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RPGWatch Feature: Tales of Torment, Part 1

by Dhruin, 2007-07-30 13:33:59

Our latest feature should be a treat for Planescape: Torment fans. An undeniable classic, guest interviewer Brother None talk to designers Chris Avellone and Colin McComb about the inspiration and development of Planescape: Torment in a detailed two-part conversation, replete with some original design documents. Here is a snip from Part 1:

RPGWatch: Planescape: Torment was never developed to be a huge hit. How much involvement or interference was there from the suits of the company?

Chris Avellone: As far as being a huge hit, I think everyone wanted Torment to sell very well (it made a profit, but not a huge one, and certainly not anywhere near Baldur's Gate numbers).

Still, there were a number of elements that I think hurt it in the long run:

- Not an accessible setting. It's not a fantasy world that is comfortable for players to settle into, and we did not take pains to make it comfortable (no dwarves, elves, or halflings, as one minor example).

- Story-heavy in the wrong ways. It has a slow start, and while the momentum does pick up in the Hive, there's a lot of reading, and people don't buy games to read, they buy games to play them.

- Marketing. The box of the product reinforces #1 above - it says, "hey, we're strange," rather than promoting it as a role-playing game using the Baldur's Gate engine, which probably would have made it a more interesting target to the game community.

As far as interference-from-above goes, we probably could have used more than we had - like Fallout, Torment was sort of under the radar for a while, and the producer role changed several times over the course of the project. Brian Fargo was mostly hands off, except to complement us on the writing, and give me a pretty stern lecture (deservedly) about the localization costs for the game. Feargus was also concerned about how much it slipped over the course of the development cycle, and those weren't fun discussions.

For this part, Chris gave us the original dialogue draft he wrote for Ravel and the final design documentation, showing the huge extent of the work involved.

Head here to read it all and watch for Part Two in a day or two.

Information about

Planescape: Torment

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: RPG
Platform: PC
Release: Released