Torment: Tides of Numenera Interviews

We have rounded up a couple of interviews that have been conducted recently, right as the Torment: Tides of Numenera Kickstarter campaign is marching steadily to its conclusion (so far it has raised an impressive $3,430,782 on Kickstarter alone not counting Paypal, which more or less makes at the very least the $3.5 million stretch goal a given).

Destructoid chats with Chris Avellone:
Last month, I spoke with Colin McComb and Kevin Saunders about the Torment Kickstarter, a mere 24 hours before it began, and Kevin described Chris as the "mastermind" behind making a spiritual successor to Planescape: Torment a reality. It was Chris who hooked up Colin and Brian Fargo, and last year he spoke at length about the possibility of a sequel to the story of the Nameless One, or at least a spiritual successor. Chris doesn't think he lives up to that, however.

"There're people I've worked with who have really came through for projects in the past and have proven themselves, these people are my friends, and Kevin Saunders, Colin McComb, Tony Evans, and Adam Heine I've all worked with directly over the years and I feel they have a lot to add to Torment." It strikes me that Chris seems to be a bit more comfortable with talking about the work of his friends and colleagues, and their accomplishments, rather than his own.

He continued, "Tony Evans, for example, I've told numerous times that if there was a Torment project, he's a perfect designer for it based on his aesthetics and the fact he's one of the most hard-working guys I know -- in terms of proving himself, he worked overtime of his own accord on Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II even while his wife was pregnant, and I've never forgotten it to this day, so when it comes to a list of people I want to work with again, he's on it -- even if I never want him to have to work those hours again. Monte I've worked with, too, although largely in the capacity of Planescape approvals and the many Hero Games submissions from me he rejected over the years, which I forgive him for, since he was right to reject them."

One of Chris's roles on Torment will be the creation of an eighth companion, who will join the Last Castoff. I asked if he had been working on any concepts for it yet. "Yes! As soon as I heard working on it was a possibility, I started writing out a series of companion concepts based on the material that the crew has been developing -- I did eight different concepts, starting from a theme and then building on each one with supporting details. I don't want to set any in stone just yet until I can swim around in the world a bit more and see how I can tie the characters to the plot and the theme more."

While PC Gamer has a traditionally-formatted interview with Brian Fargo:
Are you guys planning to tie Torment's story in with the Numenera pen and paper RPG material?

There are going to be tie-ins. Colin and Monte are working through that. Monte is helping create one of the modules for [our game]. Our game is in the Numenera universe, so of course there are going to be ties into it all. We're not going to sit completely outside that world. We are the Ninth World.

What's inXile's approach to writing a story? Do you have a lead writer that determines the main story, and then do you plug in other people's sidequests and characters around it?

It's not an exact science, any of this stuff. Creativity never is. I should preface that by saying that I'm used to working with lots of writers on a project. Whether it was Wasteland or Fallout. Each writer brings their own unique perspective to it. Then what you need to do is tie it all together. It has to be cohesive. If taking a certain action, through dialogue or an action in the game. It has to work consistently through the product. If (open door) works one way here, it better work the same way in the latter half of the game. So there's all that kind of stuff you have to tie into.

Then we'll have an editor who we'll set on top of it, Ray Vallese, who'll also help tie it in. But with that said, in all these games. Every game starts off with a blank piece of paper. You start with a map. That's the first thing. You start dialing in the map. What does the world look like? Where can you go? Then you can start to parcel it off to the writers as you give them the locations. It tends to be very location-based. But then there's a whole lot of extra steps to make sure that the game doesn't feel like each level is an island. There has to be a tie that goes through all of them. We want to do the same thing with Wasteland. We'll say, (I need a guy who's going to knock off one of the players. Who wants him?) (I'll put him in my map!) We'll start to tie that together. That's part of the iteration process, making it all one, big, jumbled world.


One of the big elements with Torment and with Numenera, you've teased, is mystery. Have you found it difficult to balance giving the player enough information to feel like they've accomplished something versus maintaining the ongoing enigma? It's something shows like Lost and Battlestar struggled with, for example. You want there to be discoveries, but you don't want Midichlorians. You don't want to explain the Force, right?

Well, I suppose that's always a line that we have to try to balance on. When we made Planescape: Torment, people were not that familiar with the Planescape universe. That wasn't an obvious thing. It wasn't like, (Wow, Planescape is really high concept. That's like Harry Potter. It's gonna really sell!) We liked it because it was strange and weird. We've got the same thing going on here in space. We like that sense of discovery, without getting into the detail you just discussed. We're not going to explain why the Force works. But the Torment games are about self-discovery, too, in many ways. It's the philosophical underpinning. Why are we here? What does one life matter? There's a lot of philosophy students that get drawn to this sort of thing. We want to make you question some stuff. That's what makes this completely different from Wasteland or even Project Eternity.