Dragon Age: Origins

Spotlight

FeatureBeing the boss of Dragon Age

Mike Laidlaw still remembers his first day at BioWare - and, 15 years later - his last. A lot happened in between.

VideoDragon Age: Origins trailer

Ultimate edition revealed.

Key events

Another of BioWare's old-guard has left the building. This time it's James Ohlen, lead designer of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Baldur's Gate 1 and 2, Neverwinter Nights and Dragon Age: Origins, and director of Star Wars: The Old Republic. Ohlen leaves BioWare after a staggering 22 years.

FeatureBeing the boss of Dragon Age

Mike Laidlaw still remembers his first day at BioWare - and, 15 years later - his last. A lot happened in between.

Mike Laidlaw can still remember his first day at BioWare, even though it was over 15 years ago. He even remembers the date he answered the phone and found out he had got the job: 23rd December 2002. Laidlaw was used to answering the phone; at the time he was working at Bell, Canada's largest telecommunications company, in the province of Ontario. When Laidlaw first joined Bell's call centre, he worked the phones. Later, he got promoted to lead a team on the phones, "which was somehow way worse than being on the phones," Laidlaw told me last March, the day after his star turn at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. "I went in and said, I'm sorry, I'm quitting. I'm not coming in tomorrow. They said, 'you can't quit two days before Christmas! If you quit you'll never work here again!' I said, 'that is pretty much the plan, yes.' So I walked out, and a bunch of people high-fived me because - yay! - I got out."

EA Origin allows three games out to play on GOG

Good ones, and they're discounted.

EA has allowed three old games out to play on on GOG.com and they are discounted for the occasion. The games are Dragon Age: Origins, which I love; Dead Space, which you told us off for giving 7/10 to; and SimCity 3000, which is how we'd prefer to remember that series.

Dragon Age: Origins marked the point at which western RPGs properly moved into the spotlight. Knights Of The Old Republic laid the groundwork, combining a surprisingly geeky implementation of Dungeons and Dragons rules with its direct player control and swishy lightsabers. Jade Empire then tried to take it somewhere new, only to stumble right out of the gate. It modernised the genre, offering something fresh, but it never really got its due.

The first draft of Dragon Age: Origins didn't even have Grey Wardens

And a narrator you thought was Flemeth turned out to be an old Morrigan.

When BioWare finished work on Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (2003) and second Neverwinter Nights expansion Hordes of the Underdark (2003), two separate teams began work on two separate new games. One was a science fiction game that would become Mass Effect, and one was a fantasy game that would become Dragon Age.

BioWare turns 20 today

BioWare have the years gone?

Mass Effect and Dragon Age developer BioWare has turned 20 today, but it doesn't look a day older than 19.

Should BioWare give up romances?

Dragon Age writer David Gaider mulls the answer.

Remember all that hullabaloo about revealing lesbian sex in Mass Effect? However ludicrous the criticism, it's the sort of steamy content BioWare fans have come expect - love stories, love scenes, and often quite daring and progressive ones (for video games, at least).

BioWare announces Dragon Age 3: Inquisition

BioWare announces Dragon Age 3: Inquisition

UPDATE: It's coming in late 2013.

Update: EA has announced that Dragon Age 3 will arrive in late 2013, which presumably makes PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 likely candidates - although platforms were not specified.

"Lots of questions RE: platforms!" echoed BioWare community coordinator Tully Ackland on Twitter. "We are not talking about them at this moment in time."

Original story: BioWare has just announced Dragon Age 3: Inquisition.

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BioWare fixes DA: O server failure

Angry gamers point finger at DRM.

Angry gamers have filled BioWare's forum with complaints after the PC version of fantasy role-playing game Dragon Age: Origins became unplayable over the weekend.

The Last Story tops Japan charts

Plus, Dragon Age: Origins cracks top 10.

The Last Story, Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi's Wii-exclusive RPG, has topped the Japanese sales charts in its first week on shelves.

EA botches Dragon Age Ultimate Edition

Forgot to include Return to Ostagar DLC.

