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The Impact of Planescape Torment

Zonk posted about 9 years ago | from the a-talking-skull-as-your-best-friend dept.

Games 94

The ever interesting Escapist has a piece up examining just why Planescapes\ Torment is such a perennial favorite among gamers and designers alike. From the article: "The strangest, and one of the least successful RPGs from Black Isle (the company that brought you the Icewind Dale series), Planescape: Torment, which was released in 1999, took a risk by using the alternate Dungeons and Dragons campaign of Planescape, a not-really-fantasy, not-really-futuristic world that's mostly defined as unstable and bizarre. Strange and unruly dimensions intersect at the city of Sigil, where most of the game takes place, and your character, portentously called The Nameless One, wakes up in a mortuary with amnesia, a battered shell of a body that cannot die, and just one friend: a flying, talking skull. And the game gets stranger from there."

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The impact of planetscapes torment? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13386635)

If only you could grab that skull & recite shakespear...

If TFA were a game... (-1, Troll)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | about 9 years ago | (#13386677)

...it would be called Stupidscape: Triteness.

Re:If TFA were a game... (0, Flamebait)

BlightThePower (663950) | about 9 years ago | (#13386946)

I agree, its been hilariously over-rated ever since it came out. I suppose if your only reading matter is Star Trek novelisations or something it might seem special, but it doesn't really deserve the plaudits its gained.

Re:If TFA were a game... (1)

Yosho (135835) | about 9 years ago | (#13388002)

Look, it's ok to say you didn't like the game. That's great, you're welcome to your opinion. However, just because you didn't like it doesn't mean it was "overrated" -- the consensus of the majority of the people who've played the game is that it's amazing. A much more likely answer is that you're the who's underrating it.

No, you are wrong. (1, Insightful)

BlightThePower (663950) | about 9 years ago | (#13388291)

Sorry, the majority are not always right; if they were there would be no such word as "overrated" yes? Anyway, Planescape bombed commerically compared with BG/IWD so don't be so sure. The people who are still talking about it now probably did think it was amazing.

The plot of Planescape is somewhat trite and predictable. The dialogue writing is average to fair. The setting is the same-old same-old with a few cosmetic changes.
This sort of thing had been done countless times before.

Let me explain to you why "over rated". When people talk about Planescape they discuss things like the plot and the quality of the writing. Words like "literate", "dramatic" and "philosophical" are used. These are people who clearly know nothing about good writing or drama; ie. computer nerds who if they do read anything other than programming manuals only read paperbacks with pictures of spaceships or unicorns on the front. They overrate the game because it far outside their expertise to assess it in the terms they are using. These are, for example, the same people who consider the FF VII theme to be a great piece of classical music and thought the Matrix was stunning philosophical statement.

Another specific problem is if you aren't blinded by the Shakespearean prose (LOL) you'll notice that a majority of the missions are basically FedEx jobs. People who do that in real life get paid because its tedious. I don't pay money to be a glorified mail man.

As an RPG it wasn't bad, I much preferred Fallout but thats just my opinion. But people don't restrain themselves to just considering a computer game, they get all flowery and at that point I think they are indeed overrating it.

Re:No, you are wrong. (1)

Yosho (135835) | about 9 years ago | (#13389302)

Ok, so it's not of the greatest literary works ever. But to keep things in perspective: how many RPGs have you played that a better plot and script? The popular opinion is that this is one of the best games made in that regard; I haven't seen anybody claim it puts Shakespeare to shame.

Besides, as you said, the game wasn't a commercial success. How could it be overrated if most of this "majority" didn't even acknowledge it?

Re:No, you are wrong. (1)

king-manic (409855) | about 9 years ago | (#13389641)

Another specific problem is if you aren't blinded by the Shakespearean prose (LOL) you'll notice that a majority of the missions are basically FedEx jobs. People who do that in real life get paid because its tedious. I don't pay money to be a glorified mail man.

---- Spoilers ------

My, My aren't we pretentious. You do know shakespeare is populist stuff for his time. He's the equivilent to George Lucas of the 1500-1600's. I like planescapes atmosphere and writing. It did have depth and fighting your own mortality to regain the ability to die is hardly a "predictable edning". Are you sure you played planescape and not BG1?

Re:No, you are wrong. (1)

BlightThePower (663950) | about 9 years ago | (#13391618)

I'm very aware of the Bard's populist approach. In that regard Planescape is very different from Shakespeare, its somewhat short on the nob jokes (lets just leave the idea that the Bard was an Elizabethan George Lucas shall we... popular yes, hack no...Beethoven isn't Britney Spears either).

Seriously though, fighting your own mortality to regain the ability to die is hackneyed as hell. Never heard of the Wandering Jew [wikipedia.org] for example? Note the vast number of literary works that have made reference to that one manifestation of the theme. There are many other versions in different religions (e.g., Cain in the Bible) and mythologies. To anyone culturally literate (and yes that is pretentious, but don't we on Slashdot like kicking the living shit out of people who are merely not computer literate? fairplay and all that) it came as no surprise at all.

It was an OK computer game but thats about it.

No... I think you're wrong about being wrong... (1)

dtolman (688781) | about 9 years ago | (#13391876)

fighting your own mortality to regain the ability to die is hardly hackneyed as hell... you might have a leg to stand on if you claimed "the reluctanct immortal" was hackneyed as hell... or "amnesia victim tries to uncover his past".

I've read many a story (or seen movies) with a "relucatant immortal/cain/wandering jew/etc" character - in virtually all of them the character ends the story as he began it - reluctantly immortal. For the few where they are released - its usually do to the intervention of someone else (a gift from some higher power) or as an unexpected side effect of some quest or another. I've certainly never read a story where the antagonist, let alone any other character, is someone's Mortality...

