?):
The DLC is designed to be for high-tier characters to traverse a punishing dungeon against high level enemies. While the DLC was never named (nor was the name of the dungeon), the focus of this new content is entirely combat based encouraging players to use their tactics against hordes of enemies. This also means that you should not expect any story elements ala Awakening. Other details such as release date and price were not given either, but it is nice to see that the life of Dragon Age: Origins isn't over yet, even though it's sequel is less than a year away.
Wednesday - July 21, 2010
Dragon Age - Return to Ostagar for Mac
Not exactly speedy but it seems Return to Ostagar is now available on Mac for anyone waiting.
Source: Voodoo Extreme
Tuesday - July 20, 2010
Dragon Age - Editorials @ Greywardens
Greywardens sends word of two new articles. The first examines the application of the "monomyth" to Dragon Age:
Joseph Campbell’s “A Hero With a Thousand Faces” set out a formula for analyzing myth throughout the ages. From the oldest epics through modern-day stories of heroes, the monomyth pattern isn’t perfect but its features can be seen in some capacity in many stories. Dragon Age, which has been described as an epic, does exhibit many features of the monomyth tradition.
...and the second looks at locations known to be associated with Hawke in DA2:
A person’s home can shape the man or woman they become later in life. Although a few details about Dragon Age 2?s leading man Hawke have surfaced, taking a look at the places he calls home may give a bit of insight into not only how he might develop, but tell also of some of the challenges he may face. While most of the game seems like it may take place in a new locale across the Waking See in the Free Marches, even the little we know about that land can give some insight into the life of the hailed “Champion of Kirkwall.”
There are three major locales in Hawke’s life that we have some knowledge of: Lothering, the Free Marches, and more specifically, Kirkwall.
Monday - July 19, 2010
Dragon Age - Leliana's Song Walkthrough @ GameBanshee
Dragon Age - Patch 1.04 Available Later Today [Updated]
Victor Wachter, Bioware's Community Coordinator, has updated this thread where he announces that patch 1.04 for Dragon Age: Origins (and Awakenings) will be released some timer later today. It will, however, only be the PC version of the patch that will be released, since the patch needs to pass Xbox 360 and PS3 certifications.
There's a very long changelist, so I'll list what seems to be the most interesting info:
the party/member approval quest issues:
While we have fixed the party member approval/personal quest issues, it is important to note that players may not experience the results of this fix until starting a new game.
Because of the nature of the bug and the fix implemented, while it is possible that it will still affect party members that are not yet in the player’s group, in general existing game saves may still not see proper approval results
Please note that this patch also fixes bugs in Awakenings as well as fixes the problem with daggers not adding the dexterity-bonuses correctly to damage. According to the notes, they have fixed the memory leak issue. And if you import a character that had equipment on them from the DLCs into Awakening, you will now get default equipment.
And here's Victor Wachtor's advice to those os us who'd be installing the game again sometime:
In short, if you plan to re-install DAO and Awakening at some point in the future, we recommend installing DAO, then Awakening, then latest patch. If you plan to add Awakening to your DAO install, we recommend installing Awakening, then always re-apply the latest patch.
Update: Now available.
Sunday - July 18, 2010
Dragon Age - Examining Choice Editorial @ GameCritics
An editorial at Game Critics examines the choice and consequence in Dragon Age: Origins; they also discuss which choices were among the best and which were among the least succesfull in the game:
Warning - spoilers abound.
I'll discuss the game's choices by talking about the good ones first. My first major quest was at the camp of the Dalish. You are given three options, side with the werewolves and kill all the elves, side with Zaithran and kill all the werewolves, or break the curse by killing Zaithran (and by extension, the Lady of the Forest) and allow the elves to live and the werewolves to live on as humans. If you were playing as a "good" character, there are basically two less than ideal options, and one choice that allows life and freedom to flourish. On the surface, this seems like typical choice, but to bring about the scenario that allows you to kill Zaithran, you have to go through a rather specific set of dialogue options. Good-guy characters are initially confronted with choosing between two terribly unjust massacres, and are rewarded for taking the time to negotiate a new solution.
The Mages' Tower contained the most polarized choice in the game. I could either take the risk of some mages being turned into abominations and fighting against me (an event which can be prevented by using an item during the boss fight), or I can slaughter dozens of innocent men and women. Since I was playing as a good-guy, the choice was so obvious that by the end of the game I had literally forgotten that I had another option. The situation is made even less compelling by the fact that the second most important character in the game, Alistair, constantly voices his dislike for the templars, and any mages you have encountered previously have done the same. A below average ending to an otherwise interesting quest.
Source: RPG Codex
Dragon Age - Pen and Paper Master's Kit now Available
The Game Master's Kit is the perfect accessory for fans of the Dragon Age RPG. This handy product features a three-panel hardback screen that puts all the essential game info right in front you. It also includes a 32-page adventure by Jeff Tidball that can serve as an introduction to the game or as a follow-up to the adventure in the core game. With the Game Master's Kit and Set 1 of the Dragon Age RPG, you'll be ready to kickstart your dark fantasy campaign.
Thursday - July 15, 2010
Dragon Age - Leliana's Song Review @ GameSpot
GameSpot has a review of Leliana's Song with a score of 7/10:
Dragon Age: Origins' Leliana may have seemed sweet enough, but her initially faithful and spiritual demeanor masked an unsavory past. In Leliana's Song, the most recent downloadable content released for last year's superb role-playing game, you explore the bard's dark side and glimpse the circumstances that led her to pledge to the Chantry in Lothering. Effective storytelling makes this add-on worth a look for dedicated Dragon Age fans, particularly those that experienced Leliana's personal quest in the original game. Unfortunately, you won't find many surprises lurking within this fun but unremarkable adventure. The combat remains enjoyable, but because your party is capped at three rather than the usual four members, battles aren't as exciting as they might have been with a larger party. Though some later encounters in an atmospheric alcove grant a little variety, you will fend off the usual foes in a number of well-worn environments. This isn't Dragon Age at its best, but Leliana's Song is an appealing slice of character-driven content.
Wednesday - July 14, 2010
Dragon Age - Leliana's Song Walkthrough @ Greywardens
Greywardens let us know they have posted a full walkthrough of Leliana's Song for Dragon Age.
Tuesday - July 13, 2010
Dragon Age - Leliana's Song Review @ Big Download
The Big Download reviews the Dragon Age DLC, Leliana's Song, recommending players wait for a cheap DLC bundle. In particular, they were disappointed that BioWare missed opportunies for some interesting scenarios rather than just combat:
We were hoping to make a lot of use out of Coercion, since we expected to do a lot of sweet talking as on Orlesian bard, but were very disappointed to find no speech opportunities at all. Many conversations are limited to two responses, few dialogue options significantly change the dynamic of the conversation, and practically none of them have any impact on how party members feel about you. There are one or two gifts to give, but approval exists only for the skill perks, not for any sort of side quest. Leliana's Song focuses solely on cutting through an army of soldiers instead of finding different solutions to problems.
Friday - July 09, 2010
Dragon Age - Leliana's Song Review @ Greywardens
Greywardens has finished their review of Leliana's Song, describing it as a "strong" DLC:
Leliana starts at level 10, fully equipped and ready to hit the ground running. She has friends on her side as well: Tug the dwarf warrior and Sketch the elf mage. Not only are these two sidekicks excellent compliments to Leliana’s own abilities in combat (Tug is adept with sword & shield while Sketch plays the party’s Spirit Healer), they have their own distinct personalities. Within the first 30 seconds of gameplay I already liked these guys, thanks to the well-written and fully-voiced character chat and clever cut-scene conversations.
For players who like to dive straight into combat, Leliana, Tug and Sketch come pre-scripted with useful tactical settings, which allow for quick and dirty play through the game’s first few missions. On harder difficulty levels, I had to make some adjustments to my team, but for the most part, they acted as a cohesive, well-practiced group – exactly what you’d expect from a trio of Orlesian bards.
Thursday - July 08, 2010
Dragon Age - Leliana's Song Review @ IGN
IGN has reviewed Leliana's Song, with a score of 7/10:
As if Dragon Age: Origins didn't have enough content built into it when it released late last year, BioWare has been busy churning out more ever since. From the sizable Awakening expansion to an array of smaller chunks, there's plenty for Dragon Age fans to dig into, provided they're willing to pay. While some of the added content, like Awakening, is of particularly high quality, some of the smaller releases like the underdeveloped Darkspawn Chronicles have failed to impress. How does the latest release hold up? Well, if you're still interested in playing more Dragon Age, and specifically interested in the backstory of Leliana, then you'll find parts to like in Leliana's Song. For anyone who's lost the desire to play the game anymore, though, this content isn't enough to make it worth coming back.
Tuesday - July 06, 2010
Dragon Age - Leliana's Song DLC Released
It's obviously DLC day at BioWare with Leliana's Song released for Dragon Age. Here's the blurb as a reminder:
- Explore Leliana's dangerous past and why she joined the Chantry
- A fully voiced cinematic experience brings the characters to life
- Unlock a unique reward that transfers into your Awakening and Origins campaign
- All-new musical compositions instensify the action and intrigue
Friday - July 02, 2010
Dragon Age - Leliana Profile @ Greywardens
Greywardens.com sends word of their article The Gilded Mirror, which is a detailed profile of Leliana in preparation for the next DLC:
Yet, a generation has passed since the days of King Maric and Loghain, the Hero of the River Dane. And as Denerim and the rest of Ferelden recovers from the bitter memories of war, the Orlesian image has changed. As Wardens, we’re given a very different picture of Orlais as the game begins than the one a war veteran like Loghain might paint for us. We see Orlais through the eyes of Leliana, an Orlesian bard, and what she tells us is far removed from the war stories of the past.
In similar news, the BioBlog has an interview with the voice talent for Leliana, Corinne Kempa.
Wednesday - June 30, 2010
Dragon Age - Leliana's Song DLC Audio Sample and Profiles for the Characters
Bioware has update the site for the Leliana's Song DLC with both character profiles as well as an audio sample. Since we're familar with Leliana here's something about a thug called Tug:
Monday - June 28, 2010
Dragon Age - Theology and Atheism @ bit-tech.net
bit-tech.net's Joe Martin posts his impressions of and problems with how religion plays out in character choices and storyline in DA:O in a slightly off-the-beaten-path blog post entitled Atheism in Dragon Age: Origins. (NOTE:This article contains spoilers.)
Here's a short excerpt to set the stage:
Dragon Age’s fictional religion obviously plays a big part of the story, with the Chantry cast as alternately oppressive and supporting of society and constantly near the centre of attention. Whether you’re helping rogue mages resist what could be seen as religious persecution or collecting ancient texts for Chantry scholars, the religion of Andastre and the Maker is pretty much unavoidable – and when it’s like that, I don’t have a problem with it. Just as in real life, I’ll let people believe what they want as long as they don’t try to make me do the same. It’s on that last, italicised clause that Dragon Age and I start to have problems…
Friday - June 25, 2010
Dragon Age - Leliana's Song DLC Trailer
EA sent us a link to the new Leliana's Song trailer. Click on the vid to watch it in 720p.
Wednesday - June 16, 2010
Dragon Age - Leliana's Song DLC Announced
BioWare is in the process of whipping up a new Dragon Age DLC titled Leliana's Song:
Assume the role of Leliana, a young bard involved in a criminal ring that deals in political secrets. Accompanying her mentor Marjolaine on a high-risk mission, Leliana soon finds herself entangled in a game of intrigue that she cannot escape with just her beauty, charm, or stealth. The only way out of this game is to kill or be killed.
- Explore Leliana's dangerous past and why she joined the Chantry
- Fully voiced cinematic experience brings the characters to life
Unlock a unique reward that transfers into your Awakening and Origins campaign
Monday - June 07, 2010
Dragon Age - Anime Movie Deal
EA has announced an anime movie deal for Dragon Age:
Anime Leader to Create Home Video Adaptation of Award-Winning Video Game Franchise “Dragon Age”
BioWare, an EA studio and FUNimation Entertainment, the leading distributor of Japanese animation in North America, announced today an agreement to create an anime feature film adapted from BioWare’s critically-acclaimed fantasy Action RPG franchise Dragon Age. Production of the Dragon Age anime movie is slated to begin in May 2010, with a home video release in 2011. Executive producing the film are Bioware’s Executive Producer MarkDarrah and Creative Director Mike Laidlaw, as well as FUNimation’s Fukunaga and Director of Original Entertainment Chris Moujaes.
“Anime is a great medium for us to continue the robust Dragon Age story,” said Mark Darrah, Executive Producer for the Dragon Age franchise. “Partnering with FUNimation ensures that we are delivering the exceptional quality and entertainment value that our Dragon Age fans expect.”
Friday - June 04, 2010
Dragon Age - Patch 1.04 in the Works
Victor Wachter from Bioware has made a thread about this on the official Bioware forums. He says that Bioware will be making updates as to how the bug fixing is going, what the patch will fix as well as the issues people have reported will be adressed in the upcoming patch. Here's what he has to say about the bug fixes so far:
The following items are just a small set of fixes that will be included in the update. We know that these are some of the most discussed issues, so we wanted to make sure you knew that they would resolved.
• Game saves on Xbox 360 were being corrupted if you sold too many items to the same merchant. Saves will no longer be corrupted if you do this.
• Daggers will now properly assign the dexterity-based damage bonus
• Updated audio drivers to fix a number of audio related crashes.
Keep watching for additional details. We’re packing a lot in this update and have more to reveal!
We can't give you a timeframe just yet. Our goal is to release these fixes in the shortest time possible, but we also want to make sure that this update is high quality and doesn't create any new problems. That process will take time, but we will revisit this topic until then with updates to let you know new items that have been resolved or added to the list.
Thursday - May 27, 2010
Dragon Age - Darkspawn Chronicles Review
Greywardens.com has a review of Darkspawn Chronicles for Dragon Age. There's no score but the reviewer clearly likes the game in the main. A snip on storytelling:
A significant portion of Dragon Age fans became such as a direct result of BioWare’s story telling ability. Darkspawn Chronicles conjures up expectations of a new perspective, new understanding, and even if you know Chronicles is purely about battle, expectations can be formed based solely on BioWare’s history – such expectations will be, unfortunately, scuppered here. Battles are all fine and well, but it is the story that hooks most Dragon Age fans; it is the story that causes them to love the series and look past some of its flaws. The fighting is great, but it is the plot, story and characters that make the game wonderful, and Darkspawn Chronicles has nearly none of this.
Darkspawn cannot talk, most only have very basic functions which all revolve around killing. This forces the main interaction to be between the Archdemon and the character you play. I say interaction, but of course the Darkspawn cannot reply except to do what is commanded. Despite this, the bits where the Archdemon is talking to your character are interesting and fun. This reviewer particularly liked the blurred tunnel-vision that showed areas that needed to be dealt with. As a DLC focused on conflict Chronicles does well, but is shadowed by expectations bred by Dragon Age’s RPG nature and BioWare’s strong storytelling tradition.
Wednesday - May 26, 2010
Dragon Age - Darkspawn Chronicles Review
Our old friends at Sorcerer's Place have a review of Darkspawn Chronicles for Dragon Age. The re-use of scenes and unanswered questions are criticised but the author enjoyed the experience overall and scored it at 7.5/10:
Now that I’ve ripped the content to some decent shreds, let’s build it back up again. While there were things that I found wrong with the DLC, there were quite a few things I enjoyed. One - you learn how truly ‘mindless’ the darkspawn are in Origins before the changes occur in Awakening. While there isn’t really anything in the way of dialogue, there really is no reason for dialogue in this addition. Your only mission as the Vanguard is to do whatever is necessary to carry out your orders from the Archdemon who speaks to you via a type of telepathic link. I also enjoyed the ability to kill off those party members who weren’t doing the job. I know, bloodthirsty aren’t I? If you need something better, kill off an enthralled party member and enthrall a new one.
Monday - May 24, 2010
Dragon Age - Darkspawn Chronicles Walkthrough
Greywardens writes they have completed a "comprehensive" walkthrough for the Dragon Age DLC Darkspawn Chronicles.
Friday - May 21, 2010
Dragon Age - Darkspawn Chronicles Review @ IGN
The first full review of Darkspawn Chronicles we've seen is up at IGN, with a pretty ordinary score of 6.5/10:
Because this is a small, self-contained adventure, much of the traditional mechanics that hook you in to Dragon Age have been removed. There's no experience gain or character leveling with any of the Darkspawn. You will get a few new abilities and some gear for your Darkspawn on the way through, but the only concrete sense of progression are damage, constitution and dexterity bonuses gained by companions as kills are made. Prodding the action forward are directions from the Archdemon, but there really isn't much character interaction to speak of, and the disposable nature of your Darkspawn companions means you never develop much of a sense of connection to any of them.
Thursday - May 20, 2010
Dragon Age - Qwinn's Unofficial Fixpack
Archmage Silver writes in say Qwinn's Unofficial Fixpack for Dragon Age has reached v2.0, with 36 more fixes in this version. The Fixpack doesn't support Awakenings but addresses a huge list for DA:O v1.03. Details in this thread on the Bio forums.
Wednesday - May 19, 2010
Dragon Age - PS3 Version Patched
We are very pleased to announce that there will be a PS3 patch available later tonight for the Playstation 3 version of Dragon Age: Origins. The patch is expected at 12 Midnight tonight PST for North America. We do not have an exact time for Europe, but we hope the times will be as close together as possible.
This patch will fix the recent crashing that was caused by the upgrade to the 3.3 firmware update. It will also fix the in-game DLC store to show free DLC content redeemed with promo codes and it will also fix the bug with darkspawn trophies. So again this patch will fix:
- Crashing caused by the 3.3 firmware update
- Missing free DLC content in the in-game store
- Darkspawn trophies
Big thanks go out to the team and to the good folks at Sony for making this a priority to help us launch The Darkspawn Chronicles which will be available starting tomorrow.
Darkspawn Chronicles will be available for the PS3 in North America at approximately 4pm PST tomorrow May 18. It will be available for Europe on Wednesday May 19, when we know the time, we will let you know.
UPDATE - The PS3 patch is now available to fans in Europe AND in North America.
Dragon Age - Darkspawn Chronicles Impressions
Greywardens has two pages of first impressions from the latest Dragon Age DLC, Darkspawn Chronicles:
Make no mistake – unlike previous DLCs which have fleshed out the lore of Dragon Age, or introduced new characters, Darkspawn Chronicles is a vivid glance into the brutal, dark world of the Archdemon and its minions. There’s no room for diplomacy here, and no time to take prisoners – as the hurlock vanguard of the Horde your task is simple: burn Denerim to the ground and destroy any resistance against the might of the Archdemon. But as gruesome as playing the Horde is, there’s no doubt about it that BioWare wants players to have fun in this DLC. With powerful darkspawn thralls, and a host of new abilities at your command, a main attraction here is in wreaking havoc and destruction upon the very world we as Grey Wardens are so often tasked with saving.
Emphasis from the original article.
Tuesday - May 18, 2010
Dragon Age - Darkspawn Chronicles Released
Dragon Age: Origins - The Darkspawn Chronicles is now available for the PC, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 for $5.
Here is a quick description:
Play as the darkspawn! The city of Denerim, jewel of Ferelden, girds itself for war. As a hurlock vanguard, you alone hold the power to make thralls of your fellow darkspawn and drive them into the heat of battle. Heed the archdemon's call--Denerim must burn!
Thanks to Thrasher for the reminder.
Friday - May 14, 2010
Dragon Age - Beyond the Horde @ Greywardens
Beyond the Horde Mind: Darkspawn Disciples looks at the emergence of intelligent darkspawn in Dragon Age:
The further we travel in Ferelden, however, the more clever the darkspawn become. In fact, in Orzammar, we learn exactly how the darkspawn horde has gotten so large. In the Deep Roads, we see first-hand how the darkspawn propagate, and get our first hard evidence that the darkspawn are more than just mindless killers. They have plans and intentions, however grisly, for the unwitting dwarves, humans, or elves they encounter and abduct. Female Wardens should remember vividly the fate that awaits any civilian woman who is captured by the darkspawn: females of all races are transformed into the Broodmothers, mutating, through a process of dark ritual magic, into monstrous creatures who birth darkspawn by the hundreds to bolster the ranks of the horde.
Thursday - May 13, 2010
Dragon Age - Editorials @ Greywardens
Wednesday - May 12, 2010
Dragon Age - Drakspawn Chronicles Preview @ GS
Upcoming Dragon Age DLC Darkspawn Chronicles has been previewed at GameSpot. It seems roleplaying isn't high on the list of priorities:
You play a darkspawn general, a hurlock vanguard, described by Bartel as "a new type of darkspawn given a measure of free will by the archdemon." It's the archdemon--that is, the dragon that leads the darkspawn horde--that telepathically issues your orders to take the city. Your party comprises various disposable thralls: darkspawn units recruited on the battlefield with your vanguard's instant recruitment ability. Blight wolves, hurlocks, genlocks, and ogres are up for grabs, as well as stealthy shrieks and fireball-hurling emissaries. It's the same four-character party setup as previously, but rather than swapping out one member for a more useful unit, you execute the unfortunate conscript.
These are, explains Bartel, not the talking, fully sentient darkspawn introduced in Awakening, but the orc-like creatures of the game proper. Generally, role-playing elements are stripped down in favour of a brisk, combat-based experience. Dialogue menus, for instance, just "didn't make sense" given your grunting, brutish cohorts, says Bartel.
Monday - May 10, 2010
Dragon Age - Darkspawn Chronicles Interview @ GameSpot
GameSpot has a Darkspawn Chronicles interview we missed last week. Here's a snip:
GS: Perhaps the greatest strength Origins had going for it was a deeply involving story and well-developed characters. How do you do storytelling when your central cast of characters includes the likes of genlocks and ogres?
RB: We're definitely positioning Darkspawn Chronicles as a powerful visceral experience rather than as a moving coming-of-age story about an ogre and his pet blight wolf. The lives of the darkspawn are brutish, cruel, and short, but that's part of what makes them compelling. The archdemon has put you in charge of capturing the city of Denerim and eliminating the threat posed by the Grey Wardens. As a fan of the Dragon Age story, you can't help but feel powerful as your ogre tears through the defenders' barricades. When your emissary sets fire to the great tree in the elven alienage, you can't help but understand the emotional impact that that would have had on that community. When you come to the archdemon's aid in the final hour and drive your blade through the heart of the Warden King, you can't help but realize that you have turned history on its head. So, while there isn't a lot of dialogue and talking heads, the Darkspawn Chronicles is a story of loss and of absence--what would the world have become if your hero had died in the joining?
Thursday - May 06, 2010
Dragon Age - Darkspawn Chronicles Trailer
There's a trailer for BioWare's $5 Darkspawn Chronicles DLC over at VoodooExtreme.
Dragon Age - PS3 Patch In Testing
From the BioWare forums, Fernando Melo comments on the PS3 patch for Dragon Age, after the last firmware update created some problems:
Thanks for your patience with all of this.
Since this happened, we've pulled additional programmers from the main game teams to help on this and have been running several parallel investigations non-stop to find potential solutions from our end, as well as continuing to work with Sony for both dev support and other options.
Thanks to the great feedback on here and from those folks we've been in contact with directly, the team now thinks we've been able to find a code-side workaround from our end to patch DA to play nicer with firmware 3.3, which was one of our investigation threads.
At this time I still don't have a date estimate for a DA patch with this fix however, and unfortunately we do not believe there is a manual workaround for this (one of the other threads we're investigating).
We are currently testing this proposed code change as I write this, and if successful the next step will be for it to go into EA's publisher side certification testing. They are aware of the importance of this and will give this priority in the queue of titles/patches across EA. And once that clears, it will go into Sony cert testing.
Sorry, wish I had better news to offer already - but progress is being made and I'll continue to update as we know more.
Wednesday - May 05, 2010
Dragon Age - Darkspawn Chronicles Details
BioWare has kicked up a page for the Darkspawn Chronicles DLC that was revealed yesterday. This $5 standalone adventure will see you playing as a darkspawn; from the official blurb:
You now fight as the Darkspawn! The city of Denerim, jewel of Ferelden, girds itself for war. As a hurlock vanguard, you alone hold the power to make thralls of your fellow darkspawn and drive them into the heat of battle. Heed the archdemon's call--Denerim must burn!
* A look at an alternate history: what if your character had died in the Joining ceremony, and the Grey Wardens marched under Alistair's command instead?
* A standalone adventure in which you command genlocks, hurlocks, shrieks, and even the mighty ogres.
* Complete the module and unlock an epic Darkspawn item in DA:O and Awakening.
Tuesday - May 04, 2010
Dragon Age - Unofficial Patch v.1.1 by Qwinn
Qwinn of PS: Torment tweak pack fame has made a tweak pack for Dragon Age: Origins. The aim is to correct some of the bugs that has crept into the game with the release of the 1.03 patch. You can view the full changelog here, but be aware that it'll be full of spoilers. Here's an excerpt:
A. General fixes:
1. The Stealing and Dog Fetching bugs introduced in patch 1.03 (where they could not generate random items) are fixed. As of v1.1 this is implemented as a "core" fix and should also fix stealing in Awakening. This is the *only* fix currently in the Fixpack that affects anything outside of the single player Origins game. Thanks to Nukenin for his advice on how to best implement this patch.
B. Origin related fixes:
1. "Human Noble": At the beginning of the main hall battle, it was briefly possible to initiate dialogue with Ser Gilmore and prematurely trigger his post-combat dialogue. Doing so would make the exit never open, forcing a game restart/reload. Now, if you talk to him during that brief interval, he just shouts one of several combat barks instead.
2. "Mage": During the Harrowing, if you have acquired your staff and you talk to Bear Mouse, he would prematurely shout, out of context, "And there is a spirit of rage". Then, when you actually got near the spirit of rage, he'd initiate a casual conversation, again quite out of context.
Dragon Age - New DLC coming May 18th
VG247 is pointing out an Xbox Live schedule for the month of May with a Dragon Age DLC, titled "Darkspawn Chronicles."
Thursday - April 29, 2010
Dragon Age - Joystick 3.0 Concert
Inon Zur's PR crew sent out this PR, announcing his Dragon Age score will be perfomed at the next Joystick concert. I'd go, but Sweden is a bit out of my way:
MALMO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA TO PERFORM INON ZUR'S AWARD-WINNING MUSIC FROM DRAGON AGETM: ORIGINS
On May 21st, the world of Ferelden will come to life in Sweden through the Malmö Symphony Orchestra at Joystick 3.0 Concert
Los Angeles, CA - April 29, 2010 - Inon Zur's award-winning music for the dark fantasy Role Playing Game Dragon Age™: Origins will be performed by the Malmö Symphony Orchestra at the "Joystick 3.0" symphonic video game music concert in Sweden on May 21st, 2010. The Joystick concert series currently holds the world record for a game music performance with an attendance of 17,000 at the first show in 2006. Tickets for the concert can be ordered from the Malmö Symphony Orchestra website www.mso.se.
"We are very pleased to invite the music from Dragon Age: Origins into our family of game music," said Joystick concert producer Orvar Safstrom. "Inon Zur's compositions transcend the genre, by not only enhancing the game's scenes but also by contributing unique and powerful elements to the overall atmosphere and storyline. Our audience is in for a real treat."
Wednesday - April 28, 2010
Dragon Age - Editorial @ Greywardens
Greywardens.com has penned another article discussing Dragon Age lore, this time looking at the hard lives of Orzammar's dwarves:
Trapped on the lowest rung of the social ladder, the casteless have only two ways of escaping the fate that awaits them, lost among the crumbling tunnels of Orzammar. If casteless women are fortunate enough to bear a child of a higher caste, then they are automatically elevated to the rank of their child’s father. We see this in-game with Rica, the Warden’s sister.
The other option is of course to enlist in the Legion of the Dead, joining that fabled band of fearless warriors and seeking your death at the hands of the darkspawn, in exchange for clearing your family name. But when prostitution or death are your only options out of a miserable life, the only question that remains is why more casteless haven’t abandoned Orzammar entirely.
Friday - April 23, 2010
Dragon Age - Editorials @ Greywardens
Another couple of editorials from Dragon Age fansite Greywardens.com. The first is an in-depth look at mages and the associated lore and the second is about the "cultural and technological stasis" that sees Ferelden locked in the same medieval period for thousands of years.
