Tacticular Cancer: We'll have your balls

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Interview Torment: Tides of Numenera Postmortem Interview with Colin McComb and Adam Heine at Eurogamer

Discussion in 'RPG News & Content' started by Infinitron, Mar 17, 2017.

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

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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: Adam Heine; Chris Avellone; Colin McComb; Gavin Jurgens-Fyhrie; George Ziets; InXile Entertainment; Torment: Tides of Numenera

    After Torment: Tides of Numenera was released, I said that I hoped to discover what had happened during the game's long development that had led to so much content being cut. What were inXile's original plans, when were they altered and why? An extensive postmortem interview with the developers would be required. Happily, Eurogamer's Robert Purchese has saved us much of the effort of putting one together by conducting a Torment interview of his own with Colin McComb and Adam Heine. It's an appropriate gesture, as it was Robert's Planescape: Torment postmortem interview back in August 2012 that led to the formation of the Tides of Numenera project.

    The interview is a massive hour and forty five minute podcast, with the most pertinent bits helpfully summarized in the accompanying text. The original storyline, the cut content, it's all there. Needless to say, it's an extremely spoilery piece, and I'm not going to listen to the audio until I've finished the game myself. But I'll quote some of the less spoilery bits here:



    The stretch goal content that didn't materialise includes three companions, a crafting system, and an area called The Oasis. InXile has publicly apologised about this before.

    The tricky thing in talking about the missing companions is that at least one of them, Oom, the Toy, will reappear. InXile announced this recently. So McComb and Heine don't want to say too much.

    Oom is a blob of a creature from a prior world, maybe a byproduct of an ancient experiment. He could change shape as he levelled up, but into what would depend on you. If you kept telling him to be quiet, for example, he might become invisible, wrote Adam Heine wrote in an Oom blog post.

    Heine tells me now: "We have a lot of design for him and we have some words written for him. The issue is that he's... different than all the other companions. There's a lot of custom stuff that has to be made for this guy."

    "He's got five different shapes," adds McComb. [He has clarified since that Oom will have not five shapes but "multiple".]

    The other companions who really nearly made it in are Riastrad and Satsada, the star-crossed lovers. "Riastrad is mentioned a couple of times in the game," says Heine. "When you find the Magmatic Amulet and you're reading the Changing God's journal of what happened to him in that lab ... that is Riastrad's birth you're witnessing."

    "His backstory," continues McComb, "is the Changing God fell into a dark place in the Ascension, with all the crystal and stuff around there. Crystalline spiders started coming out of the woodwork and the Changing God was like, 'Screw this! I'm out of here.' And Riastrad awoke."

    Excitingly, Riastrad was to have his own reusable merecaster - a device the Last Castoff uses to time travel via memories, and even alter reality - and it was intrinsically linked to his character development. "You could change his history throughout the game and basically use that to change his abilities," says McComb.

    Talking of meres, they were originally going to be fully realised scenes rather than picture book interactions, and the team used to refer to them as Quantum Leaps!

    Beside Riastrad, Satsada and Oom there were companions who weren't as developed. In the original conception, The Specter was one, would you believe. There was a crippled beggar, too, who had a floating cart and collected numenera, the mysterious magical items of the world. The beggar went quite far through development, as first a companion then a major NPC, then a minor NPC, then "he sort of slid on out of the game", says McComb. "The problem with him was we looked at the party composition and we were like, 'Crap, we're overloaded on nanos.'"
    In other Torment-related news, Colin, George Ziets, Chris Avellone and the rest of the game's writing team spoke at a panel at GDC last month, which has now become available for viewing at the GDC Vault. Judging by Gamasutra's writeup, it was more of a general writing panel that didn't address Torment's development specifically (in fact, the author of the writeup seems to have been unaware that they'd worked on it), but there might be additional clues about the game's development in there.
     
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  2. Croluggender: ⚧ Educated

    Crolug
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    Oh sweet lord... TL;DH.

