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Torment Kickstarter Update #37: New hires, alpha systems testing, and the Oasis of M'ra Jolios
Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 9 December 2014, 20:16:20Tags: Adam Heine; InXile Entertainment; Kevin Saunders; Thomas Beekers; Torment: Tides of Numenera
After a month and a half of quiet, Torment: Tides of Numenera is back with a new Kickstarter update today. The development team used that time to meet up with each other and begin to really ramp up the game's production. Much of the update is concerned with the new hires they've brought on (including a Pillars of Eternity environment artist poached from Obsidian) and additional hires they'd like to make. There's also information about the game's alpha release (formally, the "Alpha Systems Test"), which is set to launch "early-ish next year". From the sound of it, it's more like an assortment of component tests than an alpha in the Divinity: Original Sin sense. I quote:
Early-ish next year, we intend to have the first alpha systems test (AST). These are not exactly a common part of current game development, so I wanted to explain them a bit. Each AST will be a very limited build (version of the game) that highlights particular elements and is released to our alpha systems testers for their feedback. For example, the first one will likely focus on the Conversation UI. It won’t include any actual game world or characters. What it will have is a reasonably complete implementation of the Conversation UI, along with a single conversation that will be fairly involved, but still only take a couple minutes to play through.
The ASTs will hopefully be interesting for the testers, but they are by no means game demos or beta tests. To be blunt, these ASTs are for the benefit of the game, not those who play it. Alpha systems testers should expect them to be be ugly (or, more accurately, bland), with clearly placeholder graphics for anything that’s not central to the AST. (For example, the Conversation UI AST will have candidate final art for that interface, since its aesthetics contribute to the overall conversation gameplay experience.) They may have some bugs, though in general we're looking more for the alpha systems testers to be providing feedback, not finding bugs.
Because of the development goals of the ASTs, we’re not planning to announce them in advance – while we have our own internal deadlines for these things, I don’t want the team to feel compelled to make compromises to meet publicly announced expectations or deadlines. I want the ASTs to be whatever they should be, whenever they should be, as will be best for Torment. Also, while we’ll be mentioning the ASTs a bit in these Kickstarter Updates, we will generally communicate more about them through Tumblr and directly to the eligible backers (i.e., those whose tier included AST access (Artifact Collector and higher Tiers), or who chose it as an add-on).
It is home to the Ghibra Ny'kul, the collective name for a variety of water-breathing races from all over the Ninth World. The Ghibra believe M'ra Jolios was created by their god, and that they were placed in the Ninth World to bring "water and life" to the Ninth World. It was this worldview that guided their meeting with the first Jerboans hundreds of years ago.
The Jerboans were (and mostly still are) humans, refugees from the surrounding lands. The Tabaht still held sway in much of that region, enslaving some and driving many from their homes. Hundreds crossed the mountains into a vast desert valley with a sparkling dome at its center (its exact center, by the way, which is a point of interest among those who study M'ra Jolios). Thinking it to be an oasis, and having nowhere else to turn, these refugees hazarded the enormous wasteland in hopes of a safe haven.
Most of these migrants were never heard from again. The wasteland surrounding M'ra Jolios is called the Lost Sea for a reason. It's more than just an enormous desert; ripples in space-time make it nearly impossible to traverse. You could walk in a straight line for weeks on end and find that you were still exactly where you started. Or you might end up on the other side of the valley without ever having gone near M'ra Jolios. Or you could wake up every morning in a different place than where you slept, never able to escape even if you went back the way you came. But with the right numenera (or a lot of luck), people could sometimes get through. That's how the first Jerboans arrived at M'ra Jolios.
[...] Today, most Jerboans view their relationship with the Oasis as a symbiotic one. The Ghibra give the Jerboans the means to survive—literally giving them water and life—but the Jerboans bring significant trade and tourism to the Oasis, making the Ghibra exceedingly wealthy. Many in M'ra Jolios agree that their relationship is mutually beneficial, and though the Ghibra are leery about giving Jerboans permanent access to their waters, they have come to Jerboa's defense on more than one occasion over the centuries.
But as the Jerboans bring more and more attention to the Oasis, the air-breathers are becoming increasingly discontent with being forced to live outside in the hot desert, allowed to enter the Oasis only with a guide holding their hand. The Ghibra are mixed in response to this, and there are rumors the Oasis hides an éminence grise, a shadowy figure who works behind the scenes to maintain M'ra Jolios's seclusion for his own purposes.
The tranquility of this desert paradise is wavering, and in the brewing storms are opportunities for the daring (or devious) to exploit the conflict for their benefit.
Sounds New Vegas-y. Check out the full update for some concept art of the Oasis' denizens, and for a raw render of one of the game's areas.