Dragon Age: More Talk, More Rokk

By Alec Meer on May 29th, 2009 at 1:11 pm.

Oh dear, the last Dragon Age Trailer we posted didn’t half cause a stink. Outrage at the Marilyn Manson soundtrack and silly sex scenes from one camp, and accusations of prudish snobbery from the other. Why… why can’t we all just get along? Sniff. Bioware seem to think similarly, their latest vid-snippet aiming square at a compromise – big, sonorous speeches paired with more heavy rawk. While I don’t think for one second that’s going to be representative of the game itself, it kind of works in this intro cinematic.

It may not be telling us that much about the game itself, but it does reinforce the idea that Bioware are trying hard to appeal to a market other than solely Baldur’s Gate die-hards. It will be fascinating to see if they have managed to incorporate any of that into yer actual game.

Also, a couple of recent videos we missed first time around. Here’s a cute one that’s simultaneously mocking and encouraging the stereotypes of the genre:

And here’s the lead designer giving – gasp! – some genuine details of the game, rather than semi-ironic posturing. A lot of talk on the morality in the game – less binary good/evil in this one and more characters with clouded motivations, apparently, a la Witcher. Hopefully that’s something Bioware can pull off, as they have been a little too reliant on a Mathematical Morality Meter in their most recent games. Also, the near-absence of Brian Manson (save for Gametrailer’s editing in of the sex clip at the end) in this one is probably telling:

Hopefully, our own John Walker will get some hands-on time with Dragon Age at E3 next week, and it will finally become clear exactly what tone and approach this thing’s taking.

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135 Comments »

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  1. Rei Onryou says:

    If they just did their own generic-rokk, I wouldn’t mind. It just feels so…marketed and forced. Like most of the acts on Britain’s Got Talent.

  2. Freudian Trip says:

    Tei, how could you not complete Jade Empire? It’s possibly one of the eastiest games I’ve ever played. (becoming even easier in the final bit where you can become a giant golem and rape absolutely everyone like the Vikings in 1066.

  3. Jeremy says:

    I would say by its very definition, a “clip” is out of context. We look at these scenes of violence and sex and we say, “gee whiz, those sure are some weird things to have in a trailer Hank”, but we have no clue how they fit into the whole of the game. Hence, out of context.

  4. Xercies says:

    Here was what I was thinking.

    First trailer- Oh god the same rawk nonsense this isn’t looking good.. /headpalm

    Second trailer- Wow they went mor RPG this time, things might be looking u…oh no they used rock again oh god.

    Third trailer- So you have demons but you also have grey morality how is that going to work? At leats this is much bett…oh god what is with the rock.

    Please take the rock as far away as possible and do something nasty to it…please

  5. Random Reader says:

    @Calabi: Fallout and Diablo are all about amazing non-generic ambient soundtrack. Turn the music off and all the athmosphere fells apart.

  6. JKjoker says:

    @Jeremy: no way, they took the clips, chose the music and released a trailer, they set their own context, its like saying every shitty demo ever released doesn’t mean the game is crap because its “out of context”, oh i just love when they start screaming “its nothing like the full game!!!”, wtf are you wasting my time then ?!!?

  7. plant42 says:

    “Oh no, everyone’s dead! You’re the last of your kind! I suppose that makes you the Chosen One by default.

    Something bad happens next week!

    Go to these four places to get four different things to build that thing we need! Here is a sexy bi-curious womans to help you!”

    This is sadly accurate. Funny, but sad.

  8. Greg says:

    What sort of morality system do people actually want? Have we discussed this anywhere? It seems like all morality systems I’ve seen suffer from either:
    a) ‘Do you want to rescue Timmy or let him die’, but if we rescue him we get a sidequest with a neat reward, making it the only sensible choice
    b) ‘Good’ and ‘evil’ versions of *the same quest*, difficulty balanced against each other

  9. TCM says:

    I want a morality system where I am not forced to choose between Sainthood, Baby-eating, or complete apathy.

