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George Ziets explains the Gullet stretch goal

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George Ziets explains the Gullet stretch goal

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Mon 27 October 2014, 21:19:55

Tags: George Ziets; InXile Entertainment; Torment: Tides of Numenera

With Torment: Tides of Numenera's Gullet stretch goal on schedule towards being fulfilled, area design maestro George Ziets has decided to share a few words about its origin. The Gullet is his attempt to recreate the Planescape: Torment dungeon experience. Read on:

So here we are… four days remain on the Gullet stretch goal, with a little under $7000 left to raise. Before the stretch goal ends, I’d been meaning to say more about how the Gullet came to be, so if you’re interested in the realities of area design, read on!

I wrote my design for the Bloom in late 2013. At that point in time, very little work had been done on the content side of our game. All we had was a Mere that consisted of two scenes, and we still had to determine the overall look and feel for Torment. My goal was to give our players an experience that was as close to the original Planescape Torment as possible - I played PST a lot while I was writing the design documents, trying to make sure I hit just the right tone and analyzing what worked and what didn’t.

One element that sometimes worked… and sometimes didn’t… were the dungeons. While PST was primarily a dialogue-driven experience, it included a few dungeons, strategically scattered throughout the game. Some were purely combat-focused, like the mausoleum in the Hive. Others were a mix of combat, exploration, and dialogues, like the catacombs beneath the Buried Village. I thought the latter worked best. Combat wasn’t one of PST’s strengths, but when it was balanced with exploration and a few dialogues, the whole experience was tense, interesting, and fun. It also contrasted nicely with the dialogue-driven gameplay that preceded and followed it.

So when I designed the Bloom, I decided to include something similar (though shorter in length) – a “dungeon” environment that skewed more heavily toward exploration and discovery. And since players would pass through this area on their way into the Bloom’s depths, it would be set toward the end of the zone… a perfect time to pay off on some of the player’s earlier choices.

That’s how the Gullet was born. This was where old and forgotten things would be found, devoured by the Bloom in the distant past, sinking slowly into its guts, finally coming to rest here. Echoes of the Bloom’s victims would wander here too, including victims the player may have “nudged” to their demise. In the end, all things find their way to the Gullet. (Last week, somebody on the team likened it to the Bloom’s liver, which I thought was a particularly apt comparison.)

I drew up a map on graph paper, numbered the encounter areas (old-school D&D-style), and detailed everything that would happen in the Gullet. When the other leads reviewed the design documentation, they seemed to like the Gullet content, and I was pretty excited to include all this weird and horrific stuff in the game. But strictly speaking, the Bloom could function without the Gullet (and its most important content could be relocated somewhere else), so when we realized that we didn’t have the resources to develop all the content I had proposed, the Gullet became [C] priority. I was sad, but such are the realities of game development.

In the old days (by which I mean 2012 or so), a cut was a cut. If we didn’t have the resources to implement everything we had planned, we made the decision to cut something, and that was that. The cut content was forever lost. But now, in the strange world of crowd-funding, the Gullet has a second chance at life. Will we make it to the stretch goal? I hope so. I think it’ll be fun to prototype our version of a PST dungeon, full of exploration and weird discoveries. If you’ve contributed, thanks for getting us this far… and if all goes well, I’ll see you on the other side of the finish line.
During the time it took George to write that, some generous soul contributed $999 to the fundraiser. They're definitely going to make it.

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