Sunday, February 27, 2011

Obsidian angling for Icewind Dale 3

My next screed - which I was planning to post in the coming days - was to be titled "Why we need Dungeons & Dragons." It's been percolating in my head ever since I read Tiberius' post on the prospects of a Baldur's Gate 3. I was going to go over the various reasons why there's no substitute for the D&D ruleset and settings, and lament the fact that Hasbro and Atari are locked in court battle over the rights. I just wanted to finish a couple of posts on Dragon Age 2 (the topic du jour) before getting to work on it.

Then I saw this:
Obsidian is also pushing on updating a former Black Isle property: Icewind Dale 3. "I was talking to Atari last week," [Feargus Urquhart] confides, "and said why don't we do this?" The old series, he says, didn't end because of low sales. "They stopped being made because of licensing issues, and Interplay going out of business, and BioWare moving on to console, and a whole lot of things. So a part of it is, why not go make Icewind Dale 3? You can't spend $20 million on it, but why not go make it?"
I actually don't know how newsworthy this is. My impression is that developers and publishers throw around a lot of ideas, the vast majority of which never result in a game being made. Given that, I'm not sure what to make of the fact that Mr. Urquhart chose to disclose this. Good sign? Bad sign? You decide.

One thing's for sure: If Icewind Dale 3 is going to be made, Obsidian is the obvious choice to do it. They have the old-school RPG cred and a history with this franchise in particular. It's interesting that the last time they ventured into the Forgotten Realms was for the Storm of Zehir expansion, in which they brought Icewind Dale-style party creation to Neverwinter Nights 2. Hmm...

Icewind Dale is no Baldur's Gate, but it's still fun to speculate on what a sequel would look like. To me, the essential elements are:
  • Set in the Icewind Dale region (duh)
  • Full party creation
  • Hack-and-slash style, with tactical combat
  • More dungeon crawl than sandbox
The most interesting question about an Icewind Dale sequel is, what engine do you use? To me, Icewind Dale is the game that's hardest to decouple from the Infinity Engine due to its emphasis on combat. Players don't revere it for its characters (Baldur's Gate) or writing (Planescape: Torment). To the extent they revere it at all, it's for the way it puts the D&D combat mechanics and character advancement system through their paces. It would take a special game engine to recapture that feel.

Anyway, if you're interested, there's a lot more discussion about this over at RPGWatch, which is where I picked up this "news" item.


  1. Most of my enjoyment from an Icewind Dale 3 would really depend on how much they'd deviate from the formula of the older games. Modern gaming and all, to this simplified and changed (beyond the ruleset which will obviousy be the case) would be a real downer. But I'd hope it'd be a fairly small-budeget game so that it could be catered somewhat to the "hardcore".

    As far as engines go, I think they could probably retool their Onyx engine (looks beautiful in the Dungeon Siege 3 vids) since they made it and all. It seems to be flexible given how it was first used for an Alien game that controlled more like Mass Effect.
    But yeah, cramming all the rules and stuff in there would be a real challenge I think.

    Pretty surprised at how open Feargus is about it though, though I guess he was always like that. But still. Perhaps it's a way to draw some interest towards such a product.

  2. Only part of the engine I care about is that it uses a very zoomed out rts style camera. NWN1/2 really lost a lot not having long range combat and bigger battlefields and encounters.

    If it had a simple to use toolset and branching dialog I'd be really happy :)

    It would use v4 rules though. Not sure how that would be really.

  3. ANY UPDATES about IWD 3 ?