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" All of the Baldur’s Gate original assets like the 3D models that make up these sprites, the 3D models for the levels in the original game, these archives were lost. There was a data tape in some guy’s garage, and it flooded, and it was gone. There goes the history of Baldur’s Gate."
- Beamdog lead designer Phillip Daigle.
After more than a decade, there's a new Baldur's Gate Infinity Engine game on the market -- sort of.
Developed by Beamdog's Overhaul Games, Baldur's Gate: Siege of Dragonspear is out this week as an expansion pack for its 2012 remake, Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition.
What's intriuing about that, especially for history-minded game developers, is that Beamdog basically had to reverse-engineer BioWare's original 1998 game Baldur's Gate in order to develop new material for the remake after nearly all of the original game's assets were deemed lost.
"I think we’re about 90-95% new code at this point," Beamdog president Trent Oster told Kotaku at a recent event, noting that the company sees its work remastering the old games as vital practice for creating new ones in the aging (if significantly modified) Infinity Engine. "To me, the Enhanced Editions [taught us how] to built content, to create content that fits."
Oster had previously acknowledged in a Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition postmortem that the studio had been unable to secure BioWare's original Baldur's Gate source art, forcing it to scrap the original plan to "remaster" Baldur's Gate in favor of remaking it outright ("We basically had to completely discard our plans and start anew after almost a year of negotiation.") Now some of the development team have shed more light on what that entails, exactly.
"In the original Baldur’s Gate, these cobble stone streets here, this was just a close up picture of coffee beans and they just repeated over and over again," Beamdog lead designer Phillip Daigle told Kotaku. "In ‘98 you had a 15 inch CRT, so you’re not going to notice or care probably. Nowadays when you’ve got an HD screen, you’re like, ‘Oh, those are coffee beans.’ We had to render out new streets and then lay them into the original 2D art and then paint over it. It was this whole process."
For further commentary from the Dragonspear dev team, as well as insight into how they feel about potentially developing their own original games or a full-on Baldur's Gate III, head over to Kotaku.