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Old 04-28-2001, 01:22 AM   #1
Memnoch
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The other thread I was using to provide info on the expansion Throne of Bhaal (ToB) was getting kind of huge (not in # of posts but in SIZE). So I'm starting a new one here. You can link to the old post which has a lot of useful info here.

JUST A NOTE: Some of the info below may contain spoilers about BG2 for those of you who haven't completed BG2 yet. Read at your own risk. I have tried to exclude spoilers about ToB here and I would like to request you all to do the same.

I'd also like to thank MageDragon from Planet Baldurs Gate, whose compiled info I am sourcing here.

Today's info! (Well, it's really 2 weeks worth of info so I'll break it up a bit).


Throne of Bhaal
David Gaider (Senior Designer)
Taking Drizzt’s items away: We take the items away because: 1) It balances out with the good path involving Drizzt. Those people get a hero of the realms to help them defeat Bodhi. You get to defeat a hero of the realms and use his & his friends' items until you defeat Bodhi. Getting to keep the items permanently would also make killing Drizzt a must-do, even for good players, which it shouldn't be.

2) Drizzt has a lot of powerful friends. You got your thrill...there are plenty of other items for you to use, after all.

And then there's the fact that whenever I think of the giggling little player who suddenly discovers he doesn't get to keep all of Drizzt's neat-o stuff and I LAUGH and laugh and laugh...

...that alone makes it worth it.
Jonathan Epp (Quality Assurance)
Starting the expansion: Here's how it works:

Option 1) Start an expansion pack game with a new character - This is a character you can create using the usual character creation screen. You will start with 2.5 mil xp and given some items, and soon after the start of the expansion you will be able to build up your party. (Using the Import button of the character creation screen you can also import any single character from BG1 or BG2 character files or saves) Option 2) Import party from any BG2 save (including the final save) - Your entire party and their items are carried over into the expansion. The bonuses from using the tears before the final fight would not be carried over, because the final save is before you use the tears. (you really don't need the extra help anyway, do you? ) Option 3) Replay the final fight - After the end movie you and your party will be taken into the expansion, with items, and with the bonuses you received from the tears.

The expansion has a seperate world map, so you cannot travel between the BG2 areas and the expansion areas. The Watcher's Keep area, however, is on both maps, so it can be accessed from both BG2 and the expansion.

Throne of Bhaal
David Gaider (Senior Designer)
Abyssal Stronghold: Hmmn. I'm not sure who it was who started calling in an abyssal stronghold. Probably someone on our side was trying to come up with some way to easily describe it.

It's not easily described...and nowhere in ToB is it actually referred to as an 'abyssal stronghold'. (I imagine someone on our side came up with that as a way to describe what it is/does).

The only problem with calling it that is that people are bound to mix it up with the strongholds from BG2 or as a place to live. It's got some similarities, for sure, but it's not quite the same sort of thing (but what would you expect from a personal pocket plane?).


Adding the press a key to show the treasure as in Heart of Winter: Done.

Kensai and Cavaliers and thrown ranged weapons: Yes. The basic reason this was done was due to the number of weapons that can both be handled in melee AND thrown. Restricting them from thrown weapons would also restrict them from using those particular weapons. So a Cavalier, say, can get his proficiency in Axes...and this allows him to use throwing axes as well. This satisfies both the technical hiccup regarding the thrown/melee combo items as well as gameplay. But there will be no changes to the way proficiencies work for Cavaliers and Kensais. The ranged weapons are still not a feature of those classes. If there's some mind-boggling reason why this should be changed that hasn't been considered, then let me know...I can pass it on in that case.

Throne of Bhaal
Kevin Martens (Lead Designer)
Ammo bag: There is an ammo bag and other magical ammo related equipment that shall remain nameless for the time being.

Starting the expansion after finishing the game,but wanting to do the add in before going on: In that situation, you would be wiser to continue into the Add-On and access the Add-In area (The Watcher's Keep) from there. It is accessible from either place.

