Lighting It Up: Runic Investment And Sales

By Jim Rossignol on May 18th, 2010 at 4:31 pm.


Runic, the folks behind Diablo-like dungeon-crawler Torchlight – which we talked about favourably when it arrived – have done rather well for themselves. It seems that Torchlight shifted 500k copies, and set Runic up to sell a large stake of themselves to Chinese MMO-imperialists Perfect World (for $8.4m, which would buy a lot of Peggles.) All of which bodes well for the previously mooted Torchlight MMO, which Runic talked about back in 2009. It must seems like Flagship was just a bad dream… (Via Le Shack.)

__________________

« | »

, .

93 Comments »

  1. Sobric says:

    PC Gaming is dead and unprofitable by the way. Just thought you should know.

    Someone should probably shoot Runic an email informing them, they obviously don’t know this.

    • durr says:

      The argument has never been that PC gaming is unprofitable, it is just that huge, faceless blockbuster companies make more money on consoles. If you exclude Valve, Blizzard and the EA branch that was Maxis. And Friaxis. And Stardock…

    • Mac says:

      Yeah, I heard the Total War series, Heroes of Might & Magic series, Kings Bounty games, World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings online, Plants v Zombies, Diablo 1 7 2, Company of Heroes, Dawn of War games were all strugling to make cash … I don’t think so!

      For AAA games, they are mainly released across all 3 main platforms … i’m not sure this would happen if the PC lost money???

    • Samuel Bigos says:

      Oh, and didn’t that Humble Indie Bundle make over $1.2 million in a week?

    • bob_d says:

      Actually, they already know this, as they haven’t made nearly enough money to build an MMO… last I heard, they were actually quite stressed about this.

    • BeamSplashX says:

      This smells of missed sarcasm.

      Regardless, let’s hope the sequel takes the logical next step and is called Lanternlight. Maybe the third game could be Killmorgothlight.

    • jonfitt says:

      My vote is for Tilleylight.

    • TheSombreroKid says:

      there’s n one trying to golden handcuff epic onto the pc. i find it interesting that a pc game can sell this many copies without me being oe of thier customers being that i spend a lot of money on pc games and don’t own any games consoles.

    • benjamin says:

      Or *shudders* Twilight

    • Don says:

      Talking of PC games making no money PC Gamer’s blog has an item on the Dwarf Fortress guy, who gives the game away, and the donations he’s received to keep him working away at yet more ingenious ways to bring your mighty fortress to ruin. A cool $28K in 5 months it appears. Mere petty cash to the likes of EA of course, but the money’s around for any developer who cares to engage with their customers.

    • Mo says:

      Obviously, for a small team the PC can be profitable. And for PC-centric genres (RTS, RPG, MMO) yeah, they’ll be profitable. But for the majority of devs, their games won’t make as much money on PC as they will on consoles. And the amount of resources to do a proper port to PC is significant. So for a lot of cases, the whole “PC isn’t profitable” thing is true. Smart (and smaller) devs will find a way to turn a nice profit on PC. But remember, 500k copies at (averaged) $10 a pop isn’t a big deal for EA and the like. So yes, PC is profitable, but not to the scale the big publishers would like.

      On an aside, I want to point out how Torchlight works on *any* PC, and how that’s a good thing. Capps is right, Epic’s stuff probably isn’t profitable on PC, but I think that’s because Unreal doesn’t scale that well. I’d buy a lot more games for PC if they’d work with my shitty Intel-integrated. That Torchlight runs smooth as butter on even the lowest end PC is probably a very significant factor for its success.

    • Gutter says:

      Ask them why they set themselves “up to sell a large stake of themselves” to a Chinesse crap ware producer in that email. Why they had to go to China to find investors.

  2. mrmud says:

    Perfect World you say… Urk…

    • dethgar says:

      Dungeon Runners shut down because no one would pay for it, iirc.

    • Wulf says:

      Damn shame about Dungeon Runners. I was really, really sad to see that go. It had a lot to do with one of the key people leaving, though, to pursue greener pastures. That was the death knell for the game, and it really is a bloody shame. If they’d had a micro-transaction model to keep people paying, so perhaps they could’ve kept that one bloke on board, then it might just have been a resounding success.