Thursday - April 22, 2010
Dragon Age - Walkthrough @ Gamebanshee
The walkthrough spans 94 pages, and has info about maps, quests, companions, codex entries, and much more more.
Monday - April 19, 2010
Dragon Age - Greywardens Articles
Greywardens.com sends word of two new articles at their Dragon Age fansite. The first is a video walkthrough of the interior of Vigil's Keep in Awakening and then an editorial on the role and background of the Grey Wardens themselves.
Wednesday - April 14, 2010
Dragon Age - Mod Interview @ Greywardens
Greywardens catches up with Dragon Age mod author Mengtzu, who created Fragments of Ferelden. By the way, is anyone playing story mods for DA?
Friday - April 09, 2010
Dragon Age - Interview #2 @ Greywardens
Greywardens.com has the second part of their David Gaider interview, discussing writing in general and some specific aspects of Awakening and his recent books. A snip:
As with Origins, Awakening has laid the claim for dynamic and interesting party members. Anybody who has played Origins certainly knows just how human many of the companions can come across. Which of the new party members in Awakening did you write and who is your favorite (not necessarily out of those you wrote).
I wrote Justice, Nathaniel Howe, and Anders. I’d say of all of them Justice was my favorite. I always got the sense while writing him that he had a larger story arc to explore. He’s your classic Pinnochio-type character–through his exploration of humanity we get to say something about the human condition, and in the case of Justice we also get to explore the spirits of the Fade as things other than faceless or cartoonish concepts.
Monday - April 05, 2010
Dragon Age - Gaider Interview, Editorials
Dragon Age fansite Greywardens.com has a boatload of content with a several new editorials and an interview with writer David Gaider. The first part covers his job and background at BioWare, with a second part coming tomorrow.
On the editorial front, there's a piece on Narrative Disconnect, such as can happen when your ending to Origins isn't fully supported by Awakening. Then there's a commentary on Elves in Ferelden and romances with All's Fair in Love and Politics.
Friday - April 02, 2010
Dragon Age - DLC for April 1st (and No Joke Either)
Yesterday was April's 1st. A day where you try to fool people. Bioware wanted to join in the fun and released the Feastday Prank and Feastday Pack DLC for Dragon Age:
Origins. Apparently, people in Ferelden like to play jokes on each other, too. As Victor Wactor writes:
Satinalia, a day of wild celebration and sumptuous holiday feasts celebrated across Thedas, has arrived! In Ferelden tradition, gifts and pranks are exchanged on Feastday among friends, family and lovers. Now you'll be able to join the festivities and surprise your companions with gifts that may touch their hearts or offend their sensibilities.
Feastday gifts and pranks offer the player a chance to explore the approval system in Dragon Age: Origins at greater depth by making your companions despise or adore you. These packs are available for purchase individually or as a combo back containing both the Gifts and Pranks.
Feastday Prank Pack
A collection of mostly humorous prank items that will significantly decrease your followers' affections for you. Some of these items have additional special uses once given to your followers. Bodahn stocks the pranks in his store at the party camp year-round.
- Ten unique Feastday pranks that your party members will love to hate. Each prank is specific to one potential companion.
- Two types of gifts to let you apologize afterward.
Protective Cone — Give to Dog to decrease his approval.
- Additional Functionality: After giving the gift, Dog can equip the item as a collar.
Feastday Gift Pack
A collection of mostly humorous gift items that will significantly increase your followers' affections for you. Many of these items have additional special uses once given to your followers. Bodahn stocks the gifts in his store at the party camp year-round.
- Ten unique Feastday gifts that your party members are sure to love. Each gift is specific to one potential companion.
- Two types of lousy gifts to let your companions know you weren't completely serious.
Grey Warden Hand Puppet — Give to Alistair to increase his approval.
- Additional Functionality: After giving the gift, activate the item to make Alistair put on a puppet show.
Feastday Combo Pack
A combo pack that includes all the items from the Feastday gift and prank packs. You will also incur a savings when the feastday items are purchased as a combo pack.
Feastday Gift and Prank DLC items are now available for purchase on the PlayStation Network Store for $1.99, XBox Live Marketplace for 160 points and for PC for 160 BioWare Points, except for PS3 owners in Europe, where an error occurred resulting in the items being released for free earlier this month – so these items will remain free in that region. A bundle with both packs is also available at a discount. For more details visit the Dragon Age Add-On page: http://www.dragonage.com/addon
The DLC itself is not a prank, it is very real. Buck at Gamebanshee has updated their database with both the Feastday Prank Pack items as well as the Feastday Gift Pack items. Now anyone want to watch Alistair's puppet show?
Thursday - April 01, 2010
Dragon Age - Templars and Morality @ Greywardens
Greywardens.com is pumping out the content, with today's Dragon Age analysis looking at the Templars and the morality of their position.
Tuesday - March 30, 2010
Dragon Age - Competition @ Greywardens.com
Greywardens.com let us know they have a competition to win a Dragon Age branded laser mouse - and this one is open to any country.
Thursday - March 25, 2010
Dragon Age - The Truth and Anything But
Another article from Greywardens.com that examines the content of Dragon Age. The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Anything But the Truth discusses the role of perception and history in the game. Here's a snip from the intro:
If you look through the codex, you’ll see that most of the entries are from personal journals and letters, or one-sided accounts of historical events. Everything has a bias, and that makes decision-making all the more difficult for the player. This is no accident. As David Gaider has stated on the BioWare Social Network:
“Some people might prefer it if any info relayed regarding the history takes only one and clearly factual path — but as a style choice we freely change up any history we present in Dragon Age according to the one that is presenting it.”
Monday - March 22, 2010
Dragon Age - The Good, The Bad, The Grey Wardens
Greywardens.com sends word of an article titled The Good, The Bad, The Grey Wardens, which discusses morality in Dragon Age:
DA:O makes being all good or all evil extremely difficult. There is no system to reward good decisions (or evil ones), unlike the BioWare RPGs that have preceded it. In the Mass Effect world, you have the Paragon/Renegade scale. The closer to each extreme you fall, the greater number of options you’ll have in dialogue. In Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, there’s the Light Side/Dark Side of the force, and choosing one opens up new abilities. The decisions in DA:O themselves are not so clearly bad or good. Often something that seems like a good decision at the time has unexpected, dark consequences. One word: Landsmeet.
Saturday - March 20, 2010
Dragon Age - Mac Review @ VGBlogger
Our own Michael 'txa1265' Anderson has written a review of the Mac port of Dragon Age at VGBlogger. Since the content is the same, the article covers the performance and technical aspects and references his previous PC review for the gameplay aspects.
Wednesday - March 17, 2010
Dragon Age - Comic Book #1 Sneak Peak
Chris Priestly has updated the Bioware blog with info about the DA comic book series being published by IWD Publishing. He informs us that the first issue of the series is now available from Itunes. And there's a sneak peak of the first 6 pages of the first book in the series.
Here's his explanation as to what direction this comic book series will go:
Dragon Age (the comic) is build directly from the story and lore created by BioWare, but is created by an amazing team of artists and writers from IDW. The comic is written by acclaimed author Orson Scott Card (author of the Ender Saga amongst much more) and Aaron Johnson with interior art by Mark Robinson and cover art by renowned artist Humberto Ramos. The comic will take video game fans into a whole new adventure in the Dragon Age world. In a time lost to history, a war ravaged the land. Mages, incredibly powerful wielders of magic, ruled the world through mastery of dark arts and forbidden spells. Their lust for power almost destroyed all existence, and unleashed an unholy pestilence, the Darkspawn, to plague mankind, trolls, faeries, and all the inhabitants of the realm. Now magic is carefully controlled, taught behind the sacred walls of the Circle of Magi, and monitored by the ever-vigilant Templars. It is in this arena that a new generation of Mages in training will arise, warriors of sorcery who will defy the rules of the Templars and change the course of the world forever.
Friday - March 12, 2010
Dragon Age - Sequel Dated?
VG247 (via 1Up) has an interesting discovery. Apparently retail copies of Dragon Age: Awakening contain a teaser card with an image of the Dragon Age blood dragon - and a date of February 1st, 2011. We already know a DA title is expected around that time, according to a recent EA financial conference call. Is this the specific release date for a sequel?
Tuesday - March 09, 2010
Dragon Age - Patch 1.03 Released
Bioware has released patch 1.03 for Dragon Age: Origins. Here's the patch notes:
Various changes have been made to code and resources to support the Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening expansion pack. Most of these changes do not affect Origins itself.
Some players were experiencing increasingly long load times. A major cause of this problem has been fixed.
At higher levels, non-player characters now receive a bonus to armor penetration. This mitigates an unintentional imbalance with well-armored high-level characters, since armor penetration previously did not scale as aggressively as armor itself did.
Elite-rank enemies (lieutenants) can no longer be shattered. This preserves the intended tactical design of many combat encounters.
Portraits for summoned creatures (like a ranger's wolf) were displaying improperly while in the party camp. This no longer occurs.
As you can see many of these changes are identical to the changes occuring in the patch released for PS3 earlier.
Source: RPG Codex
Saturday - March 06, 2010
Dragon Age - Review @ Mac Life
Omega sends in this short review of Dragon Age at Mac Life. The score is 4.5/5 and here's a snip, though I'm not sure everyone will agree:
BioWare has never made a casual RPG, and the robust Dragon Age is no exception. You’ll customize your character and their specialization, leading to variations like a berserker fighting style for your warrior, shape-shifting or healing abilities for your mage, and improved lock picking for your rogue. Since you can add more characters for your party and switch between them as needed, you end up with broad yet specific control over every encounter.
Managing your party effectively requires you to directly control one character and assign behaviors to the other members of your party. For example, if you want your archer and mage to provide covering fire while the others attack with swords, just open the Tactics menu and assign a behavior, and the character will follow it as needed.
Dragon Age - PS3 Version of Return to Ostagar Coming March 11th
If you have the PS3 version of DA: Origins and you want more gameplay, Bioware announced that the PS3 version of Return to Ostagar will be released on March 11th 2010.
Here's the word from Chris Priestly on the Bioware DA forums:
Return to Ostagar for the PlayStation 3 has passed certification and will be released on March 11, 2010.
We will also be releasing an update for the PlayStation 3 version of Dragon Age a week ahead of time on March 4, 2010. We'll release the contents of this update once we have the final list of changes.
Friday - March 05, 2010
Dragon Age - Mac Sale in the US
If you have a Macintosh computer, and are in the US, you can now get Dragon Age: Origins at Direct 2 Drive for half the price. And apparently Steam is coming to Macintosh as well:
The sale lasts one week, until March 11, 2010, at 10AM Pacific. Looks like Direct2Drive wants to get one good sales push in before Steam allegedly comes to Mac.
Dragon Age - PS3 Patch Released
A patch for the PS3 version of Dragon Age: Origins has been released by Bioware. Apparently, it contains some changes that have not yet made it into the Xbox 360 and
the PC versions of the game.
- Various changes have been made to code and resources to support the Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening expansion pack.
- At higher levels, non-player characters now receive a bonus to armor penetration. This mitigates an unintentional imbalance with well-armored high-level characters, since armor penetration previously did not scale as aggressively as armor itself did.
- Elite-rank enemies (lieutenants) can no longer be shattered. This preserves the intended tactical design of many combat encounters.
- Portraits for summoned creatures were displaying improperly while in the party camp. This no longer occurs.- All book-based specializations will now automatically unlock once the Warden reaches level 14. Books will still be available from vendors so you can unlock these specializations before level 14.
- Modified game-side achievement system to allow adding new ones.
- Fixed a streaming problem that made props disappear. This no longer occurs.
Wednesday - March 03, 2010
Dragon Age - Return to Ostagar Review @ Game Revolution
Game Revolution has reviewed Return to Ostagar, the DLC for DA: Origins. They don't think it's worthwhile, as the score of D reveals as does these words:
All told, there's not much to recommend in this DLC. The loot isn't game-changing, the plot is bare-bones, and the story-building basically nonexistent. Unless you absolutely need to possess Cailan's sweet golden shoulderpads, stop your plans to Return to Ostagar and turn straight back.
Tuesday - March 02, 2010
Dragon Age - Revelations Comic
If you've finished - and enjoyed - Dragon Age, this is worth a look. BioWare's David Gaider and a fan named Aimo have collaborated to create a comic called Revelations. This provides more context to a major moment with Morrigan (you'll know what I mean if you completed the game) by expanding on a scene that was cut from the final game. Spoilers, obviously. Here's David's explanation:
David Gaider – “I’ve always been a big fan of Aimo’s art – she has an incredible ability to capture the emotions of her characters. So I started chatting with her a bit back in January, and the idea came up for us to maybe collaborate on something. I mentioned a cutscene we had considered doing prior to Morrigan’s offer in the climax (*spoiler alert* for anyone who hasn’t played that far in Origins) but which had been left on the cutting room floor along with so many other scenes. This one in particular was hard to cut, because it was supposed to give some context to the player who romances Morrigan or who had become really good friends with her that what she was about to do was causing her conflict. As is pretty typical for game development, however, you have to work with the resources at hand… but this comic will maybe allow some people a brief glimpse into the “might have been” that was. Naturally Aimo’s efforts here were ten times mine… all I had to do was write up the scene from memory and then she proceeded to sketch it out over the next few weeks. Pretty awesome, if you ask me. Hope you all enjoy it!”
Thursday - February 25, 2010
Dragon Age - Review @ GameBanshee
GameBanshee has whipped up their opinion on Dragon Age. The NPCs are praised but the "dull" plot and "boring" combat are clear negatives, with the author ultimately concluding he only "moderately" enjoyed it:
The plotting overall isn’t noteworthy. Not that I mind a series of clichés; most entertainment or art starts with that. It’s how you expand upon it that matters, and the development in DA:O is standard formula. I never came away with the feeling, as I did in BG2 or Ultima VII, of being a pawn successfully moved about in a much, much larger game, or disrupting a very carefully laid and complex plan, as in BG1, or discovering that everything I knew was wrong, as in Planescape: Torment. I gathered a party to punish a highly-placed, powerful traitor, then dealt with a still more powerful army of invaders. On the other hand, dialog between your party members and yourself is superlative for content, structure, immediate mannerisms, and the gradual unfolding of character traits you’d expect from successive pieces of dialog as your party comes to “know” you.
Monday - February 22, 2010
Dragon Age - Return to Ostagar Review
Eurogamer offer their opinion on RtO calling it a 'feeble half-baked offering', and with a final score of 4/10 you can guess the vibe here.
It's unlikely that Return to Ostagar, the latest squirt from BioWare's busy digital udder, will offer any satisfying answers to these burning questions. It's a thin, forgettable little thing, cheap in price yet offering little more than 30 minutes of one-note gameplay for your virtual money. What you're really doing is forking out for another stat-boosting set of matching armour pieces and some rather tasty weaponry, dressed up in a rather half-baked narrative shell.
As the title prosaically suggests, you're headed back to Ostagar, the game-opening scene of King Cailan's grisly defeat, Loghain's betrayal and the fall of the Grey Wardens. A location loaded with importance for the world of Dragon Age, then, but its potential remains sadly untapped by the time you reach the end of this minor diversion.
Wednesday - February 10, 2010
Dragon Age - Return to Ostagar Review
GamePro takes a look at Return to Ostagar for Dragon Age in this review. The score is 2.5/5 and here's a snip:
In Dragon Age's first DLC pack, unexciting battles against too-familiar foes replace the core game's engaging storytelling. Generic genlocks fling arrows at you while darkspawn lumber toward you in a laughable attempt to take your team down. The encounters are especially easy if, like me, you roll back into Ostagar with a high-level character. Hell, even on my second play-through, using my level 12 warrior, I blew through the kill-'em-all objective in just half an hour without so much as a scratch to remember it by. The loot, another crucial hook to Dragon Age, is particularly disappointing for high-end players. Pilfering pieces of King Cailan's badass armor from fallen foes is worthwhile for low-level characters, but the golden gear is scrap metal for experienced Wardens.
Tuesday - February 09, 2010
Dragon Age - 3.2M Shipped, New Title in 2011
EA's 3rd quarter reporting has produced a couple of interesting tidbits regarding Dragon Age. First, EA took this opportunity to announce 3.2M units have shipped:
BIOWARE’S DRAGON AGE: ORIGINS REACHES TRIPLE PLATINUM SALES
Legendary Studio’s Newest Title Wins over 30 Industry Awards, Ships Over 3 Million Units Becoming BioWare’s Sixth Consecutive Blockbuster Franchise
Edmonton, Alberta (February 8, 2010) – Leading video game developer BioWare™, a division of Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: ERTS), announced today that Dragon Age™: Origins has sold-in over 3.2 million* units worldwide. The “RPG of the Year” as named by Game Informer, G4, SpikeTV, AOL.com, and PC Gamer, Dragon Age: Origins has been hailed by Seth Schiesel of The New York Times as, “…perhaps the best electronic game made yet.” Dragon Age: Origins has won over 30 “Best of 2009” awards and has an average review score of 91**. This staggering critical and commercial success makes Dragon Age: Origins the sixth consecutive blockbuster from BioWare, alongside Baldur's Gate™, Neverwinter Nights™, Star Wars®: Knights of the Old Republic™, Jade Empire™ and Mass Effect™.
Since the release of Dragon Age: Origins in fall 2009, the studio has continued to enchant gamers with additional content packs including Warden’s Keep and Return to Ostagar. The upcoming expansion pack, Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening is set to launch on March 16, 2010.
“This is a tremendous start for the Dragon Age franchise and we are extremely pleased with the great reception the game has already received from critics and fans worldwide,” said Dr. Ray Muzyka, co-founder, BioWare and Group General Manager of the RPG/MMO Group of EA. “Our team is dedicated to crafting high quality, engaging new adventures and stories in the world of Ferelden for our fans!”
Second, the summary of the 3rd quarter results has a business outlook section that lists an unannounced Dragon Age title for January - March 2011, on consoles, PC and handhelds.
Source: Blues News
Monday - February 08, 2010
Dragon Age - Return to Ostagar Review
MTV looks at Return to Ostagar and says "you're better off staying at home":
Even if you've just picked up "Dragon Age: Origins," this DLC isn't worth your time. Another piece of DLC, "Warden's Keep," has decent armor in it, as well as presents fiction that is much more compelling than this. If you've already conquered the all that is offered in the game, well, you're definitely not missing anything here. "Return to Ostagar" adds almost nothing to the fiction, and doesn't even offer up worthwhile loot.
Saturday - February 06, 2010
Dragon Age - Return to Ostagar Review
The Big Download has a short review of Return to Ostagar. No score, but they seem pleased:
Despite its brevity, the Return to Ostagar quest is well worth having since Cailan's weapons and armor are very useful and powerful. It's also very good for fans that appreciate having closure, like finding out what happened to Cailan's body. However, we were a little disappointed that we were unable to find Duncan body anywhere. Also, this quest seems best geared toward melee characters, since we didn't find any loot that suited mages, even in the remains of the area where the Circle of Magi camped out. When all taken together, Return to Ostagar provides an excellent reason to play load up Dragon Age again, if only for a little while, or perhaps start a new character. If nothing else, it helps prepare for the full expansion that will release in March.
Source: Blues News
Monday - February 01, 2010
Dragon Age - Interview #1 @ Gamerzines
Gamerzines sends word they have the first of a multi-part interview with Ray Muzyka. This first installment deals with Dragon Age DLC, with Ray intriguingly saying they have "some standalone games currently in development for the Dragon Age universe":
GZ: Awakening seems much bigger than anything else done digitally. How big is it exactly? How many hours?
RM: It's a full expansion for the Dragon Age Universe, it's rich and explores a lot about the back story, explaining the things that players are curious about. You learn a lot more about the darkspawn and their motivation, and more of the cool things going on underneath the world. I think it'll answer a lot of the questions players had in the original game. It's a meaty expansion, a lot of developers would release it as a full game but we're releasing it as a great, high quality, really rich expansion for Dragon Age.
GZ: Obviously due to it's size would you consider releasing it as a standalone product?
RM: We aren't planning to at the moment but we do have some standalone games currently in development for the Dragon Age universe. Along with a lot more DLC and expansion content, so it's a mix of both for Dragon Age.
Dragon Age - The Awakening Creature
The first official update for The Awakening is up at the Dragon Age site gallery with screens and a video of the Queen of the Blackmarsh - a "deadly spectral dragon".
Dragon Age - Return to Ostagar Walkthrough
Greywardens.com let us know they've published a walkthrough for Return to Ostagar.
Dragon Age - Return to Ostagar Review
Fansite Greywardens.com has reviewed DA: Return to Ostagar, awarding a score of 7/10:
Return to Ostagar is not about the deep emotional development of characters, nor is it about beautiful environments. It is about a tradition as old as roleplaying games themselves. It is about booting down the door, killing the monsters, and nicking their stuff. It is about loot, levels and being the biggest bad-ass you can be.
Combat is where this DLC’s excels. From the moment you enter Ostagar to the moment you leave, you are essentially in one big punch-up. Your foes are laid out in tactically advantageous positions and will often attack in waves to challenge not just your skills as a warrior, but also your resource management. While this is something so simple, it is executed in such a fashion as to avoid the constant melée becoming tedious. Be warned, however, go into some of RtO’s battles half-cocked and you may find yourself hanging with the King in a most literal sense.
Saturday - January 30, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Improved Graphics in the Sequel
You didn't know Dragon Age 2 was confirmed, did you? It's not surprising, though, and even less surprising that the graphics would be improved. Still, Greg Zeschuk wants to make that point. From Joystiq:
Dragon Age: Origins presents strong evidence that great games can overcome gawd-awful graphics, but BioWare isn't about to test that theory -- and the limits of our forgiveness -- again in the sequel. "I think one of the key things we're working on in Dragon Age 2 is the technology," BioWare VP Greg Zeschuk recently told Joystiq. "I can confirm that we're doing a lot of work on the Dragon Age engine, and doing a lot of stuff to pump it -- to make it visually super hot."
Dragon Age - Return to Ostagar Released
...Hopefully for reals this time. Victor Wachter announces Return to Ostagar is available for PC and the product page seems to indicate X360 as well, but not PS3:
We have some great news for PC players! Knowing that RtO has been so anticipated, we worked through the remaining steps in the testing and release process today, and Return to Ostagar will is now available for purchase and download on the PC today, January 29, 2010.
Thanks for playing and have a great weekend avenging the fallen Grey Wardens!
Dragon Age - Soundtrack Review @ GearDiary
GearDiary has another article from Mike Anderson reviewing the soundtrack for Bioware's Dragon Age in detail. You can read his take on what worked and what didn't here.
Monday - January 25, 2010
Dragon Age - Review @ RPG Codex
Vince D. Weller has penned a review of Dragon Age for RPG Codex. While noting a number of flaws, the overall tone is positive - even going as far as to say the roleplaying opportunities are better than any RPG since Arcanum. Here's an early snip:
However, the world within these constraints of generic fantasy is very well designed and polished, and if you let it, will surprise you with its depth and the quality of its "unique takes and variants on some old familiar standards". To be honest, I hate all that elves and dwarves crap with passion, but I've genuinely enjoyed visiting different hubs and learning about different cultures, races, and customs, which led me to the conclusion that what I hate isn't the races but the cardboard cutout implementations - "these are dwarves, they live underground and like to fight; awesome or what?" Bioware definitely did a superb job there and raised the bar quite a lot.
Saturday - January 23, 2010
Dragon Age - The Awakening Steam Preorders
Steam is taking preorders for The Awakening if you have the Steam version of Dragon Age.
Thursday - January 21, 2010
Dragon Age - PnP Play Recording @ Grey Wardens
I don't know if this idea will take off but Grey Wardens let us know they have kicked off a series of recordings of live pen-and-paper sessions using Green Ronin's Dragon Age rules:
To celebrate the upcoming release of Green Ronin’s Dragon Age RPG, we’ve gotten together with RPGMP3.com. and the Pantsless Gamers, to bring you an exciting series of Actual Play recordings. This series will follow our group of rabid adventurers every week, from Character Creation to Victory–or party wipe, whichever comes first.
Tuesday - January 19, 2010
Dragon Age - Title Update Update
BioWare's Victor Wachter has communicated an update on the current confusion with the recent X360 title update and the effects on the Return to Ostagar DLC. Apparently these days, even consoles have too many permutations to test:
To those 360 players affected by the Title Update issue this week, our sincere apologies.
The situation is something we are taking very seriously and the team is continuing to work around the clock to rectify.
DA:O is an incredibly large, very deep and complex game, making it virtually impossible to test every system and permutation possible for each update/DLC.
When testing any large endeavor like that, we depend on selectively targeting systems related to the changes being made, prioritized by order of perceived risk.
Unfortunately we did not foresee the changes being made to impact the systems it did, which is how something seemingly so visible still managed to avoid the dev team, and multiple test cycles of seasoned QA all through our internal teams, and EA & MS cert teams, and ultimately ended up out to the public.
To help us avoid similar problems in the future, we're updating all our test plans across all platforms to take additional edge cases into account, as well as committing to more detailed test passes that will also prevent something like this happening again.
Short term, this means another delay across all platforms for the immediate console patches and Return to Ostagar DLC releases as this is a substantial increase in test coverage, and that time is needed to do so and ensure there are no other knock on issues with either the main game, the updates or the DLC.
In the meantime, there is good news - a fix is already in test for the 360 issue and looking very good, we hope to have a new update out as soon as possible and will update you as best as we can. If successful through the updated test plans, it will still deliver the expected fixes as well as restore the game saves for anyone affected by this week's title update. For now, we do not have a timeframe for when the fix will pass approval and certification, but we will keep you updated.
In addition, while this creates a delay with the immediate content already expected to have released, the additional testing actually benefits some of the upcoming DLC and expansion pack, and as such is not expected to impact dates of the future content.
Thank you again for your patience.
Though posted by Victor, the text comes from Online Producer Fernando Melo.
Monday - January 18, 2010
Dragon Age - The Ongoing DLC Saga
Rock, Paper, Shotgun has some commentary on the technical issues and communication surrounding Dragon Age DLC. From initial issues getting the free addons to poor communication on the status of Return to Ostagar, John Walker feels something is amiss:
Having encountered some of these problems myself (a combination of two bugs: some DLC not appearing as available for purchase, and that which is getting stuck at 100% downloaded and never installing), it was only via that (now officially stickied) thread that I was able to (eventually) solve the problems. These solutions involve procedures as complex as delving through cmd.exe to type in long mysterious glyphs, to rooting around in Windows’ Services. Others have found that setting their non-US PC to think it’s in the US has fixed problems. Others still discovered that changing the administration settings on various aspects of the Updater software improved things. Basically, things someone wanting to play a game shouldn’t have to be worrying about.
But these problems all got a lot less technical with Return To Ostagar. Due on the 5th January for both PC and 360 it was announced that morning that something was wrong with the code and it was to be delayed. Well, “announced” is a strong term. There was a post on the forum. The game’s own site simply removed the release date, and made no further statement nor gave any explanation, and in doing so gave the impression it was released. It’s still in the same state thirteen days later, and that’s despite the further madness that’s ensued.
Saturday - January 16, 2010
Dragon Age - PnP Preview @ Grey Wardens
Grey Wardens has a look at Green Ronin's pen-and-paper version of Dragon Age:
DAGR was developed around Green Ronin’s in-house system, AGE (Adventure Gaming Engine). Yet, while DAGR fortunately holds true to the Dragon Age setting, it has avoided the obvious pit-trap of following Dragon Age the computer game too closely. There are similarities in some spells and abilities, but you cannot learn to play DAGR by playing DAO; or visa versa. More importantly, DAGR does not (as many like games have) force the players back through Origins storyline.
Friday - January 15, 2010
Dragon Age - Random Encounters @ Pop Matters
Pop Matters discusses the random encounters in Dragon Age, which aren't actually random, and thus serve more purpose than just another combat. This is potentially spoiler-ish:
Many of these random battles aren’t actually random but quest related. A lot of the quests that we’re given involve meeting someone on the busy countryside roads: A swindler sold mages fake documents, so we have to watch for him on the road. Some soldiers are going to falsely accuse a mage of performing illegal magic, so we have to stop them on the road. After you snoop too close to something secret, you’re ambushed on the road. When the antagonist hires an assassin to kill us, we encounter the killer on the road and so on. All of these encounters serve to further their individual sub-plots. We’re still progressing through the game even when our travels are interrupted by a random battle. We never feel like our time has been wasted with a meaningless fight.
