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#443191 - 04/29/11 10:00 AM Status update (long overdue)
Lar_q Offline



Registered: 12/07/06
Posts: 742
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)

Decision 389:

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.

Cheers

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#443209 - 04/29/11 12:34 PM Re: Status update (long overdue) [Re: Lar_q]
Kein Offline
veteran

Registered: 08/29/09
Posts: 2022
Loc: Soviet Empire
 Quote:
What’s more – it’s different – AND, a Larian first, you get to beat the bad guy in the end !!!

Uhuh? I thought we did beat the bad guy at the end of DD?

But whatever, look forward for more info.

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#443216 - 04/29/11 01:37 PM Re: Status update (long overdue) [Re: Kein]
virumor Offline
old hand

Registered: 08/14/09
Posts: 764
Good to hear DKS and Larian are doing well - you deserve it.

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#443223 - 04/29/11 03:43 PM Re: Status update (long overdue) [Re: virumor]
StoneMonster Offline
journeyman

Registered: 04/19/11
Posts: 59
Great game DKS for xbox 360 I love the game. Hope for more console support just can't afford
to upgrade the pc every 2 years lol!!! good luck with the projects.

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#443224 - 04/29/11 03:45 PM Re: Status update (long overdue) [Re: virumor]
Lar_q Offline



Registered: 12/07/06
Posts: 742
Back from my meeting, which was about project M and represented yet another complete focus shift, because this morning I was knee deep into dragons. Apparently we'll have 22000 kids playing Monkey Tales at a music festival for kids (I wished those existed when I was still a kid) which should be good for the game.

So the other big thing that kept me busy was Divine Divinity – we re-released it some time ago on good old games, taking the opportunity to fix some bugs in it and had the plan to do even more updates on it, but unfortunately the programmer who was working on it left the company, shortly after the re-release and ever since there literally wasn’t any time for getting somebody else back into the code. This sucked, but it was one of those priority decision things and we had other issues to deal with that affected many more people. But now that there actually is some time to look at it, we decided to revisit it.

Imagine then the unpleasant surprise when we discovered that we somehow managed to lose all the changes he made to the code !!! What looks like a fairly ok backup policy turned into an epic fail when we saw that one of the discs that had a big label on it (sort of) “Divine Divinity GOG masters” contained not the 2009 release but the 2002 release. You couldn’t see it from the contents of the disc because the dates were all ok, but that was only because the 2002 files had been recompiled. The actual changes weren’t in the code that was on the disc ☹

Ironically, the list of all the changes that were done was on the disc, as were indeed the binary masters, but it was the wrong source code. It was an accident for sure, and given the circumstances in which we were working then (i.e. continuous crunch and no cash) perfectly understandable, but still, quite unsettling.

Given that putting all the changes back in was more work than anticipated (we intended to just fix whatever problems were still reported), and all our programmers were busy on projects A,D, E & M, I figured I’d take the code myself and have a look at what I could do. I very much miss the programming part in my current role at Larian, so I actually even looked forward to it and thought it was a pretty good excuse to put the excel files on the side.

Opening up the code of Divine Divinity brought back plenty of memories, and as I was browsing through it, I suddenly saw a comment –

//Change 30-05-02 – Lar – It’s my birthday and guess what I’m doing again (see painpoint.h for more on this ☹)
and sure enough, I go to painpoint.h and it says

//Change 30-05-01 – Lar –It’s my birthday and guess what I’m doing – Pain points are objects that don’t appear on screen but if a npc bumps into a sphere around the painpoint, he gets hurt

The message implict in this one was that the crunch on Divine Divinity lasted more than a year because I was writing those in the middle of the night. So I started looking for some more quotes in comments – here are my favorite ones (I actually did a search on a number of curses)

//Quite some work to get this – I’m constantly amazed that all of this @@@@ still works

//Clean up the @@@@ in memory lists so that memory doesn’t go pacman

//So much @@@@ that it won’t fit on my screen

//This way we avoid wasting tilme on all tiny @@@@ Divinity has, and NPCs

//The callbacks don’t work – and I really don’t want to delve into bmg @@@@, so I solved it this way

//To get this f*** GDI @@@@ smooth and flicker free this option has been chosen. Microsoft !!!

//Patch 11/18/02 – Gigantula bug @@@@ed up all XP points. Gains were never edited to anything but 0 so that’s ok

//Well we’re really f@@@ed. What we would have to do here is switch to pathfinding because…

//Someone’s @@@@ up (not mine for sure)

From the copy protection code

//Give this a very casual name in case some idiot releases object files with function name information + entrypoints
//Instruct story to f@@@ up later

//do nothing. The fact that set alignment relation doesn’t work usually @@@s up the story well enough

From the editor

“This is a programmer only function. Don’t even try to figure out what this does. This is f@@@ing D A N G E R O U S. Sure you want to perform the ShroudSync ?”

