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Fernando Melo on recent happenings:
My apologies for missing the last updates. I've only now managed to sneak away for some time on the computer :) so we'll break usual friday update form this time.
Since the last update, if you are still wondering:
- The cool items I referred to were indeed the 360 Avatar items! The red blood dragon t-shirt is pretty sweet.
- The announce that some fans would like was the Mac version.
Since then, we've just put out an official update for Return to Ostagar DLC and released the video for it in the add-ons page. The release date for PC & 360 is set for Jan 5. PS3 will come out later. I did a update on the RtO thread if you are curious about more on this.
RtO for consoles will come with title update #1 (patch). More on what is included in the TU closer to the date.
We've also brought in Victor W to join our ranks - one of Victor's first tasks will be to help clean up for forum organization a little. So we will see an official BW posts area, where things such as this update will be located - and separate threads for the actual discussion points (good suggestions btw)!
Work on the PC patch continues - but with the holidays this has not really progressed very much since the last update - look for more news in the new year. We're targeting fixes for the DLC downloader as well as what memory leak/slow downs we have been able to reproduce so far, and continue working directly with some members of the community to get more details on others. We'll put out the official list of fixes closer to release.
Happy holidays! (must sneak back to family once again)
Rob Bartel on Return to Ostagar's delay:
Happy New Year, everyone! Thanks for your patience over the holiday season and I'm sorry we weren't able to get Return to Ostagar out to you on the timelines we had originally hoped. As noted in the press release and on the Return to Ostagar product page, the PC and X360 versions of this new DLC will launch tomorrow, with PS3 to follow at a later date (we'll announce it once we've confirmed the details).
I take responsibility for any missteps that we've made in communicating the specifics of this launch and it's on my list of New Year's resolutions to do better in 2010. =o) In particular, I'll narrow my focus to discussing the content itself, rather than release dates and price points, which are outside of my control and far too subject to change without my direct involvement. For those sorts of details, you'll just have to wait for the press releases.
At any rate, thanks so much for continuing to play Dragon Age and for being a part of the BioWare community. For those of you playing Return to Ostagar tomorrow, have fun! I look forward to hearing your responses. In the meantime, the team and I will be buckling down and developing more content for all of you to play. We're having fun and are in this one for the long haul. =o)
All the best in 2010!
David Gaider on adding clerics to Dragon Age: Origins:
Clerics in the classic sense of D&D won't work in Dragon Age. There is no proof of the Divine, no 'holy power" as it were, any were such power to suddenly manifest itself that would pretty much handle the issue of the Maker's existence, wouldn't it? And that's not going to happen -- the existence of the Divine is a matter of Faith. Were the Maker to suddenly let his power be felt (especially in such a mundane manner) that would only call into question the truth of his status as a deity (as opposed to some powerful, extraplanar being... there is a difference, after all).
That does not mean that Clerics couldn't potentially exist as a class, however. They would not be the recipients of holy spells, but that doesn't mean they couldn't be a form of warrior or have access to some form of magic-like talents -- we would be talking, after all, about Clerics with some form of special training and not your average priest in a Chantry. Granting all Chantry priests some form of special power just isn't going to happen, period.
Would we create such an order of Cleric with said special training, inserting them into the world? Probably not. I get people liking D&D Clerics, but what they do to the issue of faith in the D&D world just isn't acceptable in Dragon Age. We're not apt to break the entire setting for the love of another setting's class -- though this doesn't mean we couldn't ever have some kind of "holy crusader" class; it just means such a class wouldn't have holy power stemming directly from some deity.
David Gaider on the next patch:
Just because an expansion is being worked upon does not mean that patches for the original game (as well as DLC) aren't also being worked on. Multitasking is something we are capable of, being a big company and all.
The fact that the announcement wasn't what you were hoping doesn't mean that what you're hoping for isn't coming. It's *okay* to be excited about the expansion and yet still also want more patches. :)
Ferret Baudoin on the Awakening expansion:
Yay, I can finally talk about what I've been working away at. :)
Some random answers to questions brought up (obviously I can't answer everything):
* Choices in Origins definitely are recognized in the expansion.
