Baldur’s Gate 3 Lead Designer Swen Vincke discusses in an interview with IGN all the challenges the company has faced in Early Access so far.
Baldur’s Gate 3 Lead Swen Vincke Describes “Many Challenges” In Creating The Game
Vincke grew up in a small town in Belgium. There was virtually no interest in D&D at the time, so Vincke had little exposure to the game and its community. However, he was fascinated by it and instead found ways to experience it. Vincke looked through other D&D-based tabletop game manuals, mostly in public libraries. Little did he know that years later he would create a video game with these exact rules.
The studio head loved the game because it was a great way to cultivate creativity and problem solving. He then shares an anecdote in which he uses D&D with his children on long car trips. The father of four would ask his children for imaginary scenarios and what they would do there. “Okay, you see a witch in the woods. What are you going to do?”.
It is this line of questioning that is capable of diverting her children’s attention from their iPad for hours. It is also a great distraction, an incredible adventure and an excellent form of family bonding.
And so in my head, I roll the dice, and I cheat, and so we go on an adventure and we can spend hours like this…
Baldur’s Gate 3 Dream
Swen Vincke then referred to Baldur’s Gate 3 as the company’s “Dream Project”. This makes perfect sense, given its connection to the table title. While it’s something they’ve been looking forward to for a long time, it’s also their most ambitious project.
Larian Studios definitely has some big shoes to fill. The first two Baldur’s Gate games were developed by BioWare in 1998 and 2000. Both received critical acclaim. Since then, there have been countless Forgotten Realms spinoffs and a few enhanced editions added to the mix.
Vincke’s team at Larian is no slouch either. They are best known for the Divinity series of games, which spun off from Divine Divinity in 2002. However, they gained critical acclaim in their latest title, Divinity Original Sin: II. Their Original Sin games are the perfect springboard for players like Baldur’s Gate. Although DOS is a turn-based game and BG is traditionally real-time with pausing, the old game was the perfect sandbox that allowed players to really play their role however they wanted.
Larian’s Great Expansion
In anticipation of this next monumental project, Vincke has expanded his team. From just 150 employees, Larian has grown to over 400. This huge growth was possible thanks to the success of Original Sin II and happened in more than a year of pre-production.
They finally realized the challenges of the size and scope of their “dream project”. Just because you have hundreds of people doesn’t mean you can achieve anything. Some of the challenges included estimating (to the best of their ability) the amount of work to be done, such as script word count, recording, and cutscenes.
Larian also encountered issues with their new scale. They discovered that they had no effective processes to handle such an influx of employees. The pandemic hasn’t helped that either, causing what Vincke calls a “fragmentation” of the business. Production almost completely stopped at certain times, in fact.
The biggest challenge
However, the most important thing they had to remember is that Dungeons and Dragons is inherently a complex and sprawling game. Creativity and player choice were what made the game originally fun, and Larian was up for the challenge of creating a truly digital version of it.
You will often hear, ‘You have to give the illusion of choice.’ You really have to give the actual choice too, otherwise it doesn’t matter.
So it looks like Larian is adamant about creating meaningful player choices in Baldur’s Gate 3, just like they did in the Original Sin games. For those unable to play these games, the Original Sin games were perfect sandboxes where players could really choose how to approach encounters. Players could choose to kill (or not kill) specific NPCs and the game would just continue.
Another great player choice would be player classes. It has been confirmed that Baldur’s Gate 3 will have all 12 D&D classes, all of which are fundamentally distinct from each other. The current early access version had 9 classes – Barbarian, Wizard, Cleric, Fighter, Ranger, Rogue, Warlock, Sorcerer, and Cleric. This means that only Bard, Monk, and Paladin are missing from the game’s roster.
Other than that, they should also incorporate all existing spells and abilities and make them “feel impactful in the world.”
Early Access to Rescue
One of the ways Larian decided to help the development process for Baldur’s Gate 3 was to put it into Early Access. This strategy proved effective for Original Sin 1 and 2. Player feedback was paramount to the success of both of these titles – so it should be the same for BG3, right?
The quick responses from fans in Early Access ultimately proved to be very helpful. Larian was able to implement significant changes to the game systems based on all of the valuable player feedback. Despite the rocky launch and critical reviews from influencers of a clearly unfinished product, Vincke doesn’t regret the decision to put Baldur’s Gate 3 into Early Access.
It (Ealy Access) lets you try things out quickly, you see what resonates, what doesn’t resonate, and when you need to put as many rules as we had to convert and find ways people would understand them or not wouldn’t understand them, it’s a very, very useful tool to have.
Back to what would have changed
Looking back, Vincke believes that Larian’s team could have “organized better than what we did”. That’s because there were some unexpected hiccups along the way. But considering the scale of Baldur’s Gate 3, I think we can excuse them for that.
As the interview was coming to an end, Vincke indeed thinks that they are able to meet the expectations placed on them. The stories about the shenanigans that people share in the game warm his heart. Knowing that their “dream project” has a positive influence on people’s lives makes him proud.
..Games matter and they can make a difference. And if you make a good game, that may matter more than if you make a bad game. So success seems like your game matters to people and that makes a difference.
Want an edge in the game? Check out Baldur’s Gate 3 Top 10 Spells or Class Guides for Druid, Wizard, and Barbarian. We also have an extensive Baldur’s 3 wiki.
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