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The city of Baldurs Gate

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  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 11,712
    This might just be my personal hang up. But I never like large cities in RPGs. Athkatla in BG2 is literally the 1 exception. Mostly because it has so much variety. Half the maps in there don't really feel like a city. Aside from that, all large cities are mostly the same for me. I can't wait to finish my business there and be literally anywhere else.

    I actually think this is Pillars 2's biggest issue. Neketaka is TOO big and dense.

    DinoDin
  • DinoDinDinoDin Member Posts: 1,013
    Yeah, what was key about Athkatla, imo, is that the designers approached the districts from a "level design" perspective. They wanted to make areas that worked well in a video game first and foremost and secondarily as a believable city.

    They were able to deliver on both, of course. And that's why we love the game. But that priority is what mattered -- and it's clearly an emphasis switch from BG's design.

    ThacoBell
  • Permidion_StarkPermidion_Stark Member Posts: 4,585
    I've always liked the city of Baldur's Gate. I get a real sense of accomplishment every time I make it far enough to finally cross the bridge and enter trough the gates. I really enjoy the thieves' quests as well. I like bantering with Narlen Darkwalk (did you know that he once swiped the duchess's knickers?) and going on heists with him and Rededge.

    ThacoBellsarevok57CloutierAerakar
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 11,712
    There's still good stuff in BG. All my favorite story reveals happen there. The stuff with Tomoko and getting the help of the thieves guild is great. There's just a lot of....not much else of substance there.

    Cloutier
  • jsavingjsaving Member Posts: 949
    Totally agree, there are brief moments of highly interesting adventure interspersed with far too many "dead" areas, unless you like looting house after empty house for a few gold pieces.

  • MaurvirMaurvir Member Posts: 890
    Day/Night cycles and weather make a HUGE difference in RPGs, and it's one thing that both games got right. I still remember the first time I saw Candlekeep at night during chapter 6 (seriously, don't rush through Candlekeep - sleep at least once or twice in the inn). It is a real treat to see at night.

    Also, to Beamdog's credit, SoD's weather and day/night effects were greatly improved - to the point I regret that never got back-ported to BG/BG2. The fog rolling through the forest was incredibly beautiful, the lava was unbelievable, etc. The atmospherics in that game were second to none.

    Also, SoD got something else right - Baldur's Gate really did feel like it was besieged with refugees. They were everywhere, and you could feel the change in the city. Wonderfully done. Again, I hate it will be the last IE game ever made, because it really illustrated what you can do with it.

    ThacoBellBlackbɨrd
  • AmmarAmmar Member Posts: 1,108
    edited October 7
    I am not sure that is a true description. In Baldur's Gate 1 you meet Sarevok in the prologue, and then you basically follow Jaheira and Khalid on their mission to investigate the iron crisis. There isn't any clue about the Sarevok being involved with the iron crisis until pretty late in the game. E.g. Mulahey reveals nothing about Sarevok.

    Then it's pretty easy to miss Gorion's letter.

    I think one issue with BG 1 city design is how much you have to enter random houses in the city to find the side quests.

    ThacoBellelminster
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 11,712
    The actual content of BG1 is great. The story buildup and pay off is super satisfying. But that's the minority of the content. There's just too many empty houses with nothing in them. And actually finding any of the sidequests entails blindly checking each and every one. Its a content vs. filler problem.

    energisedcameljsavingelminster
  • Permidion_StarkPermidion_Stark Member Posts: 4,585
    I like the fact that there is nothing much in most of the houses - it makes it feel more like a real city. And virtually all of the important side quests are given to you by people you meet in the street. With the exception of Degrodel and the helm and cloak quest I don't think there's anything very significant you miss by not breaking into houses.

    Zaxares
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 11,712
    I like the fact that there is nothing much in most of the houses - it makes it feel more like a real city. And virtually all of the important side quests are given to you by people you meet in the street. With the exception of Degrodel and the helm and cloak quest I don't think there's anything very significant you miss by not breaking into houses.

