Beamdog Hoping For Baldur’s Gate III Despite ‘Legal Hell’

By Nathan Grayson on June 24th, 2013 at 8:00 am.

He smiled once, but it was so long ago.

For a while there, it looked as though Baldur’s Gate had finally emerged from the dank dungeons of obscurity, prepared to crush modern glitz-and-glamour RPGs under a mountain of depth and 20-sided dice. But then things happened. Law things. Now Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition is stuck in neutral – with Beamdog unable to continue fixing some rather worrisome launch issues – and Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition has been put on indefinite hold. Yikes. But are things really as bad as they sound? And where does this leave Baldur’s Gate III, which Beamdog described as a “long-term goal” no so long ago? I got in touch with Beamdog head Trent Oster to find out.

“The prognosis [for resuming work on Baldur’s Gate] is mixed,” he admitted to RPS. “Best case, we can sort this out soon. Worst case, this could be in legal hell for a while. I like making games, but this contractual dispute bullshit keeps me up at night.”

As a result, the team hasn’t given up on Baldur’s Gate III, but the road to the pie-in-the-sky sequel just got a whole, whole lot rockier.

“Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition is on indefinite hold, as is the current patch,” said Oster. “Baldur’s Gate III, we are still interested in the concept, but currently I’d say were very demoralized.”

That sentiment doesn’t bode particularly well, but Oster and co are trying their hardest to turn things around. For now, Beamdog can’t name which “publishing partner” is hounding it, but it’s fairly safe to assume that they hold some serious sway. You don’t just take down your main moneymaker and slam the breaks on your next over a little squabble, after all.

So it’s a tricky situation. Here’s hoping for a resolution – and a Baldur’s Gate III befitting of the series’ standards – sooner rather than later.

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80 Comments »

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  1. Quatlo says:

    No, just no. Using free mods I’ve managed to create way better “enhanced edition” than they did.

    • Yosharian says:

      Why bother posting here then? There are plenty of people who really liked EE, and who are eagerly awaiting the next installment. If you didn’t like it, then you know where you can stick your incessant blathering about free mods this and free mods that.

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        jrodman says:

        I think the viewpoint that BG:EE was not good is a valid one. Personally, I agree with this viewpoint.

        I’m not sure that it was particularly relevant to this article, though.

      • Eddard_Stark says:

        Trent, log into your own account please. Thank you.

      • Quatlo says:

        There are also plenty of people who can’t get it to work while vanilla game is launching just fine. In my opinion EE which was nothing more than overpriced cashgrab with few new npc’s (and they were advertising it as having way more and with way bigger changes, at least on twitter)

        It disappointed me and I’m going to be very sceptical about their further products.

    • Grey Poupon says:

      Given that they didn’t have the original art assets (did they even have the source code?), there wasn’t all that much they could do to improve it. I was waiting for BG2:EE to gauge their game development skills. Though I think you’d need a huge budget to create a sequel to those two games that the fans would accept as a worthy addition.

      • Dariune says:

        So only people who aren’t disappointed in a product are allowed to post on articles about said product?

        That is going to make for some very biased comments/forums.

        How about instead you learn a little tolerance and just let people with different opinions to you post their thoughts?

        • Dariune says:

          Uh, that was @Yosharian

        • Yosharian says:

          I’m just sick of seeing the same old whiny posts on each damn EE post RPS makes, we get it, you don’t like the game, we get it, you can do the same thing with mods on the original. This post isn’t even about the quality of EE, it’s a post on a legal matter regarding the game, yet the same old bloody crap crops up, on the first very first post.

          Obviously I’m not a moderator so anyone can post what they please. Just expressing my annoyance at it.

          • Quatlo says:

            Legal matter that if settled may result in BG3, I don’t want that from these guys. What else is there to say? If I had bashed that unnamed parter would that make you feel better?

            Don’t get me wrong, I like Trent as a guy, I even have him followed on twitter but EE was a major disappointment.

