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RPGWatch Torment interview


funcroc

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http://www.rpgwatch.com/show/article?artic...ef=0&id=208

 

RPGWatch: Tell us a little about yourself and your role in making PS:T.

 

Chris Avellone: I'm Chris Avellone, Creative Director at Obsidian Entertainment. "Creative Director" is basically a shape-shifting designer, which allows me to change my design title at will depending on what game or project I'm contributing to at the moment. On the last project, I was senior designer on NWN2: Mask of the Betrayer, and now I'm the Creative Lead Designer on the forthcoming Aliens RPG from SEGA.

 

As far as Torment goes, I was lead designer (and doing work on Fallout 2 at the same time, which contributed to my near-constant level of exhaustion). As lead designer, I laid out the story, characters, dialogues, area layouts, item descriptions and design, scripting, concept art sketches for locations and items, voice casting, script reading, and contributed design and feedback to almost all of the design for the game. I led a team of about 7+ designers and interfaced with the other departments to get the game done with a lion

Edited by funcroc
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chrisA STILL refuses to admit that ps:t combat suckage were a serious contributing factor to ps:t downfall. "marketing" is how the developers makes selves feel better 'bout own shortcomings... can blame ps:t failure (and it were a failure) on the suits.

 

ps:t had too little combat, and combat that were there were mostly bad. 'cause chrisA put so much dialogue into ps:t (much of which were pretty tedious and overblown... though some of it were pretty damned inspired too,) the lack of fun combats were even more noticeable and pronounced. *chuckle* one developer from a rival company told Gromnir that ps:t inspired them to adopt a 3-line guideline for dialogues: no single dialogue response shoulds be more than 3-lines long. why? 'cause average gamer got bored reading and just kinda clicked through the long dialogues so that they could gets to the combats & stuff.

 

ps:t combats suckage should have made chrisA's list... but it didn't/won't.

 

HA! Good Fun!

Edited by Gromnir

"If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."Justice Louis Brandeis, Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)

"Im indifferent to almost any murder as long as it doesn't affect me or mine."--Gfted1 (September 30, 2019)

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am tempted to use the eye roll icon.

 

you obviously like ps:t. the question is, why didn't more folks like ps:t. there were combats in ps:t, but they were all pretty mindless and pointless. skeletons and thugs and larvae may have looked different, but they were all same as far as gameplay were concerned. also, if there had been more combats, then we is confident that fewer people would have complained that there were too much dialogue. only seemed like too much dialogue 'cause the combats in game were relative small, short and awful... and 'cause, as mentioned earlier, individual dialogues were a bit long.

 

HA! Good Fun!

"If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."Justice Louis Brandeis, Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)

"Im indifferent to almost any murder as long as it doesn't affect me or mine."--Gfted1 (September 30, 2019)

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1) Combat is both singular and plural. Combats is incorrect.

 

2) Combat in even Baldur's Gate, the ever popular Final Fantasy games, and Diablo are all pretty mindless and pointless. Even in the RPGs that focus on combat, combat has rarely been a particularly strong point of the game.

Edited by Tale
"Show me a man who "plays fair" and I'll show you a very talented cheater."
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you obviously like ps:t. the question is, why didn't more folks like ps:t. there were combats in ps:t, but they were all pretty mindless and pointless.

*Raises hand* I liked ps:t too :p

 

Maybe for the very same reasons that lots of people didn't. Having mostly played old 8bit games and ssi goldbox type games up until then (Fallout was my first pc crpg), it was rather refreshing to play a game that wasn't a tactical combat simulator, but more a "whodunnit?" type game. Combat felt like it was incidental, just there because it was part of the setting, not the objective itself.

 

Maybe conflict just appeals to more people than a story elements in a game?

 

Maybe that is why there is a greater market for shooters than there is a market for say adventure games, although that doesn't explain why the heck something like the sims can exist :woot:

Edited by Gorth

“He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice.” - Albert Einstein

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am tempted to use the eye roll icon.

 

you obviously like ps:t. the question is, why didn't more folks like ps:t. there were combats in ps:t, but they were all pretty mindless and pointless. skeletons and thugs and larvae may have looked different, but they were all same as far as gameplay were concerned. also, if there had been more combats, then we is confident that fewer people would have complained that there were too much dialogue. only seemed like too much dialogue 'cause the combats in game were relative small, short and awful... and 'cause, as mentioned earlier, individual dialogues were a bit long.

 

HA! Good Fun!

