A long time ago, back in the days when I was pitching Divine Divinity to UK press, I came up with an acronym that described what I thought was important in computer role playing games. I engaged in this particular mental exercise because I needed something to tell all those journalists I was about to meet, and I knew that there’d be many awkward moments during which we’d have to patiently wait for a reboot of the game after one its many guaranteed crashes.
And so it came to be that my youthful self invented the FUME paradigm, a pattern against which one can evaluate the likelyhood of Swen falling in love with a RPG, or not. If it scores low on the FUME scale, statements you can expect from me include such gems as “it sucks” or “that shouldn’t have been made”. But if it scores high on the same scale, I’ll keep on talking about it for ever and ever. Ultima VII for instance did pretty well on the FUME scale, as did Fallout 2. I’d love to include a modern RPG here, but sadly there are none that I played that score as highly as those games did.
The danger exists that that last statement makes you think that I’m one of those cynics that thinks all CRPGs are shit, but that wouldn’t be right. On the contrary, I think there have been many breakthroughs over the last decades in CRPG design – the only problem is just that there hasn’t been a single game yet that incorporates everything I want to see in one game, and production constraints over the last couple of yours seem to have blocked the kind of development I’d liked to see. But even if I’m slightly disappointed with the lastest RPG incarnations, I do remain optimistic about the future, because I firmly believe that in the end progress can’t be halted.
Chances are that I will not be seeing things so clear anymore during our Christmas party this friday, so I decided to post my New Year’s letter here ahead of time. Remembering what happened the previous years, I’m sure you’ll understand 😉
You know, one thing I love (and occasionally hate) about my job is that I never know what the day is going to bring me. On most days I come to the office with a vague idea of what I need to do, and typically by the time I reach my desk, my todo list has already changed. While this occasionally leads to a bit of chaos, I have to admit that I wouldn’t want it any other way, because all these little surprises combined together keep me sharp and make my life even more interesting.
I mention this because while reflecting upon yet another year of Larian in action, I discovered a few differences between what I expected at the end of 2011 and what actually happened in 2012. From this it could be derived that my expectations for next year are probably going to be wrong again, but you will notice that this time, I’ve tried to keep them fairly realistic 😉
[In which I muse about Steam Greenlight & a game that’s been in development for 10 years ]
A few days ago I received a mail from the friendly bunch behind the recently released Inquisitor, an old school RPG with a lot of heart & depth, but dated visuals & usability. I promised them that I was going to have a look at it, and if I liked it, do what little I can to help them spread the word about their Steam Greenlight campaign. For those who live on a different planet, Steam Greenlight is Valve’s recently released platform where users can vote if a game is worthy of being sold on Steam.
Does it look old school ? Yes it looks old school. Do I like old school ? Yes I like old school.
Other than Inquisitor looking like a neat RPG, there’s two interesting things that picqued my interest about this and got me writing: Inquisitor has been in development for more than 10 years , and it’s one of the first games in its genre to compete in the newly installed survival of the fittest competitition going on the world’s biggest digital platform for PC games.
[In which I discuss the development dangers of cities in RPGS and reflect on Gamescom 2012]
I started writing this entry as I was booting up for the last day of Gamescom 2012. This edition is one I’ll remember for the thievery going on at our booth and the quality time I spent in a hospital where I learnt that that bacteria don’t care about you being on a deadline (that’s what resulted in the impressively bandaged finger in the pictures of me @ Gamescom)
For the rest, I had a big a deja vu feeling.
This entry is not about Gamescom 2012 though I couldn't resist the temptation to mention that we got some awards
If somebody would’ve told me that I was at E3 instead of Gamescom, I would’ve believed them. In one sentence, my life at this show boiled down to spending almost all of my time at the Larian booth, not seeing anything from the show, drinking too much in the evenings and sleeping so little I felt as if my IQ dropped below zero.
I’m not going to complain though, because we won best RPG of the show with Divinity: Original Sin on JeuxVideo.com and were nominated best strategy game with Divinity Dragon Commander by Destructoid. For a small studio like us, that’s tangible success. That said, I don’t want to talk about trade show life again because I’ve done that already here and instead wanted to share some afterthoughts on a conversation I had at the show with a fellow RPG developer regarding making Skyrim like RPGs.