Updated our Journal (8): Pat Rothfuss Stretch Goal, New Digital Comic Reward, +1 Mitsoda, George talks about the Bloom
TL;DR: New Reward for $50 Tier and $75+ Tiers. Brian Mitsoda joins the writing team. Third Fathom. More Stretch Goals, including best-selling fantasy author Pat Rothfuss! George Ziets talks about Torment’s setting and the Bloom (video).
Hail, Forgotten Ones,
It’s been a while. I’ve missed you. We’ve been busy and will soon have more to share. We won’t be away as long this next time.
We recently surpassed $2.7M, more than tripling our initial funding goal! Your support has been overwhelming and our excitement for how rich and polished a game we can create (and our sense of responsibility to you to do so) continues to grow. We appreciate your continued efforts to spread the word about Torment so that we can aim even higher.
And remember: every little bit helps. Every dollar helps us create a deeper storyline, add more dialogues, build more areas, add more detail, design more items and creatures, add new foci, and more. If someone asks you why they’d donate to a project that’s already funded, you can tell them it’s so we can make Torment even better (and so that they can get a great deal on what we intend to be an RPG classic)!
New Reward: Digital Comic Book
We are adding a digital comic book as a bonus reward to the $50 Tier and to all Tiers $75 and up. Torment: The Jack's Gambit will be a 20-page digital comic that reveals some of the dark secrets of a potential companion's past. What drives her to put herself in harm's way? What turned her into the person she is today? What was the horror that tore her apart, and how did she rebuild herself? Get a glimpse of her past here… and maybe you'll figure out how she fits into your long-term plans. See a sample page (though not from the actual comic, which we haven't written yet =) ) in the rewards section of our tumblr site.
$2.75M Stretch Goal Achieved! Third Fathom Reached!
On Tuesday, you brought us past the $2.75M Stretch Goal, and Brian Mitsoda will be joining our writing team! Also, Reflections of companions and NPCs will be added to the Castoff Labyrinth’s mysteries. Speaking of which, at more than 51,000 Backers, we’re now at the Third Fathom of the Labyrinth!
(Note that PayPal backers do count toward the calculation of Stretch Goals and Labyrinth Fathoms. For simplicity, the matching by Brian Fargo and Steve Dengler isn’t included in the ongoing tally for Stretch Goals. Those boosts (which are approaching the full $200K at $3M!) will still go toward improving the game, of course, and also serve as an insurance policy against cancelled pledges when the campaign ends.)
Stretch Goals – Epilogue, Cult, and... Pat Rothfuss!
We’re adding additional Stretch Goals based upon your feedback and ideas on in UserVoice. Please keep your ideas, votes, and comments coming! (The most popular Stretch Goal idea is for 2D pre-rendered graphics – we’ll have more to say on this topic soon.)
$2.85M Expansive Epilogue
This Stretch Goal idea had the most supporters (283) of any suggested (even beating out the 2D pre-rendered graphics Stretch Goal in number of supporters, though not in votes). With Torment’s emphasis on reactivity, we had always planned a satisfying conclusion to the game – the details of which would depend upon your legacy and some specific choices – including the fates of your companions as well (at least those you found). But with this Stretch Goal, we’ll take it even further and tie up loose ends throughout the game for many other aspects: regions, cults, factions, etc. The details of what is discussed – and what might not be – will depend upon what we determine is best for the game and narrative, but we will take it as far as we can. The epilogue will be presented through text, combined with 2D art for some elements. And, as with everything in Torment, its level of polish and detail will increase in general based on overall funding – for example, increasing to 11 Legacies at $3M will result in even more variety in the epilogue.
$3.1M Third Cult: Dendra O'hur
At $3.1M, one specific addition will be a third cult: Dendra O’hur. Followers of the Great Queen Sar'lavun, the Lady of Maggots, the Dendra O'hur are a nomadic cult of cannibals and devourers of the flesh. They draw power from their victims, the strength of the fallen meat passing to their limbs and the command of the numenera to their minds. Recognizable from their tattered and moth-holed cloaks and their sharp-but-rotting teeth, the Dendra O'hur have no friends... but they command fear, and this is enough for them.
$3.25M Pat Rothfuss
We are excited to announce that at the $3.25M Stretch Goal, Pat Rothfuss will join our writing team! Most of my fantasy and science fiction reading took place in the ‘80s and ‘90s, and I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that until a couple months ago I was unfamiliar with Pat’s work. Colin is more literary than me and has been targeting Mr. Rothfuss since even before Torment emerged as a real possibility:
“If you haven't heard of Pat Rothfuss or read his Kingkiller Chronicles (The Name of the Wind, The Wise Man's Fear, and the upcoming third book), then what are you waiting for? Go on. Go read them and then come back and finish this Update. Granted, it might take a while, but you'll be glad you did. Actually, it might be a better use of your time to trust me and read the books at your leisure.
I heard about Pat's work years ago, but because the series wasn't complete and I hate being caught between releases, I held off on reading it. Finally, to stop some friends nagging me ('You'll love it, Colin!' 'Colin, have you read it?' 'Colin, I know it's 3:30 am but THIS IS A GREAT READ'), I read the first book and I was floored at the beauty, wit, skill, and sheer audacity of the narrative. I tore through the second book and then went back and re-read them both. So at GenCon in 2012, I heard Pat was there and went to introduce myself to him and thank him for writing such engrossing fiction. It was a tremendous surprise, then, to discover that he was a huge fan of PS:T, and it was a shock to have PAT F***ING ROTHFUSS praise my work instead.
