Infinity Engine 2.0: Torment To Use Eternity Tech

By Nathan Grayson on February 10th, 2014 at 8:00 am.

They say that history often repeats itself. People feud endlessly over similar issues, trends ebb and flow, and you already are your parents (THERE IS NO ESCAPING IT SEARCH YOUR FEELINGS YOU KNOW IT TO BE TRUE). But it’s not all bad. Sometimes, for instance, classic game genres are reborn in glorious blazes of phoenix-like beauty, and you’re like take that dad you had to play Dungeons and Dragons with pens and paper I’m totally different please let me be different. And so, as it was in the days when games like Baldur’s Gate and Planescape Torment swapped genetic material, so too shall it be soonish with Pillars of Eternity and Torment: Tides of Numenera. Torment will borrow Eternity’s gorgeous engine tech, allowing for hyper-detailed backgrounds that ooze and skitter with intoxicating weirdness.

Developer inXile made the announcement in a new development progress update:

“Lately we’ve had increased emphasis on developing Torment’s aesthetics and environments. To that end, we have some news related to our environment art: late last March, we announced that we’d be collaborating with Obsidian Entertainment on technology. This primarily meant their conversation editing tools. I’m happy to say that we’ve taken things a step further and recently reached an agreement to license Obsidian’s technology for Pillars of Eternity to use in Torment.”

“What are the practical implications of our licensing PE technology? It provides us with a stronger starting point for certain game systems and pipelines, including the creation of the 2D pre-rendered environments (we’re working on having something to show you in the coming weeks). This means we will have more resources to invest on other aspects of the game, allowing us to achieve a higher quality overall.”

Exciting! Pillars of Eternity is looking like a relic of the past coated in modern flesh – less what games like Baldur’s Gate and Planescape Torment actually looked like and more how we remember them while wearing our most rose-tinted glasses. It is, in other words, very attractive. Here’s hoping inXile can mold the engine into something similarly fitting for Torment’s not-so-tidy shores.

For the moment, inXile is still largely dedicating its resources to polishing off Wasteland 2, but Torment’s development will kick into high gear the second its post-apocalyptic stablemate crosses the finish line. I doubt it’ll make its originally proposed December 2014 release date, but if you ask me inXile can take all the time they want. Planescape was a magical experience, and you don’t replicate that by rushing.

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71 Comments »

  1. rustybroomhandle says:

    I suspect that if you see the world through actual rose-tinted glasses, most things would just be a disgusting fleshy pink hue.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      I don’t know – Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s movies have a rose tinted thing going on, both metaphorically and literally and they look just fine!

      • SominiTheCommenter says:

        More than fine!

      • Emeraude says:

        I haven’t seen his more recent movies, but from his earlier work I trend to associate the man more with yellow/green hues.

    • Taidan says:

      I went through a phase back in the mid-90′s… Very hard to go back to not wearing them afterwards. The world looks ugly and grey without them.

      • Ergates_Antius says:

        But then you take them off again and everything looks green for a bit. Which is nice.

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      Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      I look at the world through urine-coloured glasses. It helps to keep an appropriate level of bile and bitterness going.

  2. Mindfreak4563 says:

    I need this right now.

  3. MrNash says:

    Man, so many RPGs coming out this year that I want to play. Not sure how I’m going to find time for all of them, but I’m up to the challenge! =D

    • Zekiel says:

      Don’t worry – fortunately this one is extremely unlikely to come out this year! Hurrah!

      I wouldn’t put money on Pillars of Eternity in 2014 either.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Okami says:

    Whenever I get a bit excited about Torment, I remember Hunted: The Demon’s Boobs and become depressed.

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      Lars Westergren says:

      That was a fairly long time ago, and with different publisher, main platform, and target audience. Wasteland 2 is probably a better comparison, before you decide whether to be excited or wary.

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        Okami says:

        I know I’m being a bit unfair here, it’s just that I actually got Hunted in a Steam sale no too long ago. I approached it with an open mind, but… Oh my god!

