The RPG Scrollbars: Predicting Planescape

If you go down to planescape.com today, you’re sure of a big surprise. Unless you’re expecting a countdown, in which case, it’s that. What could it mean? Well, if you open the page source, you’ll see a secret message hidden in there – 0x50 0x53 0x54 0x45 0x45. Convert that from ASCII numbers to letters and you get PSTEE. The two most likely translations of that are either Planescape Torment: Enhanced Edition as Beamdog’s latest updated release, or someone is really looking forward to going down to Gregg’s for a pastie sometime on Tuesday. It’s not confirmed. It could be something else. Maybe there’s a ‘Planescape Kids’ TV series coming out. Nobody’s told me.

Though it would explain this changelog I found lying around the other week…

PLANESCAPE TORMENT: ENHANCED EDITION
BUILD NOTES 0.99B. DO NOT DISTRIBUTE ON PAIN OF TORTURE. ALSO SPOILERS, OBVIOUSLY, FOR A GAME FROM 1999.

* Update: Native support for high-resolution and widescreen displays, up to 3840×2160.

* Integrated add-ons: Easter Egg Morte, Leprechaun Annah, PS:T Unfinished Business (by agreement with fan creators)

* Update: New font-rescaling options for high-resolution screens.

* Update: Memory leak issues resolved.

* Streamlining: New faster path through Mortuary. Player can skip tutorial by hiding in refuse sack due to be thrown out by the Dustmen (on clicking pop-up). Deionnara now appears in dream sequence if initially missed, promising “I will wait for you in the alley next to the pizza shop by Death’s halls, my love.”

* Character Creation: The Nameless One is now nameable.

* Giant flashing neon arrow added above Pharod’s head.

* New Game Mode: Action. All major conversations carefully abridged to enable full focus on tactical combat. For example, “You are wrong. If there is anything I have learned in my travels across the Planes, it is that many things may change the nature of a man. Whether regret, or love, or revenge or fear – whatever you believe can change the nature of a man, can.” now shortened to “Cram it, Skullface.”

* New Companion: Giggles the Clown. Giggles now follows the party from the mortuary, making hilarious fourth-wall breaking japes and jokes about the action, including “You’ve lost your memory? That’s Adahn shame!” and “I hear the Brothel of Slaking Intellectual Lusts gives good head!” and “How many lives did it take you to get this grumpy, Mr. Grumpy?” It is not possible to kill or dismiss Giggles.

* New Romance: The Lady of Pain

* New Difficulty Level: “Take That, Iron Man”. No loads, no resurrections, no refunds!

* New Area: The Elongatorium Of Hollow Pursuits. Experience thirty hours of new gameplay in this new Maze; a long, empty, featureless grey corridor it takes thirty hours to walk down.

* Conversation: New standard response to all stories of pain and torment around the Planes: “[TRUTH] Haha!”

* Feature: Fell, Lothar and other Planescape source characters now killable because it’s not like Wizards of the Coast has given two shits about this setting since 1999. In fact, hell with it. In Chapter 2, The Nameless One meets Drizzt and Elminster sitting in a bar and drinking a toast to how much Eberron both sucks and can go suck it.

* Feature: Ignus now acts as a light source.

* Tweak: Everyone is now Ravel Puzzlewell. Everyone.

* Restored Content: Basically everything from that trailer that should never, ever have been released to the public, never mind as an unskippable (except via Alt-F4) trailer, which pretty much only existed in the final game in the form of a few diary and glossary pictures, but which did more to make one of the greatest RPGs ever released look unappetising than even releasing a dismal original pitch with a grotty picture of Annah in her finest stripperwear and a comment about The Nameless One being a corpse with incredible sexual charisma, and yes, that really happened.

* Restored Content: Stories from the novelisation now added, including Annah becoming a were-rat, and the reason for The Nameless One’s immortality being that he sold it to a tertiary devil character to help save his village. Disabled by default. Activate by choosing ‘Still Not Quite As Bad As The Baldur’s Gate 2 Novel Mode’ in Gameplay Options.

* User interface tweak: Portals now colour-coded blue and orange for your convenience.