Any story, let alone a computer game, where the protaganist is someone who is trying to find a way to destroy his own immortality, is certainly in a very small circle of stories.

Re:No, you are wrong. (1)

Boglin (517490) | about 9 years ago | (#13392551)

Never heard of the Wandering Jew for example? Note the vast number of literary works that have made reference to that one manifestation of the theme.
Dante's Inferno is a guided tour of Hell. Just like book six of the Aeneid. Of course, that was just a rip off of the corresponding part of the Odyssey, which itself stole the idea from the epic of Gilgamesh. Thus, Dante, Virgil, and Homer are all worthless hacks using cliched ideas.

Or, it could just be that great literature is allowed to use an old theme. Besides, compared to revenge, love, and faith, this theme is pretty darn unpopular. Your wikipedia link only showed it appearing only about ten times in this century; compared with all the books, movies, and comics that have been written, it's a darn scarce theme. It is hardly hackneyed as hell. Furthermore, I can't claim to have read all the works listed, but I don't believe that the use of multiple incarnations and the lasting consequences of unremembered actions is particularly a staple of the genre; that makes at least one unique aspect. Furthermore, you complained that the theme came as no surprise. Were you surpised when Canton died as the end of A Tale of Two Cities? Were you shocked when Hercules dragged Alcestis out of Hades? Of course not, since these events were foreshadowed to death. Can you blame Planescape: Torment when it does the same?

Finally, I do want to make the concession that the game is not great literature. My camparison between Planescape and Alcestis was to prove a point and not because I think it's an equal comparison. I can go to my bookstore and find fifty books that are far better. What make Planescape unique is that I can go to my local bookstore and find fifty books that are worse. It can't compare with Dostoevsky, but I think it can hold it's own against Dan Brown or Michael Crichton. After years of Tomb Raider and Doom, I think gamers were excited to finally have something to point to and say "This is not crap!"

Re:No, you are wrong. (2, Interesting)

BlightThePower (663950) | about 9 years ago | (#13393354)

Fair I think. I don't so much take any of that back but to be honest the rhetorical style was for effect mainly because it was a comment attached to something I felt had been unfairly modded down in the first place. I'd like to see more open minded debate in general on this site but the groupthink is sometimes very strong with regard to the majority opinion. Frankly I find being a bit muscular is often the only way back into the discussion, and actually it did work looking at the moderation.

More positively let me say this, Planescape wasn't bad but I think we can do better, a lot better. A game could become, as it were, great literature. I genuinely believe that. There was a time when nobody thought film could be an artistic medium either and photography was just for snaps. Basically I'd hate to think that it was considered some sort of pinnacle of interactive story telling when its really just a foot hill. Lets not stop here, lets press on. In this world of sequel factories, computer game censors and so on I hope the chances aren't missed.

Re:No, you are wrong. (1)

king-manic (409855) | about 9 years ago | (#13393476)

I'm very aware of the Bard's populist approach. In that regard Planescape is very different from Shakespeare, its somewhat short on the nob jokes (lets just leave the idea that the Bard was an Elizabethan George Lucas shall we... popular yes, hack no...Beethoven isn't Britney Spears either).

Actually THE BARD was a just like Lucas. He took a lot of other peoples work, copied and added things to it and released populist works. The themes and insight into the human conditions may be him or from things he stole from. The fact that most people do not understand the words being said adds some signifigance to them. Only time will tell if Lucas fades into oblivion, his dialogue is bad, his themes ripped off from others and his plot is derivative but you can level 2 of those 3 charges on Shakespeare as well.

Planescapes story is "great" compared to other games, it is "good" when compared to other books in the fantasy genre and is "below average" when compared to real literature and I don't deny this. However as a game, it's plot is substantially better then most.

Re:No, you are wrong. (1)

BlightThePower (663950) | about 9 years ago | (#13393627)

Well thats all true of course -- and this is a strange debate to be having really -- but I think the comparison to someone like Hitchcock would be more apt really. Its a great thing to be both populist but still an artist. I'm thinking of Charles Dickens as another example here, he was practically a rock star in his day but his work survives because of its quality. I could even grudgingly go as far as Spielberg (just) but Lucas I draw the line at. Don't get me wrong, I love Star Wars, but I think its craft not art.

But in the hands of others, something like Hamlet would have been a sort of creepy ghost story with court intrigue and violence bolted on. But in Shakespeare's hands its that and also a deeply insightful commentary on the human condition (it helps to remember just how much he predates the likes of Freud by). The conveyance of those insights is incredible. Heh, I don't think you can say Shakespeare's dialogue is poor. It has all sorts of qualities of cadence and metaphor that are really quite strikingly beautiful without one having to over-intellectualise it. Indeed, it doesn't really bother me if Shakespeare is just a sort of brand name for Shakey/Marlowe/Kyd/Fletcher/Beaumont's greatest hits or whatever.

I think I agree with you about the game itself, I just think we can do better, therefore it almost seems like complacency a bit to exhault it so high. You know, if we can make games as good as pulp novels now, surely making them as good as good genre novels can't be an impossible task?

Re:No, you are wrong. (1)

king-manic (409855) | about 9 years ago | (#13394089)

Heh, I don't think you can say Shakespeare's dialogue is poor

Yup, but his stories are plagerized and his themes are common themes at that time. It doesn't diminish his work, it is still something to have such a body in iambic pentameter. I personally love shakespeare.

