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BG2:EE, and the Fate of Big Picture

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#1 horred the plague

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 05:38 AM

With the release of a newer, better and more powerful BG2, I've decided it's time to 'retire' this mod once and for all.


Why? Many reasons:


  • When BP AI mod was separated from the old pre-weidu mix back in 2005, it was the only mod of its kind. But during my "retirement phase" that followed, SCS surfaced. With its ongoing support, it eventually replaced BP as the AI mod of choice. Over 90% of users will use SCS by default, and most of those have never even heard of BP (or, associate the name w/ the mega-mod of the past). I'm fine with this actually. The community only needs one good blanketting generic enemy AI mod, despite what some would have you think. From my experience, installing 2 or more of these just leads to trouble despite modder's efforts.
  • BG2:EE already adds some powerful new scripting commands, that BG2 can never benefit from. More are on the way. Eventually these will totally revolutionize AI scripting for the Infinity Engine. The BG2 version just can't compete with what is (even right now) possible. e.g., can you check the range between your nearest party member and nearest enemy, in BG2? Or a LOCALS variable on somebody else? No, of course not--but you already can in BG2:EE.
  • To re-do BP for full benefit of the BG2:EE engine would require a reworking from the ground up, of at least 300 scripts. I don't have the time, nor the drive, to do this. Especially when 90%+ of the people will just use SCS anyways.
  • The stock enemy AI in BG2:EE is much better than what you found in BG2. When playing BG2, I found something like BP mandatory. In BG2:EE, not so much. I had a very enjoyable playthrough with stock enemy AI.

BP Series will of course live on. There's a space for it in the modern era, and in this modder's honest opinion nothing out there that compares to it. I personally find them a quintessential component in any BG install these days, so you can say I have a vested interest in their continuation. BP Series will benefit from all the new scripting commands, pushing them to their full potential. BP Series will always work with BG2, but I don't know if I can push much more out of it. It will remain in a static state, barring bugifxes--unless something I concoct on the EE side would work on the BG2 side too. I made the latest version of BP Series with this in mind, without using any of the new scripting functions.


If I do anything on BG2:EE for enemy AI, I'd take a entirely different approach. It would not be a blanket AI mod like BP or SCS. Perhaps I'd do a small slice of generic AI, with a fresh twist. Something that compliments the current AI, doesn't replace it. But my emphasis would be on enhancing specific encounters here and there--in particular, ones I found a bit too easy.


I don't have anything planned at this time, but I've tossed and milled several ideas around in this skull of mine. If and when these become concrete, you'll be among the first to know about it. Some of you have been loyal fans of my work for over a decade, and I can't express how much that means to me. I'll show you the same loyalty, in return.


Just don't expect a Big Picture for BG2:EE mod. Maybe some day there will be a "Little Picture". If there is, I can guarantee you'll find it much more enjoyable than the Big Picture, ounce for ounce. Maybe I'll preserve some of the more popular snippets of the old BP, if such a thing ever surfaces? And I'll listen to your input (what you'd like to keep, or see happen), if such a thing ever happens.


This isn't to say, that BP won't work with BG2:EE. In fact, the next bugfix version of BP was tested on BG2:EE, and installed fine. The bit I tried played fine, though the animations were off (e.g., Duergar transform into Orog, not Frost Giant). I'm just not planning to support it, and build on it with the new technology. If I have to start from scratch anyways, I'll truly start from scratch and use what I've learned in the last decade or so (especially the last 3 1/2 years, working in the industry). It's time to move forwards, not look backwards, for this modder.

#2 Anomaly

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 09:27 AM

While I understand completely your position, I am unhappy. Even if in Big World Installations SCS AI is often used instead of BP IA, there -are- people that do not like SCS.

SCS has WAY TOO MANY components and options, it is a complete nightmare to install (and the latest version takes FOREVER to install each component). It requires many spell modification (if you don't install them, SCS AI will still suppose they are installed). While the new BP also has many components unlike the previous versions, we are still far from the exaggeration of SCS.

SCS scripts (especially mage AI) are extremely long, and takes many CPU cycles to run. It can increase significantly area loading times.

