Baldur's Gate 3 developer Larian had a whole team dedicated to the RPG's personalized choices and reactions, and director Swen Vincke says this kind of tailored content is essential to games like this even if – or perhaps especially because – only "0.001% of the audience will see" it.
Speaking with the official Dungeons & Dragons YouTube channel, Vincke discussed Larian's philosophy on role-playing and his approach to player data. "I actually don't look at it," he says of the data. "I look at the dashboard from time to time. We have people who look at it, but I try to not do it because otherwise it can influence the creative decisions, and I want to make sure that we keep on investing heavily in things that maybe 0.001% of the audience will see.
"It is important that any journey that you take in your game is going to be equally rewarding," he continues. "And if you would say 'oh, 80% of the players go there and they see that', then what's going to happen is you're going to put all of your effort on the 80% experience, and you're going to do less on the 20%. And that's not what you should do when you make a game like this, at least in my opinion. So I try not to be guided too much by it, but obviously I pick things up like 'this class is more popular than that, people are making that choice more than that.' But we don't let it guide the game development."
Later in the interview, Vincke explains that the team was actually worried "we weren't putting in enough" detail, in part because "we were so focused on making sure that the identity you created at the beginning of the game was going to be reflected inside of the game." Larian is essentially the DM of every Baldur's Gate 3 player's campaign, and to me this sounds like the equivalent of a D&D DM who has contingencies and subplots prepared for every possible route the party may take.
"It was very important to us that if you picked [a specific subclass], you were going to feel that you were that [specific subclass]," he says. "That meant quite a lot of work, but it was never about not doing it. What I meant earlier is that 0.01% needs to have their proper experience because they picked that subclass - we offered it to you."
"Our first games were very ambitious but we didn't really manage to fulfill the ambition within the game because we didn't really fully support the features. From the criticisms on those games, I learned that if you put a feature in there, you have to go 'Full Monty.' That means if you can Speak with Animals, you can speak with every animal. If you can Speak with Dead, well, the trick that we use is 'any dead that still has their head.' You'll see all the decapitated people in the game and that's how we solved that. That's my cheat. But you have to support it like that.
"When you say you're gonna have reactivity to your class or the race that you picked, you have to put it in there and it has to be meaningful, so you have to have moments that are really about you. We tried to do that for everything. There was a team dedicated to that."
Baldur's Gate 3 has officially come to PS5, finally letting console players get the full CRPG experience. Somehow, the mammoth game has reviewed even better on PS5 than it did on PC.
In the same interview, Vincke shared a particular detail so troublesome that it had to be cut entirely, otherwise "it literally would have doubled the size of the game." The CEO also says he's already working on Larian's next game.