The Ongoing Saga Of Dragon Age DLC

By John Walker on January 18th, 2010 at 3:45 pm.

A player stood waiting for his RTO DLC to arrive.

UPDATE: SEE BELOW

I keep having these grand plans for writing about the Dragon Age DLC. Since the game came out I’ve intended a Wot I Think summing up the content subsequently released for my favourite game of last year. But at every turn I have been thwarted by a confusion of DLC management. An enormous array of bugs and errors are making it near-impossible for some to access their paid for content. And the tale of Return To Ostagar, originally due out on 5th January but still a no-show, is rapidly descending into farce.

The sheer variety of problems people are having is impressive in itself. A variety of problems that so far are only being usefully supported by users on the Dragon Age forums who have put together a monolithic series of guides for addressing the spread of errors people are encountering.

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.

The 14th January is when it all went bonkers. Early in the day BioWare’s Chris Priestly declared that the DLC was now “unexpectedly available” on the 360. He went on to promise the PC version for later in the day. The phrase “unexpectedly available” is a peculiar one – you would hope at least the company making it would be aware when it’s coming out (although perhaps the oddness of dealing with Microsoft played a part here). They were, however, involved in its rapid recall.

Chris Priestly took to the forums once again later that day:

“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.”

Later the previous patch itself was also pulled on 360, accompanied with the news, “Currently, we do not have an ETA for the release of Return to Ostagar on any platform.” The DLC remains unreleased on any platform.

Of course, the issue highlighted so far is BioWare’s bad fortune, rather than any egregious act on their part. They clearly intended to release the DLC on time, suddenly discovered a big problem, pulled it, and from then on things unravelled. And as we know all PC games generate enough technical problems across a mixture of systems to fill a thousand forums. The point of contention, however, has been the way this has been communicated.

Not a helpful site.

The forum announcements are problematic. Crucial announcements such as those linked above, while stickied to appear at the top of the “General Discussion” section, aren’t locked to offer only the information a reader might need to read. Instead each generates dozens of pages, the latest offering an astonishing 148 pages from the extremely prolific DAO community. According to Chris Priestly’s profile page he has posted a number of times in this thread. The thought of sorting through the thousands of posts to find whether what he said was important is not one that appeals.

But further, announcing major release changes on a forum is simply not appropriate. The game has its own website. A website that, currently, appears to imply the DLC is available. It describes the product, and tells you the price. Click on the button to find out more about your system, and it takes you to the BioWare store to purchase BioWare points so you can buy it in-game. Except it isn’t in the game. While clearly not deliberate, it gives the impression (to me at least) that the game can be bought, and takes your money for points via that link without warning you it isn’t released. This seems a serious problem.

The last piece of news posted on the Dragon Age site’s front page was, as it happens, also on the 5th January. It was to announce the confirmation of Awakening, the expansion due in a few months. It seems a little bewildering that the delay of Return To Ostagar hasn’t been considered newsworthy. Especially in light of the game-breaking code released to 360 owners.

DLC is new and frightening ground for all developers and publishers. Clearly no one really knows what they’re doing with it yet. But when the existence of this extra content is being waved like a 400ft flag, it has to be better organised than this. Dragon Age is a wonderful game. One of the most wonderful games to have been made. It is an enormous shame to see it tarred by this muddle. What’s so maddening is (beyond the specific technical errors people are experiencing) so much of the frustration would be resolved by simply writing, “This DLC has been delayed until further notice,” on the game’s site. Some visible clarity, basically. It would go a long way.

UPDATE: A little thing, and it indeed goes a long way. The Return To Ostagar site now sports an “AVAILABLE SOON” next to its price:

A more helpful site.

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105 Comments »

  1. LewieP says:

    I got given this for Christmas, but haven’t installed it yet.

    I have been playing other stuff, but I am also waiting to see what happens with the DLC.

  2. Muzman says:

    re: the header image.
    Does Dragon Age have a zombie wife in it as well?

  3. Heliosicle says:

    Am I guessing that you tried to buy it and turned out very annoyed?

    Anyway, I can only guess that they’re all hard at work trying to fix what ever magnitude of problem there is. Despite that, its no real excuse for the total lack of information on the subject.

    • John Walker says:

      This is very much the point. Of course BioWare must be frantic trying to fix all this. But the time it would take to update the website would be negligible alongside it, and make such a huge difference.

    • cliffski says:

      In an ideal world the lead coder would fix this stuff. meanwhile, the website admin is completely free to update the site, and any community relations staff are free to tell people this stuff.
      It takes less than 20 seconds for a developer to brief someone else what to tell users on forums.

      It’s only humble indie devs who actually do it all at once :D

    • Wulf says:

      And Bioware is massive, probably triply so since they’ve been bought up. The notion that they’ve not a free-hand to spare to update their own news site verges on the utterly absurd. I’m not bashing though, because the real question is why hasn’t this happened?

