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"Don’t worry, there’s only a couple hundred thousand lines of code to fix."
August 10, 2012 10:09 AM   Subscribe

Baldur's Gate has a pretty good reputation among the gaming community. So what happens when you try to enhance a decade-old game to PC, Mac, iOS, and Android for the current generation? (previously) “Does the word horror mean anything to you?” Oster asked?

“'I’ve been going through the user interface code a lot lately, and I’ve found just a ton of duplicates and references to the same pieces of art. So literally it’s the same piece of art that will appear 10, 15 times. And you’re not sure which version of it is being used by which file.'

Overhaul tried to retain as much code as they could, at least initially. That proved to be a headache, and Oster opted for more drastic measures. 'I’ve been taking the kind of nuclear weapon approach to it, which is if you kill them all, then whatever’s left, that’s the one you deal with,' he said."

Read more here.
posted by SpacemanStix (60 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
They forgot to gather their party before venturing forth.
posted by The Whelk at 10:12 AM on August 10, 2012 [43 favorites]


Heh, I remember getting that game from GoG recently and spending at least an hour reading FAQs and installing community-made patches to make it play well. I do not envy having to do this.
posted by griphus at 10:18 AM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


While I'm excited like whoa when someone saves a game from older OS oblivion- in particular, This Game- I have to feel a deep sorrow for the asshole who has to do the work. It's more archeology than art.
posted by cheap paper at 10:19 AM on August 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sounds like they have their work cut out for them, however, I'm giddy to see the end result of the 14 year old PCRPG giant.
posted by PipRuss at 10:20 AM on August 10, 2012


When they get this running on Android, though, I am going to be a happy camper, and I will sing the praises of those who slogged through the mess just so it could happen.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:21 AM on August 10, 2012


Your hard work is not in vain guys. I will sink 100s of hours into the iPad version when it's released. Take all of my monies.
posted by naju at 10:23 AM on August 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


Absolutely a day-one buy for me. Knowing that the success of the BG:EE and BG2:EE will help them get the okay to make BG3 makes this a moral imperative for me.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 10:27 AM on August 10, 2012 [9 favorites]


Um, this does still mean we're on track for a Summer 2012 iPad release, right? Guys?
posted by Bwithh at 10:28 AM on August 10, 2012


Holy shit GameSpy is still around?
posted by griphus at 10:28 AM on August 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


In vaguely related news, the restoration mod for KOTOR 2 has finally been completed.
posted by kmz at 10:29 AM on August 10, 2012 [11 favorites]


I'd buy this for iOS or OSX.
posted by arcticseal at 10:31 AM on August 10, 2012


That KotOR 2 mod deserves an FPP of its own.

Not it.
posted by griphus at 10:32 AM on August 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm delighted that someone will make money improving Baldur's Gate. It's a real classic. It's also a bit of a shame that all this effort is being spent retreading an old game. My theory is that the expense is so high for making new games that some designers would rather work in a small team on something with a built in audience.

The Bioware / Troika / Obsidian world of RPGs has a bunch of examples of "restored content" mods. In addition to the KotOR 2 mod there's also the Circle of Eight mod for Temple of Elemental Evil. And Vampire: Masquerade also has a significant restoration patch. I've always wondered who did all this thankless work; is it fans or developers who are pissed their games were released incomplete?
posted by Nelson at 10:35 AM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am really excited about this project, but hope bug fixing doesn't undermine the sheer old school joy of min-maxing such a complicated system.

I still remember the effort to make a kickbutt warrior mage in BG II. Kensai up to level 8 (I think), Mage up to 17. Dual wield katanas. Oh lord, I can't believe I remember that.

Finding the weird exploits, and cool equipment to match, was a big part of the fun.
posted by blahblahblah at 10:37 AM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Trivia: Some of the fight music early on in "Baldur's Gate" sounds like a note-for-note copy of the music from the Patrick Stewart space vampire film "Lifeforce."
posted by steinsaltz at 10:37 AM on August 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


...there's also the Circle of Eight mod for Temple of Elemental Evil...

