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Beyond Divinity Wrap Report @ RPG Vault #244765
05/06/04 11:27 AM
05/06/04 11:27 AM
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 3,095
Ghent (Belgium)
Lynn Offline OP

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RPG Vault is featuring a "Beyond Divinity" Wrap Report as Swen ‘Lar’ Vincke looks back on the development of our recently released RPG.

“We realized quickly that if we were going to use the Divine Divinity engine, we'd receive a lot of flak about the graphics in the game, given that they're 2D. The only way we could avert that, which we felt would result in destructive reviews, was by providing innovative gameplay. This was fine for us because there were a couple of things we wanted to try out, such as the skill system, the summoning dolls and the battlefields.”

Re: Beyond Divinity Wrap Report @ RPG Vault #244766
05/06/04 11:54 AM
05/06/04 11:54 AM
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Morbo Offline

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Best Decisions
1) Splitting the game up into different acts. It facilitated testing and patching enormously.


I agree it is easier for the developers. But I Had the feeling with <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/beyond.gif" alt="" /> that theire where 4 seperate gamses with a main quest. I have nothing against acts but:

You should always be allowed to return to every part of the game. People who missed the crystal bag for instance can't get it when they are in act 2. I liked the acts system of <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/div.gif" alt="" />. it had some sort of semi acts. The world was sepperaed but also as a whole. (you had rivellon, verdistis, elven forest, hall of dwarfs...). Some say that those could also be called acts. since the enemies were to difficult if you hadn't solved some quests.

If the first suggestion can be (hopefuly) completed maybe some act crossing quests <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/think.gif" alt="" /> (I loved the necromancer quest in <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/beyond.gif" alt="" /> <span class='standouttext'>Spoiler : </span><span class='spoiler'> but it's kind of part of the main quest to </span> )

and last but not least. A world map. In <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/div.gif" alt="" /> you had the world map with the teleporters on it I missed in <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/beyond.gif" alt="" />. Now the four acts were to much sepperated. Because every acts plays of on Nemisis (almost all the time) a world map would be helpfull and also reinforce the feeling that acts are connected other then the main quest.

Quote
Key Strengths
1) The humor. There are some very funny moments in the game without it becoming ridiculous. As this was one of the design goals, I'm happy to see that it worked out.


2) The ending. I really like the ending of the game. I realize that it is a bit controversial and some people might have problems with it, but I really like it.

3) The freedom of character development. Few systems allow you to develop your character in such a variety of ways. While one can argue about some parts of it, I think, in general, it's a pretty solid mechanism. Maybe it's a bit too complex from time to time, but we'll work on that.

Areas for Improvement
1) The battlefields. The idea works really well, but for a variety of reasons, we didn't implement them the exact way we had wanted.

2) The party interface. It's far from bad, but we could have done better.

3) The dialogue system. To prevent some of the problems we had with Divine Divinity, we limited the options the designers had, but in doing so, we sometimes went too far. The result was that some quests weren't implemented the way they should have been.


A nice analysis. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/up.gif" alt="" />

<span class='standouttext'>Spoiler : </span><span class='spoiler'> I loved the ending <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/up.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/up.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/up.gif" alt="" /> It hes that 24 season ending feeling. Personally i think happy endings are overrated </span>

Quote
Personal Thoughts
One day, I would really like to make a game without having to worry about funding the next month of development. I find that too many parts of our design are compromised by these worries, and that's a pity.


One of the pains of being a small company but it's better then spewwing games out that are avarage at best like EA. In this case th cure would be worse the illness.

Last edited by Morbo; 05/06/04 12:21 PM.

Not in the mood for cheese?
That excuse has more holes than a slice this fine Gorgombert!
Re: Beyond Divinity Wrap Report @ RPG Vault #244767
05/06/04 07:31 PM
05/06/04 07:31 PM
Joined: Mar 2003
Posts: 1,025
Flash Offline

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An interesting read indeed.

Quote
I'm not talking purely about things like the interface, but also about things like people preferring bright environments over dark...