      I’ll remember it fondly, and miss it dearly. I do think that Runic are smart enough not to go that way though, especially since they have past experience with Mythos. They’re smarter now, and I tend to believe they can do it.

  3. Heliocentric says:

    Oh snap, the terrible news that a loved developer is going to be digested by a chinese mmo monster told like its a good thing, well at least I’ll always have mythos torchlight.

    • Brumisator says:

      Thank god, I’m not the only one who read it like that.

    • Vinraith says:

      I, too, am confused as to why this is a good thing.

    • bob_d says:

      Presumably Runic now has the money to work on their intended MMO project. Perfect World always had a hand in; Runic got the tools they needed to make Torchlight from PW, for example. It’s sad Runic had to give up more of their company, but it doesn’t change their plans for future projects.

    • Vinraith says:

      @bob_d

      Yes, but having a sizable chunk of their company owned by a Chinese MMO company implies their new MMO is going to be in the Chinese mold, which is to say complete shit. Gaining money at the expense of control is fairly meaningless, as it just turns a poor, good developer into a rich, bad developer.

    • Collic says:

      @Vinrath Maybe, but it could also be that it won’t be in the Chinese mold. It would make sense for them to employ a western company to produce a different type of MMO, for a different market. It’s fairly well known these days that the eastern games industry is becoming quite isolated in many ways, and that’s the reason behind companies like square Enix attempting to branch out by acquiring interests in western development houses.

      This may not be true of course, but it doesn’t much sense to not consider it as one of many likely possibilities. It seems the most likely reason for them buying a western development house in my opinion.

  4. Finn says:

    Oh noes, that Torchlight, which was massively pirated, did make a nice profit?
    The sky is falling, someone get Mike Capps on the phone right now!

    • bob_d says:

      That’s a nice profit if you have a small team and plan to take the money and retire; it’s NOT a nice profit if you want to use the money to put a team together to build a larger game. That amount of money isn’t enough to build anything other than another Torchlight, it really isn’t enough to build a full-featured MMO (unless perhaps they make the whole game in China…)

    • Lobotomist says:

      I guess you didnt play Mythos ?

      Its MMO they developed before Torchlight. With even smaller team. (actually it was just a network test for Hellgate)

      And Mythos was good, so damn good

    • Nick says:

      Its also not a huge blockbuster game.

    • bob_d says:

      @ Lobotomist
      Yeah the Mythos team was small, but they were a part of a larger company that was collectively making the game engine. As you point out, Mythos was originally built as a network test of the Hellgate engine, and in fact the two games shared their code base throughout their development. So it’s hard to disentangle the Mythos team from the $100+ million mess that was Flagship. How much could they have made on their own? Hard to say.

  5. Torgen says:

    Off Topic, but there’s a banner ad trying to force a javascript execution on me here on the site. I’m going to have to re-enable ablocker pro until it’s dealt with :(

    I suspect the Medifast one.

  6. Ginger Yellow says:

    Would it buy enough Peggles to fill an area the size of Wales?

  7. Raum says:

    To be honest, I’d rather have a content patch for Diablo 2 rather than a new Torchlight.

    Not that Torchlight wasn’t nice, but the item system was far from as solid as the one in Diablo 2, and quite frankly, the skill system wasn’t all that either.

    That it’s gonna turn into a Chinese micro-payment fest isn’t really boding well for the game or the company as a whole either. Too bad.

    • drewski says:

      Do you have any evidence that they’re going to change the game to introduce micro-payments, or are you just making things up?

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      @drewski
      Well, Schaefer himself says that much in this interview to Gamasutra in May, last year. So he wants microtransactions. That ought to say something, don’t you think.

      Meanwhile, because one year later, Runic gets acquired by the chinese MMO giant, who bases most of its MMOs (if not all) on the micropayments business model, ought to say even more.

    • drewski says:

      I think they’re making a distinction between the MMO model and Torchlight-style games, though.

      Which may have been what Raum was getting at? If the “new Torchlight” is going to be an MMO, I guess.

    • Jacques says:

      I don’t see why micro transactions are necessarily a bad thing in games like Torchlight.
      You mentioned Diablo 2 earlier, have you got any idea how many item shops there are for D2?

