Burning for more Dragon Age: Origins information? The game's Principal Lead Designer, Mike Laidlaw, provides some fiery facts for you.
Can you provide a brief rundown on Dragon Age: Origins?
Dragon Age: Origins is a dark, brutal, epic fantasy set in a brand new world created by BioWare. As the spiritual successor of the wildly popular Baldur's Gate series, it offers party-based combat, character customisation, an enormous world to explore, and most importantly, an incredible story.
Origins is a game for anyone interested in playing through an epic adventure set in a new dark fantasy world. One of the things we're really proud of is how accessible the game is, in both controls and difficulty. Tactical geniuses will be able to coordinate brilliant strategies, while those looking to just charge into the combat can rely on our advanced Artificial Intelligence to keep their party fighting smart.
What elements in Dragon Age: Origins will appeal to those who may not have played role-playing games before?
The story and pacing are what will draw them in. Each origin story starts out with a simple set of abilities and goals, but before long the story starts to unfold like a rich tapestry and the mechanics become steadily more complex and engrossing. It's a very organic process, but by the middle of the game you're controlling dozens of abilities in a tactical dance of death, and yet because you worked up to it, orchestrating combat feels very natural.
What are the primary details you had to portray in the game, from a story and gameplay perspective?
In both cases we were going for a mix of the familiar and the new. Applied to story, what that means is that we very firmly rooted Origins in the fantasy that you know and love. Dwarves live underground, elves have pointy ears, and so on. But then we started twisting expectations, changing elements of their situations to be darker, grittier and more compelling. There are parts in Origins that will challenge and shock your notions of fantasy.
What kind of scenarios can players expect to be involved in?
As a Grey Warden, the player will have to gather an army, which means convincing humanity, the elves, mages and dwarves to all work together against the Blight. You'll be battling demons, pushing back the spreading hordes of the darkspawn and even descending into the Deep Roads: the shattered dwarven highways that once connected their vast underground empire. Until the darkspawn pushed them back to a single city, nearly wiping out their populace in the process, that is. Expect to go toe-to-toe with dragons, werewolves, the undead and the corrupted forces of the Blight.
How do the Dragon Age: Origins novels tie into the game?
The Stolen Throne and The Calling are excellent primers into the world of Dragon Age. They are prequels that help set up the story, and players who've read the novels will be privy to added information and the motivations of many of the main characters in Origins. They were penned by the game's Lead Writer, David Gaider, and he's done an excellent job of translating the Dragon Age world into a new format.
Are there any particular moments in the game's development which stand out?
The game's been in development a long time, so there are almost too many to recount, but one that's always stood out for me was at this year's  Penny Arcade expo. We were letting people go hands-on with the game for about half an hour [at a time], and if they succeeded at a particular challenge we would let them don the Grey Warden armour, pick up the shield and sword and then we'd photograph them in front of a 15 foot high statue of the Archdemon.
One girl, a huge fan of our games, went through the test, passed and then very carefully stood up out of her wheelchair for the photograph, because she had [really] earned it. It was both touching and awesome.
What was it like working with well known voice talent including Tim Curry and Kate Mulgrew?
It's always a joy to work with professionals like Tim and Kate, actors who will dive right into the character and really get what their motivations are. Luckily for us, both of them were working with characters with nuance and depth, and it was great to see their interpretations of the characters.
The most memorable part of those sessions had to be the excitement they both brought to the roles. Once they'd figured out what was really going on with the story, both actors were ready to bring their best performances. I think meeting them in the game shows that enthusiasm.
Can you go into some detail about what we can expect from the downloadable content on PlayStation Network?
So far we've already announced two expansions to the game. The first is a full party member, Shale, who is the central character of The Stone Prisoner. Once Shale joins the party, lending the rocky might of a golem to the team, the player gets to experience its commentary, storyline and more for the rest of the game.
There's also Warden's Keep, which explores the history of the Grey Wardens, and introduces new abilities to the game. That's all we've announced so far, but we have a two-year plan for added content to the game so there will be more. Oh yes, there will be more.
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