More Dragon Age Footage

By John Walker on August 21st, 2008 at 8:36 pm.

It doesn't seem the fairest fight.

Like the title says. I’m finally playing Mass Effect for the first time at the moment, and oddly it’s making me look forward to Dragon Age a lot more. I’m not Mr Orcs & Goblins (RPS has enough of that type already), but the sterility of Mass Effect’s future has me aching to get into an olde worlde fantasy setting. What I’m loving about the in-game footage we’ve seen so far is quite how trad it all appears. Despite being in a far more versatile engine than Bioware’s previous D&D games, seeing those little green circles around their feet has made me feel all nostalgic.

To age my career, I went on a trip to Seattle for the announcement of Baldur’s Gate II. Announcement trips are always a bit silly, because it’s not like we didn’t know what we were going out to see. Because, you know, otherwise we wouldn’t have gone. So their declaring that it existed did feel a bit of a daft moment. It was in 1024×768! They were jolly excited about that. Why am I telling you this? For no reason other than to say, hooray, there’s that lovely feeling of anticipation all over again, as the true masters of the fantasy RPG are going heavily into their roots.

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34 Comments »

  1. James G says:

    There’s also some good shaky-cam footage over here:
    http://yellow-menace.com/2008/08/dragon-age-origins-20-min-gameplay-video-from-gen-con-indy-2008/

    Also, has any one else seen the ‘Dragon Age is comming to consoles’ thread on the Dragon Age forums? It seems some people are already shouting ‘dumming down.’ What is most odd is the people who seem to believe that despite the fact Bioware is near the end of the development cycle, they are going to strip out half the interface to make it console friendly.

  2. MisterBritish says:

    As much as I love Bioware, and as excited as I am for DA, I wish everyone would stop spouting the words: ‘dark, gritty and epic’. Get your hands on a thesaurus 1 already.

  3. Larington says:

    I miss the top down gameplay of the Baldurs gate games, I’m sure something was lost in the transition from 2d to 3d environments.

  4. Nick says:

    It looks pretty dusky, gravelly and grand to me.

  5. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    Well… Alright. Them being the “true masters of the fantasy RPG” is terribly hyperbolic for me to take seriously, but if anything, Dragon Age might be the first Bioware cRPG worthy of all the hype they’ve received over the years.

  6. Grey_Ghost says:

    I’d call it Murky, Rough, and Majestic.

  7. Turin Turambar says:

    More like grimdark…

  8. theleif says:

    This looks nothing like Baldurs Gate!
    They have moved the character portraits from the right side to the left!

    Traitors!

    PS: When will someone do a cRPG based on the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin?
    Best Fantasy Ever Written

    PPS: I’m really looking forward to this.

  9. someyoungguy says:

    swarthy, granular, legendary…

  10. SwiftRanger says:

    The in-game cinematic (extended again) is still a bit awful but for the actual game part it looks like good old times are coming back indeed, welcome back drag-box-selecting!

  11. Sartoris says:

    @theleif:

    I would love to see a game based on Martin’s books, and I vaguely remember it being mentioned years ago in connection with dragon age, but I guess all that changed and we might be looking at another generic fantasy setting.

  12. YggdrasilHugger says:

    Why would I want to play a rough narrative poem where I can’t see half of the graphics? Seems like a bit of a weak selling point to me.

    How about making an RPG with challenging tactical fights and memorable characters. Better that getting grit in between your toes while tripping over some poorly illuminated piece of furniture while someone shouts old foreign poetry at you. It seems that I don’t really understand some RPG developers as they have odd priorities.

  13. Schadenfreude says:

    The lead-writer, David Gaider, still cites ASOIAF as a strong influence for the tone of Dragon Age. And Ice and Fire isn’t quite as “low-fantasy” as everyone makes out (It’s fantasy-altitude increases rapidly as the books go on IMO). Dragons in the south and The Others over the wall and more and more magic users showing up all the time.

  14. Sartoris says:

    ASOIAF still has a much more original and fresh setting, in my opinion. LOTR-inspired fantasy setting has been done to death. The use of magic is subtle and mysterious and not in your face, and the whole thing with dragons is very toned down, at least in the first two books.

