Torment: Tides Of Numenera Recedes Till Late 2015

By Graham Smith on June 16th, 2014 at 4:00 pm.

Concept art. Very concepty.

Torment: Tides of Numenera aims to be a spiritual successor to Planescape: Torment, but it seems producing vastly complex, non-linear RPGs is a difficult task. Following the success of Wasteland 2, inXile’s other Kickstarted game, Tides of Numenera has swapped its previous ‘early 2015′ release date for a revised ‘late 2015′. In a lengthy post at the Torment blog, the team have offered update on the game’s current development.

The short version is that Wasteland 2′s success in Early Access meant the team had more time to continue working on it. That meant that the Torment team similarly had more time in pre-production, to tinker with ideas and test their designs, but also consequently have yet to begin full production on the game. With Wasteland 2 launching for realsies this August, more of the team are beginning to move over to working on Torment.

The slightly longer version:

For the last while, we’ve been in what I’ve called a “limited production” mode. During this phase, the emphasis has been on proving out our design and pipelines (i.e,. how exactly we get anything from being an idea to being fully implemented in the game). This is typical for preproduction, but the distinction I’d make is that we’ve been creating actual game content, which is unusual in the industry. During this time, we’ve had relatively few people creating content and have been allowed time to experiment and iterate, prioritizing getting things figured out over getting things done. This leads to greater productivity, fewer mistakes, and ultimately a better game. This goal is generally somewhat at odds with completing feature X by date Y, which is typically what you do during production to ensure that the game can be completed to the quality desired given the time and/or resources you have available.

The full version is thousands of words long and written by multiple members of the development team, but it’s worth a read for a glimpse of how these games get made.

Torment: Tides of Numenera was part of the first wave of Kickstarters in early 2013, gathering $4.1 million against a goal of $900,000. That amount was gathered mostly on the strength of Planescape: Torment’s good name, and RPS has sung its praises many time. Here’s Kieron’s retrospective from back in the pre-history.

The new Torment trades Planescape and D&D for Monte Cook’s Numenera, which is set on Earth one billion years in the future. Multiple civilizations and species have risen and fallen during that period, creating a science-fiction-fantasy world with a deep history, where the lines between technology and magic begin to blur. I’m two sessions into a pen-and-paper campaign with it and exploring it just a little has made me ten times more excited for whatever inXile are making. Late 2015 is a long time away – and I’d imagine there’s a chance it could slip again – but it’s going to be fun to watch it develop.

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43 Comments »

  1. MrMetlHed says:

    *shrug*

    Rather they take their time and do it right.

  2. karthink says:

    1. There’s no way this is coming out before summer 2016. I’m guessing it might go into early access by late 2015.

    2. Planescape: Torment also had an unusually long pre-production phase. Avellone says this was because Interplay forgot about a small team working on this for months. This went well for PS:T.

    3. I wish I had folks around to delve into Numenera with. Having read The Book Of The New Sun, the setting is endlessly fascinating to me now.

    • Infinitron says:

      1) Oh really?

      Wasteland 2 comes out in August. Torment went into production a year after Wasteland 2. Do the math.

      • karthink says:

        Wasteland was well into production at this time in its development. Torment is still wrapping up pre-prod.

        Wasteland used or modified existing assets from the Unity store. Torment will be all hand drawn. A better comparison here is Project Eternity.

        What’s with the condescending tone, though? I wasn’t complaining or mocking. I’m as eager for this game to come out as you. (Assuming you’re Infinitron from RPGCodex.)

      • SillyWizard says:

        I don’t think that’s really math….

  3. Anthile says:

    Fetch me the cryo chamber.

  4. bv728 says:

    I wouldn’t say that Numenera has a deep history – up until the current age, almost all of the history is deliberately left empty. It’s got a vast gulf, sure, which is kind of designed for the GM to fill in, but nothing concrete and not a lot of explicit hints as to what is going on.

  5. Keyrock says:

    No surprise. I fully expect every single Kickstarter project I’ve backed (and I’ve backed many… too many) to get delayed. So far those expectations have come true.

    However long it takes to get it right, short of Duke Nukem Forever or The Last Guardian territory, is okay with me.

    • Soleyu says:

      Why did you have to bring the Last guardian into it?! Now you made me sad you bastard!

      But really, I am still waiting for that game and I hope, really hope that it’s not cancelled like the rumor said.

  6. Dawngreeter says:

    I was excited for the Numenera RPG. Then I tried playing it. It is absolutely dreadful. I mean, borderline unplayable. I don’t know who all these people who sing praises to Numenera are, but they are aparently this weird faction of D&D gamers who finally realized D&D is bad, but then decided that a good RPG is the one where the system doesn’t define anything really.

