tl;dr: Our last big update before release is here!
Hot on the heels of our release date announcement (it's February 28th, 2017 in case you missed it!), we're pleased to announce our last big beta update for the Steam Early Access version of Torment on Windows before the final game is out. In celebration of this last stretch towards release, we're calling it the Tidal Surge Update!
We know many of you have been waiting for this update, and now we're very happy to be able to deliver a much-improved version of Torment for you to enjoy. Like previous builds, this one will allow you to play the game's first major chunk, taking you through Sagus Cliffs and some parts of the Castoff's Labyrinth – the remaining content will come with the final game, as we don't want to spoil everything, after all!
The Tidal Surge Update includes literally thousands of changes from the last version. There's simply far too many to show you as we'd probably start to approach the word count of the entire game just in version notes, but the highlight features are:
Voice-acting has been added to key characters and conversations.
Huge balance improvements across combat, loot and economy.
Tweaks and adjustments to character stats, such as armor and resistances.
Many interface art and functionality improvements, fixes and other refinements.
Improvements to visual and sound effects, especially combat abilities.
Reworked early-game crisis flow.
Game settings such as key rebinding and text size are now available.
Added tutorials and other helpers (optional).
Hundreds of bug fixes and performance optimizations.
For a list of known issues with this build, please see this thread.
We still have a bit of time left on the game, so we encourage you to check out our forums and let us know of any bugs or issues you run into, as well as for your general feedback!
We also have a few bits of news to share as we near the end of 2016. First up, creative lead Colin McComb held a live Q&A session from Techland's offices in Poland. You can watch the full stream here, where he answered as many questions as we could fit in!
Next, you might remember a couple of updates ago we showed you our trailers for the Glaive and Nano types. The final one, for the Jack, is now available, and you can view it right here to complete the trio.
Last, we wanted to let you know that inXile CEO Brian Fargo will appear on Unlocked: The World of Games, Revealed, a new documentary series that dives deep into the world of gaming's biggest icons, celebrities, consumers and experts across all fields. You can see a teaser featuring Brian above, and if you are interested, you can take a closer look at the show over here.
Today's update is a little on the short side, but I think you'll forgive us this time…
We are extremely excited to announce that Torment: Tides of Numenera will be releasing February 28th, 2017! It has been a long journey, and without your help on Kickstarter it would never have happened. We could not be happier to be delivering a successor to the Torment name and legacy, and we look forward to you enjoying it early next year.
When the game releases, those of you who already have your Steam keys redeemed for the beta version of the game will auto-update to the final build, and those of you who are planning to enjoy the game DRM-free from GOG will be able to as soon as that version is ready. We will also make a key exchange option available around that time for those of you who want to deactivate your Steam key and switch to GOG. At that point, most of the remaining digital rewards will also be made available to you.
For those of you with physical goods, we'll be prompting you to confirm your final shipping information in the near future. We do not have an exact shipping timeline for those goods just yet, but Techland is hard at work getting them ready for you as soon as possible. Please be sure to keep us advised of any changes by updating your shipping details on the Torment backer web site!
Rest assured that while we have our release date, that doesn't mean our work is quite done yet. We'll be using our remaining time to polish the game for you up to the last possible moment. And of course, once we get closer to release we'll have more news to share with you as well.
tl;dr: Torment in the home stretch, new novellas released for backers, and new Type trailers to watch.
Eric Daily here! I'm the producer on Torment, coordinating the team and managing day-to-day affairs. I've been around since the Wasteland 2 days, but they have now decided to let me out of my cage in time for Thanksgiving so I can bring you an update on where we're at!
But first, we have a new series of trailers rolling out from Techland, which show off our character types/classes (minor spoilers for locations and abilities). Here's the Nano:
The final video in the series will be coming soon. Keep your eyes on our YouTube channel or social feeds for that one.
Path to Gold
Phew! It's been a busy month. The Torment team has been hustling hard to get the game polished for release. The game is nearly ready, which means we're now doing all that "boring" stuff that gets Torment ready for you to play.