  15. JulianP says:

    Stale story, bad gameplay, unoriginality and badly written, completely unnatural dialogue, here I come!

    Jade Empire and Mass Effect made me lose my faith in BioWare. ;_;

  16. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    At least DA looks a bit classier on the sliding scale of “Classy-to-Silly Fantasy.” Not quite as classy as LotR, not quite as silly as post-2nd Ed. D&D, and far and away less silly than Warcraft.

    Seeing that Fireball spell, though, gives it an automatic silly point. Because it’s only a staple of fantasy games due to the fact that it was an overpowered D&D spell every mage had.

    I guess the “unoriginality” criticism above makes some sense. But hey, at least it’s D&D as people imagine it, if not D&D as WotC markets it. And without Ceilings That Also Happen to Be Monsters.

    I just wish “fantasy” weren’t effectively synonymous with “D&D-ripping-off-Tolkien.”

    Wait, I think I’ve said this before. Hmm.

  17. Mogs says:

    Looks nothing short of turd. What you call ‘traditional’ I call regressive. Games have moved on from this antiquated & clumsy gameplay. DULL!

  18. Devin says:

    Guys, high vs low fantasy is like mystery vs crime novel, not like far-future SF vs near-future.

    It’s actually got little to do with magic level and much to do with story tropes. When you’ve got your Hero of Destiny, called upon by the Wise, Sad-eyed Wizard to Save The World, that’s high fantasy. Throw in a little Peaceful, Pastoral Homeland, an Evil Overlord, maybe some Desperate Defenders who live between the PPH and the EO, and so forth, and there’s your Major Fantasy Trilogy!

    Low fantasy is a hard term to define. It’s probably “any fantasy that isn’t high fantasy” but that’s overbroad. Still, it certainly includes Fritz Leiber’s Lahkmar stories, even though Sheelba of the Eyeless Face could magic Gandalf into a bag with one hand, and the Mouser is canonically a better swordsman than Aragorn or Boromir or Beren himself.

    A Song of Ice and Fire is borderline. It’s got a lot of high-fantasy tropes (the Ancient and Magical Royal Blood, the Last Honorable House, the Order of the Wise (with Hidden Knowledges too!), even the Desperate Defenders up north. It subverts a lot of those tropes (with the favored son of the Last Hon. House dying face-down in the mud, for instance) but not others. It’s not, for instance, in the space mapped out by Glen Cook’s Black Company books, of deliberate rejection of high-fantastic values in a world which shares the expected Tolkeinic assumptions about reality but not about value.

    I’d say it’s most usefully compared to the New Space Opera of Bujold, Reynolds et al and considered as a sort of New High Fantasy. It’s operating within the framework of high fantasy in most ways, but it values the work and the creation of a strong narrative over fulfilling the tropes and expectations of the subgenre.

    If Bioware can do something similar in that vein, using classic CRPG tropes and borrowings as a shorthand where it enhances the game, but throwing them away to break new ground without regrets where that’s more appropriate, I’ll be extremely pleased.

    PS: All hands brace for nerdtime!

  19. ulix says:

    GRRM said that he’d may be interested in making/writing a videogame in the Ice & Fire universe… when he’s finished writing the books.
    So probably never, because somehow I predict that he’ll probably be dead before he can finish his saga. Sadly.

  20. theleif says:

    @Devin

    Reynolds is actually my current SF favourite. Never heard of Bujold, got to check her out. Literally.

    And i agree with the rest of your post as well.

  21. Tom says:

    Ah, this looks a little too traditional for my likings.
    I loved the hybrid-ness of ME (how’s it going for you John?)

  22. Half Broken Glass says:

    true masters of the fantasy RPG

  23. Devin says:

    @theleif

    I picked them as opposite ends of the spectrum… She’s amazing but what she writes is very different from Reynolds. I cannot imagine that anyone with the ability to read RPS would dislike Bujold, but if you wanted MOAR REYNOLDS you might be disappointed in your liking. You should look for maybe like Iain M. Banks as well.

