The Idiots Get Their Mitts On Baldur's Gate August 1st, 2000
Gary: Man, do you know how long I have been waiting for this?
Randy: Yeah, I think pretty much all of North America knows how long you have been waiting for this.
Gary: Well, Baldur's Gate is supposed to be the best and most thorough conversion of the AD&D rule set to a computer game. Not that I really know that much about AD&D.
Randy: Then why do you have a twenty-sided die in your hand?
Gary: Uhhh, found it.
Randy: You are the biggest nerd in the world, man. Don't get all "I'm cool!" on me.
Gary: Yeah, like you don't still own every one of your AD&D books, plus reams of maps you created on your own.
Randy: I have no idea what you are talking about.
Gary: And all of those drawings of the succubus that you converted to lawful good for some disgusting bird fetish you have.
Randy: You said you would never mention that again.
Gary: I didn't. So, anyway, on to Baldur's Gate. We got a hold of our copy at MACWORLD Expo, and after just a few hours of gameplay (and that was the prologue), we decided it was worth the wait.
Randy: Yeah, this may be one of the most immersive experiences in Mac gaming since MYST. Baldur's ships on five CD-ROM's, includes an impressive instruction manual that incorporates Volo's Guide to Baldur's Gate, and an oversized map of the land.
Gary: It is worth noting that PC users had to pay extra to get Volo's Guide. Not that I am bragging, since Baldur's Gate came to the Mac a year after the PC version was available. Baldur's Gate II is already out for the PC, in fact.
Randy: The reason that Baldur's Gate is so immersive to me is that the map and manual really bring the game out of the computer. You find yourself referring to both regularly throughout the game, which makes it feel more like you are really traveling through strange lands.
Gary: The first thing you have to do is generate your character, which is as detailed as AD&D ever was.
Gary imported his own picture when he created his character in Baldur's Gate.
Randy: In fact, it follows AD&D to the core. As you create your character, text guides are there to describe in amazing detail the difference between a neutral good character and a chaotic good character, for example.
Gary: Pretty cool. I admit, though, when I first fired up the game and saw the game screen, I was a little intimidated. There is the main game area, where all of the action takes place. Below that is a resizable text area, where conversations take place. To the right are portraits of every member of your party, which is how you control what each individual does. And surrounding the screen is an initially confusing array of buttons.
Randy: Clicking on the buttons on the left takes you to some other very detailed screens. Your inventory, journal, map overview, character information, and your spell books are all accessible this way. Despite all the on-screen controls the interface still looks beautiful. But it does take a while to learn what everything does and how to use it in the heat of battle.
Always look both ways before you cross the street in this game!
Gary: Fortunately, Baldur's Gate includes a very useful tutorial, that not only guides through the interface of the game, but provides some back story, and lets you generate some experience points and some gold to equip yourself for your mysterious upcoming journey.
Randy: And finally, the game begins as you start your journey. Gary and I started a campaign while he was in New York for the Expo.
Gary: And I started a new one when I got back to Texas. I also convinced Jennifer (whose name is my wife) to start one, and we both thought that would last about five minutes. She ended up playing for hours, and I was able to get a grasp of the complexities of this game. Currently, all of the campaigns have taken drastically different directions, with different parties being assembled, different areas being explored, and different reactions by the game's inhabitants, which are known as non-player characters, or NPC's.
Randy: One very interesting aspect of the game is what can happen if you don't follow your character's alignment. If you are a good character, for example, and steal from people, word gets around and you will find it very difficult to get along with the NPC's. In fact, it can get to the point where they try to kill you on sight.
Gary: And once I saw this evil guy save a kitten from drowning. Man, his friends kicked his ass all over the place.
Randy: Why do I take you anywhere?
Gary: Because I am so cute and lovable?
Randy: I will hurt you.
Gary: While Randy and I haven't played Baldur's Gate long enough to really give a full review, what we have seen so far has the wait totally worth the while.
Randy: Hat's off to Black Isle Studios the original designers of Baldur's Gate and to our Mac heroes of the porting world. Perhaps some Mac gamers remember them from a little game called Fallout. And a huge thank you to Graphsim for the awesome port. With the luscious graphics, haunting musical score and seeming unending gameplay scenarios, this game is going to be a huge hit on the Mac!
Hey that's our cave! No, it's just another eye-popping scene from Baldur's Gate.
Gary: Uh huh! Baldur's Gate is a great game, but it's not perfect. I know that it would have added to the number of CD-ROM's, but I sure would have liked to have more voice-overs. Most of the conversations that take place are text-based and silent. And until a network mode becomes available (which will be free download over the Internet), you are stuck in single play mode.
Randy: I also would have liked a zoom option. As it is, you have your adventure mode and your overview mode. Sometimes the adventure mode seems too close and the map mode seems too far. And of course, I have to mention the fact that the Mac version was so far behind the PC version.
Gary: Even so, I am glad it's here. Overall, Baldur's Gate kicks some serious butt, and the complaints I had were minor.
Randy: Shall we adventure, old chub?
Gary: What the hell?!? What do you mean chub?
Randy: Old chum, I mean, sorry about that.
Gary: No problem, just a mistake, right?
Randy: Yeah...my bad. Now lets get back to some serious adventure Snout Boy. See you next week brave readers.
Gary Randazzo and Randy Soare are the co-founders of IWS Interactive, a New York based game developer for Macintosh. The IWS in IWS Interactive stands for Idiots With Sticks. How that came about is a long and boring story, but suffice it to say that at four in the morning, it seemed like a good idea.
The demo for IWS Interactive's upcoming mystery-adventure game, Manhattan Apartment Hunter, has recently been released to rave reviews. The Idiots have been into gaming on Apple computers even before the Mac was around. Does anyone remember Choplifter on the Apple IIe? (Boy, we know we do.) Now, they are committed to help ensure that the Mac remains the premiere gaming platform on the planet.
You can email your comment and suggestions to Randy at , and Gary at .