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A story-driven CRPG set in the world of Monte Cook's Numenera.  We are deeply appreciative to all of you who made this possible.
A story-driven CRPG set in the world of Monte Cook's Numenera.  We are deeply appreciative to all of you who made this possible. Torment: Tides of Numenera is available now for PC on Steam or GOG, as well as PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
A story-driven CRPG set in the world of Monte Cook's Numenera. We are deeply appreciative to all of you who made this possible. Torment: Tides of Numenera is available now for PC on Steam or GOG, as well as PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
74,405 backers pledged $4,188,927 to help bring this project to life.

Updated our Journal (12): Screenshot from within the Bloom. 4 Days Left!

TL;DR: A screenshot. Koy talks about environment art.

Screenshot from within the Bloom [Click here to see 1920x1080 version]


My name is Koy vanOteghem, Lead Environment Artist here at inXile. I would like to take this opportunity to discuss a few items as we release our first image for Torment that is pre-production and game art oriented (as opposed to concept art). Ordinarily, we would expect to R&D these types of early-prototype scenes during the standard preproduction phase of the project development cycle. And certainly during our actual preproduction, this pipeline will see many changes and iterations based on evolving needs. But technicalities aside, because of our growing comfort level with the Unity Engine, along with our growing connection to our community of backers and fans, we thought it might be fun and informative to give a sneak peek of some of the ideas we have bouncing around the Art Dept. What we are presenting here, for the sake of conversation, is an example of a 2D pre-rendered environment within The Bloom.

The Ninth World of Numenera has a rich tapestry of aesthetics. You can see this in the variety demonstrated in both our Torment concept art as well as the Numenera artwork. While we search out the look and feel for this evolving title, we find ourselves developing a much more organic approach to our asset production pipeline, both in process and in created content. Perhaps it was starting with the Bloom that helped steer us down this road, though we see how it will apply to more architectural environments as well. Our approach involves a heavier focus on sculpting and modeling, and a lesser focus on the engineering side of the art, which will suit our (relatively) small team structure well. We get back to working on the art, and think less of engine settings and geometry management.

Torment will certainly present some special challenges, but more so I think, unique opportunities to realize our vision in a new old way. We’re looking back to a 2D approach, with a fresh eye rooted in contemporary modeling, texturing, and engineering techniques. Much like Project Eternity, our goal is to craft an experience that diverges from the common path of world building. We hope to strike a distinct style while achieving levels of detail often difficult to present in 3D game space with a small team, through a process of pre-rendering major portions of in-game assets. As you have seen in the published concept pieces, geometry varies greatly from location to location. We look to incorporate the organic nature of many of those structures into our asset creation pipeline while avoiding the often processor taxing in-game meshes.

The big debate: playing games in 2D vs. 3D – I know many of you are interested about our decisions regarding the art direction. There has been much talk about the costs associated with "2D development," the quality and scope that can be produced by a small team, and the impact that this might have (for funding) of other departments. And trust you me, I understand from where these expectation emerge. But to be clear, what we are really talking about here is not a 2D game, but what you might call a 2.5D game, with just a portion of art production that is 2D in nature. Bear in mind, any extra time we spend noodling in 2D will be made up 10-fold when we get to our beta build and we are not ripping our eyes out trying to figure out how to get all that geometry to render efficiently on screen. Our early tests are showing very promising frame rates for our 2D assets, freeing up additional processing power for characters, FX, lighting, post-processes, etc.

After all, characters are not 2D, rather 3D seen through an isometric camera. And particles, well, they’ve actually always been 2D, but you know that. I’ll admit, lighting in 2.5D was a concern of mine early on, but after some initial experiments, I feel confident that 3D lighting can and will be used to considerable effect, grounding the characters in the scene through dynamic lighting and some shadow casting. These issues, among others, simply require a mind shift in the creation process, and it’s quite liberating.

