Divinity: Original Sin
Divinity: Original Sin Second Preview
After having previewed Divinity:Original Sin almost a year ago I got the opportunity to check it out again.
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Divinity: Dragon Commander
Dragon Commander: Hands-On Preview
We had the opportunity to play Dragon Commander in the offices of Larian Studios, so off we went for more information and actual hands-on experience
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Recent info pages and articles
Poll WatchDo you Kickstart?
Yes, I've supported a bunch!
Yes, but only 1 or 2.
I'm waiting for the right project.
No! No finished product, no money!
No - but only because of my tight budget.
Forum WatchRetrospective: Gothic 1 by Ihaterpg
Recommended jRPGs thread (and other japanese PC games) by felipepepe
Video of Realms of Arkania: Blade of Destiny by Ihaterpg
Square enix will be focusing on mobile by Ihaterpg
Original Sin - Update #2, Rewards and a Video
Update 2 for Divinity: Original Sin has been made availabe at the 50% funding mark (currently at $205K). In it a new early bird reward is announced.
As a token of appreciation to all our fans who pledged already (and the ones we hope are going to pledge in the very near future) we’re giving away Zandalor’s trunks of epic intelligence to the first 5000 backers! Wear these and you’ll be able to discover an easter egg in the final version of the game – but beware, these trunks are rumored to have an opinon about things! (Item does not unbalance the game.)
This piece of concept art shows these trunks off. As to Sir John himself, I don't know if he, or his utility-belt-system, is still in.
Original Sin - Update #1, Editor, Add-ons and Translations
The first update for the Divinity: Original Sin update is online and it brings us more information on the editor with a video showing more details.
Furthermore they now offer the opportunity to update your pledge.
On popular demand, we have decided to enable backers to tailor their reward tier.
How do you do this? You add one (or more) of the following amounts to your pledge and you keep your selected reward tier. If (think positive: when!) this Kickstarter is successful, we will contact you so that you can specify what add-on(s) you wish to receive. We may add stuff to this list if the comments demand it so ;-)
Digital add-ons require a base pledge of $25. Physical add-ons require a physical tier (starting at $65).
Divine Divinity (our first Divinity game from 2002) Digital Version : add $5
Digital Artbook featuring the Art of Divinity Original Sin: add $8
Digital Map of the World of Divinity Original Sin: add $8
Digital Soundtrack of Divinity Original Sin: add $10
Extra Digital Copy of Divinity Original Sin : add $20
Beta Access for Divinity Original Sin : add $20
Alpha Access for Divinity Original Sin: add $50
T-Shirt of Divinity Original Sin : add $25
An Extra Box Copy with Printed Manual of Divinity Original : add $40
Original Sin - Video Interview
Original Sin - Hands On @ RPS
Rock, Paper, Shotgun's Adam Smith provides his hands-on experiences with Divinity: Original Sin.
And that’s why I ended up leading a group of monsters into the marketplace, watching the vendors flee in terror even as the guards drew their weapons and prepared to fight. I look forward to advancing my character, building a personality and gathering loot when I play the game in the discomfort of my home, but on that day I was more interested in seeing just how much Original Sin’s world would stretch and engage with my efforts to play. I wasn’t disappointed. Original Sin may have clever co-op conversations and a huge open world but it’s also a game that has been built to be broken.
Rather than providing specific stage directions for every eventuality, Larian tag and code their world and its inhabitants, instructing every element how to react to the players’ presence and actions. That’s why it’s not only possible to ignore the main quest and head into the wilds, it’s also possible to involve NPCs in your own subplots, simply by having the systems that drive them collide and intertwine. The reactions to the situations you concoct may be less perfectly executed than a cutscene containing a motion captured and fully-voiced argument involving Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, but Robert Zemeckis will be bringing that to the cinema in his take on Don Quixote (Stewart is the windmill). Original Sin isn’t about perfect execution, it’s about a world that reacts, providing all manner of possibilities, from tactical use of artificial behaviour to accidental farce and disaster.
