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This week: Rude swears! Writing about more interesting games than the ones you boring people keep buying! And battle advice to people who’ve been dead 1,800 years! It’s some Steam Charts.
It might not have been the best kept secret in the world but now it's ironclad official: Larian Studios, the creator of the superb Divinity: Original Sin role-playing games, is making Baldur's Gate 3.
It's been in development for a while - work was underway even before Divinity: Original Sin 2 shipped in September 2017 - but there's no word on when Baldur's Gate 3 will be released, and the only platforms Larian will talk about are PC and, wait for it, Google's stream-dream, Stadia.
I learnt this talking to Larian founder and creative director Swen Vincke earlier this week. But first, below, the Baldur's Gate 3 announcement trailer.
Yesterday, Larian's website was plastered with a big number three. That might cause one to assume the Divinity studio is about to announce Divinity: Original Sin 3 (or maybe even Divinity 3), but evidence actually points to something a little different. Poke around in the video file, and you'll find references to Baldur's Gate 3 and Wizards of the Coast.
Today, Larian replaced that video with a new one featuring tentacles wrapping around the Roman numeral. Naturally, I immediately downloaded it and opened it in a text editor to hunt for more clues.
The studio was more careful this time. There aren't any references to games or companies in the metadata that I could find, but there are lots of mentions of kraken, squid, and calamari.
There's also a reference to a Photoshop layer called "Swen's Birthday Party." I wasn't sure what to make of that one until Andy pointed me to a tweet from Larian CEO Swen Vincke:
You tricksters, you.
Like the font of the logo, references to kraken imply another Divinity game, as Divinity: OS2 opens with a tentacled sea creature ripping apart a boat. But that doesn't explain the very clear Baldur's Gate 3 data in the first video, which Larian declined to comment on yesterday.
Maybe the tentacles are just a misdirection?
The great thing is that I'll probably be happy either way. Larian is making Baldur's Gate 3? That seems pretty certain given yesterday's leak, and that's cool, sounds good. But if Larian is making Divinity: Original Sin 3? Hell yeah, also good. And if Larian is making both? Yes, I would like those videogames to be made.
With E3 2019 just over a week away, and lots of announcements sure to come before and during it, we're probably going to find out what this is all about very soon.
Larian is teasing something with a 3 in it - and it looks like Baldur's Gate 3.
The Larian homepage has the number 3 emblazoned on it. The first thought this conjures is Divinity: Original Sin 3, although it feels a little early for that game. But someone had a dig around the code underpinning Larian's website, and it very much looks like this tease relates to Baldur's Gate 3 instead.
Twitter user kunkken went down the HTML rabbit hole and unearthed Baldur's Gate and Forgotten Realms licence holder Wizards of the Coast, which make this one something of a sure bet.
WARNING: If you’re reading this, there is a very strong chance you’re looking at news on your favourite game. Please, it’s imperative you click on to discover crucial information.
Matthew Holland never planned to add his dogs to Divinity: Original Sin 2. It happened on a lark, but turned into a wholesome story about his two canine companions. Holland worked as a scripter at Larian, the studio behind the fantasy RPG. While they were designing Fort Joy, an introductory island prison, the team came up with a quest about two separated dogs who wanted to find one another. At the time, their names were just “Dog A” and “Dog B”. While brainstorming with lead writer Sarah Baylus, Holland jokingly pitched the names of his two dogs, Buddy and Emily. The names stuck and Buddy became the lonely dog on the beach at Fort Joy who was missing his partner, Emmie. Although they planned a golden retriever modeled after the real Buddy, it turned out that a golden dog on a white beach wasn’t so easy to see. Buddy became a black labrador in-game, but his personality stayed golden.
But Divinity: Original Sin 2 is not the only game to immortalise its developers pets. It turns out videogames are full of cat cameos and designer s dogs. Some are sentimental tributes to pets that have died while others are loving takedowns of catty behavior, but they are all lasting memories of some furry best friends.
Video game worlds are facades, and sometimes we catch a glimpse of what's beyond. Recently, while exploring one of the intricate levels of Dusk, I somehow managed to slip through the cracks and found myself on the other side of the invisible partition that upholds the illusion of coherent space. I'd entered a world of broken, gravity-defying architecture, and there in the middle of the level had opened a pit that revealed a vast grey void beneath my feet. Close by, there was an exasperated message on the ground: "YOU AREN'T SUPPOSED TO BE HERE, GO AWAY."
Anyone who's spent a lot of time playing games will have their own stories of discovering the cordoned-off spaces behind spaces. We know the strange feeling of clipping through the ground only to plunge into a bottomless void while the level we've been exploring recedes into the distant ether above us; a tiny island unto itself, a dwindling speck suspended in the great digital void.
These are accidents and glitches, but then again, if we're not supposed to gaze into the abyss, then why is the void such a popular trope in games? It seems any self-respecting fantasy game offers its players a tour of the void: There's the Void of the Dishonored games (read more about it here), the Fade of the Dragon Age series, the Realm Between Realms of God of War (2018). Divinity: Original Sin 2 and Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire also dip their toes into the great nothingness. These are metaphysical spaces inhabited by or associated with gods and spirits, the afterlife, and, most significant of all, origins and acts of creation. They are displaced and timeless, existing in between or beyond conventional space-time, and are only accessible through special pathways that pierce the veil: dreams, visions, rituals, death or magic.