What does that include? Well, Jeremy, Evan and other members of the design team have been working away on balancing to make sure our Crisis encounters are as entertaining as can be, and that things like loot distribution, economy and character progression are playing well. A lot of number tweaking! Those on the writing and area design side have been playing through the game and fixing any remaining quest, story and content issues. Our engineers Steve, Jesse, Dan and more have been hammering hard on performance optimization and pesky bugs to make sure everything runs better, faster, stronger. Meanwhile, we've got our artists, scripters and more devoted to further polish and cleaning up animations, character rigs, and textures.
Fortunately, things are looking really good, so we’ve been able to divert more folk’s time toward playing the game, finding bugs, identifying balance and progression issues, and tying up any loose ends in quests. It might sound like a strange thing to say, but sometimes for developers, simply finding the time to sit back and enjoy our own games is a luxury, so we’ve been doing that too.
We also wouldn't be complete rounding up our recent progress without giving another shout-out to the QA teams at Testronic and Techland, plus our external localization partners. Those teams have all been putting in huge amounts of hours and Torment is very much improved thanks to them.
All of this work is bringing us closer and closer to a release-to-manufacturing build of the game. We've been directing our efforts towards that milestone, and when that happens, it will mean Torment is effectively a finished, complete game we can all be proud of. You can rest assured we'll be hammering away as long as we can to give you the best possible experience upon release early next year.
Last, in the previous update we hinted that we'll have a new beta update for Torment coming, and that's still the plan. This will have many of the refinements we've mentioned above, plus new features like the ability to switch between mouse/keyboard and controller versions of the interface. We'll keep you all posted!
Reward and Pledge Finalization Reminder
It's a point of some pride and a little surprise that our pledge claim rates for Torment are extremely high – according to our stats, nearly 95% of you have set up accounts with us on our backer web site and are ready to claim your rewards come release. Of course, we wish those numbers could be 100%, so we'd like to give a reminder on setting up your Torment backer account!
Those of you who backed the game here on Kickstarter at a physical pledge level, but never set up a Torment backer account – your time is running out! With Torment releasing early next year, we need to get your rewards as well as your up to date shipping addresses on file so that we have the right reward quantities for manufacturing, as well as the correct address to actually send those rewards to.
Techland has been taking point on our media and trailers (like the Nano video above), as well as backer goods, working to ensure a very high level of quality and respect for the Torment and Numenera source material and community. We've been impressed with it and are looking forward to letting you get your hands on those rewards.
So, if you backed at a level that includes a boxed copy, please make sure you create a backer account if you don't yet have one. And even if you do have a backer account with us, it would be a good idea for you to visit your rewards page just to make sure your shipping details are correct. A little diligence now means we'll be able to ensure things go more smoothly when rewards are ready to ship!
Today we are also thrilled to release not one, but two brand-new rewards. Our From the Depths series comes to a close today with the Blue Tide novella, "The Last Days of Archopalasia" by Tony Evans, as well as the Silver Tide novella, "The Four Lessons of the Great Chila (As Told To, and Chronicled by the Manipulative Speck)" by Mur Lafferty. Both are now available for applicable backers through our backer site.
Both are excellent reads. Here are the summaries of both of them to whet your appetites:
From the Depths: Blue by Tony Evans
Reen Gnoseus needs a miracle.
His wife Kyria is dying, and though Reen is a brilliant scientist, he knows of no cure for her disease. Then, a stranger tells Reen of a lost city of wonders, Archopalasia, where any illness can be cured.
Desperate, Reen and Kyria set off across a poisoned wasteland in a race against time - and win. The city is there, and Kyria is cured with the push of a button. Even better, she is now apparently immortal, and wants Reen to be immortal too.
But at what cost? Are the changes Reen sees in Kyria's personality just tricks of his mind, or is something more sinister going on? What is the secret of Archopalasia?
From the Depths: Silver by Mur Lafferty
No one knew her family. No one remembered their deaths. Chila vowed that someday, everyone would remember her.
Chila and her brother are homeless orphans in the vertical slums of Sagus Cliffs, stealing and scamming to survive, but Chila dreams of bigger things, and vows to turn those dream into reality, no matter what the cost. Using chutzpah and trickery to sell herself as a hero to her impoverished neighbors, she makes a play for the whole city, only to find out how savagely those in power will fight to keep it.