      So long as they don’t make the items exclusive to the shop, I don’t see what the big deal is. I’d rather spend $2 to get a “fuck off big sword” than have to grind the same boss for 10 hours.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      @drewski,

      Ah, ok gotcha.

      @Jacques

      That argument is as old as online RPGs. As old as MUDs. And it will never be solved. Drop it.

    • Jacques says:

      Mario,
      Why drop it?

      The point still stands, regardless of whether or not the argument is “old”.
      Micro transactions aren’t the devil, and in ARPG games like Torchlight, frankly, they’re a saviour for people that have neither the time nor the patience to grind for hours and hours. If Blizzard were to implement a system where I could purchase non duped items in D2 (and D3 when it comes out), I would jump at the chance, and I would have jumped at the chance to do it in Hellgate: London as well.

      You’d think devs would have wised up on this by now. A quick Google search for “d2 item shop” got me over two millions hits. If even 0.1% of those are actual item shops, that’s over 2000 people selling items.
      Of course, that’s not even including D2JSP, Paul Taulborg must laugh his way to the bank, selling digital currency (fg) for real money ($100 gets you 3175fg, and there are people floating on that site with over 100k fg).

      Fact of the matter is, micro transactions for items are to be encouraged. Hardcore gamers can farm and grind for 10 hours a day, and people with families and day jobs can spend some money and remain competitive.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      The problem is that no one will ever agree. And the decision affects everyone. So, it gets a very passionate debate.

      Pro:
      - I shouldn’t be penalized because I cannot spend 5 hours in front of my computer playing a game.
      - Grinding is insanely boring. I cannot play games this way.
      - If I have the money and if I am playing a commercial game, why shouldn’t I be able to use my money to buy me stuff?

      Against:
      - They create a gap between “rich” players and “poor” players.
      - So, spending the last week playing to death to get new furniture to my cottage only cost you 5 USD and 30 seconds?
      - Why should people who clearly do not invest their time in this game should have access to uber equipment? (said in a particularly harsh tone if the game includes PvP)
      - Microtransactions difficult the creation of an in-game economy and put too much power in the company hands that can alter drop rates to increase sales, or otherwise converge players to the buy button.

      I shouldn’t have said for you to drop it. But the problem is that both sides are right and yet the decision to go either way has profound implications on the other side. Defending one side or the other is showing everyone else the finger.

      It’s thus an unresolved issue. And I think it will always be.

    • Raum says:

      To be brash, only one side is right.

      This is basically asking if one should make a game, or one should make a business with certain game-like qualities.

      A few years back, you would be the laughing stock of the internets.

      … and to be honest, those historical figures are very much correct. Micro-transactions really aren’t compatible with game mechanics using actual playing to reward players.

      Why would you even want that sword in the first place? There are lower level places where you can play, where you could have your sword (gotten while beating the same mechanics as everyone else) that is “big” in the eyes of your enemies. The only place it’s puny is in the eyes of the people who’s actually interested in playing the game more than yourself, and that, of course, is the way it should be; unless you think it’s a problem that you haven’t got a “big” sword comparable to others. In that case, I don’t think your problem is the game.

      To me, it feels analogous with being able to buy your way into the platinum league in Starcraft 2. Yeah, it probably feels pretty good seeing your name on the top of the scoreboard, but for the rest of the people actually interested in playing the game competitively, you’d stick out like a sore thumb; in essence making the game non-functional in a traditional sense. Games are always based on rewards, in one way or the other. With micro-transactions, you remove that.

      If you’re talking about non-competitive games, or single player games, most of them contain the ability to use cheat codes, so I guess you won’t have a problem with getting your “big” sword in those games, and fortunately, it doesn’t matter, because you’re not ruining the game for anyone but yourself.

    • Jacques says:

      Ruining the game for other people?
      Let’s continue with Diablo2, because it’ll be familiar to a lot of people.

