Game Alignments: Dragon Age

Once again we return to the next chapter in Game Alignments, a little write up I do each week that attempts to put characters from a title video game in the D&D alignment hot seat. In a perfect world everything has an absolute to it, right? Of course not, which is why we all love to bicker about our favorite characters and how they fit into the rule of things with their habits and actions. This time, however, we are entering dark territory with Dragon Age, a game that is about as gray as the stew Alistair makes for Leliana (too vague?). Anyways, here’s what I came up with.

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Dark, dank dungeon-delving: dubiously dumb?

There are some typical trope settings to video games: a war zone, an apocalyptic land, zombies ate my neighbors, and even to hell and back. The themes usually applied to such miserable settings is a dark one, further hitting home that where you are, in a video game, is not a nice place to be. It’s a common story element to try and bring fear to the player in the way a bayou at dusk with fog on the horizon and the howling of woodland creatures would inspire worry. It’s the sense and feeling of waiting for it, and waiting for it—the anticipation that something may jump out at you at any moment. Or perhaps the lack of anticipating anything at all on a barren world.

Setting is part of the triad to story-telling. For any story to work, it needs characters, a plot, and a setting. Each is as crucial to the other and they usually need to go hand-in-hand with one another if the story is going to be any sorts of good. But just like a horror novel, you have to make sure that what you’re writing (and in this case, developing) is going to be enjoyable to the target demographic of gamers.

But what exactly is enjoyable? To each is own is certainly a nice expression to apply, but do people really get their jollies from roaming around in Fallout 3’s Capital Wasteland from hours on end? Or roaming around the nine levels of Hell in Dante’s Inferno? The favelas in Modern Warfare 2? The Deep Roads in Dragon Age: Origins? Riverside campaign Death Toll in Left 4 Dead? Are these the sorts of settings that gamers enjoy spending copious amount of time (sometimes the entire length of the game) surrounding their selves in dark and dreary worlds whose color palette includes gray and brown as its main swatches? Read more of this post

Shades of “Grey”

The Chantry teaches us…

Dragon Age: Origins is yet another new intellectual property start up coming from Bioware, an RPG giant of a developer whose credits include Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter Nights, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Jade Empire, and Mass Effect. Bioware is an old company with old ties to other RPG companies of the days, including Black Isle Studios (Planescape: Torment, Fallout series, Icewind Dale) and the risen-from-the-ashes of the previous company, Obsidian Entertainment (Who were behind KotORII and NWN2). This mostly had to do with the fact that Black Isle Studios used to be the big brawn behind RPGs during the early 90s and served as Bioware’s early publisher. Besides that, Bioware has more than established a reputation for their modus operandi as an RPG company. They have also more than proved that they can cover new and different grounds behind shooter mechanics with Mass Effect. The question, however, is whether a fantasy RPG could be set in something other than a time of chivalry and goodness. This is where Dragon Age: Origins comes in. Read more of this post