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There's an article-style interview with Larian's Swen Vincke over at PCGamesN today, where the company founder tackles such Divinity: Original Sin II topics as story mechanic improvements, the importance of a character's origin, their plans to inject "narrative competitive multiplayer" into the game, and more. A sampling:
In Original Sin 2 your party can fracture and split. Did someone else make a decision you so despised that you didn't want to be a part of the group anymore? You can leave, abandon your party and go off on your own adventures until you're prepared to reconcile if ever. And even then you can hold onto that grudge when you return and slip your adversary a subtly poisoned health potion for them to drink at an unsuspecting moment. It's those sorts of scenarios that excite Vincke:
(In a varied group there are so many different things that you can do, and because we have such a systemic approach to it then we can start talking about morphing and changing it more. I haven't played a game like that, not on a computer at least, so I'm very curious to see what the end result will be.)
The idea seems ridiculous. How do you build an RPG with that level of freedom without the whole thing buckling under its own ambition? What failsafes do you need put in place to ensure all players can still progress when the systems are pushed to their extremes? Can you even prepare for those circumstances? Larian are well aware of the significant challenges they've placed on themselves in order to achieve it.
(One writer was frustrated that there wasn't a single bloody bottleneck in the game except two. He was annoyed at how he was supposed to ensure players didn't miss details.) Vincke explains one way they're getting around that specific issue. Story has been seeded throughout the world in every side-quest, in every conversation, in every place you visit so that wherever you go or wherever you've been, you can start to piece it all together.
(We never know what you're going to do, [but] we have to ensure you get something from the main story everywhere,) he continues. (We're not doing a Witcher 3 thing with a lot of cutscenes and a lot of emotional moments because we can't. Not with the gameplay that we have, because it has to work in multiplayer. We have to tell the story through player agency, basically.)