  10. Jeremy says:

    Context: (I’m not citing this as an insult, just to make that clear, but for the sake of my side of the argument)
    the parts of a written or spoken statement that precede or follow a specific word or passage[or video clip], usually influencing its meaning or effect

    We cannot understand the full context of any clip without knowing the before and after, and by design, clips are isolated experiences. Clips are not designed to show the game as a whole, only concepts, such as the idea that this game has a darker feel, more violence and maybe a tryst with a medieval gal. Try watching that original clip without any music, see if you still hate it, or if you just hate Marilyn Manson :)

    On top of that, it isn’t like a demo at all, because that is actually a part of the game, you’re playing it; it has gameplay elements, story, music, voice acting, etc. This is a mind explosion of 27 random clips throughout the game with a Gray Warden cutting off heads followed by a random scene of a girl with granny panties on, and back to more decapitations. There is zero context for that to fit into.

  11. suibhne says:

    @TCM: “I want a morality system where I am not forced to choose between Sainthood, Baby-eating, or complete apathy.”

    Good luck with Bioware games, then. ;)

    Wrt the larger question of whether the trailer is representative, it’s worth remembering that Bioware’s PR efforts have gone off the rails in the past, too. Much of Mass Effect’s PR jiggery-pokery focused on Shepard as “Jack Bauer in space”, playing up the “extreme” approach to getting results, and that ended up being a minor and totally disposable part of the game – not the defining feature that was suggested. In other words, Mass Effect was represented for months on end as a highly cinematic and highly “extreme” innovation, when it really turned out to be another typical Bioware title – replete with typical Bioware morality and plot tropes, distinguished from past Bioware games primarily by a much more direct model of action gameplay. There were things that I liked about Mass Effect, but it was a Bioware title through and through; it wasn’t at all the totally new critter that was aggressively advertised through Bioware’s PR. I suspect we’ll discover the same phenomenon with DA:O: once the dust settles, it’ll turn out to be the same “spiritual successor to BG” that’s been billed for several years, unmistakable as a Bioware game with all that that entails, both good and bad.

  12. Pijama says:

    QUICK, we must mash up this new trailer with a police series theme music right NOW!

    p.s. – Magnum P.I. ftw?

  13. Jeremy says:

    Pijama: That would be awesome. We should really start mashing all kinds of music in there.

  14. TCM says:

    Benny Hill theme. Do it now.

  15. Sinnerman says:

    Heh, try the first video with this music.

  16. JKjoker says:

    @Jeremy: you dont get it, “they took me out of context!!” is an argument you use when somebody quotes YOU, but they cant quote THEMSELVES and then say they took THEMSELVES out of context, thats freaking stupid

  17. Vincent Avatar says:

    @Freudian Trip: If you’re going to make an historical metaphor, at least try to make it historically accurate. The Norman invasion was in 1066, not the Viking raids.

    The marketing of this game has yet to deter me from wanting to get it ‘pon its release.

  18. Jeremy says:

    I’m pretty sure I do get it. When did I say they took themselves out of context, because I agree, that’s fairly idiotic. I was saying that you took it out of context. Imagine if you take the Lord of the Rings series and just string together 30 seconds of random non-connected clips where Aragorn, Gandalf and Co. were cutting off heads and clobbering orcs, would that be representative of the series? It would just show that there is going to be some awesome action, but we could also be sure that there is a lot more to the series than just a string of beat downs one after the other.

  19. Funky Badger says:

    Adam: those two music clips you mention weren’t actually in the Gears’ soundtracks – only in the promos. But they were genius. Whouda thunk it, a delicate juxtaposition… onna console!

  20. Thirith says:

    Freudian Trip:

    Tei, how could you not complete Jade Empire? It’s possibly one of the eastiest games I’ve ever played.

    Heh.

