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(Originally posted here, under the title, "Divinity: Original Sin has the potential to be a game with a 15+ year lifespan. This is what it needs.")

Hi. My name is Filip Nonkovic, and I'm a games journalist who makes a living writing about online games. I love D:OS. It's a fantastic RPG. But what I love about it even more than the game itself, is its presently-untapped potential.
When I play it, when I doodle around in the toolset, what I'm stricken by is how similar the game is, to Bioware's Neverwinter Nights. That game was an okay-ish RPG. But what really stood out about it, was the toolset. NWN's Aurora toolset was probably the first to ship to players that combined that sheer level of power and customization with the user-friendliness to allow people without a background in modding to make, essentially, entire games.

What quickly became apparent, however, was that the Aurora toolset could be used for more than singleplayer/multiplayer co-op adventures. It could be used to create persistent worlds - essentially small-scale MMORPGs. You could build a world, not just an adventure, but an entire world, and let people explore it in perpetuity. It was a paradise for roleplayers, but plenty of others got in on the action too - non-roleplayers, PvPers, there were persistent worlds for everyone. This feature, unintended by Bioware but refined by the community, gave the game a lifespan, and an extended lease on popularity, that most games never see. The game was released in 2002. It is still being played today, mainly by people playing on these persistent worlds. NWN remains one of the consistently highest-selling games on GOG, because the Persistent World scene is so alive, even now, that people are buying copies of the game to try it out. All this, because of rabid, fanatical word-of-mouth marketing by the community themselves. If you're curious about this phenomenon and want to explore it in greater detail, here's an article I wrote about the game (and other make-your-own-MMOs), check it out.

A lot of those players stick to an aging engine, no longer updated by its developers, because in all these years, nothing better has come along. Many of them would jump ship at the chance to do the same thing - make their own persistent worlds - in a modern engine.

And for the first time, Divinity: Original Sin is presenting us with that chance. The game is already nearly perfect for this purpose. It just needs a few tweaks to make it work. Here are the major things that need to be implemented, as I see them:

Client-side character creation in multiplayer: When last I checked, a single player creates the entire party, and then the other player inhabits the spare. Creating an MMO-esque experience requires that players be able to design their own character before jumping into a multiplayer environment.

Client-side recognition of server-side mods: When you're creating a character to try out someone's persistent world, you need to be able to access, somehow, the various mods (changes to abilities, new spells, visual customizations, etc.) the PW has running, otherwise your character won't be compatible.

Players hosting games on their own servers: To be honest, I'm not sure if this isn't already how it works. But if multiplayer games are hosted on Larian's servers, then there needs to be an option to also host games on your own. This is the single thing that has contributed most to NWN's longevity, and to the success of Minecraft's multiplayer servers. It gives players control, it protects them in the event that the game stops being supported by its developer, and it saves Bioware/Mojang/Larian a whole heck of a lot in server maintenance and upkeep costs.

Up the possible player count/ceiling, or abolish it entirely: This sort of gameplay relies on 20+ players being online at once. Not just your friends, but strangers you can run into and have emergent interactions with. That's the entire point, that's what makes this different and fun! Imagine a whole, open world made in the D:OS engine, with over a hundred players exploring it. Sounds fun, right?

(Less crucial, and more work. But a pipe dream worth listing!) Allow players to exist in a multiplayer game without being in the same party, and come up with a way to make PvP combat work: PvP is a core component of a lot of emergent, multiplayer experiences. D:OS persistent worlds could succeed, even thrive, without it. But its addition would make the game flourish still more.

Please, Larian. Implement these changes, and watch your community grow, and gain a longevity that will astound you. As a player, it's the game I want to play. As a journalist, it's the game I want to write about. Thanks for your time.

TL,DR: Just a few tweaks to the game would allow players to create their own mini-MMORPGs using the D:OS toolset. Please make it happen.

Last edited by Filip Nonkovic; 12/08/14 12:17 AM.
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There are quite a number of people who would be very interested if the modding capabilities of D:OS expand to support a persistent world model. smile

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Originally Posted by Filip Nonkovic
Client-side character creation in multiplayer: When last I checked, a single player creates the entire party, and then the other player inhabits the spare. Creating an MMO-esque experience requires that players be able to design their own character before jumping into a multiplayer environment.

Both players can create and modify their characters at the same time, i.e. player #1 creates a new game and starts character creation; player #1 joins. The game starts when both have clicked on "Accept".

What's really missing is a way to export your creations and later import them for other games, basically like it was done in Baldur's Gate etc. In Icewind Dale it was even possible, IIRC, to import your own character at any point in the game when loading a savegame.


Otherwise, good ideas. I hope they'll be considered at some point.

