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On the Possibilities in IWD2 Modding


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I saw a quote shown below, and well, it got me thinking:


Back to my modding days I believed cliché treating those games mostly as the ressources reservoirs for BG2 mods.


This is a stereotype that is hard to break, unfortunately. I keep hoping that people will finally start looking at IWD2 as a moddable media in and of itself, instead of trying to patch and repatch BG2. I think that the time is ripe for it.


BG2 modding is a good thing, but not only it becomes so crowded nowadays, that it already sparks logical conflicts between the mods and sour grapes about people doing the same thing, it is gradually becoming trivial, tired, making it more and more difficult to get a player to replay the same old game for the sake of a new NPC or a quest. I think it was proven with a reasonable certainty that TCs on BG2 scale are practically infeasable in any sort of "our lifetime", and suffer greatly from non-original artistic content and too many things that have to be done - ie building storyline, quest content, engaging NPCs, both joinable and unjoinable etc.


Meanwhile, the wistful sighs for another game "like BG2" continue.


Setting aside the conservativism of such nostalgia, and keeping the fingers crossed that indeed it indicates a desire for *another* game, not BG3 with the kids of all NPCs or some such, and taking TUTU conversion lessons to heart, I'd say that modded IWD2 is a yet another untapped "BG2", but if and only if the community starts to actively mod it. Having poked around IWD2 for a while now with IWD2NPCs, I am seeing the possibilities and realistic possibilities. The tough part - the groundwork was layed and layed well by the commercial developper, but they did not finish it up.


I know that it is not as easy as it sounds, because much of our tools are not adjusted to deal with IWD2, and hard-coded issues, but I am sure a lot more can be done with IWD2 than designating it as a source of area art for BG2 mods.


My 'IWD2 modding' wish list includes, but is not limited to:


1) Game rebalancing. Currently, the game is too hard on a typical BG2 player, almost pushing you to the improbably and boring stats (ie fighters with 18s where it counts and 3's in INT/WIS/CHA departments.)

2) Dialogue improvements for the later part of the game.

3) Two or three alternative paths through the game - done in a no-nonsense way, politiking and plotting on such a scale to show the Bodhi vs Aran "choice" in BG2 in what it was - non-choice.

4) Adding new, skippable quests, with or without adding new areas to dilute the straight-line progression.

5) Possibly adding a "centralized" and "starting" location, the Pirate City of Luskan with its Hosttower, accessible from most parts in the game with its own quests etc, to again, break the "straight line" and add something for a player who wants the urban environs.


And of course I do hope that people will notice my work on NPCs - no matter if they like my work or despise it, but as a modding opportunity - and start adding more joinable NPCs, placing a particular emphasis on the cross-mod content, gradually increasing the number of joinable NPCs to BG2 quantity, and allowing a player to create very different parties.


In conclusion, IWD2 offers a range of possibilities; while it is less risky to invest in modding BG2, I think it's worth considering something entirely different :p

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My first post here...


Although I've only stuck my toes into the IWD2 pond, so to speak, from what little I have experienced of it, and comparing it to my more extended experiences with BG and BG2, I would agree with you that IWD2 is a "diamond in the rough". The game does have a lot of potential. As regards your points, if I may talk about them on a case by case basis...


Game rebalancing: As I mentioned before, I've only dipped my toes in the 'icy waters' and so haven't come to any of the major league tussles; but so far I haven't really run across any problems that a standard well built party couldn't get through--provided one uses good strategy and tactics. A note on my playing style--I play at the average setting and try to build well-rounded six person parties with no min-maxing of stats--as a rule no stat lower than 8--with exception of racial exceptions such as the odd low charisma for a dwarf or lower con for an elf--but even in those cases I don't go lower than 6 and I prefer 8.


I wonder if part of the problem with game imbalance is people wanting to solo instead of forming parties? Also, I've noticed that in IWD2 if you do rush into a fight without proper scouting or planning as there was a tendency for one to do in BG2, the results could be...painful...those ogres hurt!


Dialogue improvements: Again, I can't speak for the later parts of the game, but I think that anything that adds to the RP value (In the meaning of both 'role playing' and 're-playing) of the game is a good thing.


