Acts! It used to be just those old-timey theatre productions that had them, but as in many other respects, videogames have nipped through a stage exit and stolen theatre’s underpants. One act isn’t the same as another, however: take the third act of Baldur’s Gate 3, which many players feel isn’t a patch, or indeed a hotfix changelog, on the thunderously well-received RPG‘s first two acts. According to senior RPG designer Anna Guxens, Larian have been following the reaction and are thinking about how they can handle the third act’s “drastic” tone shift better in future releases. It’s a timely observation, because in separate news, Larian’s CEO Swen Vincke has posted that he’s “figured out” the first act of Larian’s next unannounced project.
“Each act has its own flavour,” Guxens told Gamereactor in a just-published interview following this year’s Keith Awards. “Especially Act 2 specifically has a very strong closing moment that just shuts down a whole era of it and then starting off in Act 3, especially if you have so many hours running in the rest of the game, can feel like a much different tone and [a very drastic] change, right?”
“I think it’s valid, because some people enjoy the tone of Act 3 the most, some people enjoy the tone of Act 2 the most,” she went on. “I understand how this shift is something that’s challenging to overcome especially, but give it a chance! And it’s something that we’ll be mindful of moving forward as well, just seeing how we handle this tone shift so that things are less drastic.”
Larian have already made substantial changes to Baldur’s Gate 3’s final act, based on the post-1.0 feedback. The last major Baldur’s Gate 3 update introduced a whole new epilogue boasting “some of the most complex writing in the game so far”.
Asked what exactly Larian are up to these days besides releasing Baldur’s Gate 3 updates of ever-increasing scale, Guxens was coy. “I’m feeling very proud, very excited for things coming as well. I’m just ready to get back into, like, the same kind of environment we have developing games, because this is the most exciting part of all, seeing things come from [people] to reality,” she said. “I’m always having fun [doing] more of that.”
Also being coy: Swen Vincke, who took to TwiXer yesterday to declare that “after 4 months of rewriting and rewriting and abandoning ideas and then revisiting them, finally figured out what act 1 on this thing I’ve been working on needs to be.
“Quote me when it’s revealed to see how much of today’s draft survives,” he went on. “I suspect a lot.”
Vincke added that it’s easy to think that any draft project that doesn’t make it to completion is wasted labour – an idea I cling to late at night, when the ghosts of my unfinished novels appear at the foot of my bed. “One thing I learned over the years is that work done on abandoned drafts is never wasted, even if you think the drafts are shit,” he said. “More than often, you’ll find you can recycle your work once you find the right story for it.
“This type of work can be really frustrating when you’re stuck but the important bit is to never give up and remain self-critical, even if the situation looks hopeless. Creative work is the exploration of a vast search space and it can take time to find the right path. At least that’s what I tell myself when I feel like a failure after people have been nagging at me for months – where’s the fucking narrative Swen?”
Vincke added that he has yet to share his current draft ideas for the unannounced game’s first act with anybody, but that he has high hopes for the reception. “I think I really like this one.” He was also quick to put a lid on speculation that a reveal is in the offing. “It’s not what you think and this is not a teaser for an announcement. Just am genuinely excited about where this is going and wanted to share some of my excitement. It’ll be quite some time before we talk about this.”
Let’s attempt some Minor Spells of Journalistic Deduction. If Larian/Vincke’s next project isn’t “what we think”, then it presumably isn’t either Baldur’s Gate 4, the obvious choice, or Divinity: Original Sin 3, which Vincke has previously said is “definitely coming”. Is it even an RPG? Perhaps a puzzle game featuring barrels, instead?
Disclosure: Former RPS deputy editor Adam Smith (RPS in peace) now works at Larian and is the lead writer for Baldur’s Gate 3. Former contributor Emily Gera also works on it.
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