BP has that killer feature that enemies are "humans" and can make mistakes.

I didn't know that BG2:EE included improved AI (but I wasn't lucky enough to be able to try the game before launch), that's good news.

I do hope that one day you'll make another Big Picture, for people like me that would like a kinder, error-prone AI instead of the brutal SCS AI. Maybe you can drop many parts of it (like Tactics components), as long as the unique BP AI is still there. That what counts.

And even if I bought BG2:EE, I will play BG2 (ordinary) for a good while. Why? Because when you don't play in English, original games are still the best option today.

Edited by Anomaly, 15 November 2013 - 09:38 AM.

French translator of: BG2 FixPack, BG2 Tweaks, Baldur's Gate Trilogy-WeiDU, BGT-Tweaks and some minor mods.

#3 horred the plague

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 06:36 PM

BP for BG2 will still be available, indefinitely. I want to take some Tactics pieces out of it, and that old buggy Spellhold item bit for sure--but the rest remain solid. If there's bugs, I'll fix them when I can. This isn't utter abandonment. Just an end of formal development.


I've retired from this mod before, and come back to work on it years later. That's not saying, it will happen this time. If there's still enough people enjoying it, my stance might be swayed somewhat. Especially if I come up w/ something that works on both engines. But BG2 will be in the back row, in my efforts.


I'll be modding on Enhanced Edition first and foremost--I simply no longer have enough modding time for a wide array of games. EE is here & now, it's pretty solid already from the starting gates, and there's developers actively developing/patching for it that really care about the game. For me, it was an obvious choice. (300+ decade-old scripts to regurgitate for an outdated unsupported engine, or fresh new turf to pioneer...hmmmm)


Warning--Theoretical Modding Outburst


I'd always script my enemy AI with that 'human' side. I'd do it w/ less randomness than years ago, and w/ more calculated conditional checks. But always the chance of something unexpected happening, or passing up the obvious choice. Like you'd expect from somebody under the duress of combat, making split second decisions (well, 1-second/parsing).


It's also what helps keeps the AI feeling fresh, in playthrough after playthrough. The 'nifty routine' AI's can be fun, the first couple of times. But when you see the same person(s) do the exact same things time after time after time (etc.)--even if it's cleverly chosen, it gets boring &/or annoying after a while. At least, for me and others I know--perhaps some prefer the steady unwavering routine?


For a new mod of this nature, I'd emphasize on small enhancements, rather than swooping gestures, though. One of my favorite "little = a lot" from BP was giving those goblins in jonny's dungeon a few arrows of biting. Just that little touch of poison made the next stages of the dungeon more challenging.


I'd also like to try 'personality' scripts some day--like e.g. a cowardly mage, a cruel warrior, a berserking hobgoblin tribe w/ a charismatic leader, an elite squadrom of goblin archers led by an evil high priest, and so on. Maybe in conjunction with the next paragraph... I'm not so sure I can do this level of work on the old IE. I know that I tried this before. A single function that was added to BG2:EE revolutionizes conditional blocks, and there's other goodies and more coming. If they can be easily dumbed-down, and still function? Maybe BG2 can enjoy them too.


And finally, I'd add some content. Fun new adventures, in fresh custom areas. If you follow my signature link below, there's a link on the front page to an official trailer featuring some of my recent area work in 3D. 2D-iso areas are made quite similar,  just turned and rendered afterwards. More work in some ways, less in others.



So, that's about where it stands for now. I'll be able to throw together a newer version some time in the next few weeks. I've already fixed the reported bugs & filled some requests (for a couple mod compats). Spellhold Item taking, I just need to yank the code and files.


I've reconsidered one thing. As much as I'm sick of babysitting Tactics mod segments, I still don't want to leave people hanging, for no better reason than that. Not my style. That original Tactics is a compatability killer install, no more & no less. I'd never have asked permission to include it, if it wasn't totally necessary (and highly requested, at least in 2003-4). As such, many people have relied on BP to deliver it to them, for several years. The Big World dudes, for starters. Blah, blah, blah....(ad infinitum)


Maybe if somebody loads me up a save game, I can try to take a look at this Red Badge bug reported. I know I won't have time to play a game that far in to make my own testing grounds. Not enough information reported, to investigate it cold . I don't use this component, nor a few others like it, in a regular playthrough. "I don't eat this food, I'm just the waiter."


