Baldur's Gate 3 Catch-All

Agreed, Clumber. I actually began to feel mild resentment as I accumulated XP, but no further increases in Character Level.

And as Prederick says, the quests start to become a laundry list of tasks-that-must-be-completed, rather than opportunities that arise naturally from exploration (which is where Act 1 really shines, though Act 2 also does this fairly well too). I don't think it helps that so many of the quests turn out to have lots of 'bits' to them even by Act 3. Gale's quest, in particular, felt like it would never end!

By the end, it really did feel like the gum I was chewing was losing its flavour.

The other thing to point out is that the battles become pretty epic in Act 3. Even completing a couple of missions can be several hours work.

DudleySmith wrote:

If you wait near the gate it should open - it's always closed initially when coming back to the area for me, I assume because it was the easiest way to implement some possible conditions.

I waited and it didn't open. And there were no vines.

But I ended up doing a restart anyway because I flubbed my chances at getting

Spoiler:

Wyll, and therefore Karlach.

I've got 3 playthroughs on the go at the moment: 2 multiplayer games and my 2nd single player playthrough with a halfling monk.

I love the halfling's running animation! It's very earnest. I also love how monks make Bruce Lee "wa-paaaa" sounds when they do unarmed strikes. Apparently each companion does their own, too -- I've already heard of respeccing each companion to a bard to hear their vicious mockery, now I also want to hear their Bruce Lee sounds.

One drive-by observation is how much of the writing, dialogue etc you miss when you do multiplayer vs singleplayer. A big part is down to having fewer preset companions around to comment on things, plus not always being in on your teammates' dialogues.

Singleplayer is "here's a story and deep characters". Multiplayer is "let's break everything".

Yeah, after my experience with D:OS2, when my friend asked me about doing a BG3 co-op run my immediate response was "after I do a SP playthrough." You just miss out on so much, and that's before we consider whether you and your teammate have similar playstyles.

My wife and I bounced off of BG3 multiplayer pretty hard. Well, I was annoyed by some things but willing to continue, while she decided she wanted to just play single-player. I think SWTOR's "holocall into conversations you aren't physically there for" feature spoiled us. And the way the game handled multiplayer conversations was smooth and involved everyone. When we tried BG3 in early access it seemed like conversations were just one player affairs.

My multiplayer hack was I had already mostly played through on single-player, so for multiplayer I was basically doing support for my spouse. I let her lead, and offered advice and spoilers when asked. That way she was able to enjoy the story.

Even then though, having only one companion each drastically cuts down on the banter. I can imagine, without the intentionality to work together, the narrative can be easily lost. Even with just two of us, it took a lot of restraint for me to just hold back and follow. But as a chaos generator, I'ms ure Grand Theft Faerun is delightful with friends.

RE: Party Banter -

Did anyone else find it runs out pretty quickly? Like, in Act I, I was getting a pretty good amount of it as we ran around the map, but now, in Act 3, I get basically zero in-party chit-chat.

I wouldn't say this is a game with a lot of inter party interaction past the first act really. Granted I did play it in co op with my friend Evilskillit so there was one less party member

I think BG3 treats the party interactions more holistically. It is not just amount of quips while wandering (though there's some of that , particularly in act 1), but the first two acts have a lot of scenes between party members. There's also the color commentary when you run into non party NPCs. Then, in the third act, it's very much talking to party members at the inn and getting their perspective on one person or another's journey. I think the party in Baldur's Gate 3 feels like a group of people messily colliding with each other more than the average RPG even with less "banter" because the other things they do fill it out a lot more.

Prederick wrote:

RE: Party Banter -

Did anyone else find it runs out pretty quickly? Like, in Act I, I was getting a pretty good amount of it as we ran around the map, but now, in Act 3, I get basically zero in-party chit-chat.

Yep. I mentioned this in a comment further upthread.

I found it a little deflating as the deepening relationships between the characters (or - more accurately - between my character and individual party members) was one of the elements that kept the game fresh. At some level, I felt that there should be more conversation between the party as we began resolving party members' quests and neared the game's climax.

Yeah, that was my feeling. Honestly, my disappointment might just be about my expectations. In the weeks leading up to release and in the weeks after, all I heard was about how this game had an impossible amount of character content, and while it has a lot, I go around camp now, see that I already exhausted every conversation tree with my companions a while ago, and it's like "this doesn't feel like a whole lot more than ME3 right now."

It's not bad, mind you, but as I walk up to Astarion for the 8th time and the only options are "Special tadpole?" or "Stay in camp," despite all the other in-game events that have happened, it's a little disappointing.

