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Italian Torment Interview: Adam Heine's Massive Mechanics Infodump

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Italian Torment Interview: Adam Heine's Massive Mechanics Infodump

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Mon 3 March 2014, 20:42:21

Tags: Adam Heine; InXile Entertainment; Torment: Tides of Numenera

Dr Schultz's official Italian language Torment: Tides of Numenera blog continues to be the best Torment site around. Today he posted a meaty interview (scroll down for English) with lead designer Adam Heine, which reveals a ton of new information about the game's mechanics. Here are the first two questions:

Focus is a really big deal in Numenera. There are almost thirty Foci in the Corebook and they all have a deep influence on character development. How many of them can we expect to see in Torment? Will the Last Castoff and his companions have different Foci? Are we going to experience something new/different compared to the tabletop game?

Focus is a big deal, and we want to emphasize the specialness of it. To that end:
  • The PC will be able to choose from several different Foci at or near the start of the game.
  • Torment’s PC will have the unique ability to change his Focus at will (though not necessarily for free; more on that later). So not only can you try out different Foci without restarting the game, but you will unlock new Foci throughout the game and can switch over to the new ones if you want.
  • We haven’t finalized our Foci design yet, but we’re planning for at least a couple of PC Foci unique to Torment, in addition to those we adapt from the Corebook (which will be many).
  • Companions will have Foci unavailable to the PC, each uniquely suited to their character. (Although not the sole reason for this decision, this supports the Numenera rule that no two party members should share the same Focus).
  • Some Companions will have new Foci made up especially for them.
  • In the Meres (you know about the Meres, right? In which the PC temporarily takes control of another person’s body during some critical point in their life), the character whose body the PC inhabits can also have their own Focus. Sometimes this is a Focus that was already available to the PC or a Companion, but other times it will be unique to that Mere. This lets us explore Foci that are uniquely cool but that would be difficult to design for across the entire game (like Exists Partially Out of Phase, which enables the character to walk through walls).
This sounds like a lot of Foci (I actually have almost 30 listed in the initial draft of the design doc), but it’s far from finalized. Additionally, less than half the Foci in the initial draft are marked as A-priority (meaning we will do them in some form); the rest are necessarily marked as “we’ll do this as resources allow.”

Numenera providers players with lots of unique options during character creation, but it also features a fairly linear character progression, probably because of its huge list of gears (Artifacts and Cyphers mostly) that work like Skills or Perks. Are you aiming for the same result in Torment? Or will leveling be a more open-ended affair? As a rule, what do you think about gear-centric advancement systems?

Well, first, we are implementing Artifacts and Cyphers as close to the spirit of the tabletop as we can. So Cyphers are planned to be unique (some may overlap in abilities, but each cypher will be different), some of them powerful, all of them one-shot, and all of them encouraged to be used (i.e. we are implementing the tabletop game’s limits on how many cyphers a character can safely carry). We’re even extending the concepts with our crafting design (which you may have read about), giving the player more options for item progression and customization.

As for character progression, we’re aiming for a little more customization than the tabletop provides. We’ll have more class abilities than in the Corebook, a defined set of Skills, and the PC will be able to switch his Focus on the fly. So there should be enough there to give the player a sense of progression and choice at each Tier (plus Numenera’s character upgrades and customizations between Tiers: increasing Stat Pools or Stat Edge, learning a new Skill, increasing maximum Effort Level, etc).

Regarding gear-centric advancement systems in general, what I like about them is they allow the player to adapt to new situations as he finds them. Come across a pack of armor-wearing gorillas immune to your poison attack? Switch out your poison weapons for something that will work against them.

That doesn’t mean I like gear-centric systems as a rule, of course. I think any system can be made to work, but it depends on the implementation. If the player can always switch gear without a cost or a trade-off, then it can become too easy to fend off any situation.

What I like about Numenera’s Cypher system, though, is how it encourages players to use items rather than hoard them. I always hoard consumables in RPGs, which basically means I’m missing out on a portion of the game because “I might need this later.” But in Numenera, I can only hold a limited number of Cyphers, and I know I’m going to find more around every corner, so rather than hoarding them, I find myself looking for clever opportunities to use them. It’s a great consumables system, in my opinion.
The other questions are about character progression, combat, and the always-touchy topic of randomness and "save scumming". This one's a must-read, folks.

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