While no RPG writer can be considered an auteur - as Avellone himself made clear in our interview a couple of years ago - there’s a reason his name is that most often associated with Torment.
“He was part of all of the discussions around the story, about the game, why it was built the way it was,” says Oster. “He was that one touchpoint that we could get where he was so intimate with everything about that game.”
Avellone has worked in a background capacity with Beamdog before, acting as a script editor for Dragonspear.
“We were unsure about how best to interact with Chris, because he was at Obsidian before,” Oster recalls. “And then when he left we were like, ‘Yo, Chris! How you doing, buddy?’”
With the nomad RPG legend on board, the Beamdog team - led by Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition project manager Alex Tomovic - have had a sounding board for their changes and inclusions. By digging into the code and referring to the “late ‘90s heavy metal” design documents of the game, they’ve been able to uncover and restore some lost content.
“Anything that was well-scaffolded and well thought-out that was left slightly incomplete, it came down to Chris,” says Oster. “We asked, ‘If this had shipped in the original, would the game have been better?’
“When we did make some changes, they were very comfortable for the original design. There are some big things that we looked at and went, ‘This would make it better but we’re basically going in and repainting the smile on the Mona Lisa here.’”
Beamdog have, in the main, erred on the side of preserving Planescape as it was - simply polishing it up for modern PCs. They’ve rebuilt the interface in high-definition, jettisoning a radial menu when they found the game played better without it. They’ve brought the audio up to contemporary standards. And they’ve pulled over convenience features from the other Enhanced Editions, like tab highlighting and a ‘quickloot’ option.
“It’s really being able to know: what are sacred cows, and what are sacrificial goats? I think we’ve had weekly calls [with Chris],” notes Oster. “It’s just an ongoing discussion.”