The Add-In part of Shadows of Amn is there primarily for those who haven't finished the game or who buy SOA and TOB together. You can access the Add-In section from either part or both.
David Gaider (Senior Designer)
Viconia’s romance: Heh...actually, yeah, Viconia's romance is a blast. If you want evil, though, you should have seen John Gallagher's original treatment of the romance. There was this, um, conversation that revolved around a leather glove that, um...

...hmmm, might have to wait until the kiddies are asleep to tell that one. Let's just say that Viconia is very adept at suggestive analogies.

John's version of the story didn't make it to air, but I kept as much of it as I could and was inspired by it to write the rest of the romance as it remains, so I owe him my thanks. For one of my first work assignments when I joined Bio, that really rocked.

As far as Viconia's story in ToB goes...well, as someone put it, the game IS about the PC. The chance of us being able to stick in a very extensive story that people might not see for any single NPC is not very likely...but the romance does culminate in a, ah, appropriate manner. (You'll see.)

Using a dual-wielding weapon as a throwing weapon: Well, such a thing could be put in as an item-based power (which would be kind of unwieldy), but I'm not so sure about tying it to the Abilities button. I may be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that's hard-coded.

But, regardless, what happens when someone is still dual-wielding when they turn their melee weapon into a ranged weapon? The game would crash, that's what. 'Kicking out' the offending off-hand melee weapon isn't an option.



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[This message has been edited by Memnoch (edited 04-28-2001).]

[This message has been edited by Memnoch (edited 04-28-2001).]
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Old 04-28-2001, 01:23 AM   #2
Memnoch
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Part 2.


Throne of Bhaal
David Gaider (Senior Designer)
Helms for thieves and mages: All of the Ioun stones from BG2 as well as the new ones are opened to all classes, now. Plus there are a couple of other items of headgear for thieves that I can think of off the top of my head (no pun intended)...all of these protect against critical hits as per a normal helm and some of them have AC bonuses as part of their effect.

Enhancing the original strongholds: None of the BG2 strongholds are going to be touched in the expansion...very little from BG2, itself, is going to be changed excepting only various bugs and some new programming. Aside from that, while I know everyone would love to have ultra-complex strongholds, the main holdback is that all this complicated and lengthy stuff that goes into one class's stronghold is seen by only 1/8th of the players. That's a LOT of content that 7/8ths of the player base will never see (unless they replay, which is not everyone), so the more complex you make it, the shorter the individual game is going to have to be. BG2 was a monster, length-wise, overall.

James Ohlen, the head of our design department, had some good thoughts which summed up how we would do strongholds now if we had the chance again (hindsight is 20/20, after all)...I'm not sure where his articles are located now that GA-RPG is shut down, but they sum up what just about everyone in the design department feels. In short, having less strongholds overall (like, say, three main ones...a keep for fighter-types, a tower for magic-users and an inn/tavern for just about everyone) would have allowed us to put more detail into their plots...and it would likely have been a good idea, overall, to tie in the strongholds with the overall game plotline and make in a more accessible 'hub'.

But, again, that's all hindsight at this point. As the strongholds were implemented in BG2 they were designed solely to be a few extra class-specific quests for each class and to get the character feel a bit more involved with the game world. They were far, far more difficult to set up than most players would suspect at first glance...and, sure, players are bound to have all these great ideas about how something should have been done (more closely according to their own tastes, generally), but it's not quite as easy as that. The strongholds did what they were intended to do, but I agree with what you say that some varied quests and more detail would have been preferable in the long run. That just wasn't possible with 8 separate quests...and, regardless, you'd still find people complaining that the quest wasn't suitable for their own particular vision of their character class. That's the way she goes.

In the limited space that we have in the expansion, though, absolutely everything has to be visible and accessible to all players. (Fortunately romances are mostly dialogue).

As for the items you created, they do seem cool for the most part. We have all the items we need, currently, including quite a few that came from fans' suggestions way back on the Interplay boards when we asked for them. But thanks for the suggestions, truly!

Firearms: If anyone remembers way way back when BG2 was first announced, we actually had included an Arquebus proficiency and had intended to have a few (but rare) primitive-type firearms (along with an Unarmed proficiency, Whips, and a few others).

