Wpisy

The Man Behind the Mask ‒ an interview with George Ziets

Few cRPGs are awaited with such high expectations as the upcoming spiritual successor of Planescape: Torment. Set in the Ninth World of Numenera, Torment: Tides of Numenera was backed by more than 80,000 fans worldwide. One of the designers who have taken upon themselves the task of reviving the legacy of Torment is George Ziets, the Creative Lead of Mask of the Betrayer.

In an extensive interview, George tells us about his sources of inspiration and his work on Torment: Tides of Numenera, Pillars of Eternity and Mask of the Betrayer. He also shares his opinion on various subjects related to narrative design.


 Read this interview in Polish


Grimuar: Hello George! Thank you for finding the time to answer our questions. Using the opportunity, we’d like to congratulate you on the successful funding of your own dark corner of the Bloom! You’ve been involved in several projects lately ‒ what has been taking most of your time in the recent months? Could you tell us more about the development of the Gullet?

George Ziets: Thanks! Since May of 2014, I’ve been a full-time employee at InXile, focused almost entirely upon Torment. As Lead Area Designer, I’m designing two of our zones (the Bloom and Sagus Cliffs), overseeing the work of our other area designers, writing some dialogue, and working with the artists to develop character concepts, models, and level art. I’ve also contributed to story discussions and revisions, but the main narrative is mostly the province of our creative lead, Colin McComb.


Early sketch of an area in the Gullet


The Gullet was a part of my initial design for the Bloom, located deep in the creature’s guts. I intended it as Torment’s version of dungeon content, focused primarily on exploration and combat. In the original Planescape: Torment, I enjoyed the catacombs sequence that followed the Buried Village (including the Drowned Nations, the various crypts, and the Nameless One’s Tomb) because it contrasted with the heavily dialogue-driven gameplay that preceded and followed it and broke up the pacing of the game. I thought that the Gullet could serve a similar purpose in the Bloom, albeit on a smaller scale. It could also provide some fun reactivity to the player’s choices earlier in the zone – for example, if your actions caused the Bloom to feed upon certain people, you might encounter them again in the depths (or an echo of them, anyway).

But when we initially prioritized our scenes for the Bloom, we realized that the main narrative of the Bloom could function without the Gullet. Since our resources are limited on Torment, the Gullet became C priority, and it appeared likely that it would be cut. Thankfully, our Kickstarter backers stepped in and changed all that.

So now the Gullet is alive and well (and satisfying disturbing, I might add). Area designer Joby Bednar and I updated my original design and expanded some elements, and Joby is currently developing the level in Unity.

 

We start every interview with a question about the things that inspire our guest’s creative work. Could you list a few sources of inspiration ‒ games, music, books etc. ‒ which have helped to shape your own imagination and style?

I think the answer to this question varies by project. My tendency is to immerse myself in source material that inspires me for each game… to the extent that I almost avoid reading, playing, and watching things that will take me out of the appropriate mindset. When I’m in the design phase of a project, part of my thought process is always focused on the game, and I’m often jotting down ideas all day long. Books and movies and games that evoke the right tone or mood are like fuel to keep that process going.

On Torment, the biggest influences have been the original game, which I sometimes play in brief spurts before writing dialogue or thinking about an area design, the Numenera sourcebooks and published adventures, and Gene Wolfe’s New Sun books. I find that whenever I read a chapter of those novels, it indirectly sparks a few more ideas I can use in the game.

On a more general level, I was heavily influenced by the D&D campaigns I ran every weekend from age 9 to 17, and also by the rudimentary RPGs I built for my friends with Adventure Construction Set (on the Apple IIe!). Those experiences got me thinking of storytelling as a collaborative endeavor, and watching / adapting to the responses of my players was perfect training for game design. In my younger years (the 80s – early 90s), I was inspired by Greek mythology, which I read voraciously after being awed by the original Clash of the Titans movie, as well as movies like Dune, Labyrinth, Flash Gordon, and nearly all of Terry Gilliam’s films. More recently, I’ve been inspired by many of Miyazaki’s animated films and a few anime series like Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit. On the video game side, my most significant influences were probably the Ultima series (especially 4 and 5), early open-world, player-driven games like the original Sid Meier’s Pirates! and Seven Cities of Gold, and the Infinity Engine games. Picking out specific books is difficult because I devoured so many fantasy novels as a kid, most of which… weren’t very good… and it’s hard to remember the most influential ones. Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn stands out – it had a dark and unforgiving tone that I found appealing, and it depicted “elves” in a way that I found more interesting than in Tolkien’s work. And I can’t forget to mention the Fighting Fantasy series (the four Sorcery books, Deathtrap Dungeon, and Citadel of Chaos were probably my favorites), which were dark and chaotic and imaginative – those made an impression too.

 

You mentioned once that you’d be interested in creating a hard science-fiction RPG. While Numenera can be loosely classified as such, were you ever thinking about different sci-fi settings? What themes would you like to explore?

Yes! Numenera is a lot of fun, but it’s more of a far future, science fantasy setting. I’d be interested in developing a nearer-future setting with technologies that can be realistically predicted by present-day science. I’d also want to get away from Earth – too many science fiction settings today are post-apocalyptic futures. I’d rather visit our solar system in about 300 to 500 years when humanity has expanded beyond the home planet, established dozens of semi-autonomous colonies, and begun to modify ourselves and other life forms to survive on Mars, in the clouds above Venus, and on the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. I think that particular future would be a wild and chaotic place with unregulated technology of all kinds and hundreds of competing interests… which is a great, conflict-rich setup for storytelling.

Thematically, one idea that interests me is fragmentation – what will it mean for humanity to branch out into the solar system, gradually forming new societies that are separated by vast distances? The early European colonies in the Americas were founded by all sorts of different groups – what sorts of people from our present-day world would choose to leave the home planet and establish new societies throughout the solar system? How would those nascent societies evolve and grow apart? When we’re no longer stuck on the same planet together, can (and should) humanity still remain a coherent whole?

I’m also interested in the creative instinct – the human drive to change and manipulate everything around us. I think this tendency could become even more pronounced as we move into the future – for example, modifying biological life forms to serve human needs in other worlds and environments… or manipulating the intellectual capacities of other species, as in David Brin’s Uplift series… or even modifying ourselves into entirely new forms, as with the Ousters in Dan Simmons’ Hyperion books. Exploring the implications of such major changes could be really interesting.

 

Most role playing games based on the popular “reactivity and choices” don’t really prove to a player that there can be “middle ground”. We’re stuck with ending each conflict either as heroes or villains. Do you have any ideas for introducing more neutrality while keeping the choices meaningful and rewarding?

