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Interview Matt Chat 435: George Ziets on Torment: Tides of Numenera and the Future of Digimancy

Discussion in 'RPG Codex News & Content Comments' started by Infinitron, Dec 9, 2019.

  1. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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    Grab the Codex by the pussy 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: George Ziets; inXile Entertainment; Matt Barton; Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer; Torment: Tides of Numenera

    As it turns out, this week's episode of Matt Barton's interview with George Ziets is in fact the final one. The first half of the episode is about Torment: Tides of Numenera, which George says suffered first and foremost from overpromising and overscoping. He believes the game's problems, including the poorly balanced adaptation of Numenera tabletop mechanics and excessive prose, all stem from this. In the second half of the episode George answers various questions, mainly about the future of Digimancy and RPGs in general. He'd like to create an RPG set in a realistic far future space setting and would also love to work in Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea universe. George isn't sure he'll ever be in a position to create a game as good as Mask of the Betrayer again, but with Digimancy he might have a chance.


    Matt's interview with George Ziets is now over, but it might be the beginning of a new wave of Matt Chat interviews after years of relative inactivity. George has helped him get in touch with developers he hasn't interviewed before, including Kevin Saunders and other inXile & Obsidian folks. Stay tuned!
     
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  2. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

    MRY
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    G Ziets "It would be really hard to get Chris Avellone to come back and re-master Planescape: Torment."



    ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    I was surprised and dismayed to learn that most of the dialogues in TTON were first drafts. Crazy.
     
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  3. Jedi Master Radek Arcane

    Jedi Master Radek
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    What is the standard in the industry?
     
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  4. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

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    Asking the wrong person. My dialogues for TTON all went through at least one set of revisions from Adam/Colin/George/Kevin, and of course many internal rounds on my end. I don’t think I’ve ever worked on a project where my writing went in on first draft.
     
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  5. Trashos Arcane

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    Does it matter here what the industry standard is? It was a Torment title. Everyone was waiting to judge the writing.
     
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  6. hexer Arcane

    hexer
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    Does that even qualify as a remaster? There's nothing new in the game except for Steam achievements and updated UI.
    Matt and Ziets were talking more about "Director's Cut remasters" where cut content is added back.
     
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  7. Naraya Arbiter

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    "Most of the games, if you get a week or two to develop the story then you're lucky".

    "Icewind Dale 2 story was done in a weekend".

    I am truly speechless.

    https://youtu.be/c5HpZ-EeX8E?t=1475
     
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  8. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

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    He means the outline of the story, not all of the game's writing.
     
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  9. Darkozric Novice

    Darkozric
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    Now we know that Sawyer wrote ID2 while shitting in his toilet on a beautiful sunny weekend. Every project this dude is involved it's a disaster. Maybe he should try to open a bike shop.
     
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  10. Politician Lurker King

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    My foot.
     
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  11. Politician Lurker King

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    17:22

    Thank you for confirming what I have been saying all along!

    :positive:
     
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  12. thesheeep Arcane

    thesheeep
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    Crazy? Yes.
    Surprising? No. There was such a wild discrepancy in the writing in the game (and most of it was just NOT good), it had be a reason like this.

    This really does explain a lot. Especially all those overly long texts just repeating stuff already clearly visible in the graphics or things that have been said before.
     
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  13. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

    MRY
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    I guess it seemed crazy to me because I got a lot of feedback on my fairly peripheral writing, which I had felt was pretty clean/solid when I submitted it. It’s weird to imagine that people were reviewing the dialogues I wrote for say, backer monoliths (the most trivial of the writing I did, near the end of the project) but not for main quest-line dialogues.

    The answer must be that as an off-site writer with a small role, I was deemed a bigger risk factor than the on-site full-time writers like Nathan or Gavin, or the senior folks like Colin, Adam, and George.
     
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  14. thesheeep Arcane

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    Well, now you can put "risk factor for T:ToN" in your CV :lol:
     
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  15. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

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    Going back through my emails, for instance, I discovered that for the Ouya obelisk -- which is just a farce in which the obelisk is an weirdo Orz pastiche obsessed with "exclusive product" -- I have multiple email threads (one 29 emails long) in which Colin, George, and Thomas are all chiming in with thoughts. That obelisk is about as far off the critical path as it gets; I'm not sure the player even has to go to the Ascension of whatever it was called (which is where the obelisk is), and it's tucked away in a random corner of the map.

    The Meres had far more feedback, typically including Kevin and Adam as well as Colin and George.
     
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  16. thesheeep Arcane

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    ITT: MRY admitting to be the main resource drain on T:ToN.
     
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  17. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

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    No, MRY. You are the scope problems.
     
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  18. Shadenuat Arcane

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    yes

    it would be real new planescape.
     
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  19. hexer Arcane

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    I'm not familiar with the books but I remember watching Tales from Earthsea and it wasn't that good.
    How would Earthsea setting be a new Planescape?
     
