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I've gone on something of a slow-motion IE game binge lately. I really only got on the D&D cRPG train with Neverwinter Nights, and had only played Baldur's Gate 2 and Planescape: Torment. Now I've re-played PS:T and finally gotten around to the original Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale. Only starting with the latter at this point, but still. Impressions. Not including digressions on AD&D and its viability as a game system here; that would be another topic.

 

Baldur's Gate is the biggest disappointment since The Phantom Menace. There's literally nothing I like about it. The combat is a repetitive, slogging chore, the dialog with its godawful pseudo-medievalese feels like it was written by a somewhat dim 14-year-old, the humor would only be funny if you were that 14-year-old's stoner friend, the characters are irritating and dopey, the voice acting is uninspired, the music irritating and forgettable, the scenery is repetitive, generic, and unimaginative, and the quests are generic. The gameplay overall feels like neverending busywork, do-this, do-that, but mostly just trek around and save and load a lot. Yech. Awful. I hope P:E takes nothing at all from that turd. I mean seriously people, this, a classic FFS?

 

And yeah, I do remember Baldur's Gate 2 being much, much better. Perhaps I'll return to it eventually.

 

Planescape: Torment on the other hand is even better than I remembered it. Perhaps because this time I remembered enough to be able to roll up a character set up to make the most of it, and then could just let go and enjoy the ride. It's constantly surprising, delighting, and amazing me. It does the exact opposite of what you'd expect, all the time. Every item, character, and location feels hand-crafted with attention and love. Music that's haunting, atmospheric, And the story! Gods below, the story! Walls of text, yes, and perhaps there are better ways of telling that story in a visual medium than just making you read a lot, but wow. And the combat wasn't nearly as bad as I remembered, either, although definitely not a high point of the game either. (Un)balance issues aside, its greatest failing is the lead-up to the endgame -- Sigil is truly inspired from start to finish, but from Curst onward it starts to fall flat. The final scenes int the game are a wonderful finale, but getting there becomes a slog again. 

 

What would I have P:E take home from PS:T? That inspired feel. I don't know if that's even possible, but that. The feeling that the people who made it are constantly bursting with new cool things to do to, and with, the player.

 

Icewind Dale: Now this is a surprise. I had heard it described as one big extended D&D dungeon crawl, which sounded like it didn't really appeal to my tastes, but hey, I'm really liking it. It is one big extended dungeon crawl, so far at least, but it's one hell of a fun one. And it's a really beautiful game. Even at low levels -- where I am now -- the combat has a degree of variety, things have been tweaked so that it is actually possible to play tactically, even if the tactics are fairly rudimentary like setting up a simple ambush and luring the beasties into it, and... yeah, that feeling of inspiration that's so sorely lacking in BG but is present in PS:T is back. I did not really expect to like this much, but it's actually really good. Once I finish this, perhaps I'll try ToEE -- that's another one I haven't played because it's "just a dungeon crawl" but if IWD is this much fun, that ought to be too.

 

What should P:E take from IWD? A great deal. The consistent, hand-made, sufficiently original, and beautiful visuals. The tactically interesting combat that isn't a chore. Basically take a modernized version of IWD, add a plot hook that's a little bit deeper than "you're sitting around in a bar dreaming of the future when the mayor offers you a job," and make it a leetle less of a corridor, with some hub-and-spoke areas rather than a straight sequence (it is a straight sequence, right? or does it open up later?), and we're good.

 

Summary? It's striking how different these games are, even though they're all in the same engine and all use the same basic ruleset and the basic system is so similar between them that you can easily jump from one to another. That, I think, is the real strength of the Infinity Engine -- it's a platform that just takes care of a lot of the boring computer stuff and lets the gamemakers focus on snagging the player's imagination instead, in whatever way you see fit. If the gamemakers have the skills, talent, vision, and passion for that, marvelous things emerge; if not, there will be boredom. The most promising thing about P:E is that Obsidian wants to make it. That bodes well.

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I have a project. It's a tabletop RPG. It's free. It's a work in progress. Find it here: www.brikoleur.com

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Baldur's Gate is the biggest disappointment since The Phantom Menace. There's literally nothing I like about it. The combat is a repetitive, slogging chore, the dialog with its godawful pseudo-medievalese feels like it was written by a somewhat dim 14-year-old, the humor would only be funny if you were that 14-year-old's stoner friend, the characters are irritating and dopey, the voice acting is uninspired, the music irritating and forgettable, the scenery is repetitive, generic, and unimaginative, and the quests are generic. The gameplay overall feels like neverending busywork, do-this, do-that, but mostly just trek around and save and load a lot. Yech. Awful. I hope P:E takes nothing at all from that turd. I mean seriously people, this, a classic FFS?

