Divinity Series Interview

German website Gamers.de managed to corner Larian Studios' Swen Vincke for a four-page English interview about their series of Divinity RPGs, how the company frontman looks back at the earliest titles, what we should expect from the Original Sin and Dragon Commander, and more. The usual snippet:
Gamers.de: Hi Lar, how are you doing? It is a great opportunity to ask you a few questions. I was already a follower of your games in 2002. It was the year of "Divine Divinity" respectively "Divinity: Sword of Lies", a name which many of you would probably have preferred.

Did you and your team ever managed to come to terms with the final name of the game? And what grudge did you have against Drizzt Do ' Urden back then? ;-)

Lar: It's Swen actually ;) Lar was the name of my dog when I was a teenager, and also my nick when I was playing videogames (only 3 letters were allowed on the highscores of an arcade machine)

It still hurts whenever we say "Divine Divinity" but we learnt to live with it. In general we try to say "Divinity" or the "first Divinity" when talking to each other. But when dealing with the outside world, we usually say "Divine Divinity" because we noticed that otherwise people get very confused.

Concerning Drizzt I guess this is about the skeleton & the necklace in "Divinity"? Well, that happens to be an easter egg to which nobody ever found the solution, at least that I know off. ;)

G: Was the success of the game unexpected? Was the redundant title maybe helpful in the long run? And retrospectively, was the release of (Beyond Divinity(, the buddy-movie of the series, maybe a little too early after the original game?

Swen: I'm pretty sure the title hurt us a lot in the beginning most people thought this was a porn game. ;)

I guess the success indeed did take me by surprise not because I doubted the concept, but because the game wasn't finished when it shipped. I was very very very angry then ;)

With "Beyond Divinity", what we should've done is stick to the original formula rather than wanting to introduce so many new things, but you have to realize that at that time the only way you could score publisher interest was if you had (new) stuff. Another problem was also that we were so traumatized by all the development problems we'd had with "Divinity 1" that we didn't dare take any risk anymore, and that showed in the world design. And of course, we also made it on a shoestring budget that didn't help things when we figured out that we'd made some mistakes ;)


G: Our reader Jennifer Gruber is more interested in your professional beginnings and your preferences as gamer. Her question: What where your first (played) games? And what was the trigger for your career aspiration? Would you travel back in time and convince your younger-self to buy/ or not buy a game? If yes, which game would that be?

Swen: "Ultima VI" is what got me into RPGs (it was also my first RPG). Before that, I played pretty much everything that was released on Commodore 64 and the Amiga. The thing that got me into developing my first game (at the age of 11) was a disease that kept me at home for several months. Somebody had given me a ZX81 and a book on how to program in Basic.

If I would travel back in time, instead of telling my younger self what game to buy, I would tell him to finish a game called War, instead of starting to develop something else. You see, War was a RTS, and it was already a RTS before "Dune" & "Warcraft" were released. One day I dumped the code, thinking nobody would be interested, and decided to make a RPG by the name of Unless bad career move ;)