        Anyway, I already backed Torment, so…

      • frightlever says:

        InXile have never made a really great game. Pointing to Wasteland 2, which is unreleased, doesn’t really help. Hey, I like RPGs and hope both their projects turn out great, but that would be more of a happy surprise than a guarantee at this point.

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          welverin says:

          It doesn’t help right now, but for someone unsure about Torment it does help, since it will be released first and they’ll then have a good idea whether inXile is capable of pulling off the retro rpg thing.

    • Artea says:

      Yeah, I hope Numenera turns out for the best, but I just can’t believe that a company known for such classics like Hunted: The Demon’s Forge, Baby Pals and Choplifter HD can turn things around so easily.

      I also found it a bit disingenuous that the Kickstarter pitches for both Wasteland 2 and Numenera linked InXile to the Black Isle-produced Fallout and Planescape: Torment. When in actuality, nobody at InXile had anything to do with those games, except for Fargo, who published them but wasn’t involved in their design or content either.

      • WrenBoy says:

        When in actuality, nobody at InXile had anything to do with those games, except for Fargo, who published them but wasn’t involved in their design or content either.

        *Ahem*

        In 1996, McComb left TSR to take a job at Interplay Entertainment’s roleplaying division, later called Black Isle Studios. While there, he had a small role in the design of Fallout 2 and a far more significant role in the design of Planescape: Torment.[4][5]

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colin_McComb

        • Artea says:

          McComb doesn’t work at InXile though, he was brought on specifically for Numenera. He was also responsible for the worst parts of both those games (San Francisco/Broken Hills, Curst/Carceri), so I can’t say him working on Numenera fills me with optimism.

          • WrenBoy says:

            McComb doesn’t work at InXile though, he was brought on specifically for Numenera.

            *Ahem*

            On August 10, 2012, it was announced that McComb joined Wasteland 2 team as writer, reuniting with his Planescape cohorts once again.[6]

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colin_McComb

      • zain3000 says:

        *Ahem* x2

        Black Isle’s celebrated Fallout, which took some inspiration from Wasteland but was unique in its own right, was a personal project of Fargo, who served as its executive producer and was involved in setting the tone and sensibilities of the game.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Fargo” rel

        • Artea says:

          Sounds like a roundabout way of saying he published the Fallout games. He isn’t mentioned in the credits for either of the games, by the way.

  5. Brinx says:

    Is this even news? I’m pretty sure that inxile and obsidian cooperating heavily in regards to technical and engine issues was even part of the original kickstarter pitch. Or am I confusing something?

    Anyway, PoE looks amazing so this is still awesome.

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      Martel says:

      I think it’s more of them saying that they had announced some sharing/integration, but that it’s working well for them so they’re going all in on engine pieces too.

  6. Premium User Badge

    Lars Westergren says:

    > I doubt it’ll make its originally proposed December 2014 release date

    I think they’ve already said it will be “sometime 2015″.

    So, who else is excited for Obsidian’s March Kickstarter reveal? I’ve already started saving up.

    • PegasusOrgans says:

      Absolutely! I backed all the games being referenced so I’m all for this! I have a massive backlog, tho, so I shouldn’t… but the late 90′s games rocked my world after the ho-hum RPGs of the early to mid 90′s… I’m old.

  7. WrenBoy says:

    @Nathan Grayson

    less what games like Baldur’s Gate and Planescape Torment actually looked like and more how we remember them while wearing our most rose-tinted glasses.

    Of course in the comments under the Impressions article linked immediately after this sentence you will see a devilishly handsome commenter making a similar remark.

    Its weird looking at it now actually. It looks the way I remember Baldurs Gate looking as opposed to how Baldurs Gate actually looks.

    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2013/12/10/mega-impressions-obsidians-pillars-of-eternity/#comment-1402668

    I tried to resist as its unreasonable to imagine I was alone in thinking that. But I failed. I am weak.

    • Volcanu says:

      Yep it’s funny the way the mind works. Going back can give you a nasty shock. I recently purchased Commandos 2 off GOG, and I remembered it having beautiful, richly coloured, sharp, isometric maps.

