What’s next?

Now that I’m largely done with the work on Wasteland 2 (apart from some iterative work, clean up, and reactivity adds), I wanted to think about where I’m going next. I’ve found it’s useful to take stock when looking forward.

I’ve written a lot of things in my life, but there a few that really stand out in my memory (apart from my fiction).

Though I was a big fan of my early work (just because it was my early work, and evidence that I was working as a game designer) one of the first things I was truly proud of was TSR’s Birthright, my first published world, which took AD&D into a lower-fantasy setting and let you take the part of a ruler of a realm. Second was my work on the Planescape campaign setting, which allowed a huge degree of creative exploration. In that body of work, Monte Cook and I (along with our able editors, Ray Vallese and Michele Carter) were able to flesh out a significant part of the cosmology and background of the planes, defining and creating a foundation that would lead to my next big gig (and to Monte’s; not only did he help design D&D 3.0, he also produced an amazing string of successes, the latest of which is his Numenera setting).

Third, and perhaps most importantly, was Planescape: Torment. That’s almost certainly the work that people remember best, even if they don’t necessarily remember my name. Working on Planescape: Torment was… well, let’s turn on the Wayback Machine.

I came onto Torment as, I think, the fifth or sixth person when my Playstation Planescape game was canceled. It was a blow to lose my first lead designer gig, but it turned into a real education. The first members of the nascent team had been working on the game’s preproduction for a few months. At that time, it was called “Planescape: Last Rites”, a name that had to change because of the game “Last Rites.” But the concept remained largely the same, though it grew stronger and stranger as we progressed.

I must have been only about six or seven months out from my TSR gig, so Planescape was still fresh in my head, and I became the go-to guy for matters of Planescape lore. The team grew significantly as we ramped up production, and I became Chris Avellone’s second for a lot of issues; he and I worked closely enough that we’re still good friends, though we haven’t seen each other regularly for 12 years.

I learned a hell of a lot from Chris: how to structure a dialogue, how to build in some real reactivity, how to condense ideas and stories to deliver maximum impact. The best part is that he didn’t sit down to show me–he just did it near me. And even though he and I both loved the setting, we saw ways that we could tell the story better by deviating from it.

But that’s not really the point of this post. The point is that of all the games I’ve written, the one that I keep circling back to is Torment. And now that the bulk of my work on Wasteland 2 is largely complete (with some iteration work that still needs to be done), I can start thinking about Torment seriously.

What was most memorable for most players of the game? Based on the conversations I’ve had with friends and fans, the answers (at least from a design perspective) boil down to these. It:
* Turned RPG tropes on their heads (e.g. death is bad and requires a reload).
* Had a rich, amazing story.
* Displayed memorable, unique characters, especially the companions.
* Took place in a hugely different fantastic setting.
* Allowed small player choices to make real differences in the game world.
* Wasn’t about an epic battle between good and evil, but it did ask serious questions (like “What can change the nature of a man?”).
* Created strange, even living, items that you can talk to or interact with

The Planescape setting allowed us [or the player] to explore a deeper array of philosophical questions. But I think there are many settings that could host the Nameless One’s story or a similar one. Any setting that rewards the player for internal exploration (certainly deeper than, “Can I hit it? How much loot does it have?”) could host a similar story. As long as there’s a fantastical element to the world–whether straight fantasy or science-fantasy–these questions become possible and desirable. The farther away we stray from comfortable routine, the more likely we are to challenge ourselves, trying to define our place in the world. A boring setting frequently leads to boring questions; we know the drill and don’t have to examine it closely. But a fantastic setting forces us to re-examine the world, to take it in a fresh light, and to see that our fundamental truths may be flawed. *That* is at the heart of a Torment story.

The first step in designing a new Torment story is to ask the primary question. I’m older than I was when I worked on Torment, and my questions now are different than they were. I have children now, and I look at the world through their eyes and through mine, and that’s changed me – in fact, the intervening years have changed me so much that I have new answers for the central story in the original Torment. So now that I know what can change the nature of a man, I ask: What does one life matter? … and does it matter at all?