Original Sin - Two Other Previews
Here are two other reviews of Divinity: Original Sin.
Larian will be the first to admit that we didn’t really get the time we needed to fully experience Divinity: Original Sin. I did get a good impression of the depth, scale, and combat mechanics, though. What I saw was a deeply impassioned team who, it seems, are building a game as a response to a dry spell in RPG’s within the last few years. Divinity: Original Sin clearly isn’t being built as merely a good Divinity game, it’s being built as a good RPG in its own right. It’s not a spin-off, and it’s not the bare necessities. The scale and richness of Original Sin‘s game-world was a breath of fresh air, and whilst the combat handed my ass to me literally on the first fight, it’s because I sucked – not because the game was unfair or unbalanced. I need to get better at Original Sin. It doesn’t seem to be pandering to anyone, and that doesn’t mean it’s stubborn and arrogant, it means that Larian knows what makes a good RPG, and they know there’s a demographic for that. Prepare to be reintroduced to RPG’s.
The first thing I noticed about combat is that it was turn-based. Using an initiative system, turns are carried out by using action points from a combination of movement, attacking, or using magic and items. I moved to an enemy, which drained a few actions points, then attacked with the rest of them. On my next turn, I decided to give my fire spell a whirl. To my horror, I aimed the spell incorrectly and ended up setting flame to both myself and our enemies. The person playing with me decided to cast ice on the floor on his turn, and I promptly slipped on it on my turn (yes there is friendly fire). I melted the ice with fire, creating a puddle. Craftily, my ally electrocuted the puddle and made a sizzling trap. After the combat ended, I marveled at all of the different things we had done with the environment and spells. There is true potential here for two players to really plan out strategy, and thanks to the turn-based combat, take the time to plan out moves carefully. It is a system that I have always thought would translate well into a cooperative format, and I can’t wait to play more.
Original Sin - How I Caused a Kickstarter to Launch
Swen Vincke has written an article on his blog with information on the launch of the Kickstarter for Divinity: Original Sin.
And you are doing this without any notable PR ? Are you bananas ?
And you’re doing this during the week of GDC and PAX ?
it’s a long story…
Since I don’t have that much time right now because I find myself doing plenty of work I thought I was only going to be doing next week, I’ll keep it short, but it is worth writing about.
You see, we didn’t plan on announcing our Kickstarter today. But somebody else decided for us, and that somebody was…
Yes, the Myrthos from RPGWatch, my first stop in the morning to get my RPG news. He wrote a really positive hands-on article about Divinity: Original Sin (calling it Divine Divinity on steroids) for which we’re really grateful, but…
He published it today!
And… we only expected it to be published once the Kickstarter page was live, next week…
Everything suddenly went into overdrive. Now for clarity, Myrthos is not to blame – it’s bad communication on our side combined with the complexities of running a Kickstarter campaign from Belgium that caused this, but that’s a different story altogether. But still, it did leave us with a major problem.
To be honest I don't recall it being under embargo. I have several hours of audio recordings I went through for the article and it wasn't on those either. The only embargo was on not mentioning the Kickstarter itself.
It's a good thing I am very slow in making my articles I suppose.
Original Sin - Kickstarter Launched
A Kickstarter has been launched for Divinity: Original Sin. This is a Kickstarter for a game that will be released anyway, so why take this step you might wonder. They have some very valid reasons for this. The main one being that they are making a good game with the funds they have, but with additional funds they can turn it into an even better game. These are some of the details on their motiviations for starting this Kickstarter:
At the end of 2010, in no small part thanks to the success of the previous Divinity games, we finally earned sufficient money to start working on our brainchild on our own, and we decided to become a self-publishing studio.
Fast-forward two years (big RPGs take time to make). Today we are nearing the end of our development cycle and when we look at what we've created so far, we think that we have in our hands the best RPG Larian Studios has ever created. But, we also have the feeling that our job isn't done yet. The game systems we put in place have a lot of potential and because it took us quite some time to create them, we haven't been able to use them to their fullest yet.
