Divinity: Original Sin 2 Needs YOU!
Oh sure, it's easy to look at a video game and think "this came together really well because of the programmers, or the artists, or the very, very attractive and humble writers," but it's a little more complicated than that.
The fact is, any game that we make is a draft before it goes through testing. A well-tested game is a well-polished game, and that's part of the joy of early access! Every single person that sits down to play Divinity: Original Sin 2 generates testing data, but it's only useful if we get to see it.
How do we get to see it? Well, once you close the game you click the friendly little box that appears asking if you’d like to share the game data with us. It really is that quick and that easy.
Sure, but does it really matter?
Yes! VERY yes! It's easy to think "all this data just goes in a big bucket, I'm sure they have plenty - they don't need mine", but the amount of data isn't half as important as the variation. We can catch game-breaking bugs or exploits because one person thought outside the box and did something we didn't expect, or which 99% of players missed. It's these outliers - these individuals - that help give us the fine layer of polish that we're aiming for in Divinity: Original Sin 2. So please, don't ever think that your contribution will be ignored, or isn't worth much. Every piece of data is sacred, and we need each bit we can get.
So what exactly do we track?
If it’s in the game, then we want to know about it! We want to work together with you to produce the best game possible, and that means giving you the chance to share as much game data as you can. But what exactly are we interested in? Here's a summary of the data you can send us.
There are a bunch of ways out of Fort Joy, and we need to check which routes are used most often (and therefore might be too easy) or which are barely used at all (and may need to be tweaked or balanced.) The same is true of treasure that might be too easy/difficult to find, fights that people are missing, or characters and quests that aren't getting the attention we expected because people just don't spend enough time hanging out in shady alleyways or exploring caves.
We use this data to create a heatmap, which tells us the most common paths people take and which areas they explore. This is also very handy for spotting and fixing mistakes like "I'm pretty sure you shouldn't be able to walk through that wall" or letting us add a chest to reward you for walking through that Sourcerer's cunning wall illusion!
STR, FIN, INT, WIS, etc. are the beautiful three-letter building blocks of any character, so it's important we track what builds you're working on and spot any inconsistencies in the system. What stats are picked more than others, and does that change as you level? Does that indicate that any of them are over/underpowered?
In regards secondary stats, the experience points you gain and the speed you gain them at is essential for the pacing of the game. We also need to know how quickly you move and what resistances you're working on so we make sure the levels ahead are balanced and well-paced.
Items and Inventory:
Making sure you have the right equipment as you go is vital, so we check how much you're picking up along the way, and what sort of armour you’re using. This lets us know if there’s too much or too little, and if it's the right level.
Tags are a foundational part of Divinity: Original Sin 2, so being able to track the origins, race, and profession tags used is as important as anything else. Also, some tags are dynamic, and are added or removed as you play, which will have to be tracked and carefully balanced to make sure they work well in the final game.
Abilities and Talents:
As the nuts-and-bolts of combat and exploration, making sure abilities and talents work is core to making sure the game plays well. We need to find out what's popular. What ain't? How many of you are picking PetPal? What weapons specialisations do you love? What spells are being used in every battle, and what needs to be buffed up a little?
How are you making your gold? Is most of it looted directly or does it come from selling items? Do you have enough gold? Are you doing okay? Can you afford rent and still spend the occasional night at the tavern?
Okay, but how is this actually being recorded?
When you start a game your playthrough is given an anonymous, unique code which contains no identifying information and cannot be traced back to you, your machine, or your IP address. As you play, information is gathered under this code and when the game closes you have the option to send this data. This works even if the game crashes - in fact it's especially important that it does, because then it gathers data about the crash and helps us fix whatever caused the issue.
As for the specifics of how, it's all pretty simple really: every five seconds the game records your position on the map to track your progress through the game. That's the only recording that's constantly running in the background - everything else is triggered by an event (eg. your new stats would be recorded after you level up and save, items are recorded when picked up or equipped, skills are recorded as they're used by you or the enemy, and a bunch of other specific triggers.)
Right, so it's anonymous, but what information do you get about me?
None about you personally. If your game crashes (and only if your game crashes) you can share a DxDiag file with us. This is a standard file that’s generated by your computer whenever it needs to test visual performance, and contains some information about the hardware in your machine (Processor, GPU, Monitor settings, etc.) and some software info (DirectX version, your operating system, stuff like that), but that's about it. When you submit data you also share your latest save
For a full overview of what a DxDiag report contains, you can create your own dxdiag report by tapping the Windows key and typing DxDiag. Then click the button “Save all information”.
But does it actually make a difference?
You bet! In fact, you’ve just seen it in action. The AI 2.0 patch was a big change in how the game can be played, so we kept a close eye on the data coming back over that weekend. Very quickly we were able to see how things had changed. Were people dying more, and in different places? Were they drinking more health potions? Would we need to rebalance the economy to account for that?
We had a lot of questions, but thanks to the data that you (we hope) submitted, we had quick answers which we knew would be effective. After the patch went out we were able to identify problem areas, come up with solutions, test them against the data, implement them in game, test the game thoroughly, and push out a shiny new hotfix - all in a week! None of that would have been possible if not for the data that our players had been sending us.
So... there's absolutely no downside to submitting my game data and I'll be helping make the game better?
Well, we're a little biased, but it's the click of a button; there's no identifying information; and each submission really does help us make a better and better game.
We think it's win-win, so please, if you feel like it, do remember to send us your data when you've finished your play session. All that we ask is you play the game in the way that’s the most fun for you so we can make sure the rest of the game hits that high standard.