One way is to create adversaries who aren’t stereotypically evil. If the player comes face-to-face with an enemy who turns out to have good reasons for what he did, it’s going to be harder for a “hero” player to slay him and happily walk away. The same goes for allies – the player’s friends need not always be helpless, virtuous peasants – they should be complicated, imperfect characters too, and if you make the wrong decisions (from their point of view), they might turn against you. Creating adversaries and allies who are multi-dimensional – not entirely good or bad, just like real people – can complicate the player’s decisions and make them feel a lot more interesting.

Sometimes the problem is the morality system that’s built into the game. For example, if your game is explicitly tracking good-evil (as in D&D) or light side-dark side (KOTOR), then you’re encouraging designers to engineer choices along the stereotypical hero-villain divide. If instead you design a morality system that focuses on a different set of distinctions (as we did with the Tides in Torment) then you’re forcing designers to think about moral choices in a different way, which will discourage hero vs. villain thinking and help avoid the classic trap.

Choices in the real world can almost never be reduced to good vs. evil, so if I’m ever stuck trying to think of a more interesting sort of choice, I usually think about conflicts I’ve witnessed, read about, or heard in the news, which can provide good inspiration. (Of course, sometimes it’s fun to give players an outrageously evil option too, even if you know most people won’t pick it – we are making video games, after all.)

 

In one of our interviews Colin McComb stated that “writing goodness without being boring is *hard*”. Would you agree on that? Do you have any thoughts on how to approach “good” themes without being too idealistic or monotonous?

I addressed this to some extent in the previous question, but I think the best way to avoid “good” options that are boring is by dropping the player into realistic situations where the morally good path is not obvious. Put complicated characters on all sides of a conflict so that the villain is not necessarily evil, and the player’s allies are not entirely good. Introduce significant negative repercussions to seemingly “good” actions. Give the player multiple, competing visions of what it is to be good in a particular situation, so that the player has to choose among them.

Writing the stereotypical version of good is nearly always boring. But writing “good” in the complicated world of real life can be much more interesting. It’s just a matter of where we, as game designers, draw our inspiration from.

 

As a designer for the upcoming Torment game, you deal with the Numenera system on a daily basis. Which elements of the Ninth World do you find the most interesting?

I love the intentional weirdness of the Ninth World. The setting actively encourages us to indulge our crazy ideas and depart from the usual fantasy conventions. We can draw upon nearly any subgenre of fantasy or science fiction, as long as it’s presented in a way that feels consistent with the rest of the world. In order to do good creative work, it helps to have a setting that feels fresh and new and lets us combine elements from a variety of sources, and the Ninth World is perfect for that. (In that sense, it reminds me of some of my other favorite settings, like Planescape and Dark Sun.)

I also love the fact that it’s a world that rewards players for making discoveries. Player-characters can fight monsters and save villages if they want, but it’s no accident that the PCs are called “explorers” instead of “adventurers.” The real objective is to discover new places, creatures, and artifacts, experiment with the numenera, and investigate ancient mysteries. The world is layered with the detritus of countless civilizations and technologies, and it’s up to the player to make sense of it as well as they can.

On a related note, I think the concept of “oddities” is great too. Instead of generic gems and jewelry, the Ninth World has these weird objects from previous worlds. They usually don’t have any practical purpose, but they can lead to a fun or bizarre interaction if the player chooses to experiment with them.

 



Toment: Tides of Numenera ‒ first glimpse at gameplay


 

There are many interesting similarities between Planescape: Torment and its spiritual successor ‒ from eternal conflicts (the Endless Battle and the Blood War) to the player’s maze, a mysterious enemy chasing the protagonist, Sigil/Bloom bizarreness etc. Can you share with us any other links to PST that we did not mention?

Sure, here are a few:

  • Uncovering the past. In our case, it’s the past of the Changing God, the other castoffs, and your companions. In PST, the Nameless One gradually learned about his own previous incarnations, the important people in his past, and the deeper stories of Morte, Dak’kon, etc.
  • Factions with competing philosophies. These played a big role in Sigil, so we wanted to be sure we had some joinable factions in our main city of Sagus Cliffs. Just as in PST, the player can try out more than one faction, but they can only be a member of a single faction at a time.
  • Solving problems through dialogue instead of combat. In this, we’re attempting to go even further than PST did. If we’re successful, your character should be able to avoid combat entirely (and not just by running past enemies), though it will be challenging to do so.
  • Death. Just like PST, death won’t end your game (most of the time). When you die, you’ll be sent to the Castoff’s Labyrinth, which will give you access to Reflections (echoes of people your character knows in the “real world”) and Fathoms (strange places to explore in the depths of your own mind). In some cases, dying may provide access to “real world” content you wouldn’t otherwise have seen.

 

When you employ such links 15 years after the original game’s release, does it feel like re-telling certain elements of PST in an updated, perhaps more mature way? Is it a way to explore some areas which may not have been given enough spotlight in the first game? Or are those similarities simply a “wink” to the players familiar with the original?

All of the above. I think PST was a pretty mature game, but we are certainly exploring some elements in our own way and taking them in a somewhat different direction that resonates better with our team. Our themes, in particular, feel like they’re coming from a more mature and experienced point of view, probably because the average age of our team is greater than it was for PST. (Colin has mentioned a few times that mortality and legacy resonate more strongly to him now than they did when he was in his 20s.)

We’re also attempting to take some concepts from PST even farther than the original game did. For example, PST broke the rule that death is a bad thing and requires the player to reload. We’re applying that concept more broadly to other sorts of “failure.”

Thus, failing at Difficult Tasks or being defeated in combat won’t always mean you have to try it again. Sometimes failure will have interesting consequences that will change your experience but won’t block you from proceeding. In fact, you may discover that you actually prefer the outcome of a failure state – it may not be exactly what you wanted when you attempted a task, but you may find it to be more interesting.

 

Like its predecessor, TTON will feature mature themes, such as one’s legacy. Are you planning to explore some other themes connected to the nature and state of humanity (such as indifference, struggle for power, slavery, poverty or addiction)? Do such themes prove to be still valid in a world set a billion years in the future? Should we prepare for new major issues which may seem alien to our contemporary mentalities?

In addition to legacy, we’ll be exploring the theme of abandonment, which resonates strongly in the Numenera world (where the remnants of countless civilizations have been abandoned and forgotten over the millennia) and in the player’s story (where you and your siblings have been abandoned by your sire, the Changing God). You’ll encounter many other instances of this theme throughout the game.

