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InXile uses Kickstarter to revive classic role-playing franchise Torment

InXile Entertainment is launching a new crowdfunding campaign to raise at least $1 million to bring back an old franchise as a reinvented role-playing experience in the form of Torment: Tides of Numenera.

Brian Fargo, chief executive of InXile, can’t get enough of Kickstarter. Last year, his game studio successfully raised more than $2.9 million to fund a revival of his classic game Wasteland. But before Wasteland 2 is even done, Fargo is going back to Kickstarter to raise money for another project.

Fargo said in an interview with GamesBeat that he is abandoning the traditional publisher-developer business model. He will raise all of his money via crowdfunding, and that means he has to get the Torment team rolling so that it can go into full production once the Wasteland 2 group finishes its work. Hence, Fargo is double-dipping with Kickstarter.

“I am 100 percent in the hands of our crowd,” Fargo said. “They are our publisher.”

Wasteland 2 should launch in October of this year, and Torment will have a launch date in 2014. Most of the funding will go toward hiring concept artists and game designers, including many who worked on the original title, named Planescape: Torment, developed by Black Isle Studios and published by Interplay Entertainment in 1999. The new title isn’t a sequel per se since that story is complete, so its characters will not return. Rather, the new Torment will be a role-playing game that delivers the same kind of experience and feeling that Planescape: Torment evoked. This is part necessity since InXile does not own the original title’s intellectual property.

“We think that the original Torment was one of the best RPGs ever made, and it has a cult status,” Fargo said. “I’ve pulled together the original team to do a spiritual successor.”

The new game takes place in Monte Cook’s tabletop role-playing world Numenera. Cook was one of the primary designers for Planescape: Torment. The story asks the question, “What does one life matter?” Cook raises his own money via Kickstarter in September to create the Numenera tabletop game. InXile will adapt the Numenera game systems for a computer RPG, and Cook is collaborating with the Newport Beach, Calif.-based development team at InXile.

The new Torment will be a game of complex and nuanced morality, Fargo said. You choose a path that has its own consequences.  The action happens in Numenera’s Ninth World where civilizations have risen and fallen, leaving artifacts behind. The humans use what they can and find a way to skip across centuries. The title will have a deep story, a big world to explore, a personal narrative, and choices with consequences.

Torment: Tides of Numenera will be a single-player RPG, distributed without digital rights management for the Windows PC, Mac, and possibly Linux platforms. It will run on the Unity engine.

Fargo is one of the old timers of game development. He created Interplay in 1983 and then founded InXile in 2002. InXile released The Bard’s Tale and made Hunted: The Demon’s Forge for the PC and traditional consoles in 2011. But the company has shifted away from consoles to digital platforms, and it is relying on Kickstarter because it’s so hard to get publisher or venture-capital funding for mid-size studios.

“That’s why we’re making a business out of Kickstarter,” he said. “It’s not a one-off with us, and we hope lightning can strike twice.”

Fargo acknowledges the complexities of the game-development process. He has 10 writers and four artists ready to start work on the new Torment. Once InXile receives funding, the team will go into preproduction for about nine months. Then, the full ensemble will roll off of Wasteland 2 and move to Torment. Kevin Saunders is the project manager on the new Torment.

Fargo said the company is hoping to raise $1 million. He will match every dollar raised above that, up to $2 million, by throwing in another 10 percent. So if the company raises $2 million, Fargo will throw in $100,000 of his own money.

Game developer Chris Avellone created a YouTube video promoting the new campaign.


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