In the end, it’s really not that great a departure from what we already know and produce. It’s just a different way of presenting to you the player, our "3D geometry," in an old awesome way. With our new pipeline strategy, we’ll be able to include detail, complexity, and styles that I would typically shy away from given our team size. It’s a win-win from where we are standing.

I would also like to extend a big thank you to two team members, Gavin Glenn-McDowell and James Morford, for their dedication to this KS campaign and eventual production of Torment. As part of an effort to develop a "rapid pipeline" proposal, they produced what would turn out to be a rather motivating gameplay space from The Bloom concept in a weekend charette. After an explanation of their strategy, the potential time savings and cost reductions, and the quality bar that could be reached, we launched into another round of afterhours development with the help of a couple more team members willing to dedicate some oh-so-precious personal time. Their efforts made this post possible.

Thank you for your backing and support. I am in awe.



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    1. Bobracha on

      Congratulations everyone! NOW GET TO WORK! :D

    2. Missing avatar

      Gabriel Yeong on

      I have to say, I am really digging the look of the new screenshots! They look PRECISELY like Planescape: Torment in every department I can think off! The Gothic look, the colours, the isometric perspective, heck, even this particular screenshot just screams Ravel and the Fortress of Regrets! Great work!

    3. Alan Villarreal on

      ya take your time! don't rush. Just as Brian said in video why planescape: torment was so good, because they didn't rush. We got Wasteland 2 and Project Eternity to keep us busy in the mean time

    4. sam2s on

      @david nissen
      They already have t-shirts among the add-on rewards that you can add to your tier:

    5. Missing avatar

      david nissen on

      I know it is a bit late in the piece for this question, but any chance of doing a t-shirt? If not through the kickstarter, then perhaps through Jinx or Think Geek?

    6. Missing avatar

      ramenos on

      Thanks for this preview. I hope this will be like this in game. Wonderful ! When would we be able to see other pictures "in game" ? :)

    7. Свободный Раб on

      thanks for not rushing the the release date! after all we waited for 10 years for a game to follow up torment's legacy... we can wait some more

    8. Michaeljack on

      @ Sam S

      Thanks man, got my pledge high enough, i just didnt want to miss out on that stuff :)

    9. sam2s on

      They will send out a survey (or put up a special reward fulfillment site) after the kickstarter ends, you will be able to select what addons the additional money is for there.
      All you have to do for now, is make sure you increase your pledge high enough to cover the sum of all the addons you want (plus potentially shipping cost) in addition to your selected tier amount.

    10. sam2s on

      @Captain Shrek
      What do you mean by "Misaligned perspective"?
      First of all it probably uses orthographic projection (a.k.a. 'isometric'), thus there is not supposed to be "true" perspective.
      Secondly, there aren't any regular objects such as spheres or cubes, so what do you judge the correctness of the perspective on? The environment is part of a giant organic monster, so floor/walls/doors are likely *supposed* to be crooked/lopsided.
      The only geometrically objective point of reference, as far as I can tell, is the water surface - due to gravity we can expect that to be perfectly horizontal.

    11. Missing avatar

      Empirimancer on

      Wow, the Codex pic posted by Crosmando does look better. And it probably took the guy 10 minutes to do it.

    12. Michaeljack on

      Ok, this is seriously embarassing to have to ask. Ive upped my pledge by $20 now how do i select addons?

    13. Shevek on

      Ya, the Codex version is a serious improvement over the original. I hope the inXile folks can put a proper unblurred backdrop for the animated version of this.

    14. KinnArchimedes/@Bland_Boy on

      SLightly worrying that it looks kinda like what a fancy point-n-click adventure. Do I want my rpg to feel like a PnC from an art perpective? Going to trust in InXile.

    15. Hiver on

      here is another take on the colors and stuff:


    16. Missing avatar

      Walach on

      Just like the graphics I wanted it to be, great work!

