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Baldur's Gate Controversy

Last posted Apr 06, 2016 at 05:12PM EDT. Added Apr 04, 2016 at 08:27PM EDT
23 posts from 15 users

This has been trending a lot lately. According to 4chan's /v/, Brietbart and Niche Gamer, the developer of Baldur's Gate Beamdog adds SJW rhetoric to his expansion pack for Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition titled Siege of Dragonspear. Ever since its release there has been a huge controversy flame war going on about it.

I will enumerate the problems I have experienced with Siege of Dragonspear:

- Netcode is a disaster. Multiplayer does not work at all. My brother and I tried for an hour to get it to work before we gave up.

- When you import your character to Siege of Dragonspear, they lose all of their gear.

- The game constantly crashes when you try and save. You often have to reload from other save files in order to save.

- A number of simple spells, like turn undead and acid arrow, do not work.

- The game also has a tendency to corrupt previous save files you made. Bye-bye to my 9th level Dwarf Fighter who had some of the best gear in the game.

- The bottom and top parts of the map are cut off, which makes it difficult to figure out where you're supposed to go in order to get to another part of the city.

- Mods break the game.

- If you die and reload the game, the game insists on lowering the difficulty and putting you on "story mode", as if the client insists that you're an idiot who can't play the game properly.

- Specifically, in Dragonspear, the graphics are worse. Characters have thick, black outlines on their models, which makes the models look blurry as hell. The graphic filter is awful. How do you make a 1998 game's graphics even worse, Beamdog?

- Linear progression. Most quests consist of NPCs saying "Get this shit for me" or "Kill this mob". While it's okay to have simple quests like that in games, they should not make up the entirety of a game's quest pool. In addition, previous areas become unavailable as you progress in the story.

- Combat is tedious. The game sends waves and waves of low level, easy to kill mobs at you, for example.

- Keys had a chance of disappearing when you put them on your key ring.

- Inescapable dialogue loops. Quest givers, for example, will send you to do something. You come back after completing the job, and they give you the exact same quest again.

- Some people have reported a drop in frame rate. Again, HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE FOR A GAME MADE IN 1998??

- The story is completely mediocre and the dialogue is amateur. They sacrificed the narrative of the Baldur's Gate franchise in order to break the 4th wall about Gamergate. The antagonist, the "Shining Lady", is your typical lawful stupid paladin who is trying to destroy the protagonist and Baldur's Gate for no other reason than "I think they're evil". Amber Scott, aka the person who thought the original Baldur's Gate was "sexist", is a fanfiction writer at best. She complains about the "sexism" of the game, but conveniently forgets about Shar-Teel, a chaotic evil female fighter who hunted and murdered men in the wilderness because she hated the male gender.

All in all, they took a franchise beloved by many and trampled it into the dirt. Dynaheir does not feel like Dynaheir. Khalid and Jaheira do not feel like Khalid and Jaheira. Minsc, the mascot of the series, has been turned into an obnoxious Flanderization of his former self.

Beamdog has buried themselves into a hole they cannot get out of. I'm sure that, after a few patches, the game will be playable. However, it will still remain a fan-fiction mod that you have to pay for.

People, this is Meme Research, not General. We'd appreciate it if you found some details related to the controversy rather than discuss it.

I long for a day that making a poorly coded and poorly written content cannot be defended by simply saying "Oh, but we made it politically progressive." Like, is that all it takes to excuse what is unapologetically a retcon of characters to make them political mouth-pieces of the author? Dating them in a way that they never should have been dated?

If you released a mod called "Knights of the Old Republic III" which was supposed to tie the stories of II and the Old Republic MMO together, and it featured Revan spouting how he'd "Make Coruscant Great Again by building a Space Wall" and had characters like HK-47 give a dissent against gay marriage, you'd be rightfully furious. Now imagine if you looked to the news and developers, and their statements could be summed up like this, "The game lacked certain conservative values and good moral characters, so we fixed it." And to top the cake, the game was a buggy and laggy mess, but you weren't allowed to talk about that because the game pandered to the popular political stance at the time.

The sad part is, that above isn't that far off. This "article" is, according to google, a highly cited source of what people are seeing when they look up beamdog and this controvery.

http://venturebeat.com/2016/04/05/the-best-htc-vive-virtual-reality-games-make-you-hot-and-sweaty/

This other site, albiet a blog post, is much more heavy in terms of research and citation, and actually dives deep to look at why people are angry, instead of just going with "they're angry" and leaving it at that. And it isn't highly cited.

http://gameranx.com/features/id/47159/article/trying-to-understand-baldurs-gategate/

I'm burned out of controversies in video games enough to actually get pissed off. This just makes me feel disgusted, and yet also relived that this wasn't bioware that made this. At least they make more subtle and dignified diverse characters, something I never thought would be a positive for me to say. But when you have something like this that does away with any subtly, you long for the days of having characters who while a bit shoved in your face about it, at least had the curtousey to have relevant content along with their sexuality or race.