    The dying Sirene, the mother who lost her son, the man whose friend was killed by an ankheg, The loose basilisk in the warehouse, the missing bracers, rabid chickens (not a quest, but a memorable encounter), the oozes in the bar (same deal as chickens, just memorable), the bard seeking a book, the last bounty hunter encounter, blink dogs. There's a lot of stuff hidden among the dozens of empty houses, the iddly aggressive butler and his master. Two of these things drop unique +2 weapons and one has a unique magic helm...

    Ammarelminsterdunbar
  • AmmarAmmar Member Posts: 1,108
    Also the Ring of Wizardry.

    ThacoBell
  • Permidion_StarkPermidion_Stark Member Posts: 4,585
    ThacoBell wrote: »
    The dying Sirene, the mother who lost her son, the man whose friend was killed by an ankheg, The loose basilisk in the warehouse, the missing bracers, rabid chickens (not a quest, but a memorable encounter), the oozes in the bar (same deal as chickens, just memorable), the bard seeking a book, the last bounty hunter encounter, blink dogs.

    You've just made a list of the side quests. I didn't say they didn't exist and I didn't say they weren't enjoyable. I just said they weren't very significant.
    ThacoBell wrote: »
    There's a lot of stuff hidden among the dozens of empty houses, the iddly aggressive butler and his master. Two of these things drop unique +2 weapons and one has a unique magic helm...

    Just because something is unique or potentially useful doesn't mean it should be handed to you on a plate. I don't see any problem with placing some items where people may not find them. And If you are role playing then there are a lot of items that are only available to you if you are an evil aligned thief who breaks into every house in the hope of finding something shiny. If you are playing a good guy then there is no way you should get Sunin's Ring of Wizardry because you shouldn't be breaking into his house in the first place. The same goes for Jardak's Helm of Glory.

    Cloutier
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 11,712
    @Permidion_Stark "You've just made a list of the side quests. I didn't say they didn't exist and I didn't say they weren't enjoyable. I just said they weren't very significant."

    Unique dialog with world-building as well as exp and some rewards? What's your definition of "significant" exactly?

    "Just because something is unique or potentially useful doesn't mean it should be handed to you on a plate. I don't see any problem with placing some items where people may not find them."

    My point was that you said nothing significant required blindly walking into houses to find. I'd say that unique magic items are very significant. Or are we changing the subject from "nothing significant isn't found on the street through dialogue" to "Well they should be hidden anyway."?

  • Permidion_StarkPermidion_Stark Member Posts: 4,585
    I guess we just have different ideas of what is and is not significant.

    ThacoBell
  • ChroniclerChronicler Member Posts: 1,289
    The Dying Sirine a woman will approach you to complain about in the streets. And I think Ragefast when you meet him is also standing outside his home asking you to come inside. So there's two triggers for that quest that don't require you to go randomly searching houses.

  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 11,712
    Chronicler wrote: »
    The Dying Sirine a woman will approach you to complain about in the streets. And I think Ragefast when you meet him is also standing outside his home asking you to come inside. So there's two triggers for that quest that don't require you to go randomly searching houses.

    I didn't mention Ragefast. But I've never had someone approach about the dying sirene in the house. The ragefast sirene debacle is a separate sirine quest....Wow, there's two quests involving a dying sirine in BG.

    Chronicler
  • ChroniclerChronicler Member Posts: 1,289
    Oh wait, I know which quest you're talking about now. I haven't done it in years. I'd forgotten all about it.

    It's not even really much of a quest, is it? Just if you go into that one house in the docks there's a sirine that's been away from home too long, and if you refuse to leave her in peace in her dying moments she fights you.

    It's right by the warehouse with the basilisk that's run amok. That one's also less a quest and more just an oddly placed basilisk waiting to be killed.

  • ChroniclerChronicler Member Posts: 1,289
    Yeah, it also never occured to me that there are multiple dying sirines in that city.

    ThacoBell
  • MaurvirMaurvir Member Posts: 890
    Technically, the basilisk is brilliantly explained, and directly linked to another group of adventurers you meet in the city - and it is in a warehouse near the docks.

    ChroniclerThacoBell
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 11,712
    Maurvir wrote: »
    Technically, the basilisk is brilliantly explained, and directly linked to another group of adventurers you meet in the city - and it is in a warehouse near the docks.