European copies of Dragon Age: Ultimate Edition for the PlayStation 3 were shipped with the wrong content, developer BioWare has admitted.

Dragon Age: Origins - DLC Roundup

Dragon Age: Origins - DLC Roundup

99 problems but a witch ain't one.

It's unfortunate that Witch Hunt, the latest in BioWare's long but less than illustrious DLC campaign for the original Dragon Age, arrives at the same time as Mass Effect 2's wonderful Lair of the Shadow Broker.

Witch Hunt is above average when placed alongside painfully thin predecessors like Return to Ostagar and Darkspawn Chronicles, but when compared to the masterful way that Liara has been folded back into the Mass Effect story, it ultimately serves only to highlight the unfortunate difference in approach that BioWare has taken with DLC for its two blockbusting RPGs.

For one thing, Dragon Age is now actively penalising players for having multiple playthroughs – a staggeringly horrible decision for an RPG. If you've got characters saved for every origin story, plus one for each downloadable chapter, then the game will have started prompting you to delete a character before you can play any new DLC. To clarify – it's not just asking you to clear out some old save files, but to erase every trace of an entire character.

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Dragon Age: Witch Hunt DLC unveiled

Out next month for all formats.

BioWare has announced another downloadable add-on for Dragon Age: Origins designed to clear up what happens to one of the game's central characters.

Dragon Age patched on PC today

Dragon Age patched on PC today

PS3 and 360 awaiting certification.

BioWare has revealed that it's releasing a patch for the PC version of Dragon Age: Origins today.

The patch, 1.04, is complete for 360 and PS3 as well, but is awaiting certification from Microsoft and Sony.

It covers a laundry list of bug fixes for both the original game and the Awakenings expansion pack, from fixing the display of Achievements to the appearance of incorrect characters in Morrigan's ritual.

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FeatureBioWare's Greg Zeschuk

Doctor in the house.

Bonnie and Clyde. Morecambe and Wise. Zeschuk and Muzyka. Only two of them sound like words made up by someone trying to cheat at Scrabble, but all of them are known for being highly successful partnerships. Whether you're all about murderous crime sprees, dancing with Angela Rippon or setting up Canadian development studios focused on producing globally successful role-playing videogames in the sci-fi and fantasy genres, it takes two to make an impact.

Project Ten Dollar "improves experience"

EA UK boss denies it's about second-hand.

Electronic Arts' UK general manager Keith Ramsdale has claimed that 'Project Ten Dollar' is about enhancing the value of EA games, and not an attempt to upset second-hand sales and illegal downloads.

BioWare patches PS3 Dragon Age

BioWare patches PS3 Dragon Age

Firmware-related crashes eradicated.

BioWare has rolled out patch for the PS3 version of Dragon Age: Origins.

This addresses the game crashes brought about by console firmware update version 3.3.

Free content redeemed using a code should now show properly on the in-game store, and bugs relating to Darkspawn Chronicles Trophies are no more.

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BioWare testing Dragon Age PS3 patch

BioWare testing Dragon Age PS3 patch

Game should "play nicer" with 3.3 firmware.

BioWare believes it has come up with a way to make Dragon Age "play nicer" with the latest PlayStation 3 firmware.

After the 3.3 firmware started causing the game to crash for some players, BioWare "pulled additional programmers from the main game teams to help on this and have been running several parallel investigations non-stop to find potential solutions from our end, as well as continuing to work with Sony for both dev support and other options," according to developer Fernando Melo, writing on the official forum.

"Thanks to the great feedback on here and from those folks we've been in contact with directly, the team now thinks we've been able to find a code-side workaround from our end to patch DA to play nicer with firmware 3.3, which was one of our investigation threads.

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Dragon Age DLC detailed

Darkspawn Chronicles to tell new story.

Bioware has announced more details regarding the recently revealed Darkspawn Chronicles DLC for Dragon Age: Origins.

New Dragon: Age Origins DLC named

Darkspawn Chronicles due on 18th May.

