Beamdog “Interested” In Casting Icewind Dale Remake

By Nathan Grayson on April 13th, 2012 at 9:00 am.

How dare you interrupt our totally awesome rave?
Generally, it’s pretty cringe-inducing to watch publishers get ahead of themselves. “Annual sequels, comic book tie-ins, and a movie deal that will pass across the desk of at least one noteworthy director before getting indefinitely shelved,” they excitedly proclaim. Then things inevitably don’t go as planned, and everyone has a good, long sob. I want to believe Beamdog when it says Baldur’s Gate 3 is more than just a Kickstarter-fueled delusion of grandeur, though. And what’s this about Icewind Dale?  I mean, what’s even left to be looted from Black Isle’s naked corpse? Planescape? Lionheart? OK, maybe we can just not take Lionheart.

At the very least, Beamdog hasn’t entirely lost perspective. Addressing fan questions on Twitter, Beamdog head Trent Oster tempered his burning ambitions with a cold splash of reality. “The topic of Icewind Dale has come up a number of times,” he said. “We are interested, but first we need [Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition] to succeed.”

Interestingly, he also noted that Beamdog tried hounding EA for access to the Ultima license, but the publishing behemoth told Oster and co “no thanks.” If that’s not grounds to be voted double Worst Company in America, I don’t know what is.

For now, though, we can at least count on Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition this summer. Then we can worry about resurrecting Icewind Dale, Firefly, and the dinosaurs – and perhaps pairing the latter two in a tour de force epic of drama, laughs, and eviscerations that will still ultimately find a way to get canceled.

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58 Comments »

  1. Nim says:

    All I want is that the games run on modern operating systems and a new GUI.

    Anything but the old GUI.

    • Choca says:

      I’ve been running through the original Icewind Dale again recently (was planning to do BG and BG II again but I’m now waiting for the remakes) and it works fine in Win 7 64 bit if you activate OpenGL in the config thingy.

      The UI is still pretty horrible though.

      And the music is still seriously amazing.

  2. Premium User Badge

    PoulWrist says:

    Kickstarter for Jurassic Park-style dinosaur gene research, now there is an idea!

  3. Premium User Badge

    Qwallath says:

    Honestly, I’d rather they just focus on creating something new. All this pimping is nice and all, but with a few mods these old babies still run fine.

    I’d put my money on Wasteland 2, a BG3 with all new content, or something equivalent.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      Yeah, I can’t see it being worth getting unless it has full support for WeiDU mods. I hope Beamdog do their best to make it compatible. :(

  4. Premium User Badge

    Anthile says:

    Lionheart had real potential. I wouldn’t mind seeing a non-terrible version of it. Still has one of my favourite settings.

    • caddyB says:

      It was a great game until you stepped out of Barcelona :P

    • Gormongous says:

      I remember hearing about the Fallout retrospective at this year’s GDC and how there was immense pressure to bolt an action RPG framework inspired by what was then the new hotness, Diablo, onto their current work. If Fallout is the success story of developers resisting a publisher’s demands to ape the newest trend, Lionheart seems like the complementary failure.

    • apocraphyn says:

      B-but I liked Lionheart… Sure, it wasn’t the greatest game ever made, but it was still a fun, manic Diablo-like. (Plus, it had S.P.E.C.I.A.L).

    • TheWhippetLord says:

      I loved Lionheart. Until the combat started in earnest, then I just couldn’t keep going. Fun world but the Diabloesque combat system was too hard for me even back then when I was in my prime. Considering how much worse I’ve got at actiony games over the years as time takes its toll on my gnarled reflexes, that’s a terrifying thought.

      Turn-based remake for the old folk? :P

  5. MeestaNob says:

    I’m not overly excited in them touching BG/ID etc, I have no idea how it will turn out. Also not even remotely interested in using yet another digital download service, resulting in me not playing the MDK2 update.

    • ChainsawCharlie says:

      Got to agree with this one. If this BG remake is only available through their service I will most likely never play it.

    • mouton says:

      Seriously, whenever I see news about them I ask “who the hell are they?”. They are just some profiteering unknowns who bought the rights and want to cash in, from my perspective. I was especially astonished when they said they are considering kickstarter for BG3 – height of arrogance, really.