          • xx says:

            Quatlo will you get over it for once? EE maybe not be as great as BG with mods but here’s the thing: Mods are made for free by people on their spare time, EE was made with paid developers, that may sound like I am giving a even bigger – to EE but I am not because mods can have a development cycle of bloody years without a care (for an example check a little mod called Black Mesa). I am not a fanboi or defending these particular devs, merely pointing out that unrealistic expectations are your fault not theirs and a BG III in any form is better than none (fun fact: I hear the same wincing in DA II topics but I kinda liked DA II allot more than DA I ).

          • jrtlaktalk says:

            I believe his point was that your post, which was the very first response to the article, was entirely irrelevant as to the content. It was not an ‘attack’ because he felt bad because you didnt bash the unnamed “parter”. It was a response to your generally annoying (negative, random and out of context) post.

            Frankly, even if it had been relevant, I think that everyone knows by now that ‘vanilla+wasting time googling+getting used to the drinking man flashing randomly on screen’ is ‘better’. This is tired and old news right now. So it would have been annoying in any event.

          • Valvarexart says:

            Without resorting to deaththreats, I wish you a very miserable life (but I suppose it might already be, judging from your taste) for being the sort of person who supports the rapid degeneration of a once hopeful artform. NO, BG3 by these developers is NOT better than none at all. In fact, I can’t think of any developers that would be likely to make a decent job of it save perhaps Obsidian or something, but I’m sure even they would let us down. But hey, look who I’m talking to, you probably enjoyed DNF for all that I know.

          • Brun says:

            I wish you a very miserable life

            What the hell has happened to the readers of this website? I suppose you’re another one of those that believes you have to be as loud, acerbic, and vitriolic as possible in order to bring about change? That anyone with less than an extreme perspective is a part of the problem, to be banished forthwith for “failing to contribute to the discussion”?

            I’m no industry apologist, but if this kind of drivel is the only acceptable viewpoint I’ll stick with the industry any day.

    • LIVELIKE21 says:

      my best friend’s aunt makes $86 an hour on the internet. She has been fired for 7 months but last month her pay check was $12593 just working on the internet for a few hours. Here’s the site to read more WEP6.COM

    • Oasx says:

      This version is not aimed at people who know about mods. I know it surprises people, but not every gamer is a hardcore gamer. There are potentially a lot of people who liked the original Baldur’s Gate, who don’t know anything about mods, or simply have no desire to wade through a million different mods to find the right ones, and then trying to install them.

      I am not making a comment about whether the Enhanced Edition was any good (I haven’t played it), but trying to explain why the “lol, just use mods’ argument is dumb.

      Heck, i would have no problem finding the free mods to do the same as the Enhanced Edition, but if this edition hadn’t been filled with bugs and gotten bad reviews, then i would likely have bought this new edition, it would be worth the money to not have to spend ages just hunting down my cd-roms of the game.

      • newc0253 says:

        But here’s the thing:

        I liked the idea of EE but the actual experience of playing EE was sufficiently disappointing that it made me buy BG2 on GOG and download the main modpacks which turned out to be (i) far easier than i had expected and (ii) a much more enjoyable experience than playing EE.

        I feel sorry for Oster and Beamdog, I really do. I don’t believe for a second that EE is simply a cash-grab. I genuinely believe they love the BG series as much as I do and want to bring it to a wider audience. I don’t own a tablet but I can easily see the attraction of playing BG on one.

        But playing EE was just plain disappointing. First, I wasn’t struck by any great improvements playing it on a PC. Second, the additional material didn’t seem to me to justify the effort. While I liked the wild mage elf girl, etc, it felt more like, well, someone’s competently written mod of BG1 rather than a natural extension of the game itself.

        That might be forgiveable in a lesser game, but this is the BG series. I don’t mind them cleaning up the Sistine Chapel of CRPGs, but if they’re gonna put additional material in, it had better match the level of the original. Otherwise, better not to do it at all.