* Multiplayer: Use the new character creator to build your own former team-mate of The Nameless One, then endure hours of soul-sucking, back-breaking labour in the Dustmen’s Mortuary in the hope that he ever comes over to say hi.

* Fast Travel Option: Ride Dabus.

* Updated AI routines: Generic thugs in the Hive no longer look at the scarred hulking demigod with his own and occasionally other folks’ weaponised intestines wrapped around his body and reckon “Yeah, I can take him.”

* New Dialogue: “Chief, just hypothetically, you know how belief here shapes reality? Well, just wondering, what if some kind of flying, skull like fellow of, y’know, some sort of prankish disposition had joked to one of your more, ah, credulous incarnations ‘I bet you must have done something really, really bad in your first life?’ We’d laugh, right? Uh. Chief? Why are we heading back to the Pillar of-”

* New Dialogue: “Morte, before we start exploring, any idea if there’s a portal to somewhere relevant to my quest nearby that might really save us a lot of pain and arsing about?”

* Update: Curst redesigned to feel like stepping into a new world instead of enduring yet more dusty beige and greys.

* Feature: Nordom can be turned into a battlesuit for Morte.

* Bonus Chapter: Planescape: Blood War. In which The Nameless One finally pauses, asks “Wait, if I’ve not been transformed into a Petitioner or something, can’t I just take this big axe, walk out of here and be back drinking at the Smouldering Corpse Bar by dinner time?” And does!

Plus, I hear the planned collector’s edition comes with a special rubber Chris Avellone so that you too can assign him stretch goals from the comfort of your own home! Ten inches? Twenty? Just don’t let him snap before he finishes the new System Shock!

Supplies may be limited. Or indeed, non-existent.

Either way, personally, I can’t wait.

77 Comments

  1. Esin12 says:

    Whoa. This is exciting.

  2. DashingDorm says:

    [TRUTH] Haha!
    I have mixed feelings about previous Infinity Engine remasters though, they introduce too many bugs. On the other hand, ACHIEVEMENTS! I now fill itchy to replay BG1-2 to get achievements.

  3. Hoot says:

    After being heavily disappointed with Tides of Numenera this sounds awesome. Being able to replay PST without spending ages fucking around with widescreen mods and the like would be easily worth the price.

  4. Unclepauly says:

    Hmmm, play a modded version or wait for this? Quite the conundrum.

  5. Grovester says:

    Goddamn it, and I’ve just spent ages modding the original and put a few hours into it. Stop and wait for this, or just carry on?

    • marko47 says:

      You maybe wont believe this, but i’ve just made account to tell you to finish the original game chief. You will probably want to play it again to see different outcome, maybe choose different party members or make different choices.

      ….voice from the future past ;)

  6. grimdanfango says:

    Ugh, Beamdog butcher another classic.

    Mod the original game up yourself. It’ll be more stable, and you’ll be spared their hammy, godawful “extra content”.

    I tried BG2 “enhanced”, and it irreparably corrupted my saves 15 hours into a playthrough… I had to start over, with the original modded-up version this time, and it worked flawlessly.

    Beamdog are hacks, whether they’re writing code or writing dialogue.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      So, that’s a no to TNO remembering he used to be a girl?

      • grimdanfango says:

        It occurs to me I may have rather gullibly skim-read the changelog and not realised it was a gag. You got me.

        My point still stands though, if Beamdog are involved.

        Goes to show the regard I have for them, when reading this list didn’t instantly register as things they wouldn’t actually do.

        The Nameless One remembering he used to be a girl would however be a great addition.

      • Nibblet says:

        I..I think i love you.

    • pekingduckman says:

      You have no idea what you’re on about.

      I and many other people finished the game with no problems whatsoever. Furthermore, the game can also get corrupted with improper mod installations.

      The Enhanced Editions added support for HD resolutions, modern CPUs and OSs, multiplayer matchmaking, quick loot, scaleable UI, quick weapon swap, story and hardcore mode etc.

    • PancakeWizard says:

      Why is there always someone ready to call Beamdog ‘hacks’ that butchered the BG games when there is zero evidence of this?

