Is there a Baldur's Gate 3 in our future?
David Gaider, perhaps best known as the lead writer for BioWare's Dragon Age series of fantasy roleplaying games, took many by surprise when it was announced last month that he would be leaving the company after 17 years. I caught up with him recently to learn what was up.
"I notice some of the conversation online is 'oh, he was clearly driven out,'" Gaider observes. He'd like to set the record straight: "It wasn't like that. It was so hard to leave. There are a lot of people [at BioWare] who I love dearly and I'll always be friends with. But you know, I'm knocking on 45 this year, it felt like it was time to move up and try something new."
That 'something new' led him to Beamdog, a small company located just down the road from BioWare's Edmonton offices and founded by two of Gaider's past colleagues, Trent Oster and Cameron Tofer. Beamdog is best known for their Enhanced Editions of classic BioWare RPGs Baldur's Gate and Baldur's Gate II. They're currently putting the finishing touches on an all-new expansion meant to bridge the two games, Siege of Dragonspear.
"I ran into Trent Oster at my gym, actually," Gaider explains. Beamdog had recently posted a job listing for a new senior writer, presumably as part of a push toward more original content like the Dragonspear expansion. "We just sort of chatted about it... At first I didn't take it that seriously, you know, I thought 'oh, this is interesting' [but] 'is this something where I would be overqualified?'"
Beamdog agreed with Gaider there: Senior Writer was too small a title for someone 17 years in the business, who had been the central creative mind behind a sprawling, three-game fantasy series like Dragon Age. So, through a series of negotiations, Beamdog bumped up the position to Creative Director.
"It's kind of a big step -- moving up to that level over a team of 150 [at BioWare] would be pretty daunting, so this is a little more within my reach, perhaps," says Gaider. "It's kind of exciting, going to a small startup company. Shake off some of the dust."
Players might naturally be wondering where Gaider expects to go with his new and improved (you could say enhanced) role. I asked him directly if this meant he was returning to the Baldur's Gate franchise -- a series he first made his mark on with Baldur's Gate II, which is still widely considered one of the best computer role-playing games ever made.
"I can't really talk about that until it's announced," Gaider tells me, as I expected him to. "It's not guaranteed to be Baldur's Gate."
But would Gaider like to return to the series?
"Absolutely!" he says, his voice perking up. "I've always loved Dungeons & Dragons. And I think I've been away from it long enough that the sort of ennui that I had built up is gone and new things are rolling around in my head... Who wouldn't want to take on the challenge of being in charge of the next version of that?"
Which, I don't know about you, sounds to me like he's probably working on the next Baldur's Gate.
Now -- to be absolutely clear here -- I am not saying that this in any way confirms that a Baldur's Gate 3 is in the pipeline. However, Beamdog co-founder Cameron Tofer talked about it as a long-term goal for the company at least as far back as 2012. They've had a few issues with the Dungeons & Dragons license-holders since that time, but everything seems to be above-board now and nothing is preventing the upcoming Siege of Dragonspear expansion (which Gaider was not involved in) from hitting digital storefronts. So it seems that, all the various elements aligning as they are, it's highly likely we're in store for some more Baldur's Gate in the future, with Gaider at the helm.
If we do see a Baldur's Gate 3, it will probably come to us in the form of a Kickstarter campaign, similar to how Obsidian's Pillars of Eternity and InXile's Wasteland 2 were funded. Tofer says as much in the interview I've linked above, though who knows, plans may have changed since then. You hear a lot about "Kickstarter fatigue" these days, and whether or not that's a real thing (Kickstarter routinely says it isn't, but the numbers are worrying), Beamdog may decide they're better off funding the game the old-fashioned way. And that's supposing Baldur's Gate 3 is actually in the works and not just wishful thinking on all our parts.
Still, for those who might have worried what could have prompted a big name like David Gaider to leave his studio of 17 years for a relative unknown -- you can probably put those worries aside. Gaider seems quite relaxed and confident in his decision, and meanwhile he maintains that the Dragon Age games he's left behind at BioWare are in good hands.
"Leaving Dragon Age behind and leaving BioWare behind are two very different things," he stresses, noting that he had already been off the series for a year prior to this move. "As much as I wanted to stay and loved the setting, I knew I was getting tired and I didn't really have a lot of new ideas. So as hard as it was to turn it over to somebody else, I think I knew deep down that it was time, and that it was the best thing for series."
Besides, even supposing BioWare did do something catastrophic with his baby -- and Gaider says he can't imagine what that would even look like -- he's pretty much right next door.
Kris Ligman is the News Editor of ZAM. Every time they go to bed with a headache they end up having a nightmare about goddamn kobolds and those goddamn caves.