      • Unaco says:

        You do realise Beamdog are made up of former Bioware employees and Alums, right? Ones that worked on these Infiinity Engine games during their original development, right? Like Trent Oster, Bioware co-founder and Cameron Tofer, former Bioware lead programmer. Calling them ‘profiteering unknowns’ is not only insulting to them, it’s also the height of ignorance, really.

        • mouton says:

          I am sorry, I am not an RPG Codex regular who knows the names of cats of every cRPG employee ever. I did a few searches back when I heard of them remaking BG and they yielded nothing substantial. Them having their own “distribution platform” and putting a lot of focus on portables does not exactly inspire confidence either.

          Even with the information you provided it still seems like cashing-in on their links to Bioware. Nothing inherently wrong, but hardly interesting either.

          • Infinitron says:

            For the record, the RPGCodex is just as hostile to the idea of these remakes as you are.

            But that’s to be expected.

          • Premium User Badge

            Jackablade says:

            To be fair though, RPG Codex is hostile to everything upto and including all life on this planet.

        • MeestaNob says:

          I think I find it more insulting that someone would claim I was ignorant for not knowing obscure information about otherwise unremarkable people.

          If you had left it at ‘former Bioware people’ I would have said “oh, fair enough, carry on”, but honestly, none of these people are household names outside the most hardcore of the hardcore, and Beamdog has achieved virtually nothing of note.

          • Unaco says:

            Hint: If I was replying to you, my comment would have been directly under yours and on that level (like this one is) or have @MeestaNob at the start. It wasn’t.

            My comment was in reply to Mouton and his labelling Beamdog/Overhaul as arrogant, profiteering unknowns when he doesn’t actually know anything about them. Being ignorant of something is fine… but speaking as if you aren’t, and being quite insulting in the process? Not so good. Ask questions, enquire, but don’t make grand statements as if you know what you’re talking about.

          • mouton says:

            @Unaco
            Oh okay, I corrected myself, they are non-arrogant profiteering semi-unknowns. I wish them luck and all that, but personally, I find their course of action quite uninspiring.

      • Werthead says:

        This was my first thought as well. They’ve already said they are using many of the ideas from the dozens of BG mods that have appeared over the past 14 years (whether any of the modders are getting paid – or at least credited – for this is unclear), so the perception could be that they’ve taken a load of other people’s work, repackaged it in an easy-to-use, Windows 7, newbie-friendly system and cashed in on that. Which isn’t necessarily invalid (as an ‘official’ release this will get way more people playing than any mods ever will) but seems a bit uninspiring.

        However, it will also introduce new people to the games and it may lead to the funding of more old-school CRPGs, which could be interesting.

    • Baresark says:

      It’s just bad business when they limit the distribution platforms. Not putting this on Steam is like making a videogame system and not wanting it sold at Walmart. It just doesn’t make any sense. They can try to rely on their own platform, but it will never be as successful as it could be. This is a rule of thumb in general. Anytime you limit distribution you are also limiting the profit potential and success of an endeavor.

      • Ragnar says:

        Agreed.

        It worked for Valve with Half Life 2, and I admit to capitulating to the low prices offered on Direct2Drive (now Gamefly), Amazon, and GoG, but when does it stop? I think I even picked up Sins of a Solar Empire off whatever their DD service is called (Infuse? Impulse?). So now I find my digital downloads spread across 5 different services.

        It’s too much. I forget that I even own the games. Steam at least stops me from buying the same game twice, but if there’s a sale on Steam and I own the game somewhere else, or visa versa…

        I need a new digital download service like I need another hole in the head.

      • Werthead says:

        I think Interplay themselves are releasing the original BG/IWD/PS:T games on Steam in the near future. I assume that the Extended Editions can’t be put on Steam due to contractual reasons (since Beamdog had to get Interplay’s OK to work on the games). The same might be true of GoG and other platforms where the IE games are already on sale, thus limiting Beamdog to their own system.

        I agree that having multiple download systems installed can be irritating, although competition is also quite healthy. No-one ever starting a DL site ever again because Steam is there would be unhealthy for the industry (I like Steam, but I don’t want it to be the only option out there). Also, presumably all the money you pay for the new versions of the games via Beamdog will go to the developers (er, re-developers), which will in turn help enable them to fund future projects, possibly including BG3.

