Torment: Tides of Numenera
|Torment: Tides of Numenera|
(lead area designer)
Torment: Tides of Numenera is an upcoming role-playing video game, currently in development by inXile Entertainment for Microsoft Windows, OS X and Linux. It is a spiritual successor to the critically acclaimed 1999 game Planescape: Torment.
The game will take place in Numenera, a fantasy campaign setting authored by Monte Cook. It will use the Unity game engine. Like its predecessor, Torment: Tides of Numenera will be primarily story-driven, giving greater emphasis on interaction with the world and characters, with combat and item accumulation taking a secondary role.
The game was successfully crowd-funded through Kickstarter in the first six hours of the project's launch on March 6, 2013. At the campaign's conclusion, Torment: Tides of Numenera had surpassed Obsidian Entertainment's Pillars of Eternity as the most funded video game Kickstarter with a total of $4,188,927 pledged by 74,405 backers; that record had since been broken by the Kickstarter campaign for Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. The release date was initially set to December 2014 but later shifted to late 2015.
Torment: Tides of Numenera will use the Unity engine to display the pre-rendered 2.5D isometric perspective environments. The tabletop ruleset of Monte Cook's Numenera will be adapted to serve as the game's rule mechanic, and its Ninth World setting is where the events of Torment: Tides of Numenera will take place. The player will experience the game from the point of view of the Last Castoff, a human host that was once inhabited by a powerful being, but was suddenly abandoned without memory of prior events.
As with its spiritual predecessor, Planescape: Torment, the gameplay of Torment: Tides of Numenera will place a large emphasis on storytelling, which will unfold through a "rich, personal narrative", and complex character interaction through the familiar dialog tree system. The player will be able to select the gender of the protagonist, who will otherwise start the game as a "blank slate", and may develop his or her skills and personality from their interactions with the world. The Numenera setting provides three base character classes: Glaive (warrior), Nano (wizard) and Jack (rogue). These classes can be further customized with a number of descriptors (such as "Tough" or "Mystical") and foci, which allow the character to excel in a certain role or combat style.
Instead of a classic alignment system acting as a character's ethical and moral compass, Torment: Tides of Numenera will use "Tides" to represent the reactions a person inspires in their peers. Each Tide has a specific color and embodies a number of nuanced concepts that are associated with it. The composition of Tides a character has manipulated the most determines their Legacy, which roughly describes the way they have taken in life. Different Legacies may affect what bonuses and powers certain weapons and relics provide, as well as give a character special abilities and enhance certain skills.
Numenera is set in the distant future, where the rise and fall of countless civilizations have left Earth in a roughly medieval state, with most of humanity living in simple settlements, surrounded by relics of the mysterious past. The current age is called the "Ninth World" by its scholars, who believe that eight great ages existed and were destroyed or disappeared for unknown reasons before their time, leaving ruins and various oddities and artifacts behind. These artifacts are known as the "numenera" and represent what is left of the science and technology of these past civilizations. Many of them are irreparably broken, but some are still able to function in ways that are beyond the level of understanding of most humans, who believe these objects to be magical in nature.
Character complexity and dialogue depth were identified among the primary elements of the Planescape: Torment legacy to be preserved and refined by the developers of Torment: Tides of Numenera.
The tormented nature of game's protagonist, the Last Castoff, attracts other, similarly affected people. They will play a significant role in his or her story as friends and companions, or as powerful enemies. Five potential companions were announced in the initial Kickstarter pledge with the number increasing to eight in the project's stretch goals.
The protagonist of the story, known as the Last Castoff, is the final vessel for the consciousness of an ancient man, who managed to find a way to leave his physical body and be reborn in a new one, thus achieving a kind of immortality by means of the relics. Unknown to him, however, every time he abandoned – or "cast off" – these host bodies, they awoke with a consciousness of their own, having no memory of their former master or his deeds. The actions of this man, known as the Changing God to some, attracted the enmity of "The Sorrow" (renamed from "The Angel of Entropy" to reduce the potential to imply a religious role), who now seeks to destroy him and his creations. The Last Castoff, being one such "creation", is also targeted by the Sorrow, and must find their master before both are undone. To do so, the protagonist must explore the Ninth World, discovering other castoffs, making friends and enemies along the way. One means of such exploration are the "Meres" – artifacts that let their user gain control over the lives of other castoffs, and experience different worlds or dimensions through them. Through these travels the Last Castoff will leave their mark on the world – their Legacy – and will find an answer to the fundamental question of the story: What does one life matter?
In a 2007 interview lead designer of Planescape: Torment Chris Avellone and fellow designer Colin McComb had stated that, although a direct sequel was not considered because the game's story was over, they were open to the idea of a similar-themed Planescape game if they could gather most of the original developer team and find an "understanding set of investors". This combination was deemed infeasible at the time. Talks about creating a sequel with the help of a crowd funding platform resumed in 2012, but attempts to acquire a Planescape license from Wizards of the Coast failed. Later that year, Colin McComb joined inXile, which was at the time working on its successfully crowd funded Wasteland 2 project. The studio gained the rights to the Torment title shortly thereafter.
In January 2013, inXile's CEO Brian Fargo announced that the spiritual successor to Planescape: Torment was in pre-production and would be set in the Numenera RPG universe created by Monte Cook. Cook acted as one of the designers of the Planescape setting, and Fargo saw the Numenera setting as the natural place to continue the themes of the previous Torment title. Although the connections to its predecessor will not be relatively overt, due to licensing issues, it was noted that certain traditional RPG elements are relatively hard to copyright, and some elements of Planescape: Torment may make a reappearance. Development of the game began shortly after the acquisition of the Torment license, and various inXile staff will transition over to the Numenera team as production on Wasteland 2 winds down. In late January 2013, inXile confirmed the game's title as Torment: Tides of Numenera, and announced that Planescape: Torment composer Mark Morgan would create the soundtrack. The pre-production period was initially expected to continue until October 2013. During this phase, team composition for the project was to be finalised and development would focus on production planning, game design and dialog writing. With the Wasteland 2 project facing delays in 2014, full production of Torment: Tides of Numenera was rescheduled to a later date.
A Kickstarter campaign to crowd fund Torment: Tides of Numenera was launched on March 6, 2013 with a US$900,000 goal. Project director Kevin Saunders explained this choice of a funding source by stating that the traditional publisher-based funding model is flawed because it forces the developer into attempting to appeal to an abstract target audience, picked by the publisher. A crowd funding platform, on the other hand, would allow the developers to present their vision directly to potential buyers and determine its viability early on, making it a better choice for a mid-sized or smaller developer studio, like inXile. The campaign had attracted several high-profile backers, such as the creator of Minecraft, Markus Persson, and chief of Razer USA, Min-Liang Tan.
The campaign reached its initial funding goal in six hours, and went on to surpass a million dollars mark in seven hours, breaking the then-Kickstarter-record for the fastest project to do so. At the conclusion of the Kickstarter campaign, a total of $4,188,927 had been pledged. Two post-Kickstarter stretch goals have since been reached: a Player Stronghold at $4,500,000 and "The Gullet", an extension of "The Bloom", a core area, at $4,750,000.
The planned release date announced during the fund raising campaign was set to December 2014, but was later postponed "a few months" due to the need to implement the numerous achieved stretch goals. In June 2014, release was again delayed to the fourth quarter of 2015. The game will ship DRM-free to the Microsoft Windows, OS X and Linux platforms and will be available in seven languages: English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Russian and Spanish.
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