Thursday - January 14, 2010
Dragon Age - Return to Ostagar Reviews
Despite being pulled yesterday, GameBanshee found a handful of sites who managed to grab Return to Ostagar from Live and whip up reviews. They're all small sites but the comments are largely consistent.
It’s unfortunate that collecting these items and then killing a boss is all there is to the DLC, but for $5 I guess that’s expected. Completing the content will take 45 minutes to an hour. The DLC isn’t too story-heavy as you’ll be fighting most of the way through it; in addition, the ending to the content doesn’t make it clear that it’s officially over, which left me to question whether or not I was done and/or if I had missed something. All in all, learning the fate of King Cailan is interesting and the loot is worth finding. It’s interesting while it lasts, but unfortunately it ends sooner than you might hope.
RPad.TV calls their article (Not a) Review - I'm not sure what that means but here's a snip:
For $5, Return to Ostagar is a pretty poor value. BioWare’s launch DLC offered important features that you could enjoy throughout the entire game. The Stone Prisoner gives you Shale, arguably the most entertaining companion in the game, as well as a versatile warrior. Warden’s Keep gives you an amazingly useful storage chest and access to the best sword in the game. Return to Ostagar has its share of goodies, but nothing nearly as useful or entertaining.
...and Addicted to Gaming is more positive but agrees with the length. Score - 3.5/5:
Return to Ostagar pretty much does what it says on the tin. Word reaches your ears that a survivor of the great battle has escaped captivity and is seeking the aid of the Grey Wardens. The Darkspawn have dug in deep at Ostagar and it is up to the brave ones to return to the battlefield and take revenge on these demonic creatures for their fallen mentor and King. I managed to complete the DLC in just under 45 minutes with one achievement unlocked (“In War, Victory” – worth 25 gamerpoints) and while this may disappoint some, you need to remember the low cost of the pack itself and the nice shiny new gear you receive from it.
Wednesday - January 13, 2010
Dragon Age - Return to Ostagar Pulled Updated
It seems this happened earlier than expected because we haven't seen the usual press releases and even Chris Priestly admits to being surprised. Still, the Return to Ostagar DLC has been released on Live and the PC version should be up "later today". This was posted 3 hours ago, as I type:
Return to Ostagar is now unexpectedly available for the Xbox 360. We will be making the PC version available later today and will have the PS3 version available later.
Update: The X360 version has been pulled and now we're waiting for more information on all versions. Here's the latest post:
Hello Dragon Age fans
This morning a title update on the Xbox 360 for Dragon Age: Origins was made available in preparation for the release of Return to Ostagar. This title update introduced a previously undetected issue that causes specialization classes to not work correctly in Dragon Age: Origins. We are removing Return to Ostagar from Xbox Live until the issue is resolved and are recommending that you do not download the title update. If you have already performed the update, we apologize for this and are working hard to ensure a fix is available as soon as possible.
We will provide more information to you when it is available.
Friday - January 08, 2010
Dragon Age - The Awakening German Pricing
After some controversy of the pricing of The Awakening, Sir_Brennus writes the German price is 29.99 Euro according to GameStar.de, which converts to a similar amount as the US price but represents a departure from the previous USD$1 = 1 Euro strategy for Dragon Age DLC.
Thursday - January 07, 2010
Dragon Age - Italian Review @ La Maschera Riposta
Italian website La Maschera Riposta posted a very detailed review on Dragon Age: Origins.
Dragon Age - The Awakening Interview @ IGN
PC.IGN is the first site we're aware of to catch up with BioWare about Dragon Age: The Awakening, with Online Producer Fernando Melo answering their questions. It covers some good general grounding and is worth a read but the subject of length has come up on our forums, so here's a quote on that:
IGN: How large is the expansion in terms of memory? Are you offering it as a download item for people that bought digital copies, or is it solely available as a retail disc version?
Fernando Melo: There will be both retail and download versions of it. It is by far the biggest expansion that we'll be releasing. I can't talk about the number of hours at this point, but in general, you can definitely expect a lot of gameplay. I don't think we know how to make games differently. Even without the replayability, I think it's safe to say that it's larger than pretty much any downloadable content out there. I think we need to treat it a lot more like a traditional retail expansion, which is really what it is -- it'll just have a downloadable version as well. But it'll be fairly massive. It'll be bigger than most retail games.
Wednesday - January 06, 2010
Dragon Age - Tactics Feedback Requested
BioWare's new Dragon Age Community Facilitator Victor Wachter has requested feedback on the Tactics system as they look forward to new games. No doubt the Bioboards will flood them with responses but head over if you want to add your thoughts. A partial snip:
We have a lot of plans for the future and want to steer towards making future games and releases in the Dragon Age franchise the best they can possibly be. Over time, we'll be asking the community questions about their game experiences and feedback.
Today, we're interested in your party's tactical AI and the tactical interface. We'd like to gather your feedback about how your followers and the creatures of Dragon Age behave.
Tuesday - January 05, 2010
Dragon Age - The Awakening Trailer
The first trailer for Dragon Age: The Awakening is available:
Dragon Age - The Awakening Expansion Officially Confirmed
Sir Brennus and Danton write in to say that EA has officially confirmed The Awakening, an expansion pack for Dragon Age: Origins. It will be out in stores on March 16 2010 for both PC, Xbox 360 and the PS3. The suggested retail price will be 40 US dollars, the expansion will have 15 hours of gameplay, 5 recruitable companions and some new monsters - and you get to continue the story after the main game.
The expansion is mentioned on Rock Paper Shotgun and in Gamestar.de as well. In addition, Torias, a moderator on the Bioware forums has made this thread announcing the expansion. A word of warning: Small spoiler for the end game in Dragon Age: Origins may be on these sites.
The full press release from EA is below:
BioWare Announces First Official Expansion Pack to the Critically Acclaimed Dragon Age: Origins"Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening" to Take Fans to the Land of Amaranthine With New Party Members, Spells, Abilities and More in March 2010 EDMONTON, Alberta, Jan 05, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE)
Leading video game developer BioWare(TM), a division of Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:ERTS), announced today Dragon Age(TM): Origins - Awakening, the first official expansion pack to Dragon Age: Origins, the recent recipient of Spike TV's Best RPG and PC Game of 2009, IGN's Best RPG of 2009 and CNN.com's Best RPG of 2009. Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening will be available for the Xbox 360(R) videogame and entertainment system, the PlayStation(R)3 computer entertainment system and PC on March 16, 2010.
Designed and written by the same team that brought you Dragon Age: Origins, the Awakening expansion pack offers a brand new area of the world to explore known as Amaranthine, featuring an epic story that will allow players to unravel the secrets of the darkspawn - and their true motivations! Players will face a range of horrific and terrifying creatures including an evolved, intelligent breed of darkspawn and other menacing creatures such as the Inferno Golem and Spectral Dragon. Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening provides exciting new ways for players to customize their heroes and party, including the ability to re-spec their character attributes, allowing even greater customization and replayability. Featuring an increased level cap, new spells, abilities, specializations and items, plus five all-new party members, players can continue their adventures from Dragon Age: Origins, or begin with a brand new character.
"Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening shows BioWare's commitment to our fans by delivering new story-driven experiences which enrich the dark heroic fantasy universe our fans have come to know and love," said Dr. Ray Muzyka, Group General Manager of the RPG/MMO Group, EA, and Co-Founder, BioWare. "The vibrant worldwide community of Dragon Age fans will relish uncovering the secret motivations of the darkspawn, revealing how the darkspawn continue to infest the world despite the defeat of the Archdemon."
Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening, BioWare's next thread in the Dragon Age: Originstapestry, occurs following the events of Dragon Age: Origins and puts players into the role of a Grey Warden Commander entrusted with rebuilding the order of Grey Wardens. In addition to rebuilding the ranks of the Grey Wardens, you will be tasked with uncovering the mystery of how the darkspawn survive after the slaying of the Archdemon. How players choose to rebuild their order, resolve the conflict with the mysterious "Architect," and determine the fate of the darkspawn are just some of the many intriguing moral choices that will shape each player's heroic journey. Players will be able to import their character from Dragon Age: Origins or start out as a new Grey Warden from the neighboring land of Orlais. Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening will be released March 16, 2010 worldwide on the Xbox 360, the PlayStation 3 console and PC.
Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening will be available for $39.99 on PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles in North America and will require Dragon Age: Origins to play. Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening is rated M by the ESRB and 18+ by PEGI. For more information on Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening, please visit www.dragonage.com/awakening.
Dragon Age - Return to Ostagar Delayed
BioWare's Chris Priestly makes the short, sharp and unexplained announcement that Return to Ostagar has been delayed:
Hello Dragon Age fans,
We’re sorry but the planned Return to Ostagar downloadable content scheduled to launch on January 5th has been delayed for all platforms.
We will update you as new information becomes available.
Thursday - December 31, 2009
Dragon Age - "The Awakening" Expansion Speculation
Via Blue's comes speculation of an as-yet unannounced expansion for Dragon Age, titled The Awakening. According to Eurogamer.cz, a premature retail listing was noticed, with a release date of March 2010 - although this is obviously not authoritative. Here's part of Blue's post:
Details of the expansion's contents are still only preliminary and may still change. Awareness will follow the story chronologically Dragon Age: Origins and promises a huge portion of the additional content. You play as a completely new main character, including his own prologue (separate Origin Story), the new campaign. Completion of the central storyline to take approximately 15 hours, as compared to the 100-hour original is not too much, and have consequences for the rest of the game.
Source: Blues News
Wednesday - December 30, 2009
Dragon Age - Return to Ostagar Trailer
Dragon Age - Jeff Vogel Mini-Review
Jeff Vogel has kicked up some thoughts on Dragon Age at his blog. Spoilers apply, if you haven't finished Redcliffe, including this quote:
Attempts at having role-playing in computer games are frequently and justifiably mocked for giving facile choices between "Angelically Good" and "Absolutely Evil". When you find a hungry puppy, you can either crush it with a cinderblock or buy it a house of its own. There is no middle ground. And yes, Dragon Age has some of that.
But what impressed me is the number of situations where there are a lot of options, none of them are very good, and you just have to muddle through. For example, in one part of Dragon Age, a young, magically skilled boy has been taken over by a demon. He's been merrily trashing the countryside. It's a crappy situation, and you have to help them out of it. You can off the boy. Or let the mother sacrifice herself to enable you to challenge the demon. Or travel to the wizards' tower to maybe get a way to expel the demon, losing valuable time. And, should you challenge the demon, you can kill it or, in return for one of several lavish rewards, let it stay in the kid, hidden.
Tuesday - December 29, 2009
Dragon Age - Return to Ostagar on Jan 5th
BioWare has announced the next Dragon Age DLC, Return to Ostagar, will launch on January 5th. You'll need to replay the first parts of the game to access the content, so it will be interesting to see how popular this is:
"Return to Ostagar" Downloadable Content for Dragon Age: Origins Coming January 5
“RETURN TO OSTAGAR” DOWNLOADABLE CONTENT FOR DRAGON AGE: ORIGINS COMING JANUARY 5
DLC Provides Players Opportunity to Return to Site of the Grey Wardens’ Darkest Hour in BioWare’s Award-Winning Epic RPG Fantasy
EDMONTON, ALBERTA – December 29, 2009 – Leading video game developer BioWare™, a division of Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: ERTS), announced today that the Return to Ostagar downloadable content (DLC) for Dragon Age™: Origins will be released on January 5 in North America and Europe for the Xbox 360® videogame and entertainment system and PC versions of the game at a cost of 400 BioWare Points or Microsoft Points. The DLC will be available for the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system later in January. Return to Ostagar allows players to exact their revenge and embark on a quest for the mighty arms and armor of the once great King Cailan when they revisit Ostagar, the site of the Grey Wardens’ darkest hour, to reclaim the honor and learn the secrets of Ferelden’s fallen king.
“We are thrilled at the way the fans have embraced Dragon Age: Origins and we’re excited to welcome them back into the game,” said Aaryn Flynn, General Manager and Vice President, BioWare Edmonton. “Return to Ostagar represents BioWare’s commitment to providing a steady stream of compelling post release content as we continue to expand the Dragon Age universe.”
Return to Ostagar summons players to a new quest in which they will return to the fateful battleground in Ostagar where the Grey Wardens were nearly wiped out. Players will discover King Cailan’s top-secret political agenda and go behind enemy lines to revisit a place that many feared had been lost to history.
Return to Ostagar will be available for 400 BioWare Points on the PC and 400 Microsoft Points on the Xbox 360 on January 5. It will be available for $4.99 on the PlayStation® Store later in the month. Dragon Age: Origins is rated M by the ESRB and 18+ by PEGI.
For more information on Dragon Age: Origins, please visit www.dragonage.com.
Sunday - December 27, 2009
Dragon Age - Human Noble, Mage Walkthroughs
Dragon Age - Steam Sale
Thursday - December 24, 2009
Dragon Age - The Camp @ Grey Wardens
Dragon Age fansite Grey Wardens writes in with a new piece titled A Game Within The Game - The Camp -- essentially, the presence of the camp in Dragon Age assists their suspension of belief:
I remember annoying my party members in Baldur’s Gate when I had forgotten to press the space bar to pause the game and actually just went away from the keyboard. Some of the comments were very funny. Back then, a brilliant way to create the illusion that the world you were playing in was actually alive. With Dragon Age Origins, BioWare took a radical step forward and made that illusion perfect.
Dragon Age - Gamasutra's GotY
Dragon Age takes top honours from Gamasutra's choice games of 2009.
BioWare once reinvigorated the Dungeon & Dragons-inspired line of PC fantasy RPGs with Baldur's Gate. After a decade of evolutions, the studio has attempted to bridge the gap between that early milestone and its modern refinements.
Dragon Age: Origins succeeds both in that goal and as a masterful, ambitious roleplaying game in its own right. On its surface, it seems full of the same dwarves-and-mages-and-elves dynamic that's been so thoroughly mined, with stock visuals to match. But as you explore the game's considerable volume of content, its fascinating subtleties begin to reveal themselves -- class, gender, and race roles form the underpinnings of a compelling world without becoming too heavy-handed.
On the personal scale, Dragon Age features some of the most affecting and entertaining character interactions in gaming, implemented dynamically and seamlessly. Party members idly chat amongst themselves -- affably, dourly, indifferently -- and comment on the player's own choices. The game's overarching story is nothing special; it's the context and the personal moments that count, and they count for a lot. Rarely are virtual characters so believable.
The game itself demonstrates an impressive RPG design fluency born of hard experience, particularly on the PC where it fluidly shifts between a modern third-person RPG and an old-school top-down dungeon crawler at the player's whim. It strikes a satisfying balance between intricacy and intuitiveness, rewarding player investment but not becoming overbearing.
The remarkably diverse origin stories that serve as the subtitle's namesake just add further personality and depth to one of the most surprisingly unique RPGs in recent memory. With Dragon Age: Origins, BioWare has succeeded in reprising its own revival.
Saturday - December 19, 2009
Dragon Age - Twice the Dialogue of Mass Effect 2
A minor item and probably not surprising but Shack quotes Biodoc Greg Zeschuk as saying Dragon Age has twice the dialogue as Mass Effect 2:
Despite the cinematic nature of Mass Effect 2, in comparing the dialog systems of the two games BioWare co-founder Dr. Greg Zeschuk told me that Dragon Age: Origins packed over twice as many dialog options. Why so much? In Dragon Age a large proportion of the potential responses are based on the race and class you've chosen for your main character, their skills and demeanor, and the decisions made in developing the relationships. For every group of possible responses you see on any given play through of the game, there's probably an equal number hidden to handle all the other potential combinations as Zeschuk explained it.
Thursday - December 17, 2009
Dragon Age - Minor Patch Update
Firing up Dragon Age yesterday, I got a quick little update through Steam. v1.02a offers a couple of minor updates:
- fixed the "Rally bug" introduced in 1.02
where going through area transitions caused the Rally bonus to keep stacking
- fixed errors in Russian 1.02 patch notes
- fixed GDF file for Windows 7
Wednesday - December 16, 2009
Dragon Age - Child's Play Charity Auction @ Ebay
Chris Priestly, Bioware Community Coordinator, made a post at the official Dragon Age forums about The Dragon Age Team and Bioware participating in the Child's Play Charity Auction at Ebay. Here's what Chris has to say about it:
BioWare and the Dragon Age Team invites you to bid on our uber lot of Dragon Age goodies. You'll receive a giant banner signed by the whole team, signed copies of each Collector's Edition of Dragon Age: Origins, signed lithographs, a shield, a limited edition hardbound comic by the Penny Arcade Guys, novels, and much much more! Become the owner of many one of a kind items from the top selling and award winning hit game, Dragon Age: Origins! All of the proceeds of this ONE TIME ONLY auction will go to the Child's Play charity. A similar auction lot at the Child's Play Charity event in early this month fetched thousands of dollars, so get your bid in early! This NO RESERVE auction for Charity will start at $0.99!
If you want to see the items available, pleae go here. And to bid - if you want to do so.
Tuesday - December 15, 2009
Dragon Age - Editorials Related to the Love Scenes
Koku Gamer has an editorial about Bioware's decision to add an option for gay romance in DA: Origins. Here's their conclusion:
Artists that dare to push the limits on what is considered acceptable are usually remembered far longer than those few pests who got in their way. The most recent example of this is clearly Brokeback Mountain which received such wide acclaim and recalling the names of those who wanted to boycott the film is impossible. In Bioware's case, they wanted to make the choice available to the player to have a momentary encounter with another male. Being that storytelling and choice are major parts of the RPG genre, the gay experience with Zevran adds to the story and the character's personal history and I have no problem with that. I suppose growing pains were inevitable for the gaming industry but when the slightest bit of sexual innuendo is met with such hostility, it makes me wonder which of us does not have a grasp on our own sexuality.
Do you agree with the statements made in this conclusion?
There is also an editorial on this subject at MMORPG.com.
Monday - December 14, 2009
Dragon Age - Mac Details, Award Wins
A couple of small Dragon Age tidbits. First, CVG has details of a Mac port:
BioWare and Transgaming have unveiled a Mac Edition of Dragon Age: Origins that'll ship just in time for Christmas.
The Mac version of Origins will be available as a digital download and you can choose between the Standard or Digital Deluxe version. Bet you're gutted if you're a Mac owner without an internet connection though.
...and Dragon Age has won RPG Game of the Year and PC Game of the Year at the Spike TV Video Game Awards.
Dragon Age - Toolset Version 1.01 Released
A new version of the toolset for Dragon Age: Origins has been released by Bioware. The 1.01 version of the toolset fixes issues with the original version and adds more resources from the database to the toolset.
Here's the info in full from the toolset forum at the Bioware Social Site:
A new version of the toolset has been posted for download. This is not a patch, it is a brand new installer. What this means is that YOU WILL LOSE YOUR EXISTING WORK IF YOU DO NOT FOLLOW THE STEPS LISTED AT: http://social.bioware.com/wiki/datoolset/index.php/Database_migration
If you are upgrading from version 1.00 of this toolset and have database content that you wish to migrate into the new version, you will need to follow a special sequence of steps to preserve it. Builder-to-builder files (extension DADBDATA) are not compatible between the first released version of the toolset and subsequent versions.
See http://social.bioware.com/wiki/datoolset/index.php/Database_migration for more details.Please read the information found at http://social.bioware.com/wiki/datoolset/index.php/Installing_the_toolset
for more details about how to install the toolset.
Oh, and by the way, this version contains the full single player database resources!
Friday - December 11, 2009
Dragon Age - Review @ Evil Avatar
Evil Avatar has penned a very positive 5/5 review of Dragon Age: Origins - except for the NPCs offering DLCs. Here is their take on what you'll be doing:
Without getting too specific, a very large portion of the story revolves around your quest to unite different factions around the kingdom of Ferelden. As a Grey Warden, you are sworn to do what others before you have done: defend the world against the blight of the Darkspawn. Unification is paramount in repelling this evil force that has been dormant for over 400 years... and that time span is certainly part of a larger problem. While many around the kingdom understand what a Grey Warden is and what their job revolves around, they're not about to drop everything just to help you out. Each need their own brand of convincing, and it's all up to you about how you take care of things.
Source: Evil Avatar
Wednesday - December 09, 2009
Dragon Age - P&P Version Released
BioWare announces the P&P version of Dragon Age is now available - at least, in .pdf form. Boxed versions are on the way but those who preorder will get a .pdf file in the meantime. From the DA site:
Continue Your Journey and Play the Dragon Age Pen and Paper RPG!
It has been hundreds of years since the last Blight ravaged the world of Thedas. Many believed that it could never happen again, that the Dragon Age would pass without the rise of such evil. They were wrong. Beneath the earth the darkspawn stir. A new Archdemon has risen and with it a Blight that will scourge the lands and darken the skies. The nations of Thedas need a new generation of heroes, but who will answer the call?
Based on the hit Dragon Age: Origins computer and video game, the Dragon Age RPG brings the excitement of BioWare’s rich fantasy world to the tabletop. In the Dragon Age RPG, you and your friends take on the personas of warriors, mages, and rogues to overcome sinister foes, face deadly challenges, and defeat a new evil. The Dragon Age RPG is the perfect portal to tabletop roleplaying as the core system is easy to use and fun to play. The game features an innovative stunt system that keeps combat and spell casting tense and exciting. So gather your friends, grab some dice, and get ready to enter a world of heroes and villains, of knights and darkspawn, of gods and demons…the world of Dragon Age!
The Dragon Age RPG box set can now be pre-ordered from the Green Ronin online store. A PDF only version of the Dragon Age is also now available. Those who pre-order the box set will automatically receive the PDF version.
Dragon Age - Review @ Gamepex
Gamexpex writes in with their review of Dragon Age, sporting a score of 90%. An early quote:
From the surface, yes, Dragon Age looks like yet another western RPG. Yes, there are a few RPG cliches thrown into the mix as well. It's the execution of these cliches that sets the game apart. The story is gripping, deep, intellectual and mature. The developers had no qualms in throwing in aspects of political strife, the brutality of caste systems and well as prostitution into the story – the amazing part is none of these feel forced or juvenile. The other amazing thing is that the game doesn't force you to deal with these issues if you don't feel like it. You wanna be a jerk and tell everyone to piss off? Go ahead, the story will still progress.
Tuesday - December 08, 2009
Dragon Age - Soundtrack Available
Edit: As Archmage Silver points out via email and others on our forum, these 35 tracks means the 18-track soundtrack included in the CE edition of Dragon Age isn't complete, which is no doubt disappointing to many.
Monday - December 07, 2009
Dragon Age - v1.02 Patch
A fairly hefty patch for Dragon Age. Here are the Balance and Gameplay sections of the patch notes:
- Daggers now apply 0.5 points of damage per additional point in dexterity and 0.5 points of damage per additional point in strength, as originally intended. This increases dagger damage for high-dexterity characters.
- During combat, mana or stamina reserves now correctly regenerate more quickly when reserves are low. This allows players to occasionally use an talent or spell in the later stages of lengthy fights.
- When exploring, mana and stamina now regenerate more quickly at higher character levels. This reduces downtime between fights.
- The spells Force Field, Crushing Prison, Cone of Cold, and Blizzard now have shorter durations and/or longer cooldowns. This ensures that combatants can no longer stun-lock each other by repeatedly casting the same spell.
- The cooldowns for several low-level sustained abilities are now shorter. This ensures that players are not penalized for accidentally deactivating them.
- Certain battles were not scaling properly, resulting in excessively difficult fights. They now scale as intended.
- Enemy corpses now drop health poultices and money more appropriately, resulting in less clutter in the player's inventory.
- In rare cases, enemy corpses were selectable when they contained no loot. This no longer occurs.
- Party members whose combat tactics were set to defensive behavior no longer stop attacking after using a spell or talent.
- In rare cases, combat tactics conditions could fail to determine whether a character had enough mana or stamina to use an ability. This no longer occurs.
- The Rally talent no longer repeats its audio effect if it is active during certain conversations.
- The Rally talent no longer deactivates upon area transitions or conversations.
- The Shimmering Shield spell now deactivates when the character is out of mana.
The Steam version has already been updated. Hit the link above for the file, otherwise (37Mb).
Dragon Age - PC GotY @ Gamasutra
Dragon Age takes PC GotY at Gamasutra followed by: Dawn of War 2, Left 4 Dead 2, Empire: Total War and Torchlight taking fifth place. Risen gets an honourable mention. Here's what they had to say about Dragon Age...
Dragon Age is a game full of compelling contradictions. Its gameplay paradigm is a revival of the kind of systemic, arcane PC RPG that BioWare previously revived in the late 90s with Baldur's Gate -- but its finely-tuned modernization and playability deflect anachronistic impenetrability. At first glance, its setting seems like forgettable boilerplate fantasy -- but that surface level belies a slate of unexpectedly engaging and believable party members, and well-integrated undercurrents examining its world's class and race relations.
These days, not many multiplatform games feel so intrinsically native to the PC as Dragon Age. Some elements play equally well on any system -- characters, dialogue, situations, choices -- but the intended feel of the game is best conveyed with a mouse and keyboard, and the more complete UI. Using the mouse wheel to seamlessly scroll between the modern chase cam and the old-school remove-the-ceiling top-down view is oddly satisfying in its own right, and is endlessly practical as the game flows between exploration and tactical combat. Characters can be direct-controlled, clicked-and-dragged, given automated tactics; as with the narrative situations, player choice is the name of the game.
Friday - December 04, 2009
Dragon Age - Twitter Review @ Twenty Sided
Shamus Young has decided to experiment with a new format for his Dragon Age review, Tweeting quick comments as he plays and then coming back to flesh it out. It's not a format that works for me and I suspect it inherently favours a negative vibe but that's Shamus' schtick, anyway. Here's a bit on difficulty from Part 3:
Feels like #DragonAge on Easy is still a little harder than #KOTOR on normal. I guess I need more micro-mgmt.
The difficulty in this game is a mess. Some people are saying it’s too easy even when playing on hard. Some say it’s too hard even when playing on easy. Some say it goes from boring to impossible on a whim. There are two broken things here.
One is that mage powers tend to dominate the game, and not all mage powers are created equal. When I was talking about how hard the game was, people responded with:
Just use [Forcefield, a power I didn't have] and then follow up with [another power that was way down a skill tree I'd never even looked at] and if you must, then have someone else follow up with [another power I hadn't acquired]. This game is TOO EASY.
It’s very easy to miss or overlook key game-breaking powers, and there’s no way to respec.
The other problem is that the system of auto-scaling enemies is broken. You’ll get wiped by a room full of common mooks. Then you work past that and end up steamrolling a boss. The difficulty is all over the place.
I’ve been through the bulk of the game twice now, both times as primal mages, both times using the same play styles. And the challenge level of the game feels more or less random. The first time I did the Deep Roads the game was insanely hard, to the point where even regular encounters required multiple attempts.
The second time through the game I did the Deep Roads and it was pretty average. A couple of hard boss fights, but nothing game-ruining.
This takes away all sense of accomplishment for me. When I win handily, I don’t feel like I out-maneuvered a tough opponent, I feel like the game under-estimated me and gave me foes that were too weak. When I lose, I don’t feel like I did something wrong, I feel like the game just murdered me with tough foes.
Dragon Age - Full Colour Map and Two New Videos from Warden's Quest
A full wallpaper colour map of Thedas, the continent on which Ferelden lies, has been uploaded by Bioware to the Dragon Age site. Two new videos featuring the Warden's Quest competition in London have also been uploaded.
Thursday - December 03, 2009
Dragon Age - Of Elves, Archetypes and Derivative Fantasy
A second Dragon Age examination today with fansite Grey Wardens writing a piece called Of Elves, Archetypes and Derivative Fantasy. As you'd guess, the article tackles the accusation that Dragon Age is too derivative:
One of the major criticisms of Dragon Age: Origins has been that the game draws on ‘derivative fantasy’ in its plot and storyline. Now, staying away from the debate over whether or not DA:O is ‘dark fantasy’ as marketed, or ‘Tolkien-esque epic fantasy’ , the whole discussion leads me to ask why is it that anything in the fantasy genre is immediately under fire for being self-referential.
What I want to know is when does something stop being cliché and become, instead, archetype?
