Posted Tue, Nov 03, 2009 by Ethec
Ten Ton Hammer: One thing I wanted to ask you about was key mapping. I know that keeping things simple was imperative for the team, but at present there’s no option to re-map keys. Will that be added to the game in a future patch?
Travis: You can remap keys now, but it’s hidden in the settings file. We didn’t quite have time to get the in-game interface for that, but it’s my hope to patch that in later.
Max: Obviously schlepping around with your settings file is not optimal. (laughter)
Ten Ton Hammer: The game has tons of items, they have cool names, they look awesome. How did you approach item creation on the whole?
Erich Schaefer, Chief Creative Officer: I’ve been doing that stuff since Diablo 1, and I guess I’ve used the same thought process all the way through. I usually come up with some clever names – I usually have a batch of 200 or something like that, and I come up with about 10 clever ones, 20 or 30 ok ones, and the rest are just jibberish. (laughter) Whenever people in the company complain about some of the names, maybe I’ll change them. But it just feels like I’ve made items for fifteen years straight now and I don’t know any other way to do it. I just keep cranking them out. It’s very much just iteration on the Diablo style.
Ten Ton Hammer: I take it you have a well-thumbed thesaurus on your desk?
Erich: Yup, or just thesaurus.com on the computer, and I just type in some random words. Some of them are sort-of related, and I’ll just go surfing around and ‘oh, that’s a cool looking word.’ Sometimes I’ll just keep a database of cool looking words.
Ten Ton Hammer: On the subject of items, it seems like sometimes I’m playing the game and the gloves I have equipped are really obsolete. All of the sudden, five pairs of really awesome gloves will drop. Are drops tailored to the user?
Erich: It’s all completely random, but it always feels that way. We’ll have people complain that, ‘Oh, I just got ten shields in a row. Something’s wrong!’ And we always look into it and nothing’s wrong, it’s just that people recognize patterns even when there’s no set pattern there.
Max: In Hellgate: London we did a little bit of tailored drops, but that’s the only game we did anything like that in.
Ten Ton Hammer: I wanted to ask about the differences between the difficulty levels, and I think the “hardcore” option for each difficulty level (where if you die, it’s game over) is really interesting. Are there any special considerations if you go hardcore, maybe more potions or drops, and are there any special rewards or surprises waiting for you in this mode?
Travis: There’s definitely no special considerations – it’s hardcore! We actually don’t have anything except prestige for doing hardcore. We will have the ability for players to add items after the fact that only drop in hardcore, although we didn’t do that for the initial release.
Ten Ton Hammer: Some of the really cool timesaving ideas in the game – having your pet run back to town and sell items for you, the traveling troll merchant that shows up deep in dungeons – are these original ideas for Runic?
Travis: The pet selling and traveling merchant were from Fate, which is another game we made. At some point a lot of what you see in game was original for some of us, but at this point what you see is the evolution of what we’ve done before.
Ten Ton Hammer: Moving on to the Torchlight MMO, first a point of clarification. We’ve heard 14 months after single-player Torchlight for release, we’ve heard 18-20 months also. Now that Torchlight has released on time, do you want to set a new timeline for the MMO or confirm what we’ve been hearing?
Travis: I guarantee you it won’t be 14 months. (laughter)
Max: Internally we’re looking at 18-24 months, but asking a game developer how long it’ll take is like asking a smoker how to quit. We’re notoriously bad at guessing, but on the other hand we hit the single player close to where we we’re aiming for. But no guarantees.
John: We’re really looking forward to having a beta again, so it’s not like you’ll have to wait two years to play the game if you’re really interested.