Is that game playable with that mod? It seems like they took the "let's put the actual D&D system behind the scenes" thing into overdrive and instead of being behind the scenes, you're crippled with way too much shit to do and not enough direction.
posted by griphus at 10:38 AM on August 10, 2012


“Long term, there’s a goal to make a Baldur’s Gate 3 on our side, and I know there’s interest on the other side, it’s just a matter of seeing how successful Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition is and seeing if we can work out deal terms on what it would take it to make it happen.”
Well, I really hope that after they invest so much in BG1 and BG2, that they get to use this massive modern Infinity Engine to actually make something new. As much as I want BG2 on the iPad, I really feel bad for the guys making it happen, like cheap paper said re: it being more archeology than art.

Ooh, you know what would really kick ass on this new Infinity Engine? Icewind Dale as a roguelike.
posted by ignignokt at 10:44 AM on August 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'd like to play Arcanum again.
posted by starvingartist at 10:45 AM on August 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


My theory is that the expense is so high for making new games that some designers would rather work in a small team on something with a built in audience.

I hope this proves it doesn't have to be. By which I mean: they have about a million gamers who are trying to throw money at them to play a isometric turn-based 2-D game with hand drawn backgrounds and a story that most of those gamers have already memorized.

Program up a new story, and you'd have trouble just counting the money. You'd need to call in Count de Monet. Just because 2-D isometric games are an old technology doesn't mean that it isn't sometimes the best technology to use!

(Off topic: if there is one big technical advance needed to unlock the future of role-playing games, it is a realistic voice generator. Voice acting is both the best and worst thing ever to happen to RPGs: it makes it much more immersive, but sharply limits the changes you can make once the actors are no longer in the studio. But if you could, say, have a given actor read the dictionary, record it, and then make real sounding sentences from those words, there would be no limits.)

On preview: I would like to play Arcanum for the first time, since what they released was clearly an alpha copy. Also, can someone tell their artists that you shoot rifles from the shoulder, not from the hip?
posted by BeeDo at 10:48 AM on August 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


Have they already confirmed that BG2:EE will get made? That may be enough to get me to buy an ipad.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:51 AM on August 10, 2012


That KotOR 2 mod deserves an FPP of its own.

Not that mod, specifically, but a few year's back there was an EXCELLENT KOTOR2 Let's Play thread that covered a lot of the cut content and stuff.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:55 AM on August 10, 2012


We've been clearing some stuff out and one of the things we uncovered was an original copy of Baldur's Gate.

I noticed yesterday that my daughter had installed it on the old PC upstairs that my wife uses to do her books on.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:56 AM on August 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


~T.D. Strange

According to Wikipedia, yes.
posted by PipRuss at 10:57 AM on August 10, 2012


Have they already confirmed that BG2:EE will get made? That may be enough to get me to buy an ipad.
posted by T.D. Strange at 12:51 PM on August 10 [+] [!]


BG2:EE is already confirmed.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 10:57 AM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I noticed yesterday that my daughter had installed it on the old PC upstairs that my wife uses to do her books on.

And so it begins...
posted by R. Schlock at 10:58 AM on August 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


And on the topic of mods: the ultimate guide to modding BG1 and BG2 on PC. In theroy you should be able to play both games + expansions back-to-back in the BG2 engine, with as many fan made mods as you want to layer on top.

Fair warning, it's an epic ordeal to get the install up and running, and the more mods you install the greater the chances are than you find something game-breaking 40 hours into the game, if the install actually completes in the first place. I got it running once and played through most of BG1, until I ran into a quest item that apparently was overwritten during some other mod's install and I couldn't progress. I've been meaning to try again one day, with only the lowest number of "reccomended" mods installed, but I've never gotten around to coming back to it.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:58 AM on August 10, 2012


You'd need to call in Count de Monet

Dee-moh-NAY
posted by griphus at 10:59 AM on August 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


I ran into that problem when I installed the tutu mod for BG1 that incorporates elements from BG2. It was during the Durlag's Tower quest when something went horribly wrong and crashed the game. The worst part is that I hadn't saved yet. I should have listened to the loading screen warning to save early and save often. CURSE MY HUBRIS!
posted by PipRuss at 11:01 AM on August 10, 2012


I'd like to play Arcanum again.

