The BEAMBLOG

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Q&A With Chris Avellone


Chris Avellone has returned to Planescape as the Lead Designer on Planescape: Torment: Enhanced Edition.
Planescape: Torment may have been released nearly two decades ago, but its status as a beloved genre classic remains untouched largely due to its amazing setting and unique story.

Chris Avellone, Lead Designer on Planescape: Torment, went on from PST to work on many other popular titles, including Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II, Wasteland 2, and Prey. Now he’s returned to his roots to help Beamdog bring Planescape: Torment: Enhanced Edition to life.  

We’re glad Chris has found time to share insights about the original game and PST:EE.


Warning: Interview contains spoilers.
1. What was your involvement in Planescape: Torment: Enhanced Edition? Was an enhanced edition something you always wanted to do?
CA - A lot of people have mentioned Torment to me over the years, and the chance to do an updated version of it was appealing – not to change the core content, but with the goal of re-introducing  a new generation to the RPG and allow them easier access to playing it without having to jump through hoops to make it happen.
While I love the original game deeply, I recognize that both interface design and tech across platforms have come a long way since ’99. I believe the Torment experience can be kept while taking advantage of the technical achievements over the past 15+ years, so when Beamdog contacted me to gauge my interest, I told them I was absolutely interested… especially if they allowed me a chance to do a real grammar fix of the discrepancies in the original, of which there were many (we weren’t able to hire an editor, who could have helped back then, so I am happy to have a chance to do it now).
Before anyone thinks editing was a lot of changes to the text, it was more along the lines of fixing basic errors, establishing naming consistency and formatting consistency, and elements that were never intended to make it into the final product (narrative bugs).
2. Take us through the development of the original Planescape: Torment. What makes this game different from other RPGs you’ve worked on since?
CA - I suppose it was largely the Planescape setting that TSR/Wizards of the Coast had established – it was a very freeing license, so it allowed for departures from mainstream fantasy tropes which was welcome. (See below for additional motivation.)
3. How did you come up with the idea of an RPG where combat is not a focus? Was it difficult to create a game where most of the quests can be talked through instead of just fighting?
CA - Unfortunately, I was so focused on dialogue interactions/verbal combat that actual combat in PST was something of an afterthought. Yes, that is my fault. Was it hard to do a narrative-focused game? No – it was one of the things I liked about designing the game in the first place, as I’ve always seen conversations as both dungeons to explore and also conflicts and challenges to resolve.
4. How did the name of the original game come up? Why Torment?
CA - The original name was “Last Rites,” but it didn’t pass marketing (if I recall – it may have been b/c of a name conflict with something else, but it’s been so long, I don’t remember).
So Planescape: Torment was the next choice – and once we knew what the title was going to be, we worked on reverse engineering the title into the theme of the narrative (esp. the player’s existence and the reason his companions join him/gravitate to him).
5. What inspired you to write a game in a (at the time) relatively obscure and strange universe a long way away from other popular, but more generic, fantasy world settings?
CA - The inspiration came from being exposed to several fantasy RPGs in quick succession that seemed to follow the same conventions (system and narrative) without even trying to break the mold or even the basic gameplay loop – I thought Planescape was a way to experiment with deviating from the design norms of fantasy RPGs all in one fell swoop. :)
6. Which parts of Planescape: Torment are you particularly proud of?
CA - I loved the Modron Cube, and kudos to our Lead Programmer, Dan Spitzley, for architecting the mechanics. I also enjoyed the final battle moments (esp. your companions squaring off against the antagonist), and the final sequences that followed – including the meeting of the other NPCs near the end of the game as well (no spoilers, but one of them I enjoyed writing immensely for reasons that are likely obvious to those in the know).
7. What parts of the game would you go back to rewrite or expand (if any)?
CA - Probably the Buried Village, as we didn’t have time to flesh it out in as much detail as we wanted. Also, we would have loved to include more plane-travelling in general, but we just didn’t have the resources and time.
8. Have you thought about extending the Planescape: Torment universe in the past or did you consider this story finished?
CA - While Planescape: Torment’s storyline is done (it reaches a definite conclusion in my eyes), I think the rest of the Planescape universe (multiverse) is ripe for further exploration – there’s countless planes and settings to explore, it would be a shame to let them go to waste.
9. With which character in Planescape: Torment do you feel the greatest connection?
CA - I care for them all in different ways – even Ignus and Vhailor, who have their own emotional moments where they go beyond their outward obsessions.
Each CNPC and NPC was designed to represent a certain story or emotional arc to inform the player about the Planescape universe – and the player’s role in it. I care about them all in different ways, so I couldn’t choose only one.
10. Which Planescape faction would you choose to join?
CA - None, actually. The factions (forgive me) were one of the things I didn’t like about Planescape because none of them really seemed to “fit” me (even the Indeps and Anarchists).
I did think they were great “foils” to test a character against, however, and were the source of fun narrative and political challenges.
If I had a “faction,” I suppose it would be a follower of Aoskar, since I always imagined his deity portfolio represented the true theme of Planescape – the ability to connect all the planes together and provide access to all of them through portals (and the secrecy of the portals and the nature of the keys to open them was another nice narrative layer).
11. What led you to keep the true name of the Nameless One secret from the player, even though the protagonist himself finds it out eventually?
CA - Spoilers! ;) I thought whatever name we chose would never be as cool as the one players themselves imagined – and in the end, it’s not what you’re called, it’s who you are, which the game has already shown you through your actions. The actual name wasn’t important anymore, and I thought it was more literary if it was a secret that only 2 people in the multiverse knew for certain.
12. If given the opportunity, would you cosplay as a PST character? If so, which one?
CA - I’d try for Morte, because I could just wear a black robe and put on a skull mask.
Of course, then people would likely mistake me for Darth Nihilus and challenge me to duels.