  24. beeber says:

    I enjoyed Neverwinter Nights, it was good. And over the years I’ve managed to repress the niggling disappointment I felt about it after loving BG2.

    But now, I’m emotionally liberated to face up to emotions, and get terribly excited about Dragon Age.

    And It was the green circles that did it for me, too.

  25. Ian says:

    “As much as I love Bioware, and as excited as I am for DA, I wish everyone would stop spouting the words: ‘dark, gritty and epic’. Get your hands on a thesaurus 1 already.”

    Only that if/when they do everybody’ll just say, “Oh. You mean dark and gritty then, eh?”

  26. YggdrasilHugger says:

    I think that if you need a hook into what high fantasy is then look no further than the Bioware RPG, it’s in their blood. Even KotOR and Mass Effect are high fantasy if you define the genre by themes and scope.

    Maybe high fantasy isn’t seen as being so fashionable any more or they just want to change things. Fire and Ice seems to be the most popular fantasy at the moment. I’ve only read the first book and didn’t rate it but it didn’t seem to me to be any less high fantasy, just quicker to brutalise main characters and more focused on a semi-realistic medieval setting.

    Scott Lynch and Steven Erikson are something else in my opinion. The Lies of Locke Lamora should be required reading. Honestly, it’s like Blackadder meets Thief.

  27. The Sombrero Kid says:

    i don’t get the popular opinion on this, i thought mass effect was fucking brilliant, i thought everything to come out of bioware has been fucking brilliant and i don’tt see any reason why dragon age will be any differant infact everything i see makes me think it’ll be fucking brilliant!

  28. Albides says:

    I’d agree, Yggdrasil. Much of the gritty fantasy I’ve read seems the same maundering navel-gazing of other high fantasy works. They’re usually engaging, but then you get to end of the first volume of a projected 10 volume set or something and realise that it’s like binging on chips or something. Nice, but all you’ve gained by the end of it is a bit of weight. And a terrible metaphor.

    But what I mean is they’re not really offering you much that’s new. They’re just selling you the same soap opera self-indulgence re-marketed for “mature” readers.

    Not to say I won’t play this and think it’s a great game, though.

  29. Schadenfreude says:

    The lead-writer on this, David Gaider, was lead-designer of Throne of Bhaal (And he then released the Ascension mod for it), did some of the writing on KotOR (HK was all his) and was responsible for Hordes of the Underdark (Chapter 3 of which is Fried Gold IMO). I think it’s a good enough pedigree to get excited about.

  30. The Sombrero Kid says:

    @Schadenfreude you’re very right this is another reason to look forward to this a lot!

  31. The Hammer says:

    This is one of the few retails games I’m really looking forward to. I normally yawn at the Bioware dialogue, but if the lead-writer has such a pedigree underneath him, I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how the story is presented and plays out.

    I -love- dungeon crawlers, especially group dungeon crawlers, and this looks to be one of the best of them. If it’s a tad simpler to understand and enjoy than Baldur’s Gate, I’ll be pleased.

  32. James G says:

    @Sombrero Kid
    I agree about Mass Effect, I thought it was great, and it had some excellent characters. (Ashley Williams was an excellent character, even if I didn’t actually ‘like’ her.) I even enjoyed the combat, which managed to feel like an RPG, despite its more FPS stylings. Jade Empire however was a bit meh for me, the combat felt like little more than button bashing, and I never really felt for any of the characters.

    Dragon Age I am very much looking forward to. I hope that they’ll be able to replicate some of the more interesting battles seen in the BG2, where a change in tactics could be the difference between a wipe-out, and coming through with barely a scratch in some fights. (Although some of the most fun were those where the last enemy goes down while your entire party is on single figure hitpoints.) If they can marry this with some of the presentation developments seen in Mass Effect then it will be fantastic. (I must say, that after having Shepard fully voiced in Mass Effect, the silent protagonist looked strange in those trailers)

  33. Sam says:

    There is an interview with Bioware’s David Gaider on the most recent Gamers with Jobs podcast
    to be found here thats well worth a listen.

  34. KingMob says:

    I liked Baldur’s Gate, Jade Empire, Mass Effect, and I’m looking forward to this.

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