      In any reasonable scenario, it would have. I’m no huge fan of Bioware, but I will admit to their competence, so what’s going on there? The only thing I can think of is that there’s been some massive issue uncovered with their DLC system that could make the whole thing unravel, from top to bottom, and it’s gotten them in some massive panic.

      The only thing that would lead to no revealed information is if the situation was so bad that they couldn’t reveal any information. At this point, I’m rather glad that the Bioware DLC system does snot have my credit card details. >.>;;

    • Funky Badger says:

      Wulf: no need to look for conspiracies – once any organisation becomes big enough that it can afford to alienate a decent percentage of its customers, customer service goes right down the toilet.

  4. Feath says:

    On the forum index if you click the Bioware icon underneath the thread title you’ll be able to see all the replies by Bioware people.

  5. Alex says:

    When at the page with a list of forum topics, http://social.bioware.com/forum/1/category/9/index , you can click on the word “Bioware” underneath the title of a post. Doing that will show you just the posts by Bioware employees. http://social.bioware.com/forum/1/topic/9/index/608506&lf=8
    There isn’t any more information there now than what you already know, but it’s a quick way to check for new announcements.

  6. John Walker says:

    Thanks for the tip.

  7. Pace says:

    That very crowded forum seems to be the only source of tech support, or information about patches, or useful information of any kind really. All I could find at least. Annoying indeed. Trying to navigate it to find out why the first patch broke the game for me was maddening.

    • mpk says:

      It looks like a trend is forming, where developers are happy to leave tech support to the fanbase. cf the Borderlands tweaks thread.

      Why bother paying their own tech guys to do it when tinternetters do it for free?

    • JohnArr says:

      I think the main problem here is that Bioware are not (officially) doing tech-support for DA; the responsibility apparently now lies with EA. Which leads to a lot of people going to Bioware’s forums and asking for help (as well you might expect) and the only people providing support are the fans.

    • Cooper says:

      @ Pace: This is increasingly the case with big releases. Any ‘tech support’ involves a website with basic information applicable to -any- game, and which many PC gamers will know; mostly telling you to defrag your hard drive. Then an email contact which will take 28 days for a reply and then not help.

      Back in the day I remember EA weren’t too bad. My CD Rom drive was incompatible with the CD check on SimCity4 (I didn’t know this was the reason, but they sussed it out from that DXdiag stuff)- so within 24 hours they had sent me a DRM free version of the exe file by email… I’d love to see EA doing something like that now…

  8. Prowlinger says:

    My main complaint is with the game mechanics on the 360 (I would imagine that the PS3 is the same way)….

    When you start a battle you basically have 5 seconds to live or die… You seem to be able to tell 1 party member what to do at a time while paused UNLIKE in Baldurs Gate where you could tell each and every person in the party what to do when paused… Sure they have AI routines you can opt for but each battle is over in 15 seconds and you either win or lose… in a blaze of chaos.

    Tell me if I am wrong here… I haven’t played it since day 1 and upset I bought the overpriced hard back book and deluxe game also.

    If they had a combat speed setting that would be much better… I hate this 5 second live or death battle feeling….

    Here is a simple example…

    Full party… avg level 10-12…. everyone had uber armor and weapons and skills… I leave camp and get caught by 6 gray wolves…. 5 seconds later… my party was completely dead. WTF?!?!

    I cannot continue to play this game unless they fix some basic combat mechanics…

    (And I played and owned EVERY single Baldurs Gate / Icewind Dale game / expansion there was…)

    • Ian says:

      Well I’m on PC and you can happily pause the game every other second and change what a character is doing, where they’re moving or who they’re attacking if you so desire and I’d be genuinely astonished if this wasn’t the case inall versions.

      And the battles only tend to end that quickly when I get it really wrong and die or if the enemies I’m attacking are cupcakes.

    • John Walker says:

      I have been told (although have not confirmed this for myself) that you cannot pause in the 360 version.

      Which goes some way to explaining the scores it received on consoles compared to those on PC.

    • Pete says:

      I’ve played through it on the 360. I wonder if perhaps you need to program the tactics so that your party members can attack the enemy you are attacking. Also make sure you program them to heal or use health potions.

      I usually only had real problems when fighting large groups with mages casting nasty spells on my party, so I’m not sure why these wolves are a problem.

    • tomwaitsfornoman says:

      I’m not really having a problem playing on the 360. Left trigger pauses the game just as well as any space bar. There’s also an option where one can either toggle the pause or continuously hold down the trigger.

      Piece of Mabari Crunch.

    • dadioflex says:

      Yeah, nothing says fun to me quite like programming the AI response of my party companions…. I’ve tried to like it but the mechanics of DA are not my idea of fun. There’s the odd bit of natty dialogue and sweet cutscene amongst the turgid mess of a plot but the gameplay is just NWN all over again. Honest to god, I’d rather play a JRPG.

