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Swen Vincke Game Informer Interview, New Baldur's Gate 3 Concept Art, Larian Expands to Malaysia
Interview - posted by Infinitron on Fri 8 November 2019, 22:06:28Tags: Baldur's Gate 3; Beyond Divinity; Divine Divinity; Divinity II; Divinity: Original Sin; Divinity: Original Sin 2; Larian Studios; Swen Vincke
This is not the Larian news you've been waiting for, but for the first time in months there's reason to believe that something may be about to happen. Last week IGN published a single new Baldur's Gate 3 concept art of an illithid floating in its nautiloid ship.
It also turns out there was an interview with Swen Vincke in last month's issue of Game Informer, which is now available online. The interview is about the history of Larian and Swen's career, a topic that's been covered well enough in recent times, but I'll quote some of the more recent bits.
I wanted to license an RPG system, preferably D&D, preferably Baldur’s Gate. I got in touch with them through somebody I knew from the industry. They put me in touch with Nate Stewart, who was the head of D&D, and so I got kind of an exam. Like, “What will you do with it?”
I was like, “I’m the perfect guy to make it.” And [then there was] nothing. But we kept bumping into each other at every trade show.
Eventually he calls me and says, “Do you still want to do this?” And I said, “Yes!” He invited me to downtown Seattle and in a shady bar he presented to me the full map for Baldur’s Gate 3. It was pretty much everything we had talked about. A couple of weeks later he called me and they said yes. So we needed to present them with a design document as we were making Divinity: Original Sin II.
So what was one of the biggest changes you made to Divinity: Original Sin during production?
It used to be a real-time game. We made it turn-based. I see that Yakuza has been taking from our book. [laughs]
I asked myself, “What are we doing? We’re making a real-time game because they told us.” Publishers told us that there’s no way you’re going to get your distribution deals if it’s turn-based. It needs to be real-time, blah, blah, blah. We’ve been conditioned into thinking real-time. I was in the shower, I was like, “What are we doing? We’re gonna be competing with Blizzard making an action RPG? We can’t compete with Blizzard, we don’t have the resources. But no one is making turn-based RPGs anymore. So maybe that’s where we should be going.” And that was a really good move.
For Baldur’s Gate 3, how do you encapsulate the entire Dungeons & Dragons system in a video game? Where do you even begin?
It’s really how do we capture the books, the rule system, the feeling you have at the table in a video game, and how do we do that without alienating people that have never played D&D in their lives. Mixing that, I think we found it. You guys will have to judge. You can’t make a game without taking creative risks. You can, but then you’re just making the same game. We’ve taken a lot of creative risks, more than people will expect, I think, considering the amount of money we’re throwing at it.
For instance, in Divinity: Original Sin II, you can do almost anything. How do you build a ruleset that can handle all that?
We try to be very consistent about it. “Systemic” is the in-house word. If it’s not systemic, it doesn’t go in. Basically, we learned this over time, one of the errors that we made in our early games was we were so focused on getting the money that we were puting the systems in there as gimmicks so that we were going to convince people to put money into the games, right? We learned that if you put something in a game, it has to be consistent throughout the game, something that you can always use. If you can’t, you shouldn’t put it in there. We’ve gotten better at it over time because one of the criticisms was always [that] we were very ambitious, but [the games were] badly executed. What people start discovering in D:OS, we just make those systems work always. Whenever we put in a new system it has to work with the existing systems, and if you make those complete, you get stuff like this. That’s where the beauty comes from.
One of the developers came to me and was like, “I’m playing with my buddy, and I’m doing the exact opposite of everything he wants to do.” He said, like, “[The other player] is gonna ruin the game.” I told him, “Don’t worry about it. This game has got you covered.”