Likewise, slavery, poverty, and addiction all appear in the Ninth World, and you’ll encounter them in TTON too. We’re not avoiding dark thematic content, though we never tell the player what to think about these issues, and you can react to them in a variety of ways.

For the most part, I think these themes are universal human issues – they’re as valid today as they were in ancient times, and they’ll probably be just as valid  in the far future. How they are expressed will differ, though, based on changes in technology and culture… and that’s what you’ll see in TTON. The themes will be recognizable, but in many cases, their specific manifestations will be unique to the Ninth World and the player’s unusual narrative.

I can’t think of any themes that will be entirely alien to the contemporary audience… but that’s mostly intentional. We want the Ninth World to be fun and weird, but we also want our players to identify and sympathize with the characters in the game.

 

Do you know if there’s any chance that Torment or Pillars could feature ambitious, morally ambiguous and existential dialogues like this? In other words, to what extent will the character’s intelligence level affect their dialogue options?

In Torment, the player’s Intellect pool won’t affect their response options. Partly that’s because of the nature of the Numenera ruleset – the player’s Intellect pool represents a lot more than just intelligence (it also represents willpower, wisdom, charm, likability) and it rises and falls as the player uses skills and is damaged in certain combat situations. Some response options will be based on the player’s lore skills, though.

As far as I know, Pillars isn’t going to have special response options for “dumb” characters either.

 

You have been a Pillars of Eternity stretch goal ‒ however, we feel you haven’t had too many chances to introduce your work on the project. We remember you writing interesting stuff about Woedica, one of Eora’s deities. Could you elaborate a bit on your work on PoE?

I was involved in the early narrative and world-building work on PoE, when the team only consisted of Josh and a few other people. It was a fun phase of the project – I love world-building, and Eora (which didn’t even have a name at the time) was almost a blank slate, except for the player races, the map, the focus on souls, and a few lore elements that Josh wrote during the Kickstarter campaign.

First I came up with a bunch of deities, which made good sense to me as an initial step. (It seems like a society would use gods to represent things that are important to them, so defining the deities was a good way to get to know the people of the Dyrwood and their neighbors.) Then I wrote a lot of lore about cities, dungeons, prominent people, organizations, and important places in the region, including a detailed breakdown of Defiance Bay. I think the team has expanded the city a lot since I worked on it, but some of my neighborhoods are still present (e.g., Brackenbury, Ondra’s Gift), and it sounds like they’ve retained some of the other lore too.

In appx. March of 2013, when more people started to roll onto the project, a number of us (Josh, Chris Avellone, Eric Fenstermaker, Jorge Salgado, me) wrote up ideas for a main storyline. Then Eric and I spent a couple weeks on Skype (he was in California, I was in Ohio) synthesizing many of those ideas into an initial draft. During that time, I also assisted with some writing on their vertical slice (Dyrford), though I don’t know if any of my dialogue is still in the game.

Around May of 2013, I shifted my focus over to Torment during a lull in my PoE work, but my role on Torment quickly expanded, and InXile ultimately offered me a full-time position. That turned out to be a good fit – the only downside is that I never had a chance to do any additional work on PoE.

 

The plot of Mask of the Betrayer focuses on the Wall of the Faithless, a controversial and rather grim concept. At one stage of the game, we get to visit the remains of the dead God of Death. As for the characters themselves, they represent extremely differentiated views in matters of faith. What inspired you to take on such ambitious and original themes?

At the time, I didn’t really think of our content in those terms… they were just elements that I found personally interesting.

When Chris Avellone offered me the role of Creative Lead on the expansion, I had a lot of flexibility as to what the story could be about and where in the Realms we could go. I also had a few months (while NWN2 finished up) to brainstorm, so I read all the Forgotten Realms material I could get my hands on. The elements that stood out were things like the Wall of the Faithless and the afterlife, the dream-theft of night hags, the spirits and witches of Rashemen, the nature of Faerun’s gods, and the idea of “death” for a god. The Wall of the Faithless was definitely my favorite, and I wanted it to play a central role, but I set out to craft a story that united all the elements I liked. The themes arose naturally from the narrative, and I didn’t know what the game would be about, from a thematic perspective, until I had a solid draft of the story and main characters.

In retrospect, I’ve always found religion and mythology to be interesting topics, so it’s probably no accident that MotB’s themes veered in that direction.

 

Psychological depth and originality of the characters of Mask of the Betrayer really attract attention. One of Many, composed of mass consciousness of all sorts of criminals, and Okku the Bear God are especially unusual companions. How did you come up with such vivid characters?

On Mask, my goal was to make the companions feel unusual and different, partly to reinforce the player’s impression of being a stranger in a strange land. Okku was mostly inspired by the giant animal gods in Princess Mononoke. When I first saw that movie in the early 2000s, I wanted to *be* one of those guys in a game… or failing that, I wanted to travel with one. I also loved the idea of a companion with the truly massive, overwhelming physical strength of a bear. So Okku was one of the first companion concepts I developed (right after Safiya, who arose naturally from the main narrative).

One of Many was the last companion to be fully developed. When I was conceptualizing the companions, I knew I wanted some sort of undead companion that players could somehow shape themselves. (I think that idea arose indirectly from some characters I wrote on NWN2 – the Silken Sisters, whose souls had been smashed together by the King of Shadows.) But beyond that, I didn’t know what this undead companion would be. The idea of him being an amalgam of murdered criminals and psychopaths came later, when I was finalizing the main story draft and needed more details about the companions. It seemed like a recipe for the most evil and psychologically disturbed companion I could imagine… which was perfect for that character. But I didn’t know exactly how the player would create One of Many until I started designing the Death God’s Vault.

(Side note: One of Many’s name was suggested by Tony Evans, who ultimately wrote the character’s excellent dialogue.)

 


Mask of the Betrayer spoilers


You supposedly managed to include Kaelyn as a companion at the last moment. Did you have to give up completely on introducing certain story arcs?

Not really. Most of our planned content for Mask got into the game, and the things that were cut generally made the game stronger. For example, we originally had another whole module that took place on Myrkul’s floating “island” in the Astral Plane, but we cut it down to a single scene, which worked a lot better for pacing.

We did cut a planned romance with Kaelyn. That made me a little sad, but she’s still my favorite MotB companion, and having no romance with her makes sense for the character.