  9. Furbomb says:

    “Litany of Errors” ….thats a spell, right?

  10. Man Raised By Puffins says:

    I’ve been pretty lucky with the DLC it seems, I’ve not had any problems with them showing up that a quick restart hasn’t solved. The worst bugs that I’ve seen are merely cosmetic, like armour not updating correctly (sexy time!) and conversations with suspiciously headless individuals.

  11. cliffski says:

    The phrase that makes my skin crawl is “where you can buy bioware points”

    Fuck that.

    I;’m also astonished people are being told to use cmd.exe or fuck about with services. What drugs are the developers on that makes them mess with this stuff?
    My approach to both games and DLC is far simpler. it ahs to be, because I can’t wast time on needless tech issues.
    Games are delivered as an exe, which is an installer that copies a single exe file to a folder, and a bunch of data.
    new DLC is just more data, that gets stuck in a side-by-side directory structure.
    You pay for the game using ‘money’ which is usable everywhere…

    This is how games used to be sold and worked really well for the last ten of fifteen years. I would love to be in the room with a developer on a ‘triple A’ title when he tries to explain why the game needs any more complex installation or download instructions than just clicking an exe link.

    Essentially, installing an add on, a game or DLC should be as easy as grabbing it from a dodgy pirate site, if not much easier (and way safer). People who make it harder than this deserve to fail.

    • Ragnar says:

      I really doubt that it is the developers that drive these things. My guess is that it is clueless managers or suits that think this is good for some reason unknown to me.

    • Psychopomp says:

      “The phrase that makes my skin crawl is “where you can buy bioware points””

      Really, the Bioware points are completely superfluous. You can buy points in the exact right amount you need, no more, no less.

    • Adrian says:

      @Ragnar

      why does everybody think that managers are the dumbest of all people and they are always working completely isolated from whatever they are managing?. do you really think there is some manager at bioware sitting in his office never talking to people, never getting informations about stuff but making decisions based on some books about marketing he read? do you really think people get into the highest positions in a company by being ignorant and clueless? wake up!
      maybe you shouldn’t believe everything the television tells you about managers now that everybody blames them for everything since the economic crisis started

    • dadioflex says:

      You tell’em Cliff! Those idiots should find out how a real developer handles game distribution. Until then they’ll just be choking in your dust. Right?

    • archonsod says:

      “This is how games used to be sold and worked really well for the last ten of fifteen years. I would love to be in the room with a developer on a ‘triple A’ title when he tries to explain why the game needs any more complex installation or download instructions than just clicking an exe link.”

      Yeah, but ten or fifteen years ago you could count on the PC User already understanding how their machine worked to some degree. A lot of the issues I’ve seen on the Bioware forums stem from things like UAC, Windows firewall / net security settings and similar. Who exactly do you blame there, the developer who assumes the user can configure their machine, the user who doesn’t know how to configure their machine or Microsoft who’ve developed what you could say is a needlessly complex OS?
      Fifteen years ago you couldn’t just click an exe link, you had to check your config.sys and autoexec.bat file first to make sure you’d manually loaded the right drivers and had sufficient base memory available. You didn’t usually need to tell a user to run through MS Dos commands, because odds were if the problem could be fixed that way they’d have managed it themselves. These days, there’s an awful lot of users who struggle to change their homepage in Internet Explorer.

      The important thing to remember however is that we all had onions tied to our belts, which was the style at the time.

    • DarkNoghri says:

      “Really, the Bioware points are completely superfluous. You can buy points in the exact right amount you need, no more, no less.”

      So why even bother?

    • Devan says:

      Yeah, I’m pretty sure these decisions are driven mostly by the bean-counters envisioning fortunes made off DLC, and the unfortunate engineers who are tasked with implementing it, and anti-piracy measures.

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      Essentially, installing an add on, a game or DLC should be as easy as grabbing it from a dodgy pirate site, if not much easier (and way safer). People who make it harder than this deserve to fail.
      Amen. This should be item #1 in both “The gamer’s manifesto” and the instructional pamphlet “What game publishers must understand about piracy”.

  12. Persus-9 says:

    This is why I’ve given up on buying big name titles like this at launch. I’ll get the GOTY edition once the all the DLC has come out and been packaged together into a complete whole that should hopefully work and won’t ask me to spend any more money on it after that. I can wait.

    • Colton says:

      I totally agree with you. After totally being screwed by STALKER (patch erases your saved games) or the Fallout 3 GOTY I will never again submit myself to that. I’ll play the best of 2009 in 2011 if I have to – but I’m not paying for a game two (or three) times. Why deal with all the bugs and hassle?

