Category Archives: Torchlight II

Small Items for a Cold Friday in March

It is even a bit chilly here in Silicon Valley.  I put on a jacket last night.  And there has been some rain this week, breaking up the run of warm and sunny days we have been experiencing of late.  Not enough to end the drought, but enough to keep the lawn watered.

It is Friday and I have a bunch of little, half-started posts and other tidbits that I am going to roll up into a single entry.

It Is Just Landmark

SOE, in a good move, decided that their Minecraft-like building game, with a promise of things like science fiction areas, wasn’t Norrathian enough to be considered an EverQuest title.  So it is now just Landmark.

LandmarkChange

This is not only how I have been referring to the game for a while now, but something that was part of my 2014 predictions.  Go me.

Now SOE just has to do something about the whole EverQuest Next name, something I brought up in another Friday post.  That is a cute name for development, but not so good as a shipping title.  Unless it is also going to be EverQuest Last, the name could become an albatross around their neck at some point.  Fortunately, we now have precedent for a name change.

Thank you Landmark! 

The Gamification of Texting

A friend sent this link to the Android version a keyboard addon for mobile devices.  As you master the Fleksy keyboard and its various functions and features, you will earn achievements!

Apple product owners may get a chance to join in as well,  as Fleksy is updating the iOS version for achievements as well.  To use the Fleksy keyboard, your app must be “Fleksy enabled.”

How Old is Your Hardware?

Pasduil wants to know.  He’s taking a survey.  You can find it here.

Bully Bullied by Bullies?

Erotica 1, the pilot behind the EVE Online controversy du jour, the Bonus Round recording (I could not recommend that you follow that link), has chosen to withdraw his name from the Council of Stellar Management elections scheduled for next month.  In his statement, after opening with a paragraph that included the line, “Some people just can’t be reasonable…”, he complained about Goons and “white knight carebear moral highground people” and threats to his physical safety (but no reference to this), then said he was withdrawing because his passport had expired.

This is where we all shout, “Didn’t want that seat on the CSM anyway!”

That CSM Election

It is coming up.  Should you care.

Candy Crush IPO

King, maker of the game everbody loves to hate, Candy Crush Saga, and one-time trademark troll, went public this week.  According to some, the IPO failed.  It failed because the opening price… the price King got for its shares… was $22.50, but afterwards the price dropped down to around $19.

In a way, this seems like a perfectly fitting IPO for the company.  King got the maximum value they could for their stock, filling company coffers, the founders and early investors who were in for a tiny fraction the IPO price still got their big cash-out opportunity, and the people and institutions who jumped on the stock at the IPO price got told they could sell now if they wanted to buy a $3 per share unlock or they could wait until whenever the price went up again.

A Farewell to Runic Games?

I was already wondering what was going to become of Runic Games.  We haven’t heard much from them, except about what they are not going to do.  They are not going to make a Torchlight MMO.  They are not going to work on anything new for Torchlight II.  They are not going to have a Mac OS version of Torchlight II.

So when two key founders leave to form a new studio, one might not seem rash wondering aloud if Runic Games is not going to be shipping anything else ever again.

Did burnout from Torchlight II kill the company, or was it Perfect World Entertainment buying in that did it?

Report from New Tristram

Wasn’t 2012 going to be the year of the heir to Diablo II?

We had multiple contenders.  There was the designated heir, Diablo III and all the weight Blizzard could bring to bear.  There was Torchlight II, from a team that included many of the people who actually made Diablo II back in the day.  And then there was the dark horse candidate, Path of Exile, planning on a free to play experience and the grandest skill tree ever seen.

So many skills...

Yet not really overwhelming…

Each of them managed to hit a few marks.  Diablo III carried on the Diablo story line and was polished in that Blizzard way.  Torchlight II clearly had the upper hand on price and play options.  And only Path of Exile managed to replicate the dark atmosphere of the past Diablo games.

However, in my opinion, each of them failed in some fundamental way.

Diablo III had always online problems at launch, but the real issue became itemization.  Gear drops, ever the life’s blood of a Diablo game, were huge in quantity and very bad in quality.  The only way to reliably find some gear close to your level was either via a higher level alt or through the auction house.  I didn’t really want to play via the auction house, but felt I pretty much had to when it came to end of act bosses.  Tired of being pulled out of the actual game to upgrade gear, I stopped playing.