Don't really see why it's a controversy, it just a crummy product.

I mean, I personally find stuff like the complete and utter bastardization of the Paper Mario series to be controversial, from a subjective level. But from an objective one, it's just a bunch of unpopular business decisions. Those happen every day.

Perhaps I'm just not "deep enough" in the fan community to grasp why this qualifies as a controversy, but from where I'm standing I can't find anything unique about this outcry that falls under the umbrella of another already existing controversy.

That's just my two cents. I could very well be well off-base, but regardless, I hope everyone who felt slighted is able to find some sort of catharsis.

Roy G. Biv wrote:

Don't really see why it's a controversy, it just a crummy product.

I mean, I personally find stuff like the complete and utter bastardization of the Paper Mario series to be controversial, from a subjective level. But from an objective one, it's just a bunch of unpopular business decisions. Those happen every day.

Perhaps I'm just not "deep enough" in the fan community to grasp why this qualifies as a controversy, but from where I'm standing I can't find anything unique about this outcry that falls under the umbrella of another already existing controversy.

That's just my two cents. I could very well be well off-base, but regardless, I hope everyone who felt slighted is able to find some sort of catharsis.

It mainly has to do with not just people giving negative opinions, but the effect said negative opinions are having, IE making those responsible or those sentimental double-down in defending the product and changes.

Like, one of the developers on steams responses to people complaining about the bad writing, which I agree is subjective, as well as coding issues and glitches, which are not, was to just ban all accounts giving negative criticism, citing both as just pawns of GG/KIA.

Stuff like that is why controversies get started. There's usually a spark in which people feel they are insulted in some way, and so lash out against it.

Honestly I really feel like this time it's just the game sucking, and the creators of it are using politics as a shield to protect themselves. When in fact most problems are playing-related, not story related. Yeah, I don't give a shit that someone's transgender when my fucking save file gets corrupted. That's the least of my worries.

Max wrote:

People, this is Meme Research, not General. We'd appreciate it if you found some details related to the controversy rather than discuss it.

More details delivered. Special thanks to Sinael for the links.

Bioware hired Amber Scott as a writer that previously had written a D&D adventure highly injected with agenda and also said that the original Baldur's Gate was sexist.

In the new Baldur’s Gate expansion, there’s a joke about ethics in heroic adventuring said by Minsc of all people.

Beamdog bans people for "hate speech” and “perpetuating a false narrative and engaging in a campaign of harassment”:
Example 1
Example 2
Example 3
Example 4

My problem with this is that Beamdog is consistently incompetent with their work. They have been working on Baldur's Gate for what 5 years now? When BG:EE came out, it was buggy and broken like the original Baldur's Gate back in 1998. They have been using the Infinity Engine, which has existed for over 10 years. There are plenty of mods made by fans that work well enough with this engine, made on their own free time. A company with experienced employees can't even release their product with major glitches or bugs on this very same engine. The same goes for BG2:EE which also had numerous problems. Now that the expansion came out and to no surprise, the same events occurred. KingHarlaus's post is pretty much spot on with these issues.

Beamdog hasn't really been doing well when it comes to writing either, judging by the new content that was added in the Enhanced Edition. If Baldur's Gate 3 is going be made by this developer, I don't think they could do it justice. I wish a different developer would work on BG3 (if it ever gets made), preferably by someone has more experience in creating CRPGs like Obsidian, who created Pillars of Eternity.

As for the writer of the expansion, people shouldn't be all that surprised. The writer made some controversial statement prior to the expansion's release and said something on the line of "If people didn't like it, then too bad" regarding her work. I mean that's pretty much of a obvious red flag right there. Still, it seems a bit disrespectful to meddle the creators' original work in such a arrogant way.

What I don't understand is why Beamdog let this happen in the first place. They already have a negative reputation due to their buggy games and people have called their products a cashgrab of an old successful franchise. Why do something this controversial when you know that your reputation is on the line and you're trying to revive an old series that may or may not be successful in today's market?

As someone who is new and interested in these types of games this is really disappointing to see, especially to a famous series like Baldur's Gate. I planned on picking this up along with the Enhanced Editions over the summer sales but I think I'll pass and get the originals instead for a cheaper price.