    • RogB says:

      which is why i’ve only now bought 2007′s The Witcher (enhanced edition directors cut). And having an absolutely lovely time of it!!
      no bugs, great graphics, extra content. Most likely a far nicer experience than it was at launch. It may be a few years old, but its a great game. I’d seriously consider doing the same for any large, potentally buggy-at-launch game. ie 99% of RPGS’s

      (additional : the capture says FK ME. /chuckle)

  13. FP says:

    Two and a half months after release and I still can’t do the Shale storyline because every time I talk to him/her/it I get transported to a black room (and reading the forums this seems to be extremely common). I can’t understand why they haven’t solved this by now. The chances of me (and I suspect 1000s of others) buying any more DLC is pretty much nil at this point, why buy something that is likely to break?

  14. Moorkh says:

    Once again: Death to purchasable DLC.

    Really, turn it any way you like, it’s simply not a good thing – for the player / customer, that is.
    Even if the DLC has been developed by a seperate team, players will feel they have an incomplete game without the DLC. Often enough, they do indeed, as there is a lot of incentive for the developer to make it so.
    Also, I’ve yet to see a purchaseable DLC that was worth its money – I haven’t seen one that might have cost anywhere near the price of even just a proper expansion, and yet a few of them alone often cost as much as the original product.
    Add to this potential technical trouble stemming from the many different sources for/versions of the game out there (various retail boxes, download bundles) and the need to secure separate DRM for the DLC, which seems to plague EA’s efforts on Dragon Age, and DLC becomes a pain in the backside for everyone involved.

  15. Vandelay says:

    @ Man Raised By Puffins

    Yeah, I’ve been noticing that the armour seems to change suddenly to something else, for example Morrigan seems to revert back to her original armour sometimes. Not seen the no-head thing, but my character does seem to have a gap in the back of his neck that never goes away. Quite annoying seeing as pretty much every conversation takes place with an over-shoulder shot where it is very obvious.

    @Prowlinger

    Not sure about on the consoles, but you can select multiple characters at once on the PC. Even if you can’t do that, I’m sure it must be possible to cycle through your characters whilst paused. I’ve had a few battles that seem to end very quickly in my defeat, but that usually means I need to switch characters. I’m also slightly surprised you were able to reach an average of level 10-12 with “uber armour and weapons and skills” on day 1. I’ve had it since Christmas and haven’t got a character to level 10 yet.

    What is slightly annoying, is that you can only issue a single command for each character at a time. It would be handy if you could queue commands, for example when you want a character to move right up to the enemy, cast a spell and then get back to safety.

    • somnolentsurfer says:

      I spent ages looking for a way to queue up commands, assuming that they wouldn’t have removed a useful feature of KotOR’s similar interface.

      I’ve had the game since release day. Last night I picked up a quest called “final battle” or something similar. I want to play it again, but in that amount of time I could get through a good few of the titles I picked up in the Steam sale.

  16. somnolentsurfer says:

    Thanks John. The last I saw was Chris Priestly’s tweet that the DLC would be up later in the day. I’d rather wondered what had happened to it. Presumably it’s a case of web sites being run by PRs and not by community managers.

    Glad I’ve not had any of the other problems that are being reported. Hope those words don’t curse me.

  17. MrMud says:

    I also had some problems with this.
    When moving my steam folder to my new HD in order to sustain my ever growing catalogue of games (something that is wonderfully simple) the windows service that handles DLC authentication stopped working. While this is fairly obvious (the filepath became broken when the files were moved), that there even was such a windows service was not obvious and even more worrying is that it was not removed when the game was “uninstalled” from steam.

    • Pace says:

      off topic; how did you move your steam folder? Just re-download everything or is there a quicker method? (And any chance I can use different partitions for steam these days? (I can’t buy steam games anymore since that partition is full.))

    • jalf says:

      Service? They install a Windows service? What are they smoking?

      Seriously, some developers seem to have some difficulties with the concept that they’re selling a game to run on the user’s computer, and nothing else. The computer is still mine, and it runs the OS of my choice, the services of my choice and the applications of my choice. And their game should just fuck right off when I’m not playing it. Not run any services, not care what else I’m doing or anything else.

      Why don’t they just contact Microsoft about delivering a custom-made version of Windows for us to install while they’re at it? I’d just love to have to boot into BiowareWindows just to play their games. That’d be so much fun.

    • MrMud says:

      You move your steam folder by first closing steam, moving your steamapps and steam.exe folder to the new directory and then deleting everything in the old directory.

      And yes there is a windows service called “Dragon Age: Origins Updater” that has to run in order for you to authenticate your DLC. When you move the application that is run by the service it stops working and you need to manually uninstall and then reinstall the service.

      Completely bonkers.

    • frymaster says:

      to be fair, a service is a good solution to situations like a downloader for an installed program, as allows downloading in a central location, and then installing said downloads, without popping up UAC prompts all the time.

