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Trent Oster interviewed about Icewind Dale:EE at RPGamer, admits he "screwed up" BG:EE

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Trent Oster interviewed about Icewind Dale:EE at RPGamer, admits he "screwed up" BG:EE

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Wed 1 October 2014, 17:06:22

Tags: Beamdog; Icewind Dale; Trent Oster

Over at RPGamer, there's a new interview with Edition Enhancer-in-chief Trent Oster, about the upcoming Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition. Normally I wouldn't newspost this kind of pre-release fluff for such a minor title, but this particular interview actually asks some good questions, and gets a few decent answers, including one rather stunning admission. Here's an excerpt:

JS: Are you adding in any extra original content similar to the Baldur's Gate: EEs? With no recruitable characters in Icewind Dale, you seem to be limited to just storyline or side-quest content.

: We've added all the classes and kits from Baldur's Gate II: EE (as well as a couple of new ones), and over 150 new spells and class abilities to improve the game. There are over 60 new items added to the game. As Icewind Dale was always about creating your entire party, we chose not to implement new characters, but retain the nature and feel of the original.

JS: Are you worried about affecting the overall game balance and difficulty by adding in the new character kits, items, and spells? How do you try to balance this, or can you?

: The new additions will affect the balance, but Icewind Dale was a very hard game to start with, so the challenge will remain. With "Heart of Fury" mode, the challenge is even greater, making monsters smarter and more powerful, increasing an already daunting challenge to new heights. On the other end, we've added what we call "Story Mode" for the players who want to enjoy the epic storytelling that the Infinity Engine games are known for without having to wade through hours of combat. I think, in summary, we've got something for everyone.

JS: I noticed this will also have a multiplayer feature. There are some reports that this functionality is not working well for some users on Baldur's Gate I and II EEs. Has this concern been addressed?

: We screwed up. We made the same rookie mistake that many studios do, and we caved to external pressure and shipped Baldur's Gate: EE and Baldur's Gate II: EE earlier than we should have and there were bugs in the multiplayer code. With the start of 2014, we had a clean slate on the publishing side, and we were able to take the extra time to fix the bugs and make a game we are proud of.

Icewind Dale: EE multiplayer is tight and works well. We've already moved many of those fixes into the Baldur's Gate: EE 1.3 Update which just released on all platforms, including iPhone, so the proof is out there. The new stability and polish are due to the heroic efforts of our testing team, people such as Gate70, Grogerson, and Troodon80, recruited from the community, and a general high level of commitment to quality across the company. We had the whole team testing the game for a period, and we made the decision to implement "Story Mode" based on feedback from a team member who was new to Infinity Engine games.

JS: Do you plan to follow this up with Icewind Dale II: EE?

: If Icewind Dale is a brother or sister to the Baldur's Gate games in terms of code and gameplay differences, Icewind Dale II and Planescape: Torment are more like third cousins. You can see the lineage, but the changes are deep. At this point we haven't gone spelunking too deep into those changes, but we are aware of many differences which will drive up the effort to do our thing on those projects. We hope to do more spleunking once we finish up with the 1.3 Updates for Baldur's Gate: EE and Baldur's Gate II: EE and ship Icewind Dale: EE.

JS: Without getting too technical, what is the nature of differences between Icewind Dale II and Icewind Dale? Any specific examples of challenges that have to be overcome?

: Icewind Dale II implemented the 3rd Edition rules and has a completely different UI scheme. We're really not sure how deep those changes run. The move to 3rd Edition rules would invalidate all the character classes and require a pretty thorough rework of the entire game to bring in the features from our Infinity Plus Engine. At minimum, nightmares abound.

JS: We have discussed the potential of Baldur's Gate III in past interviews. Is it something that is still potentially on the table or being considered?

: We are still interested in Baldur's Gate III. As to what a Baldur's Gate III would be, wow, that is a terrifying premise. I think every Baldur's Gate fan has a different image in their head as to what it would be, and making all of those fans happy would be a monumental challenge. For now, we haven't started any work on a Baldur's Gate III, but we do discuss the concept on a pretty regular basis.
Well, that was unexpected. Maybe Beamdog's reputation can yet be salvaged. Although at the end of the day, they're still just hawking out $20 remakes in an age where we're finally getting a bunch of new RPGs for a change, so yeah.

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