I think I agree with you about the game itself, I just think we can do better, therefore it almost seems like complacency a bit to exhault it so high. You know, if we can make games as good as pulp novels now, surely making them as good as good genre novels can't be an impossible task?

True, but don't forget the audience and the business. For a litarary work it's mediocre. But if you used the same script for a movie it'd be decent, on par with the original matrix. entertaining, somewhat trite presentations of complex ideas but a good introdution into those themes. For a complex book to be published there is less money on the line. For a game it's too much time and money to squander on something truly original and advanced. Besides while making a steppenwolf character might be artistically satisfying the game players wants to be beowolf. The archtypes stir and inspire us and that is what sells. A nameless hero with a mysterious past is common for games because that arch type has a lot of success. It's the nature of the audience, the medium, and culture in general. There aren't enough avante garde game players to warrant true exploration of ideas and themes.

Re:No, you are wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13396325)

Amusing that you hold Shakespeare in such high regard.

As a kid, I had always heard wondrous things about his plays, his writing ability, the depth of his characters, plot etc.

And when I finally read some of his plays in high school I was incredibly underwhelmed. It was so much more basic than I had been led to believe.
It had me wondering if all of classical literature sucked so much that Shakespeare really was the best out there.

Thankfully, I've since come to learn that there is great literature out there - Shakespeare ain't it though.
Don't get me wrong; his plays are enjoyable enough... they just aren't anything more than a mild diversion. I find anything he had to say was said better and earlier by someone else. Unfortunately, he has fame beyond his ability - which is pretty much standard for the world.

Ah well... (1)

BlightThePower (663950) | about 9 years ago | (#13399196)

All I'll say is can you name any other dramatist (who isn't Russian) whose work has genuinely outlived their own time? Well maybe you can, although I can't think of very many, the cupboard is surprisingly bare.

Re:No, you are wrong. (1)

SageOfShadowdale (909817) | about 9 years ago | (#13391403)

Er... Just as an aside, in how many other games are you a glorified mailman? The BG series does it often enough, the KotORs did it, most (if not all) of the Final Fantasy series have some those quests, the Grand Theft Auto series even has them here and there. It's a cliché staple of quests in games. Certainly not something specific to Torment.

Re:No, you are wrong. (1)

Zurd (190663) | about 9 years ago | (#13392014)

While I agree with a few of your points, I still feel like Torment served a couple of really useful roles, in this regard.

For the snobs, it provided some dumbed-down entertainment that wasn't TOO dumb. I mean, at least they were trying something different and meaningful, even if you don't feel like they pulled it off particularly well.

Second, for the people with limited exposure to good literature or philosophy -- it provided a glimpse at some ideas they might not have seen before, even if it WAS through Matrix-colored glasses.

Every snob starts somewhere, y'know?

Re:No, you are wrong. (1)

XO (250276) | about 9 years ago | (#13393268)

wow, best argument i've ever seen on slashdot. Kudos! If I had mod points, I'd mod this way up somehow.

Not because I agree with it, but because it's the best argumentative post I've ever seen.

Hey thanks, you read me right (1)

BlightThePower (663950) | about 9 years ago | (#13393469)

as it happens I'm really a bit of a wimp [slashdot.org] .

TFA TFA TFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13389880)

I was bagging the article, not the game.

Story telling (3, Insightful)

Thedeviluno (903528) | about 9 years ago | (#13386686)

The best video games always have the best story telling. The writers make the game. Bloated characters and an exciting journey are remembered longer than omfg best grfx evar.Think about it.

Re:Story telling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13386704)

Bloated characters


Is this some sort of odd translation issue?

Re:Story telling (2, Insightful)

interiot (50685) | about 9 years ago | (#13386737)

Ooooh. So that's why Pacman and Super Mario Bros were such memorable games. (and pong, and commander keen, and chess, and mario kart, and baseball, and poker, ...)

Re:Story telling (1)

GaryPatterson (852699) | about 9 years ago | (#13386902)

And which scene in Pacman is most memorable to you?

What actions in Super Mario Bros do you think about, every now and then?

Story isn't the only criteria for a good computer game, but it can make a good game into a truly great game.

Re:Story telling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13387236)

"And which scene in Pacman is most memorable to you?"

The part where Pac-man eats the dots.

"What actions in Super Mario Bros do you think about, every now and then?"

Seriously? Jumping backwards through brick and pipe to get to -1 world. Timing my jumps to get multiple 1-ups. Timing my jumps to get multiple fireworks at the end of a level. Fireballing Bowser. Fighting Hammer Bros. Seriously.

"Story isn't the only criteria for a good computer game, but it can make a good game into a truly great game."

And in many, many cases, it is completely optional for a "truly great game."

To put it another way, for story-based games, of course a good story is paramount in importance. For many other games, story just doesn't matter all that much, if at all.

I still can't tell why you didn't understand what the grandparent poster was trying to say.

Re:Story telling (1)

GaryPatterson (852699) | about 9 years ago | (#13387305)

Sorry - I thought that since the article was about computer role-playing games, and the post at the top was clearly intended to be about computer role-playing games that bringing in other types of games was asinine.

Perhaps when we find the computer role-playing game that manages to get by without any story at all we can revisit the point that we agreed on ("story isn't the only criteria for a good computer game").

Re:Story telling (1)

aBlooMoon (765359) | about 9 years ago | (#13388809)

Is nethack considered 'role-playing'?

If so, then I must point out that while it has a storyline, it was fairly weak and generic. Definitely not a game maker or breaker.

If not, then please just ignore me.

