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. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    @theleif: The Normans will tell you they’re vikings, alright. The problem is they’ll do it in French.

    @Freudian Trip: I do believe 1066 was around the decline and end of the Viking Age, actually.

  2. theleif says:

    @Dorian Cornelius Jasper: Now they do. When they was given the land to protect the french coast from pirates they didn’t :)

  3. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    @theleif: Ah, but it was quite a while between being given Normandy and invading England. Long enough that the French words “boeuf” and “porc” managed to end up in the English language thanks to a certain Conqueror.

  4. Captain Haplo says:

    That’s not what’s important, dear Mr. Jasper. The important question is this:

    Did William the Conqueror invade England to a background music made of ROCK!?

    I would like to think he did.

  5. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    @Captain Haplo: Did William the 1st rock out? Mais oui!

  6. Captain Haplo says:

    And this, gentlemen, was how Hastings was won: through the power of goddamned *rock*.

    So what have we learned? If anything, this game is gonna be *awesome*.

  7. Archonsod says:

    “and when did metal ballads become directly synonymous with fantasy?”

    Roughly the same time Michael Moorcock started touring with Hawkwind and penning lyrics to Blue Oyster Cult albums if I remember rightly.

    Personally, I think the soundtrack should shift between interminable Muzak versions of popular hits for the grindy bits with bayou banjo sections for the talky bits. Oh, and perhaps a little Slade whenever an important character appears.

  8. Psychopomp says:

    Metal is fine and all. I mean, seriously, I LOVE metal.

    But…
    It’s just not working for Dragon Age.
    It’s just *too* in your face, especially the Mansons, IMO, grating style.

    IMO, they need something more gothic, and orchestral, while still being electronic.

    All I can think of right now is Ozar Midrashim :

    Start the music up first, then start the trailer up *immediately*

    It’s not the best illustration of what I mean, but it still gets rid of that bad “mature” 90’s action movie vibe…

  9. Bluepixie says:

    It’s clear from the comments on Gametrailers that the “new wave” (i.e. 10 to 17yrs old folks) are flying off their chairs due to the enormous quantities of excitement they are expelling. To quote:- “everything looks sweet with mm song behind it, specially blood & gore. nice trailer.”
    To be honest, hats off to the marketing department, they have “their” attention AND ours. *shrug*

  10. Psychopomp says:

    I’m going to laugh when they’re disappointed at the orchestral score, and lack of pressing O to rip people on half.

    Edit:
    “cooperb5656 said: Ya ;let put gay fag halo music keep it rock bitxhzz”

    WHAT IS THIS I DON’T EVEN

  11. TCM says:

    Basically, there is a core audience who, no matter what they say while freaking out on the internet, will buy the game simply because it is a CRPG by Bioware, and supposedely BG’s spiritual successor.

    Then there’s the audience they’re milking sales from, which does not know the definition of RPG outside of “God of War”. Which is not an RPG.

    It’s frigging brilliant marketing.

  12. Tei 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.”

    I am cryiing now like a littel girl… See what you have done? *cryiing*

  13. Bhazor says:

    Jeebus H Chris.

    Crafting a soundtrack that is immersive, relevant and “Right” is easy. If the instrument exists in the setting you can use it. If it doesn’t then you can’t.

    There is never an excuse for Manson.

  14. Hulk Hogan says:

    Kids These Days

    Why does noone besides me appreciate PROPER PERIOD MUSIC and GENERIC EPIC SOUNDTRACKS! A-BLOO A-BLOO BLOO BLOO BLOO

  15. cjlr says:

    @Bhazor:
    “Crafting a soundtrack that is immersive, relevant and ‘Right’ is easy. If the instrument exists in the setting you can use it. If it doesn’t then you can’t.”
    Brilliant!

    It’s not that I don’t like some metal (but honestly, Manson?) and also hearing electronic effects in a pseudo-medieval setting is just *jarring*.

    Also: I do like the orchestral stuff, when it’s done well (just that it’s not, usually). Sands of Time had Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherezade as background music, that was killer. Earth 2150 had Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring worked into the battle themes. Actually most symphonic scores (in movies and games) owe a lot to Stravinsky, and Dvorak – obviously Star Wars but a whole load of other stuff too. If I started mentioning Beethoven or Mozart I’d be here all day.

    Dueling requiems, Mozart and Verdi, now that’d be an epic soundtrack…

  16. Bhazor says:

    Reply to cjlr
    Actually that orchestral gubbins is getting right on my tit ends. It’s almost as out of place in a medieval setting as electric guitars. What I meant was proper period music like “Alasdair Mhic Colla Ghasda”.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68Vtx5q0xec

    Now that isn’t the best version, Julie Fowlis could batter that vocalist, but it has all the oomph of Manson without making me want to kill myself. More importantly the song is actually a funeral march for a scottish/irish soldier who was captured after doing terrible things for what seemed like a good reason. Which I’d argue fits well with the moral greyness Bioware are aiming for.

    Likewise there are some great driving scottish reels and a whole thousand years of march music, waulkin songs (rhythm driven communal songs), reels, jigs and so much more that theres really no need to go as generic as “Big orchestra”. I swear if I ever meet Howard Shore I’m going to blast his face clean through the side of a tree. However, I won’t hear anything bad about John Williams doing “big orchestra” first and also for the Indiana Jones flourish and the Imperial March.

    I’m not saying hard rawk should be destroyed I’m just saying everything in context. If they insist on using such a traditional, or cliched or tired if you prefer, setting then they could at least try to get it right. Manson and his ilk would be perfectly acceptable if, for example, this game was set in a 12 year olds head after being told off .