Soon she is in a far worse place than where she began, but her defeat has only made her stronger, and even more determined to climb to the top.
To dive in, you can visit your Torment rewards page and click the "Downloads" button under your reward package containing them.
That brings the From the Depths series to a close, with all five of the different tidal novellas now available. But, you may remember we had a couple more novellas planned for release – one by Numenera creator Monte Cook, and another by Torment's creative lead Colin McComb. Those will be coming down the road, and we'll let you know when they are ready for you enjoy.
Last, it wouldn't be right if we didn't mention Tyranny, the newest title from Obsidian Entertainment. Tyranny is a party-based role-playing game set in a world dominated by Kyros the Overlord, a place where evil won. The game features tactical combat and plenty of choices and consequences. What's more, Tyranny is based on the same engine as Pillars of Eternity, and of course, Torment as well. So, if that all sounds good to you, be sure to have a look at the game on Steam or GOG.com!
Eric here. We're in the home stretch on Torment, and in the last few months we've been working hard to refine and improve the game. My main role has been to work with our artists and engineers to make our user experience as good as it can be. We are in that magical time when a game goes from being something simply playable but rough, to being truly enjoyable, and that's a wonderfully creative period where iteration abounds and we have the time and energy to really identify all those little things that add up to make a great game.
In addition to all the requisite bug fixes and art updates, our efforts have largely centered around putting in additional layers of polish to make the game look and play better. Many of these features are requests directly from our community, so I'd like to thank you all for writing in and giving us feedback on the improvements you wanted to see.
The conversation screen in Torment is one of the most important parts of the game, because you will be spending so much time using it. As a result, it was critical to make it as polished and enjoyable to use as possible – a goal we have had throughout development. Without a doubt, our conversation UI has gone through more versions than any other interface element for that same reason.
First up, one of the biggest concerns we saw in the beta was that the text scrolling needed to be improved. In earlier versions, text would always appear at the bottom of the interface, which could lead to a lot of extra scrolling or manually expanding the whole conversation screen to read it. As a result, we re-designed this text behavior and engineer Matthew Davey spent many hours re-writing it.
Our revamp for conversation text scrolling now has text appear at the top of the interface rather than appearing near the bottom, so you don't find yourself scrolling nearly as much. When we need to show lots of text all at once, we also added a "Show More" button and a little down arrow indicating that there is more below. Instead of manually scrolling when there's lots of words on screen, now you can just keep hitting the Enter key, Spacebar, or clicking the button, which means that you can focus more on the contents of the conversation rather than getting pulled out of the narrative.
That said, a text box isn't in and of itself the most interesting thing, and for Torment we wanted to do something a bit more special. So, we decided to include additional notifications, audio cues and special effects while you're in conversations in order to highlight key moments.
A great example of this is the new "Item Gained" prompt. All of our items in the game are hand-designed and often written with lots of detailed lore and story elements, and so we wanted it to make it feel like a great moment when you found something interesting. Since so many of these items are given out during conversations or scripted interactions, it made sense to devote a portion of the conversation interface to them.
Whenever you find or receive an item while the conversation screen is open, the game will now highlight the occasion by showing you a special panel on the right side of the window. This has a purpose, too – you can also mouse over the item to view its info in a tooltip, and right-click to bring up its full detailed description just like you would see in the inventory screen. This means when an NPC gives you a cool new piece of numenera, you don't have to wait another five minutes to look at it. It was one of those little things we never realized we wanted in an RPG until we went to implement it.
We've also made improvements to the fanfare when you get other rewards or status changes. Now, we have animated visual effects that play in key instances – most notably, when your Tidal Affinity changes (it is Tides of Numenera after all), but also for other things like XP gains.
Crisis and Combat Updates
But conversation isn't everything. We've also been taking strides in making combat easier to understand and displaying more information about your characters, abilities, and the battlefield's overall state. This was one of the things that wasn't quite at the level we wanted it, and many of our backers agreed judging by some of the comments we received! As a result, we've added far more information to the Crisis HUD.