Torchlight II was better on itemization.  It still had huge quantities, but quality wasn’t as universally awful, though without the auction house to fall back on, comparison of at-level gear wasn’t as obvious either.  However, colorful and well lit graphics hampered any feeling of atmosphere and the story line felt very weak to me.  I can give you a synopsis of the story line in all three Diablo games, but couldn’t begin to tell you what Torchligh II… or Torchlight… was really about.  That and the dev team punting on the Mac version of the game… and just about anything else it seems… thus killing off any chance of playing with my daughter, put the game pretty low on my play list and I haven’t been back to it in probably a year.

And then there was Path of Exile, which certainly won on price.  It is about a free as free to play can be I suppose, though a friend of mine who played a lot of the game says that there is a point after which you pretty much have to pay to progress the grind of leveling becomes unbearable.  That point is just much farther into the game than I managed to get.  While winning on atmosphere, it also had “always online” problems.  Basically, melee classes became pretty much unplayable at peak times, and I always play the melee classes and I apparently play at peak hours.  That ended that.

So three contenders, all of which I felt I was pretty much done with by the end of last year and none of which I could whole heartedly recommend for one reason or another.

But the dev teams were still working on at least two of the three games.  The Blizzard team, while slow to acknowledge that they had a problem, eventually owned up on the itemization front and last week those of us on the PC got Diablo III version 2.0.

It was time for a return to Diablo III.  I rolled up a new barbarian and played through act one.

The first thing I was looking at was gear drops.  And, hey presto, they did in fact seem to be better in quality and more likely to be relevant to my character.  Quest rewards for various stages of the story seemed to be better tuned, mini-bosses along the way seemed much more likely to drop something useful, and even the vendor in town seemed to be stocking a higher quality selection of goods.

In fact, that was going so well that the game started to seem a bit easy.  I was blowing through masses of undead or goatmen or whatever without much effort at all.  That looked to be the downside of the boost to itemization quality.

But I had another 2.0 feature available to me.  I was able to jump directly from Normal to Hard with my character.

This was actually a big win.  One of the 2.0 changes was to remove what was effectively level ranges for various areas of the game and, instead, make all of the content scale to your current level.  No more out running content and hitting a wall that could only be cured with a serious injection of new gear. (Itemization problem strikes again.)  And no more playing through the whole story in normal mode just to get to a higher level of challenge.

While loot quality, experience gained, and gold dropped all went up with this change, difficulty went up enough to more than offset those and made the game much more of a challenge.  Rather than cutting through mobs like butter, I actually had to start working for a living.  I couldn’t just rush into a room and collect everybody the way you can in a 1-60 dungeon finder group in WoW.  I found myself in trouble and in any number of close-run fights if I didn’t take care.

Still, I am not sure that “hard” is really the right term.  It is closer to “not easy” in feel.  While I got down to the red screen of limited health now and again, I never once died.  It is just the right level of resistance to keep the game interesting.

It was also fun rediscovering some of the cool bits of the game after a long absence.  While the atmosphere isn’t close to the play of light and shadows that was such a deep part of Diablo II at times… and honestly, none of the three games got all the way there… it isn’t the bright and colorful beast that some people were afraid it would be way back when.  The atmosphere is pretty good.

About as bright and colorful as Act I gets

About as bright and colorful as Act I gets

Then there was the dynamics of the game while playing the barbarian.  For a full on visceral experience, this is the class.  I love how elements of the world react when he is pounding out a big attack.  Furniture disintegrates, shelves tumble, tapestries whip and swirl, and corpses fly.  Oh, and how corpses fly.  Ending on a big pound can send multiple foes dead and sailing through the air, sometimes headed completely off screen. (Note the flying goatmen in the screen shot above.)  It never gets old.

And the game itself is as well put together as one would expect from a Blizzard product.  And the game is divided up into nice, bite size chunks via the waypoints, so you can get in and play for a bit while making it to the next stage of the story.  Of course, this can still lead to the “one more waypoint” urge.  Not nearly as strong as “just one more turn” is in a Civilization game, but it is there.

There were a few other small features added.  We now have a map for the various waypoints as opposed to the old listing that the game and its predecessor used.  I guess this adds a bit of immersion, or a sense of place, though it does also point out that I was traveling in a big circle as well.

Act I Map

Act I Map

I made it through to the final boss and remembered enough of it to get through the fight on the first try.

In this corner, The Butcher!

In this corner, The Butcher!

