Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Categories

Axis & Allies 1942 Online is now available in Early Access! Buy it on Steam. The FAQ is available.
New Premium Module: Tyrants of the Moonsea! Read More
Attention, new and old users! Please read the new rules of conduct for the forums, and we hope you enjoy your stay!

Thoughts on the World Design of Baldur's Gate

So, basically everything in most videogames, but specifically Baldur's Gate, is representative of something bigger, imo.

There are hardware reasons why a thriving metropolis will have a hundred NPC’s and not a million, but there are also gameplay reasons. A city of a hundred feels rich and full of life, where a city of a million feels like a faceless crowd.

Every Bounty Hunter in the land is after you. You see the notices being sent out to any who will listen. You only actually encounter about a dozen bounty hunters though, and from this you must extrapolate the rest. A dozen bounty hunters punctuates your journey, where a hundred bounty hunters would just be tedious.

Bandits have been terrorizing the nation. You find their central hideout. There’s about five big boss guys with unique abilities and equipment, and a dozen facelesss mooks. This is an dynamic and interesting encounter, where a realistic fighting force that could terrorize a nation would be a slog. You’d be fighting faceless mooks for hours with no end in sight.

You find some woods. They’ll be about 2 minutes to walk from one end to the other. There’ll be about four or five points of interest. This is a fun little exploration. If it were three hours to walk from one end to the other and large swaths of it were just woods, suddenly the fun is gone.

The real world offers more experiences than any of us will ever participate in, but the game world must offer a cohesive meal for us to gobble on up and move on to the next thing. Part of how they offer that cohesive meal is they cut out the crud.

So that thriving metropolis, it’s mostly named NPC’s with specific interactions, and a little bit of unnamed fluff to pad it out. Those bounty hunters, they each have unique abilities. You fight the bounty hunter waiting for you at the inn who throws some new stuff at you, but we don’t bother the player with the bounty hunter who wakes them up in the morning with stuff they’ve already seen. The bandit camp has the interesting bosses, and leaves enough faceless mooks for you to do a victory lap if you’re so inclined. The woods cut out all the aimless wandering, clusters all the points of interest together. The player gets the parts of the world that are fundamentally fun, because this is a videogame, and that’s what we’re doing here, but a larger more boring universe is always implied to exist.

ThacoBellilduderinoJuliusBorisovIseweinleeuxAerakar

Comments

  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 9,562
    They didn't quite pare it down to just the interesting bits. THere are still several maps with nothing in them.

    Kamigoroshitbone1
  • Mantis37Mantis37 Member Posts: 988
    There's a difference between the design ethics of BG and BG2. BG1 is far more willing to have relatively redundant content, with many houses that are not necessarily relevant for a quest. BG2 on the other hand has rather less wilderness tramping and very few unused locations in its cities. I enjoy them both, but can't really get used to SoD's even more hyper focused approach.

    jsavingIseweinChroniclerAerakar
  • ChroniclerChronicler Member Posts: 1,044
    ThacoBell wrote: »
    They didn't quite pare it down to just the interesting bits. THere are still several maps with nothing in them.

    There are maps with very little in them, but I don't think there are any with nothing.

    Even these maps are condensed to a certain extent. I suspect they would've had more in them if not for budgets and deadlines and all those ways in which the reality of the creative process can often mean the final product will fall short of what it sought to achieve.

  • AaezilAaezil Member Posts: 166
    Bg1 has a lot of empty ish wilderness zones though.. a lot more than many crpgs

    ThacoBelltbone1
  • SkatanSkatan Member, Moderator Posts: 4,669
    I like the way ie PoE2 did it with Nethetaka or whatever the city is called, where it highlights the areas you can actually visit but clearly shows it's just smaller areas of a much, much bigger city. It gives context and makes the areas you actually do visit feel like a smaller part of the bigger whole. Athkatla is partly similar in that regards whereas BG is actually the whole city with like 100 population, which makes it feel large when traversing it but far from a bustling city capitol. I don't mind it in the game, but I prefer the former way. BG1 handles the outdoor areas the same though, making the map large but only allowing the player access to smaller pieces making it feel like we are actually traverings a vast landscape and dipping into the areas of interest. This is why I prefer BG1 over 2 in that regards nowadays (I used to be pro-BG2>BG1 back in the day).