Dragon Age - Quest Design @ Iron Tower
Vince Dweller takes a look at the quest design in BioWare's Dragon Age, examining the motivation, integration and solutions. It's a spoiler-y article by nature, so make sure you have finished the game. The intro:
Dragon Age is definitely one of the best, if not the best, Bioware game to-date, and certainly one of the best role-playing games in years. Though the game follows the familiar Bioware structure, they have managed to improve and evolve that design significantly, keeping the strong story-focus they are known for, while loading in a wide range of player choices and paths. While a full review is currently in the works, I'd like to take a moment to discuss the quest design separately, since it is hard to analyze the quests without revealing how they play out. In other words, if you haven’t yet completed the game (but are planning to do so in the near future), stop reading now. For those who have, or are simply interested in analyzing Bioware's design more than playing the game itself, this article is for you.
Wednesday - December 02, 2009
Dragon Age - Review @ GameVisions
A very positive review of Bioware's crpg Dragon Age posted over at GameVisions, giving the game that rare score, 100% :
...the question was: "...is this truly Baldur's Gate III?" The answer is a resounding yes! It has its caveats and unfulfilled wishes, but no game is perfect, and some (editor included) have found that BGII lost some of the open charm of the original BG, so the value of each title must stand on its own. But were this to bear the the actual title of BGIII (and feature Elminster somewhere within) no one would find it to be out of place. Despite a slow-going mandatory set-piece at Ostragar immediately following the origin story, the game rapidly opens up to a much larger and entangled world, and every element one would look for in a new Bioware fantasy RPG is accounted for. It's rare that a game gets an absolute perfect score, at best, a 99% is warranted for a few minor flaws, but in this very rare case I'm issuing a perfect 100%. There was so much that could have gone wrong that didn't. So many places for fans to feel let down where they weren't. There's no such thing as complete perfection in a game, so 100% must stand, not for true perfection, but for attaining as close to perfection as any human can make it. Much like the Star Trek franchise reboot in theaters, this pulls in a new audience, pleases, even enamors old fans, and makes no serious missteps in the process. It even creates a fair console port of an old PC-centric franchise from the days when PC-centric games existed, while providing a true PC game experience in an era where such things are rare indeed....
Source: Blues News
Friday - November 27, 2009
Dragon Age - Interview @ Joystiq
Greg Zeschuk sits down with Christopher Grant at Joystiq to discuss Dragon Age and a little about Mass Effect. Greg talks about the game, console ports, MMOs, and ther DLC. Here are a couple of snippets from the interview:
Christopher: The Mass Effect 1 DLC was a lot smaller, was a lot more bite-sized. It was a lot more affordable too.
Greg: The DLC that we're doing is all kinds of shapes and sizes. That's the other thing, we want to give the players the opportunity to pick and choose some of the big things, some of the smaller things. You know, a couple things we have already are interesting for what they are, and then there is actually some very cool stuff that we have. I think the other thing too is that DLC is an area where you want to make sure you're getting the right value for the right money. So it can vary a lot in pricing compared to regular games where you always come out with this price. So all those things are stuff we're going to play with, you know how big it is, and pricing it accordingly. Yeah, we have some big thing we're planning for DLC, actually. It's a big part of the strategy just because the kind of world again, and the kind of player that plays those games loves to sort of continue experiencing new things and have it all packed up together.
Christopher: There's definitely a strange calculus that gamers do when they judge the value of DLC. I don't even know if I understand it.
Greg: No, it is actually sort of bizarre. The other thing that's interesting about DLC is there is not a lot of opacity about what the impact has actually been. Like, who knows how many of whatever has been sold? It's actually not like NPD - you can't look and go, "Hey!", right?
Christopher: You guys are doing these console games and you're also working on Star Wars: The Old Republic, which is this huge project. And you've recently also, maybe "inherited" is the term, Mythic, which was EA's other big MMO studio. So now BioWare is kind of cemented itself as "the" RPG studio at EA.
Greg: Now we're the RPG/MMO Group actually. It's on my card.
Christopher: The RPG/MMO Group?
Greg: Yeah, it's on my card. I'm the group creative officer. So effectively, you're absolutely right on that. One of the things we've been learning as well is that there's a lot of benefit in getting everyone together who makes similar stuff because you can not only share tools of technology, share know-how - I mean the Mythic guys have a tremendous amount of experience running MMOs. They've had them going for 10 years now, which is amazing. So for us to be able to draw on this example - and then what we can bring to them is we can bring a new perspective. We work with a team and have a really good time with the team at Mythic. I went to dinner with them last night, for example. And just, you know, looking at Warhammer sales, what can we do to keep this going, keep it vibrant, keep things happening.
It's interesting because I think there's a lot of positives. Because the way we run things, Ray and I - and Ray's the group general manager - so the way we kind of manage things is everyone's got a lot of autonomy. Everyone just shares a lot of information and we all have a lot of common opportunity to learn. I think that's actually the really big focus. Finally, everyone has different goals. We have goals that we have to try to achieve collectively and individually and those things allow us to actually have all these things going on at the same time and not have our heads exploding.
Because, again, you have Casey Hudson and his team running Mass Effect, Mark Darrah and his team running Dragon Age, Rich Gordon, James Ohlen running Star Wars Old Republic and then Rob Denton and Jeff Hickman and their team running Warhammer. So there's a lot of really great people dedicated to it. So our job is give power to all of them.
Dragon Age - Final Thoughts @ 1UP's The Grind
We need more thoughts on Dragon Age like we need a hole in the head, but this one had something more to offer than your typical review. This article gives some final conclusions to the game without spilling into the fanboy realm as we have seen in some of the other sites. Here are some of the final thoughts from it:
BioWare has a way of bringing everything together for a rousing finale, laying the fruits of my labor in full view. In Dragon Age's case (and Mass Effect's, and KOTOR's), that meant presenting the moments before the final battle in such a way that I got chills. It wasn't the necessarily the story itself so much as it felt like the culmination of 60 hours of questing, during which I had grown to be fairly attached to my characters.
So I'm willing to agree that BioWare is the master of moments, if only because they understand that without all the little moments the big moments are nearly worthless. Giving a player chills means more than just providing big setpieces and an epic soundtrack (though those certainly help). It's a slow buildup of getting players invested in the action and the characters. With all the pieces in place, even clichés can seem a little cheesy, and just a little more epic.
Wednesday - November 25, 2009
Dragon Age - 25% Off On Steam
A bunch of games on Steam have had their prices reduced for a limited time period including Dragon Age: Origins which is 25% off at now 37.49€, but also the two MMORPGs Fallen Earth and Champions Online which is both 50% off their usual price.
Be quick though. The sale ends in 40 hours and 43 min from the posting of this newsbit, and then a new batch of games will be put on sale.
Dragon Age - Elevating the Narrative @ Grey Wardens
Exorzist at the Bioware forums points to a short article on the Grey Wardens blog talking about the narrative in Dragon Age: Origins. The author discusses how the hero usualy wins the day and how this game the hero may have options than the good or the happy ones.
Do you agree with the author's final comments:
Art, real art, has a place for human pain, for heartbreak. By very definition the interactivity of video game allows for a depth of connection to that emotion greater than words on a page, or even colourful images on a screen, because it's your character, your adventure, your heartbreak.
Can this ever be true in a videogame? Is this true in Dragon Age: Origins or in other videogames?
Tuesday - November 24, 2009
Dragon Age - I'm A Naughty Boy @ RPS
Alec Meer writes about "cheating" by using the mod tools to respec his Dragon Age character:
I do feel that Bioware might have been wise to build some official respec feature – say, for a frightening amount of gold, or the loss of a level – into the game, as it does expect you to make some fairly far-reaching choices long before you’ve become au fait with the combat and know what your party setup will be. But then again, there’s something proud and wonderful about making your own organic progress through the game, living with those bad decisions and surviving despite them. That’s how we used to do it, right? But I suppose I’ve become inured to respecification of my RPG characters after all these years of playing MMOs. Once you’ve flown first class, it’s doubly unpleasant to fly cattle class again, and all that. The net result is that I’m enjoying the game more, and so surely my cheating-or-was-it means the game is now better serving its intended purpose. Others will enjoy the struggle against adversity more. I don’t – I’m a hedonist in this regard, prizing my own enjoyment over Doing It Right No Matter What. That niggle, that strange, pointless guilt will likely never quite fade from me as I play, though. I know I’ve rewritten history. What would you do, gentle reader?
Monday - November 23, 2009
Dragon Age - PC Review @ Strategy Informer
Here is one more review for your consumption. This time it's Strategy Informer who reviewed the PC version and compared the difference between the console and the PC version. They gave it a 9.4 and here is a little bit of what they had to say:
Still, there are differences to be had. Combat is much smoother than the console iteration, and coming back to graphics on a technical level they are much smoother as well, giving the larger scale battle a certain grandness to them that the console versions unfortunately lack. On a related not, the PC version lends itself to a more tactical playing style due to the fact that you can zoom out to a top-down view, and move to scout out ahead. The biggest change however comes with the interface. MMO veterans will instantly recognise the skill panel along the bottom edge, and the WASD controls, and all this combined makes for a decidedly different experience from the console version. Apart from a few other differences between inventory and menus, Dragon age is as epic on the PC as it is on the consoles. It might just look at little bit nicer, that's all.
But like all games there are flaws, however Dragon Age's flaws are more of a puzzle than anything else. As good as the story is, the opening section for the Human Noble was a little too rushed for my liking - not only does your character seem to get over the slaughter of his family a little too quickly to be healthy, but your brother seems to drop off the face of the earth entirely, only to be glimpsed at the end. It's possible that in an effort to create multiple beginnings, some details slipped through the cracks, but when compared to the rest of the game these can be quite easily over looked. Also, despite the afore-mentioned increased stability, there was the odd crash or two whilst Alt-tabbing, especially during conversations.
Friday - November 20, 2009
Dragon Age - Newbie Guide and Nexus Mod Site
Here's a couple of miscellaneous Dragon Age tidbits that have been sent in.
First, Archmage Silver let us know that Dragon Age Nexus has launched and hosts around 50 mods. You'll recall the Nexus sites have some of the biggest Fallout 3 and TES mod communities.
Second, fansite the Grey Wardens has a newbie guide with some basic advice to finding your footing.
Dragon Age - Gamepressure's guide online
Gamepressure has prepared a guide for Dragon Age - Origins here. A PDF is also in the making, announced for next week (which took 3 full weeks for the Risen PDF ;-)
Thursday - November 19, 2009
Dragon Age - Return to Ostagar - New DLC Planned
Bioware has announced a new DLC, Return to Ostagar for Dragon Age: Origins. The DLC will let players go back to Ostagar to seek revenge on the darkspawn as well as letting them get a second chance to to get Dog.
For good measure, here's the full press release:
EDMONTON, ALBERTA, CANADA – November 19, 2009 – Leading video game developer BioWare™, a division of Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: ERTS), announced today that the Return to Ostagar downloadable content (DLC) for Dragon Age™: Origins will be available for the Xbox 360® videogame and entertainment system, the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system and PC versions this Holiday season in North America and Europe. The DLC pack, Return to Ostagar, allows players to exact their revenge and embark on a quest for the mighty arms and armor of the once great King Cailan when they revisit Ostagar, the site of the Grey Wardens’ darkest hour, to reclaim the honor and learn the secrets of Ferelden’s fallen king.
“We are very proud of the phenomenal launch of Dragon Age: Origins and we’re pleased to announce the next installment of downloadable content that will be available to fans of the game,” said Ray Muzyka, Group General Manager, RPG/MMO Group of EA, and Co-Founder, BioWare. “The Return to Ostagar DLC pack is a prime example of BioWare’s commitment to give fans a game that continuously offers new experiences and further enriches a storyline that has already received critical acclaim and positive feedback from the players.”
Return to Ostagar, BioWare’s next thread in the Dragon Age: Origins tapestry, summons players to a new quest in which they will return to the fateful battleground in Ostagar where the Grey Wardens were nearly wiped out. Players will discover King Cailan’s top-secret political agenda and go behind enemy lines to revisit a place that many feared had been lost to history.
Return to Ostagar will be available for $4.99 on the PlayStation® Store, for 400 BioWare Points on the PC and 400 Microsoft Points on the Xbox 360 in North America. Return to Ostagar will be released this Holiday season worldwide on the Xbox 360, the PlayStation®3 console and PC. Dragon Age: Origins is rated M by the ESRB and 18+ by PEGI.
Spotted @Kotaku, Shacknews, Blues News, Gamebanshee, Voodoo Extreme and thanks to Dave for writing in with a similar submission.
Sorry, no waffles but there will be some voicework, including from the followers. We put a particular focus on the various followers who were also present at the battle. As for precisely when it will come out, we don't have a specific answer to that yet which is why we're being vague. We're still tackling one last optimization issue and then we need to make it through final testing and certification across all three platforms.
Average playtime is always tough to pin down because everyone's mileage will vary (and developers player the game in a very different manner than a typical first-time player). I can do a speed run (skipping through conversations and cutscenes, using a buff party, controlling Dog, avoiding some combats, ignoring loot drops, not looking at the scenery, etc) in about 15-20 minutes. I suspect it would take a typical first-time player about an hour to complete.
Wednesday - November 18, 2009
Dragon Age - Best RPG Ever? @ GamerZines
Nothing like a big statement to stir the pot. GameZines has a piece that asks Is Dragon Age: Origins the best RPG ever? A modern Baldur's Gate 2 is their response, so that's a "yes" for them:
The reviews are in, and almost everyone universally loves Dragon Age: Origins. As you might have guessed from the title, I agree. I was considering titling this piece "Is Dragon Age: Origins better than Baldur's Gate 2?" but I just decided to shoot for the whole prize.
Firstly, I'll lay my cards out - I am a huge Bioware fan. I've played every Bioware game (except last year's bizarre Sonic RPG that I couldn't take to) through to completion, in some cases, several times. For me, they were the ones who showed how RPGs should be done on console with the revolutionary KOTOR. There have been missteps - some disliked Jade Empire, though I still enjoyed it, and Mass Effect did feel limited and repetitive despite purporting to offer the whole galaxy to explore.
However, I've always loved that as developers, they seem to do what interested them - "KOTOR 2 - pass, we've other things to be doing".
So, it's not a surprise that I consider Baldur's Gate 2 to be the RPG crown holder until today. Possibly.
Dragon Age - Experimental Dexterity Hotfix
Georg Zoeller has released a hotfix that deals with Dexterity, bows and daggers. This is a much needed fix in the game if you would like your characters to use ranged weapons:
Experimental hot fix for the following issues:
*Daggers now get the shared damage bonus from Dexterity and Strength as intended, not just Strength alone.
*Ranged Weapon hit rate increased.
*Bow range has been increased by 10m on all ranged weapons (not staff), reducing the penalties for ranged shots in most most combat scenarios.
*All bows and crossbows now grant a +5 inherit Attack bonus. Note that this bonus is shown on the weapon, it does not factor into the characters Attack displayed score on the character sheet.
*Short bow being useless.
*Short bows now get full attribute bonus from Dexterity instead of shared from Strength. This makes them a natural choice for Dexterity focused character builds.
*Base Armor Penetration for Shortbows has been increased by 1.
*Ranged weapon damage has been increased:
*Damage range on all ranged weapons has been increase from 150% to 160%.
*Critical chance bonus on all ranged weapons has been increased by 4%.
*Damage bonus from attributes has been increased from 100% to 100/105% for bows and 110% for crossbows.
You can read more details about these issues in this Forum Post 1) on the BioWare forums.
Tuesday - November 17, 2009
Dragon Age - Retrospective Interview @ VideoGamer
Ray Muzyka has been interviewed at VideoGamer, in the light of the Dragon Age release, although nothing of major interest is revealed:
VideoGamer.com: One of the criticisms of Dragon Age concerns the graphics. Is that the result of the game being compared with Mass Effect, one of the most graphically stunning games of the last few years? Was it unrealistic to expect a similar quality level of graphics for a game so huge?
RM: It's a different style of graphics, I'd say. We don't want to make all of our games look like Mass Effect. Mass Effect's art style is beautiful. And even Mass Effect 2 pushes the envelope even more than Mass Effect 1. Players are in for a treat. With Dragon Age we were striving for a different art style. It's not a stylised art style, but it's not an ultra-realistic style either. It's somewhere just south of a realistic style, but with a little measure of stylised art thrown in. We're trying to find our own place and every game has to have a unifying theme in terms of the way the art works. I personally think Dragon Age is beautiful. Different players may have different perspectives on that, but Dragon Age and Mass Effect are both beautiful in different ways.
Dragon Age - v1.01b Patch
Lurking Grue let us know that a v1.01b patch has been released for Dragon Age. The patch notes are the same as the first v1.01 patch - bar the addition of the last two items. This is only designed for those that had trouble getting DA to start after applying the v1.01a patch:
- fixed potential corruption of character statistics
- fixed portrait appearance sliders when importing a character from the downloadable Character Creator
- fixed import for preset face settings from the downloadable Character Creator
- made Easy difficulty easier
- slightly increased attack, defense, and damage scores for all party members at Normal difficulty
- fixed video issues when running on a very wide screen display, including ATI Eyefinity displays
- fixed an issue with Dragon Age and Windows Game Explorer
- updated Visual C runtime libraries
According to Lurking Grue, some users are still reporting on the forums the game won't start after applying this update.
Friday - November 13, 2009
Dragon Age - Equipment Database @ GameBanshee
Dragon Age - Official Videos
EA Germany released the next batch of promo videos for Dragon Age: Origins. All in English, the making of videos with German subtitles.
- Making of #8: DLC interview with online producer Fernando Melo
- Making of #9: Combat system interview with lead designer Mike Laidlaw (now with subtitles)
- A two part interview with the Bioware community managers Jay Watamaniuk and Chris Priestly, shot at the GC in Cologne. Very interesting stuff if you are interested in behind the scenes stuff.
Dragon Age - DLC Nets a Million
Money talks... Electronic Arts executive vice president and CFO Eric Brown discloses sales figures for DA:O DLC.
Brown recapped the nearly instantaneous success of Dragon Age: Origins, the BioWare fantasy role-playing game that arrived in stores early last week. The executive said that sales of Dragon Age downloadable content are already "well past $1 million" collectively. Brown also reiterated the company's intent to support the game with new add-ons for an entire year after launch.
Dragon Age launched alongside a handful of add-ons, including the $15 (but free for preorders) Stone Prisoner expansion, and the $7 Warden's Keep. EA is also selling a handful of premium Dragon Age themes for 240 Microsoft points ($3) each on the Xbox Live Marketplace.
Thursday - November 12, 2009
Dragon Age - Image Comparison @ Gamespot
Gamespot has compared the images from the PC version, the PS3 version and the Xbox 360 version. The conclusion is that the PC version looks the best while the 360 version looks not so great compared to both the PS3 version and the PC version.
If we leave it to the consoles, the PlayStation 3 version looks cleaner because of its higher resolution textures and the increased depth the textures get from bump mapping. The Xbox 360 version looks a little worse, but it was definitely tweaked to run smoother. Unsurprisingly, the PC version runs and looks much better if you have a decent machine.
Source: Blues News
Wednesday - November 11, 2009
Dragon Age - Combat Dev Diary Video
BioWare has released a new video on designing the Dragon Age combat system, with 6 minutes of Lead Designer Mike Laidlaw and other devs describing both the combat and the their intentions. Watch it at Gametrailers.
Dragon Age - Warden's Keep & The Stone Prisoner Reviewed
DA:O DLC is probed at Eurogamer, the outcome; it's a bit pricey really.
It's appropriate that each of the two downloadable adventures begins with a tip-off from a merchant. In the case of Warden's Keep, one Levi Dryden shows up in your camp before you buy the pack; accept his invitation to adventure, and you'll be taken straight to the game's (or console network's) marketplace to buy it for 560 points (of either the BioWare or Microsoft variety), $7, or a little under £5. You won't get to access Levi's own in-game wares until you've finished this short dungeon romp. It's a good joke, but is it at our expense?
Tuesday - November 10, 2009
Dragon Age - PnP Design Diary #1
Thanks to the Dragon Age forums for pointing out this Design Diary from Chris Pramas of Green Ronin on creating the upcoming pen-and-paper game. Here's an excerpt:
We are getting ready to launch our new Dragon Age RPG, so to whet your appetite I'm doing some design diaries for the game here on greenronin.com. You may know me as the president of Green Ronin Publishing; I'm also the designer of Dragon Age. I hadn't had a chance to roll up my sleeves and do some serious design work since Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, 2nd edition, so I decided to take on this project myself. But I'm getting ahead of myself. [...]
So fairly early in the process I decided that the game would best be served by designing a new system. I also decided I wanted to do it myself, as I was up for a game design challenge and had a lot of ideas percolating in my head about how to approach a new class and level game. I would draw inspiration from the computer game, but ultimately the tabletop RPG would be its own animal. What works for a computer game and what works for a tabletop game are not necessarily the same and first and foremost I wanted to be sure we made a great tabletop RPG.
Dragon Age - Review @ The Guardian
A review for Dragon Age: Origins has been published in The Guardian 4/5 .
The reviewer likes the origin stories, and mentions how the dialogues opens up new plotlines:
The initial sections are nicely scripted – there are six unique ways to start the game – but it takes a good four or five hours before things settle down into a rhythm of get party, go fight and start chatting. Yes, being a Bioware game there is a ton of conversation and reams of text to read through. The incessant chatter often throws up new plotlines and there can easily be as much conversation as combat if you want.
Dragon Age - Interview @ MMORPG
Mike Laidlaw, the lead designer for Dragon Age: Origins, has talked to MMORPG, who penned an article-style interview, about how DA: Origins has used some of the gameplay from MMOs:
Mike explained that MMOs have the luxury of carrying a player through the game on different levels. The first being small solo content, simple quests and story lines that a player can do alone. The next is small group content, whether it is small dungeon raids or group quests. The third is large scale raids, giving players a huge area to work with and allowing for teamwork and guild development
He also talked about how and why Dragon Age: Origins was built, mentioning racism, power abuse etc. amongst the denizens of Ferelden:
To illustrate, Mike used the example of the first level Dungeons & Dragons spell Charm Person as a way to show that Mages can really trick people into doing anything they want very early on in their development. He said the team laughed about that asking, does anyone else find that a little creepy? As a result, they created the Templar class to keep the mages in check when building the world.
Monday - November 09, 2009
Dragon Age - Rock Lord - Number One Guy
Rock, Paper, Shotgun's Alec Meer expresses some love for the golem Shale in Dragon Age. Some minor character-related spoilers apply, but no main-quest biggies:
My first few hours with Bioware’s latest had more worried I wasn’t going to be entertained. Sure, I was having fun, but my party, the people I was travelling with, were pretty dry. Facetious holy warrior Alistair had a nice line in comic deflections, but arch sorceress Morrigan seemed a textbook line in sneery, sultry know-it-alls (though I’m sure there are many stings to be found in her self-confident tale) and, while the dog was sort of cute, it wasn’t exactly chatty. As for wide-eyed, pseudo-French bard Leilana – well, my cat could read those lines better than her. Sigh. Could I really make it through a couple of dozen hours with these ciphers, these stereotypes, these appalling cod-Euro accents? (Though, seriously, I like Alistair a lot). Then I met Shale, the golem – almost immediately the game’s bright, dazzling star.
Dragon Age - To The World Blog Post
BioWare Online Marketing Manager Derek Larke has posted to the Bioblog about the launch, touching on their critical success, release hiccups and the v1.01 patch. There's nothing new for most of us, other than a call for feedback to help them speed additional patches if required.
Saturday - November 07, 2009
Dragon Age - Toolset Released
Source: Blues News
Dragon Age - Open Letter - Overview of the Launch
Dragon Age Online Producer Fernando Melo has posted a lengthy letter on the official forums explaining the launch and apologising for the issues. For the Social site issues, apparently they seriously underestimated the servers required. After discussion with EA, they used Spore as a baseline for server load and then later doubled that capacity - only to be seriously under resourced in the end. For DLC, there were issues with the installation of the Windows Service used to deliver the updates. Here's a small snip:
Much closer to launch, we revised our figures coming out of the data we saw from the stand alone character creator app launch – just about doubling capacity yet again from our initial figures. For good measure, we then set in place a contingency plan – our plan B – to allow for further rapid deployment of additional capacity to yet again nearly double that amount, should things really get going.
As it turns out, before the end of the first day (Nov. 3rd - US & Asia launch) we had not only exceeded our initial capacity, but our plan B as well! For a single player game with online features, this was unprecendented and the levels we were seeing was completely unexpected. Had this been an MMO, such as TOR, the initial setup and type of setup would have been very different indeed and we'd be laughing even with traffic in the orders of magnitude higher - but for a single player game no would predicted it would exceed this type of setup.
Friday - November 06, 2009
Dragon Age - German Release Infos
EA Germany sent out the usual release announcement and explained that a couple of defective Dragon Age DVDs made it into the German retail channel. The following editions do not contain a false pressing:
- every collector's edition
- the XBox 360 version
- the DL version
- the standard version if it has a white circular sticker on the back
So only the standard version without a white sticker is infected. Defective units will be handled by your retailer.
The "new" standard version should be available everywhere on Monday. A couple of shops / chains already have it.
Dragon Age - v1.01 Patch
The first patch is out for Dragon Age and if I read it correctly, among a small handful of fixes they appear to have made it easier on Easy and Normal settings. Grab it here for retail (all languages - 13Mb):
- fixed potential corruption of character statistics
- fixed portrait appearance sliders when importing a character from the downloadable Character Creator
- fixed import for preset face settings from the downloadable Character Creator
- made Easy difficulty easier
- slightly increased attack, defense, and damage scores for all party members at Normal difficulty
- fixed video issues when running on a very wide screen display, including ATI Eyefinity displays
Steam has already released it for those users.
Dragon Age - Review Flood #2 [Updated]
"Flood" is a bit of an overstatement but let's keep the nomenclature simple, shall we? 9/10 seems about the average for these, yet again Here we go.
The Escapist - the opening sentences set a pretty high bar:
Dragon Age: Origins is the game you've been waiting for all of your life. Allow me to qualify that: If you enjoy fantasy role-playing games and prefer gameplay over graphics and story over style, then Dragon Age: Origins is the game you've been waiting for all your life.
Dragon Age: Origins is the game you've been waiting for all of your life.
Allow me to qualify that: If you enjoy fantasy role-playing games and prefer gameplay over graphics and story over style, then Dragon Age: Origins is the game you've been waiting for all your life.
GamePro - A "must-have masterpiece" from the "magic" of BioWare. On the con side, difficulty spikes, camera and "slightly annoying" inventory. 4.5/5.
GameInformer - 9/10, the battles are like "puzzles" with a "wealth of tactical options".
PSXExtreme - May be "one of the sleeper hits of the year", although the graphics and issues like pop-in and framerate are criticised. 9/10.
CheatCodeCentral - A "masterfully constructed strategy RPG". 4.6/5 and a "must buy".
Thanks to Metacritic and Gamerankings for some of these.
Update: I'll add this one here (hope you don't mind Dhruin), Eurogamer's Oli Welsh has bashed the 360 version of the game with a 6/10 score.
...and we'll add Rock, Paper, Shotgun's First Steps with Dragon Age, which is a group discussion on the early stages - mostly the Origin stories they each played.
Thursday - November 05, 2009
Dragon Age - $7 Storage Fee and More @ Fidgit
We've missed a couple of Tom Chick's Dragon Age game diaries over the last couple of days.
First, and most interesting, Tom tackles the issue of player storage being offered through DLC. He's not happy with the limited inventory and the $7 solution:
The bottom line is this: the lack of inventory space is a problem given the way the game was designed. The solution to this problem will cost you seven dollars above and beyond the money you paid when you bought the game. Dragon Age, as sold, is slightly crippled by design. Once again, Electronic Arts pushes the limit for how to bilk you for more money. Here's a wonderful single-player RPG and the publisher is doing their level best to make you keep paying for it even after you've already bought it.
Shame on you, EA.
BioWare's Georg Zoeller responds in this letter - here's a partial snip:
For what it's worth, 'EA' has nothing to do with this (apart from being the parent company of BioWare).
The game was designed with limited inventory for a number of reasons, the least of which being to limit savegame size and therefore loadtimes.
