Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga Interview

RPGCodex was able to secure some time with Larian Studios' Swen Vincke in order to conduct this interview about their recently released Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga bundle pack, among other things. A little something to get you fired up:
Borrowing a page from CDProjekt, you just released The Dragon Knight Saga, the "Enhanced Edition" for Divinity 2: Ego Draconis + Flames of Vengeance so to speak. Why was such an edition neccessary or even desirable, what has been enhanced specifically and why should gamers opt for DKS instead of just sticking to ED+FoV?

Frankly, we were a bit frustrated by Ego Draconis. It was released before we thought it was ready in the middle of one of the deepest recessions I've ever witnessed in this industry and it was very hard at that time to make the business case for the (we need more time) speech, in a climate where all around us companies were going under, you couldn't be sure of anybody paying you anymore and everybody was extremely nervous. We realized what potential was being lost by releasing the game prematurely, but since we hadn't been able to stop it from being released, we had to watch helplessly as some reviewers started butchering Ego Draconis and suffered in silence.

But we had put quite a large part of our lives into this game, and so after we recovered from the initial punches thrown at us by critics, we did the insane and we continued working on the game just as if it wasn't released yet, not even knowing if we were ever going to get it released. We rationalized it by calling it expansion pack work whereas in reality we were just moving forward with improving the game, our intent being releasing the improvements as patches, and bring it at the level where we wanted it to be. Somewhere along the line we also planned on actually delivering the expansion pack, but our primary intent was just setting the wrongs right, and releasing the game we had initially envisioned, well kind of Wink

Then it turned out that releasing those patches wasn't possible for a variety of reasons, some of them incredibly stupid, and that frustrated the hell out of us, especially given the amount of work we put in and that's when we decided on doing The Dragon Knight Saga, something we actually had to fight very hard for to make it a reality.

To answer the second part of your question, DKS was intended for people who didn't play ED yet, and FOV was intended for those who already had ED. There are still differences between ED+FOV and DKS, and for existing ED players who want access to that, we'll be releasing an ED+FOV 2 DKS patch. It's taking longer than we had hoped, but we have a small development team, and need to take into account a myriad of ED versions, which might or might not have FOV installed, a whole bunch of languages, different platforms, and together it's enough to drive the man responsible for our builds completely bananas. But we're getting there.


No Codex interview is complete without a question on the basics of RPG design. If I'd ask some Obsidian folks they would probably start telling stories about choices & consequences, whereas Bethesda would probably just stick to their proven motto that RPGs are all about running around and killing things. Now, what's the Larian Studios RPG design philosophy in a nutshell?

The player is the star his or her actions should matter, there has to be an opportunity of becoming very powerful, exploration should be rewarded, everything within the game world should be tailored so that it entertains the player, and the player should feel in full control. Easier said than done of course.
Good answers, Swen. Good answers.