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Baldur's Gate Baldur's Gate 3 RELEASE THREAD

Swen

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15 million sold, my god.
At least...
Swen: It's almost doubled DOS2 now, so it's doing really really well as DOS2 was very successful. So it did beyond what we expected.

For reference, the last time they gave us an update on DOS2's sales was back in 2019 when they said it sold three times that of DOS1, which put DOS2 at 7.5 million copies back then. So it seems like Baldur's Gate 3 is now at least around 15 million copies.

And still in top ten best sellers globally as we speak

afbeelding.png


Codex utterly broken by BG3's success. Sweet victory
 

Orud

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Strap Yourselves In Codex Year of the Donut Codex+ Now Streaming!
Codex utterly broken by BG3's success. Sweet victory
Best line I read this week was: "Ack, fine, so what if BG3 was successful. Now that they've abandoned D&D there's no way they'll go back to Divinity, since no one liked those games!"
 

Old Hans

Arcane
Joined
Oct 10, 2011
Messages
1,514
And consider it's not a mere zeppelin but a huge alien aircraft of one of the most feared and mysterious races known to man. This lack of grip is there precisely because they made generic forest first, and then needed to somehow stitch rest of the shit. So yeah completely agree with: "can't make something good without singular vision" but idk if listening to players feedback is the cause, to me it just seems like a bad excuse.
Except for Karlach who knows exactly what you did at the tiefling grove
Karlach knows because muh tadpole. I guess.
Tadpole is a bit glitchy though, because she think you personally murdered the refugees even if they get thrown out by Druids. And you don't have to interact with refugees for it to happen.
I had a situation one time where I just arrived at the grove and was talking to the Khaga, and I used friendship cantrip on her, but I forgot they get pissed off when the effect wears off, which caused her to get mad at me, which triggered the druids killing all the Tieflings. It sucks because that event should lead to some new outcome instead of the "yea I heard you murdered everyone" meanwhile there's like 10 different cutscene variations for some obscure astarian interaction
 

jackofshadows

Magister
Joined
Oct 21, 2019
Messages
4,592
I had a situation one time where I just arrived at the grove and was talking to the Khaga, and I used friendship cantrip on her, but I forgot they get pissed off when the effect wears off, which caused her to get mad at me, which triggered the druids killing all the Tieflings. It sucks because that event should lead to some new outcome instead of the "yea I heard you murdered everyone" meanwhile there's like 10 different cutscene variations for some obscure astarian interaction
Rumors are just rumors though, you know? The alleged guilt could land on the player's party some other way in theory. Would be cool if the devs would actually implement some intentionally incorrect rumors similarly how there's a whole newspaper stuff in the BG there.
 
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Infinitron

I post news
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Codex Year of the Donut Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker Pathfinder: Wrath I'm very into cock and ball torture I helped put crap in Monomyth
https://www.pcgamer.com/games/baldu...tiple-narrators-also-astarion-was-a-tiefling/

Larian originally wanted Baldur's Gate 3 to have multiple narrators, also Astarion was a tiefling

Which perhaps would have made him too devilish a rascal.

This past Thursday at GDC 2024 saw Larian Studios boss Swen Vincke give a talk on "The Secrets of Baldur's Gate 3." The biggest news out of that was Vincke letting everyone know that Larian was done with Baldur's Gate 3, and will be moving on to new things in the future.

"We're going to move away from D&D and we're going to start making a new thing," he said.

But he also shared some what-ifs and insights into the early design of Baldur's Gate 3. Including the particularly strange alternate reality where Baldur's Gate 3 had multiple narrators—that is to say, more than one Dungeon Master narrating your adventures and misadventures through the Forgotten Realms. It's an approach they realized wouldn't quite work after mocking up a cinematic where the dungeon master narrated around audio from voice actors.

"It was clear that if we were going to do it this way, it was gonna become incredibly expensive, because every single scene would have to be edited to mix the Dungeon Master and the actors," said Vincke, "And what's more, we actually wanted to have multiple dungeon master narrated by multiple people. So we had Matt Mercer on the on our minds already back then. But we said, you know, probably not going to work."

"So we were looking for something easier to do," he followed up. "We found it in full body performance capture. So the idea was that we were going to capture the actors. And doing everything, including their faces. And we were going to in this way, make better and engaging dialogues because we will have all of that nonverbal communication, the performance capture worked out, we actually did look for a long time at doing face capturing also, that didn't work out."

That led Larian to focus on procedural motion capture for movement and handcrafted motions for faces—the final product being what you see in Baldur's Gate.

Vincke also spoke about how the Russian invasion of Ukraine damaged Baldur's Gate 3's timeline, requiring the studio to move developers out of St. Petersburg, as did moving the release date around to avoid Starfield—something that ultimately failed.

The other shock for those who're deep inside Baldur's Gate 3, of course, is that Astarion was originally a Tiefling—something that came up incidentally as Vincke showed off a slide including some mid-production concepts.

"Yes, he was a tiefling originally," said Vincke as audience members gasped and laughed.

Anyway, here's a shot of Tiefling Astarion smuggled out of GDC by PC Gamer's Lauren Morton. I like to think the grainy lo-res quality really adds to the part where you're not sure if you believe me that he was once a Tiefling, like Tiefling Astarion is some kind of bizarre cryptid and whatnot.

For more on Baldur's Gate 3 surrounding this year's GDC, check out PC Gamer's stories on why Larian hit the brakes on doing DLC for Baldur's Gate 3 and what the details on those Baldur's Gate 3 mod tools are.
 

Litmanen

Educated
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Feb 27, 2024
Messages
228
Hi guys, i have a question (actually is for two friends of mine, I haven't started the game yet).

Version number

As you can see, they actually have the latest version (via Steam) but, apparently, they feel like the game to be still very bugged.

They have started to play in December so, some patches, have been installed while already playing (they never restarted)

The main problems they experience are:

- potions for alchemy, that are in their inventory, apparently cannot be used, so alchemy is useless.
- once a quest is completed, tue marker stays on the map as if it is a pending quest.
- others

At least for alchemy, I have seen it was a known bug as soon as the game came out, but should have been solved.

So, is it "normal" i.e. the bugs are still there and reknown in the community or they are just unfortunate/there is some other problem?
 
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Which one of you is this?

https://www.pcgamer.com/games/baldurs-gate/swen-vincke-says-your-baldurs-gate-3-crushes-now-belong-to-wizards-of-the-coast-as-the-studio-leaves-dandd-behind-prompting-a-collective-nervous-gulp/

comment said:
the most oversold game based on pre-launch hype and media/ controversy alone. What with the alleged "slamming" of the game by other devs and what not. I spent 10 hours playing the game, got to some point where you run into your first conflict below a bridge, already hated turn-based games but was told this would be the one to change my mind, spent 3 hours at that fight underneath the bridge.uninstalled the game. Not at all the Baldur's 1 and 2 I loved.
 

Zed Duke of Banville

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"...already hated turn-based games but was told this would be the one to change my mind, spent 3 hours at that fight underneath the bridge.uninstalled the game. Not at all the Baldur's 1 and 2 I loved."

Even turn-based combat in BG3's modified "D&D 5th edition" system is sufficient to filter fans of the execrable RTwP combat in the original Baldur's Gate games. :incline:
 

Infinitron

I post news
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Messages
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Codex Year of the Donut Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker Pathfinder: Wrath I'm very into cock and ball torture I helped put crap in Monomyth
https://www.ign.com/articles/baldur...dditional-evil-endings-and-theyre-really-evil

Baldur's Gate 3 Dev Larian Working on Additional Evil Endings, and 'They're Really Evil'​

Evil endings and mod support are on the way.​


Larian Studios may not be working on full-fledged Baldur’s Gate 3 DLC, but there are at least more evil endings on the way – and founder Swen Vincke says “they’re really evil.”

In an interview with IGN, Vincke teased additional campaign endings, saying that while players are “not going to see massive content changes,” the team is dedicated to delivering on the fan feedback they’ve received since launch. That includes some love for Baldur’s Gate 3’s more villainous players.

“So they're working on the evil endings right now,” he said. “I've seen some of them. They're really evil. So the evil players will be satisfied with that.”

Baldur's Gate 3 lets players be the kind of Dungeons & Dragons character they've always dreamed of – even if it means being a bad person. Evil acts range from comedically kicking squirrels and being mean to NPCs to creatively killing – and even torturing – some of the characters you can find throughout the story. Larian even included a Dark Urge background for those who enjoy adding a bit of spontaneous evil spice to some encounters. Evil endings in particular, however, are something fans have wanted to be fleshed out since launch. Now that we know they're on the way, evildoers can finally look forward to more satisfying narrative conclusions.

Support for evil endings should appease some of Baldur’s Gate 3’s more nefarious players, though Vincke says updates will be less substantial after previously promised features launch. He says Larian will eventually “scale down,” adding, “It's just going to be support on bugs, because we want the team to be working on new things.”

Baldur’s Gate 3 has continued to sweep award shows since its full launch arrived last year, but the victory laps can only continue for so long before Larian finally closes its D&D chapter. To help make the transition a bit easier to swallow for fans, the studio has another promising update on the horizon: cross-platform curated mods.

“So we are working with Wizards, Sony, Microsoft... a lot of partners to align,” Vincke tells us, “but we're trying to get cross-platform curated mods in there so that people on console can enjoy the mods that are being made for the PC also. So that'll be a big thing, I think, because there's a lot of mods already, and then we won't be able to support everything, but we should be able support quite a few.”

Even as the Larian team transitions toward a new future, Vincke is confident in the bold new direction. In an X/Twitter thread, the founder sympathized with those who are upset to hear that the developer won’t be creating any major expansions or Baldur’s Gate 4. However, he says the studio’s accomplishments have paved the way for a promising future. It’s unclear when updates for Baldur’s Gate 3 will come to an end or the order players can expect to receive changes, but fans at least have evil endings and more mod support to look forward to.

“The team has grown a lot during Bg3 and I think you can be very excited for what that growth means for our next game,” he said.

