Divinity: Original Sin II - Definitive Edition iOS Insights

Earlier this year, Larian Studios, together with the Elverils team, brought the Definitive Edition of their expansive RPG Divinity: Original Sin II to Apple’s new line of iPads. And if you're someone who's interested in the technical side of game development, you can now check out this in-depth article from Game Developer (recently rebranded from Gamasutra) that tells us exactly how the iOS version of Original Sin II came to be.

Something to get you started:

With the advent of Apple’s new line of iPads, the time felt right to bring Divinity: Original Sin 2: Definitive Edition to iOS. For those not familiar with the game DOS2 is a huge and complex 100 hour+ CRPG, so bringing it to mobile devices without compromising on anything was never going to be a straightforward task.

Partnering with the team at Elverils, we sought to bring the game to iPad in its best-ever form. With a lot of technical and design challenges ahead of us, it was a daunting brief. Here’s how we did it in 7 key steps.

1. Controls

The challenge of translating the full experience into mobile starts way before the implementation phase. It was never going to be a simple case of porting the code across to run on Metal and hoping for the best. Mobile devices, by their very nature, are handled and controlled very differently from PCs or consoles. Thus, the game had to adapt at a quite fundamental level, even down to how the player interacts with the device itself.

Although a key part of the brief for the iPad version was to support controller functionality, we had to start with the standard UI for the device, the touchscreen. There is no cursor on the iPad, which means that there is no hover state - you either tap or you don’t. When your RPG is designed first and foremost for a keyboard and mouse, the hover functionality is key.

The iPad boasts a full suite of gestures that bring an edge of physical dynamism to the game. Rotating, pinching, swiping, and even the humble tap and drag all had to be adopted to meet the design demands of DOS2. The long press is a good example: holding down on an in-game button would now bring up some information on that button. Adopting the long press was something we had to do specifically for this platform, along with adding some hints for iOS-specific buttons.

Thus, when we designed the UI for iPad, we always had a choice of what to use for each action: a gesture, or a button. We didn’t want to run the risk of cluttering the screen with buttons for the entire gamut of possible actions in DOS2, so the decision was taken to hide some elements of the HUD to eliminate screen clutter. There’s always the risk that players might think we had too much going on on-screen, or conversely that the HUD was too sparse, creating confusion. It was a delicate balancing act, but we believe we arrived at a solid solution for this.