Runic On Torchlight vs Diablo, ARPGs’ Slow Evolution

By Nathan Grayson on April 16th, 2012 at 1:00 pm.

Think I can feel a blizzard coming on.

In almost a month on the dot, Diablo III will finally, honestly, truly launch. This is not a test. Opinions on the beta have been mixed, but still, it is the third entry in a positively massive franchise about everyone’s favorite spicy Latin brand of Satan. We’ve been waiting for more than a decade. All eyes are rightfully on Blizzard’s loot lusting opus. Which is a bit odd, if you think about it. What other genre is so completely indebted to one game? Moreover, is that the slowly festering mark of a stagnant game type? After the curious news that Runic seemingly intends to release Torchlight II a month outside the shadow of Blizzard’s behemoth, I got in touch with Runic CEO Max Schaefer to clarify that comment and chat a bit about the future of the genre he helped pioneer.

So, first up, that whole “release a month after Diablo” thing? That wasn’t exactly what he wanted people to take away from his spiel. Here’s what Schaefer told me:

“It was sort of a misunderstood comment. What we were really talking about there is if the release were to come simultaneously with Diablo, naturally we’d want to wait 30 days just to let the hype die down. The bottom line is we’re gonna work on the game until it’s at the stage we want it to be at and then release it – with the caveat that, if that happens right on top of Diablo, we’d give it a bit of a wide berth.”

“So it really wasn’t saying what we want to do is release a month after. We’re gonna work on the game until it’s to our satisfaction and then hopefully release it right away. I mean, we don’t want to sit on a game for any reason, and we don’t want to rush one out before we think it’s ready either.”

Still though, a month? That’s a bit like saying you’re going to keep your head an entire foot away from the lion’s open, salivating jaw. Not in the belly of the beast, sure, but still way too close for comfort – or at least, you’d think that. Schaefer, though, isn’t so sure Diablo vs Torchlight is even a thing. Obviously, consumer perception tells a different tale, but given the chance to play both, he thinks people will discover a fairly wide gulf between them.

“People have kind of assumed that there’s this great conflict between these two games, but you know, there’s a lot of first-person shooters that come out that are very similar to each other,” he explained. “There’s room for more than one game out there. I think, as we’ve gone on, the games have gotten even more different than the appeared a long time ago. I mean, we were just at PAX East demoing it right next to the Diablo guys, so we could literally stand there and watch people playing both of them. The character of the games is completely different. It’s not just the tone – it’s the pacing as well.”

“But we’re also looking at Diablo III because they’re gonna bring in millions of new gamers and make them aware of the genre. And we generally don’t have huge marketing budgets, so most of our customers are kind of already in the gaming community. And I think that when you have the fame and budgets and all that of the Diablo people, that’s gonna bring in that many more mass market people into the genre. So I see it as building a bigger audience for us as much as anything.”

And, of course, Diablo’s built up a sizable collection of dark clouds that could potentially rain on its long-awaited parade. No LAN play, no mods, a constant Internet connection requirement, and a real money auction house are the big ones, and Runic’s well aware. It’s basic supply-and-demand, really, and – with full support for mods, offline single-player, and no pesky money spending to worry about – Runic plans to supply what disenfranchised Diablo fans are looking for. Mind you, that’s not to say he’s down on the third coming of the franchise he helped create back in the day.

“I mean, when you have a game that big, there’s gonna be people who find things that they don’t like about it, and – to the extent that we do the things that they like – we’re definitely gonna benefit from that. I mean, I think a little of that goes both ways. People are gonna find things in our game they don’t like and decide to buy Diablo. That’s just the nature of things. I expect, though, that people in general are gonna like Diablo III. Just from what I’ve seen.”

That said, while those differences mean a lot to hyper-gaming-literate people like you and I, they are, on paper, relatively miniscule. In a lot of ways, hack ‘n’ slash are RPGs are only a few paces ahead of Diablo II’s decade-old stomping grounds. Over the course of a time period that saw countless other genres evolve, change, rise, and fall, ARPGs (with a few notable exceptions – ala Borderlands) stuck to samey fantasy settings, basic class archetypes, and even eerily similar interfaces. Sure, they’re fun games, but expectation and stagnation go hand-in-hand. Is Diablo’s oft-drawn well beginning to run dry?

“You know, maybe I have no marketable skills other than making Diablo-style games,” Schaefer joked. “But you’re right: [the entire genre] is just kinda riffing off that. But it’s a good thing to riff off of. It’s something that hadn’t been done like that previously, and I think there’s a long way to go before it’s a tired genre. You know, just like first-person shooters. How many times can you be looking at a hand holding a gun in front of you while you walk around in a 3D landscape? Turns out, a lot.”

And so, we circle back around to the beginning: Diablo. Is that it, though? Is this genre doomed to tread water when Diablo’s not playing lifeguard? Is Blizzard’s lord of the damned doomed to be an eternal poster child for a bunch of squabbling me-toos?

“I think [lack of innovation's] due to the scarcity of the games over the years,” Schaefer offered. “Certainly, there hasn’t been one that’s been more popular than Diablo, but [in comparison] there’s been a lot of resetting the standard of, say, first-person shooters along the way.”

“I think [setting] is definitely gonna be one of the ways that the genre evolves over time. You know, people trying sci-fi and other themes for it. But yeah, I’m sort of at a loss to explain why there hasn’t been more [diversity]. But I mean, there haven’t been a large total number of ARPGs that have been big and successful. It’s a tough thing to do.”

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176 Comments »

  1. bit_crusherrr says:

    I was only going to buy Diablo III as something to do until Torchlight 2 was out. Decided to just wait for Torchlight now rather than throw £38 at ActivisionBlizzard.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      Pretty much this for me too.

      It’s not just the Offline multiplayer, but the mod support. I really like co-op with friends, and I don’t need “Massive” connectivity to play with my friends. So the only advantage D3 has over T2 doesn’t appeal to me at all. Torchlight + mods + co-op support = all I could want.

  2. djbriandamage says:

    With Diablo 3 already preordered for my wife and I, and especially after having a great time playing the beta together this weekend, I can’t say that I will buy Torchlight 2 right at launch. It’s a guaranteed purchase, though, because I had a splendid time with the original and $20 is a very reasonable price.

    • marach says:

      We actually went the other way after a weekend of playing the beta we cancelled our preorder and decided to wait till it’s a tenner or less >.>

      • MrMud says:

        I’m curious as to why?
        There isn’t really much you can tell from the beta other than the presentation (which is great).
        Its to easy? sure it is to easy but try playing naked and you get some appreciation for how it will play in later difficulties.

        • Koozer says:

          and in the game.

        • marach says:

          partly the always online part, we had a couple of “new connection hiccups”.. and while it was “pretty” it’s lacking… something… I don’t know what just that “something” that made 1+2 great… So we decided between us to wait out the initial patch period an in 6-12 months when another game store is going bust pick it up.

          • mouton says:

            Soul, perhaps? You know, that thing that mindless clones lack? :P

          • bfandreas says:

            Diablo 2 only really took off after the expansion. I had very little fun with it in its vanilla state. So perhaps you might even want to wait until after the inevitable expansion. Give it a year or so.

            Given the huge player base vanilla had and how many people stuck with it YMMV.

          • BadgerAttackSquad says:

            For me it was just that there’s no ‘level-up.’ In D3 I level up and feel like nothing happens. I can’t spend stat points, I can’t put points into skills, nothing feels like it changes. I know you unlock new skills and runes as you level, but I feel like I have no power over the direction my character takes. To me half the fun of Arpgs is the loot, the other half is the levelling. D3 just doesn’t feel like anything special when all its got going for it is the fun of picking up random loot.

          • discopig says:

            Echoing what Badger said, I think it’s because the “leveling” system feels akin to an achievement system. You never actually feel like you’re building your own character; you feel like you’re unlocking a class. Basically, they’ve drained the RPG aspects out, killed off the roguelike elements, and then focussed on the action aspects.

            Also, real money trading.

          • Amun says:

            What’s lacking for me is Blizzard North! It’s like reading a Tom Clancy book that isn’t written by Tom Clancy! Oh wait…

        • Wreckdum says:

          So basically what your saying is you have to play through Diablo III at least 2 to 3 times before it starts being fun and challenging. lol I’ll pass. Activision/Blizzard really pioneered the “You must invest this much time in our game before you’re allowed to have fun.” standard of gaming.

