Divinity: Dragon Commander
Dragon Commander Multiplayer Review
DArtagnan is our second reviewer for Dragon Commander and in his review he focused on the multiplayer part of the game.
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Divinity: Dragon Commander
Dragons with Jetpacks
Kalniel reviews Dragon Commander to find out how the different styles mix and blend while strapping on his dragon's jetpack.
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Original Sin - Post-Funding Update #57
Larian Studios have just announced in a Kickstarter update that next week will be the week the beta of Divinity Original Sin will become available.
This year, April is bringing more than mere showers: The beta version of Divinity: Original Sin is nearly ready for launch and will hit Steam the week of April 1 (no jokes!).
Those of you who have been making careful rounds of the alpha world will be excited to find the following:
- New region unlocks
- Hugely expanded character creation options, including visuals and presets
- Tons of new talents
- A new cache of new skills and spells
- Better AI and new enemy tactics
- Hundreds of bugfixes
- New and upgraded visuals, special effects, and music
- Improved loading times and stability
- Improved cooperative dialog systems
To explain lots more about what's going on in the beta, Swen did a tour of the office and let the developers speak for themselves about what their departments have been up to:
If you watch the video, you'll find a nugget of wistfulness among the litany of good news:
Some bad news can be found in the message as well as they had to drop day/night cycles due to time and budget constraints. Swen talks more in his blog about the difficult decision this was.
My main regret for D:OS is that we didn’t manage to do the day/night cycles. Killing your darlings never is fun, but it is an inevitable part of production. I guess we always figured that, if anything, this would be the one we’d cut. Up until not-so-long ago however, I did have some hope that we were still going to be able to make it happen.
Some have always considered overestimation driven by a good dose of optimism to be Larian’s biggest “problem,” but to be quite honest, I’ve never agreed. Instead, I’ve always thought of it as one of our best qualities.
“Who dares, wins,” “Optimism is a moral duty,” “No sweat no glory” – these are all part of the ideas at the core of Larian’s credo. We tend to feel that something that looks almost impossible deserves its fair chance at being realized. As long as we can put an adverb like “almost” in front of the “impossible”.
The thing that forced our hand in the end is the size of our buglist. Despite having made quite a few RPGs already, I’m still impressed by what’s being reported.
It’s not the quantity that’s scary per se (we’re used to large numbers like this, and we are making an RPG, after all) – but the types of bugs we’re seeing are in a category of their own.
The freedom we give players, coupled with the fact that we are introducing a unique type of cooperative multiplayer, makes for a very complicated quality assurance experience. You just have to look at a few of the “Let’s Play” videos to see that the level of imagination of players apply to abusing our game is boundless.
If you’ve been following my blog a bit, you’ll know I wouldn’t want to have it any other way. Being able to not only handle but encourage this abuse is what makes Divinity: Original Sin unique.
But sometimes, when I’m really tired, I silently wonder…
Maybe we should’ve gone for linear storytelling through fixed cut scenes with nice, easily manageable bottlenecks.
And oh yeah, maybe we shouldn’t have allowed the player to kill everybody.
Or steal quest items.
Or do everything in whatever sequence they want to…
Life would be so much easier.
But then I watch another one of those “Let’s Play” videos, and I know it’s worth every bit of effort. You may think I’m joking, but that’s really how it goes– I’m quite obsessed with this game but I constantly question what we’re doing so I often need to re-convince myself.
That’s why it took a lot for me to commit to dropping the day/night schedules and stick with the NPC routines we have now.
The money we received from Kickstarter and Steam Early Access has gone a very long way to improve the overall game experience and we could never have made a game with such a deep and involved RPG experience if it wouldn’t have been for our backers.
It makes it all the more difficult to disappoint those who were looking forward to NPC schedules reacting to day/night. But the realization that we need all of our energy to polish the game is strong.
We do not want to release a game that has as many bugs as Divinity II: Ego Draconis had upon release; that would lead to an even bigger disappointment. When people install the release version of Divinity: Original Sin, we want them to have fun right away and not have to worry about technical issues. Entertaining people is why we’re in this industry.
Original Sin - Going for the Kill
Although no reference to a game is given, this video shows an animation of what the author of the video (jesse Cox) did when he played Original Sin at Larian's. He went about and killed everyone and everything that could give him a quest.