 

Planescape: Torment on the other hand is even better than I remembered it.

lol hipster ****

 

 

actually you're right about BG. When it came out a lot of people who'd never played RPGs were swooning over it so I got it but it was mostly meh.

 

Icewind Dale, partly due to being constrained "geographically" is very atmospherically dense. The only thing I can find seriously wrong with it to this day (not mentioning AD&D, like you said) is the completely linear world map. Seriously, unlocking two areas at the same time wouldn't have been so bad/ hard.

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You remember correctly: BG2 blows the original out of the god damn water. Dialogue, quests, encounter design, environments... pretty much the only thing I could put in BG1's favour is "explorability", and even that is debatable. And also not a word.

Edited by Tamerlane
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Baldur's Gate is the biggest disappointment since The Phantom Menace. There's literally nothing I like about it. The combat is a repetitive, slogging chore, the dialog with its godawful pseudo-medievalese feels like it was written by a somewhat dim 14-year-old, the humor would only be funny if you were that 14-year-old's stoner friend, the characters are irritating and dopey, the voice acting is uninspired, the music irritating and forgettable, the scenery is repetitive, generic, and unimaginative, and the quests are generic. The gameplay overall feels like neverending busywork, do-this, do-that, but mostly just trek around and save and load a lot. Yech. Awful. I hope P:E takes nothing at all from that turd. I mean seriously people, this, a classic FFS?

You probably just don't like one or two aspects about it, and now you're trying to make the game look bad as a whole.

The music, while perhaps no masterpiece, was above average. The candlekeep track is even one of my all time favorites.

It's not like the combat was much different from Icewind Dale. Icewind Dale was harder, but that's about it. If anything, Baldurs Gate had more combat with other adventuring/mercanary groups, which I think is always the best part. 

 

And you can't really compare the characters to, let's say, the one's of Planescape. Baldurs Gate I never demanded to be an "adult", realistic or particularly intelligent game, it was more of a fun game most of the time, that didn't take itself very seriously. Minsk, Edwin, Xan, Kagain all were rather caricative characters, or well, just dopey. But I don't think Bioware made such a bad job there.

 

pretty much the only thing I could put in BG1's favour is "explorability", and even that is debatable.

No it isn't. 

Edited by Iucounu
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Baldur's Gate was the first RPG I played and I loved it - huge areas to explore and magical treasure to find. It's a great game - but its successors are better in every regard.

 

Baldur's Gate II makes everything better and the world feels bigger, but saves you the running through endless similar areas the first part had. The main plot is very thin and mostly linear

help thieves or vampires; travel the Underdark, or go straight to the elven city

 

but you have a vast amount of freedom and side quests that allow you to explore and adventure for many hours.

 

Icewind Dale is completely linear. The artwork, the music, the detailed plot create the strongest atmosphere I've ever seen in an RPG. One of the few games that really gave me a strong feeling of immersion. Icewind Dale is like an exciting book that takes you through a story - accordingly the film sequences and the game box itself resemble tomes. From all the IE games, I love Icewind Dale I and II the most

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To each his own I guess. You are well within your rights to dislike whatever you want but don't try and put up your own personal oppinions as facts. I love BG1 and I disagree on almost every single point you put up here.

 

BG2 is much better and PS:T beats all of them but BG1 is not a bad game by any stretch.

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"How was I supposed to know it was that stone that held the dragons at bay... I mean it just stood there looking dull anyway"

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I think this might also have something to do with the increasing "fantastic" factor. Compared to the other titles BG1 was fairly down-to-earth.

Another thing I've noticed when replaying BG1 was that I was trying to play it too fast. I enjoyed it a lot more when I advanced really slowly, taking time to breath in the world and notice the small things. Anyway the best experience I've had in IE games was the first time I played them, I couldn't not duplicate it anymore afterwards even after re-playing some games after years and remembering very little about them.

I really can't agree with all your negativity though, however I look at it, I just do not see the issues.

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I guess Baldur's Gate was one of those games you had to play when it came out.  At that time, it blew every other cRPG out of the water.  It was an amazing game.  Like the others before me, I couldn't agree with a single one of your points about the game.  I loved the music, I loved the atmosphere, I loved the humor.  I think that I even prefer BG1 to BG2 (very slightly).  The exploration was a big factor for me, and it was lacking in BG2.

