Happy February everyone! Today I have the pleasure to bring you a "lost interview." Way back in August of last year we collected questions from the community to ask at GamesCom and PAX. The third set of questions was nearly lost to us due to time and technical problems. However, due to the diligence of Aaron from GamersVerse and a transcription by Jarcho that took several days, I am finally able to present to you the interview! Enjoy your new old Torchlight 2 information!


Aaron: This is way bigger than Pax and E3, insanely bigger.

Max: Yes, it makes me look forward to going to Pax in a couple weeks

Aaron: Are you guys showing anything different at Pax than you are here?

Max: Well... we didn't really intend too, but knowing Travis he always makes new builds so, we'll fix a couple little things here. It won't be substantially different though

Aaron: OK. Will there be any new dungeon types and will any of the old dungeons exist in the game or resources be reused?

Max: Not really, we really made all new levels and all new everything for this. We are taking a couple of the old levels and re-skinning them, but a player will think they are completely new.

Aaron: OK. And will there be any multi-core support this time around?

Max: No, all the graphics technology and everything is exactly the same as it was before.

Aaron: OK, so...

Max: So it will still run on your old laptop, yeah.

Aaron: So specs, same thing pretty much?

Max: Same thing, yeah yeah.

Aaron: Just requires an internet connection this time?

Max: Yes, well no it doesn't require it there's still offline mode.

Aaron: Oh so you can still play, OK you can. Is there any possibility of Torchlight 1 or 2 being released on Linux?

Max: Not at this time, you know we have a limited bandwidth with our small studio. We can only do one thing at a time, so we're just trying to hit the big things.

Aaron: You guys are what, like 32 people now?

Max: Yea roughly, and we'll stay there.

Aaron: Yeah.

Max: Until after this is done and then we start an MMO, then we'll maybe get up to 40, but...

Aaron: But that's it?

Max: Yea we wanna stay small.

Aaron: Does that mean you're going to outsource support for the game?

Max: Sure, yea we'll outsource a little bit of the art. Just sort of the busy stuff that takes forever, but we really are going to rely on good tools and efficient processes.

Aaron: Now, you know Torchlight 1 was all about modding and there was a huge modding community for it. Will there be any way to translate the mods over from Torchlight 1 to Torchlight 2?

Max: No, they won't translate from 1 to 2, but we will release the tools again for 2 and it will be fully moddable as well.

Aaron: But will the tools be a little bit more limited now that there's online play?

Max: No it's going to be the same thing as before. And again they're not consumer tools you know, we're releasing the tools really for the hard-core modding community. They're the ones we use, so we don't dumb'em down for the public at all, this is what we use to make the game.

(Don't forget to check the other pages for the rest of the interview!)

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Happy February everyone! Today I have the pleasure to bring you a "lost interview." Way back in August of last year we collected questions from the community to ask at GamesCom and PAX. The third set of questions was nearly lost to us due to time and technical problems. However, due to the diligence of Aaron from GamersVerse and a transcription by Jarcho that took several days, I am finally able to present to you the interview! Enjoy your new old Torchlight 2 information!


Aaron: This is way bigger than Pax and E3, insanely bigger.

Max: Yes, it makes me look forward to going to Pax in a couple weeks

Aaron: Are you guys showing anything different at Pax than you are here?

Max: Well... we didn't really intend too, but knowing Travis he always makes new builds so, we'll fix a couple little things here. It won't be substantially different though

Aaron: OK. Will there be any new dungeon types and will any of the old dungeons exist in the game or resources be reused?

Max: Not really, we really made all new levels and all new everything for this. We are taking a couple of the old levels and re-skinning them, but a player will think they are completely new.

Aaron: OK. And will there be any multi-core support this time around?

Max: No, all the graphics technology and everything is exactly the same as it was before.

Aaron: OK, so...

Max: So it will still run on your old laptop, yeah.

Aaron: So specs, same thing pretty much?

Max: Same thing, yeah yeah.

Aaron: Just requires an internet connection this time?

Max: Yes, well no it doesn't require it there's still offline mode.

Aaron: Oh so you can still play, OK you can. Is there any possibility of Torchlight 1 or 2 being released on Linux?

Max: Not at this time, you know we have a limited bandwidth with our small studio. We can only do one thing at a time, so we're just trying to hit the big things.

Aaron: You guys are what, like 32 people now?

Max: Yea roughly, and we'll stay there.

