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October 14th, 2019, 02:01
GameRant looks back at the Baldur's Gate series:

Remembering What Made The Baldur's Gate Trilogy Special

With enhanced editions hitting consoles later this week for the first time ever and a Baldur's Gate 3 finally incoming, it's time to talk about one critically important staple of the western RPG genre. Over 20 years after its creation and despite countless competitors cropping up over the decades, the Baldur's Gate trilogy is still among the greatest RPGs ever made.

The first Baldur's Gate released in 1998, with Baldur's Gate 2: Shadows of Amn following in 2000 and the final chapter Baldur's Gate 2: Throne of Bhaal concluding the trilogy's arc. Set in popular Dungeons & Dragons setting the Forgotten Realms, the Baldur's Gate trilogy functions like a one-on-one D&D campaign of epic proportions, with the game acting as Dungeon Master.

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October 14th, 2019, 06:58
I suspect that Baldur's Gate also played a role in keeping the D&D spirit alive. When BG came out in 1998, a nearly bankrupt T$R had just been bought out by WotC, with the reputation of the PnP game being hammered by mediocre publications. Many gamers were looking at other game systems for a better experience. BG brought new life to an old, tired rules system.
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October 14th, 2019, 09:01
I bought it Christmas eve, 1998. Only 2 copies in the Software etc. store and I grabbed the first one, while the cashier checking me out nabbed the other.

From my view, the D&D license was mostly dead then. The Christmas prior (1997) I bought Descent to Undermountain, and that damaged the brand. Before that though, there wasn't much in the way of D&D licensed games. The CRPG genre was extremely niche and had been dying off after the success of DOOM and its clones. Very few people I knew were into RPGs, and the last decent, well-received D&D game I played prior to Undermountain was probably Ravenloft: Stone Prophet. Even then though, nobody could recapture the glory of those goldbox games I grew up on. That large world, the challenging combat, the long storylines. Baldur's Gate was the first to do it too.

I still remember flaming the heck out of the old Interplay boards for BG prior to release because it wasn't going to be turn-based and I explained that if a game isn't turn-based, it's not a real RPG.

My how times have changed.

BG opened the flood gates. After its huge mainstream success, others followed. Without BG, I don't think the CRPG would be where it is now. It'd still be niche, unloved, and with sporadic releases of wildly varying quality.
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October 14th, 2019, 09:05
One of those rare games that stood test of time and are perfectly playable today. Enhanced edition only underlines how great it was as it took only minimal effort from Beamdog to release it for modern systems and succesfully milk it 20 years after original release. Awesome feat for a computer game.
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October 14th, 2019, 11:12
Originally Posted by DungeonHack View Post
I still remember flaming the heck out of the old Interplay boards for BG prior to release because it wasn't going to be turn-based and I explained that if a game isn't turn-based, it's not a real RPG.

My how times have changed.
Like most issues of what is real RPG content, the main inherent confusion arises from an inability to separate a pen and paper experience from a computer game experience.

An easier to understand comparable would be converting a book into a film. Literally impossible, but it is possible to strike all the right notes, convey the theme of the book and to provide a very close representation of what the book wanted to achieve.

In one sense, the book is merely inspiration for the film nothing more. The people who read the book will almost always believe the book is better and that the film misses key stuff or represent things badly, etc etc etc.

Computer game RPGs are in a similar boat. It is literally impossible to turn a pen and paper RPG perfectly into a computer game RPG. As with films of books, the game is just going to be using the p&p systems and guides as inspiration. And just as some sections of books are unfilmable, so to are some aspects of p&p unimplementable.

Turn-based combat is one of those features of p&p that straddles the line between being implementable but not necessarily necessary. Why? Because the only reason turn based happens so much in p&p is because of real-world social conventions, not because of its implicit benefit as a mechanic:

When a group of people sit around a table and interact it is 'polite' to let people speak in turn and it's not considered pleasant if everyone speaks at once. This notion of 'taking turns' as a form of social etiquette goes way beyond games and is fundamental to a human being's sense of rationality.

This notion of turn-based automatically found its way into our concept of how to 'fairly' play games. Chess does not need to be turn based, it's just 'fairer', more 'polite', more 'civilised'. Monopoly does not need to be turn based. Poker doesn't need to be turn based. They are all just games which function 'better' (?) if they are because they rely on groups of people sitting round a table.

When you convert a p&p system into a single player computer game experience, you do not have groups of people sitting round a table (PVP/multiplayer is a different topic). The social requirement for turns is completely irrelevant. What is more important for the computer game is ensuring that the pacing of the game is fluid and that all the mechanics of combat (and etc) actually work. Turn-based or not-turn-based is not a mechanic in and of itself, though it can have wide ranging effects on mechanics.
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October 14th, 2019, 11:55
Rose tinted nostalgia glasses aside, I think BG entered the market at the perfect time in the perfect form.

Remember: in 1998, the RTS craze was at its fullest on the PC, and guess what -- BG actually looked like and played like a very sophisticated RTS.

Of course it wasn't an RTS but for the average PC gamer Joe it certainly looked like something he could relate to.
I know for sure that many of my geek friends started to play BG, because they were expecting a different kind of RTS. Once they accepted that this is no Total Annihilation Fantasy (Kingdoms came out later), they actually had a blast playing it.

Finally, BG was what I call a "full package": had great gameplay, had a gripping narrative, came with a cool tome of rules, looked sexy, heck, it even had multiplayer! What else do we need?