With that in mind, once Torment started rolling I made it my mission to recruit him for T:ToN. Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to say: Mission accomplished. From a purely selfish perspective, I'm annoyed with myself for tearing him away from finishing book 3. From a development perspective, I am hard-pressed to imagine a better addition to our writing and story development team, and I am truly excited about the possibilities that have just opened up. This is going to be so cool.”
(And you can read what Pat has to say about this possibility on the blog entry he wrote this morning. (And he was actually writing it this morning - he sent me an email about it a little after 3 AM as I was finalizing this Update.))
$3.5M Stretch Goal – ...
Oh wait, that's for a bit later... =)
A Few Words about “Spoilers”
We’ve heard a few comments from backers concerned that we’re revealing too much about Torment, so I wanted to talk a bit about that. There’s a tricky line here – if we reveal too little, we risk losing people’s interest and trust, so we want to give you a taste of our plans. But it really is just a taste, the equivalent of saying that Planescape™: Torment is about an immortal who loses his memories when he dies.
Also, not everything we’ve told you about will be in the final game. =) The themes, our pillars, the Tides (at least the basics of them) – these things are planned and well-established aspects of our design. But the details about areas, creatures, characters – even gameplay elements like the Meres – these are all subject to change, and some even have already. Game development is highly iterative and only our best ideas will survive – much will change as we go and as our tale evolves and solidifies in our minds. So please enjoy these examples, knowing that the game you play at the end of next year will have more and better secrets.
I was watching George’s final video below before writing this update. My thought was: “Wow, that’s even cooler than what we had discussed a few days ago.” I talked with Colin about it, and sure enough, there was even more to it than I knew. And months from now, who knows how the Bloom will have evolved as part of our design, and as part of the Ninth World. As the in-game visuals come together, as we hear more of Mark Morgan’s music, as we read all of your ideas about the game, as the stories and characters and gameplay all come to life, both in our minds and as playable content... the plans of today are just a caterpillar beginning to spin his cocoon. So rest assured that in the grand scheme of things, we aren’t really spoiling anything. =)
George Ziets on Torment’s Setting and the Bloom
This video focuses on our second pillar: A World Unlike Any Other. In Tales of Torment, episode 4, George talks about the influence of the setting on a game’s narrative and, through the example of the Bloom, delves into why the Ninth World creates a wealth of opportunity for quality storytelling and adventures. And attached to this update (see the audio link at the bottom) is Mysteries of the Bloom, another fantastic piece by Mark Morgan, and intended as a theme for this region of the game.
Press, Community, and an Invitation to a Party
Yesterday, Brian, Colin, Monte, and I held an AMA on reddit, where we were joined by superfan Steve Dengler. We covered a lot of topics, including (but not limited to):
- what work influenced Monte’s vision for Numenera and the Ninth World,
- Colin’s philosophical influences,
- more about how the science-fantasy elements of Numenera will be portrayed,
- what role Brian played in PS:T’s success,
- how we handle reactivity in RPG development,
- the origin of the Tides concept,
- whether Torment will include any humor,
- why Steve cares enough about Torment to donate $110,000 to make it better,
- and much more.
We’ve also had a few articles over the last several days. The Penny Arcade Report discusses some of the choices Colin and I made leading up to the Kickstarter – several months ago, when our work on Torment began, we had high hopes, but didn’t know if the project would be funded at all. I would like to add that we weren’t alone in taking a leap of faith to begin work on Torment.
It’s amazing how much support we’ve had from colleagues. Adam Heine has been involved with Colin and me the whole way, and is to credit with much of the Tides system (and more). Others such as Thomas Beekers (whom some of you know as BrotherNone) and Aaron Meyers have also gone above and beyond to contribute to Torment before we knew if it would be possible. Another example: the voice you hear at the end of the video updates (and in the Kickstarter Video) is that of Alexander Brandon, of game audio studio Funky Rustic. Alex and I worked together at Obsidian on Mask of the Betrayer and Storm of Zehir, and he volunteered his voice talents for us. The sample comic page posted on tumblr was something artist David Pursley (who also made the First Castoff concept) created on his own. The passion for seeing this Kickstarter be successful, so that we could make this game, has been phenomenal and inspiring.
Anyway, I just wanted to note that while the article focuses on Colin and me, we were far from alone. We’re just the ones handling many of the interviews.
A second Penny Arcade article and an interview with Colony of Gamers give some additional details about the game.
And our Leader in Exile was interviewed by [a]listdaily about Torment and the Kickstarter process in general.
Recently, Formspring announced that they will be shutting down at the end of this month. So Colin and I will be looking to relocate our Q&A homes, but we’ll probably wait until after the Kickstarter to do that.
Finally, we’ll be having a Torment closing party on Friday, April 5th, beginning in the afternoon in the Newport Beach area. We have a brief post pinned to the top of our Facebook page about it. We thought it would be nice to see if some of you wanted to join us. If you will be in the area then, and would be interested in coming, please post in the comments on Facebook – we’ll do an actual RSVP later, but for now just want a sense of how many of you might want to celebrate with us so that we can choose a suitable location.
Thanks again for your support and your time. I hope this update was worth the wait and that you enjoy what’s soon to come as well.