    17. Huinehtar, Tmted Reign for Eternity on

      I have to say that I like much better the work that Koy did than the mod from the Codex, because it shows some kind of living flesh architecture. The mod is pretty well done, but it is less organic and more metallic, or shows some dying flesh instead. I prefer the color's choice from the original.

    18. Raigavin on

      Note: The Altar reminds me of the shadow of darkness.

      As for the discussion related to 2D vs 3D, I do not mind either one.

      But I only wish all the visual elements on screen (like the Interactive and static objects/procs added to populate the scene) to be cohesive with backgrounds.

      I am not much of an expert, but my eyes darted to the following elements currently on the screen posted:
      - Lamp posts physical existence, their placement doesn't appear to make an impact on the BG (it appears to be just placed there, instead of dig an impression and place there, organic?)
      - Very bright Specular/Highlights on the lamp posts + wire (By the description of the Bloom, they mostly should't be any bright point light sources present to generate that feel?)
      - The cylindrical landscape( what appears to be made out of bones or horizontal column of material) below the lamp post has a bit of too much smoothness with highlights
      - The altar's heavily detailed than the surrounding area

      Landscape appears to be sculpted

    19. Theobeau:OOoE\Mad man with a box/Exiled on


      Thanks for the very interesting link.

      IMO: When you compare the two screenshots across adjacent tabs, a lot of what makes the RPG Codex version stand out for the better is the more detailed background.

      I'm very confident that inXile will get to that level of detail when the time comes and appreciate that they shared an early WIP image.

    20. Christian on

      This was the right decision. 3D looks cheap, even with huge budget games. As long as we don't have real-time ray tracing, please use artists for the final touches.

    21. Missing avatar

      Smiffus on

      Quite like where you guys are taking this. Thanks for the peek behind the curtain

    22. nitrium on

      @Adam Heine
      S**t, so he did! I have the reading comprehension of a catfish. In any case I'm fine with whatever you guys produce - I'm far more interested in gameplay/story than graphics, but great graphics don't hurt. I'd still be interested in understanding exactly what limitations in shadows Koy is alluding to with his "some shadow casting" though.

    23. Crosmando on

      Yeah after seeing that version I'm gonna have to revise my earlier criticisms. This *is* very good art, InXile just shouldn't hide it behind a ton of bloom (no pun intended).

    24. Captain Shrek on

      @trister - obsidian etc

      I think the entire reason 2D is desirable to some of us in the first is the classic 'graphic whoring' it provides by giving higher resolution pictures with more details. This picture looks like lazy artwork since:

      1) Misaligned perspective(s)
      2) Lack of Lighting effects - the shadows are either wrong or missing
      3) Unimaginative coarse colors
      4) Detailed textures but lack of structural details that really matter in a game (and I am not talking about population)

      If the goal is to get more than 3D then this is hardly going anywhere.

    25. Hiver on

      That does look closer to the concept art we can see as a wallpaper.

    26. JonNik on

      @Crosmando LOL Brilliant! That is *much* better than the original :)

      Inxile are you watching this ?! ;)

    27. Crosmando on

      I noticed some image guru on RPGCodex made a mock-up of the screenshot:
      Much better when the color palette is more subdued and less bright

    28. JonNik on

      @Sebastian Good point, as long as it is constructive (as indeed a lot of people do) and not kneejerk reaction and cries of: OMG it sucks you old nerds!1?1! I am pulling my pledge. ;)

    29. Sebastian Ruecker on

      I like the critique here, since it is constructive. What is the purpose of showing an early work in progress if not to get the earliest possible feedback?

    30. Hiver on

      @ nitrium, crosmando and the rest laying some critiques

      Guys, this mockup is actually just a basic firs run. It doesnt have any handpainted elements. Or just some basic touches over the texture.
      Its just your basic 3D using usual textures. And - as devs said, its missing all the additional effects to boot.

