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Torment Kickstarter Update #31: Game delayed to Q4 2015 + Preproduction, technology and lore updates

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Torment Kickstarter Update #31: Game delayed to Q4 2015 + Preproduction, technology and lore updates

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 13 June 2014, 03:38:54

Tags: Adam Heine; Colin McComb; InXile Entertainment; Kevin Saunders; Torment: Tides of Numenera

It's been more than two months since we last heard from the development of Torment: Tides of Numenera. Today we've been rewarded for our patience with a hefty Kickstarter update from all three members of the Torment Triumvirate. Kevin Saunders offers a detailed report on the game's current production status, Colin McComb reveals some lore pertaining to a fearsome tribe that features in the histories of several of the game's major locations, and Adam Heine has a bit to say about the NPC companion known as "The Toy".

Kevin's segment of the update is probably the most important, with descriptions of the three areas that have already been implemented in the game and other behind-the-scenes development details. It's not all good news, though, as the game's extended preproduction period has taken its toll. I quote:

So, where are we on Torment then? During the last week of our Kickstarter, we had adjusted our target launch date to the first half of 2015. And last December, in Update 27, I mentioned that timeline was still feasible, but that Torment’s schedule remained in flux until all became clear with Wasteland 2. 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. 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.

Now that we have a more certain roll-off plan for the production team from Wasteland to Torment, we’re better able to predict the shape of our schedule. And, as you may have guessed, the first half of 2015 isn't realistic anymore and we’re looking at the fourth quarter of 2015.

You may wonder how we can extend TTON’s development for a year longer than planned. By running a small core team during the preproduction phase, we have been extremely efficient in developing the foundation and the pipeline for the game – we make decisions more quickly, and we’ll have set a strong vision to help eliminate uncertainty. 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.​

There's also this interesting bit describing how the guys at inXile have been using Obsidian's "Eternity Engine":

Beginning with the Pillars of Eternity technology foundation has been a godsend to Torment’s development. Steve Dobos has been a superstar, but he’s been mostly alone on Torment’s tech. He’s implemented a host of modifications for us, some of which have been driven by our different rules system (such as Difficult Tasks, as Adam described in Update 27) and some due to differences in the design priorities between PoE and TTON. Current efforts have been mostly about iteration on the conversation system and prototyping various elements of Crises. Recently we’ve also been making progress on aspects of our animation system, with programmer Jason Jacobitz and animator Josh Jertberg beginning to shift over to Torment. (We’ll have more to say about animation in a future update.)

We’ve been receiving regular code updates from PoE, and these are becoming increasingly time-consuming to integrate as the aspects we modify expand. As programmers roll onto TTON from Wasteland, we’ll likely decide to branch off from PoE, with us having enough programming bandwidth that it will be inefficient to bring over the latest PoE changes (not all of which are relevant to TTON). (Incidentally, this is another advantage to our extended preproduction period – it has allowed us to stay current with the PoE code base for longer, thus acquiring more of their tech improvements. As announced in the recent PoE update, the code is feature complete and it’s just bug fixing at this stage. So if we do diverge before PoE is code-locked, it would just mean that we will have to fix any bugs that they fix late in the project (those that affect TTON, anyway).)

Since late last year, Steve has also had part-time assistance from Paola Rizzo, who happens to live in Rome, who has handled the majority of our modifications and enhancements to the conversation editor. In some cases, the type of dialogue reactivity we want for Torment required new functionality. In others, we increased the automation of certain aspects of conversation authoring, making it less work for writers to follow certain conversation conventions, which in turn increases the likelihood that we follow through on those design conventions to the extent we had planned.

Anything that streamlines content creation, reduces the likelihood of bugs, or provides error checking helps make our complicated conversations more manageable and allows us to push conversations further. This increased efficiency is important for us because we are targeting a greater degree of reactivity and replayability than even Planescape: Torment had, which means that conversations of a certain size (in terms of gameplay time and information communicated) take more effort to write. We’re already able to create conversations 50% faster than we could last summer, and this should improve even further as we go. (We plan to talk more about conversation construction and design in a later update, too.)
It'll be interesting to see how Torment, with its unusual excess of preproduction time, comes out in comparison to all the other RPGs that are going to be released over the next year or so. It's gratifying to remember that the original PS:T had a lengthy preproduction period as well...

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