inXile announces the launch of our Kickstarter campaign for Torment: Tides of Numenera
On Monday we released the news that we would be launching another Kickstarter campaign for Torment: Tides of Numenera today. If your reaction to the news was, “Hell yes, that is awesome news!” you can stop reading this update and head right to the Torment Kickstarter page to check out a lot more detail on the product. There is a ton of information about the team and the project, so please give it a read. We are crazy excited about the opportunity to work on Torment, and the Torment Kickstarter page should be enough to get all of you excited too.
If your reaction to the news about Torment was more like, “inXile, you greedy bastards, why would you launch a Kickstarter before Wasteland 2 is even done!”, then keep reading; we are addressing that point in this update…
To those outside the industry, it might seem odd to launch another Kickstarter before Wasteland 2 is done. We understand that it raises some questions, and we want our Wasteland 2 backers to understand the decision and to have access to all the information that has led us down this path. The goal of this update is not to convince you to back Torment; the goal of this update is to answer one simple question. Why now?
One of the keys to success for a small game company is being able to create continuity within the development team. It takes a long time to get a team put together, and it takes an even longer time for a team to settle in to new working relationships, a new engine, new systems, and a new asset creation pipeline. A team’s knowledge and experience grows a lot during a development cycle, and all of that knowledge gained is lost if we let the team break up when a project ships. To address that issue we have developed a very simple strategy that has already worked for us on dozens of titles in the last 25 years. Here is a quick explanation of our development team-structure philosophy:
inXile, with all of our internal employees and outside contractors, consists of enough people to be considered about the size of a team and a half. This is by design. We always want a small and efficient team (the “half team”) to design both our product and our product development plan. This is called pre-production. It is the most important time in a project’s life cycle. This is the time when we want to make sure we slow down and get it right. During this phase we don't need all the engineers and 3D Artists on the project, it is mostly concept art, design and dialog writing. When this process is completed and we are ready to roll into full production we want to have a large team of people ready to make the game. If the planning was done well during the pre-production phase we can be very efficient during production and leave ourselves with plenty of time to iterate and make amazing games. If there is no pre-production done, and the full team is trying to create the design and development plan as they go, months, if not years, are wasted. Having a full team try to start a project when the pre-production has not been completed is like stacking up a giant pile of money and lighting it on fire. This same philosophy served us quite well at Interplay in creating some of the best RPGs of all time.
The “half team” in our team and a half model consists of writers and artists as well as designers and a producer. They are the ones that define the game design, write the dialog, define the combat, the UI, the missions, and even parts of the level design. We spent about 6 months working on this pre-production for Wasteland 2 and we would like to spend even longer doing it on Torment. For inXile, this “half team” that did the pre-production for Wasteland is done, their work on Wasteland 2 is completely finished. We want to get this group into pre-production on Torment to keep them working together on a project we are all passionate about.
Currently, Wasteland 2 is in full production with a team of 15+ people cranking away on it. This is the full team that consists of engineers, scripters, character modelers, environment artists, and animators. This team is implementing the plan created during the Wasteland 2 pre-production cycle. When this full team rolls off of Wasteland 2 at the end of the year, they will need something else to do. Having a complete pre-production plan at that time allows us to roll the entire team onto a finely honed game design. Team continuity is maintained, and efficient production can begin. In a traditional publisher model, now is the time in the project life cycle where we would start to try and sign the next big contract. The best tool we have to get that done is to go back to our new publisher, you, and explain that now is the best time to start the next project.
Our “half team” is ready to start the pre-production for Torment now. They need about 8 months to get this pre-production work done. In an amazing coincidence, in about 8 months I will have a full team that is ready to take that pre-production plan and create a game. The alternative, starting pre-production on Torment after Wasteland 2 is done, increases the cost of Torment production greatly and requires us to reduce our headcount during the process.
Staggering projects like we are doing with Wasteland 2 and Torment is the best tool a single-team company like inXile has to be successful. It has the triple value of making us more efficient, giving us a better game design and making sure we keep our design and art talent working with us.
To make everything as clear as we can regarding the Torment Kickstarter and what it means for Wasteland 2, I will attempt to answer some other questions you might have:
• We do want to be abundantly clear that no Wasteland money is to be spent developing Torment. No Torment money is being spent on Wasteland 2. That said, lots of tools, plug-ins and pipeline processes that have taken man months to create will be shared between the projects if we can keep team continuity.
• The pre-production of Torment is not going to hinder the development of Wasteland in any way. As explained above, they are different teams during the pre-production.
We hope this update helps to explain the logic of why we are launching this Kickstarter now. Based on our experience we know that now is the time to get Torment rolling. We also hope that we can count on your support for Torment, and if not your support, at least your understanding. This system has always served us well so we think it makes sense to try and re-create it with you.