    We have literally decades of hands-on knowledge about tabletop RPG mechanics and Numenera becomes a new thing people like. It’s a sad, sad thing. Sadder still that Monte Cook apparently doesn’t know anything about RPGs outside of D&D.

    Hopefully the computer game will, by necessity, have to step in and create something functional.

    • damoqles says:

      After reading the core book I realized that I love, love, love the concept, but the simple (which I like), yet strangely still very D&D-ish (which I despise) mechanics/game design and the unnecessarily pseudo-medieval high fantasy style setting just doesn’t fit the image I’ve had in my mind when I first heard about Numenera. However, I still have huge hopes for Torment because the mechanics will be hidden under its videogamey hood, and I’m quite confident that inXile’s good people will be able to write more interesting setting bits, characters, mood and theme than anything in the actual RPG book (anything detailed; because there ARE some absolutely awesome things hinted at, which is why I was disappointed in the fact that the actual detailed stuff is mostly nothing too exciting).

      Anyhow, TTON is the crpg I am most agog about by far.

      • dethtoll says:

        Tabletop games should just all be SPECIAL. I’d play them then.

        • damoqles says:

          God no. SPECIAL is good n’ everything, but I prefer different systems for different purposes.

          • dethtoll says:

            I was being facetious, but it illustrates why trying to translate tabletop systems IMO don’t work for video games. (Which is why games like Planescape and whatnot were nigh-unplayable.)

            The same principle in theory works the other around. I doubt SPECIAL could translate without a bit of work, but then again it’s probably easier to translate FROM video games than TO.

          • Dawngreeter says:

            I’ve seen it tried, and SPECIAL actually works in tabletop pretty well, when taken without any modifications at all. It’s not the best choice for a tabletop RPG, mind you, but it actually does work.

          • dethtoll says:

            Interesting to know!

          • malkav11 says:

            I feel that the crunchier the game system, the less suited it is to tabletop play and the better it works as a computer system where they can make the computer do a lot of the work. I love the D&D games that adapt D&D’s (occasionally bonkers) mechanics particularly Temple of Elemental Evil and NWN2, which are the most faithful to the most sane edition of D&D (3/3.5 – 4 looks well suited to computer adaptation but no one’s actually bothered). I don’t actually like playing D&D.

            Conversely, a system that I adore to pieces, Apocalypse World, would be impossible to implement meaningfully as a computer system because the mechanical bits are purely a way of pushing the improvised narrative in certain directions based on character abilities and dice rolls and what they actually mean in practice is 100% down to the human beings at the table.

      • Emeraude says:

        @dethtoll

        One pet theory of mine is that most stated rules in pnp RPGs are actually part of the fluff. Most of the actual rules of the game being played are for the most part left unexpressed.

        Which is why they generally fail in video game forms.

        • Dawngreeter says:

          Well, the most significant part of a tabletop RPG is the social contract. In most cases, the participants are unaware of its significance or even its existence and so, yes, it passes unexpressed. And that’s what truly drives the game. Not the combat system or the skill/attribute/trait/whatever spread, but the agreement that these are the things that we can do and those are the things that are outside of our scope. Sometimes you find players who can’t work with your group, and that’s because they assume a different social contract. In truth, they are playing a different game.

          On the other hand, you might run into an actual RPG geek or three. And you’ll all know that you know about your social contract. And sometimes someone will ask if the “player suggestion” is allowed and to what extent. Or maybe someone will want to spell out some of the genre conventions explicitly so that they know when their risky, outlandish character is such within the game narrative only and not in actual player interaction. But the game mechanic is still mechanic so I wouldn’t really agree with the fluff part of the comment. It is the toolset you have for implementing said social contract. Some tools are better than others at implementing certain contracts, and others still are better at implementing one and the same contract into different genres.

          And that’s why “RP” in context of, say, a fantasy themepark MMO makes my skin crawl. You don’t have the tools to implement not only your preferred social contract but, really, any kind of social contract. It’s not a game you’re playing when you choose to RP in WoW, it’s make-believe and personal fantasy which you can only hope doesn’t clash with anyone else’s (hint: it does, always; even swingers have to define basic rules in their interactions and your tab-autoattack, spacebar-to-jump interface is quite hopelessly behind their arsenal).