Whether your character is good or evil, Larian’s RPG masterpiece is already filled with storylines to discover. It’s so packed with content, in fact, that it features more than triple the word count of The Lord of the Rings books. For more on Baldur’s Gate 3, be sure to check out an early version of Astarion that traded in High Elf ears for a Tiefling’s horns. If you’re still hungry for more, you should check out our 10/10 review.

https://www.ign.com/articles/baldur...e-surprising-villain-that-used-to-be-playable

Baldur's Gate 3 Director Reveals One Surprising Villain That Used to Be Playable​

Kill your darlings, literally.​


Baldur's Gate 3 players have gotten really silly with mods since the game came out, including creating a number of mods that allow otherwise unplayable characters to join the party. But according to Larian Studios head Swen Vincke, a number of those characters may have been considered for inclusion as companions early in development, including one particular villain.

Warning: Spoilers for Acts 2 and 3 of Baldur's Gate 3 follow. Read onward at your own risk.
Speaking to IGN at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) last week, Vincke elaborated on a number of topics from his talk, The Secrets of Baldur's Gate 3. In the talk, Vincke revealed some things that were cut or changed during development, such as Astarion originally being a tiefling and the eventual need for the team to "kill their darlings" in order to get the game shipped on time.

We asked Vincke about other major changes to companions during development, which prompted him to suggest that there was "an entire roster of companions that didn't make the cut." Who was his favorite cut companion? A surprising answer: it's Act 2's major villain, Ketheric Thorm.

In the final game, players begin hearing about Ketheric Thorm throughout acts one and two, learning that the seemingly immortal Absolute cult head has been actively cursing the Shadowlands at the behest of Myrkul, god of death. Act 2 culminates in the player defeating Thorm and ending his immortal reign, but Wincke says there was originally another possible outcome to all this: convincing Thorm to come along on the party's quest.

"If you play the game and there's a moment where you can convince him and you can see that a moment where he breaks, that moment led to recruitment normally," Vincke explains. "We cut that out when we were rescoped. It was part of the fixing of Act two when we were stuck on it. That was what happened in the rescoping. He was supposed to be in your camp while you were dealing with Gortash and with Orin. So he became a source of information on them, and he could trust, you could get him to his arc. You could then be convinced by him to go to his side. So it was a great story, but yeah."

Vincke doesn't stop there. He shares other "darlings" that were killed - Githyanki queen Vlaakith's palace, the Gith Astral Plane, Candlekeep, (where the original Baldur's Gate started out), and even a visit to Hell itself, were all in the game at some point.

"There was a moment where the maps were going to be smaller, and so we were going to be able to give you bigger diversity of locations that you would explore," Vincke continues. "But then the problem with those massive is that the sense of exploration wasn't really present. So that's why we killed a whole bunch of them. So it was a very fine balance between trying to figure out what the right size of these things was, but we wrote a lot. I mean, you have no idea how many pages we have of story that takes place with all kinds...some of good, some of it bad, but there was a lot of stories before."

Vincke's GDC panel contained a wealth of new information about the development of Baldur's Gate 3, concluding with the reveal that Larian isn't going to make Baldur's Gate 4 or any DLC for 3, but is instead moving onto a new project outside of the Dungeons & Dragons universe.
 
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Infinitron

I post news
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Messages
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Codex Year of the Donut Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker Pathfinder: Wrath I'm very into cock and ball torture I helped put crap in Monomyth
Here's the full mega-interview with Swen: https://www.ign.com/articles/baldur...-about-foregoing-dlc-aaa-development-and-more

Baldur's Gate 3: Director Swen Vincke Answers All Our Questions About Foregoing DLC, AAA Development, and More​

"As far as we are concerned, the chapter is closed."​


At the Game Developers Conference 2024, Larian Studios head Swen Vincke gave an incredibly detailed talk entitled "The Secrets of Baldur's Gate 3." In it, he divulged a number of new details about the game's development, ending on the bombshell that Larian would neither be making DLC for Baldur's Gate 3, nor making Baldur's Gate 4. The studio is moving on.

Shortly after his talk, IGN had the pleasure of sitting down with Vincke to talk about... well, everything. The talk we'd just heard, the news he dropped, how the studio is doing post-release, how he feels about the games industry, all of it. We've already written up some of the biggest new reveals Vincke shared with us during that conversation, such as the playable Ketheric Thorm and the studio's plans for additional detail in the game's evil endings. But Vincke shared so many cool insights during our hour-long chat that we felt we needed to share them all with the world. Here's our (lightly edited for clarity) full conversation with Vincke from GDC:

Do we want to start with the elephant in the room? I mean, you kind of dropped a bombshell at the end of that talk, right? You're not doing Baldur's Gate 4. You're not going back to the world of D&D. Obviously you're working on something new, the studio is not going to implode tomorrow. You said a little bit in the talk, but why not Baldur's Gate 4?

Vincke:
Well, we started actually thinking about it after Baldur's Gate 3, because of all the success, the obvious thing would've been to do DLC. So we started on one and we started even thinking about BG 4, but we noticed very rapidly that our hearts were not ticking faster. We hadn't really had closure on BG 3 yet, and just to jump forward into something new felt wrong. We also had spent a whole bunch of time converting the system into a video game, and we wanted to do new things. There were a lot of constraints in making D&D, and the 5th Edition is not an easy system to put into a video game, and we had all these ideas of new combat that we wanted to try out, and so they were not compatible. You could see the team was doing it because everybody felt like we had to do it, but it wasn't really coming from the heart and we're very much a studio all about being from the heart.

That's what got us into misery all the time, but also been the reason for our success. So I went on a holiday for Christmas and I came back and I said to the team, 'You know what? We're just not going to do it. We're going to shift around and we're just going to start doing these other things that we talked about that we were going to do, that we actually planned on doing before we started on BG III.' we always said those were the plans for afterwards. We have two games that we want to make and we have lots of concepts, so let's just have closures on BG III. We've done our job. It is a story with the beginning and middle and an end, so let's end it here on a high and just pass the torch to the next developer to pick up what is an incredible legacy.

What was the studio's reaction?

Vincke:
They were elated. I was surprised. I thought they were going to be angry at me because I just couldn't muster the energy, and I saw so many elated faces, which I didn't expect. You could see they all shared the same feeling, so we were very well aligned with one another. Since then, I've had many, many, many developers come to me afterwards and say, 'thank God.'

A lot of studios have a lot of different methods for figuring out what their next project is going to be. For some, it's just sort of an edict from above. Some people take on projects, but it sounds like you were listening to feedback, but then you were ultimately making the decision that the next thing is going to be X.

Vincke:
So, I'm always the one where it starts with the initial idea and then I give it to the team and they start iterating over it and turns it into something much better. During Baldur's Gate 3, I pitched to them what the next games would be, and I had a PowerPoint and I showed it and said 'it looks like this and it's going to be this.' And if I see they're excited, then I say, 'okay, we're going to be doing that.' Because if they're not excited then it's back to the drawing boards. And so they were very, very excited by a couple of the new things that we were planning on doing. And then the pivot to start doing Baldur's Gate 3 DLC was expected because it's what you do.

You alluded to the fact [in your talk] that you've stayed in this set of systems for a while, how Baldur's Gate 3 was born out of Divinity: Original Sin 2. But you've also said in the past that you did eventually want to make Divinity: Original Sin 3. Is that what this is, or is it totally new?

Vincke:
I can't tell you.

Fair enough. I had to ask.

Vincke:
Yeah, I can't tell you. No, it will have its proper moment. Hopefully nobody's going to leak it for us, but it's different than what you think it is, but it is still familiar enough for you to recognize that it's something that we are making.

Killing Their Darlings​

I wanted to go back to a little bit of what you were discussing in the actual talk: Astarion was a Tiefling?

Vincke:
He was, yeah.

Tell me more about this.

Vincke:
I think it was, I don't actually remember a hundred percent, but I think we just wanted to have diversity among the races, and so that's how he became to be a Tiefling. He kind of sounded cool, a Tiefling vampire, and so for a while he was like that, but then he didn't really resonate that strongly as a companion, and so that's how he came to be who he is now.

So he became an Elf instead. So it was basically the same, but he's a Tiefling.

Vincke:
No. There was... Well, the characterization has changed heavily since then. Obviously, when Neil [Newbon] was picked as an actor, he added a lot to it, so that defined a lot of the characterization and the mannerisms, but the idea was always, 'okay, there's this vampire spawn. He can walk in the sunlight now. And he has this antagonist who is called Cazador.' so that was always the core of his story, but then from there to get to the characterization was the right character, that's the journey, and that's something that we trade over and we try figuring it out. So because he was seducing a lot of people, he had to be seductive in the way that you were going to see him. That was the way that he got people to become the victims of Cazador. And so yeah, the character that was there at that moment in time wasn't necessarily ready for prime time, as you would say.

Astarion could've looked quite a bit different.ASTARION COULD'VE LOOKED QUITE A BIT DIFFERENT.
I've seen Karlach got a pretty significant glow up as well from I've seen some of her original models and stuff. Did any of the other characters have very, very different origins?

Vincke:
They all went through evolution. As we started to get more of a handle who they are, you need to know that the writing on these characters gets redone a lot until we actually hit the right tone and we say, 'okay, that character springs up the screen.' So there's a lot of that going on. And the same goes for the art. If it's like say, okay, it resonates, I want to be that character, which is also really important. I want to recruit that person. I can find them in my party as a friend or as somebody I would get into conflict with, because we also need to have tension and traumatic conflict in there. So there's a whole bunch of parameters that a companion needs to satisfy before they actually are saying, 'okay, you're right.'

There's an entire roster of companions that didn't make the cut. So there were way more than the ones that we know, and they all evolved up to a certain point in their life cycle until we said, 'I'm sorry, you're going to go to companion heaven now.'

Who was your favorite companion that didn't make the cut?

Vincke:
That's a really good question actually. Ketheric. Ketheric Thorm was supposed to be-

Really?

Vincke:
Yeah, there's a line where-

Oh my God.

Vincke:
At the end of-

What?!

