Tuesday, December 15, 2015

End of Year Update 2015

Siege of Dragonspear Update

We've hit a milestone in Siege of Dragonspear's development. As of this week, we are officially CONTENT COMPLETE!

*trumpets play, confetti falls from ceiling*

“Content complete” means that everything that belongs in the game is in the game. Areas are finished, monsters are all in place, items have been crafted, characters stand where they're supposed to stand. All the quests and subquests are finalized and implemented. We decided that some of the older areas we reused from Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition could be improved, and so the artists repainted the city zones to make them sharper and more in line with the updated (but still classic) Siege of Dragonspear look.

Holiday Dorn is pleased by this news.
We're obviously excited about reaching this point. It's great to see all the hard work of the last two years come to life on our monitors. Now we enter... the QA zone! *ominous music plays* 

QA (quality assurance) is the process of making sure all the content works the way it's supposed to. We test out the game on multiple platforms over and over again to find any issues that need correcting before the game can launch. Our goal is to release a game that's fun, complete, and bug-free. The progress of our QA testing will drive the eventual release date in 2016.

We've also slipped some Siege of Dragonspear content into December's issue of Dragon+. You'll find an original short story about Glint Gardnersonson, the gnome who gets into trouble far more easily than he gets out of it, tucked into its digital pages. We have more short stories planned to give you insight into the world of Dragonspear and the characters who inhabit the game.

December Sales

We have a number of great sales coming up this month. First of all, we've arranged to provide our games through Bundle Stars and they're kicking off our partnership with an incredible 70% off sale. This sale (Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition, Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition, and Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition) is for two days only (December 15-16) for the Steam version of our games. That's early enough to make for a great holiday gift!

We're also planning an App Store sale for 50% off all Enhanced Edition games. That sale runs from December 19-31.

Thank you for all your support this year, and have a safe and happy holiday season!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Visit the New Beamdog Website

As our little company has grown over the last year, we've come to realize that our old Beamdog website wasn't quite fitting the bill. It reflected our quirky, small-company mentality, but it didn't offer all the benefits our customers needed. That's why we've relaunched our website, , with an updated look that meshes with our quirky, slightly-larger-company mentality!

The new collects our game pages, Beamblog posts, support page, forums, and web store in one convenient place. Take a look at the new layout and the drop-down menus along the top screen. We hope this new format will make navigation a breeze so that you can find the information you need.

We'd love to hear your feedback on the new website! You can contact us on our forums or through our Facebook or Twitter accounts. Enjoy the new, the ONLY Beamdog product with no cute nickname (you heard it here first!)


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Convention Season

One of our goals as a company for 2016 is to attend more conventions. Beamdog has reached a place where we're able to go out into the community, support local conventions, and meet our fans one on one. Our first convention this year was the Edmonton Expo. We didn't have a booth, but our artists and writers showed up to speak on panels, display their work, and hand out some swag for the upcoming Siege of Dragonspear!

Oh, and we also ran into Mark Meer cosplaying Baeloth Barrityl. NBD.

Makeup and hair by Prudence Olenik. Staff designed by Nat Jones and built by Travis Shewchuk. 
Photo by Kerim Aktug.

This month we also attended Edmonton's Pure Speculation Festival. There we displayed what Amber wanted to call the Beambooth, but visitors dubbed it the #Beamlounge (hashtag and
all). The #Beamlounge designation came about because we thought to bring a couch to the convention. This made us very popular among attendees and other exhibitors alike.

We had three computers running Siege of Dragonspear demos and ran a panel on video game design as well. It was great to meet fans and hear how much they loved the enhanced edition games and how much they were looking forward to the new expansion.

We're still finalizing next year's list of convention appearances, and when we do we'll post our schedule here on the Beamblog as well as our Facebook page.

Booth photos by Alex Molzahn, except for the grainy one of the banners.
That one's by the Beambard's iPhone 4. Not even a 4s.


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Beamdog at the Edmonton Expo!

If you're in Edmonton this weekend for the Edmonton Comic and Entertainment Expo, you can meet several members of the Beamdog team!

Mad Bee will be stationed in booth F9 in the Artist's Alley and will have a limited stock of selected prints. Nat Jones will also attend as an artist guest (booth number pending). Both will exhibit their personal art and can talk about the art process of Siege of Dragonspear.

Andrew Foley and Amber Scott will present on writing panels and can answer questions on how video game writing and the design of Siege of Dragonspear relates to the panel's particular topic. 

Panel schedule is as follows:

Friday, September 25
"Image Comics - The Local Connection" (Nat)
with Image Comics
4:45 pm, Room 109

“Writing 101: Plots that Work” (Amber)
with Eileen Bell, Barb Galler-Smith, Nicole Luiken Humphrey, and Dave Gross
6:15 pm, Room 108

Saturday, September 26
“Writing 101: Killing With Dialogue” (Amber and Andrew)
with Nicole Luiken Humphrey, Eileen Bell, and Dave Gross
11:00 am, Room 108

“Writing 101: Building Alternate Worlds” (Amber)
with SG Wong, Nicole Luiken Humphrey, Barb Galler-Smith, and Dave Gross
4:00 pm, Room 108

"Voice Acting with Mark Meer and Will Friedle"
with Mark Meer (voice of Baeloth and Rasaad)
4:15 pm, Room 105-106

Sunday, September 27
“Writing 101: Finding Your Narrative Voice” (Amber and Andrew)
with SG Wong, Eileen Bell, and Dave Gross
1:30 pm, Room 109
​ ​
Please check the Expo website or program to confirm panel times this weekend. Hope to see ​you at the con!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

What Comes Next?

