In a new three-page "Torment Need Not Be Eternal" editorial, contributor Eric Schwarz examines Planescape: Torment's legacy, as well as what sort of place a sequel might have - or wouldn't have - in today's games industry.
Planescape: Torment, then, was significant not just because it was excellent at what it set out to do, but because it served as a near-complete upheaval of all gamers had grown to know about RPGs over the course of years, all set within the same familiar framework they had felt they understood. But what of the present?
Writing this piece over a decade after the release of Torment, the video game industry, and community, is a very different place than what it once was. We're in an age where the market is largely divided into three or four different segments AAA console/multi-platform games, mid-budget PC games, mobile gaming, and indie games. This is a simplification, of course, but I think it's a fairly accurate one. The PC does not hold the sway over the games industry and is largely viewed as a minority platform, even secondary to fast-growing markets like iOS/Android. Most games don't occupy a middle-ground as far as budget and marketing go it's largely all or nothing, with colossally expensive mainstream titles, and cheaply-produced bite-sized mobile and indie games occupying the other end of the spectrum. The CRPG, along with other PC mainstays, has largely disappeared, or been folded into those other market segments, in the form of big-budget lite-RPGs, like BioWare's Dragon Age II and Bethesda's Fallout 3, much smaller projects like Spiderweb's Avadon, and handheld dungeon crawlers and tactics RPGs hearkening back to Ultima Underworld and X-COM on the DS and PSP. Those games aren't gone, no, but they've largely been relegated to niche development scenes and fan communities.