Vincke:
Yeah, you could convince him. So if you play the game and there's a moment where you can convince him and you can see that a moment where he breaks, that moment led to recruitment normally. We cut that out when we were rescoped. It was part of the fixing of Act Two when we were stuck on it. That was what happened in the rescoping. He was supposed to be in your camp while you were dealing with Gortash and with Orin. So he became a source of information on them, and he could trust, you could get him to his arc. He could then be convinced by him to go to this side. So it was a great story, but yeah.

What were some of the other darlings that were killed?

Vincke:
Hell. You were supposed to have an entire visit to Hell. Vlaakith’s Palace, and I keep on forgetting, Tu'narath, the Gith plane. We were going to go to the city, Candlekeep, where the original Baldur's Gate 1 started. So there was all things that we considered that we, at some point, there was a moment where the maps were going to be smaller, and so we were going to be able to give you bigger diversity of location that you would explore. But then the problem with those massive is that the sense of exploration wasn’t really present. So that’s why we killed a whole bunch of them.

I don't want to keep dragging us back to the same topic, but before we get too far away from discussions about what you'll make next and the characters themselves: Do you think you'll continue to do anything with this cast of characters? Because they've resonated so much with people and people really love them.

Vincke:
I know. They belong to Wizards now, so I mean, I hope that they're going to honor the legacy and get really good people on them, but as far as we are concerned, the chapter is closed. There's closure for us.

Can you tell me more about the War College?

Vincke:
Wyll's dad was going to be there, and he had this big thing with his dad where Wyll sacrificed himself, but his dad didn't know and then expelled him. So that was that story. And so there was going to be a war, the absolute armies, which were marching on Baldur's Gate, you would meet them at the War College. You would be able to stop them there for a while and buy time into the city. So the War College had this huge chess board on which they were strategizing, and so there was an entire scene with a dragon on top of the War college. We actually made that. So there was a dragon which was hopping from tower to tower and tower, but the problem was that it was very large to be able to deal with the dragon, and so we had to fill a lot of real estate with situations.

And so it added so many situations to the roster and said, we just can't make this work. It's too much work. We just can't do this. I mean, it would add so much to the cinematic schedule that was impossible even to the scripting schedule because it was too much. And so we wrote the War College away in the same moment when we wrote all of those other areas away. So we made it a linear path towards Baldur's Gate rather than an nonlinear puff, which was the original invention.

Larian isn't making more media with Baldur's Gate 3 characters, as they belong to Wizards of the Coast now.LARIAN ISN'T MAKING MORE MEDIA WITH BALDUR'S GATE 3 CHARACTERS, AS THEY BELONG TO WIZARDS OF THE COAST NOW.

N+1​

Have you seen any of the speed runs of Baldur's Gate 3 so far?

Vincke:
Yes. It's insane.

What do you think? Did you know people could do these things like the weird Gale jumping?

Vincke:
No, no, I didn't expect them to do it that way. We did consciously make sure that the critical path could be done really easy. So we had that.

I remember learning that if you just completely ignored all the characters and ran straight to where you're supposed to go, Shadowheart just comes running up to you and it's like, 'hey, wait, I've got this thing.'

Vincke:
That's our n+1 design to make sure that it always works regardless of what you do. So in action, so that principle gets applied. I didn't talk about that today actually, I should have. It's a principle that gets applied on everything that we do.

Wait, so what is the principle?

Vincke:
It's called n+1. We introduce it with Original Sin. So basically you always have to assume that all the antagonists and protagonists will be killed by the player. You still have to have a way of telling the critical bits of the story, and that's the plus one solution. It's the fallback solution in case the player f*cked up everything, but they still need to know what they need to do. And so we have a whole bunch of creative ways of dealing with it. So Shadowheart and her Githiyanki artifact, she had 24 versions of giving you, I think at some point, I don't actually know what the actual number is. It might be even more. The 24 versions of giving you the artifact just so that you would not be hindered as you were walking through the game.

You've seen these, you said you didn't think that people were going to do [speedruns] that way. What did you think people were going to do?

Vincke:
Well, I mean, the jumping surprised me because they jumped to really specific positions in the map, I was very impressed by how that was done. I thought it was going to be haste all over, but I didn't think they were going to jump through the entire thing.

They've got a new one now that they call Shadow Boxing where they put Shadowheart in a container of some kind, and it's wild. It's just killing her over and over again.

Vincke:
Yeah, I haven't seen that. I've heard about it.

What's the most surprising thing you've seen someone, a player do with your game?

Vincke:
That's a good question. I blank out that these, everybody asks me these things and I always blank out that I have plenty of them. What was the most surprising thing? I'm going to blank out on it.

Kind of on a similar note, Baldur's Gate 3, there's so much in it. There's just the sheer volume of secrets and hidden paths and things that players can do, and the emergent gameplay of it. People really got into it. We have data mining now. People can basically pull a game as soon as it's released and just learn literally everything about it. But I feel like in Baldur's Gate 3 people were still making discoveries consistently for months on end, but it's something you were cognizant of while you were making it.

Vincke:
Yeah, that's part of the design. That's literally part of the mission of putting all those layers in there as we go. So we don't start like this, obviously, it's a built layer upon layer upon layer, and so essentially the scripting teams are allowed to just expand up to a certain point, and so they put it as much as they can. And so for instance, the entire cheese roll scene, that was a guy named Nikita together with Rachel, and they were given freedom on the circus. So the brief was here's a circus, this is what needs to happen, the clown, that, all these things. And there's a couple of boosters so that you can feel like you're in the circus. And then I was working on a dinosaur. They did it and it's great, and it's the type of stuff you want to have in there.

Gale, helping out speedrunners since 2023 (sorry, Gale.)GALE, HELPING OUT SPEEDRUNNERS SINCE 2023 (SORRY, GALE.)

Larian, Amidst It All​

You've been super vocal about the games industry's direction. You had a lot of thoughts on, for example, subscription models. You had a lot of thoughts last night during your acceptance speech about layoffs and things like that. I'm just curious to you, what does Larian Studio stand for?

Vincke:
Well, it's a really good question. I founded Larian to be able to make the games that I wanted to play. And so my initial obstacle was funding. So I needed a team. I couldn't do it on my own. To get a team, you need to be able to pay people. And so what did you do if you wanted to pay people? You had to go to publishing, you had to fund. And so I remember getting into this industry. I was full of idealism, and that idealism is still there, but it's been heavily tarnished by encountering, over and over, decisions that are not made for the good of the games, that are often made for really the wrong reasons. I hear things in circles that I go and it upsets me, and yesterday it was a perfect storm actually, because in the morning I had heard something that really upset me, I can't talk about it, but it was very fitting of... It fit what I was talking about in the sense I can't believe that this is happening in this day and age.

We've seen it so over and over and over and over again. It's the wrong thing for games. So I fundamentally believe, and I think with Larian, if you go through our history, you will find that if you do it in function of the game and you take a little bit of a more strategic view rather than the short term tactical rapid gain, things like NFTs or that kind of stuff that you actually as a company will most likely be better off because people will associate you with quality and then you'll be like directors or movie stars like Clint Eastwood, you go to a Clint Eastwood movie, you know it's going to be good. At least I always thought they were good. So if you are sure that you can set for that quality, your games will sell, your movies will sell. And so I find that much more important for video games.

And so also I fought very hard for my teams in the past. I've been there, I had problems on the income side, so I had to go back from 33 people. It was the most horrible part of my life. I've been there, I've had nothing left, and I needed to live on the salary of my wife because I had to put it all into the company to make sure I didn't have to fire anybody. My team, most of the team that I started out with are still with me, but they went through quite a lot of bumps like this. And so sometimes it was my fault, sometimes I couldn't do anything about it. And so I learned there that there are things that are going to lead to problems and you shouldn't do them. And then there are things where you say, 'okay, that's a reasonable risk to take,' and you have to take risks, otherwise you're not going to be able to innovate, and then you don't want to be stale either.

But then there's things that get done. I heard, 'oh, we are making $1 billion now and in three years we'll make $2 billion.' Come on. All right. That's literally a mission statement that I heard from a particular publisher. And so obviously they fired plenty of people and things went wrong, and the decisions that are being made are, you know, they're the wrong decisions. And it upsets me because I work with those people and I really don't understand why, because on top of that, there's typically people that don't play the games, so they have nothing to do with the art of game making. So I'm not going to say this way too much trouble. So I have strong opinions about it because I was a developer. Well, I am a developer, but I was a developer that struggled a lot like are people struggling now. In the beginning, I came to GDC, I had to sacrifice everything to get here.

It's a long answer. I'm really sorry, but you hit home there. So I don't think the struggle should have been that hard if some of the interests of the companies that could provide the funding would've been slightly different. And I think that goes across the board. And if that would be the case, I think we would have a better industry and we would have better games actually, rather than seeing rehash after rehash until the player audience gets tired of it. So that's also why it was important with Baldur's Gate 3, we said, 'okay, we've done that. Now we don't have to start milking it. We can just go and do something new.' I'm sorry. It's very incoherent. So that's my thing.

In your talk, you spoke about how you let what Baldur's Gate 3 needed dictate the growth of your studio, which is very the opposite of what you're talking about right now, but now you do have this massive team.

Vincke:
But I mean, I do have a really good fuel meter, so that's the big bit. So I use this with someone else. If you have to go to the North Pole, that's fine, you can go to the North Pole, but you'll have to make sure that you have plenty of reserves, you'll have plenty of fuel. So that's what my point was actually. So it's fine to do these big things. There's nothing wrong with doing what you need to be done, otherwise we don't progress. But you need to make sure you have the resources to do it. Look, you're a very successful studio. Here's a couple of things that you can do. You can start making 20 games or you can just make a couple of games and say, 'this is my reserve, these are my fallback lines.' I always had fallback lines during the production of this game.

And so that needs to be in place before you do it. You build your castle layer by layer, but it's got to be a castle. Foundations need to be solid, so you build it on top. And because we had so much troubles in our history, I took very great care to make sure that if it was going to go wrong, I would be able to continue and make another game. So there's at no point during the development of BG 3 did we not have the position to pivot and go make something else and make another one. That one would have to be successful then though, but I thought that was sufficient reserve. So that was my point, you built reserves and the thing that frustrates the hell out of me.

