Author Topic: BG2 romance essay (incl. Solaufein, Kelsey)  (Read 11511 times)

Offline jcompton

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BG2 romance essay (incl. Solaufein, Kelsey)
« on: October 02, 2002, 09:41:14 PM »
Wes put this up on Usenet, but hasn't made it over here yet, so I'll save him the trouble.

An article on BG2 romances, written by a woman (who's rather cranky about the whole Anomen thing), includes her opinions on Solaufein and Kelsey.
http://www.sequentialtart.com/geeksquad_1002.shtml
                   
Cespenar says, "Kelsey and friends be at the Pocket Plane? Ohhh yesssss!" http://www.pocketplane.net

L_Jonté

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BG2 romance essay (incl. Solaufein, Kelsey)
« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2002, 05:21:47 PM »
And I'm the cranky woman who wrote it.   :D

If there are any questions about what I wrote, (or didn't write) in the article, I'm here!                    

Offline jcompton

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BG2 romance essay (incl. Solaufein, Kelsey)
« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2002, 05:31:44 PM »
Yeah, Wes probably put it better on Usenet when he said

"... a well-written article on romances in BG2 (from an explicitly female perspective). Aside from having some insightful (or was that incisive?) comments about Anomen, it also mentions Our Pal Kelsey and Solaufein in context."

But I wanted to be even more succinct.                    
Cespenar says, "Kelsey and friends be at the Pocket Plane? Ohhh yesssss!" http://www.pocketplane.net

Kiki

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BG2 romance essay (incl. Solaufein, Kelsey)
« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2002, 12:03:32 AM »
Good review. I particularly agree with the "no dialogues happen after sex and what kind of inadvertent/deliberate social statement is that" criticism of the Bioware romances. The flirt packs found in Tashia and Kelsey are a very nice way of fixing that incredibly irritating oversight.

I would note, however, that opinions about the Anomen romance are about equally divided on the Black Isle Studios boards, and I myself like his romance. And I've always thought that Solaufein had to be much more ill-tempered to be described as Heathcliff--if he were Heathcliff, he would never have let the Matron Mothers break up his affair with Phaere.  :)                    



[!--EDIT|Kiki|Oct 4 2002, 07:06 AM--]

L_Jonté

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BG2 romance essay (incl. Solaufein, Kelsey)
« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2002, 12:17:29 PM »
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But I wanted to be even more succinct.
                   Succint is good!  And I am pretty darn cranky.                    

L_Jonté

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BG2 romance essay (incl. Solaufein, Kelsey)
« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2002, 12:24:17 PM »
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Good review. I particularly agree with the "no dialogues happen after sex and what kind of inadvertent/deliberate social statement is that" criticism of the Bioware romances. The flirt packs found in Tashia and Kelsey are a very nice way of fixing that incredibly irritating oversight.

I would note, however, that opinions about the Anomen romance are about equally divided on the Black Isle Studios boards, and I myself like his romance. And I've always thought that Solaufein had to be much more ill-tempered to be described as Heathcliff--if he were Heathcliff, he would never have let the Matron Mothers break up his affair with Phaere.  :)
Thanks!

I've heard a lot about Tashia, and I'm certainly going to give her a try.  As for Anomen... to each, her own I guess.  :)

And you're correct, Solaufein is not  a Heathcliff in the strictest sense, or I wouldn't have liked him either.  This is where I admit to the world that I loathed Wuthering Heights.  It was a painful read with not a single redeeming character to be found in its pages.  However, Solaufein is the contemplative (see moody-broody, or broody-pants) type and I find that rather appealing and Heathcliffesque.                    



[!--EDIT|L_Jonté|Oct 4 2002, 10:11 PM--]

Kiki

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BG2 romance essay (incl. Solaufein, Kelsey)
« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2002, 03:32:20 PM »
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This is where I admit to the world that I loathed Wuthering Heights.
Oh goody, someone else! I confess I feel a certain sense of shame that I don't much like a classic. I suppose it must be one of those context things where something is totally revolutionary for its time, but is not as interesting for later generations.

Lisa, I especially liked the bit in your review where you said there should at least have been a shot of a "Do Not Disturb" sign. Ha ha!

Hm, I don't recall Heathcliff being that contemplative--he seemed more prone to sudden rages and rash acts.  :)  Sola doesn't really remind me of any literary character. I think it's a tribute to Westley that he's not just a knockoff of some famous personality.

