George Ziets on joining inXile, Torment combat
These are some fairly old Formspring entries but better late than never, here’s lead level designer George Ziets answering some questions:
In an ongoing discussion thread on the Torment Crisis concept, project lead Kevin Saunders elaborates on the idea:
To elaborate on a few points to help the discussion:1. The Red/Blue dichotomy illustrated in the example differs from what we intend for TTON in two key ways:
2. We’re not imagining time constraints so much as time relevance (and it would be in the context of the Crisis not the entire game/area). For example, you might have a short time to prepare before potentially hostile forces arrive. Or a light source may be faltering, which would plunge you into darkness if you don’t arrange for an alternative fast enough (or maybe the darkness would be to your advantage…) Our goal is to have “failure” be more about appropriate consequences for the situation and not an inferior state that leads you to want to reload. We recognize that this is easier said than done, and I doubt we will fully achieve this ideal, but it’s our intent.
- We see the Tides as generally operating behind the scenes – they typically won’t be as explicit as in the Crisis example. Your choices will be about what makes sense for the situation. Sometimes the Tides might be directly relevant, but usually they’ll be tangential; your choices won’t be forced to fit the Tides.
- Those who have observed that the depiction of Red and Blue are too simplistic are correct. We don’t intend for Torment to simplify to Red = Violence and, in fact, Red covers a host of concepts including passion, emotion, action, change, pathos, zeal. In the full game, we’ll have the benefit of hours of gameplay leading up to such a situation. This will give us the opportunity to convey more of the subtlety of the Tides. For this example, we chose to be more explicit because it had to stand alone.
3. The concerns and challenges noted in this thread raise great points and suggest that iteration on the design (both of the system and each Crisis) will be even more important than usual.
4. I can appreciate the skepticism of our pulling this off. =) The idea is one thing, but the execution is where the challenge is. Part of the approach we’re taking here is to restrain our ambition in terms of quantity. For example, suppose there were just a dozen or so Crises in a standard playthrough, averaging perhaps 20-30 minutes of gameplay each. With this limited number of these hand-crafted set pieces to design and implement, we could be much more ambitious in terms of their quality (including how much C&C each provides). We have some concerns that this could be too few, but are inclined to favor quality. Then we can strive to get ahead so that we can implement more with much less risk to quality.
First, here is a picture of us (taken by Shanna Germain) firing helicopter-slings near the pier in Newport Beach. :)
Just sitting in a single room with the concentrated mental power of Colin McComb, Monte Cook, Shanna Germain, Pat Rothfuss, Chris Avellone, Nathan Long, Tony Evans, Kevin Saunders, and the InXile guys was pretty amazing. Honestly, I wish I could have that group spend a few days brainstorming ideas and ferreting out the weak points for every game I develop.
I think an observation that Colin made was very telling. Nobody in the room was trying to prove themselves or compete with anyone else. It was very much a “yes, and…” discussion, with each of us building upon and getting excited about the others’ ideas. That may have been because we’re all over 30 years old and relative veterans in writing or design. But whatever the reason, it was one of the most fun and productive design discussions I’ve experienced.
We will be designing Torment’s core systems to be what’s best for the computer game, with the Numenera PnP rules as the starting point. I agree with you that a PnP game and a CRPG want some different things from their rules systems (and Torment will have its own wishes!). But there are similarities as well. We licensed Numenera not only for the setting, but also to use its systems as a foundation for Torment’s – one of the appeals of Numenera was that we felt its rules were well-suited for computer adaptation for Torment. This approach also saves time over creating a new system from scratch (as much fun as that can be =) ).
We’ll modify aspects of the rules as is best for Torment. (The skill system, for example, is too open-ended for a computer game.) We won’t be trying to provide a pure translation of the Numenera PnP experience, though many aspects of its essence (the focus on narrative and exploration, for example) are well aligned with our vision for Torment and we see value to creating a shared experience between the two games.
While the core system design will be very important, the story and reactivity elements are more pressing and it will be a while before we are really focused on this part. But from the initial discussions we’ve had, I would say that Torment’s systems will likely have more complexity than the PnP rules do.
Currently, I expect that Adam and I will be the most involved in designing the core system. Though it is possible that we might later bring on board a new systems designer to own this aspect of the game. Monte will be involved, too, of course, though his goal with Torment is also to create the best video game possible and he is very open to our modifying his system as deemed best..