  17. Hulk Hogan says:

    Period music sounds horrible unless you’re the type of guy who goes to Ren Faires and drinks crappy home made beer.

    The whole “I’m trying to be like the LoTR movie and failing” thing is bad enough. You don’t need SCA fatties strumming on lutes making it even more unbearable.

    Hulk Hogan says: Bring on the eletric guitar, anything to break fantasy out of the lame and uncool prison of it’s own making.

    YOU HEAR THAT PERIOD MUSIC FATTIES! THE HULKSTER’S GONNA GO MEDIEVAL ON YOUR ASSES! I PUT ON MY ROBE AND WIZARD HAT AND CAST A LEVEL 100000000+ PILEDRIVER ON LAMOLASS THE ELFEN RANGER!

  18. tmp says:

    People moaning about what music goes and what goes not with fantasy … should watch themselves some Knight’s Tale. srsly.

  19. Bhazor says:

    Reply to Hulk Hogan
    I can only say is this

    and this


    (He may have a point, certainly lutes can hump the right off. Not so much for the way they sound but because of the kind of people who play them.)

  20. cjlr says:

    @Bhazor: Actually that orchestral gubbins is getting right on my tit ends. It’s almost as out of place in a medieval setting as electric guitars. What I meant was proper period music like “Alasdair Mhic Colla Ghasda”

    Oh, I know… It’s just that it was actually decent pieces, as opposed to some generic mess somebody tossed together. Still bizarre thematically, but it’s only one step removed from something approaching appropriate, instead of two.

    Actual medieval music, though, sounds just plain weird to modern ears most of the time, myself included. Plus it’s that much more work that most people obviously can’t be arsed.

  21. sigma83 says:

    My favorite instance of music in games is almost definitely the World of Warcraft. Give it as much flak as you like, those people at Blizzard can _compose a freaking score_.

  22. armless says:

    @ sigma

    yeh the music in wow was amazing, i can hardly listen to the barrens music now when i hear it because the nostalgia comes back so bad, almost makes me want to cry:) it opens up the wow addict part of my brain. The music in that lvl 70-80 place with the ogres was awesome too, i quite often get the urge to play it whenever i pick up a guitar. ( a string 0 2 4 d string 0 then maybe d string 0 2 a string 4) if anyone wants to play it)
    much better than this marilyn manson crap for an rpg

  23. Psychopomp says:

    @everyone
    The Dominions 3 soundtrack

    That’s *good* period music

  24. Ashurbanipal says:

    You definitely don’t need lutes and harps to make good music appropriate to the setting, especially since that sort of music is usually shit. You just need something more suitable in evoking the feeling of that setting. Classical instrumental pieces usually work, despite still being anachronistic, because they’re far enough removed from the modern era, and work on the emotions at such a basic level. Done right, it can be incredibly moving on a very basic level.

    Marilyn Manson doesn’t. It’s got far too many attachments to the present and certain modern concepts; angry youth, disenfranchisement, industrialisation, electricity. It comes off as far too jarring.

    I admit to liking Jeremy Soule’s stuff, but I suppose game music is different thing to trailer music.

    Playing the first video with no sound, so I couldn’t hear the guy spouting vaguely chivalric nonsense and the music, I was struck by how the thing looked like a tribute to the underdog man-with-no-name or hyper-skilled-ronin of westerns and Japanese film, and I can’t help but cringe again at the bland setting. I’m drugged up on cold medicine right now and to my addled mind, some odd blend of industrial, western and Quentin Tarrantino aesthetic would have been neat.

    As it stands, I think this is a title to pick up in a bargain. It looks like something I’ve played before. Many times before, actually.

    Edit: Now that I think of it, Assassin’s Creed’s Lonely Souls trailer worked surprisingly well. I suppose the difference here is that it fitted the mood and also looked and sounded quite elegant – it looked more like a music trailer than a game trailer.

  25. TCM says:

    Orchestral/classical music can, and will, work for any setting, if pulled off correctly.

  26. JKjoker says:

    i’ll probably get a lot of heat for this, but i kinda liked POP:Warrior Within’s game music and trailers, and didnt mind the whole emo art style, they used a very similar vibe to DA’s trailers and manage to pull it off, WW trailers had personality unlike DA ones, they didn’t feel like a shameless attempt to appeal to those that will not be interested in a baldur’s gate lookalike anyway

  27. Bhazor says:

    Reply to Ashurbanipal

    Oh I hate songs about electricity and industrialisation.

  28. Ashurbanipal says:

    I didn’t say the songs were about electricity or industrialisation. I said that songs like that contain associations to those things. Which is unavoidable when using crunchy electric guitars.

    I could perhaps have been clearer.

  29. Psychopomp says:

    @Ash

    Not so, you can have your electrics and still have that earthy, folk feel

  30. Sinnerman says:

    I think that orchestral music is accepted because we are used to the Wagnerian opera style of music being used in many films. It’s not so long ago that Easy Rider was seen as breaking all the rules. Not that Dragon Age is the Easy Rider of video games or anything. The Knights Tale film used Queen music well but that was only based on Chaucer which of course is not as important as the works of the great G.R.R. Martin.

  31. Z says:

    I’m surprised the 10-17 set even know who MM is. MM was pretty much played out within a year or so of me finishing High School (’99).

  32. Psychopomp says:

    @Z

    ANGRYFACE(!) music never goes outta style, and in all fairness, Manson *is* one of the better ANGRYFACE artists.
    I mean, the Nightmare Before Christmas covers were pretty good…

    Really, this *could* be worse – they could’ve picked Disturbed.

  33. OJ 287 says:

    On the one hand I can see what they were trying to do by putting in that sex scene.

    I was too afraid to look at the other hand.

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