Then I’d re-examine the fundamentals of the setting. I’d put it someplace other than Planescape (and I’ll explain why in a followup). I’d use a system other than D&D, because I’d want to align the player’s story axes along different lines than Good/Evil or Law/Chaos to something more subjective. The core of Torment is, after all, a personal story, and while we can be judged by others on the basis of our actions, arbitrarily aligning those actions on an external and eternally fixed line removes some of the agency from the player’s game.

I have a lot of ideas about what to put into a new Torment game, but my primary goal would be to help the player tell a story that was evocative of the original Torment without aping it. To be faithful to the odyssey of the Nameless One, and to recognize that it has ended, and that stories of Torment are ongoing.

What would you want to see?

53 thoughts on “What’s next?

  1. Pingback: More-ment - Tap-Repeatedly

  2. I loved Torment, thought it was such a clever game that evoked fond memories of the Planescape setting.

    Was so happy that you worked on it as I enjoyed your work on the Pen and paper setting.

    It seems that you are thinking about following similar lines to those of Obsidian with Project Eternity, a Torment inspired game that avoids the usual tropes and focuses on telling a thought provoking story, whilst trying to avoid the usual cliches. So will your next project be a game or a work of fiction?

    • I thought I’d answered in this thread – just in case you didn’t see it, my answer is below. (short answer: a game!)

  3. I would love to see something that is as deep and as strange as PS:T – you’re absolutely right that it was deep, mature themes and the fantastical evironment (so different from any I’d encountered before) was a massive part of why I enjoyed that game and a huge reason I remember it so fondly. Everything was a new discovery (it helps that I have a big soft spot for the infinity engine) and it was genuinely new, not just rediscovering things. In Dragon Age, yeah, elves aren’t the same as in Tolkein but in PS:T I saw more Slaads and Plane dwellers then I saw elves (though perhaps it helps I’d heard of theses things? Turns out in PS:T there’s a lot more to Slaads and demons/devils then I ever guessed).

    I want a story that is mature, adult and isn’t afraid to treat me like the fairly smart person I am – I actually like getting into a setting and it all being weird (especially as TNO knew as much as I did, i.e. nothing) and I want a game that is ALL ABOUT THAT STORY. One of the things I liked so much about PS:T is that the story (and within that I mean the plot, characters and settings) took centre stage.

    I always play a wizard, and I mean always, but in PS:T I cared to much more about the story I only played a wizard once out of the five times I completed it. The game mechanics had taken a back seat to the plot and I think it’s the only game that has ever had that effect on me.

    The final thing was … it seemed like I had a huge amount of control over what TNO said – rarely, if ever, did I select a dialouge choice that wasn’t really a choice -> picking A or B would send me to C and D respectively, rather than both A and B leading onto C. I felt like, even though there were few machinic ways to develop, I made a TNO more unique to me than any character ever. The huge amount of dialouge was another massive reason I remain a dedicated fan of the writing in PS:T.

    So, thanks for writing it!

    • @Ninja – if you saw an elf in Torment, please point me to it so I can go stomp it out. Seriously, if an elf somehow snuck in there, you probably have an elf virus, because we designed “no elves” into the game. :)

      I think the real strength of the game – certainly from my perspective – was that we wanted to make a conscious effort to avoid overly repetitive dialogues with most characters. Some of them, sure, it’s unavoidable. But we wanted to make dialogue feel more organic than a five-node dialogue tree, and we took care to make many dialogues condition-dependent – Intelligence scores, possessions, party members, and so forth.

      That’s the kind of thing I’d like to do again. Based on the team we had for Wasteland 2, I think it’s possible.

  4. Thanks, Stuart!

    This would be a game in the vein of the Infinity Engine titles. I’ve got… let’s say I’ve got an in with the Torment IP. Planescape itself, not so much – but I think I’ve got something equally as cool lined up.

      • What did you want to know? I’m not trying to be coy; I want to make sure to answer you properly. If I can’t, for one reason or another, I’ll tell you straight up. Because this is still very early, there will likely be a lot more no-comments now than later.

  5. The thing about games, especially most commercially successful games, is that story, and character (and less so setting, but still somewhat) so often take a backseat to mechanics. Especially now a days, in the world of MMOs and X-Box Live Deathmatch shooters.