Original Sin - Preview @ Red Bull
Red Bull has taken a closer look at Divinity Original Sin and liked what they saw. The article combines a preview and an interview with Larian Studios' Swen Vincke.
Which isn't to say that Original Sin has to be played with diplomacy foremost in mind. Even in its alpha stage of development, the all-important combat system ticks the two critical boxes for any modern top-down RPG: good looks and complexity. This being a game about magic and wizards, brawls between our heroes and the trolls, zombies and mean-spirited wizards they encounter are all fireballs zinging back and forth, things exploding with lightning and glowing buff spells that heal allies or put them out if they should catch fire (which, as protagonists in a fantasy game, they frequently will).
But the spells and their different elemental effects are there to do more than just look slick. In the gameplay demo we see, the two heroes are badly outnumbered (and outgunned) by a Fire Elemental and an undead horde of zombies and ambulatory skeletons. One player summons an Ice Elemental – a towering frozen bullet-sponge who does a good job distracting the enemies and soaking up all their arrows and destructive magic for all of one turn, before it explodes into shards under the punishment.
Original Sin - Video Preview @ Video Gamer
Video Gamer has a new video preview for Divinity: Original Sin that wonders if the game is the saviour of the Classic RPG. So whats your opinion on the topic everyone?
Divinity: Original Sin is Larian Studio's attempt to reinvent the old-school turn based RPG. This ambitious Kickstarter funded project has been available on Steam early-access since January, so Jim decided to see how it was coming along.
Original Sin - Post-Funding Update # 56
Larian Studios has posted the next post-funding update for Divinity: Original Sin. The update talks about the game delay. and a new Alpha update.
Spring is coming, but an alpha update is here.
In nature, the coming of spring is marked by longer days, warmer afternoons, and sightings of the first tender sprouts of nature's bounty.
At Larian Studios, the coming of spring is marked by impatient emails, a QA department inching rapidly toward the dark side of the Smeagol-Gollum continuum, and a wild Swen who's managed to replace most of his bodily fluids with caffeinated beverages.
Nevertheless, we're very happy to bring a new alpha/ Early Access update implementing lots of community feedback and revealing a variety of new features, improvements, and system enhancements.
Furthermore, we're excited to share two "spoiler" videos from the press discussing the game at length and showcasing several never-before-seen regions.
And stay tuned! This will be the last update before we make a new region of Cyseal, featuring new characters, combat, and (main) questing available for the alpha.
They also posted a new update video with some information on the the changes.
- Enemies now enjoy smarter target selection, meaning you'll no longer reap the benefits of what you thought was simple orcish idiocy.
- Combat now offers decreased experience points. You'll have to flex your muscles a bit more to get that next level-up! In addition, fewer ability points may mean an existential crisis (and a push to explore, fight, and quest even more) for the wizard who dreamed of being a charming, telekinetic, body-building powerhouse.
- You'll be able to plan fireball launches, winter blasts, and earthquakes with more precision now that skill previews have been implemented, meaning you'll see exactly how and where your spell will launch before you commit to it.
New (unfinished, but still very cool) music added
The hills are alive with the sound of Kirill! Our composer has leant some new music tracks for this update. Expect further improvements before launch, but these should add some new flavour to the areas you'll be exploring.
Statuses! Statuses everywhere!
Stoic heroes be damned! Now you can enjoy (or not) the thrill of being Chilled, Warm, Burning, Wet, Bleeding, Crippled, Blind, Cursed, Weak, Invisible, Slowed, Hasted, Raged, Lucky, Diseased, Infectious Disease, Fortified, Petrified, Blessed or Drunk.
Be careful! Each of these statuses will affect game play in some way. It may be fun stumbling around Cyseal as a drunken Source Hunter with increased luck, but be wary of your decreased initiative and intelligence. (Also, that buff to charm is only in your mind. Trust us on this one.)
Improvements to generic behaviours
Our in-house puppet masters have been hard at work regulating and improving the way NPCs react to you. Acts like theft, vandalism, murder, and breaking out of jail will now have more consistent consequences.
Larian Studios - Educating Players
Larian Studios Swen Vincke has posted a new update on his blog with his opinion on how to educate players of his game. I found it to be a good read once again.