To start, you might recall we previously talked about anoetic and occultic actions in earlier updates. Now, we've renamed them to your "move" action and "attack" action to make their uses clearer, and given them appropriate icons that display under your current party member (and turn grey when they've been used up each turn). This hasn't altered or simplified any of the previous gameplay or mechanics at all - for instance, abilities can still consume movement in some cases, or no movement in others - but it's much easier to keep track of which actions are which now.
Additionally, our engineers have rebuilt our tooltips when you mouse over an ability. The system we have now is incredibly robust, showing detailed information which also automatically populates and formats itself based on some simple tags the designers can write. Even special statuses and fettles will auto-fill their effects, so that when designers start doing balance changes, they don't have to manually go in and change the text for everything affected. You'll also see how the action cost is also more clearly indicated, tying in with the changes I mentioned above. On the whole, these tooltips are just more readable, more accurate, and a bit prettier looking than what we previously had.
Expanding on our improved tooltips, we have also added a right-click popup window to every ability in the game which allows you to inspect their full details just like in the Infinity Engine RPGs, and each has more flavorful long-form descriptions we've penned for them for you to read:
One more thing we weren't indicating properly in earlier builds of the game was the maximum range of attacks, as well as the radius of any area-of-effect type abilities. Now, we've added visuals for those so you can clearly see exactly where your abilities will land, letting you line them up just right. Below you can see an example – the thin, orange outer ring shows the maximum range, and the smaller orange circle is the area the ability will affect:
Help & Tutorials
We have also been working on some less exciting but no less important elements to give players a helping hand, if they want it.
When a Crisis encounter starts, we now display a small panel on the side of the screen to signal your main objective and some optional possibilities. We won't tell you every route available to resolve an encounter, so there will still be things to discover and experiment with, but this will serve as a reminder in case you aren't sure what your goal is. If you're the type that doesn't want any assistance at all, you can simply hide this popup at any time by clicking the arrow button on it.
On a similar note, we've added tutorials to the early game that will help explain some of the finer points of the Numenera game mechanics, as well as basic control and interface details. These will also show when you encounter something new in the game, such as when you pick up a cypher for the first time. But, we also know that there are those of you who want to figure out the mechanics on your own, so these tutorials can similarly be disabled with a single button press.
Art! Art Everywhere!
It wouldn't be a complete update about the user interface without mentioning that we've gone in and done a huge art pass. We let Charlie, Alisha, Daniel, William, and others run wild adding layers upon layers of extra detail. Every individual element and screen is hand-drawn, and it has been a huge amount of work, but this sort of physical-feeling, ornate and detailed interface is something we expect from a classic-style RPG and we hope you appreciate the extra attention we've given it.
The screens for Character Creation, the Character Sheet, Merchants, and many more have all been polished up with plenty of extra details and visual effects. You can see a few of them below, although keep in mind that the screens are not necessarily final and might still get a few more updates by the time the game ships.
And of course, there's dozens of other little details all over the place. For example, it wouldn't be an RPG without a cool level-up effect:
All of these types of little tweaks and additions add up to making the game go from good to great, and this is exactly the kind of polish and iteration that your feedback has helped enable. We always know we can make things a little better and more fun to play, and we'll continue adding touches like this up until release.
Of course, that begs the question – when will you be able to get your hands on it? We hope to have a new beta update prior to release that will debut all of these improvements and give you a close-to-final look at Torment. Keep an eye out, as we'll have more news about this coming.
News & Updates
Things have been busy with Torment beyond just development as well. First, we've got a brand new trailer for the game introducing the Ninth World, you can see that below.
Next, Colin McComb and Gavin Jurgens-Fyhrie were in town recently and decided to answer some fan questions from social media. Both videos are now available for your enjoyment!
Additionally, Colin flew off to merry England recently to visit EGX 2016, where he gave a talk about Torment's narrative design. If you would like to see him go into a huge amount of depth about building the world of Torment and its characters, including walkthroughs of the creation of certain in-game quests and content, you can see it all here.
Next, we recently ran a fan art contest! We had many amazing entries, but one in particular caught our eye, and that was this excellent drawing of a nano by Anastasia Prokofeva (Sigurn), which we felt fit right in with Torment and Numenera. You can see her art above (and the rest of the contest entries here).