Alternative paths: A definite necessity. The primary weakness of all the Bioware/Black Isle games that I have noticed is the lack of good and viable 'evil' and 'neutral' paths. Whether the game is BG, BG2, or KOTOR, you're virtually forced down the 'lawful good' path regardless of your alignment. When you are given evil options, they're almost invariably of the "Muwahaha" hamfisted, brutal chaotic evil variety. KOTOR2 broke away from that somewhat by giving the player shades of grey, but even then, the 'lawful good' path was by far the most rewarding. It would be nice to approach the game from a 'lawful neutral' or 'lawful evil' perspective--to allow for a subtle manipulative evil player or a free spirited chaotic neutral. The problem here arises though in 1) hard coding of the game; and 2) the complexity of the story arcs. As I read somewhere else on this forum, it took something like 3 to 4 years and over 60 people to put the BG1NPC pack together (Which by the way is very good--it has added so much to my BG1 experience--thanks to all involved in it!)


New quests: Again, an excellent idea from the "dual RP" perspective I mentioned earlier. The big problem I see here is coming up with originial artwork for new areas to keep those new areas appearing fresh to the player.


Luskan A good idea for a starting location. Also, it makes a great place to spin off new adventures.


As regards joinable NPCs, I have indeed noticed your work on them and would like to help. The thing is, I'm a complete--and I do mean complete--child and neophyte where modding is concerned. Also, I do admit that I have several irons in the fire: I'm a full time educator with family, plus I'm involved in writing Star Trek fanfic: I have a New Gen series dealing with the USS Sutherland and I'm also working on a TOS series centered on the USS Lexington, but I would like to help out in any way I can--be it working on dialogue, coming up with character concepts, or even proofreading--I'm at your service.

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It's good to hear that there are some like-minded people around! :p Basically, I thought that the alternative paths should be done without introducing the new areas. The new areas I think are only needed for new quests. In which case, IWD1 areas are the preffered solution, I think, because every time the areas are edited it really shows.


If you are interested in IWD2NPC, please, feel free to browse the forums there. Because of the way I work on the project (writing directly in code) I am not planning to outsource any writing (I don't want to code plain texts, it's too slow and will pretty much make the project undoable), but I am very much in favour for people doing their own add-ons if they like how the mod works. Testing is probably the thing we need the most at present, as new alphas are showing up. I usually prefer to start a new person every so often, so the rest of the testers don't have to start a new game every time I update the version, but to give them an opportunity to finish the whole game and report what is bugged and where. :p

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I'm not very familiar with Icewind Dale. I started a game about a year ago but lost interest in it early on, as I didn't care for the comparatively more hack 'n slash and extremely linear style of play versus BG1. (I also struggle a bit with that linear gameplay in ToB, i.e., being funneled through the game.) But mainly I prefer the BG series because I enjoy all the different NPC personalities and inter-party interaction. If Bioware quality vioce-acted NPCs with dialogues (eg, like Keto) can be created for IWD I'd be more interested in it.


Edit: Reading this back it sounds harsher than I really feel, heh! I think it's mainly that I have so much catching up to do with getting the most out of SoA/ToB and all the mods for the entire BG series. I think I still might get into IWD at some point, and I would feel very fortunate indeed if folks like Domi ended up modding it to make it a better game!

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I'd say that fully voiced is a definite probability for thr folk who'd do one NPC at a time, especially if they voice them themselves.


I don't see it happening for my pack, unfortunately, because it is being done over a long time and I am quite positive that finding 7+ voice actors each of which will voice some 100-120 lines simultaneously after the project is done will be borderline impossible. I am extatic to have a custom voice set and a music theme for each character, the way it was done in BG1NPC. But who knows, maybe by the time all texts are written, edited and implemented, we can give it a shot, but I see it as the toughest part - the rest at the moment looks like time+effort from everyone involved.


I can't say that it is simple: many useful shortcuts do not work, but it is doable.

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Actually, the BG1 Banter Pack style NPC is about the best I can hope for, myself, for the BG2 NPC I hope to make one day (if I can ever figure out how to code the dialogues). If such NPCs are well conceived and well written it will surely add a lot to the game to have them all bantering.

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