January 18, 2008

YOU MUST GATHER YOUR PARTY BEFORE VENTURING FORTH

Hey, every now and then I actually do bring you timely news. Or timely supposition.

The hot rumour of the last hour is that someone is making Baldur's Gate 3. Excuse me, Baldur's Gate III. I am moved to ask "who cares?" BioWare won't be making it, of course, but I've come to realise that a franchise switching hands is not an insurmountable obstacle. I have to admit that the affection for Baldur's Gate still eludes me. If it's the gameplay, then at least a dozen other worthwhile games have since been made in that mold, and that original Baldur's Gate team aren't returning to dazzle us with their inimitable style of RPG design. I'm not sure what the idea is behind these games other than intepreting a stock-standard D&D pen-and-paper campaign as a video game. Ten years later, isn't that a little bit familiar?

If it's the setting -- oh, God, it can't be the setting, can it? Has there ever been a more mediocre fantasy world in gaming history? Who's getting excited at the prospect of revisiting the land of -- I don't even remember the name of the land. I'm sure it must have been home to an epically prosaic tale of swords and sorcery though.

It better not be the characters either, although I think Throne of Bhaal retired all of them. Wait a second, if Baldur's Gate 3 has Minsc in it then I take it all back. Sign me up! I can't wait to spend another adventure with Minsc. That loveable old ox. I look forward to wincing at his loud, stupid voice, that crazy running gag about his hamster (A proud warrior and his pet hamster! A HAMSTER!!) and of course those uneasy moments between his non-sequitur bellowing when we wonder if this guy actually is mentally challenged. I think I've missed those most of all. As far as I'm concerned, the inexplicably popular Minsc is right up there with Daxter as one of the worst "funny" characters in video games. The character epitomises a particular kind of loud, obvious, not-even-a-little-bit-cute humour that was the cutting edge of children's comedy circa 1995.

I'm sure whoever's developing this could be a great team and they might well make a great game. Still, what's the point of naming it after the ultimate generic RPG other than as a business move? It'll draw upon whatever cache of nostalgia and good will that name still has, which is left over from when the game originally captured gamers' attention because at that point there weren't already a hundred games like it.

This is a writing theory I have and it applies only to nerds. If you have a continuing work of fiction that appeals heavily to the nerd demographic (Lost, Battlestar Galactica, etc.), you can write something that's good or average or terrible and it won't matter as long as you throw in one extreme moment where there's a huge plot twist or an expensive set piece or an "important" story clue. This will be all anyone talks about. OMG I can't believe they did that!!! and so on. And just like that, as a writer, you get a pass. In the context of the marketing campaign for this game, calling it "Baldur's Gate 3" is that smokescreen.

This guy sucks.

3 comments:

Michal said...

That may be your opinion Sir, and I respect you for it. If I may be so bold however as to offer an alternative interpretation of your dislike of the game: you sux.

Anonymous said...

lulz nice one michal.

Andre' said...
This comment has been removed by the author.