When Larian Studios started the Kickstarter campaign for its expansive, turn-based RPG Divinity: Original Sin in March 2013, there was little precedent for how a crowdfunded game’s development was supposed to go.
Games like Double Fine’s Broken Age and Wasteland 2 legitimized the platform as a viable means to raise money without needing a publisher, but both games were not yet finished.
While Double Fine works to release the second half of Broken Age this year and InXile Entertainment attempts to meet its new August release date for Wasteland 2, Divinity: Original Sin is out.
After two years of development, over $1 million, and a few delays, the game Larian Studios pitched 15 months ago to potential backers is finally finished. It’s one of the first handful of games that made it through the crowdfunding process, and could be an example future developers look to before they decide to crowdfund their games.
BitPulse went through the history of Divinity: Original Sin’s development, it’s promises and it’s mistakes, and compared that to the finished product that is available today.
Divinity: Original Sin would be the sixth entry in Larian Studios’ RPG series and a prequel to the first game, 2002’s Divine Divinity.
After its announcement in May 2012, Larian Studios brought the game to Kickstarter in March 2013. For $400,000, it wanted to have the game finished by the end of 2013.
The game would include the series’ signature strategic, turn-based combat, but would tell a story with two main characters. You could enter into conversations between them, or with another player in the game’s drop in/drop-out co-op mode, and define their personalities.
Items in the game would be used for crafting, and objects in the environment could be destroyed or moved. At any point, you would be able to play as one character either by force or by choice. And all of the systems and environments and characters would be under your control with complete editing tools that would also let you share levels with other players online.
The game would be available on PC, Mac, and Linux. It would be DRM-free on GOG and also available on Steam. The alpha version would arrive in the summer, and the beta would be out in September.
The campaign hit a series of stretch goals after it was funded in April that would include: a personal homestead, talents and personality traits, companions, NPC schedules and a day and night cycle with weather systems.
The Linux and Mac versions were delayed as Larian Studios prioritized the PC version, but it eventually got the Mac versions working and launched with it last month.
The game was delayed to Feb. 28, 2014 because of the work the developer needed to do to implement the stretch goals. The alpha and beta were adjusted to be available in November and January, respectively.
The alpha was delayed to release before Christmas and was made available to all backers of the project. The alpha launched on December 17.
The alpha got an update that added co-op to the game and launched on Steam Early Access. Later that month, the alpha got a second update that added stability improvements, classes, spells, stats, items, and other bug fixes.
The game didn’t launch as was previously announced. Instead, the alpha got a third update that included an affinity and affection system to grow relationships between the characters.
The alpha got a fourth update that fixed more bugs, improved the environments and combat, and added more status effects in the game.
Larian Studios launched the beta for the game, which included a host of new additions like more talents, more skills, a Witchcraft skill tree, environmental interactions, better AI, and sound effects. The release date was set for June 20. It cut the first and only stretch goal for the launch of the game to focus on other features: the day and night cycles.
The Mac version was released on Steam Early Access and Larian Studios began looking for more beta testers.
The game was delayed 10 days later to a June 30 release date, which it hit, and it was announced that the GOG version of the game would be available on its new Steam-like store client GOG Galaxy. The GOG version is still not out. Backers were promised the ability to play the game DRM free on GOG at launch since the beginning of the Kickstarter campaign. It’s expected to release “in the next few days” without online matchmaking and automatic updates, according to a GOG representative. The Divine Engine toolkit was also released.
2014 and beyond
Not only is the GOG version still coming out, but the Linux version should be too. And when Larian Studios cut the day and night cycles, it specifically said “for launch” but it’s unclear if they will be added to the game in the future.