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Hi All !

My meeting this morning fell through as a result of a train strike so suddenly I find myself with a little free time, exactly the opportunity I needed to do another status update.

Its been pretty busy over here if you remember from last time, we were quite nervous about announcing Dragon Commander and I had nightmares of my team and me sitting in a booth at GamesCom with nobody coming to see our next game. I envisioned that we were going to have a very hard time explaining the game because of the genre-busting we were doing and thought people were going to declare us completely bananas, shaking their heads and saying see, thats what happens if developers dont use a proper publisher and go off trying to everything themselves.

Boy was I wrong wink

I dont think we couldve dreamt of a better introduction of the game and I was literally speechless when I saw the first articles appear from the major press guys. They were friendly! And then all the comments started appearing, and we saw plenty of people starting to say things like day 1, take all my money, I love you Larian. How cool is that!

If it werent for the RpgCodex guys who gave us a good dose of their healthy cynicism, on par with many an acquisitions guy at major publishers, there was a real risk here that we were going to start floating on the positive buzz. Luckily the trials and tribulations of independent development were there to ground our feet, though they were also such that they made us stay on course.

Let me explain:

Other than showing the game to the press, which was handled well by Farhang I think (you can see how he did on the gametrailers footage,) my main purpose at Gamescom was seeking out distribution in retail, so that one day you can actually buy a copy of Dragon Commander in stores. During the conversations I had for that purpose, I quickly realized that even being called the biggest surprise of the show by many a site does not impress some of the dinosaurs of the games industry wink

You know, marketing did research on Dragons for one of our own major properties, and they told me positively that theres no audience. Nobody will buy it. was a statement I heard from one of the guardians to retail heaven. I had been building up quite some enthousiasm as I was presenting him the game, at least in my head as I was imagining all the cool things we were going do in Dragon Commander, and I honestly couldnt imagine him not being at least moderately positive this time. Id presented quite a few games to him in the past with little success, but this time, fresh from the enthousiastic reception Id been experiencing the previous days, I was sure Id struck gold. I of course didnt think about what marketing would have to say I just wanted to hear if he liked it.

As he politely started explaining to me why Dragon Commander would be a total failure, memories of a similar conversation popped up in my head, where I was equally politely told by the same guy that maybe I should focus on our kids titles because clearly we had nothing to seek in the real game space. He didnt remember that I think, or didnt want to remember it as the success of the Dragon Knight Saga was too tangible a proof that his predictions had a tendency of being iffy. So as I was waiting for him to tell me that jetpacks might raise global warming issues among the audience (which to his credit he didnt say), I suddenly realized that the best endorsement I could get was this guy telling me that it was going to be a complete and utter failure! Or so I liked to think.

And it continued. I met major publisher after major publisher, meeting completly risk averse people, seemingly brainwashed by their marketing departments and thinking about games as SKUs. I had to look up what a SKU was, so for the equally ill informed, a SKU is a number or code used to identify each unique product or item for sale in a store or other business (at least according to Wikipedia). To be blunt, my feelings about thinking about a game as a SKU can be summarized as - Yuk! Yuk! And Yuk! But thats just me. Its clich to talk about majors like that, but hell, why do they have to honor those clichs ? A little bit of out of the box behavior would make these meetings a lot more fun!

After a couple of these I said to myself right, before sinking into complete depression, remember that youre doing this because you wanted to hear their thoughts and learn from it not because you actually want them to buy it because the only thing theyll do is swallow your studio and spit out the remains afterwards like theyve done with so many of your peers, the last thing you want is some executive producer stepping in and making it his game, not yours, and besides, you dont need their money anyway in order to finish the game.

If the latter part of that phrase comes as a surprise, we really did sell a lot of Divinity IIs, putting us in the comfortable position of being pretty stubborn about what we do and dont do. I think the best example of that was one of the majors coming in to tell me that I should rejoice, because they had an add-on for a well-known brand that needed to be made, and they were thinking of us ! I was flattered in a way, because it really is a cool brand on which I wasted many hours of my life, but I was also insulted, because it was for the add-on, whereas I thought Larian could make the original game a million times better wink

I think they were slightly upset that I said no, small developer that we are, especially since they brought so many people to the meeting, but it did feel good to be able to do that, even if I did appreciate them at least thinking of us. Ordinarily, we shouldve jumped at the opportunity, and probably one of my fellow developers will, though actually, I would advise him against it.

