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PsychoBlonde

Playing Baldur's Gate again--most of it feels a bit empty

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Not that I exactly expect Eternity to look like Baldur's Gate, it just struck me how most of the exploration areas in BG don't contain all that much, and the scenery is pretty bland and repetitive. There's at least one area that has zero quest involvement and no interesting scenery whatsoever--the only remotely "interesting" thing on the entire board is a dude who yells at you to get off his lawn.

 

Granted, due to the pre-rendered scenery, the game has aged INCREDIBLY well. It's the gameplay that feels a bit dated.

 

Anyway, it occurred to me that one way to improve this issue would be to move the random encounters to be a solely between-areas thing. Then you could make lots of little somewhat-generic (a swamp, a forest, a mountain pass, a campsite, a mini-dungeon) maps with interesting "random" encounters, and focus the main areas more exclusively on dense, interesting content and unique scenery.

 

There could even be gameplay elements involved with these random encounters, if, say, the mountain roads are plagued by bandits, and you travel through that area a lot and slaughter a ton of bandits, maybe you hear about the roads becoming safer.

 

Just some thoughts.

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Grand Rhetorist of the Obsidian Order

If you appeal to "realism" about a video game feature, you are wrong. Go back and try again.

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It's true, the game wasn't very dense for the majority of the game, and it was pretty annoying figuring out which one of the fat bald dudes is the one who might possibly sell something, or have a side quest.

 

Still, I love your idea. It's just that with random encounters, its more difficult for the developers to make the encounters unique, and challenging, which was one of the great parts of the game. Each encounter was hand crafted, and always posed a challenge.

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Instead of fully random encounters in the "exploration areas," why not pull from a pool of crafted encounters? These can still be somewhat scaling but designed to be unique and challenging; maybe the triggers can depend on party level, progress in the main campaign, party NPC presence, reputation for a certain faction, or some combination, and the pool from which a "random" encounter may be pulled could increase/change based on that.

 

Still, I liked the open areas with little to do but explore and carefully slice off the fog of war.... Granted, I haven't played BG in a while (or BG:EE, still recovering from Real Life), so I'll test that nostalgia later. :p

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The KS Collector's Edition does not include the Collector's Book.

Which game hook brought you to Project Eternity and interests you the most?

PE will not have co-op/multiplayer, console, or tablet support (sources): [0] [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]

Write your own romance mods because there won't be any in PE.

"But what is an evil? Is it like water or like a hedgehog or night or lumpy?" -(Digger)

"Most o' you wanderers are but a quarter moon away from lunacy at the best o' times." -Alvanhendar (Baldur's Gate 1)

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Exploring the open wilderness surrounded by the ambient sounds of wildlife, set to the adventurous sound track.. That was one of my favorite moments in Baldur's Gate. It was a unique experience at the time, no other game seemed to capture that spirit of exploration and adventure, and I was bummed BG2 didn't have more of that.

Just like how a good painting needs some negative space on the canvas, those vacant areas provided a nice break from the bustling noise of civilization, and gave you a sense of isolation and appreciate the vastness of the world. It wouldn't really feel like exploration if you ran into a scripted event every few steps of the way.

That isn't to say it should be devoid of content. You could have content that is more passive, like tracks you can spot on the ground, pick up clues for what you can expect in your next encounter etc.

 

I'd like to see these exploration areas injected between quests with heavy dialog to switch up the pace of the game.

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Biggest thing I've run into with BG that I had forgotten was just how messy quests are, and finding quests. Some of them just don't go anywhere, some you literally have to break and enter a dudes house to get the quest. Some can't be completed if you talk to a person whos ON THE WAY to the place you pick up the quest... BG2, by and large, was a vast improvement to just how questing was handled (also NPC interaction in general). But it definitely moved a tad to far away from the open exploration you had with BG... I think BG 'lacked' a lot of just detailed content outside of the main quest, but that's not a 'either or' thing... games since then have managed both.