We also did a poor (i.e., rushed) job of concluding Kaelyn’s arc if you chose to fight against her in the City of Judgment. In that case, her grandfather is supposed to appear to save her, and the player can either allow him to take her away or try to kill him. Originally, all four of her siblings were also meant to be there, but we weren’t able to get them all in. The player would have a chance to kill all of them in front of Kaelyn (and then leave her for the demons or just kill her) – a really horrible ending for her, but appropriate for evil PCs. Avellone wrote a great scene with her grandfather, and I think it plays sometimes, but the game scripting is buggy and the scene doesn’t always get triggered.

(The same thing happened with Kazimika the witch, who is supposed to ambush you outside Mulsantir if you devour the Wood Man, giving players who hated her the chance to exact revenge. I don’t think that was fully implemented, but I’m pretty sure the dialogue exists.)


End of spoilers


 

There is an ongoing discussion whether or not games should (can?) be considered to be works of art. If the artist of the past heard of a tool that would let them connect theatre, music, literature and make the spectator live and breathe in their interactive world, they’d consider it a gift from the heavens. What is your personal opinion on this matter?

Games can absolutely be works of art… but most of them are not. For a game to be a work of art, I think it needs a unified vision that is reinforced by every element (gameplay, story, level design, music, art, etc.). When so many disciplines are involved in building a game, it’s incredibly difficult to achieve that level of synchrony – on big projects with enormous teams, I’d say it’s virtually impossible. Smaller games with a strong central vision are more likely to succeed as works of art, in my opinion – with a smaller team, there’s a better chance that all the team members will understand the artistic vision and work toward it. So I’d say that we’re more likely to find “games as art” amongst indie titles.

Probably the “biggest” game that I’d consider a work of art is Planescape: Torment. The most recent game I played that I’d classify as a work of art is To The Moon. I’m sure there are others, but I don’t get to play as many indie games as I’d like.

 

Do you often read reviews of the games that you work on? If so, what has been the toughest criticism you faced? Do you regret any choices or design decisions you had made in the past?

Yes, I always read reviews – both official reviews and user reviews are interesting and instructive. Even the angriest rants have some nuggets of truth at their core, and a game developer can learn a lot from them. Possibly the most valuable lesson is in seeing which elements of a game garner the most passion from fans – sometimes those elements are not the ones we assumed would be most important.

I don’t have many regrets about specific design decisions on other projects, especially if they were made for good reasons at the time and I learned something from them. In the case of Dungeon Siege, I think my biggest regret was not pushing harder against some of the narrative goals and constraints that I didn’t agree with… and which ultimately led to a bland experience, in my opinion.The toughest criticism I’ve faced was on Dungeon Siege 3, which wasn’t as successful as we’d hoped. Many players found the narrative (which was my focus as Creative Lead) to be a disappointment. Even though I knew why the narrative didn’t meet these players’ expectations, and I agreed with most of the criticisms, it was disappointing to have spent two years on a project that didn’t excite our fans.

 


Throne of Bhall, MotB and New Vegas spoilers


What are your favourite gaming moments, story-wise? (We’ll warn about spoilers, so feel free to mention anything that comes to mind.)

My favorite moments are almost always the ones when I get to make interesting decisions. These aren’t even confined to RPGs. A really old-school example is an Interplay game, Castles, that occasionally confronted the player with decisions to make as a ruler. The consequences were not always monumental – sometimes I’d get more of a resource, sometimes I’d get an extra knight in my army – but the decisions themselves were excellent for immersion. Like real-world choices, they weren’t structured around abstract notions of good or evil, and they were effective in making me *feel* like I was playing the role of a medieval king.

I’m also a fan of decision moments when the player gets to do something that’s completely unexpected and surprising. (Oftentimes these are “evil” options, like the bad ending for Kaelyn in MotB, but not always.) One example is from KOTOR, when a dark-side player can command the wookiee companion, Zaalbar, to kill his best friend Mission Vao… and the wookiee actually does it. It’s a really dark option that surprised me when I saw it.

A few other moments that I’ve enjoyed…

  • All the interactions with Deionarra in Planescape: Torment (tragic characters are my favorite), including her great sensory stone dialogue.
  • The ending of BG2: Throne of Bhaal, where I can choose to embrace my heritage and become a god (and leave behind my companions and love interest) or remain a mortal ‒ a satisfying capstone to the whole experience of that series.
  • The ending of To The Moon was fantastic – not especially reactive to player actions, but emotionally one of the most powerful moments I’ve seen in a game.
  • Any moment that makes me truly hate an antagonist, like the moment in Lonesome Road (Fallout New Vegas DLC) when Ulysses steals the robot companion I’ve come to like and rely upon.
  • Any interesting or dramatic opening to a game, like the plane crash in Bioshock. I thought the opening “growing up” sequence of Fallout 3 was clever, too.

End of spoilers


 

Thank you for your time and effort, George. This year might bring some memories back with both Torment and Pillars hitting the shelves (well, hopefully). We sincerely wish you to keep up the good work and remain creative.

The Man Who Travels The Planes ‒ an interview with Chris Avellone

Zerthimon once said “One who does not play role playing games, does not *know* himself” [Ninth Circle] ‒ we can’t argue with that. And Chris Avellone knows RPGs quite well.

We had an opportunity to interview Chris on game design related topics, Planescape: Torment, his experience with Numenera and his upcoming activities.

Polish translation: Podróżnik Sfer ‒ wywiad z Chrisem Avellone’em

 

Grimuar: Hi, Chris. We’re glad that you found a moment to answer our questions. Last year you once again became a human stretch goal; you also got involved in another demanding cRPG project. What has been taking up most of your time recently?

Chris Avellone: I got drafted for creative design on the next slate of Obsidian projects, and there’s a lot. We’re pitching several new games at Obsidian now that titles are wrapping up, and I was enlisted into that process. We have about at least nine proposals in the works, some with multiple stories and story arcs, which is challenging, but in a good way, it’s just a lot to juggle. It’s largely Feargus (our CEO) and I doing the initial proposals, and then senior folks get moved on to them as their time frees up. It gives me new respect for what Feargus has to juggle with projects and contracts. Things should settle down once we have the next slate of projects good to go.

In my off-duty time, I’m playing the Wasteland 2 beta and writing the Wasteland novel, doing nation design for the Accursed RPG, both of which are nice changes of pace from my game writing. Working on the FTL Enhanced Edition (which I did for free because I love FTL) was also a fun experience – Tom Jubert and Justin Ma and the devs were really fun and open to work with. I also liked a lot of the new plans they had for the game and the expansion of the lore.

