Torment: Tides of Numenera - Interview
InXile entertainmeny has another interview on the games blog with Chris Avellone and Kevin Saunders. The interview is in both Italian and English.
Hi Chris, you were the lead designer di Planescape: Torment and the guy who wrote a huge part of that game. Even if your role in T:ToN development is smaller, part of your job now consists in reviewing various design docs and giving advice to the other Torment developers. Is there any particular area of Tides of Numenera that has taken advantage of your feedbacks, something where players can clearly recognize your signature? And on the other hand, what’s the feature designed by another guy of the team that appealed you the most?
I’ve been part of intense story reviews with Colin McComb, Adam Heine, Kevin Saunders, and Nathan Long on Torment, and given hours of feedback on the story structure, plot direction, and questions about player agency – that said, the story is very much from Colin’s mind, he was open to a sounding board for a variety of concepts.
So what appealed to me at first glance? Oddly enough: the combat tie-in to the protagonist’s dilemma. And the reasons surrounding the player’s initial quandary, which I’d be happy to elaborate more on once the game is released and people have had a chance to play it. What I like about Colin is he really likes digging in deep with motivations for NPCs and then laying out the quest and backdrop permutations that result naturally from asking a lot of questions about how the NPC would handle the situation if he had years upon years to tackle it.
Is there any other major difference between the two games that impacts on your work? I mean, aside from the obvious ones like the setting.
It’s nice to switch gears. When doing story critiques between the two, it’s nice to take a break to jump to Torment and play around with some unconventional approaches that the Numenera world allows (and Monte Cook is to be commended for this – he set up the framework of the world – er, worlds).
Tides of Numenera will be an heavy-text game and Pillars of Eternity will have its share of dialogues, text-descriptions and even choose-your-own-adventure-encounters. How do you feel about that? Recently you experimented a lot with visual narratives and - if I recall correctly - you stated before that additional dungeons and combats (so less emphasis on text and dialogues) would have made Planescape: Torment a better game. Do you still feel the same way about that?
If the story can be accomplished visually or with audio, I prefer it. By audio, I don’t mean dialogue that’s voiced, or even spoken audio logs, but SFX in the environment. I feel BioShock and Halflife have it right in presenting a story to the player – and allow them to participate in piecing together the experience through the arrangement of props and visuals.
That said, Torment has some very experienced writers on staff, and if you’re in the mood to read, you won’t find the word choice lacking.