Monday, 5 February 2018

Where to Purchase the Original Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale, Planescape: Torment and Neverwinter Nights

Where to Purchase the Original Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale, Planescape: Torment and Neverwinter Nights




The purpose of this post is to compile a list of outlets wherefrom the original, non-"Enhanced" versions of Neverwinter Nights and the Infinity Engine games may be purchased; namely, Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale and Planescape: Torment.

The originals are the authoritative versions, not the "Enhanced" Editions. The original Infinity Engine games have not changed in 15-20 years whereas the EEs are still being patched and updated after five years [1]. But they will never be the authoritative versions because they were not made by BioWare and Black Isle. That is why I have covered the originals in my retrospectives, over the EEs, and will continue so to do. But that is just one reason. The other reasons are because I simply prefer the originals and dislike the imbalancing, poorly written and aesthetically inferior additions made by the Infinity EEs. And because I don't want people to forget what the originals were like as a result of another company stepping in.

[1] Amusing, isn't it? Five years later, the EEs are still being patched and updated. Beamdog are actually proud of this; calling it "dedication". The entirety of NWN was made in that time.

Likewise, the original Neverwinter Nights which evolved into Diamond patched to 1.69 CR is the authoritative version, not the "Enhanced" Edition that will be patched and updated for the next five years, week by week, depending on what a fickle rabble votes for on a dumb Trello board. Yes, a couple of people involved in the original are involved with the EE in this case, but that is still not the original BioWare team of 2002. Not even close; it's a different corporate culture and time. Moreover, Tim Cain himself could release an EE for the greatest RPG of all-time (Fallout), and it would still not be authoritative. The authoritative version of Fallout will always be the Interplay version, released to critical acclaim in 1997. It doesn't matter what original devs assert or give blessing to, 10 or 20 years subsequent.

The following list will be updated as best I can and linked to on my blog while they are valid. I would encourage readers to help me add to it. This will in turn help others experience the originals as the original developers intended them to be experienced rather than how a developer that came along more than a decade later chose to "overhaul" them. Who would not want to play the original BG in place of some overhaul by a third party, just as, who would not want to watch the original Star Wars in place of the ones modernized and tinkered with for the Prequels, even if by George Lucas himself?

Get the originals here:

Baldur's Gate Compilation (gameseek.com.uk).
• Icewind Dale Ultimate Collection (Amazon). You can also find BG and PS:T on Amazon. Also, see 4-in-1 Boxset (here, too).
Neverwinter Nights: Diamond (GoG). Get it while you can before the "Enhanced" Edition moves in. In the future, even if Beamdog don't remove Diamond from sale on GoG (entirely possible, and they haven't yet stated that they won't do that), you will likely have to purchase the EE just to get the originals. This is what happened to Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale and Planescape: Torment. You can lobby for the originals to be reinstated separately to the EEs from those links. Also, NWN lobby link. You can see that Beamdog officially apologized for misleading statements made by their representatives here and here in relation to the subject. Check out these threads, too:

Buy NWN1 ASAP
NWN Enhanced Edition. Beamdog
Really, it's just common sense foresight, but I am thankful for keeping my original CDs/DVDs for all Infinity and Aurora games in order to ensure that I have rightful access to them forever, independent of third party clients and their dubious patching and updating procedures (even GoG is guilty of that, bundling cult classics with compatibility and even unofficial patches that go beyond patching and into the realm of assumptions to dev intent — Vamp Bloodlines being an inarguable example). I hope you have the original optical media, too. If not, I hope you can snap them up before they are no longer available except through expensive second-hand transactions. Then, you will have the authoritative versions, forever. Note that having the original media in your possession is even better than the GoG versions, not just because of their above-mentioned habit of tinkering with the originals, but also because you can play other versions of the game (certain patch releases), not to mention expansionless if you like (many add-in expansions imbalance their original campaigns). This allows you to play the best version of IWD, for example.

Here, on this blog, you will not have found and never will find a retrospective on Infinity or Aurora based on the "Enhanced" Edition versions, because that would be an affront to the concept. That goes for all RPGs that I have covered, in-depth. I leave retrospectives based on non-original incarnations for the jokers on mainstream news sites.

See also: Argument Against Playing BG in the BG2 engine (second section: Tutu, BGT, EE) and IWD: Enhanced Edition Imbalancing Act.


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23 comments:

  1. Seems like releasing DLCs and patches for already released games is the "game developing" of today. They have the rights for Baldur's Gate for godsake. Many companies would kill for that opportunity to pump original games of their own set in that world.

    That's my biggest problem with Beamdog: they play very, very safe and are content with living from other people's work. Siege of Dragonspear is the only original they have done, and I don't think it would have been as successful as a standalone.