Here is a part of the post so make sure to read the link for the rest it.
I’m doing the press tour thing again, spending some time in the US, France, Poland and Russia, demoing the game to several media outlets. You can watch some of the output here, here or here. There’s also a big interview with me here in case you want to know about what’s driving us, where we’re hoping to go and where I think RPGs went wrong. More is coming but it’s essentially the same presentation in various incarnations.
I need to admit that I did pretty much everything I could think of to avoid this particular tour. I really didn’t want to go because I was loath to leave my family behind. They already don’t see me much these days and I cherish every moment I have with them. But our young PR manager can be a tyrant and he put a lot of pressure on me to show up at these media outlets.
“Game Informer will never write about us” I told him and he replied “Yep, if the PR manager shows up, that’s for sure, but maybe if you show your face that may make a difference”
I have to commend him because it turns out he was right.
While I still don’t know if Game Informer will write about us in their magazine, I do know that if we hadn’t made the trip to bitter-cold Minneapolis, the reporters over there wouldn’t have paid a lot of attention to Divinity:Original Sin, if at all. Now at least they’ve been sufficiently tickled to give the game a shot and play it together in cooperative multiplayer.
It seems to be a repeating pattern.
Information aboutLarian Studios
Original Sin - Inteview @ Rock, Paper, Shotgun
Rock, Paper, Shotgun interviews Swen Vincke to talk about the near-closure of his studio, Divinity:Original Sin's future, and gender parity.
RPS: Conventional wisdom used to say that no one wanted these sorts of games anymore. And you’ve gone from making Ego Draconis, which was much more an RPG fused with an action game to Original Sin. But this is like, by many standards, a niche within a niche. You’re making a very specific type of game. Are you at all worried about a worst case scenario? A small crowd buys it and loves it, and everyone else says, “eh, not my thing”?
Vincke: Yeah. But you know, they’ve always said that about every single game I’ve made. From Divinity 1 onward. They went on to sell really a lot of units. We’ve calculated Divinity II sales at, what, 1.3 million units? That’s not a small crowd anymore. Divinity 1 must be over a million units now if you take the entire life cycle into account. That’s a lot of people already. I refuse to believe that our players currently are the only ones who want to have an evolution of the RPG genre as it existed and that was cut off. It was cut off because it turned out that the action-RPGs sold easier and were easier to make.
I personally think that, in the early 2000s, RPGs were cut off, because there were a number of production values that went up, and it was impossible to… Well, it was possible, but it was decided not to do it by the powers that be. So the genre stopped evolving. This was the case for a lot of genres. Now we have the resurgence of the indies. We have Steam Early Access and Kickstarter. Suddenly we have games that nobody would have ever invested in. Like Wasteland 2, for instance. Do you really think a publisher would have put a dollar into that? No. Look at it, how it’s soaring up the charts. That’s conventional wisdom for you.
The guys that have the conventional wisdom, I’m sorry, but I never agreed with them back then and I still don’t agree with them nowadays. It’s easy to go along the beaten path, but then you’re not going to have any evolution in games. You’ll have rehashes of the same thing over and over. There’s a lot of gamers out there, more gamers than ever, and they’re looking for a little bit more intelligent content. That’s where we want to be with this one
Original Sin - Early Access Preview @ The Reticule
The Reticule is the next site that to preview the Early Access version of Divinity: Original Sin. I'll quote a small part of the preview below.
My experiences with the combat have been very mixed so far, the systems work well in the turn-based environment and I particularly like how elemental spells can have a knock-on effect, so sending a lighting bolt to an enemy standing in water will cause some serious damage. So far though I’ve come across a few too many battles where I am too heavily outnumbered against more powerful foes. Whether I’m missing something during my character creation, I don’t know, but that is my one sticking point so far.
Original Sin - Lets Play Video @ GameSpot
GameSpot is the next to post a video playing the Alpha with a few developers from Larian Studios. Here is the video and a brief description.
Kevin Van Ord is joined by the folks from Larian Studios to get a look at Divinity: Original Sin.
