Posted Tue, Nov 03, 2009 by Ethec
Released last week, Torchlight is a single player, dungeon crawling, mod-friendly action RPG from Runic Games, a Seattle-based studio that boasts a cast of developer from critically-acclaimed games such as the Diablo series. In two short years, give or take, Torchlight will become an MMORPG that carries much of the story into a persistent online experience. It might seem like a long time to wait, but Runic has given us plenty of cool stuff to do in the meantime.
We spoke with Max Schaefer, Travis Baldree, and a great cast of Runic developers regarding some of the ins and outs of Torchlight, post-launch plans (including when we might see the highly anticipated Preditor level editor and the Mac OSX version), and some initial plans for the Torchlight MMORPG. It's all in this in-depth post-launch Torchlight Q&A with the Runic Games team.
Ten Ton Hammer: Congrats on launch. Is there general euphoria at Runic Games this week?
Max Schaefer, Runic Games CEO: There’s always fires that need putting out and customer support after launch, but I’d say there’s euphoria on hold. It’s going exceptionally well, and there will be euphoria, but I think it’s going to take a good night’s sleep first.
Though ten tons is the theoretical ceiling for an awesome hammer, somehow Runic developed an Eleven Ton Hammer for the live game.
Ten Ton Hammer: A number of fans and modders anxiously await Preditor. Any idea when we might see Torchlight’s incredibly robust level editor?
Travis Baldree, President, Torchlight Project Lead: We’re hoping this week [the week of November 1st]. Basically, what we’re doing right now is taking a lot of assets – the 3D Studio Max files, the characters, the wardrobes, the tilesets, monsters - from the game and give them out with the editor. The editor’s ready to go, it’s just a matter of packing it up with a little bit more documentation. We’re getting one patch out the door first, and that’s the plan. It should be real soon.
Ten Ton Hammer: How comprehensive is the editor and assets you’re handing out. Will we be able to recreate all of the game, most of it, some of it…?
Travis: Our hope is that people will be able to edit just about everything. We’re not going to give out every last raw asset that we have because it would be gigabytes upon gigabytes of data. We’re trying to give out the things we think that people will want to modify the most, and representative sets of things like tilesets so modders can use these to extrapolate and create their own or just modify without trying to make them shoot down our entire source directory.
Jason Beck, Art Director: We’re also packing in mini tutorials for the basic tasks to get certain assets in the game. We’ll have little write-ups for characters, for weapons, for exporting animations, things like that.
John Dunbar, Story / Quest / Particles Designer: A lot of the stuff that people will want to do with the editor won’t require all the parts anyway. Level building, stat adjustment, particle effects, and all that is really easy without all the extra stuff.
Ten Ton Hammer: Will modders be able to teach themselves by reverse-engineering what they see in the game?
Travis: You’ll be able to open up every asset that’s already in the game in the editor, so you’ll be able to load all of the level sets, items, data, and skills and change them until your heart’s content. So nothing’s really blocked off.
Preditor will allow modders to recreate all the Torchlight action, plus make their own unique content.
Ten Ton Hammer: You mentioned a patch, and we know that some users we’re having the (usual) trouble with UAC in Vista. Will that be fixed, and what else will be included in the patch?
Travis: There’s several priority fixes we’ve been keeping track of in our help and support forums - a couple of issues people have had with specific hardware combinations, a lot of load speed optimizations – and we’re really just trying to roll it out as quickly as possible. There’s always a few bumps in the road after you launch a game and we want to be really responsive and get a patch out quickly.
Ten Ton Hammer: We know a Mac OSX version of the game is in the works. Any timeline for that at present?
Travis: We don’t have a final date yet. I think it will probably be a couple of months. We hope for the new year – we’ll see how that pans out. We’ll be putting a little bit more focus on that now that the game proper is out the door.
Ten Ton Hammer: Beyond the patch coming out this week (the one that's targeted at improving the launch experience) and the Preditor patch, are there any patches that fans can look forward to that add new functionality?
Travis: What we’ve talked about doing all along is to take the assets we’re generating for the MMO, rolling them up, and handing them out for the single-player, since they’re really set in the same world and have the same look and feel. We also would like to do a patch where we patch in in-game key bindings and some better item text sorting on screen (for when you have piles and piles of loot on the ground). That and a few other odds and ends, plus any balance things that people bring to our attention.
John: We also have a pretty big modding community, so I think we can look forward to some kickass mods. The great thing about that is that it’ll be a great surprise for us developers as well as everyone else.
Ten Ton Hammer: Will there be an official portal for Torchlight mods?
Travis: There are actually two already, all set to go.
Max: If at all possible, we would like to not be in the business of approving mods, just because… wow, that would be a lot of work.
Travis: We’ve released a couple mods: one that lets you respec, and one that lets you hide your pet.