    What defined the golden age (for me), with games like Torment, was that it could have been a game, it could have been a movie, it could have been a novel, but it was so deep, so fully fleshed-out, and so vivid, that sometimes I would jerk awake at 6 am, brush the empty beer cans off my desk, tap the keyboard and realize that I’d been so engrossed I’d played until the hints of dawn were peeking in through the blinds at me, making me equal parts ashamed and satisfied.

    So what would I like to see? More of the same, I suppose.

    • “More of the same, but different.”? I will accept this as a mandate. 😉

      Seriously, though: one of the crucial things about the original’s story was that it was a personal adventure, not an epic. That’s one of the aspects we will really want to focus on.

  6. Pingback: Former Black Isle Writer Contemplates New Planescape: Torment-Inspired Game | Kotaku Australia

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  8. Yea, Torment was THE game to me. The only game that I REALLY played ‘in-character’, fully immersed – and not in a ‘awesum graphix’ way it is meant now. The way story unweaved, the way you always had a dialogue choice that made you ‘Hey! That is EXACTLY what I would say…. if I had 20 Int and Wis, that is, heh.’, the strange things behind every corner…
    To paraphrase PIcasso, “The purpose of Planescape:Torment is washing the dust of daily life off our souls. ”
    It really made me look differently at life. Only other game that had similar effect was ‘Turgor’ from Ice-Pick Lodge – an other game that is clearly more about Art then pure entertainment created for profit.
    Rather close in quality of dialogue and story come KOTOR2 (unfortunately, you need a restoration project to fully appreciate it) and MOTB – also quite close to PST level, too bad that NWN2 engine also didn’t serve it well, hateful camera controls :(
    Anyway, it is possible to create something like PST, as KOTOR2 and MOTB show. Howfully, Project Eternity will be one of those game. Do you intend to work on that too? Too bad they intentionally selected a more ‘classical’ setting with elves and shit.

    • Thanks, Balor.

      I don’t currently have any plans to work on P:E. They’ve got a full team of talented designers on there (Avellone and Sawyer alone are fantastic); I’d just get in the way.

      I believe they’re going to deliver something really, really good. This is the kind of game a lot of them have wanted to make for years, and they’re going to pour their hearts into it.

  9. I’d like to see a game where I don’t have to worry about the rules, where each character, item and spell are unique and memorable. A game where I use certain items or spells not beacuse they’re better number-wise but because they fit the characters’ themes. A game world where someone’s treasure is another’s trash, where knowledge and information counts more than raw might, where you drink at the same sinkholes with gods and with lice. I’d like to see abstract ideas realized and meddled with in the game, stuff like those found in the Blood Wars trilogy (the god of thieves has stolen an hour so in his domain the day has 25 hours) or in these dreamy Miyazaki movies (a guy in the dreamland of ‘Spirited Away’ was a river in the girl’s normal life).

    The world’s theme is not important to me, as long as it’s something radical in some way and not the medieval (fantasy or not) thing. Nothing wrong with it, but it has been done too many times in the past decades in films and games and novels.

    Although a new PS:T-like game would make me very very very happy, I’d like to see a game that will be today what PS:T was then. A game that would surprise me by defying the usual game traditions and mechanics like PS:T did, but in ways I can’t concieve now (so that I’ll be surprised and awed!)

    After long discussions with friends over the years, we’ve came more or less to the conclusion that pc gaming hasn’t really moved forward since PS:T. We haven’t seen anything substantially new. I hope we’ll see it soon!

  10. First, I’d like the say this game was a masterpiece and I have yet to find any CRPG that tops the experience; it’s a Matryoshka doll that unfolds infinite Easter eggs.