Although Siege of Dragonspear is our highest priority at the moment, it's important to us that we continue supporting our existing games. Yes it means that we're living on coffee and optimism, but it's all to produce the best games possible for the fans! Here's the lineup for upcoming patches.

(As always, we're a small company that has to stay flexible in order to respond to new issues. That means we can't give a timeline for these patches or guarantee the release order.)

Android Hotfixes

Our next anticipated patch will contain Android hotfixes for Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition, Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition, and Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition. We want to ensure all Android users can start up the game smoothly and enjoy stability improvements while they're being hunted by assassins in Candlekeep.

iOS Hotfixes

Creating an iOS hotfix update this time around requires a significant amount of technical work. Once we've resolved these technical hurdles, though, we'll be able to address outstanding iOS issues for a better gameplay experience.

Beta Testers

If you're interested in beta testing upcoming patches, you can fill out a beta tester form here. We require testers to be at least 18 years old, and if you're selected we'll provide a non-disclosure agreement for you to sign. We select testers based in part on the quantity of work we have available, which means we won't be able to accept all the tester applications we receive.

We also maintain support forums where players can report any issues they encounter during play. Each forum has an announcement with the guidelines for reporting bugs, which make it easier for us to follow up on the reports.

As we get closer to the release of these updates, we'll post about it here. You can also follow Beamdog news at @Beamdoginc or on our Facebook page.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Lords of Waterdeep Part I

This Friday, in lieu of our D&D game (which is temporarily on hold), we'll be streaming a Beamdog office game of LORDS OF WATERDEEP.

If you've ever wanted to know more about this board game, tune in and watch the Beamdog staff learn the rules. Amber, an experienced player, will teach the others how to hide their identities as the masked Lords of Waterdeep while they gather resources (fighters, rogues, clerics, and wizards) to complete quests in the City of Splendors.

We'll be playing the original version of the game with no expansions at 3 pm MDT on Friday, July 24 on our Twitch stream. In the future we intend to demo more boardgames (perhaps the TEMPLE OF ELEMENTAL EVIL!), so if there's a game you'd like to request we demo, drop us a note in the comments or tweet us at @Beamdoginc.


Friday, July 10, 2015

Announcing Siege of Dragonspear

We are pleased and proud to announce Siege of Dragonspear, the newest, largest expansion for Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition. The original 25+ hour storyline bridges the gap between Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition and Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition in the classic 2D style of the originals.

You can visit now to find all the details on the new expansion.

Last night we had an amazing announce party at the Art Gallery of Alberta. We gathered in the theater and watched the timer count down to zero. The sound of all our guests counting down from ten was awesome! Then the trailer for Siege of Dragonspear played. Minsc's voice called out in the dark theater: "My friend! It has been too long since Boo and I have seen you!" What an incredible experience.

Trent Oster, our president, talked about Beamdog and how we reached this stage of designing, developing, and distributing our own games. Phil Daigle then talked about Siege of Dragonspear and all its amazing new features, which were later demoed on twitch. If you missed the live stream, you can watch the video and trailer here.

Thank you to all our guests who turned up to help us celebrate, and to all the fans who watched us live. We'll have more content about Siege of Dragonspear on the Beamblog in the following weeks!


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Timer Begins


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Candlekeep Library - Final Exam

This week we reprint one of the short stories written by Dave Gross for the Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition characters. These stories were originally posted on the Candlekeep Library. Enjoy the tale of Neera's time studying magic in the High Forest.

"Oh, my aching noggin." Moth cradled his head as he slumped down the great oak's winding ramp. His iridescent wings drooped.
"You should know better than to drink so much nectar the night before class." Pollae planted the foot of her oaken staff in the moss and raised a fine elven eyebrow to look down at him.
Neera didn't like the way Pollae used her height to belittle the pixie. At barely over two feet high, Moth was small even for a sprite. He had spent half the night flitting from bloom to bloom, sampling every night-blossoming flower he could find.
Neera understood the allure of spring. The same perfumes had tempted her outside to tease the boys when she knew she should be studying. As a result, Neera was also completely unprepared.
As usual.

