You have to love the irony behind the upcoming release of Torchlight 2. The developers planned its release to follow Diablo III, but with disappointment ranging from Blizzard’s authoritarian DRM to its abandonment of complex skill trees, Torchlight 2 could be just what fans were waiting for.
We had the pleasure of speaking with the developers over at Runic Games about how they’re building on the genre we all remember so well.
Erich Schaefer, co-founder of Runic Games, said the choices they’ve made tie into both to their values and the direction they want Torchlight 2 to take. Regarding offline single-player and LAN for multiplayer, in particular, he said “we want to remove all impediments to a player enjoying our game.”
“We are trying to reach as big an audience as possible instead of maximizing profit from a smaller customer base. So for us, light-to-no-DRM, low system specs, no internet connection necessary, and those kind of decisions are pretty easy,” Schaefer said.
Character development was well thought out, and the ultimate goal, Schaefer said, is giving the player the ability of being original.
“What I want to do when I play is create and mold a character that is different than everyone else’s. It’s extremely important for me to believe I am on my own, not having the same experiences that other people are having,” he said, adding that this concept is “Similar to why we like randomly generated levels and loot. This means we want you to be able to choose only a subset of the skills that are available.”
Yet, beyond that, he said, “I want to be able to concentrate differently within those skills that other players with even the same skills. We can both be robot-commanding, cannon-wielding Engineers, but maybe mine is a high-focus Spider Mine spewing summoner, while yours doesn’t worry about Mana and builds up his cannon damage while only summoning a Heal Bot every now and then.”
“Hell, I play this game over and over and over. I want it to be a new experience every time,” he said.
Torchlight 2 also has its own approach to graphics. It doesn’t go for the ultra real, and instead goes for a colorfully cartoonish, yet well polished, monster hunt through dungeons, forests, and deserts.
The first Torchlight, she notes, was a bit rushed, and “we definitely cut some corners and were guilty of experimenting along the way.”
“So, with Torchlight 2, it was really about refining the existing look and ‘fixing’ some issues,” Russell said. “We set out crafting the Torchlight look with the ‘Dragon’s Lair meets The Incredibles’ recipe.”
She said, “With Torchlight 2, I think we’ve added to the recipe without changing the dish, so to speak. There’s touches of new ingredients, a certain level of refinement and quality added, but it’s not suddenly something else. (+5 for food analogy, right?)”
“We wanted to be our own thing and ‘not another fantasy RPG’ where it’s a grey, bland, semi-realistic, or even borderline historical in how we present the world,” she said. “Basically, the idea was to not be beholden to preexisting notions of what a fantasy game has to look like. I think the larger world of TL2 and getting bigger glimpses of its inhabitants certainly provides more opportunities for players to better understand the mix of elements we present in our universe.”