Originally there was a small storage chest in the party camp, until we realized that due to the fact that there are several versions of the camp area (for reasons evident in the story) and that people were losing their items (as they were stored in the area).
By the time this problem was discovered, we had not enough time to fix the problem, plus, we decided that it was not really necessary anyway since the item limitation was rather generous compared to the initial designs at least.
The game was finalized tested without a storage chest. The item limit was never questioned or brought up during the QA phase, after all, it was part of the design.
The 'storage chest' in Warden's Keep DLC was added by the DLC team as part of their 'hey, what would be a cool feature for your own keep' brainstorming. [...]
...although Tom observes that Derek French has a different explanation.
Dragon Age - Toolset Delayed
Scott Meadows says that something unforseen has delayed the DA:O toolset, but is sure that toolset team are working hard to get it out.
Dragon Age - DLC Woes
The process of obtaining the DLC and bonus content for Dragon Age has lead to complaints all over the 'net. While I didn't have any trouble with my Steam version, it was a round-about process - and it seems other users have found it even more so. Ars Technica has written about the issues, saying that Impulse buyers have it the worst:
EA and Bioware's Dragon Age: Origins launched yesterday, and PC gamers rejoiced at having another tactical Bioware RPG to sink their teeth into. With digital distribution platforms like Steam and Impulse becoming more popular, it's no surprise that many gamers decided to buy their copy of the game online. The problem? EA and Bioware require you to sign into their own websites, with their own accounts and login information, to allow you to access the bonus content from your purchase. That process, it seems, is broken for many users.
...and a statement from Impulse:
"While we are aware of the folks having issues with the DLC, we are also experiencing thousands of people playing the game with no hiccups on Impulse. For those few who are indeed experiencing issues with authentication due to EA's process, we are working now on a fix and expect this problem to be remedied very shortly."
There are links in the article and in our Dragon Age forums that might help for those still having trouble.
Source: Blues News
Wednesday - November 04, 2009
Dragon Age - Review Flood #1
Time to collect the deluge of Dragon Age reviews together. Here are all the new links we've collected so far. I'll highlight a couple and provide comments for some others. Nearly every score is in the 9 range, although VideoGamer praises the game but still wants some sort of Mass Effect - Oblivion mashup despite the 8/10 score.
IGN - we've already seen articles from IGN AU and IGN UK but the US office now has their critique. The PC version scores 9/10 and consoles 8.7/10 (X360 and PS3). The plot, choices and character development are all praised, while noting the "wooden" romances and ordinary visuals:
Incredibly deep and expansive, Dragon Age: Origins is one of those titles that can easily swallow up dozens of hours of play and keep you coming back for more. The fact that BioWare chose to include downloadable content, including a new character and side quest, on launch day proves that they have an extensive plan for supporting the game. Couple that with the fact that each character can be developed in radically different ways, and you have an adventure that earns its own place among BioWare's expansive RPG collection. This is the kind of adventure that fantasy RPG fans have been hoping that BioWare would deliver – a game with a ton of re-playability and an incredibly vivid world that is the start of an impressive franchise.
GameSpy has one of their Concensus thingies, collecting comments from across IGNSpy. Their official score is 4.5/5 and here's a comment on choices:
Again, it's the decisions that make Dragon Age: Origins such a thought-provoking experience. I've played through the game twice now, working on a third time, and I still have trouble choosing which companions to take with me on any given adventure. The story has a way of dropping situations in your lap where any of a handful of different options seem viable, with no clear-cut option standing out as the right one. This is due in part to Dragon Age: Origins' lack of a clearly defined moral alignment structure. Characters are generally complex, defying the unrealistically simplistic labels of "good" and "evil," and the game is the better for it.
- GameDaily - a "fantastic, involving role-playing experience" despite the visuals and "occasionally sloppy" dialogue. No score.
- IncGamers - played for 55 hours and feels they saw 60% of the game. "Stunning writing" and "bloody hard battles" are noted on the way to 9.4/10.
- GameZone - 9.9/10 tells everything about their view. "Deep, rich and epic tale told in amazing fashion".
- OXM Online - Xbox, obviously, but they still loved it. A "massive" and "fully-realised" world but they criticise re-used art and some awkward dialogue. 9/10.
- Games Radar - "High fantasy at its finest", although some battles are too hard and console owners don't get the best experience. 9/10.
- TeamXbox - Another X360 review, and again they loved it. Choices, interaction, party members, combat and the story are all praised, allthough they note some "glitches" and ordinary graphics. 9.2/10.
- GamePlanet - Another 9/10 and called an "instant classic". They don't like the spikes in difficulty and the "largely text-based epilogue".
- VideoGamer - the lowest score in this roundup at 8/10. While they call it "superb" they clearly value modern approaches like Mass Effect, which is referenced several times, along with lines like "decades old mechanics". This isn't "Mass Effect in Oblivion's clothes", they warn (Huh?).
- 1Up - Very positive but some comments on leaning "a little too much on its inspiration and tired fantasy tropes". Oh, you'll want a rogue in your party, they say. Score - "A".
Tuesday - November 03, 2009
Dragon Age - Review @ Gametrailers
Shock, horror it's more DA news. Gametrailers have a 10min video review of Dragon Age, which gives a high quality HD look at the graphics. It's highly positive, stating the game is involved and some encounters can be punishing, with very few complaints other than presentation the game's final score is 9.1.
Edit: I just noticed that lumiapina, from our forums, spotted this one and has noted that this one spoils.
Dragon Age - Reviews @ MTV, CVG, Worthplaying
Three more reviews in what will obviously be the vanguard of a flood of Dragon Age reviews.
MTV says the dialogue has great depth but calls the game "vanilla":
"Dragon Age: Origins" is BioWare's best effort since "Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic." It's not a great leap forward in the evolution of video game RPGs, but it is a compelling, well-crafted experience. The warts are there to be sure, but they are easily overlooked in light of the insane amount of game on offer. BioWare probably won't win many new fans with this one and they'll probably lose a few who enjoyed the more active entertainment offered by the likes of "Mass Effect," but old school RPG junkies will get a kick out of exploring the rich, if initially difficult to breach, new world that the developer has crafted.
CVG has reprinted John Walker's review from PC Gamer UK. This is a lengthy piece and John is clearly impressed, awarding 9.4/10 and detailing a lot of history and atmosphere:
I've not only been to huge cities, but I've learned their past, their present, and been involved in shaping their future. This hasn't felt like passing through a series of checkpoints, but having experienced a world. I know enough about the religion of the Chantry to preach their own Chants. My connection to the Grey Wardens is palpable, and the part I played an honourable one.
This is the most enormously detailed game world I've experienced, its history stretching back thousands of years, its cultures vivid, beautiful and flawed, the battles enormous, the humour superb. Roleplaying games now have a great deal to live up to.
Worthplaying has an X360 review, with a score of 8/10. This is one of those "step backwards from Mass Effect" articles and they accuse BioWare of being afraid to take risks (and really being a PC game). Still, they say there is a "lot to like" if you want a traditional experience:
Dragon Age: Origins is going to feel extremely similar to Bioware's Knights of the Old Republic games. Lightsabers may be gone, but the basic combat mechanics are unchanged. You have a lot of the same abilities and moves, and most of them even share the same D20-inspired names. However, there are a few changes that make things a little more interesting. First and foremost is the greater emphasis on area-of-effect attacks. Spells and certain other abilities in Dragon Age will occasionally have friendly fire effects. On lower difficulty levels, this simply means that you risk freezing an ally when casting an ice spell at a crowd. On higher levels, you'll be able to do half damage, or even full damage, to allies, but fortunately, you have greater control over these attacks. You can direct exactly who and what is going to be caught inside your magic's attack radius, and that is crucial to keeping your party fighting during some of the tougher areas.
Dragon Age - Three Interviews
Here are three last-minute Dragon Age interviews. First, Ausir has yet another from the Warden's Quest competition with David Silverman stepping up to the plate to talk about a range of topics for Polygamia. On being a more traditional RPG:
As BioWare, do you plan to go more towards action gaming, or do you plan to keep developing more traditional RPGs as well?
We're definitely making a game that the fans want. And I think that's why BioWare has a loyal and awesome community, it's really up to them. If the fans want to see more action-RPGs, we'll find a way to make that work. If they want to see more traditional, in-depth RPGs, we'll deliver that as well.
The great thing about Dragon Age is that the game can adapt to how you play, you can be as hands-on or hands-off as you want. You can play the game micromanaging everything, pausing every three seconds, but personally, I'm not the biggest fan of that style, I like to have more action, and I just go there with my team. I can go to each character and change their AI commands, e.g. "if enemy has this then use this." It's very impressive stuff. For the 10% of the people who are going to look at the tactics thing, it's going to be awesome. For the 90% of the other players, they're going to have a great time to, they can hop in, they can play it as more of an action game.
Mark Darrah chats with GameZone. On dialogue paths:
Choice is such a big facet of this game, it bolsters the dynamic of the game and that feeds into the concept that the AI has to evolve, and react to choices as well.
Mark: Absolutely. There are places in the game where there are 300-400 paths through a single conversation. And that’s just because everything you do has to have an impact because we want choice to matter. It’s not just about having the illusion of choice, it’s about the choice actually make a difference, it’s about knowing that what you are doing is actually making a difference in the way the universe is playing out, and that does make scripting a huge complicated event.
...and MTV has a short bit with voice actor Kate Mulgrew, who doesn't really have much to say.
Dragon Age - Review @ Destructoid
Another review for Dragon Age comes from Destructoid 7.5/10.
The reviewer felt that both the world and lore are intriguing and beautiful. He also thinks the choices in the game are superb as they are not just black and white. He is very critical about the tactics system used in the game, and has a few other complaints as well.
The conclusion sets the tone for the review:
Dragon Age: Origins is a game that once looked set to be the best RPG of the year. It has a great story, high production values, and one of the most immersive worlds ever created in a videogame. Tragically, Origins' considerable high points have been squandered on a frustrating, unbalanced combat system, and a customizable A.I that's just too broken to adequately customize.
Dragon Age - PS3 Review @ Kotaku
I regularly found myself making the sort of decisions that had me realizing that I had just completely altered a major portion of the game. Kingdoms rose and fell and important people lived or died based solely on my whims. This is definitely the kind of game you'll want to play through multiple times, just to see how your actions affect the world.
Mike Fahey did not like the bugs in the PS3 game.
My time with the PlayStation 3 version of Dragon Age was not without troubles. In fact, my 40 or so hours in the game were plagued with annoying little glitches that, while not breaking the game completely, did hamper the experience. Some special combat animations were way off, with my character performing finishing blows in the air next to the boss I had just downed.
Dragon Age - Reviews @ Gamespot, Eurogamer, Giant Bomb
The review flood has begun. Here are a few reviews for Dragon Age: Origins that have already surfaced.
The first is from Gamespot 9.5. You can read the review or watch their video review. The reviewer felt that this is the RPG we've been waiting for. To best sum up Gamespot's take on Dragon Age all you need to do is look at what they thought was good and bad:
* Intricate, involving storytelling
* Amazing dialogue and voice acting bring characters to life
* Rich fantasy world filled with interesting lore
* Enjoyable questing with plenty of twists and surprises
* Lots of spells and abilities make combat fun.
* A few glitches.
In contrast we now have Eurogamer 8/10. This review is a little confusing. After reading it I thought the score would be much lower. The reviewer didn't like the standard cliché roles, the vast differences between easy and normal difficulty levels, the wooden scripts for the main characters, their lifeless animation and contrived storylines, and many more complaints. There were a few kind words for Dragon Age, but mostly I would of expected a much lower score after reading this review. Here is a snippet from the beginning that sums up the general theme of the review:
Somewhere in its journey back to its roots, BioWare has got lost in the dense tangle of what it was trying to accomplish. It hasn't been able to see the wood for the trees. It has summoned an entire world into existence in the most meticulous detail, but failed to give it an identity beyond the blandest cliché. It has created living characters that respond like humans, but speak like dictionaries and move like mannequins. It has engineered solidly absorbing RPG gameplay and character progression and stranded them in a succession of hackneyed and hide-bound scenarios.
The last review comes from Giant Bomb 5/5 stars. Giant Bomb also has a video review or a written one for you. It's a very positive review highlighting the story and gameplay. Here is a snippet from the review:
In the end, Dragon Age: Origins feels like a real throwback to the good old days of PC role-playing epics. It also feels like exactly what you expect the makers of Baldur's Gate to come up with as a follow-up to that classic. While that means you could rightfully fault the game for not being especially innovative, it's this adherence to a classic style of gameplay that will ensure that it's welcomed by the legions of nostalgic RPG players that make up this genre's core audience. That said, this is definitely not the game for those frightened of the idea of micromanaging a game to the point where a large portion of it will be spent in a pause screen. However, as the sort of guy that has lovingly played an Infinity Engine game at least once every year for the past decade, I can think of no higher praise for this throwback than to say that Dragon Age: Origins leaves me feeling fairly confident I won't need to dig out the classics for this ritual next year.
Dragon Age - PDF Manual
Thanks to a poster on our forums for a link to the Dragon Age manual, direct from EA. This .zip (direct link) contains a .pdf for a bunch of different languages.
Dragon Age - Review @ IGN UK
IGN UK has an effusive review of Dragon Age with a score of 9.2/10. It's easier to list the criticisms than the positives, which are only load times and re-using animations - everything else gets the thumbs up. An early quote:
And so the stage is set for Bioware's latest opus. It's a story of corruption on every level and the fight to regain some sense of balance to stem the tide, which at times seems all but overpowering. Much has been made of the supposed "maturity" in the run-up to the game, but all that Marilyn Manson nonsense can be forgotten as it is abundantly clear from the moment it begins that Bioware is telling a tale head and shoulders above the competition.is deep, complex, and mighty.
Monday - November 02, 2009
Dragon Age - News Tidbits
A handful of miscellaneous items I'll collect here.
- Kotaku has a live chat with Mike Laidlaw at 3PM EST, which I think is pretty soon.
- GameBanshee has added to their Dragon Age database, with full details of all the specialisation talents, all companions and an advancement table.
- PC Games Hardware offers benchmarks and graphics tuning advice.
Dragon Age - PS3 Review @ IGN Australia
The setting, and the care that went into building the back-story, are two of Dragon Age: Origins' strongest elements. Your codex, which tracks essential plot threads, stories and scrolls that you've recovered, noted that have been intercepted and so on, becomes an indispensable tool by midway through this massive adventure. Tracking characters, families and allegiances (or being open-minded enough to participate in the wide-reading) is essential to getting the most out of this tale.
Dragon Age - Interview #2 @ Polygamia
This is Ausir's second interview from the Dragon Age Warden's Quest event. Online Producer Fernando Melo faces the questions this time, which means the Social site is top of the agenda. On how it might direct future content:
Can it also allow you to track how people play your game and react to that in future titles?
Absolutely. Even in the downloadable content, we have a plan to support the game for about two years afterwards. And a lot of that is not just us saying that we want people to play this, it's listening to our community in both what they're doing in the game and what they choose to let us now, but also traditionally through forum posts, now on the social site we also can take a look at their stories, we can also look at blog posts and wikis, how many people are following other players and characters through their game, and those are really good indicators of the type of content people enjoy in Dragon Age. So it's going to be less about what we think people want and what they actually want to play. It's very important for us.
Sunday - November 01, 2009
Dragon Age - Steam Preload Confirmed
After a long period going back and forth, preloading has finally been confirmed for Steam users. From Derek French:
Steam pre-load is a go.
Should start pre-loading world-wide sometime on November 1st.
Local regional unlock days are unchanged. You will be able to get the game on either of November 3rd, 5th, or 6th, depending on the region.
/me scuttles back into my work-cave
Dragon Age - Updated System Requirements
From Bioware's Derek French comes word about updated system requirements for their upcoming rpg, Dragon Age: Origins. Note that the game no longer requires a quad core in the recommended specifications nor does it any longer require a dual core in the minimum specs.
Dragon Age - Interview @ Polygamia
Ausir writes in to say he had the chance to interview BioWare's Mike Laidlaw while representing Poland in the recent Wardens' Quest competition:
How does the design process look at BioWare? Do you write extensive design documents, or maybe just have a very basic outline and add stuff as you go along?
I think it's a hybrid between those two. You can't just shoot from the hip, you can't develop based on faith. The budgets are far too big to just create whatever and see if it works. You need to have a basic design, I think that more importantly what you need to have is a vision. You need to have a goal and something you're trying to create, whether it's something like a spiritual successor to Baldur's Gate 2, or an experience that makes you feel like Jack Bauer in space, commanding a team of badass commandos. And one person cannot do it all so you have to convey that idea, that vision. But generally you have to be flexible, you can't get locked down with the design and go "Well, we wrote that four years ago, back when all kinds of new technology haven't come out yet". You don't want to get stalemated by that.
Dragon Age - Halloween Wallpapers
BioWare kicked up some Dragon Age Halloween desktop wallpapers a couple of days ago. Grab them from their gallery.
Friday - October 30, 2009
Dragon Age - Diary # 4 @ Fidgit
The fourth diary entry from Tom Chick deals with health potion addiction.
And here's where I realized my party has a drinking problem. I can buy an unlimited supply of flasks from the merchant at my camp. And some merchants have a few pieces of elfroot in stock. I started making a point to buy these whenever I came across them. But even then, during a really long storyline dungeon, I ran out of health potions. I had no way to heal during battles. It was touch and go for a while. I had to play very defensively. I had to pull back my characters when they were hurt (also known as "fleeing"). There were - I'm not ashamed to admit this - a few reloads involved.
Dragon Age - Diary #3 @ Fidgit
Tom Chick's third diary details his battle against two ogres:
Taking control of the main character, I tell my party to wait back in the narrow pass. Then I stealth forward. This will turn out to be a common enough tactic for me that I eventually put the "Hold Position" and "Stealth" commands on my character's shortcut options.
I watch the ogres for a bit. They mill around. I wait until one of them is farther back. I fire a pinning arrow that will briefly stun him. It doesn't seem to last long. I presume ogres have a considerable physical resistance that lets them shake off stun effects quickly. But it does what it needs to do. It gives the other ogre a head start so when he chases me back into the pass where the party is waiting, his buddy is trailing him. This will give us time to focus on one target.
Thursday - October 29, 2009
Dragon Age - Random Infobits
EA was kind enough to invite RPGWatch to their big community event at the GC. Of course it's a little late for a serious preview. So instead of repeating the same old stuff our short article simply clarifies a couple of things like PC vs. console, toolset, etc.
Community focused sites from all over Europe were invited to play a selection of upcoming EA games and have a relaxed chat with the EA community managers they so far only knew online. I used the opportunity to try out Dragon Age: Origins for half an hour. The playing session was without any pressure and even without a time limit.
Dragon Age - Warden's Quest Competition Finished - Hungary Wins
Team Hungary won the Wardens Quest competition that Bioware held for 24 hours in London, England. The 4 team members from Hungary will share the grand prize of US 50,000 dollars.
A video interview with the exhausted winners can be seen here.
Gamebanshee had this to say about the event:
For me, the most interesting tidbit that came out of this competition is that 24 hours of straight playing had the team seeing 16% of the game. 5 more days to go!
Dragon Age - Two New Videos @ Shack News
Shack News brings word about two new videos for Dragon Age: Origins, one for the internet, one for TV. The one for the internet is a bit bloody.
Source: Shack News
Dragon Age - Official Magazine online
Thanks to EA Germany for pointing out that the official Dragon Age: Origins Magazine has gone live. It contains a wealth of information and a competition. Of course everything but a couple of vids is in German.
Dragon Age - Sex and the Single Dragon Age Hero
Demien Linn over at Bitmob has an article reviewing the relationship aspect of the game, including the same-sex option. Pics might be NSFW depending on where you work. Heavy spoilers throughout, so don't read if you prefer a little mystery to your romance.
What you learn about the characters, however, isn't so interesting -- all of your romantic prospects adhere to parochial stereotypes. Both females seem wildly different at first, but are ultimately only interested in monogamous relationships, while the gay male character prefers a no-strings-attached open relationship
Dragon Age - Game Diary @ Fidgit
Tom Chick has a Dragon Age game diary going at his site, Fidgit. Two entries are up as I write; the first muses on whether the console or PC version would be a better choice (console - because he has a review copy) and then ends with this intriguing quote:
But mostly I'm happy to be playing on the 360 because this is a long game with a lot of down time where I really don't need a mouse and keyboard. Time spent in dialogue trees. Time spent poring over character sheets. Time spent considering the detailed descriptions of skills and equipment. Time spent checking the map. Time spent watching cutscenes. For every minute I might have wished I had a mouse, there have been ten minutes I'm glad I can sprawl out on the couch.
Of course, it's entirely possible this is all a rationalization for the decision I made to open the game and start playing instead of waiting for the PC version to arrive. And I'm not sure it matters that much anyway, because I'm not really into Dragon Age at this point. I'm not going to be into it for a while. In fact, it's not going to hook me until I've clocked 10 hours, 22 minutes, and 15 seconds.
What happened at 10 hours, 22 minutes and 15 seconds? From Part 2:
I'm an elven rogue majoring in archery, with a minor in stealth and backstabbery. In battles up to this point, I just hang back shooting arrows while the AI party members do their thing. I use my special shots when they're available and I sometimes equip my fire arrows or elf-flight arrows for a little extra oomph. When something closes to melee range, I switch to my melee weapon. The battles proceed of their own accord. Stuff eventually dies. I loot and move on. Whatever.
But after a pair of ogres wipes out my party for the fourth time, one of two things can happen with Dragon Age. I can either get frustrated and be done with it. Or I can accept that Bioware has created a sophisticated combat system, built from the ground up, and I'm going to have to avail myself of it if I want to get past sticking points like this. I can man up (elf up?) or go home.
For me, this will be the turning point in Dragon Age. In fact, it's a crucial moment in any game. When it frustrates you, has it sufficiently hooked you to keep you playing?
Wednesday - October 28, 2009
Dragon Age - Russian Review @ Ag.ru
From Bioware's Dragon Age: Origins forums comes info about a Russian review of the game; score is 92%. English version thanks to Google translation available here. Screenshots are also on the Russian site. WARNING: Heavy spoilers about end game in the game if you view the screenshots.
Here's a little snippet from the English version of the Russion review:
Moral dilemmas often arise in the side missions, making banal delivery of goods or the contract killing of a painful compromise with his conscience.
Dragon Age - Warden's Quest Progress
The Czech Republic and USA teams have been eliminated from BioWare's Warden's Quest competition, with four hours (out of 24) gameplay on the clock. Hungary leads from BioWare at the moment. I can't really get my head around this concept but head over to the Warden's Quest site for the leaderboard and to watch live footage when each elimination is reached.
Dragon Age - Reviews @ Now Gamer - PC and Xbox 360
Now Gamer has two reviews out for Dragon Age Origin, one for the PC Version, and one for the Xbox 360 version. Here's some info from the PC review about how the difficulty requires you to pause the game in combat:
It's with toe-curling pleasure that we found it necessary to resort to the intricate stop-motion combat tactics so reminiscent of BioWare days of yore, pausing the action to select targets, choose activated abilities, spells or items while barely letting the fight run a few seconds onward before tapping the space bar again. In fact, it's almost mandatory to work your way through a battle in this way despite the inclusion of post-battle regenerative health and auto-resurrection, which simply takes the pain out of the fight.
According to the Xbox 360 review the character interaction will affect the whole game:
We can offer no finer credit to the team behind Dragon Age: Origins than to say that our usual moral stance – that of playing the entire game through the eyes of a childish, belligerent prick – stumbled at the starting blocks. Such was the gravitas of guilt we felt in putting these characters through the mill just for the shit of it. Because while calling your best friend’s new love a fat cow right in front of her was initially pretty funny, it soon became clear that the ramifications of such actions were going to affect the entire course of the game.
Dragon Age - Circle Tower, Warden's Quest Videos
An updates at the official Dragon's Age site offer a new video for the Circle Tower location and their Youtube channel has a making-of video for their Warden's Quest competition in the UK, which kicks off very, very soon.
Tuesday - October 27, 2009
Dragon Age - "Massively Single-Player" Details
Kotaku brings more details on BioWare's Social Site interaction with Dragon Age after chatting to online producer Fernando Melo on the phone. Most of this isn't new but there are screens and examples to detail the way the service will work. Some examples:
The PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of Dragon Age: Origins will all connect to Bioware's new "Social" website, which will collect data from player's games. The type of data gathered differs between the console and PC versions, but all will share some features. Players of any version of Dragon Age will be able to link their copy of of the game to BioWare's site. The Social site requires users to create a free account. Once the game and the site are linked, a record of the player's accomplishments in the game and the status of their ever-evolving character will appear on the Social site.
Differences between the PC and console:
For console gamers the networking and sharing ends there. But PC players will have one more element pulled into their online chronicle: Screenshots. Dragon Age will automatically pull an in-game screenshot for any major achievement the player has accomplished, including boss kills. (Tests of this on the console produced unacceptable slowdown, Melo said). The PC version will also support the manual uploading of screenshots. These features are intended to make the player-character's chronicle more vivid. BioWare provided a sample of how this will look as well.
...and on Twitter and events:
The Dragon Age connectivity plan doesn't shun Twitter, though. One of the concepts BioWare is testing but won't have ready for launch involves larger community-driven events. Melo offered an example of the full player body of Dragon Age being challenged to kill a set number of enemies in a finite period of time. That might be Tweeted.
Thankfully, you can opt out.
Dragon Age - PC Gamer Gets Its Own Quest [Update]
If you're planning on buying the holiday issue of PC Gamer then you'll get an exclusive quest line for Dragon Age: Origins. It will only be available to people who buy that issue of PC Gamer. The quest line it titled: A Tale of Orzammar. According to the report by Games Radar the quest is part of the story and will extend the lore in a surprising way. For those of us who will be unable to get that issue this may pose a problem. Let's just hope they make it available for download sometime in the near future.
*Update* The 'exclusive' content only available on the holiday issue of PC Gamer is nothing more than a short stand-alone adventure. It was made in collaboration with the magazine to show what could be done with the toolset. At the Dragon Age Forums Technical Designer David Sims had this to say:
Relax guys, this is a short stand-alone adventure, not an expansion of the main game. It doesn't have VO, it re-uses existing areas from the main campaign and there's not a lot of polish. It's just something put together in collaboration with the magazine as an example of the kind of content that can be made using the toolset.
Dragon Age - "RPG of the Decade"
CVG reveals the PC Gamer review of DA that has some mighty boasts for the RPG.
The first Dragon Age: Origins review has arrived via PC Gamer magazine, which brands the BioWare game "RPG of the decade" in its 94% review.
"Thus begins Dragon Age, one of the most enormous and astonishing of games," it says. "Were the difficulty levels not so enormously silly, it would require sheer pickiness to find a major fault with this game."
PC Gamer calls Origins' gigantic environment "the most enormously detailed game world I've experienced, its history stretching back thousands of years, its cultures vivid, beautiful and flawed, the battles enormous, the humour superb.
Source: Blues News
Dragon Age - Preview @ IncGamers
Another preview of Dragon Age: Orgins for your consumption. This one is a very detailed and entertaining preview of the city elf origin. A word of warning, it is heavy on the spoiler side. Here is a spoiler free snippet from it:
Elves are generally loathed by the humans of Fereldan – the country in which Dragon Age is set – and tend to live with their brethren in the slums of major cities, termed Alienages, the name of which should give you an idea of how these poor people are looked upon by humanity in general. Alienages. Alien. Foreign. Different. Inhuman.
Dragon Age - Creature Animation Dev Diary Video
The latest in a string of Dragon Age video dev diaries covers creature animation. You can stream it at VoodooExtreme but their newsbit warns of significant spoilers - so be careful.
Monday - October 26, 2009
Dragon Age - Toolset Unveiled, Oghren Update
BioWare has "unveiled" the Dragon Age toolset by kicking up an information page for it. There's nothing there you don't already know but if you've been working in Antarctica for the last year, take a look.
There's also an update for the character Oghren on the official site. We've already linked Oghren's video from other sources but if you want to read the bio and check out the concept art, head over.
Sunday - October 25, 2009
Dragon Age - Primetime Commercial Spotted
Gamebanshee has spotted a commercial for Dragon Age during an episode of Mythbusters. They managed to dig up a commerical on facebook for the European version. I never thought that a video game would be advertised on primetime TV. I was just getting used to see WAR and WOW ads on buses and now they are putting commercials on tv for single-player rpg games.
