Torment Successor Social Round-up

While the Kickstarter campaign for the title hasn't even started yet, a few sparse info on inXile's Torment successor have surfaced, thanks to some responses from members of the team on Formspring.

Colin McComb discussed his feelings on the original:
I'm still happy with how Torment went, but looking back on it I can think of a number of ways I'd have improved my work. We'll be seeing deep reactivity and serious focus on tracking the player's actions; I was just discussing that this morning with Adam and Kevin, actually. We want to be sure to continue to subvert the standards of the genre, and we had a serious talk about how we might improve the metagame without catering to the metagamers.

Our basic pillars are: the thematic exploration, naturally; a deep and involved storyline focused on the player, rather than an epic struggle (though there will certainly be elements epic struggle, simply by virtue of who the player will be); memorable and reactive companions who grow and change throughout the story based on your actions with them; a hugely different setting (check!); and vivid, interesting writing - about which we'll have a lot more to say pretty shortly.

Morality systems:
I think they're a little limited. For one thing, they tend to be overly simplistic and absolute, and often are directed so broadly that there's no question what the right choice is. This Penny Arcade strip lays it out pretty well:

The real problem is that morality is frequently not so black and white, especially not in the eyes of the people who are watching your actions. What you think is good might wind up doing serious harm to someone else, and your evil actions might wind up being beneficial to others. Part of this is due to the legacy of the alignment system; alternately, you see these systems in games where the universe itself rewards extremes of behavior (Planescape, for instance, or Star Wars). When you're talking about a world where the provable nature of Good and Evil no longer exists, however, you need to reconsider how to develop a morality system.

One of the discussions we have been having is about removing polar axes from our game and tracking individual decisions on their own merits. This is still entirely theoretical, but I think we might have the germ of something cool and something that allows for a greater degree of realistic choice.

Indirect reactivity:
I'd absolutely like to do something indirect as well. What we're talking about right now is tracking some primary activities without adding Good or Evil on top of that (though we *will* track what your companions think about your actions). Reputation among certain groups and in certain areas should definitely play a role.

We're still early in pre-production, as Brian noted, so stuff is subject to change - but I'm very (very!) happy about where we're going with our discussions so far.

I haven't played AP yet (combination of no Xbox/kids in the house/other things that aren't germane here), but did talk with Chris a bit about the system they used - and hope to talk with him a bit more shortly. I'm also planning on refamiliarizing myself with other RPGs so I can weigh pros and cons with a fresh perspective instead of years of distance.

And whether the game will focus on a big detailed city as the original with Sigil:
A big part of PS:T was Sigil and its contained city adventure with detailed districts - the art we've seen for Numenara, by contrast, shows a lot of grand sweeping vistas and desolate wildernesses. Will T2 have that urban aspect, or be more open-world?

Our current plan is to have both. We'll have some small claves (villages), some abandoned ruins, a location is an interdimensional predator and hub simultaneously, and at least one detailed city with appropriate gangs, factions, parties, and more. For the larger questions about tech and design, though, I'll have to direct you over to Kevin Saunders here (ksaun).

While project director Kevin Saunders discussed the the combat system:
Why go for RtwP combat if you guys will already have a fully working and tested Turn based system from Wasteland 2?

That's a great point in favor of turn-based (TB) combat, and of course we'll be looking to leverage as much from Wasteland 2 for Torment as makes sense. The combat system is an aspect that really is up for discussion and we are by no means cemented on real-time with pause (RTwP). Actually, for the recent Rock, Paper, Shotgun article, we considered not even suggesting a direction, but a) it's true that our initial inclination was RTwP and b) thought we'd glean more useful feedback in terms of community response by indicating that. That feedback is important to us and, in fact, we plan to look to the Torment backers for their input on this topic.

We have several design goals for combat that aren't inherently dependent upon whether the combat is RTwP, TB, or something else. These include aspects such as meaningful player decisions at both the strategic and tactical levels (I use the terms (strategic) and (tactical) in the same manner that JESawyer does); emphasizing quality of combat encounters over quantity (including the ability to avoid the majority of combat through gameplay decisions); the integration of narrative elements (the spirit eating mechanic of Mask of the Betrayer is an example of this.)

Because we can achieve these goals with either system, and because we don't feel that the choice of RTwP or TB is fundamental to the Torment experience, it is exactly the type of design decision in which we'll want to engage the game's backers.

And also whether the game will use pre-rendered background or go full 3D:
This is an important question. We are looking to create a style/feel that is reminiscent of PS:T, but we're still exploring what approach we'll use. The answer will depend in part upon what funding level we reach with Torment we are looking into various options and their required resources so that we can have realistic goals (and make realistic promises) for the game's art. (While of course we want to make the game look as great (and (Torment-y)) as possible, we're not going to shelve the project if we aren't able to afford the graphical approach we would all really want.)