      Don’t get me wrong, Siege of Dragonspear is a joke, but absolutely nothing they’ve done to the original games is worthy of such a reaction. I’m a player of BG from the original 5 disc era (as I’m sure you are), and the EE versions are the absolute definitive versions for me. I used to arse about with Tutu and the like. Beamdog went well beyond what mere mods are capable of, and tons of additional mods are compatible with the EE versions now, anyway.

      The only thing I agree is subjective is the additional characters, but they can be ignored so no harm no foul. Every change they made to the base games is 100% objectively an improvement.

      Enough of the Beamdog bashing, it’s getting old.

      • hfm says:

        AGREE 100%.

        And I liked Dragonspear. Thought it was a good original adventure.

        • Electryc03 says:

          We must have been the only two that liked it! It added to the story, wasn’t a horrible story. Voice actors from the originals returned after all this time to do more dialog! Some people are purist that consider any manipulation with original material blasphemy. If you fall in that camp, you can choose not to buy it and move kindly along.

  7. RedViv says:

    Memory leak issues resolved
    So simple. So effective. So much tea in my nose oh gods.

  8. Rao Dao Zao says:

    Update: d my journal.

  9. Biggus_Dikkus says:

    is it another of these 1st of april jokes?

  10. Premium User Badge

    subdog says:

    I figured something was up when GOG Galaxy downloaded a decent size patch for it this weekend. Awesome!

    • Premium User Badge

      Barvahal says:

      According to the changelog, the update was for cloud saves.

  11. Det. Bullock says:

    That changelog made me chuckle.

  12. temujin33 says:

    finally! THis better not be an early april fool’s. If it is, I’m gonna cry…

  13. Goral says:

    Superb list Richard :D. /salute

  14. Kem0sabe says:

    Beamdog are crap, they release enhanced editions of other people’s work, introducing more bugs and problems than the originals, then remove those originals from gog so they can sell the enhanced editions for twice the price.

    • Det. Bullock says:

      Thank god I bought them all before then, I never noticed they pulled out the originals from GOG.

      • PancakeWizard says:

        Spoken like someone who’s not actually tried the EE versions.

    • pekingduckman says:

      How about you stop telling lies for once.

      Beamdog did not “steal” anything, considering it was founded by former members of Bioware who actually developed the original games. Furthermore, all of the modders involved like Camdawg were credited for their work, and they also added material like new areas, NPCs, and even a new expansion. It was released with several bugs, but without Atari’s meddling, Icewind Dale EE turned out fine, and by the last update, most bugs were ironed out.

      Furthermore, the original versions are included as bonuses for the GOG releases of the EEs, and being worked up about a $10 difference is inane.

      • Goral says:

        Nope, Beamdog are just modders but since they demand money for their “work” they’re parasites/thieves. Worst company there is.

        • pekingduckman says:

          Again, stop making up rubbish. Beamdog’s staff include:

          *Trent Oster, Bioware cofounder, lead of Neverwinter Nights
          *Cameron Tofer, former Bioware lead programmer
          *David Gaider, lead writer for Dragon Age

          Plus the aforementioned modders like Camdawg, Kaeloree, Miloch, Ardanis, Cuv, DavidW, and AvengerBG who worked as staff or contractors.

          And do you even know the difference between modding and actually remastering a game? All of the things I listed previously, such as adding in compatibility for new CPUs and OSs, HD support, redesigned interface, new NPCs etc actually requires access to the source code, and isn’t something that mods can do. How dare programmers attempt to make a living.

          • Pendragon says:

            Forget it, you can’t convince him with the truth. Haters gonna hate.

          • Kem0sabe says:

            Bullshit, to this day the enhanced editions still can’t run on a lot of integrated graphics cards, especially Intel ones, because of beamdog enhancements, while the originals could.

            There were also a shit ton of bugs introduced in both the Bg 1 and 2 enhanced editions, bugs that were never present in the originals.

            Finally, which people that lead the development of Bg 1 and 2 and work at beamdog? Where are these vast number of original black isle and Bioware de opera that work at beamdog that leads people to say that beamdog isn’t stealing, they are just enhancing their own work.