/end rant

Ok, spent a while looking into it and my opinion is thus: Yeah, the expansion is pretty shitty. The writing is terrible, the GG reference, even speaking as an anti-GG guy, was completely unnecessary, and even from a pure gameplay stance it's bad. I have absolutely no qualms at the people who are angry at the poor implementation of diversity and general bad writing and quality of the game.

However, I will stand that the idea of putting more diverse characters in in the first place is not a bad one. I will stand that games need more diversity and trying to implement more characters as such is a step in the right direction. This, however, was not the way to do it, I know a lot of so called "SJWs" are also disappointed with the way it was implemented. But again, lets just reaffirm here that shit like this in completely crossing the line. I can't blame a lot of people who saw this controversy and got angry, I did myself before I saw some of the actual legit complaints and did some digging. Whether you like how it was implemented or not, lets not ignore that there is a significant chunk of people who's anger is rooted in transphobia and homophobia.

Just to reiterate, for the people who may get angry about that, acknowledging that there are some pretty offensive people mixed in in this controversy does not mean you are as bad, there are plenty of valid arguments to be made about the quality of the expansion and that is why I even agree with the people who are upset in some ways, but the types of aforementioned offensiveness are absolutely uncalled for. The problem with the perceived forcing of opinions is not the fact it's there to begin with, just how it was written in.

I really liked Boogie's video on the whole thing, if you want to hear probably a better version of my whole rant

Thanks God I see this theme before buying BGEE:SoD! I really wanted the expansión, but for some reason I don't buy it that time.

OK, maybe the tranny character is not a problem for me, but the bugs and bad attitute of the writer, is the Big problem, and maybe Beamdog must to work for rebuild the confidence of his clients after this fiasco. They do a great job with IWDEE, will be a shame if they throw up his job for this controversy.

Yes, I was a pro-GG guy, but the problem for me is not the agenda, but the bad attitude of Beamdog against his clients. That's like shooting your own foot with a shotgun and blaming to the foot for the bleeding.

I fleshed out more reasons why Siege of Dragonspear is a flop on my personal blog, but here's another.

Amber Scott is an inconsistent writer:
“If there was something for the original Baldur’s Gate that just doesn’t mesh for modern day gamers like the sexism, [we tried to address that],” said writer Amber Scott. “In the original there’s a lot of jokes at women’s expense. Or if not a lot, there’s a couple, like Safana was just a sex object in BG 1, and Jaheira was the nagging wife and that was played for comedy. We were able to say, ‘No, that’s not really the kind of story we want to make.’ In Siege of Dragonspear, Safana gets her own little storyline, she got a way better personality upgrade. If people don’t like that, then too bad.”

Let’s start off with a few pointers:

1. “Safana gets her own little storyline, she got a way better personality upgrade.”

Okay, fair enough, Amber. You managed to flesh out Safana’s story outside of being a sultry thief. I will concede that point to you.

2. “In the original there’s a lot of jokes at women’s expense. Or if not a lot, there’s a couple.”

This is an inconsistent statement. You can’t claim “there’s a lot” without evidence, and then change your statement to “Or if not a lot, there’s a couple”. As stated above, Safana was characterized as a sultry pirate with an overwhelming confidence in her own personal beauty. Off the top of my head, I can also think of Skie, who was characterized as Duke Eltan’s spoiled noble daughter. As someone who has played through BG1 numerous times, those are the closest I can come up with.

Jaheira is not the “nagging wife” Amber makes her out to be. Personality wise, she is very headstrong and temperamental. Khalid, her husband, is her foil – he is a very timid and easily alarmed man.

Regardless of the clashing personalities, the two love each other very much. In Baldur’s Gate 2, when Khalid dies, Jaheira is emotionally distraught to the point where she will leave your party if you pick the wrong response.

I mean, hell, Beamdog is even aware with this. You can tell by a conversation Rasaad has with Jaheira (by the way, Rasaad is an Enhanced Edition character):

3. “We tried to address that.”

You clearly didn’t try well enough, because Shar-teel is still the misandry-loving hell-cat she was in Baldur’s Gate 1.

In BG1, Shar-Teel is a chaotic evil human fighter you can recruit to your party. Prior to meeting her, she spends most of her time hiding out in the wilderness, murdering any men that have the misfortune of meeting her.

Here’s some of her dialogue:

“Men are pathetic.”
“I can’t take much more of this male imbecility.”
“This is such a waste of time, or should I say that men are such a waste of time.”
Well, that was pathetic, but then, men are the weaker sex. Thanks for the easy cash. (If you lose a duel to her).

Is that some of the sexism you were trying to address, Amber, or did you conveniently overlook her character?