I’m also slated to add narrative muscle to the Legend of Grimrock series by Wayside Creations (they did Fallout: Nuka Break and Red Star), and I’m looking forward to that since I’m a Legend of Grimrock fan.

 

Systematic work with diverse settings – such as the fantasy world of Pillars of Eternity, the futuristic Numenera or return to the post-nuclear Wasteland – demands a lot of creativity. Could you list any works – literary or other – which have inspired you or influenced the shaping of your imagination in a special way?

When I read or watch, I tend to put things in a game design perspective, so what others might largely regard as a crappy movie, I’m always asking myself how it would translate into a game environment. So for example: 30 Days of Night, Battle Royale, Cube, Lifeboat, Crank, the Darkest Day, etc. end up being inspiring because I can break them down by system and level design mechanics. I also read a lot of comics and graphic novels, and some stand-outs are: Walking Dead (and the new Manifest Destiny by Skybound), Wild Blue Yonder, Zero, Secret, Protocol Orphans, Day Men, Black Science (fantastic), and Sex Criminals. More on Sex Criminals a few lines down.

Lastly, I keep going back to Batman. Not only do I like the current Snyder run immensely, but Batman is the ultimate example of a designer’s primary job: execution. Batman, at its core, is a stupid idea. Rich kid dresses up like a bat and fights crime and his arch-enemy is a clown. But, in the right hands, it can become so much more with context, presentation, character design, and psychology. (Side note: Sex Criminals is the latest example of this – when I heard the premise, I thought it was the dumbest one-sentence I’d ever read – the execution, however, is fantastic and now I encourage everyone to give it a read.)

 

Could you share with us a few elements of your creative process? Do you have any secret rituals that let you reach maximum creativity?

There’s a few. One, write creatively first thing in the morning before you do anything else, like check work email or anything involving the internet or have breakfast or workout, and then write until you hit a wall (usually takes an hour or two for me), then go do any of the things above. I usually go workout and think about the morning writing and where I could go from there, and the endorphins usually help with the next steps.

Also, I don’t always write linearly. I write moments, scenes, and descriptions that I really want to write that I think would be cool for the player and/or the reader, then I work backwards from there to see how I can build those moments in reverse.

I reward myself for pushing to reach certain goals. I require I write at least one hour per day outside of my core hours at Obsidian. If I do three hours, then I treat myself (food, beer), and since I always want to treat myself, that’s a good incentive.

Lastly, I try to look for other ways to tell the story. Visual (esp. Prop placement and graffiti placement) and sounds (sound effects) are often better ways to communicate what’s going on with an area rather than a five minute expository conversation with the town greeter. I sometimes even do this with descriptions in writing. I was getting hung up on one chapter I was writing because I was having a character attempt to explain in words what happened, then I tried another track where he had to do it with chalk drawings only, and that was much easier to lay out and write and communicated the info in half the space.

 


In *knowing* yourself, there would be little in the Planes left worth *knowing* ‒ Githzerai Dak’kon [FanArt by Shameless Shamsiel]

 

Games are not literature – you’re bound to work within the limitations of mechanics. Which important elements of modern technology tend to be the most limiting for writers? What kind of devices do you lack the most?

The limitations I see the most are just financial and resource hurdles. Often, game companies can’t afford to hire editors (it’s almost impossible to justify that expense) and editing and proofing are such an important part of the process it shouldn’t be left to chance. I will add, that from a tech standpoint, the amount of games that don’t have the ability to display italicized text is sadness. Italics communicate so much in tone.

 

You’re working on several titles based on unconventional settings. Which elements of these games do you find especially interesting? What are their strongest points?

Wasteland 2 is a nice nostalgic trip back to the 80s, and since I grew up in the eighties, that gives a lot of fuel to the creative process (music, fashion, movies, media, commercials, all twisted out of control). Also, when it comes to franchises, Wasteland is even more freeing than other post-apocalyptic licenses because there’s less bookends to worry about (and it helps that inXile and Fargo are very open to kicking around lore ideas – they are very much about sharing the world with the designers).

With Numenera, the strong points are twofold – one, the setting that Monte Cook established was already extremely varied, and when you add the Torment pillars to it (theme, story emphasis, companion emphasis), all of those come together nicely. When working on Numenera, I feel very much Iike I’m doing a game version of a Gene Wolfe Book of the New Sun novel, which is pretty cool. Or Roadside Picnic, except fantasy-based.

 

How did you enjoy playing Numenera? Could you tell us more about the epic accomplishments of your character?

I loved playing Numenera for a few reasons. One, the ruleset allows for you to feel like a hero. Second, it encourages establishing connections and stories between characters, and the ability to exchange XP to help each other to succeed adds another level of communal sharing and bonding to the process. In every Numenera game I’ve played, I’ve felt a higher level of cooperation and teamwork than any other PNP game I’ve played. That’s not to discount other games I’ve played, they just don’t always have the same level of assistance mechanics and “character ties” mechanics that Numenera has. They encourage you to build not just your character concepts with a degree of freedom, but then they encourage you to develop background and future quest seeds between your characters. When on the adventure itself, the XP sharing also causes a lot of bonding, and I like the encouragement to “burn” magic items you find instead of hoarding them (in Numenera, if you hoard too many cyphers – equivalent of potions and scrolls – they create damaging effects, so you’re encouraged to burn through them as you find them).

 

Could you tell us a little bit more about the character you’re going to create for Torment: Tides of Numenera?

Not at this time, unfortunately. I’m happy to share thoughts after people have a chance for him to be in the party in the computer game. He was designed specifically to fit into the themes we’d established from Torment, and Colin, Kevin, and Adam seem to like the premise, so we’re good there. I think he’ll allow for a lot of good role-playing opportunities while being useful at the same time.

 

Torment: Tides of Numenera and Pillars of Eternity will use different combat systems. Do you think that turn-based and real-time combat can be equally absorbing? Considering these two games, what might the strength of each system consist in?

Both can be equally absorbing, although I do get more adrenaline spikes from real time. I feel like with turn-based I’m playing a gambling game, where I’m pulling the slot machine lever with every attack (Wasteland 2), and I don’t think that’s a bad thing, either. It gives me a chance to carefully plan my moves. I’m fine with either real time (as long as I can pause it) or turn-based, I’m not wedded to either one, it depends on the feel you’re shooting for. WL2 came from turn-based roots. I also found that in X-Com: Enemy Unknown (as with the original), turn-based made me even more anxious and terrified what the aliens were going to do.