Aaron: Yeah.

Max: Until after this is done and then we start an MMO, then we'll maybe get up to 40, but...

Aaron: But that's it?

Max: Yea we wanna stay small.

Aaron: Does that mean you're going to outsource support for the game?

Max: Sure, yea we'll outsource a little bit of the art. Just sort of the busy stuff that takes forever, but we really are going to rely on good tools and efficient processes.

Aaron: Now, you know Torchlight 1 was all about modding and there was a huge modding community for it. Will there be any way to translate the mods over from Torchlight 1 to Torchlight 2?

Max: No, they won't translate from 1 to 2, but we will release the tools again for 2 and it will be fully moddable as well.

Aaron: But will the tools be a little bit more limited now that there's online play?

Max: No it's going to be the same thing as before. And again they're not consumer tools you know, we're releasing the tools really for the hard-core modding community. They're the ones we use, so we don't dumb'em down for the public at all, this is what we use to make the game.

(Don't forget to check the other pages for the rest of the interview!)

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Aaron: Will there be any destructible environments, obstacles or hard-to-find secret areas?

Max: Absolutely, absolutely there already are and there'll be a lot more by the time we're done.

Aaron: Great, cool.

Max: Yea we love that stuff.

Aaron: So elaborate a little bit more on that, will there be things that you can destroy that will then kill you know, monsters?

Max: Well right now there are like barricades across the pathways and things like that that you have to crush, and there's secret dungeons. It's all really up to what kind of cool things the level designers can make, and they get better and better as development goes on with it. The levels all change in the last month of the game because all the guys are really good at it by then and they wanna do all the cool stuff and, go back to their early levels that they made and re-fit those with the cool stuff. So that will be the same process this time around.

Aaron: Ok.

Max: And you know Torchlight 1 we started with nothing; no technology, no tools and everything, so it took a while to get ramped up. This time we're starting with the tools in place and everyone well versed in how to make this stuff so...

Aaron: Yeah.

Max: ... we're getting like a running start really.

Aaron: Even in Torchlight 1 though you did it really quickly. The whole team had a lot of experience within that genre and making those games, but you still pulled it together it what, 11 months?

Max: Yea 11 months, and you know we're really taking more time this time to make sure the item balance is better, and the progression is...

Aaron: The nice thing about PC games though is that you can go back and patch it.

Max: Absolutely.

Aaron: Now with Torchlight 2, the big thing, multiplayer, everybody wanted it in Torchlight 1, but there wasn't enough time or resources for the first one. So how does the multiplayer work, will there be a service kind of like battle.net, or is it strictly...?

Max: It will just like a lite battle.net, a match-making service basically.

Aaron: Will there be a friends list to join off friends?

Max: Well yea, the person who makes the game will have a server name That they'll say, and you can either open it up to people through our match-making service or just tell your friends the name of it and let them in only.

Aaron: OK.

Max: It's really pretty basic, you know. It's just made so you can connect with your friends, or connect with similar level people.

Aaron: Now I know there hasn't been a whole lot of talk about the MMO lately especially with Torchlight 2 now. Do you guys have anything else to reveal about that now, or is it still really on the back burner waiting until Torchlight 2 is done?

Max: It's really waiting until after Torchlight 2, except that now we're going to have a whole lot of multiplayer practice. We're going to be able to learn a lot from our, well we listen to our customers a lot and really watch how they play and what they want. That'll inform, it'll have a lot better MMO as a result of doing this then we would have otherwise.

Aaron: Will there be any kind of crafting system? I know that's usually left to MMOs.

Max: Yea, if Travis can get to it for sure. We wanna do crafting, but it's a time and resources thing and we want to make sure we hit the important things first.

Aaron: Awesome. I want crafting. It's a lot of fun, it's one of the things that sucked me into WOW actually.

Max: Right, right.

Aaron: Will there be any plans for a collectors edition, or any bonuses for people who bought Torchlight 1?

Max: Not at this time, but that's something we decide later in the development. Right now we're just trying too make cool levels, and cool characters, and see what happens really.

Aaron: You could probably attribute a lot of the sales of Torchlight 1 to Steam and Valve, are there any plans for full steam support for using their friends list built in to the game and everything like that?

Max: If we have time, I mean we really like the Steam support stuff, but we also want to make sure that the people who buy it from the other vendors have a full experience as well. But we really think the Steam features are cool and we like to do those too so, we'll try.

