Chat log of a chat with Bioware held on June 27th 2001, 6pm PST at RPG Vault
okay please message ulairi with your questions
<Bio_Robin> they do have smarties!!
<Jonric> and as usual, let's ask the team members to introduce themselves
<NinjaStan_Bio> Do they? My sister was in NY and said they didn't
<Bio_Robin> they aren't like ours though
<Nathan_Bio> Nathan Plewes, Line Producer
<NinjaStan_Bio> Stanley Woo, QA Ninja
<Bio_Robin> Robin - Web Monkey
<Bio_Kevin> Kevin Martens, Lead Designer
<Bio_Mark> Hello I'm Mark Darrah Lead programmer of TOB etc... Lord of Clamato, and new CodApple!
<NinjaStan_Bio> Mmmm, two great tastes that taste great together
<Jonric> ready to go? Are the new low level spells from Icewind Dale (ie Icelance) in ToB?"
<Bio_Mark> Hmmm trapped out side of the proper place...
<Bio_Mark> Ever rejected...
<Bio_Mark> So sad...
<Bio_Mark> No Icelance isn't in TOB.
<Bio_Mark> We actually ran out of slots for spells at some levels. (No more then 24 per level)
<Bio_Mark> Done (If I'm even in the right place)
<Ulairi> <JanJansen> Ok first off thx for a great expansion! Question is simply is there a truly neutral/secret ending to ToB as supposed to just the Good/Evil ending? Thx
<Drew_Bio> There are multiple endings for TOB, but I don't want to spoil anyone here. I will say there are more than just 2 endings.
<Bio_Mark> Okay I move...Bye.
<Ulairi> <BigPimpin> Will there be any chance that you will be able to use boo? I.e. use him in battle etc.
<Drew_Bio> Boo provides wisdom and moral support to Minsc. Other than that he doesn't have any uses in the game. Done.
<Ulairi> <Flabbyjack> Is this really "the end"? A pretty unfullfilling ending to an epic series..."
<Drew_Bio> I don't know that I'd call TOB unfulfilling. It answers all the important questions, brings the Bhaal saga to a fitting conclusion, and provides 30-50 hours of gameplay. But yes, it is the end of this particular storyline. Done.
<Ulairi> <Lorax> Will we be seeing any cameo apperances from Minsc and other BG characters in future games?
<Bio_Kevin> Well, Minsc is popular. You like Minsc. We like Minsc. Neverwinter is so far away. That is all that I have to say. ;P
<Jonric> <MageDragon> Question: I have covered the boards for BGChronicles (PlanetBG) for a long time, and have seen a lot of dedication to the fans from BioWare. Listening to the fans' requests, complaints and praise while giving feedback when possible. Thanks for the fond memories, the question is: How many hours a day does David Gaider spend on the boards?
<Bio_Kevin> Well, Dave goes one during work for a few minutes every hour. I've also noticed that he goes home and goes on the boards. Weekends, too. I'm not sure if he does anything else. That's dedication! Done
<Bio_Mark> I a spaz. Sorry.
<Ulairi> When will the BG2:TOB and Icewind Dale:HoW music be available like it was for BG2:SoA plz?
<Drew_Bio> There aren't any current plans to make the music available that I know of, but I suppose if demand is strong anything is possible. Sorry I can't be more helpful. Done.
<Ulairi> I found the game bosses to be extremely challenging and some players have said they were too easy... what gives?
<Bio_Kevin> That's a natural byproduct of the ludicrous numbers of spells and combat options. In some cases, if you know the creature well or have the right deadly combination of attacks prepared, the creature goes down fast. If you get some lucky critical rolls in at the right moment, bye bye boss. If you're not as familiar with AD&D or the BG system, it may be harder. We balance everything as well as we can for the average player.
Given that it is the "INFINITY" engine, when will Mark be porting the
engine for Word, Quicken, and Netscape so users can summon djinni's to
do essays, disintegrate bills, and whirlwind attack webspam with that
oh so special top-down isometric flair.
