Divinity: Original Sin
Divinity: Original Sin Review
Corwin checked out Divinity: Original sin at his own pace and came back with a fine article about the game.
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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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Planescape: Torment - Review
Watcher Dark Savant found this Planescape: Torment review on Hardcoregaming101:
Warning: this article contains major spoilers for Planescape: Torment, including references to the game's ending.
The worlds(s) of Planescape
When any piece of fantasy fiction is compared to Dungeons & Dragons, it's rarely a positive thing. Despite the influence and popularity of this famous pen and paper RPG, if a setting is described as 'D&D-like', you can expect it to be a generic fantasy story with races borrowed from Tolkien, an assortment of evil beasts, a few evil overlords with magical powers and a society that superficially resembles medieval Europe. Despite the perceived lack of originality, one of the game's possible campaign settings is the strange and unique multiverse of Planescape.
Planescape could be described as a 'meta-setting': it combines all the other worlds of D&D (most - but not all - of them are different parts of the universe known as the Prime Material Plane), adds different universes for the Greek Pantheon, Valhalla, Christian demonology, the Divine Comedy, four classical elements and a few other things. The whole multiverse is a setting of conflict between order and chaos - its most extreme form is the eternal Blood War between two evil races: 'lawful evil' baatezu (devils) and 'chaotic evil' tanar'ri (demons). In the center of all this lies the neutral plane of Outlands, from which other universes can be accessed. In the center of Outlands stands an infinitely tall Spire, on the top of which floats the city of Sigil laid out on the inside of a torus. Sigil is the 'City of Doors': every door, window or arch is a portal leading to a different plane - as long as you have the right key. The city stays neutral in all major conflicts, but it is itself a battleground for different factions (inspired by those in Vampire: The Masquerade), closely watched by the mysterious Lady of Pain - both a ruler and a prisoner of Sigil.
Best cRPG ever?
Planescape: Torment is probably the best counterpoint against the claim that non-linear, branching narrative is inherently worse and somehow less 'artistic' than the more directed structure. Whether you play the game as a man seeking redemption, facing the consequences of his actions and accepting death, or as a cold and cruel egoist using everyone around him to reach his goal, Planescape: Torment is a great story. It's a perfect example of what branching, segmented narrative can achieve when placed in the hands of good writers and combined with a great engine and a memorable audiovisual style.
The game is not without weaknesses: The interface is not as good as it could be, the combat is tedious (especially in Curst) and some of the puzzles required to finish the game can be annoyingly vague - at a certain point, you need information that can be only extracted from a wizard, who doesn't want to talk to you unless you give him a piece of candy; while he clearly indicates that he wants candy, nothing in the game implies that you need to talk to him, he's in the area which can only be accessed by members of a specific faction and the particular candy can only be bought from one place in the whole game. But ultimately those flaws are pretty minor considering the game's great writing, fascinating story, memorable characters and high ammount of non-linearity.
Planescape: Torment deserves its place in the canon of the best cRPG games ever created. The game receives constant praise among the fans of the genre and none of it is undeserved. Its lasting appeal is a testament to the genre's immense potential and to the ambitious and creative nature of the late 1990s PC gaming scene. It's a game built on the idea of 'avant-garde fantasy', which doesn't shy away from difficult themes - and it does it while still being simply fun to play.
Planescape: TormentSP/MP: Single-player
Planescape: Torment - Retrospective Review
Phantomatica has reviewed the old classic Planescape: Torment:
If you’re anything like me, the Early Access release of Torment: Tides of Numenera got your blood boiling, and the game’s full release can’t come quickly enough. Seeing as we’re nearly two decades out from the release of the original Torment, widely considered among the best RPGs of all time–if not the best–the time seems right to journey back to Sigil to live out another brutal immortality. And so that’s precisely what I did.
I’m firmly in the pro-Torment camp. I played it first in middle school, and years later it was my first purchase from GOG after my glorious return from the console wastes to the lush jungles of PC gaming. I can’t think of a more literary RPG, a game that so elegantly weaves the cosmic and the personal into a dense, philosophical yarn. It’s hardly an exaggeration to say that the game turned BioWare’s robust Infinity Engine into a machine for living literature.
Planescape: TormentSP/MP: Single-player
Original Sin - Dunamis Mod @ RPGCodex
A new mod called Dunamis has been released for Divinity: Original Sin by SniperHF:
- 12 Quests with 21 total solutions and 28 total results.
- Varied endings based on player directed outcomes.
