An important lesson

I have these little notebooks in which I write down my thoughts. Every day I fill a couple of pages with new observations, questions and decisions. Whenever a notebook is full, I put it in a drawer, there to stay until the drawer is full at which point I empty the drawer, and put the notebooks in a box. I really don’t know why I bother with it, because I rarely read what I wrote, but I guess it helps me organise my thoughts. It also makes it look like I’m paying attention in meetings I’m not particularly interested in 😉

If you’d take the notebook that says January 2013, you’d see that I listed as major tasks for 2013, the organising Divinity: Original Sin’s kickstarter, releasing Dragon Commander and releasing Divinity: Original Sin. At that time, I only had hopes and aspirations and I really didn’t have a clue whether or not my plans were going to work.

Taking risks is of course part of the metier of running a game development studio, and there’s only that much that you can do to cover your bets. You know certain things will go wrong, you hope more things will go right. So last night, I started thinking about how we were doing compared to what I hoped for at the start of 2013…

I mention Dragon Commander a lot in this blog. If you don’t know what the game is about, it was released on August 6th 2013, and we made this fancy trailer to explain the game

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Swen’s 2013 New Year’s letter

Dear Team,

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 😉

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Larian needs your help ! (update 4)

We’re entering our last six months of development on Dragon Commander, meaning that things are getting serious now. Pretty soon we’ll have to prove that our adventures and experiments in the wonderful land of independence and self-publishing were fruitful, and show that we’re capable of launching a game worldwide on our own, both digitally and via retail and preferably with a certain degree of success.

This is an example of the kind of stuff we've been doing trying to boost our reach on Facebook. It has some impact, but we have no idea if we're actually doing the right thing.

That success is far from certain, and there are plenty of cracks in the floor that we’ll need to hop over to break even on this game. This post is about a few very specific issues we’re dealing with, and I wanted to check if there’s anybody here reading this blog who has a couple of bright ideas that might help us forward. Your help will be most appreciated!

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Dialogs solved

Dialogs have always been an important thing in Larian games.

Because text is just text, ever since Divine Divinity we’ve always been trying to bring life to our in-game conversations. I think that so far we managed to do a decent job, but it’s fair to say that there have been some slip-ups. The most memorable of these was of course the voice of the Death Knight in Beyond Divinity. That one was judged to be so bad by our forum community (who are a very vocal bunch) that we had to do a tactical retreat and rerecord the entire thing.

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