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Friday, January 2, 2009

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Designers Discuss Ten Years Of Baldur's Gate
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 12 comments

A recent offering from RPG Vault celebrates ten years since the release of the original Baldur's Gate with comments from Bioware developers on the success of the game and its sequel. The Dungeons & Dragons RPG series led players on a series of adventures through the Forgotten Realms setting and along the way cemented its position as a classic in the genre.

Ross Gardner: Designer, Baldur's Gate
At that time, I was mainly working as a designer. My primary area of responsibility was to make sure all the items and spells were implemented and working properly, as well as to script a few of the major fights. The other thing I was responsible for was balance testing. It was a constant fight between me and the Interplay testers; they were always trying to make it easier, and I was always pushing back to make it harder.

At one point, I got so frustrated with the final battle with Sarevok that I created a 7th level Minsc, gave him some weapons and armor, and then began to spawn in Sarevok's - mowing through them like a hot knife through butter. After I'd killed six or seven of them, I spawned in a final one and took a screenshot, with the fresh one standing among all his slaughtered predecessors. I edited it and put a bubble above Minsc's head that read "Sigh... another one of those pesky Sarevoks" and then e-mailed it out to the company. Growing up playing D&D with James Ohlen (the Lead Designer on BG, and now on our new MMO), I knew that would piss him off to no end, and suffice to say he was much tougher when I tried to fight him the next day.

Luke Kristjanson: Writer, Baldur's Gate
Some parts of BG seem simple now, and many perceived character relationships were outright imaginary. The players imposed their own perceptions on those tiny sprites and unrecorded text. One forum member didn't realize that you could drag the character portraits to reorder the party. He slip-clicked out of inventory and accidentally swapped Minsc into top position, triggering a sound event: "Magic is impressive, but now Minsc leads! Swords for everyone!" He thought Minsc had spontaneously seized control of the party. Well, he had spent too much time on magic and not enough on kicking evil in the face, so it seemed reasonable. And it would have been awesome.

In an early playthrough, I swore Viconia's magic resistance blocked every beneficial spell I threw at her except healing from Ajantis. They had a whole "forbidden attraction" thing going on, it was so obvious. But I knew the back end. Nothing.

Imoen's popularity was a surprise, mostly because she didn't exist. What's that mean? Her character was a late addition to fill a non-psychotic-thief gap in the early levels. We had no recording budget left, so I assembled her lines by editing voice-over left from a scrapped demo. The original character was a guard named Pique. That's why she has no standalone confrontations / interactions with other party members, which makes her relationship to the player seem closer, and led to making her a half-sister in BG II. Make enough happen, and people see their own patterns. Blunt force content.
Read more of the comments at the page listed below.

RPG Vault: Baldur's Gate Memories

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