2nd October 2009

Dragon Age Origins Updates

BioWareEdmontonBioware has announced that they will be releasing the Character Creator from Dragon Age: Origins on the 13th of October. This will give players three weeks to experiment and get their Player Character just right before launch of the game on November 3rd – 6th. While this feature will only be transferable to the PC version of the game, those of us who are console gamers can still download the Creator and preview the different character choices.Dragon Age Origins

Downloadable as a separate application, The Dragon Age: Origins Character Creator will allow gamers to create numerous different characters before launch and experiment with the different classes, races, and create multiple faces for the six Origin stories and save them to their hard drives for safe keeping until the game is released. The Character Creator will be available for download from the Dragon Age: Origins web site and will be available in English, German, French, Polish and Russian, as well as in Czech, Hungarian, Italian and Spanish with English Voice Over.

Bioware’s Community Coordinator Chris Priestley also announced that “we are extending the BioWare community with a new social community site for Dragon Age: Origins. The great news is when we launch the Dragon Age: Origins Character Creator we will also be launching an open beta of the new social community site. You will be able to log into the new Social community site with your existing BioWare forums account name and password, and update it to the new social site account. Characters created with the Dragon Age: Origins Character Creator can also be uploaded to your account from within the Character creator. Once logged in to the social site, one of the first things you will be able to do is use one of your uploaded characters as your social website avatar for your profile on the new social website forums.”

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Bioware also recently released a new video introducing story character Zevran, an Elven assassin who was sent by the Antivian Crows to kill the player in Dragon Age: Origins. Luckily for the player, he had a change of heart and now fights with the Grey Wardens. At least, until the Crows come along to investigate about the apparent good health of the player.

I just finished reading the first novel in the Dragon Age series, The Stolen Throne, and I was very impressed with the story. In my opinion, David Gaider’s writing is easily on a par with that of David Eddings and Robert Jordan. The Stolen Throne had me hooked by the end of the first chapter, and while IDragon Age: The Stolen Throne binge-read the whole book, I didn’t want the story to end. Thankfully the next installment in the series, The Calling, is due for release on October 13, so I don’t have long to wait. Bioware has placed the first chapter of The Calling on the Dragon Age: Origins web site, but thus far I have resisted the temptation to read it. I haven’t even peeked. Yet.

As an added bonus, I realized after getting The Stolen Throne home, that the book had been signed by the author. Out of curiosity, I went back to my local Chapter’s store to check and see if the other volume on the shelf was also signed, and it wasn’t. This is when I am grateful for being left-handed and picking the one copy of Dragon Age: The Callingthe two available that was signed. I have tried searching the web to see if there was any significance to the randomly signed copies, but couldn’t find any information. If the writing in the novel series is anything to go on, I think that Dragon Age: Origins the game is going to reward players with an amazingly deep and highly developed world full of lore, something that I know many of us who RPG really appreciate.

The only area I am confused about in this pre-release period is the Pre-Order and Collector’s Edition bonuses. For those keeping track of what I have on pre-order, yes, I have Dragon Age: Origins Collector’s Edition for the 360 on pre-order. The Bioware forums do impart information about the bonuses, but they speak of pre-order codes, and I didn’t receive any type of pre-order bonus information from our EB Games outlet. Hopefully I can get some type of confirmation from Bioware about the different bonuses and how to obtain them – otherwise I will have to try to glean the information from the 110 pages of Collector’s Edition discussion on the Dragon Age forum.

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2nd October 2009

Alien Concepts’ Debut Title Night of the Scarecrows Set for Pre-Halloween Release

Alien ConceptsToronto-based developer Alien Concepts is excited to announce the launch of its first casual game Night of the Scarecrows. The rookie developers recently announced the release of the web and downloadable game through distribution portals Big Fish Games, MSN Games, Real Night of the ScarecrowsArcade, GameHouse and Wild Tangent among others.

With its striking cinematic sequences and an art style inspired by the likes of Tim Burton and Edward Gorey, this addictive puzzle game stands apart from its genre counterparts in the casual games space. The dark yet quirky art and design work by artists Jamie Richards and Bruno Amezcua are complemented by the moody soundtrack by composer Patrick Blakely. The game’s development team is rounded out by producer/co-designer Kala Ramachandran and Programmer Mike Darmitz.

“We were thrilled with how well the game demo was received at Casual Connect Seattle and at GDC San Francisco this past year”, said Kala Ramachandran, Alien Concepts co-founder and President. “We’re hoping to carry this momentum to our upcoming projects currently in the works.” The studio is currently hard at work on an iPhone version of Night of the Scarecrows, which is scheduled to hit the Apps Store just before Christmas 2009, as well as on an educational adventure game slated for release in late October.

*Mini Review*

I gave Night of the Scarecrows a quick play – okay I confess, the game is still open in another tab, I’m on level 3 and have a score of 16440. So far I am impressed with the game; it is a nice twist on the match three genre, with some very cute and comical characters who do a funky scary shuffle dance across the garden. I like watching the creatures almost gasp in horror when they realize they are about to be eliminated by a rampaging goat and clearing the garden with a burning torch appeals to the pyro in me. The death cringes of the characters as they ignite only adds to the amusement. Gee, that sounds just a tad sadistic, doesn’t it? It’s okay – they may be animated, but they are inanimate objects. No harm done, they’re only burning pixels. When the mystical power that pushes forth these Hallowe’en invaders fails to play nice and won’t give you any matches, you can call on the Power of the Crow. You can store up to three Crows by matching groups of seven creepy creatures or more, and when needed you can clear similar Scarecrows from one column. You can eliminate full rows by letting the Goat out of the pen. You can collect up to three Goats at any one time. Beware though – your Goat and Crow collections reset with each new level. The music and sound effects are well done and the audio is very clear. With the level of quality in this first title, you can be assured that I will be looking forward to more game products from Alien Concepts.

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