You can get it from GOG.com
posted by dortmunder at 11:02 AM on August 10, 2012


...there's also the Circle of Eight mod for Temple of Elemental Evil...

Is that game playable with that mod?


For one thing, they mostly stopped the game from randomly corrupting all of your saves (barring quicksaves, which should be avoided). Which was a crazy bug to have existed at all, let alone after the official patch.
posted by cjelli at 11:06 AM on August 10, 2012


I noticed yesterday that my daughter had installed it on the old PC upstairs that my wife uses to do her books on.

If you noticed yesterday by seeing it on the computer rather than by hearing the NPC shouts of my incredibly badly planned party arguing, while I play it late into the night, then the insulation in our house is better than I give it credit for.
posted by emperor.seamus at 11:20 AM on August 10, 2012 [9 favorites]


Get me out of this hellhole...
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:22 AM on August 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


I've replayed BG1 and 2 in the last couple of years, and did it with the tools that move the BG1 content over to BG2. I believe I did it with Easy Tutu and TutuFix, in that order, but I'd have to read up again to be sure.

I didn't have any crash bugs at all. My only real problem was that transition points between games tended not to preserve my NPCs correctly. Imoen was especially frustrating, because I'd accumulated a really nice custom spellbook for her in BG1, and then it was blown away in BG2. So I took the time, at the start of BG2, to rebuild her spellbook manually (by editing the savegame to give her scrolls, figuring that inventory additions were less likely to cause bugs). This took ages, because there were a lot of spells -- it was multiple save/edit/load cycles.

Then she left the party (a known, scripted event), and when she was eventually restored to me, she'd been redone with the default spellbook! So I had to do the entire thing again. That was super, super frustrating. But the game didn't crash, and I don't remember even seeing any bugs. It was very solid for me.

From conversation over at Gamers with Jobs, it sounded like there's an even better way to do this, that they've worked out how to play all the way through the game in one complete pass without any transition points at all. But I'm not sure what that method actually is.

It's a glorious game, if you're willing to play 2E AD&D (which is my favorite version, because that's what I grew up with). At present, you can easily expect to invest three or four hours getting this hundred-hour game into its best possible form, so paying twenty bucks to these guys to do all that work for you, plus port the engine to new OSes that are more convenient, strikes me as a smart purchase.

One warning, though: BG2 is the real gem of the series. Its followup, Throne of Bhaal, is frustratingly limited, and completely linear. Make BG2 itself last as long as possible, because the finale is only so-so in comparison.

I would LOVE to see more games done with the Infinity Engine, but not like Icewind Dale, which was sort of like Fallout Tactics ... all combat, no story. IWD was for people who really, really understood the 2E combat rules and how to exploit them. There was barely any story at all, just enough to drag you from advanced fight to advanced fight.

The fights were very well done, mind. They were really hard, but fun, and ultimately beatable. But that's all there was, really, and just like Fallout Tactics, I got bored very quickly. I think I finished the first one, and never bought another in that series.

I'd love something story-driven and epic, again, a really sprawling, giant Western RPG. I miss those. I tried The Witcher, but that was so horribly misogynistic that I couldn't stomach it, and dropped it maybe halfway through. I've actively avoided the sequel.
posted by Malor at 11:27 AM on August 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


I wonder what I should go for.
posted by boo_radley at 11:36 AM on August 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'd love something story-driven and epic, again, a really sprawling, giant Western RPG. I miss those.

If you don't mind/can get past the whole Star Wars thing, give KotOR a shot if you haven't.
posted by griphus at 11:36 AM on August 10, 2012


Thank you so much Faint of Butt. I've had that phrase rattling around in my inner-dialog through 10 years of HR workshops and corporate meetings.
posted by Balna Watya at 11:38 AM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


BG:EE is the app which is going to motivate me to finally go out and spend the money on an iPad. Hurry up September!
posted by tdismukes at 11:41 AM on August 10, 2012


I wonder what I should go for.

