Contemplating a Baldur’s Gate Return

I was going to ignore this story because there’s nothing that bores me more in this industry than rumor mongering, but when the name Baldur’s Gate is attached it’s hard not to sit up and pay attention. Then GameBanshee did a little legwork and it got a little more interesting. First, if you head over to BaldursGate.com and inspect the code behind the page you’ll find the following…

The code was updated again a day later, with this:

First: Yay, Boo! I live for references to Boo! Miniature Giant Space Hamsters For The Win!

Yes, I know. I have a problem.

Now, when I first read the original snippet at another site, entirely out of context, I thought that could more less mean anything, but that was because the original story I saw neglected to indicate the updated date at the top nor that the webpage itself was new. Then Game Banshee spoke to former BG designer Trent Oster, now of Beamdog (oddly, a digital distribution platform), and confirmed (for those willing to read between the lines) there’s something up and it’s nothing to do with the games coming to Steam.

So, it could be a new game. It could be a refresh of the Infinity Engine. Could be an iOS port. Could be they’re all just jerking us around. I dunno. I’m not totally sure it’s not just Bill playing an extremely well-planned and orchestrated prank specifically on me. He’s been known to do that… from time to time.

Although I am no super-sleuth about this stuff –who has the time?– it’s impossible not to notice the last line in the code invites users to check out the tapestry for clues. Said tapestry (which I assume is the background on the webpage) consists solely of character portraits from the original Baldur’s Gate. I’m firmly in the camp that thinks this will be some kind of remake of the original or new platform (iOS) release.

So the question is, does the world need either of these things?

I can tell you, for my money, it’s an easy “yes.” You put the original game on iOS. Sold. You remake the game from scratch. So long as it doesn’t look like it’s going to suck, I’m gonna play it. Take the Infinity Engine and HD-ify it some way. Yeah, I’d probably play that too. It’s Baldur’s frigg’n Gate. You had me at “hello.” I’m not the rest of the world, though.

What you can bet is that we’ll have a good indication of what faith whichever publisher is actually attached to this has based on what it turns out to be. An iOS port just means, “Hey, we think we can get a few bucks out of this.” So does an quickie up-res’d remake of the original game. A from scratch remake says there’s a lot of faith in what the Baldur’s Gate name represents and what can be wrung out of it. There’s also publishing rights to consider. I don’t know who owns the ability to do what with this franchise anymore. As far as I know, and according to RPS, Atari still holds the rights to Baldur’s Gate. I did a quick Google search to see if I could confirm just what Atari really owns here: The rights to everything D&D? The rights to the original game code? The right to specifically publish anything with the BG name? I came up snake-eyes on anything specific, but the Baldur’s Gate series wiki does have the following:

On February 7, 2010, in an interview about Mass Effect 2, IGN asked Ray Muzyka of BioWare about the future of Baldur’s Gate, noting the sighting of Boo in the Citadel souvenir shop. He replied, ‘Hey, that’s just a space hamster. Boo’s brother. And again, you’ll have to talk to Atari about that, they’ve got the license.’[7]

If Atari is at the helm of this thing you almost immediately have to look at it with a skeptical eye. Sorry, but it is what it is.

For what it’s worth, I think these games could work really well on an iOS format. You’ve got very little voicing necessary, mostly just the engine and heaps and heaps of text. Touch and dragging on the screen ought to work with the pausable real-time combat model, although precision might be an issue, and certainly character and inventory management shouldn’t be particularly challenging to implement. Certainly nostalgia alone would drive a lot of people to try the game out on their iPads if the price were reasonably fair. I know I would, though I wouldn’t place odds on my finishing the game.

That said, would there be quite so much teasing going on for a port or “HD” remake? This has the smell of something a bit bigger. I hate getting caught up in hype that’s obviously crafted specifically to play on people’s warm fuzzies for a much beloved franchise, but dammit, it’s working on me.

25 Responses to “Contemplating a Baldur’s Gate Return”

  1. Matt Thrower March 1, 2012 at 10:54 am #

    I’d eat up Baldur’s Gate on iOS. That’d be one of the very few apps I can think of that I’d really be willing to pay £10+ for. I won’t even shell out that for my favourite board game conversions.

  2. Bill Abner March 1, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

    My initial reaction, and I have the right to change my mind once things get “official”, is that I have little interest in replaying BG1 or BG2 on the ipad. I have played those games — and played them a lot. I played BG2 start to finish roughly 5 times.

    I REALLY hope this is something new. If it’s anything at all.

    • jefftalor March 1, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

      I agree with Bill. Replaying a 50-60 hour game on an iOS device doesn’t appeal to me that much.

      I’m hoping for a Balders Gate FPS on consoles announcement :)

      • Todd Brakke March 1, 2012 at 3:29 pm #

        Banned!

      • Bill Abner March 1, 2012 at 3:39 pm #

        If that happens (the iOS remake) I’ll be really bummed that they teased this only to release the same game.

        • coyote_blue March 1, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

          I’m gonna vote iOS re-release.

          If there’s enough money to be made, this might encourage more folks out there to think about developing the party RPG as a niche market. On the other hand, it would be just as easy for publishers to arrive at the conclusion, “If we re-release everything 30-something gamers played when they were growing up, on tablets and phones, for 10 bucks, they will buy that shiz again! Free money WHHOOOBLARGL!”