Ok I'll play. Use the eye roll, whatever blows up your dress. How do I obviously like PS:T? Just because I said there was plenty of combat? I can find out the number of kills and let you know if you wish. Now you are right in your statement about "lack of fun" combat, but that was not what I was disagreeing with.
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*chuckle*

 

then what is the point of disagreeing?

 

*shrug*

 

we suspect that some people likes to post just to see their count grow... but if you wanna compare kills in iwd or diablo or bg to ps:t, then be our guest. take out respawns and you will find that ps:t lags in combats encounters per hour o' gameplay... probably by big margin.

 

HA! Good Fun!

"If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."Justice Louis Brandeis, Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)

"Im indifferent to almost any murder as long as it doesn't affect me or mine."--Gfted1 (September 30, 2019)

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*chuckle*

 

then what is the point of disagreeing?

 

*shrug*

 

we suspect that some people likes to post just to see their count grow... but if you wanna compare kills in iwd or diablo or bg to ps:t, then be our guest. take out respawns and you will find that ps:t lags in combats encounters per hour o' gameplay... probably by big margin.

 

HA! Good Fun!

If you say something thats obviously wrong I will correct you. There is plenty of combat in PS:T. The quality is the problem.

 

Posts counts? I have 200 hundred in 3 years? Like I give a ****.

 

The reason PS:T didn't do so well is obvious to me, I hated it at first and tried to play it many times. It is only now that I comprehend it's greatness, while admittedly it will never work for some. I finally "got it."

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chrisA STILL refuses to admit that ps:t combat suckage were a serious contributing factor to ps:t downfall. "marketing" is how the developers makes selves feel better 'bout own shortcomings... can blame ps:t failure (and it were a failure) on the suits.

 

Wow, haven't seen Gromnir since the Interplay days. Good fun to see you again, ya cook.

 

And actually, Gromnir, in the yet unreleased part 2 of this interview (yay interview spoiler!) Chris Avellone notes "game mechanics should come first, and Torment's game mechanics were very clunky."

 

Since it's the same combat as BG, Infinity Engine and all, I don't think it contributed much either way to sales. Infinity Engine's RTwP is a disaster, in my opinion, and it was horrible in all the Infinity Engine games, but other people seemed to like it.

 

Who do I pm here to get my nick changed in to "Brother None"? This "Kharn" nick is outdated.

inXile line producer

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PS:Ts combat was unfulfilling? NO WAI!1oneone

 

It was the only thing that people didn't like with the game, but at least the combat was pretty :woot:

Edited by Meshugger

"Some men see things as they are and say why?"
"I dream things that never were and say why not?"
- George Bernard Shaw

"Hope in reality is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man."
- Friedrich Nietzsche

 

"The amount of energy necessary to refute bull**** is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it."

- Some guy 

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sorry kel, but you haven't corrected an error by Gromnir. there were fewer combats compared to ie games and the other rpgs that were popular at the time. it were a Frequent complaint that there were too much talky in ps:t... too much talky means, by deffinition, less proportion o' fighty. so, either decrease talky or increase combats.

 

btw, is nice to see that you admit that Gromnir were correct when we identified that you obviously likes ps:t... so why quibble over that point too? seems to be a pattern with you.

 

and sorry kharn, but mechanics in ps:t were different. example: ranged combat were pretty much eliminated. by time peoples got nordom, most players had quit. enemies didn't use ranged neither. fiends and critters with spell-like abilities almost never used those ranged components. even the pc weren't an effective spell caster til 1/2 through game, so couldn't really use spells as a ranged component. ps:t combat were different... and less.

 

HA! Good Fun!

"If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."Justice Louis Brandeis, Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)

"Im indifferent to almost any murder as long as it doesn't affect me or mine."--Gfted1 (September 30, 2019)

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btw, is nice to see that you admit that Gromnir were correct when we identified that you obviously likes ps:t...
That's only recently, I hated it and I do mean HATED IT for years. Funny how things change.

 

 

 

Torment is better than both though.

If you add Torment. Then it goes like this.

 

Baldur's Gate 2 > Baldur's Gate > Fallout 2 > Fallout > Work> Taxes > Dentist > Torment

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btw, is nice to see that you admit that Gromnir were correct when we identified that you obviously likes ps:t...
That's only recently, I hated it and I do mean HATED IT for years. Funny how things change.

 

 

 

Torment is better than both though.

If you add Torment. Then it goes like this.

 

Baldur's Gate 2 > Baldur's Gate > Fallout 2 > Fallout > Work> Taxes > Dentist > Torment

 

...

 

you are boardering on vol stoopid with this. Gromnir were responding to your post in this thread when we noted that you obviously like ps:t. why we should know or care of your past ps:t feelings is...