I could have told you that beforehand. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" />


"In jedem Winkel der Welt verborgen ein Paradies"
Re: Beyond Divinity Wrap Report @ RPG Vault #244768
05/06/04 09:20 PM
05/06/04 09:20 PM
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Morbo Offline

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I hope they don't cast of nemisis like it never existed. i kind of liked the ranaar and nemisis. Would love to see it return (but maybe not as long as in <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/beyond.gif" alt="" />)


Not in the mood for cheese?
That excuse has more holes than a slice this fine Gorgombert!
Re: Beyond Divinity Wrap Report @ RPG Vault #244769
06/06/04 04:10 AM
06/06/04 04:10 AM
Joined: Apr 2003
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Australia
corwin Offline
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Good article. While the 4 acts are good, I too would have liked to see some connectivity. For example, I was annoyed when I checked my trophies Tab to see that all my details from a previous act were gone!! Surely this was unnecessary!!


If God said it, then that settles it!!

Editor@RPGWatch
Re: Beyond Divinity Wrap Report @ RPG Vault #244770
06/06/04 09:55 AM
06/06/04 09:55 AM
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Morbo Offline

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Maybe they should use a tree structure in <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/div.gif" alt="" />˛

like:

+quests:
-act 1
-act 2
-act 3
-act 4

+trophies
-act 1
-act 2
-act 3
-act 4

Personally I didn't like that all subquest of an act needed to be solved while in that act. Since you can't go back to the previous acts and solve unsolved quests


Not in the mood for cheese?
That excuse has more holes than a slice this fine Gorgombert!
Re: Beyond Divinity Wrap Report @ RPG Vault #244771
06/06/04 10:59 AM
06/06/04 10:59 AM
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Germany
kiya Offline
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Quote
For example, I was annoyed when I checked my trophies Tab to see that all my details from a previous act were gone!! Surely this was unnecessary!!

Corwin, I believe it was a matter of how the lists were coded - as Lar wrote => bug fixing was easier by dividing the acts strictly. Guess, this goes for the entries as well.
Kiya

@Morbo: I know act/chapter design from adventure games => and it is common there, not to return. Advantage of linearity is not having missed something vital - disadvantage is not being able to clean up loose ends.

I think, if BD had not been designed in this linear actlike way, it would have been a terrible way to find out, I need an item from Act 1 to solve a major quest in Act 4 <shudder>
Kiya

Re: Beyond Divinity Wrap Report @ RPG Vault #244772
06/06/04 12:56 PM
06/06/04 12:56 PM
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Morbo Offline

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Thats why I love Zelda and very little other adventure games. Zelda has the same feeling of freedom like <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/div.gif" alt="" />. It also has some large side quests that follow trough the game(collect 100 skulls for a better weapon). IMO I should be able to go get my skeleton doll even when I am in Act 4. yes it could take a while to get back to it but it your chose. I have nothing against area's that are locked in the beginning of the game. I do have a problem that when one area opens an other one closes. Personally I understand it's easier to work with acts. It makes bug searching easy and makes the patching easy. And it has other huge advantages but it's like that drug that raises your libido but it makes you loose your hair.

Or like Johan Kruijff says:

Ieder voordeel 'ebts zen nadeel

Every advantage has it's disadvantage.



Not in the mood for cheese?
That excuse has more holes than a slice this fine Gorgombert!
Re: Beyond Divinity Wrap Report @ RPG Vault #244773
06/06/04 01:24 PM
06/06/04 01:24 PM
Joined: May 2004
Posts: 95
A small cupboard in Leicester
BenWright Offline
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Some random thoughts from reading the article.

On humour. I didn't find the game that funny. Silly accents and copies of book/film scenes don't make for a good joke. On the other hand the Deathknights constant anger at what he was going through was funny, and I think that could have been played up instead.

On the Acts. I agree with other comments. Diablo 2 used the acts format, but it worked much better. If you are going to uses Acts then make each Act sufficently diferent to warrant the split. Travel to another dimension or another country, that kind of thing. Simply teleporting to another piece of identical looking basalt didn't work for me.

On limited wordcount. I can live with it, it didn't seem so bad. I would have got rid of some of the stupid cartoon imps to increase the more interesting Ranaar dialogue. It certianly explains why the novella was required reading to understand the history of the game...they couldn't fit it in the game itself!