Anyway, its not like I expected anything else from the major labels, but it did strike me as strange that while publicly we were getting all kinds of extremely positive impressions of Dragon Commander, I was sitting there in front of people who were telling me all kinds of stories on why this particular type of game probably wouldnt sell. Not that I really cared because I knew we were going to make the game anyway, with Dragon Commander being sufficiently cool for us to at least break even, but something didnt make sense.

The contrast was enormous wih the sub-major labels. They were all over it distribution deals were signed proposals were made and in general the reception I got was similar to what Farhang was experiencing when showing the game to the journalists, of which at least a large proportion I suspect are still gamers at heart, looking for something different than the same old formulas regrinded, covered with some idiotic innovation presented as the next big thing such as now with true dual wielding !. These sub-major labels are small enough that there is still some idealism left, even if they too obviosuly need to focus on the money to ensure they stay in business, just like ourselves, but at least they dont call a game a SKU, and in my book a big +1, they expressed their enthousiasm about the game we were trying to make rather than tell me why it was doomed not to work.

Funnily enough, the same majors I was ranting at in this update started contacting us after the show, telling us, you know, your game actually has potential. I imagine it had something to do with us gently pointing out all the coverage the game received, which probably opened the eyes of at least some marketing departments. We even got our first offer for a worldwide publishing deal, which we, shockingly, respectfully declined, at least for the time being. The reason being madly in love with Dragon Commander and not wanting to lose creative control, something that automatically happens when signing one of those deals (For the understandable reason that people do get very nervous once they committed millions to something so they want to have a say)

It was the type of offer we would probably have accepted several months ago, when we were dead nervous whether or not the concept would have some appeal, and Im sure had it been offered then I wouldve had sleepless nights trying to figure out if refusing such an offer would doom the company because we might not get any other.

But now Im sure, and thats because of you lot. Your support, your comments on a large variety of fora and newposts, your encouragement, clear for all to see all over the internet, was all that was needed. You have no idea what impact you have on a developer and his ability to bring his dream to fruition. Judging from the reactions we received, its straightforward to see that if we dont ruin things, theres enough of you out there that want to play this game, so we can risk all of our cash on it and if needed, even self-publish it which is actually Larians ultimate goal for our future games. Im a big advocate of the stance that its about time developers stop being the farmers of this industry that do most of the work but get least of the profits, forcing them down roads that at heart they dont want to travel.

Anyway, Im mentioning all of this because Ive seen comments from people who were surprised at the advanced state of Dragon Commander (which really isnt the case considering all the stuff we still want to put in), but were worried that there wasnt a publisher announced yet. But we dont need one a global publisher at this point we we want to develop this one our way, not the way somebody else tells us (and it feels really good btw). By the time were done with the game, we shouldve figured out how well bring the game to the market., and actually, in certain territories we already have but thats something for another day wink

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That was an interesting read.

Also a depressing one. What kind of retarded marketing department thinks "dragons don't sell"? It's a videogame! Nerds are all over that shit. Dragons only don't sell when the product they're in is otherwise crap. Heck, Divinity II first got my attention for the very shallow reason of "I get to turn into a dragon! Fuck yeah!"

I say this, of course, as someone who has no knowledge of business, marketing or PR. I'm just a consumer with disposable income. I'm sure that's not a very important demographic.

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Dragons don't sell? Why, the ONLY reason I was interested into Divinity 2 was because I got to turn into a dragon. Otherwise I would have considered it a generical rpg.

Just look at the big deal of excitement because there will be dragons in Skyrim. And in Guild wars 2. As someone once said: dragons are the new zombies! :P And that's good!

Lar_q, I wonder if you could spend a minute of your time to answer my topic here: http://www.larian.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=449850#Post449850

...your silence makes me worried that Dragon Commander will really lack any kind of customization. That would destroy all my hype for the game. I don't want to marry no friggin' -princess-! :P



"I draghi sono draghi proprio perch gli uomini non possono nulla contro di loro."
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Originally Posted by WotanAnubis
Also a depressing one. What kind of retarded marketing department thinks "dragons don't sell"? It's a videogame! Nerds are all over that shit. Dragons only don't sell when the product they're in is otherwise crap. Heck, Divinity II first got my attention for the very shallow reason of "I get to turn into a dragon! Fuck yeah!"