      I was a bit taken aback by how much rougher and blurry everything was, not to mention a UI much clunkier than I recalled. It was still good fun for a few hours but part of me wishes I’d left well alone.

      • CaidKean says:

        I’m not sure I agree, Commandos 2 still looks good in my opinion. Just as sharp, detailed and colourful as I recall it ever being.

        http://www.mobygames.com/game/windows/commandos-2-men-of-courage/screenshots/gameShotId,64898/

        Of course, if you’re talking about the 3D environment sections in it that’s a different story.

        • Volcanu says:

          Yeah I was more referring to the 3d interiors, which to be honest I’d forgotten about, and now look rather horrible. My post probably sounded a little harsh, as zoomed out the outdoor maps are still quite attractive. Especially the pacific theatre ones, like the one you’ve posted.

          I have a huge soft spot for lush, isometric, handdrawn style backdrops. It’s one of the reasons that stuff like BG holds up so much better than NWN (even allowing for the rose tinted glasses effect).

    • Deano2099 says:

      I dunno, if anything, with the hi-res patch BG and especially PST look even more glorious than I remember them looking. The painted art was always going to stand-up to modern scrutiny, all it needs is the high res patch so you can see more of it at once to fit today’s bigger and higher res screens.

  8. Werthead says:

    Didn’t NUMENERA move its release date back way into 2015 quite early on?

    On a similar note, PILLARS OF ETERNITY just moved its release date back into the second half of this year. I think everyone was expecting that, but there was an interesting bit of info to come out of that: apparently you can’t change the release date on Kickstarter. Once it’s posted, it’s locked, so when you get four times as much money so can make a much bigger game (as happened to Obsidian), they can’t change the release date on KS itself and have to do it later on themselves. That seems a bit inefficient.

    • Munin says:

      They didn’t just move it back; it was announced a while back. The slacker-backer page has been saying Q4 since well before Christmas.

      If Eternity were to slip into 2015 then that would be news.

    • Deano2099 says:

      True, though the listing is always for an estimated delivery date, not a final one

  9. manny says:

    Meanwhile Wasteland 2 looks like crap. They should have done this from the start.

    • WrenBoy says:

      They would have needed a time machine to do that. It shouldnt be surprising that graphics quality improves over time as development teams start getting used to the technologies, such as Unity, that they are using.

      It seems like everyone has always been using Unity for projects like this now but when inXile originally announced they would be using Unity for Wasteland 2, it was necessary for them to stress that it wouldnt be a browser based game.

      http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012/05/14/not-the-end-of-the-world-wasteland-isnt-browser-based/

    • PegasusOrgans says:

      Being an RPG fan before the “RPGs must be triple A graphics fests” point in history, Wasteland 2 looks great! Sure, it’s not pushing anyones computer to its max, but RPGs used to never do that. They used to be cerebral, they used to be about thinking for those of us that like to use our mind and arent obsessed with the latest graphics and twitch actiony gaming. That’s the market the KS was aiming for, and it is delivering on that promise. Give me a Wasteland 2 or Pillars of Eternity over a Dragon’s Age or Mass Effect ANY DAY.

  10. manny says:

    Also Pillars of Eternity uses the Unity engine, so I’m not sure what engine tech they are referring to.

    • DrMcCoy says:

      The one that lets them do this here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUleDEFkUtE
      Note that this is a 2D backdrop (+ depth information that lets them apply the lighting effect to the backdrop).

      Unity “just” provides the general graphics capabilities, sound, input, resource management and the like. Their full-fledged game engine does more, ontop of Unity. Like the lighting on 2D background above, knowing what a character is, what an inventory is, etc.

    • Keyrock says:

      A game engine like Unity is very rarely the only thing you use to make a game. There are a variety of tools used along with the engine to create assets, scripts, etc. Sometimes these tools are created from scratch, sometimes, as in this case, they are licensed from other companies.

    • Tacroy says:

      As far as engines go Unity doesn’t get much further than keeping track of a bunch of models, putting things on the screen and a bit of basic physics; anything more complicated than that – particularly if you wanted a 2D game in early 2013 – needs bespoke work. That’s what the InXile team are borrowing from Obsidian.