I had a lunch with my old agent yesterday and we spent a lot of time pitching to publishers. And so he's the one actually that maybe say what I said because he said like, oh my God. I said, how is it going? He said, it's actually, it's picking up, he said. Because it's the end of the quarter and it's the end of the quarter. So they're starting to realize that they fired too many people and that they're going to need to make new games because at the next quarter, they're going to have to say what their outlook is going to be because then they'll have to say what strategic outlook is going to be. So now they're looking for a lot of co-development, right? Then they're going to figure out that with the co-development alone, they can't make a game. You want all sources, so you have to bring the studios back, so they're going to hire you again.

And he's been doing this for a long time, longer than me. So he's literally seen that pattern continuously. And I've seen it too. It's always the same thing. So, you would think that by now they would've figured it out, but the problem is that you got the quarter of the profit and what's associated with that is the fucking bonus. And that's the one, that's the killer. It's the bonus. So where those decisions get made, that is the driver. Yes, it's a harsh reality, but it's the one that you see over and over and over. And so it's very frustrating because those companies that get handicapped, because people that are let go, there's a lot of people in there that are really good at what they're doing. And so you lose all that knowledge. And there's a book, I forgot who it was, but the guy said he calculated the cost of letting someone go. And he says, well, I mean it takes you six months to educate somebody into your team again. And then for each year that they are there, there's so much knowledge that is being lost.

But because the ones that are making those decisions don't play the games, don't understand the ethos, they don't care about it. They don't understand that fundamental truth that that's in there. It's just, oh, well, it's a technical artist, we can get another technical artist, whatever. Also, who fires their technical artists?!

Apparently a lot of people.

Vincke:
You have no idea how important that knowledge is to your entire pipeline.

Can I sneak in one more on this philosophy? As you said, this feels very at odds with where a lot of the rest of the industry is right now. Do you feel you need to remain independent to keep everything that you just said correct for your studio?

Vincke:
Well, I took a minority investment, but but that was my fallback line, right? So I used that because I had that on the side for if it was going to go wrong. So that was part of my strategy when we started doing this risk. There's others like us, we're not alone doing this. I mean, it's not all doom and misery. I mean, there's a lot of bright voices in this industry, but I do think it's important to be called out, especially because there's a couple of decisions that I see where I know the actual truth behind things, and I disagree. I don't think those decisions are necessary. And some of them, you should probably do a little bit more investigative journalism there as you might discover quite a lot.

Watching the Fuel Meter​

I guess there's a lot of discourse recently about the sustainability of AAA development, budgets, and development time. Baldur's Gate 3 was an enormously complicated project spread across several studios worldwide. You said that the budget wasn't as high as you would think, but it was still probably very high. It is in the hundreds of millions of dollars, I'm sure. So is AAA development in this kind of environment sustainable?

Vincke:
Yes, and I will tell you why, because the player base is there. So if there's an audience, the games can be made, but you need to know that the audience is there. So our approach was we'll make act one and we'll scale and function of that. And then we put it in early access. There's an old rule in this industry, I'm not sure if it's 100% correct, but to me, to my knowledge, it's always been correct. You take your pre-orders, you multiply by 10, you know your target audience, and so if you don't fuck up between your pre-orders and then you will manage to hit that target audience.

So based on the sales of early access, I could predict what the sales were going to be for BG 3 later on, barring external circumstances, like something like a competitor hitting. So I used that to guide me in making decisions of how far we were going to scale up. You will have noticed that there was a moment where I told the team, we've got to stop now. We've got to bring it to a closure because that's what the fuel meter was telling us. Okay, we probably shouldn't go further than that, otherwise we will hit fallback position.

And if that's a million or 100,000 or 10,000, that doesn't mean that you can't make games, but you can educate them. And I think it's important that you have big games being made because they take the entire industry with them. It used to be that the platform holders were the ones that were making those games. They said, 'here's the guiding light. We're making this game. We're not necessarily looking for profit, we're just doing it to sell our platform.' But at the same time, they showed this is what's possible now, and it inspired all of us to start doing the same thing. And so games are the crossroads between technology and art, which is what's fantastic about them. So you need to keep on pushing forward to be able to get better. And it's a funny thing that in our industry, our players also demand that that progress is there.

And I think that's a fantastic thing about it. And so it's not going to happen without taking risks. And I don't mind if an accident happens. I mean, it's always unfortunate, but typically the talent is so good that it'll always land elsewhere. So I don't think that's going to be necessarily the problem. What really my argument is against is the exploitative nature of certain practices or the predictability of certain disasters that you actually literally know it's not going to work out because there's curves that you can follow and that you can say, 'okay, well that's the upper limit, right?' A really great example was Atari with the ET cartridges, if you make more cartridges and they are harder to do, you're going to get into trouble. So don't do that. So do it in function of your audience is basically my thing.

Well, you mentioned early access. I know you've been a huge proponent of early access for multiple games in a row now, and I am curious if you have any sort of post-mortem thoughts on how this one went. Oone of the big criticisms that I've heard of Baldur's Gate 3 is that that act one was super polished, amazing, well done because it was an early access for certain time and you got all that feedback. Act three had some problems.

Vincke:
It did. Yeah. I know. Yeah, one day I'll figure that one out.

The take away from the talk was that this was a little bit of the dark side of early access, people saying Baldur's Gate 3 was successful because of early access, but you were talking about everything was happening live, and so effectively you were walking this tight rope and there was not a lot of margin for error.

Vincke:
No. So one of the important bit, I did say it, but I knew it was going to be lost in translation. I talked about what's in my lead meetings and docs. That's what I did. That was my research. So that's a negative document, not because the people are negative, but we're trying to solve the problems we're encountering. There's a lot of successes next to it also. I could do a talk about early access and make the list of upsides is way longer than the list of downsides. This is the downsides that you have to overcome. But it is the model of the future. I mean, it's not only for your mechanics and your balancing, but even your story gets better. You see how players resonate, what they're after. And so if you integrate that into your pipe, you're doing better. Really what I was trying to say, you have to make your pipes to be able to deal with it. And so there's a number of things.

And what our problem was that when we made Original Sin 2, we were smaller, so the cracks in the ceiling weren't so large, but as we amplified, those cracks were really bloody important. And that's the bit that we needed to fix because we didn't see them. But we knew them and we're smart enough where we can patch them. And then some things became too big to handle, so we had to find solutions, but we knew that the team is really bright so they can overcome anything given the time. So it's really a question of giving them time to be able to do their thing and they'll manage anything that's thrown at them.

Is there anything you're already thinking you want to do differently next time?

Vincke:
Yeah, so I told the team for this year, our main thrust is literally the automation of the pipeline, so that we don't have to spend manual labor on things that are really not interesting but need to be done. So it is things like, you check in on something and is the game broken? Yes or no? That's an important bit to know, right? Because you don't want that to propagate further down the pipeline.

And while it's an easy thing to say, it's a really complicated thing to do because you, essentially, were talking about the thing that plays the game automatically. So we have that tech, but it's really work intensive and we need to optimize our pipelines, but that will allow us to iterate more rapidly and to make sure that the feature, when it gets to the developer that needs it, isn't broken.

It's things like making sure that the startup is faster. There are very complicated tools, terabytes of data have to come together just to be able to work on them. So those things are very, very important from the get-go. And they're not very sexy, but they are so important when you're making them. So I think that is collaboration. So the problem with meetings is that they take time. So you want to minimize the amount of meetings. At the same time, you want to know that everybody knows when they're doing something, they want to have that information. So optimizing that process is a really big focus also. So how do we make sure that when somebody is working on something and they want to change something, they know that it's going to affect someone else.

And how do we warn that person that something has changed so they can have the conversation? Should we do this change? Yes or no? My work might be affected and it'll take me five minutes. And for you, it's only five seconds. Is it worth it? Right? Sometimes it is worth it and then you should do it. But that thing, those are very specific development problems which we learned are super important at scale. So for us, this was a lesson in scaling and we scaled during code, which is really not the best environment to scale, and scaling is already very hard. Managing that entropy is a big, big, big ambition.

Yeah. You mentioned automation. Does any of this fall into the basket of AI or is that something different?

Vincke:
AI is a very large subject. So the thing that's under criticism is generative AI, but there are a whole bunch of other things where you really want AI to be busy in your process. So my stance on AI is really straightforward. It is a tool that we use to help us do things faster. We have so much work that we're happy to take assistance from anything. I don't think it'll ever replace a creative side of things and I can put money where my mouth is.

So, for instance, concept art is a thing that's heavily under fire because of things like Midjourney. So we just added 15 concept artists to our team. And so this is exactly the opposite of what you would expect, right? Because it was a bottleneck in our pipeline. And the pipeline bottleneck in the past was we don't have the concept art coming fast enough, so the creatures are not made fast enough, so the technical animators can't rig it fast enough, so the animators can't do the monster fast enough so they run out of work, which is really the worst thing we want in a development environment. So that's how we solve that. We're hiring writers, so we're not having ChatGPT write their dialogues. However, I do want to say, I do see a usage of generative AI.

It's what I said in my talk in the answers to questions. I think you can have reactive games and that's where it can have a place. So you can compliment what's there already. So that's the thing that we should be exploring because how we'll make better RPGs. So what I think is, in the future, I don't buy the full NPC being generated, but most likely everything will feel the same. So I buy more that there's going to be something that's crafted, and then you'll have AI that plugs into it to augment it. And it should be done in such a way that it's invisible, so you don't know that it's shifting around. So I think that's the thing of the future. At least the short to midterm future. Long term, I don't know.

What is inspiring you right now?

Vincke:
I'm playing Balatro, I'm playing Vampire Survivors. So these are all things that I didn't play while I was there developing. I want to play Dragon's Dogma 2. I still need to play Alan Wake 2.

Did you play the original Dragon's Dogma?

Vincke:
No. No.

Okay. This is new for you.

Vincke:
But what I've seen of the gameplay that they're showing, it looks very akin to what we like, it's systemic gameplay. I am very curious to see what they did in there.

