Recover Your Lost Worlds With Dragon Age Keep

By Craig Pearson on August 29th, 2013 at 4:00 pm.

That debris is my PC!
The other day, I took part in a trebuchet building competition with some friends. When the Grand Tosser was finished, there was much discussion about what to toss. After some Crabbie’s, it was decided that my PC should be the Tossed One. We loaded it up and flicked it through the air at the castle. As I watched my main source of entertainment and work splinter against the ancient stone, I suddenly remembered that I hadn’t backed up my Dragon Age saves. When the blubbing had stopped, and the cuts I’d received from hugging my broken PC were tended to, I was told about Dragon Age Keep, Bioware’s new thing that means even save games that have been trebuchetedededdd, corrupted, or wiped aren’t the end of your Dragon Age journey. The Keep is a cloud-based service that will let you set-up the story for 2014′s Dragon Age Inquisition.

The Keep will allow the player to carry the world state between the previous two games and the next game. How? It’s explained in this blog post, but the salient details are here:

Within the Dragon Age Keep, you’ll be able to customize a Dragon Age historical world state to your exact specifications drawn from Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age II story decisions. These include hero attributes, companion details, quest results, and more. Customize as much or as little as you wish. Then you’ll be able to import your saved world state into Dragon Age Inquisition at the start of a new game. For new players, the Keep will serve as a great way to understand the people, places, and events that shaped the world leading up to DAI.

It sounds like a lot of work, but a handy thing to have for people to explore the decision-making process in the games, and it looks like Bioware needs to do it to help the old engine communicate to the new engine. You can remake your old games, or set-up entirely new “What If?” scenarios and see how they play out. Here’s one for them: “What if I hadn’t allowed my PC to be smashed and my save games were still around?” That’s not something that has been solved, yet. But they’re working on it, and it looks like they’ll allow you to tweak your story from a previous save when they’ve nailed it.

You can sign up to the beta now, but it won’t be live until the beginning of next year.

__________________

« | »

, , , .

52 Comments »

  1. Drinking with Skeletons says:

    This is why most developers don’t want to do hard choices. Even the (mostly) simple binary divisions that Bioware loves so dearly eventually turn into huge, complicated, nightmare tasks that they are obliged to address.

  2. james.hancox says:

    The real question is, why no pictures of the trebuchet?

  3. Bluerps says:

    I wonder how detailed this will be. Will I be able to manipulate all variables that they have in the savegame, or only a subset?

    Bioware has tried to help people without old saves since Mass Effect 2 (if I remember correctly), but they never did it really well.

    • Beelzebud says:

      Actually they’ve been trying this sort of thing since the Baldur’s Gate games. You could import your character from Baldur’s Gate in to BG2.

      • Bluerps says:

        Yes I know (in fact, I did that), that’s not what I meant.

        I meant that you start a new game in a sequel, and then get to decide what important plot-decisions were made (was the Council saved? Did Kaidan or Ashley die? etc etc) in the previous game(s).

        I think the first game that did something like that was Kotor 2, but that was not a Bioware game. I think Bioware did it first with ME2.

        • HadToLogin says:

          Up until that PS3 “comic/book” DLC ME2 didn’t allowed much choice about ME1, you needed save for 99% of decisions, otherwise they never happened. Only thing I can remember for sure is ambassador position (because since you do that after final boss it might not be actually in save game…), I don’t remember if Miranda ask about if we saved council or not, but not-imported new-game option has them already decided as dead, while Kaiden/Ashley death is decided by Shepard’s gender.

          • Bluerps says:

            Yes, that’s why I said that they never did it really well in my first comment.

  4. Snargelfargen says:

    Neat idea, although I will wait to see how it works offline. Call me pessimistic but I’m dreading saves or character generation not being available if the internet connection hiccups or the servers are overloaded upon the game’s release…

  5. Mana_Garmr says:

    Why is it cloud based?

    It’s basically setting a bunch of variables to be read in on creation of a new game, couldn’t the same result be achieved by letting me fill in a form or some equivalent?

    • jezcentral says:

      That would be a long form. Apparently there were 600 variables in DAO alone.

      Also, storing it server side would allow them to check the validity of the files, which could well have been trashed by mods. E.g. My female warden may well have made a baby with Morrigan, which could cause a few hiccups if that storyline was mentioned in DAI. Ahem.

      Still, I would have thought they could have used BSN for this, rather than just making us log on to check if there is any new DLC to buy.

      Still, it’s good that they are sorting this out. Bioware always make great play of the fact that we should keep our save games, so it’s about time they did this.

      Also: Yay! More Dragon Age! Can’t wait!

      • Snargelfargen says:

        There’s no reason why the world customization and save conversion couldn’t run locally.

        I do hope they integrate and overhaul BSN. Getting all the DA:O dlc working is needlessly complicated, even now.

        • HamsterExAstris says:

          Save conversion can’t run locally if the saves aren’t locally (for example, Xbox 360 player who is moving to PC or PS4 for DA:I).

          • jrodman says:

            Considering save file conversion isn’t mentioned, I don’t think that’s exactly the problem.

            However, if you’re moving from say, PC to XBOX, then running a local program is rather fiddly. Of course if they included the functionality just in the game itself, it wouldn’t be a problem, but I can come up with any number of reasons they would prefer not to ship it there.

          • HamsterExAstris says:

            I agree that save conversion was not mentioned for the cloud product. But Snargelfargen mentioned it for a potential local version.

      • jrodman says:

        Any code that can run in the cloud can run locally.
        So savefile checking, variable scanning, etc etc are not cloud-special things.