 

*shrug*

 

we made an observation and clearly we were correct, but still you argue. how obtuse is you gonna be with this?

 

HA! Good Fun!

"If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."Justice Louis Brandeis, Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)

"Im indifferent to almost any murder as long as it doesn't affect me or mine."--Gfted1 (September 30, 2019)

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You are a piece of work. Just trying to help you save face. Let me refresh the argument since you won't let it die.

 

You: PS:T does not have enough combat

Me: It has plenty of combat.

 

 

 

By the way wouldn't someone have to buy the game to Judge it's combat, and lack of sales is what hurt the title?

Edited by Kelverin
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1) you are not doing a very good job of saving face

 

you were wrong that ps:t has equal combat. you do like ps:t (in spite of initial protests and ridiculous rationalizations after the fact) and you concede that ps:t combat is hardly a selling point... and STILL you continue to argue. amazing.

 

2) "By the way wouldn't someone have to buy the game to Judge it's combat, and lack of sales is what hurt the title? "

 

so then there is no way to guess why exactly sales were bad, 'cause the people who didn't buy didn't play so they can't critique? that make sense to you? many people who DID buy game posted on the boards back when josh were the web monkey, and Gromnir and other potential purchasers listened. there were a lot of pre-release hype and adverts ofr ps:t, and the box art argument is a bit tired.

 

bad games tend to sell less well. but how can that be so if people gotta buy to find out if they don't likes games. is the great conundrum of our age, or is it not nearly as complicated as kel seems to s'pose.

 

duh.

 

you is really not helping yourself.

 

HA! Good Fun!

"If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."Justice Louis Brandeis, Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)

"Im indifferent to almost any murder as long as it doesn't affect me or mine."--Gfted1 (September 30, 2019)

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PST combat was annoying and clunky - thanks to the neat story though I went through it the first time with fond memories. But the annoying combat adds to the "won't go through it a second time" factor quite a bit.

 

 

you know, Gromnir would be interested to hear why the ps:t developers didn't makes ps:t combat more similar to iwd. why were enemies all (with some very few notable exceptions) mindless mob fodder no different that swarms of bg1 gibberlings with different animations? why were ranged weapons removed? no summons spells. etc.

 

the iwd developers were some o' the folks that worked on ps:t, and were also a handful o' n00bs, and yet they got combat down better than the ps:t guys... and iwd sold far better in spite of rush development and limited resources. imagine if iwd had gotten joinable party members stories and dialogues as compelling and involved as ps:t characters.

 

iwd, for all the folks that complained that it were a dungeon crawl, had pretty good story aspects and FAR superior combat to ps:t. in spite of prentions of rpg purists, d&d evolved from table-top war games... were first and foremost a squad-based tactical combat game. why largely ignore that aspect of a d&d game?

 

HA! Good Fun!

"If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."Justice Louis Brandeis, Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)

"Im indifferent to almost any murder as long as it doesn't affect me or mine."--Gfted1 (September 30, 2019)

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I suspect it was alot easier to get into IWD. PST was a heavyweight. As for the PST combat.... I can only guess, but priorities have to be set during development. MCA was in charge, so he wanted this story element, that story element...which also means more areas for the artists to create, hence less time for doing animations. Could be other reasons too.

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IWD was far more similar to the BG games than was PS:T. Rushed development was possibly not as much of a factor, since less changes needed to be made to the engine.

 

Perhaps it was just an excuse, but I recall developers saying that ranged combat didn't work as well in PS:T because of the "zoomed in" nature of the camera, compared to other IE games. However, they made it work for Nordom, so... :shrug:

 

As for spells, well... PS:T was all about differences, in many aspects, compared to 'traditional' AD&D gaming. Lack of summoning spells were likely a conscious choice, in the same way there was no armour (but plenty of armour-like substitutes), and no swords, and no dwarves, elves, etc.

 

EDIT: also, let's keep in mind that the IWD series and BG2 were released after Torment, so the developers can take everything they've learned from working with previous games to make the newer ones. I've rarely seen anyone compare BG to the later games, but the improvements made over it in later games were numerous.

Edited by mr insomniac

I took this job because I thought you were just a legend. Just a story. A story to scare little kids. But you're the real deal. The demon who dares to challenge God.

So what the hell do you want? Don't seem to me like you're out to make this stinkin' world a better place. Why you gotta kill all my men? Why you gotta kill me?

Nothing personal. It's just revenge.

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"EDIT: also, let's keep in mind that the IWD series and BG2 were released after Torment, so the developers can take everything they've learned from working with previous games to make the newer ones. I've rarely seen anyone compare BG to the later games, but the improvements made over it in later games were numerous. "

 

oddly 'nuff, we often seen bg1 compared to later ie games. is strange how people convince selves that bg1 were a superior game in spite of all the improvements made by later incarnations.