Maybe... the eyes? No, no that's not it...
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:41 AM on August 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition is the attempt of Overhaul Games to recreate and expand upon “the greatest roleplaying game of all time.”

Funny name for an enhanced Gold Box if that's the case.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:42 AM on August 10, 2012


Posting this comment on MetaFilter, I notice that the Penny Arcade Report has an intensely annoying editorial tic that I, posting this comment on MetaFilter, found more grating as I ready through the article.

As I post this comment on MetaFilter, I wonder if my enjoyment of that article, and the way I reflect on it as I post this comment on MetaFilter, would have been enhanced without an overt reference to the place it was published in every second sentence; as I post this on MetaFilter, I suppose that it's a harsh competitive market out there in the games journalism sphere, and posting this on MetaFilter I suppose that you have to work every angle you can find in order to retain readers, much as MetaFilter does through the quality of posts and comments on MetaFilter, and when one posts on MetaFilter one might indeed appreciate the fact that when one posts on MetaFilter one is not obliged to mention that one is indeed posting on MetaFilter the fact that one is posting on MetaFilter when one posts on MetaFilter in a manner that is not directly reflective of MetaFilter or the fact that one is posting on MetaFilter.
posted by Shepherd at 11:43 AM on August 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


Oh, we are all heroes - you and Boo and I. Hamsters and rangers everywhere rejoice! Chirp chirp

Why, yes, I have been playing BGII over the past month.
posted by nolnacs at 11:44 AM on August 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


Small, tight independent games not only seem to be making money these days, they appear to be getting better reviews than the AAA releases.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 11:53 AM on August 10, 2012


I would LOVE to see more games done with the Infinity Engine, but not like Icewind Dale, which was sort of like Fallout Tactics ... all combat, no story.

I think it's exactly why it would make a good roguelike, and a not-too-expensive way to do something a little unexpected and original with it.
posted by ignignokt at 11:59 AM on August 10, 2012


Funny name for an enhanced Gold Box if that's the case.

I could go for some new Gold Box games with modern UI and graphics! Curse of the Azure Bonds! Secret of the Silver Blades! 15 year old me salutes you!
posted by Justinian at 12:45 PM on August 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


If you noticed yesterday by seeing it on the computer

I cannot tell a lie. Mum was complaining that the computer had lost internet connectivity and so I noticed that the CD had made its way out of the box of trash that was downstairs, and up to her computer.

Thankfully, the insulation is holding up, but I have to say I did wonder why you'd transferred your allegiance from your beloved Macbook to that ten year old Dell Optiplex.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:57 PM on August 10, 2012


Thankfully, the insulation is holding up, but I have to say I did wonder why you'd transferred your allegiance from your beloved Macbook to that ten year old Dell Optiplex.

Every time I try to play Diablo II on a modern system, I'm tempted to trade my allegiance to something with a CRT monitor.
posted by SpacemanStix at 1:02 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I noticed that the CD ... box of trash ...

I think this makes boo cry.
posted by SpacemanStix at 1:05 PM on August 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


It was stuff that my wife wanted me to sort for the trash, rather than stuff that had had trash approval.

Though I suspect boo would have been landfill if somebody hadn't rescued him.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:16 PM on August 10, 2012


*clicks Boo*

Squeak!
posted by drklahn at 1:30 PM on August 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


squ~ DAMMIT DON'T RUIN MY THING
posted by boo_radley at 2:02 PM on August 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


I've already got BG installed on a new PC. Does any of this mean I should get Tutu or something installed to make it run smoother?
posted by Ber at 2:06 PM on August 10, 2012


I'd love something story-driven and epic, again, a really sprawling, giant Western RPG.

Have you tried the Spiderweb Software games? The recent remake of Avernum: Escape From the Pit reminded me a lot of Baldur's Gate.
posted by painquale at 2:41 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


One small problem. All of the source art has been lost. All of it.

