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Icewind Dale 2 Interview with Doug Avery (09/04/2002)
by Taluntain

SP: Voice acting in the original Icewind Dale was something most people were not very pleased with. Can we expect a wider and more varied selection of sound sets to pick from this time around?

Doug Avery: We are including all of the original character voices from both Icewind Dale and Heart of Winter along with some new ones that we recorded in the studio while we were doing our voice over sessions. I think that players will appreciate the detail and consistency that is used throughout the game with regard to our voices.

SP: The portraits in Icewind Dale and its expansions were excellent. Will all the previous portraits be included in IWD2? How many new ones can we expect?

Doug Avery: Yes, once again all of the original portraits by Jason Manley and Kevin Llewellyn are included as well as some original work by Justin Sweet. Justin has done some published work for Wizards of the Coast on their new FR Dungeon Master's Screen and it is really impressive.

SP: Are High-Level Class abilities (as seen in Throne of Bhaal) going to be implemented in IWD2? If not, are you implementing anything similar to it?

Doug Avery: No high-level abilities are going to be used other than the ones listed in the PHB. Instead we've implemented a true 3E feat system that allows players to choose new feats to complement their particular characters. They will also be able to select new feats as they level up based upon their characters' races and classes.

SP: How was the decision to go about implementing kits made? Did you always plan on changing/adding them according to the wishes of those fans who frequent your message boards?
(Ed. note: At the time this interview was submitted kits were still in.)

Doug Avery: We intended to use kits from the get go as we had the code from BG2 and it was pretty trivial to implement. The decision to cut the kits and go with true 3E multi-classing was nowhere near trivial and involved huge code changes. The kits have gone the way of the dodo, but with feats and skills you can recreate your kit character pretty easily. We've also taken some of the abilities that were going to be kit specific and changed them to feats. Paladins, Clerics and Monks can choose the god / order they follow which can have an impact on the abilities of your character as well.

SP: We have heard that many extra powerful items will be available exclusively in the 'Heart of Fury' mode. For those not familiar with it, could you explain what this mode is and give examples of some of the items?

Doug Avery: Actually in Icewind Dale II we're calling it improved Heart of Fury mode (I know, semantics). What this means is that after you've successfully completed the game during the course of regular gameplay, you can go back and play it again… but this time in a super tough mode, but still using the same party you beat the game with. The maximum monster difficulty is automatically selected when you choose Heart of Fury mode, but the rewards are well worth the risks. Every unique item in the game has a HoF counterpart. This item will generally retain its more mundane attributes, but the item will have additional powers or special abilities that make it a must for HoF mode survival.

SP: What prompted you to change the game's interface and could you illustrate what the new interface will be like? (Any similarities to that of Planescape: Torment perhaps?) Will the inventory screen and others be changed as well?

Doug Avery: We decided to go forward with this alteration because we were making so many changes to the rules that we needed a better way for the player to interact with the game. Almost every single screen has been or is being changed. The inventory no longer has a paperdoll associated with your character. You will see the avatar represented instead (the small character used in the game). You can also set up weapon combos which will allow your characters to swap their weapons out on the fly without having to return to the inventory interface. The interface has styling similar to Planescape: Torment, but it is all brand new. The spell icons have been redone by Brian Menze, the artist responsible for the PS: T icons.

SP: Are the items, weapons and the like in Icewind Dale 2 going to be brand new, or will you include items from the original Icewind Dale and the expansions? Possibly even some items from Baldur's Gate 2 or Throne of Bhaal?

Doug Avery: No items are being brought over from the BG series. We are only using a few unique items from the original series. The vast majority of our unique and Heart of Fury items were specifically created for this game. All new icons have been made for all of the new items in the game and they have their own style that is unique to IWD2. The generic items will remain the same though.

SP: The druid class in the original Icewind Dale was poor in most regards. While this has been remedied somewhat in the expansion, have any further improvements been made to it in Icewind Dale 2?

Doug Avery: Druids will now get most of their 3E abilities in Icewind Dale II. This should make them a much more viable alternative to a standard priest and also a really cool class to multi-class to.

SP: What kind of new monsters will we fight in Icewind Dale 2? Please describe your favourite.

Doug Avery: My favorite… hmmm. Visually, I really like the Driders, creatures that are half dark elf and half giant spider. In terms of cool factor, the Goblin Worg Rider is my favorite because the rider can be knocked off his mount. Spookiness would have to be the Feyr because they are really freaky looking. These are just my personal favorites and they by no means represent all of the cool critters in the game.

SP: Will our characters be able to summon familiars or animal companions?

Doug Avery: You can summon in animals in the traditional sense using Summon Nature's Ally, or a similar type of spell. You will not have familiars like in BG2, though.

SP: By now practically everyone has heard of the infamous goblin worg rider. But how exactly does separating the goblin from the worg work? On top of my head, I can't remember anything similar being done in the previous Infinity Engine games.

Doug Avery: That was our exact reason for implementing it. We are really trying to not only push the envelope with IWD2, but to take it to the post office, mail it and patiently await a reply. The goblin and worg act as one creature, and as such, cannot be targeted separately. However, if you score a critical hit on the creature, there is a chance that it will split into two separate creatures. When split, they do become individually targetable.

SP: Are priestly and wizardly spells going to be implemented up to the maximum levels?

Doug Avery: Yes. Druids, clerics, wizards, and sorcerers will all have access to spells up to level nine.

SP: One thing that bothered me in the original series was the great amount of offensive area effect spells both priestly and wizardly classes had access to. While I have no doubts that you will be adding more of those, I am more interested in spells that have less chance of killing half of my party. Can you list some of the more interesting new ones?

Doug Avery: Here is one of the new defensive Wizard spells, it is called Executioner's Eyes and it's very powerful:

Executioner's Eyes
(Divination)

Level: 9
Range: Caster
Duration: 1 turn
Casting Time: 1
Area of Effect: 15-foot radius
Saving Throw: None

This spell enhances the vision of allies, allowing them to see the hidden weaknesses of all creatures. The divination grants a +4 attack bonus and a +4 bonus to critical hits (if you critical hit on a natural roll of 20, you now critically hit on any roll from 15-20) to all allies within the area of effect for the duration of the spell.

SP: How many and what kind of dragons can we expect to see? Will they be using the dragon animation from Heart of Winter, or will you import the dragon animations from Baldur's Gate 2?

Doug Avery: Well, I don't want to give away too much here, but there are at least white dragons in the game. As to whether or not there is more than one, you'll just have to wait and see.

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Thanks for your time Doug! Now get us this game already, we're dying to play it! ;)

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