 

in any event, we admit that the experience gained from seeing how bg1, totsc and ps:t were embraced factors into the equation... but keeps in mind that chrisA has said many times that he doesn't thinks that ps:t combat were bad... or even a problem. can't fix a problem if you not recognize.

 

in any event, am curious as to what developers were thinking... 'cause we ain't never really seen an explanation. sure, likes insomniac, we all guess 'bout why ps:t is different in some aspects and how choices were arrived at, but it would be interesting to hear a developer pov, 'cause only thing we hears in past were that ps:t combat were fine as far as developers were concerned and they not say no more.

 

HA! Good Fun!

"If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."Justice Louis Brandeis, Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)

"Im indifferent to almost any murder as long as it doesn't affect me or mine."--Gfted1 (September 30, 2019)

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Geez, Gromnir is hard to read, and once I do decode his cryptic text, I immediately wish I hadn't.

 

PS:T didn't sell as well as other titles because it was an unfamiliar setting. There are plenty of RPG's that have sold well with less combat/lousy combat/ and too much reading. The difference is in the setting. People hesitate to pick up titles they don't recognize, whereas generic swords and sorcery is pretty easy to recognize.

 

Kel is right about the combat not hurting the sales. Sure, a few folks might have waited around to hear the word of mouth about PS:T's combat, but the game was well reviewed. Most major games make it or break it in the first few weeks of sales.

 

Honestly I never finished PS:T and wasn't a huge fan of the game. I know this is because I knew absolutely nothing about the setting, and it was hard to jump right into. But I never felt the combat was any different than BG.

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I've never been one of those who thought BG1 was superior to any of its successors. Personally I think it's the weakest of them all, and the only way I can go back to playing it again is through Tutu. That's not to say I didn't like the game, because I did, it's just too old compared to the other IE games.

 

But I agree about wanting to hear the developers thoughts on various decisions about making PS:T the way they did, if only to satisfy my own curiosity.

 

Damn, phone call from work and I lost my train of thought. Oh well.

I took this job because I thought you were just a legend. Just a story. A story to scare little kids. But you're the real deal. The demon who dares to challenge God.

So what the hell do you want? Don't seem to me like you're out to make this stinkin' world a better place. Why you gotta kill all my men? Why you gotta kill me?

Nothing personal. It's just revenge.

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Geez, Gromnir is hard to read, and once I do decode his cryptic text, I immediately wish I hadn't.

 

PS:T didn't sell as well as other titles because it was an unfamiliar setting. There are plenty of RPG's that have sold well with less combat/lousy combat/ and too much reading. The difference is in the setting. People hesitate to pick up titles they don't recognize, whereas generic swords and sorcery is pretty easy to recognize.

 

Kel is right about the combat not hurting the sales. Sure, a few folks might have waited around to hear the word of mouth about PS:T's combat, but the game was well reviewed. Most major games make it or break it in the first few weeks of sales.

 

Honestly I never finished PS:T and wasn't a huge fan of the game. I know this is because I knew absolutely nothing about the setting, and it was hard to jump right into. But I never felt the combat was any different than BG.

 

there is no question that the unfamiliar setting contributed to failure of ps:t... is always one of Gromnir's top reasons as to why we thinks ps:t failed, and is possibly the main reason. 'course, is kinda a cheap dodge too. ps:t universe were big 'nuff to include those aspects of fantasy crpgs that people seem to need... like elves and dwarves n' such, and is not as if dark is universal doomed.

 

there seemed to be a great deal of anticipation regarding ps:t pre-release. the game magazines were hyping and there were a great deal o' buzz... is not as if people were turned off by ps:t w/o having seen anything more than an advert or two. this were a major release by interplay. they clearly didn't thinks that there where problems with the setting pre-release.

 

also, we suspect that fo3 is gonna sell like hotcakes. if it does will that finally put to rest the nonsense that a dark setting can't work in a crpg? will have to wait and see.

 

btw, another factor that maybe were a problem for ps:t sales that rare gets mentioned: bugs. ps:t were buggy and had terrible memory leak issues that almost made impossible to play for even Gromnir, who loved the game. somehow the performance issues gets forgotten as the years roll slowly by, but they were a big factor at the time.

 

 

HA! Good Fun!

"If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."Justice Louis Brandeis, Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)

"Im indifferent to almost any murder as long as it doesn't affect me or mine."--Gfted1 (September 30, 2019)

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