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Baldur's Gate II interview with Ray Muzyka
Just before our preview posted, we asked Ray Muzyka, cofounder of BioWare, to discuss a few issues surrounding Baldur's Gate II, including the enhancements to the engine the many new features, and the decision to not use third-edition rules.
GameSpot: Why did you decide to use the two-year-old Infinity engine for Baldur's Gate II?
Ray Muzyka: We've been working on the BioWare Infinity engine for the past several years - we started work on it back in 1996. We began work on improvements to the engine eleven months ago, when we began work on Baldur's Gate II. In many ways we're now working with a new engine - there have been a lot of major improvements to the Infinity engine since that time.
GS: What enhancements are you making to the engine to keep it competitive and to ensure the look of Baldur's Gate II doesn't seem dated?
RM: There have been a lot of improvements to make the BioWare Infinity engine even better. First off, we've increased the screen resolution to 800x600, as opposed to the 640x480 found in Baldur's Gate (you can still run the game in 640x480 but now have the option of the higher resolution 800x600 as well). As well, we've added in the ability to drop off the side graphic-user-interface panels. These two features will allow the users to play at a much higher resolution and allow the game to be that much more immersive. Another graphic enhancement is the addition of 3D support for spells and special effects. We've added in special 3D effects that are enabled if you have an OpenGL compatible 3D card. These will make spells and special effects that much better still.
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We've improved the pathfinding algorithms in the game, adding in character "bumping," which will allow your fighter to make his way to the front of the battle and allow your mage to head to the back of the party to cast spells.
In terms of dialogue complexity, we have increased the amount of character interaction between characters - characters in your party will interact with each other; romances and conversations are all possible. Character abilities are dramatically increased compared to the original Baldur's Gate: We've added in the ability to dual-wield weapons for rangers (use two weapons at the same time), and also many new character kits and subclasses.
Finally, we're improving a lot of nonengine components of the game as well; for example, we're touching up character animations and have improved the art in the game substantially as well as adding in a lot of higher-level spells and higher-level monsters (described below).