That's why we're looking to increase the size of our development team. And because our budget is finite, we decided to come to Kickstarter to ask for your help.
We want to increase the development budget so we can increase the size of our development team. This in turn will allow us to further increase the amount of gameplay present in our game world. We are convinced that we are very close to making a great RPG and we want to rise to the occasion by investing everything we can into it. So far the game has been funded by investors and by our own funds, but we have reached the limit of what we can do on our own. Here's where your help becomes very valuable. Here's where you can make the difference.
Without your support, we think that the result of our efforts will make for a good RPG, but with a bigger budget we'll be able to go the extra mile, and accomplish our full vision for the game, as fantastic as it deserves to be.
RPGWatch Feature: Original Sin - Second Preview
I had the opportunity to play Divinity: Original Sin at Larian Studios a few weeks ago and my findings of that visit can be found in this article.
One thing that has completely changed during the last year is the background story. There are two main characters, a man and a woman, who are both students at the headquarters of the Source Hunters. This organization has been created by the council of seven to ban the use of Source, which is used for magic. The reason for this is that even though Source can be used for good, it can also be used for evil. The Source Hunters are responsible for locating the users of Source and stopping them from using it again.
Dragon Commander - Hands-on Video
Original Sin - Attack of Opportunity
Larian Studios showed on their facebook page that Divinity: Original Sin now supports attack of opportunity.
We've been implementing the Attack of Opportunity mechanic in the game and we'd like to give you a little sneak peek. The indicators on the ground are still in infamous 'programmer art' but with that in mind; here's what it looks like (for now):
Dragon Commander - Voice Recording Sneak Peak
All text in Dragon Commander will be spoken and during the recording the faces of those speaking will be recorded as well in order to get a very good face animation in the game. The video shows a recording of the person speaking a part of the text of Catherine, the former Warrior Queen, now general in the army of the dragon. She once ruled a land where women were in charge and in the game she will bug you at any possible opportunity with equal rights for women.
Dragon Commander - More Previews
Here are 3 more previews of Dragon Commander.
The game’s namesake obviously points to dragon commanding combat, and you can do just that. At any point on the battlefield, so long as you are close enough to a friendly unit, you can transform the camera into a third-person view of your dragon flying about the sky. You can control the dragon like a ship could be controlled in the Descent games, and depending on what upgrades you have purchased for your dragon, you can reign some serious hell down on the enemy. While dragon-only combat is possible in some instances, it should be noted that dragons are very ineffective against enemy buildings, so you will most-likely have to take those with good old fashioned boots on the ground.
The fights are quite unpredictable. If one side planned better in the world overview mode they might have enough units to just rush in and clear the other side out before they even get their first community center off the ground. Some fights might be blocked from happening to begin with by playing certain political cards to delay enemy assaults. Other fights might offer one team a one-sided advantage due to cards played to add additional units at the start or add additional skills to compliment your dragon. But when the fights are relatively even… fireworks happen. Huge battles of multiple unit types clashing in chokepoints. Zeppelins and Air Balloons clashing with Ironclads over contested naval ports. Every unit will feel familiar and yet unique and you truly get to enjoy them on a whole new level when burning through them in your dragon form at mach speeds thanks to a resource guzzling rocket pack on your back.
Dragon Commander is a game that is trying to straddle an incredible amount of genres. Larian has done a great job unifying all of them artistically, thematically, and (most important) logically. The branching choices and the consequences they’ll have for the player were hardly even scratched in the section of the game that I saw. The RTS portion will undoubtedly attract the attention of those interested in competitive gaming, but is still approachable enough for folks like me who haven’t touched the genre in years. Divinity: Dragon Commander has something for everyone, and I definitely recommend keeping your eye on it.