Too Many Jira Tasks​

You talk at a very high level about what you want to accomplish with Larian project managing. How would you say that you personally have changed and how your outlook has changed in the six years or so since you started working on Baldur's Gate 3?

Vincke:
That's a deep introspective question. What has changed? Well, I've come more convinced as we grew up of how important is to do bottom up development. So I used, and I still do sometimes, go in top down heavy because I said, 'well, we need to fix this and this and take it in my hands and do it.' I know it's not the right thing to do. Sometimes it was necessary because it was the only way of doing it. But I think I told myself that for the next project, I need to find better ways of making sure that the bottom up is happening so that I don't have to do it myself, and I can enjoy the fruits of the labor that's being done. Now, this is hard and not for the reasons that a lot of people think. I think the problem that's hard is because the games are so large, somebody has to integrate it all in their heads so that they can connect the dots across departments that are very far from each other.

So that's my job. And so you then have two choices where you start connecting the dots. If you have the ability to do it yourself, you could do it right away and then it's solved. Or you can go and tell the developer, which takes communication, which takes time. And then when you're stressed for time, you tend to do it yourself. But I learned that you can do that and you can fix it, but then you're going to have to keep on doing it. And at some point that becomes unsustainable. So you have to figure out ways of making sure that those connections are made, which is where those tools that I was telling you about come in, because that can help with that. But it's really complicated, and it's something I talked to other RPG studios, they have the same problem. So it is this balance between the reviewing pipeline and the creation pipeline and how you handle the meta knowledge.

Jason did his talk yesterday and he talked about never reading the dialogues. I didn't want to read the dialogues. There was too many of them. When I heard that for the first time, I said, 'are you insane?! You're not reading the dialogues?!' He said, 'you're changing them the entire time!' Which is true. And he just needed to have the information he needed to organize his work so that the person who was going to work on the dialogue was going to be able to do their work on that dialogue. And we learned from that how complicated... We had 311,000 tasks in Jira. So task tracking management System.

311,000!

Vincke:
311,000.

Wow. That's too many tasks.

Vincke:
I know. Yeah, well, but that's the reality of making these type of games. That's the amount of assets, features, things that have to be done at some point.

It's funny, I was in an Elder Scrolls Arena postmortem yesterday, and they had a team of a dozen, and they said that was a huge team. And they said, we took 12 months to make this game and it took too long.

Vincke:
Well, we look at different games, different methodologies. So.

Game development in 1993, it was just a whole different beast then.

Vincke:
Well, if you want to, the perfect developer back in the days was the solo developer. They didn't have to communicate so they could deal with themselves. And you can still do that for smaller games, but you can't if you want to make these large ones, that's all about teamwork and making sure that really skilled people can do their thing.

Game development really is just project management, super high level project management. It's not particularly...

Vincke:
It's messy. That's what it is. And it's messy by its nature because you're pursuing trying to come up with something new, pursuing that feeling. I really, I am very insistent on keeping on talking about chasing that feeling where you say, 'oh, this is going to be good.'

The elation!

Vincke:
Yeah, exactly because you don't know upfront what the formula is going to be, and you have to look for it. And so the problem with that is that it generates new tasks continuously. What am I going to be doing? And so you can't project manage that because you don't know upfront. You can organize yourself where you can say, 'oh, this is where I have to stop.' So that you can do, but it's very hard to say upfront what it's going to be when you still don't know. You just have a vague idea of what you're going to be doing, and then you start exploring.

So those exploration phases are important, but understanding that the tasks and what they're going to cost, that's where the project management comes into. And that's in large projects, that's heavy chaos. I mean, the entropy exists, right? It is the nature of the universe. So you will have it when you have large things. There's nothing to be done about it. Does that mean you shouldn't be making the large things? No, I don't think so. I know there's a lot of people that talk about it. These things are too large, but I disagree with that. I think it's manageable. You just have to make sure that you're ready to do it. So you're ready to journey across the desert. People do journey across the desert. They've been doing it for thousands of years.

It took 311,000 Jira tasks to make Baldur's Gate 3.IT TOOK 311,000 JIRA TASKS TO MAKE BALDUR'S GATE 3.

Cloud Gaming, Writ Large​

You brought up a bunch of stuff in your talk, but I wanted to revisit with so many different directions. Say more on Google Stadia. Okay, so you said that that ended up being a horrible decision, and I can guess at why, but did that seriously impact you guys?

Vincke:
Yeah, so it's not the fact that Stadia went under that impacted us. It is the fact that we were doing a console release ahead of time. So normally what you do is you make the game and then you optimize it. We had to optimize it before we were making the game. And so that was a mistake and that caused too much stress on the developers. So I don't want to put them through that again. So I did it for the money, if I'm being really honest about it.

Did you believe in the tech?

Vincke:
Yeah, I did. Yeah, the initial vision was much stronger than what was released.

Fair enough.

Vincke:
So it was actually when the pitch was done to us, it was going to be insane. I mean, they talked about this, I think, where you were going to be able to click on YouTube, anything.

Yes, they did it with Assassin's Creed. They showed a little demo of that, but it never happened.

Vincke:
No, and that's the thing I was counting on. I said, for a game that has so much permutations as ours, this is going to be fantastic. So we need to be at the forefront of that. And honestly, the CGI that was in the game would not have been made without Google. So they gave us the intro, they gave us target image. So I'm very happy that we did that deal in that sense. But it put too much stress on the developers. I wouldn't do that again. I don't want to, I think consoles always will have to come after we finished our PC releases and early access so that we know what we're making so we can optimize that bit. And then on PC, you have the advantage that you can scale things still because you have the specs, but you don't have that on console. It's a fixed target. Typically it's made to cost, which means that it has limited memory, it has limited cycles, and that makes it harder to make. So it requires a whole bunch of extra effort to be done.

Do you still think cloud gaming is anything?

Vincke:
So the same agent I told you about earlier also told me one of the most important lessons that I had as a young developer. He told me, content is king. It doesn't matter what the platform is. There is a lot of talk about platforms and whatever, and I try to be on all platforms. So whoever wins is fine. I mean, good for you. I just want players to be able to play my games. That's why we do cross saves and we wanted to do cross play, although we weren't ready and we delayed it. We're still going to do it, and it's just going to take us time. It turns out to be really tricky.

I mean, it explains why you ended up in an unprecedented situation with Xbox to make sure that Baldur's Gate 3 made it there.

Vincke:
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, the split screen was a problem there because split screen has the issue that you have to serve two parts of the world at the same time, and we're a multiplayer game. So the situation was that you could be in split screen on Series X, you could be in on Series S, and you had to play together. So on top of that, the server had to be running that, and the server is one of those Series S, and it all needs to to run on the thing. We had the same problem with the Switch. When we did DOS 2, we managed eventually, but it took us a year and a half extra to be able to do it. So I thought we did quite well actually on getting it on Series S. But that one was quite a technical hurdle, and if we would've insisted on doing that, we wouldn't have managed. So that's why we said, 'okay, we have to stop chasing perfection on all of these things and just make some compromises.'

Spring on the Way​

You had two moments in your talk where you said something and then you said, but that's a whole other talk. And I was going to try to see if I could get you to expand on them at all. One of them, you were talking about having studios in a bunch of different places and working across time zones, and you said a lot of the good things about that, but then you said it also has some challenges. Can you give me an overview of what those are?

Vincke:
It's communication. So that's the main one. It was funny when everybody was going to work from home and we said, 'this is all going to work!' We already had so much troubles getting our studios to communicate from the beginning, so trying to do that in the way that we were working was going to turn out to be very, very complicated. So I think communication is the biggest one, because if you want to have ownership, it's easier if you're together. If it's spread across time zones, that can be a problem because if you're here on the West Coast right now, people are sleeping in Kuala Lumpur. If you have to have a conversation from a studio in Quebec with people in Kuala Lumpur, that's an issue if it's feature development. So we learned that you can't put all disciplines into that model, but what you do get as a benefit is that you can recruit easier for all disciplines because you're recruiting across the globe.

But for things like QA or for coders who are looking for bugs or scripts that are looking for bugs, it's fantastic. I do something, I go home, I send it over to you, here's the description of what I've done. They'll continue doing it. And so that work, that saves us a lot of time. It saved us a lot also during BG 3, because you don't have producers who have to sit in the middle of the night waiting for whatever to go, they can just pass it on to the other producer. So it helps a lot in managing credential. So it's a really good one.

Do you not believe in remote work?

Vincke:
Well, I have a very nuanced answer on this. So for games like we are doing, I wouldn't know how to do it. There's too much. So we saw the difference when we were working remote, and the difference when people returned to the studio was remarkable. Act Two was because we were all remote. And it's just because we have so much communication that needs to be done. We haven't figured out how to process it. Would we solve the full process? Probably it would work, and it works really well for seniors, but it's very much harder for juniors. The juniors need a mentor, and so they need mentorship, and it's harder to mentor remotely than if you mentor the person. So those were for a team that was rapidly growing. Jason's team, thematic director was all junior when they started. So a lot of them were juniors. They were just off school. So they need to learn a lot.

And we certainly had big, big, big problems due to lack of communication. And these are an RPG also. So I guess they're also kind of specific in that sense. There's a huge amount of systems that have to work together synchronously for the entire thing to work. And so any small mistake can blow up later.

I think the other one you mentioned was you talked about how there's a whole story about how you had to negotiate work visas to get folks out of Russia, and that being really difficult. Do you mind sharing a little bit more about that?

Vincke:
Well, it came up to the point that our studios were haunting down the ambassadors so that they would give an approval just so that they would get a work permit. So getting the work permits was the major problem. So the initial bit was just getting people out. So figuring that out. But that's not it. That comes with an entire family, the dog, the cat. Turns out the dogs and the cats were the hardest bit. So we spend more time and more money on getting some dogs out of Russia than we did on the people, which is crazy.

Wow.

Vincke:
So it's miserable situation. I mean, studio had to work day and night literally to find solutions. They were made so every single person inside of the studio so that they could have a future, that they could still keep on working with us. Many of them were called upon to go to the Army and then they didn't want to. They weren't in support of this thing. So that's a complicated situation to be in.

