Tacticular Cancer: We'll have your balls

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Editorial RPG Codex Report: A Codexian Visit to inXile Entertainment

Discussion in 'RPG News & Content' started by Infinitron, Apr 13, 2017.

  1. Make America Great Again Infinitrongender: ⚧ Trade Master Patron

    Infinitron
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    Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
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    Tags: Bard's Tale IV; Brian Fargo; Colin McComb; David Rogers; George Ziets; InXile Entertainment; Torment: Tides of Numenera; Wasteland 3

    It's been a month and a half since the release of Torment: Tides of Numenera, and it's quite clear by now that the game has not been a success. It may not be a coincidence that shortly after its release, we received an entreaty from inXile PR representative Jim Redner. In what seemed like a direct response to my rueful Torment release newspost, Jim told us he was seeking to make peace with the Codex, and that he was willing to hear our demands. Our initial proposal was a humble one - a reveal-all AMA with George Ziets, probably the only person at inXile who still has our community's trust. To that Jim responded with a counter-proposal - an in-person visit to inXile, to be followed by an AMA with several of Torment's developers. That was an opportunity we couldn't pass up, and so a couple of weeks ago we dispatched our secret agent in Southern California to inXile's headquarters in Newport Beach. Today, I'm happy to present the report of his visit to Brian Fargo's court. Here are a few tidbits from his hard-hitting interview:

    Kevin Saunders left before the end of production. Can you talk about why he left and how his departure affected production?

    Brian: I can’t talk about an employee’s specific performance, but what I can do is to provide you with a factual history of things. Kevin left the project in late 2015, right? At that point, we were roughly two years into production. At that point, we’ve gotten the first pass of combat. The story was not yet at first pass. No abilities or weapons were in outside of the alpha systems. And so, at that time, if we had gone along that route, the game would not be done until the year 2018. I could not afford to stay on that path. I had to change what we were doing.

    And, to talk about scope, the product was wildly over scoped. Even today, after we made the “cuts,” the original specification for the game was 600,000 words. You know how many we are at now? It’s 1.6 million words, probably a world record for a single player game. I think the only games that have more word count is MMOs done over a long period of time.

    George: When recording, the guys who were doing the recording were saying, this is like one of those big MMOs, and they were shocked that it was a single player game.

    Brian: After cuts, it ends up being several times what we wanted it to be. Planescape: Torment, the number that was thrown around a lot was 750,000 words. But when you talk to Avellone, he would say we actually double counted some sentences, so it might not even be that high. I think the Bible is like 700,000 words so that seems plenty of words to do a narrative piece, something that is as big as the Bible.

    So basically, after two years in, I had to change plans. So those are the facts. I’m not trying to disparage Kevin, I don’t want to talk negatively about him in any way, but I can at least speak to the facts behind what was going on at that point.

    We should talk about the writing, since this is a big focus for the game. Why was the game so wordy to begin with? This seems to have become a trend with Kickstarter CRPGs. Is it really necessary to force the player to read a novel? For example, why were the Meres designed as choose your own adventure stories, as opposed to isometric scenarios?

    Colin: As I recall, I was sitting in a meeting with Adam and a couple of other people, and we thought, wouldn't it be cool to quickly throw out a choose your own adventure story as one particular Mere? I mentioned that to Kevin, and Kevin said "what if we did that for all of them?" That would free up our artists for other stuff as well, so we thought it was a cool idea.

    Brian: I wouldn't say we decided to be so wordy but that it became so wordy because they were trying to express all the subtlety and so on.

    George: Part of it was due to the excitement of reproducing the Planescape: Torment experience, where there is a lot of wordiness. I remember early on, even on the Codex, I remember there being a lot of excitement: "walls of text! walls of text! we want walls of text!"

    Turns out the Codex didn't want walls of text.


    Brian: There appears to be a lesson here.

    George: We felt there was excitement about that, and we did want to pay off on a strong, dialogue writing and text based experience, and making really imaginative characters, and having characters with a lot of different things to say that you could explore. But also making sure that all this was optional, and for the most part it is.

