Obsidian Entertainment - MCA Interview @ StarWarsKnights.com
We missed this earlier...StarWarsKnights has a three part interview with Chris Avellone on his thoughts as a designer for Torment and The Sith Lords. Here's an early sample:
When you look at the (critical if not financial) success of Torment and then – to a lesser extent – KotOR II what do you suppose it is about your narrative style or technique that made the two so enjoyable and well-received?
After probably getting sick to death of my hangdog expression, mounting depression, and the packs of razor blades I would go through lightly dragging each razor across my wrist, Feargus Urquhart decided to break me out of my funk and let me know Torment made a profit, just not nearly as much as Baldur's Gate (the first part was a surprise, the second part wasn’t – Baldur’s Gate sold a lot of units, it’d be hard to top).
If I were to attribute Torment’s positive reception to anything (at least from the folks that did receive it positively), it'd probably be due to the 10-12 years of gamemastering where you slowly learn what players like and don't like when they play – usually through negative reinforcement and thinly-veiled threats delivering by phone calls and emails in the late hours of the evening by people who want to argue how many character points they got per session and why. Ultimately, you learn that players really want an adventure that's not about something they got involved in, but something that completely reacts to them, involves them, and preferably is all about something they did... and Torment is a very, very selfish adventure. Everything's about you.
Torment was also the accumulation of many years of unresolved fantasy adventures, quest ideas, cool NPCs and more that I hadn’t really had a chance to give much of a voice to in previous titles, or even in gamemastering sessions - Torment was set up from a campaign standpoint to allow just about anything you could imagine, so it was a perfect fantasy world to do an "idea dump" in. If I thought it would be cool if the player could wear their own intestines as armor, or regenerate from any wound, the Planescape universe (multiverse) was 100% accommodating.
Lastly, I read a lot. And a lot of the stuff that may seem deep in Torment is pretty immature compared to a lot of fantasy and fiction out there - it's just that game development had rarely explored that deeply up to that point. Again, the Planescape universe was a perfect field trip for that.