    When it comes to armies, bandits etc I find it to be rather poor story telling to have a whole region traumatized by bandits only to later having charname + 0-5 comrades solve it by killing 20 guys in tents, something a city state with an actual force would be able to do themselves. I get the mechanics behind it, but I don't consider it good world building. Few games (if any?) manage to make it actually feel epic. SoD make some really, really good improvements in that regard with their battles at the castle and bridgefort. Hotu did something similar as well. It makes for better world building IMHO then empty streets and "armies" of 5 generic warrior types with one or two named leaders.

    PKM's map with it's slow traveling speed can feel very annoying after a while for a powergamer like myself, but I've grown to like it due to the very fact it builds up the world and the areas as part of something really big and vast.

    ChroniclerThacoBellJuliusBorisovAerakar
  • KamigoroshiKamigoroshi Member Posts: 5,069
    BG1 had one of the best dungeon designs of any videogame to date: Durlag's Tower.

    ... and then there are rather questionable design decisions as well. I for one could *never* understand as to why the devs choose to take tomb designs straight out of Egypt for BG2. Think about it for a second: Mulhorand is on the other side of the continent! At no point in history had Mulhorandi any kind of relationship with Amn. So there's really no point in using their architecture for Athkatla's Lower Tomb as its contradicting the Forgotten Realms own world building.

    OlvynChuruSkatanThacoBellAerakar
  • OlvynChuruOlvynChuru Member Posts: 2,296
    I for one could *never* understand as to why the devs choose to take tomb designs straight out of Egypt for BG2. Think about it for a second: Mulhorand is on the other side of the continent! At no point in history had Mulhorandi any kind of relationship with Amn. So there's really no point in using their architecture for Athkatla's Lower Tomb as its contradicting the Forgotten Realms own world building.

    I feel the same about the Black Raven Monastery in Icewind Dale 2. The devs tried to give this place an "Asian" atmosphere simply because it was a monastery of martial arts monks. But the Black Raven order was founded by a half-drow who came from the Underdark, and who built up his legendary fighting skills while in the Underdark. Kara-Tur has nothing to do with this.

    KamigoroshiThacoBell
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 9,562
    Durlag's Tower being so good is some kind of hialrious fluke, considering that the rest of the dungeons in BG1 is some of the WORST dungeon design I've ever seen in a proffesional game.

    OlvynChuruSkatan
  • Permidion_StarkPermidion_Stark Member Posts: 4,273
    ThacoBell wrote: »
    Durlag's Tower being so good is some kind of hialrious fluke, considering that the rest of the dungeons in BG1 is some of the WORST dungeon design I've ever seen in a proffesional game.

    I used to agree with you but now I have come to think that for a small, reasonably low-level party (1-4 characters of levels 3-5) the Ulcaster dungeon is actually pretty good. I like the atmosphere of the place and if you have left it for long enough that you don't remember where the traps are it can feel pretty creepy.

    leeuxAerakartbone1
  • ilduderinoilduderino Member Posts: 294
    For me the problem with the dungeons apart from Durlag’s is not just the design but that with only a few exceptions you tend to find much better loot by wandering on the surface

    Permidion_StarkOlvynChuruleeux
  • bob_vengbob_veng Member Posts: 2,258
    bg1 pre-durlag dungeons aren't bad, they are just not a very imaginative extrapolation of conventional grid paper dungeon designs and tropes.

