Stolen Pixels #151: “!”

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Dec 15, 2009

Filed under: Column 32 comments

BioWare, sometimes it’s like we don’t know each other anymore.


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32 thoughts on “Stolen Pixels #151: “!”

  1. Yar Kramer says:

    Yeah, if I had Dragon Age, I’d want to treat him exactly the same way you’d treat other people with !’s over their heads … in Metal Gear Solid. (If I’d ever played a Metal Gear game in my life and not just gotten everything there is to know about it from popcultural osmosis … but that still doesn’t stop me from hearing the “vweeet!” noise in my head.)

  2. SoldierHawk says:

    I have the exact same reaction, Shamus. Drives me crazy every time. I am still trying to understand the Oblivion mod tools so I doubt I have much hope of whipping up my own mod to exorcise this jerk, but I would sure download one.

    One very tiny flaw in the logic of your comic character though: if you would PAY for DLC to kill that questgiver, you might as well just buy the DLC itself! I will make him go away, AND you get the extra content.

    It doesn’t affect the joke or your point or anything, I’m just sayin’. ;-)

  3. Pickly says:

    I wonder if this sort of thing will actually show in in newer MMO’s (with microtransactions or other such content). Guild wars had some NPC’s that were only useful for certain types of paid content, but no exclamation marks.

    (Perhaps bioware will do something like this in the star wars MMO’s they’re building.)

  4. Sauron says:

    @SoldierHawk: No flaw in logic there. The character doesn’t want to pay for the DLC for some reason or another, but is getting annoyed with punctuation-man to the point where he doesn’t care if killing him costs money.

  5. Sean Riley says:

    There is one sad point to your not buying the Warden’s Keep content — The most genuinely difficult moral choice in the game, I felt, was in there. I mean, I felt morally compelled… I felt I was doing the RIGHT thing… by betraying those I made promises to, murdering everyone, and leaving nothing standing.

    That’s impressive scenario writing.

  6. J Greely says:

    T-shirt please: “This is what you do in a game, you run around and talk to everyone with punctuation over their heads until you win.”


  7. LintMan says:

    @Sean Riley: Isn’t Warden’s keep where you scour the demons out of the old warden’s castle? I have it, and I don’t remember any difficult moral choices beyond

    **** Warden’s Keep Spoilers ****

    “Should I take the cash from the Sophia demon and let it live?” and “Should I let Avernus live?”

    **** End Warden’s Keep Spoilers ****

    Am I missing/forgetting something?

  8. Palette says:

    @ #5:

    Sean Riley? The guy from “World’s Toughest Fixes”? Dude, I totally love your show!


  9. RichVR says:

    I bought it. No I was NOT happy about the way it was presented. I enjoyed the content and thought it was worth it.

    ::::::POSSIBLE SPOILERS::::::::::

    I was REALLY pissed off when I found out that once you exit the keep YOU CAN NOT RE-ENTER! You get a courtyard.


    I’m still annoyed.

  10. Jansolo says:

    You’re not alone.

  11. Sean Riley says:


    **** Warden's Keep Spoilers ****

    Essentially, here’s how it played out for me.

    1. I could kill Sophia, but then I risked never closing the tear into the veil. Demons would have permanent entrance to this world. Not easy to choose.
    2. I could side with Avernus, betray Sophia, allow a murderous blood mage to live on in one way or another. Close the veil.
    3. I could side with Sophia, murder Avernus, close rift to the veil but have to deal with the fact that a horrifying demon was allowed to exist in our world, or;
    4. Kill ’em all. Sentence Avernus to death. Get Sophia to close the veil, then calculatedly stab her in the back and murder her as well. Cast aside any notions of a word of honor, and go on a murder spree.

    It’s a rare game in which I found the ‘kill ’em all’ approach to be the moral one.

    **** End Warden's Keep Spoilers ***

    @Palette; #8

    If it’s big and broken, I’ll fix it. Only in the library sector. (I’m a librarian from Australia and, yes, I have a print ad of that show hung up at my desk. It’s hilarious.)

  12. midget0nstilts says:

    I haven’t tried it or anything.

  13. Aelyn says:

    I don’t think something like this would be viable in an MMO. In order for it to be compelling in an MMO it would need to present some benefit to the character that he/she wouldn’t get otherwise. Don’t bother advancing story on me for a few extra dollars… I’m in this for the lewts. If you put out lewts that are beneficial in this manner, then you’re essentially selling gear. Congratulations… you’ve just slaughtered your own MMO! Way to go!

    In an RPG, you can give me more story. Or a sideline story. Great, love it. You don’t have to worry about a benefit to me affecting anyone else that plays the game.

