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Interview Swen Vincke explains how the Divinity: Original Sin 2 Early Access release will evolve at PC Gamer

Infinitron

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Tags: Divinity: Original Sin 2; Larian Studios; Swen Vincke

It's been two weeks since the release of the Divinity: Original Sin 2 Early Access, and it's clear that the game is a success. But how will it evolve from now until the final release? PC Gamer's crunchy new interview with Swen Vincke explains just that. Here's an excerpt:

Are you going to be adding whole acts eventually over time until you hit the final game, or is Divinity: Original Sin 2 in Early Access a testbed, and you’ll drop the full game when it’s done?

Vincke: We’re going to be adding in features for sure. Extra skill trees are going to be added in. The super-secret Game Master mode is going to hit in Early Access also. That’s a very new thing, so we need to do a lot of testing with it. We’re really trying things there. But content-wise, we’re going to keep it on act one. I’m pretty sure we’ll add some things on top of act one. There’s this tutorial opening section that’s missing right now, just before you arrive on the island. We don’t want to spoil it too much for people that are participating in Early Access, so we want to give them sufficient content—the large majority of content, actually—on release.

We have people that are going to be participating in closed betas also for the latter parts, so what you’re going to be seeing is Game Master mode, new skill trees, lots of extra permutations on systems, probably some surprises that I don’t even know myself yet. New things that we’re trying in the arena mode also, because that seems to be picking up quite well. We’ll see what we do with that. That will probably take us close to release.

What you’re going to be seeing in the foreseeable future is permutations on the character system we have. We’re not afraid—we did that in Original Sin 1 also, by putting system A in one week and system B in the next week, and see what works best for players—that’s how we’ll try to converge to a better system than what we’ve concocted while we were working in isolation. This is the cool part about Early Access, you can do these kinds of things. It takes some effort, but it’s rewarding for the players that are not participating in Early Access, or just try it out a little bit and will be playing it later, they’ll get a lot of benefit from this phase of experimentation.

You mentioned putting in one version of a system, see how it works, then swap it out for something else. Can you talk more about that?


Vincke: There are a couple stats and abilities we’re experimenting with. Memory is a very big experiment. We’re getting lots of opinions on Memory, so you’ll probably see Memory in different forms inside the game, to see what works better. The same with how skill abilities affect the skills, there’s going to be things we change there. When we did the original game, if we didn’t change it 20 times, I don’t know. We changed it a lot as we were experimenting.

But it’s good, because there’s players out there that play so many games, and the feedback you get from them is sometimes really good ideas. We gave them a couple new mechanics, so they’re fooling around with that now, they’re starting to learn them, form their opinion of them, so based on that feedback we’ll see what happens when we put it in there.

There’s no objective quantitative measure of fun, but when you do this job for quite some time you can see if players are having more fun or less fun. The goal essentially is to create more fun. It can be something as stupid as increasing the drop rate of treasure by 1 percent or decreasing it, even, that can create more fun. How do you balance loot? It’s essentially a bunch of numbers in an Excel file. You see people complaining they’re not finding enough, then you give them more and people say the loot is so boring. You just iterate.

There’s a fine balance to be found. Even the version that’s out there right now, there’s two tests going on. One is at the very opening you almost get nothing, so you have to scavenge, and then afterwards you get quite a lot, so we’ll see what it does to players.

One real good measure, and this one we can measure objectively, is: do people put points in their stats? The moment that they stop putting points in them, it means they don’t need them anymore. That means we have to change something. The moment I stop caring about putting a point in an ability, something’s wrong with the balance. I should always be looking forward, ‘I need that point, I need that.’ The moment people stop bartering, something’s wrong, we’re giving too much. That we are measuring.

What’s surprised you, so far? Anything specific you can call to?


Vincke: There were some people that didn’t like the physical and magic armor, and that surprised me. I thought it was a major improvement to the game. But they had a particular tactic that they had in the previous game they can’t anymore, now. What also surprised me, I thought what we did with the skill abilities made a lot of sense, and that the previous system was very confusing, but a lot of people apparently were very attached to the previous system. I thought that was going to be universally liked, but apparently it’s not the case. Goes to show.

There’s a lot of VO work being evaluated right now. The success in Early Access, together with the almost universal demand for VO, is definitely making us look at VO in a more extensive way than we originally planned. We always planned to have some of it, but I guess we spoiled them with Enhanced Edition, and didn’t realize that spoiling them with Enhanced, now we’re bound to do the same stunt with Original Sin 2. We’re looking at it. We didn’t plan on it, but it’s a complicated option.

Here’s another bit of surprising feedback, by the way. The third-person [view] that we’re using in the dialogues, it fits well with roleplaying and the origin system we’re doing. We’re getting resistance to that from certain corners. I’m interested to see if that is universal resistance or just a couple people who don’t like it. When we were running tests and playing it, some people thought it was strange but after five minutes decided they liked it more because there’s more expressivity, more stuff you can do in the dialogues. Now when you start talking about voiceovers, life gets really interesting with a system like that. So we’ll have to see.
Mostly good stuff, but those last two paragraphs sound awfully familiar...
 

Zeriel

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There’s a lot of VO work being evaluated right now. The success in Early Access, together with the almost universal demand for VO, is definitely making us look at VO in a more extensive way than we originally planned.

Hoo boy, here comes the decline. The wall of unceasing and mediocre voice acting in the EE was the one major thing I didn't like about it. You could turn off voices, but then you'd miss some audio cues. Really not happy about this, but I guess the twain will never meet on this, it seems most people prefer voice acting, even if that voice acting is terrible or distracting.
 

