Howdy, Stranger!

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

Categories

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!

Critiquing The EEs: A Pure Story Perspective 6/6

shawneshawne Member Posts: 3,239
Welcome to the final part of a critical look at Beamdog's creative contributions to Baldur's Gate.

This is not the place for statements of blind support or blind hatred of Beamdog. If that's all you have to contribute to the conversation, please take your comments elsewhere.

Having covered all the new additions - Dorn, Hexxat, Rasaad, Neera and easter eggs Baeloth and Wilson - it's time to wrap up our discussion and try to draw relevant conclusions.

It seems clear to me that the EE characters were all designed, at least in part, to address existing gaps in the character roster. Beamdog has given us the first half-orc, the first evil thief, the first wild mage, the first monk, the first sorcerer; the first same-sex love interests; and the first characters to have ToB quests (which goes a long way towards beefing up that last part of the saga).

Giving BG fans new things, as opposed to more of what we already had, is a good aspiration to have. And in this, the devs have largely met their goal. But if we give Beamdog credit for their successes, we must also note where they fall short.

It is, perhaps, a point of discussion that the EE NPCs break down along established gender lines: the men fight, the women cast or steal. It's not a pattern unique to Beamdog, or even BioWare - in the entire history of D&D video games, the only women who could properly swing a longsword were Shar-Teel Dosan, Mazzy Fentan, Aribeth di Tylmarande and Shandra Jerro. It's a short list, and it might have been nice for Beamdog to add a name or two... but one can't meet all needs simultaneously, and as I noted before, there's a lot to be said for the fact that Dorn, Neera, Rasaad and Hexxat fulfill specific roles and functions that weren't part of the BG games beforehand.

Unfortunately, there's a larger narrative problem with these games: the overall quality of the writing is wildly inconsistent. From an analytical perspective, it seems like not enough effort was made to ensure that all four characters had the same basic necessary components of good storytelling in place. Neera's arc is clear, concise and flows organically from one stage to the next; Hexxat's is a mess from start to finish, with muddled motivations and too many questions left unanswered. Rasaad's plot offers several opportunities for the player to express agency; Dorn's is based on a central, critical choice that ultimately turns out to be false. It's a disparity that, in my opinion, constitutes as much of a "bug" as missing triggers or incorrect weapon descriptions, and should be addressed.

On that note, I'd like to end this series with a direct appeal to Beamdog, specifically @LiamEsler, @AndrewFoley and the other writers.

As they currently stand, the Enhanced Editions represent a good creative effort, warts and all. But you have the rarest of opportunities afforded to video game writers: a chance to review the stories you've told, find the weak spots, and address them post-launch. As long as BG:EE and BG2:EE are being updated, you have the ability to do better. And if there's one thing I hope this series has demonstrated, it's how easily you can polish what's already there: a few unvoiced lines of dialogue here, an additional variable there, is literally all it would take to fill in the plot holes, clarify the obscure, resolve the inconsistencies, and make that jump from "good" to "excellent". I hope you'll consider this as Beamdog moves towards the release of BG2:EE on Android, and do what you can to make the most of the potential you've demonstrated thus far.

Thank you for your time, your patience, and your contributions to this old favorite game.

Post edited by shawne on
recklessheartNonnahswriterscriverchickenhedAbi_DalzimAristilliusaqzinacmk24lunarartificial_sunlightArdulDoubledimasAedan[Deleted User]jackjackwuthering20lolienPeccaSwordsNotWordsEmpyrialtypo_tillyEadwyn_G8keeperTRoarPekingduckmandunbarBlackravenbob_vengElrandir

Comments

  • recklessheartrecklessheart Member Posts: 691
    edited September 2014
    I thoroughly applaud everything you have said from your first post onward, with very few exceptions, most of which are minor and based more so on a personal preference than a fundamental disagreement with you over how things are written and - as you've aptly put it - the disparity that arises between different instances of writing.

    Firstly, Baeloth's gimmicky method of speech is far too polarising to be a safe inclusion. For every 1 person who enjoys it, there is 1 person who will absolutely hate it. That's bad marketing. He is only an easter egg though. I'm glad they didn't bring him into BG2EE, therefore we don't have to take him too seriously as a potential NPC.