      Note that “service” doesn’t necessarily imply “starts on boot”; they could be on-demand

  18. Pardoz says:

    There’s also the little wee problem that the PC version of the Return to osti gar (/obscure language pun) DLC leaked into the wild somewhere around the 8th of Jan when some bright spark found it in an open directory on Bioware’s ftp server.

    Oops.

  19. Tei says:

    This smell like poor programing/ bad decissions. Good code is flexible enough to accept small changes and not break. Good engines uses as less OS dependant code has possible to avoid problems wen these subsystems break or are upgrade and his beavior change slighty. A modable engine sould be like a fat horse, that let everyone ride it. But what we have here? a horse that don’t accept the owner. Will hobbyist modders have less/more problems than this?

    • jalf says:

      Indeed. The funny part is that Bioware must have been aware all through the development of the game that DLC was going to be a priority, and it should work well with the game.

      And yet they failed to make a game where they’re actually **able** to make DLC work.

  20. Chris says:

    It appears DLC is reducing the QA control to that of a sub-par MMO. They seem to be on such a release schedule that not even the installation software is up to scratch. Goooo team Bad-Marketing-Ideas.

    Now I really will have to wait 2-3 years after a games release to pick up the inevitable complete pack except for the true cream of the crop and great multiplayer games.

  21. CJohnson03 says:

    I have avoided this by simply ignoring the DLC and playing the game through a second time. Rogue/Assassin’s are awesome, FYI.

    I wasn’t planning to buy Return to Ostagar, but hopefully they get these issues fixed up for Awakening, cus it looks pretty huge.

  22. Ybfelix says:

    Waiting for GOTY edition too.

    What’s wrong with traditional expansion model? Does market researches show it’s less profitable than piecemeal DLCs? Or just the latter is more trendy?

    • Bioptic says:

      DLC means:

      1) Publishers can cut retailers out of a hefty chunk of the profits (so a game like Rockband might conceivably sell more DLC than the orignal disc, none of which will go to retailers).

      2) They can offer a far-worse value for money than the original game or a traditional expansion would, because the individually lower pricepoints make it more palatable.

      3) They gain full DRM control over all game data files, preventing modding or creation of objects/properties by 3rd parties that they could otherwise charge for. This also allows for ‘unlocking’ of existing assets for a fee.

      4) It allows heavy control of the second-hand market – DLC is non-transferrable, so players are much less likely to sell on a game they’ve purchased some for.

      5) It allows content to be created and released on the fly, blurring the lines between ‘development on the main game’ and ‘development of additional content’. Upside – additional stuff whilst you might actually still playing the main game. Downside – content potentially ‘held back’ from the main game to meet the tight post-release deadlines.

      But maybe I’m just bitter ‘cos I still can’t get sodding Shale to work!

  23. Taillefer says:

    So, when creating a 5-page PDF guide for how to purchase DLC, in which it refers to a 3-page PDF guide for how to create an online account and a 6-page PDF guide on how to redeem a code so you can finally pay 400 Microsoft points or 400 Bioware points or $4.99; did nobody think: “You know, maybe this isn’t the best way to do things.”

  24. BLU Soldier says:

    I actually bought the points needed for the DLC on January 5th, before realizing it wasn’t available. I still have the points, but I’m miffed.

  25. Vyggo says:

    I had huge problems with the DLC in my first playthrough. After finishing the DLC and putting lots of good stuff in the chest, the game decided I didn’t have the DLC anymore. When I talk to Shale in my camp I get the black area of nothingness and Warden’s Keep is gone from my map so I can’t get to all the good armor I had stored in there.

    Bugs like these need to be fixed asap, tons of people reporting this so you’d think it would be given priority.

    This game is probably an unfixable mess… Such a shame, it is pretty good.

  26. Turin Turambar says:

    Silly Walker, you wouldn’t have any of these problems with the pirated versions of the DLC!

  27. Langman says:

    In a funny way, it’s fortunate the game was merely a fairly decent RPG as opposed to being a classic (in my eyes) – because I’m sitting here chuckling at the incompetence of it all instead of getting really angry, which I might have done had it been a game I’d actually wanted to spend more money on.

    But as it is, it’s just yet another predictable nail in the DLC coffin. I never have and I doubt I ever will pay for extra content.

  28. piphil says:

    The Oblivion DLC released by Bethesda also has numerous problems. They won’t install directly using Windows XP due to some random conflict with a common component of the OS, requiring a re-boot into Safe Mode to allow installation.

    And, as I’ve found since I upgraded to Windows 7 64-bit, the installers are completely incompatible with 64-bit OS’s. I’ve therefore had to use a separate program to break into the Bethesda installers (probably invalidating the licence for the DLC) to get at the esm files directly. It’s madder than a bucket full of Sheogoraths that they would have ever have considered releasing them in such a state.