Bottom Line: (aka the Sales Pitch) I do want Tactics out of BP, however. I hope I don't have to write the modern Tactics mod myself, just to get it out of BP once and for all. The code written is freely up for grabs or any w/ the ambition & skills; help yourself and build a new Tactics mod on it. This means YOU! *points randomly* P.S: I'll make a start in the right direction, by separating the Tactics components into their own sub-section in next version. :)

#4 Graoumf

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 08:01 PM

Hi Horred,


Well I understand perfectly your choice, your reasons are completely valuable.

But can we hope a last update to implement the full french translation I posted here, please?

#5 horred the plague

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 10:42 PM

Hi Horred,
Well I understand perfectly your choice, your reasons are completely valuable.
But can we hope a last update to implement the full french translation I posted here, please?
I believe it's included for the next release already, as well as the German update. Forgot to include translation updates on my 'done' list above.
P.S: I don't plan to end this sort of support. I'm simply not developing new content for BP, nor porting BP over to BG2:EE

P.P.S: Confirmed, they are added for next version. Also, two new lines to divide up the components as I mentioned above:

@10290 = ~Modder Contributions~
@10291 = ~Tactics Mod Additions~

And a third, which somehow we all forgot about:

@2 = ~Core Component (Required)~

Edited by horred the plague, 16 November 2013 - 08:00 AM.

#6 horred the plague

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Posted 16 November 2013 - 10:32 AM

I ended up with a little unexpected time today, so I went through things. I cleaned up some old files laying around, eliminated a couple overwrites, swapped some BCS snippets for BAF snippets, and did some test installs.


WeiDu is updated to v235.


Here's a log from a BG2EE:


Attached File  WeiDU.log   5.12K   251 downloads


I can install BP & BP Series in either order, on BG2EE, and BG2 alike. Please keep in mind I'm not officially supporting this. i.e., if it breaks BG2EE, I advise you open an editor yourself and get to work. I can almost guarantee animations will be an issue, though I didn't go beyond jonny's dungeon. Duergar changed into Orogs not Frost Giants, which wasn't so bad...if some new universal system for BG2EE comes out, I'll account for it in the code.


The BCS-->BAF swap mentioned above was an attempt at fixing Red Badge and The Ritual. I don't know if it will help, but I do know it won't hurt.


Besides that, to my knowledge all reported bugs, translations, and feasible requests have been answered. I can't see any reason to delay a release any further. So, I'll get one together and let you know.

#7 Miloch



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Posted 16 December 2013 - 11:50 PM

Wha? Surely, horred is just burnt out a bit. Either that, or he hasn't actually looked at his code, a lot of which has to do with enhancements that go far beyond AI and are totally independent of engine (EE/non-EE) differences. But, eh, who am I to say... I'm just a mutant half-orc...

Infinity Engine Contributions
Aurora * BG1 NPC * BG1 Fixpack * Haiass * Infinity Animations * Level 1 NPCs * P5Tweaks
PnP Free Action * Thrown Hammers * Unique Containers * BG:EE * BGII:EE * IWD:EE
Player & Modder Resources
BAM Batcher * Creature Lister * Creature Checker * Creature Fixer * Tutu/BGT Area Map & List * Tutu Mod List
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#8 horred the plague

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Posted 17 December 2013 - 06:59 AM

Wha? Surely, horred is just burnt out a bit. Either that, or he hasn't actually looked at his code, a lot of which has to do with enhancements that go far beyond AI and are totally independent of engine (EE/non-EE) differences. But, eh, who am I to say... I'm just a mutant half-orc...

Definitely burnt out a bit. Not necessarily on this, but when you have too many items on your plate something has to go. That should change a bit, soon. I will say that playing a game without it didn't feel the same (in many ways, not just AI as Miloch mentions), and that my most recent install of BG2EE has it installed. Beyond that, I'll make no promises I might not keep. My top agenda for modding time will be the BP Series, for the near perceivable future.