Such research is likely based on how previous dragon games have sold, which is not good for the most part; however, that may have more to do with the quality of the games rather than being about dragons.

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Originally Posted by WotanAnubis
That was an interesting read.

Also a depressing one. What kind of retarded marketing department thinks "dragons don't sell"? It's a videogame! Nerds are all over that shit. Dragons only don't sell when the product they're in is otherwise crap. Heck, Divinity II first got my attention for the very shallow reason of "I get to turn into a dragon! Fuck yeah!"

Well, obviously the corporate giants don't like that there are still independent developers around that can develop the games they want to develop... and are succesful at it. It's a combination of jealousy and bullying.

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Itneresting read. I thought as much the big labels poo-pooed the game saying it won't sell. I mean how many dragon games have there been to make an accurate example? True there has been a couple of average to below average games (Drakengard and Eragon come to mind) but there has been some good ones as well such as Drakan. This is what is wrong with the games industry; big labels are interested in one thing only; profits. Now obviously that is good in this current economic climate but they ignore quality and just go for quantity found in cheap to develop forgettable cash cow games. This is why good quality games some of which can be pure gems largley get ignored by the public because they simply don't get the marketing they need from big labels.

Anyway that said, I'm glad you found plenty to distribute your game. You can also do things your way without having to please anyone else. In the UK our biggest game mags are Computer and Video Games magazine and PC gamer. If you can get coverage in them it would help in this country at least.

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Originally Posted by Lun-Sei Sleidee
...your silence makes me worried that Dragon Commander will really lack any kind of customization. That would destroy all my hype for the game. I don't want to marry no friggin' -princess-! :P

You should take a look at the Q&A he did for the Facebook group. grin

While it's sad to hear what the big publishers are saying about 'risky' games (though honestly, I probably could have guessed what they think about them based on the games that they do make) it's reassuring to here that there are some companies who want to see good games made and are excited about the game itself, not it's profitability. Who knows? Maybe those big publishers will collapse under the weight of their 'safe' games and smaller companies can lead the way into a glorious video game revolution...

Well, I can dream at least. :P

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Dragons sell all right...

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lol this is why i like developers like this for the very reason they get to do what they want! first off if u think something is gana sell for the fackt that you are a dragon?! let at it! the idea is solid and full of greatness,most games that have dragons in it you dont play as one so its more like this in there veiw "ok a dragon it breaths fire kills people the hero kills it and every one is happy" well did there ever try to give that dragon a story or a reason why its there what is doing and if it can be more than an hostile npc? thats what i love about the DNS and DC your the dragon! you have a story you do what you want and see it from the other perspective!


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Honestly, I had never heard of Larian before DKS. I bought it and downloaded it off of some positive buzz I heard around the internet.. and I beat the entire game in like a week (according to Steam, at just under 50 hours). I was very impressed.

However, now you turn around and.. release the very kind of game I've been waiting for all this time. A strategy game? With RPG elements? But you control the man hero? AND YOU ARE A DRAGON WITH A JETPACK?!

If there is any justice in this world, you'll release this game to critical praise and make enough money to do your business on gold toilets for the rest of your days.

However, don't get too cocky! I want this game to release more like DKS and less like ED.. ;-)

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Ok let the lecture begin lol.

Don't listen to the major companys for a second Lar, I'll tell you why, It's simple Divinity is an AMZING GAME. They are threatend by the success you've been having with the whole series & don't like the fact that they know that your company has the potential to become another major player in the indestry. They don't want to have yet another big name to compete with, I have absolutley no respect for big comanys Like EA because for the most part there only interest is money. They don't care about there fanbase or the game's they publish they ony care about if it will sell. I cursed Bioware for letting those money grabbers get there tainted hands on Mass Effect, You guy's don't need a company like that to make an amazing game.

Your company may not be big right now but I can tell you this for a FACT, & let me add this before I tell you what the fact is. I'm very good at reading people, I don't even have to meet them face to face to gat a feel for there true nature. My friends that know me very well call me a freaky lol & there right, there have been a number of times were I've been able to predict the outcome of things based on my ability to read people. My instincts are telling me now that if you keep doing what your doing & one day in the near future you will be one of the bigest name's in the market.