          • Kryhavok says:

            How did you get that from what he said?

          • Highstorm says:

            I assume he means having to complete the game on lower difficulty settings before the harder ones show up. So if the fun of playing the game comes from the difficulty, it’s going to necessitate an un-fun playthrough (or two) to get there first.

          • mouton says:

            That was my major problem with Diablo games as well. If “the real game begins at Nightmare/Hell”, then why can’t I start there..

          • tetracycloide says:

            @31 Wreckdum

            I take it you didn’t like Torchlight then? It worked in a different way but amounted to the same thing, the game didn’t really start in earnest until after the last named boss on very hard. Come to think of it the vast majority of games work like there. There are very few that turn the difficulty up to 11 from minute 1 and keep it their for the duration. It’s just not a common design.

          • jrodman says:

            Why do you feel that earnest is equivalent to difficult in gaming?

        • PostieDoc says:

          I play all my games in the nude.

      • psyk says:

        A tenner? fucking cheap skate :p

        • bfandreas says:

          I’ve never seen a Blizzard game for a tenner within the first 10 years of its lifespan. Bundles, yes. Separate cheap discounts? No.

          Could be that the shops simply don’t stock it, tho.

        • kalirion says:

          I’m gonna wait for it to become fully F2P myself.

          I mean seriously, a paid game with a cash shop/auction house? That doesn’t add up.

          • Answermancer says:

            I really can’t figure out if you people complaining about the Auction House are trolls or just ignorant.

            D3 has an auction house where people can sell items they found via random drop in game to other people for money. It is nothing like the “cash shops” in F2P games where the company is selling you things, and it is EXACTLY like Diablo 2 where there was a massive real money economy running on eBay, except it’s safe and managed and not shady as all hell.

          • BluElement says:

            Ah, somebody already beat me to pointing out the ignorance of that statement. Yeah, the RMAH is absolutely nothing like a cash shop. It’s actual players putting their items that they found in game onto an auction house. No one is forcing you to buy from the auction house and you could find absolutely any of the items by playing the game.

          • jrodman says:

            And no one is forcing you to pay for anything in Spiral Knights either.

          • Amun says:

            @Answermancer & Blu:

            Think about the forces at work on the company when you have all these facts:
            1) Blizzard gets some % of every transaction. This means they profit most from a lot of high price transactions.
            2) High prices are dictated by difficulty in attaining the item, combined with it’s usefulness.

            I think that these two facts mean that blizzard will design the game around the auction house over time and that you will eventually end up with a system that feels a lot like “pay to win” — ie one where you can spend every waking moment multiboxing the game, or you can buy gear that will allow you to keep up with other players.

          • MrMud says:

            @Amun
            Nope, should have checked your facts before you spoke.
            Items sell for a flat fee so it doesnt matter how much the item sells for, blizzard gets the same share regardless.

            commodities (gold, crafting materials) sell for a % based cut.

    • Ninja Foodstuff says:

      Just out of curiosity, what is the appeal of Diablo 3 over say Torchlight?

      Most everything I’ve read indicates that Diablo is like Torchlight but it costs more and is less playable.

      • Nevard says:

        It’s Torchlight but longer, with a much larger budget and less preoccupation with talent trees. And budget isn’t something to diregard, no matter how long they sit on Torchlight 2, Diablo III is always going to have far more polish just because Blizzard can afford to sit there refining it until it’s done.

        I guess it depends whether you think putting one point into “+2% damage with gun” is a fun choice or whether you’d rather just have a lot of more meaty choices, such as “Spell explodes enemies into pools of acid upon death”
        Torchlight does also have similar choices but they’re assorted with the boring, mathematically correct ones. I only care about the choices that make an active difference to my gameplay and thus am rather disenfranchised with talent trees in general.

        • Highstorm says:

          Does D3 even have those choices though? Sure you have to pick which abilities you take in your loadout, but you’re given access to all of them merely by leveling up and can switch them in and out at your leisure. So then the only choice the game offers is which equipment to wear for a marginal mathematical increase to this, that or the other stat. At least that was my experience with the beta, perhaps things have changed?

          • tetracycloide says:

            You don’t have to restart everytime you change your mind, found out you choose something bad, or just want to try something means there are no choices to you? What kind of inane logic is a that?

        • Ragnar says:

          ^This!

          Also, the gameplay. D3′s unlocking of skills and runes makes me feel like I’m often changing up my playstyle to test out the new unlocks, before settling in for what I prefer. Every attack after lvl 2 is a special ability, and resource pools for the better attacks are larger and recharge faster, so you feel like you’re not just using the default attack. In TL2, I was just using the same two skills over and over for 4 levels straight, and had to use my secondary attack very sparingly. Gaining 2% more damage from a skill just didn’t feel as substantial or interesting as gaining a new skill, or modifying an existing skill.

          I also think D3 looked better, particularly in multiplayer (TL2 with 5 people was a jumbled mess of frantic polygons, though TL2′s pacing seems to be faster overall.)

          • f1x says:

            Thats a phylosophy Blizzard its been working on for a while,

            Specially with WoW they created a system in which your point distribution / characther development ran around the “add 1 point here to gain +2% crit chance”, since a couple years ago they abandoned that design mentality towards the “add 1 point here to gain 1 ability or add 1 active effect to your ability”

            thats actually what they are doing aswell with Mists of Pandaria, (thought thats not the best example to be honest) and that has been the concept for Diablo3 aswell, but people is saying “no talent trees, pfff mainstreamed”, actually not necessarily means that, of course Blizzard games are accesible, that has been the definition of Blizzard since Blackthorne or Lost Vikings, accesible gameplay is the most important thing

            My point is, as a gamer (not as a fanboy) if I’m given to choose between a talent tree like the one in Path of Exile (and I love the game so far, played the beta) which is incredibly extense but 90% of the points you spend are “+1% melee damage” and another where every point I spend changes my gameplay or gives me new skills to play with (Thats what Diablo pretends, we’ll have to see if it delivers) then I’ll choose the latest

            And I’m 100% sure, now we speak crap about Blizzard mainstreaming games, but in 2 years every dungeon crawler and his mother will have the same phylosophy regarding talent trees and skill progression as Blizzard is pretending to do now

      • Scinadier says:

        Disregard what Nevard has to say. Though the example he gives about the gun doing 2% more damage is true to some extent, he fails to mention that Torchlight also has those “meaty choices” that could otherwise be summed up with one word: Skills

        I will agree with the polish point, but I don’t think it is the definitive reason why a person would choose Diablo over Torchlight.

        I think the biggest factor would be that people are more familiar with the setting and lore of Diablo. I think that a lot of people just find the setting and story of Diablo much more interesting than Torchlight. This applies to myself, and I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that a good chunk of people think the same.

        I honestly can’t say there is anything really special about the story of Torchlight. In my opinion of course.

        That being said, I will be buying Torchlight and I won’t be buying Diablo 3. The reason being the contrast of pricing and features. I am interested in seeing how the Diablo Story progresses, but I’m not 60 dollars curious.

      • kalirion says:

        I’ve always found Torchlight (and the Fate games preceding it) to feel far more shallow than Diablo 1-2 and even Titan Quest. Don’t know if its the gameplay, the atmosphere, the samey loot, or combination of all of the above.

      • RandomGameR says:

        Diablo 3 is significantly more playable than Torchlight 2. There are hundreds of thousands of people who have played the Diablo 3 beta. There’re very few people who have tried Torchlight 2 (mostly industry people at conferences). I’ve played Diablo 3′s beta and I enjoyed it.

        But even that aside, Diablo 3 has all of its abilities up on its website with descriptions and many videos. It has trailer videos that show off the gameplay and describe the differences in resources, etc (or at least those are coming out every week now). If you aren’t in beta and you want to find out what the game is like, you can.

        The reason I’m not at all interested in Torchlight 2? Because the few videos they’ve put out about the game are terrible, boring, affairs that show off someone hitting low-poly cartoonish enemies with a hammer that stand around doing very little and not much more. Oh, and some pet idle animations. Diablo 3 has some corny voice-overs, but its videos really do a great job of showing that the game looks like frantic and potentially challenging hack-n-slash fun.

