Dream Projects: The Infinity Engineers

Bonfireside Chat and Watch Out For Fireballs take a lot of time to produce. We've detailed the process here but it bears repeating. There is only so much time in a day (until we discover the Chronoptimizer) and I'm only going to live so long (until we unlock the Lazarus Protocols) and this limits what I can do. But I know I speak for both Kole and I when I say that, had I my druthers, I'd do a lot more.

I thought the production blog might be a fun place to talk about projects we'd love to do if time permitted. Perhaps, someday, these ideas will actually come to fruition. If not, at least you can see what other projects I'd spend my time on in a more perfect world.

I also want to note that just because something comes up here, it doesn't mean I'll never do it in real life. Sometimes you just want to check the temperature on ideas in a safe, Patreon-y environment.

I'd love to do a Bonfireside Chat-style examination of the Infinity Engine games, and their ilk. By my reckoning, this includes the following:

  • Fallout 1
  • Fallout 2
  • Baldur's Gate 1
  • Planescape: Tormet
  • Icewind Dale
  • Baldur's Gate 2
  • Icewind Dale 2
  • Lionheart
  • Arcanum
  • Temple of Elemental Evil.

Now, I know these aren't all Infinity Engine games but I'm thinking more of a specific feel than a specific engine. I've made no secret of the fact that these are among my favorite games of all time (other than Lionheart which is a fascinating failure) and while I don't think, say, Icewind Dale could support an entire area-by-area year of podcasting, I do think it could benefit from a month or two of in-depth examination. All the games listed here have two features in common that I think make them worthy of this approach.

1) Character creation and customization that is as robust as anything outside of Final Fantasy Tactics. It's no coincidence that all of these games, except Arcanum and Lionheart, are based on tabletop games where character customization is the chief appeal. Soaking Doritos in your Mountain Dew stomach sack (brought to you by Pepsi) and rolling dice is fun but I'd argue the main appeal of tabletop gaming is getting new verbs. You start out playing D and D and being able to do things you can't do in real life. As your character advances, that aspect of the power fantasy grows and grows. The difference between a table top game (or a western RPG) and a Metroid or a JRPG is the choice you're afforded in this progression. I feel that if games are defined by anything, it's choice, and I want the approach I take to solving problems to matter.

This point is underlined in the games listed above with parties. The same way Pokemon is about coming up with a perfect team of cute abominations that complement one another and come when called, a good D and D party creates a tactically sound geodesic dome.

2) Rich game worlds. Not every game can be Dark Souls, no matter how many bargains I make with Lord Satan. But if a world can't be as detailed as Lordran, it can at least be The Forgotten Realms. The Realms have been around for almost 30 years and features eldritch organizations, mad gods and scheming guilds, all with their own history and mover/shakers. Planescape features novels worth of excellent backstory and character development. The lore of the Fallout series is often overlooked as well. Arcanum features an exquisitely realized gameworld and an original cosmology. Lionheart had a cool setting and almost nothing else and we shall not mention it again.

I imagine a podcast that, when meeting the Harpers or The Brotherhood of Steel for the first time, we take a few minutes to explain what makes the organizations tick. When we take out the slavers in Fallout 2, we take a few minutes to talk about slaving in the Fallout universe in general. What does it suggest? When we meet Drizzt in Baldur's Gate, we examine the character, give you his background and really bring the weight of the significance of his appearnce home.

Again, I don't have time to play these games and record these shows right now but perhaps, sometime in the future, I will. Maybe I'll do it as a blog? What do you think? In either case, if any of this happens, I hope you'll join me.