Last edited Apr 06, 2016 at 10:33AM EDT

@KingHarlaus
@Twenty-One

I dont think you fix a Misogynistis/Misandristic/Sexist game by removing or altering Misogynistis/Misandristic/Sexist content, which is what Beamdog tries to do. They forget that representation does not equal endorsement. Why there should not be a Misandrystic female warrior? Why there should not be a Mysoginistic wizard? If that is a part of their personalities – it is totally okay in my book. When creator/writer makes it look like he agrees with their views or actions, and draws them in positive light – then it might become a problem, but only then.

If you want to make a positive statement about the issue you should give player the ability to affect these characters in a positive way. For instance, give player (or introduce a character who will) the ability to talk to Shar-Teel from time to time and show her the errors of her ways, or maybe reinforce her beliefs, because what is an RPG without a freedom of choice? That how it was made in BG2's Viconia romance arc iirc.

Sadly, amateurish writers do not understand that, and are prone to simply rewriting the lore they dont like instead of building up on it.

This is really sad.

Also, Safana, no matter how much they added in Sod, still betrays you in BG2.

𝓢𝖎𝖓𝖆𝖊𝖑 𝓲𝓼 𝓽𝓱𝓮 𝓒𝓔𝓞 𝓸𝓯 𝓗𝓸𝓻𝓷𝔂 wrote:

@KingHarlaus
@Twenty-One

I dont think you fix a Misogynistis/Misandristic/Sexist game by removing or altering Misogynistis/Misandristic/Sexist content, which is what Beamdog tries to do. They forget that representation does not equal endorsement. Why there should not be a Misandrystic female warrior? Why there should not be a Mysoginistic wizard? If that is a part of their personalities – it is totally okay in my book. When creator/writer makes it look like he agrees with their views or actions, and draws them in positive light – then it might become a problem, but only then.

If you want to make a positive statement about the issue you should give player the ability to affect these characters in a positive way. For instance, give player (or introduce a character who will) the ability to talk to Shar-Teel from time to time and show her the errors of her ways, or maybe reinforce her beliefs, because what is an RPG without a freedom of choice? That how it was made in BG2's Viconia romance arc iirc.

Sadly, amateurish writers do not understand that, and are prone to simply rewriting the lore they dont like instead of building up on it.

This is really sad.

Also, Safana, no matter how much they added in Sod, still betrays you in BG2.

It's a point of hypocrisy on Beamdog's part. When the original Baldur's Gate came out, no one cared that Shar-teel was a misandrist. No one cared that Eldoth was a sleazy womanizer. No one paid any mind to Jaheira being an alleged "nagging housewife". Xzar was a schizophrenic. Skie was the prissy, spoiled daughter of Duke Eltan, a caricature of a California valley girl. Edwin is a narcissist, and he usually believed that the women in the group would be honored to sleep with him. In Baldur's Gate 2, Viconia tells a story to the player character about how she was raped by farmers she ended up killing afterwards. The list of examples can go on.

No one paid much mind to it because, despite the fact that the game takes place in a fictional fantasy world, these are traits that we see in real life. They are flaws and events that shape a character.

However, people like Amber Scott and David Gaider find these certain characters to be troubling. Why? It's simple: they're not "politically correct". It's considered troublesome, because writers often deal in allegory with ideals that aren't exactly what they are today, but they seem to be like something we all know in our minds.

In their minds, however, you cannot have a character that is an unpleasant woman, an antagonist with a deformity, and so forth. Everyone has to be great and terrific.

And that's one of the downfalls of SoD. Most of the characters lack grit. Personally, I found the "changes" to Safana's character to be adequate. The way I viewed it, her character changes because she realizes there's more to life than thievery and flirting. It causes her to be more begrudging and acerbic.

However, when you have a world where most of the characters are neat and polished, and the only negative traits they have are minor quirks, you end up with amateur writing. Ergo, you get Siege of Dragonspear.

I would say that David Gaider is at least willing to make consents against political correctness if it makes for a more interesting story. Dragon Age's later installments, especially Dragon Age Inquisition, has plenty of flawed characters as well as good ones, without ruining any of the old characters. Sera, a lesbian, is an anarchist and an almost stereotypical sjw, in that she wants to help out common people against oppressive nobles. How she does this however is through "pranks" that usually result in common people being killed in retaliation, or in the noble people's deaths, and if you try to confront her about this obvious flaw, she just completely blows you off or if pushed enough, threatens to kill you.