    For the record, I bought the DLC. I enjoyed it, although I thought it was too brief for what I paid for it. For what… a sixth of the price of the whole game I tacked on an hour’s worth of gameplay. It was fun but limited. And I am hacked I can’t go back, as I missed one item on a quest in there.

  14. LintMan says:

    @Sean Riley:
    **** Warden's Keep and Shale/Honnleath Spoilers ****

    Hmmm. I guess it didn’t seem that tough a choice for me. I didn’t believe the demon she said only she could close the veil and she was to stingy to even give BOTH the treasure AND answer Dryden’s questions in exchange for her life, so I was happy to remove her. I let Avernus live on the first play-through, to see if that went anywhere, but unfortunately it doesn’t. So now he faces justice too. :-) No lying/backstabbing involved.

    I thought the imprisoned demon that had captured the girl in Honnleath was a more difficult choice. There, if you are upfront with the demon, the girl dies. But if you pull a slimy fast one “I said I’d set you free. I never said I’d let you live!”, the girl survives. It’s dishonorable and Morrigan disapproves (of course), but with the girl held hostage like that, anything goes.

  15. LK says:

    Next time around, Shamus, they will be giving you quests on the other side of an impassible city gate and charging you $7 for the key ;)

  16. acronix says:

    I´d actually say they will put them on the other side of such a gate, charge you $7 for the quest to get the key, and then the quest giver on the other side will ask you for $7 more.

  17. Ham08 says:

    Hilarious! And sad, because its true. The inclusion of in-game advertising has mutilated an RPG masterpiece.

    Luckily, there is a mod that will remove Levi, the DLC pimp, from the game.

  18. Magnus says:


    What I found even worse than being stuck with a courtyard is that avernus claims he can discover something useful for you.

    I went back there several times hoping for something special, but nothing happened…

    and it wasn’t mentioned in the epilogue!

  19. Miral says:


    Maybe it’ll be more DLC later on… :)
    (They did just release a new free sword after all, so not all DLC is going to be “premium”.)

  20. SoldierHawk says:

    @Sauron –

    Yeah, but if you want to pay money to make the stupid pimp go away anyway, you might as well get the DLC for it…

    Although the mod (which I was not aware of!) to remove the guy from the game is an even better, free fix, so the point’s actually moot! :-D

  21. Aufero says:

    I assumed the in-camp quest/ad for DLC was an EA thing. It has their “we’ll do anything (no matter how obnoxious or off-putting it is) for a buck” air about it.

    Wonder if I’m right.

  22. Telas says:

    Since I can’t insert pictures, here, I’ll link to it.

    This guy was handing out “quests” at the local renfest (Scarborough Faire, in Texas). Yes, that’s a foam exclamation point over his head.

    FWIW, this was the article I wrote about it. Yeah, that’s completely unsolicited, but what the heck.

  23. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Wait,exclamation marks?I dont remember those floating above people in my dragon age?Is it something that can be turned off,or is it a console exclusive?

    1. Shamus says:

      Daemian Lucifer: I’m playing on the PC, and I’m pretty sure they were on by default.

  24. KathleenB says:

    Seriously, that’s an actual thing? In the actual game world? Yeesh – I’m sure they could get tackier, but they would really have to try. Maybe holding your character’s love interest hostage until you buy some DLC?

    Also, the quest giver at the Ren Faire is made of win. I’d never in a million years convince my SCA group to do something like this at our local Faire, but it looks like fun.

  25. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Just went in the game to check.Its not an exclamation mark but an arrow(of a sort).Still,I wonder how it slipped my mind.

  26. Axle says:

    What bothers me the most about this, even more than the exclamation mark, is that the quest is in the journal. And I realy like the quest part of the journal to be empty, by the end of the game.

    I remember there were many articles and arguments about video games being the next art form. But unfortunately it just became the new form of making money, by using methods more appropriate to drug dealers. They exploit the fact, that many gamers, cant stand the thought of not experiencing every possible feature of a game. Sometimes it seems like they remove parts of a game just to sell it to us as “premium content”.

  27. Zaghadka says:


    EA + BioWare = WTF?

  28. Daemian Lucifer says:


    Well its nothing new.Art was always exploited for money.Why else would there be so many unfinished symphonies?

  29. Axle says:

    @Daemian Lucifer

    Yeah, sadly I know.
    But I dont remeber Schubert trying to sell his audience the ending of his unfinished sympphony, for some extra money (like bethesda did with fallout 3).

  30. Gndwyn says:

    How about a mod that, when you kill the guy in your camp, the game automatically downloads a pirated copy of Warden’s Keep via bittorent.

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