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Larian General Discussion Thread

Non-Edgy Gamer

Grand Dragon
Patron
Glory to Ukraine
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Nov 6, 2020
Messages
15,525
Strap Yourselves In
Oh, no. 30% owned by China?

Does that mean the Chinese will force them to make the game full of tranny lesbians? Will they censor all the Xi Jinping quests from the game???
 
Joined
Jan 14, 2018
Messages
50,754
Codex Year of the Donut
Probably old hat for most, but I didn't know about it before casually reading stuff on the Steam forum... and that is that apparently Tencent own 30% of Larian Studios. Not sure how legit it is because I can't find much on it, but it seems real I guess?

One of the few sites that mention it: https://www.archyde.com/baldurs-gat...ported-to-be-owned-by-tencent-baldurs-gate-3/



If true, I do wonder if it has any effect on the game, going by censors and stuff. But not too fun regardless, another company semi-owned by CCP.

From what information I can gather, it was used for the distribution of the chinese version on the ipad. Publishing a game on the chinese app store requires state approval which needs a chinese partner for foreign entities.
 

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
Holiday greetings from the Larian Empire:



We gathered our party to bring you this very traditional holiday shanty. ☠️ From our crew to yours, Happy Holidays!

~~~~~~~~
Ho ho ho, hop on the sleigh!
Scourge of all the skies!
We circle the world, with Lar flag unfurled, yeah
Happy holidays we spies!

Ha! Ha! Hey! Ho! Hoo! Ha-haaa!

Gather all and climb aboard
Gifts for one and all!
Naughty or nice, even worse will suffice,
Grab a friend and have a ball!

Raise a glass to us, me mate,
Winter grog, drink up!
We're spreading the fear in merry new year-oh
dance and drink now- BOTTOMS UP!
 

Roguey

Codex Staff
Staff Member
Sawyerite
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Messages
35,931
In that video you can tell which countries are chill and which are cringe depending on whether or not they have their employees wearing cloth masks while being in close proximity to one another (thus rendering any possible benefits completely ineffective).

Chill: Belgium, Malaysia, Russia
Cringe: Ireland, Spain
Neither: England, Canada (no masks, but everyone working remotely)
 

017

Novice
Joined
Dec 28, 2021
Messages
47
https://imgur.com/3rwEP99

Thought I saw a familiar face there. That guy is Lawrence Schick (also LinkedIn). Super knowledgeable guy, has D&D in his blood. Likely partially responsible for ESO's out-of-place comedic relief quests and the game's tone being overly goofy at times. Probably just about perfect for the tone that Divinity games are going for, but not so sure about BG3, although EA shows that there'll be plenty of Larianisms in it. Eh, we'll see. In any case, it's nice to see him at Larian.

 

Infinitron

I post news
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Joined
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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
I probably posted a scan of this at some point: https://www.pcgamer.com/how-larian-broke-out-of-the-b-tier-to-master-the-rpg/

How Larian broke out of the B-tier to master the RPG​

The RPG studio that overcame its original sins.

When Larian boss Swen Vincke first heard that his debut RPG was going to be called Divine Divinity, he thought it was a joke. But his publisher in Germany, CDV, was all too serious. They'd had a hit with a game called Sudden Strike, and suspected that alliteration might be the key to long-term success. Reader, they were wrong.

Today, CDV is long dead. But the name ‘Divinity' remains—attached to almost every Larian project of note since. It's an artefact from a long and gruelling period in which the studio was subject to the whims of whoever held the purse strings. An inescapable reminder of the outside interference which the developer has now triumphantly expunged.

Of course, no Larian story begins with godhood. Getting there can be a slow, strategic, and sometimes bruising journey, and so it proved for the studio itself. Along the road to release, Divine Divinity was compromised not just by CDV, but the publisher before it, Atari. Larian should have been following in the wake of Baldur's Gate, its spiritual kin; instead, the studio's paymasters directed it to copy Diablo, the leading light in the adjacent action-RPG genre.

The result was an identity crisis viewed from an isometric perspective. On the one hand, Divine Divinity boasted the intricacy and interactivity of Vincke's beloved Ultima VII. In its world, every crate and barrel could be shunted around with the mouse, and every kitchen table relieved of its cutlery. Yet outside the alluring density of civilisation, the game devolved into long and testing dungeons, which leaned heavily on simplistic hack-and-slash combat. The fact that the screens seemed to roll on forever—unfurling a near-continuous tapestry rather than the discrete patchwork of the Infinity Engine games—only contributed to the sense that Divine Divinity was stretched thin. To quote Bilbo Baggins, it was like butter scraped over too much bread.