Solaufein is my favorite romance because it feels realistic without being banal. Though the black ravens dialogue was a bit much; I wish there'd been an option to shut him up by kissing him.  :)                    

Offline jcompton

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BG2 romance essay (incl. Solaufein, Kelsey)
« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2002, 03:56:37 PM »
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Though the black ravens dialogue was a bit much; I wish there'd been an option to shut him up by kissing him.  :)
                   That would be like flirty romance dialogue Wes doesn't like, though. :)                    
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Kiki

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BG2 romance essay (incl. Solaufein, Kelsey)
« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2002, 05:43:00 PM »
Surely there is some tasteful way to use your hard-won amorous influence over him to obtain silence.  :)                    

L_Jonté

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BG2 romance essay (incl. Solaufein, Kelsey)
« Reply #9 on: October 04, 2002, 05:53:17 PM »
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Oh goody, someone else! I confess I feel a certain sense of shame that I don't much like a classic.

I'll go further and say that I hated the Illiad too.  Every time I read "up spake aged Nestor" I wished desperately for somebody to take a club to the old geezer and save me 3-4 pages of  his pointless, senile ramblings. [_[


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Lisa, I especially liked the bit in your review where you said there should at least have been a shot of a "Do Not Disturb" sign. Ha ha!

Thanks!  It was just such a let down not to get something, just a little something to indicate that that night was a little different/special.  


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That would be like flirty romance dialogue Wes doesn't like, though.

Pity that.  I think it's an excellent idea.  :D   I adore Solaufein above all other mods, but even I wanted to just shut him up a little near the end.  I think I big ol' smooch is the perfect way to do that.  Just imagine his surprise!                      

Aubrey

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BG2 romance essay (incl. Solaufein, Kelsey)
« Reply #10 on: October 06, 2002, 01:49:05 PM »
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I'll go further and say that I hated the Illiad too. Every time I read "up spake aged Nestor" I wished desperately for somebody to take a club to the old geezer and save me 3-4 pages of his pointless, senile ramblings.  



Get a better translation or try Odyssey instead.

And, by the way, it's Iliad, with single "l".  


                   

L_Jonté

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BG2 romance essay (incl. Solaufein, Kelsey)
« Reply #11 on: October 06, 2002, 03:22:57 PM »
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Get a better translation or try Odyssey instead.  

No thanks.  Other classics call.  As for the Odyssey, I liked it just fine.


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And, by the way, it's Iliad, with single "l".

One little typo...   [_[                    

Offline Quitch

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BG2 romance essay (incl. Solaufein, Kelsey)
« Reply #12 on: October 06, 2002, 03:47:01 PM »
Two points:

1. Bioware didn't bring us Icewind Dale and Heart of Winter, BlackIsle did.

2. This line: While I don't object to the possibility of a bad romance in game or story, I do object when it is the only option we are given

I feel this misses the point.  Bioware have made that first step forward by remembering what companies forget time and time again: Female gamers exist.

Women represent 10% of the gaming audience, this is a very male orientated industry (just look at E3).  By dedicating 25% of the romances (almost more, a Haer'Dalis romance was scrapped, and a Valygar one was being worked into ToB) Bioware were making a first tentative step forward.  This led to one choice, though the guy was an arrogant, vain fool.  I believe Bioware misjudged in this respect, believing women would enjoy persevering, making him into a "better man".

Also, the Anomen romance in itself is arguably as complex as the buggy Jaheira one.  Far more so than the feeble Aerie SoA path.  He can become a knight, or he can reject the Order... and everything continues along, with dialogue changing to suit his new role in life.  It wasn't until ToB that males received something similar in the Viconia alignment change.

However, we should not forget that this game stands out like a sore thumb for considering women at all.  Did Planescape Torment?  Nope.  Star Trek Elite Force had a romance, though for women it was a lesbian one and virtually nothing changed (the sequel forces you to be a man).

Perhaps there is another, but I can think of no other game that offers women a dedicated romance (when they take on a role within the game), and certainly not one with this level of interaction.  Bioware should be praised for their forward thinking... even if they went backwards in NWN (in so many ways).                    



