Divinity: Original Sin II Announced, Kickstarter Campaign Launching on August 26th

So much for embargoes! Larian Studios were planning to announce their new game at 3 PM CEST today, but Italian website multiplayer.it jumped the gun and published its article on the project early: it's Divinity: Original Sin II, a full-fledged sequel to Larian's RPG smash hit from last year. The game will be partially funded with a Kickstarter campaign launching on August 26th and Larian will be showing a prototype at this year's PAX Prime.

Now that the cat's out of the bag, Larian CEO Swen Vincke decided to publish his blog post on the project earlier than intended, rather than waiting until the official deadline. In his blog, Vincke explains that Original Sin II will be Larian's most ambitious game yet, and why the developer decided to return to Kickstarter. We'll have to wait until the campaign's launch to learn of the game's new features and details (Vincke is teasing a scene with "enormous implications" that should make RPG lovers' hearts beat faster), but it's still a good read:

I'm hopeful that our players will find Divinity: Original Sin 2 a worthy cause to back though; it really goes beyond what's been done so far in turn-based RPGs and it's going to be a lot of fun to play. Actually, it already is and we'll be showing a prototype at Pax Prime where people will be able to get a taste of it.

Divinity: Original Sin 2 builds further on the foundations we've been laying with Divinity: Original Sin (D: OS), and Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition (D: OS EE). For us, this allows for an unprecedented focus on the gameplay. We won't be (losing time) building the elementary systems that typically take up more than 60% of our development time. Instead, we can start building the world immediately and try out all kinds of things.

That also means we have much more room for fine-tuning. If we can convince our players to help us, then that should allow us to make a real diamond. When we made D: OS, we did a lot of experimentation with systems, constantly improving them and offering them to our players for feedback. I believe it was a shining example of the power of early access, which both provides a developer with feedback as well as the funding to integrate that feedback. It was also the best development process I'd ever seen.

Now that news about D:OS 2 is in the open, I can also talk a bit about the commercial reasoning behind making D:OS EE. By now, the investment we did in D:OS EE is beyond what most would consider reasonable, both financially and in terms of time we've been putting in. But, other than allowing us to perfect the game which I think always make commercial sense, the work that is being done on D:OS EE would in any case still have had to be done for D:OS 2. So it's not as if we haven't been moving forward. On the contrary, all the money we're investing in D:OS EE is also investment in the tech that's powering D:OS 2. And the tech can do a lot.

Put simply, if you were to compare what we're doing to what Bioware did back in the day with Baldur's Gate and Baldur's Gate 2, D:OS 2 is to be our Baldur's Gate 2 building further on our equivalent of Baldur's Gate; D:OS.

Update: a Kickstarter update for Divinity: Original Sin is out, confirming the news and revealing the official website. Head on there if you have strong opinions on Kickstarter rewards, because apparently the folks at Larian are listening.