Divine tragedy​

Nevertheless, it reviewed well. Launched during a CRPG drought in 2002, Divine Divinity won over a dehydrated hardcore, and justified a follow-up in the same style: Beyond Divinity. Yet the landscape was already changing beneath Larian's feet. With Knights of the Old Republic, BioWare had graduated to 3D games for a console audience, and pulled the entire RPG genre along with it. If Larian was to stand any chance of attracting publisher money, it had no choice but to follow.

Divinity 2: Ego Draconis was exactly what an RPG was required to be in 2009: a fully voice-acted adventure in a shiny, sun-dappled land that was easily navigable via an Xbox 360 controller. To stand out from the crowd, Larian developed not one but two gimmicks: NPC mind-reading and the ability to dogfight in dragon form. But without BioWare's budget, Ego Draconis belonged firmly in the B-tier, alongside other European efforts like Risen, Two Worlds and a slightly muddled Polish novel adaptation of something called The Witcher.

Despite its best efforts, Larian hadn't tempted new RPG converts away from Fallout 3 and Fable. And in the pursuit of 3D fidelity, it had sacrificed much of the granular interactivity that had made Ultima VII so engrossing for a young Vincke.

"I lost track a bit," the CEO wrote in a 2012 blog post. "The joys of console development steered Divinity II far away from the original idea, and so many compromises were made in that game that what shipped was but a shadow of what I had envisioned it to be. In truth there are only a few gameplay moments in there that come close to the reason I set up this company."

High kick​

As an overbloomed sun set on the noughties, Larian seemed doomed to repeat this unfulfilling cycle—chasing genre leaders at the behest of its publishers, and at the expense of its own vision for the future of the Western RPG. But something changed, and that something was Kickstarter: a lightning rod for the revival of the classic CRPG. The same movement Larian had just missed out on a decade earlier.

To the public, Larian pitched Divinity: Original Sin—appropriately named, since it was more or less the game Vincke had been attempting to make since the very beginning. Back was the isometric perspective, and the tactile connection to the world of Rivellon—an intricate creation you could pull apart with lockpicks and fireballs to discover its secrets. Returning, too, were those continuous maps—now backed by a sense of purpose. With a little ingenuity, you could engineer solutions to your problems using tools designed for other quests halfway across the level, rather like a Deus Ex or Dishonored player might.

Yet the wisest design decision came midway through production. Vincke was in the shower when he realised that, even though Larian was independent, it was still listening to the ghosts of publishers past. "What are we doing? We're making a real-time game because they told us," he thought, and later recounted to Game Informer. "We're gonna be competing with Blizzard making an action RPG? We can't compete with Blizzard, we don't have the resources."

Break free​

Rather than make its Diablo mistake all over again, Larian turned Original Sin into a turn-based tactics masterclass. It struck a chord, topping Steam's sales chart upon release in 2014—before its sequel repeated the feat in 2017. Over the same period, Larian has become an experienced self-publisher, partnering only with companies who already love what the studio is doing, and aren't seeking to alter it.

Now, finally, Larian gets to join BioWare's lineage by developing an official follow-up to Baldur's Gate, the quintessential CRPG. The Forgotten Realms is a perfect home for the studio; like Rivellon, D&D's favourite setting is malleable by design, a blank canvas on which to scrawl scenarios and draw entertaining characters.

None of which is to say that Larian couldn't adapt its talents to a more specific fantasy world if required. But a recurring theme in the studio's work is the prisoner who, growing in power, breaks free of their shackles. Perhaps it's had enough restrictions for one lifetime.
 

Ryzer

Arcane
Joined
May 1, 2020
Messages
5,810
Divinity 2 ego draconis is also pretty neat, as an hack and slash game it is pretty entertaining and does try something new such as transforming into a dragon ( which is not very fun I'd admit) and mind reading ( cool feature). Furthermore I thought the overall writing was well-done and funny at time coupled with mind reading. Oh and the music was amazing, Divinity 2 deserves more love.
 

Roguey

Codex Staff
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On Glassdoor a programmer airs all the dirty laundry:

Avoid at all cost
Sep 18, 2022 - Computer Engineer
Recommend
CEO Approval
Business Outlook

Pros

- Work on in-house titles which I was a fan of.