Re:Story telling (4, Funny)

Digital Vomit (891734) | about 9 years ago | (#13388495)

And which scene in Pacman is most memorable to you?

The one where, like, Pacman was being chased by those ghosts and then they went off the screen and I was, like, "OMG! Will the ghosts get him?" and then he came back on the screen chasing the ghosts and I was like "Awesome!". It was great! My heart was, like, pumping and everything!

Re:Story telling (1)

interiot (50685) | about 9 years ago | (#13390329)

Story is invaluable for certain kinds of games. But they are a vast range of other kinds of games which don't require story-line at all to be successful. They also don't require fancy graphics. But they still DO require excellent game design to be highly successful (eg. katamari damacy, world of warcraft, minesweeper, sega tennis, NFL football, ...).

Re:Story telling (1)

TelJanin (784836) | about 9 years ago | (#13386903)

Bloated characters

Well, that would explain why Mario has always been a favorite.

Re:Story telling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13393319)

Yeah, the story in Mario was incredible. A princess! Kidnapped!? Well I never!

Good stories are more important for games nowadays, but in my opinion, newer games are less straight games and more game-story combinations.

It's like comparing Baraka and a plot-driven movie.

Re:Story telling (1)

Jagasian (129329) | about 9 years ago | (#13396690)

I think you said "game" when you meant "book". Games do not need good stories. Look at Soccer, Chess, Tetris, Sokoban, etc. They are widely consider to be some of the best games, yet they have little to no story whatsoever. Within the past few years, for some reason, many people have the mistaken assumption that games must be crappy interactive B-movies.

A game is mearly something that is played, and a storyline is not needed to make a game good. Furthermore, the fact that a game is a sports game, board game, or video game does not change this fact.

Nothing beats.. (3, Interesting)

OmgTEHMATRICKS (836103) | about 9 years ago | (#13386718)

Fallout and Fallout 2 from Black Isle. At least, where Black Isle games are concerned. Those games kick many asses.

Re:Nothing beats.. (1)

Digital Vomit (891734) | about 9 years ago | (#13388514)

So true. Everything about those two games fit perfectly: the graphics, the music (wow!), the characters, the story... The turn-based combat engine was great!

I was devastated to learn Fallout 3 had been cancelled partway through its development.

Re:Nothing beats.. (1)

EyesofWolf (879816) | about 9 years ago | (#13388925)

Actually, I heard through the rumor mill that it was picked up by someone, but I can't remember who... For some reason I think Bethesda Softworks, but don't quote me on that.

Re:Nothing beats.. (1)

Pseudosapiens (851030) | about 9 years ago | (#13392781)

"Bethesda has obtained the rights to develop Fallout, they've licensed the Fallout franchise from Interplay (except the MMO license)" http://www.nma-fallout.com/fallout3/ [nma-fallout.com]

Re:Nothing beats.. (1)

XO (250276) | about 9 years ago | (#13393222)

There's been no updates on that in more than a year, and last I'd heard it was dead again.

I kinda wished I'd played the Fallout series, as much as people are talking about it.

It was the continuation of Wasteland, wasn't it?

Re:Nothing beats.. (1)

Robertatwork (902893) | about 9 years ago | (#13394067)

"I kinda wished I'd played the Fallout series, as much as people are talking about it." Then play it. You can still find it in a lot of discount bins. Just because it isn't the latest thing out is not a reason to pass it by.

Re:Nothing beats.. (1)

balthan (130165) | about 9 years ago | (#13394946)

On the main NMA page, they show part of an interview with Pat Hines of Bethesda:

TCW: "Any news on Fallout 3?"

Pete Hines: "As I've said before, we believe in taking the requisite amount of time to do a game right. Oblivion is a good example of that - it's already three years in the making and wasn't even announced until it was more than two years in development.

All we really announced last year was that we had acquired the rights to develop and publish Fallout 3. So, for us, it's still very early in the process and we don't like to talk about our projects or show anything on them until we are much further along the road to completion and actually have things to show.

We believe that great games are played, not designed, and until you take all those ideas and implement them and see if they work, you really don't know what you have, so why bother talking about them? For example, we designed three complete combat systems for Oblivion before we finally found the one we liked, so as a result it would have been really pointless to talk about the first two at the time, when it turns out they ended up getting completely redone."

Look at me, I'm on the internets! (4, Informative)

Asmor (775910) | about 9 years ago | (#13386767)

Planescape. Singular. If you get confused, look at the huge header on the link you posted, or even in the block of text you copy-pasted.

Re:Look at me, I'm on the internets! (1)

BoomerSooner (308737) | about 9 years ago | (#13389043)

GW has made poor grammar and pronunciation acceptable for all.

Re:Look at me, I'm on the internets! (1)

Alkaiser (114022) | about 9 years ago | (#13389911)

Bravo.

Re:Look at me, I'm on the internets! (1)

Flunitrazepam (664690) | about 9 years ago | (#13391502)

It's Zonk dude, be happy he spelled his own name right.

Re:Look at me, I'm on the internets! (1)

wed128 (722152) | about 9 years ago | (#13392099)

I think they meant Planescape's torment. Possessive case.

Re:Look at me, I'm on the internets! (1)

Pseudosapiens (851030) | about 9 years ago | (#13392740)

As the quoted text (correctly) says, the title is "Planescape: Torment". It's not plural and it's not possessive.

