Release windows are fleeting, intangible things, prone to change. They aren’t promises any more than Darth Vader’s deals. So inXile’s announcement of a new, later, release window for Torment: Tides of Numenera is not surprising; it is a bit of a shame though.
During the RPG’s Kickstarter, December 2014 was the goal, and that was eventually pushed back to the first half of 2015. The new window is Q4 2015. Over a year away. Wasteland 2’s Early Access “success” is behind the change.
Tides of Numenera and Wasteland 2 share the same team, with members moving off Wasteland 2 and onto Numenera when their work is completed. But this has taken more time because of the extra work that’s been put into the post-apocalyptic turn-based RPG.
“Wasteland 2’s success in Early Access allowed us to spend more time improving it, which also meant we had more time in preproduction on Torment,” said inXile’s Kevin Saunders. “We’ve had more time to prototype, improve tools, iterate on our processes, etc. before entering full production. This has been a great thing for everything… except for our release date.”
The extra time in pre-production has, Saunders says, given Tides of Numenera a stronger foundation and pipeline. “This will help us make fewer mistakes as the full team ramps up. One year following TTON’s Kickstarter, more than 80% of the development budget remained, so we have a lot of firepower for our production, beta, and finalization phases.”
At the moment, Tides of Numenera is in limited production, with inXile working on the pipeline and proving design, but unlike normal pre-production, a small part of the team has also been working on actual content. “This leads to greater productivity, fewer mistakes, and ultimately a better game,” explains Saunders. “This goal is generally somewhat at odds with completing feature X by date Y, which is typically what you do during production to ensure that the game can be completed to the quality desired given the time and/or resources you have available.”
The limited production phase has seen three areas being worked on. The first is “the Breach”, which is the game’s opening, then there’s “Meres”, the first sample area that was created over a year ago, and now most of the focus is on “the Bloom”, the alien plant-like area that was first teased in concept art last year.
I doubt anyone could find fault with inXile’s decision to push back the game’s launch to ensure the quality of both Wasteland 2 and Tides of Numenera itself. Though it’s certainly a wait that’s going to be bordering on agonising. Tides is being touted as the spirital successor to Planescape: Torment, and part of a thematic franchise. Absolutely loads of talent is involved, including Obsidian’s Chris Avellone, the brain behind the original Torment, and Patrick Rothfuss, fantasy scribe and magnificent beard owner.
InXile has spilled quite a few beans in the latest developer update. It’s a long, detailed thing, so maybe you should give it a read.