- Everyone else is so clueless that saying common-sense ideas can help to improve the situation a lot (if management actually listens, but usually not).

Cons

- Boasts as a “flat organisation”; it means everyone does the bidding of CEO - Swen.

- Swen is just a clueless CEO who looked good to fans. Should serve as owner and creative director instead of CEO where he changes his mind on things every other day. No stability and long term plan for company.

- Super exploitative gaming company (norm of the industry?) with low pay for QA and bare minimum Leaves and expectation of odd hours working and Overtime.

- Many female leaders included to fit diversity with no performance to back-up over time.

- Tries to “reorg” by hiring incompetent in-house consultant who has no experience in managing reorg and is openly hostile to managers and leads involved in the reorg. Consultant manages to stay because Swen likes her around.

- Be prepared to lose your job even if you follow instructions of leaders because these “Leaders” will throw you under the bus at first sign of trouble. (Clueless CEO exacerbates this culture too)

- Promises loads but almost always fail to deliver.

- No performance bonuses for some employees (if not all) depending on location.

- Unclear and discriminative pay structure based on location and type of employment. Be prepared to deal with the mindset of being paid unfairly if you want to work here.

- No honor. Used 3rd party services then resort to massive poaching (breaking non-compete clause) and deny businesses to the 3rd party company. One can search Nevada case 62391 for details.

- More issues with 3rd-party services in the kickstarter board game. Basically missed all the datelines committed to backers while removing contributions of board game partner.

- Bare minimum benefits. Boasts of giving away free “PlayStations” but requires you to pay taxes for it (and is again 2 years late in delivering promises).

- Toxic work environment with many politics. This is because many married/ unmarried employees are hooking up in office causing conflict of interests that the company is deliberately ignoring because of “freedom” and “human right”. Your work will not be completed because of politics arising out of these issues.

- No proper processes for most workflow (be it IT or design or creatives)

Advice to Management

- To Swen: be a human being please. You are killing the last bastion of CRPG.

Wow! Here's that Nevada case 62391 he was referring to https://casetext.com/case/choo-v-the-eighth-judicial-dist-court-of-the-state
TOMOKO CHOO; LARIAN STUDIOS U.S. INC.; AND LARIAN STUDIOS, Petitioners, v. THE EIGHTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT OF THE STATE OF NEVADA, IN AND FOR THE COUNTY OF CLARK; AND THE HONORABLE JOANNA KISHNER, DISTRICT JUDGE, Respondents, and STREAMLINE MEDIA GROUP, INC.; STREAMLINE STUDIOS MALAYSIA SDN BHD; AND STREAMFRAME CORPORATION, Real Parties in Interest.







UNPUBLISHED OPINION


ORDER GRANTING PETITION FOR WRIT OF PROHIBITION


This original petition for a writ of prohibition challenges district court orders denying motions to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction.


Real parties in interest filed a complaint alleging that petitioner Tomoko Choo, a Malaysian citizen, breached a separation agreement with real party in interest Streamline Media Group, Inc. (Streamline) and conspired with nonparty The Dragon Commander, Ltd. (TDC), an Irish company, to obtain the confidential and proprietary information of Streamline and its subsidiaries, real parties in interest Streamframe Corporation (Streamframe) and Streamline Studios Malaysia (Streamline Studios).

Not terribly interested in this to dig further at the moment, but that's certainly, uh, something.

Despite the dysfunction, I have confidence BG3 will be a good game. But will their next one? Bioware/CD Projekt/Larian magic only scales up so far and lasts so long.
 

Infinitron

I post news
Staff Member
Joined
Jan 28, 2011
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
- Toxic work environment with many politics. This is because many married/ unmarried employees are hooking up in office causing conflict of interests that the company is deliberately ignoring because of “freedom” and “human right”. Your work will not be completed because of politics arising out of these issues.

First day on the job at Larian Studios:

 
Joined
Jun 23, 2020
Messages
212
Looking at past Larian games which were cleeeaarly flawless and definiteeely weren't over ambitious who could have guessed that Swen is a clueless CEO?
 

Roguey

Codex Staff
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Looking at past Larian games which were cleeeaarly flawless and definiteeely weren't over ambitious who could have guessed that Swen is a clueless CEO?
Looking at Larian's success and Obsidian's lack of success, one would hope that a greater amount of competence is what separated the two, but seemingly it might just be just luck...?

