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With a fresh batch of rumors about a possible Baldur's Gate sequel swirling around, the folks over at PCGamesN have reached out to Chris Avellone, Feargus Urquhart and Chris Parker in order to talk about all the times Baldur's Gate III almost happened but didn't. And since both Obsidian Entertainment and Brian Fargo's inXile are now both part of the "Microsoft family," perhaps the timing of this article is not purely coincidental. Here are a few sample paragraphs:
And so work began on the first Baldur’s Gate 3, dubbed The Black Hound. Though grateful to its years of service, Black Isle had recognised that the Infinity Engine was getting long in the tooth. The Black Hound would run on a 3D engine that could similarly represent an isometric fantasy world, but give the team the flexibility to turn the camera, or zoom right in for a cutscene.
“It didn’t share much in common with the original franchise,” Avellone says. “It was difficult to get as excited about it. I was worried its disconnect in terms of story, the antagonist and premise, the companions, gameplay, and even the priorities – they were all different than Baldur’s Gate itself. I was worried it would be off-putting to players expecting a return to the original series.”
“Originally it wasn’t really going to be Baldur’s Gate 3,” Parker recalls. “It was deemed to become a Baldur’s Gate 3 eventually, but really we just wanted to make a really cool 3D Dungeons & Dragons game. That’s what we worked on right up until we lost the D&D licence.”
Parker worked on The Black Hound for a year and a half before it was cancelled. For Avellone, the loss was demoralising, and he resigned soon afterwards.
“It felt as if any more work we did on RPGs had the same chance of getting cancelled, no matter how hard we worked on it,” he says. “But I didn’t mourn the loss of the engine, and I didn’t mourn the loss of the design content, narrative and otherwise. I didn’t think it would have measured up to what made the original Baldur’s Gate special, unfortunately – Black Isle just didn’t have the same focus BioWare did or the same ‘heart’ for the series.”
After the studio’s closure, the series lay dormant for many years – until ten years ago, when Obsidian – Black Isle’s own Bhaalspawn – gave Urquhart, Parker, and Avellone another crack at the licence.
You can also check out the full Chris Avellone interview quoted in the article above right here.