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First announced at E3 2004, ‘Dragon Age’ was relaunched as ‘Dragon Age: Origins’ at E3 2008 (July 15-17th). The relaunch marked the official start of the marketing campaign, opening the floodgates of information about the game. During the E3 period we learnt a lot about the game, which I’ve summarised here.

Prior to E3 on the 5th of July the official website changed to a teaser page indicating something would happen on the 9th, which turned out to be another teaser for a video on the 12th.

Eventually, on the first day of E3, the official website received a proper update featuring the complete teaser trailer consisting of in-engine cut-scenes. A whole host of screenshots were also released, alongside new background information.

At E3 Bioware had a playable demo of an early section of the game. Clips of that demo became available in gameplay videos, including this one and this one. Those videos, combined with a podcast, written and video interviews and numerous previews, provided a lot of new information about the game.

Basics
  • Dragon Age is a ‘dark heroic fantasy’.
  • The ‘Origins’ subtitle represents both Bioware’s return to their roots
  • (Dragon Age is most similar to their classic ‘Baldur’s Gate’), and the ‘origin stories’ that provide a unique starting point in the story for each player.
  • It is a single-player game. No multi-player at all.
  • Release re-confirmed as early 2009.
  • Rating re-confirmed as ‘M’
  • (lots of blood amongst other things; the more enemies you kill the bloodier your character gets).
  • There will be a tool-set released, but the exact nature of it is yet unknown.
  • There will be downloadable content and future games in the franchise.
  • It is being developed on and for the PC. No work has started on a console port. It is not being ‘dumbed down’ for consoles. It is possible that this, or future games in the franchise, could be ported to consoles.
  • There are 3 base classes to choose from: rogue, warrior and wizard.

Gameplay
  • Rather than being turn-based, it is pause-and-play tactical. You can pause at any time and issue commands in a command queue.
  • The camera provides an over-the-shoulder viewpoint when zoomed in, or an isometric-style viewpoint when zoomed out.
  • There is a maximium of 4 party members at any time.
  • (PC + 3 companions). You can choose party members from a pool of more than 3. Additional, temporary controllable characters that are not members of your party may assist you from time to time. [georg zoeller, personal communication, 19/07/08]
  • Multiple party members can be selected at once and be given the same command. Or one character can be controlled and the others can use AI. You can program the AI yourself and set up ‘plays’.
  • Party members do not die during combat. If reduced to 0hp they fall unconscious and rise again when combat is over
  • (if at least one party member survived). They suffer stacking injury penalties however, which are difficult to heal (may require going back to camp/town).

Combat & Magic
  • Spells can interact. For example ‘Blizzard’ can put out fires, and fire spells can ignite grease from a grease spell.
  • Spells act on a timer and cost mana.
  • Spells seen so far include Glyph Of Paralysis and Grease for slowing down enemies, Flaming Weapons which might increase the damage of the weapons of all party members, a Heal spell
  • (that provides an immediate boost to hp and an increased recovery rate), and various direct elemental damage-dealing spells: Blizzard, Fireball, Shock, Lighting, Winters Grasp, Tempest.
  • During melee fights, the following effects were seen: Interrupted, Miss, Resisted. Attacks could stun and knockback.
  • Special enemies like the Ogre have uniquely animated special attacks like picking up characters and throwing boulders.
  • Health regenerates automatically out of combat. Stamina and mana regenerate during combat as well.

Plot & Setting
  • You may become a member of the ‘ Grey Wardens ‘.
  • The ‘chantry’ are a religious group working from scriptures called ‘canticles’ which describe the darkspawn
  • (corrupted mages), archdemons (raised dragons) and the blight , our enemies in the game.

Misc
  • Dan Tudge is the new project director.
  • Uses face technology from Mass Effect during dialogue, but the PC isn’t voiced.
  • The inventory is in list format with little pictures of each item. There are 11 equipment slots: weapon, helm, gloves, armour, boots, quiver, shield/weapon, belt, amulet, ring, ring.


On top of all this, numerous developers on the game have revealed themselves for the first time on the official forum and in this video.

That’s it for now. With the game due for release before the next E3, this may be the first and last E3 summary I’ll write. It was an exciting and interesting two weeks and there’s yet more information to look forward to over the coming months.