The problem, Beamdog co-founder Trent Oster told RPGamer, is that Icewind Dale II is dramatically different from the first game, both inside and out. “If Icewind Dale is a brother or sister to the Baldur’s Gate games in terms of code and gameplay differences, Icewind Dale II and Planescape: Torment are more like third cousins. You can see the lineage, but the changes are deep,” he said.
“Icewind Dale II implemented the 3rd Edition rules and has a completely different UI scheme. We’re really not sure how deep those changes run,” Oster explained. “The move to 3rd Edition rules would invalidate all the character classes and require a pretty thorough rework of the entire game to bring in the features from our Infinity Plus Engine. At minimum, nightmares abound.”
The original Icewind Dale uses AD&D Second Edition rules, as does Planescape: Torment. The Third Edition rule set, which actually dropped the “Advanced” designator, was released in 2000, the same year as Icewind Dale; Icewind Dale II came out in 2002.
Developers Beamdog reached out to former publishers and developers but “no one seems to know” where the original code for Icewind Dale 2 has gone. It seems to have vanished. Consequently, the team hoping to remaster the game have put out a public call for help in locating it.
“We’d love to complete the Infinity Engine series and bring you all the game you’ve been asking for, but to make Icewind Dale 2: Enhanced Edition a possibility, having that source code, preferably patched, is needed before we can even start assessing whether the project is doable,” Beamdog says on its website.
The source code for the Baldur’s Gate games, Icewind Dale, and Planescape: Torment was available directly from BioWare, with some assistance from Wizards of the Coast. But the IWD2 situation is more complicated. “Icewind Dale 2 was created by Interplay working off a customized version of the BioWare Infinity Engine,” Oster explained. “They took the Infinity Engine variant they used to ship Icewind Dale and started from there. Somewhere along the path of the Dungeons and Dragons license moving from Interplay to Atari and then reverting to Wizards of the Coast, preserving source code and transferring it to the new rights holder somehow data was lost.”
“We’ve searched all the archives we have access to, including all the data handed over to Wizards of the Coast from Atari and there is no source code for Icewind Dale 2,” CEO Trent Oster tells Kotaku. “We’ve reached out to our friends at Obsidian, as many of them were the development staff behind Icewind Dale II, and they do not have any source code.
“We’re stalled on the project without source and the project won’t move forward until we can find it. We’ve naturally moved on to other things until there is a change in the situation.”
Built with a customized version of BioWare’s Infinity Engine, Icewind Dale 2 was released in 2002 shortly before its development studio, Interplay, was closed down. It’s thought that sometime during abrupt closure – or during the subsequent distribution of the studio’s asset – the source code was lost.
Beamdog have since updated their post asking fans not to contact former devs or team members on their behalf, but inviting anyone with the code to come forward.
It’s far from a flat-out “no,” and Oster said the team plans to dig deeper into the matter after the launch of Icewind Dale Enhanced Edition and the 1.3 update for the Baldur’s Gate games, but “nightmares abound” isn’t the sort of thing you want to hear regarding the likelihood of your favorite game being remade. On the slightly-brighter side, depending on how you view such a thing, Oster said the team still talks about Baldur’s Gate III on a “pretty regular basis.”