"Lean over the rail if you're going to throw up," said Binster.
"Don't say 'throw up'!" moaned Moth.
"Sorry. Still, you can lean against the rail for support."
For a gnome, Binster was depressingly practical about the most mundane things. Unlike every normal person who looked out across the village and saw vibrant leaves and blooming garlands, Binster saw only the utility of the railing. With an imagination like that, Neera thought, Binster would turn out to be a lousy illusionist. Still, the way he comforted Moth gave her an idea.
"If you time it right, Moth, you can hit that wagon." Neera pointed down at an approaching haywain jigging and hopping over the roots below. Its erratic motion made her feel queasy, and she hadn't had a drop of nectar.
At the sight of the careening wagon, Moth clutched his stomach and burbled.
"Stop it, Neera," said Binster. "You know how suggestible he is."
"I'm not just saying he's going to throw up. I'm saying when he does, it'll be right on that wagon. In fact, I've got half a dozen faerie-lace ribbons that agree with me." From her belt pouch she drew out six shimmering lengths of gossamer, hand-woven by the tiniest atomies. "Want to bet?"
"No," sniffed Pollae, but Neera saw the desire in her eyes. Pollae loved faerie lace, and she was never one to back down from a challenge. She was the best student in their magic class, and she never missed a chance to remind the others of that fact. Pollae eyed Moth. "How're you feeling?"
"Better," said the sprite. His cerulean eyes had lost some of their luster, but he was no longer puffing his cheeks like a landed carp.
Pollae turned on Neera with a savage smile. "You're on."
"My faerie lace against that old staff of yours."
What? This was my grandfather's!"
"Steady on, Moth." Binster knelt beside the sprite and patted him on the back.
"Don't jostle him!" Pollae and Neera cried in unison.
Moth opened his mouth to say something, but only a golden bubble emerged.
"Very well, your lace against my staff," said Pollae. "But neither of us can touch him or use any magic."
Pollae turned to Moth. "Close your eyes. Don't look down. You aren't going to throw up."
"Don't say 'throw up,'" said Binster.
"He doesn't have to look down to know he's going to throw up," said Neera. The wagon drew closer. "Moth can hear as well as we can just how wobbly that wagon is, rattling over every pothole in the path, throwing up stones with every lurch. Why, the sound itself is enough to make you-"
Repetition wasn't working. Neera chanted in desperation: "Barf, vomit, hurl, gag, cast a color spray, sick up, spew-"
A glittering stream of pixie puke arced down on the haywain.
"Bull's eye!"
By the time Neera had claimed her prize, soothed the angry driver, helped clean up Moth, and dashed across the village, the other students-all of them young elves-had already assembled.
Unlike most of the village tree-chambers, the classroom stood only a few feet above the forest floor. A domed roof sheltering it from rain, but all the shutters had been removed, leaving it open to the breeze except where it abutted one of the giant oaks for which the High Forest was famous.
The teacher whisked his tail as the latecomers rushed up the ramp. After glancing at the others, especially Moth, who hung on to Binster for dear life, his gaze came to rest on Neera. The centaur quirked a shaggy eyebrow at the sight of Pollae's staff nestled in the crook of Neera's arm. "Late again."
"Not my fault," said Neera.
Frixis stared at Neera as if she'd just confessed to a crime. His fingers idly touched the beads braided into his magnificent green beard. He was the hairiest centaur anyone in the High Forest had ever seen. It was impossible to see where his beard ended and his chest hair began. He had never approved of Neera's sense of whimsy nor her peculiar approach to magic.
Centaurs were not known for their skills at arcane magic. Through relentless discipline, Frixis had achieved such skill that the elves of Highbough made him the instructor for their magic school. When Neera had first applied, she impressed the centaur by demonstrating great natural potential, but none of his discipline. She had only disappointed him ever since.
Neera didn't see magic the way Frixis did. She understood the mechanical aspects of casting a spell-the words to speak, the gestures to make, even the physical materials (nasty as some were) necessary to call the magic from its source-but she felt deep in her being that much of the rigmarole was unnecessary. Studying all of the theory and history of magic was like reading a book to learn how to dance. The way Neera saw it, either you could dance or you couldn't. Likewise, either you were a mage or you weren't, and no amount of studying would change that.
Still peering at Neera, Frixis said, "Which of you wishes to demonstrate your new spell for the class?"
Neera wished she had prepared an invisibility spell to vanish from sight, but the centaur kept staring straight at her. Fortunately, to either side of Neera, her friends threw up their hands.
Pollae and Binster were always the first to volunteer, and both were always prepared. Neera was sure the gnome had gotten that seam on the tip of his long nose by sticking it too deep into his books. "Very well," sighed Frixis. "Pollae first."
Binster sighed his disappointment, which only encouraged Pollae. "Perhaps it would be nice to have a well-mannered gnome in class, for a change."
She faltered for an instant as she moved to gesture with the staff she had lost in the bet. It would be a lot harder to look down at Neera after that defeat. Pollae performed the gestures by hand, spoke the words, and with a glimmer appeared to transform into an exact duplicate of Binster. To complete the illusion, she mimicked his heavy sigh.
Laughter from the other students rewarded her effort.