There’s one thing, however, that Torment is doing to elevate turn-based which appeals to my narrative instincts. The combat is part of a broader turn-based system called Crises, which include other types of actions like repairing devices or even having a brief conversation. Getting the right feel for a sudden conversation in the midst of a pitched battle is harder to do with real time combat. The ways in which they’re looking at designing the narrative to interweave with the combat in ways like this is really promising.

 


Annah of The Shadows [Art by Michał “Grosnus” Sobejko]

Spoiler: Some of the characters of Planescape: Torment are really controversial, complicated and morally ambiguous personalities whose actions transform the Planes. A Gray Sister questioning the rules of the Multiverse, the defender and destroyer of Shra’kt’lor, a succubus who defied her own nature – what inspired you to create each of these characters?

I took the Planescape concepts and traditional views of the characters/races and tried to reverse them. Succubi are often pigeonholed into a certain look and attitude, so a chaste, polite, friendly, and wise one seemed more interesting. Having a githzerai in your party seemed to be a signature race in Planescape, so I took that, incorporated that, and then examined what it would be like for the same character (whose race had escaped from slavery) and made him a slave again.

Planescape allowed for a lot of those reversals, and even encouraged them in the framework of the setting.

 

How did you come up with the idea of the Unbroken Circle of Zerthimon ‒ Dak’kon’s artifact that hid the entire history of the githzerai people? Rarely can we see items that enrich the plot with a whole new storyline.

A priest needs a bible or book of teachings. And it seemed like an interesting way to share the history of the githzerai and question it at the same time. I really enjoyed writing the stories for each teaching (although we almost couldn’t get zerth spells in in time). I did include the hint of a possible unreliable narrator so it wouldn’t be considered canon if the TSR guys didn’t like it, though, but I don’t know if they ever considered any of the lore. I hope they did.

 

One of the strongest points of Torment were the dialogues – remarkably complex and at the same time full of thought-provoking one-liners. Did the ideas for memorable quotes come spontaneously or are they based on particular sources?

I had about 10+ years of notes built up in my idea journal (and now I have 13+ more years on top of that), and it felt like I used a good chunk of those for Torment where appropriate. I like to keep inspiration art folders and text docs filled with possible names, spells, concepts, quests, locations, location names, and a host of other bits and pieces I think would be cool and go “swim” in it on occasion when I get writer’s block. People also don’t tend to let me borrow books because I write and draw ideas in them when I get inspired which isn’t generally welcomed.

 

Spoiler: In the Vision Document for Planescape: Torment you’d included concepts for two alternative endings which eventually didn’t make it to the final game: there was a “bad” ending in which The Nameless One wakes up on a mortuary slab again and continues his sad cycle of life and death, and a “good” ending depicting the final triumph of The Nameless One over The Transcendent One. After all these years, do you think the player should have been given these alternative choices? Or did the game benefit from this turn of events?

I don’t think players minded. I would have liked to get them in, along with more planes, more dungeons, etc. but there was only so much time.

 

We have always wondered what would have happened if the concept of talking heads (as seen in Fallout) had been implemented in Planescape: Torment. You know, Deionarra addressing the player directly with words like: “Perhaps in death, I still hold some shred of use for you…?” – that would have been a traumatic experience. Not to mention Morte. What happened to this characteristic idea? Have you ever contemplated returning to this concept?

The talking heads in Fallout were resource intensive, and the player’s ability to imagine those characters saying the lines is powerful without needing to see the faces. Also, modifying expressions in the same manner as Fallout heads wasn’t always easy, and I don’t know if some of the best uses for character expression were always used – when you can see someone’s face, sometimes their expression without them saying anything at all is more powerful, and there were few instances of that in Fallout, if any.

 

Lately you’ve been answering numerous questions about crowdfunding campaigns and their impact on the video game industry. However, Kickstarter is not just social financing – it is also an explosion of positive energy and crazy ideas. Which moments of all campaigns particularly stuck in your mind?

Off the top of my head – Torment: Tides of Numenera making its funding goal in 6 hours, Double Fine’s success in 24 hours that redefined how games could be financed and made (Tim Schafer and Double Fine changed things for everyone), being asked by Brian Fargo to not just support Wasteland with a quote but to have the childhood dream of being able to work on the sequel, the first realization of how Kickstarter could cut development time simply by discovering players didn’t want a feature (happened on WL2 and hours of programming time were set free!), and seeing KS’s not only continue, but thrive in terms of funding as time progresses. I’m really looking forward to seeing what KS holds for the future as people become more and more comfortable with it as a funding model.

 

Game design involves certain sacrifices. The final form of the writers’ vision is highly influenced by the framework of time and budget. Which of the interesting concepts and elements of the games that you worked on were never included in the shipped versions?

Two additional romance arcs in Alpha Protocol (that I’m grateful got the axe, there was already too much romance in that game). I fought hard to get one of them removed, and in the end, it was still partially there when I’d have preferred it be cut out entirely. Let’s see… with Planescape, we had hoped to get another plane in, but it was pretty early on when we discovered we had more than we bargained for already. I will say I am proud of what we were able to get into our games: more companions for Mask of the Betrayer (Kaelyn almost didn’t make it) and companion dialogue with Torment (almost all of those could have been lost, including Dak’kon’s spells and the Circle of Zerthimon).

 

We’ve heard you were a fan of Firefly. Let’s assume that you’re given an offer to create a role-playing game set in Joss Whedon’s universe. What do you do?

Use it as an excuse to meet directly with Joss and chat about games and comics.

More seriously (well, equally seriously), I’d take a closer game design look at Firefly, see how we could leverage and expand upon companion mechanics (which is core to Firefly and Serenity) and then start brainstorming cool narrative arcs, quests, heists, and exploring more about the psychic experimentations they had present in the game universe – as well as other experiments the Alliance may have performed on people and planets. I’m too pragmatic to assume we could get the actual cast, but if we could, I’d want to do something that continued on after Serenity and kept the story going (although I believe the Firefly comic series is already doing it with “Leaves on the Wind” (Zack Whedon).

 

After many years the “Brian Fargo presents” intro returns to computer screens. How did you enjoy playing the beta version of Wasteland 2?

I played one path for about 30 hours and enjoyed it. inXile was quick about addressing feedback on the beta (and describing the fixes comically, some of the patch notes made me laugh out loud). I’m going to play through it again taking an alternate path because I know the opening areas change dramatically depending on the choices you make (we wanted to showcase reactivity as early as possible, and I think it was successful).

 

Two big premieres await Obsidian Entertainment ‒ Pillars of Eternity and South Park: The Stick of Truth. We’d like to wish you best of luck in finishing both productions and a lot of inspiration in creating your future projects. Please accept our best wishes ‒ straight from the heart of the Plane of Positive Energy!

