Mythical beasts, special powers and clashes of empires — before Game of Thrones, the locally-produced Baldur’s Gate had it all.
The game that forever changed role-playing games and saw two editions launched out of Edmonton is moving to Larian Studios in Belgium for its next instalment. But local gamers won’t forget it any time soon.
“It captured that tremendous feeling of pen and paper role-playing that many people had fallen in love with,” said Aaryn Flynn, former general manager of developer BioWare, who worked on the game’s second edition. “It was so big and so grand, and so so well put together that it just set a new bar for what was possible.”
Baldur’s Gate launched in 1998, followed by a second edition in 2000. It “revolutionized” role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons, from which it drew inspiration, major settings and the rules of play, said Flynn.
Despite its critical and commercial success, many fans of Baldur’s Gate didn’t realize it originated right here in Edmonton. But as its popularity grew and word got out, Flynn said it became a real point of pride for the Alberta gaming industry.
In the 20 years since its release, the rest of the city picked up on its popularity, and gamers around the world are eagerly awaiting the release of the third instalment.
Cameron Tofer, co-founder of Edmonton-based video game developer Beamdog, built expansions for the game and is currently in the process of translating many of them into multiple languages. “If (the next instalment) can provide what the original did … I think that would be awesome,” he said.
Larian Studios declined to comment. The next edition of Baldur’s Gate has no release date yet.
But anticipation is high, said Flynn. “The games are bigger and more complex than ever,” he said. “There’s an appetite to get back to that and to remind ourselves what was so good about some of those little efforts and why they were successful.”