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D&D General No More Baldur's Gate From Larion: Team Is 'Elated'

Team pivoting to next big release instead.


Bad news for Baldur's Gate fans--It seems that Larion is out of the Baldur's Gate business. CEO Swen Vicke has announced that Baldur's Gate 3 is not getting any expansions, DLC, or a sequel. Patches and fixes will still continue, however, including cross-platform mod support.

"Because of all the success the obvious thing would have been to do a DLC, so we started on one. We started even thinking about BG4. But we hadn’t really had closure on BG3 yet and just to jump forward on something new felt wrong. We had also spent a whole bunch of time converting the system into a video game and we wanted to do new things. There are a lot of constraints on making D&D, and 5th Edition is not an easy system to put into a video game. We had all these ideas of new combat we wanted to try out and they were not compatible."
-Swen Vicke​

Vicke confirmed this at a talk at the Game Developers Conference, and said that Larion Studios wanted to make its own new content rather than license IP from another company.

He also clarified that a Baldur's Gate 4 was still possible, but that if it happened it would not be made by Larion. Larion is already working on its next big release.

According to IGN, Larion has started work on some BG3 DLC, but it was cancelled.

"You could see the team was doing it because everyone felt like we had to do it, but it wasn’t really coming from the heart, and we’re very much a studio from the heart. It’s what gotten us into misery and it’s also been the reasons for our success."
-Swen Vicke​

According to Vicke, when the BG3 team found out that they would not be making more Baldur's Gate content, they were 'elated'.

“I thought they were going to be angry at me because I just couldn’t muster the energy. I saw so many elated faces, which I didn’t expect, and I could tell they shared the same feelings, so we were all aligned with one another. And I’ve had so many developers come to me after and say, ‘Thank god.'"
-Swen Vicke​


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How is BG3 for modding?
As just a mod user: once you download BG3 Mod Manager and Script Extender and BG3 Mod Fixer, you're good to just start adding stuff, and all you have to worry about is when the mod was last updated, and load order for mods that change the same things... And of course, Script Extender being the work of one person and it has so far needed a few days to get patched after every other patch (so there have been weekends of people not being able to play, which does admittedly get solved by not having the game auto-update).

As a modder: Because of the engine being the same as used in the Divinity games (and years of early access), the modding community had tools ready to go from the start, which actually makes modding it possible. So given the use of LSLib and BG3 Modders Multitool, you can (eventually) find what you want to change (as long as you are ready to do some detective work, and follow IDs back to other entries that list other IDs for you to follow, so one of them will do what you want). And for visual things (meshes and textures), Padme4000's Youtube videos will guide you along. So you know, you can easily make changes with those tools, it's just cumbersome. And occasionally Larian may still change their file formats (like moving all of the individual textures to be read from a big combined virtual texture file instead, which made sense to make the game work on XboxS, but caused a lot of extra work for modders).

Difficulties as a starting modder: The structure is a mess (there are files that are named the exact same, because the folder structure is split into early access / full release sections, and sometimes they cover completely different entries but sometimes they cover the same ones and rely on the latters overriding the first ones, and for example, the base rigs of the player race heads are thrown in 3 separate folders on top of that). Sometimes the files are packed (all called _merged.lsf), sometimes they're not (like CharacterCreationAppearanceVisuals.lsx). Inheriting parent entries sometimes works (Grease spell's effect PRONE_GREASE is using PRONE effect as base, only listing what is different), but often not (changing partymember appearance is not just one entry, but there's multiple entries for different cutscene needs, but at least their skin/hair/eye colors use one shared file), etc etc.