        The other reason I’m playing Diablo 3 over Torchlight 2 is the “horrible always online requirement.” Having played multiplayer in Diablo, which has the same multiplayer system that Torchlight 2 is implementing, I can safely say I don’t want to do that again. Maybe the community will be better than Diablo, but nearly every game created in Diablo had you dying before you could enter the Cathedral because of hacks and exploits that other players used. Diablo 2 was better, and it had an always online requirement if you wanted to ever play your character multiplayer. I’m glad that there’s no offline option in D3.

        Another reason I’m playing Diablo 3 over Torchlight 2? Stats are never a good game mechanic. There is always a mathematically accurate path to level your class, and usually any other choices will make your character unplayable at higher levels. I love Diablo 3′s rune system, especially now that it’s not drop based, because I can’t wait to try a Wizard who focuses on mirror images, or one that focuses on single target damage or one that focuses on aoes. I’m glad that I don’t have to level a completely new character to do this.

        Another reason I prefer Diablo 3 over Torchlight 2? The art style. I think it looks pretty and Torchlight’s looks a bit garish. The painterly style in D3 is a really interesting choice and it works well in motion (from my experience in the beta).

        Do I have anything against Torchlight 2? Only that they’re selling their game really poorly at the moment. $20 is not a huge sum of money for me but I’m just lacking interest in the game. Will I buy it? It depends on when it comes out, really. It will probably be an impulse buy if it goes on sale on steam unless it turns out to be surprisingly better than currently advertised. I was underwhelmed with the first Torchlight, so I don’t have terribly high expectations, but I’d love for that to change. I do like to support indie game developers and I love the hack-n-slash genre.

        • Answermancer says:

          I agree with you on pretty much every point, except that colorful and cartoony art like Torchlight’s doesn’t bother me at all. If anything I’m glad that there is some variety in the art styles in the genre, I remember reading the guys who made Titan Quest talking about how their game didn’t sell well because it wasn’t grimdark(tm) enough and thinking they were deluded as hell (I loved Titan Quest, I might even like it more than Diablo 2, and the idea that it failed due to art style sounds ridiculous to me).

          Ultimately I’m going to buy both games, but I suspect I’ll play much more Diablo 3 than Torchlight 2.

          • RandomGameR says:

            That’s pretty fair. Maybe I was a little harsh on Torchlight 2′s art style. I’m actually glad that they have a well-defined art style, honestly. I just think that Diablo 3′s art style is much more unique and pretty than Torchlight’s. It’s not a deal-breaker with Torchlight, but it’s more of a plus for Diablo 3.

            I was hoping that Torchlight would have come out a few months earlier than Diablo 3 because I would have played it to hold me over until D3 came out. But with Guild Wars 2 coming out soonish (I think) and Diablo 3 coming out next month I don’t really see any immediate reason for me to buy Torchlight. The game’s marketing hasn’t provided one, and my game-playing time is limited.

        • Nevard says:

          I fully plan on buying both games, but this is a wonderful post

          • Amun says:

            It’s an awful post. Read what he says!

            “Diablo 3 is significantly more playable than Torchlight 2. There are hundreds of thousands of people who have played the Diablo 3 beta. There’re very few people who have tried Torchlight 2.”

            Translation: “The game is bad because no one has played it yet.”

            “But even that aside, Diablo 3 has all of its abilities up on its website with descriptions and many videos. It has trailer videos that show off the gameplay and describe the differences in resources, etc (or at least those are coming out every week now). If you aren’t in beta and you want to find out what the game is like, you can.”

            Translation: “D3 has better marketing material.”

            WHAT THE HECK, MAN?

        • radatk says:

          textbook viral marketing in action.

          • f1x says:

            I think you are confused around what marketing means,

            of course Diablo3 has better marketing, it has more funds and probably there will even be some spots in TV around the globe

            But he is not talking about marketing he is talking about the fact that Diablo 3 website actually contains information about the game, like detailed information about skills, classes, animations, it really shows you a good clunch of the game,
            if the website was about “THE BEST L3TZ0R GAME OMG BUY IT” then you could say yes, marketing but its a really detailed website about the gameplay and the design choices wether you like them or not

            on the other hand Torchlight 2 website its done a poor job showing information about the game, and thats a shame because thats not a matter of budget

      • Ninja Foodstuff says:

        Well I consider myself much more educated on the matter. Thanks all.

    • xGryfter says:

      All’s I know is I had more fun in the 45min I played of the Diablo 3 beta than I had in all the time I spent playing Torchlight. Talk about not having soul, Torchlight 1, too me, felt like an empty shell of a game. I’m hoping Torchlight 2 has what TL1 was missing but I won’t know until I’m completely over Diablo 3 and possibly Grim Dawn if that comes out before I’m done with D3. I also hate the graphics style of TL, this could be what kept me from enjoying it as much as others but the square models mixed with the almost flat shaded cartoon like textures just kills the immersion for me.

      Any way, really excited about D3 and think it looks amazing even though it’s a bit on the “cartoony” side as well. Something about Blizzards art style and texture work just resonates with me, I love it.

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  3. PodX140 says:

    I’m a bit worried he doesn’t understand his target audience. If he’s been following the news about his game, he’d see that every. single. post. across every. single. site. Has at least half the comments debating D3 Vs T2.

    I’m really starting to get worried about the financial outcome of T2.

    • BioSnark says:

      I suspect that’s actually what he’s going for. X versus Y stories and buzz are free publicity like CoD versus BF3. We’ll have to wait and see if it works out well in this case.

    • Reiver says:

      As noted in the story D3 has a few deficiencies and i can see that a lot of forum chat etc. will be of the type: well Torchlight 2 has it. This could be great publicity for them.

    • Wreckdum says:

      If it’s anything like T1 they will be fine. Seeing as they provide the same amount of game if not more for 1/3 the price… LOL Obvious choice is obvious. And the majority will grab both games just because T2 is so affordable. However millions of Blizzard fanboys will gladly hand Blizzard 60 dollars for a game that isn’t fun or challenging until your third playthrough. Gotta cater to those soccer moms! WOOOOO!

      • Answermancer says:

        Some of us have jobs and don’t judge everything about a game entirely on price alone. I guess a $5 McDonald’s burger is way better than a $30 steak cause “LOL the burger is just as much beef for 1/6th the price, who would pay for the steak, get real lolololol.”

        • BluElement says:

          I’d have to agree with Answermancer. Mostly because he’s right, but partly because Wreckdum actually uses outdated meme’s to “prove” his misguided point and that just annoys the hell out of me. But yeah, I’m going to go with D3. Sure, $20 is appealing, but a fun game is even more appealing. If you’re so poor that the only thing you look at when purchasing a game is the price itself, then maybe you shouldn’t be buying games in the first place…

        • Hoaxfish says:

          I quite like hamburgers from McDonald… but I don’t like steak. Granted there’s only so much you can actually do with a hamburger… I have no idea how this plays into anyone’s analogy.

          • caddyB says:

            I thought I was the only one on the internet who actually liked fast food.

        • Torgen says:

          False analogy is false. Declaring D3 as steak to T2′s hamburger is nothing but conjecture at this point, and most likely subjective opinion even after both are released. The person above had it right: any discussion of one or the other of these games instantly distills down to a very Battlefield vs Call of Duty fanboy pursefight.

          • Answermancer says:

            So my analogy is false, but his claim that Torchlight 2 is “the obvious choice” purely based on price is okay? Even though as you yourself point out, neither game is out, so they can’t be judged objectively?

            Clearly Diablo 3 being steak was merely an opinion, although based on the fact that you can get a ton of info about the actual gameplay and mechanics on the website, or from the beta, it’s an informed opinion.

            And I’m not a fanboy, I plan to get both games, but based on my experiences with Torchlight which felt intensely generic, I believe that it will be a simple cheap diversion whereas Diablo 3 will be a deep and lasting experience (hence the burger to steak comparison, I never said there was anything inherently wrong with a cheap burger).

          • jrodman says:

            If you attack a bad argument with a bad argument, you’ll get called out on your bad argument.

  4. BULArmy says:

    I will play both, because I really want to play both and some stupid things like the always on internet or the lack of mods are not going to spoil my enjoyment from D3, because I am for the experience, not about imaginary problems.
    In the long years of playing D2 I never installed a single mod and I don’t think I missed much, because Blizzard always delivered good things with their patches. If they deliver the same amount of experience as with D2 no problem.
    I also don’t play games outside my house, so the always on internet is also not so big problem for me. I really hate how whiny we have became and that we have problems with almost everything.
    Yeah it is not good that some things happen, but when a lot of money are at stake even you really must do some things, even if you don’t like them.

