Torg Eternity Designer Diary – December 2017

Desperate, but not Necessarily Dark

Shane Hensley had a strong vision for what the Possibility Wars would look like in Torg Eternity, and his keyword for describing it was “desperate.” Early on we had some trouble confusing that with “darker,” which wasn’t really accurate. Darker meant less hope overall, more unhappy endings, and more focus on the unsavory aspects of the war. But that wasn’t what Shane was aiming for. Desperate meant there would be more pressure from the High Lords, more danger that forces the Storm Knights to engage, but once they engage they might still win, and win big. Things are intense…but not really dark.

The Possibility Wars themselves (and the inevitable effects of such a war) had to be more than just something happening in the background, they needed to stay front and center. That drive imbues a sense of urgency not just for the Storm Knights but for the characters they’re interacting with as well. Life doesn’t just go on as usual, even in places far away from the front lines. Travel, communication, and the economy are affected everywhere. We see how far the effects of a civil war or natural disaster can reach, now assume those catastrophes cover a third of the globe, and a disaster is striking every major city at the same time. Some people’s priorities change drastically when exposed to that kind of threat, and a desperate adventure has to take that into account. The exceptions then become even more notable and interesting as exceptions.

When working on adventures with our amazing core writers and contributors we kept hammering that same point. For example: would a restaurant within a hardpoint be able to serve a high-end meal anymore? Would a hardpoint even support enough of an economy for that to matter? It’s a tiny detail but it speaks volumes about the local situation for the Storm Knights: if we’re having caviar at a party then things are probably pretty relaxed. If a “feast” means breaking out the stores of squeeze cheese to go with those bottles of wine then you know the situation is tough. And you can play with that for contrast, to show an area is particularly well off or separated from the war. But it has to be an informed choice, and the default should be that the situation is precarious.

This emphasis runs through the entire design, and is especially relevant with the Infiniverse Exchange opening. I’m most looking forward to seeing what kind of adventures the community creates, which is why I wanted to share Shane’s vision explicitly as this month’s Design Journal. That focus helps keep adventures urgent, intense, and grounded in the war. Focus on the war can ratchet up the quality of the adventures in general, but also help the community’s adventures match the tone and pacing that we’re going for in the published products too.

Another element that I’m really hoping to see within the community is local perspective. We’re going for that in the published products as well: for each cosm we intend to have a mixture of celebrity authors and fresh new voices writing Delphi Missions as stretch goals, and whenever possible I’m trying to match those voices to the locations involved. And yes, we’ll be looking at authors from the Infiniverse Exchange to be among those voices. Personally, I’m especially keen on seeing stories set outside the realms, in areas that are still completely controlled by Core Earth. Even without an invasion those areas might have their own issues with Stormers, incursions by the High Lords, or brewing troubles created by the weirdness that always existed in Core Earth amplified by the stress of the war. It’s a largely untapped canvas with tons of potential.

As excited as I am to be part of the team designing Torg Eternity and offering guidance on the products, I’m equally excited as a fellow fan to see what surprises the community will spring on me! It should be a fun ride.

Stay Desperate Storm Knights,

-Darrell Hayhurst, Line Developer