Q: A couple of TTON details vs. Pillars of Eternity

Alessandro Gambino has two questions today:
a couple of questions that arose directly from my playthrough of Pillars of Eternity.

First question:  As far I remember, in Torment we will have separate inventory screens for each character, won't we? And if so, any hope you guys are reconsidering this part of the GUI?

I'm not sure where I might have mentioned separate inventory screens. If I did, it was either very early in design or else a mistake. Our inventory design is based on Pillars of Eternity's -- partially because we had just gotten their codebase at that time (so we could see how they were doing things) and partially because a single inventory screen for the entire party is just a good idea.

Additionally, as you mentioned in the full text of your question, Alessandro, TTON's weapon sets will be representative, so a single weapon can be used in multiple weapon sets. See this update for more info on that.

My second question: in a another KS update you wrote (quote): "For us, a “puzzle” isn’t an attempt to divine the will of the designer, but rather an obstacle with multiple solutions involving various Difficult Tasks and their applicable Effort and skills".

Does this mean that Torment won't have any puzzle/problem with not-so-obvious solution? Which is to say: Will the puzzle-solving elements of the original game be dropped in favor of the effort management of the new one (please don't do that. If you are not 100% convinced, I can send you my boxed copies of all Quest for Glory games, as a reminder of how you can have puzzles that feel like real puzzles even if they can be solved in multiple ways according to your character skills :D)?

I can see how your concern might arise from my quote. Rest assured that PST is our primary example in terms of how conversations are designed. "Puzzles" in TTON will take many forms. Simple ones might require one of a couple of Difficult Tasks, but many more will require you to talk to people and pay attention to your surroundings (or at the very least, they will be made much easier by doing so).

What we won't do is, for example, require the player to decipher an elaborate and unique sequence of actions to collect an item they don't even know they need. We also don't want the player to get stuck because they missed some foozle or failed the wrong Task. We are trying to emulate a tabletop RPG session more than a graphic adventure, and that means doing the best we can to anticipate what things players will want to try, and implementing what might happen for each one.


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Q: What's your favorite part of the writing process?

Trevor asks:
What's your favorite part of the writing process?

My favorite part is the part where I make money, followed closely by the part where people tell me how awesome my writing is.

Is that... is that not what you meant?

So, in terms of actually creating the story, I prefer planning, by far. I'm a notorious, obsessive, ridiculously detailed planner (which is perhaps why I make a decent game design lead). I like to outline my stories down to each chapter's beats and cliffhangers, if I can.

I'm also a big fan of revision, but only after I get critiques and after I've recovered from the bone chilling soul-death that comes with them.

Not a fan of the soul-death.

Or drafting. I hate drafting. In fact, given a choice between drafting and soul-death, I'd take soul-death every time. At least it means I'm staring at a finished story instead of that unholy blinking cursor of oblivion, mocking me while it sits there and does nothing...

You know, it's a wonder I like writing at all.


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Q: How do you have time for everything?

Trevor asks a very pertinent question:
How do you have time for everything? 
Seriously, I see that you have 10 kids, work remotely on an anticipated game, and write, among other daily challenges I'm sure. Was there ever a point when you wanted to let go of any of these passions? Do you ever worry that you can't devote enough time to each of them?
Do I ever worry I can't devote enough time to everything? Constantly. How do I make sure that doesn't happen?

I have no idea.

Well, that's not strictly true. I have some idea of how I pull this off, but I'm so notoriously bad at everything below that it's a miracle I get anything done. For what it's worth, here are the things that help me run my life:
  • Priorities. My family comes first, then paying work (98% of which is Torment), then my own writing projects (i.e. those that are currently unpaid but will hopefully be paid later), then boring things like fixing stuff around the house and watching Fast and Furious 7. When one priority threatens the happiness of another, they get cut off in reverse priority order... which is why nothing ever gets fixed around here.
  • Knowing my limits. I'm pretty terrible at this one usually, but occasionally I will have bursts of genius, like when I signed on to Torment with a 25-30 hour/week commitment instead of fulltime (although that usually turns into 30-35, and even more during crunches, but commitments! Yay!).
  • Schedules. This is easier when the kids are in school (which they're not now, oi). I try to do Torment work from 7-12 in the morning, then lunch, then write for 1-2 hours, then pick up kids from school, then spend time with kids, then usually more Torment work, then spend time with my wife, then pass out. And somewhere in there I get on Twitter and play chess. No, I don't know how that works either.
  • Very little TV. We don't have Netflix or Hulu out here, and we try very hard not to pirate anything. That leaves Crunchyroll, Legend of Korra DVDs, and our collection of Friends episodes. (We actually have more than that, but we rarely get to watch anything as it airs, making Twitter a constant spoilerfest).

Have I ever wanted to let go of something? Yes and no. I certainly enjoy the financial freedom InXile has given me (especially when we needed it most), but part of me thinks I'd be okay with having time to focus on just my writing and family again. (Then the other part of me starts shouting, "Hey, remember how hardly anybody paid us for our own writing?!").

Giving up writing is also an option, but I don't know if I could give it up completely. I've been writing my own stories in some form since I was seven. For now, I'm content to just take it slow.

Obviously my family is not on the table. They're what I do everything else for.

I've already given up a lot of things to make this work: blogging regularly, keeping up with Naruto, any kind of serious board game design, most movies and computer games that I can't enjoy with my kids... These are costs I'm willing to pay in exchange for creating cool things and raising awesome children.

And if my other commitments become too much, I'll cut those too. Until then, I'll just keep trying to live three dreams at once (four, if you count sleep... which I do).


Got a question? Ask me anything!