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

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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.

TO
: 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?

TO
: 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?

TO
: 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?

TO
: 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?

TO
: 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?

TO
: 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.
 

felipepepe

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TO: 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
BG2:EE shipped one year after BG:EE. That's plenty of time to fix bugs.
 

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Yeah, I think maybe hiring and ramping up all those modders to finally get the job done properly may have taken some time, heh.
 

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... the whole point of an enhanced edition is to depart from the limitations of the original.
Lack of story in Icewind Dale was not a 'limitation', it was a design choice. The game was focused on combat and dungeon crawling rather than in-depth narrative. That's fine, and it basically succeeded in what it was trying to do -- adding a 'story mode' that removes the challenge of combat is the equivalent of removing all the killing from Rambo.
 
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... the whole point of an enhanced edition is to depart from the limitations of the original.
Lack of story in Icewind Dale was not a 'limitation', it was a design choice. The game was focused on combat and dungeon crawling rather than in-depth narrative. That's fine, and it basically succeeded in what it was trying to do -- adding a 'story mode' that removes the challenge of combat is the equivalent of removing all the killing from Rambo.

Design Choices = Limitations. For that matters Strengths = Limitations. It was Sun Tzu who made the observation that the difference between a strength and a weakness in a military context (or really any context) was pretty thin, since an army's strengths properly exploited would fast be exposed as weaknesses.

Considering that modders already created a mod with dedicated party members, the fact there's going to be a dedicated Story Mode without dedicated companions seems pretty limp.

Note - I wasn't arguing against your point specifically.
 
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... the whole point of an enhanced edition is to depart from the limitations of the original.
Lack of story in Icewind Dale was not a 'limitation', it was a design choice. The game was focused on combat and dungeon crawling rather than in-depth narrative. That's fine, and it basically succeeded in what it was trying to do -- adding a 'story mode' that removes the challenge of combat is the equivalent of removing all the killing from Rambo.

I much preferred the story and 'world' in icewind dale compared to baldurs gate and found myself more involved and deeply losing track of time when playing it..I almost did not pay attention to the baldurs gate story once it became apparent I was 'the chosen one11!!' and 'offspring of a GOD!!!!' and was 'saving the world!!!!'...I really hate Gods and shit, except as cultural religious flavor for the world- as actual beings who you see and fight against.... well its really stupid IMO and makes me want to stop playing when I hear anything about it...

I hardly know what happened in baldurs gate really; its just a mish mash of terrible story telling in my memory. The much ballyhooed characters you met and who joined your party only made it worse really...they would always remind me I was playing a badly written game whenever they decided to speak, so I did not really like that part of the experience much either..I much preferred making my party and in general greatly preferred icewind dale to BG or BG 2...
 
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I almost did not pay attention to the baldurs gate story once it became apparent I was 'the chosen one11!!' and 'offspring of a GOD!!!!' and was 'saving the world!!!!'...

Not exactly - you were one of many chosen ones (all fighting for dominance) and you were destined to bring chaos and destruction to the world, not save it. You could even argue that Baldur's Gate turns the typical chosen one/save the world story on its head. It's certainly more unique than the Bioware games that came after.

I enjoyed IWD's story too, but it was mostly just good atmosphere and motivation to back up the central combat/dungeon crawling. The problem with making a "story mode" to concentrate on it is that there's just not much there to work with. Unless Laserhound is going to add a bunch of new NPC's and dialogue and... No, I'd rather not even think about that. :negative:
 
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I almost did not pay attention to the baldurs gate story once it became apparent I was 'the chosen one11!!' and 'offspring of a GOD!!!!' and was 'saving the world!!!!'...
Not exactly - you were one of many chosen ones (all fighting for dominance) and you were destined to bring chaos and destruction to the world, not save it. You could even argue that Baldur's Gate turns the typical chosen one/save the world story on its head. It's certainly more unique than the Bioware games that came after.

I enjoyed IWD's story too, but it was mostly just good atmosphere and motivation to back up the central combat/dungeon crawling. The problem with making a "story mode" to concentrate on it is that there's just not much there to work with. Unless Laserhound is going to add a bunch of new NPC's and dialogue and... No, I'd rather not even think about that. :negative:

:) That goes to show you how much I paid attention to the BG story... although it has been at least 10-12 years since I played either one, and I have played IWD more recently..

I agree with you that a story mode for IWD does not make much sense, but some tards like it I guess, they think the IE games are 'too hard'....the story mode is obviously just to make the game more appealing to a wider audience, I will never play story mode nor would I ever suggest it to anyone.
 

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It might have chance to actually be good
they'd only have to properly balance BG2 kits and IWD stuffies
they didn't for BG:EE so why would they do it now? plus war chant of sith is confirmed as not nerfed
and ship the game with custom-tailored DavidW Icewind Dale Stratagems
they won't

:negative:
 
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Trent Oster said:
The new additions will affect the balance, but Icewind Dale was a very hard game to start with, so the challenge will remain.

What. The. Fuck. Trent?



First off: "Icewind Dale was a very hard game".
Er...it was? I'm not trying to be edgy here, but I literally replayed IWD last month (with a non min-maxed party), and didn't find it overly difficult. HoW is certainly a bit tougher, I specifically had some trouble on Burial Isle (fucking wailing virgins), and I admittedly am probably more familiar with AD&D rules than the average player, but I feel like Trent is exaggerating here.

This whole project just feels so completely unnecessary and amateur, and the sheer idiocy of the above-quoted answer sums it up pretty perfectly. Just read it over, and try to convince yourself that it's a rational thought and this guy has any business working in design. I'm appalled.
 

