I’m back for another update - As usual, it’s been very busy and as usual I have the impression that I’m not managing to get any work done. It’s getting really bad lately – my sense of time is completely gone and I don’t seem to be able to remember what I did yesterday, not to mention what I did or where I was last week. E.g. I flew to Seattle for a day (which is a great city btw) and it happend to be the day that DKS was launched in the USA on X360. Yesterday I was debriefing somebody on my meeting there, and I really couldn’t remember when it was that I was in Seattle so I needed to look up the release date of DKS in the US to be able to tell her when it was that I was actually there. I don’t remember my timetracking skills being so bad, so I’m trying to figure out what’s causing it.
Too young to be able to blame it on age (I hope), I figured it must have something to do with our workload, but to be honest, we’ve experienced far worse in the past, so that can’t be it either – as matter of fact, it’s actually quite a lot of fun for the moment to work at Larian with pressure lower than usual, and things apparently going well for our studio. DKS is doing well, the new games are looking cool, and contrary to many an independent studio, we’re in good shape with the warm feeling of true independance doing miracles for my blood pressure i.e. we don’t need to deal with the whims of any third party, and can pretty much do as we want. (Well, there are some constraints, but compared to the shackles of the past, these are almost irrelevant)
The root cause for the my time tracking problem is probably that there’s a lot of things going on at the same time, and the continuous focus shifting gives me less of a frame of reference to establish when what happened where. Project D, project E, project M, project A, they’re all fighting for attention and they’re all very different from one another, so each time you deal with one of them you need to put yourself in another mode.
I’ve talked about D & E before, but I don’t think I mentioned M & A yet. So M is the next step in our eductional series which I think might be enjoyed by quite a lot of people and A is our first IOS game, which to be honest is bit of an experiment but seemed like great reason to get our hands on a bunch of IPAD’s and Iphones. Both M & A will be released internationally later this year, with D & E scheduled for release next year. The purpose of A is to get some experience on the mobile platforms, as eventually, we will put an an RPG there.
I know most people reading these updates on this forum are more interested in D & E than in M & A, D being the game where we explore the dragon theme a lot further and E our next “traditional” RPG, but when M launches, you really should give the demo a shot. As for A, it’s the kind of game you should play when you feel like hitting somebody, it’s an excellent frustration outlet. It doesn’t feature any of our usual fantasy lore, but I am acutally thinking of reskinning it after it launches and putting some Divinity themes in it. Could be a lot of fun. We spent much more time and budget on it that we originally anticipated, so I hope it’ll be worth the effort.
We’re starting to prepare everything for the announcements of M & A, so hopefully I’ll soon not have to speak in code-terms anymore. As for talking about D & E, we need to gather a couple of signatures first before we can share with you what our plans are, but rest assured, wel’l talk about them extensively once all of that is done and dusted.
Speaking of which, this week a lot of time was spent on creating the presentations of D & E for our partners, and it was the first time that we saw all of the individual design and graphic components put together in a way that it’s easy to communicate about them. You know – this is the story in four lines, this is the gameplay in four lines, this is why it will work in four lines etc… together with plenty of visuals. It’s quite different from the usual design docs, which are actually quite lenghty texts, and feature things like (for example purposes only)
A poor man was caught in the streets stealing from a vendor. The vendor deals in illegal goods yet he demands that the poor man be executed. What will you do, sire?
A Have the poor man flogged publically as an example and put the vendor out of business (-5 gold, righteousness +1)
B Tell the merchant to forgive a poor man and compensate him for his troubles (-1 gold, kindheartedness +1)
C Tell the merchant to forgive the poor man and fine him for selling illegal goods (+5 gold, +1 biased)
D No one demands anything in my kingdom; release the poor man and execute the merchant for selling illegal goods (+5 gold for 5 turns, Iron fist +1)
The pitch documents instead need to condense things like the above to “you make choices”, and you then need to hope that the audience of these pitch documents can understand what you’re trying to do.
It turns out that that’s quite hard – Jan, our writer for instance, has a tendency (as you surely saw in DKS) to be fairly elaborate when he writes and summarzing his writing in a couple of sentences, well, it ’s not for the meek. To be perfectly honest, in this case we actually needed external help
In Bioware terms, the story summary for most of their games would be (shameless rip from hellforge.gameriot.com) – “You hail from humble beginnings – a devastating battle sends your quiet life spinning out of balance – the attack leaves you alone with two companions, of magical and martial prowess – undaunted by the attack, you recover and are swiftly invited into an elite order that places you in a position of power or authority over the rest of humanity – you discover that you must discover to four main locations in order to save the world/galaxy – with your mission well under way, your every effort is twharted by an evil or sinister organization – at some point you fall asleep and there is a dream sequence – further along in your journeys, you discover the ruins of a sprawling ancient civilization”
Given that we’re makers of RPGs, you can imagine that we scrutinize their every move, and so I’m very happy to say that today we beat them to it ! It is not without a certain sense of pride that today I announce that we managed to summarize the fairly extensive storyline of project E in 4 lines (admittedly aided by some visuals), and people still get it
What’s more – it’s different – AND, a Larian first, you get to beat the bad guy in the end !!!
I see that my next meeting popped up, so I need to go now. But before I dash off, a big thank you to all of you who’ve been writing such nice things about DKS all over the internet, and an especially big thank you to the makers of all those videos – it’s a lot of fun for us to watch them and we’re quite grateful. Makes us a walk a bit straighter.