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Dale 2 Interview with Doug Avery (09/04/2002)
we had the chance to talk about the upcoming sequel to Icewind Dale with
the game's Associate Producer, Doug Avery. Since we are eagerly anticipating
Icewind Dale II, quite a number of different topics were discussed. Here
is what we found out.
describe the original Icewind Dale and its expansions Heart of Winter
and Trials of the Luremaster for those of our readers who are not familiar
with the titles the sequel builds on.
Icewind Dale brought your party of adventurers from Easthaven to the small
mountain community of Kuldahar. Kuldahar was your base of operations for
the game and you went to various dungeons in the areas surrounding it
trying to get out of the mountains. The plot unfolded through the exploration
of these dungeons. The trail eventually ended back in the town of Easthaven
with a truly supernatural force being the cause of all of the problems
you encountered. In the first expansion to IWD, Heart of Winter, the spirit
of a dragon matriarch possesses the body of a recently dead barbarian
hero. She then declares war on the Ten-Towns to try and reclaim her ancestral
homelands. The second expansion, Trials of the Luremaster has the heroes
confronting the spirit of an unjustly slain bard who lures the heroes
to his castle in a far away realm. Here they are tested in the hope that
they can set his tormented spirit free.
does Icewind Dale 2 tie in with the story of the original game?
story takes place a generation after the events in the original Icewind
Dale series. Though the ties to the original story are not immediately
apparent from the plot's opening, it becomes obvious over time that the
story's antagonists have a direct relationship with characters from the
previous games. Let me reiterate that players new to Icewind Dale II do
not need to know or understand the events that occurred in the first game,
but for those that did, there are some references to the original.
intricate is the game's plot going to be?
comparison with Icewind Dale, the plot is a little more intricate.
It is nothing as complex or as story-driven as Planescape: Torment
and is still more of a dungeon crawl than Baldur's Gate. However,
it is more story-based than the original and I think that players
will find it more complex than Icewind Dale. A number of factors
are also taken into account by the game to make it a unique experience
for a variety of different players. A few of these are your character's
race, class and selected skills. I think this will also make players
want to go back and play the game again using different character
will the ratio between questing and fighting be like?
true dungeon crawling spirit, combat is still our primary focus. This
is not to say that we don't have very intricate quests and puzzles, because
we do. Many of the more cerebral elements of Icewind Dale II have never
been attempted in an Infinity Engine game before. They are pretty amazing
to see in action.
areas of the original Icewind Dale are we going to revisit in Icewind
will only say that you'll be returning to Dragon's Eye, the huge dungeon
where the townspeople were being enslaved; and to the town of Kuldahar.
Both of these areas have changed a lot in the intervening years and players
may have trouble recognizing familiar features about either or both.
many and what kind of new areas can we look forward to? Please describe
some of them.
be starting out in the town of Targos, a small trading community
on Maer Dualdon, a large lake in Icewind Dale. From there you will
head up the Shaengarne River to delve into the mystery surrounding
the goblinoid horde that is threatening the Ten Towns. Players can
also expect to visit the Jungles of Chult and other exotic locations
as well. There are probably about as many areas to explore in Icewind
Dale II as there were in both the original game and the Heart of
Winter expansion pack combined.
have learned early on that importing of our characters from Icewind Dale
into the sequel will not be possible. Surprisingly, there was practically
no negative reaction to this announcement, even though the creation of
the whole party in IWD1 must have taken most gamers considerable time
and effort. Why do you think the gamers received this news so well?
believe that most of our fans realize that continuing an adventure with
30th level characters is something of an effort for a CRPG to tackle.
Taking another tack, for a full sequel to continue this level of epic
challenges, you would be fighting ancient dragons, the Tarrasque and probably
a demon lord or five. This can be really limiting in scope and is probably
best done in an expansion pack, ala Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal,
which handled it pretty well. This is an all new adventure for a new band
of would be heroes kind of like Star Trek: TNG taking the helm from the
original cast and crew.
most of our adventuring in Icewind Dale 2 be crawling inside dungeons
or out in the open space?
actually got a pretty good mix between the two. There are vast dungeons
to explore, but also very mysterious and weird wilderness areas that need
to be cleared of their dangerous inhabitants.
Dale 2 features quite a significant chunk of 3rd edition D&D rules.
How has implementing 3E rules effected game development? What did you
manage to include and what did you have to leave out?
Dale II incorporates every 3E rule that we could get to work in
it. We now have skills, feats, 3E multi-classing, Base Attack Bonus,
3E armor class and saving throws. Everything is as close to its
3E rule definition as the engine will allow. Some concessions did
have to be made particularly with turn-based concepts that don't
translate as well into a realtime environment, but I think these
pale in comparison to the faithfulness we've shown to the spirit
of the rules. The only missing 3E changes have to do with turn-based
combat, skills that don't make sense for the game and mounted stuff.
The spells that we have in right now have all been changed to their
3E counterparts and we've even changed our items to correspond with
3E naming conventions and damage output.
the point buy system been finalized yet?
is very close. Currently it is all attributes start at 10 with any racial
bonuses or penalties applied and then 16 points to spend in a non-weighted
point buy system.
you explain how the new Use Magic Device skill works?
When a Bard or Rogue that has the Use Magic Device skill attempts to use
a scroll or potion that they normally cannot use, the game makes a roll
against their skill level. If they are successful, then the normal effect
occurs. If they aren't, then might I direct your attention to page 75
of the 3E Player's Handbook. The picture there is a pretty accurate representation
of what will happen to your character.
of you that don't have it, there is a picture of a female adventurer with
soot all over her and a smoking wand in her hand. She has a very surprised
look on her face to say the least.
Click here to
see the picture.)
you hint at the identity of our main nemesis and his or her motives?
I cannot. I do not even want to come close to giving away the mysteries
that surround the "big bad guy". I will let you in on
a little secret, though. The Legion of the Chimera plays a very
important role in the story. I know that doesn't help, but hey,
it's something for you guys to speculate about.
hear that some of the NPCs from Icewind Dale will be making a comeback
in Icewind Dale 2... Who can we expect to encounter?
will get to meet some returning characters from Icewind Dale such as Oswald
Fiddlebender, everyone's favorite Gnomish aviator. Some of the other characters
have either left the Dale or passed on, but their bloodlines might still
of our recent polls showed that of the new subraces introduced in IWD2,
44% of our visitors want to play dark elves (Drow) the most. How does
it feel to be finally able to offer the fans something they have been
asking for since the release of Baldur's Gate?
is a real pleasure. I am actually playing a Drow too. They're pretty fun,
but that day blindness penalty is a real kicker. Their innate abilities
make up for it though. The other sub-races that I've had a really great
time experimenting with are the Gold Dwarves, Wood Elves and Aasimar.
They all have their pluses and minuses and figuring out various combinations
for success is a lot of fun.