Personally, I have steered clear of Script Extender reliance until the game is in a more stable state (and I've purposefully limited myself to mods that won't invalidate my save files in case I had to remove all of them). You can do a ton of stuff with just directly putting changed files into the Data folder (called overriding), so let me see what I've put in (some of this is actually my own work, but all of those rest on first looking at someone else's mod to see how something similar was done)...
  • skip Larian logo and pressing any key at main menu
  • clean UI (removed minimap, hid buttons, hotbar and such get hidden if you're not mousing over them, movable combat log)
  • removed loading screen hints (because there's only like a literal dozen of them) and added official art book pictures to the loading screen gallery
  • tried to improve the AI over some dumb things (like its love of triggering opportunity attacks, though there's definite limits here, some things the AI is just going to be stupid about, it's very possible the person who created this AI system for Divinity is not even with them anymore)
  • fixed stuff Larian has just left broken (like Totem Barbarian Rages, or some half-feat stat gains not stacking with other things that boost your stats, or Halforc Durge losing their racial skill instead of getting to pick a skill when the background already gives that skill, or base game outfits having your Halforc butt/thigh clip through them, Prone breaks concentration, etc)
  • changed Dragonborn scale color options, replaced halforc heads with prettier ones (had to fix neck seams in Blender), reduced the effect of the default wrinkle maps and halved the green level of halforc head textures to make them match body textures better (had to install something that reads DDS files), changed piercing sets
  • added custom hairstyles, and copied all the hairs to show up in beard/horn/tail categories as well, so you can mix-and-match styles
  • changed Wyll and Gale into women, which sadly did not make Wyll any more interesting, but it made me give Gale a proper chance and she's proven amazing (and Gale's voice acting really works through the AI changers, which tend to flatten a lot of the others)
  • relatedly, in Patch 6, Larian changed the audio format of dialog lines to use a much worse, lossy, crappy compression format, but at least a modder converted 25gigs of the original voice lines into a better-quality version using the new format
  • changed Shadowheart into Gnomeheart, just to have someone represent the shorties... but while everything worked, as NPCs end up walking more than your controlled character who just runs everywhere, the gnome walking animations just looked too silly, so I reverted this change. I still want to make someone a dwarf, but there's a lack of dwarf-y voice changers, and playing around with audio files using the proprietary Wwise is not my idea of fun
  • made the Tactician+ enemy roll buffs scale with player level (and apply to enemy saves as well)
  • a lot of small things (raised long rest supply cost to 200, changed character creation's black hair color to actually be black instead of gray, removed Honour mode's single-save limit, changed initiative die to use d20 instead of d4, raised XP requirements by +30%, changed the background/camera position of portrait poses, better environmental textures, less absurdly large staves, etc)
I list all this just to give you an idea of what you can do, without relying on the Script Extender. With it, things will eventually get really crazy, as you can randomize a buff to give each enemy when combat starts, you can walk around with all of your party to see their interactions but only a random three join you in any combat, there'll be an animation framework pretty soon (!!!)... it's core enough to many people's modding experience/expectations, that I really wish Larian just packaged it in (but I guess the access to Osiris/Lua scripting in theory opens up some malicious options, so I'm not expecting that to happen).
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I think it's a little more complex than this.

Opportunity cost is a real thing, and as I pointed out (I know you were replying to page 1 so won't have seen that), DLCs/expansions sell a small fraction of the number of copies the main game does. The main purpose of DLCs/expansions is less to sell (except for a few games which do them for very extended periods, like the Total War series, or Paradox games), and more to maintain interest in the main game, and keep people buying that. Then you have a GotY or similar package later which packs in the expansions and you can sell that for more than you normally would sell the game for at that point and people feel okay about it. Larian has seen from previous games that they probably don't really need to do this, because they don't have a lot of close competition and can just rely on their game having a "long tail" - most RPGs do - i.e. they sell for many years after initial release, which is far less true of action games.

And by working on a DLC for a small return for them, they're taking staff and focus away from other projects. Now, sometimes that can make sense - if the DLC only needs staff not yet needed on a longer-term project (for example writers and quest-scripters might not be needed heavily in the early phase of a game's production, but might be the main people you need for a DLC) - but often that's not really the case, and you're taking staff away from other projects. It can also have morale impacts, though that's variable - some people are keen to work on DLC, others less so.

A DLC would have been free, zero-effort money for Hasbro/WotC, but for Larian it would have been a significant opportunity cost.

If Larian are making another full-scale CRPG, as one might guess is the case, given Swen already compared their next project to BG3 (specifically by saying it will "dwarf BG3" - not a comparison you'd likely make about a game in a different genre), and given Swen has also stated specifically that he wants the next game out in 4 years, not 6 (good luck with that, mate, I say - I think this is unlikely - ironically a BG4 could probably have been done in 3-4 years as the engine already exists), it's probably an "all hands on deck" situation as they're prototyping hard.
I'm familiar with the video game industry. I teach economics (along with political science and history) :) "Small" is relative compared to the giant pile BG3 made. Then too, I doubt a full-blown sequel would have made less than BG3. I think Larian's decision was more about artistic freedom than economics though. Assuming they had the opportunity of course. They do have a reputation for producing good games (and I've played several), I just hope they don't regret passing over a sure thing.

