May 092012

Over at GamesIndustry International, they’ve got the scoop on why news on a new Dragon Age title is scarce. According to industry analyst Michael Pachter, Bioware has been slow to begin work on a third entry in the fantasy RPG series because the team responsible for its development has been too busy working on Star Wars: The Old Republic. It was previously revealed that the team will make a sequel instead of developing additional DLC for Dragon Age II.

“Dragon Age III appears to have slipped to FY:14. We had previously expected the next Dragon Age to be released in Q4:13, two years after its predecessor. However, we believe that a significant portion of the BioWare team responsible for the game was reassigned to Star Wars in order to create content and fix bugs to keep the game’s audience engaged,” he said in the report.

The third game has yet to be officially announced, but we know that it will 1) feature a new protagonist, 2) use the dialogue wheel from the second game, 3) allow players to import save files, and 4) have a map four to five times larger than that of the first game.

Old Republic was supposed to be the game that would wrestle away control of the MMO space from World of Warcraft, or at least be the first game to coexist peacefully with it. Instead, the game is bleeding subscribers just months after launch, losing 400,000 just in the past two months. Meanwhile, Blizzard’s MMO-to-end-them-all trucks along with around 10 million active subscribers and a new expansion set for a holiday release.

Elder Scrolls Online is its next challenger, and my colleague Ryan Hillis has a few things to say about that.

Source: GamesIndustry International

Nov 142011

I’ve enjoyed the Assassin’s Creed series. I always thought the general premise and the execution of the game always gave the player something to do. Assassin’s Creed was able to get your feet wet and truly get you used the Templar vs. Assassin mythos, I never thought that after playing the initial game that the storyline would eventually become so robust that Ubisoft has actually created an encyclopedia specifically to cover the series history. The second game really made us connect with the characters, both Desmond and Ezio. As the main character of Assassin’s Creed, Desmond wasn’t too much more than a name in the first game, but after the second he became the potential ace-in-the-hole in a battle that had raged in the shadows for centuries, no matter how willing he was to participate. Ezio was introduced and we immediately identified with his character, he was a man who lost everything and by doing so, learned the truths of the world around him. We felt his anger, and even after achieving vengeance, realized that it was a hollow victory. He became the Assassin that was the face of the series.

Then something odd happened, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood came out. Not that the game release itself was odd, but this wasn’t a true sequel, it was more of a continuation of 2. Ezio was still the main character, and we were shown that he was the one that united the Assassin’s under a common goal. During this, Desmond was coming to grips with his fate and learning more about his role in the war and also trying to make sense of Assassin’s Creed 2′s odd ending. As the mysteries unravled, we were once again shown that we had only viewed the tip of the iceberg, corruption and betrayal ran deep within the Assassin ranks and teams were falling all over the globe. In other words, the Assassin’s were fighting a futile battle. As Brotherhood wrapped up, we once again were given a huge shocker and, perhaps, the murder of one of the main characters. Why did this happen? There were still so many questions!

Ubisoft has once again threw another curve ball when the announced Assassin’s Creed: Revelations. As with Brotherhood, Revelations will be an extension of the second game’s story. There has been a considerable focus on Ezio’s search to get to Altair’s roots, why was a considerably aged Ezio trying to track this info down? The trailers showed Desmond in a dream state interacting with some sort of monolith. There were hidden messages planted throughout the entire trailer as well, a common theme within the series. The game itself looks great, but are they milking the game at this point?

I ask this simply due to the fact that Ubisoft stated that Assassin’s Creed was going to be a trilogy. I don’t doubt that Revelations will be a great game, but the story has been the one constant throughout the series and I am concerned that taking the LOST approach to the game may end with similar results. If Ubisoft continues to create more questions without offering many answers, eventually it comes to a point where the mystique wears off and the shocks and twists become nothing more that gimmicks. Assassin’s Creed is one of the last few games that I have played where the story itself is equally as important as gameplay. If the series loses this focus, I think it would lose a majority of it’s support as well.

The series has started making significant pushes towards the ARG concepts as well, Assassin’s Creed isn’t just a video game any longer, there are comics, books, encyclopedias, movies and websites that all contribute to the overall plot. These other sources of story are great for the die hard fan, but can also be confusing to the less experienced player as well. A great example of this is on the upcoming Assassin’s Creed Encyclopedia, there is code that references

We know that one day, there will be an Assassin’s Creed 3, that is a fact. Now the question we will want to get to the bottom of will be, will Assassin’s Creed 3 wrap the series up? There has been awesome theories out there, civil war era Assassins, Desmond the Assassin and even discussion of the potential that Desmond is a puppet being controlled by another Animus user. The fact is though, it would now be almost completely impossible to wrap the series up in a final game. Will the series go to Assassin’s Creed 3a, 3b and 3c or will we recieve a fourth installment into the series as well?