    I can come up with a few things on the spot how to better spend 1:45h of my time...

    Anyone willing to wrap it up?
     
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  3. MRYgender: ⚧ Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

    MRY
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    And this post-mortem will lead to Torment: Roads of Autoduel!
     
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  4. Junmarkogender: ⚧ Arcane Patron

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    Elisha's mask is a metaphor for this game.

     
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  5. Ruzengender: ⚧ Educated

    Ruzen
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    One thing is clear that the years spent went towards changing the narrative and fiction -along with the locations, quests, companion choice even the main plot- god knows how many times.
     
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  6. DeepOceangender: ⚧ Arcane

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    Someone have a summary of what was said? don't wanna waste 1:40hs of self congratulatory and circle jerking nonsense.
     
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  7. an Administratorgender: ⚧ Arcane

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    It's about TToN
     
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  8. Jokzoregender: ⚧ Educated

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    For those who can't bother and listen to the whole thing , I've suffered on your behalf so heres my summary of the Interview:

    -They open talking about how they got the idea to make the game , initial concepts they came up with, anxiety and other feelz they had in the beginning, why they decided to licence Numenera rather than make their own world, spoiler: its because that would be too much work.

    -Around the 11:30 mark they talk about the Kickstarter campaign and how successful it was , a story everyone here is familiar with I believe.

    -16:45 talk about the game that never was , they specifically talk about the first iteration of the story and how it was overly ambitious and how they had to trim it so that whats left is '' really really good''.

    -24:00 Little chat about the Changing God, the interviewer tried to get some definitive answers on who he is but apparently , despite him being the center of the entire story in each of its iterations, the devs opted to leave all of that highly ambiguous....
    Show Spoiler
    HES WHOEVER YOU WANT HIM TO BE !


    -Somewhere theres a discussion about the endings , but its more about why the interviewer chose the ending he chose and why the devs put in the endings that they put in, rather than something .... well .. interesting or worth discussing.

    -40:33 What is the Sorrow?
    Show Spoiler
    Its not a concept , its not a force of nature, its not a manifestation of a fathers grief , its not organic , its in fact a super advanced program and theres others like it... oh .. and you cant really kill it.


    -42:00 Discussion about companions , both the ones in the game and the ones that were cut out of it. The companion they seem most enthusiastic about is the toy but the reason they cut it is because its too much work as it requires '' custom stuff''. But if the game does '' really really well'' and we're all good boys and girls they might add them into the game as free DLC.

    -52:00 Crafting , it was supposed to be like modding your weapons but you'd also have to suffer different side-effects because numenera react to each other in weird ways.The entire thing was cut because it '' didn't fit the game''

    -55:00 Oasis, cut because they wanted to spend more time fleshing(zing!) out The Bloom and Sagus. As a consolation prize we get a merecaster thats set in Oasis , because a choose your own adventure short story = an entire zone in a video game.

    -59:50 My favorite quotes from the entire thing
    '' ... do we want to make a really long game that people weren't gonna be able to finish or do we want to make one with a lot of depth and reactivity so people can play it again and again''

    '' ... and [people] get to see the result of their choices and hopefully come out of it feeling like this game is the natural result of their choices ,as opposed to being railroaded to - you need to push one of the buttons to get one of the endings''

    -They then proceed to gush about merecasters and how great they are, how combat is terrible and they wanted to do more with it but didn't wanna add filler combat. Theres also a discussion about how the game looks , apparently even more of the game was supposed to be conveyed through descriptors but 6-7 months before release some guy decided to start adding in '' little animations'' , so thank you person whos name I totally forgot , you saved me a lot of eye straining.

    -1:26:50 Would you do anything differently? Short answer: nope!
     
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  9. Make America Great Again Zorba the Huttgender: ⚧ Arcane Weasel

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    Still in "everything is awesome" PR mode. Maybe in a few years more of the real story will emerge.

