Let it be known that, a little over an hour after its launch this afternoon, a Kickstarter project to fund a spiritual sequel to Planescape Torment had already garnered more than a third of its $900,000 target. At the time of writing, it’s two thirds there. I don’t doubt that it will have crossed the finish line and then some by this time tomorrow.
Brian Fargo’s second run at Kickstarter has begun.
With Torment: Tides of Numenera, InXile intend to build an isometric RPG – in the mould of Planescape and its Black Isle contemporaries – and wrap it in a deep, thematically satisfying story. That’s the concept of ‘thematic satisfaction’, ladies and gentleman, as the very first bullet point in Torment’s sell. Here are the rest:
- A Deep, Thematically Satisfying Story. The philosophical underpinnings ofTorment drive the game, both mechanically and narratively. Your words, choices, and actions will be your primary weapons.
- A World Unlike Any Other. The game has a fantastic, original setting, with awe-inspiring painterly visuals, imaginative locations, truly offbeat items, and massive feats of magic. In Numenera, however, “magic” is actually something surprisingly different.
- A Rich, Personal Narrative. The story is thoughtful and character-driven—epic in feel but a deeply personal narrative, with nontraditional characters and companions who have their own motivations and desires that drive them throughout the game.
- Reactivity, Choice, and Real Consequences. The game emphasizes replayability and reactivity, and your choices will make a real difference. You can play the game with a different approach and discover entirely new pathways. Most important, we won’t tell you how to play. The best ending is the one you choose, flowing naturally from your actions throughout the game.
“Kickstarter has been a godsend for mid-size developers like InXile,” said Fargo in Torment’s Kickstarter pitch video. “I was awed by the support you gave us with our Wasteland 2 project, and it allows us to get back to making the kind of games that we’ve always wanted to make.
“Of all the games that we did at Interplay, Torment is one of the ones I’m most proud of. It was risky – an RPG with the depth and weight of a novel that paid off in its worldwide recognition for its thought-provoking, literary story and emotional power.
“One of the reasons the game was so deep was that we didn’t rush it,” he added. “The Torment team spent the time in pre-production doing concept art, doing the writing, so we could hone every nuance of the world.”
That’s the very reason InXile have made the audacious move to secure funding for Torment even before Wasteland 2 has hit beta – to ensure the game a nine month pre-production period, during which 10 writers and four artists will put together a “polished” vision of the game.
When that’s over, the Wasteland 2 team will roll over onto the new project, to be headed up by Obisidian veteran Kevin Saunders, and original Torment co-writers Monte Cook and Colin McComb.
“Big RPGs are rarely about one person,” said Fargo of his assembled squad. “My success has been in bringing together lots of incredibly creative and talented people and getting everybody on the same page from a sensibility perspective.”
One notable name missing from the roster is that of Chris Avellone, Planescape Torment’s lead designer, now creative director at Obsidian. But he’s more than happy to see a sequel go ahead without him.
“I have a lot of respect for the folks [on the Torment team] and I’ve worked with many of them, including Kevin, Brian, Colin, Adam [Heine, scripter], and more, across several projects and across several companies, including Interplay, Obsidian, and more recently inXile on Wasteland 2,” wrote Avellone.
“I believe they’ll do Torment with the right aesthetic and justice it deserves.”
InXile’s Torment sees the player become “the last castoff”, the newly born consciousness of a body which previously played host to the Changing God – a man who discovered a way to “skip across the centuries” via a succession of bodies. Events conspire to ensure that both you and he are in danger, and the player must travel across the ninth world of Monte Cook’s Numenera, finding allies and enemies among other castoffs.
Where Planescape Torment asked, ‘What can change the nature of a man?’, its successor provides another central philosophical question: ‘What does one life matter?’
I’ve another: are you backing this thing or what?