<Bio_Mark> Its already been ported to Word, Quicken, and Netscape. Unfortunately it will only work with the new Netscape/Word/Quicken Hybrid version 9.A3455353453456356 on Windows 3.11a
<Ulairi> What did you think of the VO work after it was recorded? < /me thinks of Cespenar and shudders>. Any particular character's voices you especially liked?
<Nathan_Bio> I've always liked Viconia's VO (done)
<Ulairi> Any chance for a BG editor, like for NWN?
<Bio_Mark> Long Answer...
<Ulairi> <Iarwain> When will we hear about the future beyond NWN, or is NWN the only thing in the oven?
<Alan_Bio> Releasing the music for ToB is something we're looking at, but I have no definite answer at this time. I think it was pretty fantastic myself :)
<Bio_Mark> BG was never designed for user created content.
<Bio_Kevin> There is of course, the Starwars RPG, Knight of the Old Republic. There isn't much we can say about that right now but it will be supercool. More...
<Bio_Kevin> We apply everything we learn from previous games to make the next ones into the best game experience possible. After Star Wars...
<Bio_Kevin> We always have plans. :P
<Ulairi> <Ainamacar> It seems like the romances are much more fleshed out, both in quality, and particularly in bulk. Is this a correct judgement, and about how much more is there compared to SoA?
<Bio_Kevin> We've added quite a bit of romance into TOB. There are numerous additions to each of the four romances and all of them come to their logical conclusions...
<Bio_Kevin> Some with surprising results.
<Bio_Kevin> I don't know exactly how much more.
<Ulairi> <Hosun> Does every NPC get a conclusion to their story in ToB?
<Bio_Kevin> Every NPC has a post game bio that brings their stories to a close. Some are happy, some are sad, some are... Jansen-esque. There's been a lot of positive feedback about it on the boards so we're quite happy.
<Ulairi> <Lorax> What's the deal with the big metal unit? Is it an inside joke, a real D&D relic, or what?
<Bio_Kevin> I won't spoil it for anyone who hasn't played the game by telling them what it is but...
<Bio_Kevin> The BMU is the ultimate silly ending to an extremely silly easter egg. Always keep the pantaloons...
<Bio_Kevin> It is completely made up by us. And it's silly. Did I mention that? Done.
<Ulairi> <Dave-MMORPG> What are you're favorite D&D Modules? (Any chance for an other PlaneScape game, or a Birthright, or DarkSun game?)
<Drew_Bio> Favorite modules... so many to choose from. I'm partial to the old ones... I've always liked the Giants-Drow-Demonweb Pits (more).
<Nathan_Bio> Well I'd say the Temple of Elemental Evil and the Return to. Good for party paranoia.
<Bio_Mark> This will sound somewhat self serving but I generally created my own adventures.
<Drew_Bio> And of course the Tomb of Horrors. I haven't played the 3rd Edition Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil, but I've heard good things. (more)
<Bio_Mark> I'm just that nerdy.
<Nathan_Bio> no arguments here :)
<Bio_Mark> Okay not so self serving I guess.
<Drew_Bio> Funny how we tend to like the broad, multiple module campaigns. How many total hours was the BG series?
<Ulairi> <MageDragon> Are there any Easter Eggs in ToB anyone would like to share ?
<Bio_Mark> Well there is this myrthical rabit that comes around once a year...
<Bio_Mark> of course in his world mythical is spelt with an 'r'
<Bio_Mark> The big metal unit is a easter egg.
<Bio_Kevin> Look for the chinchilla. Also, never forget the value of subcontracting eyeball retrieval quests. That's all for now. :)
<Drew_Bio> And we do have a "mirth" ical rabbit... or is it a chinchilla? I can't remember.
<Nathan_Bio> Watch for tiny dogs
<NinjaStan_Bio> There's one under the tree, and one behind the couch...
<Ulairi> <Lunix> Black Isle made a free dungeon addon, with a few new weapons etc, does Bioware have any similar plans in store? Or any extra goodies in the future that we can look forward to?