13. This is the second time you’ve worked with Beamdog (Chris was a Narrative Consultant on Siege of Dragonspear). Would you be interested in collaborating with Beamdog again in the future?
CA - Of course. And have! Secrets!

14. What can change the nature of a man?
CA - The high Wisdom response at the end of the game is the “true” one (and there’s an Achievement for it to boot, in case there was any doubt).
From there, it’s up to the player to interpret what that truth is for them, I don’t feel it’s the game’s place (or any game’s place) to choose an answer for you.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Planescape: Torment: Enhanced Edition Livestream with Chris Avellone






On April 3rd, 4 PM PDT we go live on Twitch with the one and only Chris Avellone, Lead Designer on Planescape: Torment and now Planescape: Torment: Enhanced Edition. Beamdog’s Lead Producer Phillip Daigle, will be joining Chris for an evening of RPG fun where we show off classic Planescape locations alongside all the new improvements that PST:EE has to offer.

The PST:EE team will be in the chat to answer your questions and give away prizes as Chris Avellone talks about his experience on Planescape: Torment: Enhanced Edition and the original Planescape: Torment.

Can’t wait for the stream? Check out www.planescape.com for all the latest Planescape: Torment: Enhanced Edition details!
Writer

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Beamdog Announces Planescape: Torment: Enhanced Edition



Beamdog is pleased to announce our latest Enhanced Edition title, Planescape: Torment: Enhanced Edition!

Beamdog has partnered with Chris Avellone, Lead Designer on the original Planescape: Torment, to curate Planescape: Torment: Enhanced Edition and update it with modern features to share with a new generation of role playing fans. "Beamdog has worked hard to ensure the feel and tone of the Enhanced Edition matches the original game. At the same time, they've also taken advantage of current generation technology to allow for improvements to the interface and feel - it's the best way to play Planescape: Torment, hands-down."



The original Planescape: Torment was released in 1999 to widespread critical acclaim. It won RPG of the Year from multiple outlets for its unconventional story, characters, and amazing soundtrack. Since then, millions of Planescape: Torment fans have enjoyed exploring the strange and dangerous city of Sigil and surrounding planes through the Nameless One's eyes.


Now it’s your turn to discover an incredibly rich story and a unique setting unlike anything else in fantasy. Defeat strange and alien creatures, engage in rich dialogue, and explore the dark and dangerous Planescape setting in this 50+ hour RPG classic.

Features
  • Enhanced Planescape: Chris Avellone, Lead Designer on Planescape Torment, has partnered with Beamdog to curate gameplay updates, bug fixes, and enhancements to best capture the original vision for the game.
  • The Planes Await: Planescape is a setting you've never experienced before, filled with strange magics, unique adversaries, and Dungeons & Dragons locations from across the multiverse.
  • Conversations to Remember: Encounter personable items, philosophic undead, and rat hiveminds while walking the planes with the strangest collection of allies ever seen in an RPG.
  • Pick Your Path: Character creation is just the beginning. The Nameless One can change his class, alignment, and even gain new abilities based on your choices.
  • Remastered Music: The full Planescape: Torment soundtrack has been remastered in-game to add more depth to Sigil and the multiverse.
  • 4K Interface: Sigil has never looked this good! The interface of Planescape: Torment has been rebuilt in high-definition with tons of new convenience features.
  • A Planescape For Today: The Enhanced Edition includes modern features such as tab highlighting, area zooming, combat log, quickloot, and more!
  • Play It Your Way: Enable Enhanced Edition features as you desire or turn them off to experience Planescape: Torment in its original glory.
  • Cast Comprehend Languages: Planescape: Torment: Enhanced Edition is available in English, French, Polish, German, and Korean. Note: Korean translations are text only. Korean voice-overs are played in English.