      For example, I build an icemaiden amazon, do I settle for a “merely good” bow , that I can use to complete hell, albeit it’ll often take about 5 minutes to kill a normally easy enemy?
      Of course I don’t fucking settle for that, I go all out, make an Ice runeword weapon (either by trading for duped runes, because the chance of coming across a real one, even with 40+ hours of play is so low or by purchasing it with real money), I get a decent armour, something with +2 skills, again, another few hours of grinding (with sub par equipment, or with a character I don’t enjoy playing), a faith runeword bow for my merc, again, high runes are impossible to find and then, all the rest of the gear, including an annihilus charm and torch (and those involve even MORE grind).
      And now, with my completed character, I have an absolute blast playing areas of the game that would have just previously been a pain, and I can enjoy them without having to have sunk about 100 hours into the game, and playing characters and builds that I don’t enjoy (hammerdin or sorc for the initial mf, smiter for ubers, luck for the annihilus, etc)

      It really isn’t an argument at all, I don’t enjoy PvP, what I do enjoy is steamrolling through an area with the oddest builds I can come up with ,ie my CtC on hit paladin, click which, with the equipped gear, would have needed a minimum of 11 high runes to achieve.

      As for your saying it’s hurting other players, how, exactly, is that right? If you know anything about the pvm game in D2, you’ll know it revolves around farming or boss runs, and frankly, my 11 high rune character is infinitely more fun, and more party friendly than a generic hammerdin or smiter with typical gear.

      Also, who the fuck are you to tell me how I should play games?

    • Aldehyde says:

      @Jacques: Well, since you’re playing the game on your own, not PvP, I really don’t care if you are “cheating” or buying yourself the items you want/need. But if it’s a game with a big PvP component, buying yourself an advantage is, to me, not a thing that should be.

    • panik says:

      If you haven’t earned the items to give you a gaming advantage but paid real money…then you are a cheater, maybe not to others, but to yourself.
      You are weak gamer….a charlatan and a poser.

    • Jacques says:

      @aldehyde
      The entire Diablo 2 “economy” is based around duped items, pvp even more so than general pvm.
      To even be competitive in pvp, you need a lot of very high end gear, not only that, but you need an inventory full of charms, and those tend be to even more expensive (in terms of trade value/money/fg) than the rest of the gear.
      I think something that Guild Wars did well was the separation between pvm and pvp, which is absolutely crucial in this type of game.
      @panik
      Derp derp.
      edit
      @aldehyde
      Also, I don’t play by myself, I play pvm online. You think people are upset when suddenly, because of my character, their skills do three times the damage? Or how about the fact that I can suddenly tank an area that most cookie cutter builds just die in?
      Let alone the fact that I can make a character than can just sit there in a cow game and get players to level 30 without needing to attack a single enemy.

    • Aldehyde says:

      @Jacques: You’re missing my point, I’m not talking about Diablo 2. I know how its economy works these days after all the cheating and stuff like that. What I’m referring to is your talk about micro transactions. If a multiplayer game had micro transactions and said game had a big pvp component, it’d be, to me, shit.

    • Jacques says:

      But a system where people have to spend ages farming would be better?

      Basically, neither of those is good, what would be good is a system where everyone is on an equal standing, but, let’s face it, no one’s going to be interested in that.

      On one side you have the guys with lots of money who’ll just spend their way into being competitive, and on the other you have the people that spend weeks farming for a particular item. Everyone else is just left behind.

    • Aldehyde says:

      @Jacques: When did I say that you should have to farm forever? Diablo 2 is a really bad example of how this should work. You shouldn’t have to grind for stuff for days just to be able to compete, yet just paying your way through and then using this advantage when playing against other players is NOT an option.

    • Aldehyde says:

      And when I say ‘days for stuff’, I meant more like ‘days to just get one item’.

    • Jacques says:

      @ aldehyde
      Well then what would you have instead?
      Easy to acquire items? That’d completely kill the long term charm of ARPG’s.
      As I said earlier, a clear distinction has to be made between pvm and pvp, both in terms of skill balancing, and in terms of items. A standardised amount of attribute and skill points (if we follow the standard ARPG template) and standardised gear (different load out options available for different builds) would go a long way towards solving this problem. Though I don’t think we’ll find a definitive answer for a while yet, as all three arguments have merit.
      Also, more like months to find stuff, if you’re after the perfect rare, or trying to roll the perfect runeword. let alone an inventory full of 45 life skill charms.

