Torment: Tides of Numenera Update #39: Effort System, WIP Render

The thirty-ninth Kickstarter update for Torment: Tides of Numenera offers a fairly lengthy explanation of the Effort system and its implementation, both in terms of mechanics and how it's presented to the players, and a work-in-progress render of the Sunken Market area of the game.

Here's a sizable excerpt:

In TTON, we handle tasks with an Effort dialog. Because Effort is a new mechanic and a key mechanic at that we decided to display the Effort dialog every time the player attempts a Difficult Task.

"What?!" I hear you say. "You're telling me I have to click away this annoying pop-up every time I try anything?" Yes, that's what I'm telling you. But it's not annoying at all the opposite, actually. Part of that is there aren't as many Difficult Tasks as you might think. Each task is uniquely crafted (that is, you won't be picking twenty generic locks in a row), so when there is a difficult task, the Effort dialog adds import to it, making every task a potentially significant event. You don't click the pop-up away. You make a real decision, every time.

("But can't I just reload until I beat the task without Effort?" You could, but in some cases you'd be missing out on content that is only available when you fail some tasks. And anyway, as I've said in the past, savescumming isn't technically any easier, it's just a different way to play.)

What do you see when the Effort dialog appears? This:

The difficulty of the task. By default, this difficulty appears as one of eleven abstract labels (e.g. Routine, Challenging, Impossible, etc.), but you'll be able to change this in the Game Options to show the actual target number (i.e. the Task Difficulty multiplied by 3) or to not show any difficulty at all.

The adjusted difficulty of the task. If you have any skills or assets that apply to the task, then the initial difficulty will be visible but crossed out, and the actual difficulty (what you're trying to beat) will appear beneath it. Note that it's possible to have penalties, such that a task is harder than the base difficulty for some characters. That will be reflected here as well.

When you mouse over the difficulties, a tooltip will display showing you what skills and assets you have that are adjusting the difficulty (if any). This way, we don't have to clutter the dialog with a bunch of text, but you can have access to all the information if you want it.

An icon conveying which stat applies to this task. This determines which Stat Pool the Effort cost comes out of. Most tasks will only allow one stat: Might, Speed, or Intellect. In special cases (usually when the PC has certain abilities), a PC might be able to choose to replace the original Stat Pool with a different one. For example, a Jack with the Brute Finesse ability can choose to apply either Speed or Might to non-combat Speed tasks.

An Effort slider. This allows the player to choose how many levels of Effort he will apply to the task. As he increases the slider, the Effort dialog will show him how much Stat Pool will be deducted and the adjusted difficulty will change to reflect the Effort he's applying.