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Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition Released + Trent Oster Interview

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Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition Released + Trent Oster Interview

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 30 October 2014, 17:43:17

Tags: Beamdog; Icewind Dale; Trent Oster

Beamdog's Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition has just been released. They haven't put together any new trailer or anything, but Beamdog CEO Trent Oster did give a fairly interesting interview over at PCGamesN yesterday, where he spoke a bit about the differences between BioWare and Black Isle games, and about Beamdog's plans for the future. So I'll quote some of that here to give this post some substance:

“Icewind Dale was kind of this left-turn where you just jumped out and it was all about the bashing and combat and winning the fight and wondering what was around the next corner, that was going to be as challenging or even more challenging than what you just fought,” said Oster.

“At BioWare at some points we tried to introduce puzzles that were different. Icewind Dale is like combat puzzles. And they’re just fun.”

Just as BioWare and their publishing counterparts at Black Isle were getting to grips with the possibilities of their engine, so too were their players. They salivated at the chance to spend two hours in character creation - building an entire six-person party from the ‘gender’ button onwards, rolling and re-rolling their stats as they went.

“I think that’s where a lot of the satisfaction of Icewind Dale comes from,” said Oster. “By knowing the rules and by being able to build great combination characters and play them how they’re intended, you can do some amazing things that you wouldn’t think are possible with a party.”

By the turn of the millenium, BioWare had learned to play their henchmen off against each other to produce their juiciest dialogue. But Black Isle’s Icewind Dale, with its player-made party members, didn’t have that. Nor did it have the conversation-filled city hubs that punctuate play in Baldur’s Gate. What it had in great, snowy dollops was something Black Isle had learned on Fallout: atmosphere.

“Those guys were good,” recalled Oster. “To me Black Isle was always about really, really strong artwork, and it still looks phenomenal. It’s just haunting.

“Initially we were pretty intimidated by it, but once we started working with the content we were like, ‘Man, this stuff is so beautiful, it holds up so well’.”

When Black Isle did allow themselves to unsheath their quills, Oster reckons they often outdid BioWare - whose plots were more “convoluted”.

“I always found Black Isle’s writing to be a lot more direct, a lot shorter,” he said. “At BioWare I think we tended to get a little novelistic. Whereas Chris’ stuff was more colloquial, and more accessible.”
Hmmm, I'm not sure that's quite how I'd characterize MCA's writing style, particularly back then. But it's an interesting take. IWD:EE is now available on Steam, GOG, or direct from Beamdog, for the price of 20 dollars.

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