I had rather optimized myself, my skills, and my companion (the Templar this time) for healing, so it was more a matter of building up fury for big hits and staying out of the fire.  I did not end up using either of the health shrines in The Butcher’s room.  And then it was through to Tyreal and the wrap up of Act I.

Me, Tyreal, and the Templar

Me, Tyreal, and the Templar

So far, so good.  Now it is on to Act II.  We shall see how well the game sticks this time around.

I also managed to get quite a few levels in, as there was a pre-expansion experience boost in effect while I was playing.

D3CommBuff

That wasn’t a big deal to me.  I guess it will get me closer to the level cap sooner.  Is that a good thing?

And the question remain whether or not I will pick up the Reaper of Souls expansion given what it offers.

Reaper of Souls info

Reaper of Souls info

I like the idea of Act V, and the Crusader class feels much more like my favorite Diablo II class, the paladin.  But is that enough to justify the cost?  Has Diablo III version 2.0 changed things up enough that I will make it through Act IV?  I have time left to decide.  And to play.  We shall see.

Path of Exile Opens Up

Path of Exile.  I have written a bit about it before.

It looked, for a while, to be the third horse in the “Heir to Diablo II” race last year, but then never quite got there, leaving the field to Diablo III and Torchlight II.

Which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.

It might have gotten a little more attention going up against one of those at launch, but it likely would have suffered for it as well.  So the other two have had their launches and… have gone somewhat quiet since.  Diablo III shipped without any post-launch follow up plan it seems, while the team at Runic that did both Torchlight and Torchlight II is reportedly tired of working on that franchise and want to do something different. (Where is my Mac OS version of the game?)

So it is a quiet time in the click-click-click RPG niche, which might be just the right time for Path of Exile to go… well… a little more public with their game.  And so open beta has been announced.

POEOpenBeta

According to their latest press release, open beta starts… tomorrow.  Not that the previous year of closed beta was tough to get into.  You just had to sign up and wait for a few days or a week and eventually you got an invite.

Now though… or tomorrow… you should be able to go to their site, sign up, and get access to the game right away.

This will also be the last wipe of the player base.  Or so say the developers.  This effectively means that the game launches tomorrow, as any progress you make with your character after that point is yours to keep.

And since this is a free to play, cash shop supported game, the transition from “open beta” to “live” seems to me to be more philosophical than anything; very much in line with every Facebook game being flagged as “beta” for most of their success.

As for the game itself, it has been about a year since I last logged in for a look.  But even back then I gave it high marks for capturing the essence of Diablo II.

And a year later, after playing Diablo III and Torchlight II, that clip still “feels” a lot more like Diablo II than either of those other games.  It might be time to patch up and give Path of Exile another look and see what has changed in the last year.

Reviewing My Questions for 2012

At the beginning of each new year I have a special post.  Sometimes if it predictions.  Some times it is demands.  Last year I decided it should be questions.

2012pic

I asked 12 questions of the new year.  12 questions for the year 2012.

I think it is time to see if I received any clear answers.

1. What fate awaits the Old Republic?

Love it, hate it, see it as a revolution in MMOs or as a symbol of that all is wrong, Star Wars the Old Republic is now a force to be reckoned with on the MMO landscape.  It has everybody’s attention for good or ill.  Where will it lead us?

That was the position at the beginning of the year.

Unfortunately, the answer since then seems to be “Over a cliff.”  That cliff was described by the chart showing ongoing drops in total subscribers every quarter after launch.

Apparently story and voice acting will only keep people interested for so long.  That works for a single player game.  For a subscription game, not so much.  And so the Tortanic began to sink, and it was heralded as the death of the subscription model for MMOs.  They did announce an expansion, so they will have some content to sell along side action bars and raid access.  But there do not seem to be clear blue skies on the horizon for SWTOR yet.

2. Can Blizzard stem the World of Warcraft subscription trend?

Sort of.  The annual pass option, which got you a shiny mount and a free copy of Diablo III, kept at least a million people locked into their subscriptions.  And while numbers still fell, they rebounded some with the release of the Mists of Pandaria expansion.  The peak of “over 12 million” appears to be in the past, but 10 million isn’t so bad.

And, of course, WoW still rakes in cash like no other MMO out there.  Reports of the death of the subscription model may be a bit premature.

3. Will Free to Play continue to be the gold mine/panacea for subscription games?

Panacea?  It certainly seems so.  SOE has thrown in fully for the free model, bringing all their titles save the original PlanetSide into the fold.  And certainly SWTOR is looking to that model to rescue it and revive their fortunes.

