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'We had to scramble': Devs reflect on the making of  Divinity: Original Sin 2

'We had to scramble': Devs reflect on the making of Divinity: Original Sin 2

April 6, 2018 | By Alex Wawro

April 6, 2018 | By Alex Wawro
More: Console/PC, Indie, Design

"We rewrote the game all the way up to the week before release, and there were many conversations still being modified. It was worth it...the downside was that the translation companies and voice recording companies were going bananas."

- Larian Studios founder Sven Vincke, speaking to PCGamer about the development of Divinity: Original Sin 2.

Larian seemed to hit it out of the park last year with the release of Divinity: Original Sin 2, the well-received sequel to its 2014 tactical RPG Divinity: Original Sin

Now, an interesting postmortem feature on the game published by PCGamer sheds light on some of the bumps along the way to Original Sin 2, with devs on the project talking frankly about challenges they faced in overhauling the game's combat and dialogue systems -- even as the studio more than tripled in size.

"Original Sin 2 was the first time where we had sufficient resources to do everything well, and even then we had to scramble," studio founder Sven Vincke told PCGamer. "We rewrote the game all the way up to the week before release, and there were many conversations still being modified."

Vincke and other members of the dev team focus on two major efforts in this postmortem: the prototyping and playtesting of a "spicy" Original Sin 2 combat system, and the attempt to revamp the game's writing with both new dev tools and a bunch of new writers, some of whom had never written for games before.

This seems to have paid off, judging by critical acclaim for the game's (optional) pre-written "origin" characters and storylines, but it sounds like the extra effort left some on the team feeling a bit burnt out.

"The one thing I don't want to do again is to write two of them," said writing director Jan Van Dosselaer. "I wrote Red Prince and Sebille, and I love both characters, but especially near the end it got schizophrenic writing the two of them at a very quick pace. I’d prefer to have just one baby to focus on. You have a lot of these conversations where the characters reflect on things, and I brought all of these conversations together and just spent days writing all the observations of all the characters, working like a machine."

Notably, these efforts seem to have been aided by an overhaul of the dev team's dialog toolset, affording them more room to write and design natural-sounding conversations.

"One of the major downsides of Original Sin was that the tool wasn't dialogue-friendly. You could tell it had limits that made it a lot more difficult to mimic actual conversation, which is why you have parts where you just get to ask a question and then read a block of text," added Van Dosselaer. "With the new tool we can really recreate proper conversations with banter and a good back and forth. If you look behind the scenes at what dialogue looks like in the editor, then sometimes it's huge, with all these branches that you'll never see. It creates all these unique experiences. It's a lot broader because of that."

For more interesting insight into the game's development, do check out the full article over on PCGamer's website. If you enjoy the bits about how the team dialed in Original Sin 2's combat to be interesting and threatening in equal measure, consider checking out Gamasutra's recent feature on how Larian tuned it for drama.

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