Posted by BuckGB at 10:53 am on 06.25.2012 (11 months ago)
GB: So what exactly is Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition? What should we expect when it hits later this summer?
Trent: Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition is the best version of Baldur's Gate we could imagine. We've added new content in the form of new adventures, new characters and new items. We've rebuilt the User Interface to make it work on all resolutions and aspect ratio screens. We've rebuilt the rendering system to utilize display hardware for better graphics, better performance and we've brought the game to new platforms. Basically it will be the Baldur's Gate you remember, but broadly improved.
GB: When did you first come up with the idea to work on such a project, and what was the reaction from Wizards of the Coast and Atari when you approached them about it?
Trent: Shortly after leaving Bioware and partnering with Cameron to found Beamdog in 2009, we made a list of 20 or so games we felt needed to be updated. Baldur's Gate 1 and 2 were at the top of that list. We dug into the ownership and began talking with Atari regarding the games in 2010. The initial approach was rough as it took a while to get the right message to the right set of ears. Once we had a basic understanding of the goals, we started working out the legal details. Since the deal had so many stakeholders (Bioware, EA, Hasbro, Wizards of the Coast, Atari and Beamdog) it took a long while to get the specifics worked out. Our initial proposal was to build an HD version of Baldur's Gate until we discovered Bioware had lost almost all of the source art and as such an HD version was impossible. We were devastated. But we picked ourselves up and re-scoped around the idea of "enhancing" the existing version with new features and new content while bringing it to new platforms. As is, we've had a very hard time keeping ourselves in check and not going overboard with the updates and fixes.
GB: We understand that BG:EE will include Tales of the Sword Coast, but are you adding any new quests, items, and characters of your own?
Trent: Yes, BG:EE includes the Tales of the Sword Coast as a part of the game. We are adding new items, quests and characters to the game. We've been busy building a very solid adventure creation team over the last year and the new content is looking great. We've even brought back a number of former Baldur's Gate team members to help out.
GB: Can you give us an example of one of the new characters you’re adding to the game, and how he or she will fit in to the original storyline? How about an example or two from the new items?
Trent: We're not really ready to talk much about the new characters and their storylines. What I can say is at least one of the new characters is found along the main story path and he brings some baggage with him. Item-wise, we're just trying to fill out the magical item selection for some of the new characters classes and kits.
GB: Beyond the content and engine scope, will you be doing anything with the game's music or sound effects? It might be difficult to add voiceovers for main characters (that already have existing voiced dialogue from 15 years ago), but would you consider adding voiceovers to some of the lesser known characters in the game?
Trent: Due to a small wrinkle, we are limited to only adding new voice-over for new content we create. We'd love to add a ton of new Minsc content to the original game, but we are unable to. But, a new expansion with even more Minsc? well, if the planets align and Jim Cummings is available we'd love to see it happen. Music-wise, I managed to tackle Sam Hulick (of Mass Effect fame) while down at GDC and "convince" him to help us out on the music front. We've already increased the amount of music Sam was supposed to provide twice as his work has been so amazing.
GB: With BG:EE hitting the iPad, PC, and Mac, are there any other platforms that you'd like to bring the title to? Have you considered consoles?
Trent: We've done some hard thinking about console versions and we feel the user interface of Baldur's Gate would be a huge effort to re-target at a console control scheme. We think it is possible (we just had another request for a PS3 version today), but well outside our scope as an independent developer to deliver at the quality bar we hold ourselves to.
GB: How will you be distributing the Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition at launch? Will it be exclusive to Beamdog, or might we see it on Steam and other digital download platforms on day one?
Trent: Day one Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition will be exclusive to Beamdog on the PC, the Mac App Store and iTunes for the iPad. We're working out a Beamdog player-free solution for the BG fans that really don't want another client, so the user experience should be great.
GB: If Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition sells well, would you consider giving the same overhaul to Icewind Dale, Icewind Dale II, and Planescape: Torment if the powers that be would greenlight it?
Trent: Yes. Icewind Dale and Torment were on our list of games that need some loving.
GB: Have you been in contact with BioWare at all since this project became a reality, if only to ask some questions about making modifications to the Infinity Engine?
Trent: We had a good amount of initial contact with Bioware as we searched high and low for all the BG assets and they have been very supportive. For modifications to the engine, there are not very many people left from the Infinity Engine days at Bioware, so we've been on our own a great deal. We've asked a few former Bioware employees the odd question, and we've hired a few as well, so our understanding is quite good. We also did a lot of work to update the core bits of the engine, so a great deal of the code has changed.
GB: How many people are actively working on the Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition at the moment? The Infinity Engine modding scene is still going strong - have you considered recruiting any long-time mod creators for the project?
Trent: We are a pretty dynamic team, with 18 people working on the game currently, some contractors, some employees. Of that 18, 9 have Bioware experience and 8 have Baldur's Gate experience. We're in the process of integrating ourselves with the modding community and I can say for certain, if BG:EE is successful, we will be recruiting from that talent pool.