    • Bhazor says:

      Yeah Diablo 3 is literally unplayable for thousands of people. What a bunch of whiners, huh?

      • pkt-zer0 says:

        “Thousands”, huh. That’d be like what, less that 0.1% of the game’s audience? So a pretty minor issue, basically.

        • Bhazor says:

          I give in. Fanboys are defending it purely because they like Diablo 2.

          Enjoy your game. Here’s hoping you never ever ever have any web problems ever.

          • pkt-zer0 says:

            I did not like Diablo 2, actually.

          • Nevard says:

            I pretty much do never have web problems ever
            MMOs are always online and look how many players WoW has, it’s one of the most successful games ever. Those people all have enough internet to play an always-online game, and many of them will definitely be getting Diablo anyway because of the Annual Pass scheme. Blizzard already have a guaranteed massive playerbase who are not going to have problems playing.

          • derbefrier says:

            so i guess you dont play any online games because there is chance you might get DC’d? I find that hard to believe but if your entire reasoning for not buying this is because you might someday get disconnected then you take gaming far to seriously and need to lighten up

          • BluElement says:

            So everyone that doesn’t have a problem with the “always-on” internet requirement is automatically a Diablo fanboy? Yeah, you’re not bitter at all. Sure, there will be a lot of people who can’t play it because they’re over seas or travel too much. And that sucks. I’m not one of those people, though. Should I boycott an otherwise fun game that I can play just because other people can’t play it? And if my internet goes out for a while (which rarely happens, but it does every once in a while), then I’ll go do something else for a bit. It won’t be the end of the world and I won’t all of the sudden hate Diablo 3 because of it. I had the exact same problem when I played D2 on dial-up, but I didn’t bitch about it back then either. Not everyone who disagrees with you is a fanboy.

          • Caiman says:

            Yes, unfortunately it’s a human condition that if it doesn’t affect you and you have no experience of it affecting you, then everyone complaining must be either imagining it, exaggerating it, or such a minor part of the equation that it’s not worth thinking about. I take some reassurance that such people have clearly never gotten on a plane in their lives and have no experience of the wider world, have no idea what they’re talking about and hence have opinions of little to no value. And if they have no opinion of value then it’s unlikely that addressing them in any way is going to impact on those thought processes. But take heart Bhazor, there are many, many others in the same boat. Fortunately for people like us, we have great games like Torchlight and Grim Dawn while those other guys seems satisfied with giving even more of their money to the mega corporations.

        • Aardvarkk says:

          I’ll end up buying this, in spite of the draconian DRM. A word of caution though, I did play the beta, and any hiccup in your internet connect (roommate downloading porn, pigeons pecking at your cable line) will boot you clean out of your game.

    • reggiep says:

      I think always-online can be done right. I think if Blizzard succeeds at it (and they probably will), there will be many instances in the future of developers doing always-online very wrong. Ubisoft already has. The major distinction is that Diablo 3 is an online game. It’s like an MMO where you can play privately. Sure, it’s a big shift for the Diablo franchise, but not for Blizzard.

      So with that being said, I think people angry about always-online are more angry at the shift to this new, potentially problematic, model than they are about Blizzard’s particular implementation.

      • Bhazor says:

        “The major distinction is that Diablo 3 is an online game. It’s like an MMO where you can play privately.”

        It really isn’t. If Diablo 3 is an mmo then so is Torchlight.
        I would be fascinated to see how many people will actually play in co-op because honestly doubt it will be more than 30%.

        • bfandreas says:

          The real fun in D2 was playing on BNet. I spent ages on trades for odd character builds. I’d even go so far to say that the single player experience wasn’t even half the game. So the MMO comparison isn’t that far off, actually.

          I only used single player trying to find out if my builds were at least kind of viable(using haxx) before I spent weeks on leveling and equipping my oddballs(like the paladin who could only kill demons and undead but also heal the confused party).

        • Nevard says:

          Don’t know about anyone else but I’m going to make three characters, one to play on my own, one to play with my housemate and one to play with my other three internet buddies.

        • Joof says:

          If Guild Wars counted as an MMO, so does Diablo 3.

          • Azradesh says:

            Guild Wars was not an MMO, but even that had hubs filled with players. Diablo is not an MMO in any way, shape or form.

          • Nevard says:

            I’m pretty sure one defining characteristic of an MMO is a “persistent world”
            I don’t know about Guild Wars, but Diablo definitely does not have one of those

          • MadMatty says:

            @ Nevard

            Then WoW isn´t an MMO either- it has a world which resets to its default state every 5 mins (mob/node respawn).
            Everything is completely static basically.

            MMO=Massive Multiplayer Online
            Its like an online game with huge numbers- which, true, Guildwars only had at the hubs, but there were a lot of hubs and often filled with people.
            Diablo 3 and Torchlight 2 are not MMO´s, because they cater for a smaller numbers of players.

      • Kandon Arc says:

        “So with that being said, I think people angry about always-online are more angry at the shift to this new, potentially problematic, model than they are about Blizzard’s particular implementation.”

        You’re over complicating it. People are upset about always online because it’s always online in a series that has previously been offline capable. If always online is a deal breaker for them, it doesn’t matter why Blizzard implemented it.

    • cassus says:

      Let us hope for your sake that your internet connection is rock solid. It sucks getting disconnected during multiplayer games, but hey, that happens sometimes. But getting disconnected during a boss fight in a fricken singleplayer game… That would pretty much mean game over for me.

    • Kandon Arc says:

      If the problems won’t affect you that’s great, but don’t pretend those problems don’t exist for lots of people. It’s like people who say a game wasn’t buggy for them therefore people who point out bugs are lying.

      • Archonsod says:

        It’s not so much the case that it doesn’t happen, more that it’s not really Blizzard’s problem. If you have a shoddy internet connection you probably want to go shout at the people you’re paying to provide you with said connection, not a developer. They’re the ones who agreed to provide you with that service. And if they can’t sort it out, go find one who can.
        And if you’re willing to put up with it or stuck with it, sucks to be you. I don’t own a car, but I fail to see that as being a good reason to complain about people selling car stereos.

        • MD says:

          That’s a terrible analogy. This is more like manufacturers of regular stereos deliberately designing their new models so that they only work if you own a car. And they stop working if your car breaks down. Then you complain, because all you want to do is listen to music in your lounge room. Unreasonable?

  5. Bhazor says:

    “I mean, when you have a game that big, there’s gonna be people who find things that they don’t like about it,”

    I seriously think he’s downplaying the scale of the problems. Diablo’s problems aren’t minor little niggles. Diablo’s problems affect every single element of the game. This isn’t like picking fault with a three hour epic movie for an unengaging side plot or bad performance from a supporting actor. This is like complaining that a movie causes violent siezures. Or because it stars Shia Labeouf.

    • Plivesey says:

      Sounds like you’re blowing any issues that might exist in Diablo 3 out of proportion. I doubt very much it’s like a film that guarantees to give you violent seizures.

      If your complaint is about always-on (and you’re not always on), then it’s more akin to a film coming out on DVD, but some of the time you want to watch it on your VCR. Besides the always-on, I’m not sure what other issues exist.

      • Bhazor says:

        No, always on DRM is a fundemental problem with the game and I am amazed at people dismissing it. Would love to see how their reaction would change if it was Ubisoft or EA doing it. The online DRM also prevents Lan play, means you can no longer hack a character to play with friends (they a few levels ahead of you? Tough. Get grinding.), removes modding, removes playing on the move.
        And all this. All of it. Is just to protect their auction house.

        I give it three months before the whole RMAH system is hacked to pieces by gold farmers and account nabbing.

        • Azradesh says:

          No Diablo game has ever supported mods, sure they’ve had mods, but Blizzard has never supported them for Diablo. I’m really not sure why people are surprised at this.

