Paper Crafty: Dragon Age Journeys

I love the South Park style.

BioWare, in the build up to Dragon Age: Origins, have revealed details of Dragon Age Journeys: The Deep Roads. It’s a Flash game, created in collaboration with BioWare by a new division of EA called EA 2D, designed to play as a prequel to the main game. Cor – let’s unpack all of that.

As you may have seen, copies of the new PC Gamer UK are now mostly with subscribers, and it goes on sale this Thursday I believe. In there is my review of Dragon Age, and it’s really rather very good. The game I mean. I think the review’s decent enough. Which means I can now stop going “mmmpphh mmmm mmmmpphhh” any time anyone mentions the game. So definitely buy a copy of that this week. In the meantime, let’s find out what Journeys might be.

So what’s EA 2D you might ask. It’s not completely clear at this point, but this comment from producer Ethan Levy explains what they’re planning to do:

“At EA 2D it is our mission to create blockbusters for the browser; some will be original games created by our teams and some will be games within other EA franchises, such as Dragon Age Journeys.”

I’m reminded of LucasArts Workshop – EA presumably recognising the power and viral potential of indie-like Flash games, and having a poke around with that. Their first project, Dragon Age Journeys: The Deep Road looks like a rather cute papercraft style fighter, sort of South Park-like, described as a “tactical RPG”. Well, have a watch for yourself:

The Deep Roads are the passages cut under the mountains created by the Dwarves during their mining. However, they’re riddled with the game’s big bad, the Darkspawn, a sort of mutant evil race intent on bringing a Blight to the world. The surface dwellers only have to worry about the Darkspawn ever few hundred years during the rise of an archdemon, but the Dwarves are always bravely battling the beasts. So it’s in these mines that the first chapter of three takes place.

Levy explains a bit more about the project on the BioWare blog:

“Dragon Age Journeys has been a collaboration between EA 2D, BioWare, and some of the hottest indie talent from the flash developer community. Over the coming days, we’ll be introducing you to the game, the talented team of developers behind its creation and some of the day-to-day craziness that goes into making a game. More than anything, we want you to get a feel for how much fun and passion goes into creating a game for the browser that can live up to the high standards set by BioWare’s illustrious history.”

The Journeys project has apparently been in development since late 2008, and this three chapter Flash game is just the first of the games they have in mind for the series. With BioWare promising years of DLC support for the main game, it really seems that Dragon Age is aiming big. As for those hot indie names, those mentioned include Daniel Stradwick of Monster’s Den and Adam Phillips of Bitey Castle.

The first chapter is said to be due at some point this month. And Dragon Age is due on November 3rd, and it’s a bit good.

64 Comments

  1. Ian says:

    It’d be really quite splendid if this turned to be good.

  2. JohnArr says:

    Bah, myfavouritemagazines.co.uk is rubbish. You’re almost guaranteed to walk past the mag in a shop during the 3-4 weeks it’ll take to turn up.

    Also, I heard you were rubbish and struggled to complete it on easy :P

    • oceanclub says:

      Yeah, it’s horrendous – I’m letting my PC Gamer UK subscription lapse after it runs out in February. I’d rather pay more for it to have it relatively on time.

      P.

    • Ian says:

      Really? Hmm. I got mine through them (or I imagine I did as it’s what they tell you to do in the magazine) and have had absolutely no trouble with it.

  3. Ludo says:

    I’m all for companies hypnig their games by making other games.

    It was a good review, John, I am now stupid with excitement.

  4. Duncanthrax says:

    This looks like Death Spank.

  5. Larington says:

    I rather like the look of that.

  6. EBass says:

    Checking who said this…………………. John Walker! Excellent I haven’t had anything I’ve viciously disagreed with you on yet! Right I guess I should go pre-order Dragon Age.

  7. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Noo, don’t let it be good! *watches more money go down the Pit of Games, fueling the scorching flames*

  8. mrmud says:

    Im curious John, did you count Baldurs Gate 2 when you wrote that DA was the RPG of the decade?

  9. Lars Westergren says:

    Hehe, a Planescape flash movie at
    link to biteycastle.com
    Win.

    Very happy to hear you liked the full DA game John, I needed a morale booster. Bought and read the DA book over the weekend…….. not very good.

  10. Darkelp says:

    I thought I could do without Dragon Age until maybe christmas or after.
    I read your review.
    I pre-ordered it straight after.
    Dammit!