    Yeah, you can meet the adventuring party that caught it. Oh yeah, I should add that to the list, there's a great bar brawl. There is a quest tied to the basilisk too. two actually.

  • thiefthief Member Posts: 45
    edited October 22
    There is so much to be said about Baldur's Gate.

    First, I played through BG1 a number of times before I got my hands on BG2 (multiple chars, at least 3 made it all the way to Durlag and Undercity). So I had the opportunity to be astonished by city of Baldur's Gate before Athkatla rolled in. Sense of accomplishment - entering it for the first time - was huge, and it still feels like a relief once I crawl out of Cloakwood and have access to everything, everywhere. Of course it was in the times of CD swapping, which was an obvious hindrance; but we all accepted it. BG2 also had it, to a lesser degree, although Athkatla needed just one disc iirc.

    But yes, there are other flaws to Baldur's Gate design. Navigation with areas split by interior wall, long walks around Duchal Palace or Central BG staircase, that's pain. Also I usually forget where sewer exits lead to. Once you get the hang of it you can circumvent some of that "walking", use shortcuts or simply string sidequests together (i.e. visiting all Docks houses in one-go). But yeah, Athkatla is easier in that regard.

    My biggest gripe with BG is unnecessary attempt to portray it 1:1. I don't buy that in my head canon! If you take bird's-eye view at the city, you'll see there is no way 10.000+ people live there, just too little stores, common houses, workshops etc. It looks more like a theme park with all typical fantasy building types lumped together (HQ, prison, magic shop, temples, inns, manors, wizard's tower, circus tents etc.) and just minimal number of tenements. It doesn't feel realistic, it's not right, and I choose to ignore this layout (especially that old BG1 cutscenes implied a much bigger city to begin with). So yes, we don't need (as players) that many buildings to find it epic and satisfying... and still, the density and scale has little to do with realistic settlements, be it from history or fantasy.

    Much better approach is the "hub-centric" one, realized in BG2, VTM: Bloodlines or original Thief franchise. There we had cities of epic proportions (Athkatla, Los Angeles metro area, and The City), so enormous that portraying them 1:1 would be impossible. It's better to give it up completely and build vibrant, 4-6 streets wide hubs to explore. Now these areas can be finely tuned, populated with interesting NPCs, quests, secrets and even a touch of "dull houses" to make it more realistic. What's not represented in-game, well, that remains a mystery - but mysteries spice up our imagination and make us wonder what was left out... how other areas look, who lives there, what they are up to... and we fill the spots with whatever feels right. I like that.

    The City in Thief is much, much, much more interesting with only few corners explored, and no reliable maps at hand. It can be always be broadened, scaled up, morphed to something else, and from narrative point of view - it leaves so much space for modmakers or fanfic authors. It's a healthy approach which keeps the mystery together.

    The same applies to Athkatla, maybe not as mysterious and dark as The City, but so rich, exotic, bustling with adventurers, factions and potential plots.

    City of Baldur's Gate shouldn't be represented in a literal way. But still I don't deem it a failure because we are FREE to do whatever we want with it. If you feel like rushing towards finale - fine, you will spend just a couple of hours in BG, go to Candlekeep, rush to Ducal Palace and face the evil very soon. Chapters 5 to 7 have fantastic plot imho, and if you decide to sprinkle it with a touch favorite sidequests, you're in for a treat. But you also can slow down a bit, much like in early BG2, to explore, rob some houses, look around its nooks and crannies. Sometimes you find great rewards, such as Degrodel quest (I missed him a bunch of times before I entered that particular house). Or the twins. Or the basilisk, Arkion and Nemphre, Ghorak's ailment, or Brielbara and Yago. So it's all your choice and will to explore. BG2 is much more transparent, some places just scream "luxury sidequests are found HERE". It's fine, comfortable, but BG1 style has its merits too.

    All in all, I'm happy to be there, plus I love the architecture, Merchants League, bar brawl or that scumbag Neb in jail. So many inspiring details. A great place, overall, even if Athkatla takes the cake.

    Permidion_StarkAerakarRedRodentCloutier
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