    • Lemming says:

      Look, I appreciate what you’re saying but no amount of modding in the world will get you BG on an ipad. The PC release was only ever secondary, because the game already existed on PC

    • Smaug says:

      Also the ever-vigilant modding community has created a nifty little installer that automatically downloads, sorts conflicts and installs complete and configurable mod packages with a single click*
      100%automated.

      Introducing: BiG World installer: instructions:
      http://www.shsforums.net/topic/44661-big-world-project-bwp-v90/

      installer:
      http://dabus.bplaced.net/BWP/bws.php

      *may contain more click’s than advertised

  2. Yosharian says:

    If you’re reading this Trent, keep your chin up, a lot of people have their fingers crossed for you.

    If the publisher is reading this, please sort your life out, you obviously have really bad personal issues.

  3. Ashen says:

    Me, I’ve got my fingers crossed that the license gets into more competent hands.

    Which, judging by the quality of the so-called “enhanced” edition is basically anyone else.

    • skyst says:

      Agreed.

      Beamdog broke much which worked fine in the original release and the new content was laughable: the new characters were bland and generic and the added zones were buggy and unfinished. To think that after BGEE they even still have BG3 in mind as a future goal is infuriating. It was a hack job from the start.

      An earlier posted said that they did the best they could for not having the art assets or possibly the source code. You can’t show up to work and do a half assed job with the wrong tools to do the job and expect to get paid and not be fired just because you tried.

  4. AJLeuer says:

    I like Trent and I want Beamdog to do well, but I sometimes worry about catering to gamer nostalgia. It becomes unhealthy if it’s not kept in check, and some Bioware fans are terminal. We’ve constructed this whole phony narrative centered on the EA buyout. It’s bullshit – a self-fulfilling prophecy fed by confirmation biases and the like. I just worry about mythologizing the isometric RPGs of yore as though they were the height achievement for the genre. It’s anti-progress.

    • Yosharian says:

      Name an RPG that has achieved what BG2 achieved, in the same genre?

      • suibhne says:

        Maybe you could start by sharing what you think BG2 achieved.

      • TsunamiWombat says:

        Planescape Torment.

        • Supahewok says:

          Not exactly. BG2 had a smattering of great dungeons, with interesting, tactical combat. P:T had an immensely better story, but I would argue that the gameplay itself is not as fun.

      • Noviere says:

        Why bother? You think that BG2 is the greatest RPG ever, and you are entitled to that 100% subjective opinion. But why would anyone argue that? It’d be like arguing with someone about their favorite flavor of ice cream.

        • jrtlaktalk says:

          Are you implying that chocolate is not the best flavour of icecream?

          • Noviere says:

            Name an ice cream flavour that has achieved what vanilla has achieved!

          • The white guar says:

            I, on the other hand, like my ice cream tweaked with a few good mods. Those can really change the experience!

          • qrter says:

            Gentlemen, ladies! I bring you icecream: enhanced edition!

            It has all those mods (chocolate chips, sprinkles, caramel) included within the cold, creamy goodness, no need to add those yourselves!

            (Sadly a few dozen handfulls of little spiders, centipedes, flies and other assorted critters also dropped into the icecream mix – I’d suggest you eat around those, for the time being.)

      • AJLeuer says:

        I think you missed my point. It wasn’t about quality of the Baldur’s Gate series per se, it was that affection for the games of our youth has clouded our ability to fairly evaluate new and different games, especially RPGs. I’m worried that a side affect of EE will be exacerbation of this problem. Bioware are the best example of this, since what they do has changed a lot over the years. Blizzard’s been stung by this too. Bethesda have gotten off easy, but they’ve also stuck most closely to their formula. You won’t have go far though to find someone pining for the days of Morrowind.

        In short, change is bad and scary.

