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Chris Avellone on Doing Planescape: Torment Successor

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Chris Avellone on Doing Planescape: Torment Successor

Editorial - posted by Crooked Bee on Mon 20 August 2012, 19:53:34

Tags: Chris Avellone; Kickstarter; Planescape: Torment

Chris Avellone has written up a piece for Kotaku on how he would do a spiritual successor to Planescape: Torment. He says this probably won't be an Obsidian Kickstarter, but that he'll throw some ideas out anyway. (He still seems to leave the possibility open, though. Such a tease.) Have some snippets:

So even though this wouldn't be an Obsidian Kickstarter, here are my thoughts on a Torment spiritual successor:
  • It'd be best not to use [the Dungeons & Dragons] mechanics or the Planescape license. One reason is doing so would undermine some of the joys of the Kickstarter (not having to answer to anyone but the players – if we take a license, we have to answer to the franchise holder), I'm not sure Wizards/Hasbro/whoever knows where to take the license, and looking back on Planescape: Torment, it's been clear to me that we had to bend a lot of rules to get some of the mechanics and narrative feel we wanted. Could we have done that easier outside of a Planescape universe? Sure. [...]
  • Similar, but not exact, campaign mechanics in the following respects:
    1) A plane-jumping universe with diversity in environments, cultures, religions, and people.
    2) Tactical combat – it doesn't need to be turn-based, but pausing and choosing your actions is important.
    3) A diversity of creatures, perhaps not to the same extent as in the Planescape original title (would depend on budget, but just like the main cast, I'd prefer to have fewer, higher-quality creatures that allow for a spectrum of behaviors rather than a grab-bag of a thousand random monsters).
    4) A small group of extremely detailed companions.
    5) A mechanic similar to "remembrance" in the original game – this metaphysical interpretation of your immortality and amnesia is something that can be explored in a number of ways depending on the game premise [...]
  • Having a character basis and an advancement scheme with spells, traits, and abilities that are suited to the campaign setting and the system and narrative mechanics. As an example, Dak'kon's Unbroken Circle of Zerthimon and the spells he gained from that had a strong narrative bent, and I enjoy balancing out skill and spell trees that reinforce the philosophy of the world.
  • Items with stories. One of my favorite parts of Torment and the Icewind Dale series was giving them names and writing short stories for each inventory item... and sometimes very long stories (The Fanged Mirror of Yehcir-Eya). The best moment I had for Icewind Dale 2 was creating an inventory item name that used the token in the title and having a developer come into the room and accuse me of ripping off his character for the sake of a magic item. When he was done ranting, I explained to him that it was actually a scripted reference that was personal to each character playing the game. At least that's the story I stuck to. [...]
  • Lastly, this is also something that set Torment apart – we had a good chunk of the story, dialogues and the flow of the narrative laid out before production began. This was key. If I had the power and funding to sit down for a year and script a spiritual successor out, then we built from there, I would do that, but that process is something no publisher would agree to – you're constantly under the gun, either as an internal or external developer (Josh Sawyer had to write the Icewind Dale 2 storyline over the course of a weekend, for example – he did a great job, but that's not an ideal way to write a story). Generally, you have 2-4 weeks.
Click here for the full article.

Spotted at Gamebanshee

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