            This scumbags actually removed the original games from sale so they could peddle their broken enhanced editions…

          • pekingduckman says:

            Spoken like someone who has a bad case of sour grapes and get his information from hearsay. As people here already mentioned before, the original games weren’t removed from sale, merely bundled with the EEs.

            And bugs you say? They were already ironed by the 2.0 update, and Atari forced Beamdog to rush the game out early. Atari was not involved with Icewind Dale EE, and it turned out fine.

            Support for integrated chipsets were introduced in update 1.2. And furthermore, if you consider yourself a serious gamer you shouldn’t be using that at all. What’s next, attacking Beamdog for not supporting Voodoo 2?

            And let me guess, you came from RPGCodex right? What a sad bunch of little trolls, trying desperately to look for excuses to bash Beamdog. First you attack Beamdog for “stealing” modders’ work, then when I point out that Beamdog credited the modders, then you attack them for not being the original developers.

    • hfm says:

      I bought the original BG back in 1998 on release day. Yes I hauled it to an EB on that fateful day.

      The EE’s of BG and BG II (Have not picked up IWD) are fantastic. Being able to see some super crisp fonts at 3200×1800 and have everything scaled properly is fantastic. So far I’ve played BG:EE from start to finish and Dragonspear from start to finish. Not one crash. Not one thing out of place.

      I swear people bashing Beamdog are idiots.

  15. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    I own the original on some service or another, but I’ve never played it properly.

    The game starts, if I recall, with some wisecracking skull character forcibly ramming his bone against the fourth wall and any immersion until both are shattered.

    Just couldn’t get past that, despite all the glowing praise people toss on the story.

    • Goral says:

      You’re making a mistake, just play it already. The beginning is hard to get into (had the same problems) but once you meet Pharod it’s getting better and better and once you reach Lower Ward it’s just superb. Besides Fallout 1, Age of Decadence and Arcanum it’s the best RPG I’ve played.

    • KillahMate says:

      I don’t recall Morte breaking the fourth wall at any point in the game, nor anyone else for that matter.

      • Premium User Badge

        Drib says:

        I may be misremembering, it’s been a while. I mostly just recall him seeming very much like the token “Wow! So wacky!” kind of character.

        I do not like that kind of thing, especially as the first person you meet.

        But again, I dunno. Maybe it just seems larger in memory. I should give the game another shot sometime.

      • Chaoslord AJ says:

        Not really though he’s kinda annoying at first and not a typical high-fantasy-AD&D what you would expect skull all gloom and doom that may be what broke his immersion but he’s really deeper than that. Anyway the game is a must-play, not meant as a chore but as in excellent entertainment.

    • skyst says:

      Morte (the skull) can come off a bit jarring, especially with the excessively grim appearance of the game at first. I usually cringe at the “wacky” characters in RPGs as well and dismiss them the first chance I get. But Morte is a complex guy who has some serious depth to him and seems to be the most popular companion in the game. Or is that Dakkon?

      Anyway, you can’t go in expecting the serious, fantasy by the books experience of Baldur’s Gate. PST is a serious game with much more mature themes than the more or less typical adventure tropes of other IE RPGs. But it takes place in a very odd setting – though you get used to it.

      And Morte is accountable for one of the biggest, “Oh. Shit.” moments of my RPG career – so there’s that.

  16. Premium User Badge

    subdog says:

    That original trailer from the Fallout 1 CD is so ridiculously good.

    Maybe the best video game trailer ever made? (Even if not very representative of the game)

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      IIRC, it was only an internal mood trailer that was never actually supposed to be released to the public. Might be misremembering.

      • Dezmiatu says:

        There must be some credit to it, because the trailer uses Lustmord’s music, which isn’t found anywhere in the game. I believe his work was shelves when the game shifted direction mid-production.

        A shame, because the Lady of Pain gliding over Sigil as the music kicks in sends chills up my spine every time.

  17. teh_nerd says:

    Guess it’s last chance to get the original Planescape: Torment on GoG, then. When the Enhanced Edition hits, they gonna remove the original from the store (as with Baldur’s Gate and others).

    • pekingduckman says:

      The original BG games are bundled with the Enhanced Editions.

      • Fomorian1988 says:

        I don’t get why people keep repeating the “original versions taken off GOG”. The info that the originals are part of the purchase is, like, right there. At the start of the description.

