Brakketology Faces the Inquisition

DragonAgeInquisition_Poster

Here there be dragons. We’re jumping right in this week. There’s a 30-minute gameplay video of Dragon Age: Inquisition that has, so far, managed to survive YouTube scrutiny. It’s from a Bioware presentation given to attendees at Digiexpo (whatever that is) and, for fans of the series, it’s worth taking the time to watch. Some highlights:

  • Right from the get go, they’re quick to point out that the area they’re traveling in is bigger than all of Dragon Age 2. Me thinks Bioware still feels a wee bit stung by criticism of DA2 being too small. The thing is, size and scale were never Dragon Age 2’s problem.
  • Combat does look like a meld of both of the DA games. At about 18 minutes in they show off the tactical camera, which is available in the console versions this time around. It still looks a bit arcadey, though it’s impossible to say when you’re watching someone else control the action. There is also a section that shows off group tactics that feels very DA2. I’m hopeful, but this is the kind of thing you have to be hands-on to get a feel for.
  • Combat difficulty does not scale based on your character level. This is a good thing, so long as the world is designed properly.
  • Lots of emphasis on decision-making in this video. In this case, do you defend a town from vile beasties or do you stock up the nearby keep to prevent it from being lost. This element over-arches the entire 30 minute demo and is very promising as your choice does appear to affect both the world at large and the members of your party. Yes, yes, appearances can be deceiving and they often are. If you skip ahead, however, to the 24-minute mark, you get a good (narrated) summary of how this particular decision can effect the world at large.
  • Speaking of the world, the 14-minute mark has a world map view that is cool for series fans as it actually shows elements of the DA-verse that we’ve only heard of so far, but not seen. I don’t think I’ve seen a map that showed more than Ferelden (and Kirkwall) and getting to see where some of the nations are in relation to each other was worth geeking-out over.

Quitter! Soren Johnson, he of recently created Mohawk Games fame, wrote a terrific bit summarizing what he’s learned from 13 years of “giving up” in game development. Context:

Looking back at my post-Civ career, I compromised the games I wanted to make with what my employers were willing to fund. With Spore, that compromise meant finishing someone else’s game. With Strategy Station, that compromise meant working without a team. With Dragon Age Legends, that compromise meant turning an RPG into a social game. With Zynga, that compromise meant making my game under the shadow of indifferent management. I was giving up before I had even begun.

Go read the whole thing, but the short version is he’s done with it (the giving up) and that’s reason enough to be excited for whatever comes out of Mohawk.

The game behind the game. Speaking of having a look behind the curtain, Tyler Sigman of Darkest Dungeon, wrote up another piece for PA Report. This one is all about the gruntwork that must be done to prepare for announcing a game. This is more nuts and bolts than your usual peek back stage; doubly so because it’s for a game that’s still in development as opposed to a post-mortem. Here’s a snip discussing how they decided what to show of the game for the initial announcement:

At the time of announcement, we actually had a lot more that we could’ve shown.  A working build, screen mockups and screenshots, design specs, concept art, etc.  But we want a connected, involved fan base that we need to grow over the next year.  We want people to bring some of their own hopes and ideas into the exchange.

We want to reserve the chance the change things.  We want fans checking every week to see what’s up on FB, Twitter, darkestdungeon.com, and so on.  If you blast everything out on Day 1, then the next meaningful news is only when you’ve hit some other major milestone.  On the flip side, if we show too little, then people think you have An Idea and there isn’t A Game yet.

Our strategy so far has been to err on the “show little” side of the spectrum.  But this is largely because the “Terror and Madness” trailer was the centerpiece of our announcement.  Each week since we have been posting things, and come Kickstarter campaign time (expected Jan/Feb), we will do another huge push with lots of new reveals.

This is not an interesting concept with no real development chops behind it. These guys are pros, man. I have zero reservations about Kickstarting this game when the crowdfunding component goes live. (FYI, there’s also a quick blog update at their home site.)

You’ve got some red on you. I don’t really know anything about Redshirt (now available on Steam, GOG, and the Mac Store), but I think I should play it. The $20 price point gives me pause, but it looks hella fun. Anyone had a chance to check it out yet?

Gridiron grittyness. You know, but with cards. I’ve been a fan of Bill Harris since the days of Gone Gold and it’s been fun to read weekly updates about the odyssey that has been his endeavor to build a cool football-themed solitaire card game. The light is fast approaching from the end of the tunnel and, to that end, he’s hoping to get the game into Steam via Greenlight. So, go over there and help him out, will you? This is absolutely a game fans of Fairway Solitaire should be keeping tabs on.

Make this a movie, or at least a 30-minute short. 

I want to see a full X-Men kitty squad. Wolverine should be no trouble, because, like, claws and stuff. Iceman might be tricky because if he licks himself he might start to melt. What about a Nightcrawler cat that BAMF’s up on top of someone’s head? It’s gold, Jerry. GOLD!

*Originally published at NoHighScores.com, 11/19/2013
*Updated 2/23/2016 (minor text updates)

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Todd Brakke

Todd was born in Ann Arbor, with a Michigan helmet in one hand and a mouse in the other. (Never you mind the logistics of this.) He grew, vertically anyway, and is a 20-year publishing veteran as an editor of books on consumer tech and professional development for educators. Because that wasn't enough of a challenge, Todd was a 20-year part-time snob about video games, writing reviews, features, and more for multiple outlets from 1997-2015. Follow him on Twitter @toddsfoolery.

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