Colin McComb on Black Isle's cancelled Playstation Planescape game at Eurogamer
Information - posted by Infinitron
on Fri 27 March 2015, 14:46:30
Tags: Black Isle Studios
; Colin McComb
; PSX Planescape game
Eurogamer are on an inXile roll today. Another one of their staff members, Robert Purchese, has an article
about a talk he had with Colin McComb
at EGX Rezzed about Black Isle's cancelled King's Field-inspired Planescape game for the original Playstation. We've heard about the PSX Planescape game before, but I believe this is the first time we've seen direct quotations from its vision document.
Brief in hand, McComb got going. It was just him and a programmer in a small office for weeks, months even. He hadn't made a computer game before, only tabletop games, but gradually ideas began to form, and the project known as Planescape PSX was born.
He can only remember so much, nearly 20 years later, but he does manage to dig out an old vision document for me. McComb isn't sure who wrote it but seems fairly sure it wasn't him.
"The goals of Planescape PSX are to immerse the player in an interesting and stunningly distinct fully-3D gaming world; constantly provide the player with interesting and rewarding activity; and to make players feel like their characters are in a real fantasy world."
Remember, it is 1996.
"Players will find themselves in amazing places, face-to-face with creatures both bizarre and frightening, unlike anything seen before in a console [role-playing game]. Combat in Planescape will not simply be a matter of holding down the fire button and being quick to dodge. Players will be buffeted by a Githyanki's long sword as it crashes against their shield or be knocked to the ground by the mad rush of a dying Wererat."
It was going to be a first-person "running through a crypt type thing", McComb summarises - with branching dialogue! It would have real-time combat and, of course, be based in the weird and wonderful Planescape setting of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.
"Planescape PSX is, at its heart, an RPG. Players will create their characters - warriors, thieves, magicians and clerics - and take them out adventuring. Players will be able to tailor their characters to suit their own play styles ... and adventure in several districts of Sigil, the City of Doors and beyond, to Baator and the gate town of Ribcage."
You were going to be able to climb, swim, float or fly to achieve mission goals - even pass through walls. "Warriors," on the other hand, "may simply choose the direct approach and try to kick the s*** out of whatever stands in their way".
Spells and items and powers taken directly from Advanced Dungeon & Dragons would open up to you as you play.
The story would cast you as a lowly enforcer for the Harmonium, the law-people of Sigil, "the guys who believed in order and goodness and tried to keep everybody on the straight and narrow", adds McComb. Sigil is the city connecting all the multiple planes, from which the weird and wonderful come. It's a dirty and dangerous hotpot constantly close to boiling point.
You, as the Harmonium recruit, would go to break up a routine riot in the slums. It's there you'd uncover the deeper threads of a bigger conspiracy. "It turns out this conspiracy led all the way to the upper-planes and the lower-planes," adds McComb, "because there were people in the upper-planes selling weapons to keep the Blood War going.
He adds: "We realised it was total fantasy and there was no way that could ever happen in real life!"
Above all else, Planescape PSX was going to be tough.
"Unlike Doom where you get armoured up like a crab and go toe-to-toe with everything until they are all dead, things in Planescape can make you dead very easily, especially if you're unprepared. Until he knows the lay of the land the player will do more running than fighting. Exploring does not mean finding strange new places and depopulating them. It means the player will learn what he can and can not tackle, where he should and should not go and be compelled to sharpen his skills, wits, and weapons to explore the game further."
"Players will learn things the hard way in Planescape," it concludes, like a marketing slogan. "Planescape PSX will hit back."
The article also reveals that Interplay was already considering a sequel if the game did well, which would you allow you to import your character from the original. But then of course, it was cancelled, and the third Planescape game by Zeb Cook was transformed into Stonekeep 2, which was also cancelled, and Colin ended up working on the last survivor, Planescape: Torment. Oh, 90s Interplay.
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