  21. Okami says:

    @Greg : You haven’t played the Witcher, apparently. The morale decisions there are more along the line of:

    Do I help the blond Nazi Knight? His order wants to exterminate all non humans, but the guy himself is actually a pretty decent chap. He helped me slay a monster once. Or do I help the elven resistance fighters? Sure, they fight for a worthy cause – the survival of their species – but they do so by killing “innocent” humans. Also they’re a bunch of stuck up, arrogant assholes

    The gameplay effect of either choice? I have no fucking clue. Helping either one of them will help me with my personal quest. Sure, there are consequences, but they will only become apparent in a few hours of gameplay.

  22. TCM says:

    The Witcher has some excellent moral decisions — But grey and gray morality gets old after a while.

    ( http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/GreyAndGrayMorality )

    I want good, evil, grey, light grey, dark grey, gray, light gray, dark gray, lawful, chaotic, neutral, apathetic, and omnicidal insanity to all be viable options, with completely different storylines for each flavor and combination.

    This will never happen.

  23. theleif says:

    @Vincent Avatar: The Normans where actually vikings. Sort of.

    @Sagan: A Game of Thrones is high fantasy, even though it’s not the focus of the story. But you have your dragons, your undead, giants and high mages. And, btw it’s by far the best fantasy ever written.

    @And finally. I’m pretty sure the marketing is handled by EA and not Bioware. Keeping that in mind might give you some perspective. Ffs, when i read some of the comments here, it’s like you’ve already played the game. Twice. You haven’t. You’ve seen a variation of basically the same trailer a couple of times, that contain a Marilyn Manson song. That’s it.
    Cheers

  24. Dolphan says:

    Have to agree that Jade Empire was spectacularly easy, I think I died about twice, and that only towards the end. Tei – maybe you missed some aspect of the controls?

    That said, I think it was a fantastic game, brilliantly executed plot and setting. It would be my favourite post-BG Bioware game, if it wasn’t for the fact that KOTOR lets you be a Jedi. Which is far more of an influence on me than it should be.

  25. JKjoker says:

    i don want gray, white, black. blue or red morality, i would rather a game that lets me take decisions that cannot be categorized in good, bad, right, wrong but completely change the game, i might “be taking things out of context” but so far DA seems to have cloned Darksun: SL ‘s story of “big bad army coming, go do sidequests getting factions to join you during the last battle” with the modern dumbing down addition of “if you pick option A you get 100 humans, if you pick option B you get 80 werewolves that are equivalent to 100 humans” making every decision little more than a matter of “dressing up” your allies

    The Witcher was close, i found it funny how the game told you every pick you made was the wrong one, Geralt even says “what was i thinking?!”, but the end result was pretty much the same game but your allies just had different looks and speech patterns, still, the game changed quite a bit at least during the initial Acts (they probably ran out of budget by the end)

    @Jeremy: i still dont understand why you defend Bioware for doing stupid trailers, if they felt we are “taking them out of context” they could just change the tone of the next trailer…. which they didn’t

  26. Serondal says:

    I really loved Jade Empire from start to finish. Like is said above it was never really hard, I never actaully died once other than the one part where it is scripted to happen. (Hope I didn’t spoil that for anyone but if you haven’t played it by now you’re never gonna play it lol) I really liked the part with the British guy who was blowing people away with a gun to prove he was superior lol

    I don’t see anything wrong with this vidoe or the last one, I actaully really liked the last one personally. But still how is it possible to take a traler out of context? IT IS The context! If it is anyones fault that the trailer is out of context to the game it is whoever made the freaking trailer not people watching

  27. Quests says:

    “Bioware are trying hard to appeal to a market other than solely Baldur’s Gate die-hards”

    There’s no such a thing as appealing 2 markets. If you make less engaged players happy, the toughs will find it a superficial consoleing-oriented game.

  28. Magnus says:

    Off topic:
    Harald of Norway attacked the north in 1066, and they were eventually beaten by Harold King of England. Shortly afterwards, William of Normandy invaded on the south coast, and the depleted English army was defeated.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1066

    On topic:
    Not a fan of this trailer, but there are other trailers which were shown earlier detailing the very BG-esque control system and combat system. Also, it’s worth visiting the Dragon Age website, because theres some other videos there that are very interesting.