        • tetracycloide says:

          Always online DRM doesn’t mean what you think it means. If there was still a single player mode and it still required a connection to play then it would have “always online DRM.” It doesn’t so it isn’t, it’s always online for another reason: always online multiplayer. There’s no way to turn the multiplayer off, even if you’re alone you’re still playing a character tagged as ‘multiplayer’ much like battle.net characters from D2 were battle.net only even if you always played alone. This is certainly lamentable, excluding portions of the player base is not ideal in a sequel, but it’s still not always online DRM which is why people don’t raise the same fuss about it as they did for From Dust or other Ubisoft titles I couldn’t be bothered to remember the names of because I didn’t want to buy them.

          • Azradesh says:

            Actually you can finish the whole game on every difficulty alone. Sure sounds single player to me, you know, because there’s a “single” player.

            Co-Op is optional.

          • tetracycloide says:

            You can finish every storyline mission in Guild Wars: Prophecies alone too but the game is still multiplayer. Just because the option to play with others is never exercised doesn’t mean it’s single player. There are no single player games in D3, every game can be joined by others at any time with the flick of a toggle. Playing a multiplayer game solo doesn’t make it a single player game. This isn’t new either, multiplayer worked the exact same way in D2 only there were other ways to play.

      • aepervius says:

        “Out of proportion” is in the eye of the beholder. Always on don’t play nice with the fact I am sharing connection , so if somebody download a hefty files, like a linux ISO, or similar operations, I am screwed litterally as D3 won’t be able to connect (I have had experience with single player game like ME3 unable to connect to their login server while the connection is maxxed).

        Furthermore the RMAH is all fine and dandy if Blizzard DID NOT have a take. See when the maker of the game and its loot table is also taking a take in the potential auction, there will be an incentive by MBA to require from the dev to go a certain direction or another to maximize profit as opposed to enhance gameplay. If blizzard did not have a take, then the dev would act only out to balance the loot table from a gameplay perspective. You may see that as minor, but I do see that as a big deal.

        Finally, from what i played at a friend home of the beta, not distributing out stats and skills the way D2 was…. I dunno it felt *hollow*. I felt like i was playing a MMO version of Diablo. This is such a small thing…. And yet it had a huge impact on how the game *felt*.

    • reggiep says:

      That’s an emotional argument. It carries no weight.

      • Bhazor says:

        The game is literally unplayable for me. So yeah.

        • pkt-zer0 says:

          You’re posting this from a typewriter as well, apparently.

          Anyway, World of Warcraft is pretty damn mainstream, which would indicate that an online requirement isn’t that big of a deal in practice.

          • Kandon Arc says:

            Yes. Posting a comment is the same thing as playing a online game for hours. Don’t be intentionally obtuse.

          • RandomGameR says:

            I think the intentionally obtuse person is someone who uses the phrase “literally unplayable” when they mean “I don’t like a choice that the game’s developers made so I am choosing not to play it.”

            It is literally impossible for the game to be literally unplayable for you.

          • jrodman says:

            Well, randomgamer, you’re completely wrong. While complaining other people are being obtuse, you are winning the race.

            Imagine someone has an internet connection where their sockets drop out every couple of minutes or so. These exist in the *real world*. I’ve experienced it.

            Now imagine how that’s going to work with Daiblo 3? It won’t. At all.

            Now think about how it works with the web? Oh, it works just fine.

            Q.E.D.

          • RandomGameR says:

            I’m glad that I’m “winning.” But I was pointing out that saying this game is “literally unplayable” is “literally a lie.” I wasn’t saying that playing a game on a bad internet connection is the same as posting a comment on a gaming website.

            If you want to play the game you can find a way. Go to an internet cafe or a friend’s house who has a better internet connection than you do. Or, you know, pay for a better connection. Or perhaps don’t play the game if that’s what you choose.

            The fault is with your internet connection, though, not the game. And that’s the big point that most of us are trying to make. It’s not belittling you to say this. It’s not obtuse of us to point this out.

            It’s just not the game’s fault that your internet connection sucks.

          • jrodman says:

            Internet Privileged Man. Not everyone has this choice to make.

    • Quatlo says:

      Bhazor has a point, after playing some beta I was extremely disappointed by the whole game, how I am treated like an idiot by it, that I need to change few options to be able to switch my skills on the skill bar, all those little gimmicks add to the pile of my annoyance. My biggest worry is the money auction house. It will be torn to shreds by asian farmers, the whole number of people and easy access to the item lists and prices completely removes bartering aspect of the game, and it was the most fun thing in Diablo 2. Bartering. After a while every item will cost close to nothing, and noone will buy and sell weaker items because you can as well buy better gear for the same price.

      I think I’ll stick to Torchlight 2, Runic bought me with Matt Uelmen composing music for them.

      • derbefrier says:

        i think people are over estimating how much people will use the RMAH and seem to think tons of the best gear is gonna drop so much there is going to be this oversupply. remember there will be no duping or cheating so the rare items are going to stay rare and most likely wont sell for cheap until years later. when they are no longer relevant.
        I mean i never cheated in D2 and never saw a lot of the most badass items in the game over hundreds of hours of play time. people need to quit thinking in terms of D2 where cheating was rampant this is going to be a more controlled and i think these fears of the RMAH are being blown way out of proportion.
        You cant really argue the always online point either its not a problem or its a huge problem but everything else is just normal dumb masses over reacting to something thats different than the norm and using the most extreme examples to justify thier opinion when its more likely for the average player none of this will matter.

      • tetracycloide says:

        Bartering in D2 largely amounted to finding a commodity currency everyone could agree on (SOJs, 3/20/20s, p-gems, High Runes, ect) and then trading almost everything in various denominations of said currency. Actual barter was fairly rare since the odds of two people having exactly what the other person was looking for and finding one another was very rare.

        The real money auction house is a huge positive if your’e worried “It will be torn to shreds by asian farmers.” What you describe is what happens when a developer is naive enough to think that their market won’t be torn to shreds by real money farmers just because they forbid it in the ToS and don’t offer a way to do so in game. By putting it in the game Blizzard pulls the rug out from under such outfits. Now the barrier to entry in that market is very low: no need to operate overseas or underground, no need to advertise, and no need to actually turn a profit as an individual player because there are no expenses to cover. All these things combine to remove much of the power farming outfits have to affect the market and they eliminate almost entirely the rampant fraud that was common in the grey markets for in-game items. Plus Blizzard has a vested interest in keeping the economy vibrant now.

  6. Plivesey says:

    I think I would’ve purchased Torchlight 2 if it had come out significantly earlier than Diablo 3. One month after, though? Sorry Runic Games, but I think I’ll still be Diablo-ing it up for a long time to come!

  7. Turbobutts says:

    What other genre is so completely indebted to one game?

    Most of them. Almost every FPS these days orients itself on COD, every MMO tries to be WOW, Starcraft 2 dominates its genre, Skyrim and Mass Effect are all over the place, the list goes on.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I disagree. Developers are always experimenting with shooters. Bulletstorm, Gettysburg, and Xotic came out recently. Air Buccaneers is also in development. Mass Effect, which you mention, is an example of just how wildly different shooters have become.

      There are so many vastly different RTS games. It’s even split into new genres like DOTA and Tower Defense. RTS games have come beyond Starcraft, and there are games like Dawn of War and Sins of a Solar Empire which feature completely different gameplay.

    • mouton says:

      In those other genres, the trend-setters are seasonal. There are many more reference points in FPS genre than COD, many other RPG templates than Mass Effect or Skyrim, many more innovative RTS-es than Starcraft 2.

      But in the Diablo genre there is only Diablo and its mindless lemming clones.

      • Turbobutts says:

        Well, then maybe people should just stop giving Diablo its own genre. Of course a genre called “Diablo & clones” is gonna be full of Diablo and clones.

        • kraken says:

          They are called Diablo-like for a reason.
          FPS used to be called Doom-like/Quake-like too, before they became mindless military shooters.

          • Nevard says:

            I’m pretty sure games were described as FPS games long before the genre was overrun with tactical duty of modern war man 360

      • Archonsod says:

        Diablo was a Rogue rip off. With graphics.

        • jrodman says:

          I wish that was more true. I like rogue more than diablo. The way the game always handled unexpected system load was tears-inducing, and the tactical depth ended up pretty shallow due to combat-speed.

    • Grundig says:

      “What other genre is so completely indebted to one game?”

      It would be pretty hard to have the Rogue-like genre without like… Rogue.

      • Highstorm says:

        Or DOTA clones without… DOTA.

      • jrodman says:

        Rogue is certainly the seminal work, but if you look at the actual roguelikes on the gound you’ll find there is an enormous variety with many reference points, quite unlike Diablo & ARPGs.