Binster snorted. "That's nothing. I can do twice as well." With a two-handed gesture and a few arcane words whistling out of the gap between his front teeth, he caused his own image to shudder and divide into several duplicates. Each stepped away from him until four identical Binsters stood with their hands on hips, smug smiles returning Pollae's scowl. They said in unison, "Four! Four times more gnome!"
Again the other students laughed. Frixis nodded his approval. "Now, who will be next?"
Moth's wings perked up. "Those are just illusions," he said. With a few arcane words of his own, the pixie grew taller, his wings shrinking into his body as his flesh and clothing changed shape until they matched Binster's features exactly. "This is a real transformation."
"Very good, Moth," said Frixis. "Now, Neera-"
"I didn't know we were doing illusions," she complained. Fire and lightning were more her style, any form of energy she could evoke from the raw fount of magic.
Frixis stamped a hoof on the hard oak floor of the classroom. Amplified by the domed roof, the sound echoed off the nearest tree-houses. From the nearest buildings, elven laughter replied to the centaur's familiar gesture of impatience with a recalcitrant student.
"If I must," huffed Neera.
"Take cover, everybody!" cried Darvoth. "Neera's going to cast a spell!"
The pathetic thing was that everybody laughed, which Darvoth had been making ever since that first time Neera's concentration wavered and a surge of wild energy turned what should have been a simple levitation into a flock of sparrows who whitened the entire classroom in their fright.
Neera showed Darvoth her teeth. He wasn't even handsome compared to some of the other young elves. She liked him better when he'd been one of the boys fetching her flowers last night. Maybe making fun of her was his revenge for her sending him after buds she knew would not bloom for weeks yet. Or maybe he was just a jerk.
"Now, Neera," insisted Frixis.
As she raised her hands to make the opening gestures, Frixis shook his head at her and raised his own to show her the correct position. "Think," he said. "Focus, visualize the runes you studied."
That would be much more help if she had actually studied, Neera thought. She didn't understand why it was so important to do things exactly so. Why wasn't there any room for improvisation, for her natural talent to come out? Master Frixis's corrections made her feel exactly the same way as when her writing teachers forced her to use her right hand instead of her left.
Neera whipped her head around to see the origin of the rude sound. She imagined Binster blowing a raspberry behind her back, but the six gnomes-one polymorphed pixie, one illusion-shrouded elf, and four reflections of the original, all stared back at her, mouths agape.
Just as her fellow students' laughter erupted louder than ever before, Neera realized the sound was that of her own spell fizzling.
All of the others in the classroom slapped their thighs, pounded on their neighbors' backs, or rolled on the floor. You'd imagine they had had never seen something so hilarious, thought Neera. She was the only one who didn't find it amusing, or so she thought until she saw Master Frixis shaking his head at her, his broad face a study in disappointment.
"Perhaps it is best that you go home, Neera."
Frixis had sent a student home from class only once before. Later he'd gone to the boy's parents and counseled them to devote his energies elsewhere: farming, hunting, woodcarving, perhaps. He was not destined to be a mage.
"No, I can do it," said Neera. "Maybe not the image of a gnome, but- Here, look!"
"Neera, don't."
She hastened through the gestures to call up an image of a fiery gnome above her palms. She felt the arcane energies respond to her will as much as to her gestures. This was more like it-the natural evocation of magic from its very source, not the careful teasing out of its threads for a spell practiced by thousands of other casters over the centuries. A brilliant orange flame blossomed in Neera's hands. She could even feel the heat of the illusion. This was no meager cantrip. This was real magic.
"Neera, look out!" cried one of the Binsters. He transformed back into the form of Moth even as he leaped away, pixie wings limned in fire.
"No! It was only supposed to be the illusion of fire!"
The flaming ball leaped from Neera's hands as if offended by her words.
"Stop!" she cried, feeling foolish even as she spoke. She focused her will on the flame, trying to control its motion with her thoughts.
Frixis flung a ray of frost at Moth, extinguishing the flames on the pixie's wings but sending the poor fey to the classroom floor, teeth chattering with cold.
The screams of young elves filled the classroom as students dashed away from the uncontrolled ball of fire. Only Darvoth stood still, his wide eyes locked on Neera as the fiery sphere rolled toward him. "Don't, Neera," he said. "I'm sorry I laughed at you."
"I'm not doing it. I didn't mean-!"
Frixis charged in to scoop up the terrified Darvoth, but he was too late. Even as the centaur reached out his arms, Neera's conjured ball of flame engulfed the boy. Darvoth screamed and turned to run. He made it almost to the edge of the classroom before Frixis knocked him over the edge onto the grass, shouting, "Roll it off! Roll it off!"
"What have you done!?" Pollae screamed at Neera. In her anger, she allowed the illusion to fall away, and the angry young gnome became an angry young elf.
"I didn't mean it!"
"You never pay attention," the four remaining Binsters scolded her. "Now look what you've done!"
"That's not- I didn't mean- Oh, I hate you all!" Neera raised the staff she had won from Pollae, wanting desperately to hit someone. Pollae and the Binsters flinched and stepped back. When she saw the fear on their faces, Neera felt horrified-not by her friends, not by the situation, but by herself.

