GamerTell Interview: Trent Oster talks about Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition

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Many people’s love affair with BioWare began with Baldur’s Gate. For people accustomed to JRPGs, it provided a whole new way to play and tapped into the world of Dungeons & Dragons to help provide a new RPG experience. It’s a title steeped in nostalgia. So when the Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition by Overhaul Games was announced, people went wild.

GamerTell was fortunate enough to speak to Trent Oster, Creative Director over at Overhaul Games, co-founder of Beamdog and former co-founder and Game Director at BioWare. We went over what people can expect from Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition, as well as what may happen with DLC and future installments in the series.

GamerTell: What made Beamdog and Overhaul Games decide to return to Baldur’s Gate?

Trent Oster: We’re big fans of the game. We wanted to improve the game for existing fans of the series and bring the game to new players who had heard of the series but had never played it. We also felt the best way forward is to go back, get in touch with your roots, build your skills and then gather our party and venture forth on something new.

GT: Was the Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition always going to contain both Baldur’s Gate and Tales of the Sword Coast, or was that decision made once development began?

Oster: The original deal was to always have Tales of the Sword coast included in the game. We felt the Baldur’s Gate experience wouldn’t be complete without Tales integrated.

GT: We’ve been hearing about new Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition content for months. How will it be integrated into the existing story? Will there be quests that can be missed?

Oster: The new quests involve our new NPC characters, so if you decide not to pick up those characters you will not be able to play the new content.

GT: So far Dorn Il-Khan, Neera the Wild Mage and Rasaad yn Bashir are the three revealed new characters. Are they it for new additions? Do you have any favorites?

Oster: Those are the three new playable characters. We’ve added a lot of characters to the game, but they are only three who can join your adventure. I’d have to say my favorite is Dorn. He is belligerent, but he hits very hard and his quest is a lot of fun.

GT: Romance options have always been a thing in BioWare games, and the original Baldur’s Gate offered a few bachelorettes and one bachelor for players to woo. Has Overhaul Games enhanced this for the Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition? We know the new characters are romanceable, but are any existing characters aside from the originally romanceable Aerie, Anomen, Jaheira and Viconia now ready for love?

Oster: The original BG was actually without romance. Bioware didn’t start experimenting with romance until Baldur’s Gate 2. We’ve taken those lessons and made the three new characters romanceable. Dorn is evil and as such, he respects power. To be of interest to Dorn you have to be powerful and willing to take what you desire. Neera is a good person and she’ll respond to interest from a good character, as long as they treat her well. Rasaad is complicated. His story is involved and he’ll need a supportive friend first, what happens after that is up to you.

GT: The Black Pits is the first revealed and most publicized new storyline within the Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition. Can you tell us a bit more about what happens if a party heads to the Underdark to face Baeloth the Entertainer?

Oster: The Black pits is a stand-alone adventure, so it doesn’t exist withing the main storyline of Baldur’s Gate. The concept is a gladitorial pit run by Baeloth the mad entertainer. Baeloth pits characters he captures against monster as a means of entertaining his guests. The players are challenged by ever-increasing difficulty and a variety of tactical situations. It makes for a great way to enjoy the rich tactical combat of Baldur’s Gate. One fight you face off against some weak gibberlings, the next a hostile party. It makes for some very fun gaming.

GT: The Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition homepage boasts the game has over 400 improvements over the original Baldur’s Gate. Can you talk about some of the changes and fixes made? How many of these are minor bug fixes and how many improvements would you say are major changes?

Oster: We’ve done some major work on re-writing the renderer to work a higher resolutions, we can now scale to run fullscreen at any resolution or allow the players to have the game not scale and reveal more of the stunning background art. With the help of the modding community we’ve fixed a huge number of bugs in the original story, including a game crashing bug in the town of Beregost. We’ve fixed countless bugs and we’re continuing to make the game better every day, with exciting new features still to come, such as our own multiplayer service, a new, even faster renderer and longer term, cloud save support.