    • Aldehyde says:

      @Jacques: That kind of contradicts what you said yourself. Getting items easily increased your fun with the game (Diablo 2), no? And now you say that getting items easier, without paying or cheating, would kill the game? Sunds strange.

    • Jacques says:

      @aldehyde

      I’m was talking about getting items for pvm, not pvp, where I think something does need to be made.

    • Jad says:

      If your game mechanics are so boring that someone would rather pay real world money to skip ahead to get a late-game item, then you have a bad game.

      A game should be fun to play. Gaining new items and levels and the like should be a method of adding variety and dynamism to the game, not a narcotic crutch to hold up a game that is flawed at its core.

      At one point when playing Torchlight I found the game so easy (I was on “Normal” mode, I later used a mod to increase the difficulty level of my save) that I stopped improving my character — I did not allocate any skill points and attributes, and did not replace my gear. In other words, I took myself out of the loot and level grind, the purported point of the game. While the game suffered a good amount from this, I still did find the interplay of my spells and the different enemy types, combined with the simple cathartic pleasure of click-on-things-til-they-die kept up my interest enough to play like that for a couple of hours (then I got that mod).

      Any MMO that seeks to pull money from me to skip the loot-grind will have to be more boring mechanically than Torchlight to get any money from me, at which point I simply will not play that game, because it will be crap.

  8. Trelowsaurus says:

    Wasn’t this planned/expected from the start? As I recall Perfect World had their thumb in the pie the whole time.

    • bob_d says:

      I suspect they had to sell a greater share of the company to Perfect World in a desperate attempt to raise cash for the MMO.

  9. drewski says:

    I’d just finished playing a couple of hours in Torchlight when I read this. Good to see guys who made such a fun, if rather pointless, game, getting financially rewarded – both in sales and investment.

    By my calculations, an average of $10 per sale (and I’m guessing the average was likely higher) would give them revenue of about $5m which for a fairly small studio has to be pretty decent.

    • bob_d says:

      I understand the profits were less than they had hoped (thus selling a larger portion of the studio to China to raise the development money they need).
      $10 a copy is optimistic; I noticed the game was frequently being sold for $10 on Steam. I’m not sure what cut Valve takes of Steam sales. Valve has talked about it being a better deal for developers than the traditional box-sale-with-publisher arrangement, but given that with box sales the developer makes about seven dollars on a sale of a forty dollar game, Valve’s cut could be anything up to 2/3 and developers would still come out ahead.
      The article makes it sound like Runic are wildly financially successful; they aren’t. Luckily, however, I hear Travis Baldree is a game-developing wizard who can get amazing things done with very little money.

    • drewski says:

      I dunno, it was selling for double that originally and more again on Steam and the other download clients. I’m sure they sold a lot of copies in the Steam sales, but I’d be surprised if the majority weren’t at $10 or higher.

    • Langman says:

      @drewski

      I don’t get the ‘pointless’ remark. It’s merely a fun game, like every other fun game. How is Torchlight different?

      I put 20 hours into it and had a great time, like many others. Is that not enough for a game?

      If Torchlight is pointless, then so is gaming in general.

    • drewski says:

      Well, that’s fine. I personally feel there’s a difference between those games played purely as an enjoyable way to pass time and those games played with a goal or purpose in mind, but if you don’t, that’s cool.

      In this context, I do not use “pointless” as a pejorative term but merely descriptive.

    • Langman says:

      But the Torchlight campaign does have a goal. It has a number of dungeons & quests which leads up to a final big battle (and then the option to carry on afterwards – this part I guess could be described as having little point, but I stopped once the main game was over).

      I still don’t quite get what you mean..

    • drewski says:

      Oh come on, nobody cares about the story in Torchlight. It’s an excuse to keep hitting the RNG for loot.

    • Langman says:

      So a game *has* to have an in-depth story to not be considered pointless? That’s just silly.

      There is a goal & purpose in Torchlight, however limited you may perceive it to be.

    • Clovis says:

      Gotta’ agree with drewski here. Torchlight was really fun, but pretty pointless. Does the game change at all once you complete the main mission and start doing the random missions? Not really. The story had zero effect on the game or on the player for me.

