Torment: Tides of Numenera Interviews

Given the Torment: Tides of Numenera Kickstarter campaign is really close to its end, it's not surprising to see it getting increasingly more coverage, and we have rounded up a couple of recent interview that testify this.

So, let's talk about Torment: Tides of Numenera. As I understand, you acquirted the rights to Torment a little while ago but not the rights to use the Planescape world, which was of course owned by Wizards of the Coast as a part of Dungeons and Dragons. It's interesting to me that you could recover half the IP like that. when you strip it of its setting, what is it about the Torment IP that defines it? When you got Torment, what did you think you could do with that, without the familiar world?

That's a very good question. If you look at our Torment Kickstarter, you see the style of game that it is, and that it's different. It doesn't look like Wasteland, it doesn't look like Project Eternity, or Baldur's Gate. It has a much higher literary vibe using the words as weapons, almost.

By which I mean that you can play a considerable part of the game without combat. That's harder to do in a traditional role-playing game. The sheer amount of words is another hallmark too. And the other part is the philosophical aspects the underpinnings. The questions it creates. It's much more inwardly focused on the human condition.

The first game was (what can change the nature of a man?) This one is (what does one life matter?). You're not trying to save the world it's about looking inwards. You're a part of a much larger thing going on. So it just has a very different feel from a traditional role-laying game of gearing up and getting gold and killing dragons.

So, even if these two don't have anything to do with each other from a world perspective, if you look at the two you can see where there is this commonality in what we're trying to do.


So the money involved on putting a boxed product on the shelves wouldn't be viable.

I just think we're better off with word of mouth and digital downloads. I was talking to several publishers recently about their strategies for retail, and I was surprised at how many of them said they'd be out of it 100% by the end of this year.

So, Gamersgate, GOG, Steam, things of that nature will be approaching?

We've had contact with people like that who are very interested in putting the product into retail, and obviously we'd talk about that, but I wouldn't be doing that, and it wouldn't be like they'd be publishing us or telling us what to do.

They'd be third-party distributors, effectively?


Mentioning Chris Avellone, and Obsidian, who have continued to develop the RPG format through technology evolutions to games like Fallout: New Vegas and Alpha Protocol, but are now going back to the isometric, 2.5D RPG with Project Eternity. You're planning to bring him on board officially if or when you reach $3.5 million. You and Obsidian are both working with Unity. When you look at the dedicated engines [like Infinity or the Fallout Engine] you used back in the days of Planescape: Torment, and compare that with using a 3D engine which is not designed for this kind of approach, what are the technical differentiations?

That's a good question it's a big question. First, working with Obsidian has been great. We're competitors, but in the same way we compete with Chris Roberts [of Wing Commander fame], and Harebrained Schemes [producers of Shadowrun Returns] we all talk about every facet. I've given code to Harebrained to help them with their website. There's this general philosophy of 1+1 = 3. They promoted us in their updates, we'll promote them in ours. So, I think it's worked out great that we all benefit, and we don't keep score.

(It's a contrast,) Fargo explained. (If you're a developer doing work for a publisher on a triple-a game had we released the amount of information that we did on our Kickstarter, we would have been sued. There would have been all sorts of things in there to keep our mouths shut, so it just shows you how '╦ťopposite' this process is).

One significant feature borne from the Torment Kickstarter community was epilogues that recap the final world state and summarise a player's choices at the end. It's a system fans of Fallout will be familiar with. The point is that it was a suggestion actively committed to code based on direct fan feedback. There's no middle man, just a developer talking openly with its fans.

Fargo believes that keeping an open dialogue in this manner is crucial, and it's something the whole team holds dear, (We are hanging our hat on reactivity. We need to take that out to a tenth degree whenever we have an opportunity. That's why we want to enter pre-production as soon as possible.

(That's because we can work on those things and churn it, have lots of fresh eyes and iterations on the design document for many months before it hits production. I think that's critical when making these kind of games, because once your production team hits, now your overhead is $150,000 a month or in some cases $2 million a month.