      I actually agree with all of that critiques but we should keep things in perspective.
      There is a lot of work to be done to get this to its full potential, like that screen of P:E.

    31. JonNik on

      Wow, quite an uproar over a WIP screen. I wonder if people know what work in progress means.

      This is a proof of concept item, to let people know in what general direction they are going. It obviously needs a lot of polishing...

      I do agree it could do with more gritty and less cell shaded, but seriously. It is supposed to depict the flesh of an enormous alien entity. Even the final polished high fidelity version will probably look a bit "plastic" and flesh like. Ever seen Alien ? There seems to be a lot of Giger in this one which is definitely fine in my book...

    32. Adam Heine on

      @nitrium -- Koy addressed that specifically in the update: "I’ll admit, lighting in 2.5D was a concern of mine early on, but after some initial experiments, I feel confident that 3D lighting can and will be used to considerable effect, grounding the characters in the scene through dynamic lighting and some shadow casting."

    33. nitrium on

      Maybe I've been too spoilt with 3D over the years, but I'd seriously miss dynamic lighting and shadows if they aren't possible in the 2D environment. DL&S is bog standard stuff for 3D, and if 2D means that won't happen, I don't see how those arguing that 3D "hasn't aged well" aren't being more than a little dishonest, given how good 3D looks TODAY.

    34. Missing avatar

      Empirimancer on

      I can see the point of those who don't like the art that much. It's not as detailed as some older games, which were lower res, and the ground and walls do look a bit plastic-like.

    35. Crosmando on

      My criticism is the opposite, the Torment screenshot looks like going ~backwards~ from PS:T (and Infinity Engine in general) style graphics. To use some buzzwords; "stylized" and "plastic" come to mind (I won't say "cartoon-y", but it did cross my mind). I don't know if it has something to do with how modern tools render this stuff out, or if it's a Unity thing, I notice a lot of (mostly indie) games also do this "stylized" approach when using 2D graphics.

      It's perplexing how the style of 2D environments in PS:T, the sharp jagged quality of models, has disappeared.

      Though I must say that what I like about this screenshot is that they seem to have replicated the PS:T look that every map is an exact replication of concept art.

    36. Bryy Miller on

      Looks great.
      Technology progresses. Shocking, I know.

    37. sam2s on

      @ Alfredo
      Yeah, the slightly "cel shaded" look has been discussed in the main comment section of the kickstarter. Not sure if there has been a response by the devs though.

    38. Missing avatar

      Michael Rankin on

      Wow just noticed the negative comments, gotta say I don't understand how you could criticise this it looks stunning. The 2d art is gorgeous and the 2.5d approach sounds like it could be even better than 2d, I never thought 2d isometric RPGs would ever see the light of day again so this just blows my mind. To be honest I would be really disappointed if they didn't go for this, now I've seen it.

    39. Alfredo Concha on

      Nice to see the "first screenshot" !! and the development :D , however I want to criticize something... well, I don't know really why, but it looks like a bit cel shaded, and like "not real". I think something like gives more immersion. Don't think it's sucks, it's a really good approach this 2.5D, but... you know, make me belive it's real what I'm seeing.

      Thanks guys! ^^

    40. Missing avatar

      Michael Rankin on

      Oh he'll yes!! I love it, this is seriously exciting. If the game looks like this I will be over the moon, keep up the awesome work guys :D

    41. Crosmando on

      My criticism of the screen is mostly that it doesn't look ~real~. I'm not arguing for photo-realism or anything, just that it lacks the hard grittiness of how PS:T environments looked. It looks "stylized", the edges of objects are too smoothed off. For example, look at PS:T using the high-resolution patch:

      Now obviously this is a bit different because PS:T was meant to run in 640x480 resolution, so expecting to see that much of the map in modern resolutions is unrealistic, but it's not what I had expected.

      I mean, just look at Sanitarium, a 90's adventure game that used prerendered graphics:

      Anyway, I'm not being negative or anything.