Aaron: And can you an example of a random event in Torchlight 2?

Max: You'll run across monsters that when you come up to them will get in a circle and spawn up a champion. We're just at the very beginning of putting in the event technology so it's again going to be up to the creativity of the level designers, but we really don't want to have the fields of monsters you know where they're waiting for you to arrive it seems like. So we want to be able to spawn monsters and set up situations in cool ways that makes it look like it's really a world where there's activity and not just zombie monsters waiting for you to arrive.

Aaron: You want to make an actual experience ???

Max: Yea, exactly. Maybe they'll spawn a portal to another dungeon or something when you come by.

Aaron: Now I know I personally mentioned this when we did an interview, last year some time at Perfect World, and I wanted zombie dogs, your dog were to get bit by a zombie or pet, not necessarily dogs. Will I see zombie pets in this game?

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Max: I'm going to lobby for zombie dogs.

Aaron: Awesome. (laughs)

Max: No promises, but you've got my support. (laughs)

Aaron: A lot of people have said the original game became too repetitive when they played it, do you have anything to fix that?

Max: Well, sure yea, we're spending more time this time with the progression and the experience. Torchlight 1 was really something of an experiment, it was an experiment in how to strip all the unnecessary things from the game development process and bring the development times way down and get the efficiency up. Gamers don't want to wait 5 years for a game and they don't want to spend 60 bucks for something the isn't very well balanced, for five years or more. (laughs)

Aaron: Know what are you talking about (laughs)

Max: No, no names. But this time, like I said, since we're starting with existing technology and tools, we get to spend more time on the game balance and the experience of running through the game.

Aaron: You know one of the big things that I think a lot of people liked about Torchlight was it's lower price point, it's buy it real easily and go play it. Similar price point for Torchlight 2?

Max: Yes, yes we want to have our story to be that it's a much bigger game, it's got multiplayer support, more characters, more everything, same price.

Aaron: Awesome, I think that's what a lot of people like to hear.

Max: Sure, our business guys don't like to hear that. (laughs)

Aaron: You guys have a lot of sales though, at least that's what it looked like.

Max: Yea, we're very happy with what the way it went the first time around, and we think that if we can have a better story for this one we'll have even more.

Aaron: I know for some reason a lot of game companies look at metacritic as their average score you know. You guys probably got, I think it was a 78 or a...

Max: 83 yea.

Aaron: Are you guys shooting for a higher score this time?

Max: Absolutely, all of the reviews said we love the game and if it had multiplayer it would have been a 10 or a 9 or something. So we hope that this time they were telling the truth, you never know with critics there's always random element there. We don't put a whole lot of stock in metacritic it's more important what the community thinks. For example, with Diablo, we never really had good reviews with it, we never one a game of the year thing, we never won awards at the shows or anything, but the public loved it. For some reasons reviewers didn't so, we hope they like it because...

Aaron: At least it's not the other way around.

Max: Right, right exactly. (laughs)

Aaron: That's a problem, the you run into Mirrors Edge.

Max: And that happens, yea.

Aaron: Now the first game was only in dungeons, you never saw the light of the actual, well above ground. This time, at least from what I played so far is, there is a lot of above ground.

Max: Yea and it feels so different just immediately it make it feel like a real world, and it makes the dungeons better, you know. (laughs)

Aaron: It much more open, you know, it's hard to not make a comparison to Diablo, but I remember in Diablo 2 you have the starting city and you would go out and it's open, open, open. Then you went to the first cave there and that's what it felt like, it was a really awesome experience to feel that, you know that... feel that awesomeness again, it's hard to explain. (laughs)

Max: And you know like Diablo 2 we're going to have a lot of terrain types. We're only showing the one here at the show with the mountainous rocky terrain, but we'll have deserts and snowy areas and all that stuff.

Aaron: Like the teaser photo that you were releasing every week?

Max: Right, right we got some concept stuff, I think, that has some of that.

Aaron: Is there any plan for the end-game. Will there be more difficulty levels to continue playing a character with, or will there be an endless dungeon and retirement?

Max: There will be retirement, there probably will be an endless dungeon too because why not, it's pretty easy to put in, but I'm kind of a fan of difficulty levels. I mean what do you think, I like difficulty levels because it does gives you a chance to just keep your guy going and keep developing.

Aaron: Yea definitely.

Max: But that'll be just based on experimenting with it and seeing what's fun.

