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Postmortem: Overhaul Games' Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition
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Postmortem: Overhaul Games' Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition

April 15, 2013 Article Start Page 1 of 5 Next

How did a PC classic get reborn as a multiplatform "enhanced edition"? Founding BioWare developer Trent Oster takes us behind the scenes of the development of the Baldur's Gate remake, and all of its complications. 

I'm Trent Oster, President of Beamdog / Overhaul Games. We're here to talk about the development of Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition. BG: EE (as we like to call it) launched on PC on November 28th and on iPad on December 8th to great fan interest, rocketing to the number 2 spot on iTunes in the U.S. and number 1 in many other App Stores around the world.

Our initial plans were to launch all platforms as close to each other as possible; in retrospect, this was very naive, given the size of our team and the volume of work required. We're working steadily now to build versions for the remaining platforms and to roll out concurrent versions so cross-platform multiplayer can be a reality. We've had great success on the PC and iPad, with great sales and positive feedback from the fans. We're very anxious to roll the remaining platforms out as fast as we can.

From the trenches, the development of Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition was an interesting journey. We had early moments of exuberance as we played the first tablet version and proved our theory that Baldur's Gate did indeed kick ass on tablets. We had great moments of insight when we brought people from the modding community in and shared work-in-progress versions with them. We had moments of despair, such as the lost source art and subsequent sacrifices to salvage the deal. We had moments of great distress, such as when we negotiated the September-to-November contract extension for the game. Every day that we had to wait for approval of the new deal terms so we could tell the fans was like torture. We worked incredibly hard to come to terms quickly, but until we had sign-off we couldn't announce the schedule slip.

We had some great moments as a team, such as the first time we saw the new UI scheme in the game and the first time Sam's new music played in an area. It has been a great journey for us and we've formed a strong core team of thirteen people who are capable of some great works. Along the way we had the opportunity to work with some great talents such as Mark Meer, John Gallagher, and Sam Hulick. We've had the opportunity to leverage all the great work from the original title as we try to build something better, something familiar, yet improved. In short, Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition was a challenge, but we've all come out of the development with some sanity remaining and a great understanding of the game, the engine technology and what makes Baldur's Gate the legend it is.

What Went Right

1. Fans and Community

Early on we knew one of the key elements to succeeding with the Enhanced Edition of the game was to bring in as many people from the modding and fan communities as possible. By working with them and listening to them, we could make the right changes and try to improve the game to better meet their needs. Our first few attempts were crude -- an invite-only Reddit, some direct e-mails -- but things rapidly turned around with the launch of the official message boards where we could speak directly with the modders and fans and listen to their concerns.

We shared new content with them as early as possible and acted on their feedback to make the game a better experience for users and a better platform for modding. We did this through hosting a long-running private beta. We would push a new build out to the beta group, have them poke it and respond with suggestions and feedback.

Our core community firmed up quite quickly, with a number of key people stepping forward with well thought-out criticism and thoughtful solutions. We read all the feedback, but we prioritized responding to the in-depth feedback and the community quickly oriented around that model, understanding we give the attention to those who put in the effort. The private beta was composed of hand-recruited community members from this active thoughtful group. We will be forever grateful to all the people on the forums for all the effort they contributed on our journey to make a better Baldur's Gate. 

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