Wednesday, October 26

Dragon Age: Redemption

Bioware is already blurring the lines between video games and movies. I have just (finally) finished Mass Effect this weekend. Not only is almost half the time spend on listening and watching cut scenes and dialogues. But most of the characters in the game have crossed the uncanny valley in my view. I am really looking forward to see how they manage to even improve on that in ME2, and ME3. And as that was not enough there is Dragon Age (Origins, II, Mark of the Assassin) as well. The near living characters make for me for very compelling game play.

Although I did want to tell the world about my ME1 accomplishments, I actually have a different reason for this post. The folks of The Guild are blurring the lines between game and movie even further with Dragon Age: Redemption. A high production quality web series that is extending the virtual Dragon Age world into a real one.
Hmm, no, not a real world. They are actors running around 21st century California. I can't think of a fitting term for the 'reality' they live in. But it doesn't matter. It is worth watching.


  1. Tobold made a post today about PC hardware reqs and how realistic looking a game has to be. I think we are going all the way. With Dragon Age XII we might not see the difference between virtual and human characters in scripted games anymore.

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  3. "With Dragon Age XII we might not see the difference between virtual and human characters in scripted games anymore."

    Funny, I recall my manager at Gamestop* saying something similar to me in describing the animation of the PS3 games before it was released. I recall saying something like this myself even with previous game systems. At some point we'll hit a plateau where system specs are no longer a hindrance to the quality of the simulated realities they put on the screen (holograms?). Maybe with Dragon Age XII we'll finally be there. Certainly didn't make it by the time Final Fantasy XIII came around, lol.

    *reason for the previously deleted comment - I never worked at Gamespot, but did at Gamestop.

  4. Well, there's hope yet. :-) To me Dragon Age II is so horribly animated, with fashion-style to make a WOrld Eater of Khorne blush and voice-acting (let alone character design) so poorly done and rushed there's not a moment you feel connected with the world, that I'll never pay money for it.
    DA 1 and more so its expansion were flawed gems. Da-2? Too much marketing, too little creative drive in that game. Made me think of the BLoodrayne series to be honest, and no, that's *not* a compliment. I was very grateful to Bioware for putting out a free-to-play DA-2 demo. Saved me $60,-

    Despite my intense dislike of DA-2 I do see the point. In the Mass Effect series Bioware really manages to make you care about what's happening around you. They did the same during the KoToR game though, which makes me say it's not so much the quality of graphics. Mass Effect 2 has even better gfx than the original Mass Effect but doesn't quite hit the same emotional snares as #1 does. Though Mass Effect is in many other ways superior to the frst movie, it's not the series' "Empire Strikes Back"

    A good story sucks you in, no matter how it's told. Bioware's been doing it since Baldur's Gate I & II, through Neverwinter Nights (though its original campaign is another case of bling over matter, the Hordes of the Underdark expansion is sheer diamon) and perfected it with KoToR and the Mass Effect series. I can't help but feel the DA series is done by the B-team, or possibly the C-team as There's two star teams on Mass Effect and SW:TOR both.

  5. Yes, a good story or good gameplay can completely drag you in. My Commodore 64 made me gaming addict. Which shows we don't need fully life like games, and we are very much ok with the gap between CGI and RL.

    However, I am convinced 'they' will push to close that gap. Hollywood, Gaming, and of course the porn industry, will all want to get there regardless whether it is really needed or not. Maybe Dragon Age as a series will never get that far, but something else will. It is still several PC generations away though.

  6. My question is, do we really want it too?
    A year ago I saw an AMD (ATI) video of a CGI woman who was so lifelike you supposedly couldn't tell her from real. Being forewarned I felt I could tell the difference, but that's prewarned.

    In another article, more recently, I read about (action/SciFi) movies, and how CGI/special effects are used. The position taken, which I fully agree with, is that you really shouldn't remember the movie for its special effects, but for the whole immersive experience. As cool as FX may be they can detract from your willingness to dispense disbelieve and are less likely to age well. I.e. those aren't the movies you recall the fondest 10 years later. Erm, by this standard about 80% of today's movies are forgettable trash. I have to agree with that.

    Example. Iron Man is a great movie, but it's not for the special effects that I bought it. Iron Man II had a much larger SFX budget and throws them at you with vigor, but of the two it's the less likely to be in a DVD or Bluray case on your shelf. In fact, even though I did see it I can barely remember what it was about.

    Back to games though. I've been feeling for a while now that this trend of adding more GFX bling to every new game isn't making them better in any real sense. I spent quite a lot of time last summer playing various RPG's from the last two decades. The ones I enjoyed the most were the Baldur's Gate series and Vampire Bloodlines. The former is early 90's isometric view gaming and the latter has an "artistic" interpretation of the Half Life 2 engine. Not the prettiest game on the block in its day.

    Both games are very, very good in the storytelling department with a high replay value and even an emotional load/connection. With the Big Bling games, by the time you finnish them you're already waiting for the next bling, barely looking back.

    There's also the FF character, darn, what's her name. The one that dies? In FFVI I think. Still talked about today by those who played it. FFVII was lauded for its cutscene video's at the time is barely a footnote in the series' history.

    I guess my point is that even though the technology is climbing out of the uncanny valley, I'm not sure this will result in better, more memorable games or turn the games industry into the same Fast Food style franchise that Hollywood has become.

    That's happening anyway, but not just due to technology.

  7. Oh, I agree it is not needed. I am playing AO after all.

    But on the other hand a part of why Mass Effect is so great is because Shepard is so very lifelike. I think I read that same article about special effects, and I agree with that notion. Although I thought both Iron Man movies were extremely forgettable, I did really enjoy Avatar. And that movie blurred the CGI/RL lines big time.

    Maybe 10 years from now Avatar is reduced to the flimsy story it really is. But it did show that pushing CGI onwards will bring in money. So it will happen. And I will happily buy into it.

    Examples of how great things were without certain technology doesn't make the technology uninteresting. It never makes sense to try to redo the old great game or movie with the latest technology. Charlie Chaplin in color is blasphemy. But similarly Mass Effect would be a whole lot less fun if dumbed down to play on a Commodore 64.