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Torment Kickstarter Update #47: Thomas Beekers on Alpha Progress, Adam Heine on Party Death

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Torment Kickstarter Update #47: Thomas Beekers on Alpha Progress, Adam Heine on Party Death

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 16 September 2015, 18:11:48

Tags: Adam Heine; Brother None; InXile Entertainment; Torment: Tides of Numenera

It's now been just over a month since the launch of the Torment: Tides of Numenera Alpha Systems Test. Two and a half weeks ago, the alpha was updated with the new B0 module which includes exploration of Torment's first few areas and dialogue with two companions, Aligern and Callistege. In today's Kickstarter update, inXile's Thomas Beekers (AKA Brother None) re-announces the alpha's release for those backers who hadn't noticed, and also tells us a bit about how it's been going and what's coming up next. I won't quote the entire thing, but the last two paragraphs are of definite interest:

So what's next? We have one more AST planned, called C0. This will be the first look at our Crisis combat system, and several team members including our Crisis Design Lead Jeremy Kopman and programmer Matthew Davey are working hard to bring this to completion, though realistically it'll take a bit longer than it took from A0 to B0. We're very curious to see what our backers think of this next AST.

If you're not already an alpha backer, it's still possible to get alpha access by upgrading your reward level or buying the Alpha Systems Test add-on for 1,000 points ($10) on the Torment website. Check out the backer shop if you're interested! We’ll be removing this option on Friday, September 25th, so if you want to get in on the alpha, now's the time.
Adam Heine also has a part in this update, where he explains how the team has chosen to deal with the matter of player and companion death. Here's an excerpt:

The world does move on when the player dies. Sometimes the player can return to a Crisis to try again, but just as often things have changed. A crime lord may have increased her guards (or decreased them, thinking that the threat was over). The Last Castoff may have been dragged away by his enemies to some new location (or posthumously arrested, for those that know what he is). These branching "failures" are designed to encourage players to continue on after a defeat, if only to see what happens.

The death of party members is a little trickier. Some companions are castoffs themselves—or are hard to kill for other reasons—and so they can get back up after most battles. But the Ninth World holds no resurrection for mortal characters. When a mortal companion dies, it's permanent.

This presents a problem with our "interesting failure" guideline. I imagine there are only a small percentage of gamers who would play through a beloved companion's death, knowing that a happier storyline lay only a reload away. At the same time, if we just let the defeated companions get up at the end of a Crisis, it would take away a lot of the tension of keeping your party alive – despite your player character’s near-immortality, we don't want combat to be a low-stress, "nothing that happens matters" affair.

Our solution (pending playtesting) is an adaptation from Numenera core rules called Lasting Damage. When a mortal companion drops to zero in all three Stat Pools, they're out of combat but not dead. When the Crisis is over, the companion will get up but they will be scathed with a Lasting Damage fettle.

The specific effects of this fettle and how to remove it will be tweaked as needed for balance, but in general:
  • The fettle will have some severe effect, on the order of making all tasks more difficult by two steps.
  • The fettle will go away after the party Sleeps X times. The player can choose to Sleep until it's gone, but doing so will have other effects on the game.
  • There will usually be a skilled chiurgeon of some sort nearby who can remove this fettle immediately for a number of shins. Sometimes this NPC may be hard to find, or their healing might not be available right away, but the player should be able to heal before most major Crises.
With balancing, the Lasting Damage fettle should present a challenge while not being so negative that most players reload. (Some players will reload anyway, of course, but the balance of this fettle is about minimizing that number as much as possible—again, we aren't going out of our way to discourage savescumming; we're just trying not to encourage it).

This design allows the player to choose whether they want to spend time or money to remove the fettle, or whether they want to just deal with the fettle until it goes away naturally. There is a cost whichever way they choose, but there is enough choice that players should feel empowered rather than frustrated, encouraging them to play on despite setbacks and to forge their own story.​

"Sleeping X times" in Torment probably isn't something you'll want to do all at once. What happens when a character with the Lasting Damage fettle gets knocked out again, though?

There are 30 comments on Torment Kickstarter Update #47: Thomas Beekers on Alpha Progress, Adam Heine on Party Death

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