 

Think with BG2 they focused on the city its self being the big exploration and, as far as a city adventure went it was damn good at that. From what dev's have said I like the idea of having BG2 style city, some more wilderness like exploration outside it (instead of just travel destinations) and... I guess a second big explorable city from funding. I don't think you need full on large scale quests, or small quests even, in each outside area but there has to be 'something'. Even if its a small dungeon or few crypts to explore. If BG had more of that with areas looking more like PE... I'd be a hell of a lot happier (and still enjoying my BGEE time, mind you... love the widescreen upscaled stuff).

 

-edit-

Oh, and like 90% of the side content in BG are jokes.... it's all jokes. It's like reading a bad joke book, a really old joke book... but your experiencing it as seemingly (not at all) random encountery stuff out in the wilderness zones. BG2 also toned down on that and had better timed joke stuff by comparison. As did all of BioWare's work past that point... but damn BG crammed with that stuff.

Edited by Adhin

Def Con: kills owls dead

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...how most of the exploration areas in BG don't contain all that much...

 

I think thats why so many like this game. You actually have to explore to find something interesting, it does not just pop up in your face.

And still there is the plot all the way through the chapters. I like that. That's why i personally enjoyed this game more than BG2.

 

I don't know about random encounters.

So, are you playing the new EE version ?

 

@Adhin. I liked the jokes, most of them. But i guess you are right, they put too many in there.

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UFWDJRj.jpg

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My memory of BG1 is definitely a lot of walking around, peeling away the fog of war, but with not a whole lot in it. At the time, it didn't bother me...I like the exploration/discovery part, even when there's not a "whole lot going on." Even today I'll explore every nook in games. I can't help it. I know there's likely nothing "over there" but I must go look anyway. :p

 

P.E. could have a little less of it as a compromise, but I don't want to have nothing but a lot of separate, small, "random encounter" maps or whatnot. The game Summoner used that tactic (albeit in a much different way than P.E. likely would) and while it wasn't awful, it didn't give me that sense of exploration either. Neither did BG2, for that matter.

 

Of course...hopefully I'll at least get a big dose of exploration fun in the "endless dungeon." :)

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“Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.” – Alan Watts

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Thinking about what Ieo said, could an area spawn enemies depending on your level or your progression through the story? At first, the Crossroads might not hold much, but after getting to Baldur's Gate (or even Friendly Arms Inn) something new could spawn there.

 

However, for a player, it could become the OCD nightmare (Got to explore every area every time I finish a major plot/quest/level line!). Even if it is level based, it can become an OCD nightmare. So instead of tying random encounters to a specific area, have it in some areas and most importantly "any" area (perhaps not 100% meeting Bounty Hunters, but perhaps 5 areas could trigger that encounter). The mob of Bounty Hunters could engage you at the Crossroads, just as much as they could engage you in the Tradeway North. Every area does not need to be action packed with "something".

Edited by Osvir

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What you say is true OP, but honestly I like it. I mean if you always know that every map will have something really rewarding on it kinda makes it not so interesting. It's basically issue of pacing.

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Assuming Fallout-like worldmap is going to be used, random encounters generated on pre-crafted maps would be a good filler, while allowing for node areas to be more focused and detailed, without a lot of empty expanse.

 

I'm rambling, again. What I was trying to say is that Fallout/Fallout 2 used an interesting system for generating random encounters, which varied by location on the worldmap, by type, encountered people etc. It's very robust and very, very nifty!

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[ The Vault ] [ The Wasteland Wiki ] [ Pillars of Eternity Wiki ] [ Tyranny Wiki ]


 


My, that's a whole lot of wikis!


Why, thank you, I love them.

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A Fallout/Fallout 2 traveling system would be much more fun than a Baldur's Gate one me thinks, freedom of traveling. You have the freedom to go anywhere. The Fog of War could even encase the world map as well, and as you explore (like Fallout) you reveal more of the world map. Whilst in Baldur's Gate/Dragon Age it is like "unlockable" nodes.