- Dense map design.
- 19 specifically crafted combats featuring custom stats and scripting; all designed for challenge and not filler.
- Dialog based skill checks used for alternate solutions.
- Final dungeon with puzzles and choices that impact the ending.
- A Day/Nice Cycle and accompanying NPC behaviors.
- The first D:OS campaign I'm aware of to feature most Original Sin systems.
- A game economy where you aren't drowning in loot.
- A 1 player campaign with up to 2 Companions (4 available).
Have fun, and if you have any issues contact me on the Forum or message me on Steam. There are some debug options I have built in that you can use to fix things if something goes wrong.
- Don't use lone wolf or pet pal.
- Killing everybody is not supported (yet!).
- Enable full rotation, and disable dual dialogs in the options menu.
- Rift travel works but the game doesn't do a good job telling you when waypoints are unlocked.
- Check the Rug.
- Save before selling or buying anything and double check what you receive!
- With Divinity mods, it's usually a good idea to create a new profile for the mod and keep it separate from the main game.
- The skill book vendor (Maurice) is somewhat buried in books. You can talk to him it's just a bit of a pixel hunt.
Original Sin - The Road to Original Sin
Eye noticed that TechRaptor created an editorial about Larian Studios' road towards Divinity: Original Sin.
Beyond Divinity, a sequel set 20 years after the last game, changed things up. The roleplaying makes a return, but with a twist as you now have an inseparable companion to control and manage. A pause button aids you in managing your playable characters, as well as summons. Both the pause button and the companion system would later make a return in their own sequel.
The funny thing about Beyond Divinity was, while it plays similarly to it’s predecessor, it was actually meant to be turn-based. Project leader Swen Vincke admitted this in an IGN article, making it not much of a stretch to imagine that this was the reason it would eventually be implemented in the Original Sin series. But the game suffered from its own problems with crashes, bugs, and voice acting that didn’t please everyone. It seems this may have urged a more customizable approach to having a duo of playable characters in Original Sin.
Divinity II (subtitled Ego Draconis) changed things up from its predecessor. Gone is the top-down view, replaced with third-person roleplaying and combat. With a twist involving the ability to eventually be able to turn into a dragon for aerial combat. Both stages come with the option to pause the game at any moment and review your available skills, with a feature to automatically trigger at a certain health threshold. This would prove useful if you had more abilities than there was room in your skillbar for, or you wanted to quickly consume an item.
I recently finished this game and felt quite wowed. There is a constant build up of new things to do or new capabilities. It begins with learning the basic combat, expanding into the skill trees and more impressive gear. As you slowly turn into a full fledged Dragon Knight, the raised jump speed gives you access to areas you couldn’t reach before or with unprecedented ease. And when you gain the ability to turn into a Dragon, you’ll explore familiar areas in whole new ways. Which makes it only more sad when the story suddenly comes at a dead stop with an unsatisfying end.
Larian Studios - Swen In Search of Women
On his blog, Swen Vincke mentioned he discovered that the statistics from Kickstarter and Facebook show that only a very small portion of their visitors are women, which doesn't compute with his own experience. That experience is derived from his home situation and the women he meets on gameshows, which made him feel that at least a quarter or a third of the players are female.
One of the blind assumptions I’ve always made about Divinity: Original Sin is that many women play it. I never had any doubts about this because I saw my partner play D:OS for many hours. She’s quite picky about her games and likes RPGs, so I figured that if the game would be unappealing to her (or womanhood in general for that matter), she would’ve told me right away.
My feeling that many women play D:OS is further reinforced by the people I meet at trade-shows. For every two or three male fans, there’s always at least one woman. Based on that, my lazy mind concluded that at least 25% to 33% of our audience is female, if not more (given that trade-shows are not exactly gender balanced).
I never really questioned this number because it fit with the split I saw for events like PAX. According to this report for instance, 35% of PAX visitors is female, and I think of PAX players as players who would typically enjoy D:OS.
But then this morning, I saw a number that didn’t compute at all. According to the Google analytics page for our Kickstarter campaign, only 4,19% of the page’s visitors is female versus 95.81% male! WTF?
Larian Studios - Kirill Pokrovsky RIP
The latest Original Sin Kickstarter update brings us the sad news that Kirill Pokrovsky, the composer for all Divinity games up to now has passed away yesterday.
A great man, a fantastic composer and a good friend passed away yesterday. Rest in peace Kirill Pokrovsky – we will miss you.