Microsoft has announced a new bit of DLC for Dragon Age: Origins, titled Darkspawn Chronicles, will be hitting Xbox Live on 18th May.

BioWare DLC codes do not expire

Bonus DAO, ME2 content is timeless.

EA's told Eurogamer that codes for bonus Dragon Age: Origins or Mass Effect 2 content do not expire and can be redeemed beyond what the leaflets inside the retail boxes say.

BioWare bosses apologise for Bazaar

Promise future events for "excluded" fans.

BioWare bosses Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk have apologised for restricting the BioWare Bazaar competition to North American residents only (but not those in Florida or New York).

Dragon Age sequel in February 2011?

Dragon Age sequel in February 2011?

Mysterious BioWare leaflet points to date.

BioWare has singled out 2nd February 2011 as a significant date for the Dragon Age series.

The numbers "02.01.2011" were printed on a leaflet inside the US Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening retail box, above a familiar blood-red dragon. 1UP took a picture.

There was no accompanying explanation, but this appears to be the "Dragon Age Title TBA" mentioned in EA's Q3 financials in February.

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Return to Ostagar PS3 dated

Out just prior to Awakening.

BioWare has told PS3 owners that the Return to Ostagar DLC will finally be released for their platform on 11th March.

Return to Ostagar delayed again

To improve Dragon Age testing procedures.

BioWare has updated its test procedures across all formats following the release and retraction of a dodgy title update for Dragon Age on Xbox 360 last week.

No ETA on Return to Ostagar launch

No ETA on Return to Ostagar launch

Troublesome title update gone from Live.

BioWare has said it is uncertain when troubled Dragon Age DLC Return to Ostagar will be released on any format following yesterday's second snafu.

This week a patch designed to pave the way for the DLC was found to have a problem that affected levelling, and BioWare was quick to pull the DLC from Xbox Live as a result. Now the troublesome patch has followed.

"The Title Update has been removed by Microsoft. If anyone was worried about playing their copy of Dragon Age: Origins on their Xbox 360 while this was present, you no longer need to worry," BioWare's Chris Priestly informed fans on the official forum. Priestly said that the team is still working on a fix.

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BioWare details Awakening char transition

BioWare details Awakening char transition

Add-on is "massive", DLC delay explained.

BioWare has explained how you will be able to approach upcoming Dragon Age expansion Awakening either as a new character or using an existing one.

Online producer Fernando Melo told IGN that the game takes place in the new area of Amaranthine in the north of Ferelden, and if you begin from scratch you arrive as an Orlesian Grey Warden Commander.

"It's not the same depth of something like an origin story, but there is a brand new beginning to the campaign there, and then you're thrust into the tale," he said.

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EA details Dragon Age expansion

EA details Dragon Age expansion

Awakening in March on all formats.

EA has announced Dragon Age: Origins expansion Awakening, which will be released on 16th March for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 and will require the original Dragon Age to play.

The press release cites $39.99 as the price, but no European-relevant figure was given.

Awakening will take place after the events of the main game and follow either saved heroes or new characters as Grey Warden Commander, who must rebuild the order at Vigil's Keep according to the player's desires. Five brand new party members await your call.

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Dragon Age Ostagar DLC tomorrow

Warden you like revenge?

BioWare's announced that the next batch of Dragon Age: Origins DLC, Return to Ostagar, will be released tomorrow on PC and Xbox 360. The remaining PS3 version will appear later this month.

Dragon Age expansion for March?

Dragon Age expansion for March?

Pulled retailer listing reckons so.

EA and BioWare may be readying a hulking Dragon Age expansion for release at retail in March.

The pack, subtitled Awakening, follows a new main character through a new prologue section and 15 hours of new gameplay content. You will need the original Dragon Age: Origins game in order to play.

That's according to online retailers whose revelatory listings have now been pulled, although Eurogamer Czech was ready to snap up the news while others ate mince pies - oh was that just us?

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What I take away from Dragon Age is a sense of having been somewhere. No, more than that. Having lived somewhere. In most well-established gaming worlds I feel as though I've been a visitor. Dragon Age was my home.