  8. trjp says:

    He’s right that there’s a market for more than one of a particular type of game BUT you cannot avoid comparisons and ‘success’ is a fickle thing to measure.

    The ‘success’ of many games rides on their initial sales only – certainly games which are published in boxes very much operate on that basis. The first 1-2 weeks sales is like the first weekend for a movie, it’s really what determines whether the thing won or lost.

    In this age of DD it probably isn’t quite so bad – but one issue is “Oh I’ll just wait for the inevitable sale” which is easier when you have something else to play meanwhile.

    I do think D3 is really focussing on the multiplayer aspect (the thing which has kept D2 alive for so long) and perhaps TL2 isn’t – but releasing even remotely close is going to have ramifications for sure.

    I seem to remember TL2 did a press release late last year about how they were going to work a bit longer and “anyway, you’re all playing Skyrim at the moment” – Skyrim is nothing remotely like as similar as D3 so perhaps they’ll work a bit longer again (then there’s GW2 and so on).

  9. InternetBatman says:

    I hope they release the game before Blizzard. That way every Diablo review would have Torchlight in it somewhere, and comment boards on Diablo stories would be even more inundated with references to it.

    I feel like rivalries are good in general for games. Not only does the increased competition make even small innovations more noticeable, but people love a fight. Picking sides and arguing can be more fun than either game. I don’t know how it’ll workout for Torchlight though. This particular fight would be like Miley Cyrus vs. Mohammed Ali.

    • Nevard says:

      Well we already know they’re not going to release it before Blizzard.
      They’d have something like two weeks to do that, and it’s blatantly obvious that they are not going to release it in two weeks time.

  10. thefjk says:

    I’ve got Dungeon Hunter 3 installed on my phone but won’t play it, I get exhausted of genres easily and need to play something different all the time… so I’m saving all that loot griding monster clicking energy for Diablo 3.

    Torchlight 2 and DH3 will have to wait I suppose!

  11. Lobotomist says:

    And than Path of Exile will turn out to be a sleeper hit everyone was waiting for ;)

  12. Freud says:

    I’ll buy Diablo III at launch and probably drown in it for a few months. But eventually I’ll get to Torchlight II. I enjoyed the first one. Same genre, different flavor.

  13. theoriginaled says:

    “But we’re also looking at Diablo III because they’re gonna bring in millions of new gamers and make them aware of the genre. And we generally don’t have huge marketing budgets, so most of our customers are kind of already in the gaming community. And I think that when you have the fame and budgets and all that of the Diablo people, that’s gonna bring in that many more mass market people into the genre. So I see it as building a bigger audience for us as much as anything.”

    is probably the most reasonable thing Ive heard anyone say on the subject of Torchlight vs Diablo. Personally I didnt care much for torchlight. It was watered down and poorly paced. Instead of “allowing mods” for me it like many other in the genre (Titan Quest anyone) had to be HEAVILY modded to be enjoyable. But here Max Schaefer comes along to remind me why I respect the guy so much. Unfortunately Ill probably only give Torchlight 2 a chance if I see something radically different than what Ive been seeing, because to me it still looks like the same slow watered down game that torchlight was and that just cant hold a candle against much better games coming out and vying for its time.

  14. reggiep says:

    with full support for mods, offline single-player, and no pesky money spending to worry about

    To be a little nit-picky… You don’t have to spend money in the auction house. You can spend in-game gold as well. At least that’s how it was in the beta. There might be certain listings where only Blizzard points can be spent (those are the ones redeemable for real money) in the final product, but I’m not sure. But certainly people got by in Diablo 2 without visiting ebay to buy items. It will be the same in D3.

    As far as T2 v D3, I don’t have time for both games and will probably just end up picking up T2 on Steam when it’s $5. It’s really no contest when you compare the two. Just look at Relic’s Berserker video vs Blizzard’s recently-released Barbarian overview video. Everything about D3 is better than T2 once you get past the always-online thing. People are certainly bitter about that, and that’s good for Relic, but how good remains to be seen.

    • Plivesey says:

      I am in agreement with ya here, ReggieP. Besides the always-on (which IS an actually issue for people who want to play without a stable internet connection), there is nothing which Torchlight 2 seems to be offering me over Diablo 3. Yes, there are mods, but I think that Diablo 2 worked perfectly well without mods, and I never really found any mods in Torchlight that made my experience that much better.

      The real-money AH is also a non-issue, as there is nobody forcing you to use it, as you mention. I think there are a few people who want to see Diablo 3 fail, and they’re trying to make a mountain out of a molehill.

    • Vorphalack says:

      Couldn’t agree less, honestly. If you think that the gold auction house will be even slightly viable when the game launches, you are deluding yourself. People are playing around with it in beta becasue there is no real money on the table, there is only limited credit to test the RMAH, and everything bought will be wiped in a few weeks.

      Considering that gold can be farmed indefinatly, and even bought for real money, anything even slightly valuable that appears on the gold auction house will be bought and resold on the RMAH within minutes of posting. Additionally, no sane person would, given the choice between a gold auction and an RMAH sale, choose to sell for gold when you can sell for real money that can be converted back into gold or used on the RMAH / outside the game.

      The dual auction house set up is self defeating. I just can’t see a way where they can co-exist without the RMAH dominating, which will have a huge negative impact on what should be a traditional item for item trading economy.

      • Arathain says:

        I think you’re correct that the most valuable items will be arbitraged to the RMAH if they show up for gold. This isn’t a problem for me, and, I would argue, for most of the player base. I think it’ll work like this:

        There’s a huge player base supplying items. After a few weeks getting towards market equilibrium, there will be a split between the gold auction house and the RMAH. The best stuff will have very low drop rates, even considering the size of the player base. This will be max-level, top tier stuff, and it’ll be in short supply and high demand. It’ll be sold on the RMAH, because you can make some real money off it.

        There will be some second tier stuff that will be available on the RMAH for cheap, or on the GAH for a lot of gold. Then there will be a ton of stuff that will be better than what you can easily find yourself (for your build, at least). A lot of that will, I imagine, be produced through crafting. Indeed, the crafting system seems designed to produce it. It will be affordable for the less dedicated player. It won’t be the bestest stuff, that will let you solo the highest difficulty levels while sipping tea with the other hand, but it’ll be a useful upgrade to your gear.

        As long as they’ve tamed inflation, and I’m betting they will have, I expect the gold auction house to be useful to most players who can resist the lure of the shiniest shinies.

    • kraken says:

      People are certainly bitter about that, and that’s good for Relic, but how good remains to be seen.

      Runic.
      Relic are the guys making Homeworld / Dawn of War.

  15. mouton says:

    How about some actual innovation in this ridiculous genre? Seriously, I have lost interest in Diablo and its mee-toos a few clone games ago. Sure, I might play D3 or T2 for a short while – providing I even get my hands on them in the first place – but I just don’t see it as anymore else than a moderately fun, short, dumb experience until it bores me out.

    • reggiep says:

      If you think this genre is ridiculous, why are you here commenting on this story? Also, I don’t think you know what innovation means. You seem to be equating it to revolution. Diablo 3, for example, has a physics engine. That alone is an innovation over previous entries in this genre.

      As pointed out in the article, FPSs do very well despite any revolutionary features. The few innovations over the years have been cover systems and recharging health. And yet every year we see at least 10 new FPSs.

      • mouton says:

        Other genres have much MUCH more variety than this one. Yes, including FPS, if you look beyond COD and Halo.

        Of course, to be perfectly honest, Diablo is simply a subgenre – if you deviate too much from the formula, it just might be called “an rpg” instead of “arpg”. But they sure could have tried better.

      • Archonsod says:

        Sacred 2 utilised PhysX. Pretty sure there’s been other diablo clones with physics engines too.

    • Bhazor says:

      Well I’d say how are you defining it? If you’re talking about Diablo-likes then you’re automatically ignoring huge numbers of games. You’re saying “Only games with these precise features are Diablo like.” and then complaining Diablo-likes all have similar features.

      If you’re extending it to ARPG then you have a big variety. You’ve got Mass Effect, Souls, Dungeon Siege 3, God of War and so on and so on.