    We should talk about sales. Everyone can look them up for Steam. It's currently sitting around 120,000. Can you tell us how many copies were sold from other distribution sources?

    Brian:
    Negligible.

    Were these sales expected?

    Brian:
    No, I'm disappointed.​

    Read the full article: RPG Codex Report: A Codexian Visit to inXile Entertainment
     
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  2. Make America Great Again Rogueygender: ⚧ Arcane Sawyerite Sawyerist Sawyer's Bride No Fun Allowed

    Roguey
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    Bester calling Adam a cuck for raising orphans was an isolated incident, and the Nazi stuff came from one of your employees. :M

    Incorrect, even going with 4 million just adds about 1.8 million adjusting for inflation.

    I imagine at some point Torment had outsold Fallout since Warner seemed pretty confident about it.

    5.8 million in 1999 dollars, more than Planescape Torment or Fallout. Worse than both. :)

    The right call, considering the post-release sales.

    And yet everyone who's played it says the voice acting is sparse compared to the original Torment or Pillars. :hmmm:

    "Stretch goals were a mistake."--nearly everyone who's worked on a Kickstarter project

    I imagine at this point, Mitsoda was just glad to get paid.

    Missing a follow-up question: *That's* the level you wanted them to be?

    You lectured Avellone about this, why didn't McComb get the same?????

    Sawyer was right.

    Feels good to have been one of the dissenting voices on this matter.

    This doesn't add up. The kind of people who would care about cut content and statues the most are the backers. If their votes don't count, then there must be other reasons why the score is so low. :)

    "I DID NOTHING WRONG"

    Not sure if outsourcing your combat system to contractors is a good idea, but I guess we'll find out.
     
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  3. Fairfaxgender: ⚧ Arcane

    Fairfax
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    :hmmm:

    You guys won't say who did the interview?
     
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  4. Make America Great Again Infinitrongender: ⚧ Trade Master Patron

    Infinitron
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    Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    That was quick, Roguey.

    Perhaps he was too busy with Wasteland 2, and placed his trust in Kevin Saunders, who was known for his work on a critically successful yet economically produced expansion pack? :M

    His request.
     
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  5. Maxiegender: ⚧ Erudite

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    some SoCal schmuck easily bulliable by chief dino
     
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  6. Make America Great Again Zorba the Huttgender: ⚧ Arcane Weasel

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    Funny to look back on those comments from the Gamescom period now, quite a change of tone. Guess Torment tanking made them think again about whether they could afford to alienate even small communities in their niche market. Anyway, good to read some of these answers as the usual press interviews never ask this sort of shit so thanks to whoever went out there and wrote this up.
     
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  7. ArchAngelgender: ⚧ Magister

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    Could work if instead of North Carolina they outsourced it to a group in Serbia known for making a good tactical rpg. As it is, we are probably going to get a bad(worse) version of Heartstone.
     
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  8. Make America Great Again Infinitrongender: ⚧ Trade Master Patron

    Infinitron
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    Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
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  9. GloomFrostgender: ⚧ Savant

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    Great interview. Thank you Codex.
    LOL the work of Brain Mitozda, one of the best writers in the industry never even made it in the final release. I m pretty sure there is a lot more inxile did not tell us. Also spending 20% of an entire budget on a console port and they dont even know sales numbers yet....what a mess indeed.
     
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  10. Pirata Alma Negragender: ⚧ Learned

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    After the relationship discussion ended the interview was good. Hilarious how Fargo threw everything at the back of a single guy. Someone should reach Saunders and see if he has something to say about Brian too.
     
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  11. Nahelgender: ⚧ Erudite

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    So we are tiers one again? Now they need us? I backed Torment but have yet to retrieve my copy. I don't even feel the motivation to do it. And I doubt this relationship can be repaired. Being dissapointed can be forgiven. Not being spat on.
     
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  12. Make America Great Again Rogueygender: ⚧ Arcane Sawyerite Sawyerist Sawyer's Bride No Fun Allowed

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    Did you play Dead State?
     
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  13. Make America Great Again Westerngender: ⚧ Arcane Patron

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    Codex 2012 Codex 2014 Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2
    Didn't Mitzoda drink the Koolaid? Once you've drunk the Koolaid your stats take massive penalties to talent and creativity.
     