Atmospheric depth (5, Interesting)

andphi (899406) | about 9 years ago | (#13386853)

There are a lot of things one could say about Torment - whether the interface worked, how well the rotating class system worked, etc. I'm focusing on the writing. For me, the fun of Planescape is wrapped up in the atmosphere of Sigil and how well written the whole adventure is. Sigil and its denizens are genuinely, entertainingly bizarre without being excessive (unless of course they have to be). The writers dropped Heaven only knows how many tidbits of history, culture, and glimpese of life on other planes, etc. I especially appreciated the way the writers used progressive exposition regarding the major characters, particularly D'akkon. To a certain degree, Torment so successful because Sigil is like a number of other settings, and like none of them at all. The game is one grand riddle. Granted, some of the fetch-and-carry tasks can be tedious, but solving the main puzzle was fun. Heck, even the order and nature of the fetch-and-carry stuff is left up to the player. Help and join the Dustmen. Or don't. Or join the Dusties after you've joined the Sensates. Or the Chaosmen. Or sell your party into slavery and become totally evil. The possibilities are endless. Torment is the only crpg I've actually finished. I gave up on IWD during the final battle. The party combat system was fun, but the story stopped. I gave up on Diablo and Dungeon Siege just before the final battle. With Diablo, the story wasn't hardly there and the combat got repetitive... With Dungeon Siege, the combat system was cool for quit a while, but the story stopped. I lost interest.

Re:Atmospheric depth (3, Interesting)

bradbeattie (908320) | about 9 years ago | (#13386963)

Note that Planescape: Torment laughs at the mindless hack 'n' slash genre. There's a Modron gauntlet you can access mid-way through the game; it's something you need to see to appreciate. That only highlighted to me why I loved the game: it had depth. I'm sure it's less dynamic than I give it credit for, but I never felt steamrollered into a choice. Not many games can boast that.

Re:Atmospheric depth (2, Interesting)

vitamine73 (818599) | about 9 years ago | (#13387020)

the only computer RPG you can get trough without a fight, seriously!
yes, fallout (1) was also great, but it stood out not only for its story but also for its analog interface that was out off this world, but PST was just a wicked story in which you could actually roleplay if you had the brains and charisma to do it! just a memorable piece

Re:Atmospheric depth (2, Informative)

BlackCobra43 (596714) | about 9 years ago | (#13388707)

You could get through the original Fallout without a single fight, if youy used your Speech, Science and Sneak skills appropriately. The game eve nrewarded you for taking this approach - for instance, you gain a 6,000 exp bonus if you manage to make it to floor 4 of the Military Base without triggering the alarm.

Fallout 2 comes close, as the final boss fight is mandatory - although you do not need to participate in the fight at all, since you could convince Sargeant Granite's squad to assist you.

Re:Atmospheric depth (1)

bradbeattie (908320) | about 9 years ago | (#13389156)

I didn't say only, just that there aren't many that put such heavy focus on story and atmosphere. Fallout may well be one of those games, but truthfully I never played it.

Re:Atmospheric depth (1)

Sparr0 (451780) | about 9 years ago | (#13387450)

I gave up on IWD during the final battle. The party combat system was fun, but the story stopped.

The story stopped at the final battle... Am I the only one who considers that normal?

Re:Atmospheric depth (1)

andphi (899406) | about 9 years ago | (#13388557)

Perhaps I should clarify. It seemed that the story had already ended by the time I reached the final battle. I came to the conclusion (erroneous or otherwise) that there was nothing new to learn by killing Poquelin, so I didn't.

Article mistake (1)

eviltypeguy (521224) | about 9 years ago | (#13386859)

Did the submitter even read the article he linked to? It's Planescape: Torment. NOT Planescapes Torment!

Re:Article mistake (1)

FidelCatsro (861135) | about 9 years ago | (#13386972)

When i first read about of the game , I read the title as Planescape : Tournament .. I was looking forward to some RPG based FPS multiplayer action

Re:Article mistake (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13388830)

Well, generally in slashdot-land the submitter wrote the article.

It's the editors that don't read the article.

I'm not sure what it is (1)

toddhunter (659837) | about 9 years ago | (#13386905)

But I just couldn't get into the game. I loved the similar games around that time, like BG and so on...
I think it comes down to the sheer amount of text and story that was provided. I just couldn't bring myself to read it all and *care*. Could be me getting old, but normally a game will suck me in enough that I'll spend the time and really get into it all.
I had the same trouble with morrowind.

Try again (4, Insightful)

swotl (24969) | about 9 years ago | (#13386969)

I had the same problem the first time I sat down with it, and delayed it for a couple of years. When I found the time to actually play through the thing it was the most intense gaming experience ever. The end will make your back shiver.

The game is still relevant so load it up on a laptop or something, since it has almost no system requirements, and play through what will probably be the last computer RPG with a real story.

Re:Try again (2, Insightful)

toddhunter (659837) | about 9 years ago | (#13387069)

and play through what will probably be the last computer RPG with a real story.
I really hope this isn't true..but yeah I fear it is the case as well. There are a massive amount of people out there with great rpg stories...but the effort (ie money) to make something like happen just looks more unlikely when the latest EA franchise can just be churned out and make the cash

Re:Try again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13387273)

Will it run on a serial terminal with VT100 emulation at 9600 baud?

--
Slashdot requires you to wait between each successful posting of a comment to allow everyone a fair chance at posting a comment.

It's been 13 minutes since you last successfully posted a comment

Re:Try again (1)

NewStarRising (580196) | about 9 years ago | (#13389234)

"what will probably be the last computer RPG with a real story."

I very much doubt that.