    This is going against the grain, but one of the greatest aspects I enjoyed was the limitations of the game’s mechanics, particular the AD&D 2ed on the Infinity Engine. To many, it seemed like a hindrance with arbitrary rules and limitations set by TSR at the time. To me, it focused the scope of the setting… a bound frame of reference within a world that was already alien to most participants. You could tell that the developers could feel the friction between their vision for the game and boundaries of the settings, which flushed out a feeling of self-awareness not found in most games. Moments like when an aasimar tries to sucker some thokola to fight an abishai, knowing that they’d be slaughtered because they didn’t wield +1 weapons… to ironic moments like questioning where Morte stores his inventory while being just a skull (throat cavity of holding?). In a way, the game’s nuanced rules aided in the immersion of the story’s environment by drawing attention to meta structure on which the world Planescape was built on. You really felt tied to the characters as you both experienced the confines of the rules, not just the player.

    I hope I made some sense there, kind of feels like playing Devil’s Advocate for a antiquated system that makes no sense to a newer generation. Then again, pretty much every RPG game these days has their own handcrafted mechanics of how their game worlds work, which to me is just as arbitrary as the rolling THACO in AD&D… at lease Torment was cleverly honest in pointing out the cracks and corners in the 4th wall. Overall, given the creativity you guys had with PS:T, you have a million amazing places to craft a new story. All I’m suggesting is that whatever rules you set, stick to them adherently and try to create as much friction as you can with them, to the point that it makes even the characters question the bounds of their own reality. Because hell, we question our own reality every day…

    Best Regards,
    Nobody (aka Alex)

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  15. If you happen to make a new game, please get rid of Intelligence, Wisdom and any other mental attributes. What I disliked about Torment is that certain dialogue options – usually those more interesting – only unlocked with higher attribute levels which forced you to a certain patch in character development… if you played the games for its stories and dialogues which I suppose most of us did.

    Intelligence etc. are not an issue with standard fantasy RPGs like Baldur’s Gate because those are more focused at different aspects (like tactics). But with Torment I’ve always felt that locking dialogue options depending on mental attributes is bad. For example, with a more strength based character, you’d lose the whole Dakkon story. I’d much prefer if dialogues – and therefore my choices in the story – were more open and I had more choices available irregardless of mental attributes.

    It’s basically the same deal as with alignment which you mention in the post.

  16. Anything inspired by Torment is something I would want! I do offer some insights. The setting has to be utterly fantastical (ala Planescape) and “weird”…yet very importantly it has to be plausible (so as to make people still feel connected to it). It has to be incredibly vibrant and massive (again akin to Planescape).

    The chief aspect however as to why Torment is so amazing for me is this: a unification of contrasts. Torment had an incredible impact on me because it successfully managed to merge very opposite/contrasting aspects into a coherency: it merged “plausible” with “weird/fantastical”, it merged “personal story” with “scope spanning multiple planes” (big scope, yet very personal story), it merged “player driven choice” with “inevitable outcome” right from the start, it merged “deep philosophical/serious” with “pedantic” (asking deep questions in the context of “fantasy exploration” and traditional questing/D&D experience).

    What made it unique was that usually a D&D or RPG experience is about “kill monsters, get loot, etc.”, it is “shallow” (and does not usually entail examining existential questions or asking questions through gameplay itself), but Torment came along and presented a “philosophical thesis” of sorts in the guise of a “traditional RPG/D&D/adventure experience” (for at its core, the gameplay and mechanics of Torment remained firmly rooted in the traditional quest/adventure structure). This cannot be emphasized enough: the question of “what can change the nature of a man” is not simply a question asked in a literal sense by the writing/story, it is actually asked through the gameplay and roleplaying itself. In other words: Torment merged the contrasts of “gameplay” and “script/writing” perfectly, whereas traditionally, these two are in fact separate.

    Strip away this “unification of contrasts” and Torment loses what made it special. To put it into an analogy: Torment is akin to “mixing gravy and ice-cream” and yet in some way making it taste perfect; it merged opposites in a way that most would say is impossible and found a way to make it work. How Black Isle accomplished this remains a mystery to me to this day. The team must have had a perfect synergy to be honest. There is simply nothing else in the entire gaming spectrum that comes close to the perfection that Torment is (for me of course). So yeah, take from that what you wish, just thought I would share it.