The second "test" is uninstall-this-game bad, terrible.

Prederick wrote:

Yeah, that was my feeling. Honestly, my disappointment might just be about my expectations. In the weeks leading up to release and in the weeks after, all I heard was about how this game had an impossible amount of character content, and while it has a lot, I go around camp now, see that I already exhausted every conversation tree with my companions a while ago, and it's like "this doesn't feel like a whole lot more than ME3 right now."

As I said in my linked post, I think we're reaching the limits of what can be achieved without Generative Artificial Intelligence... at reasonable cost.

What I think many players want is 'Final Third' dialogue that accurately captures and represents their specific journey through the game. But modern RPGs simply contain too many variables to do this, so the fall back is to write and record dialogue that only reflects the major decisions by the player.

There are two consequences to this:

One - When you run out of major decisions, you also run out of dialogue.
Two - The dialogue doesn't necessarily reflect what's becoming important to the player. For me, for example, I frequently wanted to shed tears of gratitude to Shadowheart for party 'saves' in some of the fights in Act 1, when my group was particularly squishy. And I'd quite have liked some campfire chat to reflect on, say,

Spoiler:

the ultimate fate of Mayrina and Connor after we encountered them again in Baldur's Gate

.

This, of course, is why generative AI has been such a significant issue in the recent wave of strikes in the creative industries. Technology is opening up a huge range of possibilities for creative mediums. We're going to have some difficult choices to make... as producers and consumers.

And similar choices are already being made elsewhere in creative industries. The Xmas edition of The Economist carried a story - 'The Last Lions of Hollywood' - about the impact of technology on the use of animals in film and tv. I think it's worth quoting:

"As a 500lb African lion, Luke has to deal with challenges not experienced by other actors. But lately, he and his human colleagues have found common cause. America's screenwriters and actors spent half of 2023 on overlapping strikes. One of the reasons for their bust-up with the studios was the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in film and television production. Writers worry that AI will soon be churning out scripts, while actors fear... that they may be replaced by digital stand-ins."

"For most human actors that is still a hypothetical worry. But for four-legged screen stars it is already a reality. Work for animal actors is drying up... As demand for animal actors declines, their owners and trainers are leaving the business..."

Of course, there are excellent animal welfare reasons for cheering this development (and I do cheer it, for those reason). But the Economist's comparison remains valid. I suspect that CGI has reduced demand for stunt co-ordinators and performers too.

I don't think AI is any kind of save. If you're using it to generate the script, it still needs editing, voice acting, QA, iteration based on testing, new voice acting for the revised lines and more QA. Writing is not the expensive part here.

If you're using it to generate lines, cutscenes and performance on the fly - putting aside the ethical ramifications and assuming everyone involved is cool with it - you're still going to need monstrous amount of QA and testing to make sure it doesn't generate gibberish. And you're probably still going to have cases where you wind up with an equivalent of "my face is tired" and get memed to death.

My solution is to accept there's only so much one game can do.

Perhaps it isn't a save yet. But - given the rate at which the publicly-available generative AI is progressing - it might be viable in a couple of years.

(I listen to the Ezra Klein podcast, and he's done a lot of episodes on AI over the last year or so. One thing he has said, which I always remind myself of whenever I see, read or hear something about AI, is "AI right now is as bad as its ever going to be.")

Also, I'd argue that - at least in the earliest implementations - it wouldn't need to be great. It would just need to be either better than nothing, or better than - say - the worst 10% of non-AI-enabled games.

(I've come to the view that we'll see serious job losses, not when the output of AI is better than that of the top performing employees, but when it is no worse than that of bottom performing employees.)

detroit20 wrote:

Also, I'd argue that - at least in the earliest implementations - it wouldn't need to be great. It would just need to be either better than nothing, or better than - say - the worst 10% of non-AI-enabled games.

To avoid going onto a wider AI tangent that probably belongs in the D&D thread, I think that when you have a lot of excellent bespoke dialogue and scripting and when you have the choice of adding to it a) nothing or b) sub-par ai-generated - *ugh* - content, I think you underestimate just how good an option nothing is. That perfectly crafted Astarion zinger is not going to land the same way if it's next to a bunch of random AI generated non-sequiturs.