Is it a gold mine though?  Early reports from the LOTRO transition to F2P seemed to indicate that there was indeed gold to be had.  However, since then, there appears to have been some iron pyrite mixed in with the real thing, leading companies to try and cast an ever wider net to get players to buy their RMT currency and then turn around and spend it in their cash shop.

LOTRO, which at least lets you earn their RMT cash in-game, went towards the odious prize boxes and started suggesting things like the hobby horse mount.

SOE screwed up their RMT currency so badly with heavy discounts that they had to stop selling premium memberships and expansions in Station Cash.

And reports I have read indicate that SWTOR might not have figured out the magic formula for F2P success quite yet either.

So there appears to be a lot more work to be done on the F2P front.  Merely being F2P is no longer enough, as there are a lot of choices out there.

Companies keep bringing their games to the F2P altar, but that alone is no longer enough.

4. Who will really win the “Just Like Diablo” battle of 2012?

It depends on what you value.

I started to write a full post about it with the objective of declaring Diablo III the winner, but only on technicalities.  Basically, it does more to capture the atmosphere of Diablo II, while at the same time doing the most to destroy the game.  It just feels more like Diablo II, if you ignore the auction house, the always online aspect, the need to play through the game repeatedly in order to get to the most challenging game play, and a few other things.

That said, I think Torchlight II is, overall, a better game if you take the “heir to Diablo II” aspect out of the picture.  It doesn’t get anywhere close on story or atmosphere compared to Diablo II, but it managed to avoid the manifold mistakes of Diablo III while being light, fun, and full of options denied the players of Diablo III.

Basically, the answer for me is that neither game really wins the “Just Like Diablo” crown, mostly because it just isn’t the year 2000 any more, so neither game could really have the same impact.

5. When will we lose a game to hacking?

We seem to be safe from this still, at least on the MMO front.  Lots of security breaches, but  I haven’t read about a game completely brought down and destroyed, never to run again because of hacking.

So the only answer here I suppose was, “Not yet.”

6. Will SOE remain the only player in the MMO nostalgia game?

This stems from the Fippy Darkpaw time locked progression server, about which I have posted often.

And my answer up until last week would have been “Yes.”  SOE is the only purveyor of MMO nostalgia.  I even got impatient by mid-year and went after the issue in a blog post.

After all, it seems like WoW could make a bundle with a similar scheme.  There are literally dozens of private WoW servers out there trying to recreate the “old” WoW, that being anywhere from day one to before Cataclysm.  I spent a bit of time on the Emerald Dream server and can vouch for the cathartic effect of playing an old-school version of the game.

But no such official venture looks to be forthcoming.

And then Turbine showed up with Asheron’s Call 2, fresh from the crypt, electrodes bolted on firmly in an attempt to create life where there was none.

I am not sure if it is quite the same thing, but it is something.  And it is nostalgic.

So SOE does not own the MMO nostalgia market completely.

7. Will Guild Wars 2 be the game changer in the MMO market in 2012?

Well, a lot was promised for Guild Wars 2.  But did it really change anything?

I have seen a number of GW2 fans lauding The Secret World for adopting the GW2 revenue plan, conveniently ignoring all the details that prove that they did no such thing.  Yes, there is the “buy the box” aspect for a free to play game that sure sounds a lot like GW2.  But what about the continuing monthly subscription model that unlocks things and hands out RMT currency as a reward?  That sounds a lot like an SOE game, doesn’t it?

I suspect that the “buy the box” aspect was a requirement only because they admitted they did not make their sales numbers, so it is either throw away all those boxes or find a way to keep selling them.

And, if we’re honest with ourselves, the “buy the box” plan was from Guild Wars, not GW2, so rationalize harder please.

Anyway, I think it is too early to tell.  GW2 only launched at the end of August, which didn’t leave a lot of time for anybody to react to anything they did in 2012, conspiracy theories not withstanding.

Maybe next year?

8. Will CCP ever be anything but the company that makes EVE Online?

Of course, they also helped make Lazy Town, right?  Next question.

Okay, yes, DUST 514.  It looms.  It seems like it could be something some day.  But that day was not this year.  So I can only say, “We shall see.”

Call me when DUST 514 is a thing and maybe I will be able to build enough enthusiasm to download it.