  6. D3xter says:

    I kinda lost most interest when he said this:

    “Background-wise, we had hoped to get the source artwork from Bioware, but they were unable to locate the source art assets for characters or backgrounds. They communicated the assets may have been forever lost.
    With rebuilding all the content not an option, we examined over-painting the existing backgrounds. We were unhappy with the cost vs the quality, so we made the decision to focus our content creation on new content and attempt procedural content filtering on the old stuff. We’re still experimenting with the filtering. I have high hopes, but only time will tell.

    -Trent”

    Cause that was basically the main feature I wanted (and a new/better GUI), as it stands it looks more like a modded Mac port than anything else. Doesn’t help much that they keep talking about all these games from Planescape, to Icewind Dale and their “Baldur’s Gate 3″.

    • Infinitron says:

      I wouldn’t be surprised if everything Bioware made before the EA buyout has mysteriously vanished.

  7. Kdansky says:

    Why the remakes? I’ve played these games, and I don’t see why I should do so again. Sure, they are nice games, but my time is limited and I could play something else instead. They are not games about Mastery (like Tetris or Starcraft), and most of them have aged horribly.

    On top of that Icewind Dale wasn’t actually very good to begin with.

    • Ragnar says:

      It’s mostly for people like me, who missed the games when they first came out, and have a hard time going back to them now. Yes, you could use something like Easytutu to update it, but while you and I know that, people unused to modding and hacking their games won’t think to search for that.

      Though I would happily replay Planescape or the Fallouts if they got an HD update (as in high res art assets, not just a mod to play them at higher res). Those games I wouldn’t mind revisiting at all.

    • Fumarole says:

      They are not games about Mastery (like Tetris or Starcraft), and most of them have aged horribly.

      This seems to imply that only games that have aged well should be remade. But of course games that age well are exactly the ones that do not need to be remade.

  8. Renfield says:

    The Icewind Dale franchise might actually be an easier one to produce a new title for than Baldur’s Gate, given some good art – and the FR license. It’s a lot less interaction-intensive, thus less writer-dependent. [Character interaction, that is: IWD was more about the sights, and the kills.]

    • apocraphyn says:

      Gotta say; I agree. The IWDs are a lot less text-heavy than the BGs, there’s no extra faffing around with party interaction/banter and…less banter in general. It’s very much just, “travel from A to B, kill a whole menagerie of monsters, gain phat lootz”.

      As a result, there’s far less that can go wrong with it. Plus, they could upgrade to any new D&D ruleset with far less fuss. (I would like some new Infinity Engine games, though).

      • bill says:

        See, this has me confused. BG1 has basically no story and no dialogue… it’s just travelling from place to place hitting stuff. And the combat is its weakest point.

        So Icewind Dale is focused even more on the weak part?

        • apocraphyn says:

          Basically, yes.

          Combat focus —— Balance —— Story focus
          Icewind Dale – - Baldur’s Gate – - Planescape Torment

          I quite liked the combat system in the Infinity Engine games though, despite there being a thorough lack of interaction on the melee front (apart from positioning and such). Much preferred Dragon Age in that sense, since at least there was something for the more face-bashing inclined to do.

        • TheWhippetLord says:

          You might be surprised how much depth creating the whole party yourself can add. And tbh I felt that the IWD games were just as story-focused as BG in many ways, they just cut out the verbose side-quests and the inter-party banter.
          Of course, if BG’s infinty engine combat annoyed you, more of it is unlikely to fill you with glee. It impressed my uninformed, easily-wowed younger self though.

        • linea says:

          Personally I think the combat in the Baldur’s Gate series is the best combat in any RPG ever!

          On the harder settings some of the set-pieces were like intricate puzzles.

          • Volrath says:

            Combat was the worst part of all the infinity engine powered games. Sigh, if only it had had Temple of Elemental Evil’s turn based combat in stead.

          • Grygus says:

            Infinity engine combat was turn-based; it’s just that by default it didn’t pause between turns. That’s an option you could change, though.

          • Volrath says:

            Real time with pause is not the same as turn based. It doesn’t matter how many auto pauses you can add in the option menu.