Visit www.planescape.com to learn more!
Writer

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Siege of Dragonspear Collector’s Editions Now Available!





Did you miss the Baldur’s Gate: Siege of Dragonspear Collector’s Edition pre-order? We’re excited to share that a LIMITED number of Collector's Editions are now available for purchase!



The Beamdog team just recently received the second part of our Baldur’s Gate: Siege of Dragonspear Collector’s Edition shipment and had a fun time hauling boxes up to the 2nd floor Beamdog offices. “Team-building exercises FTW!” says our office manager, Dan.

Now that the majority of our UK and European pre-order customers have received their copies, we’re pleased to offer the remaining copies to the rest of our fans. Visit our Siege of Dragonspear Collector's Edition store page to order your copy today!


For North American and non-UK/European orders, we’ll be shipping directly from our office in Canada. UK and European orders will continue to be fulfilled by our distributor for that area. All orders will be shipped shortly after purchase.

Writer

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Introducing the brand-new Beamdog Client!




Introducing the brand-new Beamdog Client!

But before we get started, please note that the Beamdog Client is not our "next big thing” we’ve been working on for so long, only part of it. Watch out for more news on that soon!

The new Beamdog Client will run any product made by Beamdog, and we encourage you to try it out with your Enhanced Edition games. Just download, install, log-in, and point the new client at your existing games using the Find Existing Game button.

Why use the new Beamdog Client? Lots of reasons! In addition to easy updates, the new Beamdog Client features DRM-free versions of your purchased games, easy-to-access forum links, quick links to the latest versions of online game manuals, and better connections to support. Plus, buying directly from Beamdog helps us support the games you have and make more of the games you love!

Sharp eyed users will notice the new Beamdog Client supports products on Mac (we’ve specifically designed it to work well with Sierra) and Linux. Though Linux users will see an empty list where games should be, perhaps that’s a sign of things to come in the future. ;)

We’d like for our fans to use the Beamdog Client in the language of their choice. French, Polish, and German are just the start. Watch for more languages in future updates.

Windows XP users will not be able to use the new Beamdog Client. We’re sad to let that operating system go, however time, and technology, marches on. Any titles you have through the old client made by studios other than Beamdog will continue to be run through the old client.

For those of you asking what will happen to the old Beamdog Client, the answer is nothing. The client and launchers you’re used to using will remain as it is, but will not receive any future updates. We’ll be channeling our efforts into finding solutions for issues within the new Beamdog Client. All of our legacy launchers and clients will continue to be available here

We’re excited to find out what you all think. This is just the start!

Writer

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Collector's Edition Update 10


The adventure's end is in sight!
At last, our well-travelled Baldur's Gate: Siege of Dragonspear Collector’s Editions approach their journey’s end.

All Beamdog UK and European Siege of Dragonspear Collector’s Edition pre-order purchasers should now have received address confirmation emails from Spiral Galaxy Games, our regional distributor for the SoD:CEs.

Spiral Galaxy Games has confirmed they’ve received shipment of the SoD:CEs and will be sending out dispatch emails including tracking numbers to all UK and European pre-order customers shortly.

Our distributor is aiming to have all orders packaged and sent out by the end of the week. We’re excited to hear about these Collector’s Editions reaching their final destinations. Be sure to let us know on Twitter and Facebook when you get yours!
If you need to change your address please contact Spiral Galaxy Games through the address confirmation email immediately.

If you are a UK or European Siege of Dragonspear Collector’s Edition pre-order purchaser and have not received an address confirmation email, please contact our support team at support@beamdog.com as soon as possible.

Did you miss out on the Siege of Dragonspear Collector’s Edition pre-order? Watch our social channels and beamdog.com for more news in the coming months! Don't forget! All pre-order purchasers will be getting a free copy of our next game!
Writer

Friday, March 3, 2017

Siege of Dragonspear Romance Tips


To whom will you gift a flower?
The Feast of Saint Valentine has come and gone, but doesn't mean you can't enjoy a good romance, either in real life or in a videogame. Siege of Dragonspear offers eight romance partners, each of them boasting unique traits and peculiarities.

Check out this guide for tips on how to win the heart of your dearest Siege of Dragonspear companion.

During your travels together, you'll learn about Corwin's past relationships.
1. Schael Corwin

You can romance Schael Corwin regardless of your character's gender and race. 

Schael is a member of the Flaming Fist, and her profession heavily influences her personality. Wherever you go, expect Schael to accompany and protect you from danger. She grew up in the city, so setting out to adventure in the wilds will be a new experience for her.