BioWare addresses DA PS3 bonus issue

Update: Now with UK details.

Update: EA UK has told us that anyone affected over here should contact EA Customer Support on 0870 2432435 (Monday to Friday 9am-9pm) or go to support.electronicarts.co.uk.

Xbox 360 vs. PS3 Face-Off: Round 23

Digital FoundryXbox 360 vs. PS3 Face-Off: Round 23

Dragon Age, Beatles, Guitar Hero 5, FIFA 10, PES 2010.

In what's likely to be the last Face-Off of 2009, Digital Foundry does a little housekeeping, sifting through the teetering piles of code dotted around the office, picking out the most intriguing games we've yet to cover, and combining those with the definitive word on one of the year's biggest releases - BioWare's Dragon Age: Origins.

As is the norm, the feature is crammed with the media that matters. One of our TrueHD workstations is pretty much full to the brim with lossless digital dumps of the HDMI ports of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, giving us access to the very best 24-bit RGB comparison shots and untouchable video assets, presented to you in pristine h264 video, manually encoded on a per-game basis for ultimate quality.

Onto the all-important line-up, then. Just the five releases covered this time, but all of them with an interesting story to tell, plus some bonus PC action included too.

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BioWare to develop for PS3 in-house

"We think it's one of the key platforms."

BioWare plans to do PlayStation 3 development in-house from now on following the positive experience it had working on the console with Dragon Age: Origins.

Dragon Age: Origins - Warden's Keep and The Stone Prisoner

Dragon Age: Origins - Warden's Keep and The Stone Prisoner

Catching up on the downloadable content.

BioWare didn't just launch a single game when it released its RPG epic Dragon Age: Origins last week. It launched a new series, a new RPG system, a new fantasy universe, and a platform for what it hopes will be two years of continuous downloadable content. That content will either be created by the mod community using the game's tool set, or crafted by BioWare's own developers in what must be the most ambitious plans yet for DLC support of a single game.

You can find our reviews of the game itself on PC and console elsewhere. Below, we take a look at the first two major DLC packs for Dragon Age, available for all formats at the game's launch: The Stone Prisoner and Warden's Keep. Anyone buying a legitimate, first-hand copy of Dragon Age will be able to download The Stone Prisoner for free, while purchasers of the digital version of the Collector's Edition also get Warden's Keep. Both, however, do have price points, and both serve as an interesting indication of where BioWare intends to take this endless RPG over the next two years.

Warden's Keep

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BioWare defends story structure

"Nothing wrong with it," says Weekes.

BioWare staff writer Patrick Weekes has defended the way the developer structures stories in its games, picking apart a tongue-in-cheek, fan-made "RPG Cliché Chart".

Dragon Age: Origins

Dragon Age: Origins

Original sin.

BioWare is fond of saying that it takes its time tailoring its games to be the best they can be on the formats they're released on. Since its seduction by consoles - beginning with the Xbox-first release of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic back in 2003 - it's been as good as its word.

You can debate whether the extra time taken to adapt KOTOR, Jade Empire and Mass Effect to PC was cover for exclusivity arrangements with Microsoft or genuine format-specific perfectionism, but the end result has been the same each time. The company's long-standing, PC-gaming faithful was rewarded for its patience with excellent new versions, and sometimes new content to go with them.

That just makes this console version of Dragon Age: Origins all the more disappointing. A return to the company's Dungeons & Dragons roots (if not the D&D licence and ruleset itself), often called the spiritual successor to Baldur's Gate, Dragon Age was always a PC game at heart and by design. In fact, for the first few years of its development, it was exclusively so.

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BioWare defends Dragon Age DLC

Not designed to "bilk" you for money.

Dragon Age lead systems designer George Zoeller has explained that it was BioWare's decision what to put in the DLC and what to charge for it.

Dragon Age: Origins

Dragon Age: Origins

Drakes' fortune.

This is a review of the PC version of Dragon Age: Origins. We'll tackle the console version separately soon.

