Torchlight 2 interview with Runic Games

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Runic Games have just announced Torchlight 2. Frabjous day! Quick on our feet as always, we went back in time to schedule an interview with Max Schaefer and Travis Baldree, the company's founders and designers. They spoke to us about Torchlight 2's new co-operative multiplayer, classes, character customisation, setting, mods and undead bears.

PC Gamer: It's been only a short time since Torchlight 1, and you've already talked about the eventual Torchlight MMO. What is Torchlight 2 going to deliver?

Travis Baldree: Basically, Torchlight 2 is going to be the multiplayer people keep asking us for, ever since Torchlight.

Max Schaefer: It's peer-to-peer co-op play with just your friends. It's a halfway step to the MMO.

Travis Baldree: It'll be free online play. It's not a multiplayer extension for Torchlight, it's a full sequel, with lots of new stuff that wasn't in the original game, but it'll have full multiplayer support. You can play through the singleplayer story in multiplayer co-op. We're playing multiplayer in the office right now. We're trying to basically look at all the things people wanted out of Torchlight, that we didn't ship in the initial game, and we're trying to incorporate as many of those as possible.

Max Schaefer: It's safe to say that every review said “where's the co-op multiplayer?” (laughs) It was the obvious thing. Why are we going to launch into the long term MMO right away when we've got everyone that's bought Torchlight wanting co-op multiplayer? It makes sense for us strategically, too, to get a good practice session, if you will, for multiplayer with Torchlight. To make an MMO is a huge endeavour. It takes years, it's a big risk. This way we can really feel out how multiplayer works with Torchlight, and we can give players who have been complaining there's no multiplayer in Torchlight what they want, too.

Travis Baldree: So we have, for the sequel, randomised outdoor regions with time of day that passes and weather. We do character customisation now, as opposed to the three iconic characters we did in Torchlight. You can choose your gender, and when you're choosing your class you can choose different faces and hairstyles and features, and so on. All that stuff features in the MMO, but it just seems like a great time to go ahead and do it.

PC Gamer: What can you tell me about the new setting of the game?

Travis Baldree: You'll go through very distinct outdoor areas. You start in kind of a lush, mountainous region and you spend a pretty significant amount of time in the game in outdoor areas. So the idea is that over the course of the game you're going to transition between some very distinct regions that will hopefully be really interesting to progress through. You'll be going through different cultural areas, and it'll be a much more broadly ranging game than Torchlight was, and significantly larger. We don't want to throw out what we tried to build with Torchlight, there's still that kind of, sort of steam-punky aspect.

PC Gamer: We like the undead bears. What can you tell us about the region in which you encounter undead bears? Talk about undead bears.

Travis Baldree: I think you'll be encountering bears pretty early on in the game. It's almost got a semi-Tibetan feel to it, in a way, kind of like those tumbled rock walls and those grassy cliffs.

PC Gamer: Do you have new pets? Maybe the undead bears could be pets?

Travis Baldree: The plan is that we're doing some new pets, though we haven't finalised what those will be at this point. There will certainly be a dog and a cat, because everybody likes dogs and cats, and we're aiming to add some new pets as well. We'd also like to further the role of the pet and provide it with some more distinct abilities from creature to creature so that there's an interesting choice to be made in what you select.

Max Schaefer: We're not going to just separate the dog and the cat people! (laughs).

PC Gamer: Are they differentiated in any way other than appearance?

Travis Baldree: In the original game, the first two pets were more or less identical, it was purely a cosmetic change. The real differences came when you changed your pet into something else. But we've talked a lot, though there's no final decisions yet, about giving those pets some sort of distinct, innate abilities that make one more interesting than the other for one reason or another.