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Perfect implies flawless.
The balance at its current state is messed up.
Don't even talk about PVP until balance is sorted out.
As for MMO capability, sorry - I just don't feel the game devs have much to gain from allowing permanent world.

Best to develop content packs that adds new adventures and skills, tweak the balance, build on the foundation.

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Originally Posted by rk47
Perfect implies flawless.
The balance at its current state is messed up.
Don't even talk about PVP until balance is sorted out.
As for MMO capability, sorry - I just don't feel the game devs have much to gain from allowing permanent world.

Best to develop content packs that adds new adventures and skills, tweak the balance, build on the foundation.

I agree with this. Allowing for persistent worlds with PVP would require a lot of re-design and re-balancing that doesn't seem to be a part of the original design concept.

That being said, allowing players to control the "AI" units in fights would be a great feature. It would be PVP-like (without all the need for rebalancing) and would allow DMs/non-persistent world creators another level of enjoyment.

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Basically, a lot of people want this to be NWN3. In fairness, that's what a lot of the talk about the editor seems to suggest that it is.

There are logistical reasons why it won't be, mostly related to the combat system, but the big thing is that the editor needs additional support/options.

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Originally Posted by Arhu

Both players can create and modify their characters at the same time, i.e. player #1 creates a new game and starts character creation; player #1 joins. The game starts when both have clicked on "Accept".


Which is nice, but irrelevant to what I'm requesting! Players need a way to create a character and then hop into an ongoing, persistent, online-for-months-already game.

Last edited by Filip Nonkovic; 13/08/14 07:30 PM.
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Originally Posted by Filip Nonkovic
Originally Posted by Arhu

Both players can create and modify their characters at the same time, i.e. player #1 creates a new game and starts character creation; player #1 joins. The game starts when both have clicked on "Accept".


Which is nice, but irrelevant to what I'm requesting! Players need a way to create a character and then hop into an ongoing, persistent, online-for-months-already game.


Except that doesn't work with the way D:OS is designed. What if you import a level 1 into a game where the host is almost finished? There's no possible way for your character to level up. Or the inverse of that, what if you import a level 20+ into a new game? You're going to steamroll through everything. D:OS is not designed to support importing your characters, that's why you can't.

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Agree with the OP! Would love to see this added to the game. It would mean they would have to create a server component to host the persistent worlds and allow you hooks into database functionality to store the data from session to session. But if they wanted to start another kickstarter just for this I'd contribute.

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I see this game as more of a Baldur's Gate 3, not a NWN 3.

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Originally Posted by Jito463
Except that doesn't work with the way D:OS is designed. What if you import a level 1 into a game where the host is almost finished? There's no possible way for your character to level up. Or the inverse of that, what if you import a level 20+ into a new game? You're going to steamroll through everything. D:OS is not designed to support importing your characters, that's why you can't.


The OP is talking about persistent worlds aka MUD/MMO style, not campaigns. The Neverwinter Nights series only shipped with campaigns, but dedicated modders built their own worlds from scratch. D:OS is identical in this regard; it only shipped with a campaign, but people are perfectly capable of building a world from scratch.

The issue is not that the campaign is not a persistent world, but that there are no dedicated server executables and other engine features that are close, but not quite enough, for persistent world capability.

Whether it is feasible that the engine could be expanded to open this new world of possibilities is unknown (to me, anyway).


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Originally Posted by Narks
Originally Posted by Jito463
Except that doesn't work with the way D:OS is designed. What if you import a level 1 into a game where the host is almost finished? There's no possible way for your character to level up. Or the inverse of that, what if you import a level 20+ into a new game? You're going to steamroll through everything. D:OS is not designed to support importing your characters, that's why you can't.


The OP is talking about persistent worlds aka MUD/MMO style, not campaigns. The Neverwinter Nights series only shipped with campaigns, but dedicated modders built their own worlds from scratch. D:OS is identical in this regard; it only shipped with a campaign, but people are perfectly capable of building a world from scratch.

The issue is not that the campaign is not a persistent world, but that there are no dedicated server executables and other engine features that are close, but not quite enough, for persistent world capability.

Whether it is feasible that the engine could be expanded to open this new world of possibilities is unknown (to me, anyway).


This gentleman gets it.

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I guess I don't think in those terms, since I don't really care for multiplayer. Even when I used to play MMO's, I rarely interacted with the other players. I just played it for the constantly updating content.

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if this is all about persistent world and "MMOMMO-esque experience," maybe the mod section is more appropriate for discussion?

as I understand it, from the very start, Larian has no intention to make D:OS anywhere near "MMO-esque."

fortunately for me personally, I reckon if Larian still has enough resource, they will be fixing, enhancing, and perfecting the single-player aspect of game.


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