    At least be risky and prove yourself as a developer.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Yep, their interquel expansion largely kept its head above water due to the strength of the Infinity Engine and aVENGER's combat encounter design and well-balanced itemization (aVENGER was a community modder who developed Rogue Rebalancing/Chosen of Cyric). Take that away, and they are left with a poorly-written, ill-conceived campaign with boring characterizations and token reactivity built on Unity or a Beamdog proprietary engine: a recipe for spectacular failure.

      My in-depth retrospectives and pro-tip write-ups will always be based on the original incarnations in order to keep their narratives alive. I am the only commentator who refuses to soil such write-ups with considerations of the imbalancing, poorly-thought-out additions of the Enhanced Editions.

      Delete
  2. I started to get into the Infinity Engine games a couple years ago with Planescape Torment and while it was a bit difficult to play due to the difference in design philosophy to contemporary games it still has an undeniable charm that is hardly found in nowadays. Since then I´ve played the "Enhanced Editions" of PS:T, BG1, BG2 and the original IWD.

    While I like the convenience features that were added by Beamdog (e.g. quickloot) I dislike their tinkering with what makes these games so special. I´ve only recently become aware of how much the EE´s change. Content and other things that I disliked for seeming out of place have shown themselves to be additions by Beamdog. This taints the image of the original games somewhat for players who only experience the EE´s. It´s really a shame since the originals are so unique.

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    1. Beamdog would dearly love to control the narrative of the Infinity and Aurora engines. The tasteless scrubs on reddit, RPGWatch and their own boards have been duped into embracing inauthentic, inferior versions; however, and this is no doubt to Beamdog's dismay, the original incarnations will always be esteemed by veterans as the authority. My blog, the RPGCodex, and a faction of posters on GoG, offer prime examples of veterans not caring one iota for Beamdog's "enhancements".

      That Beamdog were unable to locate the source code for Icewind Dale 2 is cause for mild amusement: the inability to "enhance" the entire Infinity array — all but one entry — must have frustrated an outfit whose shtick consists of acquiring the rights to the works of others in order to caricature them and flog them off to a current gen audience possessed of no capacity for critical thought and/or lacking a reference point to the originals.

      That said, what Beamdog do and don't do in the future is irrelevant to me: I'm only concerned with expanding the original incarnation narratives of computer role-playing games.

      Delete
    2. Things I like in those old games: good stories, difficult but balanced fights, and the unique climate (due to great musics, graphics)
      The so-called Beamdog's improvements remind me face-lifting - gives the recipient supposedly more attractive and younger looks but there's something odd, out of place, annoying, when you look at it.
      DrA

      Delete
    3. "Annoying" is the operative word. I play the IE games at 4:3 aspect ratio at 640*480 (BG, IWD, PS:T) or 800*600 (BG2, IWD2) for authenticity. I don't employ widescreen mods because the games were not designed for 16:9 displays. I employ the display driver for scaling to full screen on my 1366*768 laptop display. I would play the IEs on a Trinitron CRT if I wasn't overseas all the time.

      Delete
  3. Would be interested in the perfect setup for these games. I play on a 1080p monitor and have not yet found a way to play with the original resolutions without it looking extremely blurry or being constrained to a tiny window. Due to this I´ve always played with widescreen mods.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To be clear, I'm not saying 16:9 is wrong or anything. I just prefer 4:3. I don't mind a l'il blurriness or black borders. I sometimes play in Windowed mode, too: VirtualBox Win XP SP3 guest for no framerate hit. Runs just like the ol' days. :)

      Delete
  4. Lilura, enlighten me with you knowledge. I have Fallout GOG's version and it has two executables: one says Fallout and the other Fallout(classic). What are the differences between the two?

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    1. I don't have the GoG version of Fallout. Thus, I can't check. Sorry!

      Delete
    2. I did some search and found the following:

      "The only difference between the Classic editions and the Fallouts from Bethesda is that the Classic versions (as we've decided to call them) have more bonus goodies and support one additional platform - OS X. Other than that, those two editions should be identical. The main reason for this difference is that the approval process for the remaining bonus goodies takes a lot of time and we didn't want to hold up the release just because of that. ;) To answer another question - will we ever have them included in the Bethesda versions? We will do everything in our power, of course, but I can't say for certain that we will."

      Thought it would interest you.

      Delete
    3. "Fallout classic" is the rename given to Fallout that was purchased before Bethesda bought the rights. This is the only version I have.

      "Fallout" is the name of Fallout as it exists now that is under Bethesda control.

      They are the same game. It just reflects who owned the company when you bought it.

      I have no idea how you ended up with both. Did you buy it twice?

      Delete
    4. I have the original CDs for Fallout and Fallout 2, purchased when they came out. While the fixes and unofficial patches that are bundled with various GoG versions of "Renaissance-era" games will certainly make it easier for newbies to get up and running, I'm glad that I can play the original versions as they were released by the devs (and "fix" and "patch" them, if I choose to).