        The only things interesting about the cloud are:
        * Data permanence you don’t have to manage locally
        * The possibility to use larger amounts of computation resources in small slices (eg google search)
        * The software is already installed

        Nothing about this idea makes sense for cloud. it just makes it more expensive to implement.

    • Moraven says:

      Multi platform support.

      Future platform support. And really, how good is everyone about saving old game files? Lots of comments end up being, “Damn I wish I still had that save file”.

      I imagine it will be used in other future Bioware RPGs also.

    • Faxmachinen says:

      Wohoo, more always-online DRM.

      It doesn’t even matter if it is or not anymore. Certain publishers have insisted that their DRM is a feature to the point that leaves me jaded about any “online service”.

      • Odoshi says:

        In this case I must say that it is a feature. If you’re a legitimate customer you won’t have anything to worry about since the data files that are being transferred most likely will be pretty small and won’t cause mayhem a la SimCity. Of course it isn’t necessary to use this to play the game, I wouldn’t be surprised if they charged for it. That extra work does have to get paid off somehow. $3.99 or so would totally be worth it.

  6. DrMcCoy says:

    They’ll probably mess up the importer for those saves too, like they messed up the importer for DA:O saves in DA2.
    Importing a save and then having the game not acknowledging your choices is one of the more gut-smashing things they can do. That was the nail in the DA2 coffin for me; made me quit DA2 half-way through and not look back.

    • draglikepull says:

      Even DAO: Awakenings had that problem. At the end of my DAO playthrough as a mage I was able to get the King (or Queen? I forget) to agree to abolish the Templars’ control over the mages, but in DAO: Awakenings the Templars were still holding the mages down.

    • HamsterExAstris says:

      My understanding was that the saves themselves are generally borked, not the imports…

  7. squirrelrampage says:

    Color me surprise if this is not another another attempt of EA to stuff always-on DRM down the players’ throats.

  8. Urthman says:

    I feel pretty sure this idea got greenlit at Bioware on the strength of the pun.

    “We need a way to keep track of the player’s decisions…”

  9. Werthead says:

    I believe the primary purpose of this is for people moving on up from the PS3/360 versions of the game to the PS4/XB1 versions? Everyone else can just use their saves, provided they didn’t lose them?

  10. MadTinkerer says:

    This is great news for those who are interested in 3 but have refused to buy 2 for various reasons. I should probably finish 1 some time.

  11. RProxyOnly says:

    So in other words Craig.. You make up some bullshit story about your PC and a trebuchet in order to justify a different bullshit story about a DA save game back up app which is really just some fucking Bioware malware to eves drop on how you play?

    Advertised malware.., yeah, good one Craig.

    Fuck this garbage, that’s a lot of fucking bulllshit.

  12. S Jay says:

    I wonder if this will be really change the game world or just a dialog here and there.

    • Odoshi says:

      You might get an emai- I mean letter about how DA:O ended and DA2 ended the same way no matter what you chose so I wouldn’t get my hopes up.

  13. Jimbo says:

    Trebuchet fires at castle!

  14. PopeRatzo says:

    And how much will it cost be to buy this thing which lets me manage my saves for a game that will come out sometime no sooner than next year?

    Oh, and the reason this has to be on the cloud is because the computer you use to play one iteration of Dragon Age will have been obsolete for years by the time the next iteration comes out.

  15. draglikepull says:

    Mass Effect – fans wonder why EA can’t release a tool allowing you to customise your save files for ME2/ME3 if you’ve lost the originals or haven’t played them.

    Dragon Age – EA announces tool to allow players to do what they’ve been asking for. Fans rage against being given exactly what they want because of a bizarre fanboyish obsession with bashing EA.

    So I guess I’ve learned two things lately:
    1. EA raising money for charity is bad.
    2. EA giving players what they ask for is bad.

    Hmm.

    • Lone Gunman says:

      If your not going to give something credit for change then why should it bother to change for you.

      If ubisoft dropped all their always online stuff people would still moan.

    • Sparkasaurusmex says:

      I’m sure there is an intersection, but not all ME fans are DA fans.
      In other words, “I didn’t ask for this.”
      But I’m not too concerned as long as you can still play and save offline.

    • Jimbo says:

      All fans are the same person. You figured it out.

  16. kud13 says:

    seems that after the ME3 fiasco, and with TW3 looming on the horizon, BioWare finally decided to take that whole “continuous Choices & Consequences” thing seriously.

    It remains to be seen how well this will work with offline Origin.

  17. gwathdring says:

    Wait a minute … they will have an automated save conversion thing as part of this, right? The don’t expect EVERY player to deal with all of the variables and remember their save state perfectly, do they? The customization options are just a nice bonus feature, surely.

    Edit: Ah. Yes. I thought so, but for some reason it didn’t get mentioned as soon as I’d have expected in the blog post.

  18. Rich Tea says:

    Agreed.

  19. mouton says:

    Uh, read trusted reviews and watch gameplay videos before buying? Ask friends?

    You can’t possibly lose here.

  20. Ragnar says:

    ME3 had, imo, the best gameplay of the series. Writing took a step back compared to 2, but the gameplay was perfected. And isn’t gameplay what most regard as paramount?

  21. mouton says:

    lol, well, hype sucks no matter if the game is good or bad (:

  22. HadToLogin says:

    In RPGs? Nope.

  23. Zhirow says:

    Why do you hate Mass Effect? It was actually the WORST game in the series, more like Gears of Effect 3 if anything, it was a mockery of the whole series. To say it was the best proves that you, sir, are no fan of the series. Everyone knows ME2 was the best, though ME1 had the best ammo/weapon system.

Comment on this story

XHTML: Allowed code: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>