Baldur's Gate 3 - Jeff Vogel Analysis Part Two

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Couchpotato spotted part 2 of Jeff Vogel's Baldur's Gate 3 analysis:

Picking Apart Baldur's Gate 3, Part 2 (Talkin' 'Bout D&D)

It turns out that game balance was a mistake all along.

It's always a huge holiday for me when a turn-based, story-heavy RPG manages to break through and be popular with the Normals. This makes lots of new RPG fans. Then I can sell my games to them eventually, much as a catfish eats the scum at the bottom of a lake.

It's also a great opportunity to pick apart a good game's design. Find out what works and what doesn't work and what the state of the art is for RPGs right now. If a game sells well, that means every choice it made was correct, and you should pick over the carcass for ideas to steal with all speed.

Baldur's Gate 3, by Larian Studios, is a huge, sprawling game. It has a real "No wrong answers" feel, where just about every idea made it in somewhere. I want to spend a post or three picking apart the game system, pulling out specific structures and ideas, and looking at them in the light.

This will all be a bit disjointed with lots of small individual topics. But it's worth it, because this is a very interesting game.

[...]
More information.
 
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Yeah, I both loved and hated the attunement system in Solaris. So many cool magic items not being used. But, because balance.

Solasta does have a pretty decent cover system.
 
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Yeah, I both loved and hated the attunement system in Solaris. So many cool magic items not being used. But, because balance.
Do you mean Solasta?

I agree in any case, the attunement system is not my favorite either. I understand the balance reasons, but a big part of the fun is seeing your character grow stronger and get cool magical items.

I'd just come with some alternative way to balance encounters that doesn't limit a fundamental aspect of the game so heavily. The Concentration system to prevent mass-buffing already goes a long way towards that effect for example, and it doesn't take anything from the fun of the game. I'd even say it improves the game by not having to waste time preparing and casting buff spells every rest just to stack them up before the fight, and the encounters are easier to balance around that than otherwise.
 
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It's always a huge holiday for me when a turn-based, story-heavy RPG manages to break through and be popular with the Normals. This makes lots of new RPG fans. Then I can sell my games to them eventually, much as a catfish eats the scum at the bottom of a lake.
Sorry Jeff, but I can't imagine a lot of new RPG fans wanting to buy your games after cutting their teeth on BG3. Just being honest here.

That's like eating filet mignon for the first time and then going to McDonald's.
 
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The Concentration system to prevent mass-buffing already goes a long way towards that effect for example, and it doesn't take anything from the fun of the game.
For me, it does take some fun away, especially when playing as a wizard (my default class) where imho it's an inherent style of the class to think ahead and to always be prepared.
 
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That's like eating filet mignon for the first time and then going to McDonald's.
I think it's even worse than that. Even after having had haute cuisine there are still times for junk food every now and then.
 
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Sorry Jeff, but I can't imagine a lot of new RPG fans wanting to buy your games after cutting their teeth on BG3. Just being honest here.

That's like eating filet mignon for the first time and then going to McDonald's.
One of the funniest things I've read, but sadly true.
 
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Sorry Jeff, but I can't imagine a lot of new RPG fans wanting to buy your games after cutting their teeth on BG3. Just being honest here.

That's like eating filet mignon for the first time and then going to McDonald's.
I think we have a few people here who do exactly that and then keep going back for more! I'd say eating a McVogel is best done once every 10-20 years at most.
 
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I don't know. Story-wise I prefer any of Vogel's games to BG3. BG3 is generic save-the-world plot, though it's a bit better than worst examples because of various path and endings, but nowhere near as interesting as Geneforge or Avadon. Mechanically, of course, it's much more complex, and there is just no point talking about visuals. Then again, who cares about visuals in RPG, as long as text is good and combats are solid? ;)

Vogel's games aren't McDonalds - they're more likely mom & pop diner than has been there for years, never changing much, never going fancy, but providing tasty and filling food. If you ever only eaten in Michelin-star places, you probably would never pay it any attention, but once you step inside and overcome your snobbery, there is a good chance you will come back, both for atmosphere and for food that tastes like home. If I had to name the McDonalds of RPGs, I'd say it's Zelda. Made by a giant, greedy corporation, loved by children everywhere, and not really a good RPG ;) And endless RPGMaker games are hot dog or shawerma stands.
 
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Vogel's games aren't McDonalds - they're more likely mom & pop diner than has been there for years, never changing much, never going fancy, but providing tasty and filling food. If you ever only eaten in Michelin-star places, you probably would never pay it any attention, but once you step inside and overcome your snobbery, there is a good chance you will come back, both for atmosphere and for food that tastes like home. If I had to name the McDonalds of RPGs, I'd say it's Zelda. Made by a giant, greedy corporation, loved by children everywhere, and not really a good RPG ;) And endless RPGMaker games are hot dog or shawerma stands.
Maybe a Mom & Pop Diner that keeps reheating the exact same meal over and over again. It's like he cooked up a big batch of food 30 years ago. BG3 may not have the best writing ever but I've never heard anyone call it generic... Vogel is literally remaking games multiple times while re-using the exact same character systems, classes, spells, summons, items, creature types and assets across different games.
 
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I've just read his two articles. I agree with some parts, but there's nothing really new in there.

In the first, he focuses on storytelling. Perhaps he saw that the focus has switched from narrative to cinematics in new games. It's told like a movie, when it was told like a book before - incidentally, it's also sold like movies, when it was sold like books before. It's not really because people don't want to read any more, it's just because now we can have full voice acting, detailed characters with good animation and body language (no, Solasta, I'm not talking about your Lego-like faces). Out with the narrator, except a few clarifications of what's happening to you.

Also, 'Quantity Has a Quality All Its Own' is not how Stalin meant it in this context. BG3 has a good balance because they took the time to develop interesting qualities like the world reactivity to the main character's decisions, that we don't see often. It's actually the opposite of relying on the quantity of one remarkable element (like uber graphics or number of fetch quests).

And the 2nd part is first saying that 5E is perfect, then that it's not because it limits the player (huh, which is it?). Personally, I don't think all changes were beneficial. Some were also removed because of limitations (spells like Dispel Magic), and others because Larian initially didn't know the rules (maybe it's all fixed, now, except probably what they did with reactions). The point is that it got them a lot of criticism from 5E players who were confused about all the new rules, especially without a clear description of the changes. Solasta stuck to the rules and it never was a problem.
 
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I picked up Geneforge recently, and while I like mom's spaghetti, comparing that game on any aspect to BG3 (or BG1 and 2, for a more contemporary comparison) requires very deep, unhealthy amounts of bias and self-deception.

Graphics do matter immensely for a RPG too, and indeed, mom's spaghetti are only great while recently made. The reheated leftovers from last sunday are not that good.
 
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