I can scarcely remember the last time I played a game in which I didn't level up. Forza Motorsport 3's racecars grind out experience points with every lap. Borderlands is a gluttonous hybrid of hair-trigger silliness and accumulating stats. Call of Duty has conquered online shooting with persistent character progression. Even the Space Invaders cannon - the humblest, most primal collection of pixels in gaming - now gains ranks and power with every kill. In 2009, the role-playing game is everywhere.

But where, in its traditional form, is the role-playing game? The genre's biggest recent hits are the futuristic action crossovers Fallout 3 and Mass Effect, and online scion World of Warcraft. In Japan, Monster Hunter's weird sub-genre of handheld multiplayer grinding has swept aside the fantasy epics that were once a national obsession. Although German developers valiantly keep the flame alive with the likes of Risen, Sacred and Drakensang, you have to look back to 2006's Oblivion to find the last globally significant solo adventure in swords and sorcery - and even that game was scarcely traditional.

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BioWare details ambitious social network

BioWare details ambitious social network

Share Dragon Age heroes on all formats.

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.

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PS3 Dragon Age: Origins dated

Arrives a couple of weeks late.

EA has given the PS3 version of Dragon Age: Origins a 17th November US release date. That's a Tuesday, so the European release is likely to be Friday 20th November. We're checking.

Dragon Age: Origins

Age discrimination.

Say what you like about BioWare - the Canadian RPG specialists always did think big, and they've never thought bigger than they are right now. While the Austin-based offshoot prepares the company's maiden foray into MMOs with the huge Star Wars: The Old Republic, home base is about to make not one but two monster releases - Mass Effect 2 in January, and Dragon Age: Origins next month.

Dragon Age spun off into Flash game

EA 2D developing DA Journeys for browsers.

BioWare wasn't kidding when it said it had big plans for its new Dragon Age franchise. Hot on the heels of this week's revelation that it has two years of DLC planned comes the announcement of Dragon Age Journeys, a Flash game for browsers developed by EA 2D.

Two years of DLC planned for Dragon Age

Everything from items to expansions.

BioWare has revealed that it has extensive plans to support Dragon Age: Origins with a broad range of downloadable content, across all platforms, for at lest two years after its release next month.

Free Dragon Age DLC at launch

Free Dragon Age DLC at launch

Added value for legitimate owners.

BioWare has three lots of downloadable content ready for the 6th November launch of Dragon Age: Origins.

Two out of the three are free, but only to legitimate owners of a sparkly new copy on PC, PS3 or Xbox 360. This 'added value' approach is how BioWare boss Ray Muzyka wants to beat piracy.

The Warden's Keep will be paid-for by most, as only Deluxe Edition owners get this thrown in for nothing. The pay-out is 560 Microsoft Points on 360 and $7 on PC, according to GameSpot. PS3 owners will pay $7 but wait until late November to play.

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EA splashes nine games over the Expo

L4D2, NFS, Dragon Age, Brutal, more!

Well, it's that time again - more top quality titles have been announced for the Eurogamer Expo and, like some kind of cross between Gareth Barry and an BidUp TV infomercial, we're passing the facts on to you with unerring accuracy.

FeatureBioWare's Dr Greg Zeschuk

At length on making Dragon Age, the toolset, and the merger with Mythic.

If you're a game developer who's prone to epileptic fits, repeated coronary occlusions, or regular spells of choking during lunch, you could do a lot worse than seek employment with BioWare, an RPG house run by not one, but two, MDs. With the release of Dragon Age: Origins looming, and a merger with stable-mate Mythic, the developer behind Warhammer Online, recently announced by parent company EA, we caught up with co-founder Dr Greg Zeschuk to discuss the ramifications of the new organisational structure, and what we can expect from the studio's latest, significantly darker take on fantasy. We also asked what he made of this strange lump on our neck. (It turned out to be peanut butter.)

Dragon Age: Origins

Hands-on with console and PC versions. Ogre and out.