    Oh and for the record: I loved the combat in Torment, I actually think people dismiss it simply because the other pillars of the game are so phenomenal/bright and outshine it, but the combat gameplay way actually very good for me. Either way…make this happen Colin, it would be awesome. We need more mature, philosophical, wacked out fantastical, character/story driven games! Especially for us older gamers out there who are in our 30s/40s now and want some more thought provoking “substance” to our video games.


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  18. Pingback: News Scenarzysta Planescape: Torment też myśli o kontynuacji

  19. Pingback: Planescape: Torment sequel gets Avellone’s blessing | VG247

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  22. Pingback: 'Planescape: Torment' spiritual sequel going forward - Video Game Writers

  23. What I would love to see, is a remake!
    I guess you’ve heard this before, but regardless of that, here’s my opinion to why.

    Imagine diving in to the world of Planescape with completely remodeled graphics in HD, using something like the most recent CryEngine. At the same time all the sounds are better in surround, and all the dialogue spoken. The possibility to change to first person view is there, just for the sake of experiencing the details of this wonderfully designed game.
    This is my dream. (together with final fantasy vii)

    It should also make you a lot of money. At that I’m pretty sure. I would gladly pay for it.

    Second to this, a sequel would be awesome!
    You say you want another setting, and I hope you can pull that off. You’ve got my full support there. But what I loved with Planescape was the atmosphere of that place. The special feeling that I got when playing it. It was there from the very start when The Nameless One woke up in the mortuary and I talked to Morte.
    I’m not sure how to explain it.. Might be the combination of so few compromises, the design, the sounds, the dialogue. Probably the sum of everything made it so great.
    Pulling this off again with another setting would be incredible, and I do hope that you can make it.

  24. Pingback: Torment : quand Colin McComb fait du Teasing

  25. right first of all Planescape:Torment was a brilliant game now that there is a lack of the old franchise as far as Ive read ( and probably understood right ) it might be time for a couple of new ideas…

    what I would like to see is a game like that with such a great athmospgere in a completly different setup like a postmodern world or just widely ranged a future scenario when swords are changed into some laser cannons…

    ideas spring to my mind about taking elements of clockwork orange, metropolis and the time machine (original movie) to create a dark scenario about 1 not much more then a number trying to find an answer to what he/she is where he/she came from and what might be a way…no happy endings involved just some story involved being betrayed all the life as the charakter has been born into a world of cruelty, crime, prostitution, drugs considering that as normal standards offering a way to work up towards the ranks of a crime cartell by betraying as well using crime as own weapon steal, plunder whatever you can or be completly different by using the opposite side trying to work as a “lone ranger” type without the police as most of the police is corrupt anyways so it counts on the shiny hero to safe the day while the hero is not that shiny at all but a dirty bastard just trying to survive but living for some own standards…well sorry for my strange english not my native language I hope you get the idea…if it sounds interesting to you I wouldnt mind to create a more detailed kind of setup though unfortunatly my graphic abilities are not existent at all so no artworks of any sorts…

  26. Pingback: Planescape: Torment sequel finally in the works |

  27. Pingback: PlaneScape: Torment spiritual successor in the works « RAWRG! News

  28. I was a fan of the Baldur’s Gate games (easily some of the best rps out there). I never got to play Planescape Torment back when it came out, back then. One day after hearing good things about it for years, I decided to play it (I think that was about 3 years ago, so around 2009). After finishing it, I was shocked at how it hooked me into it’s story and universe. I had never experienced such an interesting story with mature subjects. It forced the player to question himself about many subjects through dialogues, etc.

    It’s safe to say that PT still held up great so many years after because good stories are timeless. I loved that the fighting wasn’t very important, since it was more about the exploration, the dialogues, the stories. I’d love to play experience another story in the PT universe. Some people such as myself crave for games with ”deeper”, more mature themes.

    Anyways, you have my vote!
    Thank you for the original game and good luck for your future project!

  29. I honestly don’t want the whole of an RPG’s dialogues spoken – I like to read, and I loved spending hours in conversation with just one NPC in Torment. I feel that Torment solved this perfectly: Let the characters speak a couple of sentences here and there to let the player get a feel for them, then let the player’s imagination do the rest of the work.

