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Brian Fargo Interview: New Torment, Numenera & CRPG

Adam Barnes

Feature


A new Torment game is happening, but what will that entail? We speak to Brian Fargo to find out.

Published on Jan 15, 2013

A new Torment game was all but confirmed last week when Brian Fargo chatted to RockPaperShotgun about how inXile Entertainment will be looking to a new pen-and-paper RPG setting Numenera for a new Torment game.

Intrigued, we chat to Brian Fargo about how far along the game is, and just what form this new Torment game will take.

A new PlaneScape: Torment game has been one of the most requested games over the years, what took so long in getting a sequel to go ahead? Was it the PlaneScape license that was the problem?

I would expect you would get different answers from different people but for me it seemed pointless when I could not even get a Baldur's Gate 3 kicked off.

Certainly if I could not get BG3 or Wasteland 2 going then the prospects for a more niche oriented RPG like Torment were less than bleak. Let us all thank crowd funding once again for giving us these opportunities. 

You’ve already spoken about how you're using Numenera as a setting, so if a Torment game isn’t about PlaneScape, what is it about?

The concept of Torment is not specific to a single setting. It’s about the philosophical journey of a single character searching for meaning in a deeply personal story of self-reflection and self-realization.

It’s about a symbolic path through one’s legacy and one’s future. The setting is a valuable tool for helping to define that pathway thematically, and Numenera is the right setting for the story we want to tell and the questions we want to ask this time around: what does one life matter?

This is artwork from the Numenera setting, but don't expect such a light art style for the new Torment.

Just how similar – and in what ways will it be – is this new Torment game be to PlaneScape Torment? How do you pick out what is important?

We’ve had more than a decade to absorb the lessons and experiences of the players and creators of the game, and we think the important part of PlaneScape Torment was the philosophical, intellectual, and emotional journey taken by the Nameless One and his companions.

His story is complete, but PlaneScape Torment’s thematic elements are timeless. We intend to create an experience that evokes similar feelings, with deep, meaningful choices, clear reactivity, a rich and personal story, and interesting companions. 

You talked about perhaps using turn-based combat instead of real-time with pause: is that wise? Surely the fans would wage war against you?

Let me turn this over to project director Kevin Saunders: “We see the key elements of the combat system for this game as agnostic of whether the implementation is real-time with pause, turn-based, or some hybrid, like a phase-based system.

We’ll discuss further in the future, but, briefly, by key elements, we mean aspects like: ensuring that character customization choices influence combat, meaningful tactical decisions, synergy with the narrative and creative elements, accentuating and further developing the companions, etc.

Because we can craft the game we are promising regardless of this specific decision, it is exactly the type of question for which we’d involve our backers.

We would outline what we will attempt to achieve through combat, and how it is interwoven with the narrative and overall gameplay, present the primary options, and let our backers weigh in – confident that we can satisfy our design goals for this game while taking their preferences into account.

We’ve been taking this approach with Wasteland 2 and have found backer input to be invaluable in such design decisions.” 

See? We told you it was darker. This is the first piece of concept art for the game.

To what extent does using Numenera give you extra freedom that PlaneScape perhaps might not have done?

Numenera is new and exciting, and there is extensive room for us to help Monte grow and expand his setting. It’s the right setting for the story we want to tell.

What better place to talk about a life’s legacy than a setting in which you’re literally surrounded by the remnants of a billion-year-struggle to shape the world?

Additionally, working with Monte gives us great flexibility in negotiating changes and improvements. We can reach him quickly and expect a fast turnaround. 

How much will you be taking from the Numenera combat system, and how much will you be designing yourself? Is there much flexibility here?

We plan to use the Numenera system as a starting place, but will focus on making the best combat system for the game. The rules themselves have some flexibility and Monte is also on board with our adapting them into a cRPG form that differs from the tabletop system as best suits Torment.

What is the most interesting element of Numenera that appeals to you with regards to a Torment game?

I can’t immediately think of a setting that’s even remotely similar to Numenera. It’s not just unfamiliar, it’s genre crossing, imaginative, and far removed from what we ordinarily see in games, and this makes it a place where we can easily explore the questions that a Torment game demands.

When can we expect to see more of this new Torment game? At what stage will you be ready to show it to the world?

We’re very, very early in the preproduction stages of Torment right now. We’re developing the overall vision for the game and creating concept to illustrate the how the Numenera world and people look when viewed through the darker lenses of Torment.

We’re excited to share what we’re envisioning, but will exercise restraint and wait until we feel it’s ready. 

You’ve already said you’ll be looking to use Kickstarter again, but is there a risk that the crowdfunding community will be a little more suspicious a second time around?

I think that people should be rightly wary of us or anyone using Kickstarter so I totally get any suspicion. My greatest successes have come from building and fostering talented teams.

Keeping my team together and having an early start on pre-production is how I always kept the consistency at Interplay. This requires funding the game earlier, which of course rubs up against someone who might want us to wait until Wasteland 2 is complete and they have experienced how great it is.

But regardless of my thoughts on timing we need to show more on Wasteland 2 before it makes sense to talk about the timing of a Torment Kickstarter.

 

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