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I'd like to trust Obsidian on this: I am sure they will make a clever and fun new game that's inspired by the best things of those classic IE-games. From the updates so far, it seems they are really going all in for cooking up a game (think Tim in his chef hat) that's 2014, but still has atmosphere, story, quirks and perks that hearken back to the epic IE-adventures. I'm also replaying them all at the moment, and they can never again be what they were then, but I'm very impressed by all of them. Those are tough acts to follow, but I think it's in the mechanics and flow of those games where the most effective inventiveness can spring forth.

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*** "The words of someone who feels ever more the ent among saplings when playing CRPGs" ***

 

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I can only play BG1 and 2 with mods; combat, graphical and a few lite content mods to flesh out and connect the story better...when played that way its a much different/better experience.

 

IWD1 is fine but I play with the NPC mod because i'm a story ****.

 

IWD2 i again play with the NPC mod that was made for it, again because I am a storyfag...I just like having my companions comment on the world and the **** we get into as we adventure.

 

PS:T, aside from the resolution mod and i think a fix pack or tweaks to polish it out is perfect as is.

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My view of BG1 is that it's a very important game, but it hasn't aged well compared to the others, really although the explorability is certainly in it's favour, to me all benefit of that is lost by the fact that most areas have big stretches of blank or "tileset produced" space, whereas wherever you go in either Icewind Dale or Planescape you are always looking at something visually engaging that has been hand designed.     The compromise is a branching path model that I reckon is the best bet is to have a model where you have your 2 big cities be open exploration, and perhaps to some degree the surrounding land, but the further you explore in any direction the more channeled the maps become.  Those channels might then connect up with further channels if you meet micro-hubs (say, an Inn at a crossroads) but on average remain fairly linear.

 

 So you might have something like, you want to get from the City Market to the Wizard Tower at the top of a mountain.  The area progression might be:

 

1) City center (open, free roaming within, numerous entrances and exits)

2) Slums District (open)

3) Outlying farmland (semi-open, free roaming but limited entrances and exits)

4) Woodland track (linear, one entrance, one exit, channeled path)

5) Road-fork Inn (linear, 3 entry/exits, open exploration within the area)

6a) Mountain Path (linear)  or 6b) Cave passage (linear)

7a) Mountain Ridge (linear) or 7b) Deep caves (linear)

8 ) Monastary (linear crossroads, 4 entry points, the 2 you could have come in from, one that goes forward, one that connects up to an entirely different branch elsewhere)

9) Path to the tower ( linear)

 

On average I think most outside areas should be at least semi-linear in terms of what you actually go down to get through them, but that certainly doesn't exclude side paths to explore that aren't part of the main quest agenda.  The main thing I'd want to avoid is the amorphousness of BG1 and get it back to something structured and hand designed.

Edited by Alexjh
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Well, this thread of course teaches us that different things appeal to different people, no surprise. However, praising the "feel" of one game and not of another, and hoping that the feel of Project Eternity matches the former... that's not really ideal feedback. You have to be able to identify specifically what it is that gives the game this "feel", if there is anything remotely objective about it. For me, a big part of "feel" is immersion, and therefore simulating various dynamic aspects of the in-game society (culture, economy, politics, climate) is what could truly set Project Eternity apart from other RPG's (however such things could be seen as being unnecessary for a lightweight retro-cRPG by those who feel immersion is less important). Other aspects that I suspect contribute to a game's "feel" are linearity (linear games do feel more focused and intense typically, even if they are restrictive), and how the game delivers grinding aspects (because let's face it; there's grinding in every RPG, but in some games it's more enjoyable). And finally of course then you have mechanics and cosmetic considerations, but people are usually good at specifying their issues with those aspects. But yeah, given that the developers aren't simply sitting in front of monitor with sliders for "BG1 feel", "BG2 feel", "IwD feel", "PS:T feel", and "NwN feel"... we've got to try to be more specific.

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Baldur's Gate is one of my favourite games, though I've played it years after the release (unlike the others here). I liked the story and characters (Jaheira, Imoen, Kivan, Minsc, Dynaheir...), combat and exploration were fun and the music great (it was written by Michael Hoenig himself!). When I moved on to play Baldur's Gate 2, I liked it too, of course, it is a superior game. There were a downside though - BG2 was too story-driven, and sometimes it felt a bit restricting. And, more importantly, the story itself wasn't very good. As for Icewind Dale, those games are basically just dungeon crawlers. I liked the atmosphere in IWD, but never finished the sequel, just got tired of all the combat. They were fun to play, yes, but I really hope that Project: Eternity will not be an updated version of IWD.