9. What will the earth shattering MMO announcements be in 2012?

I have to go with NCsoft shutting down City of Heroes, SWTOR going free to play, and Turbine reviving Asheron’s Call 2.

Oh, and that 38 Studios fiasco.  An MMO that never was will never be.

Anything else?

10. Will MMOs get redefined in new and interesting (or bad and annoying) ways?

No, nothing new here, move along.

Okay, maybe PlanetSide 2 moved the ball a few inches down field with a really massive online shooter.  But what else was there really?

11. Are we every going to get another decent MMO news podcast?

No.

12. What will Lord British do next?

Apparently jump on board the Zynga train just as it drives over a cliff.   Timing is everything in comedy!

So those are my questions and the answers as I see them.  I am sure somebody will remind me of a few items I missed… or will want to argue about Diablo III vs. Torchlight II.  But that is about it for me.

Now to consider next year’s post.

Complex Gaming Declares EVE Online Best PC Game of All Time

Complex Gaming has a list, and we all love lists!  Well, I love lists.

This list is a list of their Top 50 Best PC Games of All Time.

And their top pick on the list is EVE Online.

Stuff blows up in space!

I cannot imagine that will cause any controversy.

Actually, the whole list is pretty controversial to me and seems pretty heavily weighted towards more recent games.  I would argue about whether Civilization V should be on the list relative to past versions. (I prefer Civ II still, and I know there are Civ IV partisans out there.)  And should both Torchlight AND Torchlight II make the list?  And both StarCraft AND StarCraft II?  Really?

On the MMORPG front, Ultima Online, World of Warcraft, Guild Wars, Star Wars the Old Republic and, of course, EVE Online make the cut.  No EverQuest and no Guild Wars 2 though.

And LEGO Star Wars III but not LEGO Star Wars – The Original Trilogy?  Heresy!

Ah well, such lists are pretty much designed to stir up controversy.  How do you pick 10, 20, or even 50 “bests” out of such a huge body of work without leaving something out?

Maybe I should work on my own list.

September in Review

The Site

Hey, I got a WordPress.com achievement this month.

500 Likes

I bet you didn’t even know they had blogging achievements.

Meanwhile, I have written over 2,500 posts… so I guess only 1 in 5 items I put up are actually deemed likeable by a single individual.

And even then, while I get the occasional regular on the list, the profile of the average person who pushes the “Like” button at the bottom of my posts seems to be “random stranger who never comments and who seems to be hoping that if they click the button people will visit their blog.”  There was probably some “how to get more traffic” post somewhere recommending this.

So, yeah, clearly as meaningful as most achievements I get in any game.  Go me.

One Year Ago

I did the great survey of blogs that had, at one time or another, included this site in their blog roll over the last five years.  Only 28% of them were still up and active.  There was also the five year anniversary post and all that it entailed.

I implied that Tobold’s mother a llama.  This had NOTHING to do with him not having a blog roll.

I was totally going to resist Steam selling me Rift for cheap.  That didn’t work.  I’m still playing a year later.

Star Trek Online announced it was going free to play, though I couldn’t imagine how it wasn’t already.

In LOTRO, the Rise of Isengard expansion came out and I almost didn’t notice.  Which was odd, because we were kind of playing LOTRO still.

The Goons were going to wreck the EVE economy by blowing up high sec ice miners.  Another vast Goon conspiracy.  I was being nostalgic for my earlier days in EVE.

GameSpy had a post about re-imagining Diablo as a first person perspective game, which was met with much derision.  Me, I liked the idea and even had suggestions for further topics in that vein to explore.  Meanwhile, Diablo III was pushed out to the middle of 2012.

In other Blizzard news, the Official World of Warcraft Magazine went belly up after just five issues.

I was still playing Need for Speed: World pretty regularly.  I was filming police chases, avoiding police chases, and buying the squarest ride in the game.

On the Fippy Darkpaw server, the retro experience was made complete by “guilds behaving badly” when it came to contested content.  Some GMs came up with unorthodox ways to resolve conflicts.

ArenaNet said something about private GuildWars 2 PvP servers.  I wonder how that would play today?

EA/BioWare gave us a release date for SWTOR at last, so I could start fretting about pre-orders and grace periods.  While I wasn’t in beta yet, BioWare was asking how I was enjoying it.

There was no word about life on Planet Michael.

And, finally, I was wondering how 9/11, which took place just a couple months before the birth of my daughter, would influence her view of the world relative to my own.