  10. Jacques says:

    I’m still upset that I can’t play my gun guardian templar online :(

    Say what you will about Flagship, but they at least managed to capture the absurd overpowered items and skills that made Diablo 2 so much fun. Which is more than can be said for Titan Quest, Sacred, Torchlight, etc.

    • dethgar says:

      Some company bought the rights to Hellgate and is running an online server in asia with plans to bring it state side soon. They also have plans for content and enhancing what is there atm. I’d google it for you, but i’m lazy.

    • Jacques says:

      You don’t need to, I know about Hellgate: Tokyo already. ;)

    • bob_d says:

      Ah, Hellgate:Tokyo, which came out in March… except it didn’t. The Korean development team discovered that creating content for the game was a lot harder than they thought. (Even Flagship had problems adding content to the game.) If it makes it to the US (the parent company has financial problems), it’ll pretty much be the same game it was, but online only and funded by item sales. Oh, and there’s an Auction House and PvP, even though it’s kind of broken, because they love PvP in Korea.

  11. Forscythe says:

    As others have said, 500,000 copies isn’t enough to develop an MMO.

    I kind of wish they WOULD just make another single player (or coop) Torchlight rather than keep trying to go MMO – the MMO market is much harder to break into, much more competitive, much more expensive, and Runic’s excellent goodwill and indie credentials will count for basically nothing.

    Given that the cost of entry for them appears to have been selling their souls to Perfect World, I wish Runic would have just built on the remarkable success of Torchlight by sticking to what they know they can do successfully and make a game we know will be fun.

    • DK says:

      Of course 500.000 copies plus a couple of millions is enough to develop a MMO. People need to get it out of their heads that WoW is somehow the benchmark of what is “profitable”. WoW isn’t the benchmark, it’s the exception.

      Hey publishers, listen up: YOUR GAME IS NOT GOING TO MAKE 120 MILLION DOLLARS PER MONTH.
      It never will. Period.

      But if you don’t spend money developing it (and trying to compete with the game that does) like it will make that amount, you’re gonna have a profitable game that rakes in continous profit at less than 200.000 subscribers.

    • bob_d says:

      Runic was partnered with Perfect World from the beginning, so the MMO was inevitable. People I’ve talked to who know Travis Baldree rave about the guy, though, so a small-scale online game that reuses Torchlight assets might be possible even with this tiny amount of money. It isn’t going to be easy, however.
      I’m not sure another Torchlight game would have worked – there are only so many Diablo clones one can sell, especially with D3 looming on the horizon. The only way to compete with that is to offer some functionality missing in D3, namely the multiplayer experience.

    • bob_d says:

      @ DK
      Yes, all true. (And let me add: anyone trying to compete with WoW is an idiot who shouldn’t be given the money to make games.)
      However, even if we’re talking about games that are not trying to compete with WoW (i.e. Mythos, Torchlight online), they’re still expensive to develop. Every new company making an MMO has to reinvent the wheel to a certain degree – there’s a certain amount of tech and infrastructure that needs to be developed from scratch (Perfect World can probably help a great deal with this, though, in the same way they provided tools to make the single player game). More content is needed than for a single player game, since you rely on people continuing to play for your revenue. Plus the game has to be more carefully balanced and tested; a single-player game can get away with being unbalanced in a way that is intolerable in multiplayer. All these costs add up.
      Which is to say: Yeah, they’ll probably be able to make a rather modest online game, but they’re hardly rolling in cash and taking champagne baths at Runic.

  12. Mario Figueiredo says:

    The only thing that annoys me about this news is the majority seat PW bought. This will probably mean Runic Games will become irrelevant to me, as their interest in developing single/multiplayer games is essentially over.

    It’s gonna be MMORPGS from now on.

  13. Daniel Klein says:

    I really really love Torchlight. Too much, actually. Just the other day I downloaded the delightful Torchleech meta-mod (an automated mod downloader/installer/conflict checker) and started playing an airbender. I’ve played the game so many times, and yes, like all custom classes, the airbender is way overpowered, presenting zero challenge even on very hard difficulty, but damnit, it’s so much fun. Like the original review here said, click-ooh-shiny.

    I’m not sure that Perfect World is good news though? I don’t know much about them, but the name does have distinctly negative connotations to me. Does anyone have solid information on that, especially with regards to a track record in publishing stuff in the western hemisphere?