    42. Trister - OO's Tormented Master Wetboy on

      @ captain shrek

      it's isometric... it's not necessarily supposed to.

      can you tell me why, beyond that one thing, you think this looks terrible?

    43. Captain Shrek on

      Looks terrible. The perspective does not match a real object in 3D. How was this really rendered?

    44. Theobeau:OOoE\Mad man with a box/Exiled on

      Great detailed update. Will check out what looks like a gorgeous screen shot on a decent monitor rather than phone screen.

    45. Missing avatar

      Tom on


      I would have to disagree.

      To be honest, I have no idea what you mean by calling it plastic. For Bog's sake, it's a screenshot from a fantasy world? In what way do you find it derivative? Of what does it seem to be a cheap imitation of?

    46. Paul Marzagalli on

      Have said it before and will say it again: graphics are my least concern with this game. It doesn't need to look earth-shatteringly good. That's not what I expect or want from a KS-funded game. Whatever you guys do, I will be happy so long as the lion's share of the resources goes into producing the deepest world and story possible.

    47. Bojan Tomic on

      The world on the screenshot is looking plastic... please, don't let the game look plastic.

    48. Vernano Veryo on

      To those somehow complaining this will not be fully 3D: 2D stands the test of time much better than 3D. 3D advances fairly quickly whereas 2D has art that is just that. You don't see many Mario Bros or Duck Hunt texture overhaul mods for a reason.

    49. Missing avatar

      Matt Burns on

      @nitrium: A lantern swinging in the wind would likely be part of the background, and the surrounding background would be animated accordingly. As for shadows around a pillar, things like that (that the characters could walk behind and that impede their movement) would tend to be 3D models which, as mentioned earlier, could easily be made to cast shadows (and believable ones) on the 2D background.

      Put very simply, the only real argument *against* pre-rendered 2D backgrounds in a game with fixed camera angles, in my opinion, is cost, since it takes more time for the graphic designers to paint over the 3D-modeled background. There are plenty of advantages, and few real disadvantages when you factor in 3D characters and objects.

      * With a bit of effort and ingenuity, a pre-rendered 2D background can be just as graphically dynamic (in terms of lighting, etc.) as a 3D background (again, assuming a fixed camera).
      * The artists can provide more detail since they only have to deal with a single camera angle instead of all possible angles.
      * It allows the designers to frame scenes in a more dramatic and cinematic way.
      * It allows higher-quality graphics on hardware that wouldn't support equivalent graphics rendered in realtime 3D, resulting in not only a better-looking game, but one that holds up better graphically over time.

      The only real drawback to a 2D pre-rendered background is that it's not as potentially interactive as a fully 3D environment could be. A barrel painted onto the background is an indestructible, immovable object, while a 3D model could potentially be broken or knocked over and rolled. That said, such full-scale interactivity is only really important in a sandbox-type game. If you want to be able to break down every wall you come across, go play Minecraft. In a game like Torment, any planned interactivity with the environment can easily be provided by specific 3D models placed on the 2D background.

      @Mason Reed and Shevek: I'll grant that lighting and shadows are *easier* to handle in a fully 3D environment, but they can look just as good (and potentially better) using 2D pre-rendered backgrounds. With a 3D environment, things like lighting and shadows are limited by the capabilities of the game engine that's a hard limit that can't be overcome. With 2D pre-rendered backgrounds, they're only limited by the artists' ability and time, even if the effort involved in getting them to look as good is increased. Given a group of talented artists and an unlimited budget and schedule, an entirely 2D game could look better than any 3D game ever could. 3D game engines simply make it much MUCH easier to achieve those things within the ability of the game engine to render them.

    50. 404-tech on

      I am sorry so say but the unsharpen-mask looks really unnatural. It's like I am looking through a camera INTO this world' and I am not as 'gosthly spectator' IN this world. This is somewhat immersion breaking, IMHO.