What do you want to be doing in 10 years at Larian?

Vincke:
My retirement question.

Stomping around in your armor?

Vincke:
It's because of gray hair, right?

Does it make you feel better if I tell you, I ask most people this?

Vincke:
Okay, good. Yeah. Thank you. I actually want to keep on doing what I'm doing right now. I'm enjoying very much what I'm doing. I hope that maybe a little bit more hands off. So that would mean that I've succeeded in getting a team that can do everything. And so I really enjoy them surprising. What Nick said yesterday on stage is an important thing. He gets joy from seeing me surprised by something that's inside of the game. And I get joy by being surprised by something that's in the game and knowing that it's good. The bits that I don't like is having to tell them it's not good, we need to do it again. I really like when you get, I mean, my face, when I saw for the dinosaur for the first time, I had been asking him like, what the fuck is there a dinosaur in the game?! I'm like, what is this? And he was really insistent on the dinosaur. He knew what he was going to be doing with the child thing already. He was aware of the thing. And so it's like, okay, good for you. Well done on the dinosaur.

You're still releasing hot fixes and updates. Can you expect anything on the scale of the fixing updates?

Vincke:
Yeah. Well, the big thing is going to be the rollout of mods. So we are working with Wizards, Sony, Microsoft, a lot of partners to align, but we're trying to get cross-platform curated mods in there so that people on console can enjoy the mods that are being made for the PC also. So that'll be a big thing, I think, because there's a lot of mods already, and then we won't be able to support everything, but we should be support quite a share. We have a bunch of big features that are still in development, haven't been released that were on our roadmap since day one, and we still wanted to make them. So there's stuff.

You're not going to see massive content changes though. So there's still epilogue work being done. So we committed after seeing feedback from the players that we were going to give each ending a full cinematic treatment. It takes time. So they're working on the evil endings right now. I've seen some of them. They're really evil. So the evil players will be satisfied with that. So there's a bunch of work still going on on that front, but as time progresses, we are going to scale down. It's just going to be support on bugs. We want the team to be working on new things. So in that sense, the closure will be complete also.

And of course, Switch 2 is on everybody's radars. Do you think a port would be on your radar at any point?

Vincke:
Well, I mean, as I said, I want to be on any platform, but that is first to see what it is. All right.

Thank you. You really cheered me up.

Vincke:
I did?

Yeah. I don't know. Everything's kind of grim out there right now. This is really uplifting.

Vincke:
I think summer is coming. Spring at least is coming. We had the same situation in 2009. So there was a huge economic crisis. And so you saw a lot of closures also. For similar reasons right now. But what then happened is you saw an insurgency of new developers pop up, right? And they came up with a whole bunch of things that resonated well with players. I don't think I'm mistaken, but I think Steam grew last year, right? It didn't retract. So that means there are more players than before. That means there's a larger basis for supporting the games industry. So they're just going to shift. They're going to go to things where they're interested in. Developers will adapt to that. You'll see a lot of new development talent coming up, getting their chances, and they'll find their players through early access or maybe through external funding or whatever. And that'll be the new insurgency. What goes down must go up.

And so I do hope we maybe haven't hit rock bottom yet, but I think we'll see an upward trend at some point. And I think the seeds are already there. And if you look really hard, you can see where the seeds are because all those developers that were let go are not going to leave the games de facto, they're going to just regroup and start doing new things.
 

TheDarkUrge

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Messages
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Bg3 does not have an evil ending, lying swen! They clap and it fades to black. Fix your game.

Here's the full mega-interview with Swen: https://www.ign.com/articles/baldur...-about-foregoing-dlc-aaa-development-and-more

Vincke: let's just have closures on BG III. We've done our job. It is a story with the beginning and middle and an end, so let's end it here on a high and just pass the torch to the next developer to pick up what is an incredible legacy.
 

Swen

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Belgium, Ghent
https://www.forbes.com/sites/paulta...oncurrent-players-every-week/?sh=4a6245f64dec

"
While we are all focused on another big fantasy RPG right now, Dragon’s Dogma 2, I think it’s appropriate to stop and take a look at one of the most insane gaming stories I’ve ever seen, the continued success of Baldur’s Gate 3.


Yes, it won most GOTY awards last year, including The Big One at The Game Awards itself, but past that, the sheer amount of people that played and have continued to play this game to this day is close to unprecedented, I’d argue, given its genre.


We are now just under eight months past launch here, as Baldur’s Gate 3 arrived on August 3, 2023. Its all-time peak was 875,343 concurrent players, one of Steam’s best, but the more impressive figure is that it is still putting up around 140,000 or so players every weekend, barely dipping below 100,000 on weekdays.


While you can play this game co-op, it is for the most part a single player game, and it is not a “live” game in any sense of the term. It is also not solely supported by mods the way you might see something like Skyrim living a long life on Steam. Rather, the bulk of this playtime is simply that you can put up 300, 500, 1000 hours into just the normal game itself, whether that’s exploring every inch of one playthrough, or doing it all over again two, three, five times to make different decisions with different builds and experience its almost endless possibilities.


Again, it’s hard to find a point of recent comparison here for a non-live, non-competitive multiplayer game. Baldur’s Gate 3 is still doing close to half of what live, multiplayer megahit Helldivers 2 is doing which released two months ago. It’s often beating 2024 meteor Palworld."
 

KeAShizuku

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Joined
Dec 11, 2023
Messages
83
In this interview he says that their development process since DOS2 consists of releasing the first act of the game in early access, then making things up as they go, based on players' feedback. Now it makes sense why their games feel so disjointed and shitty as you move away from that first act. This strategy sucks, you can't make something good without a singular vision imo. I hope they change their approach for the next title.


They make all that money Swen doesn’t care about in the first act.


Oh god yes this guy all crying about the evil greedy gaming industry. He's taken money from Tencent for crying out loud.

But he's now the Jesus of gamers. Let's hope he ends up on a cross too.
 

Swen

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Belgium, Ghent
In this interview he says that their development process since DOS2 consists of releasing the first act of the game in early access, then making things up as they go, based on players' feedback. Now it makes sense why their games feel so disjointed and shitty as you move away from that first act. This strategy sucks, you can't make something good without a singular vision imo. I hope they change their approach for the next title.


They make all that money Swen doesn’t care about in the first act.


Oh god yes this guy all crying about the evil greedy gaming industry. He's taken money from Tencent for crying out loud.

But he's now the Jesus of gamers. Let's hope he ends up on a cross too.

Tencent has zero power, it was a necessary evil in the past when Larian was almost bankrupt.

afbeelding.png
 

Infinitron

I post news
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Messages
97,729
Codex Year of the Donut Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker Pathfinder: Wrath I'm very into cock and ball torture I helped put crap in Monomyth
https://store.steampowered.com/news/app/1086940/view/4173221461865693102
Hotfix #23 Now Live!
Version Number: 4.1.1.4953010

Hello everyone,

Coming in hot for all platforms, this hotfix aims to continue improving your Baldur’s Gate 3 experience, and addresses several crashes and bugs. The tradespeople of Baldur’s Gate have also had a word with our people, and we both agree that container-based antics, while amusing, are damaging the economy. So in this update we’ve fixed several bugs with buying and selling. No more free lunches!

As with previous updates, if you’re experiencing any issues after installing this latest hotfix, please check whether the issue still persists with all mods uninstalled. If you continue to experience this issue after uninstalling mods, please contact our support team and submit a full report to help us solve your issue.

We continue to work on further fixes and patches, but in the meantime, thank you for playing Baldur’s Gate 3!

CRASHES AND BLOCKERS
  • Fixed a bug causing you to get stuck in Lae'zel's recruitment dialogue if you saved halfway through the dialogue and then loaded that savegame.
  • Fixed a potential rare crash related to our particle system.
  • Fixed a crash when throwing the Black Pudding Platter.
  • Fixed a crash during Character Creation.
  • Fixed a crash that could occur when selling a container with items in it, buying it again, and then selling it again.
  • Fixed a rare crash related to VFX material loading.
  • Fixed a bug preventing you from equipping items and using spells because an item kept being equipped.
  • Optimised Poltergeist auras to reduce memory usage and prevent an out-of-memory crash.

UI
  • Fixed an issue where selling all wares didn't remove the proper gold amount from the trader inventory.
  • Fixed a bug letting you generate gold by buying multiple items but only paying for one of them if you dragged the items into a container.
  • Fixed a bug letting you 'buy' a stack of items for free when dragging the stack into a container and using the item splitter.
  • Fixed equipped items blocked by shapeshifting being tradable, allowing you to get paid even if the items don't transfer to the trader's inventory.

SCRIPTING
  • Fixed clubs from the Moonrise Towers Prison getting automatically equipped when you picked them up.
  • Fixed a bug causing

    to continuously gain and lose the Soul Caged condition if she had a condition that provided Immunity to being Incapacitated.
  • Fixed Balthazar not finishing his turn when he is too far from the Colony ritual spot to reach it in one turn.
  • Fixed a bug where a civilian would call for help and a group of Flaming Fists would appear, but instead of moving to the crime scene, they would just stand where they were spawned.

CODE AND GAMEPLAY
  • Fixed a bug causing party members to be wrongly ungrouped and fixed savegames in this broken state.
  • Fixed randomly occurring issues with dialogues, like repeating lines and options not showing up correctly.
  • Fixed some characters missing their spell SFX when going from camp to the world.
  • Fixed the bulette getting permanently stuck under the ground when you passed by in Turn-Based Mode.
 

Infinitron

I post news
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Messages
97,729
Codex Year of the Donut Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker Pathfinder: Wrath I'm very into cock and ball torture I helped put crap in Monomyth
Another mega-interview at Eurogamer: https://www.eurogamer.net/the-big-l...y-woes-optimism-and-life-after-baldurs-gate-3

The big Larian interview: Swen Vincke on industry woes, optimism, and life after Baldur's Gate 3​

"When you push too hard, it breaks."

"Greed has been fucking this whole thing up for so long, since I started," said Swen Vincke, founder and head of Baldur's Gate 3 developer Larian, while collecting Game Developers' Choice award for Best Narrative last week. "I've been fighting publishers my entire life and I keep on seeing the same, same, same mistakes over, and over and over."

