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Monday, January 16, 2012

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The Narrative Power Of Baldur's Gate II
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 3 comments recently posted a new article examining the storytelling aspects of the classic Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn fantasy role playing game. The author explored the strengths and weaknesses of the game's story, emphasizing the power of player choice in steering the tone of the plot.

The narrative in Baldur's Gate II is a very interesting one, in that the motives for the character are dependent on how the player plays the game. For example, if the player tries to help everyone and lead a noble life, the story becomes one of good vs. evil, where the character must track down the evil wizard and defeat him. This story is tried-and-true in the world of gaming, and the player can go down this path if they want. However, the player can also choose to embrace the player character's lineage... and track down Irenicus in order to get more powerful... The story then becomes one of revenge and fury. The tone for this story can range anywhere between these two, but the primary indicator as to how the player wants the story to unfold occurs in a dream sequence. As the character rests, they are occasionally visited by Irenicus in their dreams. In one sequence, Irenicus offers the player character (power). The player can then respond with either an acceptance of evil powers or a refusal to use them.

One of the great things about this story is that the player feels that they are in complete control of the story. In almost all conversations with NPCs, the player has three or more responses, ranging from heroic to calculating to insane. This system works very well, except for the few occasions where a discerning player can tell that any response they chose would lead to getting the same line from the NPC. Also, at some points the dialogue options all seemed tailored to a certain end. Some conversations must end in combat, no matter what the intentions of the player are.

For those who have yet to play Baldur's Gate II the article includes major plot spoilers. Head over to the page below to read more.

Storytelling Lessons From Baldur's Gate II
Baldur's Gate II
Buy Baldur's Gate II

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