But we quickly chalked it up as one of those morning-after-a-drunken-binge-what-the-heck-were-we-thinking kind of thingies.

Firearms are a cool thought, but only if you don't think about it too closely. They have a real potential to get out of hand, and the idea is to keep as much in the genre as possible (at least for us it is).

Mage types becoming a Lich: An interesting side quest possibly, involving an NPC or something, as the process of becoming a lich has story potential...but not something I'd implement for your main character. It would become unplayable at that point.

Giving Dragons more hit points: We try to stick to the D schematic as closely as we can. Making a dragon, or anyone, have a gazillion HP (as you put it) isn't really the point. Sarevok in Hell had something like 500 HP...fortunately there was a reason behind that, as you 'created' him there, but it's still incredibly unrealistic and didn't really make him last all that much longer besides.

For dragons, we don't intend on giving them more HP...we intend on making them smarter so they react better and use their abilities/magic better.

As far as more dragon scale armor, it's a possibility.

For our part, we're developing some better AI for our enemies (including dragons)...and now that we're aware of some of these questionable tactics, we can anticipate them.

Having an “uber-end-boss” with very a large amount of hit points and low immunities: Same reasoning as above. Immunities exist in D, but there are upper limits to HP even for godly beings. And besides...immunities and resistances, especially those that can be countered, call on using different tactics for different enemies. That's part of the point, especially at this power level. Having enemies that are purely to be whacked-upon and that have no particular resistances or anything is much easier when the player is lower level and doing much less damage.

Well, the 'end boss' or whatever is bound to be tough...you can be assured of that.

Jaheira romance bug: The 'dialog loop bug' in Jaheira's romance will be fixed in the patch. I'm pretty sure that you can get a patch that works for it right now at the Baldurdash site.

As for the romances continuing, there is a point in each romance where the romance becomes 'committed' and the global involved is set to 2. This occurs about halfway to three-quarters of the way through each romance.

For Jaheira, this actually doesn't happen until near the end. So for her romance, we just set a requirement that the romance be about half-way done...we set it a couple of dialogues before the 'loop bug' so those people who encounter that can still have the romance continue in ToB as if they had finished it in BG2.

For everyone besides Jaheira, the romance global has to have reached 2.

Pointy hats: Elminster is the only mage who is allowed to have a pointy hat in the BG series. He has a copyright, I understand (or does he have Gandalf's copyright? I can never remember.)

+6 Spear: The spear in question is an assembled artifact and it is, indeed, +6. Enchantments only go up to 5, however...and, no, nothing in the game would require a 6 enchantment level (that would be silly).

Making the original final battle harder with the expansion installed: Not a bad idea. The end battle for BG was altered with TotSC, after all. But ToB is such a huge project...bigger in and of itself than many normal games...that I think the focus is on new content.

Familiars having a name and progressing: I think this is a good idea. Thing is, familiars weren't anticipated for with the original engine...and they were much much harder to implement than anyone had thought. Gosh, there was a point where familiars almost got cut out simply because there were so many problems with them.

And familiars do advance in ToB...all familiars will be stronger, now, and most will have better or new abilities. It might have been cool to build this kind of advancement into the familiars right from the start...but then again it IS only a level 1 spell and familiars are not supposed to be uber powerful in any respect. But yeah...if there had been a way to name them at the very least, that would have been cool.

Imoen having Bhaal abilities: Interesting you should say that. The Bhaal essence seems to affect many Bhaalspawn in different ways...now that it's starting to emerge in Imoen, I wonder how it would affect her?

More portraits: That'd be nice, if the art department has the time. We shall see.



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Old 04-28-2001, 01:25 AM   #3
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Part 3. Some interesting info on how dragons will be handled.


Throne of Bhaal
Kevin Martens (Lead Designer)
High level Turn Undead: There's nothing 'special' but it does kick ass. On a related note, did you know that evil clerics can turn paladins now?

David Gaider (Senior Designer)
Class specific quests: There isn't any room in the expansion for putting in quests that only 1/8th or less of the player base is going to see. Everything in the expansion has to be accessible to everyone...if it wasn't, it would seem quite short to the individual player even though there might be a lot of content in there.