  29. Serondal says:

    That’s not quite true Quests. Take DCS Black SHark for example. IT appears to EXTREMLY Hardcore Flightsim fans, but it also appeals to people who want to play an arcade like helicopter shoot’em with a flick of a switch in the options panel and can be both or some place in between.

    Now if they could just do that with an RPG, make a swich that flips it from diablo over to Baldur’s gate ;)

  30. Captain Haplo says:

    You know, I don’t remember the last time there was a trailer or whatever that showcased a game’s dialogue system. A minute and a half of, say, people talking and the effects it has.
    I wonder why that is.

    On the topic of Morality Metres, are people generally annoyed at the starkness of the choices involved in a good-to-evil axis, or are people instead wanting a whole plethora of choices? A Morality Cross, like out of DnD? Morality Diamond, where a blob of colour is stretched in ten different directions? A group of metres, independent of the other? Instead of a good-evil tag, you could have ruthless-compassion, or reckless-restrained, or what have you.

  31. Quests says:

    @Serondal
    Heh sure…

    but it’s a common feature only for flight sims, a flight model is very yielding because of its own technical nature.

    Sure, it’s still doable. It’d be more like the little option in Monkey Island2, where you could skip some of the intricacies of puzzles. But DA is not gonna have such a thing

    I really hope the morality system works… and when i say works i mean that it’s a challenge for the player. Take Fallout, probably the best choices system ever: In it you usually had to pick which faction to join among 2 or 3, and simply help ‘em, mostly with violence and shoosting. Then there were hidden choices, subtle, non-violent, doable using the char’s own skills(steal, stealth, science etc).

    -there was NO intended morality in them, if there was, morality was an attribute THE PLAYER himself gave to them according to his own point of view.
    -they were HARD to guess, they were actual puzzles, find an object, use it.

  32. suibhne says:

    @Captain Haplo: Actually, an earlier DA:O trailer (on origin vignettes) showcased the dialog system much more heavily than any other game element. That’s the trailer that first piqued my interest, before the more recent trailers threatened to disembowel and then immolate it.

  33. Serondal says:

    I’d rather see the group of meters or sliders for diffrent aspects of your morality personally.

  34. Hulk Hogan says:

    I want to grab two elves and tie them together by their long, blond mullets into elf-chucks that I can then use to crush a hobbit/maul a dwarf/boob a tit.

    Those are arbitrary morality choices I can get behind, brother!
    THIS IS MUCH BETTER THEN THIS HELP/TORTURE THE PRISONER AND GAIN +10 GOOD/EVIL POINTS CRAP! GIVE HIM FOOD OR SET HIS NUTSACK ON FIRE! THIS IS SOME DEEP MORALITY PLAY STUFF HERE FOLKS!!!

  35. JulianPierce says:

    I refuse to believe this will be a worthy successor to Baldur’s Gate. Bioware lost their touch somewhere between KotOR and Jade Empire.

  36. Pijama says:

    This is NOT going to be the next Baldur’s Gate. FACT.

    I still believe it is going to be a damn asskicking rpg though. Plus, thankfully, this trailer was seriously better than the last one.

    btw, Magnum P.I. worked well, but not so much as the last trailer with 5-0. :(

  37. chaves says:

    Well, keep it coming. I’m honestly enjoying this… hmmm… curious turn of events. They wanted hype, we give them the hype. Controversial all the way. Manson wasn’t a naive pick.

    After the tsunami all left will be just another Bioware game. Same stuff as always with more dialog options to be mean and dark.

    So, I doubt they’re trying to break the mold after all. They’re just trying to look cool with those new black eyelids, black shirts and tribal tatoos. But we know those tatoos won’t survive a shower.

  38. Wulf says:

    @demonarm

    “So, this is the new Tim Shafer game set a world inspired by heavy metal album art?”

    Thank you for seeing that.

    As one person pointed out, classical used to be synonymous with fantasy, and now we’re entering into a new age! Oh no, wait, we’re not…

    It’s the same old, now it’s just rock that’s been magically hodge-podged into fantasy. I’m just wondering when we’re see the rawk version of LOTRO appear, where Sam Gamgee and Bilbo Baggins end up being like Bill & Ted.