    But it’s symptomatic of PC gaming in general at the moment. Last weekend I finally submitted my PhD thesis, and finally had time to play some games I’d been putting off for months. Galactic Civilizations 2 installed but would crash when starting. After a few hours of reading forums I discovered this was because I had the audacity to use two monitors instead of one. Removing the obviously offending monitor from my setup solved the problem. Fallout 3 on the other hand would crash on startup due to Games for Windows Live not being up to date on my PC – something that I had never even known was installed as part of Windows 7, and despite the fact that it had installed an new version during the game installation!

    I understand that PC game developers have an enormous task in making games work on every system, but a number of developers need a good slap for letting horrible code like this out into the wild.

  29. bookwormat says:

    DLC is new and frightening ground for all developers and publishers.

    Where is this new ground? I suppose you mean Addon/Expansion if you write DLC? Or do you mean Software (“Downloadable Content”)?

    Both are very common for decades, as are the processes for deployment and delivery.

  30. deimos says:

    @BLU Soldier
    Well you’re going to buy it anyway, when it’s properly released… so no biggy.

    * * *

    I’ll just wait it out, till they get it sorted then. Easy as that.

    Hmmm… Official forums nowadays for both games (including Mass Effect 2) are all about whining from the DLC price to game length comparisons to OMG, I can’t have Tali s3x! I’m thinking most of the noise are from the ‘expanded audience’… from pissed off console gamers. :P

    There’s full of noise now, no decent discussion going on in there at this time.

  31. Hunam says:

    This sort of thing happens a lot in the gaming industry, if something goes wrong you just get radio silence for however long they feel like it. From developers, publishers and the community. They’re all up to it.

    Communication is the biggest tool of the internet, so why is the most internet savvy industry always so reluctant to talk?

    • deimos says:

      They did actually, people just got so impatient.

    • RogB says:

      because you’re never entirely sure who it is who should do the talking. A developer working on the patch might be desperate to post a message to the world but could get into a lot of trouble for saying something he might not be able to. So hes relying on the publishers, marketing, whoever it might be.
      Theres times ive wanted to post stuff, even clarifying misinformation, but feared it getting back to me as ‘Its not my place’. its very rare ‘shop floor’ staff have a very vocal internet presence.

  32. cliffski says:

    everyone really needs to vote with their wallet here. I’m a BIG fan of DLC, I wish there was some for Company Of heroes. My wallet awaits.
    but this is BADLY done DL. It no mroe invalidates the concept of DLC than a buggy game does gaming in general.

    But please don’t buy ‘bioware points’ or put up with DLC that installs a flipping windows service. Devs need to learn that this sort of crap isn’t acceptable.

    • MrMud says:

      If it was for any other game I would, but this is one of the few classic style RPGs that are made these days and I need my fix more badly than anything else.

    • bookwormat says:

      I wish there was some for Company Of heroes

      Hmm. Opposing fronts? Tales of Valor?

      Anyway, I also like Expansions. If they contain good content. For a good price.

      If I think about it, all I care for is the good content for the good price. If they sell it as an Addon or as a sequel or a new IP doesn’t really matter to me.

  33. Dave says:

    Oddly enough, I was just going through something similar to this yesterday. I’m almost finished with Dragon Age, but I’ve been waiting so I could play through Return to Ostagar first. So I’ve been waiting for a while. Somehow I had the idea that the PC version of the DLC might be out; I knew the 360 version of the DLC was pulled on the 14th, but I couldn’t find anything concrete one way or the other about the PC version. The website, as noted, seemed to imply that it was out. So I ponied up for my “Bioware points,” gritting my teeth and rationalizing that it would bring me more entertainment than the sandwich I could buy for the same price. But it wasn’t showing up to be bought in the in-game…I don’t know what you call it….”buy screen.” So I figured it wasn’t out. But wait! Looking at the DA website, it seems there’s a new patch! That came out…last month? Granted it’s probably been that long since I played it the game, but…why wouldn’t it update automatically? Or at least alert me? Or DID it update automatically? How to I find my version number? Hmm, PatchNotes.txt still says 1.01, so I guess not. Maybe I need to patch before the DLC will show up! OK, maybe not. Going into the forum confirmed that the DLC is not out yet, of course. Frustrated, I looked around for some sort of official Dragon Age RSS I could subscribe to, so at least I’d know when a patch was out (I subscribe to RPS, but I can’t rely on it for EVERYTHING). Nothing to be found.

    THIS IS TOO MUCH WORK.

  34. prowlinger says:

    Did they ever fix the bug where you have (CE edition) the special dragon armor and give it to Alstair or Loghain and they wear it… but if you piss them off they leave the party and so does the armor?

    :P

  35. Dean says:

    What’s really worrying about this is that it’s taking the people that made the game this long to get a one hour side-quest mod out.

    Doesn’t really bode well for the bedroom coder working on large campaign mods like in NWN2.

    • archonsod says:

      The bedroom coder doesn’t have to wait for Microsoft and Sony to certify his code.