          • Emeraude says:

            Two things:
            - I tend to find that actually articulating the social contract past certain unmovable points tends to have a negative influence on the playing – the less defined and more fluid it is the better as far as I’m concerned (though that may just have to do with me DMing in clubs and thus having to do with constantly changing crowds with varying needs/wants).
            - Rules are part of the fluff in the sens that they work in defining said social contract in non-directly transitive ways (a game that uses verbs is going to be about the potential of action of the players; a game that uses XP is going to have progression and power as base defining elements; a game that uses triggers is going to be about situational crafting; the very list of base verbs sets the framework among wherein play is going to take place; etc…).

          • JamesTheNumberless says:

            Superbly said and I don’t think anyone has quite so well defined why, once I got to the level where forming groups becomes necessary, I stopped playing Wow. MMOs are a step backwards from MUDs when it comes to roleplaying.

            However, I should probably be disqualified for commenting on roleplaying since I’m one of those people who still loves the AD&D 2nd edition rules. I have the Numenera core book, but only because I backed this game :)

    • InternetBatman says:

      I haven’t tried Numenera, but as systems go, I really like d6. It’s fast, lightweight, and fairly extensible.

      • Dawngreeter says:

        Haven’t actually used it, but from what I recall it was a dice pool system, right? Dice pool systems generally work quite well, I think. They usually need at least one additional layer of game mechanics to actually make them work for a given theme but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

    • Cinek says:

      +1 Dawngreeter

    • Arglebargle says:

      D&D rules created a new generation of game designers: They were so poorly articulated that everyone pretty much had to add/adapt/refine the mechanisms. Unfortunately, the D&D rules sets tended to carry over various iterations of fossilized problems from previous generations.

  7. shadowmarth says:

    I just picked up the Thunderstone Numenara set, so I am now actually aware that this is a thing. Hope it’s great.

  8. PopeRatzo says:

    Following the success of Wasteland 2, inXile’s other Kickstarted game, Tides of Numenera has swapped its previous ‘early 2015′ release date for a revised ‘late 2015′.

    Following the “success” of a game that hasn’t been released yet, a company announces that a game that will never be completed will now be completed even later.

    Welcome to the brave new world of kickstarter and “early access”.

    And by the way, you are not allowed to disagree with my opinion because it’s only in alpha. I expect to have this comment completed in Q4, 2014 or maybe Q5 2015.

    • veryalien says:

      This is completely true.

      The sad part is neither the coverage nor the updates from these companies try to come clean and tell people they’re screwing up their timelines. Instead a game that has not been released yet is simply assumed to be awesome and a game that hasn’t even entered production properly is assumed to be awesome as well.

      Brave new world, indeed.

    • kfix says:

      I have been following your interesting series of complaints for some time, from their whiny pointless beginnings to the current nuanced and somewhat humorous state. I see promise in your approach, but I recognize that there seems little chance that your somewhat niche approach will be picked up by a major complaint distributor to be polished and brought to a wider audience.

      If only there was a way I could contribute, to help you gather funds to complete your work without sacrificing your vision to a corporate homogeny.

    • P.Funk says:

      Things were so much better when Torment games were being made by AAA publi… oh right.

      Hmm, the brave new world of Kickstarter and early access. How terrible a thing to see games being attempted that would have died in their cribs. So much better that the gaming consumer put his money into a microtransaction store than into funding projects he’d like to see exist for the sake of existence.

      Alack the day. We live in dark times.

  9. Cinek says:

    They should rename this game and get rid of “Torment” in a title which implies this game will have anything to deal with Planescape: Torment, while in fact: it won’t. It’ll be just a generic isometric turn-based RPG. I’ll play it anyway, cause in last years isometric RPGs were a rarity, but fooling people into thinking that it’ll be a modern-day Planescape is rather annoying.

    • Volcanu says:

      That’s a little unfair isnt it? The game is aiming to be a spiritual successor to PST and from what I can tell will share similar themes, aswell as being a similar ‘experience’ to play. Added to that Chris Avellone is involved with it – so I think it has a right to use the word ‘Torment’ in the title.

      Surely the whole premise of the kickstarter was to deliver a modern day PST?

      • Ieolus says:

        Even if they pull off a “spiritual successor” to PS:T, any sequel will just devolve into trying to get the Call of Duty crowd and ruin the franchise going forward.

        Oh sorry, wrong spiritual successor RPG.

  10. Polifemo says:

    Sci-fi? I always thought this game was suposed yo be set on the Planescape setting or maybe Im confusing it with another kickstarter.
    I always thought Numenera was within Planescape and not a sci-fi setting.

    Thats what I get for not doing any research beyond mild interest, I guess.

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