Torment: Tides of Numenera is a
sequel spiritual successor to cult classic Planescape: Torment by inXile Entertainment, currently developing Wasteland 2. It is going to be another crowd-funded game, in order to bring gamers exactly the type of game they desire. It'll be available on PC, Mac and possibly Linux as well, free of pesky DRM.
What the heck is Planescape: Torment, and why should I care about this?
Planescape: Torment is a 1999 RPG based on Advanced Dungeons & Dragons rules, developed by the defunct Black Isles Studio. They were behind such games as Fallout 2, Icewind Dale and Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance 2. Fun trivia, that's where rope kid also started his career!
PS:T was considered widely as the best RPG that came out that year, and has gained a large cult following since then. It's available on GOG and, if you're a fan of RPGs and the type of humor/dickishness that would fit in the Fallout 1&2 universe, you should get it now. It's apparently going to be available on Steam in the near future.
What do we know about the story so far?
Torment: Tides of Numenera™ continues the thematic legacy of the critically acclaimed Planescape: Torment™. Set in Monte Cook's new tabletop role-playing world, Numenera™, the newest Torment asks: What does one life matter?
Numenera's Ninth World is a fantastic vision of a world in which massive civilizations have risen and fallen - disappeared, transcended, overwhelmed, or destroyed - and left their cities, monuments, and artifacts behind. As each rose and fell, their achievements became part of the accumulated detritus of eons... but much of it did not decay. And now this assortment of ancient power is there for the taking, ever-present, underfoot. The humans of the Ninth World take and use what they can. They call these wonders (and horrors) the numenera.
One of these humans discovers a way to use the numenera to grow strong, to cheat death, to skip across the face of centuries in a succession of bodies. But he discovers an unexpected side effect: You.
Torment™ is a game of complex and nuanced morality, deep and reactive choice and consequence, and immersion into a new and strange vision. You will chart a course through bizarre dimensions, across the face of a vastly different world. You will earn companions along the way, and discover their value - perhaps through their strengths, perhaps more literally by selling them. Throughout it all, you will choose a path that will lead inexorably to an ending that stems naturally from your actions, facing adversaries who harness powers beyond your comprehension, and who will ultimately force you to face yourself and answer the question: What does one life matter?
What about the combat system? The game mechanics?
Q: Real/pause time or turn-based?
Producer Kevin Saunders: “The details of combat are still an open question, but our initial leaning is that real-time with pause will provide the better experience for the game. Whichever direction we ultimately take it, we’ll be giving combat considerable attention – we are aware that one of the criticisms of PST (including from Avellone) was its combat and we want to improve upon that aspect. The Numenera combat system provides a stronger starting place for a cRPG than AD&D 2nd Edition did and we’ll prototype early so that we have ample time to iterate over the course of the project. We are also working on ways to weave narrative elements into the combat system such that the gameplay and story complement each other. But I should mention that even while enhancing combat, we will stay true to PST by making it so players can almost completely avoid battles based upon their choices.”
Q: You talked about perhaps using turn-based combat instead of real-time with pause: is that wise? Surely the fans would wage war against you?
We’ll discuss further in the future, but, briefly, by key elements, we mean aspects like: ensuring that character customization choices influence combat, meaningful tactical decisions, synergy with the narrative and creative elements, accentuating and further developing the companions, etc.
Because we can craft the game we are promising regardless of this specific decision, it is exactly the type of question for which we’d involve our backers.
We would outline what we will attempt to achieve through combat, and how it is interwoven with the narrative and overall gameplay, present the primary options, and let our backers weigh in – confident that we can satisfy our design goals for this game while taking their preferences into account.
We’ve been taking this approach with Wasteland 2 and have found backer input to be invaluable in such design decisions.”
Numenera? What the fuck is Numenera? Why didn't they stick with D&D?
Numenera is the new table-top role-playing game project of Monte Cooke, known for his work on Dungeons & Dragons. It is "set a billion years in the future in a science fantasy and post-apocalyptic setting with streamlined rules that prioritize the story, the action, and the wild ideas." It's an incredible kickstarter success story, with a goal of $20,000 and a final total of $517,255 pledged.
