Larian Studios know what they’re doing. It might seem a strange sentiment, but it’s actually completely apt. The biggest problem with this title will be how to market it. Is it an RPG? Is it an RTS? Is it a good one of either? It seems to be a good one of both. Whilst other titles have tried to mix fantasy RPG with RTS (namely King Arthur: The Roleplaying War Game), no one has done it so intelligently and boldly as Larian Studios. Whilst I admit I didn’t get a chance to check out all the upgrades and how the story develops, I can say with all honesty that the core mechanics, and the core principles are fantastic. The beautifully rendered characters, maps, and fluid battle dynamic blew me away – and many members of the press at the event actually broke their time-slot to stay and play some more.
I can certainly see many hardcore players of some of the top played RTS games having problems with the direct Dragon control, since it veers away from micro-management, but given that it’s a game of Risk in the first place rather than instantaneous matches, I’m not convinced it’s a game for them, anyway. Divinity Dragon: Commander is a hard sell – not because it isn’t good, but because there are so many contrasting ideas that juxtapose what we think we know about RTS and RPG’s, that we’re left, at first, perplexed. Try the demo (available soon), and all will be understood relatively quickly.
Me: To me, American RPG’s seem very ideological – they often take a stance – they are very ideological gamers. Be the best of everything; be a hero, be a good person – but their games often are unmatched in fidelity and polish.
Swen: Ideological, that’s interesting… the problem is we don’t have the polish. If we [European developers] had the resources that they have, we would be at least matched. That’s what CD Projekt is also trying. If you can have the polish of what they do, with the core values of what we do… I really think it’s a cultural thing… there’s a culture in the games that we make that you will not find in American RPG’s, and vice versa. I mean, I’ve loved quite a lot of American RPG’s – there were some really good ones in the past; Ultima is one of my favorite RPG’s of all time. There are a lot of good Russian RPG’s, they just don’t have any production values at all.
Me: Do you think European developers aim their games towards older audiences?
Swen: I think European games developers aim their games at themselves. And that American developers aim them towards a ‘target audience’, and that’s a very big difference. I’ve seen this myself – I mean, this one [Original Sin] is made for me and my girlfriend, because we were playing Dark Alliance and I said “ah, I like the fact that I am playing together with you, but there’s nothing to do. It’s just hacking and slashing,” and so from there came Original Sin. If I like it, and he likes it [points to imaginary co-developer, not his girlfriend], then there are probably other gamers who will like it too.