        • Supahewok says:

          Personally, I’ll admit that that’s a legitimate concern, but I think you’re blowing it a little out of proportion. The hardcore RPG market has shrunk over the past decade. The only big players I can think of (not counting Japan) are Bioware and Bethesda. I think that if you come to this site you’ll agree that both of these studios’ recent efforts have lacked… I dunno, a little bit of the old magic. Bioware companions are (mostly) as fun as ever, but their techniques in story telling haven’t ever really progressed since KOTOR. Bethesda’s fallen into a creative rut. We don’t know exactly why this happened, if this is simply the best they can do or if “the suits” are in the way of progress, but we know that the last high point in the genre was the late 90’s/early 00’s. Turning back the clock to that time and then moving forward in a potentially different direction sounds to me like a viable experiment, and one that I shall have hopes for until the new old games are released.

  5. Eddard_Stark says:

    What BG3? Are you kidding me? Beamdog managed to royally screw up a simple facelift to BG1 with a decade worth of fantastic modding to support them and already demonstrated their *ability* to make original content aka world ugliest blurry areas, fanfic-level characters and that GUI. BG3, right.

  6. Vegard Pompey says:

    My response to the inevitable “BG:EE is just a cash-in” comments;

    BG:EE is not just a cash-in. It is clear the developers’ hearts are in the right place. They’ve done what they could to update this classic though their efforts have been hampered by some dumb contractual limitations and the loss of the game’s original source art. They’ve worked closely with the BG modding community and a cursory glance at the BG:EE forums will tell you that they have been very communicative with the fanbase as well. Sure, you *can* achieve most of what the Enhanced Edition currently does with mods (though you’d miss out on The Black Pits and the new NPCs), but the installation process will be a far greater hassle.

    If Beamdog has failed, it is not in spirit, but in execution. There are many of us who have bought the game and are still, months later, waiting for a patch that makes multiplayer stable. But if the Beamdog people can just get back to patching BG:EE, it will surely end up the more moddable, convenient and stable option, and the preferred foundation for future mods. They’ve had a rocky start but god dammit, they deserve a chance to keep working on it.

    • Caiman says:

      You are far too reasonable to take part in The Internet. I’m sure the rest of the thread will do its best to fix that for you.

    • Yosharian says:

      This, basically.

    • PostieDoc says:

      I am confused by your well thought out and written post.
      Can someone troll me so as to confirm that the Internet is functioning normally please, as I can feel a panic attack coming on.

      • Dr I am a Doctor says:

        there’s some fresh info on BG3 on this website called goatse dot info.

    • revan says:

      Excellent point. And I’ll probably buy it when everything is ironed out properly. My friend bought it at day one so I did try it out but it was very buggy at the time. I just hope Beamdog is given the chance to fix everything that needs fixing.

    • Zorn says:

      Point taken. Though I shall remain wary as to their ability to create a successor to the series. An enhanced edition of an existing game is one thing. But if they will be able to present it well, who knows.

    • Klarden says:

      Maybe I’ve looked in the wrong places, but I didn’t see people not wanting to give Beamdog a chance to finish what they started with BG1 EE patching and BGII EE completion (and, probably, patching too).
      What people do not really want to see is BG3 from them. And i can agree with that – I wouldn’t want to risk giving them the chance to make BG3. Although, to be honest, I don’t want to see BG3 existing at all, because Throne of Bhaal was a perfect “The End” point fot the series.

      • Vegard Pompey says:

        The developers have been secretive about their BG3 plans, but I don’t think they intend to make a direct sequel, rather a spiritual sequel or a sequel with a tangential story. This whole undertaking is all about fanservice, and I don’t think they have any desire to offend the fanbase with a continuation that is neither needed nor wanted. I’ve seen them refer to the project multiple times not as “BG3″ but as “BGNext”.

    • Lucid says:

      (though you’d miss out on The Black Pits and the new NPCs)

      Lets not kid ourselves now, the new area and new NPCs were god awful and if it’s any indication of their writing ability then I’d rather they not touch BG3 with a ten foot pole.

