Updated our Journal (11): Delving Deeper into Story & Graphics
TL;DR: Nathan Long tells a story (video). Five Fathoms deep. Dust and Water concept by Andree Wallin. Collaboration with Obsidian Entertainment. 2D pre-rendered graphics.
Hi Forgotten Ones,
Thanks to you, we had a record-breaking debut at the beginning of the month. With the announcements of Pat Rothfuss and Chris Avellone last week, we sailed past Wasteland 2’s total of nearly $3M. You’ve seen how great Wasteland 2 is coming along. We’ll have even more resources for Torment.
In the early morning of March 6th we had no way of knowing how powerful your response would be. We were humbled and inspired by your outpouring of support. And as we come upon our final week, we again do not know what to expect. Perhaps RPG fans will surprise us a second time. Whatever the outcome, we can assure you that Torment will provide a powerful, profound role-playing experience – you’ve already ensured that. But just how far we’ll be able to take it depends on all of you.
We have a couple surprises left. We hope you'll enjoy them.
Nathan Tells a Story (several, in fact)
In our Tales of Torment episodes, we’ve talked about many aspects of the game’s creative elements. Writer and designer Nathan Long (also a Wasteland 2 designer) brings all of those pieces together, explaining how we use these components to craft an RPG story. He talks about this in the context of possible subplots within a small section of the Bloom. This episode is a bit longer than most, but I think you'll find it’s worth it. =)
The ranks of the Forgotten have grown to over 57,000, thus bringing us five Fathoms deep in the Castoff’s Labyrinth. And we’re already 1/3 of the way to Fathom six! We’ll also add a bonus Fathom to the Castoff’s Labyrinth when we reach 10,000 Likes on our Facebook page, so spread the word!
Some of you have wondered if the Castoff’s Labyrinth will play such a strong role in the game, and be such a cool location, that it could even encourage players to die on purpose. We won’t design it that way. =) Like every area in the game, it has its part to play in the narrative, in your story. Its exact role will be part of your legacy – but it’s just a part, and it will vary based upon your choices, your priorities.
We’ve been expanding the Labyrinth both through Stretch Goals and by going into deeper Fathoms, which might give the impression that it’ll cover a majority of your game time. But while death is very relevant to legacy, abandonment, and mystery, death on its own isn’t one of our themes. The Castoff’s Labyrinth will absolutely be an exciting and awe-inspiring area, both for you to play and for us to design. =) But it’s just one small component of the full game, and not by any means the most exotic aspect we have planned.
It's also worth noting that Dana Knutson’s concepts aren’t necessarily literal representations of the Labyrinth's size or contents – your mind is malleable and the pathways it houses change and shift under your feet. Who can say what lies within its deepest recesses?
Collaborating with Obsidian on Tech
As you know, we’ve been working on Wasteland 2 in Unity and will be implementing Torment in Unity as well. Meanwhile, about 20 minutes away, Obsidian Entertainment is creating Project Eternity, also in Unity. Though there are major differences between our games, there are also similarities as all are RPGs built in the same engine. As many of you have suggested, it only makes sense that we collaborate where we can.
We are happy to announce that we at inXile and the great guys over at Obsidian have reached an agreement to share tools and technology when it makes sense. This will allow both companies to be more cost-effective on these projects, allowing your pledges to go further in terms of creating art, content, gameplay, and game polish. Vive le classic RPG revolution!
Another Major City
You’ve already seen Sagus Cliffs, which will be a major hub in the game. As part of an upcoming Stretch Goal, we’ll be adding the Oasis of M’ra Jolios as another prominent city location. Here’s Andree Wallin’s concept, Dust and Water, of this complex and bizarre urban ecosystem (wallpaper versions will be available soon at our website):
A gigantic dome of water shimmers in the middle of a vast desert, seemingly impervious to the cruel rays of the sun's heat. Curved obelisks from another age rise from the sands to cup and surround the bubble like gentle fingers.
This impossible oasis is home to numerous kinds of water-breathing abhumans. Some sport fins for legs like merpeople, some wear flippers for hands, while others appear almost human, being marked with only a dorsal fin from their head to their waist. No two are quite the same. Indeed, some are immigrants from far away, come to this aquatic utopia through strange pathways in reality.
But humans live here too, mostly for trade or work. They use various numenera to breath underwater – implantable gills, breathing apparatuses, portable air bubbles, and so forth. A town of air-breather buildings has grown up around the outside of the dome. These air-breathers are reliant on the dome, as most of their food (and all of their water) comes from within, but they make a good trade in the unique foods, animals, and textiles grown under the water. And of course visitors can find multiple shops in the air-breather town that will provide the varied numenera they need to enter the dome themselves.
April Fools’ Day
We’ll have a significant Update for you on Monday. It just so happens that’s April Fools’ Day. Rest assured that our Update will be real. =)
We’ve opened a new Q&A forum on UserVoice. Post and vote for your biggest questions and Colin will make a video that answers some of the top voted ones. Ask away!
Just a reminder that if you want to celebrate with us at our closing party on Friday, April 5th beginning at 2 PM PDT, please login at tormentRPG.com and let us know – we’re looking to finalize the guest list today. We plan to broadcast live from the event and will send information next week on how to watch.
Some Words on Graphics
I’ve advertised that we’d say more about graphics this week. The most popular Stretch Goal request from you, our backers, is for 2D pre-rendered graphics, which would mean that Torment would have a fixed, isometric camera with 2D backgrounds. A primary disadvantage is that this approach requires a longer, and therefore more expensive, pipeline for art assets, but its advantages are numerous:
- The same basic feel as classic RPGs (such as the Baldur’s Gate series and Planescape™: Torment) in terms of camera and environments
- Environments will have a more “painterly” look, allowing us to more closely represent our concept pieces
- By designing the art for a fixed camera view, every scene will look its best
- System requirements will be lower
Because we are using a 3D engine, characters, effects, and some environmental props would still be modeled in 3D. This allows them to be changed dynamically during play (a 3D box could be opened, for example) and enables us to still adapt Wasteland 2 pipelines and underlying systems (such as for character animation).
A famous recent example of this approach in practice is the screenshot released by Obsidian for Project Eternity last fall. We agree with you that it would be the best way to realize our vision for Torment and have been investigating its feasibility throughout this Kickstarter campaign.
We’ve been carefully evaluating the costs and trade-offs, and it looks like a 2D pre-rendered graphics approach may be possible. We'll be showing you an example of what we intend, so you'll be able to see for yourselves why we're so excited about this approach. Being able to achieve this quality bar is only an option because of your great support – we are thrilled at the possibility that Torment could be as strong in its aesthetics as it will be in its storytelling and choices and consequences.
So what exactly will a Torment environment look like in-game? For that, I’ll have to ask for your patience a little longer – stay tuned next week!