I just know it, you guy's & gal's are special, your the type of company that start a revolution & succeed. I know in my heart & soul that theres big things awaiting you all in the future I can feel it, your going to change to game indastry. Divinity is going to become a Legend just like Final Fantasy, Final fantasy saved Square/Squaresoft/SquareEnix & turned them into a major company. Divinity is going to do the same for you I just know it, your going to be the next Squaresoft of the RPG world.

Larian You've won my heart which is'nt an easy thing I can tell you, only 2 other game companys have ever done that & there Squaresoft & Ubisoft. I won't bore you with the details of why they did but I will tell you why you've won my heart. To start with you actually listen to your fans you make time to keep us in the loop, your games are always alive & have personality. I can see when I play your games how much heart & soul went into making it, you love what you do & that's not something that all companys have these day's. Your special & I promise you this that you will have my loyalty untill the end of time, even if Dragon Commander did'nt get the attention it diserves (but I'm glad it is getting attention). I can tell you now that I would make it sell even if it ment buying 5 copys or more every payday just so you get the sales. grin

Anyone who says Dragons Don't sell is not only dumb but there stuck in the steriotype way's of you have to fight them because there evil. Divinity II is amazing & just like others here have said what drew me to it was HELL YEAH I'M A F***ING DRAGON BABY LOL. That guy you said that told you that D2 would fail but you still went ahaed with it & it turned into a major success is an idiot (no offece but) how the hell is he even part of marketing when he clearley has no idea what will sell on the market, is he even gamer. Dragon Commander is going to be an epic success & I'm going to keep spreading the word to my fellow gamers to help make it an epic success. The one's that won't give in easyly will have to deal with me hurling a fireball up there butt while I shout FEEL MY WRATH lol. evil

You all have given us an amazing game serise & the least I can do to repay you for that is to make sure I get people to buy your games. All I ask from you all is for you to keep doing what you do & NEVER listen to anyone that says that your ideas are doomed to fail. From what I've seen so far your ideas are epic in itself you have wonderfull imaginations & personality, your going to become a major success one day so don't let the big bullys discourage you. wink

Ok Rant over for now lol, just one last thing to add & that would be Thank You Larian grin

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I have to admit i was extremely curious about Dragon Commander, knowing it would be from larian and from the previous lar_q status updates.

When i first saw the video about Dragon commander i was deeply disapointed. The dragon gameplay with a jetpack was "too weird" for me, the bridge gameplay and dialogs were realy out-of-sync with the game mood, mixing comedy with a "comand an empire" style game and i was generaly upset with what you've done.

But then all of the sudden it struck my mind and i talked to myself "FFS man, wake up! this is new stuff, forget classical RPGs! open your mind!"

Then i saw the video again and i changed my idea a little and thought that this has a realy good potential. I'm sure i'll have a lot of trouble digesting the jetpack on a dragon but i'll get over it.


About this status update and the current game industry, the big publishers are just that, people that think only about marketing figures and never about the game true form and quality. Games released nowadays by giant publishers have a lot of "re-touches" by people in suits that change games beyond what the true gamers realy envision it - one of the reasons i don't "hate" bioware per se wink

I'm realy proud that larian is being true to its vision and talented developers, but I also would like to warn you from the bottom of my heart that declining deals like that "making an addon for an important IP" is also not entirely good, because you DO need to get a little more visible impact on the gamming industry, and making an awesome job in an important IP would go a long way to make your name more recognizable. Think of it as an investment for even more epic-awesome sells on your independant releases, and free publicity for larian...


Oh and "please take my money larian!" wink thanks lar_q.


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Originally Posted by Lar_q
Anyway, its not like I expected anything else from the major labels, but it did strike me as strange that while publicly we were getting all kinds of extremely positive impressions of Dragon Commander, I was sitting there in front of people who were telling me all kinds of stories on why this particular type of game probably wouldnt sell.


I suspect that they want to drive you off this, because they believe it's such a fine idea so that they want to exploit it themselvs.

Conspiracy theories. wink

Quote
You know, marketing did research on Dragons for one of our own major properties, and they told me positively that theres no audience. Nobody will buy it.