  7. Tetoro says:

    Unfortunately, legal matters against the interests of the fans always win…

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      jrodman says:

      Hm, can we we manipulate this by interesting ourselves in the wrong parties?

  8. TheTingler says:

    I liked Baldur’s Gate EE just fine, and while it was possibly released a bit early I was happy with the new stuff and would like to see the team flex their muscles with a brand new game they can make from scratch. Sadly I do not think that game will be BG3. I don’t know what it is about D&D that screws over so many games…

    • Svant says:

      WOTC (owners of D&D) hates everyone basically. They are very strict with their brands and games pretty much has to be based on their latest iteration of the rules even if said rules are boring as hell and completely ruined the Forgotten Realms that people have grown to love through books and games.

      Edit: Though in this case it just might not be WOTC that is to blame but Atari going bottoms up and floating down the stream…

      • Ajh says:

        Sounds about right. Half their original customer base denies 4e and beyond exist, and do their best to tell everyone so. BG isn’t even based on 3.5 BG came out just before that, and is based off second edition, with it’s quirky and less straightforward systems. In these days of MMOs, they probably don’t want people to try baldur’s gate and think this is how D&D works maaan it’s too hard.

        On the other hand, the guidelines for writing a book in any of their universes are pretty strict too. SO they could just be assholes.

        I didn’t buy EE, but that’s only because I have Baldur’s gate from GoG and I still have my original cds somewhere, and I don’t have a tablet to use this sort of stuff on otherwise. I applaud their effort…but messing with WotC is always tricky.

  9. Svant says:

    Problem is a new Baldurs Gate would either have to reinvent everything and not be baldurs gate or have to follow WOTC into the new rulesets they release. Pretty sure they do not allow any game to be released that does not follow their latest ruleset.

  10. Blackcompany says:

    So here’s an idea for Beamdog (who obviously want to make RPG’s):

    Make. Something. New.

    I know. Imagine that. I mean, sure, you could just keep adding onto BG. New editions; sequels. And you could remain bogged down in legal hell instead of getting anywhere. Ever.

    So why not move on and make something new instead? If you want the nostalgia factor, you can still make it isometric. Story driven. Etc. So why not do that, instead of wasting your resources mired in legal nightmares over a property everyone’s seen before anyway?

    • Choca says:

      Exaclty. Leave Baldur’s Gate alone, it had a great start, a great ending and does not need a third installment by any stretch of the imagination.

    • Azazel says:

      Yeah, I think this is the most sane choice.

      No matter how much you love BG – it’s time has been and gone. It was a well-told, self-contained story with a beginning, middle and end.

      Remember those little party member ‘Whatever happened to…’ bits at the end of Throne of Bhaal? Would you not rather leave Minsk and Boo to fight on amongst the stars, or would you rather it be re-written as ‘And then they lived happily ever after for a bit, until one day they ran into a protracted legal battle with the heinous wizards of the coast. Eventually they prevailed and became embroiled in a series of fetch quests.’

      I understand the urge to want to bring it back to life, but honestly, I think our misty watercolour memories are best left alone.

    • Noviere says:

      Totally what I’ve been thinking this entire time.

    • Ajh says:

      I’d like to see them make a new game! That’d be nice!

    • TheTingler says:

      While I’m totally in for a Baldur’s Gate III, your comment “I mean, sure, you could just keep adding onto BG. New editions; sequels. And you could remain bogged down in legal hell instead of getting anywhere. Ever,” pretty much sums up the sad situation. It’s the same situation InXile had with Torment 2 – had the name, saw that D&D and WOTC weren’t going to play ball (or would be too difficult to work with), ditched Planescape and went for the new Numenera universe instead. I think a Baldur’s Gate-style game in a D&D rival would be cool, if it had to be an existing world.

