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Swen Vincke explains how the Divinity: Original Sin 2 Early Access release will evolve at PC Gamer

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Swen Vincke explains how the Divinity: Original Sin 2 Early Access release will evolve at PC Gamer

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Thu 29 September 2016, 17:43:08

Tags: Divinity: Original Sin 2; Larian Studios; Swen Vincke

It's been two weeks since the release of the Divinity: Original Sin 2 Early Access, and it's clear that the game is a success. But how will it evolve from now until the final release? PC Gamer's crunchy new interview with Swen Vincke explains just that. Here's an excerpt:

Are you going to be adding whole acts eventually over time until you hit the final game, or is Divinity: Original Sin 2 in Early Access a testbed, and you’ll drop the full game when it’s done?

Vincke: We’re going to be adding in features for sure. Extra skill trees are going to be added in. The super-secret Game Master mode is going to hit in Early Access also. That’s a very new thing, so we need to do a lot of testing with it. We’re really trying things there. But content-wise, we’re going to keep it on act one. I’m pretty sure we’ll add some things on top of act one. There’s this tutorial opening section that’s missing right now, just before you arrive on the island. We don’t want to spoil it too much for people that are participating in Early Access, so we want to give them sufficient content—the large majority of content, actually—on release.

We have people that are going to be participating in closed betas also for the latter parts, so what you’re going to be seeing is Game Master mode, new skill trees, lots of extra permutations on systems, probably some surprises that I don’t even know myself yet. New things that we’re trying in the arena mode also, because that seems to be picking up quite well. We’ll see what we do with that. That will probably take us close to release.

What you’re going to be seeing in the foreseeable future is permutations on the character system we have. We’re not afraid—we did that in Original Sin 1 also, by putting system A in one week and system B in the next week, and see what works best for players—that’s how we’ll try to converge to a better system than what we’ve concocted while we were working in isolation. This is the cool part about Early Access, you can do these kinds of things. It takes some effort, but it’s rewarding for the players that are not participating in Early Access, or just try it out a little bit and will be playing it later, they’ll get a lot of benefit from this phase of experimentation.

You mentioned putting in one version of a system, see how it works, then swap it out for something else. Can you talk more about that?

Vincke: There are a couple stats and abilities we’re experimenting with. Memory is a very big experiment. We’re getting lots of opinions on Memory, so you’ll probably see Memory in different forms inside the game, to see what works better. The same with how skill abilities affect the skills, there’s going to be things we change there. When we did the original game, if we didn’t change it 20 times, I don’t know. We changed it a lot as we were experimenting.

But it’s good, because there’s players out there that play so many games, and the feedback you get from them is sometimes really good ideas. We gave them a couple new mechanics, so they’re fooling around with that now, they’re starting to learn them, form their opinion of them, so based on that feedback we’ll see what happens when we put it in there.

There’s no objective quantitative measure of fun, but when you do this job for quite some time you can see if players are having more fun or less fun. The goal essentially is to create more fun. It can be something as stupid as increasing the drop rate of treasure by 1 percent or decreasing it, even, that can create more fun. How do you balance loot? It’s essentially a bunch of numbers in an Excel file. You see people complaining they’re not finding enough, then you give them more and people say the loot is so boring. You just iterate.

There’s a fine balance to be found. Even the version that’s out there right now, there’s two tests going on. One is at the very opening you almost get nothing, so you have to scavenge, and then afterwards you get quite a lot, so we’ll see what it does to players.

One real good measure, and this one we can measure objectively, is: do people put points in their stats? The moment that they stop putting points in them, it means they don’t need them anymore. That means we have to change something. The moment I stop caring about putting a point in an ability, something’s wrong with the balance. I should always be looking forward, ‘I need that point, I need that.’ The moment people stop bartering, something’s wrong, we’re giving too much. That we are measuring.

What’s surprised you, so far? Anything specific you can call to?

Vincke: There were some people that didn’t like the physical and magic armor, and that surprised me. I thought it was a major improvement to the game. But they had a particular tactic that they had in the previous game they can’t anymore, now. What also surprised me, I thought what we did with the skill abilities made a lot of sense, and that the previous system was very confusing, but a lot of people apparently were very attached to the previous system. I thought that was going to be universally liked, but apparently it’s not the case. Goes to show.

There’s a lot of VO work being evaluated right now. The success in Early Access, together with the almost universal demand for VO, is definitely making us look at VO in a more extensive way than we originally planned. We always planned to have some of it, but I guess we spoiled them with Enhanced Edition, and didn’t realize that spoiling them with Enhanced, now we’re bound to do the same stunt with Original Sin 2. We’re looking at it. We didn’t plan on it, but it’s a complicated option.

Here’s another bit of surprising feedback, by the way. The third-person [view] that we’re using in the dialogues, it fits well with roleplaying and the origin system we’re doing. We’re getting resistance to that from certain corners. I’m interested to see if that is universal resistance or just a couple people who don’t like it. When we were running tests and playing it, some people thought it was strange but after five minutes decided they liked it more because there’s more expressivity, more stuff you can do in the dialogues. Now when you start talking about voiceovers, life gets really interesting with a system like that. So we’ll have to see.
Mostly good stuff, but those last two paragraphs sound awfully familiar...

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