 

"Go to this point to unlock 2 more points". A Fallout-esque traveling system would be effective too I think, for immersion, but more importantly interaction with the game's different features.

Edited by Osvir

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Realistically, looking at how BG2 was changed from BG1, I suppose the larger market forces at the time indicated players preferred more "direction." And the reason PS:T didn't do as well as it should have. Current games with the exception of "open world" like Oblivion/Skyrim are entirely railroads (see Dragon Age). Onto PE, then--I think it's safe to say the kind of players clamoring for this project want something a bit out of that mass market. So more "empty," beautiful exploration spaces!

 

On the other hand, Josh did say in an interview that content density would be a bit more spread out to avoid the 'empty' space, I think...

 

Of course...hopefully I'll at least get a big dose of exploration fun in the "endless dungeon." :)

 

That's not the same, though. Everyone goes into a dungeon expecting both challenge (combat or puzzles) and loot. The BG1 spaces might have had the odd dire wolf here and there (and the big pack of those petrifying lizards, ouch), but in general were true wilderness areas. Unless the dungeon has an entire "ambiance level" where you only get creepy music and odd placement of objects and blood stains or a ton of paintings with nothing to actually do, I'd argue the dungeon isn't that kind of exploration--definitely a dungeon crawl.

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The KS Collector's Edition does not include the Collector's Book.

Which game hook brought you to Project Eternity and interests you the most?

PE will not have co-op/multiplayer, console, or tablet support (sources): [0] [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]

Write your own romance mods because there won't be any in PE.

"But what is an evil? Is it like water or like a hedgehog or night or lumpy?" -(Digger)

"Most o' you wanderers are but a quarter moon away from lunacy at the best o' times." -Alvanhendar (Baldur's Gate 1)

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I do not like games that limit themselves to only having places which are required. What I mean is places that you would visit just because had a quest there alone. Exploration is more than just going somewhere because have something want to do there it is about seeing something on the horizon which looks interesting and visiting just to see what it is like there. I used to go on walkabouts a lot as a kid, ended up in some very strange places in the middle of the night, swampland, woods, abondoned buildings that mere atmosphere made it worthwhile. Exploration for the purpose of experiencing and seeing the unknown.

 

So I do not want every place to exist purely for the role of story progression, or because quest to do there being why exists. Some places I merely just want to be able to visit for the scenery and atmosphere. You can have interesting things present, a monster never seen before, an item with lore attached at the heart of the location or strange people but what I mean is it should not be a requirement of having a quest at such a location in order for it to exist. I don't want everywhere I go to force the story progression forward or only reason to visit is to pick up or drop off a quest though I know some people prefer such.

 

EDIT: I think nodes are fine for purpose of fast travel. The big difference is unlike DAO or other such games which use them, I do not want all the places in the world shown as nodes on a map from the start, I do not want every place locked into the system viewable from the offset or all places unlocked by story or quests. I want to be able to explore and find places myself along the Fallout system which exists both in context of the original games and the new ones, also in such titles as Skyrim. That form of nodes is acceptable to me, liked by me and greatly increases replayability. I the player explore the world and I find places of interest which become nodes not all shown at once or unlocked for purpose of story or quests. I want to find potential locations that others may not have found, places that do not exist for the player unless finds them on their own. Places of interest outside of mere questlines or story progression.

Edited by Dragoonlordz
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The wildernes areas is the reason i don't like BG1 as much as the other IE games.

For me BG2 and PS:T had the perfect area design. In P:E i want BG2 type of game stracture as PS:T was a difirent kind of game.

