Icewind Dale Enhanced Edition’s Enlightening Interview

That sound you heard Back on August 31st was yours truly screaming in ecstasy when Beamdog let loose the news that Icewind Dale Enhanced Edition was a “thing”. Not just a thing, either, but according to a new interview, it’s a version of the game that has a lot of new content as well.

For those that don’t know, Icewind Dale is the redheaded stepchild of the Infinity Engine games, with Planescape and the two Baldur’s Gate titles getting all the glory and attention. Maybe it was due to the fact that you didn’t have a pre-made party to banter with (Though there are mods that can change that), but many disliked Black Isle’s cold northern spin-off. The more combat-heavy, story-lite approach was something I enjoyed, however.

The interview touches on some of the background dealings that went into making the game happen as well as some details about the new content:

On the new content: (TO = Trent Oster)

    TO: As we went through the assets, we found a number of quests which were partially implemented by the original development team, but were inaccessible from the game. While at Bioware, we did a similar approach with cut content, leaving it partially implemented behind the scenes as the work to clean it all up and remove it was too great. One of our team members (Pete Camagna, known in the community as CamDawg) had laid a lot of groundwork on the content restoration, and the team was able to rebuild and fill in the blanks on the quests.

    TO:My guess on the unfinished quests is that they were cut due to bugs late in the development cycle. Sometimes you look at a quest that has a bunch of bugs to fix and you question if it just easier to cut it than to fix it.

    TO:We’ve added all the classes and kits from Baldur’s Gate II: EE (as well as a couple of new ones), and over 150 new spells and class abilities to improve the game. There are over 60 new items added to the game. As Icewind Dale was always about creating your entire party, we chose not to implement new characters, but retain the nature and feel of the original.

On the rather “wonky” multiplayer of their other two remakes:

    TO: We screwed up. We made the same rookie mistake that many studios do, and we caved to external pressure and shipped Baldur’s Gate: EE and Baldur’s Gate II: EE earlier than we should have and there were bugs in the multiplayer code. With the start of 2014, we had a clean slate on the publishing side, and we were able to take the extra time to fix the bugs and make a game we are proud of.

    Icewind Dale: EE multiplayer is tight and works well. We’ve already moved many of those fixes into the Baldur’s Gate: EE 1.3 Update which just released on all platforms, including iPhone, so the proof is out there. The new stability and polish are due to the heroic efforts of our testing team, people such as Gate70, Grogerson, and Troodon80, recruited from the community, and a general high level of commitment to quality across the company. We had the whole team testing the game for a period, and we made the decision to implement “Story Mode” based on feedback from a team member who was new to Infinity Engine games.

And of course, the question everyone wants to know the answer to…BG3:

    TO: We are still interested in Baldur’s Gate III. As to what a Baldur’s Gate III would be, wow, that is a terrifying premise. I think every Baldur’s Gate fan has a different image in their head as to what it would be, and making all of those fans happy would be a monumental challenge. For now, we haven’t started any work on a Baldur’s Gate III, but we do discuss the concept on a pretty regular basis.

As I thought, Beamdog says Icewind Dale 2 will follow this one, but (again, as I figured) its differences will make a remake very difficult.

Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition is nearly upon us, with a release candidate supposedly ready to be launched sometime before the end of the month.

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Carl is both a JRPG fan and a CRPG'er who especially loves European PC games. Even with more than three decades of gaming under his belt, he feels the best of the hobby is yet to come.

  1. Phelan
    October 2, 2014 at 5:05 am

    If something is already perfect… why improve it?

    I have Icewind Dale collection in nice boxes :) and I love them!

  2. Stylin
    October 2, 2014 at 9:02 am

    Never played IWD, it’s one of the few infinity engine games I haven’t played. Looking forward to giving it a try with the updates.

  3. B.E.
    October 2, 2014 at 11:19 am

    I’m part of majority on that, never was a fan of IWD for the reasoned mentioned. The combat systems were always like..meh/ok to me, it was the story for those games that drew me in.

    The BG3 stuff doesn’t surprise me though. I would absolutely love a new game with that system/story telling elements set in the forgotten realms but..

    What story is there to continue? The expansions to BG2 did a fairly good job of wrapping everything up. Worse, if you know anything at all about the world the games were set in, you’ll be aware that the ‘story’ of the realms has advanced like 200 years. Any WoTC(the Forgotten realms IP holder) approved plot/story would either be radically underwhelming to fans..or a complete departure from characters/plot points they remember from the BG series.

    As an example. In previous incarnations, race did not define alignment. Not all orcs/goblins were evil. Now? Apparently that’s out the window. Murder of orc children is sanctioned/demanded by all the good aligned gods because..no souls or something.

    Changes like that were made, I believe, to solve moral issues that come from running actual D&D games, and WoTC wanted to take that out of the equation for their newest edition of the game (Want the game to be about wondering how to divide up the loot after raiding the orc camp..not what to do with their women and children). Such choices however are going to cut into the possible story telling opportunities of a potential BG3..or really any video game adaptation set in that same world.

    Not to mention..the D&D game itself gone through basically 4 editions of rules (3.0, 3.5.,4 , 5) since BG1 came out. That too would be an issue you’d have to deal with. Which one do you use? Which are you allowed/forced to use? Will fans of the old games accept it?

    And on and on. Its no wonder they find the task of producing a new one an almost heart stopping concept. At the end of the day..it would be a damn hard thing to get right.