    /sigh

    Music should fit the scene and the feeling, it should not specifically fit the setting, and when did metal ballads become directly synonymous with fantasy? Some metal does have fantasy elements, yes, but some has steampunk too, some is cyberpunk (like Ayreon), some is slice of life, some has ethereal settings which can’t be defined so easily, some is historical, and so on, and so on.

    That’s why I found Brutal Legend to be so utterly pointless, if you’re going to do a game about metal, then do a game about metal, don’t do a game in a medieval setting and then try to set it apart by saying “OMG look, guy has electric guitar that shoots electric, ZOMG!”.

    Classical music is fitting for fantasy if it fits the scene and the emotion presented, just go with the music that feels right, don’t go with the music “Wot I think is synonymous of the genre!”, because that usually ends up having a disjointed effect. If metal fits a scene or the feeling of a scene, use metal by all means, but don’t use metal just because it’s fantasy.

    Does anyone basically get where I’m coming from here, and why I’m so irritated by all this? It’s like saying that if you have a French detective, the only music you can use for him is cheesy French organ music, no matter what he’s saying, doing, feeling, or regardless of what’s going on.

    That kind of mindset makes me facepalm and leaves me feeling like the average Angry Internet Man.

    So… ROCK-LOTRO, with Frodo Bassdrums and Sam Grungy, who’s looking forward to it?

    TL;DR: I hope there’s not lots of rock/metal in Dragon Age just for the sake of there being lots of rock/metal, just because it’s a medieval setting and the two are supposedly synonymous.

  39. Tworak says:

    Man, Bioware must’ve bled some crazy amount of talent over the years.

  40. JKjoker says:

    @Tworak: its the rule, get too close to EA and youll start talking like a retard and soiling yourself

  41. Stupoider says:

    “It’s the same old, now it’s just rock that’s been magically hodge-podged into fantasy. I’m just wondering when we’re see the rawk version of LOTRO appear, where Sam Gamgee and Bilbo Baggins end up being like Bill & Ted… So… ROCK-LOTRO, with Frodo Bassdrums and Sam Grungy, who’s looking forward to it?”

    I’ll admit it. I giggled.

    However, my mind is still set on skipping this game.

  42. Serondal says:

    Brutal Legend is not in a medevil setting, it is in an alternate reality.

  43. Calabi says:

    @Wulf

    I’ve never heard of metal being synonymous with fantasy?

    I think every major battle should be accompanied by this.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9N4ckFN96-k

    It fits with the violence trailer as well.

  44. Pijama says:

    Also, Brütal “umlauts are cool thx” Legend will be better than this. :D

  45. Stupoider says:

    Seconded, Pijama.

  46. Psychopomp says:

    I was all like “this is actually kinda classy.”
    Then they brought back the Manson.

    I just hope this isn’t reflective potential EA dickery.

  47. Serondal says:

    It would be interesting to seen an article about how heavy armor has evolved over the years in video games from being kind of painted directly on the texture of the character to becoming its own seperate model ect. Think of neverwinter nights how most of the armor was just part of the character’s body slightly modified and then textured diffrently or Gothic 3 or Oblivion where the armor is its own seperate model and looks almost realistic. Also the styles changed from crazy shoulder pads in WoW to sleek sexy armor we see above.

    Myself I’ve always had a thing for armor that is asymmetric with a big kind of shoulder pad on one side and sleeker armor on the other maybe exposed flesh on the arm for flexibility of the sword arm. A shield that is only large on one side and smooth on the other for deflecting blows, this sort of thing. I know it doesn’t reflect reality at all times but it’s cool.

  48. Tim says:

    God what shit music.

    Where’s my weird folk electronica game?

  49. Serondal says:

    It seems to me an obvious choice for music for these trailers should be Dragon Force O.o

  50. Pijama says:

    After deep ponderation…

    Bioware Marketing: No, seriously, drop the fucking music. It sucks.