    At any rate, I cannot wait to trade in my life for the Torchlight MMO. For those here who were in the Mythos beta, we did get a very quick glance at what sort of game could be in store for us with the final overworld patches. If they do make a Torchlight MMO, though, we need to remind them to put dinosaurs into it.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      I have to confess I could never effectively play the …. forget her name now, the female character. Don’t play the game for a while, but did enjoy it. I however have a few criticisms:

      - The item system could have been a lot better. It failed to deliver the same interest into the game that allows players to still grind to this day on Diablo 2, 10 years later.

      - Again we are presenting with limited stash sizes. Stashing is clearly something these designers don’t want us to do. And yet it is clearly what players always wanted to do. It’s quite amazing to me this separation. If Diablo 2 could be excused with online issues brought by vast stashes, Torchlight has no such excuse. And so the designers end up looking bad by insisting on a feature no one wants(!).

      - Lack of named ubers, super ubers and the ilk. They are excelent insertions into diablo-like games. They introduce a “mythology” to the grind playstyle that interests players and keep them going. The game didn’t offer the possibility of monster associated grinding. Consequently, it can never be as rich as Diablo 2 “mythology” and can never offer the same type of debate still going on Diablo 2 forums. i.e. monster strategies, best areas, etc. Randomness is the strong point of these games. But not when its too flat and ubiquitous.

    • drewski says:

      The female character is my favourite, by far; but her skills are the least interesting. Traps? Yawn, and that’s a whole third of the skill tree wasted. By about level 50 or so you’ve used all the skills you’re realistically going to.

      I have no problem with the item system – grinding for pretties is still keeping me entertained at the moment, after 50 or so hours. I’d agree on the other two criticisms, though, and note that one thing that’s always, always bugged me about this style of game is the sheer number of mobs where you have a raiser and a group of minions. That’s OK every now and then, but when most of your mobs involve some variation of that you need to smack yourself in the face and go back to game design school. Diablo II had the same problem, although I don’t recally finding it as irritating in Diablo. But then maybe that’s just because the chain lightning spam tactic was far more effective at dealing with such mobs.

    • Tei says:

      traps, turrets, bombs,… these type of tools are perfect for a gamestyle, playing like a pet-class/coward, to deal damage in a indirect way.

      1) enter room with high level mobs
      2) trown something that does damage
      3) exit room (heal if needed)
      4) goto 1 until monsters dead

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      I loved the traps path. Absolutely my favourite skills in the game. Hilarious, with great sound effects.

      KG

  14. Tei says:

    The game could have surpased the dev’s expectations, but It deliverd to me less than my expectations YMMV.

  15. Lobotomist says:

    Actually its pretty meager deal. 8 million is really small amount of money to pay for real popular game that sold 500.000 copies trough digital sales only. And was critically acclaimed both by reviewers and players ( i still play the damn thing )

    On top of that Runic is about to launch MMO – that they can make with small budget ( hence the excellent Mythos )

    They have potential to be worth much more very soon.

    Its almost like EA purchase of Infinity Ward for 11 million , back in the days

  16. Sidorovich says:

    Torchlight was the most competent Diablo clone I’ve played in a long time. And I’m not damning it with faint praise there either. But I just can’t see how it can evolve into a compelling MMO. Reaping in the moola by gazzumping Diablo3 with an addictive dungeon crawler all of their own was an ace move by Runic, but I’d rather see them try their hand at something else now.

    • Kualtek says:

      I agree. I was hoping they would create an expansion not unlike Lord of Destruction that would add another town or at least some client-side online co-op.

  17. Tei says:

    I miss some Mythos bugs :-(

    Like that one where a suposedly singleplayer instance is shared by two players. It whas shocking to meet another player on the deep of a dungeon, a pure “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” moment.

  18. Radiant says:

    This is great news well done them!

  19. Czechton says:

    Well considering the MMO is being built in the same engine as Torchlight and is reusing most of the assets of the first game its safe to say the team doesn’t have to be huge (especially given the random dungeon generation that is used) . The fact that perfect world owns a bit more of them is a shame but they were always part of the equation. Having them more onboard will also help with the stuff like netcode (especially netcode in fact, since Perfect World are extremely experienced with such things) that a small studio doesn’t have the resource to implement so well.

