Torment Going Strong, Praising Honest Development

The Torment: Tides of Numenera kickstarter is going strong, approaching four times its asked-for goal, and Brian Fargo of the team behind it explains the value of being able to be so open during development.
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The Kickstarter for Torment: Tides of Numenera is still going strong.  After hitting its $900,000 goal in six hours it is now well over $3.5 million with just over a full day left on the clock.  Stretch goals have added new team members, many of them specific names well-known within the industry such as Monte Cook and Chris Avellone.

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Brian Fargo definitely has reason to be proud, but he has also been glad to share part of the joy of working through Kickstarter in regards to design, not just funding.

If you’re a developer doing work for a publisher on a triple-a game – had we released the amount of information that we did on our Kickstarter, we would have been sued. There would have been all sorts of things in there to keep our mouths shut, so it just shows you how ‘opposite’ this process is

The modern age of triple-a game studios is a development environment in which transparency is a rare thing.  Corporate requirements force even the developers, like Fargo, who would want to communicate constantly and openly with the gamers looking to buy the finished product to remain silent.

This lets the companies controlling these franchises to release information on their own schedule.  At the same time it creates a divide between the actual developers and the people who want to play their games, placing the information control squarely in the hands of businessmen, many of whom very clearly have no idea what the appeal of their product is.

Aside from letting bad games be kept virtually hidden until release this also prevents the developers from receiving any external feedback until the game is released, something that can cause otherwise-exciting features to simply never happen.

An example from Torment: Tides of Numenera itself is the inclusion of an epilogue to explain what happened after the game to the various locales and people encountered.  The Fallout games made excellent use of the feature, letting players know the full effects of the choices they made throughout the game and giving them incentive to play again.  It is a feature that would not have been in the new Torment without fan feedback.

On a more human side, Fargo also notes that it is immensely more personally satisfying having so many people so eager to share their ideas, opinions, and support.

I can’t even describe the feeling. It’s such an emotional high when you’ve got that kind of support, and then you know what it means. It means that all my guys have jobs for years, and that I get to create the kind of games that I love to do. It means so much.

It means a lot to us too, Mr. Fargo.  Thank you for letting us show it.

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Writer, gamer, and generally hopeful beneath a veneer of cynicism.