Vincke's speech - an impromptu one, he says - quickly took off, attracting an outpouring of support from developers on social media and echoing the frustration and, at times, outright anger of other developers at those awards. But alongside the understandable sense of indignation at the seemingly endless wave of layoffs hitting the industry over the past year, Vincke's speech - and the reaction - also highlighted something broader: video games are having a moment of introspection.

Amongst all that - and after the extraordinary success of Baldur's Gate 3 - Larian has become something of a beacon for the industry. A rare case of not only a fully independent studio but a large one, with hundreds of employees around the world, Larian has sustained that size while producing a game that people genuinely love. Baldur's Gate 3 swept awards and dominated headlines in a year that also featured a new Zelda game, a new Mario, and new RPGs from Blizzard and Bethesda, but it's also become a form of living proof for those who'd argue there is another way - and that this way is the path through the industry's problems.

Talking to Eurogamer at the end of last week, Vincke elaborated further on this, but also on some of the other solutions thrown up as potential panaceas to game development's ills, like generative AI and Ubisoft's "NEO NPCs" - announced earlier on at the conference.

Vincke also elaborated on a few eye-catching points from his GDC talk, where he first announced Larian's next game won't be Baldur's Gate 4, DLC, or anything in the D&D universe. That includes his claim that Larian's initial partnership with Google Stadia was "a really stupid deal, we shouldn't have done it," or the balance between listening to players and fanservice, after the "disaster" of Baldur's Gate 3 dipping below 75 percent positive Steam reviews during Early Access. (The studio was "essentially doing games-as-a-service" development to merely sustain the first act while it was live, he said.) He also gives a little more detail on the changes to ever-popular high elf Astarion, who was in fact first a tiefling, before his species was eventually swapped, and mentioned both the "different tone, style, way of doing it" for the studio's next game, as well as early hopes for where it might launch.

Baldur's Gate 3 director Swen Vincke on stage at the GDCA Awards.Vincke during one of several Baldur's Gate 3 acceptance speeches at the GDC Awards. | Image credit: GDC

Eurogamer: It feels like there's a kind of fire in the belly of developers at the moment, here at GDC and I suspect from developers everywhere, for obvious reasons - I can probably guess your answer, but I wanted to know why you feel that is, and what exactly that's directed at?

Swen Vincke:
I think this is a frustration that developers have had forever, alright, because we've always been dependent on third parties. I mean, like, when I started out as an industry, one of the first publishers I met told me with a smile - a smirk really, "Luckily for us, this industry is driven by idealism." What he really meant is, "This is how we profit". And it's true. It's literally true. I mean, like a lot of us are idealists that like to entertain people. This is why we became developers, alright - and so it's very easy to abuse. So you see a lot of that. And so none of us want to be economy designers. We don't want our games to be milked out or concepts to be milked out. We just want to make new things, and entertain people. And so I think that's something that's shared across [the industry]. Regardless of which development platform you are, I think that's something that's shared, because ultimately, you just want to entertain players.

And so what's happening as a result of that now is that some of those models have been pushed too far, in pursuit of profits - rapid profits - pursuit of bonuses. And then, as a result of that, you saw a whole bunch of people being fired, which is predictable, because we've seen it over and over and over. So there's a lot of anger about that, right? I mean, that's just the way it is. And there's a big disconnect still, between certain - not everybody - but certainly between certain people in management positions and the actual developers themselves.

I'm interested in how that feeds into the approach to making games themselves. In your talk, you talked about your "KPI" being "fun". I very much enjoy hearing someone say that, but also wondered how possible it was for most studios. I look at Cyberpunk 2077 developer CDPR as a really good example, where they're still technically independent, but they're also a public company. So they've got this weird thing where while they don't necessarily have a publisher to deal with, they've still got to anwer to the interests of, say, shareholders. So I'm curious to know if you feel it's that simple - to just make something fun and the rest will follow?

Vincke:
No, because making games is hard. I mean, it's a complex business. I mean, like it is a business. And so, you do need to make profits to be able to continue making games, or at least break even, and so if you're not going to manage that, then you're not going to be able to make new games, so. So there's nothing wrong with that. I think the - my problem really is with pushing it so hard in this, for sake of exponential growth, which never works, that's my problem. I don't have a problem with linear growth, or with people trying to be able to do bigger and bigger things, which, that's what we're doing. So it's not that simple. I mean, but it's, I think, you know, the games industry is a very special thing. It's like, it's special but it's like music, and it's like books, and it's like movies. And so you have people that really want to make something that they care about. And then you have people that just say, well, we just want to have more profit out of it. And the - even that is okay, as long as you don't just push it too hard, because when you push it too hard, it breaks. Because it's such a fragile thing to make. It is.

We are one of the few industries where you can't repeat the formula from the past for a long time, because everybody expects us to innovate technologically - and also, we are the intersection between technology and art. And that makes it much more complex. And then a whole bunch of other industries like in TV, they can keep on using the same medium for a long time, right? They can innovate, but they don't have to innovate at the speed we have to do it, right? And if you innovate at such breakneck speeds, as we have to do it, and then you start pushing on top of it, you break things. And there's always gonna be human consequences, when things break.

Another topic that's come up sporadically around this is the longevity of development staff. I look at the talks given by the likes of Nintendo at GDC (on Tears of the Kingdom and Super Mario Bros. Wonder) and the people who have given those talks are what you would call senior developers - people who've been doing this for 20-plus years, many of them at the same place. The impact that continuous experience has on the games they make feels obvious. But everywhere seems to be struggling to keep hold of its veterans. Larian seems like one of the few remaining examples where its senior staff have been there from the off, so how can developers get better at building and then keeping hold of experience like that?
Vincke:
Well, I mean - by not firing them?! [laughs] That's really straightforward. I mean, whenever you lose a senior developer - it happens, there's a variety of reasons, people move on, they have partners that move elsewhere - so it's not that you can maintain all your seniority forever. But you can typically maintain a good portion of it by treating them with respect. So that's really the thing. I don't understand - I see companies, like with the current layoffs, when I hear who's being fired I said "What?! That doesn't make any sense." Because that person is like a beacon of knowledge within that company. And it's what shows that disconnect I was telling you about, because I know it's being looked at in an Excel file, right, and the person that makes a decision with that Excel file does not understand what they just lost. And it's going to cost them way more, long term - they just don't realise it yet. But it will cost them a lot.

I'll give you an example: I heard of a group of technical artists being fired. I can tell you, I'm a developer: if you fire your Technical Artist, you're an idiot. Because they define your entire pipeline, which is going to define your cost of your assets. They can define so many things and they know your games - especially if the senior ones, it really doesn't make any sense. Anyway, we're hiring them to come work for us.

It feels like developers have been looking at you, and at Larian generally, almost for guidance here, because you've been critically successful and commercially successful, and after the speech earlier in the week as well. Do you feel a consciousness of that?

Vincke:
I actually didn't plan, originally, to say anything - because I have a lot of thoughts, and they're very nuanced, and these forums are usually not, necessarily, the right place to be nuanced about things. But I heard the [previous] speeches, and I had just had a conversation with my old agent. And so we were talking about the state of the industry and I asked him, "How is it going?", because he represents a lot of developers, so he has instant knowledge about what the future in a couple of years is gonna look like because he sees what's being invested, what's not being invested.

And he told me: "Well, it's actually going better than I expected." I said, "Well, that's funny…" He says, "Well, no, it's also a waste." And so I asked him, "What do you mean?" And he said, "Well I mean, the cycle is just repeating - they fired them all. So now they're all looking for co-developers. So by the end of the year, they will be trying to hire again, because they'll realise they have to make games and they have to tell something to their shareholders." [laughs]

He's very fatalistic about it, because that's his job. But I mean, he's very knowledgeable about the industry, and he's right! It's always like this, and so my thing was really: we could probably skip this step, alright? By not having to pursue that aggressive growth.

Related, something you talked about in your talk, was the growth of employees that you have. I tried to scribble it down quickly. I think it was something like just under 50 in 2014. And now it's around the 475 mark -

Vincke:
470, yeah.

Right - so does that feel sustainable? Because it's a massive amount of growth. And have you been consciously mindful in mass hiring, that you're like, "We can keep these jobs even if you don't release the game for, say, five years"?

Vincke:
So, we built multiple fallback positions in case it was going to go wrong - before we started doing this. I have a minority investment, so I had that in my back pocket in case it was going to go wrong. So this was my baseline, otherwise I wasn't going to take the risks that we took with Baldur's Gate 3, because it was too much of a risk. So that's actually also why I did it, or part of the reasons I did it. So there's that.

We also knew what our sales were, so Early Access gave us a really good indicator of where we were going to be going. So we can forecast, more or less, and function - if we don't fuck up too much, there's always a risk involved, right? I'm never gonna say there's no risk - but you can forecast more or less where you're gonna land, based on interest, based on Early Access sales. So we could see where we are. And so we're good for quite a number of years with where we are right now.

Is there an inherent aspect of video game development that requires you to have to lay people off at some point? Say if you have to staff up for the final push or a specific part of the process - how do you navigate that, or does it not have to be that way?

Vincke:
It happens, for sure. When things are starting to run late, what can you do - you can outsource? But that's hard, because you have to onboard the outsourcers. You can hire new people, but then you have to onboard them also - but you can then offer them a contract job, or a permanent job. If you give them a contract job, you're not going to have the problem after release, so we have many contractors. But if you're gonna give them a permanent job, then you have to make sure that you have work afterwards. Now, typically, it takes a long time to onboard somebody in a game developer, so you prefer to give them a full time job, so that you can keep on working with them afterwards. But that doesn't necessarily have to be the case. It really depends on what your plans for afterwards are.

Coming more to Baldur's Gate specifically, but still on the topic of your talk - you mentioned the Stadia deal being "really stupid" - why was that? I remembered from a Larian interview I had with the first preview event you did back in 2020, that it was seen as a positive then, because it was a decent up-front investment.

