Swen Vincke, Baldur’s Gate 3 director and CEO of Larian Studios, recently offered his condolences to the massive group of Wizards of the Coast workers affected by Hasbro’s latest round of layoffs, drawing specific attention to the fact that nearly everyone at the company who was part of early discussions about the Dungeons & Dragons-based game is now gone.
“I also want to thank [Wizards of the Coast], and specifically the Dungeons & Dragons team, for giving us carte blanche,” Vincke said. “I’m really sorry to hear so many of you were let go. It’s a sad thing to realize that of the people who were in the original meeting room, there’s almost nobody left. I hope you all end up well.”
I also want to thank @Wizards_DnD and specifically the DnD team for giving us carte blanche. I’m really sorry to hear so many of you were let go. It’s a sad thing to realize that of the people who were in the original meeting room, there’s almost nobody left. I hope you all end…— Swen Vincke @where? (@LarAtLarian) December 14, 2023
Vincke shared his well-wishes in a lengthy Twitter thread concerning everything he’d wanted to say at The Game Awards when Baldur’s Gate 3 won Game of the Year (this comes on the heels of a larger conversation amongst critics about the overall structure of Geoff Keighley’s advertisement-heavy show). Vincke noted in his thread that the 30-second time limit on acceptance speeches was “a bit short,” while also being gracious about the award and the show.
After Larian Studios officially announced Baldur’s Gate 3 in 2019, Vincke was often accompanied by former Dungeons & Dragons creative director Mike Mearls on his whirlwind tour of media appearances. Mearls described his team’s role on Baldur’s Gate 3 as “story and system support” during an interview at that year’s PC Gaming Show.
“We think of Dungeons & Dragons as a toy box for dungeon masters and players to go into and build their own stories,” Mearls told host Sean “Day” Plott. “Working with Larian, a lot of it was just opening up that toy box and sharing it and giving that kind of guidance. In one of our first meetings, we just laid out a map of Baldur’s Gate and the Sword Coast and asked a lot of questions, like ‘What kind of story do you want to tell? Where do we want to go? What are the cool locations we always wanted to put into a game like this?’ And then, if you have your favorite class, you really feel like you’re taking on that role you love so much from the tabletop and it’s really coming to life in an authentic way in Baldur’s Gate 3.”
Mearls, who became director of game design on the Magic: The Gathering trading card game in 2020 before getting swept up in Hasbro’s layoff spree earlier this week, was included in the “special thanks” section of the Baldur’s Gate 3 credits alongside Wizards of the Coast as a whole.
As for additional Wizards of the Coast contributions to Baldur’s Gate 3, digital games producer Shaun Roe quoted Vincke’s post to reminisce about being part of a team that was recruited to help review some of the game’s dialogue. They, like everyone else, were apparently impressed with the now-infamous “bear sex scene” between fan favorite party member Astarion and his potential wood elf druid lover Halsin.
“Larian created the game that they wanted to make, and we were very intentional about not interfering with that,” Roe said in a follow-up tweet, shedding more light on the collaboration. “Tragic that so many aren’t here to celebrate the success.”