Updated Our Journal (54): Production Status, Beta Feedback
tl;dr: Writing milestone achieved, beta feedback, shout-outs
Eric here! We'd like to start today's update with an important announcement. As of February 29th, our writing team on Torment: Tides of Numenera has completed its first pass on all of the game's writing. Our latest estimates put this at around one million words. We will know the final count in the coming months, but this is a big milestone for a Torment game, as you can no doubt imagine.
Torment's story is a carefully crafted one, and "first pass" means we have a lot of revisions and edits still to do as we perfect the game's word-smithing. But it does mean our story and quests are more or less set, and our design, scripting and engineering teams can focus their efforts on tightly implementing our remaining game systems and environment/level scripting.
So what is next for Torment? We are hoping to have the game content complete by the beginning of April. At that point, we will be taking the game into iteration. We are dedicated to getting Torment right, so just like the writing needs to go through polish passes, we have allotted significant time for ourselves to improve upon the game's content. This includes things like additional passes on environment art and visual effects, quests and dialog, user interface art and functionality, and gameplay balance, not to mention fixing bugs and optimizing performance.
We know that this will make some of you wonder – when is the final game coming? As we've mentioned before, we are still targeting a 2016 release. The benefit of our continued funding and the success of our back catalog (such as Wasteland 2: Director's Cut) means that we can continue put resources into Torment to make it something special for everyone who backed the game. We'll be able to narrow in on a more specific date once we are a bit deeper into iteration and know how much work we have left.
Torment Beta - Processing Feedback
Our beta test for Torment, which released in mid-January, has given us a huge amount of feedback from our community, and it has been invaluable for allowing us to prioritize things we want to change and improve upon. Having people able to submit their thoughts on the game directly while playing it is no small benefit to us and has led to incredibly detailed and nuanced impressions.
Many of our backers might be wondering exactly what our iteration stage for Torment will entail and what ways we respond to feedback. The truth is that this is often as much art as it is science, but we have a number of ways that we try to collect and process opinion and work to respond to it effectively.
The first, and most direct way we grab user impressions is from our feedback tool, which is incorporated into the Torment beta client. We originally developed this for the Alpha Systems Test, but it was such a success that we expanded its use and functionality for the beta. At all times while Torment is open, there's a "Feedback" button tucked away in a corner of the screen. Click it, and up pops a special UI where you can submit both bug reports as well as impressions and thoughts on gameplay, including the category and priority level.
Once player feedback is beamed back, we are able to read over and massage that information and import it directly into our JIRA bug tracking system.
Not all feedback collection is quite this ordered. Our commitment to ensuring Torment's quality (and perhaps just a little vanity) means that our team members continually scour the Internet for impressions on the game. This can be anything from forum posts on our official forums and the Steam forums, to other RPG communities, to Facebook and Twitter comments, and of course, professional previews and articles from the press. Even the darkest reaches of reddit and Something Awful don't go unchecked.
Of course, there are larger points of feedback we receive which can't always be handled with a simple bug report or which require more significant design decisions, writing or engineering. For those points where we see significant amounts of feedback or critique, we often end up taking meetings dedicated to those topics, and the team will discuss how to act on it. One example might be specific combat or interface issues, and another might be a particular quest or story element we feel we want to change. From there, we work on a plan to address that in a way that fits into our development timeline, figure out exactly what needs doing, and then task that work out. A lot of this is often handled by my compatriot and name-brother Eric Daily, who is invaluable at keeping things on track behind the scenes.
Just one example of how we've acted on feedback can be found in our first beta patch for Torment. This was put out shortly after the initial release, and addressed many of the comments and issues that players ran into – everything from combat lock-ups, to save/load issues, to performance and optimization, to gameplay balance, and interface bugs. Getting these reports directly from our players allowed us to prioritize and address them much more effectively.
At the end of the day, we are making Torment primarily for our backers and our fans, so this kind of process is extremely helpful to us. In traditional development, we'd be making a game in a vacuum, guessing at what people might think of it or relying on limited playtests. With the beta, we have a pool of our most dedicated players to draw on, all of whom want Torment to be an awesome game as much as we do.
Torment's beta release has brought on a wave of new coverage from press. There is much too much to share here, but we've picked out some of our favorites from Eurogamer, PC Gamer, and GameReactor. Long-standing community site RPGWatch has also named Torment its most-anticipated game, which we are certainly honored by.
More recently, Colin and George hung out with Arvan Eleron's Twitch channel to play and talk about the game. You can find the archived stream here.
Our friends at Monte Cook Games have also launched a new Kickstarter. Worlds of the Cypher System includes three new campaign settings to play in, along with expanded rules, fiction and new tools to power your own games for years to come. If you are a fan of Numenera, The Strange or tabletop gaming in general, this is one to check out.
We'd also like to take a moment to congratulate Obsidian Entertainment. Obsidian recently released The White March Part II, the second expansion pack to Pillars of Eternity. Obsidian had a part to play in Torment's development, with its technology helping to make Torment possible, so check out their latest release to support more classic-style RPGs.
That concludes today's check-in. In future updates, we'll be going into more detail about how we are polishing and refining the game further based on our backer feedback. We have exciting things ahead.