Vincke:
I thought the technology, the promise of the technology and what we saw before - so two years before it being revealed - was great. So I said, "If that works, I want to be on board". So I don't regret that part. The bit that I regretted is that I underestimated what an impact it was going to have on our own development itself. Because we had to essentially optimise for console ahead of time, and that [is what] I didn't realise fully, because we just finished Divinity: Original Sin 2 on console. So I said, "Hey, we can do this!" But this was before I actually understood exactly how far we were gonna go in the refactoring of our engine. And so that put the engineers under stress. That was the bad part about it. If that wouldn't have been the case, then I probably would have said this was a great deal.

I'm curious about the issues with consoles - are you going to change your approach with the next game? It's a long way out of course, but does it make you reconsider how you go about launching a very large, ambitious game in the future, in terms of saying "Maybe we'll prioritise PC first and give us time to think about consoles?" In your talk you mentioned bringing just the PC launch forward was what made that release ahead of Starfield possible. Does it make you question coming to consoles at all?

Vincke:
Well, I think that we need to have a console on each desk while we're developing, because it does take a long time to get everything working. The benefit of working for console is also that the minimum specs on PC are low [as a result], which is good for your sales in general. So you want to achieve that.

Are we going to try out multi-platform releases? We would like to be cross-platform on day one. That, I think, is the best for the game, in terms of its commercial potential, but we will certainly mitigate it against what the development cost on the development side itself will be. So it really depends. It's very hard for me to tell you an answer, or definite answer, right now because it's too far out. But I did learn that whatever we release needs to be really good. Certainly for the type of games that we're making, and so if there's something that jeopardises it, I'll probably be erring on the side of caution.

Another thing that came up, in a conversation with another developer here, was this idea about the engine being secretly a major factor in a game like Baldur's Gate 3's success, because it was the same one you'd been using before - the idea being that it makes your life a lot easier and gives you more freedom to do what you want. Is that right?

Vincke: Yes.

What I kind of gleaned from your talk was that you had to do a lot of reconfiguring of that engine though, because the game is still very different from Divinity…

Vincke:
Yeah, there's a reason why we're not switching to Unreal, for instance. Because we think the strengths of having your own engine is way, way higher than being able to switch to somebody else's engine. We worked with the Gamebryo engine, which was the same engine that Oblivion had, back in the day. So we learned there that the engine's roadmap is not necessarily your roadmap. And so if you work on your own engine, there's a price to pay for sure. And sometimes a heavy price. But you will always benefit from it. So if you can manage an engine team, and support it, I think that's beneficial to your game. And so the fact that we are working on the same engine already, since 2010, gives us a lot of benefits, that's for sure.

You mentioned the new game briefly - the thing that I picked up from one of your other chats was that it would "dwarf" BG3...

Vincke:
Did I say that, really like that? I think that I've been misquoted on this.

Oh really?

Vincke:
Yeah, no. So that's a bit - I saw that pass by and said, like "I need to check what I actually said". So either [it was] because I was heavily jetlagged, so either I said it wrongly...

So it's not the very big RPG that will dwarf them all, that we're making now. I mean, we have a couple of - we have two games that we want to make, and we actually intended on making after BG3, so we're just back on that track now. They're big and ambitious, that's for sure. But I mean, I think scope wise, BG3 is probably already good enough!

I was going to say, yeah, it didn't sound like you were talking in that talk going: Oh, yeah, we definitely need to make something even bigger…

Vincke:
That's why I'm surprised…

The specific wording that you had in the talk was like, we're gonna do "something new." I wanted to see if you could clarify whether that meant a new IP, or just not D&D.

Vincke:
Well it's not D&D. So we're - new in the sense that it is different from the things that we've done before. Still familiar enough, but different. I mean, like: tone, style, way of doing it, are for us certainly new. And I think very appealing. I would love to talk about it already because I'm excited about it but I can't say more. But it's new in that sense.

One of the things you've talked about a few times was this notion of listening to players. And I'm really curious about this, partly because I look after reviews and so the topic comes up a lot in terms of, I suppose, "artistic intention". So how do you draw the line between listening to feedback, especially with an Early Access game and where the Steam user reviews are so essential to your success, versus losing your own vision? Or veering into fanservice? I'm thinking of things like Mass Effect 3's revised ending…

Vincke:
It's a good question. So what I tend to do is, when I see a lot of vocality around something (I don't even know if that's a word vocality, but I guess you understand… [laughs]) is that I'm going to check with the playtesters. Or I'm gonna check with our designers. And we'll have a discussion about it.

We'll also look at the analytics that we get - like, does the qualitative voicing represent the entire community? Or is it just a very small portion of it? So we'll discuss it from that point of view. And then if we think it's big enough of an issue, then we'll start addressing it. It doesn't mean that we're doing what the community wants, because sometimes they're just saying it's a symptom, it's not necessarily - the solution is not necessarily what they propose. What we're going to try to alleviate, especially, [is] if what they're talking about does not match what we intended.

So if a feeling that they're getting does not match what we intended them to have, then we will adapt, but we're not slavishly going to follow whatever the community says either, because that would probably not end anyway - we would never stop working on the game! So it's a balance, really. There's a lot of intuition involved. There's some analytics involved - those are hard numbers. So [for example] if everybody's saying it's too hard, but we see that only 2% dies, then it's not too hard, right?

On the topic of difficulty, you mentioned you intentionally wanted to throw people into it and not hit them with 500 pages of D&D rules, but were you concerned about onboarding at first?

Vincke:
Yes. For a long time, we worked really hard on it, the balance - because indeed, we couldn't teach you the entire handbook so we had to throw you in, and we needed to make sure that you wanted to continue sufficiently so that you would start learning the things that you would learn. And so we did a lot of experiments with that. It was a very, very, very complicated and very fine line to walk.

Is there something that you would do differently for the next game?

Vincke:
Not have such complicated rules. [laughs]

That makes sense! A gear shift, but there was a mention of AI in your talk, I think it was a question actually from the audience about generative AI. I was at the Ubisoft event where they unveiled these -

Vincke:
The NPCs?

Yeah. Which was very odd - not necessarily my belief of what the future looks like. I wondered whether you feel like that is the panacea that some people want it to be, for the industry right now? It feels like there's two things going on - a little boost to efficiency that's happening already, and a big generative "revolution" that's yet to materialise…

Vincke:
Well, I can only tell you about how we are looking at it. So, we certainly don't see it as a replacement for developers. But we do see it as something that allows us to do more stuff. So there are things like - I talked about the quantity of cinematic notes that we had to handle [in the GDC talk]? We had this thing for the one-liner NPCs. There's not a lot of creative accomplishment to be had by putting the camera on a singular NPC that only has a couple of notes - I'm very happy for AI to handle that. We're not going to do that for the very complicated scenes because there, the artistry is going to shine through.

So there's uses for it. Where I see use it for is - but this is really not there yet - is to augment the reactivity and dialogues. So you would, for instance, have writers and a scripter and cinematic designer, and everybody that goes with it, you would have them make their entire scene, and then you would augment some reactivity into it, to things that you've done before. So it is about, for instance, let's say it's a guard talking about a murderer that is free in the city. We don't have to foresee all of the possible people that you could have killed in the NPC['s lines], but they could be talking about that, right? And say if it's like multiple people, they could say, "Oh my god!" and it's like, literally a serial killer.

And then if you arrive there as a player, that would feel good, right? But you would still lace that into your overall web. So I do see it as an additional tool that you can put on top of the things that are in the game. And we're certainly doing experiments with that. But as I said, it's still far from being usable in that sense. But I can imagine, in the same breath, that you make a science fiction game, where you say, well, there's robots walking around, so they'll talk like robots. Okay, well, that makes sense.

One of the last things I wanted to ask you about was the fact there's a lot of consternation or worry in the industry, especially here at GDC, although it depends who you ask. For younger people or new developers, or people with startups, or any developer or person who's in a position to make important decisions right now, I wonder if - since there's been this attention on Larian, its success, and how the studio's been run - you had some advice on how you feel the industry should navigate this.

Vincke:
Well it's always been tough. I mean, this has never been an easy industry to get into. The period that we're going through right now reminds me incredibly [strongly] of 2009, which was really a dark period in the industry - but also for the world economy as a whole, really. Plenty of studios popped up, plenty of them very successful, we took our fate in our own hands. So there's opportunity to be had, so I think it's about looking for those. That's the way that we're going to come through, and those developers that will figure it out, they're going to be hiring.

Making games is so hard that I can't believe it - so I'm optimistic about this as well. I think that making it is so hard, the talent is going to be needed. And so there might be moments - and currently it looks grim - but I'm sure that developers will come knocking and hire again to be able to make games. Because they're getting so complex to make, that you really need a lot of expertise - and that expertise, you're not just going to find it like that. Especially with the ones that have experience.

The last thing I wanted to ask you is a bit more light-hearted. I'm sure a lot of people are wondering after the news from your talk that Astarion was once a tiefling, if you could explain why the team changed his species?

Vincke:
Well, the thing is that I don't actually remember! [laughs] Because I was surprised myself - I'd forgotten about it. I do remember there was a matrix where we said, "Okay, well, let's represent every single species, so that there's diversity across the different origins."

But then he didn't really hit it off as a tiefling. So that's how he became an elf. But I don't exactly remember the conversation around it, or how it happened. The thing is, it's also that the roster of companions was much larger originally [in fact one key Baldur's Gate 3 villain was once recruitable]. So he just had to probably be the checkbox tiefling. This was before we knew who he was, so it's not abnormal that things like that change. Lots of characters have changed, because at some point, there was a balancing pass on diversity, and then we said "Oh there's just too many of them, so let's make those [into] that, so that changes also…" It's very "developer". [laughs]
 

Kiste

Augur
Joined
Feb 4, 2013
Messages
680

Tencent owns Grinding Gear Games and many other companies that keep delivering what the fans wanna. BlackRock is much more evil than TENCENT. I would rather Larian or any company being owned by tencent than by any ESG company.

Larian isn't owned by Tencent, though. Tencent owns preference shares. Preference shares typically don't hold any voting rights (but receive higher dividends).
 

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