Torment: Tides of Numenera Kickstarter Update #12, $3,265,989 and Counting

The latest Torment: Tides of Numenera Kickstarter update, which happens to NOT be an April Fools, showcases the first tentative screenshot/environmental mock-up for the title and also offers a write-up from inXile's lead environment artist Koy vanOteghem. Here's a snip:
The Ninth World of Numenera has a rich tapestry of aesthetics. You can see this in the variety demonstrated in both our Torment concept art as well as the Numenera artwork. While we search out the look and feel for this evolving title, we find ourselves developing a much more organic approach to our asset production pipeline, both in process and in created content. Perhaps it was starting with the Bloom that helped steer us down this road, though we see how it will apply to more architectural environments as well. Our approach involves a heavier focus on sculpting and modeling, and a lesser focus on the engineering side of the art, which will suit our (relatively) small team structure well. We get back to working on the art, and think less of engine settings and geometry management.

Torment will certainly present some special challenges, but more so I think, unique opportunities to realize our vision in a new old way. We're looking back to a 2D approach, with a fresh eye rooted in contemporary modeling, texturing, and engineering techniques. Much like Project Eternity, our goal is to craft an experience that diverges from the common path of world building. We hope to strike a distinct style while achieving levels of detail often difficult to present in 3D game space with a small team, through a process of pre-rendering major portions of in-game assets. As you have seen in the published concept pieces, geometry varies greatly from location to location. We look to incorporate the organic nature of many of those structures into our asset creation pipeline while avoiding the often processor taxing in-game meshes.

The big debate: playing games in 2D vs. 3D I know many of you are interested about our decisions regarding the art direction. There has been much talk about the costs associated with "2D development," the quality and scope that can be produced by a small team, and the impact that this might have (for funding) of other departments. And trust you me, I understand from where these expectation emerge. But to be clear, what we are really talking about here is not a 2D game, but what you might call a 2.5D game, with just a portion of art production that is 2D in nature. Bear in mind, any extra time we spend noodling in 2D will be made up 10-fold when we get to our beta build and we are not ripping our eyes out trying to figure out how to get all that geometry to render efficiently on screen. Our early tests are showing very promising frame rates for our 2D assets, freeing up additional processing power for characters, FX, lighting, post-processes, etc.

After all, characters are not 2D, rather 3D seen through an isometric camera. And particles, well, they've actually always been 2D, but you know that. I'll admit, lighting in 2.5D was a concern of mine early on, but after some initial experiments, I feel confident that 3D lighting can and will be used to considerable effect, grounding the characters in the scene through dynamic lighting and some shadow casting. These issues, among others, simply require a mind shift in the creation process, and it's quite liberating.