Posted Wed, Aug 31, 2011 by Sardu
The booth space for Torchlight II at this year’s PAX Prime was the largest since Runic Games’ inception, showcasing one of the biggest new features of the series: multiplayer co-op. It also gave fans an opportunity to get their hands on the newly unveiled Embermage, a purely magic focused class which introduces an entirely new gameplay style into the mix.
Following some hands-on time with the Embermage, we had the opportunity to sit down with Runic’s Max Schaefer to talk about the new class, the revamped UI, the storyline of Torchlight II, and a whole lot more.
Ten Ton Hammer: You’re unveiling the Embermage this weekend, and as a purely magic-using class it definitely adds another distinctive gameplay style into the mix. What inspired you to go in that direction for the newest class in Torchlight II?
Max Schaefer: You want to have a broad spectrum of characters, and we’d made the Outlander and the Engineer, and this seemed like the natural progression. After we made the Berserker which is kind of pure melee, if you look at those three there’s kind of a gap in the pure magic side of it. So the Embermage felt like a good completion to the circle of characters.
Ten Ton Hammer: Another major new element to the game since we last saw it at E3 is the complete overhaul of the UI.
Max: That’s something we kind of tinker with as we go along and did some major overhauls to. We just want you to be able to see more of the screen, and less interface. The less interface the better, really. But it does all the things with the hotkeys and stuff that you’d want. As you go into all of the other panes, like your pet inventory pane, there are some differences. Your inventory right now is broken into tabs for your potions, scrolls, and items, so you do have a lot more room to carry stuff now.
But there have been lots of little tweaks. We have a lot better auto-map now than there was before, a lot more descriptive and obvious quest text and stories than we had. UI is really a constant process of refinement, and we never really consider it done. I can’t guarantee that we won’t do another pass on it before we launch.
Ten Ton Hammer: Co-op is obviously one of the biggest new additions in Torchlight II. Have you added any new UI elements specific to supporting co-op play?
Max: You can see the other players’ portraits on the screen along with their health and mana bars, and they also have a blue beam coming out of them so that you can identify them easily from the monsters. They’re always on the edge of the auto-map so that even when they’re off the circle, you can see what direction they’re in.
Ten Ton Hammer: Along with those elements, will there be any means of creating a direct portal to your teammates in case you manage to end up on opposite ends of the map?
Max: We’re talking about doing that. Right now the easiest way is for you to portal back to town, and have them put up a portal and you can go right to them. So it’s mechanically there already, but we will probably have one less step to cut out the need to portal back to town first.
Like right now you trade items by throwing them on the ground, but we probably should have a way to trade where you drop an item on another character’s portrait or something. That’s just never made it to the top of the urgency list because you could already trade by throwing stuff on the ground.