I'm familiar with the video game industry. I teach economics (along with political science and history) :) "Small" is relative compared to the giant pile BG3 made. Then too, I doubt a full-blown sequel would have made less than BG3. I think Larian's decision was more about artistic freedom than economics though. Assuming they had the opportunity of course. They do have a reputation for producing good games (and I've played several), I just hope they don't regret passing over a sure thing.
Small is relative, sure, but the opportunity cost can be very significant, as can the morale hit. You still seem to see DLC as "free money" that Larian are leaving on the table which whilst not a generally unreasonable position, is not, I would suggest, a complete understanding of this particular situation.

Two key factors here which differentiate the BG3 situation from that a lot of games DLC/expansion-wise:

1) Larian didn't plan to do DLC/an expansion. This is the most important factor. Normally when a game which will have DLC or an expansion releases, that is planned before launch, and often even worked on before launch. You keep key team members in certain roles, move others around, and generally plan around certain staff working on that DLC/expansion for months or even years. This isn't just economic, but also important for careers - often senior staff don't want to do this, but more junior staff may get an opportunity to demonstrate their skills (we saw this with several BioWare DLCs for ME and DA dor example). Or sometimes almost the entire company remains committed, as was the case with CDPR and The Witcher 3 - a game famed for the high quality of its DLC (better than the already impressive main game). Because Larian didn't plan for this, but instead had staff going off to work on other projects, when they changed their mind - as Swen explained they did - when they started work on DLC for BG3 (again, which Swen explained they did), they would have had to change people's plans, probably pulling them off things they had planned and prepared to work on. This causes problems both morale-wise and economics-wise, because unplanned DLC takes significantly longer to produce and is significantly more disruptive to the business.

2) BG3 is an 3D AAA CRPG with full cinematics. This makes DLC particularly "heavy" to produce in terms of the footprint of employees used. If we compare it to, for example, Total War Warhammer 3, a game with several DLCs, TWWH3 has been able to employ a vastly smaller team than the one which developed it, because it only has simple 2D animatics (and used sparsely), reuses the vast majority of its assets (which are also far less detailed than BG3 assets), doesn't require writing or mocap or voice work in significant amounts (some in some cases, but truly tiny amounts), and so on. BG3 seems like it would have struggled to achieve the same - especially as other 3D AAA RPGs with full cinematics have - as noted CDPR kept most of their team on TW3 DLC and seemingly a very large portion of their huge team on the Cyberpunk 2077 team and BioWare did have to keep a lot of people working on their games to put out their DLC.

So I don't think Larian are very likely to regret this. It is possible they might want to do a "refresh"-style Definitive Edition at some point, but I suspect only if work on their next big game goes slower than planned. One advantage to stopping now is technological - if they start a game now and finish in 4 years (as Swen hopes to), they'll be dealing with fundamentally similar technology both on PC and consoles. If they add a couple of years or more to that by putting out DLC/expansions for BG3, they may be looking at more significantly different technological landscape. That's speculation of course - we shall see.

Normally when a game which will have DLC or an expansion releases, that is planned before launch, and often even worked on before launch.
Yeah, DLC basically has to be worked on during development, because otherwise it takes forever to come out, risking missing the impactful window. Elden Ring made an unexpectedly big splash two years ago, and we're still waiting on its DLC (omg it's been two years already?). And there's so much less cutscene/dialog to expect from that...

Now, they could have a small extra content team that keeps adding to BG3 while everyone else moves on to other things ('this week we added a quest about finding a kitten'), but modders can do that (even creating voicelines for pre-existing NPCs with the AI models now!), without Larian worrying about it breaking the game for everyone.

In my opinion, this is perfect. Too often companies try to milk something for all its worth and end up leaving on a sour note (can anyone say Arkham series?). BG3 is an amazing game and an incredible technical accomplishment. I applaud Larian for ending on a high note and letting the game live as a legend (can anyone say Seinfeld?). They should be proud.

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