Baldur's Gate: Siege of Dragonspear Interview

The folks at Rock, Paper, Shotgun have talked with the developers at Beamdog about the upcoming expansion for Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition, Siege of Dragonspear, which will fill the gap between the stories of the original Baldur's Gate and Baldur's Gate 2. It's a lengthy chat, in which the devs mentioned how they are trying to respect respect the legacy of the series.

In practice, this amounts to doing things like grabbing back the original voice actors of the game's characters, including some who were out of the industry, painstakingly researching the fiction of the Forgotten Realms throughout the editions to make sure they didn't contradict canon, and even tweaking a few things in Baldur's Gate II to account for the new levels earned through Siege of Dragonspear.

A snippet on the writing:

(Obviously, none of it really happened. There was no Faerûn, no Elminster, they're not real,) she says. (But there is still that canon that has to be respected. We've worked really hard to make sure that the plot of Siege of Dragonspear matches the canon of Second Edition.) Scott and Foley's job is further complicated by the fact that the Forgotten Realms of today, of Fifth Edition Dungeons & Dragons, is a very different place to that of the Second Edition, its heyday two decades past. The timeline has leapt forward an age, cataclysms have reshaped the world and Scott'˜s job is comparable to carefully, surgically inserting new details into Roman history, making sure they don't conflict with other concurrent events, nor anything that happened since. (We had to be careful that the stories and the characters that we created slotted in to all this,) she says. (We actually had to work extremely hard to make sure.)

It was often painstaking work, undertaken with the help of Dungeons & Dragon's owners and curators, Wizards of the Coast, but Scott knows and loves her D&D, having written for its Eberron setting, as well as many supplements for the Pathfinder RPG. As significant a challenge was writing new material for old characters, characters adored by millions, and Scott, Oster and just about everyone else at Beamdog feels the weight of expectation upon them. Many writers and designers contributed to the dialogue and the feel of the first two games. Very few of them are present in the current team.

(That writing was also complicated,) Scott says. (We had to take into consideration how the characters would change, even how they would look, to create an experience where, if you played through Baldur's Gate, Siege of Dragonspear and then Baldur's Gate II, it was totally seamless. It's a difficult job in that they're beloved characters, that people love them, but it's easy in a sense that we also love them. Having the opportunity to bring some ideas into an entirely new chapter of Baldur's Gate? I can't imagine anything that's more amazing than that, than someone saying '˜You get to write dialogue for Imoen, for Minsc, for Dynaheir.' I loved Baldur's Gate and I loved those characters.)

Of course, many of those hundreds of thousands of words of dialogue also come from the mouths of new characters, including four NPCs that include a ranger who works with the Flaming Fist and goblin shaman, representing the new character class introduced. Like a sort of psychopathic Pokémon master, a shaman can summon a constant stream of creatures to aid them in combat, but has to remain firmly rooted to the spot, vulnerable and inviting.

Interestingly, the interview also mentions that the team intends to release some of the development tools they have been using. I'm personally very excited about that, and hope that it pans out and leads to a renaissance in Infinity Engine modding.

All that said, I recommend you read the full interview to get a more detailed look at the project. If you are on GameBanshee you probably have at least a passing interest in the Baldur's Gate series anyway.