Down Write Daily – December 22, 2009

by Mitchell Dyer

It’s been a long time since I’ve written up a Daily, but I’m trying to get back into the habit of it. I’ve got plenty to say, I assure you. Just no time to say it. Now as we approach the eve of a new year where I’ll have significantly less time to dedicate to blogging, I’m pledging to do it more. Great.

I’m going to school in January, so I wanted to cleanse my current backlog of new games before I’m too poor to afford anything new. As a result, I sold my DJ Hero, am ditching Brutal Legend and a few other little things. Clearing that stuff gave me time to finish Dragon Age: Origins this weekend, which promptly sucked 40 hours of my life away in just five sit-down sessions. For a game I hated so vehemently when I saw it at E3, I’m shocked that DAO was able to captivate me so thoroughly. The narrative is phenomenal, but what gets me going more is the character relationships. Digging into everyone’s history and uncovering secret truths about their personalities is immensely fulfilling, and I swear ten hours of my time with that game was spent chatting with my teammates in camp.

What interests me most about it, however, isn’t simply the talk. It’s the possibilities. I was talking with an editor of mine whose character developed a romantic relationship with Alistair. I played as a male character, and Al is as straight as an arrow, so he wasn’t having any of my limited attempts to seduce him. She told me about a few intriguing options in the endgame areas of Origins that convinced me to immediately start a new game as a warrior heroine, both to see the game from a new perspective, and to uncover Al’s deepest, darkest secrets.

The last time I wanted to play a game as much as this was Mass Effect, where friendly chatter gives you valuable information about the number of testicles each krogan has (it’s four, if you’re wondering) and how obscenely racist some of your crew members are. There is a lot of similar stuff like this in DAO, albeit sans testicular discussions. BioWare seems to have the monopoly on engaging character interaction, and seeing the evolution of Mass Effect‘s interactions in Dragon Age makes me wonder how ridiculously in-depth I’ll dig into the sci-fi sequel.

I played Mass Effect four times. I’ll play Dragon Age at least once more. Mass Effect 2 will weasel its way in there a few times, I’m sure. That’s a lot of time to get to know polygonal people. Now, that’s all I want to do in my games. Forget the guns and the murder. Let’s just talk it out.