Besides, at this point the plot revolves around the PC's status as a Child of Bhaal...and that is universal regardless of class.

Using custom items: There's no way for us to know what will happen to the game if you change anything or bring your own items in. We certainly don't account for those items when we design the game. You do so at your own risk, as with any kind of alteration.

The Wyvern in the Adventurers mart: The Wyvern in the Adventure Mart is just what she appears to be. Kevin put her in...maybe he had a character once who had a pet wyvern named Lucy or something (sounds like the beginning of a Jan story), but maybe not.

Sometimes we designers can be a bit perverse.

(Ummm...not to be confused with 'perverts'...)

Monsters being able to open doors: The problem with this is the way the engine is set up via object-recognition. Were we to start over and work on a new engine (like, say, Neverwinter Nights), we might take something like this into account...but currently in the Infinity engine there is no 'door' object that exists.

The doors, themselves, exist...but solely as graphical objects that have been laid down. I, as a scripter, can refer to a specific door (ie. "DoorO2" or "Door1240") but not to "a door".

Furthermore, a specific door only exists to a creature if they can see it (if it's not in fog-of-war).

So in order to get a creature to use a door, I would have to give each room of creatures in an area its own scriplet, something like this:

IF
!See([GOODCUTOFF]) //if I don't see the party
See("Door02") //but I do see Door02
OpenState("Door02",FALSE) //and Door02 is closed
!Heard([ANYONE],151) //and no-one's in combat
THEN
RESPONSE #100
MoveToObject("Door02") //go to the door
OpenDoor("Door02") //open it
END

----------------

I suspect this scriplet would probably work, but like I said...it would have to be tailored to each individual fight. That'd be a lot of fights to go back to in BG2...and a lot of testing to be done again to make sure nothing screwy happened (which it probably would...I've never used the above script except in cut-scenes so it's hard to say whether it would work as I think).

We know what you're talking about...and while in some cases it might seem cheesy, we also don't allow the players to exactly get behind a door and block it, cast Wizard Lock or barricade it some fashion, either...so, in a way, it's a trade-off that monsters can't use most doors, I think.

Something to chew on, I suppose.


Throne of Bhaal
David Gaider (Senior Designer)
Updating the Dragon AI: A lot of the fights are going to be pretty tough, that's true. But that's because you're going to have a pretty tough party. The idea, however, is that the fights should be challenging without being impossible (or nearly so). Impossible fights lead to frustration, which is not fun. Sure, some uber-gamers might complain a fight is too easy, but I would rather allow an easy victory than have a battle that half of the player base can't get by fairly.

I'm not making an uber-dragon. I'm making a dragon that has less loopholes in its AI, that's going to fight you with a bit more intelligence, that puts a bit more thought into when it uses its breath weapon and wing buffet and uses its spells more effectively.

I'm not putting a dragon in a null-magic field or anything like that...every type of player should have a fair shot. No worries, my friend...a 'nightmare' expansion is not what we're interested in.


Throne of Bhaal
Mark Darrah (Lead Programmer)
XP gained past the cap and ToB: The game does keep track of XP beyond 2.95 million. As soon as you install TOB this will be lost.

The reason for this is so that you DO NOT instantly gain several levels.
David Gaider (Senior Designer)
Number of spells for Old Dragons: Well, the thing with this is that even the oldest dragons apparently only have 2 1st through 4th level spells and 1 5th level. That's not exactly enough to go toe to toe with an archmage.

There could be exceptions, true, but I wouldn't want to make that the rule.

A Dragon's lair being to his advantage: In PnP, the lair is to their advantage because they can fly. How does a dragon take advantage of their lair in the Infinity Engine?

There was a post above that mention using a Tail Slap (or something similar) that would cause an Earthquake-like effect. I kinda like that.

Dragon's casting silence and being immune to low level spells: I could certainly see Silence...they do get cleric spells in addition to wizard spells. And in the last script I just did, the 'smart' dragon targets mages with his spells and attacks until the melee opponents really begin to annoy him...which seems to work OK so far.

