Torment: Tides of Numenera Post-funding Update #19

An update on where we're at in regard to the stronghold stretch goal, a brief write-up on recent design work, two new videos on the Ninth World and level/skill progression, and fellow Kickstarter project endorsements await you in the nineteenth update to inXile's Torment: Tides of Numenera campaign. A generous sampling:
After the Kickstarter ended, we extended the time table for the $4.5M Stretch Goal, which includes the (stronghold) feature, to the end of April. Through last Sunday, April 21st, the PayPal amount was about $217K, bringing our combined total for Stretch Goal purposes to $4,406,094. One week left! Note that if you pledged through Kickstarter, you can still use PayPal to move to a higher Tier or to add add-ons at this time (see (Upgrade Your Donation) and (Add-ons) sections toward the bottom of that page).

We thought it would be helpful to clarify a bit what we mean by a stronghold for Torment. It would be a location in the game that is (owned) by the PC, but won't be a cozy home it would be designed to fit the atmosphere of Torment and the setting of the Ninth World of Numenera (examples include an airship or a dimensional pocket). It would be a playable area and would include its own sorts of quests and challenges. We don't intend for the stronghold to be a management mini-game, but it may serve gameplay functions as a storehouse, travel hub, and/or (museum) for accomplishments.

While a permanent home can be very relevant to one's life, many do not leave such a legacy. Thus not only would the stronghold likely be optional, but its exact form within the game might change based on your decisions. It might not be a physical location at all (or even a static one it may travel with you) and it would be well integrated into the storyline. Colin's been resurrecting and evolving ideas from when we first considered the feature before culling it, and we hope to be able to run with them.


So what are we doing on Torment right now? Our emphasis for the next while is on planning the project and building a strong foundation for the writers before they begin their work. I'll talk more about the project planning in a future update - for now, I'll explain what types of design work we're focused on.

Colin, with support from Adam and me, is focused on better defining the story and its scope. As we talked about a few times during the campaign, we designed the story (and other aspects of the game) to be highly modular so that we could adapt it to best fit the funding we received. Now that we know our budget for development, we can solidify the scope of the game. We reached the Longer Story Stretch Goal and Colin is looking into how to best incorporate some of the story ideas that we had pruned prior to the Kickstarter. In parallel, we (with Adam leading the charge) are drilling down into the details of how we'll implement all of the Tidal and other reactivity. We have talked about this reactivity at a high level, but we need to establish more concretely how we will be executing it.

A strong foundation for the writers means more than just the story though. We are also developing templates and examples for area and companion design, as well as conventions and constraints for dialogue. Once we have those, we can implement some preliminary dialogues to test out conversation creation and get a better sense of how the conversations will play.

These early prototypes will be made easier from our work on Wasteland 2, along with some preliminary collaboration with Obsidian and their work on Project Eternity. These prototypes will be critical in efficiently focusing the creativity of our writers. As you recall, we have quite the writing team assembled! Some of our writers are very talented creatively, but haven't had as much video game development experience. Having clear, well thought-out guidelines will help ensure the work of our decentralized writing team is consistent and perfect for Torment.

This design and planning with a very small team will be continuing over the next few months (along with some technical aspects that we'll talk more about in a later update). This means that another thing we're doing is conserving funds while we build this foundation - Torment has the benefit of a longer pre-production period (than Wasteland 2) and we want to make the most of it.

Meanwhile, the From the Depths novella writers are beginning work on their stories. Digital or printed copies of these (including also the novellas by Colin and Monte) are rewards for many of you, but they also serve a design purpose. Writing the novellas at this stage will allow the writers to immerse themselves in the Ninth World, and flesh out the nature of each of the five Tides. These novellas will essentially provide the full definition for each Tide, with the protagonist in each being the embodiment of what that Tide means. So the writers will be delving into the true meanings of the Tides and the novellas will help the entire team better understand what each truly encompasses.