Edited by Malekith

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Me and the OP must have played completely different games. Bland and repetitive scenery? Are you kidding? The granite mines of Nashkel, the mountain fortress of gnolls, the lush open green valleys near the Candlekeep coastline, the web infested Cloakwood Forest, the fast-flowing river near Baldur's Gate, the desolate and lonely crossroads filled with broken merchant wagons, the deforested bandit camp area, the "bottomless drop" rocky coastline, the "statue forest" near the eastern edge of the map, the list goes on. I didn't even mention the wizard's tower, the mining town Nashkel itself, the Friendly Arm Inn, Beregost and Baldur's Gate. It would be pretty hard to not remember what any particular part of the game looked like because every area including the ones lacking content had it's own look. For a game that's almost a decade and a half old i'd say the fact that I can remember this stuff is impressive (haven't played BG in years). BG didn't use an overly fanciful universe (see Planescape) to make a large impression either. Most repetitive and boring landscape? That award goes to the game set in the mega fanciful universe Planescape: Torment. I'm looking at you ever red Baator. Don't even get me started on Torment though. The City of (Closed) Doors with portals that can go *anywhere*. No exploration here of course. There's probably a demotivator for this with the title "Lame." It has a picture of Sigil with the caption "The City of Doors? But I can't go anywhere..." underneath it.

 

As far as the BG 2 random encounters go I only remember *one* of them (the one with Drizzt). I'd say random encounters for world exploration are a poor man's substitute at best. What i'd truly like to see is Obsidian take away what Bioware did with it's world crafting. I mentioned places like Cloakwood, the Candlekeep coastline, the gnoll fortress, the crossroads, etc. because the landscape of those spread their "area of influence" to the surrounding maps. Content tended to be the same way with the only truly "dead" areas being far removed from the civilized parts of the BG world (which is exactly how it should be). The BG world felt seamless in that sense. I'd be more than a little disappointing if Obsidian didn't already know this.

 

Edit:

 

I just saw another thread about the pacing of BG1, and thought OP might have been experiencing a similar side effect of high resolution mods.

 

Movement speed in BG 1 was actually a little slow which is why it was increased in BG 2. I think the vast open spaces of BG scare off individuals that can't find an npc with an exclamation point sitting around in a place he has no business just chilling in. Nevermind the fact that even the most barren of maps had some hidden treasure in it.

Edited by Razsius
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If it is the EE version recently released the empty world feeling could be because they changed the spawn system for enemies. Core difficulty basically reduces many enemy groups to 1 enemy. Areas that usually had many enemies (gnoll stronghold, bandit camp) now have almost 50% less enemies. Enemies that used to attack in reasonable sized groups (6 xvarts, 8 gibberlings etc) now attack in groups of 1..yes 1.

 

The logic was that the groups would scale up with difficulty level. I think that reducing numbers of enemies from the original game is a pretty bad decision to make even if you think it is a good thing to tweak enemy scaling. Lots of folks complaining about this unannounced "feature" of the enhanced edition.

 

If it is not the EE version...well I'm not sure I'd agree the world is so empty, has more encounters than some more recent rpgs.

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Scaling group size 'and' damage with difficulty is bad. I think group size only makes the most sense as it ultimately provides a greater tactical challenge then just '**** im taking twice the damage'. That said the lone enemies im getting because I prefer core rules and not taking twice the damage can be a tad boring.

 

@claus: Yeah I actually like a good bit of the jokes and definitely liked it back when I originally played it, hell of a lot younger then though heh. But yeah just playing it now reminds me how dense the jokyness feels. I think I've ran into 1 in every outdoors area so far. And often multiple ones in any given town. It reminds me of people constantly saying poor jokes in an attempt to 'get one to stick' instead of having good comedic timing with there quips.

 

BioWare got real good with that real quick over the years that's for sure. Same with Obsidian (or well Black Isle back then). One of the many reasons I've been such a big fan of there games, I mean besides the main story stuff and gameplay.