    Makes me think of the recent Codex Lionheart interview, packed with stuff which would have been (understandably) kept under wraps at the time.
     
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  10. Croluggender: ⚧ Educated

    Crolug
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    Once some guys made a masterpiece in a form of Planescape: Torment. It cannot be done twice, even if the same guys will try to recreate it. It's like in Tenacious D's "Tribute" - they created the best song in the world but never will be able to recreate it ever again. We can safely assume that Torment's greatness happened a bit by accident and won't happen again.

    Besides, there are still far worse things out there than TToN, like Bethesda's games for example... or BioWare's
     
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  11. Darkzonegender: ⚧ Magister

    Darkzone
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    I have a problem with this statement. Not because it is not intelligent, but because i have been there and done that. And now i think different.
    Great artist are always capable to reproduce their genius and have not just one hit, because they understand the art. Mediocre artist may have a one hit, and are not capable to achieve this level again, because it was an accident and they do not understand what made something extraordinary.
    The key to understanding something is analysis and comparison, and a lot of work in them both.
    McComb and Heine both were out of the industy and out of this department for too long, so they lost their skills (don't use it = lose it). Avellone was bound in other things in Obsidian, so the same applies to him too. My question is: what was with Ziets?
     
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  12. Make America Great Again Rogueygender: ⚧ Arcane Sawyerite Sawyerist Sawyer's Bride No Fun Allowed

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    Fucking terrible "post-mortem." Tom Decker released a far more honest post-mortem of Troika's Temple of Elemental Evil two months after release, though I guess that's the problem. Two weeks after release isn't the time to explain the myriad ways your product sucks and how you could have done it better.

    As for
    http://steamcommunity.com/stats/272270/achievements
     
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  13. Serious_Businessgender: ⚧ Best Poster on the Codex

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    Holy shit the merecasters... the pinacle of sophisticated design. Yeah, we're back in the '90 now. Except that original Torment didn't have any of this shit. It had people smelling like shit though - remember Reekwind? I want to be a Dragon when I speak to Reekwind. Whatever, man. The point is, these fucking merecasters, worst part of the game, not even worth the stories of some alley guy who smells like shit. When the first one came up was when I figured the game was boring me without me even knowing it. I'm just slow that way, but there I figured it all out. The whole fucking thing came out of nowhere, it was utterly disconnected from anything I was doing. Essentially I was playing the part of a guy I didn't know... doing something I didn't care about. That is great freedom right there. Then Mitknaka or whoever she is, she's droning on about how emotional she is, how much of a trauma the whole experience was... sure. She lived for centuries, but still kept here empathy for mortals ; but she's a cold-blooded assassin. It's like a paradox, see - she kills but, huh, values life. Yeah, deep dialectic shit right there. What the fuck is even going on. Why do I need to go through another merecaster. Don't make me go through another merecaster. Fuck merecasters man. Fuck em
     
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  14. Make America Great Again Mozggender: ⚧ Arcane

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    Long story short inxile screwed the pooch firing ksaunders.

    U have to read between the lines but it's in every breath
     
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  15. Graukengender: ⚧ Prophet Patron

    Grauken
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    I think we screwed the pooch when we gave them money, inXile is not to be trusted
     
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  16. Fenixgender: ⚧ Arbiter

    Fenix
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    I think he meant not only artistic capabilitis but lucky circumstances.
     
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  17. StaticSpinegender: ⚧ Arcane Patron

    StaticSpine
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    He designed The Bloom. That's the most fun location in the game.
     
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  18. FeelTheRadsgender: ⚧ Arcane Patron

    FeelTheRads
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    Meres are stupid shit. I couldn't give a shit about any of them. Apparently some have influence on some things later in the game. Whatever. I can't understand the hard-on some people get from these. Utterly pointless crap that feel like they were added only to pad the number of words to the required 3 billion and that you can just skip through and lose nothing of value.
     