As a writer it is so deflating to imagine someone who plays this game and thinks the issue is that there's somehow not enough writing in here and that somehow "AI" is the solution. If there's a solution to this problem it's time and editing of things that aren't in the scope of the project and even if the tech improves, and I frankly have my doubts as for all the hype the improvements to it aren't exactly solving the issues with it, and I suspect this tech is infinitely more limited than people think, the damage it will do in getting new writers up and going and keeping the old ones that have the nerve to think they should be paid a fair wage will do far more damage than it can make up for. Who's going to train the new writers that have to work with this tech when they all can't afford to keep writing? And who's going to want a job that's just trying to make word salad look good?

I think that's part of what makes BG3 feel so special to me. It feels very much like it could be the last gasp of actually human art in the AAA field. The dying gasp of something I loved and wanted to be a part of but has been so subsumed by greed it doesn't even want me enough to under pay and overwork me to death anymore

So i am finally getting around to playing - thoughts on viability of a bard?

Really good class in this one. Good at combat as a support, and gets a lot of special dialogue options for getting out of situations other classes might not be able to

Bards are great!

Alien Love Gardener wrote:

I don't think AI is any kind of save. If you're using it to generate the script, it still needs editing, voice acting, QA, iteration based on testing, new voice acting for the revised lines and more QA. Writing is not the expensive part here.

If you're using it to generate lines, cutscenes and performance on the fly - putting aside the ethical ramifications and assuming everyone involved is cool with it - you're still going to need monstrous amount of QA and testing to make sure it doesn't generate gibberish. And you're probably still going to have cases where you wind up with an equivalent of "my face is tired" and get memed to death.

My solution is to accept there's only so much one game can do.

The chap who does the voice overs for tech research and anomalies in Galactic Civilisations IV: Supernova is one of the Explorminate podcasters and also runs his own YouTube Channel. If I've understood him correctly, Stardock basically sampled him saying all the little text descriptions that accompanied the events, and the use AI to generate new sentences of him speaking even if he never actually spoke the words for new events they've added to the game.

Honestly, you wouldn't know which he spoke and recorded, and which he didn't. I don't think it's quite as far away as people think.

Interesting. Do you have a link to him discussing the GalCiv4 voice stuff?

BadKen wrote:

Interesting. Do you have a link to him discussing the GalCiv4 voice stuff?

It was in one of the recent Explominate episodes. I don't know which but they aren't exactly prolific, so you shouldn't have to go back too far. It was around the time Supernova was released I think - or certainly one of the recent updates.

Cool, thanks!

Sorbicol wrote:
BadKen wrote:

Interesting. Do you have a link to him discussing the GalCiv4 voice stuff?

It was in one of the recent Explominate episodes. I don't know which but they aren't exactly prolific, so you shouldn't have to go back too far. It was around the time Supernova was released I think - or certainly one of the recent updates.

Found it! Episode 51, starting at 42 minutes.

The coolest thing to me was how he describes the process. The GalCiv AI not only synthesized the voice from podcast and other samples, it did so in multiple languages, AND it rewrote the script to more closely match the writing style of the sample scripts.

Damn. And this is a custom LLM developed and trained by Stardock for the game.

I just realized I can make an entire team of the Rat Queens and my next playthrough is confirmed.

Prederick wrote:

Yeah, that was my feeling. Honestly, my disappointment might just be about my expectations. In the weeks leading up to release and in the weeks after, all I heard was about how this game had an impossible amount of character content, and while it has a lot, I go around camp now, see that I already exhausted every conversation tree with my companions a while ago, and it's like "this doesn't feel like a whole lot more than ME3 right now."

It's not bad, mind you, but as I walk up to Astarion for the 8th time and the only options are "Special tadpole?" or "Stay in camp," despite all the other in-game events that have happened, it's a little disappointing.

I am 3000% with you, man. A large part of why I'm not as hot on the game as others is this very reason and that the way these interactions are paced actually feels a little bit of a step back from older Bioware games.

After failing to get into the game last year, I decided to try it out on the PS5. It works great, and I'm having a ton of fun. I had only put a few hours into it before, but it turned out that I had missed two companions and a significant dungeon.

I was inspired since Ranged Touch have started up their "Mages and Murderdads" series on Baldur's Gate 3. One of them is playing a storm sorcerer which sounded pretty cool.

I'm enjoying my Monk -- took tavern brawler at lvl 4 and pivoted from a DEX monk to a STR monk. When respeccing, I didn't want to dump INT, WIS or CHA too drastically, so I did what many people do and dumped STR, using Hill Giant potions to buff it to 21.

As I watched my diminutive monk landing potion-assisted punches on armoured enemies, I realised: Asterix. I'm basically playing as Asterix.

$100 to the first person to make a "Hägar the Horrible" build.