Dragon Age - Interview on YouTube
Dragon Age's online producer Fernando Melo is interviewed by Xbox Live producer Andy Farrant. It's a basic overview of the game with other various subjects being discussed like gameplay, Dragon Age being the spiritual successor to Baldur's Gate, the download content, and more.
Dragon Age - Darkspawn Juice
MTV Multiplayer has an odd video of editor Russ Frustick opening a box with the Dragon Age seal on it. Inside the box was a lot of hay, two notes and a bottle of Darkspawn juice. He drank the 'potion' and compared it to Red Bull gone bad. The actual review copy of the game was accidentally thrown out with the box because it was still in there under all the hay. Luckily he managed to grab it before the ol' garbage man threw it out. The word "overkill" comes to mind.
Saturday - October 24, 2009
Dragon Age - Seven Reasons to get Excited
Can you feel the Dragon Age tsunami developing? Bronte writes in with this blog preview in the form of Se7en Reasons to get Excited. It's a lengthy piece that's part preview, part editorial and obviously from a fan with some meticulous listing of various aspects of the game. I did get a smile from the humorous comic screens used to illustrate the piece. A partial snip:
Two: Storyline and Lore
The folks over at BioWare are master story tellers. These days I am going through my first playthrough of Mass Effect. My character now has access to the first tier of spectre weapons. This has essentially made firefights a joke. Where I would have to try a few reloads and approach the battlefield with revised strategy, I now walk blindly into every combat situation knowing I will decimate and humiliate anything that comes in my path. That being said, the storyline in the game is so exquisitely constructed and so well executed that I can’t help but push forward, waiting for the next bit of lore and plot twist.
Instead of cookie-cutter stories that have shallow two-dimensional characters and plot devices, every game I have played from BioWare offers an unprecedented level of depth, structure and non-linearity in the story. The world feels alive, rich with a complex back story and dynamic, conflicted, flawed characters, each with their own agendas.
Dragon Age - The Women of DA In Maxim Magazine - A Marketing Ploy?
If you've been following the marketing for this game, you probably know that it has been accused of catering to adolescent boys who might not even be old enough to buy the game. Now it seems Bioware are at it again:
Maxim Magazine has an article (and a number of tantalizing pictures) up on the women of Dragon Age: Origins. They focus on Morrigan and Leliana and the real life women, Alleykatze and Victoria Johnson, who loaned us their bodies to create the in game characters. Maxim Magazine is a Men's Magazine. While the pictures are not explicit, they would certainly give your maiden auntie a conniption fit. Click the link if interested. Click Here.
But we're not here to know about them, or care about them, or even think about them; our only interest is in looking at them and they're adequately suited to that purpose. Hair color aside, however, I don't think either woman looks much like her Dragon Age counterpart, but if I was to pursue that line of thought I might end up suggesting that basing videogame characters on bland-looking "models" and then plastering them all over Maxim in various states of undress is little more than a cheap publicity ploy seeking to attract the horny, undersexed teenage boy demographic that's graduated from Mad Magazine but isn't quite old enough to buy Penthouse. And we wouldn't want that.
I have to say that I agree with how the Escapist sees this. Is it OK to market a game this way? What do you think?
Dragon Age - Xbox 360 Themes Now Available
Dragon Age - Preview @ TGR
The Game Reviews has a hands-on preview of Dragon Age: Origins. In addition to giving some impressions to the playthrough there are some quotes from the Dragon Age team. Overall, it was a very positive preview.
As a whole, Dragon Age: Origins looks to be shaping up impressively. The foundation is there for what could be an earth shattering, brilliant new franchise. With great writing, gameplay, voice acting, and design, the game looks to be the full package. Make sure to check back with us, closer to Dragon Age’s November 3 release date for our full review of the game.
Dragon Age - More Trailers
Here are a few more trailers:
- The first, Oghren at ActionTrip. Oghren is a dwarf who loves battle, hates living in the city and is quite the comedian.
- The second, Deathbed Gamplay at GameTrailers. It has a scene where the party saves an elf on his deathbed then jumps into battles with a Great Bear, Ogre, and Hurlocks.
- The last, Shut up Tree at GameTrailers. This one the party first battles a Wild Sylvan, has a conversation with a rhyming tree, shows the character setting off traps and then battles skeletons.
Source: Blues News
Friday - October 23, 2009
Dragon Age - Two New Trailers @ GameTrailers
There two new trailers for DA: Origins over at Gametrailers.com, one showing footage of an ambush on a bridge, and the other one showing animal slaugther. In the first trailer you will meet someone; the second trailers just shows combat.
Dragon Age - Gone Gold, PS3 on time and more!
This isn't a surprise but it's always nice to see the confirmation announcement - Dragon Age has gone Gold and will be available on all platforms from November 3rd in NA. This includes the PS3 version - which was expected to be later in the month. This was the "exciting" PS3 news foreshadowed on the official site, according to VG247 who followed the dev chat on PSN.
In addition to the Gold announcement, the final Penny Arcade Witch Hunt is up and Worthplaying has three new screens and a (hopefully) new trailer.
Here's the PR:
All Versions of Dragon Age: Origins to be Available November 3
EDMONTON, Alberta--(Business Wire)--
Leading video game developer BioWare, a division of Electronic Arts Inc.
(NASDAQ:ERTS), announced today that the PlayStation3 version of Dragon Age:
Origins will be available on November 3, 2009 in North America. The PlayStation
3, Xbox 360 and PC versions of the game have "gone gold" in North America and
are currently in manufacturing ready for their November 3 launch date. At
launch, Dragon Age: Origins will be available on all three platforms with
several packs of downloadable content (DLC) including The Stone Prisoner, the
Blood Dragon Armor and Warden`s Keep; each further enriching the gameplay
"We`re excited to confirm that all three versions of Dragon Age: Origins will be
available to fans on November 3 in North America," said Ray Muzyka, Group
General Manager, RPG/MMO Group of EA, and Co-Founder, BioWare. "The Dragon Age:
Origins development team was able to polish the PlayStation 3 version to our
high standard of quality and we are ready to deliver the richest and deepest
role-playing fantasy experience across all three platforms."
In anticipation of the game, players can begin their Dragon Age: Origins
experience early by joining the BioWare Social Network -- a destination to share
in-game screenshots, review game data and share story information. Players can
also download the free* to download Character Creator where players can create
and customize a player character on the PC and then upload their character data
and avatar to the BioWare Social Network before Dragon Age: Origins launches.
The Dragon Age: Origins Character Creator will provide players with the tools to
create a character with a nearly endless amount of options. Players can download
the character creator and get more information on the BioWare Social Network by
InDragon Age: Origins, players take the role of a Grey Warden, one of the last
of an ancient order of guardians. Now, as a rising evil threatens to destroy all
life, it is up to players to unite the shattered lands and slay the corrupted
dragon known as the Archdemon. To restore peace, players must make ruthless
decisions and be willing to sacrifice their friends and loved ones for the
greater good of mankind.
Dragon Age: Origins will be released on November 6th in Europe on the Xbox 360
videogame and entertainment system and PC. The European PlayStation3 version
will follow later in November. Dragon Age: Originsis rated M by the ESRB and 18+
*Internet connection required.
Dragon Age - Preview, Interview and Videos
A handful of Dragon Age tidbits:
- PCGZine has an interview with Mike Laidlaw and a fairly lengthy hands-on preview, if you don't mind the .pdf format
- A video interview from Inside Xbox. The conversation is a general overview but there's a fair bit of footage
- A new trailer at Gametrailers showing a battle with giant spiders and a small dragon, with liberal pausing and use of Talents
Dragon Age - Official Site Updates
We need to catch up on a two items from the Dragon Age site.
- Preorder from Direct2Drive (NA only) to win a trip to Edmonton to play DA before the release
- A live chat has been announced to reveal something "exciting" about the PS3 version:
On Friday Oct 23rd at 11 AM PST, join BioWare co-founders Dr. Ray Muzyka and Dr. Greg Zeschuk in a live chat where they have a exciting announcement for the PS3 version of Dragon Age: Origins. After the announcement, they will be answering questions along with the Lead Designer Mike Laidlaw and Executive Producer Mark Darrah about BioWare’s New Dark Fantasy Epic Dragon Age: Origins. The chat can be accessed from the regional links below:
See you all there!
Thursday - October 22, 2009
Dragon Age - X360 Quick Look @ Giant Bomb
Giant Bomb has another of their 20-minute Quick Look playthrough videos that allows you to watch their editors play Dragon Age. This one uses the X360 version, which should provide some insight for anyone thinking of playing from the couch.
Wednesday - October 21, 2009
Dragon Age - Previews and a Movie
Senior Product Manager David Silverman talks about what to expect from Dragon Age in a video with in-game footage at GameTrailers.
Dragon Age - PS3 Gameplay @ GameSpot's "On the Spot"
Gamespot's show On the Spot displays gameplay from the PC3 version of the game. The gameplay action starts at around 7 minutes into the show and lasts for about 8 minutes. They also talk about the game - they notice how the graphics for the PS3 looks similar to the PC version.
Dragon Age - Interview @ Strategy Informer
Strategy Informer interviews executive producer, Mark Darrah. This is the second part of their three-part interview series. He talks about his favorite character from the game, favorite quests, how long it took him to finish the game and where he sees the roleplaying genre going after the release of Dragon Age. Here is a part of the interview:
Dakota Grabowski: Looking back at Bioware’s expansive history, what would you say was your favourite character that has been created by the team throughout all your titles?
Mark Darrah: It’s kind of clichéd, but Minsc is my favourite character. I’m not being creative or anything as he shows up on a lot of lists, but he’s my favourite character we’ve ever created.
Go for the eyes, Boo! Go for the eyes! Aaauuuugggghhhh!!!
Dakota Grabowski: How long did it take you to finish Dragon Age: Origins in your first play-through and what was the most difficult aspect of it?
Mark Darrah: So my first play-through was as a dwarf noble. I think my first play-through took around 65 hours in total. The most difficult aspect of it was probably the Broken Circle fight. Of all my sessions though, the most difficult portion was The Fade with the mage character.
Dragon Age - Interview @ Insimilion
An interview with Jay Watamaniuk is to be found on the Polish site Insimilion (don't worry, it's in English.... and in Polish).
MN: We would like to start with the advertising campaign - it is obvious for us that Dragon Age will be a mature game, with violence, with a lot of blood and some sexual references. Why didn't you talk about plot instead, about the depth of characters, which are the most important things in BioWare's games for us, players, and not the violence?
JW: That was mentioned in the state show, that there has been a lot of talk about the market. Fans really need to keep in mind that this is a BioWare game - David Gaider is the lead writer, he is a good friend of mine - that our focus was always on the characters and developing the excellent story. We spent a huge amount of time developing the world of Dragon Age. We know it's a new world, so we had to be very careful. If you construct a world like that it takes a lot of detail, it takes a lot of work, and Dragon Age: Origins is just a tiny, small story that takes place in that world. So we want our fans to make sure that this is understood, that always where we start from is story. And in fact marketing focuses on different things, different aspects of the game. It's more trying to bring a different group of people in to enjoy a BioWare game, enjoy a BioWare story. But I absolutely assure our fans, hardcore fans, who expect great characters, who expect a great story, that that has always been a focus of Dragon Age: Origins.
Tuesday - October 20, 2009
Dragon Age - Contests
Here are two more Dragon Age contests. The first is for US residents only and give you the opportunity to be flown to Bioware and meet the devs and play the game prior to release. The second is for German residents only and offers the chance to win a Dragon Age fan pack.
Dragon Age - Wardens' Quest Event
BioWare has announced a competitive event, with teams flown to the UK to duke it out in Dragon Age for a cash prize. I'm not sure how the teams were selected but that seems to have already happened (see below, however) so this will be about watching the competition, rather than participating. The forum announcement:
BioWare is going to be holding a 24 hour event called the Wardens' Quest celebrating Dragon Age: Origins. We are going to be flying teams of Dragon Age fans from all over the globe to London England for a chance to compete and play Dragon Age Origins for a chance to win a team prize of $50,000.
We will be pitting teams against each other in head to head competition to see which team plays Dragon Age: Origins the best. We have teams from Canada, Poland, the United Kingdom, Spain, the Czech Republic and Hungary, France, the Netherlands, Germany, the United States as well as a team composed of fans chosen directly from the BioWare Community competing.
We will be broadcasting the event over webcams, Facebook, these forums, Twitter and more so our fans around the world can tune in and cheer for their favorite team. We'll also be giving away Dragon Age: Origins merchandise to fans who watch and follow along.
More details on the event, where and how you can tune in and follow along will be coming shortly. You can learn more details here: http://dragonage.bioware.com/game/event/
There is, apparently, one US position open because of a withdrawal:
We have just announced the upcoming Dragon Age: Origins event Warden's Quest that will be taking place October 28 in London England. You can learn more about the event in this thread here: Click Here
I was responsible for selecting team members for Team Canada, Team BioWare and Team USA. Due to a last minute issue, one member of Team USA had to drop out. This means I have ONE spot available for Team USA and I need to select someone to take part in the event immediately.
So I am looking for ONE fan to be part of Team USA. If you want to be part of the team, please reply in this thread that you meet the below qualifications, you would like to be part of Team USA and be sent to London England for a chance to win your share of $50000. If you do not meet ALL of the below qualification you cannot be part of Team USA.
1 - Must be an American citizen living in the USA.
2 - Must be 21 or older.
3 - Must have a valid passport and be legally eligible to travel internationally.
4 - Must be able to travel to and from England between October 25 and October 30.
5 - Must be a big Dragon Age: Origins fan who wants to have a great time in London England.
This offer will close at 11am BioWare time tomorrow October 21. At that time I will select ONE person to be part of Team USA from those who apply and announce the winner here. I will then contact the lucky person through private message and get their information to start booking their travel and accommodation, so have your passport details ready.
Good luck to all applicants.
I haven't checked the timezones, so apologies if the window has been missed.
Dragon Age - Four Ways to Play
EA/BioWare senior product manager David Silverman talks about the four ways Dragon Age can be played in an article at Kotaku: Gamers can play BioWare’s next epic as if it was an action-role-playing game, an MMO, like Kingdom Hearts or like Final Fantasy XII.
Again thanks to Omega for spotting this.
Dragon Age - Two New Trailers
Two new trailers appeared on Gamestrailer yesterday. One for Warden's Keep and the other for Stone Prisoner, both are DLC's that are are already available in the game with the exception of Warden's Keep which is not available in all releases (see also this newsbit).
Thanks Omega for the info.
Monday - October 19, 2009
Dragon Age - Hands On @ Eurogamer
Very positive hands-on from Dan Pearson at Eurogamer.
In gameplay if not dramatic terms, then, Dragon Age is a slow-burner. Throughout the origins and the prologue, combat happens in brief bursts, while story-telling happens in great spools of meandering, branching conversation as the world, the plot, the forces at work and the principal characters are mapped out in loquacious detail. It's not until you get stuck into your first major quest that you will spend as much time fighting as you spend talking, and by then you could be a dozen hours or more into the game. You will also have spent much of your time fighting accompanied by bit-part-players rather than the long-term party companions, interaction with whom - both on and off the battlefield - defines the game.
When it does eventually reveal itself in full, Dragon Age proves to be a flexible RPG that accommodates a wide range of playing styles. Baldur's Gate veterans will be happy pulling the camera back to a top-down view, pausing the action with the space bar and micro-managing the party's actions and placement in a quasi-turn-based mode. World of Warcraft players might prefer to zoom in close, let AI take care of party behaviour and punch out skills in real time, flicking between characters for variety. It's perfectly possible to smash through the game in this way on easy mode (the difficulty can be adjusted at any time) without ever hitting pause or needing to think, but even the normal setting is a significant step up that will require the occasional moment of reflection.
Dragon Age - The DLC Debate
Dragon Age fan blog GreyWardens.com tackles the DLC issue in this editorial:
Alot of the arguments about the DLC coming out on Day 1 revolve around the idea that BioWare/EA are releasing a game without all of the content and forcing users to pay for the rest of it. This isn’t the way it is though; The DLC are extra content that do not detract from the main story line/quest line if you do not have them – they are nifty little ‘cookies’ that can enhance the game, or not – your choice. The timing is also something that people are focusing on – but it seems that many forget that the game was set to be released in early October to start with, the release date was pushed back (for polishing I believe) and just happened to fall into line with a date that the DLC would be ready.
Source: Blues News
Saturday - October 17, 2009
Dragon Age - CE Selection Guide @ GearDiary.com
The Watch's Mike Anderson (txa1265) has posted a detailed guide to getting the most for your money if you're planning on preordering the Dragon Age Collector's Edition. The article is over at GearDiary.com.
Here's a snip:
It would be nice if every ‘Collector’s Edition’ was the same, and all we needed to do was figure out which exclusive item worked best for our character, but of course life isn’t that simple. For example, neither GamersGate nor Impulse offer a special exclusive item, nor do they mention the Formari (memory) Ring as a bonus that was supposed to be included with all pre-orders. The pricing is universally the same at $64.99,
In the end I decided to chart it all up, see what is included and what is not. Why? Because historically I have *never* gotten ‘Collector’s Editions’, as all I really care about is the game. The addition of actual in-game content made it an incentive I couldn’t pass up … but if I’m spending $15 extra I want every bit of value I can manage! That chart is below along with some comments.
Friday - October 16, 2009
Dragon Age - News Roundup
A handful of items for Dragon Age, today, so I'll collect them here.
First, I think we've neglected to mention Dragon Age: Journeys before. This Flash game uses characters and monsters from the full game and looks like it will be a bit of fun when it is released in "October". Check out the official page here and read a blog entry at the Bioblog.
Four more music clips have been added at the official site:
- Human Nobility
- Ferelden at War
- Ruins of Ostagar
- I am the One
(No direct link because of the Flash)
GamerZines has Part 2 of their interview with Mike Laidlaw:
GZ: Do you think there is ever a risk when releasing a toolset, that you strip away some of the magic of the game? Because people can see how you have done things and de-construct the story?
ML: I don't think so, I think that the users who are going to dig in and see how things work would probably do that anyway, no matter what we did. It becomes like a meta-game where they take our game apart to see what makes it tick and that's fully accessible, which is something we should be encouraging. We don't want to think of gaming as an elite thing that nobody understands. We want to throw open the doors and let people see how we did it. Now for everyone else there's a chance they might get some spoilers out of it but I think you'll probably have to go looking for them. For the average gamer who is just interested in playing the game they'll get infinitely more benefit out of a community who'll understand the mechanics and will do additional content for them. They see way more benefit than they do loss.
Wednesday - October 14, 2009
Dragon Age - Skill and Talent Database
With the Dragon Age Character Creator released, GameBanshee sends word they have a searchable database covering the skills and talents. Class specialisations will be added soon.
Dragon Age - Interview @ GamerZines
Mike Laidlaw chats with GamerZines about Dragon Age. On additional content:
GZ: As early as May you said the PC version was pretty much done with regards to content. What have you been doing since then?
ML: It's funny, the PC version was heading towards done and we were nearly wrapped when we received the extra time for consoles. So I pulled together a small strike of our most veteran guys and said "Okay look, I think we've got a few more weeks here." So what we ended up doing was a pass through and adding in more content- more little side quests, lighter battles and a few random encounters, which adds a nice layer of filler. Anywhere where there was a bit of a lull we had more time to put something in. So doing that we bought the Quality Assurance team in and had them do their pass through as well. Because we had that extra time we wanted to take advantage of it, and just see what we could put in... and of course working on DLC. So a lot of the team is moving over to start working on The Stone Prisoner expansion and other downloadable content that's coming out.
Dragon Age - Interview @ Strategy Informer
Another Dragon Age interview, this time at Strategy Informer. This article has received a bit of press because of the mention of Jade Empire 2, although it really amounts to a "no comment". Here's a sample:
Dakota Grabowski: I’m guessing it’s been pretty exhausting the last few weeks making sure the game is ready for its ship date then?
Mike Laidlaw: It’s always a hard push towards the end. It’s fairly stressful and we have to make a lot of tight decisions with certification. That’ll be step one. We really want to explore the Dragon Age franchise as we really want to expand it. But with that said, we do have Mass Effect 2 in the pipeline and it is coming fast. We will probably begin helping them to some sort of degree as well. We’ll see some people moving forward figuring out next projects and next steps for the DA franchise. That’s what Bioware has always done since we went multi-project with Jade Empire. The idea is that a project can swell up to finish and build up when they need, then contract back down to talk about, “What next can we do?” and then swell back up for the project.
Tuesday - October 13, 2009
Dragon Age - Interview @ TGR
The Game Reviews chats with Dragon Age executive producer Mark Darrah. More on that DLC:
J: So have you talked much about the DLC that is going to happen in the future?
M: Yeah, we have plans that stretch out for basically two years. And it’s going to be everything from really small stuff like item packs up to larger quests that might last an hour or two up to even fully fledged expansion packs. Really it’s a broad long term support plan for the game.
J: Will those make their way to all platforms?
M: Absolutely. I can imagine we might release something related to the toolset, which would of course be PC only. But at the moment everything is planned to be across all platforms.
J: And as far as mods and stuff go, in all likelihood, we will not be seeing anything on the consoles?
M: There are certainly some issues with getting user generated content onto the consoles, but it would be something we would love to do. So we are exploring that right now.
Dragon Age - Character Creator Now Available
BioWare has released the Dragon Age Character Creator, opened their Social Site and are offering a nifty in-game ring for using these tools:
The Dragon Age: Origins Character Creator allows players to create and customize a player character on the PC which they can save and use when the PC game launches November 3rd.
The Character Creator will allow you to:
- Create your Dragon Age: Origins Character before the game comes out
- The Dragon Age: Origins Character Creator provides the tools to create a character with a nearly endless amount of options.
- The Character you create can then be used as your avatar in the BioWare Community Forums
You can download the Character Creator in the following languages:
Spanish, Italian, Czech, and Hungarian
In addition, the social network has been launched:
The BioWare social network has just been launched and will provide a destination for players of Dragon Age: Origins on any platform to upload screenshots, game data and story information to share with other community members as they progress through the dark and epic journey of Dragon Age: Origins. You can create an account here and log into the BioWare Social Network here.
The BioBlog promises an in-game bonus for those that participate and I'd say the stats make it a must-have:
As a little bonus we are also giving away an exclusive in-game item for those folks that upload their newly generated character into BioWare’s new community platform: BioWare Social Network. Upload your character and come Nov 3 Get ready to slip on The Lucky Stone:
"This old stone, set in a golden ring, has been an aid and companion to dozens of adventurers across innumerable years. Its trip to Ferelden was long and convoluted. Some say it has a life of its own.
~ Adds +1 to all all stats."
Head over for a picture of the ring.
Monday - October 12, 2009
Dragon Age - Sacred Ashes Trailer
Head over to Gametrailers to watch a new Dragon Age cinematic trailer titled Sacred Ashes (~4 min).
Update: the official site has now caught up, so here is the blurb and a BioWare link:
This breathtaking trailer offers an exciting example of the party based combat experienced in the dark brutal fantasy Dragon Age: Origins. In order to defeat the Darkspawn invasion, one must utilize the strengths of each party member and fight as a team against each adversary. If this is done properly, one can slay even ageless dragons. Head over to our Gallery to check it out!
Saturday - October 10, 2009
Dragon Age - 20 Minute Look @ Giant Bomb
They call this a Quick Look over at Giant Bomb but 20 minutes of gameplay footage is fairly substantial. The video concentrates on combat from an early part of the game and is spoiler free but you get a good feel for the menus and general flow and is well worth a look.
Friday - October 09, 2009
Dragon Age - News Roundup
A bunch of interviews and a critter update at the official Dragon Age site for this roundup.
First, GameShark has a total of three interviews (thanks, Blue's) with an annoying multi-page format:
- Executive Producer Mark Darrah
- Lead Designer Mike Laidlaw
- BioWare co-founders Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk
GameZone also speaks with Mike Laidlaw about choices (spoiler warning):
“We try to hit choices that have impact and deeper meaning,” he said. To illustrate that point a pivotal moment was shown in the game. The lead player had a choice to make – destroy an artifact so that no one could use it, or leave it alone. In the first run-through of the scenario, Laidlaw’s character destroyed the artifact, which outraged two of his party members – those characters with deep and distinctive personalities that had been part of his group for some time. But what he did was morally offensive to those characters and they attacked him and the fourth member of the party. Using a little developer magic, Laidlaw’s protagonist killed those members (which were then lost to him for the remainder of the game), and then proceeded to kill the guards and guide who were responsible for him being at this point. The idea was that the artifact was too powerful to wind up in the wrong hands and it was better to not let anyone else get hold of it.
But wait, what if he made a different choice. The scenario was replayed and this time the protagonist set the urn up as a symbol of hope for the beleaguered lands trying to combat the Blight and Dark Spawn threatening to sink the world into eternal evil. One party member grumbled and standing was lost, but the two that had attacked so willingly before were joyful and the protagonist’s standing with them went up.
The Bioblog has collected three video developer diaries from GameSpot, each discussing a different aspect of the game (such as Writing and Epic and Music of Dragon Age). We've linked these before but they're all in one spot, now.
Cheat Code Central also has a large interview (thanks, GameBanshee) that features Mark Darrah, Mike Laidlaw and the BioDocs. Apparently, DA had a large writing team:
CCC: How many writers are working on this game?
MD: At the peak, I believe there were seven. The writing has been going on for a long time. The lead writer has been on the project from the beginning and he's written a lot about the way the universe works and has written a lot of the story. One of the things that you need to do to tell a story of this size is that you need to make sure that there's something behind the backdrop, that it's not just a picture painted on a wall. As a result, there's thousands of years of history written. There are a lot more stories to be told in this universe.
PC World's Matt Peckham (yes, Matt Peckham) joins the action with a three-parter with Mike Laidlaw, dividing it into thematic sections. The first is titled "Why Storytelling in Dragon Age Might Not Suck". A lengthy snip:
GO: You let players choose from any of six origin stories, stories you've suggested resonate throughout the play experience. How pliable or reflective is Dragon Age's game world respective of those choices? Do they change the way the entire game plays out, or just invoke the occasional narrative nod?
ML: Origins for us are such a key element of the game that we appended the word to the title. We knew we wanted to do these right and make them a hallmark of the game. We could have done a cursory approach, certainly, but instead we thought, "Okay, what's gratifying about having an origin that's playable?" That's where I think it starts--knowing that you get to experience a focused start to the game that gives you perspective and a different flavor when you're finally starting into things.
With that in mind, we made a concerted effort throughout the rest of the game to call out the different elements of your origin, the important part being that we do it at appropriate points. If the game constantly flogs it, it'd lose any sense of being special. Instead, we made sure there were moments in the game that not only point back to "Oh, you're of this origin," but actually reintroduce characters from that origin and have them iterating realistically based on how you acted during it.
It echoes forward as well, in terms of the larger plot points you're dealing with. If you come out of the mage origin story, when you eventually return to the mage tower, which is one of the things you'll be doing as a Grey Warden later in the game, characters there will remember you. They'll remember the way you acted on your way out. They'll remember the kind of decisions you made during your initial testing and react accordingly.
Where the origins system really shines, I think, is that a character who goes to the mage tower, say a human noble, can encounter these very same characters and they'll react differently. They won't recognize you. Your character won't have any interplay. So there's a level of depth and granularity that's added in when you have these secondary encounters, which occur in more than one place. It's called out multiple times. As a result, you get the feeling that your origin's not just something people occasionally mention, but also something people are reacting to accordingly, based on the way you acted and the choices you made. It's the pay off of, "Gosh, it's been 20 hours, I've finally managed to return to this place, and people are still pissed at me," or "People are incredibly happy to see me." It's not just a cursory mention, but a very specific callback to the way you forged your character in those early days.
Thursday - October 08, 2009
Dragon Age - Addon Page Launched
BioWare has kicked up a page for the Dragon Age Addons. Here's Chris Priestly's announcement from the forums:
We have launched the Add-Ons page for the Dragon Age Website. This page will feature the add-ons and optional extra downloadable content available for Dragon Age.