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  19. Junmarkogender: ⚧ Arcane Patron

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    :nocountryforshitposters:

    [​IMG]
     
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  20. mondblutgender: ⚧ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    mondblut
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    Bullshit. Ability to create Good Shit is a limited and non-renewable resource. What we call "great artists" just had a bit more creative mana points to spend on more than one "hit". It still doesn't regenerate when they sleep, and blue potions don't really help (nor do yellow or transparent, there are persistent rumors about the green variety though, but I believe it to be urban myth).
     
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  21. Lurker Kinggender: ⚧ Self-Ejected The Real Fanboy

    Self-Ejected
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    I think it is a little more complicated than that, because you are talking about a cooperative endeavor with people working on different roles. It’s not a coincidence that great games usually have a great team working harmoniously. You only need to watch the interview with Guido Henkel on Matt Chatt to realize how much different PS:T’s development was. In order to achieve the same level of excellence, you need to recreate the work conditions and have the right people. But that’s the problem. They don’t know how to recreate these conditions and they don’t think they need to recreate these conditions, precisely because they don’t know how to recreate these conditions. It’s Dunning Kruger Effect. And since we are talking about inefficient development practices, do you guys remember how some people here were trying to dismiss the Glassdoor reviews saying that they were too old? Now we have a new one:

    What a mess. We also have a new positive review, but it is entirely devoid of content.

    It seems it was posted there on request, exactly one day after the last negative review.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2017
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  22. Darkzonegender: ⚧ Magister

    Darkzone
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    Success loves preparation, and that is why i included the lucky circumstances in the set of mediocre artists, like the stars constellation and Muses and Apollo touching the artist.
    Do you know why i love so much Leonardo da Vinci? Because a person can observe his thought process through his works. Pablo Picasso is one case, where i do not like his artworks but i like what he did with his artwork: he exposed the art and the artist in painting and sculptures, like a traitor magician. Art is always an expression of the artist and his / her skills and while one hit wonders exist, there are also series of great artworks by one artist.

    Yes i knew this, but i was thinking about, why didn't he steped in and stopped the bad parts? Does he have to much respect towards McComb? Or was he silent because he didn't want to disrupt the team? Nevertheless i think currently that he is the most capable on the team, because of the bloom.
    His input should have the highest value, not only because he has studied and graduaded with a master degree psychologie and film (2001), but also because he was since 2001 uninterrupted in this buissness, in opposite to McComb who left the buisness in 2000 and Heine who raised orphans and played pizza cats.
     
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  23. Zanzokengender: ⚧ Savant

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    It's always a little shocking to me when I hear people say "no regrets". So you didn't learn a fucking thing from this whole experience that you'd like to go back and apply? No mistakes you'd like to fix?

    How about for starters all the content you promised in the Kickstarter that you didn't deliver?

    I wouldn't expect a point-by-point dissection of everything you failed at but it is hubris to pretend everything went perfectly when it clearly didn't.

    Personally I don't see why anyone would trust these guys, especially Fargo. There's very little accountability and they exploit nostalgia in order to pass off their mediocre games as better than what they really are.
     
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  24. Darkzonegender: ⚧ Magister

    Darkzone
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    I know that this is much moor complicated than i have expressed, but i tried to boil it down to the greatest common divisor of one creative asset, and you have expanded it again on the whole team. The Dunning Kruger Effect is quite visible thought out the entire interview.
    Btw. I have always expressed the usefulness of the Glassdoor reviews.
     
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  25. Lurker Kinggender: ⚧ Self-Ejected The Real Fanboy

    Self-Ejected
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    My point is that instead of talking about what makes great artists, we should be talking about what makes great development practices. While we should give credit where credit is due, there is too much arbitrary personality cult in discussions about game design, and this isn’t helpful. Rather than talking about who was what in a given game, we should be talking about who did such and such, and how everything they did matched together in the process. Maybe we don’t focus on this because we don’t have too much access to this information for the most part and have to rely on testimony and postmortems years later. This limitation leads to speculation, gossip and personality cult.
     
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