    • Andytizer says:

      I also preordered straight away right after I read your review. It’s funny because I had so much skepticism about it with the rubbish trailer so was going to wait until it went on sale, but now I can’t wait!

  11. Po0py says:

    So, it looks like a hack n slashy type game. Does it have the classic Bioware style pause game and dispense orders gameplay? I’d rather like that in a flash game. I’ll definately give it a shot. I suspect it will be an entirely linear affair, though, unless the main Bioware writers are involved somehow.

  12. CMaster says:

    I’ve long though promoting games with fun little flash games is a good idea – I don’t know how well it really works out mind.

    EA have already done this at least once – I played a flash version of Mercenaries 2 – a somewhat metalslug-esque shooty platformer..

  13. bill says:

    So is it the total Wheel of Time / Ice and Fire rip off that it appears? ;-)

    • JKjoker says:

      what are you talking about ? Dragon Age is one of a kind, sooooo unique, you never played anything like it, their dwarves, they like have beards, you know ? and their elves, they have like .. pointy ears… yes

      as proof of imagination and infinite wisdom they are doing a “me too!” and releasing a paid DLC on launch day, awesome!, how is it called ? Waterdeep… no wait … it was Warden’s Keep, yeah that extremely not generic name, that certainly doesnt sound like anything i’ve ever heard before, really …

    • Psychopomp says:

      Deriding fantasy for being unoriginal is like deriding soda for being fizzy.

    • JKjoker says:

      soo, being unoriginal is very important when writing fantasy ? hmm, that explains things

    • Psychopomp says:

      *Nothing* is original

  14. Dude says:

    PC gamer told me it was good, best in the decade the man says… Pre-ordered.

  15. Paul S. says:

    RPG of the decade, eh? Oh my blimeys. I’m sold.

  16. garin says:

    Hi, I’m the aforementioned Daniel Stradwick, designer on this game. Thanks for writing about it!

    To address some of the comments: it’s not a hack-and-slash. You can see some screenshots on my website that give you a better feel for what the game experience is actually like.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      @garin

      Strategic turn based RPG? Yes please!Thanks for posting those pictures, they gave a rather different impression of the game than that “Double Dragon” film. Looking forward both to Origins and Journeys now.

      …But honestly, what the hell is going on with Biowares marketing department these days? I just don’t understand what they are thinking.

  17. CMaster says:

    Aforementioned Mercenaries 2 flash game: link to kongregate.com

  18. The Hammer says:

    It’s good?!

    Well, huzzah for that! Phew…

  19. phil says:

    Dwarfs always seem to get the shitty end of the stick in fantasy worlds, mainly due to tunneling down to some horrible evil then fighting some tragic slow retreat. Tolkien’s template strikes again.

    • Ian says:

      In fairness, it’s the way they want it.

    • DMJ says:

      That’s the short, beardy life. Take it like a dwarf, and give some back.

    • Wooly says:

      At least the dwarf women are hot (and beardless) this time! That’s got make up for the whole civilization being destroyed thing a bit, right?

    • Heliocentric says:

      I say that female dwarf beards should be a toggle option. They can have pretty braids in them or whatever, but to me dwarven chicks need to be busting some zee zee top facial growth to be legit.

  20. grey_painter says:

    link to mirrorsedge2d.com is another good example of EA helping produce a 2d version of one of their big games. Though I’m sure you all knew about that already.

  21. toni says:

    well, is it good as in “as-good-as-mega-hyped-mass-effects-was-not” ? or is it really good ?
    because if it’s ME “good” it aint good enough for me.

    • James G says:

      I’m not sure I get the hate for Mass Effect, especially for those who brought it on PC and thus had plenty of time to check out what the major criticisms of the game were. (Ie. The side quests were a bit repetitive.)

    • CMaster says:

      I picked it up for £5 at Zavvi as they were going bust. Finally played it last month. Have to say while it was fun and worth the money, I was less than impressed. Side quests were all near enough identical, all ended up with fighting lots of enemies cramped into the same small space as all the other sidequests, often after a dull drive. The main quest worlds were on the other hand epic, well crafted and had some much better balanced fights. I was dissapointed that there was never any variation in how you acheive things though. You go to location, fight, go to location, talk, repeat. Never really seemed able to exert much influence.