To launch the page we have information, screenshots and videos on the first 3 items available, The Stone Prisoner, The Warden's Keep and The Blood Dragon Armor.
The Stone Prisoner: The darkspawn-infested village of Honnleath holds a secret: the forgotten stone figure at the town's heart is a powerful golem frozen in time. Free the creature and reveal a storied quest to unlock its power and mysterious past.
The Warden's Keep: Some claim the fortress of Soldier's Peak is corrupted and overrun by demons. Others whisper of betrayal and the spirits of murdered Grey Wardens. Whatever the truth, Soldier's Peak is no place for the living.
Blood Dragon Armor: Commissioned by an infamous Nevarran dragon hunter, this armor was crafted in a time when dragons had almost been hunted to extinction. Infused with their blood, the armor gained notoriety after the hunter died at the hands of men rather than the dragons it was designed to protect him from.
Dragon Age - Interview with Dr. Greg Zeschuk
More stuff at Gamespot, I can't hear it at the present time but from the comments seems to confirm user content for console versions.
Dragon Age - Day 0 DLC Plans
GameSpot has the scoop on BioWare's plans for Dragon Age DLC, with three pieces available immediately on release. Two will be free to new purchasers, while Warden's Keep will cost $7 (or the points equivalent) except for the Deluxe Digital Edition:
BioWare today announced that Dragon Age: Origins will get its first downloadable expansion on day one. Called the Warden's Keep, the DLC will add a dungeon-based quest to the game along with six new abilities, a variety of items, and a base where players can trade with merchants. It will feature a supernatural storyline set in an ancient--and possibly haunted--fortress once used as a redoubt by the Grey Wardens, the ancient order at the center of Origins' main storyline. (A magic suit of Grey Warden armor will be one of the items in the add-on.)
The Warden's Keep will be available for MSP 560 ($7) on Xbox Live Marketplace and $7 on the PC on November 3. It will cost the same price on the PlayStation Store when the PlayStation 3 version of Dragon Age goes on sale later in November. It is not included with the regular or Collector's Edition of Dragon Age: Origins, although it is included in the Deluxe Digital Edition offered by online retailers.
Head over for the rest, including trailers.
In related news, IGN has a (brief) new video called Brood Mother.
Wednesday - October 07, 2009
Dragon Age - Blood Dragon Armour Trailer
BioWare is pointing out a new Blood Dragon Armour video, showing off the bonus that can be used in both Dragon Age and Mass Effect 2 (with an appropriate look for each game).
Tuesday - October 06, 2009
Dragon Age - Halloween Competition
Remember the gorgeous press review copy of Dragon Age delivered to Gamestar? Chris Priestly announces a Halloween competition to win one of two special press copies (the book, packaging etc but not the game discs). Head over for the details.
Dragon Age - Creating a Living World Trailer
A new Dragon Age trailer has been released, with various developers such as Senior Concept Artist Matt Rhodes and familiar names like Ferret Baudoin and David Gaider discussing the process of "creating a living world". Much of the trailer is architectural concept samples and their inspiration from real life sources.
Monday - October 05, 2009
Dragon Age - Review @ GameInformer
The first online review for Dragon Age is up at the GameInformer site. It's not a lengthy article but the score speaks loudly, with 9/10 awarded. Here's a sample:
While some time is spent exploring and conversing, the biggest thrills in Dragon Age are found in combat. This is no breezy hack ‘n slash affair; the best encounters feel like puzzles, forcing you to use your resources wisely and make calculated decisions on the path to victory. Which enemy poses the largest threat? How do you stem the tide of oncoming skeletons? Can your tank stand in the middle of your mage’s electrical storm long enough to take down the ogre? Your answers to these questions change depending on your party members and their skills, leaving some space for experimentation. Almost every fight can kill you if you aren’t focused, but the satisfaction of standing in the midst of your slaughtered foes after a well-fought battle makes it all worthwhile.
Dragon Age - Comic Book Announced
BioWare continues to explore other mediums for Dragon Age, with a comic book announced to be written by Orson Scott Card:
BioWare, EA and IDW Publishing are very proud to announce the upcoming Dragon Age comic book.
Electronic Arts and IDW Publishing have entered into an agreement to expand our video game properties with new comics on Dragon Age and Army of Two.
Dragon Age will be written by acclaimed writer Orson Scott Card (Ender's Game, Ultimate Iron Man) with covers by super artist Humberto Ramos (Crimson, Runaways Vol. 3).
Saturday - October 03, 2009
Dragon Age - Witch Hunt #5, Novel Sample #2
Dragon Age - Character Creator Announced
BioWare has announced they will release a Character Creator for Dragon Age that will allow you to experiment with creating different characters and save your favourite ones for use in the actual game. The Creator and a beta version of their Social site is due a mere week or so away on October 13th:
The Dragon Age: Origins team is very pleased to announce that on October 13 we will be releasing the Dragon Age: Origins Character Creator for download to your home PC. The Dragon Age: Origins Character Creator will allow you to create numerous different characters before launch and experiment with the different classes, races, and create multiple faces for the 6 Origin stories and save them to your hard drive for safe keeping until the game is released.
We will also be launching an open beta of the new social community site. You will be able to log into the new Social community site with your existing BioWare forums account name and password, and update it to the new social site account. Characters created with the Dragon Age: Origins Character Creator can also be uploaded to your account from within the Character creator.
You can learn more about the Character Creator and Social site on teh Dragon Age: Origins forums. Click here
Thursday - October 01, 2009
Dragon Age - Hands-on @ RPGamer
Hands-on impressions of Dragon Age from RPGamer:
Once outside of my origin story, the real meat of the game seemed to begin. After quickly exploring the first town, I set out with my beginning party into the wilderness to complete my first quests. Finding a dying soldier in the field, I was given the choice to either save him or ignore him, or even straight up kill him to put him out of his misery. Taking the psycho route, I chose to immediately murder the poor soldier, leading to a party member's disapproval. When party members disapprove, you can find yourself in a nasty situation, as we know from RPGamer's GamesCom demo impression from another section of the game. Dragon Age just made the choice seem so natural through the dialogue options, rather than giving me two bland good and evil choices that I was simply presented with.
Dragon Age - Achievements List
The Dragon Age Achievements list is now available - obviously, potential spoilers apply!
Wednesday - September 30, 2009
Dragon Age - City of Denerim
The City of Denerim has been added to the Dragon Age World page. As usual, you get some descriptions, a video, screens, concepts and a wallpaper:
"Denerim, the capital of Ferelden, began originally as an outpost of the ancient Tevinter Imperium. Its mages rose up a dark tower from the side of a mountain, a symbol of the Imperium's power. As the Imperium faded, the tower passed to the hands of the teyrns that ruled the region for a millennium. "Today that tower still stands as Fort Drakon, immediately recognizable to any ship that approaches the rocky coast. The city that has sprung up around it has almost been carved out of the side of the mountain it rests on, and during the Dragon Age, its population has grown beyond the city's ability to cope. The cramped districts, joined to each other by a network of bridges, are built one almost on top of the other. The narrow streets of the Lower Docks have an almost labyrinthine quality, and the walled-off Elven Alienage is so overpopulated that several purges have been required to keep order in the last decade alone. "To the rest of the world, Denerim is most famous as the birthplace of Andraste. In typical Fereldan fashion, however, the monument erected to the prophet in the Palace District is unassuming—a great rock adorned with a simple message of peace. Worshippers come from far and wide to touch the Birth Rock and issue a quiet and respectful prayer. This is how things are done in Denerim, and the locals would have it no other way."
Dragon Age - Tutorial Video #4, Dev Diary Vids
EA Germany released a couple of vids with German subtitles during the last week:
Dragon Age - News Roundup
A bunch of Dragon Age movies and updates.
First, the official site has added the Korcari Wilds to their World coverage:
The Korcari Wilds are a cold southern expanse of forests whose extent is not truly known. The Chasind "wilders" who live within say that a wasteland of snow and ice waits further to the south, filled only with desolate tundra and nomadic barbarians, but the northerners believe little of what the Chasind tell them. By Fereldan standards, the Chasind are a primitive people, mired in superstition and still clinging to the ways of their shamans. They live in houses built on stilts, travelers tell, and fear the mythic Witches of the Wilds who threaten to pounce on their children. The secrets and dangers hidden in the mists of the Korcari Wilds represent the last true untamed wilderness in Thedas.
VoodooExtreme is offering two sets of videos
- Two Dalish videos (combat and dialogue) and then a music oriented dev diary with Audio Director Simon Pressey
- Three Mage videos with combat and dialogue
Monday - September 28, 2009
Dragon Age - Tome of Knowledge Update
The Dragon Age Tome of Knowledge wiki has new entries and updates:
The official wiki of Dragon Age: Origins, the Tome of Knowledge, has been updated with new entires on the History of the Elves Parts 1 & 2, the Rogue Specialization class: Assassin, and a new spell: Mind Blast.
Friday - September 25, 2009
Dragon Age - Witch Hunt #4, Soundtrack Sample
Dragon Age - Unwrapping a Review Copy
Bribery? Good marketing? Either way, if you have any interest in Dragon Age, I dare you to watch this video of GameStar editor Christian Schmidt unwrapping his review copy and not feeling a little jealousy.
Thursday - September 24, 2009
Dragon Age - Zevran Revealed
A new character called Zevran has been revealed at the Dragon Age website, with a description, screens and trailer on offer.
In semi-related news, GameSpot has an interview with actor Kate Mulgrew (Star Trek: Voyager), who voices Flemeth:
GameSpot: You have very broad experience in TV, film, and theater. Tell us your thoughts on taking this different path of being a voice actor for a game.
Kate Mulgrew: Well, there's nothing more liberating, in a way. This is every actor's true dream. I've likened it to going into a dark room with a very smart child who demands an epic story on the spot--one that will change their life. And you have two flashlights, and you have that moment captured in time, and you get to just go, and the kid is going to go with you. So, it's a beautiful little journey you get to take.
In this particular case, the character of Flemeth would be just about every actress' dream because the vocal dexterity required is both challenging and very freeing…almost joyful to go that deep. She's dark. The game itself is epic, dark, and brutal, but it's very smart. So I'm always engaged. Everything that comes out my mouth is very important.
[The Flemeth character] is pivotal. She's a witch, but she's mysterious, and you have to stay with the game and stay with the character to discover just how mysterious she is. There are undercurrents and secrets to her, and when you understand that hers is a history rich in despair and loss, then you can grasp her fury and her power in a different way. And as an actor, being able to know that--and I know that people playing this game may not know that, and even our hero [of the game] doesn't know that yet--there's a sense of great adult play.
Dragon Age - Soundtrack by Inon Zur
BioWare sent out this PR, announcing Inon Zur as the composer for Dragon Age:
BIOWARE'S DRAGON AGE: ORIGINS ORIGINAL ORCHESTRAL SOUNDTRACK COMPOSED BY AWARD-WINNING INON ZUR
EA's Epic RPG Fantasy Score to Debut at 'A Night in Fantasia' Concert
EDMONTON, ALBERTA, CANADA - September 24, 2009 - Leading video game developer BioWare™, a division of Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: ERTS), announced today that award-winning composer Inon Zur has composed the original score for Dragon Age™: Origins. Zur has been lauded for the emotional musical compositions he crafted for some of the most critically acclaimed video games including Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal, Crysis, Fallout 3 and Prince of Persia. The dramatic score for Dragon Age: Origins will be performed live at A Night in Fantasia 2009 on September 26 at the Sydney Entertainment Centre in Australia.
The 'Night in Fantasia 2009' concert will feature the Eminence Symphony Orchestra, a mind-blowing choir, special guest performers and a score of popular tracks from video games including Dragon Age: Origins. Vocalist Aubrey Ashburn, singer and co-writer of the Dragon Age: Origins Elvish ballad "I Am the One," will be performing selections from the game soundtrack by Inon Zur.
With a powerful original score recorded by the acclaimed Northwest Sinfonia Orchestra, Inon Zur's dramatic soundtrack to Dragon Age: Origins is the perfect complement to the game's epic, cinematic qualities, full of soaring melodies and lush, emotional orchestrations. The official soundtrack for Dragon Age: Origins will be available to purchase and download online from popular music sites when the game ships on November 3, 2009, while selected tracks from the soundtrack will be included in the Dragon Age: Origins Collector's Edition.
The soundtrack is a collaboration between composer Inon Zur, vocalist Aubrey Ashburn and BioWare Audio Director Simon Pressey. The creative team will be presenting their work during a panel at the Hollywood Music in Media Interactive Conference on November 20-22, 2009, at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel.
"From the moment you hear the Dragon Age: Origins theme to the lilting ballad, I Am The One, at the end of the game, Inon's score is hand in glove with the Dragon Age: Origins dark fantasy," said Simon Pressey, Audio Director for Dragon Age: Origins. "The Dragon Age: Origins score has an originality and passion to it that illuminates the story. I am continuously awestruck with Inon's ability to tap into the essence of a project. How he gets so much feeling into a melody is simply stunning."
In Dragon Age: Origins, players take the role of a Grey Warden, one of the last of an ancient order of guardians. Now, as a rising evil threatens to destroy all life, it is up to players to unite the shattered lands and slay the corrupted dragon known as the Archdemon. To restore peace, players must make ruthless decisions and be willing to sacrifice their friends and loved ones for the greater good of mankind.
Dragon Age: Origins will be released on November 3rd in North America and November 6th in Europe on the Xbox 360® videogame and entertainment system and PC. The PlayStation®3 version will follow later in November. Dragon Age: Origins is rated M by the ESRB.
Wednesday - September 23, 2009
Dragon Age - The Calling Novel Sample
BioWare has kicked up a wallpaper and a sample (half of the first chapter) of David Gaider's second novel, Dragon Age: The Calling.
Monday - September 21, 2009
Dragon Age - Editorials @ TenTonHammer
An odd pair of Dragon Age articles have been published by MMO site TenTonHammer. First, they wonder if the "mature" content is too risky:
Just as they did with Baldur's Gate, BioWare has set out to push the envelope of possibilities further than ever before. Such bold moves are not without their inherent dangers though. In an age where the sight of an exposed nipple due to a “wardrobe malfunction” on live television not only dominated headline news for weeks, but caused parents across the nation to throw up their arms in protest, could the release of a game as brutal and gritty as Dragon Age: Origins be a risky move?
An then in a more conventional piece, they get input from Exec Producer Mark Darrah on the "philosophy" of Dragon Age:
It’s been ten years since we’ve played Baldur’s Gate II, but Darrah believes Dragon Age: Origins could hit home with those players too.
“It’s not the same game, but it still invokes the same feelings, the same depth of story and tactical element.”
And depth is a major reason players will keep coming back to a game. It’s what sets good games that trigger an emotional response apart from bland games that are forgotten five minutes after playing. So how does a developer drive an emotional response? There is a method to it, and Darrah explained.
“We tell stories that are real in a way. It’s in a fantastic environment, but it’s something you can imagine. It’s brutal, but you can imagine it really happening. I think that helps strengthen the emotions. Even though you may be suspending your disbelief by playing a dwarf, you don’t [have to try to believe] you’re a dwarf doing something really weird. What you’re doing and the experiences that are occurring seem logical. That helps anchor that emotion.”
Dragon Age - Choice and Consequences
This must be the day for DAO news. IGN has an article that has been linked to the C&C videos we reported a couple of days ago. It makes for interesting reading, so here is something to whet your appetite:
Most RPGs tie the player to a very explicit code of morality, defining their personal character within varying shades of good or evil. In these situations, saving someone would be considered a good act, while killing someone else is frequently seen as a vile deed. These extreme points of view frequently don't take into account that there could be more to these actions than it would initially seem. For example, players might discover that saving a person allows them to commit heinous crimes that you'll have to deal with later, or that killing a supposedly innocent person prevents the deaths of dozens or hundreds of others. On top of this, aside from agreeing or grousing about a decision, the impact on your party is relatively minimal. As a result of these limitations, you play more to a pre-defined sense of good and evil than making your own path, determining what works for you.
Bioware is hoping to break players of these limits in their upcoming RPG, Dragon Age: Origins by eliminating the morality scale that places a character's ethical progression on a good/bad meter. Instead, whenever you come to a conversation with a potential moral dilemma, you're presented with a variety of choices. None of the choices are particularly tinged with any principles that you need to follow or avoid for a particular overall goal; you are given free reign to act however you want in a situation. As a result, you feel as though you're free to act based on what you feel is appropriate to that incident and the characters you're talking to. That's not to say that you won't have to deal with consequences of your actions, because specific decisions that you make will affect the world and characters around you, either resulting in an immediate impact or setting in motion items that would be resolved later. These consequences will also affect your immediate party, potentially improving or destroying your relationships with them outright.
Thanks again Leth
Dragon Age - Rage of Mages
Gamespot has a detailed preview of the Mage class for DAO with an excellent outline of the various spell groups avaailable. Here's a taste:
The four additional talent trees for mages are primal (elemental damage spells); creation (healing and protective magics); spirit (which focuses on countermagics and controlling enchantments); and entropy (which focuses on hindering magics). Primal, for instance, includes four different talent lines for fire, ice, lightning, and earth, each of which has four levels of abilities, including the classic fireball, lightning bolt, and cone-of-cold spells you may remember from BioWare's previous Dungeons & Dragons-based games. However, the primal talent group also includes certain spell abilities with combinatorial effects. For instance, the most powerful talent in the earth line, petrify, briefly turns an enemy to stone and makes that enemy vulnerable to instant death by shattering if attacked with a concussive spell, such as the earth line's stonefist spell. As it turns out, certain spells from the ice talent line can also freeze enemies solid, rendering them similarly vulnerable to being shattered. The primal line also contains two different weapon enhancements for all characters in your party; the fire line causes weapons to deal fire-based damage; and the ice line causes weapons to deal cold-based damage. The remaining spells in the primal talent lines are generally powerful damage-dealers with large radii that can also damage your teammates if they get in the line of fire. Careful micromanagement (or combinatorial strategies, discussed later) is crucial in using these talents, lest you blast your own party to smithereens.
Thanks Leth for the headsup
Sunday - September 20, 2009
Dragon Age - Penny Arcade Witch Hunt #3
The third Penny Arcade Witch Hunt is up for Dragon Age.
Dragon Age - "Choices" Trailers @ VE3D
Over at VoodooExtreme you can find two videos designed to illustrate the choices and consequences in Dragon Age. The first is an encounter with serving wench Bella and an offer to get her out of the tavern and the second is paying or intimidating a dwarf called Dwyn; these are pretty minor events, which some will take to mean even the small decisions count and no doubt others will think it proves there are no "big" consequences.
Dragon Age - Extensive Preview @ GameStar.de
Moriendor writes in with this German Dragon Age preview at GameStar, which I've called "extensive" because apparently the author has actually finished the game. Heavy spoilers apply, I'm told. Moriendor also adds:
There is an interesting bit in the comments thread. When asked how long it took him to finish the game he said that it took him approximately 30 hours to finish the game when he focused strictly on the campaign (on normal difficulty). He is now replaying the game on hard and he is going to try to do all side quests on this run. His estimate is that it should take him "significantly longer" and he guesses at 40 - 50 hours.
In summary he thinks that a single playthrough should take around 30 to 40 hours but if someone were to play all Origin stories and to solve the campaign and quests in all available ways and if you were to go after every single achievement then the game should keep you busy for well over 100 hours.
Thursday - September 17, 2009
Dragon Age - Writing An Epic, Part 1
BioWare is pointing out a video at GameStop titled Writing An Epic, which is apparently the first of an "in depth" series of developer interviews and background. Bio forum posters note some spoilers, so be warned.
Wednesday - September 16, 2009
Dragon Age - The People of DA
An in-character interview with the Dragon Age characters Wynn, Sten and a tower guard can be found at the BioBlog, written by Bio writers Mary Kirby and Sheryl Chee:
Q: Why don’t you introduce yourselves? For the benefit of the people who haven’t kept up with the website?
Wynne: I am Wynne, a mage of the Circle of Magi.
Sten: I am Sten of the Beresaad.
Tower Guard: My name’s actually Walter. I’m—
Wynne: You should use a coaster.
Tower Guard: What?
Wynne: A coaster. For your drink. It’s sweating and leaving water rings on the table.
Tower Guard: It’s just water! It’s just—
Sten: Do what she says. She’s a mage. She’s liable to snap and kill us all if you annoy her.
Wynne: Sten, you annoy me frequently, and I haven’t killed you yet.
Tuesday - September 15, 2009
Dragon Age - Second Novel: The Calling
Well, looks like the first Dragon Age novel was popular enough to spawn a second, with The Calling announced by Tor and BioWare, naturally written by David Gaider:
BIOWARE AND TOR BOOKS EXPAND THE DRAGON AGE UNIVERSE WITH THE NEW PREQUEL NOVEL DRAGON AGE: THE CALLING
Guildford, UK – September 15, 2009 – Leading video game developer BioWare™, a division of Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: ERTS) and Tor Books, the largest publisher of science fiction in the world, today announced the publication of Dragon Age™: The Calling, a new novel set in the world of Dragon Age™: Origins, BioWare’s highly anticipated dark epic video game releasing this November. Veteran video game developer and Dragon Age: Origins lead writer, David Gaider, follows up his debut novel, Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne, with a thrilling new adventure set in the dark and epic fantasy universe of Dragon Age: Origins. Dragon Age: The Calling is scheduled to release on October 13, 2009, for $14.99.
In Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne, Maric set out on a mission of vengeance against the faithless lords who were responsible for his mother’s death. Now, having reclaimed the throne, King Maric finally allows the legendary Grey Wardens to return to Ferelden after two hundred years of exile. When they come, however, they bring dire news: one of their own has escaped into the Deep Roads and aligned himself with their ancient enemy, the monstrous darkspawn. The Grey Wardens need Maric’s help to find him. He reluctantly agrees to lead them into the passages he traveled through years before, chasing after a deadly secret that will threaten to destroy not only the Grey Wardens, but also the Kingdom above.
The team at BioWare has created a fantasy world on a scale unprecedented in the world of games —filled with compelling characters, gripping storylines, and hidden terrors. Dragon Age: The Calling is a rich, sweeping epic that will captivate avid fantasy readers and gamers just weeks before the launch of one of the most highly-anticipated fantasy RPGs ever.
In Dragon Age: Origins, players take on the role of a Grey Warden, one of the last of an ancient order of guardians who have served as protectors throughout the centuries. Only they have the power to unite the shattered lands, defeat the Archdemon and drive back the darkspawn that threaten to destroy the world. Players will interact with many interesting characters who may join them in their quest, and they will choose whether these characters become friends, foes, or even a romantic interest. Featuring a deep and compelling story where every choice can have a dramatic impact on the game, Dragon Age: Origins is scheduled to release on November 3, 2009 in North America and November 6, 2009 in Europe for the PC and Xbox 360® videogame and entertainment system and later in November for the PLAYSTATION®3 computer entertainment system.
Dragon Age: Origins is rated M by the ESRB. For more information about Dragon Age: Origins, visit www.dragonage.com. Pre-order the game now at www.eastore.ea.com.
Source: Blues News
Dragon Age - Abomination Trailer
A new trailer for Dragon Age - here's Chris Priestly's description:
So why does the Chantry keep a tight control over mages? The most obvious answer is that mages are very powerful and someone needs to keep them in line. While this is true, there is a darker side as well. Mages have access to the Fade, but that means that the creatures of the Fade have access to mages. And mages that are corrupted become Abominations.
Check out the new Abomination video here Click Here
Sunday - September 13, 2009
Dragon Age - ToolSet Videos, Competitions
EA Germany let us know about two new Dragon Age: Origins videos and two competitions. Everything in German unless noted otherwise.
Friday - September 11, 2009
Dragon Age - New Penny Arcade Witch Hunt
There's a new strip up in Penny Arcade's Dragon Age series, Witch Hunt.
Thursday - September 10, 2009
Dragon Age - Leliana Update
BioWare has updated the Dragon Age Characters with Leliana - here's Chris Priestly's introduction:
We have a new video and page up featuring one of the potential party NPCs: Leliana.
Leliana is a complex woman. On the surface she seems a devout member of the Chantry who is guided by the Maker to aid the PC in his quest. Yet, below the surface, there is much more to this seemingly pious sister.
You can check out her concept art, screenshots and video here: http://dragonage.bioware.com/characters/leliana
Thanks also to leth for a similar submission.
Wednesday - September 09, 2009
Dragon Age - Preview @ GameSpot
This new Dragon Age preview at GameSpot looks at high-level combat skills and character development, particularly for warriors and rogues:
Warriors and rogues each have unique talent trees that are basic to their classes (that is, the warrior talents remain active and can be increased even after a warrior character graduates to an advanced class such as a templar or berserker; the same applies to rogues). BioWare senior producer Ferret Boudoin says, "As far as skills go, any warrior or rogue worth their salt maxes out combat training as quickly as possible. The tier-three and tier-four abilities are just too yummy to pass up." The warrior has two talent trees. The first is a defensive set of talents that increase the warrior's resistances to damage or helps manage the amount of stamina (a meter that powers the use of special abilities) the character uses; the second is an offensive set that includes modes that let the warrior deal critical damage on slower attacks or manage the amount of "aggro" (how focused your enemies are on the warrior) your character generates in combat. Rogues, on the other hand, have four talent trees: two include miscellaneous extra attacks that stun or weaken foes, one is for picking locks and disarming traps, and a fourth tree is for stealth skills.
Meanwhile, Destructoid asked Mike Laidlaw about The New Shit:
I think part of the reason it's infamous is because people were surprised and just weren't expecting it. What they expected was a long string of flutes and some harpsichord, perhaps. Quite frankly, Dragon Age ultimately is about surprising the player in terms of their expectations of fantasy.
"It's going to shock them in a lot of ways. At the same time there's a deep RPG in there, and a great story, but what I think that particular campaign achieved is, it hit an element of the game, and the game's about eighty hours for average players, so you certainly can't make a three minute marketing spec that covers every friggin' element of that, so you pick a part of it and go, 'let's talk about violence for a while, and while we're talking about violence, we're going to play some music that, essentially, is pretty violent.
I'll be shocked if I'm actually shocked but we'll see. Finally, Worthplaying has some hopefully new screens.
Dragon Age - Interview@ Ten Ton Hammer
MMO site Ten Ton Hammer has another Dragon Age feature; this time it's an interview with lead designer Mike LaidLaw.
Ten Ton Hammer: The choices that we're making in Dragon Age seem much more... pivotal than what we've seen in Baldur's Gate, Neverwinter Nights, and Mass Effect. Was this a decision that was made early on, to have each of these decisions actually influence that outcome of your game? Not only that, but there are also more options available to player than what we've seen previously, as well.
Mike Laidlaw: Yes, we wanted to make sure the game was very reactive to the things you're doing, because it all comes back to this idea of building a "customizable" game. We wanted to make sure that this was a game that really was your experience and something that your origin story really shapes.
The origin stories, especially, are a great area to see these decisions showcased. What you see there is actually a mix of things that are going to carry forward and decisions that only affect your immediate outcome. Not everything carries forward, but a LOT of things do.
That's where we're really forging new ground and being more reactive than we have been in the past. It's a really just a conscious choice to make sure that there's a number of things you can choose and do so when we introduce particular characters or go back to a player's origin city, people are going to remember how you behaved and reacted.
To me as a player, that's incredibly gratifying.
Monday - September 07, 2009
Dragon Age - Tycho Interview
The BioBlog has an interview with Penny Arcade's Tycho about Dragon Age and his opinion of what he has seen. Without suggesting anything inappropriate, it's worth noting PA has a deal to produce a comic for BioWare, so this may not be the most impartial view:
BioWare has called this a “spiritual successor” to its previous fantasy titles. Do you think Dragon Age lives up to that heritage?
It was clearly designed to evoke that heritage, so if you’re already weak to those kinds of attacks I’d say you’re in pretty big trouble.
Who is your favorite party NPC?
Do either of you have a favorite origin story?
Not especially, other than to say that playing more than one before you settle in is a good idea, because they’re not completely inert, story-wise. I saw people in his origin that popped up in my main campaign, for example.
Dragon Age - Origin Trailers @ VoodooExtreme
We missed this one from Leth a few days ago, who writes that VoodooExtreme has six Origin trailers for Dragon Age showing off each archetype. I think we've covered them individually as they were released but if you haven't seen them, this does offer one convenient collection.