I know FPS and MMORPG are becoeming very popular, but there are a lot of people out there who play games BECAUSE of the story line.
As more modable games come out, the players will write their own stories, and release them on servers for others to play.
This is where games like The Sims come out on top- creative people can build worlds, tell stories via computer games without having to be coders.
So long as some geeks are writing engines, there will be artists writing content.

Re:Try again (1)

Kalak (260968) | about 9 years ago | (#13393695)

I actually installed the game last night on my notebook, so seeing your suggestion here today is very ironic. It was given to me by a friend wh oheard that I had never played it.

So far, the only problem that I can see is that there is this update I can find talked about, but I can't actually *find*.

Also, for those who say you never have to have any combat, I believe you do have to at least start off by fighting a zombie to get the first key.

Re:Try again (1)

DanthemaninVA1 (750886) | about 9 years ago | (#13397033)

No. I believe you can find a finger bone in one of the cabinets in the mortuary that acts as a portkey. No zombie-killing required.

But... (1)

Parham (892904) | about 9 years ago | (#13386914)

With the game story being so bizarre, it only means that the writers can get away with almost anything, and that just means the story can be interesting, as well as weird.

Needs a remake ... (2, Interesting)

dougmc (70836) | about 9 years ago | (#13387007)

Planescape is exactly the sort of game I ought to love -- for example, I thought Baldur's Gate II [bioware.com] was one of the greatest games ever. (BG1 was good too, but BG2 was a good deal better.)

Unfortunately, I went to play Planescape after playing BG2, and BG2 ruined it for me. Yes, I could tell that Planescape looked like fun from the beginning, but BG2's graphics were much better (1024x768 is much better than 640x480, even if BG2 didn't make proper use of it) and the interface was considerably better. I know it shouldn't really matter, but it did.

(Note that BG2 and Planescape had the same general interface -- an isometric view, 2D sprites, etc. BG2 just had it polished a good deal more, as it came out later.)

Neverwinter Nights was sort of fun too, but it never really did it for me like BG2 did. Sure, the graphics were better, but I really missed having a full party, and the story wasn't nearly as good. (Story is very important for games like this.) And the interface never seemed right, though I couldn't really put my finger on it, beyond never really liking those `radial selection things'.

It would be very neat if Planescape came out with either the BG2 or NWN engine (or something newer.) The BG2 engine could probably be done relatively simply, though the artwork might need to be redrawn (or we could just have a larger screen, which would be nice too) and the NWN engine would probably require a complete rewrite. And considering how poorly Planescape sold, I don't see this happening. A pity.

Needs a remake? (1)

StupidKatz (467476) | about 9 years ago | (#13391168)

I suppose I'm going to sound like an snob for saying so, but I really don't think you were part of Planescape Torment's target audience. The draw of the game was the characters and the development of the story, along with having the ability to have your actions actually have an impact.

The technological aspects of the game were very well suited to that task, and did not hinder either major facet much at all (the running back and forth between room-screens became annoying once or twice, IIRC, and/or there was one exit hotspot in a particular area that was a royal pain to find).

In summary, the best CRPGs have all been about story and substance over eye candy. Even Morrowind (*some* say it was a good CRPG, so leave me alone) left a ton of room for improvement in the eye candy department, especially when it came to the character models. If you think Planescape Torment sucked, what do you think about Darklands? :P

(P.S. Planescape Torment's music was awesome, too.)

Re:Needs a remake? (1)

dougmc (70836) | about 9 years ago | (#13391473)

I suppose I'm going to sound like an snob for saying so, but I really don't think you were part of Planescape Torment's target audience. The draw of the game was the characters and the development of the story, along with having the ability to have your actions actually have an impact.
I didn't think that Planescape sucked. It's graphics were as expected at the time it was released, on par with BG1 or so. It's just that it's hard to go back sometimes. (But only sometimes. Some things age better than others. And then there's the whole retro thing ...)
Even Morrowind (*some* say it was a good CRPG, so leave me alone) left a ton of room for improvement in the eye candy department
I thought Morrowind was way cool. And the graphics are just fine, even by my standards today. I played it a little a few years back but got distracted, and I've recently started playing it again.

Personally, the best CRPG I've played recently was KOTOR2. It did get a bit weak at the end, but up until then it was great. But it wasn't the graphics ... it was the story.

But Planescape, it was hard to go back to. Perhaps it was just me.

Re:Needs a remake? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13396296)

If you liked the music you can find some baldurs gate/planescape sites out there with software that can convert the game music files to wav (and from there you can go to mp3).

Alternatively, you can find the entire album of music (released on CD as a promotion) in mp3 format on some planescape sites - including about 4 or 5 alternative unreleased tracks.
(just google planescape+music)

Very cool :)

Re:Needs a remake ... (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | about 9 years ago | (#13402117)

Thanks for posting that. You sound like your gaming interests are close to my own: I loved BG2 for the storyline, variations and party dynamics, and I missed the same things in Neverwinter Nights (which I played for several hours, but still never really got into).

I always wondered about Planescape: Torment, but I'd probably be disappointed in the same things you were. Despite the comments of another poster who replied in this subthread, I'm pretty sure we would be in the target market for a game like that, but while I can forgive basic graphics in exchange for good gameplay/plot, nothing kills an RPG like a limiting interface. :-(

Re:Needs a remake ... (1)

dougmc (70836) | about 9 years ago | (#13415465)

nothing kills an RPG like a limiting interface. :-(
To be fair, I don't recall what I didn't like about the interface -- it's been a few years.

I suspect that Planescape has roughly the same interface as BG1, but that BG2 improved it greatly (and again, I forget what the improvements were) and that I got to like them and it grated on my nerves when I went back ...

