GameGrin recently spoke to George Ziets about Torment: Tides of Numenera, asking him about his take on the Numenera universe, the area design process, and more.
GameGrin: Who are the team’s favourite characters in Torment?
George: I can’t reveal much about characters beyond the first zone of our game, but team favorites in zone A include Varrenoth, who appears to be a warrior woman but is actually a flesh-and-blood construct, controlled remotely by a little girl, and the nychthemeron, a floating techno-octopus that is being displayed in the middle of Circus Minor. Personally, I’m also a big fan of Imbitu (leader of the Dendra O’hur faction of corpse eaters), the Genocide (last of a warrior-race that tried to conquer Sagus Cliffs), Jernaugh (proprietor of the chiurgical parlor in Cliff’s Edge), and the psychic war veterans in the Fifth Eye tavern.
Note that both Varrenoth and Jernaugh are backer NPCs, though their excellent dialogue was written by Gavin Jurgens-Fyhrie. Our goal with backer NPCs is to fully integrate them into our content so that players will never know the difference between backer-created characters and those we created ourselves.
One of my favorite characters from later in the game is our Numenera version of a pez dispenser, but you’ll have to play the game to find out what I mean.
GameGrin: Your game relies greatly on telling stories, situations and events through written text. What do you consider to be the best and worst assets in doing so, and what are your aims with it?
George: This was a conscious attempt to follow the example of Planescape: Torment, which pushed the limits of what could be done in written text. For us, the best part is that our writers aren’t limited to what we can afford to portray through animations, unique models, and visual effects. They’re allowed to describe characters in far greater detail than our character assets depict, portray physical action in descriptive text, and even kill characters in dialogue. (We do impose some limits. Any action that can’t be performed while standing still – e.g., walking to another location – is typically animated in a cutscene. And our art director, Charlie Bloomer, is pushing hard to include as many custom animations and visual effects that he and his team can generate to support our narrative text.)
Of course, it takes a certain kind of player to accompany us on a journey that requires so much reading. We are catering to a niche audience that loves this sort of thing as much as we do. Fortunately, there were enough of these players to fund our game, and our goal is to give them more of the same kind of experience they had in the original Torment.
GameGrin: When not playing Torment, what other games are played at InXile’s offices?
George: We have an ongoing tabletop D&D campaign (3.5 edition), hosted by programmer and sometimes designer Ben Moise. In less busy times, we also have a board gaming group with a few members who play very consistently and others who drop in and out. One recent game was a full campaign of Pandemic Legacy – everyone who played seemed to love it. Other frequent games are WizWar and The Resistance: Avalon.