Saturday - September 05, 2009
Dragon Age - Preview @ Destructoid
Destructoid joined the throng at the recent BioWare Dragon Age event and their impressions are online. This article is spoiler-ish - as is this quote, so be warned - but it's early material and I found it interesting stuff:
I've tried all classes, but I started out with an Elven Mage. Mages start their story locked away in the Circle of Magi, a place where all magic-wielders must be kept for the safety of the kingdom, due to their vast power and tendency to get possessed by demons. Prospective Mages must endure "The Harrowing," a test of skill that seems them entering a realm of magic called The Fade and fighting off a demon. Mages that won't or can't face The Harrowing have two other options: They can be killed, or they can become "Tranquil." Tranquils have been sapped of all magic power and emotion, basically turning them into Vulcans.
After successfully completing my own Harrowing, a fellow Mage and friend confesses that he's been having a secret love affair with a Priestess. The only problem is that he's learned he is to be made Tranquil, which would remove all his feelings and end the relationship. Instead, he plans to escape and wants my help. Since the game is all about choices, I had the option to betray him, and since he was an annoying git, I took that choice and went blabbing to my superior. I was instructed to play along and help the Mage escape with his girlfriend, all as part of a ploy to entrap him. The fact that the game lets you reach such levels of duplicity immediately impressed me, and I spent this whole section giggling over just how badly I was going to screw these poor idiots over.
Dragon Age - Preview @ Sorcerer's Place
Another Dragon Age hands-on, also based on a trip to Edmonton is up at Sorcerer's Place. Here's a sample:
All of this makes for an incredibly rich and detailed campaign that BioWare has obviously invested a great amount of effort into putting together. And it also takes roleplaying to the highest order. I will be highly surprised if there is any potential decision in the game that is truly innocuous. That is to say, any decision can have repercussions for your character, however further down the road. And they can be pretty drastic indeed. It also means that many decisions have a definite complexity that goes far beyond previous RPGs. In the Baldur's Gate series, for example, you could notice relatively simple dichotomies. "Do I always avoid hurting the innocent or do I kill innocents just to play the part and keep my evil NPCs on board?" "Do I do this quest out of the goodness of my heart or do I charge to the max for it?" "Do I embrace my Bhaal heritage and develop my powers for murder or do I show restraint and a refusal to give in?" Many of the decisions in Dragon Age will pose moral quandaries of such complexity that there may at times not even be a black or white choice available, but rather having to pick out your shade of grey. For example, "Do I trust this person? Do I show trust and compassion and possibly put myself at risk, or do I instead harden my heart out of self-preservation?" "Do the ends justify the means?" "Do I sacrifice the few to save the many?" "What kind of person does my character become after this decision?" And the gaming world in which these kinds of decisions are constantly demanded of you is vast and complex. The developers assured us that a thorough playthrough will mean at least 100+ hours of gameplay. In this respect, Dragon Age does succeed marvelously in its claim.
Dragon Age - First Looks @ MMORPG
The second MMO site that has information about Dragon Age is MMORPG. They also have an explanation as to why an MMO site is interested in a single player RPG.
When Bioware invited MMORPG.com out to Edmonton to see Dragon Age, our first question was "why?" Dragon Age is not an MMO, it doesn't pretend to be an MMO, and there is absolutely nothing online about it. So what brought us there? According to Bioware, they wanted to show it to a wider audience and thought that specifically MMO players would find it to be a complimentary experience. Fair enough.
The author had amongst other this to say:
For launch, the game is 100% single player. Laidlaw told us that it was simply their philosophy that if they cannot do something amazingly well, they don't even try. Rather than divide their focus to really polish co-op or persistent world support, they wanted to make a great core experience that every purchaser of the game will enjoy.
While he was careful to promise nothing, he didn't rule out the possibility that in a future update or expansion they'll introduce a robust online system. They know how popular those worlds were for the Neverwinter Nights community and don't take that lightly. Time will tell what, if anything, comes on that front.
It was a great change of pace to check out a game that isn't an MMO, but still has many lessons it could teach the genre and has clearly learned a thing or two from it. Does this game belong on our game list? Of course not, but it was one of those rare times when we had a chance to see something that, while not at all an MMO, should be of great interest to a huge number of our readers.
Dragon Age will be released for the PC, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 on November 3rd. The PC version will come with the Dragon Age editor for players to create their own adventures.
Friday - September 04, 2009
Dragon Age - Screenshots
Ten Ton Hammer has some 50 screenshots of Dragon Age available for your viewing pleasure.
Dragon Age - Hands-on & Interviews @ GameBanshee
A comprehensive Dragon Age preview and two interviews are up at GameBanshee after they had the opportunity to travel to Edmonton to play the game and spend some time with lead designer Mike Laidlaw, Ferret Baudoin and Mark Darrah. Coming from an RPG site, this is a must-read for anyone curious about Dragon Age with some genuine first-hand experiences. From the preview:
During the aforementioned boss fights (the Ogre battle at the top of the Tower of Ishal, for example), keeping on top of all your characters’ abilities and locations is of the utmost importance. In the previous example, you’ll quickly discover that the ogre can charge characters from a distance or pick them up for a crushing attack that will most likely result in the condition known as death. He also has an obscene amount of health, so I was constantly pausing to keep my party members away from the ogre’s death grip while also setting up backstabs and making use of my characters’ ranged attacks and spells whenever the ogre turned his attention toward someone else. I suppose you could rush into some battles haphazardly using only a couple of primary talents, but you’re going to have some casualties from time to time and you’ll end up unnecessarily using quite a few health poultices and other one-shot items.
Should a character fall in combat (including the protagonist), they become incapacitated for the remainder of the battle. If all characters fall, you’re forced to load your last saved game. If at least one character survives, then all fallen characters stand back up when the battle is over. As a penalty for being incapacitated during combat, a character receives a persistent debilitating injury. Some of the injuries my characters sustained were “broken bone” (penalty to dexterity), “torn jugular” (penalty to constitution), “cracked skull” (penalty to cunning), “deafened” (penalty to defense), and “coughing blood” (penalty to fatigue). All of these injuries can stack, so it’s important to keep your most susceptible characters at a distance or they’ll wind up in a devastatingly weakened state. To remove a persistent injury, you must return to your party camp or use an injury kit. As with poultices, each kit has a certain level of potency that determines how much damage it’s able to repair (lesser injury kits heal a single injury and a small amount of health, for example).
...From the interview with Mark Laidlaw:
GB: From what I've played so far, the game is very linear, at least during the first few hours. At what point does it open up to free exploration?
Mike: Yeah. Whereabouts are you?
GB: I just drank the darkspawn blood to become a Gray Warden.
Mike: Oh, yeah. You've got one dungeon, and then you get the world back. It's going to open up a lot. The reason we have a linear opening is largely for a couple of reasons: one, to establish the setting and story. Because it's a brand new IP, if you just drop people into a world they don't know, then there can be kind of like a degree of confusion.
And we're trying to build a story that's got its own dramatic, you know, impetus, and that kind of stuff. So I think a linear opening causes people to kind of understand, okay, here's the role. Here are the events that lead to me becoming a Grey Warden proper, which you just did.
Then you basically get to see how that plays out. And at that point, what you're about to come to the realization of is that I’m going to need to gather an army. And at that point, it's up to you. How are you going to do it? Because you basically take charge.
...and Mark Darrah:
GB: Are there entire areas that are inaccessible to you if you make specific choices?
Mark: Yeah. There are certain areas that are only accessible with certain characters, and depending on the choices you make, you may not actually even get some characters. That would block off entire parts of the game.
Thursday - September 03, 2009
Dragon Age - Penny Arcade Comic
BioWare has teamed with Penny Arcade for a Dragon Age comic strip. You can jump straight to the first installment, or read Chris Priestly's intro to the project below:
I am an unabashed Penny Arcade fanboy. I've been reading their comics and visiting their website for years now. I've also been able to meet Gabe and Tycho (Jerry and Mike in real life) and other PA staffers at PAX and they are all great guys and gals.
A number of months ago, I pitched the idea that we should work with Penny Arcade to create a Dragon Age: Origins webcomic. Since BioWare is an office full of geeks who also read PA, the DAO team readily agreed. So Lead Designer Mike Laidlaw and I flew down to Seattle to meet with the Penny Arcade team to go over some ideas and install copies of Dragon Age for them to play through (we wanted to make sure they understood the world they would be working in).
Working with Jerry and Mike was great. Jerry (the writer 1/2 of the team) and Mike Laidlaw both hit it off throwing obscure references to past tabletop games at each other. Mike (the artist 1/2), who admits to being more Sci-Fi than Fantasy, readily grasped the concept and style we were looking for and quickly sketched out how the pages would break down.
Together, BioWare and Penny Arcade have created Witch Hunt where a group of Templar knights will soon get more than they bargained for as they venture through the Korkari Wilds.
Check out Page 1 here: http://dragonage.bioware.com/pennyarcade
We'll have new pages up each week for eight weeks until the tale is told. Also check back tomorrow when we'll have a Q&A up with Gabe and Tycho and what they thought of Dragon Age: Origins.
Wednesday - September 02, 2009
Dragon Age - Fansite Kit Released
Something we forgot to post three weeks ago:
EA released a fansite kit for Dragon Age. Here is your 250 MB kickstart to your own DA:O fan site!
Dragon Age - Win a Dell PC
EA, Dell and Razor are giving away free stuff in their GamesCom promo. You can enter the Dragon Age competition until Sept. 15th on Win-the-Dell.de. I'm not sure if it's for Germans only, though.
Dragon Age - New Promo Videos
EA Germany let us know a couple of new videos have been made available. They should be available on the usual sites by now.
- City Elf Trailer
- Dragon Age Origins Voice Talent Video
- City of Orzammer Trailer
Please post links in the comments thread.
Dragon Age - Dalish Elf Origin
The Dalish Elf is the latest Hero page at the Dragon Age site, which completes the set. A video, wallpapers and posters are all available.
Monday - August 31, 2009
Dragon Age - Ray Muzyka Interview @ Gamasutra
Ray Muzyka has been active doing interviews lately and Gamasutra is the latest site with a conversation with EA's "group general manager of the RPG/MMO Group". Titled An Age to Come, Ray discusses Dragon Age's planned social networking aspects, PC vs console controls and modding:
We'll have more to show on what we're planning, but I think it's really cool. We're creating a community site that's going to enable the fans to get revved up about what each other is doing. They're showing their choices and consequences to friends. Even though it's single-player, you can still reveal those choices to each other and have fun doing it.
It enables some of that stuff that occurs anecdotally amongst friends at the water cooler: "Hey, did you play this yet? Did you go this way?" "No, I didn't run into that. I did it this way." "Really? I didn't run into that at all!"
You can meet people who are across the world and enable them to see those kinds of things, too, which I think will lead to a lot of fun discussion and collaboration in the community. Imagine that getting broader when you have post release downloadable content that expands the game as a platform concept, or community-driven content that people can play through and maybe the fans embrace this and make content that can even be expanded further with even more choices in it.
There are a lot of possible extensions to this, but I always thought the idea of a hero's journey being shown through an RPG would be really cool. So, with Dragon Age, we're going to try that.
Dragon Age - Dalish Elf Preview @ GameSpot
Late last week GameSpot served up hands-on impressions of the Dalish Elf origin from Dragon Age. Spoiler apply, as with all of these:
After navigating the dank and murky caves and disabling some of the traps, we came upon a corridor strewn with what looked like human corpses that suddenly, and shockingly, actually got up and attacked us. After slaying them, we entered the passage they were guarding, which housed a gigantic mirror. Neither our character nor Tamlen could help examining the mirror until distortions on the strange mirror's surface led to an explosion that flung us out of the cave. We awoke briefly to see Duncan, the courteous grey warden, standing over us and then awoke again at the village to find that Duncan had dragged us back to safety while Tamlen was nowhere to be found. Hmm.
The intro links their other Origin story previews, some of which we've missed linking previously.
Sunday - August 30, 2009
Dragon Age - Preview @ Games Radar
Games Radar serves up a preview of Dragon Age from a console perspective:
We’re surprised at the omission of real-time fighting – especially when it’s plain to see from the wealth of animations and the visceral nature of scraps that Dragon Age would actually make a helluva hack ‘n’ slasher. Instead, it’s all very much strategic – meaning you’ll have to look after spellcasters by keeping them well away from the nitty gritty, make sure your elven archer types are peppering foes from afar, while your tanks are topped up with health potions and melee boosting spells. A ring-based system for weapon and biotic selections has been neatly implemented when it comes to managing your wealth of spells, tonics and armaments.
It might sound complex, but within minutes we were swapping loadouts on the fly, sending streaks of electricity at the Ogre while casting a spell of Haste on some other chap all the way across the room. Flicking between party members is a cinch too, accomplished in a flash with a tap of a button. Still, we’re not exactly putting our necks on the line when we predict this hands-off approach to combat is going to put off a great many more potential buyers than it attracts – and it’s all the more puzzling when you recall how well recent genre-mashing games like Fallout 3 have done in terms of sales.
Saturday - August 29, 2009
Dragon Age - City Elf Origin
A new Origin story is up at the Dragon Age site, with the City Elf now featured. A short description, trailer, poster and wallpaper are available.
Earlier this week we missed IGN's City Elf Prologue piece, which describes the first stages of gameplay with this class (mild spoilers apply):
There are two kind of elves in Dragon Age: City Elves and the Daleish. The former are beaten down urban dwellers while the latter are still wild elves who live as nomadic groups in the wilderness. Elves used to be held in slavery, until the prophet Andraste (the creator of the main religion in the game) abolished it 400 years prior to the events of the game. However, the elves are still discriminated against and looked down upon by humans, with city elves as basically indentured servants who live in slums called alienages.
Friday - August 28, 2009
Dragon Age - Voice Cast Features Tim Curry, Kate Mulgrew
BioWare has announced some of the voice talent for Dragon Age, including Tim Curry and Kate Mulgrew:
BIOWARE’S DRAGON AGE: ORIGINS TO FEATURE THE VOICES OF FANTASY AND SCI-FI STARS TIM CURRY AND KATE MULGREW
Award-Winning Celebrities Featured in BioWare’s Dark Fantasy Epic
EDMONTON, ALBERTA, CANADA – August 27, 2009 – Leading video game developer BioWare™, a division of Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: ERTS) has secured a star-studded voiceover cast for its upcoming blockbuster game, Dragon Age™: Origins. Featuring Tim Curry, star of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Broadway’s Spamalot, as well as Kate Mulgrew, well-known for her role as Capt. Kathryn Janeway in “Star Trek: Voyager”, Dragon Age: Origins also includes notable cast members Tim Russ (“Star Trek: Voyager,” “Samantha Who?”), Claudia Black (“Stargate SG-1,” “Pitch Black”) and Steve Valentine (“Estate of Panic,” “Crossing Jordan”). Dragon Age: Origins marks BioWare’s return to fantasy, created from the ground up to take players through a dark epic tale filled with violence, lust, and betrayal.
Tim Curry will play the villainous Arl Rendon Howe. Howe is the calculating villain, cultured and charming, with an insatiable lust for power who never hesitates to harm anyone who gets in his way. Kate Mulgrew will lend her vocal flair to Flemeth, a powerful witch who maintains her immortality through the darkest of means, and who plays a pivotal role in the player’s survival. Both roles provide the actors with the opportunity to bring their considerable talents to bear in their portrayal of these characters.
“Dragon Age: Origins has the largest cast of characters of any game BioWare has ever made,” said Mark Darrah, Executive Producer, BioWare. “By working with an incredibly talented cast of actors we are able to bring reality and depth to the characters, their back stories, motivations, and dreams that our talented writers have created for them.”
Wednesday - August 26, 2009
RPGWatch Feature: Book Review - The Stolen Throne
We can't play the game yet but we can read the book. Prime Junta casts an acerbic eye over David Gaider's first outing as an author - Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne. Here's a snip:
-- So, Mr. Gaider, let's hear about this book project of yours. Fantasy, yes?
-- Yes! Dark fantasy! You know, magic, swords, princes, monsters, witches, dwarves, elves... but dark! And gritty! And, you know, mature! Also, it's pronounced "GUY-der."
-- Sorry, Mr. GUY-der.
-- It's OK, I get that all the time.
-- So, dark fantasy. What's the story about?
-- It's called The Stolen Throne, and it's about a rightful prince who wants to regain his ancestral throne from an evil foreign usurper who has... stolen it. In a kingdom called Ferelden. His name is Maric, and he's the son of the Rebel Queen, Moira.
-- Tell me about this prince. What's he like?
-- He's blond, and handsome, and has an infectious charm, and terribly courageous, he's very good with a sword, and he wouldn't think twice to sacrifice his life for his people, but his people love him so much they won't let him.
Dragon Age - New Orzammar Trailer
There's a new trailer on the Orzammar page on the Dragon Age subsite, offering a glimpse at the Dwarven city.
Dragon Age - Performance on "Middle Class Hardware"
PC Games Hardware says Dragon Age ran flawlessly at GamesCom on "middleclass hardware":
At the Gamescom in Cologne the men behind genre hits like Baldur's Gate or Neverwinter Nights presented their new title Dragon Age: Origins on a PC with Core 2 Duo E6750 (2.66 GHz), Geforce 8800 GTS/512 MiByte and 3 GiByte RAM.
On this middleclass system the RPG run absolutely smoothly and without any performance problems with a resolution of 1,680 x 1,050 (no FSAA/AF). The graphics is up to date and does not need to hide behind other competitors. The character details are very high. Especially the facial animation is very impressive. Combat animation is worth seeing, too, and metal parts of armors look very realistic due to the brightness effects rendered with Specular Maps. Also fire looks impressive as well as the detailed and soft shadows of protagonists and opponents.
Source: Blues News
Monday - August 24, 2009
Dragon Age - Video Interview @ GameSpot
GameSpot has a video interview with BioWare's Mike Laidlaw at GamesCom, disccussing the Dragon Age demo on show and demonstrating decisions that can cause party members to turn on the player.
Friday - August 21, 2009
Dragon Age - Offcial Updates
Thursday - August 20, 2009
Dragon Age - The Consequences of True Choice
The Dragon Age site has a new update titled The Consequences of True Choice – A Look at Decisions, claiming this is "Version 2.0 of choice". Essentially, the point is that Dragon Age isn't tied to the old binary good/evil axis - although they seem to have missed all the other games that don't have this limitation. Anyway, here's the start of their example:
The scenario that the developers dropped us into is about 10-15 hours into the game according to Laidlaw and Silverman, depending upon how the gamers push through the content. The audience found itself facing the hero’s party, which included Morrigan, Wynne, and Leliana. The hero was obviously a warrior of some sort, draped as he was with a thick suit of plate mail and wielding a massive sword. Again, the developers explained that the group was inside of an important religious temple and was about to discover an incredibly important religious artifact known as the Urn of Sacred Ashes, an item thought to have been lost by the religious order known as the Chantry of Andraste. The party had been sent to this location in order to heal an important ally, Arl Eamon, and thus use his armies in the fight against the Blight.
After making it through a rabid cult and a series of tests known as The Gauntlet, the character stands in front of the Urn of Sacred Ashes and that’s where the player’s choice suddenly jumps to the forefront in a bold and stunning way. As the character stands over the urn, both Wynne and Leliana proclaim their awe at being in the presence of such a mighty item. On the other hand, Morrigan issues a snide comment, clearly not impressed with such religious idols.
Wednesday - August 19, 2009
Dragon Age - GamesCon Demo Impressions @ Gamebanshee
Gamebanshee's Jon "Buck" Birnbaum pens a brief feature article on his impressions of Dragon Age after playing the promotional demo from GamesCon. It's short and contains spoilers, so here's just an explanatory snip for those who don't want too much too soon:
I'll be publishing a much more elaborate Dragon Age: Origins preview in September, but for now I've been given the green light to talk about the GamesCom demo I was shown during a recent trip to BioWare's headquarters in Edmonton. The demo's sole focus was on the consequences that are tied to a difficult choice we have to make after discovering the Urn of Sacred Ashes - an artifact that lead designer Mike Laidlaw described as the "holy grail" of Ferelden.
You can read the article here, which goes into detail on the various consequences involved in your decision. There are also some associated screenshots posted here, the first thirteen of which illustrate the choices discussed in the article.
Tuesday - August 18, 2009
Dragon Age - Dwarven Noble Hands-on
We've seen the Human Noble preview, now IGN takes a look at how Dragon Age starts for Dwarven Nobles. As before, spoilers may apply:
On first glance, the dwarves in Dragon Age are your typical Tolkienseque folk; once a great empire, they now live in one or two cities underground where they busy themselves with mining, crafting, and growing beards. Unlike J.R.R. Tolkien's dwarves, there are definitely female dwarves in Dragon Age (without the beards). But what's really interesting about Dragon Age's stout little folk is the degree of political intrigue. There's a delicious amount of backstabbing going on in the dwarven noble prologue, and all the political machinations remind us of novels such as Dune or A Game of Thrones.
Monday - August 17, 2009
Dragon Age - Interview @ Gamespot
Bioware's Dragon Age: Origins executive produce Mark Darrah talks with Gamespot about the release date delay, the game's relationship tp Baldur's Gate, and some of the pre-order bonuses, including the planned Stone Prisoner extra content:
GS: The Stone Prisoner sounds like it's going to be a pretty substantial add-on since you're selling it separately for 15 bucks. How big is it going to be?
MD: Well, it's huge. It introduces a whole new character, and this is a character that's as complicated and well fleshed out as any other character in the main game. You're also getting full voice-over and plots and things like that. The Stone Prisoner is going to be offered for free for anyone who purchases any new copy of Dragon Age, collector's edition or not.
And on future plans for sequels and DLC:
MD: We have a two-year of DLC plan for Dragon Age, so we're going to be supporting this product well after it's launched with all kinds of things--new items, new plots, new areas, everything you could imagine...
GS: OK. The other question is I know when the suffix "Origins" was added to Dragon Age, it sparked talk of a trilogy. Is that the case?
MD: Dragon Age is about building a franchise, it's not about being a trilogy or anything like that. It's about establishing a world where we can tell lots of stories in lots of different ways in the future.
Source: Blues News
Saturday - August 15, 2009
Dragon Age - Tome of Knowledge
BioWare has opened a wiki for Dragon Age, called the Tome of Knowledge. Lore, classes and magic are already in, with combat and crafting on the way.
Thursday - August 13, 2009
Dragon Age - Collector's Edition and Preorder PR
BioWare and EA have sent out a PR on the Dragon Age Collector's Edition and the Pre-Order Program:
BioWare Unveils Dragon Age: Origins Collector’s Edition and Pre-Order Program
Dragon Age: Origins Fans Sign Up for Free Downloadable Content, Unique Pre-order Packages and Exclusive Mass Effect 2 Content
EDMONTON, Alberta--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Leading video game developer BioWare™, a division of Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:ERTS) today announced the Dragon Age™: Origins Collector’s Edition and pre-order incentive program*. The Collector’s Edition is a premium package available in limited quantities featuring exclusive Dragon Age: Origins collectibles including a unique steel case, a cloth map of the world of Dragon Age, a Making-of documentary DVD, a digital version of the Dragon Age: Origins soundtrack, game trailers, wallpapers, strategy tips and a concept art video, plus three exclusive downloadable items that will provide special advantages to the player.
The Collector’s Edition is available for pre-order today at www.eastore.ea.com for an MSRP of $74.99 (console) and $64.99 (PC) in North America.
As an added bonus, Dragon Age: Origins (both original and Collector’s Edition) includes two special pieces of downloadable content: The Stone Prisoner, as well as a suit of Dragon Age themed armor that can be used in Dragon Age: Origins as well as in the upcoming BioWare Shooter RPG, Mass Effect™ 2 on all available platforms.
With The Stone Prisoner download pack, players will have access to Shale, the mighty stone golem who can become one of the most powerful party members in the game, and comes with its own personal back-story and unique quests for the player to discover. The Stone Prisoner will also include new environments, items and hours of additional gameplay, further deepening the epic Dragon Age experience. The Stone Prisoner is available to original purchasers of new copies of Dragon Age: Origins at no additional cost. The Stone Prisoner can also be purchased separately for $15.
In addition, players who purchase a new copy of Dragon Age: Origins (original or Collector’s Edition) will receive a code to download the Blood Dragon Armor, an exclusive set of themed armor that will give the player additional protection in combat. This armor will be available for use in both Dragon Age: Origins and Mass Effect 2.
All gamers who pre-order Dragon Age: Origins will receive the Memory Band, an in-game item that can be equipped to add +1% to all gained Experience Points and which adds one bonus point that players can use to boost their character’s skill set. In addition to the Memory Band, several leading retailers are also offering a bonus Dragon Age: Origins item for a limited time. Players should check with their favorite retailer for additional pre-order item offerings.
In Dragon Age: Origins, players take the role of a Grey Warden, one of the last of an ancient order of guardians. Now, as a rising evil threatens to destroy all life, it is up to players to unite the shattered lands and slay the corrupted dragon known as the Archdemon. To restore peace, players must make ruthless decisions and be willing to sacrifice their friends and loved ones for the greater good of mankind.
Dragon Age: Origins will be released on November 3rd in North America and November 6th in Europe on the Xbox 360® videogame and entertainment system and PC. The PLAYSTATION®3 version will follow later in November. Dragon Age: Origins is rated M by the ESRB. For more information about Dragon Age: Origins, visit www.dragonage.com.
Dragon Age - Human Noble Hands-On
IGN is going to preview each of the Dragon Age starting origin stories, starting with the Human Noble origin in this article. The piece tries to avoid major spoilers but the broad story outline is covered. On the rules system:
BioWare designed the rule set from scratch, and D&D veterans might need a while to adjust to the different feel of the rules. Character abilities are divided between strength, dexterity, willpower, magic, cunning, and constitution. Strength affects the amount of damage you inflict in combat, dexterity lets you dodge attacks, willpower improves your stamina (which power your skills), and magic is important mainly for mages, though it has its uses for other classes. Cunning is a bit unusual, as it's mainly for rogues, but it's important for combat tactics as well. Then there's constitution, which mainly affects your health points. Each time you level up you get three points to distribute between these abilities, which sounds like a lot but you'll quickly discover that to use some of the best gear in the game often requires a particular ability score in the 20s or even 30s.
Wednesday - August 12, 2009
Dragon Age - Tutorial Video 3 (German)
The third tutorial video in German of Dragon Age shows game menus that gives a lot of information about the user interface. Even for non-Germans this video can be really informative.
Tuesday - August 11, 2009
Dragon Age - Wynne Video
An update at the Dragon Age site sees a new Wynne video:
Dragon Age: Origins has a new video on one of the possible party NPCs, the healing mage Wynne. Although Wynne may seem past her prime she wields a range of healing magic as well as offensive spells that make her a much desired ally. Check out the new video here.
Friday - August 07, 2009
Dragon Age - Release Date Queries? [Updated]
This newsbit has little basis but coming from Shacknews, it's going to get around and I thought we'd post it just in case it happens to be true. According to Shack, they noticed several online sites had suddenly pushed the date out on console versions of Dragon Age. BioWare responded but they seem to have left room for doubt:
BioWare has chimed in on the matter, telling Shacknews that it is "still targeting an October 20 release date" for Dragon Age: Origins and adding that "if the release date changes, we'll issue a press release."
"Dragon Age Origins will be released on November 3rd in North America and November 6th in Europe for Xbox 360 and PC. The Playstation 3 version will follow later in November," the BioWare rep said.
Thursday - August 06, 2009
Dragon Age - Orzammar Update @ Official Site
BioWare has kicked up Dragon Age World Update on the Dwarven city of Orzammar:
Orzammar. Once the home of miners and smiths, now it serves as the capital city and last bastion of the dwarven kingdoms against the oncoming darkspawn menace. Home to dwarves both noble and common, it is a city built on ancient dwarf traditions, including political infighting, crime and fierce combat. Learn more about Orzammar here.
Head over for screens, concept art and a brief description.
Thanks also to Prime Junta for a similar submission.
Wednesday - August 05, 2009
Dragon Age - Tutorial Videos (German)
The first covers the background story of Dragon Age and the second shows combat.
Sunday - August 02, 2009
Dragon Age - The Fade Video
BioWare's page on The Fade has a new video to shed more light. Thanks, Vistaer.