Dorian, a gay man, is from a society called the Tevinter Imperium, an ancient civilization who are ruled by those with magic and practice slavery and a form of meritocracy where only the most cunning and powerful mages survive. He wants to change his peoples ways from being the ones usually stuck as being the defult evil doers of the world, but he still supports slavery. In fact slavery is an issue he will not back down from, and instead seeks to get rid of his peoples rigid classism as the main problem in their ways.

There's a trans character as well, in one of the armed forces you encounter named Krem. They're a woman who identifies as a man, an even odder trait when in this world woman are allowed to serve in the armed forces just as men are, which is usually the reason for said crossdressing in games. You can say this, but rather then get irate and berate the player, they simply say they were a man before they ever decided to be a solider. And they don't open with their sexuality either, it takes the third time meeting them for this conversation to take place.

Contrast this with Amber Scott, and it's like seeing the difference between an author with a strong opinion and someone who just has a strong opinion.

Black Graphic T wrote:

I would say that David Gaider is at least willing to make consents against political correctness if it makes for a more interesting story. Dragon Age's later installments, especially Dragon Age Inquisition, has plenty of flawed characters as well as good ones, without ruining any of the old characters. Sera, a lesbian, is an anarchist and an almost stereotypical sjw, in that she wants to help out common people against oppressive nobles. How she does this however is through "pranks" that usually result in common people being killed in retaliation, or in the noble people's deaths, and if you try to confront her about this obvious flaw, she just completely blows you off or if pushed enough, threatens to kill you.

Dorian, a gay man, is from a society called the Tevinter Imperium, an ancient civilization who are ruled by those with magic and practice slavery and a form of meritocracy where only the most cunning and powerful mages survive. He wants to change his peoples ways from being the ones usually stuck as being the defult evil doers of the world, but he still supports slavery. In fact slavery is an issue he will not back down from, and instead seeks to get rid of his peoples rigid classism as the main problem in their ways.

There's a trans character as well, in one of the armed forces you encounter named Krem. They're a woman who identifies as a man, an even odder trait when in this world woman are allowed to serve in the armed forces just as men are, which is usually the reason for said crossdressing in games. You can say this, but rather then get irate and berate the player, they simply say they were a man before they ever decided to be a solider. And they don't open with their sexuality either, it takes the third time meeting them for this conversation to take place.

Contrast this with Amber Scott, and it's like seeing the difference between an author with a strong opinion and someone who just has a strong opinion.

I would agree that David Gaider is a better writer than Amber Scott. It's like saying that Stephen King is better than Stephanie Meyer. However, I would not agree that Dorian and Sera are well-written characters.

Dorian is literally referred to as "The Gay Mage". Thankfully, his "flamboyant" stereotype is suppressed – usually. His entire story arc revolves around his issues with his dad. His father was upset that he was gay, so he attempted to use Blood Magic to "convert" his son to being straight. They shoehorned conversion therapy into a fictional world where sexuality was literally never questioned in the first place. Also, Dorian comes from the Imperium, where mages are the cream of the crop. They never cared about sexuality – power is the only thing that matters, and mages have it.

Sera is a weak character as well. She's your quintessential "lolsorandom X3" Invader Zim fan-girl. Despite having to work in a military environment, she acts as this edgy pseudo-anarchist that does "lolsorandom" things like hiding people's trousers.

However, a large issue with DA3 comes from the dialogue. It often goes from dull to simply pants-on-head retarded (talk to Iron Bull for about two minutes and you'll know what I mean). The romances are often tacked-on and seem to cater mostly to yaoi fangirls who don't comprehend the fact the average player of an RPG doesn't appreciate characters whose entire romance subplot can be summed up as "I am [insert sexuality here0, now let's fuck."

Honestly, if you want examples of "good" gay characters, you can use Steve Cortez and Samantha Traynor from Mass Effect 3. They're minor characters, but they embody what well-written LGBT characters should be. They don't announce their sexuality when you meet them. They don't even talk about it that much.

I never thought dorians was just about being gay. It was that he didn't want to sleep with a woman and have a child. He didn't continue the bloodline and raise it higher, and that was the problem. If he was gay but just took the plunge anyway, there wouldn't be a problem, because he refused to do it, his father tried to force him with blood magic, thus the sense of betrayal.

I never liked sera. Iron Bulls dialogue made me like him a lot. He was the funny relief in a crew filled with a lot of stoic characters.

And its funny you mentioned them. I've seen plenty of people complain that they were horrible portrayals of lgbt characters, especially on biowares own forums, and them pfaise the later.

I think I enjoy the romances as just an option but I don't think they should be a main focus. It can cause a lot of drama but it can also make for good roleplaying moments. And it's been in since baulders gate and knights of the old republic. I doubt it'll be removed.

Skeletor-sm

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