Def Con: kills owls dead

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The Fallout/Arcanum travel system is pretty cool, but I don't have any problems with the Baldur's Gate 2 system. BG1, well... It has a lot of wilderness. Sometimes I wonder if it would have been better if it had a few less waypoint in between big important places.

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Instead of fully random encounters in the "exploration areas," why not pull from a pool of crafted encounters?

 

This is more what I meant--have some that are just random "five wolves attack" and have others which are crafted. The random element would be in precisely when/where they show up, not necessarily all the aspects of the encounter.


Grand Rhetorist of the Obsidian Order

If you appeal to "realism" about a video game feature, you are wrong. Go back and try again.

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Movement speed in BG 1 was actually a little slow which is why it was increased in BG 2. I think the vast open spaces of BG scare off individuals that can't find an npc with an exclamation point sitting around in a place he has no business just chilling in. Nevermind the fact that even the most barren of maps had some hidden treasure in it.

 

Actually, the road just north of Nashkel has *no* hidden treasure and precisely one NPC to talk to. Most other maps will have one or 2 scripted encounters, that's all. It's been a while since I last played so I've been trying to be thorough.


Grand Rhetorist of the Obsidian Order

If you appeal to "realism" about a video game feature, you are wrong. Go back and try again.

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So I do not want every place to exist purely for the role of story progression, or because quest to do there being why exists. Some places I merely just want to be able to visit for the scenery and atmosphere. You can have interesting things present, a monster never seen before, an item with lore attached at the heart of the location or strange people but what I mean is it should not be a requirement of having a quest at such a location in order for it to exist. I don't want everywhere I go to force the story progression forward or only reason to visit is to pick up or drop off a quest though I know some people prefer such.

 

I have no problem with this, but have you played Baldur's Gate recently? Most of the scenery consists of green and brown patches scattered with nearly-identical trees. Only a very few of the areas actually have unique scenery.

 

It'd be cool if they did something like a really big mountain, where there were multiple areas, and when you get to a view point, you get to see this enormous view of the entire thing. That'd be cool for atmosphere/scenery and so forth.

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Grand Rhetorist of the Obsidian Order

If you appeal to "realism" about a video game feature, you are wrong. Go back and try again.

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So I do not want every place to exist purely for the role of story progression, or because quest to do there being why exists. Some places I merely just want to be able to visit for the scenery and atmosphere. You can have interesting things present, a monster never seen before, an item with lore attached at the heart of the location or strange people but what I mean is it should not be a requirement of having a quest at such a location in order for it to exist. I don't want everywhere I go to force the story progression forward or only reason to visit is to pick up or drop off a quest though I know some people prefer such.

 

I have no problem with this, but have you played Baldur's Gate recently? Most of the scenery consists of green and brown patches scattered with nearly-identical trees. Only a very few of the areas actually have unique scenery.

 

It'd be cool if they did something like a really big mountain, where there were multiple areas, and when you get to a view point, you get to see this enormous view of the entire thing. That'd be cool for atmosphere/scenery and so forth.

 

Reinstalled the original BG just couple days ago, started playing through it last night.

 

The premise of my enjoyment relating to what exploration and travel which I talked about earlier will always be how I described it in that post with the effect has depending on the mechanics. But I was relating more towards how to handle nodes and locations (mechanic wise rather than artwork of such locations). My preference more along the lines of Fallout/Skyrim in which player is the one in control of what is presently visible or found via exploration vs Dragon Age method of everything either visible from the start or only visible when is quest to be done there. The when and how locations are discovered and exploration in the sense of the unknown vs the known. Player freedom to explore and find locations that others might have missed not relating to quests or plot which then become nodes for fast travel vs developer enforcing location restriction/limitation for purpose of plot and quest progression.

 

I can understand why repeated bland areas would be not very entertaining however I think that was more to do with the amount of time and effort in creating those areas (artwork) and the technology of the time from previous game examples plus the cost of doing time spent making those areas more attractive and interesting as opposed to gameplay mechanics which was more what I was referring to. How well a place looks depends on how much effort went into drawing and designing it and this goes for any location in the game whether main plot unlocked area or small player discovered ones.

