Torment Interviews: Brian Fargo at PC Gamer and Forbes, Chris Avellone at Destructoid
Interview - posted by Infinitron
on Wed 3 April 2013, 18:32:00
Tags: Brian Fargo
; Chris Avellone
; inXile Entertainment
; Torment: Tides of Numenera
The folks at PC Gamer have uploaded their Torment: Tides of Numenera interview
with Brian Fargo. Like their Chris Avellone interview
from last week, it's nice and meaty, and you can tell from reading it that Brian is very excited about the game. Here are some of the questions and answers I found to be the most interesting:
Where do you think the stumbling block is with the old publisher model, when you guys have proven so definitively—two or three times now, between you and Obsidian—that there’s a market for this stuff? Why do they have such a hard time working with you guys on that?
I think it’s a matter of perspective. If you think about… Let’s take Torment for example. Let’s say we have about 60,000 backers, roughly. We may get to 60-70,000, whatever the number is. Then let’s say we roll out and sell another 100,000 digital copies. It could be much higher, but let’s just say 100,000. That would be great for us. We’d make a nice little profit. I could have some security for my guys. We could keep doing it.
Those kind of units, for a big publisher, are not interesting to them at all. They could sit around and think about how could they sell 150,000 more units of Call of Duty or SimCity. That’s an easier thing for them to get their heads around. I just read the other day that Tomb Raider sold 3 million units and they considered that a failure.
Do you think we’re going to continue to see more of these micro-market games? Do you think that’s going to grab a bigger percentage of the sales in the industry over time?
Yeah. It’s going to start pulling away. They’re playing one of my games. Then they’re playing Obsidian’s game. Then they’re playing Minecraft. They’re playing FTL. They’re playing all these games. That’s one less game they’re buying from [big publishers]. You think about television, it’s going the same way. You see Arrested Development coming back on Netflix. It’s the same kind of bifurcation of specialist cases. That, to me, is the macro trend that’s going on here, and it goes beyond just games.
Game storytelling that is something that’s really still developing, and you guys at inXile are one of the studios kind of on the forefront of using games to tell stories. And you, specifically, have been around for a lot of the landmarks. How do you see the way you tell stories in games as having changed since the old Interplay days?
In many ways, we are trying to re-create some of the positive aspects of that, which are… There’s this incredible reactivity that’s going on that’s meaningful. You always run up against an infinite number of combinations and permutations, so you can’t literally script for every possible thing ever. But if you’re capturing a lot of the main points and things that people are going to try and accounting for them, it gets to be a very satisfying experience. I would say that we are far more sophisticated now versus then, as far as really analyzing the multiple passes we have to take a look at the design to accommodate for.
There will be an entire pass that’s just focused on, “Okay, do we want to consider the makeup of the party? Male versus female and people reacting to that. Do we have a particular NPC in the party? Let’s make an entire pass just if this guy is in the party. What does it mean?” And so we really are digging in deeper. We’re older. We’re more sophisticated than we were. I think about Wasteland 2… This Wasteland 2 will be way better than the Wasteland 2 that would have been created 20 years ago. We’ve all grown up. We’ve gotten smarter and more sophisticated.
Beyond Wasteland 2 and beyond Torment, where would you like to see games as a tool for storytelling go?
If you break a new game down, in any category, it’s always about cause and effect. That’s the most important thing you can nail. Whether it’s Minecraft or… Look at the original SimCity. It was this tremendous cause and effect. I love, like on my iPad, physics-based puzzle games. When the physics are right, the cause and effect feels right. To me, that’s the pillar of every product. It’s why Grand Theft Auto is great. So, for me, I just want to keep dialing in the cause and effect more and more, from either a story or from a moment to moment perspective, such that… I want to be to the point where you and me both play the same game, we compare notes at the end, and you say, “Are you sure you played the same game as me?” That’s what I want.
Meanwhile, over at Destructoid, Chris Avellone has given another interview
, this time mainly about Torment. Here's an excerpt:
One of Chris's roles on Torment will be the creation of an eighth companion, who will join the Last Castoff. I asked if he had been working on any concepts for it yet. "Yes! As soon as I heard working on it was a possibility, I started writing out a series of companion concepts based on the material that the crew has been developing -- I did eight different concepts, starting from a theme and then building on each one with supporting details. I don’t want to set any in stone just yet until I can swim around in the world a bit more and see how I can tie the characters to the plot and the theme more."
I wondered how far along the other seven characters were, if any had been properly planned out, and if that meant there was some potential for overlap, limiting Chris's design freedom. Apparently some have been planned out, but there's a broad range of personalities and a bunch of character development, so Chris wasn't concerned about overlap. "The universe is liberating for exploring ideas. Even when doing the original Torment, doing all the NPCs and CNPCs in that game was barely scratching the surface of the character possibilities of that world, and Numenera is much the same way."
Character design won't be his only role, though, as he'll also have consulting responsibilities, which he explained. "Right now, my additional responsibilities include looking over the design documentation -- narrative, systems, themes, vision, and more -- and offering feedback, pointing out the positive design ties to the first Torment in case Kevin and Colin are being too modest, and suggesting iterations and reinforcing any other ideas that I think might make for a more compelling Torment experience. Based on the crew they've already assembled, including Tony Evans and George Ziets, I feel that a number of the designers already get what makes a great thematic and narrative experience based on their work on Neverwinter Nights: Mask of the Betrayer."
MCA gains +10 Humility points!
Brian Fargo has yet another interview
, over at Forbes. It's mostly a repeat of things we've already learned, although he does go into further detail on the technical and marketing aspects. Here's a nice snippet:
As you say, you already have 60,000 sales in the bag – they’ve effectively preordered by backing the Kickstarter appeal at a level which gets them a copy of the game. So, if you sell another 200,000 copies of Wasteland 2 or Torment: Tribes of Numenera – these would be good numbers for you?
Very much so! For us to sell 200,000 pieces would mean that we can carry on making games like this for five years. If it’s more, maybe that’s 10 years. The way I look at it, I get to make another RPG.
I love the "slam dunk" reference on the first page.
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