Thanks, we appreciate the kind words! There’s a lot of good Kickstarter projects on the way in all fronts as well, so all in all, should be a great year.

 

One last question ‒ regarding an age-old mystery.

The poet we encounter in the Clerk’s Ward (Planescape: Torment) keeps muttering something in an unknown language. Can you recall the meaning of these words? Could it be an encoded message? Or is it just gibberish?

I’uer nei aon Dadic Artag, alad aviw ovulf moi’oc
Ui jakillu nediu wyr aon jigar o’ur m’hesh
Cualow tieng val aon unamihir t’sugent wo,
Nodwe aon zemon ui aon sonye me asaho ge dio?
Aon t’hesei oma iyos ha aon eyash.
Nost ayen i fasir hem wyl obris aon meha;
Ui awon riwon so aon wirano gras Em nozaeh
Rareh roib i ehsin so sanatoum serolk…

So I asked Dave Maldonado, who was responsible for making the Clerk’s Ward as great at it was and is head of global events in World of Warcraft (my apologies if I have that wrong, Dave), and he had this to say:

It was something, I’m just about certain; I’ll always take an opportunity to include some weird reference and/or Easter egg rather than simply make up nonsense. I’m pretty sure what I did was take a famous poem or song, and then just rewrite it in a made-up language, using the same number of letters (like AON is probably AND, etc.) and structure/punctuation. So if someone could ever find something that matched it for word/letter count and structure, they’d have it.

So the challenge is issued. I’m sure the Torment guys would be willing to give a free key to anyone who found it.



 

We encourage you to follow Chris Avellone on Twitter.

Click here to read this interview in Polish:

Podróżnik Sfer ‒ wywiad z Chrisem Avellone’em

Return to the City of Doors – an interview with Colin McComb

It’s been years since our immortal hero first set out on the search for his lost identity. His unusual journey, spanning many planes and involving a number of unconventional characters, made it possible for us to take a glimpse at the wonders of the multiverse and engage in battles in which words were our only – but ever so powerful – weapon.

Today we’re going back to the City of Doors for a nostalgic conversation with Colin McComb – one of the creators of the Planescape setting, designer on Planescape: Torment and author of the Oathbreaker fantasy series.

 

GS: Colin, you’d worked on numerous books and adventures for the Planescape setting, you took part in the development of Torment’s storyline, and lately you’ve been involved in the designing of a post-nuclear world of tomorrow. Could you tell us in brief what were your responsibilities on the Torment team and what are you responsible for now as a writer on Wasteland 2?

Colin McComb: In 1996-99, my title was “game designer”. Now, that title would probably be adjusted to “narrative designer”; though I was responsible for some mechanical work and some scripting, I was primarily responsible for developing characters, quests, and some items.

My work for Wasteland 2 is very similar to that. Right now I’m working on fleshing out a very polite cannibal cult and making sure there’s plenty to do and experience in my particular area. I think there’s a good depth of reactivity here, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it plays when it’s implemented. One of the great things about the preproduction lead-time we have is that we’ll have time to make necessary changes and get everything working just right.

GS: You’ve written books, you’ve written games  –  which poses the bigger challenge? Do you prefer to create worlds that come to life solely in the reader’s imagination or interactive ones offering the support of graphics and sound?

Colin: They’re both challenging, but in different ways. Still, I think I’m going to have to give the edge to CRPGs, because in addition to developing compelling characters, an interesting plot, and narrative threads for other supporting actors, you need to develop a game that reacts to the player’s choices. Is the protagonist going to make certain choices? You’d better think about those choices, and about how far you’re going to allow the player to go down that path. This is one of the questions we had while developing Wasteland 2: how evil do we want to allow the player to be? At some point, the story starts to go sideways. An organization like the Rangers probably doesn’t look too kindly on a rampage killer, and we’ve discussed ways to implement what happens when the player reaches that point.

With fiction writing, you tend to have a lot more freedom. You’re not constrained by hardware limitations or difficulty of modeling or scripting specific sequences. You can change your setting in the blink of an eye, and you can explore as far as your imagination can take you without worrying about having to generate art assets to back up the vision in your head. You can plunge from the heights of heaven into the depths of hell and take a rest stop in a place of machines and circuits, or take the viewpoint of an electrical impulse – all in the same story, and you don’t have to worry about developing mechanics that support these shifting narrative styles.

On the other hand, fiction writing is a nearly solitary exercise. There’s a certain joy in it, but it’s also beautiful to work with a team and to see your joint vision come to life for a far greater audience than most writers get on their own. So I can’t really pick one. They’re two different animals.

GS: It is said that creation comes from inspiration. Could you list some of the things that inspire you and stir your creativity? Have any particular works  –  literary or otherwise  –  proved to be a lasting influence on your own style and imagination?

Colin: Roger Zelazny has been a favorite of mine throughout my life as a fantasy reader. I started reading his “Chronicles of Amber” when I was in 7th grade, and have been reading or re-reading his works ever since – that’s about 30 years of Zelazny reading, if you’re keeping track. His work covers fantasy, science fiction, and all the places in between – as a speculative fiction writer, he was daring, imaginative, and deeply thoughtful, not to mention possessed of an incredible style and verve.

But I do like to take inspiration from everything that I come across, whether it be painting, photography, music, sculpture, or simply living. I think that a creative person is obligated to look at the world in a different way and to seek out answers and ideas from every facet he or she encounters. Every shaped thing in our world has a story of its creation; every natural thing has a story of its growth. Dig deep enough and you can imagine something for all of it.

GS: Matter shaped by sheer willpower, despotic devils warring with chaotic demons, a city linked to every place in the multiverse, and finally the Lady of Pain, the silent ruler of that city… Planescape is a crazy setting and an oasis of radically good ideas, many of which haven’t yet been used to their full potential. Do you have any favorite themes or concepts that you deem especially worth cultivating?

Colin: I don’t think we really explored the notion of what it means to struggle to be good, actually. Writing goodness without being boring is *hard*, especially when you do it without the contrast of evil. That is, it’s easy to for Good to be exciting when you’re in Baator and surrounded by devils – it’s not so easy when you’re in Mount Celestia and everyone around you is encouraging you to be a better person.

I’d love to explore the madness of Pandemonium more, too, the endless tunnels of howling wind. Or the orbs of deeper Carceri, or the chaos of Limbo and the shifting cities of the githzerai,  or… well, I could go on for days.

