As one of the founders of Larian Studios, Swen Vincke is a mind on the cutting edge of the RPG insdustry. Over at Level Up KL Play 2020, he gave a quick chat about what it’s like combining Larian’s critically acclaimed take on RPGs with a fantasy powerhouse like Dungeons and Dragons in Baldur’s Gate III.
With Baldur’s Gate 3, he says the team had a rare opportunity to import the ruleset of Dungeons and Dragons into a traditional CRPG. As such, a lot of the values of D&D would see themselves carried over into the game.
These include the importance of your party, rather than just having one character. Unlike JRPGs which often have one party, Swen says that Baldur’s Gate will allow you to split up your party, tackling separate tasks on their own.
“It’s like a session with a really good DM (Dungeon Master)” he said, describing how the DM’s role would be to make sure every group was engaged with their task, even if they weren’t all together.
There’s also the case of the game’s sense of freedom. The game draws a lot of influence from Divinity: Original Sin, where players were given quite a lot of meaningful freedom to interact with the environments.
Naturally, he says the same can be expected of Baldur’s Gate III.
“You can do all sorts of things, and the world will react to you”, Swen says. However, unlike a D&D session where your DM simply has to think about how to handle unexpected results, games require a lot more work.
Every route needs to be coded into the game, with character performances or scenarios built to support these interactions.
“It’s going to be a challenge to manage that”, Swen laughs while describing these scenarios in detail.
Of course, Dungeons & Dragons is an IP owned by Wizards of the Coast. With a lot of games, the IP rights holder can sometimes be restrictive of how you handle their IP.
“Wizards of the Coast gave us a lot of trust and freedom,” he says. Rather than get in the way, Swen says the two companies worked well with each other to make a great Fantasy game.
“There was a lot of chemistry, and similar way of thinking”, he laughs.
Early Access Success
He also talked a bit about the game’s current early access state. After it launched on early access, Baldur’s Gate became one of the best selling games on Steam.
“We were surprised by the success of Baldur’s Gate III on Steam” he says. “It puts a whole ton of pressure on our shoulders, we were paralyzed like rabbits”
He then went on to say that there was a pressure suddenly to not change too much in case fans would be upset. However, the team quickly overcame their paralysis and got back to doing what they’d set out to do.
When it comes to creating content for Early Access, Swen says that it’s important to not put the whole game into it. While they obviously plan to roll out new content during Early Access, he had this to say for those who’d rather wait to get the full game:
“When the full game releases there’ll still be new content”, he says. “You’ll never see 20 new hours of content in an update,” .
He gave an example with the game’s selection of playable races. Right now the game has a selection of the playable races, with more to come. However, he also says that some of them would simply never come to early access, but would be playable in the full release of the game.
This isn’t the first time Larian Studios have talked about their approach to Baldur’s Gate. During Level Up KL’s Business Event, David Walgrave spoke in more detail about “The Larian Way”.
Baldur’s Gate 3 is the third entry in the Baldur’s Gate series. This is the first of the series helmed by Larian Studios, who previously gained attention with their RPG series Divinity Original Sin and its sequel, Original Sin II.