An MMO has always been the end goal for Runic's proposed heir to the throne of click-click-click, but its path to production has been anything but straightforward. Originally, Torchlight was the warm-up, and the MMO would follow soon after as the main event. Then Runic decided it needed to spec its collective skill tree into multiplayer, and thus, Torchlight II was born. So, naturally, the runway's now finally clear for the MMO, right? Not exactly, Runic CEO Max Schaefer told us.
"We have great Torchlight MMO ideas," Schaefer said during an interview with RPS. "We're not saying we're gonna do it next because we don't want to be locked into something and disappoint people if it turns out we get to the end of this and really what we should be doing is an expansion or another platform. We want to have that flexibility. We're a small company. We're 30 people, and we can only really do one thing at a time. So we want to have the flexibility to pick what we want to make, that our fans are asking for, and make the decision based on that."
"And the reason I'm making so many caveats about this is an MMO is a hell of a commitment. It means we're gonna be doing that for a few years at least prior to release and then committing years of support for it afterward. So it's a decision we take very, very seriously."
Which is, of course, a very valid point. Moreover, the swords and sorcery MMO space is an incredibly crowded one, and games like SWTOR have shown that Runic's goal of "an MMO that plays as close to single player as we can get it" requires tremendous post-launch effort and thousands of man hours to keep players in for the long haul.
On that note, I recently tried Drakensang Online, which is basically Diablo: The MMO - but with a microtransaction model so insidious it'd give even the devil himself second thoughts. In spite of that and an incredibly bland skill system, though, experiencing that type of world with legions of other players was nice - if not entirely necessary most of the time. I don't know. I'm still not entirely sold. What about you, though? If/when Runic slays the demons of time and money to loot a Torchlight MMO, will you play it?
Torchlight's coming out, er, sometime. Probably. I spoke with Schaefer about that and the ARPG genre's slow evolution here.