Original Sin - Lets Play Videos @ RPS
I corralled Larian in my very own (adoptive) hometown of San Francisco, and we played the opus-in-the-making’s latest build. I had to pre-record this one sans a camera, unfortunately, but Larian head Swen Vincke showed me nearly two hours of late-game (read: not in the alpha) gameplay and discussed how players can kill every NPC and still progress, non-violent approaches, how Larian *wants* us to break its systems, how it plans to avoid another disastrous Divinity II: Ego Draconis-style launch (despite some rather pressing bugs in the current version), comedy in a normally self-serious genre, talking to animals, and gobs more. This one is now near the top of my most-anticipated list.
Original Sin - Spring Is Coming
A new video has been made available for Divinity Original Sin showing what will be coming your way this spring. The video shows amongst others new landscapes and creatures.
Sneak preview of what's to come this Spring for Divinity: Original Sin. Now on Steam Early Access. The world is growing ever more vast and more interactive, and here you'll find a first look at some of Rivellon's previously unseen fairytale landscapes and creatures. If you pay close attention, you'll find that it's not only your elemental powers, but also tempestuous weather that can shift the winds in combat.
Does this mean the game will be available this spring or that the next update of the alpha/beta will have this?
Original Sin - Post-Funding Update #55
Larian Studios has posted the next post-funding update for Divinity: Original Sin. The update talks about what changes have been made to the Alpha version.
What new features have been implemented?
Watch Swen showcase the following updates in the video below or read on for an overview of the things that kept us occupied these last weeks:
Affinity and Affection:
Scarlett and Roderick (or Jane and Joe; Joe and Joe; Lady Redgrables and Dame Rothschilders; or however else you'd like to name/ engender them after today's update) will now have opportunities to explore their like or dislike for one another via our brand new Affinity and Affection system. Certain in-game events (like levelling up, healing one another, and landing a killing blow in-battle) will occasionally trigger co-op dialogues in which your heroes can explore the trust, friendship, and affinity they, at your discretion, may share.
As the game progresses, the timbre of these dialogues will change depending on how your heroes respond to one another. They may become enemies, business associates, friends, or even lovers depending on how you develop them.
You are now free to customise the gender, hair colour, skin colour, and names of your starting heroes in our improved character creation system.
The options available in our current character creation system are limited, but many more features will be added soon. Before too long, you can expect to start your party with a fully-customisable pair of heroes.
Now, in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen, you'll have a log automatically tracking which actions you've performed (finding items, casting spells, levelling up, etc.) as well as cataloguing any automatic dialogue you might have missed.
This history log will be very handy in understanding the rules systems that are at the game's heart. And of course, the better you understand the rules, the better you'll be able to exploit the game's systems to your advantage.
Changes to rules and systems:
Action Points: The Action Points available to you at the beginning of combat now depend on your Initiative (that is, Perception and Speed). The number of Action Points available to you in subsequent rounds depends on your Speed. You can still save Action Points and shift them to the next round, but the maximum amount of Action Points you can collect is determined by your Constitution.
Intelligence no longer lowers the Action Point cost of all skills - it only lowers the Action Point cost of elemental skills.
Warrior skills get Action Point bonuses from Strength, and Ranger skills get Action Point bonuses from Dexterity.
Abilities: The ability Reflexes has been removed. If you want to have a chance to evade attacks, you need to invest in Dexterity. Intelligence no longer gives extra Ability points. Perception now also determines you Critical Chance.
User Interface: Tabs will help you organise your inventory by item type.
In dialogue, your clickable options will disappear after you've selected them, making it easier for you to organise which dialogue options you've already seen and which you haven't.
Map Markers will help you navigate Cyseal, so no more barging into the Legion barracks expecting to question the Duke at the King Crab Inn.
Improved skills feedback will alert you with handy information, like where teleporting is impossible and where you might not be able to cast a certain spell, and improved tooltips will give you a better handle on your gear.
Certain missing equipment models have been added, so now your wizard can finally enjoy a real robe instead of trundling around in nothing but his/her underpants.
Original Sin - Larian Helps Fan Propose
Since its Valentines day here is news about Larian, and how they helped a fan propose to his girlfriend in the Divinity: Original Sin Alpha.
When Daniel learned that one of his girlfriend's favorite game developers produced a game in which you can create your own stories to play with friends, he hatched a brilliant plan to win her heart...