Romance tip: Schael prefers actions to words. One day, she will question your lineage and connection to Sarevok, and in order to earn her trust, you'll have to demonstrate your own merit.


Discover Dorn's dark inner world.
2. Dorn Il-Khan

Characters of any race and gender can romance Dorn Il-Khan.

Dorn is a blackguard bound to his patron's will.  To impress this half-orc, speak to him about power and ways to seize it. Never forget that Dorn is a warrior, not a strategist, and he will admire your ability to think quickly in times of danger.



Romance tip: You may lead others to believe there's goodness within you while you romance this blackgaurd. Dorn recognizes, more than anything, that having the trust of another is a valuable thing. They never see what's coming until it's too late.

A handsome fellow to travel by your side.
3. Glint Gardnersonson

Only male characters can romance the amazing vanishing gnome, Glint Gardnersonson.

This gnome loves adventuring, breathing fresh air, and meeting new people. But more than anything, he loves getting  into and then out of trouble. Encourage his mad schemes, make him your right-hand gnome, and he will love you even more than adventuring.



Romance tip: Glint has a very large family. To get his favor, you'll need to help him track down his relatives and make sure everyone are safe. 

Get wild with Neera.
4. Neera

If your character is male, and doesn't mind the occasional wild surge, you can romance Neera.

"Stand back, and watch this!" Neera is not the type of person for whom anything in life is straightforward. In difficult circumstances always try to support and cheer her up. Gift her a few minutes where she doesn't have to worry about being killed, and she'll appreciate it.



Romance tip: Most of all, make Neera believe that you'll be by her side to support her even when magic gets wild, and she'll be yours forever.

Take a walk with Rasaad in the moonlight. Beware of Dark Moon monks, though.
5. Rasaad yn Bashir

Only women can romance Rasaad yn Bashir.

Adventuring in Siege of Dragonspear may lead to danger, but Rasaad enjoys travelling beside you. Battle is where you and Rasaad will bond. As he watches you  fight, he will feel as though  he belongs by your side. 


Romance tip: Speak with Rasaad when he hesitates to make a decision. Your help will make him feel clearer, more focused. Honest talk will lay down the foundations of your relationship.

Between two evils, choose the one you haven't tried.
6. Safana

If your character is male, you can romance Safana.

If there's anything you can be sure about, it's that no matter what life throws at Safana, she'll come out the victor. Safana is a beautiful woman, and you'll have to impress her if you want to win her heart. Compliment her with grace and authenticity. Instead of comparing Safana with the most beautiful flowers, mention that she's a true survivor.


Romance tip: At a moment of the greatest danger, promise Safana you will make it out alive together.

Never show weakness to the drow.
7. Viconia DeVir

Only male human, half-elf, halfling and half-orc characters can romance Viconia DeVir.

Once again, in Siege of Dragonspear, Viconia's fate intertwines with yours. You will meet many Flaming Fist officers as you travel, and they will bring back unpleasant memories to Viconia. Be ready to respect her will.


Romance tip: Always remember that Viconia doesn't blindly follow in your footsteps. She is used to holding on to her life with both hands.


A fine group and a fine beer. Now this skald seeks a fine woman.
8. Voghiln the Mighty

Voghiln the Mighty will romance women from any race.

The best way to get to know Voghiln is to accept his offer of a drink. The skald will spend the evening telling you tales of the North next to the firelight.
























Romance tip: Give Voghiln a chance to pay you compliments, or, better, share a flask with him and together you will carry on even through the darkest hour.

Remember, if you have more than one romance partner in the group, a moment will come when you will have to choose to whom your heart belongs.

Let us know who your favorite romance in Siege of Dragonspear is on our forums, in the comments below, or send us a tweet @Beamdoginc.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Collector's Edition Update 9


Land ho! UK and European SoD:CE's reach the next step in their travels!
After weeks at sea, our shipment of Siege of Dragonspear: Collector’s Editions have finally reached a shore. We’re pleased to be able to let you all know the UK and European SoD:CE pre-orders have arrived in London, however they now face the dreaded beast, bureaucracy.  

The SoD:CE’s are currently being processed through customs. As soon as they clear customs and reach our distributor, we’ll be sure to release another update with details on tracking orders and fulfilment dates. UK and European pre-order customers should keep an eye out for an email from our distributor confirming shipping information.

Beamdog forum users who pre-ordered the SoD:CE have been gifted the Bound Hands Of Ilmater badge for their patience. If you pre-ordered the Siege of Dragonspear: Collector’s Edition and didn’t get the badge, let our Community Manager or one of the forum moderators know. 

As always, if you have any concerns about your Siege of Dragonspear: Collector’s Edition order, or you live outside the UK and Europe and haven’t received your SoD:CE, please reach out to our support team at Support@beamdog.com.
Writer