      • smeagolheart says:

        Baldur’s Gate: Waves of Numera. I like the way you think, TheTingler

    • Supahewok says:

      What I’ve taken from them so far is that the proceeds from the Enhanced Editions would go to hiring a full team to make BG3. ‘Cuz you don’t need a full team to do the mod work they’ve been doing. It’d be pretty insane really, it wouldn’t be cost-effective. So I don’t think they have the capital to make a new game from scratch.

  11. revan says:

    Since BG:EE is available on Steam, with no apparent intention of being pulled from that DDS, I’d venture a guess and say Atari is the main culprit behind this whole mess. Since they are in some dire straits financial wise, they must have asked for a bigger slice of the profits from the sales done via Beamdog site.

    Haven’t bought it myself since I’m very satisfied with my heavily modded Tutu version, but I’m sad this is happening.

  12. fearghaill says:

    By “Legal Hell” I assume you mean Baator?

    • revan says:

      I knew something was up when I met those two fiends in the Smouldering Corpse Bar. Blood War must have spilled into our plain.

  13. Crosmando says:

    BGEE was a giant turd, I hope it stays in legal hell forever and these hacks go bankrupt. It was a game made for tablets and a quick cash-grab, you can tell it was made for tablets by the ugly low-res new GUI. If they really cared then they would of made a separate GUI for PC version, just an upscale of the tablet version.

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      amateurviking says:

      The intense hatred some have towards BG:EE baffles me.

      You know you can still buy the original one right? For less than (currently) 1/4 of the price of this one?

      • Crosmando says:

        Digging up the grave of old friends, then raping the corpse, is not considered good form. I’d rather they just left BG alone and stopped trying to make money by adding their own shitty NPC’s and romances.

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          amateurviking says:

          Straw men and your delightful turn of phrase aside I still don’t see how it affects you.

          Try talking about things you like: it’ll make you feel better.

    • Darzu says:

      Now excuse me sir, I am one such gamer who’s hoping to play this on the iPad. In that light, you can get stuffed.

  14. scorcher24 says:

    What Beamdog delivered is shit and I pray that they never get a license to do a BG3.
    Give it to Obsidian instead.

    • frostyNinja says:

      So I can get yet another completely consolised (to such extent that it’s unbearable to play on a PC) and unrelated “sequel” to a series I liked? No, leave Obsidian out of this.

  15. Lemming says:

    It’s Atari. We know it’s Atari. Just say Atari.

  16. krait says:

    The Dark Eye: Drakensang was a pretty good take on the Baldur’s Gate theme. It used TDA for its pen&paper backend instead of D&D, but otherwise, they pretty much nailed it. Too bad they got bought out to make an MMO instead, the original game was as close to Baldur’s Gate as you can get.

  17. vonkrieger says:

    When I bought it was sure that Baldur’s Gate: EE included Baldur’s Gate 2 and Throne of Baal.

    If it didn’t I feel totally ripped off. Was really disappointed just how little it improved as well but I didn’t get far enough into it to meet the new NPC’s. (Though I seem better off having missed them based on the comments above.)

    Another vote for leaving BG alone. It was a fantastic experience playing through it and a sequel could only mar the memory. It’d be like a different author writing a sequel to one of your favorite novels. (Not that I’m sure they wouldn’t do their best, it just could never be the same.)

  18. waltC says:

    A pity we never seem to learn what the real legal problems are. Beamdog isn’t talking, so it’s not beyond the pale to suggest that the owners of the IP aren’t happy with what BD’s done and do not want to see the IP degraded any further. That makes sense to me, since if a company holds the IP as an asset the last thing it wants to see is the market value of that property diminish.

    On another note, why would anyone conclude after this that BD could make BG3? Is it just the idea that people like?

  19. ZeroWaitState says:

    It was pulled out of the dusty treasure chest at Interplay, so of course it has Davy Jones’ curse on it. Was horrific to see what happened to Black Isle; BeamDog was lucky to make it out without the ground swallowing them up or being eaten by a giant sea monster.