If you played Divinity: Original Sin in its pre-release days, you may have noticed a very active little chat window down in the corner of the screen. You may also have noticed that in the full release version, it's no longer there. Larian Studios actually revealed on Steam last week that it had switched off the global chat, "as there was just a bit too much profanity and insulting," but as studio boss Swen Vincke told Kotaku , the real situation was a bit more than just a bit much.
Anyone who plays games online knows that there are both good and bad aspects to it. The upside is competition and challenge far superior to any AI, and the opportunity to meet and make new virtual friends; the downside is that a lot of people on the internet are jerks. And despite his many years in the game industry, the intensity of that downside apparently caught Vincke by surprise.
"The very minute that [global chat was activated in the full game], it seemed like the floodgates of hell were opened and all we saw was insults and shouting at each other," he said. "This was a big contrast with the rather friendly chat we had been enjoying until then in which players generally tried to help each other. We looked at it for ten minutes, saw that it was only deteriorating and decided to pull the plug. There's a certain type of fun we're aspiring to give people, and insult matches aren't part of the vision."
He said the game doesn't really need global chat at all, but the sheer size of the thing makes the ability to easily pick up a quick hint a desirable feature. He said a lot of people were seeking advice and guidance during the Early Access period on things like character builds and puzzles, and it was also a handy way to find people to play with.
The global chat function may return at some point, but not until the initial surge of interest in the game has given way. "It's a real pity though—apart from a few isolated instances, we never had the same problem during Early Access and we had silent hopes that it was going to be okay," Vincke said. "We figured it was at least worth a try."
For more on how Larian went about creating Divinity: Original Sin and what the studio has in mind for the future, check out our interview with studio boss Swen Vincke right here .