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††† † † by Eric Arevalo

I recently had the opportunity to conduct an interview with Swen Vincke, project leader for Divine Divinity. In this interview you will discover many interesting things, as well as understand the dedication and hard work that an RPG like Divine Divinity requires. I would like to thank Swen Vincke for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer my questions as well as complimenting the entire team for producing a masterful RPG!

INTERVIEW WITH LARIAN STUDIOS DIVINE DIVINITY PROJECT LEADER: SWEN VINCKE

MAKING THE GAME

1) How long did Divine Divinity take to produce and what where you able to accomplish during this time? Were you able to include as much as you wanted to? Were things left out?

It took us almost exactly three years to produce the game, and during that time we cancelled quite a lot of things because of budget/schedule problems. Without those cuts, Divinity would have been pretty amazing I think, but that doesnít mean it isnít a good game now. I think itís actually pretty good, but looking at what was cut, it could have been way more. Nonetheless, I consider it to be quite an accomplishment for our team.

2) What were the key goals you were hoping to accomplish when the idea to create this game first began?

The core idea was to have a very open and interactive universe with a very high story density which could be played through in a number of ways. Additionally, we wanted it to be dead easy to get into and too addictive to escape from. We sold it to publishers as a mix between Baldurís Gate and Diablo, but basically we wanted to move further along the road which was initially explored by the Ultima series.

3) Divine Divinity is indeed a classic example of an RPG that shows much dedication and hard work. Can you tell us something about the talented members that work at Larian Studios and helped you produce this excellent RPG?

Well, I donít think any of them wants to see another RPG up close for the next couple of months, so that tells you something about exactly how tasking itís been to create this game. We are a relatively small team and creating a game like Divine Divinity has proven to be a very ambitious undertaking, requiring some team members to do the work of several people at the same time, and we were lucky enough to have people who were capable of doing that. The shoulders on which this game has rested since its incarnation until the end were few but very strong. It also helped of course that those shoulders are pretty good at what they do J

PLAYING THE GAME

4) In the foreword to the game manual it mentions, "We don't force the player to do anything. We just give him the option." Why do you think this is important in Divine Divinity?

Itís always been my thought that making a difference between hardcore and casual gamers is not such a good idea. Common knowledge has it that some players want to rush through the main story line, whereas others want to investigate every single little detail, the hardcore gamers. More than often though players hover between these two extremes which is why you should never force them to do something and let them decide for themselves what exactly it is they want from a game. When designing Divinity, this has been a major rule, if not the most important rule.

5) As I play through the game I am amazed by the beautiful art displayed in so many areas, from the buildings, terrains, equipment, and to the character and enemy unit models. One scene in particular is very memorable and involves the church. It displays some astonishing detail and in one area inside you can see rays of light shining through the glass. Where did you come up with all the distinct designs for all types of graphics mentioned and areas such as the church and cursed abbey and how did the artists create such memorable scenes?

I canít answer that for you, youíd have to talk to the artists for that and they are all on a holiday right now.

6) The music is very good and sets the mood for each of the areas. What did you hope to achieve with the music in this game?

What music is always supposed to do Ė increase and strengthen the immersion. Opinions are biased about this, but I think Kirill (the composer) in general succeeded in his ambitions there.

7) What do you think sets your game apart from many of the other RPG's currently out on the market?

I think the major thing about Divinity is that thereís just so much in it. But if youíd ask me to pick out one thing, then Iíd say that itís the density of the story together with the freedom you get, especially on the interactivity front. I canít think of a lot of games out there right now that do that. This seems to have ended with Fallout and the Ultima series.

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT

8) I have seen you and others from Larian very active at your discussion forum. Do you think that it is important to support customers in this way?

Yes. First and foremost, they are customers, so they deserve a lot of attention. Sadly we lack the resources to give them all the attention they deserve, and the view I just gave you doesnít seem to be very dominant in this industry. Secondly, for us as developers, the feedback we get is priceless.

THE FUTURE

9) What comes next after Divine Divinity? Do you have any plans for an expansion pack or sequel or another game entirely?

I canít really say something about a sequel or an expansion pack right now. Regarding a radically new game, yes, that is in the pipeline, but it is way too early to even talk about it. The thing doesnít even have a title yet, but rest assured, thereíll be blood before they can ever give it an idiotic name like ďDivine DivinityĒ again ;)




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