      • Baines says:

        I think this is what limits the genre. When people talk about Diablo-style ARPGs, they talk about Diablo-style ARPGs. Things like Kingdom of Amalur or Dark Souls don’t even enter the picture. The topic is already restricted to Diablo clones, and Diablo mechanics.

        And Diablo mechanics are themselves limiting. Keyboard and mouse is honestly a bit clunky for a top-down hack&slash game. It hurts the “action” in ARPG. So many Diablo clones play the same because you have to break away from the Diablo interface and mindset to get something different, and by that point you are no longer considered when people talk about Diablo-style games.

        At the same time, I think the Diablo-style genre has actually hurt the development of non-Diablo-style ARPGs. Games more focused on action have been reluctant to stray into Diablo territory. They’d just dip into some Roguelike traits at most, but stayed firmly in the general action game territory. Games like Amalur are years overdue.

  16. Delusibeta says:

    As I said the last time Torchlight 2 came up, they should be targeting a September or October release at the very earliest: gives enough time for the fallout of Diablo 3′s launch to settle, and enough time for people to discover if they hate D3′s DRM et al enough to drop it.

    • Reefpirate says:

      Yes, I’m sure Runic wished they had unlimited resources as well.

  17. Was Neurotic says:

    I think you could argue that the RTS genre is as indebted to Westwood’s Dune games as the err, Diablo genre is to Diablo.

    • mouton says:

      You could argue that. But then you would notice how it has branched all over the place instead of copying its venerable ancestor ad nauseum.

      • UncleLou says:

        But then, there have been hundreds of RTS games since Dune.

        Loot-em-ups in the vein of Diablo can still pretty much be counted on two hands*, and Blizzard would be the last ones I’d accuse of copying their own formula – not that Diablo 3 isn’t quite different, though.

        *Fate, Titan Quest, a couple of Snowblind’s games on the consoles last gen, Loki, Torchlight. Have I forgotten anything significant? Depth of Peril was quite different.

        • mouton says:

          There was Nox, a much better game;)

          I do agree, though, there weren’t many titles. But Starcraft, Age of Empires and Total Annihilation were made only a few years after Dune 2 and yet they had more variety then, than Diablo games have now.

          • UncleLou says:

            Right, Nox was pretty cool (and rather overlooked), personally I wouldn’t call it “better” though. :) It was rereleased just a few weeks ago on GoG, btw.

            But anyway, hard to say if there has actually been less variation. RTS games have been accused of all being the same and that the formula has grown stale for years, and the result was that the classic base-building RTS has all but died in the meantime.

            Loot-em-ups have seen some variation in the form of Hellgate, Borderlands, but the particular isometric subgenre hasn’t changed all that much – I’ll be honest here, I don’t really mind it though – I happen to love that particular subgenre, and I couldn’t be happier about the recent resurgence.

            The games are repetitive by nature, and not very deep usually, so I see where you’re coming from with your criticism elsewhere in this thread – but in my mind, that’s what makes them what they are. If the genre works for you, it’s better than almost anything else. No other genre (with the exception of, to a lesser degree, driving games) gets me in the “zone” as much as a loot-em-up. The brain wanders elsewehere, and I relax, deeply. ;)

          • mouton says:

            @UncleLou

            Yup, there is a matter of personal preference – I admit that Diablo line is not my favourite, even though I did play those games a lot. But even the genres/franchises I really like, I will almost always prefer variation and evolution over more of the same.

            Games – like all culture – are repetitive and derivative. But there are still quite a lot of room to maneuver and in my perspective the Diablo sub-genre is far from trying to hard.

  18. Shadowcat says:

    > What other genre is so completely indebted to one game?

    Elite and Wolfenstein 3D both spring to mind instantaneously. I want to say Thief, but nothing outside that series ever truly added to the genre it created. I’m sure there are numerous other examples.

    • Reefpirate says:

      I’m pretty sure I would consider Splinter Cell a Thief-like game.

  19. shdw says:

    that was one hell of terrible PR. q: “so what do you have to offer other than diablo3?” a: “nothing but many shooters are all the same aswell.” this is exactly how i felt reading this. he didn’t mention any selling point. torchlight was fun for few hours for sure but because d3 wash’t out yet. i don’t see a reason for getting TL2 and lead dev didn’t give me one. diablo 2 captured me for years…something torchlight hardly could do.

  20. ScubaMonster says:

    I think it’s extremely humorous that anybody believes there is any sort of “dark cloud” that could rain on Diablo 3′s parade. That game is going to sell a gazillion copies whether people like it or not, regardless of how you feel about the game yourself.

    I just got into beta, and I have to say I’m enjoying it and pretty much written off most of the complainers as being a bunch of cry babies. I think most people really don’t care about mods anymore except for the hardcore community. Constant connection while somewhat annoying is already tolerated, especially for big releases everybody is anticipating. Real money auction house? Who cares, either don’t use it or actually make some money off of it for yourself.

    And despite all the complaints of the game being too bright, I can say that’s a load of crap. The entire beta was pretty dark (as in light source and shadows) for the most part. In fact, I’d say Act 1 in Diablo 3 is darker than Diablo 2. People really need to go back and play that game and they’ll see Diablo 2 wasn’t nearly as dark as they claim. Diablo 2 had more washed out colors, but really, do you really want that in a modern game? That’s like saying you want shooters to back to the grungy brown color scheme Quake and some other games had.

    Is Act 1 in beta fairly easy? Yeah, I completed it without dying, though there were times I had to retreat and chug potions or pick up orbs. But the beta doesn’t include all of Act 1 and there’s still higher difficulty levels anyway.

    The only complaint I have is the simplified skill system and how hotkeys work, but it’s pretty apparent things get a bit more in depth as you level up with adding runes, and then taking into account forging which adds another layer (at least for loot). The skill system and hotkeys are hardly a deal breaker.

    Bottom line; the game is still fun and people need to quit whining so much.

    • Velvetmeds says:

      You’re right, there are no dark clouds. It’s gonna sell like muffins and it’ll probably be the 2nd best selling game of the year (after this year’s Call of Dully).

      And i’m glad because it deserves it. And i’m, also glad that the hatin’ hipsters will stay away from it (or will they? hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!)

    • derbefrier says:

      Yeah I agree . The always online won’t bother most people. The rmah isn’t a microtransaction pay to win store like people make it out to be it will be a player run economy with items found by other players. If its in the ah it dropped for someone your not gonna see a bunch of people running around in the best gear for one because they have to actually.find it then someone has to want to sell it versus using ot themselves and third it would have to sell at a price that would be worth selling an item you could very well not ever see drop again.

      Diablo 2 never supported mods nobody cared then they don’t care now either. The only people that care are the ones trying to justify thier hate.

      This game will be a massive success with torchlight 2 riding on its coat tails hopeing to make a few extra bucks around the buzz d3 will create for the genre.

  21. skudfisher says:

    Buy both. Think of them as one game with two totally different epic campaigns for $79.99. Problem solved.

  22. mckertis says:

    ““You know, maybe I have no marketable skills other than making Diablo-style games,” Schaefer joked.”

    Isnt it a great thing, when you have just one marketable skill, and you just happen to be pretty bad at it ?

  23. aircool says:

    Torchlight ran on my shitty laptop (with AA as well) and gave your character a pet dog. That’s pretty hard to beat in my book.

    • Arathain says:

      Don’t forget dual-wielding wands and having your pet summon pets. I like Torchlight’s “sure, why not?” attitude.

  24. Joshua Northey says:

    “And, of course, Diablo’s built up a sizable collection of dark clouds that could potentially rain on its long-awaited parade. No LAN play, no mods, a constant Internet connection requirement”

    Dark clouds? Are you kidding yourself? This will sell a gillion copies.

    On top of that talk about picking nits. What is this 2001?

    Who cares about LAN play or needing an internet connection? 1% of the market? You can still all get on a LAN and go online and play if you simply must be in the same room! And the part of the market that cannot afford a decent internet connection also cannot afford the game anyway.

    I don’t think I have even heard about a LAN party amongst my old LAN buddies since maybe 2003. There is this thing, called the internet. People use it now. Get with the times.

    Seriously do you think the lack of LAN support will cost them even 1 sale? Even 1? I mean the game also doesn’t support play over a 14.4 modem either, it just too choppy at that bandwidth…

    • jrodman says:

      I think this is going to be a new privileged category: Perfect Internet Man.

