Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I hate DLC for all the standard reasons (inflated price, low value, focus on powergaming and fanservice). Actually, "hate" is probably a strong word for something that's easily ignored, which is exactly what I tend to do with DLC. If it comes with a preorder or something, that's fine. But I'm not going to spend extra money to supersize my gaming experience.

However, I made an exception for Leliana's Song for Dragon Age: Origins. Because it has a story and was generally well received, I've been somewhat interested in playing this DLC since it came out - just not interested enough to shell out the $7. I always knew I would pick it up at some point, though. Since it's set in Denerim at night, I wanted to see if there were some areas I could filch repurpose for minor locations in my Rotted Rose mod project.

I started up the game last night and, after being treated to some flashy cutscenes, immediately encountered a serious bug. The titular character - the one you play in the game - is a no-show. She doesn't appear in cutscenes, and her in-game character is represented by the bald girl above instead of the Leliana we came to know (and possibly love) from Origins. Modders will recognize the bald chick as the default appearance for female character models, which usually only appears when something has gone terribly wrong.

Here's the male counterpart. Creepy, eh?
A search of the Bioware forums yielded recommendations to "disable all mods" and "reinstall the DLC and/or the game itself." In other words, the default advice that's given when no one really knows what the problem is.

It's sad that mods are the first suspects anytime anything goes wrong. Sad, but also sadly understandable. Modders come with the full range of skills, from newbie to professional-level, and the quality of the mods follow accordingly. Besides, when you're working on something from the outside - something that is, in places, hanging in delicate balance to begin with - the potential for unforeseeable bugs and conflicts is high. In fact, I have to wonder if this is part of the reason game companies are sometimes reluctant to provide toolsets (Dragon Age 2 didn't include a toolset on release, and neither will The Witcher 2). They complicate things for customer support.

That said, I'm a lot more sympathetic to game companies when they actually try to solve the problem, rather than just pointing fingers. In this particular case, a number of players who've encountered this bug have reported having no mods installed in the first place, yet the problem persists. Others have gone through the rigmarole of removing mods and reinstalling, to no avail (although it seems to work for some). The DLC has been out for over six months, and the last thread reporting this problem was less than a month ago.

As for me, I have only a few standalone mods installed, and I can't really imagine how they would affect a standalone DLC. Given the lack of success other people have had in fixing this problem, I don't think I'll bother with any of the recommended steps. Instead, I think I'll just go back to ignoring DLC.


  1. Leliana's Song was not that good because it was mostly combat and little choice. It was advertised as having intrigues and new game play possibilities but it did not deliver them, just one intrigue in the background, no new game play experience and sometimes senseless killing. In a way it was a bitter foretaste of DA2.

    The biggest complaint I had with it was the interpretation of Bards in the minds of the developers. There was no real distinction between bards and assassins which felt terribly wrong imo. Bards are entertainers first and not fighters, why are they displayed as ruthless killers? I made a blog post about it on the SocialNetwork to vent some frustration and I don't want to do the same here spamming your comment section. ;)

    Most of the DLCs were not really good apart from Stone Prisoner which I consider part of the game.

  2. Apolyon, thanks for the rundown on Leliana's Song (since I probably won't be playing it). I actually like the concept they have for bards, but based on DA:O there are two problems with it: 1) there's already an assassin spec, so there's some conflict there, and 2) they don't really show the "entertainer" side of the "entertainer/assassin" concept.

    I got the Stone Prisoner with my preorder, and I agree it was good. Shale is one of the best companions in the game, both in terms of personality and combat effectiveness.

  3. "Most of the DLCs were not really good apart from Stone Prisoner which I consider part of the game. "

    That's the point for me, part of the game - I consider Shale a "cut game content" DLC, not an add-on. As far as I know she was always planned to be in and was originally supposed to be found in Redcliff, and later moved to a DLC-only location. Speaking of that... as much as I enjoyed Shale as a character in the game, the locations of the DLC feel more like an add on. The village and it's puzzle are still okay, although they feel a bit glued on and flat. The second location in the Deep Roads though is what I usually expect from a DLC: A bit of monotonous hack and slash with a minor boss fight plus some loot. Boring and dispensable.