BioWare wants to provide the Dragon Age community with a MMO-style hub where heroes can be viewed and scrutinised and all in-game progress automatically tracked.
Online producer Fernando Melo - speaking to Kotaku - said having a social experience typical of multiplayer games was "really important" these days, particularly for single-player experiences.
All three versions of Dragon Age: Origins - PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 - will connect to the BioWare Social Network. Individual heroes will be shared with the world on an avatar screen so others can see how you look, what items you have and what attributes you boast. Statistics like "Greatest damage dealt" and "Most powerful foe slain" will also be tracked.
The Social Network is in beta at the moment with features subject to change. The bulk of the work, explained Melo, will be done post-launch.
Ideas for the future include detailed story-tracking, showing which of the myriad paths you chose to walk down. Event tracking isn't implemented yet, but will, like an in-game journal, note your quest progress.
"We were trying to figure out how to create these water-cooler moments that people could talk about without spoiling it for people," said Melo. "We wanted to have a way that complements that instead of random [forum] threads."
PC owners of Dragon Age: Origins will also be able to post screenshots and share them with friends. Otherwise, all three versions will work with the Social Network in an identical way.
This BioWare Social Network, coupled with two years of planned DLC and a detailed Flash spin-off of Dragon Age, show the considerable effort behind the dark fantasy RPG. From BioWare's perspective, it's another incentive for people to buy a legitimate copy rather than pirating it.
"We wanted to make this very clear this is not a DRM solution. The win was taking a playbook from Valve by adding additional value for players," concluded Melo. "Our benefit is more indirect in terms of feeding the community and getting them engaged with Dragon Age as a franchise."
Look for our Dragon Age: Origins review closer to release.