I guess the answer is all of them. I’d love to develop all of them further. I really loved that setting.

With the new setting we’re looking at, we have a fresh set of concepts to examine. While we’re not looking at metaphysics made flesh, we’re looking at some ideas that are equally as cool, and we’re going to have the opportunity to dig deep into the idea of legacies and the individual choices that define our lives and provide meaning on a broader scale. Our new setting is just as Big-Idea, and I am really looking forward to expressing some of those concepts in a way that is emotionally and intellectually satisfying.

“When a mind does not *know* itself, it is flawed. When a mind is flawed, the man is flawed. When a man is flawed, that which he touches is flawed. It is said that what a flawed man sees, his hands make broken.” – Githzerai Dak’kon (FanArt by Grosnus)

 

GS: Among all the factions, which one do you consider the most badass and which one would you avoid at all cost?

Colin: Some people would say the Harmonium or the Mercykillers, but personally I’d go with the Doomguard as the most badass. Not only do they not care about your problems or some grand vision of order and justice, they’re actively trying to tear that vision down and undermine your schemes. Throw a little craziness into that batch and you’ve got the Joker. Throw some military prowess in and you’ve got an utterly amoral mercenary squad whose only mission is to see it all in ashes. It’s definitely the Doomguard who would frighten me the most.

But close behind them? The Fated. Man, what a bunch of jerks.

GS: Suppose you were unfortunate enough to step through the wrong portal and you ended up in the midst of a Blood War battle. Who would you side with? Or, more realistically, would you prefer to die at the hands of the baatezu or the tanar’ri?

Colin: If I were about to be captured by one side or the other, I would kill myself rather than be captured. But I guess the tanar’ri way would be generally faster and with fewer mind games on the way out – with the baatezu, they’d probably nurture hope of rescue and escape, even allowing me to escape a few times before reeling me back in.

GS: According to many, Planescape: Torment is a game not to be played but to be read. It wouldn’t be an overstatement to claim that some of the game’s individual storylines offered more “story” than many of today’s cRPG productions in their entirety. What has happened to the narrative aspects of games in the recent years? In an era of fully animated dialogue sequences, can the narrative still prove a vital element of gameplay?

Colin: Part of the problem, I think, is that players have come to expect voice acting and animated cut-scenes and a host of other expensive goodies that must be planned, developed, and implemented well in advance of the game’s completion. While planning is an important element of any development process, the incredible lead time and cost of modern dialogue takes a real toll on improvisation and inspiration during the development process.

That said, I also believe that narrative does continue to play a vital role in gameplay, and developers like Obsidian and InXile prove that people are hungry to see narrative in gameplay. We might be a niche market, but we’ve also got incredibly devoted fans who make these projects worthwhile – and this might sound like I’m pandering, but it’s the truth: without the people who buy, play, and demand these games, we’d have no market, and so the people who want more stories in their games need to prove to other, bigger developers that story games *sell*.

 

Story spoilers below.

 

GS: The Nameless One is an unusual protagonist. We meet him at the Mortuary, with no knowledge of his sins. As we slowly swim through the ashes of his past, we begin to understand the terrible truth  –  he is a murderer and a traitor. Before Torment was met with such warm reception, weren’t you afraid that you might have created an unlikable antihero with whom the player  –  sent to reap the harvest of his crimes  –  wouldn’t be able to sympathize?

Colin: Not at all. You’re a blank slate at the beginning of the game, and it’s your reactions to what you once were that define who you will be in the game. You can embrace that cold-hearted pragmatist and choose to continue his legacy, or you can work against your past to become a person truly worthy of the loyalty your companions display. Either way, as the player you come to embrace your choices and by making those choices your own, you begin to fully inhabit the character.

“If there is anything I have learned in my travels across the Planes, it is that many things may change the nature of a man. Whether regret, or love, or revenge or fear – whatever you believe can change the nature of a man, can. I’ve seen belief move cities, make men stave off death, and turn an evil hag’s heart half-circle. This entire Fortress has been constructed from belief. Belief damned a woman, whose heart clung to the hope that another loved her when he did not” – The Nameless One (FanArt by Grosnus)

GS: Upon several occasions, you’ve mentioned the cancelled PlayStation Planescape game you’d worked on before you joined the Torment team. Could you tell us a bit more about it? Which elements of the original campaign were to be the main focus of the project? Which planes would the player get to visit?

Colin: Sure! The game would have been similar to the game King’s Field, a first-person style game of puzzles, exploration, and real-time combat. You were to have taken the part of a Mercykiller, pursuing the source of a riot in the Hive. Your investigations would lead you to a thieves’ guild in the Lower Ward, an arms dealer in Ribcage, and then into the depths of Baator as you sought to deliver justice to the people responsible for so much suffering.

Now that I think about it, it would have been a really cool tie-in to have your character be named Vhailor.

GS: At the end of Planescape: Torment, the Transcendent One addresses the Nameless One with the words: “Know that my hatred for you will unmake the planes.” As a Planescape veteran, do you think anyone, even as powerful as the protagonist, could shatter the multiverse? Could TNO eventually destroy the planes?

Colin: No, but it was a great line. The planes are infinite and eternal, and for all his experience and all his knowledge and power, the Nameless One’s strength is like that of a mayfly against the windshield of a truck when compared to even the strength of a lesser god, who in turn trembles and quails against the strength of more powerful gods, who in their turn can master only small pieces of individually infinite planes.

So, no, I don’t think the planes were in any serious danger from the struggle between the Nameless One and the Transcendent One. It turns out the only thing that can really take down the planes is intellectual property ownership.

GS: The coming year looks promising for you. The release of Wasteland 2 is planned for October, and there’s another great project ahead. The news of your decision to create a spiritual successor of Torment made cRPG players across the world bate their breath in excitement and was surely a wish come true for many diehard fans. What is your own biggest wish for 2013?

Colin: That I’ll have the opportunity, time, focus, and talent to present something worthy of the Torment name, and that together we can tell a story that will leave us satisfied, thoughtful, and better for the experience.

GS: …and that is exactly what we wish for you. Thank you for agreeing to talk with us!

 


 

We strongly encourage you to follow Colin McComb on twitter and visit his personal website for more.

Click here to read this interview in Polish
Powrót do Miasta Drzwi – wywiad z Colinem McCombem“.

Grimuar Sferowca (Grimoire of the Planar) is a Polish vortal dedicated to Planescape, Planescape: Torment and Project Eternity. The questions for this interview were compiled by Ania “Corpselight” and Mateusz “Darnath”.