You can imagine that we never expected to become a wedding agency when we started developing Divinity: Original Sin, yet that's exactly what's happened.
As we've been developing Divinity:Original Sin we've already played host to several proposals via the game's cooperative dialog system and we have a backlog of prospective husbands and wives looking to surprise their future better halves with unforgettable in-game proposals.
Divinity:Original Sin will release with a game editor so we can't wait to see what creative custom campaigns hopeful lovers will make to impress their beloveds.
Thank you to Daniel and Dolores for allowing us to share this moment with you.
Original Sin - Release Date News @ Gamereactor
Gamereactor has news on the planned release date for Original Sin is April 25.
The German publisher of Divinity: Original Sin has confirmed to Gamereactor that they're planning a slightly later than expected release date for Larian Studios' crowdfunded isometric-RPG. The game, which is currently available in an unfinished state on PC via Steam Early Access (there's currently no Early Access version for Mac owning gamers), will get its official launch on April 25.
Sounds incorrect to me. What do you all think?
Icewind Dale 2 - Video Retrospective
Josh Sawyer has posted a video retrospective of Icewind Dale 2.
Answering this question: "Hi Josh, if don't mind, please answer my question! Icewind Dale 2 was released more than ten years ago, it was the last Infinity Engine game and the first game that you worked on as a lead designer (as far as I know). What do you think about it in retrospect? What things would you have done differently, if you had to work on it now?"
Information aboutIcewind Dale 2
SP/MP: Single + MP
Original Sin - Alpha Preview @ Eurogamer
Eurogamer has another preview of the Alpha version of Divinity: Original Sin.
While it remains to be seen whether Original Sin manages to be the Ultima successor that both Larian and I want it to be, it's in with a fighting chance. Much rests on how it develops its elemental mechanics and main storyline, and if and how decisions you make come to influence what comes later. So far, it's the best attempt I've played in a long while, and one that offers plenty of hope that Larian can pull it off. Certainly, it's the first Divinity game that has hooked me in like I've wanted since the series began, to the point that I feel sad that - rough as it inevitably is - it's only a slice of the game. That's a great start for a RPG with big ambitions, and I eagerly look forward to continuing the quest in the spring.
Original Sin - more Previews
Here are some more previews for Divinity: Orginal Sin.
Stepping away from combat, each NPC in Original Sin has an opinion of you. Their thoughts on you are presented on-screen via the Attitude Meter. Accuse someone of something they didn’t (or did) do? They’ll probably like you a bit less for it. Get caught stealing in the market? People will not only think less of you for it, but they’ll (according to the game’s Kickstarter page, anyway) start spreading the word of your wrong-doings to other people in the city. On the other hand, people will think more of you for doing good deeds.
Jesse Cox has his fourth video up already.
The reviewer at 411Mania feels he should give these suggestions for improvement:
I'm going to make two suggestions to the developers (if they read this), or to those people who might try it out. The gold system, at present, appears highly broken. You can trade with almost everyone you meet, but almost none of them have gold. Even if you find someone with gold, like a merchant, the system in place is awkward to use. You offer an item up, and a number goes above it. But you have to manually click on a weight scale to add in the gold from a NPC to match the number. I think there is a system in place that is supposed to be a barter mechanic, like selling an item above its cost if your skill is high enough, but the first few times, it confused the hell out of me, as I was selling items for what I thought was gold, but really wasn't, due to the initial price number.
The other light suggestion would be that they either increase the running speed of the characters, or mildly scale down the first town. The town itself feels massive for some reason, but also kind of cavernous, since not a lot of it can be interacted with at present. This is partly a map issue as well, since aside from doors, it tells you practically nothing, aside from a disappearing quest indicator. I did unlock a character with a fun "Jump up and jump down in a different place" ability, that I could use to break into houses, so that was pretty enjoyable
Another video preview you could watch has been made by Flik.
Original Sin - Previews
Another set of previews for Divinity: Original Sin.