Tears on her face, she turned and ran away.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Spotlight On: Item Design

When we create the Enhanced Editions, we get the opportunity to design new content in addition to updating graphics/interface and fixing issues. Creating new items is especially fun. Nothing's worse than fighting a boss monster only to get a generic +1 longsword and some potions off the body. Unique items add interest to the game and item lore can deepen the world.

When we create new items, we consider two main points. Today on the Beamblog we'll go over these points and showcase some of our Enhanced Edition items.

Item Placement

Item placement refers to two principles: what challenges need to be overcome to obtain the item, and at what point in the game the item should be found. Both these principles inform how powerful the item should be. If an item appears early in the game, unguarded, in an unlocked treasure chest, it probably shouldn't be a holy avenger. If an item appears late in the game behind a wall of red dragons, in a trapped treasure chest that can only be opened by solving a riddle, it probably shouldn't be a potion of healing.

It's important to consider where items of particular types appear in the game as well. If all the magical halberds are extremely powerful and appear at the end of the game, players who specialize in halberds will feel cheated (or will switch to a different specialization far before they reach the end of the game). It's important to place a good variety of items in each chapter.

Item Balance

Item balance refers to the item's powers and how they relate to other items placed similarly in the game. Balancing the power of an item is something of an art. It seems obvious that items shouldn't have “too many” good abilities, but how many is too many (and for that matter, which abilities are “good”), is less clear. A +1 dagger that becomes a +4 dagger against badgers might seem like a terrible weapon, but if the designers know there's an all-badger dungeon coming up, it turns into a great item.

(As long as the dagger of badger slaying appears before the badger dungeon, that is. This shows how item placement and balance are related.)

When we add powers to new items, we consider what other items in the same area of roughly the same importance can do. We try not to overlap abilities (in other words, we don't want a +1 longsword of flame and a +1 halberd of flame and a +1 dagger of flame all in the same area). Items that protect against specific spells are less powerful than items that protect against blanket status effects—that's the difference between a cloak that protects the wearer from hold person and one that protects the wearer from paralysis. Items that grant ability score or Luck increases must be designed carefully, as those are some of the most powerful bonuses available.

Powerful items aren't bad items, as long as they are placed properly. Item design requires writers, artists, and programmers to work together to create a memorable and useful item with a distinct appearance and a place in the world.

Enhanced Edition Items

The new items that appear in the Enhanced Edition games fill in some holes where items were needed and let us add a bit to the lore of the world. Below are three of our home-brewed items.

Darkened Glory

This weapon was originally owned by a young officer guarding a diplomatic envoy from Kara-Tur. When the envoy's caravan was ambushed by a small band of yuan-ti raiders, most of the guards were quickly dispatched during a surprise attack, save for one wagon and the young woman defending it. In wave after wave, the yuan-ti charged at the officer, and in wave after wave they were cut down by the speed and fury of her steel. At last the leader of the yuan-ti raiders faced off with the young woman, and although he did finally overpower her, he was astonished by her skill. The katana she carried was recovered and later enchanted by a high priest of Sseth. The once graceful blade was tainted by dark magic and now guides those who wield it to inflict the severest of wounds upon their enemies.

• +2  katana
• Cast curse centered on the target each time a critical hit is scored
• +5% chance of scoring a critical hit 

The Flaming Fists of Lin Mei

Lin Mei was described as a woman of exquisite beauty and a hellish temper. When her family urged her to find a husband, she issued a challenge to the men of the land: Whoever could make her yield in single combat could have her hand. The suitors gathered from all across Kara-Tur to test their skill, and although she fought with no weapons but her open hands, she bested every single one of them. Disappointed, all suitors left but one—a young man with kind eyes and a pair of gilded bracers, which he presented to her as a gift. "No one can hope to tame your passions," he said, "and those who would try will never understand your heart. May these trinkets serve as a reminder that your temper is your own and not to be controlled." Lin Mei did not marry that man, but she left home with him that day to seek adventure, and together they spent the rest of their lives in closer partnership than any husband and wife. Eventually the pair retired, and Lin Mei quietly disappeared from the annals of history. All that remains of her story are the bracers she wore, still burning with the fire of her untamed passion.
  • THAC0: +2 when attacking with fists
  • 25% chance of inflicting 1d2 points of fire damage when attacking with fists
  • Cast burning hands 1/day

Bard Hat

This ostentatious peacock-blue hat is festooned with green and purple feathers. Once the possession of an unfailingly chipper bard, the hat was stolen when the bard couldn't resist showing off the hat in a seedy tavern and bragging about its magical powers. In truth the hat has only moderate enchantments on it, but its stylish appearance makes it a coveted choice for many bards.
  • Immunity to silence and deafness
  • Bard song effects linger on for 2 additional rounds after the bard stops singing

Wait, that last one isn't in any of our games. How did it get on the list?

Aha, it's from Adventure Y! That explains it. We hope you enjoyed this look at how items are designed (and the sneak peek of the Adventure Y bard hat). Check back next week for a new Beamblog post.


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

What A Character! Winners

We had a tremendous response to our What A Character! contest. Over one hundred people replied, making this our most popular contest yet. The range of answers, were, predictably, varied, but we did spot a few trends. Here are some of the replies we received (with Irenicus being the most popular).

Congratulations to Grant, winner of The Legend of Drizzt 25th Anniversary Edition, Book I! Their favorite character was Irenicus, coincidentally our most popular answer. Our runners up,Vincent (who voted for Lucy the Wyvern) and tsundere1ftw (who voted for Phaere), will receive Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition t-shirts.

Twitch Recap: Orc Hordes of the King's Forest

Last week saw the dramatic conclusion to our office Dungeons & Dragons game, “Orc Hordes of the King's Forest.” The players tracked the orcish villain, Urmgech, to a plateau overlooking the Dragonmere. There, Urmgech's followers conducted a ritual so that their foul god, Yurtrus, would intensify the virulence of a diseased dragon corpse. Their plan was to push the dragon corpse into the lake and spread pestilence throughout Cormyr.

What our heroes didn't know was that the ritual also transformed Urmgech into an avatar of disease. As the party approached the dragon corpse, Urmgech burst forth in the form of a hideous vrock. The party rallied to defeat the demon and return peace to the region. A complete recap of the game can be found on our forums.