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Offline jcompton

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BG2 romance essay (incl. Solaufein, Kelsey)
« Reply #13 on: October 06, 2002, 05:14:48 PM »
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Perhaps there is another, but I can think of no other game that offers women a dedicated romance
                   In the mid-80s, Infocom put out Plundered Hearts, a romance-themed adventure game with a female protagonist. But it didn't exactly set the world on fire, either.                    
Cespenar says, "Kelsey and friends be at the Pocket Plane? Ohhh yesssss!" http://www.pocketplane.net

L_Jonté

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BG2 romance essay (incl. Solaufein, Kelsey)
« Reply #14 on: October 06, 2002, 06:00:32 PM »
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1. Bioware didn't bring us Icewind Dale and Heart of Winter, BlackIsle did.

I know.  I lumped them together since they used some of the same material.  It was a mistake and will be retracted.

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I feel this misses the point. Bioware have made that first step forward by remembering what companies forget time and time again: Female gamers exist.

Some is better than none then?  I disagree.  I don't see a token effort as anything to be applauded.

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Women represent 10% of the gaming audience,

You have recent statistics to back this up?  I think you underestimate.

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this is a very male orientated industry (just look at E3). By dedicating 25% of the romances (almost more, a Haer'Dalis romance was scrapped, and a Valygar one was being worked into ToB) Bioware were making a first tentative step forward.

Many industries are male oriented.  I work in the comics industry and am surrounded by the very essence of male oriented every day.  That does not mean that the boys-only mentality should go unchallenged.  It also does not mean that every tiny step toward fairness should be applauded as if it were a trip up Mt. Everest.  

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This led to one choice, though the guy was an arrogant, vain fool. I believe Bioware misjudged in this respect, believing women would enjoy persevering, making him into a "better man".

I'm sure some women do enjoy that sort of thing.  

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However, we should not forget that this game stands out like a sore thumb for considering women at all. Did Planescape Torment? Nope. Star Trek Elite Force had a romance, though for women it was a lesbian one and virtually nothing changed (the sequel forces you to be a man).

Again, a token effort is just that.  So they took a teensy step toward doing  what most games should be doing.  So what?  The effort they put into taking women gamers into account was half-hearted at best.  For all we know, Anomen was designed not for female players, but for the male player that sometimes likes to play a female PC.  

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Perhaps there is another, but I can think of no other game that offers women a dedicated romance (when they take on a role within the game), and certainly not one with this level of interaction. Bioware should be praised for their forward thinking... even if they went backwards in NWN (in so many ways).

They deserve praise only if this is a real effort on their part.  Taking a tiny step then backtracking in NWN (and I have to rely on you for this as I haven't played it) is not a real effort.  

Look, if I sound angry it's because I am, but not at you.  I am simply sick and tired of being expected to cheer for every piddly, supposely pro-fem effort that comes down the pike.  It's not enough anymore.

We all know what needs to be done.  By not doing it, (or not doing it right) BioWare only proves their lack of real interest.  Now they can throw up their hands and say, "Oh well, we tried and it didn't work.  Now we can get back to the way things have always been..."  

It simply remains to be seen if that is how it all works out.                    

Gospel

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BG2 romance essay (incl. Solaufein, Kelsey)
« Reply #15 on: October 06, 2002, 06:15:18 PM »
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Many industries are male oriented.  I work in the comics industry and am surrounded by the very essence of male oriented every day.  That does not mean that the boys-only mentality should go unchallenged.  It also does not mean that every tiny step toward fairness should be applauded as if it were a trip up Mt. Everest.
In this case, it didn't go unchallenged


Althernai

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BG2 romance essay (incl. Solaufein, Kelsey)
« Reply #16 on: October 06, 2002, 08:03:45 PM »
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Some is better than none then?  I disagree.

Hmm... Would you then say that no progress is better than some progress?

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Again, a token effort is just that.  So they took a teensy step toward doing  what most games should be doing.  So what?  The effort they put into taking women gamers into account was half-hearted at best.  For all we know, Anomen was designed not for female players, but for the male player that sometimes likes to play a female PC.
 

Now this is simply not nice. We do know that it was designed for females - the people who designed it said so and I trust them. The person who made Anomen as well as the other designers of the game were probably very surprised at the response they got. It was done very badly (IMHO, though I hear Anomen does get better at the end of ToB), but it was not done so on purpose. This falls under the same category as Liches suicidally casting Gate, the return of "You must gather your party before venturing forth" and the rest of the bad design decisions.