But immune to 4th level spells and lower. I dunno. There's enough big bosses that have plenty of immunities without giving ones to dragons that they shouldn't have.

Some good ideas, though, and I like some of the other ones I've seen, too. Wouldn't walking into a dragon who suddenly put up Death Ward and Spell Immunity: Abjuration and Stone Skins be a little specific, though? Would you think 'hey, smart dragon, this should be a challenge' or would you just roll your eyes and see another reload coming?

From what I can see, the problems with dragons are as follows:

1) Too easily defeated by lowering their Magic Resistance and then using an instant-death spell.
2) They don't recognize the true dangers facing them, spending time on summoned monsters and fighters instead of the mages.
3) Their offensive powers (whether magical or breath weapon) aren't used well/often enough.
4) They don't see and/or deal with invisible opponents well enough.

Is that about right? Because I THINK I can script around these things. But you have to be careful, because it should be challenging...not impossible.

Adding drugs into the game: I think there are almost as many stereotypes about the people who make games for a living as there are about Dungeon & Dragons and role-playing in general. Unfortunately, not a lot of them are very positive. Growing up, D was not only a hard sell to my parents but to my school when I wanted to start a D club.

I know that drugs is a part of life, and probably part of life in the Forgotten Realms as well...but hey, you know as well as I do that drugs is almost as sensitive an issue as violence. There's room for edgy material in almost every project, and I enjoy it as much as anyone else, but in a game that includes kids as part of its market let's not try to deliberately shoot ourselves in the foot, eh?

I know you were talking about an item you wanted to see in the game, sure, but as someone who still gets the occasional weird look when I tell someone I design computer games for a living, I know that perception is a big thing. It was a small miracle that I was able to convince my school's principal that D was a tool for creativity and a positive thing...I love computer gaming and I love role-playing, and I'd hate to see either slandered by offering free ammunition to those who are ignorant of its true value.

I know that wasn't the aim of your post, but it brought this thought to mind...especially considering recent events down in the U.S. I'd love to work in a society where edgy entertainment was viewed solely as that...entertainment...and not some mind-warping influence on children who no doubt encounter a hundred other influences to make them who they are. I feel fortunate that we can include what we do and have the freedom we have...because the alternative, vanilla PC-sensitive monitored output, strikes me as a very frightening thing.

And then again, it also makes me wonder to what extent we have a responsibility to the public. Do we? Or is our responsibility solely to provide the best entertainment we can? Sobering thoughts.

(And I apologize for the sudden introspection...it's late and I'm tired and about to go to bed.)

I don't find any fault with the request...after all, some form of drugs probably do exist, so why does it have to be potion after potion after potion all the time?

I just find it frustrating that we have to take into consideration that there are those who would turn what I would consider harmless fun into something much more meaningful than maybe it should be.

A harmless question to put forth, I guess, but you never know.



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Old 04-28-2001, 10:54 AM   #4
Memnoch
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Hmm, this post vanishing thing is disconcerting. I'm bumping this just in case.

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Old 04-28-2001, 10:57 AM   #5
Gimlee
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I think that there is a lot of people that don't know that the forum is returened. You should send some emails to tell them so.
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Old 04-28-2001, 10:59 AM   #6
Rikard
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Oh My God
Am i expected to read all this?
Coz those colours hurt

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Old 04-28-2001, 11:02 AM   #7
Memnoch
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Quote:
Originally posted by Gimlee:
I think that there is a lot of people that don't know that the forum is returened. You should send some emails to tell them so.
We will - as soon as everything's TOTALLY fixed. We've got a new host as well, the old one bollocksed us up totally.

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Old 04-28-2001, 11:06 AM   #8
Dreamer128
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Lots of great sites have disapeared lately.
Many investers desided the internet is not such a great way to make profit after all.
A pity.
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Old 04-28-2001, 11:07 AM   #9
Dreamer128
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Quote:
Originally posted by Rikard:
Oh My God
Am i expected to read all this?
Coz those colours hurt

-------------------------------------------
I usually save large posts to my hard disk, that way i can read them when i got the time and its much less expensive.

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Old 04-28-2001, 11:12 AM   #10
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wow... that was enlightening.

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