Since another company holds the rights for the Planescape universe, it would have been impossible to use the same setting, therefore it's only a 'spiritual successor', not a sequel, and the game rules will follow Numenera and not D&D.
So if they couldn't use the Planescape setting, how is it still a Torment game?
Q: Given no Planescape and presumably none of the PST characters, what makes a Torment game a Torment game to your mind?
Fargo: We know it hasn’t been done often in the game industry, but we’re envisioning Torment as a thematic franchise with certain themes that can expand over different settings and stories. We will focus on the same things that made people appreciate PST so much: overturning RPG tropes; a fantastic, unconventional setting; memorable companions; deep thematic exploration of the human condition; heavy reactivity (i.e., choice and consequences); an intensely personal (rather than epic) story.
Q: How much are you thinking of working in overt links to/echoes of PST as opposed to broader thematic commonality? And what are the legal restrictions there – for instance, if you wanted to include a smartass talking skull with a dark secret, could you include a smartass talking skull with a dark secret?
Fargo: Rather than overt links, we are trying to recapture the feeling that players experienced through PST –both while playing it and after having completed a playthrough. We will remain true to the essence of PST, but we’ll also be looking for ways to improve the areas in which PST could have been even better. Fortunately, besides our personal experiences, we have years of feedback from other passionate PST fans to draw upon. We certainly would not infringe on any copyrights but with that said there are very few elements in RPGs that can be protected. There are several games with talking skull heads, for example, if we wanted to incorporate things of that nature.
Just how similar – and in what ways will it be – is this new Torment game be to PlaneScape Torment? How do you pick out what is important?
We’ve had more than a decade to absorb the lessons and experiences of the players and creators of the game, and we think the important part of PlaneScape Torment was the philosophical, intellectual, and emotional journey taken by the Nameless One and his companions.
His story is complete, but PlaneScape Torment’s thematic elements are timeless. We intend to create an experience that evokes similar feelings, with deep, meaningful choices, clear reactivity, a rich and personal story, and interesting companions.
Who the fuck are inXile?! Chris Avellone and Black Isle are those who made PT:S great, how can it not be shit without him or the original team involved?
Good news, Chris Avellone was involved. Not as he was involved with Wasteland 2, but he is also involved with T:ToN. He has given Brian Fargo his blessing his well, and he personally hand-picked and sent a team over at inXile for that project, while inXile recruited some on their own as well.
These people are:
Colin McComb - primary developer of the Planescape campaign setting for TSR, one of the main designers of the original Torment. Serves as creative lead for the new game and driving the story vision for the game.
Kevin Saunders - project director who worked with Chris Avellone at Obsidian for 5 years
Adam Heine - scripter for PS:T, one of the designers at Black Isle.
Dana Knutson - concept artist of the original Planescape campaign setting
Ray Vallese - editor of the story, part of the Planescape team at TSR.
Other big names are being kept as a secret to be announced as a future date.
Yeah, well, whatever. They can't be working on both Wasteland 2 and this at the same time without creating a mess in either game
Right now, the people who are working on T:ToN are done with their involvement in Wasteland 2. They are mostly the writers, concept artists and such. The game is in planning and pre-production phase where they are concerned with the big picture while the overwhelming majority of the staff are putting the finishing touches on Wasteland 2. As the project nears its conclusion, more and more people will move over to Torment when they are no longer needed.
How can they expect us to back them with another kickstarter?! We haven't even played Wasteland 2 yet!
They realize this. That's why right now they are only asking people their opinion on how to shape the kickstarter, and asking fans what they'd want to see in the game. Here's what Brian Fargo had to say about this:
Q: You’ve already said you’ll be looking to use Kickstarter again, but is there a risk that the crowdfunding community will be a little more suspicious a second time around?
A: I think that people should be rightly wary of us or anyone using Kickstarter so I totally get any suspicion. My greatest successes have come from building and fostering talented teams.
Keeping my team together and having an early start on pre-production is how I always kept the consistency at Interplay. This requires funding the game earlier, which of course rubs up against someone who might want us to wait until Wasteland 2 is complete and they have experienced how great it is.
But regardless of my thoughts on timing we need to show more on Wasteland 2 before it makes sense to talk about the timing of a Torment Kickstarter.