    I agree with what you said about Hexxat, although I don't think she is salvageable. I still think there would have been plenty of clearer avenues to explore by creating a human/half-elf/halfling/gnome etc thief of evil alignment, rather that the muddied waters than Beamdog chose to tread - which brought them a lot of criticism, and lacked clarity from start to finish, as you rightly asserted.

    Thirdly, I think Neera's voice-acting was much better than Rasaad's - Rasaad was a bit monotonous. But that's a very minor matter of perspective! :)

    Thank you again. You've done an excellent job with critiquing the EEs.

    shawne
  • shawneshawne Member Posts: 3,239
    @recklessheart: See, my position on Hexxat is that if the main cause of her narrative problems is a lack of clarity, all the writers need to do is clarify. Answer anything that "we don't know" so that we do know. Why is it so important for Hexxat to die a human death, as opposed to just killing herself whenever she wants? What can the Bhaalspawn offer her in lieu of mortality that could make her throw that two-hundred-year old dream away? (Again, I feel like this was part of what was sacrificed in the dummied-out romance/vampire ending - the one thing you could promise her then would be to spend eternity together.) When did Hexxat learn what was really going on with L? Why would L send Hexxat to deal with Korkorran when he probably knew Korkorran could restore Hexxat's humanity just as easily?

    This is all information that could be conveyed via a few extra banters and lines of dialogue, and it would go a long way towards making her a solid addition to the game. I just don't think it's an insurmountable challenge, so long as the writers are willing to put more time and effort into it.

    Nonnahswriter
  • DazzuDazzu Member Posts: 924
    edited September 2014

    I think Neera's voice-acting was much better than Rasaad's - Rasaad was a bit monotonous. But that's a very minor matter of perspective! :)

    I'd love to do a bit on voice acting, especially in conjunction with EE. The feel of the voices and how they may or may not match the over the top feel of BG as a whole.

    Not that anyone's given a crap any OTHER time I've mentioned using my voice/voice acting in general, but I will if anyone will listen.

    recklessheart
  • AristilliusAristillius Member Posts: 873
    edited September 2014
    As usual, a well thought out post @shawe. I like alle the added characters, but I can certainly appreciate the citisism directed towards them - especially the plot holes should have been captured before release. I believe these charatcers will be crucial to the 'how-and-why' any post BG work beamdog does.
    edited for spelling

  • recklessheartrecklessheart Member Posts: 691
    @Dazzu I think it is very interesting, as I'm an actor (aspiring actor) myself. Neera's voice doesn't fit with the BG very well, because it has such a contemporary American teen-speak feel about it: something that Imoen did rather modestly, if one only takes the time to look at her competition in TV/Film such as 90210 and Frozen etc. etc.

    That said, I think her voice acting is very good: vibrant and animated, unlike Rasaad, who seems to always speak on the same emotional level despite the circumstance. She doesn't fit in with the diverse voice cast of the original BG games very well, and so I can see how she falls out of favour with some people (though it is no doubt also due to her colloquial and 'awkward' sense of humour). I feel inclined also to note, in case it is of interest to anybody, that I generally hate the 'awkward' style of comedy that floats around in Facebook statuses, Buzzfeed articles, and in Frozen's protagonist. I only give leniency to it with Neera because I genuinely think the voice actress does it much better than her competition.

    Anyway, this is hardly the thread for such a matter. Dazzu, if you wish to start your own discussion about this, I shall happily participate. This particular thread I shall leave to others, so that they may commend or question the wonderful contribution @shawne has been making in the past few weeks. :)

  • JaceJace Member Posts: 193
    edited September 2014
    Here's my gripes with all the EE companions.

    1. In BG:EE, they lack a lot of voiced lines that original companions have. They don't respond to reputation changes. They don't have rare selections sounds. They don't compliment/react to compliments. They don't insult/react to insults. They don't comment on being in a city/forest/underground/sunshine/nightfall. In general, they don't throw out random short comments, but you sure hear them speak a lot during boxed dialogues. Was this really necessary?

    2. They monopolize entire areas and content for themselves. While linking areas to those companions can increase their thematic interest, I would be nice if measures could have been taken to ensure that you can visit some of the new areas without the accompanying companion. Again, was this monopoly an unavoidable necessity or a conscious decision?

    There are some positive things to say for all of them though.