Aenra

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Am saddened to hear of that myself..

Money is money, but one should only give in so much. Have expressed my concerns over this (expanded Larian audience and what it may amount to) several times, so will not repeat myself. Time will tell.
If i may only, in accordance with my old fart nature, state that there are still people who like to READ god damn it, and having a non-toggleable VO kinda fucking ruins it all for them?
 

undecaf

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Swen should just stick to his guns and leave the VO's out. Or at most VO a handful of some key NPC's.
 

thesheeep

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As long as the VO does not lead to inferior texts, I don't see the problem.
I can live with the occasional bad voice acting.

But having some voices definitely adds to the game.
If budget is an issue, I prefer having only the first part of a dialogue performed by a voice actor.
Then you have the voice in your head and the brain does the rest for the rest of the text.
 

DragoFireheart

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There’s a lot of VO work being evaluated right now. The success in Early Access, together with the almost universal demand for VO, is definitely making us look at VO in a more extensive way than we originally planned.

Hoo boy, here comes the decline. The wall of unceasing and mediocre voice acting in the EE was the one major thing I didn't like about it. You could turn off voices, but then you'd miss some audio cues. Really not happy about this, but I guess the twain will never meet on this, it seems most people prefer voice acting, even if that voice acting is terrible or distracting.

I'm actually ok with bad voice acting. It can have a sort of charm to it like a shitty B-horror movie: it being bad makes it humorous and in a way, entertaining.

Bad dialog is the real issue.
 

Mustawd

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There’s a lot of VO work being evaluated right now. The success in Early Access, together with the almost universal demand for VO, is definitely making us look at VO in a more extensive way than we originally planned.

Hoo boy, here comes the decline. The wall of unceasing and mediocre voice acting in the EE was the one major thing I didn't like about it. You could turn off voices, but then you'd miss some audio cues. Really not happy about this, but I guess the twain will never meet on this, it seems most people prefer voice acting, even if that voice acting is terrible or distracting.


Why can't they just make it optional?
 

Roguey

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One real good measure, and this one we can measure objectively, is: do people put points in their stats? The moment that they stop putting points in them, it means they don’t need them anymore.

That's funny, apparently I went through D:OS without spending a single attribute point past level 1 until I reached the endgame. I suppose I would have had a much easier time if I had, but I didn't want to accidentally gimp myself. :M

no bikini armour on the Russian booth girls.

It is way too cold for that.
 
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Isn't VO a requirement to release on consoles?
Essentially. Unless they want to sell twelve copies and have eleven of these customers crying about "the junk".
Not that I give a shit about what console players will think, anyway.

Personally I don't mind voice over one single bit. I liked most of what they did with it in DOS EE (except the insufferable "environmental dialogues" repeating over and over and driving you crazy if -god forbid- you decided to browse your inventory or a merchant offering in a populated area).
 

Roguey

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As far as I can tell it was fiercely disliked even outside of the Codex.
The only people I've seen defending the randomized item diarrea as a positive were few terminal fanboys on the Larian forum... and they were a net minority even there.

Vincke: It’s not a democracy. There’s still direction going on. In this particular case, I’m the director of the game. I will do as I feel makes the most sense.
 

HoboForEternity

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Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag.
I heard the reason is so people dont metagame that they dont take all the good stuff early like morrowind

But with that comes with sacrifice of uniqueness and in general devalued exploration and looting.

One extreme example of this devalue-ing is darksiders 2 imo. Random color coded loot really ruined that game.

In DOS, i never really cared for the random items because crafting stuff.
 

HoboForEternity

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Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag.
True. Unique items with lmited ingredients (like sword of the planet) is such a waste if you craft it early because having the same skill and ingredients, but making it at level 8 will be alot different at when you are level 12.

That is kinda bullshit imo.
 
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As far as I can tell it was fiercely disliked even outside of the Codex.
The only people I've seen defending the randomized item diarrea as a positive were few terminal fanboys on the Larian forum... and they were a net minority even there.

Vincke: It’s not a democracy. There’s still direction going on. In this particular case, I’m the director of the game. I will do as I feel makes the most sense.
Yeah, ok. I still think randomized MMO-esque loot is complete garbage and one of the major flaws even in previous one.
My opinion is "not a democracy" either.
 

Aenra

Guest
In regard to VO:
Too small a pool to form results out of, except i've seen these particular replies/thoughts posted elsewhere too, over and over.. who told you it's a matter of quality? Who told you it's even a matter of concentration, and/or developer ability to 'time' the narrating out so that the words don't feel rushed or vice versa..?..

We used to read you fuckheads. Read because we were in charge; of putting a voice to a character, of imagining his dialect, his inflection, his diction and most of all, how all of it combined portrayed him. Made him someone.. tangible if you will. We did that with our head, on our own and it was half the fucking joy.
I know that even here most of you are children, but that is still no excuse. Idiocy is idiocy. Think first.

So TLDR, -for- you children reading (and sadly) posting here, no. It is neither about the quality, nor the implementation (timing, avoiding the PoE VO effect, etc). It is about loss, it is about being spoonfed, it is mostly about being disallowed to use your own head.
edit: And because with retards you need examples, well.. say Lord of the Rings, most of you read that right? Did you or did you not, decades later, when the movie came out, found yourselves disappointed at 'x' and 'y' a scene, thinking, "man, i portrayed him/her so so different, wtf are they thinking?" You'd had the liberty to imagine. It was taken away from you. Would have been too if you never had the option, and books came with VO in advance. You get?
 
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