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!
WITH LARIAN STUDIOS DIVINE
DIVINITY PROJECT LEADER: SWEN VINCKE
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
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
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?
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.
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.
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 ;)