* You do import all of your gear from Origins, but not from the chest in Soldier's Peak. But you can always pull out what you like, save, then import that save.
* You can't play an Orlesian Grey Warden in Origins.
* Amaranthine is indeed the coastal arling that once belonged to Rendon Howe. And, of course, everyone will speak with a Jamaican accent. OK, maybe that last part isn't true. :)
Some random comments.
Only one companion in Awakening has been seen in Origins. The rest are new characters we hope you'll enjoy bunches.
The Inferno Golem and the Spectral Dragon are just two of the new creatures in the expansion. Expect more info and screenshots in the weeks to come. :)
Chris Priestly on why Return to Ostagar was delayed:
For people who were wondering what happened:
We found a last minute issue and had to delay Return to Ostagar to make sure we deliver the highest quality experience to you, our fans.
We will update once we have more information regarding the new date. We are working to get Return to Ostagar out to you as soon as possible.
Thanks for your patience.
Stanley Woo on testing a product before release:
Since the breaking of a promised date is what got people so up in arms in the first place, do you think that giving them a timeframe is really going to help?
And I'd like to address a comment to whoever said all the testing should hae been done by now, so how could it be a bug that's caused this? It's actually pretty easy for a bug to cause something like this. Even if testing for a game is "done," there is still a lot of time between "done" and when the game appears on store shelves. While waiting for things like certification, approval and manufacturing, testing can still continue. So, time-wise, testing can happen even when the game is "done." This is how you get things like zero-day patches.
Another concept that people have problems grasping is that software, complex as it is, can almost never be completely, 100% bug-free. That's just unreasonable if you have a product that needs to get released. During the later stages of a project, the managers "triage" the bugs. They make the hard decisions on what bugs can be fixed in the time and with the people available, and which bugs are minor enough to leave in. As the project deadline looms closer, these decisions get harder and harder to make and the bugs that are allowed through are, comparitively, bigger. Really serious stuff like crashes or causing your computer to explode in green Jell-O are given priority, but other things can get through. This is how you get things like software patches days, weeks, months, even years after release.
Finally, there's the "infinte monkeys" factor. Even working at full capacity 24 hours a day, there's only so many things that can be found by the dozen or so QA that projects get. They might have filed a million bugs each during the project, and all of them might have been approved by triage, and they might not have found anything else between "done" and store shelves, but statistically, you can throw a few more people at the game and they will see something that was missed. Add in a few hundred thousand folks with a few hundred thousands different Pc configurations or play styles, and you have that many more "testers." No one likes it, but that's how you get folks complaining about "paying to be a tester." No malice involved or intended, it's just the math.
Not saying a bug did cause any of this. I just thought I'd address that particular question since I knew the answer, and it's a little distraction for all y'all.
Gabochido on the expansion's full value:
While for many, the value of an expansion like this is just the "15 extra hours", keep in mind that the actual cost of creating it goes way beyond that. Many of the new features in the expansion can likely affect the rest of the game so that means making sure new things interact with old things, and you know by now that there are a lot of old things. It means a lot of testing and a lot of code re-writing and content modifications.
And Gabochido on DAO's profitability:
I'm not sure where you got such trustworthy data indicating that EA has made a profit from the sales of DA and that it has made up for the 5 years of develepment and content creation so that you can state it in such a way, but I'm afraid that I don't personally have authority or enough knowledge to confirm or deny your statement.
However, I can tell you something about game development. Not all games are expected to recover the money spent on them based on revenues of the game alone. Many intelectual properties (IPs) have a long term plan that includes additional content, expansions, sequels and other products and often the revenues from the sale value is distributed among these products in ways that are not exactly proportional to their individual development costs. This is done to suit the market and the demand for these products. Sometimes a product that is expensive to produce and has little demand is made just to support an IP in certain markets and make sure the IP has a broader audience, gaining more market and therefore more revenue in the long run.
So don't be surprised if some products seem to have greater value than others as this is often a necessary strategy to keep game development sustainable.