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Massive Interview with Swen Vincke at Rock Paper Shotgun

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Massive Interview with Swen Vincke at Rock Paper Shotgun

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Wed 5 March 2014, 19:56:17

Tags: Divinity: Original Sin; Larian Studios; Swen Vincke

Following up on his Divinity: Original Sin Let's Play session from last week, Rock Paper Shotgun's Nathan Grayson has posted a nice big interview with Swen Vincke. Swen goes over topics such as Larian's plans after Original Sin is released, their troubled history as a company, how Early Access has helped improve the game, and of course, RPS's favorite topic, gender parity. Here's a particularly inspiring excerpt:

RPS: Conventional wisdom used to say that no one wanted these sorts of games anymore. And you’ve gone from making Ego Draconis, which was much more an RPG fused with an action game to Original Sin. But this is like, by many standards, a niche within a niche. You’re making a very specific type of game. Are you at all worried about a worst case scenario? A small crowd buys it and loves it, and everyone else says, “eh, not my thing”?

Vincke: Yeah. But you know, they’ve always said that about every single game I’ve made. From Divinity 1 onward. They went on to sell really a lot of units. We’ve calculated Divinity II sales at, what, 1.3 million units? That’s not a small crowd anymore. Divinity 1 must be over a million units now if you take the entire life cycle into account. That’s a lot of people already. I refuse to believe that our players currently are the only ones who want to have an evolution of the RPG genre as it existed and that was cut off. It was cut off because it turned out that the action-RPGs sold easier and were easier to make.

I personally think that, in the early 2000s, RPGs were cut off, because there were a number of production values that went up, and it was impossible to… Well, it was possible, but it was decided not to do it by the powers that be. So the genre stopped evolving. This was the case for a lot of genres. Now we have the resurgence of the indies. We have Steam Early Access and Kickstarter. Suddenly we have games that nobody would have ever invested in. Like Wasteland 2, for instance. Do you really think a publisher would have put a dollar into that? No. Look at it, how it’s soaring up the charts. That’s conventional wisdom for you.

The guys that have the conventional wisdom, I’m sorry, but I never agreed with them back then and I still don’t agree with them nowadays. It’s easy to go along the beaten path, but then you’re not going to have any evolution in games. You’ll have rehashes of the same thing over and over. There’s a lot of gamers out there, more gamers than ever, and they’re looking for a little bit more intelligent content. That’s where we want to be with this one.

Plus, the fact that I really think that people, when it’s going to release, are going to… The Trojan Horse in this particular case is co-op. Like that guy I was telling you about. His blog entry was exactly what we were hoping for when we envisioned the game originally. He starts playing and says to his wife, why don’t you try it? Then they don’t go to sleep. They keep on playing until the sun comes up. They have their own adventure, a kind of adventure that they probably wouldn’t have if they’d been playing single-player and loading and saving and loading and saving. That’s quite a feat, actually, that people don’t just load the game and continue. They debate with one another. Are we going to a load? That’s pretty cool.

RPS: Do you think that just in terms of your own creative direction, you’re going to stick with fantasy, or do you think you would ever go beyond that?

Vincke: We had quite a lot of concepts. The problem is, once you’ve made a game that’s sold a little bit, you’re stuck in the franchise, right? After Divinity 1, actually, we had an entire concept for a different style of game. And then, no no no, we want to do Divinity II. That’s how we ended up doing it. Because publishers were saying, okay, that’s something that interests us. We’re not interested in the original stuff.

But I’m sure that we’ll do something different. Larian has had some setbacks in the past. We’re not yet on the path where we can be completely free and do what we want. We have to make sure that we still make money and at least break even on the games that we do. With Original Sin, I have good hopes, because Early Access has been successful. Kickstarter has been successful. There are still a lot of people out there who don’t want to touch Early Access because they’re afraid they’re going to spoil the main story, which is a good way to play an RPG, actually. I think there’s still people who are underserved. If you look at the success of other large RPGs that have been… There’s still room for growth for us.
Read the entire thing, it's a really good interview. Even the gender parity question has an interesting answer.

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