Adam Heine Interview

Adam Heine, who you may know as one of the developers on Planescape: Torment and the lead designer on inXile's Torment: Tides of Numenera, is currently employed as a senior narrative designer over at Digimancy Entertainment. And if you'd like to know more about his career, creative process and aspirations, you should check out this in-house interview with the man.

Here's a couple of sample questions:

Could you please share with us what your writing process looks like? And what are some of the things that you do to keep yourself growing and evolving as a writer?

My process changes for every project, but there are some common threads no matter what I'm working on. I like to take long walks in which I talk to myself to think through a problem or brainstorm ideas. I make reams of TXT files to dump thoughts and ideas until I find a clear thread to tug on. And I stare at blank documents for hours on end, telling myself over and over again that the first draft doesn't need to be perfect—it just needs to exist. The self-talk only sort of helps.

As far as growing and evolving, the best ways for me are to continue writing, absorbing stories (reading of course, but visual media is great too), and seeking out and listening to feedback. Sadly, my time to write outside of games has been pretty limited lately, but I do still find time, and I hope to make more soon. As much as I love making games, there's something about crafting my own worlds and stories that I can't get away from.

One of your first game credits is as a scripter for Planescape: Torment. What was it like working on this classic computer role-playing game?

That project was a dream. None of us knew at the time, of course, that it would become a classic (and it didn't sell terribly well upon release either—its "classic" status came much later). We only knew that we loved what we were making. I read every design doc I could find on the company server. I couldn't get enough of this strange, compelling world and the mystery of who the Nameless One really was.

It was also my first project, which made it even more of a dream—a culmination of a dream, really. My job was mostly taking designers' outlines for different areas and implementing them in the game—cutscenes, boss battles, cranium rats, immortal tomb puzzles, brothel NPC pathing and barks... all of it. It sounds like it might not be very creative, but I loved it.

And it was creative. I frequently discovered that what the designers wanted to do wasn't supported by the engine, and I had to figure out clever workarounds or alternatives all the time. I gained a reputation as a kind of troubleshooter, but really, I was just trying to make the game as good as I could make it.

Much as I loved the team and the project, I left the game industry shortly after Torment's release to focus on my personal life. But the connections I made on that project were strong enough (apparently) to pull me back in several years later for Torment's spiritual successor and several gigs after that.