1. The source art assets for Baldur's Gate, Baldur's Gate: Shadows of Amn and Throne of Bhaal are lost.

All the original area art, paperdolls, monsters and character models are lost with the exception of a few 3D models of monsters from Throne of Bhaal. There is nothing anyone can do about it. Therefore, it is not possible for the devs to deliver Baldur's Gate HD, and/or re-render any art at higher resolutions. Significant modifications to sprites, like displaying cloaks and hats, adding new/more armor styles, or removing the mirroring effect from BG2 animations, are also off-limits.

As per Trent Oster, the devs are currently limited to the existing animations. There will be no new animations in BG:EE, so it is no use to ask for them. Recreating character models from scratch and rendering them at high resolution is out of question, because it would take more time and resources than are currently available to the devs. Also, recreating character models alone is not an option, as they would look glaringly better than all monsters that weren't re-rendered; if something got redone, then everything else should get the same treatment for the sake of visual consistency, thus making this an even more demanding (and unfeasible) task.

In light of the above, it doesn't make much sense to request new monsters, as they won't have distinctive animations to go (and I personally believe Baldur's Gate already has enough monsters that share the same animation or a recolored version of the same animation).


From here.

It's a damn shame.
posted by Splunge at 3:55 PM on August 10, 2012


Yeah, I didn't want to say anything but I'd heard that already and it somewhat limits my enthusiasm here. I understand that without the source art nothing can be done but that doesn't make it less of a shame.
posted by Justinian at 4:39 PM on August 10, 2012


Have you tried the Spiderweb Software games? The recent remake of Avernum: Escape From the Pit reminded me a lot of Baldur's Gate.

I should give the Avernum reboot a try. I've been dragging my heels on another Spiderweb game because I've not gone more than a few quests into Geneforge 6 and Avadon.

The original Geneforge though is something I'd consider a masterpiece of the genre. It has an original science-fiction dystopia closely tied to the in-game summoning mechanics, multiple factions in various shades of moral grey, entire maps and paths that you probably can't get through on a single character build, and multiple solutions to the ultimate problem. You can even get away with a completely pacifist run (although it's insanely difficult.)
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 4:54 PM on August 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you can't install the mod that silences the "You must gather your party.." then this is all meaningless.
posted by cmyk at 6:13 PM on August 10, 2012


If you noticed yesterday by seeing it on the computer rather than by hearing the NPC shouts of my incredibly badly planned party arguing

Don't they even teach the basics anymore? You just get Minsc and follow his sage advice. 'You point, I punch.'
posted by ersatz at 6:43 PM on August 10, 2012


For BGII:EE will I still be able to patch it to prevent Keldorn from randomly deciding that today is a good day to kill Viconia? Not very Lawful Good, and her evil can easily be kept in check, unlike Korgan Bloodaxe.

Minsc of course, had all the best lines.

"Jump on my sword while you can evil! I won't be as gentle."
posted by Hactar at 6:51 PM on August 10, 2012


Yeah, I've never played as an evil PC or with an evil party in Baldur's Gate, because Minsc would be so disappointed. And it's just not Baldur's Gate without Minsc.

griphus: If you don't mind/can get past the whole Star Wars thing, give KotOR a shot if you haven't.

Oh, I love those games. I'll probably install that mod kmz mentions for KOTOR2 before much longer. I just need to clear up my pile a little first. :-)

Wow, KOTOR1 was released in mid-2003, so it's a little over 9 years old.

Shame Bioware was eaten by EA, and turned to shit. They were kind of the last people doing good games in this genre. But both ME3 and DA2 fell on their faces pretty hard, and their MMO is a disaster.
posted by Malor at 10:58 AM on August 11, 2012


Actually my favorite was being neutral evil and assembling the party that would most advance my interests, this lead to the combination of Minsc and Edwin which possibly has the most amazing dialogue ever.

So it is possible to have Minsc in an evil-ish party. However, he will be disappointed.
posted by lizarrd at 10:34 AM on August 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


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