Avellone did praise Swen compared to Feargus, but that guy has an incredible anti-Feargus bias and didn't really get the full Swen experience with his minor contributions to D:OS 2.
 

Shrimp

Arbiter
Joined
Jun 7, 2019
Messages
1,060
While making games in the same genre the two companies ultimately had completely different core audiences. I think that's where you'll find the biggest difference.
 

Heinrich

Scholar
Joined
Apr 5, 2017
Messages
123
Isn't glassdoor mostly used by the most butthurt of butthurt? Never see it brought up outside of complaints.
 

FriendlyMerchant

Guest
- Toxic work environment with many politics. This is because many married/ unmarried employees are hooking up in office causing conflict of interests that the company is deliberately ignoring because of “freedom” and “human right”. Your work will not be completed because of politics arising out of these issues.

First day on the job at Larian Studios:


Except there's no sexy people.
 

Shrimp

Arbiter
Joined
Jun 7, 2019
Messages
1,060
Isn't glassdoor mostly used by the most butthurt of butthurt? Never see it brought up outside of complaints.
This often ends up being the case quite often, yes.
It's the same way a lot of people only bother doing product reviews if they are dissatisfied with whatever they bought. Why do you think it's common for lots of companies to send you a review form immediately after shipping their goods?
 

017

Novice
Joined
Dec 28, 2021
Messages
47
Doesn't matter if he's butthurt or not, he's writing this for a reason. Some of his comments match with other less-positive comments from people who have provided positive reviews, it's just that his points are presented in a more blunt manner.

Here's my set of assumptions:
  • Larian has always been infested with crunch, Swen has admitted to it on a number of occasions and has been quite open about it, even when he didn't specifically mention it (like, I wonder how rewriting the entire act 3 of DOS2 two months before release is going to affect the team, hmmmmmmmmm). The only reason why it hasn't blown up in their faces yet as it did for CDPR is because they're still perceived as a more traditional indie company.
  • They've never had the best working conditions office-wise - how they still haven't changed or drastically renovated their office in Gent is beyond me.
  • "Go big or go home" approach ever since Divine Divinity, which has back-fired on literally every single project they've worked on up until now - it would be silly to believe they'd be able to improve drastically from DOS2 to BG3. Swen will do Swen things.
  • It would be unreasonable to believe Larian, immediately after DOS2 and even with BG3 money, would be able to provide a proper bonus scheme (performance, profit share) or even an industry-standard salary.
  • Whether you like it or not, DOS2 is perceived to be one of the best games ever made and passion-driven people, who want to play a part in CREATING games, not manufacturing them, are going to be more prone to joining the company due to that. Once they enter, however, they will also be quickly disillusioned that they are (unless they are leads), indeed, just factory workers who could be paid better elsewhere. Not only does this break people's dreams of working in the industry, they will also develop contempt for the company they're working for.
  • Some of their leads have been at the company for ages now. When you compare BG3 production to DOS2 and earlier, it's simply too big of a jump. Effectively, at the start of BG3 production, these people (and Swen himself) would be more comparable to like mid-level employees expertise-wise than actual industry veterans. But with an inflated ego.
    • People complain about BG3 being DOS3 on account of how the game plays, but a more innovative BG3 is literally not possible due to other production issues they need to deal with - much more complexity poured in with cinematics and motion capture, engine upgrades and massive content scaling taking place. Not just in terms of the narrative, but all the permutations in it. Changing the format too drastically would make this game completely unsustainable production-wise, no matter what the incels in BG3 thread say.
  • Company is scaling way too quickly and is unable to handle this, but the scope of BG3 is pushing them to do so - this leads to turnover and loss of knowledge and experience. Median tenure is 2.2 years as per LinkedIn. For the games industry, this means that it's basically being used as a game where people will get their portfolio piece, then quickly scurry away somewhere else.
  • Improper scaling as a company will also affect how you're scaling processes and resource management.
As much as I'd like it to be different, Larian is probably not the best company to be at right now. Most likely people still enjoy working there, but ultimately you'll see people become frustrated with the situation there, simply because it's not ideal. But these expectations coming from these people are unrealistic in the first place.
 

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