"Craddock: How did the option to romance characters come about? It wasn't in the first Baldur's Gate. Was that something James wanted to hit this this time around?
Gaider: We discussed, "Let's give them arcs," and then the idea of romances came up. We initially were supposed to have six: three female, three male. We were interested in that, but what the romances would be? I don't think we [knew]. It wasn't like we had direction such as, "Make it emotionally resonate." We were just trying to write a good story. As I recall, that's all we were trying to do. It was a little weird, because romance in a video game seemed like a weird thing. We weren't sure how we would do this.
I remember when I was sitting down and trying to write romances, I was just trying to make it an interesting story. I was trying to figure out what to do with Anomen. That was actually my first romance, and I didn't know what to do with him. I didn't create his character. The first part of his character writing had been done by, I think, Rob Bartel, one of the other writers. And [the character] was kind of an asshole. I had followed up on that, here's this arrogant paladin guy, based on what Rob had started. Then at some point I remember James saying, "Okay, he's the first male romance." And I was like, "Really? Really? Anomen? You think...? Okay. Sure. I'll figure it out."
I was trying to take Anomen and figure out, okay, how would you romance this guy? I didn't give any thought, really to who the audience was or if it would be an emotional thing. I just thought, If this were a story I were writing, like a book, how would it play out? Drama is just a thing that has to happen. I didn't feel pressured to make it engaging for the player. I just thought, Well, what do I feel like? What do I think is cool?
Same thing when I wrote Aerie and Viconia [DeVir] romances. They were kind of dropped in my lap because I wasn't supposed to do the female romances at all, but Luke was falling way behind, so they said, "Why don't you do these?" So I was like, okay, they're very different from each other, so I took two different [approaches]: Aerie being the damsel in distress, Viconia being a femme fatale. When I did tabletop, I would sometimes give my players romances. If they were romancing a player in my game, how would I write that story? That's all.
I was thinking about what we had done. We weren't even sure that the romances would work, or that they'd make it into the final game. But we had no idea, honestly, that they'd be popular. I think when the game got released and we saw they were popular, it was a complete surprise to us. So from my perspective, I was making a side quest like the other side quests. That really was the entirety of it."
Read more in the interview.