  18. Sparkasaurusmex says:

    What I’d really like is for Wizards of the Coast to bring the Planescape setting to 5th edition D&D.

    • Werthead says:

      The Planescape cosmology was jettisoned from the D&D multiverse with 3rd Edition, which makes that rather hard. Other planes still exist (including some of the same ones), so it would require some re-jigging.

      What they should do is some new adventures in Sigil, which explicitly still exists (it’s mentioned in 3rd, 4th and now 5th Editions).

      • melancholicthug says:

        Wait, how can Sigil still exist if Planescape as a whole was discarded? Confusing…

        • Premium User Badge

          Grizzly says:

          My basic understanding from D&D lore is that they ditched the seperate settings of The Forgotten Realms, Planescape, Greyhawk and a few others and made one big multiverse containing aspects of all, so you as a DM have an excuse to mix and match all of them.

        • Werthead says:

          With some head-scratching.

          D&D 1st and 2nd Edition had a unified cosmology, so all of the different D&D worlds (official and all of the homebrew ones), planes and dimensions existed in a coherent background. That background was codified in the Manual of the Planes and then expanded upon in Planescape (which introduced Sigil).

          For D&D 3rd Edition the unified cosmology was disregarded. Each DM and each campaign setting now had its own “universe” and it was up to the DM how much stuff applied to their own setting. Sigil and the general Planescape cosmology was retained as the background universe for Forgotten Realms (since there’d already been some Forgotten Realms-Planescape crossovers, like the planar stuff in Baldur’s Gate II) but weren’t necessarily the “default” arrangement of the planes for D&D as a whole. That remained true for 4th Edition and I believe 5th, although, slightly contradictory, both the 4th and 5th Edition core rulebooks mention Sigil.

          I get the general impression from Planescape is that Sigil was by far the most popular thing from the setting, and a lot of the rest of the setting was ignored, so WotC have kept Sigil in play and now let DMs decide which bits of the rest of the planes to keep or ignore.

          I’m really hoping one of the new D&D films visits Sigil. It’d be impressive to see that on screen.

  19. Chaoslord AJ says:

    Almost got me with the changlog as I always played with easteregg Morte and leprechaun Annah back in the past so sounded legit.

  20. Jekadu says:

    Giggles the Clown is apparently part of the Cobbett Canon now.

  21. Snargelfargen says:

    Looking forward to this. Planescape is pretty clunky these days, even with the widescreen patch.

  22. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    So what happens when we get the news that this is actually a countdown for a procedurally generated survival game with crafting, where you make arrangements for your leaving of a dangerous place?

    Plan Escape, coming soon.

    • Rao Dao Zao says:

      And once you succeed in escaping, you’ve got to get To Rment.

    • NotGodot says:

      A fun thing to do ten years ago was to go on 4chan and other boards and ask about Planet Escape: Tournament. When the tournament began, for instance.

  23. teamcharlie says:

    I never really got why The Nameless One was so afraid of death. In Planescape: Torment, there is a literal certainty that the afterlife exists, and the blood war doesn’t seem so bad compared to The Nameless One’s mortal life. Maybe it’s got a decent combat system, or, heaven forfend, maybe The Nameless One can finally get laid when he’s down there.

    • Sin Vega says:

      Instinct, I suppose. However much experience tells you otherwise, if that dumb animal part of your mind is shouting “THIS IS BAD NO NO NO”, it’s gonna influence your feelings. Plus it’s sort of cheated in game, but in the story his deaths also cause amnesia, so he could lose any progress he’s made towards resolving anything he wants to, and could lose his chance forever.

      • teamcharlie says:

        More to the point: why not just make it be that once The Nameless One died, that’s it? Why not construct the game’s story such that he literally stops existing and never experiences anything again once his mortal life is over (or perhaps he just overtly expresses a belief that this is the case, but maybe gets saved at the last minute by surprise in time for a sequel hook)?

        Then at least his struggle makes sense, and the worry about other people dying in his place (who I guess just otherwise end up chilling out in some afterlife too in the game’s original story) is a real risk rather than a mere inconvenience for all involved. It wouldn’t change the content of the story all that much, but the stakes would finally make sense.

