On Saturday 10th November, Microsoft announced buying Californian role-playing game developers inXile Entertainment and Obsidian Entertainment. Two studios independent which had fought for survival for a decade-and-a-half were now under the Xbox umbrella. The message from Microsoft was reassurance: don't worry, nothing will change, we won't kill them - they'll continue to make the games you love, only they'll have more resources and support available to "fully realise" their ambitions. Nevertheless, questions remained.
One 4am nearly five years ago I ended a Skype call and went to sleep, but two of the people I was chatting to stuck around. They were Chris Avellone and Colin McComb. I had been speaking to them, and others, about Planescape: Torment, a game they all helped make. And it was a really good game. A legend, if you like.
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A weird scene catches my eye. There's a man standing on a rostrum with a creepy mummy-like figure behind him, and it's wrapping a rope around him - a rope coming from his mouth! Rank! I have to know more.
Here I am, Mr Smartarse, thinking I know all about role-playing games and what the boundaries are - the lines developers will cross and won't. And then I play Torment: Tides of Numenera and in the first two minutes I am stunned.
Colin McComb has a soft-edged voice, which offers a nice contrast to the intense stare his face can't help but settle into. Bald and gaunt and wiry in that peculiarly American way, he is what my grandfather would have called a railway man. But McComb is not a railway man. On the day I meet him at Rezzed, he is a dungeon master: the same preoccupation with nuts and bolts as a guy who rides the rails, perhaps, but these nuts and bolts hold together story and far more exotic materials - and McComb's rails can take you anywhere.
It seems like a long time ago we got excited about Torment: Tides of Numenera, the record-breaking Kickstarter game. Things were quiet in gaming back then, and bringing back beloved old games in new ways was exciting. But the world has moved on, new consoles launched, and similar kinds of nostalgic Kickstarter games eventually came out. Excitement naturally died down.