Aaron: OK

Max: Obviously we try not to design too much upfront, we just kinda let the game do what it's supposed to.

Aaron: And especially with the mod tools, you can really just develop this much and then leave the community to the rest.

Max: Yeah, yeah, if we screw something up they'll take care of it.

Aaron: Now I think one of the most popular thing with Diablo 2 is the secret cow level. Is there any secret level, doesn't have to be cows or anything like that?

Max: There may or may not be a secret levely thing in, it wouldn't be secret if I told you would it? (laughs)

Aaron: That's true yes. So the status on the MMO is that it's on the back burner, is there any new ETA on it?

Max: Yea we'll start on that when we finished this. Obviously you don't do it the day after you finish because the dust has to settle and you have to patch or whatever, and if by divine miracle it becomes a smash hit and we sell a trillion copies we'll probably do an expansion, there's no reason to go do an MMO when this is obviously what people want. But our plan right now is when the dust settles from this we'll go start the MMO, and we'll try to take the same approach on the MMO as we did on this where we strip out the unnecessary stuff, make our development quick and efficient and get it out as fast as possible.

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Aaron: Now was Runic Games bought by Perfect World or were you invested?

Max: We were invested in by Perfect World, so we are still a separate company. Obviously we're at the Perfect World booth here, but we really like those guys and we have a really good relationship with them. They've been very supportive about us doing what's right our game and our franchise and our community, so we really do look forward to working with them more closely with them on the MMO, but we are a separate company.

Aaron: So then the IP is still owned by Runic Games, or maybe you I have no idea?

Max: Yes, Runic Games, I'm just one of the guys that owns it.

Aaron: Because I know one of the recent things that have been happening in the game industry, like the Call of Duty lawsuit that's happening between Activision and the IW guys. I know a lot of companies now do want to make sure they own their own IP's.

Max: Yea, yea Runic owns our IP's and we still call our own shots, again we don't want to have any sort of... We were very careful about picking a partner this time around that we know is going to be compatible with what we wanna do and stuff, so far it's been great.

Aaron: The first one was very well received. So the peer-to-peer servers will be running on your own computer?

Max: Yep

Aaron: So there's no actual back-end hosting by Runic Games or Perfect World?

Max: Correct. Only the match-making will be hosted.

Aaron: And then that's only the service so then it will then go to...

Max: Yep, the person that starts the game basically will host it and it will transfer ownership if that person drops. So yea, it's not a hyper-secure, cheat-free economy or anything like that, it's really made to play with your friends and that sort of thing. We'll try to make it as cheat-free as possible within the construct, you know we don't want people to cheat, but it's really about playing with your friends and being cheep and having no subscriptions or item sales. But that's really why they do that in those games because you have to support banks of servers that are hosting the game and it's very expensive.

Aaron: They have content coming out every week and they want to keep people playing the game.

Max: Exactly.

Aaron: Now how big will the game be compared to the original Torchlight?

Max: I think it will be an analogous to the Diablo 1, Diablo 2 split, so a lot bigger.

Aaron: Wow! Now will there be any other way to customize your gender beyond... (laughs)

Max: Only two, sorry. (laughs)

Aaron: ... I mean customize your character

Max: A slider between man and woman, that would be awesome! (laughs)

Aaron: Where would half-way go. Let me rephrase that, will there be any other way to customize characters beyond the gender, hair and the face?

Max: Yea, we'll probably put a couple more in. It won't be like the crazy... I keep wanting to say customer characterization (laughs), it's character customization where you like have an ear slider for the size of your ears. We won't do any of that, but we'll make it so you can make your guy look unique.

Aaron: Now I'm guessing with mod tools too, if people really wanted to they could go in customize the look of their character?

Max: That they can go crazy with, they will be able to do the ear slider. (laughs)

Aaron: Now one of the major thing I noticed while playing it was all of a sudden it started raining.

Max: Yes, weather effects. We'll have snow and dust storm and all of that stuff.

Aaron: Awesome!

Max: And day-night cycles.

Aaron: Yes. Will that affect the actual gameplay itself, or is it just for looks?

Max: It's for atmosphere, it's for mood and atmosphere yea.

Aaron: Awesome, that's actually all the questions I have.

Max: Right on.

Aaron: Thank you very much.

A huge thanks to Max Schaefer for answering the questions, to Aaron of GamersVerse for doing the interview and letting me post it, and to Jarcho for doing the time-consuming task of transcribing it!