PAX East 2014 Update: The Dragon Egg Hunt Winds Down…

The PAX East portion of our Dragon Egg Hunt is drawing to a close, but there’s plenty more ahead.

This past weekend we saw three of the eighteen challenges ahead:

The warrior challenge of the dwarves involved drawing metallic dragon eggs from a chest and divining a secret word from the gold coins found inside.

The Nevarran rogue challenge was a word search, ever so carefully painted on an egg shell.

The Circle of Magi puzzle for the mage challenge is still underway. Here you’ll find the 12 clues that were hidden on our various social media sites:

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

To solve this puzzle, you needed to realize that the images came from either the Dragon Age: The World of Thedas Vol. 1 and The Art of the Mass Effect Universe. After locating the referenced page, you then needed to jump between worlds to cross-reference the answer. From there you can use the first letters of each answer to form the puzzle’s ultimate solution.

For those of you still trying to wrap your heads around these mind bending puzzles, don’t worry, we’ll post the answers to each challenge after PAX wraps up.

The hunt continues at future conventions over the next year, so keep your eyes open for future Dragon Egg challenges.

Exploring the Dales’ Exalted Plains

Within the Dales, the Exalted Plains is a massive stretch of land ravaged by civil war and ripe for exploration in Dragon Age: Inquisition. Each distinct area of the Exalted Plains has its own complex ecosystem, creating the Plains’ physical space in the game was no easy task.

Dales_WM_002

“The first thing we [did] was try to portray the civil war and the impact it’s having on the environment and the people of that region,” says senior environment artist Andrew Farrell. “In these spaces, we try to provide opportunities for the Inquisition to come in and make its mark on the area. Then the people there rally around that.”

The Inquisition arrives at the Exalted Plains during a ceasefire between two armies at war. The bodies of fallen soldiers mysteriously rose from the dead and have driven the armies back to their respective castles in retreat.

As this is the Dales, one might wonder: what’s become of the Dalish elves?

“They’ve retreated into an area with more security away from all the fighting,” explains Farrell. “Of course, they’ve got a few problems of their own.”

The Crow Fens is one section of the Exalted Plains. In contrast to the sprawling hills elsewhere in the area, the Fens is claustrophobic, creating tension as you wonder what lies in wait for you around the next corner.  According to Farrell, the Fens was the perfect playground for his imagination to run wild.

Dales_WM_001

Using the power of the Frostbite 3 game engine and next-generation technology, utilizing water in levels is one of the achievements the team is most proud of.

“Interactive water is one of the key things we’ve added to next-gen,” says lead environment artist Ben McGrath. “It’s got realistic reflections, and also realistically ripples and splashes as you walk through it.”

This is all made possible by a technology advancement known as “displacement mapping”. McGrath describes the benefits it adds to the game:

“Displacement mapping adds a new level of realism to the environment. Normal maps [in previous-gen technology] brought great detail to surfaces, but displacement mapping actually pushes those details out so you can see them in the silhouette. The place where it’s probably the most noticeable is on terrain. Pebbles, sand ripples, cobblestones, and other details all pop out from the terrain and make it far more detailed than ever before.”

Once an area is built, its ecosystem brings it to life. While exploring the Exalted Plains, you’re likely to see the halla, birds, and wolves that have made it home. Make your way into the Crow Fens, and you’ll find yourself amidst drakes, dragonlings, and dragonkin.

Don’t let the looming threat of danger deter you from adventuring, however.

“Get off the beaten path!” says Farrell. “Just like exploring in real life, look under all the rocks, under all the bridges, and in all dark corners of the map. Take the path less-traveled and you might something interesting… or surprising.”

As expansive as the Exalted Plains is, Farrell and McGrath agree that you shouldn’t worry too much about missing anything, because you can return to it at any time.

“You won’t be locked out of an area,” Farrell says. “We’ve got a lot of space, so you definitely don’t need to try and see everything on your first playthrough.”

Dragon Age: Inquisition releases this fall on PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.

The Hunt is On

Welcome, Inquisition Scouts, to the Dragon Egg Hunt: a yearlong cryptic quest from BioWare and the puzzle gods at Lone Shark Games!