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  20. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

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    Earthsea RPG is a terrible idea. I'm laying down a marker. I'm a huge fan of the books -- or, I should say, a huge fan of the first book, a bitter hater of the Tehanu, and a milquetoast fan on the other two -- but Earthsea isn't a game setting suitable for an RPG. IMO, we already got what amount to a quasi-Earthsea game in Loom. I realize that's an absurd proposition, based largely on fuzzy memories of both, but there it is. Earthsea is not remotely suited to trash mobs, gear load outs, or even satisfying leveling up mechanisms. Not every fantasy setting that works for a novel or movie makes sense for a game, let alone for an RPG.

    It might be that a gamified Earthsea could be created, the way the Forgotten Realms gamified LOTR. But then what's the point?

    If you're going to pick an RPG setting, the first things you need to justify are:

    - constant fighting and killing being a normal part of an adventurer's life
    - an interesting bestiary of things to fight and kill
    - magic being sufficiently commonplace that adventurers are casting spells all over the place for utterly trivial purposes like killing rats
    - adventurers constantly changing their gear and having tons of cool gear to use
    - acquiring and spending money being a central focus of an adventurer's life
    - the player character gets more powerful in interesting ways at frequent intervals
    - the player character is the most important person in the events that unfold in the game

    Earthsea, at most, covers the last of those issues. It is actively hostile to all of the other ones. (By the way, I made some blunders in designing Fallen Gods in this regard. I didn't spend enough time considering that a saga/Norse folklore setting would leave me with very few enemy types, for instance.)

    Earthsea and Planescape couldn't be more contrary. Earthsea is a very focused, literary setting in which the "exoticism" doesn't trigger any RPG gameplay elements. Planescape is basically an war-torn grab bag into which you can throw any enemy or item that will make for a fun RPG encounter. It was largely built around AD&D's existing alignment/magic system. It deliberately crams every faction imaginable into a tiny space so that you can engage all all sorts of politicking and feuding.

    George is as brilliant as they come, so maybe he sees something there I don't, but it just seems like a bad starting point for an RPG.
     
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  21. Shadenuat Arcane

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    Just make Kyrandia out of it.

    aka princess with talking staff-quest, gorgeous pre-rendered backgrounds, sad story, similar gameplay.

    mry confirmed sexist scum :shittydog:

    I meant PST, not setting itself.

    also all this didn't stop torment much, which was contrarian as fug to your D&D with focus on dialogue and character who couldn't die.

    also you're focusing too much on RPGs being murderhobo games. not even all pnp games are like this.

    magic being something else but glorified magic arrowz is something that fantasy genre and fantasy rpgs badly need as well.
     
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  22. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

    MRY
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    Well, Loom. But the question was whether it would make a good RPG.

    It's the worst.

    PS:T has a lot of dialogue but its core gameplay depends on leveling mechanics and trash combat.

    Well, I think combat is a core element of cRPGs, DE notwithstanding. It is the easiest way to fill the game up with engaging gameplay, among other things.

    Meh. In 80% of RPGs I've played over the years, the most fun thing was getting a new spell, particularly fireball. At a conceptual level, I don't disagree -- magic is stupid in RPGs. The key is to find a setting in which stupid magic works, rather than finding a setting that requires interesting magic and then discovering that it is way less fun not to be able to cast fireball and instead to, like, cast three spells in the game, one of which is a knock spell that doesn't work.
     
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  23. Shadenuat Arcane

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    If we take PST again, the cute spell animations are cute, but it is more interesting to read about magic and listen NPCs to talk what magic is; than to throw magic arrowz (although they're cute; so you cast them like once to see cool animation - very gandalf).
    Which is very Earthsea.

    De Jure yes. De facto this core gameplay is about as important as physical action of moving your character with a mouse from one interesting NPC to another.
     
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  24. thesheeep Arcane

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    Some form of combat or combat-like encounter, yes.
    But neither killing nor armed combat in the classical sense is required. It all depends on the game and setting really.
    In Winter Voices, for example, you don't really kill anyone, you rather fight... abstract concepts.

    Only if you want a really typical, classic high fantasy setting.

    Again, only for classic stuff. Disco Elysium and other games show you don't have to equip "gear" necessarily.

    Gold is 100% replacable in a game. Some kind of resource management, sure, but gold is just the easiest way to achieve that.

    And it is worse because of the combat - game would have been better with no combat at all instead of the constant trash fights.

    I don't know anything about Earthsea (seems too much "out there" for me to care about), but finding ways to not have to submit to all the typical RPG tropes is absolutely possible.
    If too many people then want to play that - that's a different question.
     
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  25. Shadenuat Arcane

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    Earthsea is setting where magic is powerful and poetic.

    which is how its supposed to be.

    i m not saying I dislike throwing fireballs and making strong multiclasses in d&d; I just don't mind having something else, where even minor thing of lighting a candle can cast a shadow, etc.
    (hey, C&C is very leguin)
     
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