          Given the zillion versions of Chrono Trigger one can acquire right now, I’m leaning toward the latter. Le sigh.

          • McGuillan March 1, 2012 at 1:54 pm #

            I’m starting to lean on remake; Beamdog, made up of former Bioware employees including Tim Oster, remastered MDK 2 and perhaps one could surmise that Baldur’s Gate may be getting a HD facelift.

            One can dream!

    • Brandon March 1, 2012 at 4:30 pm #

      If I want to play BG an the iPad, I’ll just play Avadon. Oh wait, I already did!

    • Crimson Dragoon March 1, 2012 at 6:05 pm #

      Call it wishful thinking, but I just don’t see this as being another re-release. Why do that so close to a re-release on Steam, even on a slightly different format? They’d just be weakening the sales on one or the other, as few people who bought it on Steam would buy it again so soon, and others might bypass the Steam version altogether for the newer one.

      I do like the idea of bringing back the infinity engine (or a newer version of it) and making more games like Baldur’s Gate, so I’ll hope for that.

  3. McGuillan March 1, 2012 at 3:09 pm #

    I’ll choke a clown if this turns up as a MMO.

    With GoG and soon Steam offering the original saga, this has to be a port or HD remake. Though I’m leaning on the former.

  4. Dan Spezzano March 1, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

    I’m right on board with Bill. I have played BG2 start to finish 8 times I think. I really have no desire to see this on the iOS. Give me something new and on the PC and in the Infinity engine please.

  5. James Fudge March 1, 2012 at 4:11 pm #

    Chances are that it is an HD remake. I think, like Hulkamania, Todd’s imagination is runnin’ wild.

  6. Todd Brakke March 1, 2012 at 4:13 pm #

    Ain’t noth’n wrong with thinking of all the possibilities before crushing reality is forced down upon us. ;)

  7. tjebe March 1, 2012 at 4:17 pm #

    “Go for the eyes, Boo! Go for the eyes!”

    • Griffington March 1, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

      Subtle show of support for an HD remake?

  8. James Fudge March 1, 2012 at 5:33 pm #

    You know, I would probably buy an HD remake. I am not the kind of person that is ever officially done with a game. Frankly i’d prefer some Gold Box remakes instead. Curse of the Azure Bonds would be nice.

    • Dan Spezzano March 1, 2012 at 5:41 pm #

      I would buy a HD remake but if they did it I would want BG1 and BG2. Maybe I am reading too much into it but some of the comments make me think it’s a new game. I just hope it doesn’t end up being some facebook thing.

      • McKay March 1, 2012 at 6:09 pm #

        Agreed. I can’t express how little interest I have in Facebook games.

  9. AngryOgre March 1, 2012 at 2:05 pm #

    If you wanted to play BG 1 or 2, why not just buy them on GoG? I don’t really see what adding touch-screen controls would do for a story driven RPG.

    • Todd Brakke March 1, 2012 at 9:00 pm #

      It’s more about convenience and portability. I have all the IE games in my GOG library, but realistically, if I am at home and have time to game on the PC, I’m probably going to end up playing something else. CK2, Mass 3 next week, etc. If I had the games on my iPad, I could play them on my lunch break at work, sitting on the couch killing time while my kiddos take their baths, etc.

  10. Caralon March 1, 2012 at 6:00 pm #

    I would pay a lot of money for new Baldur’s Gate. But I don’t really want to see it on a portable. If I have the time to sit down and play Baldur’s Gate for more than a few minutes, I am probably going to want something other than a touch interface. And if I don’t have more than a few minutes, I’m probably not going to play Baldur’s Gate, as much as I love it.

    That said, Baldur’s Gate 2 is my favorite game of all time on any platform, and I have wanted more for years and years.

    Does anyone think this could be related at all to the Neverwinter game coming later this year?

    Also, for anybody who is involved in D&D, Wizards of the Coast is launching a new edition of the base RPG. I’ve read somewhere that this new edition is going to start with a focus on the Forgotten Realms instead of some other game setting. I wonder?

  11. Tee(to the)J March 1, 2012 at 10:57 pm #

    Has anyone thought of the possibility of this being at the Sony vita announcement on the 9th? As weird and “out of place” as that sounds…I could really see it as a port/hd-remaster…not remake.

    Also I’m really doubting a new game now since that tapestry line..clearly (at least to me) it’s BG1….something.

  12. McGuillan March 5, 2012 at 11:53 pm #

    I doubt anyone is reading this conversation but the source code on the website has been updated.
    More conversation pieces from the game!…hurray?


    Brace yourselves for more from GDC. Apparently Trent Oster will reveal some tidbits.

  13. Brian Rowe March 6, 2012 at 2:25 am #

    What does it say now?

    • McGuillan March 6, 2012 at 10:12 am #

      March 5, 2012
      Shadowy Figure- Raise Dead : Infinity Engine
      “She left me to die. YOU left me to die. But Shar… Shar wanted me to live.”

      AND

      “If you wish me dead, brother, it must be by your hand. No one else.”

      Clues to new content? I don’t remember when the first line was quoted in the games. Oh the anticipation is killing me.

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