It takes a lot of components to make a great game. You need glamorous stuff like lax unpaid overtime regulations, dangerous quantities of Diet Coke, and dozens of cubicles filled with half-built LEGO Mindstorm Robots. Also, throwing in a skateboarding chipmunk named Jimmy Lightning doesn't hurt.

FeatureDragon Age: Origins

Wyrming out the facts from designer Mike Laidlaw.

Mike Laidlaw - Dragon Age: Origins' lead designer - stands centre-stage in front of a crowd of games journalists extolling the core values of Dragon Age. Those being violence, lust and betrayal. Which means that Dragon Age is much like Eurogamer around closing time, but that's neither here nor there.

Dragon Age boss leaves for Disney

Dan Tudge to helm Propaganda projects.

BioWare has revealed that Dan Tudge, executive producer of the entire Dragon Age franchise, has left to join Disney as vice president of Propaganda Games.

Dragon Age: Origins

Dragon drop.

Since Baldur's Gate, BioWare has been on a worldwide genre tour. It took on the mighty, crap-spattered Star Wars franchise with almost unqualified success. It weaved a fantastical Far East adventure, blending martial arts with fairy-tale machinery. It created a completely new space-fi world with Mass Effect, and... well, it did Sonic Chronicles, too.

FeatureComing Attractions: MMOs & RPGs

Taking 2009 to another level.

This week we've already guided you through the coming year's hot picks for Indie and Esoterica and Sports and Music games. Still to come are Fighting, Strategy, Action, Adventure, Shooters and Racing. But today we're looking at two sectors with the same dice-rolling roots that are heading in more than two different directions in 2009 - role-playing games (RPGs), and massively multiplayer online games (MMOs).

FeatureDragon Age: Origins

BioWare on consoles, online, tools and depth.

BioWare may continually refer to Dragon Age: Origins as a spiritual successor to Baldur's Gate, but that game came out a long time ago, and for one reason or another Origins left us a little cold at E3 in July. Certainly we had none of the excitement left by Blizzard after Diablo III was revealed in style back in June.

FeatureDragon Age: Origins

Where be dragons?

The subtitle says it all - and BioWare isn't exactly trying to disguise its ambitions, either. The E3 demo of Dragon Age: Origins we saw was presented by Dan Tudge, pointedly introduced as executive producer of the franchise. Days earlier, Greg Zeschuk had confirmed the nascent series will come to consoles in some form, after this PC game. This one will run and run, if BioWare and EA get their way; we may now know that the studio's in-development MMO is no Dragon Age, but we'd be surprised if that idea wasn't already twinkling in someone's eye.

Dragon Age coming to consoles

In some form or other.

At EA's E3 press conference, BioWare co-founder Greg Zeschuk mentioned that the Dragon Age franchise would be coming to consoles in the future.

BioWare spills Dragon Age details

BioWare spills Dragon Age details

Shows first screens and videos.

BioWare has revealed new details of its upcoming role-playing game Dragon Age: Origins.

A release window has been officially confirmed as early next year, and the game will ship exclusively on PC.

Lots is being made of its dark fantasy setting, which promises to be mature and littered with "credible" characters and voice acting. It is expected to be a "gritty" and "emotionally intense" epic.

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Dragon Age named, trailer dated

Dragon Age named, trailer dated

Footage of BioWare RPG due this weekend.

BioWare has finally begun to unveil its role-playing game Dragon Age, revealing it will be subtitled Origins on the official website.

The first footage of the title is expected early on Saturday.

Dragon Age: Origins is described by BioWare as the spiritual successor to Baldur's Gate and "the RPG people have been waiting for".

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Bioware wants to innovate in MMOs

Plus: Muzyka on Sonic and Mass Effect.

Speaking to Eurogamer, Bioware chief Ray Muzyka has said that the EA studio intends to bring innovation to massively multiplayaer gaming with its first MMO.

BioWare talks up Dragon Age

"The RPG people have been waiting for."

BioWare has told Eurogamer that its upcoming role-playing game Dragon Age will be what fans have been "wanting forever".