There's no way for us to ignore the new Divinity for several reasons. First, isometric turn-based RPGs are rare nowadays. Second, it's a prequel to one of the best games of the century. And third, can you refuse a game with the playful name as "Divinity: The Original Sin"? So that's why once we've heared, we've immediately sent questions to Larian Studios.
Hello! Please introduce yourself.
David Walgrave, producer at Larian Studios since 2004.
Why have you suddenly decided to create a turn-based RPG after all previous real-time Divinity-games?
We wanted to do something different. Actually, we've wanted to do turn based before, but the publisher we were working with always withheld us from doing so. With the skill system we came up with, turn based combat will also have many advantages. Historically speaking, RPGs are turn based, so why not? It's been a while since there was a western cRPG with turn based combat.
What caused the decision to use precisely this, «cartoon» or «WOW-like» (well, or «Torchlight-like») visual style (sorry for the comparison)?
We never thought "let's make the art direction WOW- or Torchlight-like". We gave two art teams a week to mock up a cool scene for a colorful RPG, and we would choose the best one. Actually, without either of them knowing about the other, both teams came up with something that was more outspoken than going for the realistic style, and the current art direction is a mixture of both mock ups that were created. Also, I don't think it's very WOW- or Torchlight-like, I can see many differences. Our models are not as bulky and caricaturesque.
The two main characters are «a condemned warrior released from his chains and a mystic heroine restored to life». But co-op is supporting up to 4 players. So, here comes the question: who are two other characters in 4-player co-op?
The story is built around these two particular characters. The other two (optional) party members are mercenaries and not involved in the story line. By the way, the main characters having a background story does not mean that you cannot roleplay them as you want to, you still have the freedom to act and react the way you want to.
Tell us more about the character development system: it will be the same as in Divine Divinity, or will be any significant changes?
What stays is that the skill system is classless. You do not choose a warrior or a thief or a mage or anything. With every level up, you can assign stat points freely, and you can choose and upgrade skills from any skill school you like. The primary stats are still the same, and the derived stats and resistances are also very similar. To allow for turn based combat, we had the change the rules a bit, but the main ideas remain. What is different, is that we have several schools to choose skills from: there will be multiple schools for magic, warriors and survivalists.
Tell us about skills and spells combo system: what is it and how does it work? Will ability of one character strengthen the ability of another? Will you be able to build a chain of spells and attacks for getting some bonus?
Yes. We want the player to find and experiment with good builds for separate characters, and good builds for the party. Combining skills and chaining skills together in combat is possible, if you plan ahead and think about your strategy. For instance, you can cast heatwave on an enemy as a targeted spell, but it will do more damage if that enemy is already on fire, plus it will intensify the fire damage taken over time. Combining multiple skills like that together, and taking into account the different effects it has depending on the enemy's position or state, will give the player huge advantages in combat.
You offer a player to "discover a wealth of item interaction". Please explain this phrase. Is it a common crafting or something more?
Item interaction in a Divinity game means that you have to be able to use, pick up, eat, move, open, destroy the items in the game world that are not too heavy or nailed to the ground. There will be items in the world that are useless, but it's just fun to be able to interact with those, but even seemingly useless items can indeed be turned into something useful when combined with another item.
For instance, you can equip a broom and smack people around with it. Or you can pick up a bucket and put it on your head as a helmet. You can drink water to heal you, but you can also hang onto it because you can combine it with flour, which creates dough, and combining that dough with an oven or fire, creates bread. Bread can be eaten gives you more health and even boosts your strength for a while. So why can you move a flower pot? Just because you can, or you can try to sell it. Or fling it at an enemy!
You position the in-game editor as one of the key features of the project. How powerful is this tool? What can be created with it: new locations, quests, items, enemies?
The tool that we are shipping together with the game is the tool that we are using to build the game. That means that indeed the player will be able to create from scratch and build his own levels: define landscape, create mountains and rivers, paint the ground textures, place all kinds of items in the world, build houses, fill up the houses with items and characters, write those characters' dialogs, place enemies... A cool tool for the modding amateur, but very powerful for experienced modding teams.
We are still experimenting with the freedom that we can give the modders, so importing your own textures and models is still a question mark, but we're trying to give them as much freedom as we can.
How non-linear will be the game, how player’s decisions can affect the world of the game? Will it be local scale choices or actions of our heroes will have global consequences?
During the game, the party members will build up a relationship that will change the endgame of Original Sin. Plus, the story has different endings. Most quests have different solutions and results. The party is free to roam the world. You build up a reputation by doing quests so people will react to you. So yes, there are global consequences, and it's pretty non-linear, even though the main storyline will take you from point A to B, with some possible side branches depending on your choices and actions.
Based on information available to us, development of Original Sin and Dragon Commander started almost at the same time. Release dates are also the same. What is the reason: the peculiarities of the development process or some kind of link between the games (storyline, game engine, something else)? Don’t you afraid of competition between this two project’s?
Both games are actually using the same engine, indeed. At first, Dragon Commander wasn't going to be what it has become though, so the timeline for that game kept on shifting forwards as the game got bigger and more complex. Dragon Commander became that way because we are constantly testing out the games we work on and iteratively adding or removing things to ensure the games are fun. So it's almost a coincidence that the release dates are so close to each other. At the moment, there is no competition between the teams, some people are working on both games anyway, and there is no reason for any team to be competing with the other. We'll keep for the competition idea for the QA teams though...
What is the planned duration of storyline campaign? Maybe you already have plans for any add-ons or DLC?
If our calculations are correct, currently Divinity Original Sin should be a 40 hour experience. However, we also said that about Divine Divinity and some people spent 100+ hours in that game (and there was no grinding or respawning of enemies in that game). There are no plans for addons or DLCs.
Thank you for your answers! We look forward to the game release.