Planescape: Torment - Interview with Chris Avellone @ BellaOnline
BellaOnline has a two part interview up with Chris Avellone on his groundbreaking work in Planescape:Torment. Here's an excerpt from Part 1:
Lisa: With so many people praising Planescape: Torment as the best game ever, have you considered releasing a fresh version of the game, optimized for modern machines, to introduce a new generation of gamers to this environment?
Chris: No, securing the rights to Planescape is kind of convoluted (if it still exists as a brand at all), and I'd much rather see new stories and adventures in the Planescape universe, like the NWN2 mod community is doing with Purgatorio.
Lisa: If you were making Planescape: Torment right now, are there things you would do differently from the original release?
Chris: Probably start off with more combat - the beginning is very slow and exposition-heavy, and I don't think that helps get the player into the mystery of his character. This is something I tried to correct in the future opening levels of Black Isle games (notably IWD2, where you're in trouble the moment you step off the boat in Targos). Also, I would work more extensively in creating more dungeon and exploration areas, and do another pass on the combat mechanics in the game - the story and quest structure in the game ended up becoming the primary focus of design, and I think the game suffered as a whole when it came to combat.
James: What, precisely, was your role with most of the projects that you worked on?
Chris: It usually comes down to character and area design, though it ranges from single areas and characters to groupings of areas and all major characters in a title (Neverwinter Nights 2). Concerning the "role" on projects, I've run the range from technical designer (generating asset lists early on at Interplay), to area designer, to lead creative designer, to lead designer, to Creative Director. No matter what the title, though, the work's always involved characters and area/quest design and various degrees of managing the design.
James: Which game was the most fun or most satisfying to work on? Are there any specific characters or events that you preferred in that game? In terms of the games themselves, which was your favorite?
Chris: Torment and Icewind Dale 2 were the two most satisfying titles I worked on at Black Isle. At Obisdian, I think the first Neverwinter expansion: Mask of the Betrayer, was the most satisfying, mostly because the engine and toolset was relatively complete when we started, which allowed everyone to focus more on the content than actually getting the content to work, for example.
For Torment, the answer's up for Lisa's question, for Icewind Dale 2, I enjoyed doing all the quest and goblin attack structure in Targos, mostly because I'm a huge fan of Glen Cook's Black Company, and dumping the players into a mercenary war band scenario was kind of fun. It also allowed me to poke fun at a lot of fetch quests we've done in previous titles.
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