    • LEEDER KRENNON says:

      i skipped most of the side quests in mass effect and had a lot of fun once i realised how generic they were and that i didn’t need to bother with them. 23 hours to complete it all told.

  22. Bobsy says:

    I miss Golden Axe.

    • Carra says:

      Also reminded me of golden axe.

      Now that was a fun game. Chop chop!

  23. jRides says:

    With BioWare promising years of DLC support for the main game

    It seems after the hullaballoo caused by announcing that they are removing a portion of the game and selling it to us seperately as DLC on day 1, they had to issue a statement saying that noooo thats not the case. This is stuff that is nothing to do with the main quest so they can sell it to us seperately, as DLC. On day 1.

    link to greywardens.com

    • James G says:

      You do realise that there is a big gap between a game getting finalised/going gold and the release don’t you?

    • jRides says:

      Oh absolutely, but a balanced post wasn’t as amusing. This is the Internets after all. :)

    • James G says:

      Ahh, okay then, no problem. It’s sometimes a bit difficult to judge exactly how serious someone is being.

    • Azradesh says:

      The day one DLC is free to all people the buy the game new, if you buy it second hand then you have to pay because the code used to unlock it has already been used.

    • Spoon says:

      @Azradesh: If you don’t buy the collectors edition, you still miss out on one piece of the day 1 DLC.

    • JKjoker says:

      the way this goes every subplot and submissions in RPG will have to be bought, hell, just finish the engine, cram in 1 hour of “main story” , sit back and release the real content by DLC, less time and investment in development, more money in your pocket!, score!

      what, it didn’t sell that well ? what about our announced 87 DLC submissions (that totally have nothing to do with the main story but were supposed to be 80% of the game) you ask ? bah, drop support, lets focus on Halo 74, screw those that paid full price for an incomplete game, they had their 30 minutes of Tutorial SP campaign, nah that totally couldn’t happen.

    • Psychopomp says:

      “THE SKY IS FALLING!”

  24. bill says:

    Dwarves should really stop digging. It just gets them screwed. They should build UP.

  25. Flimgoblin says:

    @Bobsy I was thinking more Double Dragon Age… no? no?

  26. MrTest says:

    Mr Walker, is it better than Mass Effect? Are you able to offer such comparisons?

  27. KilgoreTrout XL says:

    Oh hell- “Of the decade”?

    The wait has now become really annoying.

  28. Lukasz says:

    so it tops kotor…
    interesting.

  29. Pijama says:

    And what for us poor folk outside the UK, in South America? No review for us? :(

    *sniff*

  30. Devan says:

    If this flash game is a decent length, they better get it out soon or people won’t have time to get into it before the full game is available. That’d be a shame, I think, given the amount of time it’s been in production.

  31. Tim says:

    Arrrgh I wanna play it now! And damn, they’ve totally turned the tables with their PR.

  32. TeeJay says:

    “…Over the coming days, we’ll be introducing you to the game, the talented team of developers behind its creation and some of the day-to-day craziness that goes into making a game…”

    It’s a flipping promo flash game! Just release the thing and shut up. Too much hype spoils the broth etc.

  33. Psychopomp says:

    The worst part about pre-ordering something on Steam, is it staring at you from your game list

    • jsutcliffe says:

      Especially on launch day before it unlocks on Steam, when the game is sitting on a store shelf somewhere taunting you.

  34. Digit says:

    Whilst I like the look of their animation and quirky combat in this little 2D game, it’s not remotely endearing me to the main offering as likely the only thing in common is an abundance of animated gore. DA:O Has had an interesting marketing campaign, with almost every new offering having a negative effect on those watching it apart from the fan-people on their forums and things that are specifically not to do with the game. I hope those who get it actually do enjoy it, as I know it sucks buying something that’s a total flop, but I simply cannot muster up any enthusiasm for this terrible WoT ripoff, especially when they are adamant it’s not a WoT ripoff, and that it has all the things that made BG great. After talking to them on their forums, I… I just don’t think they -know- what made BG great, all this spiritual successor to BG etc etc, is just marketing spin. :x

  35. PsyW says:

    Damn it. Now it seems like I’ll need to buy this, and it wasn’t an investment of time and money I was really planning on. Also, a copy of PC Gamer. It’s been aaaaages since I’ve picked up one of those!

    Blast you, Bioware! And don’t think you’re off the hook either, Mr. Walker!

  36. Railick says:

    @Digit what does WoT stand for in this case?