Chris Avellone Planescape: Torment Q&A

Following the announcement of Planescape: Torment Enhanced Edition, Beamdog's official blog boasts a Q&A-style interview with none other than Chris Avellone himself regarding his involvement in the project and some other Planescape-related topics. Be warned that some of the questions contain spoilers. An excerpt:

1. What was your involvement in Planescape: Torment: Enhanced Edition? Was an enhanced edition something you always wanted to do?

CA - A lot of people have mentioned Torment to me over the years, and the chance to do an updated version of it was appealing – not to change the core content, but with the goal of re-introducing a new generation to the RPG and allow them easier access to playing it without having to jump through hoops to make it happen.

While I love the original game deeply, I recognize that both interface design and tech across platforms have come a long way since ’99. I believe the Torment experience can be kept while taking advantage of the technical achievements over the past 15+ years, so when Beamdog contacted me to gauge my interest, I told them I was absolutely interested… especially if they allowed me a chance to do a real grammar fix of the discrepancies in the original, of which there were many (we weren’t able to hire an editor, who could have helped back then, so I am happy to have a chance to do it now).

Before anyone thinks editing was a lot of changes to the text, it was more along the lines of fixing basic errors, establishing naming consistency and formatting consistency, and elements that were never intended to make it into the final product (narrative bugs).


4. How did the name of the original game come up? Why Torment?

CA - The original name was “Last Rites,” but it didn’t pass marketing (if I recall – it may have been b/c of a name conflict with something else, but it’s been so long, I don’t remember).

So Planescape: Torment was the next choice – and once we knew what the title was going to be, we worked on reverse engineering the title into the theme of the narrative (esp. the player’s existence and the reason his companions join him/gravitate to him).

5. What inspired you to write a game in a (at the time) relatively obscure and strange universe a long way away from other popular, but more generic, fantasy world settings?

CA - The inspiration came from being exposed to several fantasy RPGs in quick succession that seemed to follow the same conventions (system and narrative) without even trying to break the mold or even the basic gameplay loop – I thought Planescape was a way to experiment with deviating from the design norms of fantasy RPGs all in one fell swoop. :)

6. Which parts of Planescape: Torment are you particularly proud of?

CA - I loved the Modron Cube, and kudos to our Lead Programmer, Dan Spitzley, for architecting the mechanics. I also enjoyed the final battle moments (esp. your companions squaring off against the antagonist), and the final sequences that followed – including the meeting of the other NPCs near the end of the game as well (no spoilers, but one of them I enjoyed writing immensely for reasons that are likely obvious to those in the know).