Yet Bethesda will include a game no-one will buy ? (I mean Skyrim which I call Skyscraper.)

The only thing that sets you apart from every other developer right now iis that you don't slay Dragons.

Not at all. You do the exact opposite : NOT seeing them as "cannon fodder for male gamers to prove their masculinity by slaying the most powerful creatures that are thre", but instead you are actively encouraging Dragons as a life-being that has a) a free will b) a detertmination c) is not cannon fodder at all d) is NOT an animl in the traditional sense and e) therefore cannot just be slain.

The implied message of Dragons as a playable creature is like ... It's as if you had rea-life dogs, cats, horses, yet even cows, pigs and mice and rats which sudely re realized to have their own free will, cultures and languages !

Making n animal as something intelligent transports the message tht this animl just cannot and shouldn't be transported into the nearest slaughter house to become food for humans.

Okay, with Dragons this doesn't happen much as well wink - but the message is there. Underlying, making an "animal" like the dragon as a playable, intelligent species full of culture, language, free will and even emotions brings in the message that *in principle* *all* "animals" might be so - which is in principle even an "animal rights" thing - although I lmost assume you might see my view as too far fetched. wink


Therefore, imho, major publishers wouldn't like to have animals as playable races. Because it would strip off their possibilities to use actual animals in games as "experience points fodder".

This is my rather philosophical view on the matter.


And I'm sure meanwhile shaking the heads towards DC, I'm sure they'll heavily discuss this game internally !


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I love these uber honest posts hehe.

I am curious about Dragon Commander, but to be honest, I am lot more looking forward to Divinity 3 or your next fullblown RPG whatever that may be smile.

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I'm realy proud that larian is being true to its vision and talented developers, but I also would like to warn you from the bottom of my heart that declining deals like that "making an addon for an important IP" is also not entirely good, because you DO need to get a little more visible impact on the gamming industry, and making an awesome job in an important IP would go a long way to make your name more recognizable. Think of it as an investment for even more epic-awesome sells on your independant releases, and free publicity for larian...



yeah epic awsome sales that would be completeley faulse & nothing like what they'd wanted as well as 90% of the profites & recognition going to the publishers & not to Larian. Yeah all hail the theaving publishers like EA mad not a chance, Larian does'nt need scum like that stealing there games. DKS has already got peoples attention so enough people are obviousley aware of larian or they wouldn't be able to publish DC themselfs. On top of that word of mouth is a powerfull thing & Larian already has a very loyal fanbase & like I said if it come's to it I'll buy a tone of copys & give them away in the streets to get them noticed if I have to. I will not see such an amazing company as Larian swallowed up by a 2 faced backstabbing imagionationless bunch of theves like EA or any company like them. As i said in another post I've already sold 2 copys of DC & it's not even out yet & thats not including the copy I'm getting for myself lol. Larian are going to be fine, how do you think the big companys got so big because at some point in there existance they took risks but somewere along the line they lost there backbone.

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Larian could - and imho should - be some kind of "role model" for other developers : Remain independed as much as you can ... And self-fund everything as far as possible - to elevate the company so far that it is finally in the strong position - not in the weak one.

But it i hard to "grow" like this : Because the bigger publishers most certainly don't want any competition and therefore hold the developers as muuch down as they can ... And yes, I regard EA like a hybride : Both dev and pub at the same time ...



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Yeah but EA are more publisher than developer these day's they haven't made a decent game that was actually theres for a very long time. Sports game's are all there good for these day's that & stealing others masterpices Eg Mass Effect.

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On the other hand they were the *only* ones who saw potential in the SIMs ... Everyone else had rejected this idea ... But similar things happen all of the time, just take a look at the novel "Gone With The Wind" ... Rejected several times ...


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yeah that's true but the Sims 3 was rubbish, they tried to go too realistic with the game,for 1 The grimreaper is no longer funny instead he just turns up to turn them into a spirit then leaves. The Sims is what made EA tough, there spots games kept them in buisness but the Sims & there expantions turned them into a big name of the market. They haven't taken any risks since the Sims which is my point, if a big company like EA were to get there hands on DC then the game would end up as a shadow of when Larian had planned for it because the big name would want to play it safe.

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