BTW, males got a choice, but in SoA, they were not really that much better off. You can have Aerie whose romance consists almost entirely of you trying to cheer her up - there are no special plot twists, no related quests, nothing. Or, you can go with Jaheira whose romance is supposed to be the most extensive one - but, having tried 3 times, I have not once been able to get the SoA portion to work. Nevermind the fact that she wants to sleep with you, her ward, a mere month after her beloved husband's death (Gertrude waited longer...), nevermind the fact that she could be your adopted mother (and sometimes acts like one) - it just DOESN'T WORK. I've tried CTRL-T and AdvanceRealTime, I messed with the variables in SK - and eventually, I got it to the point where she gets her pin - and then I got sick of it and went on to ToB. Then, there is Viconia who is actually more abusive than Anomen and tells you that she has slept with half the men on the continent. Come on, Anomen might be your choice, but he is pretty consistent with the others (you noted much of this in your article, I am merely restating for emphasis).

That said, I don't think the BG2 romances are that bad - some of the characters say enough to drive me to righteous indignation (e.g. Anomen the killer of giants, Viconia the prostitute) - but isn't that the point? The one thing that irked me was the Jaheira bug that they did not fix in ToB, but that is a minor detail. What happened is that people saw what was wrong with the other romances and made their own to provide alternatives - some of these were better and they made the flaws of the others seem much greater. To quote from the Solafein ReadMe:

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I wrote the Solaufein Romance for two reasons. One was that I wanted to get a better handle on Infinity Engine scripting. Could it really be that hard to write a non-buggy romance? The second was a minor rebellion against the Bioware "romance = therapy" and "no one has a backbone" notions.
                   

Gospel

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BG2 romance essay (incl. Solaufein, Kelsey)
« Reply #17 on: October 06, 2002, 08:28:27 PM »
All the Bioware romance options for males are also at least partly Elven ;_;

L_Jonté

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BG2 romance essay (incl. Solaufein, Kelsey)
« Reply #18 on: October 06, 2002, 10:54:09 PM »
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Hmm... Would you then say that no progress is better than some progress?

No.  I'm simply saying that the time for baby steps is long past.  If an effort is going to be made, it should not be a minimal one.


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Now this is simply not nice. We do know that it was designed for females - the people who designed it said so and I trust them. The person who made Anomen as well as the other designers of the game were probably very surprised at the response they got.

I know nothing of the kind.  I tried, but was unable to talk to Bioware before my article.  I was in contact with them and they do know of the article.  However, they have as yet not answered my email about it.  I would love to talk to them.  I would love it if they would tell me what they were thinking and why.  If I'm wrong, I'll proclaim it to the skies.  

And for the record, I am not trying to be unkind.  But understand, I've been gaming for 19 years.  In that time things have changed little.  Baby steps are all well and good but damn, the baby has to grow up sometime.


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It was done very badly (IMHO, though I hear Anomen does get better at the end of ToB), but it was not done so on purpose. This falls under the same category as Liches suicidally casting Gate, the return of "You must gather your party before venturing forth" and the rest of the bad design decisions.

Here, we agree.  Yay!  :)


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That said, I don't think the BG2 romances are that bad - some of the characters say enough to drive me to righteous indignation (e.g. Anomen the killer of giants, Viconia the prostitute) - but isn't that the point?

I'm not sure what you mean here.  Are you saying that the point of the romances is to drive us nuts?  :blink:

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What happened is that people saw what was wrong with the other romances and made their own to provide alternatives

See, now that's the great thing.  I only hope that BioWare is paying attention.  What I would like to see, truly, is for BioWare to take notice; to see what it is that they have created, what the fans have built to compliment it and make it even better.  There is so much potential in this series and in future series that to let it lie as-is would be a huge waste.

There are far more women gamers out there than most people seem to realize.  And there could be so many more if they were offered something more than the current industry standard.  Women game.  Women have money to spend.  BioWare could make tremendous use of that if the chose.  I'll be keeping my fingers crossed.                    



[!--EDIT|L_Jonté|Oct 7 2002, 05:54 AM--]

Offline jcompton

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BG2 romance essay (incl. Solaufein, Kelsey)
« Reply #19 on: October 06, 2002, 11:15:43 PM »
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What I would like to see, truly, is for BioWare to take notice; to see what it is that they have created, what the fans have built to compliment it and make it even better.  There is so much potential in this series and in future series that to let it lie as-is would be a huge waste.
Unfortunately, from a pragmatic standpoint this seems unlikely.