      Fun fact though – the InXile offices are about 15 minutes away from the Obsidian offices: http://goo.gl/v2tMDg
      And Obsidian is literally walking distance from Blizzard.

  11. Munin says:

    Good move I’d say. Obsidian seem to have made a good job of their engine and it’s always better not to re-invent the wheel. It’d be funny if once again the Torment successor and the BG(ish) successor look like each others twisted siblings.

  12. Golden Pantaloons says:

    I wish Obsidian had picked up the Torment license instead. Yes, their games tend to be broken but in my humble opinion, they are the only active larger-ish developer whose writers aren’t complete hacks. I have re-played Fallout: NV over and over again mainly for the dialogue and story. Fallout 3 got stale halfway through the second time and I haven’t touched it since. Mechanics- and graphics-wise, they’re pretty much the same game. In terms of mood and dialogue, worlds apart.

    • Keyrock says:

      Bethesda aren’t exactly known for their narrative prowess.

    • Werthead says:

      When Black Isle broke up, it seems that the team basically went in three different directions and founded three different teams: Obsidian, inXile and Troika (massively simplified for clarity). Troika later folded and a few of the guys there ended up at Obsidian. So there are people at both companies who worked on the original PLANESCAPE: TORMENT: Chris Avellone at Obsidian and Colin McComb at inXile (and a whole bunch of others at both companies). With Avellone helping out on Torment and Monte Cooke (who co-created the PLANESCAPE setting and more recently the NUMENERA one) providing assistance, I’d say NUMENERA is looking pretty good and has a good pedigree of staff on it.

      The only problem at the moment is that inXile have shipped a number of workmanlike games, but nothing classic or outstanding. There’s no reason they shouldn’t, with the number of ex-Interplay and ex-Black Isle personnel on board, but until they deliver a great game that doubt will always be there. That’s why I think their reputation is riding on WASTELAND 2. If it’s not good, they’ll struggle to get funding for their next Kickstarter project (which will probably not be too long after WL2 ships). However, those designers cut their teeth on RPGs and to date inXile haven’t released a proper RPG, so arguably they’ve not been employing their skills in the best way. We’ll soon see if they’ve still got it with WL2.

      • Artea says:

        InXile doesn’t actually have any employees who worked at Black Isle, which is probably why they spent the last decade mostly making iPhone games. Brian Fargo left Interplay and formed InXile before Black Isle dissolved. After that, most of the Black Isle guys landed at Blizzard, Troika (RIP) or Obsidian. Torment was also mostly Avellone’s work.

        • Werthead says:

          Avellone was the creative force behind the game and wrote a lot of it, but McComb did a lot of work as well (apparently the second-largest amount behind Avellone).

          Also, inXile have Fargo and McComb working for them, who very much both did work for Black Isle (well, McComb worked for Black Isle, Fargo was in charge of the whole thing).

        • manny says:

          Well Troika made Arcanum an RPG, then became bankrupt. So seems to me Inxile has been just purely surviving as game developers, and were unwilling to risk it all on a RPG.

    • PegasusOrgans says:

      Personally, I’m happy with the direction of Wasteland 2, so I have complete confidence in Torment.

  13. Keyrock says:

    I love seeing cooperation between InXile and Obsidian like this. This is about as close to Interplay and Black Isle 2.0 as we’re going to get. I hope it continues.

    • Werthead says:

      IIRC, the guys at inXile and Obsidian were jointly interviewed last year and said a merger of the two companies at some future point (to create SuperInterplayReborn) was actually not impossible, but not something on the cards at the moment.

  14. pullthewires says:

    Missed opportunity to make the Torment sequel a point and click like the original should really have been.

  15. Premium User Badge

    JamesTheNumberless says:

    Surely somebody can come up with a catchy rhyme about Obsidian and inExile sitting in a tree.

  16. RProxyOnly says:

    Fuck this game.

    They raked in millons and they’re still not creating their own engine.

    I’m so glad I dumped this project. Inexile are only looking to the immediate future, they aren’t planning, they think they can just come back to kickstarter when this is one.