    1. Voice-acting was generally well-done in my opinion. Rasaad and Hexxat sounded a bit monotonous overall, but it wasn't a big deal for me.

    2. They fill various gaps when it comes to class, race and romance opportunities. For the first time, we can make an all-evil party in SoA that covers all the conventional roles.

    3. Their quests in ToB offer extended side-content in an otherwise short and linear end game. It's the only time where I didn't mind their monopolizing the new areas.

    FardragonFlashburn
  • FardragonFardragon Member Posts: 4,511

    @Dazzu I think it is very interesting, as I'm an actor (aspiring actor) myself. Neera's voice doesn't fit with the BG very well, because it has such a contemporary American teen-speak feel about it: something that Imoen did rather modestly, if one only takes the time to look at her competition in TV/Film such as 90210 and Frozen etc. etc.

    That said, I think her voice acting is very good: vibrant and animated, unlike Rasaad, who seems to always speak on the same emotional level despite the circumstance. She doesn't fit in with the diverse voice cast of the original BG games very well, and so I can see how she falls out of favour with some people (though it is no doubt also due to her colloquial and 'awkward' sense of humour). I feel inclined also to note, in case it is of interest to anybody, that I generally hate the 'awkward' style of comedy that floats around in Facebook statuses, Buzzfeed articles, and in Frozen's protagonist. I only give leniency to it with Neera because I genuinely think the voice actress does it much better than her competition.

    Anyway, this is hardly the thread for such a matter. Dazzu, if you wish to start your own discussion about this, I shall happily participate. This particular thread I shall leave to others, so that they may commend or question the wonderful contribution @shawne has been making in the past few weeks. :)

    It's probably worth mentioning that "teen speek" changes rapidly, 15 years is another reason Neera uses different inflections to Imoen.

    As for Rasaad, he is supposed to have been trained to tightly control his emotions. You wouldn't expect much variation outside of a total breakdown.

  • ScourgeScourge Member Posts: 97
    The real question is: will Beamdog take a stance and flesh out the npcs?

  • shawneshawne Member Posts: 3,239
    Scourge said:

    The real question is: will Beamdog take a stance and flesh out the npcs?

    Probably not - their official stance is that bugs prevented the story from being told properly (which is, of course, utter BS).

  • DeeDee Member Posts: 10,447
    I don't know that an off hand remark from me constitutes an official stance...

    NimranlolienHalfOrcBeastmaster
  • NimranNimran Member Posts: 4,848
    Dee said:

    I don't know that an off hand remark from me constitutes an official stance...

    @Dee‌ you're one of the official people. You should know by now that every little thing you say on this forum IS official. :wink:

  • shawneshawne Member Posts: 3,239
    edited December 2014
    Dee said:

    I don't know that an off hand remark from me constitutes an official stance...

    You know, I was going to be snarky, but hell, let's see what you've got: in your capacity as a Beamdog employee, what is the official stance on revising existing content in light of player feedback?

    image

    Post edited by shawne on
  • bob_vengbob_veng Member Posts: 2,295
    will you answer his question while staring at this totally scrumptious sauerkraut mit bratwurst instead?
    image

    Sylvus_MoonbowNimranQbertHalfOrcBeastmaster
  • shawneshawne Member Posts: 3,239
    edited December 2014
    Dee said:

    @shawne‌ I will be happy to provide my own insight, but because I am neither the decision-maker for that sort of thing nor a member of the writing team that worked on BGII:EE, it would once again not be an official Beamdog stance.

    In any case, I'm certainly not going to indulge your question while staring at one of your "I'm totally not being a jerk right now" animated gifs.

    So you basically popped in to say that you have an answer that's not an official answer but you're not going to say what it is anyway but that you totally have one?

    O-kay then.

    image

  • shawneshawne Member Posts: 3,239
    Excuse me, sir. You came into this discussion uninvited, snidely implying that I had my facts wrong - something I'd be willing to concede, were it not for the fact that we're apparently just supposed to take your word for it.

    If you can't or don't want to answer a question, that's fine too. But to act as if it's somehow my fault when I'm not even the one who asked the question?

    You may dislike my criticisms of Beamdog, since they often include you; but I haven't violated any forum rules here, and I certainly don't see how I can be accused of antagonism when I didn't call you here in the first place.

    SethDavisElrandir
This discussion has been closed.