And thank you for all the gifts you’ve given us. We each have our own Kirill story and many of us have Kirill presents on their desks. All of them demonstrate how rich a person you were.
We’ve all hummed your music and we have marvelled at how far your virtuosity went. You were truly somebody unique, a true artist, and we were very lucky to have you as a colleague.
Your greatest gift to us of course was your music that you shared with us on many occasions. The following concert in particular was really special for us, in the midst of a chaotic Kickstarter campaign, you brought us a moment of peace and joy.
Larian Studios - Interview with Swen
9Lives talk to SwenVincke about Larian Studios, that they risked the entire company during the development of Divinity Original Sin, which they also did during the development of Divinity 2 and about the plans to release a major RPG every year.
The interview is in Dutch, which isn't a problem for me, but for those who don't master this language, there is always Google Translate.
The following is made with Myrthos Translate ©:
Meanwhile Larian works, in its three offices, on new games. The nine people who Vincke recruited at present in Quebec City are working on a brand new RPG. "In the longer term we want to create a model in which we develop several games at the same time," said Vincke. "Launching a major RPG every year: That's what we are aiming at. That is also the reason why we have started those new offices. The talent that is needed to do that is there. In Quebec we have a very cool team, with four former leads of very big games. They are going to work together with the teams in Ghent and Russia, to make beautiful things. It could go wrong, but we're on the right track."
Larian Studios - The why of Our Third Secret Project
Larian Studios' Swen Vincke also updated his blog with some background information regarding Divinity Original Sin: Enhanced Edition and why they choose Focus as a publisher.
Finally, the last big reason I didn’t mention yet about the why of the Enhanced Edition is the strategic one.
We’re putting a lot of effort in getting the Enhanced Edition to run really well on Xbox One & PS4 with controller support, with multiplayer and with split-screen support because from now on those features will be basic features of our engine.
That means that if we decide to go multi-platform in the future, we’ll be able to. This without–dumbing down- or –simplifying- things because a lot of the hard work will already have been done. It makes us a lot stronger as a company and will allow us to do much bigger things in the future. I’m quite excited by that prospect.
So, there you have it. In addition to having two big RPGs in production, we decided we needed some occupation therapy and added a third project to our roster. It’s a big thing for us, the step to consoles, and I think we’ll do a lot better this time around than last time we tried.It remains complex business, though bringing 80+ hours of complex content to different platforms, both on the engineering and on the business side. But it’s another step of growth for us and another step in the direction of that very big RPG that will dwarf them all. That’s certainly worth all the stress
Original Sin - Something Coming Our Way
Larian Studios is now on Instagram and in their first post their they mention something is coming our way, with the following teaser:
Dragon's scale and witch's hair,
Take a peek soon, if you dare.
Tooth of wolf and impish blood,
Something wicked this way comes...
Is it a DLC, a content update or something else?
Larian Studios - Interview @ GamesIndustry.biz
GamesIndustry.biz published a candid interview with Swen Vincke from GDC 2015 who reflects on the success of Divinity: Original Sin, his mistakes, and Kickstarter backers.
Not everyone has fun at GDC. With so many of the industry's key players concentrated in one relatively small area, there is no better time to forge alliances and seek out new opportunities. For many independent business owners a good week at GDC can mean a good year overall, but the opposite is also true. Making the most of that opportunity is a unique burden; a draining mix of excitement, anxiety and stress.
Swen Vincke, CEO of the Belgian developer Larian Studios, has shouldered that burden before, but this year has been markedly, refreshingly different. "It's the first time I've actually been relaxed. Actually, I've never been so relaxed at GDC. Normally I'd be fighting to be able to earn extra budget to be able to continue our game productions. Now, we're more confident. That's a nice feeling."
Larian Studios - Making Time to Develop
I have to fight to find time to breathe these days.
Things are moving so fast now and we’re doing so many things simultaneously that my previous concerns over our growth scaring the hell out of me can now be considered to be a big understatement. Still, I’m having lots of fun and I’m damn proud of what we’re achieving here at Larian. We finally figured out when we’ll start announcing some of our new stuff (around E3) and if things continue to progress as they are, I think we’ll be showing a lot between then and the end of the year.
I’m just back from lovely Quebec City where we’ve been interviewing candidates to join our new team there and I’m quite excited about the talents that’ll be joining us. Sometimes I feel like I’m in a candy store when the person in front of me turns out to be exceptionally gifted in his or her craft and indicates he or she’s willing to work for us. The complementing of our team with extra capacity & talent together with having a cool RPG engine to build our future work on is empowering us and I’m anxious to see all the little building blocks come together. Obviously, since we’re in the business of making RPGs, I’ll have to exert some patience, but from where I’m sitting it’s already clear that this will become something special.
