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Divinity: Original Concept – The Next Evolution In RPG Gaming

cRPGs are my favorite. Given a choice between going to a bar, playing some sportsball, or going clubbing, I'd elect to pass up all three for a weekend wrapped up in a blanket with my laptop and a good story-driven RPG. Hell, I might pass up a date or two if the game is good enough. Unless, of course, I happen to be playing Divinity. Depending on the girl, date night and game night might come as a combo!

Ladies, I am charming, handsome, and a master of skill builds. If my hero min-maxing doesn't make you go wobbly in the knees, I don't know what will.

About a month ago, gaming date night enthusiasts got some good news:Divinity is back on Kickstarter, and it's even more ambitious than the last installment. Larian Studios's follow-up isn't wasting much time on graphical upgrades and new engines and other such nonsense, thank God. Instead, they're adding complexity to their narrative, taking the next step in the long march towards deep gameplay immersion.

One challenge of making immersive games is the issue of player choice. In real life, you might as well have an infinite variety of choices. While at any given moment a person may feel locked into a certain life path, that person, in reality, can chose to approach their life situation in a mind numbing array of ways, providing they've got the imagination to dream those ways up.

When it comes to immersion and player choice in games, the goal of choice is to help players lift the proverbial 'imaginative burden' (in other words, helping the player buy into the story you're telling) by making the player's choices similar to the way people make choices in real life. The more ways the players have of approaching the game you've developed, the more real the game is going to feel. Most games to date deal largely in creating the illusion of choice rather than providing meaningful choices. Development time on games is limited, and as you might imagine, generating meaningful choices for a game is hard. Most games are on rails, leading inevitably towards a single determined final destination, and there's nothing wrong with that.

For a while now, games have been edging closer towards the holy grail of RPGs, which is a story driven game with a world genuinely affected by the player's choices. This is something tabletop RPGs have been capable of since their inception, and Divinity has cleverly stolen an element of tabletop RPGs that are so integral to their entertainment value: the input of multiple people on the outcome of the same story.

I've been baffled for a long time that cRPGs are largely single player. Do you know what would make Skyrim better? Playing Skyrim with a couple of friends, and designing the game in such a way that each person has an impact on the evolving story.

Regardless, in the next couple of years, Divinity is the game to watch.

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