You are charged with protecting Thedas from dark forces who seek dragon eggs for their own sinister designs. To stop them, you must hunt down a collection of rare eggs and claim them for your own. Succeed, and some may call you a hero. Fail, and, well, you won’t get a prize.

The game begins this weekend at PAX East, where 18 factions from all over Thedas will search for the elusive dragon eggs. The hunt then continues over the next year at gaming conventions across North America.

The eggs are divided into three groups of challenges. Each will test your worthiness through feats of body and mind:

  • Warrior Challenges require strength and willpower.
  • Rogue Challenges will test your cunning and dexterity.
  • Mage Challenges measure magic and constitution.

egghuntThis weekend’s Warrior and Rogue challenges can be found at the BioWare Base at PAX East. If you’re in Boston, come by and test your skills. The best among you will be entered to win BioWare swag.

For those of you at home, fear not: you still have a chance to partake in the hunt. The Mage challenge will be online throughout the weekend, dispersed among the various BioWare social media sites.

This challenge involves carefully analyzing a dozen images and answering the associated questions associated. Only those knowledgeable in the culture of two worlds will be able to master this perplexing challenge, and gain the 12-letter answer.

Send your best stab at the answers to dragonegghunt@bioware.com. You can also use #biohunt to follow the game and engage the help of your fellow scouts.

When the weekend is over, we’ll select a winner for a special prize.

Ready yourselves, the Dragon Egg Hunt is upon us!

Happy -140th Birthday Shepard

Nothing says happy birthday to someone who hasn’t been born like a heartfelt card with their name on it. Print it out, place it in a time capsule, and bury it for the next century and a half.

Nothing says happy birthday to someone who hasn’t been born like a heartfelt card with their name on it. Print it out, place it in a time capsule, and bury it for the next century and a half.

It’s not every day that the savior of the galaxy is born. This Friday marks the -140th birthday of Commander Shepard, and to mark the occasion we’ve put together a kit for the folks at home so you can throw your own celebration.

Below you’ll find recipes for cupcakes and cocktails (courtesy of @tasmen). But don’t let us tell you how your Shepard celebrates. Make your own decorations, throw your own party, and share the pictures with the Mass Effect community using #HBDShepard.

We’ll also be celebrating live at PAX East at the BioWare base, and you’re all welcome to come on by (well, not literally all of you, as there are fire codes to think about, but as many as can comfortably fit while still adhering to local bylaws).

Recipes:

Paragon Cupcakes

Ingredients

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
Blueberry jam

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F and line 18 cupcake tins with papers.

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside until needed.

Combine the vanilla and milk and set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar in a mixer until light (if the butter is cold, beat the butter first, then add sugar).

Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add the flour mixture to the butter in three additions, alternating with the milk in two additions, beating well after each addition.

Fill each cupcake 2/3 to ¾ full. Bake at 350°F for approximately 20-25 minutes, or until the tops of the cupcakes spring back when touched in the center and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Remove cupcakes and let them cool completely on a rack before stuffing and frosting.

To stuff, carve out a small hole and fill with desired amount of jam. Cover hole with removed piece and frost.

 

 

Renegade Cupcakes

¾ cup cocoa powder
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
¼ cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 lg. eggs
½ cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F and line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with liners. Remove butter from refrigerator and let chill for 10 minutes until slightly softened.

In a large bowl, sift together cocoa powder and flour, and stir in baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Mix butter and sugar together until coarsely crumbly. Add eggs, milk, and vanilla extract and whisk until just combined.

Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients while whisking constantly. Mix until batter is smooth.

Spoon batter into muffin tin so that each liner is filled ¾ full of batter. Bake for 19-21 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of one cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool each cupcake on a cooling rack until room temperature.

 

Strawberry filling

1/2 cup water
1 tbsp. corn starch
1 cup frozen strawberries, thawed
1/2 cup sugar

Combine water and corn starch in a small bowl and mix until smooth.

Roughly chop strawberries and add to a small sauce pan. Heat on medium heat, stirring constantly, until bubbles pop on the surface.