#9 Jourin

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Posted 17 December 2013 - 09:18 PM

Horred,  I was an original fan of Big Picture.  Then as BP became frozen in time and SCS and BWP grew I became a big fan of SCS.  But after your last update I am running Big Picture again and rediscovering the value.  I am now running BP as the core and seeing what items from SCS are compatible.  I appreciate you coming back to update Big Picture.  I thank you for that gift.  I hope you continue to support BP for BG2 for awhile but if not, I still thank you for the last update to BP.  Thanks again!

#10 SweetDeath

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Posted 19 December 2013 - 02:22 PM

The dream never die, my friend...



#11 horred the plague

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Posted 28 December 2013 - 08:29 AM

While playing through and actually working on the BP Series, I made a couple of fixes (thus far) to encounter components. In the druid's grove, I found a couple of groups that weren't turning to enemy. That should be fixed. I didn't poison the grove this time, failed to test the treant encounter. I did summon a few treants via CLUA, and they looked/fought as intended. They look pathetic casting a spell due to no casting animation, but at least they do cast them.


And in the Planar Sphere, I just spent some time tinkering with the Tolgerias & co. bit. It appears to be working as intended now. Tolgerias was originally an experiment in coordinated AI. He and his companion go through a set routine cued off each other by an incrementing global variable. They go through a total of 15 sequences before free-style combat. If you should knock one to few HP before (or after) their dance is completed, they're supposed to dimension door to safety, heal up, and prepare their final defenses. And,discard that SUREHP1 ring so they can finally be killed.


This encounter was further enhanced for TDD, and uses a few of its spells if it's installed.


I can't 100% guarantee I've got every base covered, but in a few tests I've seen it go quite nicely. This should be a challenging battle if it all works out.



I'll keep fixing things I see that are blatantly wrong, as I go. All my testing has been on BG2EE, but I'm not using any EE-specific script commands so all should work well on ToB too. When this playthrough is completed I'll release my findings to the general public (aka you).

Edited by horred the plague, 28 December 2013 - 08:33 AM.

#12 horred the plague

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Posted 28 December 2013 - 10:42 AM

(While still in the Planar Sphere): Fixes to Golems. Half the golems were missing the BP scripts, the other half were chattering like a pack of gibberlings. New "QUIETSHT" and "BPGOLEM" scripts.

#13 Neoatticus

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Posted 24 July 2014 - 08:56 AM

But, what about the ability to incorporate multiple mega-mods? How will I do this without the adjustments BP makes?


::edit:: So I see you haven't quit working on it (phew). That being said, I've run into an installation issue when trying to install to a BG2EE steam installation:


C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\SteamApps\common\Baldur's Gate II Enhanced Edition>

ERROR: parsing [THAYSHT.BCS.BAF]: Parsing.Parse_error
ERROR: [THAYSHT.BCS] -> [override/THAYSHT.BCS] Patching Failed (COPY) (Parsing.Parse_error)
ERROR: Parsing.Parse_error
Level 1 Innate Fixer (Big Picture (BP)) was not installed due to errors.
idk what happened here...and since I'm not a stellar code monkey, I have NO clue how to work around it. I've ignored it and continued installlation, but I haven't tried running yet (still installing). I can include the debug file, if you wish. Though I'd need to email it to you.

Edited by Neoatticus, 24 July 2014 - 08:59 AM.

#14 The Imp

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Posted 24 July 2014 - 09:04 AM

C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\SteamApps\common\Baldur's Gate II Enhanced Edition>

ERROR: parsing [THAYSHT.BCS.BAF]: Parsing.Parse_error


Installing mods to a Steam Apps. And Vista... just read the link.

Edited by The Imp, 24 July 2014 - 09:04 AM.

Yep, Jarno Mikkola. my Mega Mod FAQ. Use of the BWS, and how to use it(scroll down that post a bit). 
OK, desert dweller, welcome to the sanity, you are free to search for the limit, it's out there, we drew it in the sand. Ouh, actually it was still snow then.. but anyways.

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