Q: Will Torment use Unity 5?

Mark asks:
Is Torment going to be / has Torment been developed with Unity 5 in mind?

It turns out this was a more complicated question than one would think. We're planning to move to Unity 5, but we weren't sure about that for a long time (and even now, there's still a fair amount of work to do before the move is official).

Further details from our illustrious wizard/programmer, Steve Dobos:

We started work on Torment before Unity 5’s full feature set was announced.  By the time Unity 5 became a known quantity, we had already done much work on the engine for Unity 4.  So the benefit of a move to Unity 5 will be limited for Torment.  The primary justification for a move to Unity 5 is the new Mecanim system.  We’ve put much effort in to the animation of our characters, and the Mecanim upgrades will help organize our complex animation trees. 

Unfortunately, all of the cool Deferred Shading tech they released in Unity 5 doesn’t function with an orthographic camera, which Torment uses. So while we're doing some interesting things graphically, largely thanks to the Pillars of Eternity technology, Torment won't really benefit from Unity's graphical enhancements. Sadness.


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Q: How do we know who wrote what?

Haran asks:
About writing credits in games - in most big games, you can't know which part of dialogue\text was written by whom, just that there is a "lead writer" and other writers. Is there a secret way industry people like you guys use to know this? And for Torment, will you list somewhere who wrote what?

The "secret way" is we ask people what they were responsible for. The answer we get back is rarely simple.

The thing is that most big games are a team effort. Although one person might initially be in charge of an area or a character, by the end of the project so many people have had their fingers in everything that it's often difficult to say who wrote what.

The best we can do (which is what you often see in interviews and the like) are things like: "Well Joe did the high level design on Sagus Cliffs," "Luke was primarily in charge of the Oasis," or "Kate wrote most of the characters in the third act of the game." That's about as specific as we can get.

We could maybe list those vagueries in the credits, but even that might be disingenuous. For example, right now George Ziets is in charge of the Bloom and has written a couple of the conversations. But Colin has written most of them. I've written a few, as has Thomas Beekers and a couple of our other writers. Some of the conversations have been gone over many times by multiple people. I've thoroughly reviewed (and sometimes revised) all of them, and George plans to do the same.

So who wrote what? I could maybe tell you right now, but I'd have to break it down node by node in many cases.

By the end of the project? All I'll be able to tell you is, "Well, George did the high level design on the Bloom...."


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Q: What kind of writing samples do you want for game work?

Gunther Winters is looking for a writing position in the gaming industry. He says:
...all those ads [that interest me] require the submission of "samples" of one's own work, and I suspect that those that don't clearly require it just take it for understood. ...what is adequate for "submitting"? How many "pieces"? How long? Of what  kind? Most ads mention no details whatsoever...

Any other advice for an aspirant "writer" who is trying to approach the gaming industry?

I can't tell you specifically what other people are looking for, but I'll tell you what we look for. Since Torment is looking for a number of words on the order of 2-3 George R. R. Martin novels, I hope my advice will be applicable (if not over-applicable) to other positions as well.

Mostly we want to get the sense that you can do the work we need you for. Length of the samples is not very important, so long as it's a couple of pages' worth. Quantity of samples can be useful to get a sense of a writer's breadth, but again is not critical.

The type of sample matters more. For us, we like to see game and fiction writing (and because Torment is a bit more literary* than most games, we slightly prefer fiction writing to get a sense of a writer's skill). If an applicant sent us links to his Twitter feed or blog posts, it wouldn't tell us much about whether they could write character dialogue.

* Read: more wordy.

In general, it's a good idea to send exactly what is asked for. If they don't ask for samples, or you think you might have too many, then include a link to more samples in case they're interested. If they think you look promising, they can always ask for more.

Lastly, although the requirements of every game writing position is different, being technical enough to structure branching dialogue is usually a good skill to have. Fortunately, there are many game design and modding tools that can help you learn this sort of thing.

As to other advice, I've written on that before. Short version: learn to do something related, and do it very well.

Gunther adds:
Last, if the choice is between getting Torment released and replying to me, by all means please just work on the game and release it already. I'm dying here [insert pun about my "torment" here].
Heh. Fortunately for you, my brain needed a break and your question provided it. But I appreciate your anticipation!


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Q&A: Can you rest anywhere in Torment?

Alessandro from Torment's Italian fan blog says:
You've talked extensively about Effort in many occasions by now, but there's still a piece of the puzzle missing, at least to me. How do you intend to limit rest in the Torment?

I mean, managing Effort is an interesting gameplay mechanic. but only because Effort is a limited resource. If players are able to rest whenever they want, the whole thing explodes.

Now, I know that during Cryses time is a factor, so resting will be either limited or impossible, but what about the "normal gameplay"? Will Players be able to rest freely in exploration mode?

Not usually.

Background: I explained the Numenera concept of Effort, and how we're adapting it for Torment, in our latest update here. Short version: Effort is a limited resource used to make difficult tasks easier. This resource can be replenished with healing or rest.

Alessandro, you are absolutely right (as are others I've seen around the internets who have expressed a similar concern): if healing is freely and easily attainable -- as it would be with a "rest anywhere" mechanic -- then Effort becomes meaningless. You could just use it all up on a task, rest to replenish, then use it all again on the next task.

So obviously the player will not be able to rest anywhere they want for free. You'll have quick rests you can use anywhere, but those are limited and they won't restore all your Stat Pools. Eventually your party will need to sleep. To do that, you'll have to find a place that will let you sleep for a price you can afford. Every Zone will have such a place, of course, but you won't be able to rest wherever and whenever.

Can you just head back to the rest spot in between tasks? Sometimes, sure. Other times you won't be able to get back so easily. Sometimes you'll need to do a few tasks in a row to accomplish something. And sometimes sleeping (which makes time pass) will have other consequences as well.

So sleeping will usually come with a cost. That cost might be trivial or it might be quite high. It will depend on what you want to do, where you are in the game, and what's more important to you at the time.