Re:Needs a remake ... (1)

Merk (25521) | about 9 years ago | (#13411796)

I did it in that order too. At first, I couldn't stop looking at the blockiness of the display. After a short time, I completely forgot the graphics, I was too into the game.

You might have to force yourself to play the first few hours of Torment, but I'd bet that after that you'll be too hooked to care about the age.

Box Art (1)

balthan (130165) | about 9 years ago | (#13387064)

The game probably would have sold a little better if at wasn't for the god-awful box art. I had zero interest in the game from looking at the box and didn't actually play it until several years after it had been released.

Re:Box Art (2, Interesting)

screwballicus (313964) | about 9 years ago | (#13387165)

Indeed, this is a point which Chris Avellone made fairly recently in an interview with gamegirl.org [gamer-girl.org]

Specifically,

MCA: Well, it sold all right, although it didn't do Baldur's Gate numbers, but rarely did a PC RPG do that well anyway. I guess some obstacles to its sales were the nature of the game itself (very text heavy, non-traditional gameworld), a shitty box cover (all that had to be done was make a box cover that looked similar to the Baldur's Gate one, and be done with it), and those are the only factors I can see. There was probably more, but those are the ones I can point to and wince.

Re:Box Art (1)

ExKoopaTroopa (671002) | about 9 years ago | (#13387752)

agreed, the box art was awwful, but you know the old adage "don't judge a videogame by it's box art"

Box art link (1)

Chris Pimlott (16212) | about 9 years ago | (#13393282)

I never thought there was anything wrong with the art, but Wikipedia has a picture of the cover [wikipedia.org] for you to judge for yourself.

full article text (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13387067)

Planescape: Torment was doomed to be a cult classic. Combine the unique and often disturbing setting, the cabal of antiheroes that follow you through the game, the fan favorite voice talent - like Dan "Homer Simpson" Castellaneta - and a story that some gamers called "intellectual" and others dismissed as "brainy" and "dull," and you've got a product that was sure to ward off casual players, yet convert others into lifelong devotees. Planescape's ideas on character development and storytelling are still bold and exciting - and today's mainstream hack-and-slash adventures could still take lessons from it.

The strangest, and one of the least successful RPGs from Black Isle (the company that brought you the Icewind Dale series), Planescape: Torment, which was released in 1999, took a risk by using the alternate Dungeons and Dragons campaign of Planescape, a not-really-fantasy, not-really-futuristic world that's mostly defined as unstable and bizarre. Strange and unruly dimensions intersect at the city of Sigil, where most of the game takes place, and your character, portentously called The Nameless One, wakes up in a mortuary with amnesia, a battered shell of a body that cannot die, and just one friend: a flying, talking skull. And the game gets stranger from there

People remember Planescape most fondly for its characters. The NPCs that join your party - including a reformed succubus, a psychopath engulfed in flames and a girl with a Scottish accent and a rat's tail (who was voiced by pop star Sheena Easton and was, well, wicked hot) - are not only exotic, but their motives and back stories make them feel three-dimensional. But the most complicated character is the one that you control. Planescape neatly balances a rich protagonist with an emergent narrative: Although you wake up as a blank slate and you can roleplay any way you choose, you're just the latest in a series of personalities that have controlled this beaten-up body. The Nameless One has also been wild and savage, cold and calculating, and an obnoxious do-gooder - and you have to deal with the fallout. (It's true that LucasArts' Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic pulled a similar trick, but the reveal was far more straightforward.)

Most RPGs don't respond to your behavior in any serious way, except maybe to give you either a "good" or "evil" ending after you beat the game; while the Dungeons and Dragons rules use an alignment grid that extends from good to evil, and from lawful to chaotic, most dungeon crawls just tack it on as another attribute. But in Planescape, alignment informs every part of the world you're in. Instead of your usual fighters' or thieves' guilds, the factions include the Anarchists, the Godsmen, and a pack of people who roam like wild dogs. Everything, from your gnarled body to the changing city streets to all of the planes around you, shifts and disrupts based on nothing but principles; one city physically drops from its original plane to a more nightmarish one after its people become chaotic. The same conflicts that rack the Nameless One also torment the people you meet,

the neighborhoods you walk through, and the world around you all the way up to the endless "Blood War" between law and chaos that rages at the edge of the game's world. Ideas become real, and the conflicts in your head are reflected on gigantic battlefields; like your character, the entirety of the world is in turmoil.

You could go so far as to call Planescape a work of art; it's a truly interactive story that would only work in this medium, and with this setting. You spend more time exploring ideas than game maps, and you experience a character, making his actions and suffering your own. And crucially, Planescape never settles for simple answers or gives up its secrets. Fans are still arguing over the themes and the ending, like movie buffs arguing over, say, Donnie Darko. And even the players who "beat" it keep coming back to the question at the heart of the game: "What can change the nature of a man?" End Article

Chris Dahlen is a freelance writer for Pitchforkmedia.com, the Boston Phoenix, Signal to Noise, Paste, and The Wire (New Hampshire). His website is Save The Robot.

Ok, you got me on it. (2, Funny)

Vo0k (760020) | about 9 years ago | (#13387230)

Sounds cool. I'm in. .torm...err, .torrent please.

Re:Ok, you got me on it. (3, Informative)

mbourgon (186257) | about 9 years ago | (#13388627)

Alternatively, you _could_ go buy it. Best Buy still carries it, for $5. Comes bundled with another game, IIRC.