    • jalf says:

      Nor does Bioware. Not for the PC version, anyway. I think it’s pretty clear that in this case, the DLC is not held back by cetification, but by Bioware apparently being unable to mod their own game.

  36. cjlr says:

    I’d attribute it to malice, but, as we all know, incompetence is really the more likely explanation. I mean, yes, EA are certainly a pack of wretched, grasping, scraping covetous old sinners, but are BioWare that bad? But I’d always assumed they were competent, too, though, so… Who knows.

    “Thank you for your purchase! Enjoy your DLC. Wait, it doesn’t work? That’s not our problem. You didn’t pay for content, you paid for the chance to see whether it would run or not. Didn’t you read the EULA? Oh, so now you do want it to work? Well, maybe there’s a guy on the forums who can help. I hear some of them are pretty clever. Have fun.”

    Yeah, screw that shit. Give it another six months and there’ll be user-created content that is both far, far superior and also free.

    • jalf says:

      Competent? Really? Some would say good storytellers, and their most devoted fans might say they’re good game designers too. But competent technically? Their games tend to take ages to load (cough, nwn2) or have excessive load screens (ME), have lousy camera (nwn2, dao) and have graphics that would’ve been fine 5 years ago. (Mass Effect is the obvious exception here)

      No, I wouldn’t say I’ve ever been impressed by their competence as programmers.

    • Rinox says:

      NWN2 wasn’t a Bioware game.

  37. Zaphid says:

    Oh the irony, every time a developer devises theuir own brand new and shiny way of getting DLC to the players in exchange of cash, they fall on their face. It happened with Oblivion, it happened with Fallout 3 and it is happening with Dragon Age. And pirates look at it with a smirk that makes you want to punch them, because for them, the dlc is just a mod with a few hundred MBs that can´t screw up their game.

  38. Dozer says:

    Is there any way to get better armour for the horses in Dragon Age? Maybe the devs should release a mod for that.

  39. TheSombreroKid says:

    the broken pcness of the dlc is the DLC, don’t you see, ‘hours of fun, exploring the deepest darkest corners of the windows operating system are to be had and you’ve not even started the game yet!’

  40. Mr. Versipellis says:

    I’ve been checking the forums every day and some people are getting a little pissed off. However, I’m glad that BioWare are doing their best, I’d rather have late DLC than a tonne of bugs.

  41. Bonedwarf says:

    This is a great example of what happens when greed overtakes ability.

    I would have bought Dragon Age, but the fact they’re putting out paid DLC on release day… Sorry, no, that doesn’t fly with this jaded gamer. You can stick your greed.

    Plus didn’t I read that one of the items you get from either the DLC, or from the collectors super wanker digital edition or whatever it was called, you can actually LOSE in game and not get back?

    Bioware are joining a growing list of developers that appear to be putting greed over everything else.

    Thank god for indie developers.

    • Wulf says:

      So there is wisdom out there on the Internet after all!

      Who’d have thunk it?

      Only the other day I got into this argument about how people will blow so much money on shit commercial games, shit DLC, average movies, and rave about these things, but they’re hesitant to put down some money on an indie developer. The indie developer is probably struggling a bit, financially, and the megacorp is going to be rolling in money like a pig in shit.

      Sometimes I do worry that people are getting scooped up and wheeled off to a little dark room somewhere, where they’re forced to drink coke and watch subliminal adverts convincing them that brand names are the truth and valour of the world, and anyone who doesn’t have a well established brand name is just out to rob them of their money, money that’ll be spent on alcohol and drugs. Evil brand name-less people! D:

      But that’s the mainstream for ya, lowest common denominator, and why these damn things keep selling, they can be greedy because people just keep bloody buying. It’s funny, but the only game I’ve felt totally ripped off by in a long while is Dragon Age, and I only bought it (after being dubious) becaue of the glowing reviews. That was a lot of money I put out on about 55 hours of padding, and I could have gotten many VVVVVVs for that (yes, VVVVVV is the new Peggle).

      Or even many Machinariums.

      I won’t be fooled again, I’m gravitating ever more and more to either indie developers or very small development houses, because it seems that every big name these days is about greed, and trying to get as much money as possible out of as little effort as possible, and if you’re trying to put as little effort as possible into a game (so that you can milk people with DLC later), then it’s hardly a labour of love, is it? Well, I don’t see how it possibly could be, anyway.

      Frankly, I’d rather toss £30 in donations at Terry instead, at least he bloody worked for it.

      But yeah, I think I’m sort of in the minority with this kind of thinking. /shrug

  42. Azradesh says:

    On a side note devs have to stop making a games website and then putting NO LINK to any game patches on it!

    If I go to a game’s website I want to be able to click on “Downloads” > “Patches/Updates” and find the patches I need if there are any.

    I shouldnot have to google for the patch.

  43. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    For [i]shame[/i]!