      • Nevard says:

        Enough people play MMOs regularly that you can tell that this is not going to be a very big problem for Blizzard at all

  25. Potunka says:

    Mentioning setting at the end of the article got me thinking about Grim Dawn. From what I understand, it’s a post-apocalypse steam-punk setting. Sounds awesome to me! The couple of gameplay videos I saw made it look very appealing with super crowded but also expansive maps. Running all over the place without a break in the killing. That’s what I like to see in my ARPGs. I haven’t seen much of that in the D3 beta, but I have high hopes for the more difficult settings.

    • UncleLou says:

      Yeah, it looks great, but then I am a massive Titan Quest fanboy.

      Path of Exile is also a constant slaughterhouse on the higher difficulties, but it’s almost a bit too much – it becomes quite tiring after a while.

      • Jason Moyer says:

        I like Titan Quest more than i like Diablo. On the surface it looks like a Diablo-clone, but the character customization is so much better and the setting/atmosphere is fantastic.

        i’m not sure I like the grimdark direction that Grim Dawn is going in, but if it has a similar character building system I’m sure it will be highly enjoyable.

    • Andy_Panthro says:

      All this talk of Diablo 3 vs. Torchlight, and I’m one of the people who’ve already pre-ordered Grim Dawn. It needs more mentions I think!

  26. Hoaxfish says:

    Tim Schafer
    Max Schaefer

    When is Claudia Schiffer going to get into game development?

  27. BobsLawnService says:

    I’m not sure why this has to be a zero sum game. How many people buy one game in a genre and stick to it to the exclusion of everything else?

    • subedii says:

      Angry fanboys mainly, judging by the comments.

      I mean personally I lost interest in D3 once the RMAH and online only requirement got announced, but it’s pretty much personal preference on my part because I feel they’re taking a less cosumer friendly attitude by forcing requirements that were never really necessary to force.

      That’s not to say that D3 is going to be a bad game, it’s got most of everything else well above Torchlight 2 from what I can see, barring pets, mods and budget. And it’s of course, going to sell more. But to hear tell, this attitude still makes me “hipster” for some reason. People are injecting ridiculous amounts of emotion into the proceedings, where personally, I’d have happily bought both games if Blizzard changed their stance in one or two areas, and these are things that other people don’t have an issue anyway so I don’t see the reasoning to rage on one over the other to begin with.

      But no, some people just have to get upset with you if you don’t validate their choice. It’s… bizarre.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      I’m not sure how many people buy two similar games within a few days/weeks of each other at full price.

      If you spend 3 weeks drinking only lemonade, and you find you want to drink something different, you don’t switch to another brand of lemonade.

      When it comes to buying the “second choice”, you tend to do it a while after… at least once you’ve finished the first one (for when you’re still thirsty for more).

      • subedii says:

        There is that. But that’s the general gist I got from the interview. “One month” was being thrown around, but all he was really saying was that if the release dates were coming in to coincide, Runic would do the smart thing and give D3 as wider a berth as practical.

        I mean it’s like how when CoD gets a release date and then all of a sudden all the other publishers vacuum up their major contenders and place them elsewhere in the year.

      • Nevard says:

        While I perhaps wouldn’t buy Torchlight 2 two weeks after Diablo III, I’m pretty sure I’d still be interested in the game to buy it with enough time to spare that it hadn’t reduced in price yet

      • Jason Moyer says:

        “I’m not sure how many people buy two similar games within a few days/weeks of each other at full price.”

        People who play Modern Warfare and Medal Of Honor/Battlefield?

  28. Brun says:

    Diablo 3 has more in common with Farmville than with Torchlight 2.

  29. shagen454 says:

    I’ll probably get TL2 eventually but seriously people. Blizzard games are either the few that are actually worth $60 or are worth more than their $60 counterparts. I think their games are fantastic on many levels and I would pay $100 for any Blizz game. They are absolute quality.

    -Fanboy out.

    • subedii says:

      Despite being extremely excited for it pre-release, personally Starcraft 2 ended up being … OK I guess? Didn’t really find it brilliant, or even exceptionally good.

      Similar with Warcraft 3, only without the excitement beforehand.

      • shagen454 says:

        I think of SC2 as only a multiplayer game. I agree the sp campaign was underwhelming but the multiplayer is a lot of fun. Depending on your skill level the game is played wildly different. That’s what I am talking about with Blizz. That fact alone warrants SC2 $60 price tag – you can be rusty and play shittily, or you can continue to grow as a player and the match making and gameplay mechanic adapt.

        • subedii says:

          No I’m afraid I’m talking about the multiplayer as well. I could write (and well, pretty much have written previously here) pages about my issues with SC2′s multiplayer, but the basic summary of most of my complaints would be that I felt it was held back in some areas by a fanbase that had grown to associate engine limitations with “skill”, and as a result often went completely apoplectic on Blizzard every time they changed even the most minor thing.

          Even in areas outside of those direct interface / gameplay concerns, I felt Blizzard’s design was for some reason fairly constrained in areas where a company of their resources should have been able to hit it out of the park (and no, I’m not talking about the visuals either, I felt the direction in the visual design in general was the right idea).

  30. Calabi says:

    Why has the setting got to be so generic though?

    I mean asian developers seem so much more creative in this area. They just make up random crazy shit, it doesnt have to make sense or have come from somewhere else.

    Things like dancing devils, angels as carrion birds, and upside down faces on dragons, they know how to make something at least visually interesting.

    With these sorts of games which are kind of generic anyway, the visuals is the only area where they can stand out and yet the developers always seem to lack the creativity or ability.

    • Joof says:

      One of the things I’ve lamented is the lack of things that are just nuts like there was in the beginning of gaming. I want more crazy stuff like Katamari.

  31. Freud says:

    Since getting ADSL over a decade ago, I would guess my internet has been down less than 24 hours in total. At some point I think you have to accept that more and more games are created to exist in an online environment. I don’t view the game being played on Blizzards servers as DRM but as a core feature of the game.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      Since getting whatever my internet is, er, around a decade ago, I’ve had multiple “connection issues” at times where I was trying to use it, and with various workloads the only time available to me… my home internet, ignoring any sort of travel, etc.

      Even yesterday my connection went a bit fruity (not disconnected, just abnormally slow).

      I live in the heart of a capital city in a first world country.

      My anecdote hints at a different reality from your anecdote.

      As a single-player game, much like Torchlight, diablo 2, Diablo 1, Dungeon siege, etc…there are plenty of examples of how the features which require permanent online connections are not really core features. Attractive features, maybe, but not vital to the experience of a single player game.

  32. Streambeta says:

    I also will be skipping Diablo 3 for various reasons. It is time for other ARPGs to shine now. I have full support behind the companies making Path of Exile, Grim Dawn and Torchlight 2. I have to say I am mainly looking forward to Torchlight 2, I think it is the better game if you are doing a Diablo 3 vs Torchlight 2.

    Much like the developers said, Tochlight 2 will still sell really well even if it came out a month after Diablo 3 (which it won’t, from the development process i have seen). Half of the original Diablo community is split at the moment, half is going to buy the game and half will buy Torchlight 2 instead. Plus some will buy both and some might buy 1 and then decide that the game they bought is actually NOT what they were looking for.

  33. HaVoK308 says:

    Blizzard is now putting obstacles in front of the consumer. The same obstacles that drive gamers to piracy.

    Torchlight will have none of those obstacles. Buy it, download it, and play it. It’s simple and consumer friendly. You are getting it at “proper” digital price. They are not charging you like you bought a boxed copy at a retail store. They are not giving you half a game and attempting to swindle more cash out of you as time goes on.

    Which is more consumer friendly? The answer is rather simple for me.

  34. caddyB says:

    I find it funny that people assume that only the ones without stable internet connections have problems with the always online scheme. My connection hasn’t had any problems whatsoever in the last 6 months and I still think it’s kinda bad to have to login every time I want to kill a few monsters for loot.

    Maybe you should have been able to play the first two difficulties solo without going online with offline characters but you’d have to make a ladder character for the full experience?

    I don’t know man, this stuff is too complicated for my small brain.

    • subedii says:

      They’ve directly said you can solo the highest difficulties in D3, because hardcore fans used to like to do that in D1 and D2 so of course they were going to include it for the fans.

      Compare and contrast with other comments of theirs regarding the game’s online only nature and how you’re playing it “wrong” if you do so on your own.