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Torment Need Not Be Eternal
Editorial - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Mon 16 May 2011, 14:37:29Tags: Black Isle Studios; Planescape: Torment
Gamebanshee put up a retrospective of Planescape: Torment and its legacy, plus they're pondering the issue of a possible sequel.
To understand the legacy of Planescape, one has to go back a couple of years before its release. In the late 90s, CRPGs were in what many consider to be a golden age (though perhaps not "the" golden age depending on who you ask). More cerebral franchises that tested players' intellectual sides, such as Fallout and Baldur's Gate, were at the forefront of gaming, along with more combat-oriented dungeon-crawlers, like Diablo and Icewind Dale; less talked-about but no less important franchises, like Vampire: The Masquerade and Might & Magic were also leaving their marks and had devoted followings. Despite their largely dated visuals during the rise of the 3D accelerator, RPGs were one of the primary genres that made up the PC gaming trifecta of the late 90s, the other two being shooters and strategy games. I remember quite clearly, browsing through the magazines and store shelves that then dominated the industry, hardcore RPGs being just as frequent a sight as any other game. It was an isolated gamer indeed who hadn't heard of any of the popular CRPG franchises of the time.
Although traditionally, many CRPGs on the PC had been content with emulating tabletop gaming's rules, or adapting them for the digital medium and the constraints of a dungeon master-less environment, the late 90s also marked a shift in narrative, with games making increasing use of non-linear storytelling, faction conflicts, more intimate relationships and even romances with their characters, and a certain level of accessibility that didn't require players to know the tabletop campaign or read the manual to understand what was going on. Many of the trends in modern RPGs largely owe their existence to the development of those core ideas during the 90s golden age, as do many of the formulas that define (for both better and worse) what newer RPGs are capable of.
Spotted at: Gamebanshee