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Torment Interviews at GameWatcher and Grimuar Sferowca

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Torment Interviews at GameWatcher and Grimuar Sferowca

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Wed 25 March 2015, 01:59:33

Tags: Brother None; Colin McComb; George Ziets; InXile Entertainment; Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer; Pillars of Eternity; Torment: Tides of Numenera

In an impromptu little publicity blitz, two Torment: Tides of Numenera interviews appeared on the Internet today. The first interview, over at GameWatcher, is a transcript of a chat with Colin McComb and Thomas Beekers which took place at the EGX Rezzed convention earlier this month. The second interview, at Polish Torment fansite Grimuar Sferowca, is a more in-depth piece featuring inXile's fourth musketeer, George Ziets, who also has a bit to say about Pillars of Eternity, Mask of the Betrayer and various other games. It's the more interesting interview by far, so that's what I'll be quoting:

Grimuar: Hello George! Thank you for finding the time to answer our questions. Using the opportunity, we’d like to congratulate you on the successful funding of your own dark corner of the Bloom! You’ve been involved in several projects lately ‒ what has been taking most of your time in the recent months? Could you tell us more about the development of the Gullet?

George Ziets: Thanks! Since May of 2014, I’ve been a full-time employee at InXile, focused almost entirely upon Torment. As Lead Area Designer, I’m designing two of our zones (the Bloom and Sagus Cliffs), overseeing the work of our other area designers, writing some dialogue, and working with the artists to develop character concepts, models, and level art. I’ve also contributed to story discussions and revisions, but the main narrative is mostly the province of our creative lead, Colin McComb.

The Gullet was a part of my initial design for the Bloom, located deep in the creature’s guts. I intended it as Torment’s version of dungeon content, focused primarily on exploration and combat. In the original Planescape: Torment, I enjoyed the catacombs sequence that followed the Buried Village (including the Drowned Nations, the various crypts, and the Nameless One’s Tomb) because it contrasted with the heavily dialogue-driven gameplay that preceded and followed it and broke up the pacing of the game. I thought that the Gullet could serve a similar purpose in the Bloom, albeit on a smaller scale. It could also provide some fun reactivity to the player’s choices earlier in the zone – for example, if your actions caused the Bloom to feed upon certain people, you might encounter them again in the depths (or an echo of them, anyway).

But when we initially prioritized our scenes for the Bloom, we realized that the main narrative of the Bloom could function without the Gullet. Since our resources are limited on Torment, the Gullet became C priority, and it appeared likely that it would be cut. Thankfully, our Kickstarter backers stepped in and changed all that.

So now the Gullet is alive and well (and satisfying disturbing, I might add). Area designer Joby Bednar and I updated my original design and expanded some elements, and Joby is currently developing the level in Unity.

You have been a Pillars of Eternity stretch goal ‒ however, we feel you haven’t had too many chances to introduce your work on the project. We remember you writing interesting stuff about Woedica, one of Eora’s deities. Could you elaborate a bit on your work on PoE?


I was involved in the early narrative and world-building work on PoE, when the team only consisted of Josh and a few other people. It was a fun phase of the project – I love world-building, and Eora (which didn’t even have a name at the time) was almost a blank slate, except for the player races, the map, the focus on souls, and a few lore elements that Josh wrote during the Kickstarter campaign.

First I came up with a bunch of deities, which made good sense to me as an initial step. (It seems like a society would use gods to represent things that are important to them, so defining the deities was a good way to get to know the people of the Dyrwood and their neighbors.) Then I wrote a lot of lore about cities, dungeons, prominent people, organizations, and important places in the region, including a detailed breakdown of Defiance Bay. I think the team has expanded the city a lot since I worked on it, but some of my neighborhoods are still present (e.g., Brackenbury, Ondra’s Gift), and it sounds like they’ve retained some of the other lore too.

In appx. March of 2013, when more people started to roll onto the project, a number of us (Josh, Chris Avellone, Eric Fenstermaker, Jorge Salgado, me) wrote up ideas for a main storyline. Then Eric and I spent a couple weeks on Skype (he was in California, I was in Ohio) synthesizing many of those ideas into an initial draft. During that time, I also assisted with some writing on their vertical slice (Dyrford), though I don’t know if any of my dialogue is still in the game.

Around May of 2013, I shifted my focus over to Torment during a lull in my PoE work, but my role on Torment quickly expanded, and InXile ultimately offered me a full-time position. That turned out to be a good fit – the only downside is that I never had a chance to do any additional work on PoE.
Read the whole thing to learn about Mask of the Betrayer's cut content, George's thoughts on "games as art", his inspirations, his favorite gaming moments, and more. Good stuff.

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