On the interface. I thought it worked out quite well. All the inventory needed was an auto tidy button. Of course I would have preferred a more complex weights and volume type systems since carrying a dozen swords and breastplates in unrelaistic, but BD wasn't going for a realism apporach so it's not a real problem.

On the skills systems. It was very badly designed I think. I was annoyed to see that the Warrior Advanced Skills (Berserk, etc) were not learnable until the last 2% of the game. I've noticed that Larian has quantity is better approach to game design, since I remember Divine being advertiseed has having over 32000 screens. That kind of development mindset shoud have died out in the late 80s, it shouldn't still be used 20 years later. QUALITY is most important, and then add the quantity when the quality is right. Adding 50 more skills that are unusable due to timing or lack of effectiveness doesn't increase player choice.

Lesson not Learnt. Larian have made what I consider a fatal mistake in both their games, and there is no indication that they consider it a flaw. They are taking control away from the player at several points for no reason. Sure you can remove control while the villain is stationary and talks rubbish, you can take away control when the hero is tied up and captured, but you must NEVER take away control so some npc can walk across a room and perform some action in order to force the plot. Key examples? In Divine the brat Prince was attacked by Orcs and the Player cannot move so he can be blamed for not helping in order to advance the story. In Beyond a prison guard walks across a room a locks a door to force the player to take another route. These kind of design choices are unforgivable IMO.

Other Lessons not Learnt. Cliches and Larians love of them. Why have 'mysteries' if the dialogue and actions of the NPCs make it clear who is the villain. I think the entire Imp villaige must have had an intelligence of 1 not to have recognised what was going on with the Shaman! The game ending was quite nice, but I saw the 'twist' a mile away since Larian so love fantasy cliches.

Re: Beyond Divinity Wrap Report @ RPG Vault #244774
06/06/04 02:40 PM
06/06/04 02:40 PM
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Morbo Offline

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Quote

Why have 'mysteries' if the dialogue and actions of the NPCs make it clear who is the villain. I think the entire Imp villaige must have had an intelligence of 1


<img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/ROFL.gif" alt="" />

I also saw the ending comming. Since i read the novella and the major leage spoilers in act 4. It was a great ending but no "Luke i am your father" ending. I do like the 24 style ending. The ending was great and one of the better ones in the game industry. I would like more plot twists like that in the game.

Morbo sees it know for him.
impvillage

You kill the shaman
shaman : No the alchemist is evil ... aarg
then the alchemist comes and kills and starts eating the other imps while confessing he set loose the illness. Then he turns into Samuel.

Didn't see that comming did you <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/stupid.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/silly.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/silly.gif" alt="" />



Not in the mood for cheese?
That excuse has more holes than a slice this fine Gorgombert!
Re: Beyond Divinity Wrap Report @ RPG Vault #244775
06/06/04 10:13 PM
06/06/04 10:13 PM
Joined: May 2004
Posts: 95
A small cupboard in Leicester
BenWright Offline
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A small cupboard in Leicester
I'm more for the machiavellian plots. The chieftans son manipulated the 3 council members to turn them against each other in a plan to weaken his fathers grip on power so he could take control of the village.

But a cannibal Alchemist works for me as well <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/evilgrin1.gif" alt="" />

Re: Beyond Divinity Wrap Report @ RPG Vault #244776
07/06/04 02:46 AM
07/06/04 02:46 AM
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malaysia
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thank u, Lar, for fulfilling what-i-thought-was-forgotten request to write a retrospective article on the game. it's insightful, a bit sad (the funding part) & it makes me appreciate the game more.

thanks again, larians.



......a gift from LaFille......
Re: Beyond Divinity Wrap Report @ RPG Vault #244777
07/06/04 02:56 AM
07/06/04 02:56 AM
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what a nice assessment. makes us really appreciate the effort in making <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/beyond.gif" alt="" />. btw, how is <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/beyond.gif" alt="" /> doing in terms of sales if i may ask? i sure hope it's doing fairly well despite the initial problems so that larian won't have funding concerns anymore for DD2. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />


"what we see with our eyes alone isn't necessarily the truth..." - final fantasy tactics

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