      Delete
  5. I'm so glad that you will continue to cover the original versions. I'm one of those GOG posters that tried to do what is possible to restore the originals where they belong (to be sold separately). I've written e-mails to Beamdog, WotC and Hasbro. Beamdog's response was of course putting the blame on GOG, which was just a lie and they had to admit that officially on the forum.

    Anyway, it's great to know that there are people that enjoy the originals and I never understood the argument that they're not working at all on the newer systems. They work just fine as they are and no mods are really necessary.

    One more thing, your link that I think was supposed to direct to gameseek.com.uk site is actually directing to the GOG's wishlist to restore the original Baldur's Gate.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for picking up on that incorrect link, Tuth. Fixed!

      And I'm glad you are on the same page as me in regard to original vs. EE. I will not be covering Beamdog's so-called "Enhanced" Editions ever again, now that I know what Beamdog are like (their piss-poor public relations, f.e, surprised me). Related to that, modders who release EE-only content will not receive coverage from me in the future.

      In regard to what's coming up for this blog, I have lost motivation to continue my ToEE write-up because I lost a huge amount of work due to a technical issue. :(

      That said, I have a multi-part write-up in the pipeline for another game that I'm playing, instead (it's a secret as to which game it is :P). But I will not be publishing any parts until all thirteen are complete. So yeah, I should have them all published in the next week or so!

      Cheers!

      Delete
  6. I have my original CDs and still bought nwn diamond on gog. I only wish I could get the $20 back I spent on the crap called nwn ee. I can only pray gog continues to sell nwn diamond.

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    1. Yes, I think it's odd that Beamdog haven't come out to make the future of GoG Diamond Edition clear, don't you?

      This is just another example of their piss-poor public relations.

      Delete
    2. Yes, it is odd. My guess is that GoG might have a term contract to sell Diamond that hasn't expired yet.

      Delete
  7. Even getting this under 4096 characters (according to Word) the full comment is still getting rejected...so...splitting this into two parts.

    -------------------------------------

    Look, let's clarify a few things up front:

    1. I don't like the idea of the original version of games being unavailable. I still have both my Gold Edition (prior to HotU) and Platinum Edition CDs. If people don't like the "enhanced" version of games the originals should still be available. Enhanced editions should be able to stand on their own two feet.

    2. I'm not an apologist for Beamdog. You're already aware that I'm not happy about them breaking the sound (hell, I'm playing in Diamond right now as a result). And I'm not condoning any business practices of theirs.

    3. Less and less people play NWN every year. At a minimum Beamdog's efforts have been a massive boost in the arm for NWN -- there's currently over 1000 players on Steam alone right this second. I'm not even sure there were 1000 people still playing NWN before the Enhanced Edition.

    4. Do I wish things were better? Certainly. But let's make sure we don't let perfect be the enemy of the good. I'm frustrated that they officially released the game a few weeks ago in its current state, but I'm going to see what happens (without holding my breath). I'm pretty sure a lot of PW owners, for example, are still happier overall due to an influx of new players and a working game server system. So the question is not "Are there problems?" but rather "Do the problems outweigh the benefits?"

    All that said...

    "Amusing, isn't it? Five years later, the EEs are still being patched and updated. Beamdog are actually proud of this; calling it "dedication". The entirety of NWN was made in that time."

    Y'know, for the record, NWN was released mid-2002. Bioware continued to support the game for *SIX* years after that -- Patch 1.69 with horses, Purple Dragon Knight, and a few other things came out mid-2008.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I also wonder how much our game experiences have shaped our perspectives. While I was still playing NWN some friends also got me into Warcraft III (and subsequently Frozen Throne). That had balance patches (and bug fixes) come out routinely. Then from Warcraft III I decided to play WoW -- which had major patches with new content every few months and expansions every few years. I also played Starcraft II (which was constantly being patched, mostly for balance/bug fixes) and later Diablo III (again, with constant patches/additions). Even more recent games like Overwatch have major patches with balance tweaks, new heroes, and new maps every few months.

    And it isn't just Blizzard -- Mass Effect 2 (still my favorite game) had Kasumi, Overlord, and Shadow Broker added in as DLC and they were all amazing. I played all four "campaigns" from Dragon Age: Origins (via the Ultimate Edition) and although I never got the Dragon Age 2 DLC I hear it was very well received.

    Was that the case for all games? Maybe not -- I don't remember much patching for Half Life 2 (and subsequent episodes) but I also played them several years after they came out so I easily could have missed something.

    I was born in 1989 (don't worry, I'd never be so crass as to ask a lady her age). I still remember playing the Oregon Trail (2/3), Star Wars: Episode 1 Racer, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron, Lords of Magic, and a few other games that were CD only and effectively never patches. They all still had bugs/glitches/poor balancing at times. But most of my video game career has been spent with cable internet (though I remember a few years of dial-up modems) and updates.