Add sugar and stir to dissolve.

Add water and cornstarch mixture and stir to combine thoroughly. Cook for 1 more minute and remove from heat. Let cool to room temperature and then chill in refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Remove a wide cone from the middle of the cupcake. Cut off roughly ½ inch from the cone’s tip. Spoon about 3/4 tsp. of strawberry mixture into the cupcake, and replace top. Repeat for all cupcakes.

 

Whipped Cream Frosting
1 package (8 oz) softened cream cheese
1 cup powdered (icing) sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream

 

In one bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, salt and vanilla until smooth.

In a small bowl, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form.  (Chill bow)

Fold whipped cream into cream cheese mixture in 2 parts. Use about 1/4 and whisk vigorously. Fold in other 3/4s.

Let set in fridge for an hour or use immediately. Can pipe icing onto cupcakes with piping bag or spread on with a knife.

 

 

Paragon

Chill a hurricane glass
In a shaker filled with ice, combine:
3 ounces pineapple juice
1 ounce fresh squeezed orange juice
2-3 drops of blue food coloring (not too much or your drink will be green)
*Optional: 1 ounce of Coco Lopez coconut crème

Shake well to incorporate ingredients and strain into the chilled hurricane glass filled with ice.

Garnish with a slice of pineapple and a maraschino cherry.

 

Renegade

1 oz gin (or vodka)
½ oz Grand Marnier
1 splash lemon juice
1 dash grenadine
Garnish: mint leaves

Shake all ingredients well with ice in a cocktail shaker.

Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Garnish with mint leaves, a sprig of mint or lemon balm.

Here are some wrappers for the cupcakes.

Here are some wrappers for the cupcakes.

BioWare Base at PAX East 2014

We’re excited to share details about our schedule for PAX East this year! If you’ve joined us at the BioWare Base in years past, you’ll know that you can find us upstairs above the exhibit hall in room 206AB. If you haven’t joined us previously, we can’t wait to see you!

We’re holding weekend long panels about Mass Effect & Dragon Age as well as behind-the-scenes looks at game development, developer signings, plus representatives from EA University/Human Resources will be on site to discuss tips about breaking into the gaming industry! If you have a portfolio of any kind, please bring it as we have set aside time for our developers to review and discuss with you.

We’ll also be celebrating Commander Shepard’s -140th birthday, which falls on the first day of PAX so please join us for a special panel to commemorate the day!

Our staff attending PAX East are:

Andrew Farrell – Senior Artist, Dragon Age

Cathleen Rootsaert – Writer, Mass Effect

Conal Pierse – New Media Production Coordinator, Community Team

David Hulegaard – Community Manager, Community Team

Dean Roskell – Senior Level Designer, Dragon Age

Hilary Shapiro – Global Product Manager, Marketing Team

James Leung – Senior Tester, Mass Effect

Jason Barlow – Development Manager, Dragon Age

Jessica Merizan – Community and New Media Manager, Community Team

Joel MacMillan – Art Director, Mass Effect

Leah Shinkewski – Producer, Dragon Age

Leanne Korotash – Lead HRBP, Human Resources

Mike Laidlaw – Creative Director, Dragon Age

Tim Golem – Lead Cinematic Animator, Mass Effect

And we are bringing back our tradition of hosting a Cosplay Parade on Friday at the BioWare Base. All cosplayers are welcome to join us for an afternoon of fandom with on-the-spot totally made up awards given to each and every cosplayer who comes (as well as physical swag, while supplies last!). The BioWare Base will also be joined by the delight and infectiously fun Snap Yourself photo booth daily from 11:00 – 3:00pm so be sure to immortalize yourself in front of our Mass Effect or Dragon Age backdrops.

Last but certainly not least, we’ve partnered with Lone Shark Games to kickstart our convention year with an interactive twist to the BioWare Base. Please stop by throughout the weekend to join us for the Dragon Egg Hunt. Sound intriguing? Come to the Base to see what it’s all about! And if you aren’t able to join at PAX East, perhaps keep an eye out on our social media channels for some lost eggs!