The appearance of Facebook and Twitter logos at the end of a recent Dragon Age promo video got me asking questions. And the answers are mysterious.
As a Dragon Age: Origins demo I received in a rented New York City nightclub was nearing its conclusion yesterday, I was shown a video that teased more of the game's content. There were fights and arguments and epic beasts. And there were flashes of logos at the end for the companies or platforms involved — I can't remember — along with — and this is burned into my mind's eye — the logos for Twitter and Facebook.
I turned to David Silverman, the senior product manager for the EA/BioWare game and asked him what that was all about.
He said he couldn't reveal much, but that I should think of Dragon Age: Origins not just as a single-player game with hundreds of hours of content, but as a "massively single-player role-playing game."
Massively single-player? Shades of how Spore was also promoted as a massively-single-player experience, one that only allowed one gamer to control it at a time but connected players through a network of manually and automatically shared content.
Silverman explained that Dragon Age was being set up to present the scale of an epic RPG, a scale as grand as an MMO but without some of the annoyances of strangers bumping into you. Instead, he said, secret plans were underway at EA and dev studio BioWare to find ways to connect communities of players. He told me to imagine things like players being able to be aware of each other's feats in the game (he used killing a tough ogre as an example of such an accomplishment).
I asked if he meant that the game might pull in status updates of what other players were doing and have them pop up during gameplay. Silverman said that that could be annoying, so I think that was the wrong guess.
I asked if people should think of the manner in which Halo 3 players are expected to consider a visit to Bungie.net — where a player's stats are tracked in greater detail than they are in the game — as an important element of their Halo 3 experience. He said that was closer.
So what does it mean to make a big RPG that is single-player but can connect a network of friends? I'm not sure. But that's what they want us thinking about.