Larian Studios - Lessons From The Preview Tour
Swen "Lar" Vincke has written a new blog on his personal site about the lessons he has learned from their ongoing preview tour for Dragon Commander and Original Sin.
Finally, the third issue was that we were showing alpha code in an unfinished state and were letting the media play these builds code hands-on, in multiplayer, on 4 machines , with only three of us there to guide them, in situations where sometimes there were 8 journalists present. Because we couldn’t deal with everybody simultanously, inevitably the message of what is final in the game and what isn’t final was lost in translation. This undoubtedly will lead to inaccurate reporting but the only way we could’ve solved this would have been by either a) limiting the area where the journalists could play or b) ensuring that we never had more journalists than we had Larian team members present or c) not do a hands-on.
Since a) limiting the area in a RPG is a pretty bad idea, b) having more Larian members present would mean that nobody would be working on the game anymore and c) not doing a hands-on is a sure way of not getting the journalists to come to our events, I’m not sure how we could’ve solved this, so I’m definitely open to suggestions. I guess part of the problem is that for us, being developers, it’s pretty obvious what still needs to be done and what not, but that’s not always the case for the reporters – especially the younger and thus more inexperienced ones. I think that in the future we’ll literally mark the assets in the game that are stub with the text “stub” – this will probably avoid some confusion.
Information aboutLarian Studios
Dragon Commander - Preview @ Co-Optimus
Also Co-Optimus checked out Dragon Commander on the tour of larian Studios.
All four of us were able to battle in a RTS environment. Our starting units, if we had any, were what we moved around the RTS map. There are numerous buildings to capture, including towers and recruitment centers. By controlling more of the structures, you gain the ability to recruit more forces for that particular battle. Remember that 1600 number on the territory map from before? That was the total number of recruits available on the map from which to draw from. So the battle rages for control of recruitment centers and building from which you can transform them into barracks, naval centers, or other buildings. These allow you to keep producing troops...
Now for the exciting part. At any time during the battle, you can press "enter" and transform into your dragon. The dragon can zoom around the field, and you can manually target just about anything and mash the left mouse button to fire shots. There are also special dragon abilities hotkeyed such as a large fire blast and a healing aura. The mechanic was awesome, and after a short time, I got used to sending my troops into battle, pressing enter, and supporting them with my dragon. Dogfights are a big part of the action too, which occur when dragons meet in combat. It is a seamless mechanic, and adds an interesting level of complexity to the RTS combat. Just remember, when your dragon dies, you can't turn into him for another 30 seconds. The battle continues until either the troops are exhausted or one side surrenders.
Dragon Commander - Preview @ GamesRadar
GamesRadar checked out Dragon Commander as well and wrote amongst others the following:
At the press of a button, players can change take control of their Dragon Commander from a third-person perspective, who consequently changes into the form of a dragon during conflicts--a dragon with a jetpack strapped to his back, no less. Thanks to the jetpack, you can travel from one side of the map to the other rapidly, letting you lay waste to enemy units with fire and magic attacks. As you progress through the story, you'll earn skills your dragon can use during battle giving you the ability to quickly change the momentum of any fight. In our playthrough, we had access to a powerful homing fireball and a healing spell that replenished health for all friendly troops within range. Though it may seem the case, the dragon form isn't overpowered. You'll have to actively switch between managing your army and burning your enemies to a crisp as the dragon if you want to gain a victory in battle.
Dragon Commander - Preview @ Strategy Informer
More previews on Dragon Commander are bound to become available while the people from Larian Studios are on a press tour. Here is the one from Strategy Informer.
