There's an interesting, article-style interview with Larian Studios' Swen Vincke up on PC Gamer, where they chat with the studio head about the recently released Divinity: Original Sin II Definitive Edition and the opportunities it afforded them to fix "things that had been bugging them" about Act 3 and other areas in their cooperative RPG sequel. A little something to whet your appetite:
“It’s the classic problem: the part that gets played the most in QA sessions is the beginning,” says Vincke. “Every large RPG has this problem. I was talking to BioWare about Dragon Age and asked them how they tested their endings and all the permutations. It's an issue because we put so many choices in our games, and in the end they all have to come through. Has QA seen every single line that’s possible? It’s impossible to do so. They bifurcate, and we have ways of dealing with that, but actually having someone playing through all these lines? It’s mathematically impossible.”
With Original Sin 2 out in the wild, there were legions of players taking all sorts of routes with different characters and party combinations, revealing the places where Larian felt it could shore up some gaps. The final act’s antagonist has been beefed up narrative-wise and the epilogue provides more closure. More generally, says Vincke, the goal was to add an additional layer of polish and clarity to the narrative.
Yet the nature of Divinity means that a lot of these improvements might be less noticeable, depending on the path you take. “For some people it will be pretty much the experience they had before, but for some people it will be dramatically different,” explains Vincke. It’s a chunky update, but it's not an overhaul. “Fundamentally the content is the same.”
“We redesigned the entire journal for the Definitive Edition,” says Vincke. “A couple of souls really put a lot of effort into that. We’ve got really high review scores, but if there’s one bit of criticism coming in, it’s the fucking quest log. They say it’s still a little bit vague, but we can’t make it more precise because there are so many ways you can approach things.”
Larian caught a bit of flack for the journal the first time around, too, prompting the redesign, but while Vincke agrees that it's not always clear, the quests aren't designed in such a way that the journal could guide players through them.
“We design our quests in a way that’s different from a lot of other RPGs,” Vincke explains. “We say that you came from A, you came to B, but we have no clue how you got from A to B. We just know that you arrived at B. So we just assume that you did something to overcome all the challenges and we get on with our lives. But what Original Sin 2 does not tell you is how to get from A to B. The original quest entry in Act 1 told you to ‘get off the island’. Then we thought we should maybe give players a few more pointers. It would have been awesome if that had been the only quest in your journal, though.”