Re:Ok, you got me on it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13389647)

Add $25 overseas shipping. :P

Re:Ok, you got me on it. (1)

BDZ (632292) | about 9 years ago | (#13390043)

Very true. I recently found a copy in a game store as well as a dual pack of Fallout 1 and 2. All games that I missed when they came out, but have heard such fantastic things about in Slashdot discussions.

Very much looking forward to playing all three...Whenever I find the time. Just about to make a 1200 mile move and start a new job so we'll see how time works out.

If these games are even half as good as people say they are then they are well worth the few dollars you can legally buy them for now.

Re:Ok, you got me on it. (1)

XO (250276) | about 9 years ago | (#13393246)

and at almost 3GB for the game, it'd take quite some time even on a good link

Re:Ok, you got me on it. (1)

Fjandr (66656) | about 9 years ago | (#13395828)

I believe it comes bundled with SoulBringer, a game I had never heard of and ended up having a blast playing. Another overlooked RPG with great character.

Overrated? Feh. (5, Interesting)

SageOfShadowdale (909817) | about 9 years ago | (#13387616)

I loved Torment. That game is definately up there in the best of all-time. Not only did it have the most interesting and complex storyline I've ever seen in a game, a cast of interesting characters that you can actually talk to, (not just this banter and occasional stuff like BG2 had), and excellent graphics and music, beyond all that, it made you think and it made you believe. And that is what Planescape was all about. Torment was a game that gave you choices. Lots of choices. Sure, the over-all storyline was rather linear, but there were many different ways to get there, and no two peoples' paths would be the same. You had to create your character from nothing more than a beat-up undying amnesiac, and by the end, that character was you. Your character reflected the choices you made, and those choices were created from your thoughts and beliefs about the scenarios presented in the game. Well, if you cared while you played it, of course. Torment asks one fundamental question: What can change the nature of a man? What did you tell Ravel Puzzlewell? What did you tell the Transcendent One? What was your answer? Or were you too concerned with flashy lights and box art know or care? The game has a lot of dialog, narration, and description in it. Thousands and thousands of lines of it. So what? Take a look at the work of Josh Mandel, quite possibly one of the best writers adventure gaming ever had. He wrote thousands of lines of narration for Space Quest VI, so that you could click on everything and get something funny back. He wrote Callahan's Crosstime Saloon, another game with thousands of lines of narration, and no narrator for it. Mandel made you laugh, and Torment's writers made you think and believe. There's so much there that you're going to miss some of it, so you'll play again and again. Unless of course, you're too concerned with the box art to play in the first place. Torment is a game that you have to spend some time with to understand. You have to read and you have to think. What's wrong with that? Besides, it's been years since I've read one of those Star Trek novels.

Re:Overrated? Feh. (1)

SageOfShadowdale (909817) | about 9 years ago | (#13387639)

Er... I apologize for the layout of that last post. There were *supposed* to be paragraphs there...

Re:Overrated? Feh. (1)

MisterMurphy (899535) | about 9 years ago | (#13388173)

It is okay. Some of us like lots and lots of lines of text.

another thing that's not overrated (1)

jbellis (142590) | about 9 years ago | (#13388546)

paragraphs.

paragraphs are good.

(capitalization is optional, however. :)

Re:another thing that's not overrated (1)

buffer-overflowed (588867) | about 9 years ago | (#13389040)

Capitalization is the difference between "I had to help my Uncle Jack off a horse" and "I had to help my uncle jack off a horse."

The Impact of Zonk pimping the Escapist.... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13387800)

Seriously, now. EVERY FREAKING WEEK they get a plug here. WE GET IT! YOU LOVE THE ESCAPIST! Go get a room so you two can do goatse style shit to each other.

Seriously, just add a slashbox and be done with this. I like reading the Escapist as much as the next guy, but come on now. They can't be paying you that much, can they?

Re:The Impact of Zonk pimping the Escapist.... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13387885)

They aren't paying as much as 1up.com, that's for sure.

Planescape (1)

Silicon Mike (611992) | about 9 years ago | (#13388854)

If any game ever deserved a remake, it's this one. I really think it's one of the best stories of any game I've ever played.. It had me glued the entire time. It just needs a graphics update for the Ritalin generation.

Played it already? Try again...you're missing out (3, Informative)

dtolman (688781) | about 9 years ago | (#13389762)

One of the amazing things about this game is that it is so deep and complex, that you can play it again, make similiar choices, and because of that complexity uncover things you never did the first time.

I played through it twice (a few years apart), and encountered characters, plots, and levels I never even saw in the first play through. My wife then played it, and uncovered yet again characters, plots and levels I had never encountered in both play throughs.

Truely amazing game - memorable not just because of the depth, the supporting characters you could care (at least a little) about...but for being one of the few CRPG's where you can actually ROLE play, instead of hack/slash. Only games that I've played that have come close in the past few years are KOTOR I/II.

I'm playing through it right now and... (1)

DoctaWatson (38667) | about 9 years ago | (#13394868)

This game is truly one of the best I've ever played. It sat unplayed on my shelf since 1999. Maybe I had some growing up to do, but playing it now has been a sublime experience. The Baldur's Gate series was one of my favorite of all time, so I guess Planescape's adventure-game puzzles and heavy dialogue with the Infinity Engine caught me off guard.

There's also still a fairly responsive community for the game on Planetbaldursgate.com

Check out Platter's Planescape-torment.org for good stuff like fan patches and story analysis.

If you like Planescape, I also highly reccommend Arcanum. It's not nearly as high quality, but the world and storytelling are still quite good and off the beaten path.

Planescape: Torment (1)

CdrJameson (857737) | about 9 years ago | (#13396884)

Nice introduction, but where's the article? Is that it?
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