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BAFTA Games Awards: Baldur’s Gate 3 developers and cast reflect on an unforgettable journey

BAFTA Games Awards: Baldur’s Gate 3 developers and cast reflect on an unforgettable journey

We caught up with Baldur's Gate 3's cast and developers at the BAFTA Games Awards.

Baldur’s Gate 3 was easily 2023’s biggest success story, with the Larian Studios RPG picking up every major Game of the Year award going.

That includes the BAFTA Games Award for Best Game. Baldur’s Gate 3 went into last week’s ceremony with an incredible 10 nominations, with it ultimately winning five awards.

Those were for the aforementioned Best Game, Best Narrative, Best Music, and Best Performance in a Supporting Role for Andrew Wincott, in addition to the player-voted EE Players’ Choice award.

Baldur’s Gate 3 displays exemplary teamwork. It’s a game where those working in every single discipline required to create an RPG on this scale have exceeded in their task, creating an end product that isn’t simply a critical darling, but a piece of art that draws people together.

I had the opportunity to attend the BAFTA Games Awards, catching up with both the game’s developers and cast, delving into everything from this unprecedented level of success to just how special it is to see the sense of community that Baldur’s Gate 3 has fostered.

Take a look at Baldur’s Gate 3 in action below.

“Our aim was to make it great as far as we could,” Neil Newbon told me, known for his starring role as Astarion. “I thought it was going to be a great game when I started playing it in early access, just to understand the mechanics. Then I got to know everybody at Larian and just thought, ‘This is going to be a phenomenal game.’”

“I don’t think any of us predicted it was going to go this well though, with this level of success. That was a real wow,” he continued.

Tracy Wiles, known for her role as Jaheira, was much less aware of what the game might become: “I began on it two years ago, just doing bits and bobs so it really was just a job. It was only when it was released and everybody started talking that I thought, ‘Oh, this might be quite something.’”

“It continues to surprise me,” replied Samantha Béart, known for portraying Karlach. “It started with the cosplayers, then it was the cat cosplayers. The other day, we had a wrestler, Athena, who retained her world title dressed as Karlach. It just doesn’t end. The cultural phenomenon of it doesn’t end and it’s incredible.”

Baldur's Gate 3 /
Larian Studios

David Walgrave, the head of production at Larian Studios, explained the emotional toll of the journey: “The thing I think about often is not the good memories but for instance, the lockdown during COVID. Trying to develop a game from your home office is impossible. [...] Or things that happened during development, because you're working on this for five, six years - a lot of things happen. We've lost one member of the team, for instance, to cancer. That was a very sad day.”

“But you try to remember those things that they did give you,” he continued “But, of course, there’s also a lot of fun memories and a lot of laughter, because otherwise I wouldn't have been doing this for the last 20 years.”

What’s clear to me is the sense of community that this franchise has fostered - within the development team during the difficult days of production, within the cast who’ve been catapulted into the spotlight, and amongst players who have found a sense of belonging.

“Oh, absolutely,” Neil said. “I don't pretend to be a spokesperson for anybody, you know, but at the same time, [I get] to meet so many people and see the communities that they created around the game … I just see how people are being helped by it with their own identities or they feel a bit lost or they managed to connect to other people and make friendships. It's incredible. That's kind of the point of art, to move and connect.”

Baldur's Gate 3 /
Larian Studios

“That's the beauty of getting to make such a wide reaching game,” senior writer Adrienne Law added. “There really is something for everybody to find. That combined with the voice acting and the level of choice, it's just a game where everybody's got a place and that's a really beautiful thing.”

Director Sven Vincke, in fact, touched upon the game’s community in his speech following the game’s EE Players’ Choice win. “I don't like preparing for these things, because then I can end up jinxing it,” he told me backstage. “But this morning, I said, ‘I'll just pick a Steam review and I'll just talk about this when it comes to Player’s Choice.”

“I scrolled down [and it] was from a man. He's 55 years old. He said that his wife died and he's now responsible for his 15-year-old son - and the uncle of the son gave him Baldur’s Gate 3. And so, that was sad because the son started playing Baldur’s Gate 3 all the time, so [the dad] didn’t see him between YouTube and Baldur’s Gate 3.”

Baldur's Gate 3 /
Larian Studios

“He said, ‘I desperately decided to pick up the game myself, tried to play it and got stuck.’ So he asked his son to help him, and they started playing together. They started bonding over it - and then he writes, because of that, he went outside with his son again and they started doing things together again.”

“I wanted to thank the fans for allowing this to happen,” Sven added. “It's incredible. There’s a lot of talk about profit and performance but that's not the thing that ticks for a developer. Stories like this, you'll just do whatever you want and whatever you can to make moments like this.”

Diving further into the specifics, I was eager to hear of Samantha’s thoughts on Karlach’s various endings, many of which upset fans prompting the launch of an epilogue.

“I think the writing is incredible and I stand by what was there,” Samantha began. “I can totally understand that people are upset by it because they love the character [but] what a great compliment to the writers, you know. I had no idea it was coming.”

Baldur's Gate 3 /
Larian Studios

Karlach’s epilogue isn’t the only post-launch tidbit that’s come to light. It’s also been unveiled that Astarion was almost a Tiefling. “That was super early on,” Neil recalled. “Maybe the first month, I saw the model and he was a Tiefling. I had to just orient some physicalities a little bit in my head and we had to work out a few extra things [but] it didn’t last very long, and he was very quickly changed.”

If you’ve played Baldur’s Gate 3, you’ll very much understand why the game took home the accolade for Best Narrative.

I was keen to find out the kind of challenges the team had to overcome to create such a sprawling tale. “[It’s hard to keep] it all making sense,” principal writer Sarah Baylus explained. “It's easy in the beginning, but then you add choices. Choices are really fun to add but eventually, you've got to deal with the consequences that really make them feel earned and worthwhile.”

“Seeing the animation and motion capture that ties it all together and makes it feel dynamic and real [is special],” added principal narrative designer Lawrence Schick.

Baldur's Gate 3 /
Larian Studios

Whilst its undoubtedly been a stellar year for those involved in the creation of Baldur’s Gate 3, many creatives across the industry have found themselves in tough predicaments with mass layoffs continuing to dominate headlines.

“We've gone through periods like this before,” Sven said on the topic. “There's always room for optimism. I think you gain energy from events like this. You see [that] it's not all doom and gloom, even if it is a tough time. Making games is incredibly hard so the talent, even if there's a lot right now, will find work again because the industry is something that will [continue to] thrive and grow. I strongly believe in this.”

GAMINGbible once again congratulates Baldur’s Gate 3’s developers and cast on their success throughout the evening.

Featured Image Credit: GAMINGbible, Larian Studios

Topics: Baldur's Gate 3, Interview, PlayStation, Xbox, PC

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