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Game Neep

I’m home from my travels, and hoping to stay home until a return to L.A. in January.  I’ve got a book to finish and another that needs to see some forward progress.

I had a great time in L.A. first speaking at U.S.C., and then taking meetings, seeing dear friends, and looking at condos in the greater L.A. area.  The U.S.C. gig is a thing where I speak to a computer science class that is focusing on A.I.  The professor, the amazing and charming Dr. Milind Tambe uses the Measure of a Man to teach his class, and he contacted me two years ago, and asked if I’d come out and give a lecture.  I was delighted, and this year I got to return.

Milind’s graduate students showed me the fascinating work they are doing, and then we fell to talking about games.  They are all serious console gamers.  What was interesting was that they all loved Dragon Age for the same reasons I love Dragon Age. 

In fact, one young man suggested that the first A.I. might come to “life” in a game because it is aping and modeling human emotion.

We were all agreed in our scorn of Dragon Age 2 based on what we’ve been hearing.  We liked getting to create our own character.  Having a choice of race and skill, etc. etc.  I was also annoyed as hell at one designer who said the move to a human character was indicated because the Blight mostly affects humans.  Excuse me?  They can’t give me this entire history — the dwarves fighting Darkspawn in the Deep Roads, and then tell me it doesn’t matter.  What matters are humans.

Then I came home and I played through Witch Hunt, the final bit of downloadable content before the second game comes out.  Morrigan’s cryptic warnings didn’t seem to line up much with what I’m reading about the upcoming game.

And then I began to wonder.  Is the whole Hawke, his family, Lothering thing an elaborate cover for the real game?  Is it fake tanks in Britain, and letting Hitler think Patton was going to lead the invasion?  It seems like the kid that Morrigan gives birth to is going to be a very big deal, but there is nothing in the preview info of Dragon Age 2 to support that.

Basically, I don’t want to give up playing my beloved “knife ear” character so if the previews are correct I may sulk until I hear how the new game works out before I buy it.

The reason I began to think this all might be an elaborate blind is because of the attention to detail that is shown by the creators of Dragon Age.  If you go from Origins to Awakenings, to the Golems, to Witch Hunt.  A number of years have passed for your character.  What took me completely aback was a close up of my character in the final cut scene of Witch Hunt.  He had crows feet around his eyes, and fairly deep frown lines in his forehead.  Now designers who would do that just can’t throw away everything that made Dragon Age cool.  Can they?

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