We live stream our games every second Friday, 3 pm mountain time, on the Beamdog Twitch stream. With the conclusion of Orc Hordes of the King's Forest, we'll be starting a new campaign in the office and viewers can watch from the first session of the new campaign. Check the blog next week for details on the new campaign, players, and characters!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Spotlight On: Localization

Recently we partnered with Koch Media to release Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition, Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition and Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition in Germany. In their press release, Koch Media discusses the history of Baldur's Gate and their enthusiasm for acquiring this new product.
We're enthusiastic about the cool German translations on the box.
Fans can acquire these beautiful physical copies of the games on Amazon , or contact your local game store to see if they carry the game. Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition has German voiceover work as well as text. Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition has a little German voice work in addition to its text, while Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition has only German text.


The enhanced edition games have a number of language options, which are provided thanks to volunteer work. The process of translating a game's text into another language is called “localization” and we continue to work on adding languages to our games.

If you're interested in assisting with localization, you can visit our forums to see the list of languages and teams we have going.   Contact the leader of the team you're interested in joining, or send an email to and we'll point you in the right direction.

Once a prospective translator gets in touch with a team leader, the two discuss availability and the role(s) the translator will fill. Then the team leader puts the translator in touch with Jalily, our localization coordinator, who sends the translator a non-disclosure agreement. These are needed even for released games, as the translators need to be informed of patch dates, version updates, and the like. After the NDA is signed, Jalily sets the translator up with permissions in the system and the work can begin.

Baldur's Gate → Options → Language → Wow

Localization isn't just translating one word after another. Languages operate by different rules, and a translator has to be creative in interpreting some lines. For example, English does not have gendered words but many languages do. Imagine a scene in Baldur's Gate where a number of generic soldiers march by. In English, we could call them all "soldier." In French, the male sprites would be "soldat" while the female sprites would be "soldate."

Many Dungeons & Dragons specific terms also have no equivalent in other languages. Take the fearsome ankheg. How does that translate into another language? Our translators work to find a good equivalent or invent new words as needed.

That's it for our spotlight on localization. Check back next week for the results of our contest!


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

What A Character! Contest

The world of Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale comes alive because of its beautiful areas, its rich history, its religious and political orders, and its ferocious monsters. Those components form a backdrop from which the really memorable aspect of the game can shine: the characters.

Everyone has a favorite lineup of joinable companions. Perhaps you're the canon party type, adventuring with Minsc and Dynaheir, Khalid and Jaheira, and Imoen. Maybe you prefer an evil party and recruit Korgan Bloodaxe, Viconia, and Edwin to back you up. You could be partial to the enhanced edition characters, Neera, Rasaad, Dorn, and Hexxat, and collect them for your journey.

The villains too are memorable. Who could forget the terror of [spoiler redacted], and of course the shocking reveal of [spoiler redacted]? (Hey, just because the games are over a decade old doesn't mean everyone has played them.)

Who could this spiky figure be? It's a mystery!

But there are more characters in the world than just the companions. Many players have a favorite character in the game, be it the annoying Noober in Nashkel, or the goblin Weenog in Orrick's tower, or the wild mage Zaviak who's, like, totally radical, man.

For this week's contest, we want to know: Who is your favorite non-companion* character in any of the enhanced edition games? As with our favorite area contest, we'll publish the results of our poll when we announce the winners. We probably won't have a pie chart because the likelihood of even two entries having the same answer is pretty low. But we can list off the entries for your amusement and edification.

Email us at with the subject line “Character Contest.” Include your favorite non-companion character in the text of your email. The contest begins today, May 26, and ends at midnight on June 2, 2015. We'll post the list of responses and congratulate the winners in a blog post once the contest ends. If you've won a prize from us in the last six months you're not eligible to win one in this draw.

As for prizes, well, we couldn't think of anything better to offer than the history of one of the most popular characters to ever come out of the Forgotten Realms. The randomly drawn winner will receive a copy of The Legend of Drizzt 25th Anniversary Edition, Book I. This tome contains the first three novels detailing the life of Drizzt Do'Urden by R.A. Salvatore. Two runners-up will receive a Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition t-shirt.

Good luck!

*If you enter with a companion name, we won't disqualify you but we won't publish the answer in our results either. There are plenty of polls and discussions about the best companions on our forums, and we're interested in seeing what other characters stick in your mind.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Baldur's Gate Wallpaper

Last month we offered three free wallpaper designs for Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition. We got such a great positive response from the fans that we decided to offer another freebie this month. Behold! Art for everyone!

Below you'll find brand new desktop wallpaper for Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition. These stunning designs capture the excitement of adventuring along the Sword Coast and depict the terrifying antagonist you face on your journey. The wallpapers are available in both fullscreen (1024 x 768 and 2048 x 1536) and widescreen (1280 x 720, 1280 x 720, and 1920 x 1200) formats.

Next week we'll launch another contest and offer more great prizes to be won. In the meantime, you can talk about the wallpaper in the comments, on our forums, or tweet us at Beamdoginc.


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

How To: Watch Us Live

Last year we dipped our toes into the loud and brightly colored waters of Twitch streaming. We streamed a charity event, in which we played Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition for eight hours and raised over a thousand dollars for the Edmonton Stollery Children's Hospital. We also streamed our Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition 1.3 update. Now we're starting to stream our office Dungeons & Dragons game that runs on Fridays.