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I generally preferred BG to IWD because it just seemed less linear. But it's hard to recapture that feeling in a replay; you already know how the story will unroll. I definitely didn't like using the old AD&D rules--it just felt constraining. BG2 was good, but felt much more linear. Possibly that is because it's a higher level story. I never could get into PS:T.

 

In short: everybody has different experiences and different needs from a game. Telling me what you want is nearly useless from my perspective. I don't want the same game you do.

"It has just been discovered that research causes cancer in rats."

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You remember correctly: BG2 blows the original out of the god damn water. Dialogue, quests, encounter design, environments... pretty much the only thing I could put in BG1's favour is "explorability", and even that is debatable. And also not a word.

I had never plaed BG1, until enhanced edition came out. but yeah, I have much much better memories of BG2.

Remember: Argue the point, not the person. Remain polite and constructive. Friendly forums have friendly debate. There's no shame in being wrong. If you don't have something to add, don't post for the sake of it. And don't be afraid to post thoughts you are uncertain about, that's what discussion is for.
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Pet threads, everyone has them. I love imagining Gods, Monsters, Factions and Weapons.

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pretty much the only thing I could put in BG1's favour is "explorability", and even that is debatable.

No it isn't. 

 

I can't tell if you're disagreeing with explorability being the only thing in BG1's favour, in which case this would be the place where you mention things that you liked about it more than BG2, or you're disagreeing with my use of the word "debatable", which is just silly.

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You probably just don't like one or two aspects about it, and now you're trying to make the game look bad as a whole.

"One or two things," huh? I didn't like

- the antagonist

- the supporting characters

- the companions

- the dialog

- the visuals

- the music

- the quests

- the combat

- the voice acting

- the "humor"

- the AD&D game system

 

In short, I didn't like a damn thing about it that isn't inherent to the Infinity Engine, which I do like. Clear?

The music, while perhaps no masterpiece, was above average. The candlekeep track is even one of my all time favorites.

It's not like the combat was much different from Icewind Dale. Icewind Dale was harder, but that's about it. If anything, Baldurs Gate had more combat with other adventuring/mercanary groups, which I think is always the best part.

I'm not finding Icewind Dale particularly hard so far. I mean yes, you do need to play tactically a bit instead of just wading in and hoping, but it's certainly no harder than BG. (At Core Rules difficulty.)

 

And you can't really compare the characters to, let's say, the one's of Planescape. Baldurs Gate I never demanded to be an "adult", realistic or particularly intelligent game, it was more of a fun game most of the time, that didn't take itself very seriously. Minsk, Edwin, Xan, Kagain all were rather caricative characters, or well, just dopey. But I don't think Bioware made such a bad job there.

Of course you can compare them. They're characters. They're written and, to an extent, acted. They can be written well, or poorly, whether they're comic, tragic, dramatic, or something else. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective is a dopey comic character that's written extremely well. Minsc... not so much.

I have a project. It's a tabletop RPG. It's free. It's a work in progress. Find it here: www.brikoleur.com

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I can't tell if you're disagreeing with explorability being the only thing in BG1's favour, in which case this would be the place where you mention things that you liked about it more than BG2, or you're disagreeing with my use of the word "debatable", which is just silly.

It is silly. But you could say the same about your previous post, as almost everything is debatable. 

 

"One or two things," huh? I didn't like

- the antagonist

- the supporting characters

That's the same.

the music

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eacYsKqPFYg

So you’re telling me, for example this is particularly bad? Not atmospheric? Don't make me laugh.

I'm not finding

Icewind Dale particularly hard so far. I mean yes, you do need to play

tactically a bit instead of just wading in and hoping, but it's certainly no

harder than BG. (At Core Rules difficulty.)

I dare say most people would agree with me that IWD is harder than BG. Although my experience might be a bit extreme as I played IWD with mediocre characters, while I used to powergame in BG. 

But never mind. What exactly did you find repetitive in BG combat if you liked IWD in this regard?

Of course you can compare them. They're characters. They're written and,

to an extent, acted. They can be written well, or poorly, whether they're

comic, tragic, dramatic, or something else. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective is a

dopey comic character that's written extremely well. Minsc... not so much. 

