Swen Vincke Interview

Larian Studios, the company that brought us the long-running Divinity series and is currently working on the next Baldur's Gate, was founded by Swen Vincke who recently had an opportunity to chat with the Game Informer folks. As a result, we can now learn a few things about Swen's early video game-making career, the ups and downs of the Divinity series, and Larian's collaboration with Wizards of the Coast on Baldur's Gate III.

A few paragraphs to get you started:

Swen Vincke wasn’t always on top. From basic beginnings and a scrappy, dark path through the often tumultuous games industry, the founder of Larian Studios has gone from sneaking into trade shows to helming one of the most anticipated RPGs of all time with Baldur’s Gate 3. We spoke with Vincke about Larian’s tough climb to greatness.

Let’s begin at the beginning. How did you get into video games?

I got sick. I was also very active. I like basketball. It was at my communion. So, there was a big party, I went to the communion, and lo and behold, together with my cousin, I went and drank all the sips of champagne that the adults have at those. Guess who fell down with the kissing disease a couple of days later? I had a really bad case of mononucleosis, so I was stuck at home.

Somebody took pity on me and gave me his ZX81, which was a 1K computer. I was bored like hell and I was also sick like hell. I picked up … there was a yellow book – I will never forget it – which was Basic, how to program. Since I went to the arcades, I said, “Well, why don’t I make a game in this Basic thing? Let’s see if I can do that.” And so I made my first game.

What was it?

My father was a big-game hunter. I was trying to make a hunting simulator, because he was never home. I wanted to make a game about hunting for him. That was my very first thing, and the second game was a skiing game, because that was easy to do. I then went to the Commodore 64, then Amiga, then PC. I studied programming. I don’t know if you remember a game called Empire. It’s like the granddaddy of turn-based strategy games, and you basically had cities. You could earn resources and create units, and it was randomly generated.