    What made Torment great for me is the pure amount of “freak factor”, which challenged your perceptions of traditional RPGs (and reality) left and right. Still, it never seemed out of place. Any other game in which you could help an alley give birth, communicate in pictograms, water trees with belief, or meet a letter of the multiverse’s alphabet?
    I’m not quite sure if that would work in any other setting than the Planes though…

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  31. What I enjoyed most about PS:T was the presence of the main theme. Even in the the smallest side quest I stumbled upon variations of ‘what makes a man the way he is’, his name? his faith? his knowledge? his abilities? etc. PS:T is one of the few RPGs where I never felt like ‘this is the main quest line’ or ‘this is just some random fetch quest’. Even NPCs you didn’t pay attention to tied into the main story, uncovering your past or adding more complexity to your companions.
    The other thing I remember is the strange disconnect between my Nameless One and his past actions. I tried to be the good guy and felt like the good guy for most of the game. I was smart, talked people into peaceful solutions etc. But when I discovered what my Nameless One had done to Deionarra or Xechariah, how he used and abused other people… wow, it struck my teenage self really hard.

    So, what would I want to see?
    – Maybe my teenage self needed the question ‘what can change the nature of a man’ to be directly addressed. In retrospect this feels too much, I’d prefer a more subtile approach now. We’re all adults now. 😉
    – avoiding tropes. Fallen from Grace was an interesting twist, but PST used more gender stereotypes than necessary. There is no reason for an RPG to default to white heterosexual males. Mass Effect took a few steps in the right direction here. So much fantasy writing tries to recreate medieval history for no good reason… maybe that’s why I prefer SF-settings (also, space ships).
    – avoiding tropes 2. The ‘lost memory’ theme works really well within video games. Player and player character can uncover the story and the world together. Problem is, I’d really love to see a good story driven game that works without a cliché mega-twist revealing your true self (Bioshock, Mass Effect, Silent Hill 2 and every single JRPG come to my mind).
    – a better sense of place. Sigil never felt like a huge, living city – I think it’s more of a technical problem with the infinity engine’s top-down perspective, frequent loading screens and NPCs sitting 24/7 in the same spot waiting for the player to ask some questions.
    – As much as I’d love a PST:2, I think I’d prefer a game in the ‘spirit’ of PST over a direct pre- or sequel. The Nameless One’s story had a great ending.

  32. *spoilers! *
    Hell ya! I remember after finishing PS:T how I was amazed with the depth of the story and it’s uniqueness among CRPGs. The fact that the main protagonist wasn’t originally the great hero of prophecy or the chosen one, but just one schmuck with a golden tongue and a serious and well deserved aversion to death who stumbled across the wrong person at the right time.

    The whole pattern of discovering who you were and how much it mattered to those you hurt, while not preventing you from choosing your own path.

    And the old parts of yourself you could reattach, the deep companions with each betraying their heritage and drawn to you by their torment, whether you are it’s harbinger or not…

    That’s probably the best game story I’ve ever played. But just one thing that really bothered me – the females in the game suffered enough, no need to give them such back aches with those enormous breasts they had.

  33. Pingback: What can change the nature of a man? « Pawz Stuff

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  37. This news has made my year! I’ve been obsessed with PT since it came out. I work in the medical field as a respiratory therapist but I have drawn and painted my whole life and I’ve always taken art and video games seriously. I believe PT was the pinnacle of art in video game form. Like many others here I loved Planescape Torment and have always hoped it would continue. Hopefully Chris can be more involved after he’s done with Project Origin(which I also can’t wait to play). If bored check out my Torment related art in the RPG folder of my website. http://albertwint.com/ Oh and If you need an extra artist for this project I’ll work for free:-)

  38. I still own the box…and the complete boxes of the pnp setting… but yes the story is done and if ever there was a story that should stay closed its the one of the nameless one…. and ‘once upon a time in the west’ ;-D.

    ok, what’s next? what would I personally look for in a PST like story? beside quirky characters… impossible high metaphysical obstacles and goals. suggestions:

    – planescape fallen: a paladin-type character fallen from grace who wants to discuss his seemingly wrong punishment/sentence with his god from eye to eye

    – planescape resurrection: 3 children of a hero/warrior/general father who died to early by a stupid accident (not in battle) and search heaven & hell to get him back or give him at least a second chance

    – planescape love: orpheus & eurydike

    – planescape redemption: an old holy priest/paladin who realizes that he ‘worked’ for the wrong faith for all of his live and decides to tour the multiverse to set everything right that he has done wrong – all by himself.

    something like that. personal stories of impossible epic proportions.