    Permidion_Starkleeux
  • Permidion_StarkPermidion_Stark Member Posts: 4,273
    ilduderino wrote: »
    For me the problem with the dungeons apart from Durlag’s is not just the design but that with only a few exceptions you tend to find much better loot by wandering on the surface

    That's a good point. I hadn't thought of it that way. There really does need to be some kind of unique treasure in a dungeon and Ulcaster's dusty tome doesn't really cut it.

  • ChroniclerChronicler Member Posts: 1,044
    Mulahey had the Ring of Holiness, and that one guy in the Cloakwood Mines had The Boots of Speed. They're both pretty powerful in their way, and the only items in the game that perform their particular function.

    Most of the BG1 content is in the open world content rather than the dungeons you have to do to progress the main story, so I don't think it's weird that the open world loot would vastly outnumber the dungeon loot.

  • jsavingjsaving Member Posts: 603
    edited October 3
    I think @ThacoBell and @ilduderino both have a point here. For sure, BG1 dungeons don't generally offer enough loot/XP to make up for their relatively high threat level (from traps and the like). But also, their narrow maze-like hallways shine a spotlight on the game's terrible pathfinding, which makes them a poor fit for BG1 even though they might work great in a tabletop game.

    Kamigoroshileeux
  • tbone1tbone1 Member Posts: 1,988
    ilduderino wrote: »
    For me the problem with the dungeons apart from Durlag’s is not just the design but that with only a few exceptions you tend to find much better loot by wandering on the surface

    Would that include
    various tomes and manuals?

    Because those things are (potentially) awesome.

  • ChroniclerChronicler Member Posts: 1,044
    tbone1 wrote: »
    ilduderino wrote: »
    For me the problem with the dungeons apart from Durlag’s is not just the design but that with only a few exceptions you tend to find much better loot by wandering on the surface

    Would that include
    various tomes and manuals?

    Because those things are (potentially) awesome.

    I feel like a pretty hefty chunk of those are available in the open world too. Some for pretty minimal risk.

    The Dex Tome is in the Thieves Guild. One of the Wisdom Tomes you get from that one priest. The Charisma Tome is in the Gnoll Fortress. The Constitution Tome is in the cave by the lighthouse. That's four out of eight if I'm counting right.

  • jmerryjmerry Member Posts: 339
    But then, how open are those places, really?
    The gnoll fortress: basically, a pseudo-dungeon outdoor area. You can only enter the area at one point, and your paths for moving around are very limited. You have to get past multiple enemy groups just to reach the side cave that holds the tome - and another group of enemies.

    The cave at Seawatcher: basically, a mini-dungeon. There's only one path to the cave, and it goes by two groups of sirines - much more dangerous than the typical enemies found in the area.
    Then the cave interior has a loop of rooms, traps, and a powerful monster in each room; more dungeon-type design.

    The Wisdom and Dexterity tomes in BG city... OK, not dungeons. Instead, they're quest content. You need to be doing the poisoning quest to pick up the wisdom tome, and you need to be invited into the thieves' guild (so they can give you a job) for the dexterity tome.

    ThacoBellilduderino
  • ChroniclerChronicler Member Posts: 1,044
    edited October 6
    I feel like you're using a very loose definition of "Dungeon" now.

    The Nashkell Mines could be something of a mini dungeon. Just an introductory dungeon to get you started. You go through a few floors of kobolds, one or two ghasts, then you fight the boss.

    A cave is very much just a cave though, no matter how few entrances there are. One Room does not a dungeon make.

  • ChroniclerChronicler Member Posts: 1,044
    I'd say Ragefast's Tower is the furthest abstraction of a "Dungeon" I'll accept. You enter, you climb four or five floors fighting enemies along the way, you fight a boss. It is the bare minimum qualities of a dungeon, straining the definition as far as I'll possibly accept.

    If you're out in the Nymph Woods and you go off the beaten path and find a hidden burrough or something that's not a dungeon. That's like the classic definition of open world content.

Sign In or Register to comment.