We also wanted to highlight an ongoing crowdfunded sci-fi RPG that's finishing up its campaign this Tuesday October 11th: Dual Universe.
Dual Universe is a sandbox first-person MMORPG in a sci-fi universe, developed by the studio Novaquark. Planets are entirely editable, and the game focuses on massively multiplayer interactions as well as emergent gameplay including politics, economics, exploration, voxel building, trade, territory control and warfare. We felt many of its aspects, namely the sci-fi setting and editable planets, would resonate with you guys. Their Kickstarter is nearing its end and has almost funded, so this is your last chance to support it!
Wasteland 3 will feature a brand-new snowy post-apocalyptic setting, a more central Ranger Base to build up, revamped combat, vehicles, and for the first time, both a solo and multiplayer story-driven campaign. If that sounds good to you, we hope you'll check out the ongoing campaign and consider backing the game.
This time with Wasteland 3, we're going to Fig. Fig is a relatively new crowdfunding platform, with Brian Fargo on its advisory board, along with others including Feargus Urquhart from Obsidian. It will offer the same kind of high-value and unique rewards you're used to seeing from us, but also allows for investment, helping us to make our games bigger and better than ever.
We know some might wonder about why we need crowdfunding after the success of Wasteland 2 and soon, Torment, and the simple answer is: it lets us keep our independence. Your support means that we are able to keep that all-too-critical control over our games, which means we can continue to stay true to our vision and keep making the games both we and you both love.
We also know some of you might be thinking, "how does this affect Torment's development?" Or perhaps, as we put it last time, "you greedy bastards, why would you launch a new campaign before Torment is even done?!" With Torment, you may recall we were content complete with the game around April of this year, which means that many of our artists and writers have started to have more time available, and for several, their work on Torment has now been completed. Those people are now moving on to begin early production on Wasteland 3, while the designers and engineers whose work on Torment isn't yet finished will continue on with it and see it through to completion.
Brian Fargo has long been a fan of this method of production, as it was practiced both with Interplay and now at inXile. Importantly, getting people working on the next project lets us avoid the layoff cycle you sometimes see at other studios and it means that those cohesive, experienced teams we have built up over the years can remain working together – which we believe leads to higher quality games all around. This is much the same approach we took with Wasteland 2 when Torment was first announced, so rest assured that Torment is still very much on track for its early Q1 2017 release.
All in all, things are coming to a close for Torment, but there's still plenty to do and see. We look forward to giving you another taste of the improvements we've been making soon, and we'll be keeping you in the loop as we continue towards release early next year!
tl;dr: Torment comes to Germany, Adam and Joby talk design
Chris checking in. In our last update, we mentioned that we had partnered with Techland Publishing for Torment, and that our first major event would be showing the game at Gamescom 2016. After quite a few weeks of prep, it was go time. Brian, Colin, George, Thomas and myself all packed our bags up to visit Germany, and it was an incredible experience.
Techland did a fantastic job in setting up not one but two booths for us, and worked around the clock to provide support and assistance demoing the game. We even had professional cosplayers on hand! They are treating Torment like one of their own titles and know how important it is to get things right. We would not have been able to pull it off so successfully without them.
That was reflected in the reception for the game - from press and fans alike, the response was absolutely incredible and universally positive. We even got a few nominations and awards for best RPG and best of show! Here is a glimpse of some of our memories:
We'd like to thank everyone who came by to visit, whether that was stopping by the booth, covering the game as press, or showing up for an autograph with Brian. We could not make this game without the support of all of you and it is deeply gratifying and humbling to see people so passionate for Torment. It's been a long road but we are finally nearing the end.
We'd also be remiss if we didn't mention PAX West. While it was a little more low-key, George Ziets and Colin McComb both attended over this last weekend. There were yet more interviews and demos during that time – including one with Alienware you may be interested in, as it features some excellent narration from Colin.
And there'll be more to come! For example, Colin will be at EGX in Birmingham to present a Developer Session on Torment.
Both Gamescom and PAX have been inspiring experiences, and we are energized and even more motivated to get the game polished up and ready for you early next year!