Because we’ve picked E3 as the period to announce our next big thing, I can’t say too much right now (otherwise we won’t get the press coverage we’re hoping for etc…) so for today’s long overdue entry, I figured I might tell you a bit about something that’s been bothering me.
Larian Studios - GDC Postmortem Panel
Another video was released on the GDC Vault today. This time we have Swen Vincke of Larian Studios giving a Postmortem Panel about the lessons he has learned.
In this talk Swen will focus on Larian's experience of successfully turning into independent and self-publishing company after 15 years of working with different publishers. Structured into into 10 simple advises to both aspiring and experienced developers, this lecture will prove that setting up your own PR, marketing, localization and even distribution is well worth the effort.
Black Isle - The Cancelled Planescape Game
Eurogamer has another article style interview this week with Colin McComb about the story behind Black Isle's cancelled PlayStation Planescape game.
The Souls effect will reach fever pitch this week with the release of Bloodborne, and very important gaming people at lunch around the world will wonder how they can copy it. Feels like a recent thing, given that Dark Souls appeared in 2011 to really kick it all off. But as I discovered, in something of a crypt in London recently, the Souls effect was felt a long, long time ago.
It's 1996 and Super Mario 64 has come out, Quake has come out, Tomb Raider has come out. The Spice Girls are only just coming out (I could have worded that differently). Meanwhile, over in America, Colin McComb writes Planescape campaigns for Dungeons & Dragons. But he wants to go to California because there's this girl there. Then he sees his chance.
"Come on out and be the lead designer of this PlayStation game that we're doing with the Planescape licence," a company offers him.
The company turns out to be Interplay, a games company in full bloom; the man offering him a job is Feargus Urquhart, head of subsidiary studio Black Isle (now in charge of Obsidian Entertainment). What Urquhart wanted Colin McComb to make was something a lot like 1994 PS1 game King's Field. You know, King's Field made by From Software. You know, the King's Field series that would inspire Demon's Souls.
"Have you played King's Field?" Urquhart asks McComb in his first briefing. "And I said, 'I have not,'" McComb tells me. "And he said, 'Your first task is to play King's Field.' So they dropped me into an office with a PlayStation and King's Field and then said, 'Get going.'"
Brief in hand, McComb got going. It was just him and a programmer in a small office for weeks, months even. He hadn't made a computer game before, only tabletop games, but gradually ideas began to form, and the project known as Planescape PSX was born.
Original Sin - Interview @ One Angry Gamer
One Angry Gamer interviewed Thierry Van Gyseghem who was the animator & artist for Divinity: Original Sin about Boob-Plates, Sexism And Moral Outrage.
Billy: One of the things I was curious about was when the controversy broke out over the boob-plate armor, was it actually Kickstarter backers sending most of the criticisms or was it relegated to the gaming media and pockets of social media sub-communities?
Thierry: The original cover art had been used for nearly a year at that point, we even had a booth on E3 2012, without a complaint. It was a very small vocal minority that complained about the cover design when we went on kickstarter. Because of the kickstarter campaign there were certain gaming media sites that picked up on it and amplified the complains, I think we all know which sites are the most vigilant in their political agenda. I can only assume social media sub-communities will have added to it also.
Billy: Lately there’s been a lot of controversy over creative freedoms that developers can or should exercise with character designs. How much of it do you feel is legitimate criticisms and how much of it do you feel is social politics invading the creative design space?
Thierry: Criticism is formed by opinions, and opinions are formed by what we see, hear and read. So yes I do feel that social politics has a hand in the criticism that is thrown at creative freedom because it’s politics that decides what we see, hear and read. It’s remarkable that you can almost pinpoint the critiques to certain parts in the world, since different parts of the world have different politics.
So in that regard, no I don’t think there are that many legitimate critiques on character design as all of it is just pure taste and preference based. You can like something, or you can dislike something. Feel free to walk away if you don’t like it, but don’t harass the creator for it and wave your political flag.
Original Sin - Now Available in Italian
Larian Studios released a new video update for Divinity: Original Sin with information the game is now available to play in Italian. Thank you for the link MadGamer.
Divinity Original Sin is live on Steam in Italian! Made possible by fans from RPGItalia.net.