Greetings, Baldur's Gate forums. It has been a long journey but I've finally arrived here.
I cannot believe that I've been playing this game, on and off, for over a decade, but such is its power. On a global level, Baldur's Gate arguably saved RPGs in the West; on a personal level, it introduced me to a wider world. Before I read Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones, I played Baldur's Gate; before I had any inkling of the worlds of Arda, Westeros, or Tamriel, I was immersed in the rich lore and history of Faerûn. It was my first fantasy, my first RPG, and shall remain foremost in my affections within the genre.
I started playing it in 2002; up til that point my gaming had been largely confined to the strategy and simulator genres, such classics as Sim City 2000, Age of Empires, and the Civilization series. I borrowed it from my best friend, the original six disc set. I would eventually buy the three-disc Tales of the Sword Coast set (twice) and the GoG version, and of course, the EE, so I feel I have paid in full for any EULA violation.
I was initially perplexed by it - superficially the gameplay sort of resembled Age of Empires, in that there were characters on the screen I moved around and attacked other, hostile ones with, except I had to bother with equipping them! But I learned quickly, and went from being puzzled by the mechanics and intricacies to immersed in them. I went through a half-dozen initial characters as I hashed out what worked and what didn't, what was most fun and what wasn't.
Later I borrowed BG2 from the same friend, and initially was put off by it. The chilly reception in Chateau Irenicus was a bit upsetting to me, especially being stripped of the formidable armor and weapons I had accrued up to that. Though I eventually warmed to BG2's masterful second chapter and triumphant end, I never forgave it for that initial insult, and BG1 has always remained my favorite, between the two.
While still in high school, I got involved in the modding scene. I never became a big player, to the extent CamDawg and others who have gone on to staff positions here were, but I did make a few things. My first project used the Team BG suite of tools to create a special ability that allowed my character to polymorph into a draconic form and back again, and swords with custom artwork.
The world, however, moved on. The second online forum I had ever joined, BG2Customs, folded, and the remainder of its community retreated to another, 20pi, which eventually dissolved in its turn as well.
I never did, though. The BG modding community overall proved durable, eventually coalescing into those big three players - Gibberlings Three, Pocket Plane Productions, and Spellhold Studios. While I never found a home in them like I had elsewhere, they were still my mainstay sources for BG modding.
And of course, in the past year, BG:EE appeared on the scene. I was initially highly skeptical: I saw the modding community, more than any legally vested studio outfit, as the real stewards of BG's legacy, and the noise being made about putting BG on tablets or streaming services also annoyed me as a stalwart of the PC.
But a desire to return again to the Sword Coast has proven hard for me to resist, and even as more modern titles like Skyrim and Guild Wars 2 grow stale, I find myself finally here once more.