Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Matt Chat: Baldur’s Gate

Posted by Rampant Coyote on May 16, 2011

Baldur’s Gate and it’s sequel rank very highly in my list of favorite role-playing games. Matt Barton shares a retrospective and a play-through. I especially enjoyed the envy he expresses for those who haven’t played the games (yet): Boy are you in for a treat!

Man, has it been that long since I played this game? My CD cases are covered in dust. Got too many other games to play and no time for me to go back to it right now, but… man, it sure rocked, didn’t it.

Although strangely it also reminds me of when my system started getting heat problems – it would lock up in the middle of the game until I bought a secondary cooler to place beneath my video card slot. I’d have probably forgotten completely about that little issue with my machine, but when I think of BG I remember that frustrating problem. Also, I remember … I think it was with this game and the Tales of the Sword Coast expansion, setting up a gazillion traps for Demogorgon and totally killing him before Round 1 was over. (Update: Oops! RPGWatch says it was BG2 – my bad. Wrong tower. But I do remember ankhegs from this game. And lots and lots of kobolds. )

Great game.

In fairness to Matt, I want to repost his request for donations here to help continue his video series:

Donate: http://www.armchairarcade.com/neo/node/3793
Also, he is an affiliate for GOG.com (gee, I should do that too, considering how often I post links to it) – if you use his link to buy either Baldur’s Gate game, it costs the same for you but gives him a small referral bonus: http://tinyurl.com/3fojw94

Filed Under: Mainstream Games, Retro - Comments: 16 Comments to Read

  • skavenhorde said,

    Love these Matt Chatts, Keep em coming……but now I have to load BG 2. I won’t be able to play it for awhile, but at least I know it is there 🙂

  • Ruber Eaglenest said,

    I’m playing BG right now. I’ve tried several times to play it. This is the third run. I think this is the definitive.

    Just want to say three things about:

    1) The game is a hell of difficult.
    2) The game is a heck of difficult.
    3) The sense of achievement is amazing, when at last your arise at the other side of the mines, pretty amazing moment.



  • LateWhiteRabbit said,

    Man, I remember playing this for weeks and weeks back in the day.

    It saddens me that I always have issues with these old Infinity Engine games now. I use an LCD monitor, with a native resolution of 1680×1050, and anything not at that resolution is blurry, so playing at an 800×600 resolution isn’t really an option. In addition, if I use a high-res patch for the games, everything becomes too blasted small to see what the heck is going on. In addition, higher resolutions tend to screw up the interface. If by some miracle an INTERFACE patch exists, I still run into the problem of everything being too small.

    Plus, it always feels like a bit of cheat to be able to see the equivalent of hundreds of feet away from your character. Traps and surprises aren’t the same as when the game was originally released – you can see practically forever.

    I still have an older CRT monitor I could hook up, but it is all so much trouble, since that involves changing desktop resolution and plugging and unplugging wires – all to play a game.

    It makes me a sad, sad person. It is also why I consider an extremely scalable interface to be a requirement for a good game. Nowadays we can do this much more simply than was possible in the past – get the player’s screen size, then use percentages and relative scaling to make your interface fit the surface it is being displayed on.

    I believe that we, as developers, should future-proof our titles as much as possible. Otherwise we are shooting ourselves in the foot. I can watch a movie from 80 years ago as it was originally intended to be seen – will I be able to do the same with games?

  • Andy_Panthro said,


    I’m in the midst of Planescape Torment at the moment, (well, not truly accurate, I’m trying to finish the witcher, which I was trying to do before TW2 was released, but I’ve failed.) and the resolution patches for that allow you to increase the text size. That’s enough really, although I never had any problem with BG (played it a while back), but perhaps that’s because I was using Baldur’s Gate Trilogy?

    Future proofing is always welcome for me though, one of my major annoyances are those certain games which have 16-bit installers or work only in Windows 95… they require a lot of effort to get working. This is one of the reasons I support Good Old Games, since they can often do the hard work!

    I know that without GOG, there would be a lot of people that would just give up on playing older games, even if the interest was there. Even the basic use of DOSBox is too much for some.

  • McTeddy said,

    Okay… So I admit it… I never played Balders Gate.

    And the more I see Matt the more I like him. Between his happy view of games to his “I like to pretend the guy being strangled is your typical WoW fan”… He get’s cooler every time.

  • LateWhiteRabbit said,


    The text size isn’t the big problem, it is the graphics themselves. But yeah, GOG is a life saver for getting old games to run.

    The amazing thing is the old games that work flawlessly on install from the original disc, even on OS like Windows 7-64 bit. I often wonder why that is, but I am told it is because those games followed all the “rules” and “standards” for programming drivers and such that Microsoft released for developers to use for programming things for Windows. A lot of developers ignored them or jury-rigged there code to work, but some went the extra mile and made all the code “kosher”.

