With the launch of Dragon Age: Origins less than a month away, BioWare and Electronic Arts are pioneering new ways to synergize the title. Following the announcements of a comic book miniseries, prequel novel, and day-one downloadable content, the developer and publisher announced a new browser-based Adobe Flash game based on the Dragon Age IP, Dragon Age Journeys.
The news came via a post on BioWare's official blog by Ethan Levy, a producer at EA's new internal browser game studio, EA 2D. According to Levy, the shop's mission is "to create blockbusters for the browser; some will be original games created by our teams and some will be games within other EA franchises, such as Dragon Age Journeys."
Begun last November in secret, Dragon Age Journeys is a three-chapter, single-player, tactical RPG, which can be played in any Flash-enabled Web browser. Though its graphics are two-dimensional, it will feature character classes, talent trees, sound effects, music, and a user interface directly based on those of Dragon Age: Origins. The first chapter, The Deep Roads, will focus on the dwarven stronghold of Orzammar and surrounding areas "where dwarves face a persistent threat from the Darkspawn hordes," according to Levy.
In less tangible BioWare news, word of a Jade Empire sequel surfaced for the first time in nearly four years. In November 2005, studio cofounder and overall EA RPG chief Ray Muzyka said flat out that "BioWare definitely plans to continue the Jade Empire franchise" before hinting it would be on the Xbox 360. "We've also said in the past that we're working on not just one, but two Xbox 360 titles. Enough said." (Since then, the company has released one 360 title, Mass Effect, with two more--Dragon Age: Origins and Mass Effect 2--officially announced for the console.)
Unfortunately, BioWare's enthusiasm for the project appears to have cooled since Muzkya's comments. Speaking with Strategyinformer.com, Dragon Age lead designer Mike Laidlaw cast doubt on whether a follow-up was in active development.
"We will certainly announce it if it's going to be coming out," said Laidlaw. "At this point, Jade Empire is a staff favorite, and a lot of us love it, so we'd love to revisit it at some point. But right now, we are very focused on Dragon Age and Mass Effect 2."
According to its official Web site, BioWare currently has one unidentified "new next gen game" in development. However, the resume of a former designer at the studio indicated the mystery title is an all-new intellectual property, not an existing series. Currently, the original Jade Empire (released in 2005) is available for download via Xbox Live's Games on Demand program for $15 (MSP 1,200).