If you say so. However, I'm afraid in that case you won't like BG II either, as many of the dopey characters of BG I will appear there too. 

Edited by Iucounu
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"Antagonist" = the main baddie. "Supporting characters" = companions, Gorion, that wizard dude that keeps following me around, and so on.

 

The music, yes, check, that's pretty dopey music. Like Wal-Mart Grieg. PS:T's music, OTOH, was superb.

 

IWD vs BG combat: the big difference is in the environment. IWD's maps are full of features like corridors and chokepoints that you can make use oftactically. BG's maps are mostly open, or you get dumped in the middle of a fight on the pretext that you were ambushed, or you open a door and are in the middle of a hand-to-hand melee. Huge difference to the gameplay.

 

I did like BG 2 a quite a lot, as I've repeatedly said. The characters were a lot less dopey in it. And there were some completely new characters who weren't dopey at all, or were only tolerably dopey. Either the writer took some very good after-school writing classes (in which case I want to know who the teacher was 'cuz she did a seriously good job), or they got better writers.

I have a project. It's a tabletop RPG. It's free. It's a work in progress. Find it here: www.brikoleur.com

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While on the subject of Baldurs Gate 1 and sound, a minor thing which shouldn't be an issue in any modern game, but one of my least favourite things about BG1 (and to a lesser extent, BG2) was how tinny all the noise sounded, I suspect it was just a result of the technology of the time, but it always sounded kind of fuzzy and recorded rather than it was actually happening there.  You could literally go back to BG1 and re-record everything and fix that so by no means a fundemental issue, but for me that's part of the reason why I can never rate the music of Baldur's Gate within a million miles of Planescape or Icewind Dale, regardless of the actual quality of the composition.

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I'm in the same boat as the OP in that I was never as impressed with BG as others were, i'd just finished a mammoth Ultima runthrough (iv-viii) when I first picked it up and the comparison was not flattering, there were a whole host of features and interactivity that were missing from the Infinity engine. Interactivity with the enviroment, weather, npc schedules, vittles etcetera, etcetera, the genre seemed to have taken a giant step back. Then again in truth I never particularly cared for the Forgotten Realms setting, too overpowered, and D&D while a nice starter system just grates on you the more experience you have with it.

 

Still BG3 was better and Torment was sublime.

Quite an experience to live in misery isn't it? That's what it is to be married with children.

I've seen things you people can't even imagine. Pearly Kings glittering on the Elephant and Castle, Morris Men dancing 'til the last light of midsummer. I watched Druid fires burning in the ruins of Stonehenge, and Yorkshiremen gurning for prizes. All these things will be lost in time, like alopecia on a skinhead. Time for tiffin.

 

Tea for the teapot!

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BG & ToSC I think may quite well fall into the category of games that you really had to play it when it first came around and be impressed by something about it back then. So, umm, nostalgia coloured glasses may be required? It hasn't really aged well. Yet... I'm willing to admit, I like the original BG much, much more than BGII . I might lament the dull copy-paste environments, the broken & repetitive combat, the fact that I have to turn my brain from logic-mode to AD&D-mode, I even don't like Forgotten Realms as a setting.

 

What then, was it about BG compared to BGII that really makes me go back to the original rather than the sequel every once in a while?

 

For me, it really is the exploration, trying out different parties, playing the game in different ways. The RP, making my Gorion's Ward whatever I feel like doing this time, trying out some character-concept.

 

BGII on the other hand... I always felt was too restrictive. The quality of the writing in general was superior to that of the original but, it wasn't spectacular enough for me to return to that story every once in a while. Trying out different characters fell always flat because of the plot, it forced my character to care about Imoen (I as a player didn't particularly care about her) it forced my character too much into certain things.

 

IWD & IWDII: I really liked and still like these too. Awesome portrait art, the games where I didn't have to import my own portraits. Oh, they were linear dungeon-crawlers, but as such, really entertaining, and even the story really wasn't bad, it may have lacked in characterisation but I didn't mind.

 

PST: THe game I return to every once in a while because of the sheer amount of awesome it is. Seriously. I think it is kind of sad that it still is the best game ever made. It's been what? 14 years and not a single game has had a story quite as good, art & environments as great, music so haunting, characters so likeable and well-rounded and sympathetic, a game with such a good story&gameplay integration and storytelling that takes such a good advantage of the medium. (Okay, Deus Ex did the last part well too..)

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