  39. PsT is one of the best games I have ever played. I doubt that this can be improved further but as long as the new game will be as good as PsT, then I will be satisfied :-)
    In a successor I would like to see even more and deeper party interaction: at some point in PsT you talked about everything with your comrades and then they did not provide any more news. And it needed a long time before PsT allowed party interaction, which may be realistic but it would not hurt to have at least one person who is more open for conversation early in the game.
    I like challenging battles, insane spells (like Mechanus Cannon etc.), mature content and also the opportunity to solve the game completely by dialogue.
    And yes, make it strange: nothing beats a floating skull buddy, petrified arms for weapons, tatoos for armors, deathtrap-riddle mazes, filthy places and people. No shiny armors, blades, environments, no character with clean fingernails (maybe except Fall-from-Grace, but because of her dark background she is an anti-hero like the others are – and hell, I still want to read her diary! It is like trying to take away Boo from Minsc in Baldur’s Gate ^^).
    One of the best things was, that the player did not know anything and was unable to die. I would erase my memories of PsT and play it again without any knowledge about it – maybe you find a way to make the new game replayable even with memories about the story and backgrounds that the player learned in a previous playthrough, maybe with some sort of random background, depending on the former incarnation or so.
    Surprise me :-)
    Oh and one last thing: 2D isometric/pseudo-3D please; I really disliked 3D RPGs like Neverwinter Nights, I don’t want to play a 3rd person shooter or a flight simulation where I have to turn/pitch/yaw the camera around, I want to focus on the scene and it’s details and think about the philosophical riddle that confronts me :-)

  40. Finally!
    The idea of “Sigil” is a masterpiece.
    Personally, i wish i had a toolset for this game.
    So other people can make their own stories.
    From Russia.

  41. The question of set and setting is probably most key. It needs to be alien enough to the participant that they’re forced to abandon conception of routine interactivity (possibly in context of both other living entities and also the physics of the place), whilst tapping into the most burning of inner questions – calibrate that how you will, but in my opinion some writer or creator must feel these things strongly in order for the player to do so in sympathy.

    Perhaps looking outside the realm of human physiology would be sensible – give the player an utterly different means of interacting with the world; either a different physicality (maybe not just shape/form, but some additional sensory mechanisms), or even some kind of disembodied entity that can assume or be induced to take corporeal form under unusual circumstances. So long as the right kind of fundamental experiential hooks are embedded inside the experience, it should work.

    The initial magic of interacting with an entirely new environment can give way to the game’s deeper, more central ideas as things progress. If you can somehow achieve the balance of the appearance, the depth and alienness of the world, and the growing momentum of unanswered questions… I can’t find superlatives strong enough to express how good that would be.

  42. Hi Colin, this is my first post on your site and i wanted to greet you properly :).

    First and foremost, i must say that I’m great fan of Planescape setting and have bought many books for it, my good friend is one of the greatest fan of your Birthright setting and we played many adventures in it so i am pretty much familiar with all of your work, and i like it a lot.

    Secondly, Planescape: Torment is my favorite game, and one of the best games i played considering atmosphere and story in them. The only other game that comes close to the story and mood that of comparable quality to the P:T is Myth: the Fallen Lords and its sequel Myth 2: Soulblighter, i hope you played them and can give me your thoughts on them.

    The thing about P:T that appealed most to me is the feel i had when playing it, combat and tactics were secondary to the story it told, i felt more that it was novel or movie then game. Torment asked questions that couldn’t be answered correctly because there were more answers then one, there is no right or wrong, good or bad, just shades of gray clouded by previous experiences of the Nameless one.

    We were following Nameless one in his search for his answers and we eventually stumbled upon ours.

    Hope you can make this new game happen and make us think hard once more, good luck on your projects :)

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