With the game content complete, getting more polished every day, and well on its way to completion, we also thought it was a great time to start talking about some of our content that comes just after the beta portion of the game that many of you have been enjoying. And, with release not too far away, it also seemed like a good moment to commemorate those backers who helped make the game possible. So without further ado, here's Adam to talk about the Valley of Dead Heroes, and more specifically, the Necropolis.
Designing the Necropolis
Adam here. A little while ago, George told you how we are incorporating backer NPCs into our game. I want to tell you how we're including the largest quantity of backer content: tombs and epitaphs.
First, let me take you back to our Kickstarter planning sessions. We knew from the start we wanted a reward where higher-tier backers could include their name in the game somewhere. In a game about legacy, set in a world built on the bones of forgotten civilizations, it made perfect sense for that reward to be a tomb. We designed a massive gravesite for these tombs, called the Valley of Dead Heroes. In this place would be hundreds of tombs, memorializing heroes of the past and naturally raising the question: "What does one life matter?"
Like our backer NPCs, we wanted the tomb content to feel like a natural part of the world. We also wanted to encourage players to actually read the tombs – not all of them, but some of them at least. And ideally different players would search through different ones. It was a challenge, but one we were confident we could make great... until the Kickstarter broke records, and we found ourselves with nearly four thousand tombs and epitaphs that needed to be in our game somewhere.
As we began designing areas, we did the math. We originally planned for two scenes that would contain most of the tombs: the Valley of Dead Heroes and "Valley Part Two" which would be placed in another zone of the game. But even if we made those scenes enormous, cramming in as many tombs as we could fit on-screen while still giving the player space to walk, it would only take care of half of the required number. We also considered sprinkling the other tombstones throughout the game, but that would still require far too many tombstones to be placed in every single scene in the game. So our algorithm master and all-around guru Joby Bednar had the very Numenera idea of a massive underground storage space, now used in the Ninth World as a burial ground.
The rooms in this space would be accessed by a control panel: the user enters a code and is taken to a room in which lie a subset of our tomb/epitaph markers. Mechanically, the room would be a single Unity scene, but with the props, lighting, effects, etc. swapped out based on the code the player enters. It would take a lot of custom scripting, but it gave us the flexibility to handle all the backers we needed to feature. It was the perfect solution, and with some design constraints outlined, thus was born the Necropolis…
Building the Necropolis
Joby here. My role on Torment has been varied. I’m part of the scripting team, implementing the designed scenes. I’ve also had my hand in designing a couple of the scenes themselves, as well as developed solutions for those designs… most notably the dynamic pylons in the Fathom 13 introductory scene. When word came to me to start thinking about the tombs, I was excited. Then Adam outlined the design needs. Um… yeah. I believe my reaction was somewhere between laughing out loud and crying gently in the corner of the office.
As a backer of many Kickstarter projects myself, I knew we needed to prioritize the backer’s experience. It was vital for backers to be able to find their tombstones and epitaphs in a reasonable manner, and it needs to support the narrative. One of the things I truly love about designing games is creating the world, imbuing it with all the life of an alternate reality and building your solutions within that paradigm. This scene might have been my favorite part of working on Torment… impossibly complicated needs, limited resources to implement the sheer amount of backer content on hand, and above all else, making it fit into Numenera.
First up, how are the tombs arranged and how does one navigate them? We went through a number of designs to try to make things work, each of which ended up being their own stories to tell – suffice it to say though, they didn't fully meet the needs set by Adam or had weaknesses that made them hard to implement or difficult for the player to navigate through.
Eventually, after many discussions, what we decided on was a massive honeycomb of hexagonal tombs. Within each tomb, you can see the neighboring tombs. There is a central control room overlooking them all, where you are able to punch in an address on a hexagonal keypad where the player could enter a specific code. Within each tomb, there is a duplicate control panel that allows you the additional option to press one of the six outer hexagonal segments to teleport to one of the six neighboring tombs. Below you can see roughly what this would look like when represented visually.