There are a lot of elements in this game – a basic economy drives a respectable empire management system, where you can build buildings, or capture regions that have buildings already in them. Factories allow you to build units, and capturing/building one can allow you to open up another front, Tavern’s allow you to gain Mercenary cards, and so on. You move your armies about the map in true TBS style; although you have to make sure units aren’t caught out on their own otherwise they’ll be trashed. There’s also the RPG system – which is one of the few things that hasn’t changed that much since we last saw it. At the end of the day, you’re playing as a Dragon Knight, and your goal is to not only unite the races of Rivellon, but also to defeat your grand enemy. Dragon Commander doesn’t sound like it has the greatest plot in the world – basically your overall goal is to get rid of the very steampunk technology you used to win it, returning Rivellon to its more traditional High Fantasy state. Imagine if Divinity II had tanks and artillery… would have made an interesting game.
RPGWatch Feature: Dragon Commander - Hands-On Preview
I had the opportunity to play Dragon Commander when I was at the offices of Larian. I'm not much of an RTS player so I focussed more on whatever RPG elements their are in the game. Check out our article to read what what I discovered.
UPDATE: Swen Vincke told me the story has changed recently. I updated the article to reflect that change.
Dragon Commander - Hands-on @ RPS
Rock Paper Shotgun have written up their experience from a hands-on session with Dragon Commander.
If the camera is close to friendly units, a player can summon his dragon and fly around the battlefield dropping bombs, breathing fire, healing squads and generally being a disruptive git. My attempts to assist my troops lasted about twenty seconds, at which point the other player’s dragon jetted in behind me and burned me to a crisp. There’s a cool-down before dragons can fuel up and divebomb back into action, although it can be skipped at the cost of a few population units. The intervention of the creatures is devastating and with the correct upgrades they can completely turn the tide of battle, but without support from the ground they can’t win the war. Success will come from careful use of the dragon, I imagine, knowing the best moment to strike and the correct skill to use rather than blundering in repeatedly.
In the build we were shown, the combat AI isn’t in place so the troops that overran my defences were controlled by another player. There was a lot happening on screen and it was happening quickly, but there is an icon-based clarity stencilled atop the busy graphics and once attuned to the pace, I think even my slow, methodical chess-player’s wits will find the tactical considerations simple enough to manage in real-time. That said, the use of population as a shared resource does favour the commander who acts quickly.
Dragon Commander - Preview @ Insomnia
Insomnia, a UK LAN party site, brings us a blog on Dragon Commander, which gives a summary of the different parts of the game.
You control your units just like any other RTS game, but while they're moving around, performing the actions you've given them, you can turn yourself into a jetpack-equipped, firebreathing, unit-destroying dragon. You can combat other dragon commanders in this mode, you can even control your units to a slightly lesser extent, and lets not forget you can manipulate the way the battle unfolds with your dragon powers.
From being the annoying little untargetable bee, buzzing around a bigger unit and doing minor damage relentlessly, to destroying entire battalions in a second with devastating attacks, to mind-controlling enemy units and healing friendlies, your dragon is by far the most powerful unit on the battlefield. The controls are wonderful and intuitive, and with just a little practise (it took me all of one game to get the hang of it and thoroughly devastate the poor journalist I was placed against!) you can learn to be highly effective switching between full RTS control to maximise the effectiveness of your units, and being what is essentially a hero unit in third-person control.
Dragon Commander - Preview and Interview @ PCGMedia
PCGMedia is one of the first to report with a preview on what they've seen on the tour that Larian Studios is currently doing to promote Dragon Commander and Original Sin.
Larian Studios know what they’re doing. It might seem a strange sentiment, but it’s actually completely apt. The biggest problem with this title will be how to market it. Is it an RPG? Is it an RTS? Is it a good one of either? It seems to be a good one of both. Whilst other titles have tried to mix fantasy RPG with RTS (namely King Arthur: The Roleplaying War Game), no one has done it so intelligently and boldly as Larian Studios. Whilst I admit I didn’t get a chance to check out all the upgrades and how the story develops, I can say with all honesty that the core mechanics, and the core principles are fantastic. The beautifully rendered characters, maps, and fluid battle dynamic blew me away – and many members of the press at the event actually broke their time-slot to stay and play some more.
