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Below 10: A Developer Profile
Larian Studio's: Dirk De Boeck

Myrthos, 2002-03-19

Set in an all new fantasy universe, Divine Divinity takes the player on a fantastic quest in a land torn apart by corruption and dark magic. Throughout his journeys the player will get the chance to develop his character as one of six character types and meet a variety of people and fantastical beings. By combining the best features of the RPG genre, and introducing a lot of new features, Divine Divinity will appeal to both hardcore and new RPG players.

Below 10 is a series of developer profiles where we try to establish a small profile by asking less than 10 questions to a team of developers. This edition features Lead Story Programmer Dirk de Boeck, aka Dante.

1) Tell us about yourself. Who are you and what do you do at Larian Studios.

Dirk De Boeck, Lead Story Programmer "Dante". What is the "story"? Well, for Divinity, that's everything outside the fighting and the skills. In other words, the game core engine provides us with a world in which we can walk around, in which we can manipulate objects, learn/apply skills, and fight monsters. The story puts everything on top of that: behavior of intelligent npc's - their dialogs, their reactions on stealing, killing etc…, the events and scenes that happen and that make up the story, the balancing of quest rewards and item generation, etc…

2) What is your typical working day like?

Programming, testing, fixing. Analyzing why things don't work out as they should - it is a complex world in which many things influence each other. If an npc does not react like it should, is it because of a specific story script triggering? A generic story behavior that should have been suppressed? A wrong setting in the data? Or an engine bug?
Additionally, we need to focus constantly on the fun part: we think over and over "Is this story element fun?" if not, we tweak or modify. And then story balancing too: what would an "evil" player do here? How would the warrior solve this (this is clear - usually he solves things by hacking and killing the evil dudes)? How would the survivor or the wizard solve this? And how could we give them a reward for using their brain instead of their brawn?
Talking to the testers as much as possible!

3) What did you want to become when you grew up?

Several things, but usually they contained the mix of "inventor" and "engineer". Basically I always wanted to create things.

4) What are your favourite games and what are you playing now?

Difficult one. I give a "historical overview" on the ones I most enjoyed: DOOM (the first shoot-em-up I played in LAN - where is the time?) and some of the other trailing (Quake, Unreal Tournament), Warcraft II & Starcraft, X-Com Terror from the Deep, MOO I & II, Baldur's Gate (multiplayer over WAN), Diablo I & II in LAN…

Currenlty, I don't have much time to play any game other than Divinity. If I have the time, I play Banjo-Kazooie on Nintendo64 - probably because it is such a great game and because it is so different from Divinity: no brains, no fighting - just reflexes… but pure fun everywhere too!

5) Where does your inspiration come from?

My tabletop roleplaying game sessions, in which I have a long history.

6) What is the coolest feature in Divinity for you?

The fabulous mix between action (hack'n slash) and story. The fact that all is so smooth, fun and real at the same time.

7) Which feature that hasn't made it into Divinity is the one you will miss most?

Having a party. That limits the playing experience a bit if you only play the game one time: in a party, you can both experience the way of the fighter and that one of the wizard for instance. Now, if you want to specialize, you need to play the game more than once. On the turn side, this gave us the advantage of being able to make the story more focused to one person, which is way more interesting according to me. Additionally, Divinity's skill system is very free, and you can combine many aspects from warrior, wizard and survivor in your character. So I'm not so sure anymore I really miss a party all that much.

8) How did you get into the gaming business and do you have any advice for anyone seeking a position in that business?

Be good at your job. Be prepared to work very hard.

9) Is there anything you would like to add?

I hope you like what we created. If you do, buy the game and enable us to make more and better!


Average Reader Ratings: 7.96 (227 votes)
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