inXile’s Colin McComb On Torment: Tides of Numenera, Deep RPGs
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“Watching the numbers skyrocket on that first day was a hell of an experience.”
That’s veteran developer Colin McComb on the fact that his proposed new role playing game became the most successful kickstarter project of all time. First posted on March 6, Torment: Tides of Numenera blew past its initial fundraising goal in just six hours. It passed the one million dollar mark just one hour later and by the end of the fundraising period it had secured an astonishing $4,188,927 in pledges from eager fans.
That kind of response came as a huge surprise to McComb and his team at inXile. McComb even admits that if ‘Torment’ failed to meet its funding goals on Kickstarter, they had no plans to keep the game in development through any other means. “If we couldn’t scare up $900K,” he says, “it would have told Brian [Fargo, cofounder of inXile] that the market wasn’t interested in a successor to the original Torment—at least not the vision we were presenting—and we would have scrapped our work.”
Fortunately, the game was every bit as popular as they had hoped.
“If we couldn’t scare up $900K, it would have told Brian [Fargo] that the market wasn’t interested in a successor to the original Torment—at least not the vision we were presenting—and we would have scrapped our work.”
McComb, who credits inXile Project Director Kevin Saunders for his work coordinating the Kickstarter, calls the success “truly humbling”. “Knowing the size of our base and the expectations they have for the game have me keeping my head down and trying to deliver the best writing I can; I want to make sure it’s worthy of those expectations.”
To help out with that difficult task, McComb and inXile have assembled an impressive team that includes Patrick Rothfuss, New York Times best-selling author of ongoing The Kingkiller Chronicle. That get is a personal treat for McComb, who is a huge fan of Rothfuss’ work. (The two met last year at Gen Con, where McComb, not usually “driven to being a fanboy” introduced himself, sparking a relationship chronicled on Rothfuss’ blog.)
Chris Avellone, lead designer of the original Torment, is confirmed to be on the team. Along with Brian Mitsoda, George Ziets, Mur Lafferty, and Tony Evans, Avellone signed onto the writing team of Torment: Tides of Numenera as a part of the game’s extended stretch goals on Kickstarter. Each of them will be designing a character companion, and contribute to the project in some form or another by extending its story and reactivity to the player.
“For the most part, though, it was just a matter of asking and getting schedules aligned,” he said. “People really wanted to be a part of this.”
Given Torment: Tides of Numenera’s pedigree – it’s the spiritual successor to Planescape: Torment – it’s not difficult to understand just why so many luminaries want to have a hand in making it. Planescape: Torment was highly acclaimed for the quality of its writing, the development of its setting, and richly textured characters. Tides of Numenera represents a rare chance to revisit the past, but also to improve on it.
For example, combat: Planescape: Torment’s combat system is widley acknowledged as one of its weaker points. “At best,” McComb says, combat was “a slog in PST”. He says the team plans to address that by integrating combat more fully into the seam of the narrative. “Since we’re using a different base system in Numenera’s rules and have the liberty to craft something specifically designed for a cRPG, I anticipate that we’ll have a combat system that will be far more entertaining,” he promises.
Combat isn’t the only thing that’s getting overhauled in Torment. Character attributes will also be getting a change-up from the Dungeons & Dragons-based system of its predecessor. “We’ll be seeing them, though not in the familiar AD&D Strength, Dexterity, etc combination,” said McComb. “From the core systems of Numenera, we’re looking at three pools: Might, Speed, and Intellect. We also have a Type (a character class, with a choice between the warrior-like glaive, the jack, and the wizard-like nano), a Descriptor (smart, fast, cunning, tough, etc.), and the Focus – a special ability that elevates your PC above the run-of-the-mill citizenry of the world. In addition, we’ll have skills and other abilities under the hood (for instance, the Tides and Legacy system).”
Those elements, McComb told us, will “play a in the reactivity in the game.” However, the reactivity will come at the necessary cost of having the player take on the role of a pre-generated character.