Torment devs talk character creation, gender equality in the future, and same-sex relationships
We talked about business the last time we checked in with some of the men behind the upcoming Torment: Tides of Numenera Kickstarter, but let's focus on the game for a bit. The setting is interesting: Numenera is described as a world where eight great civilizations have come to power, but ultimately fallen. Torment is set in the ninth world, but there are remnants of the previous worlds that can be found and, if you know what you're doing, used to your advantage.
“This new world is filled with remnants of all the former worlds: bits of nanotechnology, the dataweb threaded among still-orbiting satellites, bio-engineered creatures, and myriad strange and wondrous devices,” the setting's official page states. “These remnants have become known as the numenera.”
It's magic by way of hard science fiction. If you show an iPhone to someone who has never seen modern technology, they will assume it's witchcraft.
“From the standpoint of the people of the ninth world… all of this is magic. The more learned know that this is tech left over, but they don’t generally address it like that,” Colin McComb, the game's creative lead, told me the last time we spoke. “If you choose to pursure that aspect, you will find that aspect. If you choose not to, you don’t have to. It will feel like a fantasy game to you.”
Not every bit of technology will be explained, but the concept is based on the idea that things that can't be explained are simply left-over technology from the previous eight worlds. That doesn't keep the game's population from finding supernatural reasons for things that happen.
You shouldn't think this idea is far-fetched, as the developers brought up the fact that we understand how and why hurricanes form… but we still have people in the modern day who believe they are sent to punish people for ungodly behavior.
Torment won't allow you to craft your own character from scratch in the way we've become accustomed to in games like Skyrim.
“As with the original Torment we are telling a specific story, and that requires a specific character. The player will have a choice of genders in the game, and it will have some impact in the reactivity of the world,” McComb explained. “This is a billion years in the future, so I don’t think there will be much reactivity of people saying that you’re a woman, and you’re not capable of… there’s a billion years of gender equality.”
Outside of the choice of gender, which will change the game in certain ways, you'll not be able to make your own, personal character. “We’re not going to customize the looks. This is primarily an internal journey. It’s not dress-up,” McComb said.
This leads to an interesting question: If we're billions of years in the future, with all the social change that goes along with it, will the game support same-sex couples? When I asked this there was a long pause.
“We do plan to have relationships in the game. I don’t know if we’re necessarily approaching romance, at least not in the way it’s been explored in games recently. There’s a lot more to the word love than simple flesh coupling,” McComb explained. “That’s frankly the aspect of it that’s least interesting when you get right down to it. It’s the interpersonal intimacy. It’s learning the depth and turmoil of another person that I think is more fascinating. That’s the aspect we want to explore with relationships with people.”
It was also stated that the relationships will make sense for the character you play, in the situations in which you find yourself.
“We don’t want to rule anything out, but we don’t want to say, right now, okay, you’re going to have this ball of goo and it’s going to shape itself to fulfill your every desire,” McComb said.
An interesting world
The game's setting allows for damned near anything you would want to add in the game, which makes Numenera a playground for the game's writers. You can add any piece of “magic” or technology, and if it seems fantastic you need only explain that it's a part of a fallen world's technology. How does it work? Well, that information was lost to the ages.
The idea that social standards have changed and improved with time is also interesting, as is the idea that female adventures will be taken for granted in the game's world. Since the story is specific to one character, outside of the gender, the team will be able to create deep storytelling hooks in the game.
The Kickstarter is funded, the talent is in place, and the setting and world are both fascinating. Now it's just a matter of having to wait while they finish the game. Things are looking up for fans of classical role-playing games.