That means you can tune in on Friday afternoons and watch us get paid to have fun!

What is Twitch exactly? It's an online site where you can watch people play games live. Most of the channels show video games, but there are a handful of live roleplaying game channels as well. Twitch also broadcasts gaming events, like tournaments, and awards shows. Anything live and gaming-related you'll likely find on Twitch.

Watching a live stream is easy. Plug your headphones or speakers in, find the channel you want on the Twitch website , and start watching. You can follow the Beamdog stream  (the Streamdog!) by clicking the “Follow” heart icon on the right-hand side of the page. Then you'll get an email whenever we go live.

When you watch a live stream, you'll also gain access to a chat window where you can talk to other people watching the stream. It's a great place to chat about Beamdog, the games we make, or the ridiculous situations we've somehow created in our D&D game. The Twitch help page can answer any questions you have.

So Much to Watch

Once you start watching Twitch, you might find it difficult to stop. There are so many great channels with tons of different games streaming all the time.

One of our favorite channels is the official Dungeons & Dragons channel run by Wizards of the Coast. You can watch the Wizards team play D&D live at their offices, including the new Princes of the Apocalypse campaign. 

Fan TinyTurtle has also done a comprehensive series on Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition, with the archives available on YouTube.

If you know of any other great streams, post a link in the comments or share with us on Twitter or on our forums. And tune in May 22nd, at 3 pm mountain time, to watch us live on the Streamdog*!

*I've just been informed that if I try to make a cute pun out of “Beamdog” one more time there will be dire repercussions. It's a miracle I got “Beamblog” to catch on. Streamdog may be the last one I can get past the bosses, so it had better catch on.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Contest Winners Announced

The results of the Happy Faerûn Day contest are in! Over 35 people entered the contest, each one telling us their favorite area in any of the Enhanced Edition games. Some went above and beyond the contest rules, writing paragraphs or even short essays on their favorite area and why it stayed with them. It was so much fun to read all the comments about our players' favorite areas. We're glad we can help keep them alive for you.

Congratulations to Gerelos, winner of the hardcover copy of Ed Greenwood Presents Elminster's Forgotten Realms! His favorite area, Kuldahar, was the most popular answer we received. Our runners up, MorphGroups (De'Arnise Keep) and Procco (Spellhold exterior) will receive Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition t-shirts.

Favorite Area Breakdown

You might be curious about the breakdown of replies we received. We were curious too—curious enough to make a pie chart!

That business degree is really paying off.

The most popular area among our contest entrants was Kuldahar, with 5 votes out of 39 replies. Beregost and Durlag's Tower tied for second place with 4 votes each.

Town and city locations made up 44% of replies. Dungeon areas made up 26% of replies and wilderness areas the other 30%. Some of the replies we got were:

Adoy's Enclave; Aquarium of Alkonos; Athkatla (Graveyard and Bridge districts); Baldur's Gate (of course); Candlekeep (including dungeon); Coast Way; Cloud Peaks; Dragon's Eye; Easthaven (top floor of the Temple of Tempus); Fire Leaf Forest; Lion's Way; Planar Sphere; Severed Hand; Underdark; Vale of Shadows; Valley of the Tombs; Wild Mage Refuge; and Wyvern Cave.

As you can see, a great deal of variety and a lot of love. Thanks to everyone who entered!

Kuldahar, we think you're swell.

Twitch Recap
Last Friday we successfully broadcast a live stream of our office D&D game. The party had to choose between assisting a priestess of Talona in stopping a plot to poison the Dragonmere and traveling with a priest of Ilmater to cure everyone plagued by the disease spreading over Cormyr. Having developed a working relationship with the priestess and not convinced the priest's plan would work, the heroes chose the former. Look for a recap on our forums.

We think we have this live stream technology business nailed, and so we plan to stream our game most Fridays at 2 pm (mountain time) from now on. The forum thread will contain alerts for upcoming streams, and we'll tweet and post when we have upcoming streams as well. Tune in on our Twitch channel to watch the hilarious hijinks and monster-smiting ensue! And of course check back on the Beamblog weekly for game updates and other news from Beamdog.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Behind the Scenes: Villains

Orc Pantheon: Bahgtru, Ilneval, Gruumsh, Shargaas, Yurtrus (left to right) and Luthic (front row). (c) 2002 Wizards of the Coast, "Faiths and Pantheons." Artist: Mike Dubisch
A good villain is the heart of a game. When the enemy is a two-dimensional cardboard cutout, you don't feel a sense of accomplishment in victory. The story becomes a melodrama with a mustache-twirling Snidely Whiplash at the end.

Really satisfying villains justify their actions, have complex motivations, and cause serious harm to the player. The great villains of the Baldur's Gate game series linger in the minds of players over a decade later because they are complex but can be understood, even sympathized with.

In today's Behind the Scenes blog, Amber Scott returns with the backstory of the villain in our office D&D game, Orc Hordes of the King's Forest.

The Story So Far
Every Friday we play the latest edition of Dungeons & Dragons here in the office, so that we can learn the rules and understand better how games work (also because it's fun). The PCs have been tracking an orc named Urmgech across Cormyr, as the orc seems to be behind a plague that's spreading through the land. You can read a recap of the game on our forums.