//TO DO que de @@@@ is da hier allemaal

And my favourite one:

//Swen, all this @@@@ was carefully tuned, so DONT TOUCH IT ! ;-)

which I believe had some a bugs ☺

We clearly had a foul language problem but there were only three of us programming the original Divinity and we had a lot on our plates (for Rat & Moonlight, pun intended), so I guess we can be excused.

The funny thing is that nowadays I get upset when I see our coders write comments like this, so having done this run through code I worked on, I feel kind of guilty now – I forgot how bad I was. Made me realize that what I tell others not to do are often things I did myself, so it’s not really fair.

A couple of nights ago my counterpart & me were discussing our children, and I told her – when my daughter hits puberty, I’m putting her in a room very high in the house so she can’t escape at night & I’ll make damn sure there’s no ladder close by. Having been confronted with my many sins as a coder and thinking about how I’ve cursed at coders for doing the same thing, I think it’s probably best I buy a big and stable ladder for my daughter so that she doesn’t try the rope thing.

Anyway, I’m going to spend some time now trying to get Divine Divinity working in 1600x1200 again. There’s a traffic jam where I need to go so I can spare the time.

Till next time.


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#443228 - 04/29/11 03:57 PM Re: Status update (long overdue) [Re: Lar_q]
Lar_q Offline



Registered: 12/07/06
Posts: 742
@Kein:

Warning, Spoiler:
Well, you killed the demon, but Damien survived at the end of



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#443229 - 04/29/11 04:12 PM Re: Status update (long overdue) [Re: Lar_q]
StoneMonster Offline
journeyman

Registered: 04/19/11
Posts: 59
That is fuuny stuff... lol hard to cut the strings that bind us to everything we love.
When you look back, it is a sharp knife to see the mirror. I know ,I have a daughter
and I have had alot of reality bumps, but in the end you have to start to let them
become who they are HARD STUFF... The best you can ask for is trust, respect, to be
a part ,of all of it.

Im a dad and man it can be a challenge all of it's own. When your tree already has
it's branches and leafs and you begin to admire them and forget to check out the
roots.

Good Luck with future projects !! and with your family.
SM

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#443237 - 04/29/11 05:54 PM Re: Status update (long overdue) [Re: StoneMonster]
AlrikFassbauer Offline
veteran

Registered: 03/10/03
Posts: 19606
Loc: Rogue Squadron
Great stuff ! LOL

And I even remember Rat and Moonlight (although the latter one only in a vague way) ... \:\)
_________________________
When you find a big kettle of crazy, it's best not to stir it.
--Dilbert cartoon

"Interplay….some zombiefied unlife thing going on there" - skavenhorde at RPGWatch

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#443244 - 04/29/11 06:54 PM Re: Status update (long overdue) [Re: AlrikFassbauer]
Paulcz Offline
apprentice

Registered: 12/03/10
Posts: 34
Amazing updates, totally enjoyed reading!

Very fun stuff. I so cannot wait for your next kick @ss RPGs!


Edited by Paulcz (04/29/11 06:54 PM)

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#443245 - 04/29/11 06:55 PM Re: Status update (long overdue) [Re: AlrikFassbauer]
yoomazir Offline
stranger

Registered: 02/04/11
Posts: 6
Loc: Brussels, Belgium
keep up the good work guys, can't wait to see projects D & E \:\)

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#443258 - 04/29/11 09:03 PM Re: Status update (long overdue) [Re: yoomazir]
vivaxardas Offline
journeyman

Registered: 06/28/10
Posts: 80
Loc: California, USA
Thanks for keeping us informed. You guys are great, being both artistically gifted, and business management savvy. I wish you luck, and a lot of money. It will bring us a lot of great games in the future. ;\)

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#443261 - 04/29/11 09:23 PM Re: Status update (long overdue) [Re: vivaxardas]
Demonic Offline
old hand

Registered: 08/31/10
Posts: 776
So D&E could be seeing release next year? And I KNEW you looked at Bioware games! The DKS inventory looked almost like Dragon Age's inventory which is a good layout.

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#443272 - 04/30/11 03:01 AM Re: Status update (long overdue) [Re: Lar_q]
Libertarian Offline
addict

Registered: 11/07/09
Posts: 407
Good to read another one of your updates. I can't wait for the big projects next year, but I'm definitely in for project A. I love me some mobile games, and the possibility of some Divinity skins is rather enticing. Is project M more of a kids title? Cause you recommend that we try the demo out, so I'm guessing it's good for all ages, yes?
_________________________
My Favorite RPGs: Divinity franchise, Gothic franchise (including Arcania, so I think I'm alone...), Venetica, Risen, Two Worlds II, The Witcher, Sacred franchise, Fallout franchise, Mass Effect 1, Alpha Protocol, Planescape: Torment, Drakensang, KOTOR 1 & 2, etc.

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#443289 - 04/30/11 12:47 PM Re: Status update (long overdue) [Re: Libertarian]
Arokh Offline

enthusiast

Registered: 04/22/11
Posts: 361
Loc: Bradford, United Kingdom
Good stuff! Glad to hear you guys are doing well especially in these economic times. I'm looking forward to projects D and E, especially project D.
_________________________
By fire and by blood I join with thee in the Order of the Flame!