<Bio_Kevin> Throne of Bhaal is enormous. There's a huge dungeon, an epic conclusion to the story, about 80 areas split over 16 main adventure areas, numerous spells items and monsters, and 30-50 hours of gameplay. I think that people will be very happy with the value of this mission pack. It is already bigger than most full release games. Plus, everyone keeps bugging us to get NWN done. We're hard at work on that.
<Ulairi> <[SoCoM]> Have you thought about the possibility of making a DVD Special Edition? (and if this is possible, ships in Spain (Europe))?
<Bio_Alan> We are thinking about doing a special edition to DVD with perhaps SoA and ToB, but there's nothing concrete yet.
<Ulairi> <Hosun> Have any of you read the Baldur's Gate novel adaptations? They were pretty bad in my opinion. I'm wondering what you guys thought.
<Drew_Bio> Adaptations of novels are tricky... I speak from experience. I think some of the problems with the BG novels comes from too many cooks stirring the stew. (more)
<Drew_Bio> Mr. Athans was working on the novels while we worked on the games, and whenever changes came up he had a hard time working them in. Between all the designers here, the editors and the author, it's tough to come up with something that closely resembles the game experience. (more)
<Drew_Bio> As a side note, the next BG novel has been written by me, and since I was closer to the design team I think people will find it more closely resembles the plot and characterization of the TOB game - although even my version has some elements that weren't changed for the computer game.
<Ulairi> <Dave-MMORPG> Any chance that BGII will be ported to the Xbox or Gamecube?
<Bio_Mark> While I would never rule anything out, BG is fundementally a PC game. It relies heavily upon the user interface available. Further it is truly a memory pig. Even the XBOX with 64megs of memory would be swamped by BG. This would require writing a virtual memory system. A pretty icky proposition.
<Ulairi> <Kaine679> Could you please somehow find out more about Druids and whether they equal to the other character classes since they were somewhat low in SoA?
<Bio_Mark> In the end a port probably isn't that feasible though a re-write inspired by the original might be.
<Ulairi> Is it feasible that all the games you develop a year from now including NWN will be playable on a pentium2-266 with no 3d card?
<Bio_Kevin> Druid answer: Druids are very fun to play in Throne of Bhaal. They have some unique, super powerful high level abilities such as the ability to summon elemental princes. They also gain levels a lot faster than they previously did. They level up quite quickly, especially at the beginning of TOB. They also have unique class items. Druids are a powerful and fun class in TOB.
<Bio_Mark> NWN is fundementally a 3D game. As such its requirements are different then BG.
<Bio_Mark> However the visual payoff is also much greater. AND other things are possible as bandwidth is freed up for greater AI.
<Ulairi> I'd like to become the new Lord of Murder, I've built up an impressive resume of dead references, will I be hired?"
<Bio_Kevin> As a matter of fact, we have several openings for Lord of Murder. They're primarily janitorial in nature but the title is quite cool. And the mop. It's definitely a sharp looking mop. (Note: I refuse to spoil any potential endings to TOB)
<Jonric> <Sartaeus> What new kits/classes will be added?
<Bio_Kevin> We've added a brand new kit to Throne of Bhaal, the ever so cool (and dangerous!) Wild Mage Kit. A wild mage is a wizard who specializes in the control of unpredictable wild magic. He/she tries to bend it to do what they want it to do.
<Bio_Kevin> Other than that, we've also added a ton of new high level abilities and spells that characters can pick an choose from to customize their character and kick more butt!
<Ulairi> Were there any favorite side stories, NPC interactions or quests you had to drop in ToB? Can you share some with us?
<Drew2_Bio> Unfortunately we always have to drop plots because we don't have infinite resources. One in particular I liked was a trial we had, where you could use the red/blue/green circles to see how well you had influenced the jury. It may show up in another game.
<Drew2_Bio> Still, we did manage to put in more than a fair amount of stuff for the player to do. All in all I think people will be very satisfied with what actually made it in.