        • Richard Cobbett says:

          “who I guess just otherwise end up chilling out in some afterlife too in the game’s original story”

          The people who die in his place become Shadows.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      He’s really not that scared of death. One reading of the story is that it’s what he’s actually after – to break the cycle and be free of it. That just gets a little problematic when you factor in the alternative not really being any better.

      • KillahMate says:

        I think teamcharlie means why The Nameless One was so scared in his *original* incarnation, the one which had his mortality removed. victorix is right, as far as I recall the game explicitly mentions that Adahn (or whatever his real name was) knew full well there was an afterlife, and was terrified of the punishment that awaited him for all the evil he’d done. He was afraid of Hell, not nothingness.

        The game depicts TNO’s journey towards accepting the punishment for his actions, both to bring an end to his immortality and the damage it’s causing to the universe, and because it’s just the right thing to do.

    • victorix says:

      I thought it was because the first incarnation did very very bad things and knew he was going to be punished a lot in death?

  24. Biggus_Dikkus says:

    May Adahn be with you

  25. Jane Doe says:

    I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard this year yet. How long did it take to think up that glorious changelog!?

    I’m also a little torn about Beamdogs EEs. I like that they run better on modern rigs (after a year or two of patching), but their “extra content” stirs up the same feelings as Jar Jar Binks.

    Still, its possible that they (ab)used BG and IWD to gather experience before trying their hand at the Holy Grail of Roleplaying Games. If they fail us on this one, the shitstorm will bury Beamdog. If not, their past crimes against roleplayers may perhaps be forgiven.

    • Goral says:

      Beamdog did worse than modders who shared their work for free. In case of Planescape Torment it runs on modern computers “out of the box” assuming you buy it on GOG and if you want some other improvements there is a great tutorial that shows what to install: link to gog.com
      It takes only a few minutes to set up.

      • pekingduckman says:

        BS, and you’re contradicting yourself. The GOG versions do not run well on Windows 10 machines without compatibility mode, and the mods themselves can cause issues if installed in the wrong order and can mess up savegames. For instance, the HD mod require new savegames, and plenty of people at the GOG forums reported mod crashes due to compatibility errors.

        I’m rather sick and tired of people like you spreading falsehoods around the Enhanced Editions. The Baldur’s Gate EE added more than just fixpacks + higher resolutions as you claimed, but also gameplay features like scaleable UI, zoom, quick loot, quest popups, monster health bars etc which goes beyond simple modding.

    • pekingduckman says:

      Did you even play the EEs or simply listened to hearsay? Baldur’s Gate EE had issues due to Atari, the then license holder, forcing Beamdog to release the game early, and the contract did not allow them to change existing game content.

      Icewind Dale EE, on the other hand, launched with almost no bugs, and added the extra classes and kits from Baldur’s Gate 2. It also added a few removed quests from the original game, but nothing too drastic.

  26. Premium User Badge

    particlese says:

    Between at least this and the Gabe Newell: A Half-Life Story: The Movie: The Games article, I feel like RPS is making a whole week out of April first, perhaps as commentary on/playfulness with the commercial “holiday season”…thing.

    Yes or no, I approve. Which is really all that matters.

    • Someoldguy says:

      Feels like getting your April Fools in early because everyone rumbles them instantly on April 1.

  27. Premium User Badge

    Jiskra says:

    i love new dialogue choices! bring it on!

  28. satan says:

    Didn’t care for their own content that was jammed into the existing BG games and fit like a square peg in a round hole, but the QOL and interface/appearance improvements were most welcome.

  29. Buggery says:

    Oh my yes. I’d love to make it more than a few hours into this game. My process for each attempt thus far has gone something like:

    1) Download game
    2) Install dearth of mods to get it running nice on a modern PC
    3) Play it for a few hours and get really into it / have a party member die and then try to figure out how to resurrect them only to die in the process and lose the remains
    5) Save
    4) CRASH CITY

  30. ZX k1cka55 48K says:

    Just read the Changelog in disgust without realizing that it’s just a joke, because it sounded exactly like something Beamdog would do to a classic…