Interplay/BIS holds the exclusive rights to the Baldur's Gate game franchise now. Interplay is not in very good shape financially, to say the least. So the chances of them mounting a major effort like this... seem slim.                    



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L_Jonté

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BG2 romance essay (incl. Solaufein, Kelsey)
« Reply #20 on: October 06, 2002, 11:42:57 PM »
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Interplay/BIS holds the exclusive rights to the Baldur's Gate game franchise now. Interplay is not in very good shape financially, to say the least. So the chances of them mounting a major effort like this... seem slim.

I'm sorry to hear that.  But really, creating an add-on wouldn't be a huge effort would it?  Buy up a few of the choicest fan mods, tweak them for continuity, add a couple of new romance NPC's and a subquest or two and voila!  

Ok, I know squat about scripting/coding/programming.  But isn't all the major work already done?  Wouldn't a disc like that be a matter of building onto that complete structure, and therefore fairly inexpensive to produce?                      

Hendryk

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BG2 romance essay (incl. Solaufein, Kelsey)
« Reply #21 on: October 07, 2002, 12:50:47 AM »
It seems a waste of effort to criticize the whole Baldur's Gate series for being something it was probably never intended to be.  The game, I should judge, was targeted rather specifically at males aged 14 to 18.  The game designers did better than that - hence the continued and varied interest in the product.  But the interpersonal activities are not geared to the sensibilities of grown-ups and it is idle to complain that they are not.  If the author is genuinely concerned to remedy the undoubted (from her point of view) deficiencies of RPG options, she should probably hike on over to the NWN boards and find a group of adults there to work with in the production of a mod which she does find satisfactory.                    

Sir Loin of Beef

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BG2 romance essay (incl. Solaufein, Kelsey)
« Reply #22 on: October 07, 2002, 12:53:11 AM »
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But really, creating an add-on wouldn't be a huge effort would it? Buy up a few of the choicest fan mods, tweak them for continuity, add a couple of new romance NPC's and a subquest or two and voila!

Yeah, but you already know this won't happen.  First of all the game dates back to 2000, so an 'official Bioware addon' is probably a bleak outlook.  Yes, they unleashed a monster in the game by using a romance aspect which really hasn't been used before in other RP games.

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But isn't all the major work already done? Wouldn't a disc like that be a matter of building onto that complete structure, and therefore fairly inexpensive to produce?

perhaps, but if a company can save money... it will.  So instead of a new disc what you'll really get in response is an e-mail pointing to links such as Kelsey and Tashia further indicating that they are not Bioware's/Blackisle's property and therefore you would be using them at your own risk.  So if someone is too lazy to download the BG2 addons... tough.                    



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L_Jonté

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BG2 romance essay (incl. Solaufein, Kelsey)
« Reply #23 on: October 07, 2002, 09:09:14 AM »
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Yeah, but you already know this won't happen.

*sigh*  I know.

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First of all the game dates back to 2000, so an 'official Bioware addon' is probably a bleak outlook.

Yes, in the realm of electronica, two years is just this side of ancient.  Though, I still say that  it's a viable game that could be expanded or built upon.  [_[   If not official BG expansions, there could be a whole new series based on some aspect of BG/BGII.  

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Yes, they unleashed a monster in the game by using a romance aspect which really hasn't been used before in other RP games.

But the monster can be tamed.   B)  It's also proven extremely popular (if  poorly thought out in some respects) and could be used to great advantage.  

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perhaps, but if a company can save money... it will.

But it takes money to make money.  Saving a few bucks now doesn't necessarily profit them in the long run.  *sigh*                    

Kismet

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BG2 romance essay (incl. Solaufein, Kelsey)
« Reply #24 on: October 07, 2002, 11:23:58 AM »
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Perhaps there is another, but I can think of no other game that offers women a dedicated romance (when they take on a role within the game), and certainly not one with this level of interaction.  Bioware should be praised for their forward thinking... even if they went backwards in NWN (in so many ways).
Well, at least in NWN it was the men who got the short end of the (very short) romance stick.  At least Aarin is around for all of chapters 2-4.  Aribeth is with someone else in chapter 1 and then disappears 3/4 of the way through chapter 2 not to reappear until near the end of chapter 4 (and the game).  Certainly Anomen's romance was better than Aarin's...at least Anomen traveled with you rather than standing around giving you no help whatsoever.

Of course if they had made the henchmen romanceable then the women would have been the losers again, but they didn't so that's kind of a moot point.

Kismet  

                   

 

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