In its current state, Divinity Original Sin feels a lot like a mid-90s RPG. That’s both good and bad. The freedom to explore the world with which Larian Studios has provided is great, but it also feels like its brought with it many of the negatives of that era: no clear picture of what you’re supposed to be doing exactly, a progression system that doesn’t fully empower the player to tackle greater challenges, and perhaps a bit too much freedom at the start. These negatives aren’t bad in everyone’s book, of course, and this is an alpha so things could change. One thing that is definitely great is the freedom Larian gives to co-op play. Each player is empowered beyond just leveling up their character, he or she can craft that character’s personality and motivations. Player two doesn’t have to play along with everything that player one says and does.
Electric Banana think it's an RTS, but do like it
Divinity: Original Sin holds the potential to become a very exciting game, one that you can immerse yourself in. With a whole host of quests to undertake, characters to meet and buildings to explore, highlights of the alpha version are the beautiful landscapes to encounter, and the funny situations to encounter after failing to sneak into someone’s house, and be confronted with a very disgruntled woman in a bath. Divinity: Original Sin is a game to watch, as it could easily do spectacularly once complete.
Original Sin‘s focus is intended to be a player customized RPG experience and it is pulling it off nicely. There are some rough edges though this is expected considering we’re still in the alpha builds, but everything I’ve seen so far hints at a solid cRPG experience coming. The alpha build itself is 15-20 hours long, and Larian Studio says that’s only 1/3 of the content available.
Original Sin - Alpha Presentation and Release Date
Swen Vincke shows the alpha of Divinity:Original Sin in a video on the German site Gameswelt. As the German language is apparently not one of the strong points of Swen, they speak English, which is good for most of us I suppose.
One of the thing that is mentioned by Swen is that they are now in late alpha and that the release date is still a few months away. He also shows a new area of the game.
Aubrielle also sent us a mail informing us that Worthplaying mentions a shifted release date to 'Spring 2014'.
Original Sin - Two More Previews
Here are two more Early Access previews for Larians RPG Divinity: Original Sin.
While everything is looking very promising so far, the alpha is extremely buggy. A lot of content isn’t implemented yet, there are various balancing issues and simple game-breaking bugs that will force you to restart every so often. Most importantly, save files will not be compatible with updated versions, meaning you will have to repeat a lot of the game later if you want to play it now. In its current early state it’s really only an attractive investment for die-hard fans.
There is still a while to go before Divinity: Original Sin sees a full release date, but this is a game that all RPG fans should be excited for. The part I’ve seen seems to be ramping up for an epic quest, and one that begs you to experience it as you see fit. There is a living, breathing world here to explore. Be the hero and complete every quest along the way or burn it all to the ground. With so many ways to play and progress, it really puts the RP in RPG. There are numerous big named titles in the genre releasing in the next year, but this might be the RPG to top them all.
Original Sin - Post-Funding Update #54
Larian Studios has posted the next post-funding update for Divinity: Original Sin. It's a large update that has news on the game delay, and Alpha changes.
Happy Friday, friends!
We're pleased to offer a new update on Steam for Divinity: Original Sin. Assuming you enjoy improved stability; massively improved rule systems for classes, spells, stats, and items; fixed bugs and new features (including one that could help your weary and deserving heroes take the occasional break from hunting Source and making pizza), this update will certainly please you.
In the following video, Swen discusses the update, explains how your contributions on the forum have helped us, and offers some encouraging news for Mac users eager to get their hands dirty hunting Source in Rivellon.
Also, did someone say something about the release date?
(Hint - In case you skip the video the game is delayed to spring)
Larian also has a second video with more informaion on the Alpha.
What about balancing?
Enjoy a world of better-balanced weapons, armour ratings, damage, resistances, saving throws, statuses, gold, and treasure distribution and generation.
Balancing is, of course, an ongoing process and while this update offers much improvement, you'll find that we've still got our share of tweaking to do.
How has stability been improved?
Causes for certain frequent crashes have been identified and fixed, and performance has been improved and stabilised for Windows 32 machines. Also, co-op campaigners can breathe easy: Multiplayer has been secured, and strangers will no longer be able to pop into your game at random.
Check out the complete change log for more thorough information about updated game elements.
Do you actually pay attention to feedback from the forums?
Absolutely! Many of the bugs and areas for improvement we focus on come directly from the Larian forums. Any likes, dislikes, frustrations, bugs, or suggestions Early Access players provide filter directly to the programmers and designers currently working on the game world. Your feedback is absolutely crucial to this process, and we are deeply grateful to everyone who contributes.