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Interview "How to make a Torment game" - Mega-Interview with Kevin Saunders and Adam Heine at Iron Tower

Discussion in 'RPG News & Content' started by Infinitron, Jun 13, 2013.

  1. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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    Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker
    Tags: Adam Heine; InXile Entertainment; Iron Tower; Kevin Saunders; Torment: Tides of Numenera; Vault Dweller

    Vault Dweller has managed to score a massive interview with Torment: Tides of Numenera leads Kevin Saunders and Adam Heine. The interview goes over the full spectrum of topics - writing, systems, combat, reactivity - though as the title suggests, it's not so much about the game as it is about how the Torment team plans to make the game. Due to Kevin's penchant for extreme verbosity, there's no way I could possibly summarize the entire thing, so I'll just quote one of the questions and its response:

    2. Making a proper Torment game is a very challenging task, mostly because what made the original so special is the writing (story, characters, interactions, etc). Thus, to make a worthy sequel, “all you have to do” is to write a great story with great characters and dialogues. How's InXile approaching it?

    Kevin: We’ve talked about the basic structure of our writing organizational approach before, so I’ll just mention that part briefly here: we’re spending considerable effort in establishing our design and writing conventions and designing example areas and characters to serve as a foundation to help guide our many writers. And we’re writing the five From the Depths novellas upfront, which will acclimate several of our writers to the setting and provide us all with a deeper understanding of the Tides.​

    But I think this only partially touches upon what you’re asking. =) One key component is the strength of the creative vision. Developing and communicating this vision is one of Colin McComb’s primary responsibilities and my part is to help him succeed.​

    I don’t think it’s this simple, but I believe that, in general, design by dictatorship yields the best results. To that end, I’m helping Colin be a good dictator. Colin is great about soliciting and extracting value from the feedback of others, but I try to push him to make sure he doesn’t compromise his vision in doing so (including freely ignoring (most of) my feedback when he wishes =) ). Colin’s a sincere, thoughtful guy, and empathy for others can hinder one from being an effective dictator. I also try to identify and champion the aspects of Colin’s vision that I feel are the strongest. Brian Fargo has also been doing this at key points in preproduction – reviewing we’re where at and calling out both the areas of risk he wants us to focus on and the areas of greatest potential he feels we should emphasize.​

    Related to the creative vision, and Colin’s ownership of this aspect of Torment, is the other writers being empowered to own the vision for their sections of the game. The strong foundation, conventions, and examples that Colin, Adam, Tony Evans, and I are working on are all toward this end – if we provide the right guidelines to the writers, then they can exhibit full creative freedom from there, with a much greater chance that what they come up with will complement Colin’s vision. This means there’s less chance that Colin’s feedback to the other designers will require a lot of rework, so they’ll be able to build momentum and create content that accentuates their strengths. Not that we’ll perfectly achieve this, but it is how we are approaching the game’s development. ​

    We have added safeguards simply through the creative talent we have involved in the process. Not only do I have a lot of faith in the team (in many cases stemming from first-hand experience working with them), but I’m hoping peer review further helps us refine the content. For example, Chris Avellone has been reading everything and giving feedback along the way aimed toward strengthening the story and characters and helping Colin flesh out and communicate his vision. Finally, we’re planning for a lengthy finalization period, which will give us time to iterate and improve anything that we feel doesn’t come together well enough initially.​

    I think if we were to concentrate on “this must be a worthy sequel!” then we’d hamstring ourselves a bit. We’re not explicitly attempting to ”compete” with Planescape: Torment in terms of its writing, characters, and storytelling. We are making a game that places focus on those elements, but we’ll allow Torment: Tides of Numenera to organically become its own game. ​

    "Empathy for others can hinder one from being an effective dictator" - when's the last time you saw something like that in an interview with a game developer? Also in the interview - Kevin Saunders' musings on the meaning of life, and even a bit of Josh Sawyer influence. Read the entire thing, it's awesome.
     
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  2. hiver Guest

    hiver
    oh goody, goody... :rubs hands:
    and my coffee is just about ready.

    - for all my recent arguing with VD... his interviews are excellent stuff.



    Nods and nods again.

    oh yes.
     
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  3. Stonewolf Savant

    Stonewolf
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  4. ghostdog Prestigious Gentleman Arcane Patron

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    Whoa. Massive brofist to Vault Dweller, Kevin Saunders and Adam Heine for this great interview.=)
     
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  5. hiver Guest

    hiver
    My IQ just suffered involuntary increase after reading this.

    Thank the Changing God for that -... phew.

    On combat:

    Godamn right. You can be sure of that.



    That and more. Give us Torment difficulty level too.
     
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  6. tuluse Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    tuluse
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    Serpent in the Staglands Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Shadorwun: Hong Kong
    This is Roguey sig worthy, except that it wouldn't troll anyone. :greatjob:
     
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  7. Lancehead Liturgist

    Lancehead
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    It might, if one doesn't realise that the quote is used by Kevin.