    Even at work, I'm a software engineer for a defense contractor. My company is specifically trying to move away from "Get a bunch of stuff done and then release it in a year or two" because that simply isn't fast enough in the modern world. The idea now is "Agile" developement -- develop a new feature, test it, and push it out in a few months. Have regular releases/updates rather than monolithic patches. Could we get some soldiers killed via a software glitch we didn't catch? That's possible. It's also possible those soldiers would have died because they were two years out from getting any new tools. Maybe we save their lives instead, even if it's not perfect.

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Balkoth.

      I am a commentator for the original and the authoritative. Thus, I only want to commentate on the monolithic (as you put it); namely, Baldur's Gate as it's been for 20 years and NWN as it's been for 10 (according to your 1.69 release date) — unchanged. I don't want to commentate on overhauls which are going to be patched and updated for +5 years by a third party that shapes the game based on the whims of a rabble. Also, the games change too much through the constant patching and updating; it causes confusion in the community, and I'm an out-and-out purist.

      My ardent wish is that the EEs never existed. At least I can ignore their existence, and it doesn't faze me in the slightest if I lose out on readers because this blog is for my own personal gratification first and foremost; it's benefit to others, a secondary and indirect concern (but certainly gratifying nonetheless, and I appreciate the insightful input from my NWN friends, which include you, Savant and Rogueknight 333 above all).

      In regard to the NWN dev-cycle, I probably should have been clearer in the write-up: I meant the engine, the meat and potatoes, what NWN essentially is, was coded in 5 years. By 2008 (again, according to your 1.69 release date), BioWare had moved on to release KotOR, Jade Empire and Mass Effect. Plus, they assisted Obsidian with NWN2. That they released 1.69 in that time demonstrates a dedication to NWN (and I believe the community was heavily involved, too). OTOH, Beamdog did not code an engine. What have they done thus far? Very little for the asking price: add this and that, tinker here and there, break this and that. The only enhancement so far is the price. Of course, it doesn't break the bank but it's the principle of the thing.

      If you, or anyone else, wants to be a part a lengthy patching an updating process; wants to basically be a tester for NWN:EE, go for it. But I'd rather stick with NWN as it's been for the last decade — again, unchanged.

      Delete
    2. Fair enough (I also loathe the idea of the Trello board popularity contest).

      Serious question -- if NWN EE was being done by Bioware instead and less PR problems and so on, would you be as upset? Sure, it's not the "authoritative" version but I'm sure you realize people have been hoping for a NWN 2.0 (not NWN 2) for years. Something to provide the same functionality and give the community a boost.

      NWN also had 75 employees working on it, I'd point out. How many people does Beamdog have (that's a serious question, I don't know)? I also think that if Beamdog had done nothing but fix the multiplayer servers, address a handful of bugs, made the game run better on modern computers, and put the game on Steam that it'd still be worth $20. How many hours have people wasted trying to get the game to work properly? How many people gave up on NWN? How many new people would be playing?

      I guess I don't expect that much for $20 these days, especially for a more niche product like NWN.

      Finally, let me ask this: isn't Beamdog "damned if they do, damned if they don't" from your perspective? Let's pretend it's an ideal world where Beamdog is a perfect company and just wants to make you happy.

      If they do nothing but make the game run better on modern systems in various ways, you say it's not worth $20. If they do a bunch of changes, you say it's not the authoritative version.

      What WOULD be worth $20 for you without upsetting you with changes? What's your dream?

      Delete
    3. As I said in the write-up, Tim Cain himself could come along and announce a Fallout overhaul and I wouldn't raise much of an eyebrow. I'd still rather commentate on the original.

      I don't care about NWN:EE anymore. I don't care what Beamdog do outside of how it affects the availability of Diamond Edition, and preexistent CC.

      On the number of employees discrepancy: as a coder, you would know better than me, but I would argue that it doesn't take more than a few coders more than 6 months to implement the "enhancements" seen in Beamdog's EEs. Patching and updating a game for 5+ years is just laughable to me.

      If it wasn't clear, I am not waiting for full party control or any other feature to be employed that was suggested to Beamdog in my various write-ups. You couldn't pay me to play NWN:EE. :)

      I am only concerned with preservation/expansion of narratives for the original, authoritative versions of Renaissance RPGs (1996-2010).

      The boost NWN:EE has given the community has been minor; I predict that it will continue to be minor. Also, the launch has not be successful. 30,000 in sales and 1,800 max concurrents is not a success. But I don't care if they succeed or fail (see above point).

      I have nothing more to say on Beamdog, except as it pertains to the availability of GoG Diamond, and preexisting CC.

      Delete

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