After the first few sessions of play, with the heroes fighting orc bandits and struggling to reach the city of Arabel, I realized I needed to lock down the villain and his motivations. The orcs needed some compelling reason for their banditry. Why were they leaving the King's Forest to attack caravans, towns, even cities?

I started brainstorming reasons for the orcs' behaviour. Were they being driven by a strong figure—perhaps a dragon or demon? That seemed a little too much like the plot of Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition. Was a greedy new leader motivating them? Too boring. Perhaps a religious leader was behind the banditry. I started reading up on orc deities, and Yurtrus caught my eye. What if banditry was their secondary goal and the orcs were really spreading a sickness to their victims? An hour and much frantic scribbling later, I had the backstory for the campaign's villain, Urmgech.

Spoilers ahead for anyone playing in the game!

Urmgech the Maggot

Crouched in the reaches of the Stormhorns, the Sharpstaff orc tribe made their home. From their base in an abandoned dwarf mine, the orcs lived out their lives hunting, preying on lone travelers, fighting among themselves, eating, drinking, and revelling.

The leader of the tribe, the warrior Slarn, ruled with customary brutality alongside his mate Chonnal. The other orcs respected Slarn for his strength and combat might and willingly obeyed his commands. It was a good life for the orcs—save for the tribe's priest, Urmgech.

Urmgech served Yurtrus, Lord of Maggots, the orc god of disease and pestilence. Yurturs was not a widely-worshiped god among the orcs and no one paid Urmgech much mind. His job was to ensure the food and drink didn't spoil and make the tribe sick and to lead the tribe in the occasional religious ceremony. Urmgech was not a strong warrior and had a twisted foot as well, which only added to the contempt the other orcs held for him. Within the tribe he was known as “the Maggot.”

Urmgech would have led a short and unfulfilled life if Yurtrus himself had not intervened. In early spring, the tribe fell sick. The fever, vomiting, and weakness was traced to rancid meat on which the tribe had feasted. Slarn accused Urmgech of failing in his duties, but Urmgech protested that he had checked the meat repeatedly and it had been fine. It had spoiled all within a night.

Then some of the orcs started recovering. Not only did they recover, but they were stronger and more ferocious than before. They showed exceptional strength and grew long white nails—symbolic of the white-handed Yurtrus. Exhilaration seized Urmgech. Sure, some of the orcs had died, but the ones that hadn't were obviously Yurtrus's chosen. Urmgech took it as a sign that his god was helping him. That night, around the bonfire, he approached the tribe. After making a long speech about Yurtrus's blessings and how the tribe was destined for greatness, he attacked and slew Slarn. The other orcs watched, dumbfounded, as Yurtrus claimed leadership of the tribe. With much of the tribe still ill, and those who had healed reveling in their new strength, the tribe agreed. Chonnal volunteered to be Urmgech's new mate and the two took over the tribe.

Soon a profound change swept through the tribe. The strong orcs were made lieutenants and sent away to find gold for Urmgech. Banditry, theft, extortion—Urmgech didn't care how the gold was obtained. He claimed Yurtrus had sent him a vision and he required lots of treasure to carry out the plan. On their missions, the orcs were also to spread their disease as much as possible.

Some orcs recovered with exceptional strength but scrambled minds. They venerated Yurtrus by sewing their mouths shut (as Yurtrus is a silent god) and inserting feeding-tubs into their stomachs through their guts. These pitiful but dangerous servants were sent with the lieutenants out into the world.

Soon the money started pouring in. Many of the orcs were killed on their missions but Urmgech didn't seem to mind. A new age was coming and he would rule in it. Other races exposed to the disease died after a prolonged illness—only the orcs survived and strengthened. Wasn't that proof that Yurtrus had blessed the tribe? No more would Urmgech be the Maggot. Now he would be chieftain over Cormyr.

When Urmgech had a large fortune amassed, he loaded up all the gold into a wagon and set out south through the peaks of the Stormhorns, leaving Chonnal in charge of the few orcs that remained in the mine. His destination: a large cave carved into a mountainside. There laired Rillelbellax, a mighty red dragon.

Urmgech approached the dragon's lair with caution. He stood at the entrance to the cavern and called down praises on Rillelbellax's head. He heaped adoration on the dragon and stated his attention to pay tribute to the magnificent beast. Eventually a plume of smoke wafted out of the cave and Urmgech cautiously entered.

Rillelbellax deigned to poke his massive head into the cavern and demand to know what Urmgech wanted. Nothing, the orc swore, but to pay homage to the greatness of the dragon. The orc gestured to the cart he had brought: gold, silver, jewels, and art objects piled in a glittering heap. To the side of the treasure horde were several slain boars that Urmgech had hunted on the way.

The greedy red accepted the tribute and dragged the carts into his lair while Urmgech hastily retreated. Now, days have passed and Urmgech can hear Rillelbellax's groans of pain from within the mountain. The slain boars, carefully infected with Yurtrus's disease, bring an end to the great red. When the dragon dies, Urmgech will summon his lieutenants and drag the rotting, infested corpse down to the Dragonmere. There the red dragon's disease-riddled form will sink beneath the largest freshwater source in the country, spreading the plague to such a degree that it will never be stopped. Then, when the people of Cormyr lay dead and dying, Urmgech will take his place as the kingdom's new ruler, in Yurtrus's name.