Posted by Chris Scott Barr on Aug 24, 2009

Dragon Age: Origins At Gen Con Indy

Gen Con Indy doesn’t generally get the sort of media coverage that other gaming shows such as E3, PAX or Gamescom. The reason being that it focuses on more traditional forms of gaming, such as tabletop RPGs (think Dungeons & Dragons) or collectible card games (such as Magic the Gathering). Over the last three years or so, Gen Con Indy has been allowing electronic games into the show, which is one extra reason I like to go.

This year I was pleased to see that Bioware decided to set up shop to show off Dragon Age: Origins. I’ve been looking forward to this game for some time, so I made my way over to their booth. There I found four stations set up with Xbox 360’s, and four with PCs. I’m planning on getting the game for the PC, so I waited patiently for a slot to open at one of those stations. Unfortunately the people there were enjoying themselves a bit much, so I ended up coming back another day (where I saw a sign stating a new 15-minute time limit for the eager gamers).

Fifteen minutes isn’t a lot of time to really get a great feel for a game as large as this. However, I got to play around with the character creator, and play through the first part of the game. The character creator had a lot of customizable options, though in an effort to jump right in, I didn’t spend much time with them. As soon as I jumped into the action, I was reminded of Baldur’s Gate, which isn’t surprising since Bioware was behind both titles.

I started out as an Elf equipped with a bow and a sword. Combat was fast-paced, and it took just a little bit to get used to switching between weapons. Eventually I was able to get off a couple of shots before getting out my sword to finish off my foe. The graphics were beautiful, especially when it came to the cinematic cutscenes. The videos Bioware has released don’t quite do the game justice when it comes to the graphics.

I quickly used up my time and allowed one of the people behind me to take my place, so as to not disturb the flow of things. Thankfully, the hands-on demo wasn’t the only thing to be found. I chatted with Brian Derksen, Toolsetter for the game, who happened to be showing off the toolset, which will be released along with the PC version of the game.

Every time I saw Brian, he was laying out a new area, building up a new inn or creating a custom character with the toolset. He showed me a few of the different tools that will be available, and explained that these were pretty much the same tools that the team used to create the game. These aren’t the sort of watered-down tools seen in the Neverwinter Nights games. The downside to this is that there will be something of a learning curve when you sit down to create your first piece of content.

With these powerful tools you’ll be able to create buildings, areas, characters and anything else you like. You can even dissect the original game itself and change the progression of the story. Since the tools are so robust, one person might only get good at creating one type of content, which is why Bioware is setting up a community site to connect modders with others with the skills they need. Players will be able to use this to put together teams to work on large projects, or just to find something new to add to their game.

While I was at the booth, I was able to arrange some one-on-one time with David Gaider, Lead Writer for Dragon Age: Origins. David has been working on the story for DA:O for the last six years, which is a rather long time for just a single game. Along the way he’s written two books for the game, one of which is already on the shelves, another will be hitting stores this October. You can listen to my interview with him below.

Dragon Age: Origins is slated for a November 3rd release on the PC (November 6th on Xbox 360 and PS3).

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