Arokh's Lair - Drakan & Severance: Blade of Darkness forums - http://www.arokhslair.net


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#443301 - 04/30/11 09:23 PM Re: Status update (long overdue) [Re: Arokh]
LewsTherinKinslayer13 Offline
veteran

Registered: 05/19/03
Posts: 8259
Loc: Seattle
You were in my city and didn't even stop by to say hello? Pfft. Seattle is a great city, hope you come again \:\)

Out of curiosity, is Divinity II - The Dragon Knight Saga going to come out in the boxed version for PC? I've seen boxed for Xbox and Download for PC, but I'd really prefer having a boxed version for PC.

I wish my old copy of Divine Divinity would still run on my Vista computer \:\(


Glad you guys are doing well \:\)
_________________________


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#443304 - 04/30/11 10:21 PM Re: Status update (long overdue) [Re: LewsTherinKinslayer13]
Stabbey Offline

veteran

Registered: 01/03/09
Posts: 3444
I saw a Dragon Knight Saga for PC (I think, it was in the PC games section) in EB Games (Gamestop) a few days ago.
_________________________
Let's Play Divine Divinity: Some call me a god. Some call me a murderer. I'm both.

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#443360 - 05/01/11 08:38 PM Re: Status update (long overdue) [Re: Stabbey]
Hassat Hunter Offline
veteran

Registered: 04/19/11
Posts: 1213
I *have* a boxed DKS for PC... 0_0

Maybe that's just Europe though, we seem to prefer RPG's more than Americans.


Edited by Hassat Hunter (05/01/11 08:39 PM)

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#443368 - 05/01/11 09:13 PM Re: Status update (long overdue) [Re: Hassat Hunter]
Kein Offline
veteran

Registered: 08/29/09
Posts: 2022
Loc: Soviet Empire
 Quote:
//Change 30-05-02 – Lar – It’s my birthday and guess what I’m doing again (see painpoint.h for more on this ☹)
and sure enough, I go to painpoint.h and it says

//Change 30-05-01 – Lar –It’s my birthday and guess what I’m doing – Pain points are objects that don’t appear on screen but if a npc bumps into a sphere around the painpoint, he gets hurt

The message implict in this one was that the crunch on Divine Divinity lasted more than a year because I was writing those in the middle of the night. So I started looking for some more quotes in comments – here are my favorite ones (I actually did a search on a number of curses)

//Quite some work to get this – I’m constantly amazed that all of this @@@@ still works

//Clean up the @@@@ in memory lists so that memory doesn’t go pacman

//So much @@@@ that it won’t fit on my screen

//This way we avoid wasting tilme on all tiny @@@@ Divinity has, and NPCs

//The callbacks don’t work – and I really don’t want to delve into bmg @@@@, so I solved it this way

//To get this f*** GDI @@@@ smooth and flicker free this option has been chosen. Microsoft !!!

//Patch 11/18/02 – Gigantula bug @@@@ed up all XP points. Gains were never edited to anything but 0 so that’s ok

//Well we’re really f@@@ed. What we would have to do here is switch to pathfinding because…

//Someone’s @@@@ up (not mine for sure)

From the copy protection code

//Give this a very casual name in case some idiot releases object files with function name information + entrypoints
//Instruct story to f@@@ up later

//do nothing. The fact that set alignment relation doesn’t work usually @@@s up the story well enough

From the editor

“This is a programmer only function. Don’t even try to figure out what this does. This is f@@@ing D A N G E R O U S. Sure you want to perform the ShroudSync ?”

//TO DO que de @@@@ is da hier allemaal

And my favourite one:

//Swen, all this @@@@ was carefully tuned, so DONT TOUCH IT ! ;-)


AHAHAH, thank for those. I LOEV read source code comments, always amused by some of mine which I did back then.

 Quote:
@Kein: Well, you killed the demon, but Damien survived at the end of



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#443410 - 05/02/11 11:11 AM Re: Status update (long overdue) [Re: Hassat Hunter]
Arokh Offline

enthusiast

Registered: 04/22/11
Posts: 361
Loc: Bradford, United Kingdom
 Originally Posted By: Hassat Hunter
I *have* a boxed DKS for PC... 0_0

Maybe that's just Europe though, we seem to prefer RPG's more than Americans.


Where did you get it from? I couldn't find one in all three of the UK's biggest stores. Ended up getting mine online via Steam which was cheaper as I already owned ED. A friend of mine likes the game but he lives in a rural area and his internet access is still dial-up.
_________________________
By fire and by blood I join with thee in the Order of the Flame!

Arokh's Lair - Drakan & Severance: Blade of Darkness forums - http://www.arokhslair.net


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#443414 - 05/02/11 12:09 PM Re: Status update (long overdue) [Re: Arokh]
Hassat Hunter Offline
veteran

Registered: 04/19/11
Posts: 1213
Local gameshop. Not really a big brand or anything.

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