Now to get a bit technical. This tomb structure can be aligned to a 2-dimensional grid, allowing for a simple X and Y position that lends itself to both having an absolute address as well as traversing it in a relative motion. Using a numerical address system of 4 digits in base-5 (0000-4444, or actually 1111-5555 to be more user friendly), gave us a 25 by 25 grid of 625 tombs. This was nicely within the volume of tombstones we needed to support based on our estimated backers. I desperately tried to devise a method of a fractal layout, or a hexagonal space-filling curve like a Gosper curve, but I just couldn’t beat the simplicity of the solution of a simple grid.
*ah hem* As I was saying, now that the design was set, we needed a way to represent this in the game engine. At that point, we turned things over to our artists to come up with a tomb design that fit into this layout. We wanted to give it a structured, mazelike theme that was representative of the "endless" feel we wanted to have. Mazes also fit nicely into Torment for other reasons, of course.
But those are just empty rooms. It became clear that while we wanted each tomb to look similar, we also wanted them to appear slightly different from each other so that players would know something changed when they went to a new tomb. This meant creating quite a few art assets that we could populate each tomb with for each individual backer tombstone and monument. Our artist Daniel Kim created a lot of these designs which we were able to assign to each individual tombstone and monument.
To create the hundreds of combinations of these assets and make each tomb look random, but not actually be random, I leveraged Unity’s built-in functionality for Perlin Noise. If you’ve played or seen Minecraft, then you are familiar with Perlin Noise and procedurally generated content. Two-dimensional Perlin Noise is effectively a grid of random-ish values, and by using a set algorithm we were able to generate the massive amounts of content, but have it be the same for every player rather than changing every time you play the game.
Furthermore, by leveraging an algorithm instead of needing to predefine everything, we could protect ourselves from memory bloat and the true beast of game development: iteration. I’ve never worked on a game where the initial design was implemented exactly as initially designed. Iteration on your design is always going to happen, and you need to expect it when developing system architectures. If I had developed a system where all this was pre-generated and stored in data files, my job would have been much harder if anyone was inspired and had a "great idea." Any changes would have required a lot of work to modify, show, refine and iterate upon again, so the algorithmic approach saved time in the long run.
This became relevant when it came time to start playing with the Necropolis in the game engine and design feedback began to come in from Adam, George and others. For example, to help ensure that each tomb felt interesting to visit and somewhat distinct from the last, I set up different configurations so even if multiple tombs had just four tombstones, those tombstones would be arranged differently. For the tombs that had a single epitaph, the epitaph might be in the center of the room or against the back wall so that it would stand out better and look like it was placed naturally.
So, what does this end up looking like in the game? When the player reaches the Necropolis, what they'll see is a massive expanse of tomb chambers before them, a control panel at the center, and the option to enter a 4-digit numeric code to navigate from tomb to tomb. And of course, each backer who has a tomb will be given the code to theirs so that they can go and find it in the game – but you'll also be able to visit the tomb of anyone else, either by exploring manually or entering their specific address.
All said and done, this ended up being a really entertaining piece of side content to work on. The idea of putting thousands of backer tombs into the game is a challenging prospect, but with all of our backer content we think the way we did it still managed to fit into the Numenera world. We hope that when the final game releases you'll be able to enjoy exploring the tombs, and that you'll sleep a little better knowing that many of the thousands of backers who supported Torment are immortalized for a billion years within the depths of the Necropolis.
Eric here to round things out with just a couple of additional news bits for you before we sign off! First, an important word for our backers: the end of September will be your last chance to pledge for or upgrade to physical Torment rewards. This includes boxed copies, add-ons and anything requiring shipping. With release not too far off we need to start locking down our final reward counts, so if you had been waiting to pledge, now is your last shot to get backer physical goodies. And on a similar note - if you haven't yet claimed your rewards or updated your shipping address, now is definitely the time!
Next, we just kicked off a fan art contest! Send us your fan art for a chance to win a copy of the game and a goodie bag. You can read more on our Facebook or Twitter.
And last, Techland has produced a fantastic trailer for the game introducing the world of Numenera to players. While we suspect most of our backers are up to speed, if you haven't been following the campaign, now's certainly not too late to catch up on the world of Torment and Numenera. Check it out above!