I can certainly see many hardcore players of some of the top played RTS games having problems with the direct Dragon control, since it veers away from micro-management, but given that it’s a game of Risk in the first place rather than instantaneous matches, I’m not convinced it’s a game for them, anyway. Divinity Dragon: Commander is a hard sell – not because it isn’t good, but because there are so many contrasting ideas that juxtapose what we think we know about RTS and RPG’s, that we’re left, at first, perplexed. Try the demo (available soon), and all will be understood relatively quickly.
Besides that they also had an interview with Swen Vincke on Dragon Commander, Original Sin and developing games in general.
Me: To me, American RPG’s seem very ideological – they often take a stance – they are very ideological gamers. Be the best of everything; be a hero, be a good person – but their games often are unmatched in fidelity and polish.
Swen: Ideological, that’s interesting… the problem is we don’t have the polish. If we [European developers] had the resources that they have, we would be at least matched. That’s what CD Projekt is also trying. If you can have the polish of what they do, with the core values of what we do… I really think it’s a cultural thing… there’s a culture in the games that we make that you will not find in American RPG’s, and vice versa. I mean, I’ve loved quite a lot of American RPG’s – there were some really good ones in the past; Ultima is one of my favorite RPG’s of all time. There are a lot of good Russian RPG’s, they just don’t have any production values at all.
Me: Do you think European developers aim their games towards older audiences?
Swen: I think European games developers aim their games at themselves. And that American developers aim them towards a ‘target audience’, and that’s a very big difference. I’ve seen this myself – I mean, this one [Original Sin] is made for me and my girlfriend, because we were playing Dark Alliance and I said “ah, I like the fact that I am playing together with you, but there’s nothing to do. It’s just hacking and slashing,” and so from there came Original Sin. If I like it, and he likes it [points to imaginary co-developer, not his girlfriend], then there are probably other gamers who will like it too.
Dragon Commander - Self Censorship
In his blog Swen Vincke talks about self censorship in Dragon Commander.
I've played a bit of the game last week in their studios and was given some examples and didn't think the statements in the game were actually something to worry about. I think it is great what they are trying to do. Swen also refers to the Dwarven princess in his blog and to make you draw a picture of her in your mind. Think about a not so slender girl, who is short and shows a lot of cleavage, which is made possible because she really has a lot to show.
One thing that worries me a bit in particular is the discussion I’ve had with several journalists about the the political and satirical topics in the game. They were all pretty interested in that part of the game and since they are journalists after all, I can see how that’s going to be something we’ll have to deal with.
Admittedly, some of the topics are a bit controversial, even if we did base them on real-life issues that dominate political agendas around the world. But the wording used by our writer is pretty much in synch with Larian’s culture i.e. it’s very satiricial, and since the internet is the internet and some of the satire will be lost in translation, it’s probably inevitable that flak is going to head our way.
It also doesn’t help that our lead animator decided that on this particular game he was going to show the world what he thinks of censorship. He made the most obvious sexist camera shot ever for the introduction of the dwarven princess to the dragon knight, and then queried me whether I thought it was over the top, and whether or not such an expression of artistic freedom belonged in a game. As I was debating the issue openly I somehow managed to get half Larian around me, who vigorously let me know that censorship is a thing of the devil and what they thought about their right to aim a camera at a dwarven princess’ breasts.
I let them cook a bit by playing the devil’s advocate, but let it in because a) I’m no big fan of censorship, b) I’m no fan of enforced politically correctness because it gives media too much power to shape opinion and c) I thought there was something symbolical about this particular shot being such a discussion generator just because it was visual. I think there is much more controversial stuff than this in the way the councillors formulate their opnions , but apparently the fact that that’s just words doesn’t provoke the same emotions.
Some of the guys who saw our presentations got it though and understood that there was gameplay value in putting in things a large majority wouldn’t agree with (at least, I hope), but which a player would still contemplate because it might let him reach his goals, pretty much the same thing a politician has to do all the time.