    Kevin's ideas on game design sound very Sawyer-ish.

    Also, a very good interview, except for the first question.
     
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  8. FeelTheRads Arcane Patron

    FeelTheRads
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    It doesn't make much sense though, except in a "have all three of them in so you cover everybody" way.
    But, let's take "combat designed for people who like combat". What does this mean? Only Sawyer could believe that he can make a combat system that would please everybody (who likes combat). Never gonna happen.
    This we make games for people who want to play them not who want to skip through them thing is a bullshit platitude. People who skip through them are not your fucking target audience in the first place so stop catering to everybody.
     
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  9. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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    Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker
    It's not the first time Josh makes reference to Interplay's old motto: http://www.gatheryourparty.com/articles/2012/10/10/interview-josh-sawyer/

     
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  10. tuluse Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    tuluse
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    He means content should be designed for the people who want to experience the content. Contrast this with Bioware and Hepler who want to design content that can be easily skipped for people who don't want to experience the content.

    For example, there is a sizable minority of RPG players who like to avoid combat when possible. Combat should not be designed with them in mind. Instead it should be designed for people who want to fight their way through.
     
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  11. Lancehead Liturgist

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    Interesting that you call not catering to everyone a bullshit platitude, then appeal to designers not to cater to everyone.
     
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  12. Clockwork Knight Arcane

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    I take it he means combat that feels like it's there to really satisfy those who like combat, instead of filler to distract those players until the next piece of dialogue, which in turn isn't just an excuse to get you to explore the next place, which isn't just an excuse to have you meet new enemies. Not trying to please everybody all the time (because that would be the perfect game) but having elements to please many types of players instead of making it a game for "storyfags" or "combatfags"
     
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  13. Delterius Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    Well, I'd be careful not to include those who want to avoid combat by gaming the game. There's BioWare's supposed demographic of people who just want to experience the narrative without the gameplay in the way; but there's also all of us who want to create as different characters as possible and experience the narrative in different ways because of the mechanical choices we made.
     
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  14. tuluse Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    Delterius, that's sort of the whole point of Sawyer's statement. To not design games for people that don't like games.
     
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  15. Rake Arcane

    Rake
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    That quote is from someone at Obsidian forums. I take what Sawyer said as that he is not designing the combat with people like that in mind. Same with dialogue.
    He doesn't. But that works both ways. Many people in Codex are also not part of the target audience. P:E combat is designed for people who liked IE combat. If someone finds IE games mediocre or their combat a clusterfuck, chances are that he will have similar problems with P:E as well. I speak generaly here, i don't know if you liked IE games or not
     
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  16. Infinitron I post news Patron

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  17. tuluse Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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  18. FeelTheRads Arcane Patron

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    A platitude is a platitude exactly because it's so obvious it doesn't even need to be uttered. What I'm saying is that he contradicts himself.

    Tell me, what is this:

    ?

    Combat designed for people who like combat... who are these people? How do you decide which ones like combat and which don't? People skipping turn-based combat don't like combat? People skipping real-time combat don't like combat? People who skip it no matter what? For who you design it and how so that it's for EVERYBODY who likes combat?
    Same with conversations and explorable areas.

    That's why I said that, at least to me, it sounds like trying to cater to everybody... except those that umm.. don't like games so they shouldn't be mentioned in the first place.
     
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  19. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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    FeelTheRads, you're trying too hard. Now can we please talk about Torment ITT
     
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  20. Delterius Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    tuluse

    just nitpicking the wording.
     
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  21. The Vanished One Prophet

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    Great read, thanks VD.

    I'm actually getting my hopes up for this one. Looks like they have strong focus, solid organization and a lot of talent at their disposal.
     
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  22. tuluse Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    I think his point was that it *should* be a platitude, but it isn't because lots of games are designed for people who don't like the game part.

    Besides you being retarded? Josh being super general because he's trying to get his idea across quickly and he isn't talking about a specific game.

    There are people who like video games, and even RPGs, who do not like combat. The combat portions of RPGs should not be designed to try to appeal to these people. In fact, I'm guilty of this myself now that I say it. I've lobbied for this in the Torment kickstarter. Instead the combat should be designed for people who want it, if someone doesn't want combat they should play a different game or the game should have alternate paths that don't involve combat.
     
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  23. FeelTheRads Arcane Patron

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    Sure, bro:

    Torment looks pretty good.

    But I liked you calling me the anti-Roguey in some other topic so I'm trying to keep up with that persona.
     
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  24. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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    Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker
    I like how this interview is sort of like a complement to our own interview with Colin McComb. We got one, VD got the other two.

    ksaun, how long does it take you to write those walls of texts? Have you considered doing some writing for the game as well? :lol:
     
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