GT: When discussions about the Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition came up, DLC was mentioned. Can you talk about what players can expect to see, or how much will be made available in the coming months? Will we see a new, original expansion pack?

Oster: We’ve got plans for expanding the existing Baldur’s Gate story and we’ve worked through those plans with our partners at the Wizards of the Coast. As for timing, we’re playing catch-up with bugs and BG2:EE at the moment, so any expansions are going to come after we ship out the Enhanced Edition of Baldur’s Gate 2. We had originally planned an expansion between the two games, but contractual pressures have forced us to re-structure our plans.

GT: What should people expect to pay for Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition DLC and, if you already have a figure, how did you come up with that price?

Oster: We’re still playing with the pricing, but we’re hoping to keep the costs low so a great many people can enjoy the new content.

GT: Will DLC be made available for all versions of Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition?

Oster: Our plans for DLC is to make it available for all platforms.

GT: Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition is scheduled to come to the iPad and Android devices as well as Windows and Mac. How will the control scheme differ between platforms?

Oster: The tablets use a touch based control methodology, with the most common actions (scrolling the screen around) using the easiest control gestures (a quick swipe on the screen) and the less frequent actions (inspecting items) using more complicated controls (a two second hold and release). We’ve very proud of the tablet controls and the game plays very well. We’re currently working on a further enhancement to the tablet control we call “smart radius” which allows the player to more easily slect doors, enter areas and pick up items from the ground. The PC and Mac both use the mouse and are very similar, with a few new touchpad features added for the Mac OSX platform.

GT: Do you know how large the iOS and Android versions of Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition will be?

Oster: Both builds are coming in right around the 1.8 GB size.

GT: Will there be any chance at cross-play cooperative multiplayer in the Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition for both the PC and handheld versions?

Oster: We’re going to slow down the updates and ensure we deliver cross-platform compatiblity in the near future. We made the decision to rush some PC bug fixes and the Apple approvals process limits our ability to ship revisions on the iPad and Mac, so we have to work hard to stay synchronized. Going forward, we’ll be staying in lockstep.

GT: You’ve said earlier that the goal was to make the Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition easy to mod. How did you go out of your way to encourage the experience? Will players be able to enable and disable mods from within the game?

Oster: We’ve worked closely with the existing modding community and we’ve added a number of new features, which open up new possibilities. We’re working with the modders going forward to extend this support and to allow a huge number of new options which never existed before. Basically, we have the source code, some talented developers and an ear to the modding community, so the future looks very bright for new content.

GT: Will the Android and iOS versions of Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition support mods?

Oster: We’re still working out the best means to support this. Worst case, we’ll have to deliver the bits oursevles (luckily we happen to have our own digital disctibution service to to just that)

GT: How is progress coming along on Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition? Can we expect the same kind of fixes and additions with it as we’ve seen so far with Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition?

Oster: We’re basing off the same code, so every bug fixed in BG:EE is one we don’t have to fix in BG2:EE. We learned a great deal shipping BG:EE on the PC and iPad and we’re applying those lessons going forward to making a better BG2:EE launch for all platforms. We’re also adding more new content for our three characters, so it should be a great game.

GT: The original Baldur’s Gate and Baldur’s Gate II allowed players to carry over their character from one game to the other. Will this feature be included with Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition, Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition and the possible Baldur’s Gate III?

Oster: For BG2, yes. For BG3, or as we call it internally, BG:Next, that will have to wait. I’m concerned bringing a recently ascended God of Murder into a new campaign could make balancing a little difficult. I’d really like to avoid the smack the God down to level 1 cliche as well, so we’re most likely to chart a new course for BG:Next.

The Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition is immediately available for Windows PCs and the iPad. The version is $19.99 and the iOS version is $9.99. Mac and Android versions are currently in the works.

Site [Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition]

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