Baldur's Gate Improvements
One commonly expressed sentiment about Baldur's Gate
is that is a fine execution of a not so great RPG concept.
Not everyone agrees with the latter part, but the former
seems commonly held.
So here are the obvious flaws I can think of in the execution...
Missing UI Functionality
(these are annoying oversights or questionable
UI design decisions that make a lot of activities tedious)
- add a table with all character's hp (numeric), ac, carrying info
- display characters' hp numerically when renting a room
- display equipped items while buying/selling items
- be able to see your spellbook while buying/selling items
- display more than four items at a time while buying/selling
- display two characters' inventory at same time to facilitate swaps
- display info (stats, alignment) about NPCs interested in joining party
- display what connections are allowed on the overland map (if clicking
on a site that's visually adjacent is actually going to cause
you to go a long way around (e.g. the cloakwood), you should be
able to TELL this)
Questionable Game-Design Decisions
- unpause in inventory robs the game of improvisation
- random encounters outside are too closely spaced, causing problems
when you try to position your characters tactically and accidentally
"set off" another encounter.
- tedious walks across large areas with no way to speed it up
- tedious inventory management if a character dies and you plan to raise dead
(so I just always reloaded rather than deal with the tedium)
- character speech events triggered even when character is invisible
(they do this to try solve a problem, but there are better solutions)
- "find traps" is far too tedious to actually use (you have to advance
the character slowly, and the character won't automatically stop
before walking over a trap)
- Characters take poison damage while crossing on the overland map,
with no opportunity for you to, e.g. stop and cast 'slow poison'
(They actually take it all when you arrive at a destination.)
- encounters with enemy parties allow player to draw off one enemy at a time;
sometimes even unintentionally (i.e. you just never happen to advance
close enough to 'trigger' the further off people, and never even know
they were there)
- enemy parties don't cooperate, making clerics less cool than they could be
- random monsters in dungeons sometimes spawn in the midst of the party
(apparently respawns happen on save or on load or something, but the
player is never warned about this, and those of us trained to save
every five minutes for fear of crashes shouldn't be penalized if we
never actually reload; regardless, like an armageddon device, this
design tactic just makes things worse unless the player is told about it)
Broken Map Design
- There's a trap in the firewine bridge dungeon whose trigger is so large
that if you try to remove trap it, your thief has to step on the trigger
to get close enough to remove it.
- Too many goofy areas where the designer expected you to have encounters
in a certain order which it seems nobody would actually have; for
example, the zombie farm east of Baldur's Gate, it was as if I missed
an initial speech from the farmer because I had already killed some
zombies before I met him.
mismatch with D&D
- There are a lot of weird range problems. E.g. Web is too powerful
when used against the player by spiders; its radius is too wide
compared to line-of-sight and missile weapon ranges (you can get
a character caught in a web trap too far away for other characters
to defend). Indeed, a good DM wouldn't tend to pick on the one
character caught in the web, slaughtering him, because that's no
fun. Not so BG.
- Missile weapons are way too powerful in BG.
- Monster Summoning is way too powerful in BG (largely because the
summoned monsters provide cannon fodder)
- D&D spell system forces you to plan too far in advance (spell selection
must be done the night before battles), robbing you of improvisation,
and moreover making it clumsy just to learn how to use spells.
- Defensive mage spells are useless in a party context (e.g. mirror image)
- Magic is often unsatisfying; you encounter a higher-level mage who uses
a spell on you, and you say, "Wow, that'll be cool when I get that
spell", but it's not by the time you get it, because at that point,
all the wimpier creatures fall before your mighty warriors, and the
tougher creatures make their savings throws.
- Rolling up characters was flawed in pen&paper gaming, but rolling up
characters is triply flawed in CRPGs.
Debatable Design (IMHO, not absolute truths)
- You *should* just be able to follow the plot and be at an acceptable
level to defeat opponents; or else you shouldn't be told that
the next major plot step is imperative for you to followup on
until you have sufficient levels.