<Ulairi> <Kaine679> Will the werewolf form of the shapeshifter improve with levels in ToB?
<Bio_Kevin> The Shapeshifter kit has been improved in several ways. Like all druids, he/she gains access to the high level abilities. They also can shapeshift into their werewolf forms more often and the Greater Werewolf is more powerful and regenerates at a faster rate.
<Ulairi> <WGBanshee> Now that the series is concluded, looking back, what was your favorite bit out of all the games?
<Drew2_Bio> It's gotta be Bondari, Nanoc and Tim. Pure genius. (Kevin's baby, I believe.)
<Ulairi> <Sartaeus> Can you add a system where one could build a character from scratch (starting from level one). I.e. you could make a dual class fighter/mage level 2/10. It's kinda frustrating to start off at around level 8 and have to work from there.
<Bio_Mark> Essentially no, we can't add a system to allow you to start a character from level 1. At least not in game. Allow me to explain why. Of all places in the entire Infinity engine, the character creation screen is truly colapsing under the weight of 4 games. In order to allow what is suggested (a good idea BTW) the entire screen would have to be stripped to the ground and rewritten. Further it would complicate a screen that many novice users already
<Ulairi> Thanks for coming out with the dialogue fix for ToB so quickly, but i'm wondering how your beta testers managed to miss it... is it possible to apply to be a beta tester for your games?
<Bio_Kevin> My favorite bit is the one that Drew mentioned. I hope you like it. Also, there is a distinct reference to text adventures that should make old school players grin. Enjoy!
<Bio_Mark> Actually the reason that the Dialog bug was missed can be explained quite simply.
<Bio_Mark> This bug ONLY occurs with Win2K SP2 (and Win XP). Since SP2 didn't come out until May 5 it was simply missed.
<Bio_Mark> As simple as that. Once it was tested the bug is pretty hard to miss. Beta testing wouldn't have helped as it would have all happened before
<Bio_Mark> SP2 came out. In the end it really is a stupid programming error rather then a testing problem.
<NinjaStan_Bio> Oh, good. It wasn't me. *whew*
<Bio_Mark> The bug itself has been in since BG2 but only shows up with SP2.
<Ulairi> <Howdy> Are the BG games considered canon Forgotten Realms history by WotC?
<Drew2_Bio> Because of our multiple endings, the BG games can't be considered "official" in the FR world. However, the novels (including the upcoming TOB novel - another free plug for me!) are considered canon.
<Ulairi> I could have sworn I hear the voice of Minsc in a Courage the Cowardly Dog cartoon. Is the cast also employed elsewhere?
<Jonric> just to let everyone know, we're going to finish up in about 5 minutes
<Bio_Mark> While I can't speak specifically to this instance, YES voice actors are very prolific people.
<Bio_Mark> For example Sarevok is in Voltron.
<Bio_Mark> We have Whiney the Pooh
<Ulairi> Do you have tigger too?
<Bio_Mark> Pinky from Pinky and the brain.
<Drew2_Bio> Brain, brain, brain...
<Bio_Mark> Half the cast of Transformer Movie (Though it almost seems like every voice actor did that)
<Bio_Mark> Also I'm not sure about this but I think we also had Wilbur from Mister Ed. (Though that could just be random synapsis in my brain.)
<Ulairi> <Zipnab> will the next BG games still be in 2D or will they change into 3D like NWN?
<Bio_Alan> Well, we can really talk about possible future BG games that haven't been announced. But you can tell that the trend lately has been for 3D games. I think they both have their advantages/disadvantages and both look good.
<Ulairi> <Dave-MMORPG> Whose ass do I have to kiss to get put on the beta list? :)
<Bio_Mark> Mine. Note however that while I'm small I'm pretty damn crazy.
<Bio_Mark> Oh and I have a 400 man militia living in by yard.
<Bio_Mark> Actually. We don't currently do external Betas.
<Jonric> There's a problem at Bioware so we're going to close the chat thanks to all of you and to the team for coming and enjoy ToB