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  14. oldmanpacogender: ⚧ Master of Siestas

    oldmanpaco
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    So this was Crispy right?
     
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  15. Make America Great Again Infinitrongender: ⚧ Trade Master Patron

    Infinitron
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    Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    It was not Crispy or MRY.
     
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  16. Great Deceivergender: ⚧ Arcane

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    Awesome interview, Fargo sounds like a great guy. Numenera was utter shit, though, no amount of backpedaling is going to ameliorate that.
     
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  17. IHaveHugeNickgender: ⚧ Arcane

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    Not good enough. Colin needs to bend the knee.
     
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  18. Make America Great Again Zed Duke of Banvillegender: ⚧ Arcane Patron

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    :yeah: :cheersmate: :russiastronk::vivelafrance::mrpresident::kwafuckyeah: :greatjob: :martini:

    I give full credit to my decision to boycott Torment: Tides of Numenera over the Gamescom fiasco. :M
     
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  19. Make America Great Again Zorba the Huttgender: ⚧ Arcane Weasel

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    His answers grated a bit compared to the others, perhaps he's still in denial about his masterpiece.
     
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  20. IHaveHugeNickgender: ⚧ Arcane

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    My impressions exactly. The others seem genuine or at least very good at bullshitting. Colin though? Every time speaks up, he is just brimming with passive-aggregative insecurity. It's almost like they had to drag him into that interview, because why would would someone of such high stature (we had dozens of positive comments on Twitter, dozens!) interact with puny mortals that dare not to worship his work.

    There's some good bits in that interview, the part about the reactivity being so subtle it's like it's not there at all, that's certainly one of the bigger problems with both WL2 and now T:TON.

    But I can't take any olive branch seriously when the lead designer and the guy ultimately most responsible for the whole thing, continues to have a totem pole up his ass, as if he just delivered a timeless classic and not a total commercial fiasco.
     
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  21. Firebladegender: ⚧ Augur

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    That stood out to me when I read it, too. Inflation since then is only 50% at most, no reasonable person would think it's 2-3X. I wonder if he meant that game development costs (which would have to basically be salaries) have increased much faster than inflation.
     
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  22. Graukengender: ⚧ Prophet Patron

    Grauken
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    Great interview, Brian is still pretty good at PR, his apology sounds genuine
     
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  23. oldmanpacogender: ⚧ Master of Siestas

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    Meh it was good gesture for them to do this anyway and they owed the codex after gamescom. Cannot really expect Colin to be happy to be forced to talk to a site that has been shitting on him for months.

    And this is why a game that took 5 years to make looks rushed.
     
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  24. Abu Antargender: ⚧ Arcane Patron

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    It's a shame that the development of Torment was a mess. Extended pre-production was a mess. That's on Brian, I think. I accept their apology and all that, even though they don't really have much of a choice. They alienated a site that has a core audience for the genre of the games that they work on. They tried to go for the console audience, but to no ones surprise, that didn't work out very well. It's a shame that they tried to become what they were mocking. If you want a cake of the console sales, make a game aimed at the console audience. They should have focused on PC, and despite the costs, they should have let the game in the oven and released it in 2018 if that is what it took. Had they delivered an overall more polished experience, sales would probably have followed. The infamous cut stretch goals, as we all know, did not help. Important people leaving the project was another blow. There are so many things that went wrong.

    I ask myself how this is possible, considering all the industry veterans over there. Not only have they worked on several games with publishers or even had work at publishing companies, they already had experience from a crowdfunded game.

    Obsidian, seem to have learned from Pillars of Eternity. (We'll see if I will get to eat those words in the future.) These guys didn't learn much, it seems.

    Ah well, we'll see how Wasteland 3 goes. Ziets being one of the leads inspires some confidence, but I am not expecting much. I found both Wasteland 2 and Torment to be decent games but nowhere near the classics.
     
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  25. Graukengender: ⚧ Prophet Patron

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    I would be more worried that they needed 2 years to realize this. I've been on badly managed projects, but wow
     
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