(CTN News) – Larian Studios’ lead systems designer Nick Baldur’s Gate 3 Pechenin tells me Ascripter thought transforming into a cheese wheel would complete the scene.
The main story of Baldur’s Gate 3 is about tentacle-mouthed monsters that would look right at home in one of HP Lovecraft’s Cthulhu horror stories, so a sidequest where a disgruntled wizard transforms you into cheese may seem out of place.
In moments like these, Larian really captures the anarchic freedom of real-world Dungeons & Dragons sessions.
BioWare made its name with Baldur’s Gate 3 and its sequel 20 years ago, before Mass Effect and Dragon Age. “When the original games came out, they were cutting edge,” Pechenin says.
We’re trying to release a game that’s as beautiful and as powerful as humanly possible at that point.”
The video game industry has tried to recreate Dungeons & Dragons’ fantasy Baldur’s Gate 3 world, but it hasn’t matched its freedom. As an adventurer sits around a table, and instead of asking the bartender for local gossip, he or she says they’d like to burn down the friendly looking inn.
In the role of Dungeon Master, the player can improvise and respond, narrating what happens next, as opposed to video games that can only accommodate what they predict players will do.
In Baldur’s Gate 3, you get the freedom of a tabletop D&D session.
You could talk your way out of fights, smash locks instead of looking for keys, and choose your quests differently.
There weren’t endless possibilities, but Baldur’s G ate 3 offered flexibility many games hadn’t, especially with such detailed art (at the time).
However, Larian’s take on the series is on another level; they’ve built a world that responds to your every move. A druid can turn into a bear and speak with any animal he finds, learning clues from a chatty squirrel that a player without that skill couldn’t.
If you play as a wizard instead, you can turn into a cloud of gas and pass through the narrow grates of a prison cell, bypassing the challenges of escaping and overcoming guards.
You’ll hear radically different things from the characters in the world depending on your race, gender, class, and decisions you make.
It can sometimes feel like the game was made just for you. Most of the interaction is scripted and voiced, like a movie.
The secret is time and resources; 400 developers have spent six years adding layer after layer of possible actions and tailored responses under Baldur’s Gate 3.
Pechenin says there was a lot to do. The developer built a tool to generate conversation cinematics, which needed to be hand-tweaked by a cinematic director.
For three years, the game has been in early access, with thousands of players telling the developers what they’d like to see in a scene.
Larian wanted players to be able to see a variety of content in one, two, or even a hundred playthroughs. With hours of scenes many players will never see, this talented team of writers, artists, coders, and designers wants to create an imaginary world as flexible and free as D&D’s.
The result is a cheese wheel that bounces around and emits smelly gas clouds.