 

I do not think you have to worry about the blandness of the artwork at any location in this game they are creating. Technology and creative ability has improved since when BG was first created. So artwork should not be a worry. The mechanics of it are more important I feel. How locations are found, their purpose in game or possible enjoyment of exploring the unknown, the amount of player freedom involved and allowed plus the knock on effect of replayability garnered by having players finding locations others might not have found or yourself first time around because your not hand-held route or location wise because of quest or plot restriction or progression.

 

Fallout for example, the player finds interesting locations for him or herself of which can explore and not all are required for quest or plot progression, these then become nodes for purpose of fast travel. This to me is what I like. I have the player freedom to explore and increases my replayability because I will (more often than not) have not located every single place first playthrough.

 

I would not have seen everything due to all locations unlocked first time around which happens in the Dragon Age games and other RPGs alot that enforce path/route through the games locations due to being linked to only plotlines. In those kind of games I have visited them all first time around, explored them all, there is no unknown left for me to explore on future playthroughs. Fallout series from the oldest to newest including Fallout Tactics or Skyrim as examples, this is not the case. The world map is filled with unknown places or locations which only when discovered by the player do they become nodes. In all those games it takes many hours or replays to find all those interesting places to which I can explore.

Edited by Dragoonlordz

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You got to realize for its time baldurs gate was amazing. Game looked more epic with the original games resolution and less blurry. you enter a room and you see 2-4 big sprites you are like o yeah I got a fight on my hands. Baldurs Gate enchanced resolution ruins the immersion in the game and the splendor. You can't go into the game with 2012 gaming expectations. Some old games you have to be humble to enjoy or really just been there when they came out. Like the original dungeon siege was epic, revolutionary, wow, best game ever awesome when it came out. If you play it today u be like okay this game is whatever. There was no way obsidian was going to come close in doing dungeon siege right. They effed up real bad actually.

Edited by Failion

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Movement speed in BG 1 was actually a little slow which is why it was increased in BG 2. I think the vast open spaces of BG scare off individuals that can't find an npc with an exclamation point sitting around in a place he has no business just chilling in. Nevermind the fact that even the most barren of maps had some hidden treasure in it.

 

Actually, the road just north of Nashkel has *no* hidden treasure and precisely one NPC to talk to. Most other maps will have one or 2 scripted encounters, that's all. It's been a while since I last played so I've been trying to be thorough.

 

There's 2 npcs on that map and a response to one of them has to be one of the best cans of verbal whoop ass you ever get to deliver to an annoying npc. You, uh... might want to be a little more thorough. Funny how you mention what is perhaps one of if not the most barren map in the entire game and I can still remember something from it. Btw if you go just a single map north you find an area with 2 of your sidequest objectives. Besides, as I recall there's kind of an ongoing bandit problem plaguing the roads. Would it make much sense for there to be a large number of npcs going along it? Out of curiosity what would you have put on that map?

 

I have no problem with this, but have you played Baldur's Gate recently? Most of the scenery consists of green and brown patches scattered with nearly-identical trees. Only a very few of the areas actually have unique scenery.

 

It'd be cool if they did something like a really big mountain, where there were multiple areas, and when you get to a view point, you get to see this enormous view of the entire thing. That'd be cool for atmosphere/scenery and so forth.

 

I'd simply say define unique scenery. BG takes place in a very specific section of the Forgotten Realms universe. The reason there are no towering snow capped mountains or vast stretches of deserts and swamps is because they weren't in that particular area. Besides the gnoll fortress *was* built into a mountain. That aside it's been almost a decade and a half since the game was first released aren't we being just a touch harsh on it's supposedly mundane graphics? How would you have diversified things without using landscapes that make absolutely no sense within the setting?

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