    Kickstarter is just that “STARTER”.. its not a fucking ongoing slush fund…The money we give them should be building their business, especially when they are getting millions per project.. now they are just giving the money away to their mates so they can use some of their stuff? But thy aren’t building assets for their business, they are building individual projects with an eye on perpetual public funding… JUST FUCKING NO!!!

    No.. If I was still backing this I would be SO FUCKING LOUD over this matter.. that money should be building their own assets, not being fucking used to rent someone else’s…

    It’s same thing for games that are now appearing on KS for the consoles.. I mean REALLY?? FUCK OFF, having the public pay your console licencing fees too

    Inexile will never get a fucking penny from me of this is the shit they are trying to pull.

    • jonc83 says:

      Such profanity laden nonsense. What would your mother think?

      You might not agree with the decision to license Obsidian’s tech and that is your right. As you said, you aren’t a backer so your opinion is perhaps less important to inXile.

      These projects are not “publicly” funded; they are *backer* funded. We chose to support inXile to do this, and I for one am happy they are saving money on tech and instead using it for more content. If Wasteland 2 and Torment are good, you can betr I’ll be backing inXile’s next project too.

      We also differ in how we see kickstarter. I view it as a mechanism to bring projects I like the look of to life when publishers won’t. You obviously see it as a business development tool. Without sounding too arrogant I think my opinion sits with the majority on this.

      Regardless of the difference in opinions you might find that stating a clear articulate view gets you further in life than spewing profanity filled abuse.

    • Kinth says:

      I would suspect they are working from experience with Wasteland 2. Where they worked from the ground up in Unity. In the end it means more content for the user since less time and money is wasted creating an engine.

      Also since when has Kickstarter been for only starting business? You have a very warped view of what Kickstarter is. If it was only for building assets and starting out then Double Fine, InXile and Obsidian would have never of been funded. They are all well established Development studios.

      The Idea of Kickstarter (in terms of gaming) is to simply fund development of games you would like to see made. These games don’t have to go through publishers so don’t get changed to try and appeal to some mythical “mass market” also people who back get the game cheaper (in most cases). If you don’t like the idea put forth then just don’t back it. Don’t then bitch because others backed something they would like to see made. In essence we become the publisher, we decide what games get made by simply paying up front for them at a cheaper price. If the game is terrible then people probably wont back their next project.

      They never claimed they would make their own engine for the game, they only said it would be developed in Unity (which is what the Pillars of Eternity engine is made in). Building a game engine is extremely costly and time consuming. It’s not something you can really afford to do on such a small budget (and yes $4 million is very small by gaming industry standards). Hence why many, many developers get licenses for engines such as the Unreal Engine.

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      JamesTheNumberless says:

      Yes that’s how all the best games are developed, writing an engine that does what every other engine does and slap a game on top of it with the remaining time and money (if any). That’s exactly what I want them to do with my pledge because everyone knows that no good games were ever made with existing tech.

      Furthermore, unless you’re making your own engine it costs virtually nothing to make a game, how true. I can’t imagine why they need money at all if not to make an engine! Thank goodness someone here has a keen enough grasp of game development to tell it like it is.

    • Low Life says:

      Ok, I have no idea what I just read. I’m quite baffled.

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  18. Kinth says:

    Isn’t this game aimed for Dec 2014 release?

    It’s a bit alarming that they have only just picked the engine they are going to use. I guess we should expect quite a substantial delay.

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      JamesTheNumberless says:

      I honestly think they’ve approached it the right way around for a story driven RPG like this. Everything else first and implementation last so that they have a good idea of what the engine needs to provide and the impact of further iteration on design is somewhat mitigated (although major redesign can still happen :) ) . But I do agree that December looks optimistic. They also now have the advantage that we’ve seen plenty of teasers of the engine from Obsidian – which makes up for the relative lack of shiny things InExile have shown us themselves.

    • Werthead says:

      No, and not for almost a year. It’s been a 2015 release for quite some time.

      http://www.joystiq.com/2013/04/02/torment-tides-of-numenera-delayed-a-few-months-beyond-dec-2014/