    Hell, one game from 12 years ago installed flawlessly and even detected I had a wide-screen monitor and adjusted the resolution and interface to match! The game was published FIVE years before widescreen monitors saw wide spread adoption and it still supported them. Amazing really. Especially when some developers can’t seem to write bug-free and compatible code for PCs at release!

  • SER said,

    I replayed BG with TOSC late last year. I used the high res patch and found it pretty enjoyable. Though you do have a point about being able to see a lot more area. I didn’t really have any issues with the graphics being too small. Anyway, the game still holds up well, and I found myself up until 2am playing, on a few occasions.

    Got about 3/4 the way through an IWD replay. But shelved a few months ago because of tons of spawning a respawning monsters in a certain dungeon. Might go back to it soon.

    Thinking of a possible BG2 replay sometime this year.

    Anyway, some of my favorite RPGS of all time. And definitely my favorite Bioware RPGS of all time by a longshot.

  • GhanBuriGhan said,

    I enjoyed it but I am not such a big fan of BG (and I still havent played BG2 – Iknow, I know…). But I played it coop with my then girlfriend and now wife, and that actually was a lot of fun – the only CRPG I ever played coop, I think. However we never beat the final fight – gave up after 10 tries or so.

  • SER said,

    The final battle can be tough. It is even tougher with TSOC installed. I think they patched an exploit with the explosive arrows. But there are bunch of tactics that make it pretty easy. Some of them pretty cheesy. But really position is pretty important. Monster summoning spells are you friend. And I think, if ya weather the intial assault, ya really just need to kill the BBEG, ya don’t need to kill all the minions.

  • FuzzyDuck said,

    The Baldurs Gate series is up there near the top of my all-time best games list.. great story, character writing & a proper challenge.
    BG1 is great, BG2 & ToB are amazing though & with the various mods that are available it makes it that much better, many of them have been crafted with amazing care & attention to detail – my personal favourites are the Edwin romance (its just hilarious), Unfinished Business (reintroducing a lot of cut features, quests etc) & The Longer Road (try to redeem Irenicus… or not as the case may be).

  • SER said,

    Never tried any mods that added new content. But maybe in a future play thru. I botched the romances in BG2, and I was trying!

  • Demiath said,

    Once in a while I fire up BG1 and make some progress on that second BG1+ToSC+BG2+ToB playthrough I’m planning (with WeiDu and other appropriate mods installed).

    I always disliked the serious tone of BG2 – in my opinion, Bioware mistook “oppressive and tedious” for “mature” years before they got truly bogged down in dark fantasy stereotypes in Dragon Age – and what delights me the most about replaying BG+ToSC is the lovingly anarchic, utterly fourth-wall-breaking sense of humor which completely pervades that game and is so conspicuously absent from (most of) Bioware’s later games. Modern RPG developers in general seem to have completely forgotten that the whole point of a game is to be, y’know, *entertaining*…

  • Fumarole said,

    No mention of BG would be complete without a link to the BiG World Project:


    This mod is absolutely essential.

  • Kimari said,

    Frankly, the first time I tried Baldur’s Gate a few years ago I was blown away by how absolutely terrible and annoying the interphase is. And this is coming from someone that actually kinda liked the old Fallouts’ UI.

    Is there a mod out there that makes the UI not suck? I’m serious, I refuse to play something so badly designed.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    @Kimari –

    Could you elaborate why it sucked? I often find myself falling back upon how some other game did something, and so I’d like to know what to avoid and why.

  • Kimari said,

    Honestly, I’d have to replay the game to do it justice. So for now I’m guessing from the video, so forgive me if I’m being a little vague:

    Most of the times, the less buttons on the screen, the better. Cut the fluff and reorganize so that only the relevant/most used options are one click away. All the other, less used options should be tucked away in either full-on menues (like the game options menu) or displayable menues (such as the button “cast” with a list of spells in a submenu).
    Needless to say, the most obvious example of how to do it wrong is having a save button visible at all times, wasting space.

    Then there is the issue of color, size, positioning and the icons of each button …. most buttons are the same golden color which makes them blend in with each other, the size is uniform all around (though that’s not a big deal), the positions seem arbitrary at best and the icons seem to range from appropriate to down right confusing.
    Let’s see, we have a book , a scroll and a “feather and ink” icons. What does what exactly? Is there a difference between them all?
    The human head is the stat screen? I suppose?
    A capital N? Is that a compass? Why is that an option? … is that the map screen??
    Oh, right, the icon of a skull, that should be related to death, but why would you … oooohhh, so that’s kind of like the symbol of the game. Right. Is that an icon for the main menu? Yes? No? Well, it doesn’t make sense either way.

    Anyway, forgive me if I’m being just a little bit too blunt here, generally I tend to be somewhat hyperbolic when talking about bad game design or in this case, bad interphase design.