Larian Studios' Sven Vincke stopped by the company's official forums to provide us with an update on the ongoing development of their Divinity II: Flames of Vengeance expansion pack. A full excerpt:
Surprisingly I find myself with some time today. I'm waiting to pick up a very talented man at the airport (check out his site http://www.beyondstructure.com), so I figured, what better use of idleness than to write a little update on the forum.
Quite a lot happened since last I gave a bit of a status update here: Divinity 2: Ego Draconis got released, and we've basically already completed Divinity 2: Flames of Vengeance already, so the last you can accuse me of, is being present here too much.
One of the reasons I'm idle is that for once and for the moment, everything seems to be running smoothly. This is probably the first time that my team is so relaxed before a major release (which Flames of Vengeance is to us) and the reason is very simple: the game is actually ready.
Over the last couple of days I played it through, with a big book in my hand and a fresh pencil, ready to be merciless, but at the end of the ride, I hadn't even filled a single page with things that drop-dead-needed-to-be-done-now-or-we-can't-ship. I jotted down some things about legal lines, installer texts, middleware logos, but actual gameplay things, almost none. Compare that with the release of Divinity 2 where the day we shipped I had almost a book full of things that I still wanted to be done but couldn't as the pressure to release was so high. Very big difference and quite a nice feeling actually. But still strange never happened before. Maybe we're actually learning after all this time how to do this.
I'm quite restrained when it comes to giving praise in general, much to the chagrin of my team I guess, but I was so happy that my list was so empty after finishing FOV, that it prompted me to write what for my doing is an extremely long praise post on our internal forum (our next-gen internal communication system featuring secrets so secret we'd be in deep trouble if some of it ever leaked out). It'd be awkward to post my entire post here as it would reek to much of self praise for my studio, but I'll quote from it anyway because I'm pretty convinced you'll soon discover for yourselves that I'm not proclaiming any #### here:
(Guys, I played through from beginning to end and wasn't bored for a second. On the contrary, I wanted to continue playing.It feels complete and while there were a few small glitches, it actually feels polished. It has a good mix of various styles of gameplay, looks really good, and surprises sufficiently to keep one interested. I enjoyed the writing and the acting, I enjoyed the combat and the puzzles, I enjoyed the variety in quests, I enjoyed the way everything was presented to me and I also very much enjoyed the sound - in short, I really enjoyed it. It was also very stable, except for a couple of known bugs that I'm sure we'll fix, and I didn't see anything engine wise that bothered me, as was the case last time I played part of it.)
For my doing, that's actually pretty big. You'll probably not find anybody in the team who can remember me ever writing something like this about any Divinity, so it means I was really quite content. Usually, I had a feeling of (if only we'd have had time to do this and that). I actually never understood that people liked Divine Divinity so much, because I shipped it with plenty of regrets. Perhaps it's because I'm getting older, who knows.
It's no secret that a lot of people thought the first part of Divinity II was the best part (me included), and when we started working on FOV, the goal was to capture that same feeling, and I'm quite happy to say that I think the team managed this. I hope all of you will agree when you get to play it. Having seen what the Divinity engine can do now in Flames of Vengeance, I regret that the values present in FOV weren't present throughout the original game, because that would've made a big difference I think to the nay-sayers. These caused quite a lot of frustration on our side, given how long we worked on Divinity II, but of course, they did have a point about certain things.
I'm not going to say FOV is perfect, but to me it beats most RPGs I've had the occasion to play recently, so the thing I'm contemplating now, is how to communicate this to the world, especially to those players who didn't play Divinity II yet. Together with FOV, I think Divinity II really is one huge RPG which offers you an RPG experience unlike any other, and as a studio it's in our interest to make sure players everywhere are aware of this. Anybody here with clever suggestions is more than invited to write them down, as we could use some inspiration to increase awareness.
Anyways, I have to go, but I realized I didn't manage to write down yet what I really wanted to say, so I hope I'll find time soon enough to write a follow-up post to this.