  20. DMJ says:

    Diablo 2 was fun, but the single-player was always eclipsed by co-op for me. Like the time three of us were Necromancers, and all of us went heavily into the summon skeletons part of the skill tree… It’s terrifying when the good guys outnumber the bad guys. But there was no such fun in Torchlight. It was fun enough single-player, but perhaps WoW and Eve Online spoilt me because damn it I want to show off my latest toys in front of my friends!

  21. id says:

    I’m glad Torchlight sold well, it was fun and adorable and I enjoyed it.

    It does seem like a shame that they’re chasing this MMO idea, though, since I have no, and I mean absolutely NO, interest in that. A newer, better version of Torchlight with the ability to co-op with a friend would get my money in a fuckin’ heartbeat, though. Perhaps that isn’t as ambitious (it certainly doesn’t promise to be the cash cow that every MMO designer prays for), but it’s waaaay more fun.

    • MultiVaC says:

      Well, I’ve always felt that Diablo-clones are the closest thing to an MMO without actually being an MMO. Teaming up with a group to raid a dungeon, persistent characters, unlimited loot, etc. I can imagine a game that is essentially Torchlight with multiplayer where you go into randomly generated, instanced dungeons with 3 others in your party and collect loot/kill things (basically Diablo) but instead of going back to the small Torchlight town afterward, you would go to a small scale persistent MMO-type world for socializing, trading, meeting up for raids etc. It would be a glorified graphical lobby for the actual game, which is really just like Torchlight, thus not needing to run gigantic servers with monthly fees, and such. And this is sort of starting to sound like what Guild Wars is, but a lot more focused. It could fill a niche of “not quite MMO” more social than Diablo, less demanding than WoW. I’m sort of under the impression that this is exactly what Dungeon Runners was, but I never had the chance to play it since I was never aware of it until it was too late.

      Anyway, honestly, I’m not too thrilled about Runic being absorbed by Chinese-MMO overlords. Most of the things that come from the Asian MMO market are… not so good. I wonder if the result will be a Perfect World game elevated by Runic’s expertise, or a Runic game dragged down by Perfect World’s whatever-the-fuck you call what they do.

  22. Xikuan says:

    I visit this page on rockpapershotgun.com and noscript is blocking 5 other domains that want to run some type of script:

    giantrealm.com
    unrulymedia.com
    addthis.com
    googleadservices.com
    google-analytics.com

    Who knows what other rubbish I would get if I actually let those scripts run and turned ad-block off.

    Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t just here, it’s at EVERY site I visit. PC Gaming sites are the worst. Some places there are about 10-15 domains trying to run scripts. All of it gets blocked, I don’t care. The only domains I allow are the actually domains of the sites I visit.

    Dear site owners: This is the reason users block ads and scripts. As far as supporting the sites I visit, I either donate or get some kind of premium account. For example, here at the wonderful RPS, I am a monthly subscriber.

  23. Bremze says:

    It seems to me that all the people doubting Runic games haven’t played Mythos.

    • ZephyrSB says:

      As much as I loved FATE, Mythos never managed to click with me. Maybe it was because none of the classes interested me, maybe it’s because they started to move away from the Guld Wars/Diablo hub ‘MMO’ towards a more true MMO, maybe something else, I dunno.

      So I may be the only one, but I’m hoping it doesn’t turn out TOO much like Mythos.

  24. Viskernus says:

    99% of MMO developers want to drain as much of your money as possible while wasting as much of your precious time as possible. They base their entire design process not on entertainment value or artistic merit, but on luring you in and baiting you along while they see their bank accounts grow. They have nothing but contempt for their customers/victims, and consider them to be money cattle at best. They do not deserve your sympathy or your support.
    The fact that games based on this business model are always mentioned as stalwarts or even saviours of pc games is just a tragedy.

    Well, I swear I’m not trying to troll, be a jerk, or sound like a daily mail article. It’s just a bit disturbing.
    Undoubtedly the whole concept of mmo’s started out of a fascination for virtual worlds, and then they instantly realized the server upkeep fees would make a great easy money machine.

Comment on this story

XHTML: Allowed code: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>