A SEQUEL!
which came out shortly after. A much bigger, more improved version of the original, that actually didn't broke anything that was good in the first place.
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October 14th, 2019, 16:07
This was one of the final solo computer games I played before losing myself for years in Everquest one, and Baldur's Gate completely sucked me in. Others have said this but I'll repeat it, both of these games have stood the test of time rather well and still play fine today.
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October 14th, 2019, 18:43
I could never finish it because I never understood the rules. My team was always too weak, and I more and more noticed that combat was the only way to solve problems.
These days I'd have a character with maxed-out charisma, just to see if it really plays a role there.
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October 14th, 2019, 18:55
Originally Posted by duerer View Post
A SEQUEL!
… which came out shortly after. A much bigger, more improved version of the original, that actually didn't broke anything that was good in the first place.
Except for weapon and armor designs, ingame or for the paperdolls.
Shieds in paticular were awfull looking in BG2. Helmets too.
Thanks god for modders like 1PP.
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October 14th, 2019, 19:31
Originally Posted by lackblogger View Post
Turn-based combat is one of those features of p&p that straddles the line between being implementable but not necessarily necessary. Why? Because the only reason turn based happens so much in p&p is because of real-world social conventions, not because of its implicit benefit as a mechanic:
Turn-based is very useful as a computer game mechanic when the number of units needing control by a single player grows large. It would be nearly impossible to constantly control, say, fifty different units using RTwP. BG lies near the borderline between the decreasing usefulness of RTwP and increasing usefulness of turn-based with unit count. Look at what happened with PoE2 when they had to reduce the number of party members from six to five because players were having difficulty managing the battle.
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October 14th, 2019, 20:44
Originally Posted by rjshae View Post
Turn-based is very useful as a computer game mechanic when the number of units needing control by a single player grows large. It would be nearly impossible to constantly control, say, fifty different units using RTwP. BG lies near the borderline between the decreasing usefulness of RTwP and increasing usefulness of turn-based with unit count. Look at what happened with PoE2 when they had to reduce the number of party members from six to five because players were having difficulty managing the battle.
Haha, Medieval Total War uses RTwP and you control 16 Units of 20-100 soldiers against the same number for the opposition & no-one's ever complained about lack of control. But I know what you're saying, some people suck so we all have to etc
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October 14th, 2019, 22:27
Originally Posted by lackblogger View Post
Haha, Medieval Total War uses RTwP and you control 16 Units of 20-100 soldiers against the same number for the opposition & no-one's ever complained about lack of control. But I know what you're saying, some people suck so we all have to etc
Okay, so scale that up to 160 units. Now how are you doing?
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October 14th, 2019, 22:33
Oh, for sure, there's probably an exact number where it becomes a bit absurd, but mainly because 160 units would take too long to scroll around your screen let alone remember what you've assigned to who. But RPGs don't usually get above double figures much.
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October 15th, 2019, 01:46
Originally Posted by lackblogger View Post
Oh, for sure, there's probably an exact number where it becomes a bit absurd, but mainly because 160 units would take too long to scroll around your screen let alone remember what you've assigned to who. But RPGs don't usually get above double figures much.
Point being turn-based is relevant to video game design and not just because of a social convention or a gaming legacy.
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October 15th, 2019, 06:05
The first Baldur's Gate is still one of my favorites.
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October 15th, 2019, 08:39
I recently replayed IWD and one thing I noticed is that for some reason the RTWP seemed to work better in that game than in games like pillars - like wise in pathfinder kingmaker the RTWP seems to work better but in DAO (like Pillars) I always found RTWP a bloody mess - with the total war games it seems that you frequently select groups to fight groups and only rarely want to micro manage down to individuals - as for DAO/Pillars vs IWD/BG/Pathfinder - perhaps it is my imagination or perhaps it is how the enemy behaves but i haven't quite put my finger on why rtwp seems to be more manageable. I know with DAO my problem was that creating a front line was pretty much impossible. If you set your fighters up front and caster behind frequently there was no way for the fighters to block the rush to casters which I always found annoying - yes I expect them to go for the caster but there should have been a mechanic that allowed you block their forward progress (beyond movement disabling spells). Maybe in the older games once engaged the forward progress was less aggressive? (Been a while since i played so not sure in that aspect).
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October 15th, 2019, 09:03
Originally Posted by rjshae View Post
Point being turn-based is relevant to video game design and not just because of a social convention or a gaming legacy.
Oh for sure, turn-based is the ideal design for some games I've no doubt.
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October 15th, 2019, 10:07
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
I could never finish it because I never understood the rules. My team was always too weak, and I more and more noticed that combat was the only way to solve problems.
These days I'd have a character with maxed-out charisma, just to see if it really plays a role there.
It only affects a few conversations and shop prices. That's it. No classes use it for any abilities either, even Sorcerer casting is unaffected, but Paladin and Bard have a very high minimum charisma requirement, and will therefore always have a high charisma.
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October 15th, 2019, 10:29
And now comes the ultimate test: I'm about to replay BG/IWD/PS:T on Switch…
… but TBH, I'm tempted to play IWD first (as I liked it better than BG -- dumb blondes have their own charm, heh-heh)
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October 15th, 2019, 10:36
Originally Posted by you View Post
I recently replayed IWD and one thing I noticed is that for some reason the RTWP seemed to work better in that game than in games like pillars - like wise in pathfinder kingmaker the RTWP seems to work better but in DAO (like Pillars) I always found RTWP a bloody mess - with the total war games it seems that you frequently select groups to fight groups and only rarely want to micro manage down to individuals - as for DAO/Pillars vs IWD/BG/Pathfinder - perhaps it is my imagination or perhaps it is how the enemy behaves but i haven't quite put my finger on why rtwp seems to be more manageable.
I agree - I can't quite put my finger on it either but I definitely found RTwP combat enjoyable in BGs, IWDs, and Kingmaker while I disliked it a lot in PoE games.
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