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Josh Sawyer has horror stories to tell about party wipes to the goblins waiting outside of Easthaven.
 

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Dungeon Crawls are nastly because they focus on combat, I remember the Hand as being a absolute pain in the lower floors and the crypts get real annoying real fast.

Yet thats the whole fucking point ... if you playing for "story" its very thin as there isnt any memorable characters, I only recall the Priestess of Auril because thats about as complex as NPCs gone in the game.
 

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... the whole point of an enhanced edition is to depart from the limitations of the original.
Lack of story in Icewind Dale was not a 'limitation', it was a design choice. The game was focused on combat and dungeon crawling rather than in-depth narrative. That's fine, and it basically succeeded in what it was trying to do -- adding a 'story mode' that removes the challenge of combat is the equivalent of removing all the killing from Rambo.

Design Choices = Limitations. For that matters Strengths = Limitations. It was Sun Tzu who made the observation that the difference between a strength and a weakness in a military context (or really any context) was pretty thin, since an army's strengths properly exploited would fast be exposed as weaknesses.

Considering that modders already created a mod with dedicated party members, the fact there's going to be a dedicated Story Mode without dedicated companions seems pretty limp.

Note - I wasn't arguing against your point specifically.

So any and every conceivable change made to a thing is departing from the limitations of the original, cos as soon as you do something one way and not the other it is by definition a limitation. I see.
 

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I almost did not pay attention to the baldurs gate story once it became apparent I was 'the chosen one11!!' and 'offspring of a GOD!!!!' and was 'saving the world!!!!'...
Not exactly - you were one of many chosen ones (all fighting for dominance) and you were destined to bring chaos and destruction to the world, not save it. You could even argue that Baldur's Gate turns the typical chosen one/save the world story on its head.

Except the entire story sums up to "don't give in to the dark side, Luke, save the world instead". The "turn into the Slayer for 3 turns" button notwithstanding. As far as subverting the save the world trope, it is pretty fucking lame. It's not like they ever let you become Sarevok. Just a banal shit boring angsty antihero struggling against his dark nature with the power of love crap.
 

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Thinking of replaying BG series, but unsure about the EE version of it... Is there any reason to favour it other than modern resolutions support?
 
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For me, in a word, no. I got BGEE and BG2EE, they're still the same games with a few major changes that make them more convenient, the modern resolution being the best new feature for me as I like seeing everything going on in battles (in fact this killed the originals for me, and left a particularly bad taste in my mouth in regards to rtwp, being able to see everything somehow makes rtwp enjoyable for me now). The user interface has, imo, been improved, they've included some new kit classes and weapons, and some new npcs. I'm not a fan of the npc quests, and some of the new dialogues make me cringe so I avoid that stuff. There's more, but to keep it short, I think all in all they're not bad and I don't regret the purchases.
 

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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?

TO
: 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.

BG3 would somehow need to be tied in with the Bhallspawn thing, otherwise, why name it BG if it's nothing to do with the plots of its predecessors. And considering you can become a god in ToB (and afaik canonically do), BG3 should be a complete munchkin fest from the onset. Just play Black & White instead
 

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I almost did not pay attention to the baldurs gate story once it became apparent I was 'the chosen one11!!' and 'offspring of a GOD!!!!' and was 'saving the world!!!!'...
Not exactly - you were one of many chosen ones (all fighting for dominance) and you were destined to bring chaos and destruction to the world, not save it. You could even argue that Baldur's Gate turns the typical chosen one/save the world story on its head.

Except the entire story sums up to "don't give in to the dark side, Luke, save the world instead". The "turn into the Slayer for 3 turns" button notwithstanding. As far as subverting the save the world trope, it is pretty fucking lame. It's not like they ever let you become Sarevok. Just a banal shit boring angsty antihero struggling against his dark nature with the power of love crap.
Huh, power of love and saving the world? I seem to remember quite clearly that I killed everything and became the God of Murder.
 

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BG3 would somehow need to be tied in with the Bhallspawn thing, otherwise, why name it BG if it's nothing to do with the plots of its predecessors. And considering you can become a god in ToB (and afaik canonically do), BG3 should be a complete munchkin fest from the onset. Just play Black & White instead
Well, Black Isle was trying to make something with Black Hound. If Beamdog will start working on BG3 maybe they will try to salvage it or make something similar?
 

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BG3 would somehow need to be tied in with the Bhallspawn thing, otherwise, why name it BG if it's nothing to do with the plots of its predecessors. And considering you can become a god in ToB (and afaik canonically do), BG3 should be a complete munchkin fest from the onset. Just play Black & White instead
Well, Black Isle was trying to make something with Black Hound. If Beamdog will start working on BG3 maybe they will try to salvage it or make something similar?

I think Obsidian is already doing that!

Somebody actually asked Oster about Black Hound a long time ago (back in 2012) and he said no, they'd create their own original game. Of course, that was a long time ago. I suspect he's less confident about the capabilities of his team today than he was back then. Back then he also said he'd create his own engine from scratch to do BG3. Yeah, right.
 

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I think Obsidian is already doing that!

Somebody actually asked Oster about Black Hound a long time ago (back in 2012) and he said no, they'd create their own original game. Of course, that was a long time ago. I suspect he's less confident about the capabilities of his team today than he was back then. Back then he also said he'd create his own engine from scratch to do BG3. Yeah, right.
You mean with Pillars of Eternity or something else? That would make since with Sawyer was working on Black Hound mod for NWN2.
 

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