          • Ragnar says:

            Having played Planescape and about 1/2 of Baldur’s Gate, I have to agree with Volrath. Planescape had me hooked before the combat ever really started up, and I was glad to be done with the combat heavy sections as soon as they were over. Baldur’s Gate I kind of lost interest in because there was too much combat (which is is both hard and boring at the beginning), and not enough story.

            I stayed away from trying the Icewind Dale games because they focus on combat over quests and character interaction. Though I really enjoyed Dungeon Siege, so maybe once I (eventually, finally) play through BG 1 and 2, I’ll give the IWD games a shot. Though who am I kidding, by that point, IWD 3 will be out. ;)

          • Wizardry says:

            I swear saying the Infinity Engine games are turn-based is some sort of Rock Paper Shotgun trolling meme now. It comes up all the time and it’s just as incorrect as the first time it was said.

          • Werthead says:

            “You have successfully cast ‘Summon Wizardry’.”

          • mckertis says:

            Is it really that hard to understand that Infinity was neither turn-based or real-time ? How can people not grasp something so primitive ?

  9. empty_other says:

    Why wait for another remake when you can play the remake already?
    http://nwvault.ign.com/View.php?view=NWN2ModulesEnglish.Detail&id=346

    Anyone tried this mod yet?

    • Consensus says:

      I tried playing it through with a couple of friends, but our saves kept getting corrupted and we kept losing hours of progress, so we decided to stop.

      Shame though, we were having a blast and the mod is really top notch. I couldn’t see myself playing it through in singleplayer though, I don’t think the view and AI in NWN2 really work for the kind of micromanagement needed in Icewind Dale.

    • Lemming says:

      Or why remake it when you can buy a copy that works just fine on a Windows 7 64bit PC right now via Impulse?

      • Ragnar says:

        Or GoG, which has had a working for a while.

        But playing a low res game on a high res monitor (even with a mod to use all your monitor’s pixels) isn’t the same as having high res art assets. The originals ran at what, 800×600? I’m now running 1920×1080, so that’s over 4 times the original resolution? So my choices are blowing it up to be all pixelly, or having everything be tiny.

  10. Was Neurotic says:

    Yep, I’ll fund some IWD, I loved them.

  11. Lemming says:

    Since when does anyone need to ‘remake’ Icewind Dale? It’s got a newer version of the engine than Baldur’s Gate and looks just as lovely. Why not just rerelease it in ipad form instead or something?

    Better than messing with it.

  12. Leftnt_Sharpe says:

    Am I the only person that actually liked the UI most of the Infinity Engine games? The only one I can remember not liking was Planescape:Torment.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I liked it but there were definitely things they could have improved. One big one that I remember was that you couldn’t tell your character to try memorizing a new spell without erasing the old.

    • Werthead says:

      The IE interface was reasonably good, especially by the time they got to BG2/IWD2. A few clunky bits but it worked pretty well, and was certainly better than NWN1′s interface.

  13. MadTinkerer says:

    “Interestingly, he also noted that Beamdog tried hounding EA for access to the Ultima license, but the publishing behemoth told Oster and co “no thanks.””

    Because it’s so important for the Facebook game to continue the Ultima legacy.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      I dunno, crap like that doesn’t really bother me. It’s just a random fantasy game with a familiar name slapped on it.

      I’d feel much less comfortable about someone making a real Ultima sequel without the involvement or blessing of Richard Garriott, especially when he’s working on a spiritual successor himself, albeit an online/social one.

  14. aliksy says:

    I would be a lot more interested if I didn’t already own all of the originals, and if they were using a newer edition of D&D.

    • Werthead says:

      I think presenting people with an ‘updated’ version of the IE games that ran on 3rd Edition would be fairly controversial (although not completely so, since BG2 brought in some 3E rules and IWD2 used 3E), but it would work.

      Updating them to 4E would cause such a ruckus that it would probably break the Internet. Also, the substantial paradigm shift of the rules from 1-3E to 4E would mean totally reworking the games from scratch to account for the totally different magic system, combat powers etc. Given 4E’s commercial under-performance, it would not be worth the work involved. Updating to 5E, to coincide with that system’s release next year, might make sense from a commercial perspective, but would depend on the rules and compatibility.

      • FunkyBadger3 says:

        If they were going to update to a “dead” system, it would make more sense to use a popular one… so 3.5e rather than 4e…