    No, really. This is inexcusable. Tech support is already at an all-time low (honestly when I had a bug the only thing they did was, after a week or so, mail me I had better try the forums (you know, the user-made thread referred to in the article).

    No to mention the annoyances DLC brings with it here (the npc in your camp. I could only wish for a mod which makes him killable. GMPC!).

    So, I say to thee, Bioware: For shame!

  44. Deuteronomy says:

    I must have a computer blessed by powerful magic or something. I never had a problem with DAO or ME 2. I didn’t even see any bugs with stalker. I put it down to quality components especially a high quality power supply.

    • Wulf says:

      I didn’t have any problems with STALKER either, but the truth of blame with technology lies in statistics.

      First of all, you must look at one problem as a whole, and things relating to it. For example: DLC and the ability to successfully use the system without it affecting save games and such.

      Is over 80 per cent of your consumer base experiencing a similar issue?

      In that case, there’s a problem with the software, because if such a similar problem is manifesting itself over a such a large number of computers, all with different components and different operating systems, then the obvious weak link is the software itself, and that’s where the investigation should begin.

      Is under 20 per cent of your consumer base experiencing a similar issue?

      With such a small number, it could be that they’re all running a similar program that’s interfering with the system. Such as a virus scanner or whatnot, this kind of statistic should be looking at the processes a person has running that the game might be incompatible with, at this point it’s a good idea to start harvesting DXDiag reports. The culprit may very well just be a bad virus scanner or such.

      Now does DA:O and the DLC fiasco represent the 80 per cent scenario, or the 20 per cent scenario? Take a look around the Internet and the official forums and decide for yourself. From where I sit, the whole DLC system seems to have bugs pouring out the wazoo.

  45. matte_k says:

    The only problem i’ve had with DA:O so far is the fact that to make my DLC accessible and therefore giving me the ability to load my savegame intact, I must start the game, quit, restart it and then log in. Logging in the first time doesn’t load it. And occasionally, accessing the online storage times out, but that’s only really a problem if you intend on uploading all of your screenshots to the Bioware social profile.

    Having said that though, it really doesn’t reflect well on Bioware to not make an official, clear and easily found statement regarding the delay (i.e. on the game website). A pity, as normally Bioware are one of the few developers gamers in general (and certainly here at RPS) have a lot of love for. Let’s hope it doesn’t (dark)spawn similar difficulties with Mass Effect 2.

    On a final note, developers/publishers: stop making us pay for things with your Monopoly Money. Normal digital cash transactions are just fine, hell, even PayPal if you must- see how it works just fine for Steam. It’s also one of the reasons why Games For Windows Live is so hateful. Make it easy to buy your product, maybe you’ll get more sales that way (Fallout 3 DLC is a prime example of this, at least the digital versions).

  46. archonsod says:

    I’m sure the whole points thing is just a giant tax dodge or something. I like Gamer’s Gate’s Blue Coin system, but that’s largely to do with the ability to earn points free and thus get free games.

    Strangely the only problem I’ve had with DA is a memory leak which they’ve fixed twice so far and still occurs.

  47. fuggles says:

    A new post on the Bioware forums from the devs:

    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.

    So… they screw up the 360 whilst the PC version is fine and yet 2 weeks later I’m still waiting for them to sort out the X-box? There is a certain inanity that the leaked version has been out for coming up for a month whilst I’m waiting for the Xbox to sort itself out so I can pay £5 to update my PC game.

    I can only imagine that a month of torrenting is going to whack the legs out from under DLC which probably is not worth the money anyway. Should be fun looking at the ME2 launch day DLC anyway. Actually that’s another good point, if you’ve played DA: O then you would more likely go to ME2 if you could than pump money into something which breaks your game.

    So you let the pirates have at it for a month and then launch some piffling DLC at the same time as a flagship title… yeah, good luck with that. *Fume*

  48. Kadayi says:

    Chris ‘evil’ Priestly (because let’s not forget being ‘evil’ is so essential to customer relations) is a gigantic tool (quite possibly one of the worst community managers going) I wouldn’t trust anything the man says as he’s clearly about one step up from the janitors at bioware. When there were issues with Jade Empire and Vista (Jade empire came out about 2 months before Vista was released) he was pretty much ‘fuck you buddy’ to everyone asking why Bioware hadn’t built in Vista support (it’s not like they weren’t aware Vista was coming out), and even banned a few people for complaining (quality attitude).

  49. Dean says:

    Well it’s a lost sale from me, as the DLC takes place during the campaign, and I’ve finished it now. I can’t help but thing that’s an attitude a lot of people (especially console players) will share.

  50. Junch says:

    I don’t know what you guys are talking about… I’ve played and finished the DLC already. It sucks though. Here’s my review of it:

    http://junchforgaming.blogspot.com/2010/01/review-dragon-age-return-to-ostagar-dlc.html

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