Five Years Ago

Five years ago I was waxing nostalgic about the Thundering Steppes, complete with pictures.

Meanwhile, as Tabula Rasa prepared to show up, Auto Assault passed into the history of MMOs.  Unfair comparisons were made. (Which turned out to be surprisingly prescient.)

Our summer hiatus from WoW was over and the group was back together for more instance fun.

The return to WoW showed something of a contrast with the way LOTRO played.  I was asking why LOTRO was not as much fun as WoW while speculating on where LORTO might expand and making up silly sight-gag posts.

And I was responding to another blog meme, reading Play Money, warming to the Wii Virtual Console, remembering Adventure, looking towards the future of PvP play, wondering if I was a member of the press, and talking about getting naked.

New Linking Sites

The following blogs have linked this site in their blogroll, for which they have my thanks.

Please take a moment to visit them in return.

Most Viewed Posts in September

  1. Diablo III vs. Torchlight II – A Matter of Details
  2. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  3. And Then The World Reached Into Our Game…
  4. SWTOR – Did The Lore Choice Hurt It?
  5. Considering Star Wars Galaxies Emulation? Better Grab a Disk!
  6. Remembering Spaceship Warlock
  7. Theramore Fell While I was at the Auction House
  8. Two Hamsters, One Wheel
  9. Blizzard – Taken Over by The System
  10. Darkfall: Unholy Wars is What Now?
  11. Torchlight II – First Night
  12. But Now I am Six, I’m as Clever as Clever

EVE Online

The war against Northern Coalition and its allies continues.  The CFC is deep into the Tribute region and there are a few fleet operations, which is pretty much what I do in null sec, running almost every day.  The problem is with an around the clock game with a world spanning population, it can be tough to get in on some of those operations.  During the week, there is a fairly narrow band of time, call it 02:00 to 05:00 UTC, when I can start an op.  Otherwise I am at work, eating dinner, or sleeping.  And not a lot of ops have been falling in that time.

Still, I got in on a couple early in the month, got my requisite kills on the kill board to show that I am out there PvP’ing, and then flew logistics for the rest of the month since a Scimitar is the one ship welcome in almost any fleet.

Rift

The Saturday night group has slowly started rolling again.  We knocked out another instance and have a couple more on the list.  We are also getting closer to level cap, which is timely, as the Storm Legion expansion is due out in a little over a month.

In the mean time, I have also been working a little bit every night on my mage.  I will have at least 3 of the four classes at level 50 before Storm Legion launches.

Torchlight II

Runic launched their contender for the Diablo II crown at last.  It is good.  Light and fast and solid, I have spent a lot of time playing it.  Unfortunately, that time has been 100% solo, and solo play makes for boring posts in my opinion.  Still, once I get through the story line, it will be time to match the game up against Diablo III to see who I think best captured the spirit of Diablo II.

World of Warcraft

Pandas were unleashed, but I opted not to buy in.  Which, I guess if early reports are accurate, was not an uncommon reaction.  It isn’t that I am anti-panda.  It was more a matter of Cataclysm breaking my bond with the game.  And while I have one character at level 85, I was clearly only putting in a token effort over the last 8 months or so.  And then there was the “please stop charging my credit card” encounter with Blizzard customer support that left me unhappy with the company in general.  And so I count the days until my subscription expires… October 22, 2012 at 10:03 AM PST.  Then I have 19 hours to unsubscribe before they charge my card again.  And that will be that.

Coming Up

It will be October shortly.  Guild Wars 2, Mists of Pandaria, and Torchlight II have all launched at this point.

November should bring Rift’s Storm Legion, along with Something or Something expansions for EverQuest and EverQuest II.

And what does October bring?  Riders of Rohan, which is yet another expansion I won’t be buying, primarily because I am nowhere near high enough level to access any of the content.  Do level based MMOs contain the seeds of their own demise in the form of expansions?

So I suspect that, for me, gaming will mostly be Rift, EVE Online, and Torchlight II in October.

It is fall.  Once the weather turns a bit chilly, it will be time for nostalgia.  Maybe I’ll make another video or something.

Torchlight II – First Night

Of course I got home last night and the first thing I did was get into Steam to see if Torchlight II was ready.

Steam says yes

It was available, it just wasn’t quite ready yet.

The game was now unlocked, but Steam had to download some additional… something… that apparently wasn’t installed with the pre-load packages.  This was hindered by Train Simulator, which just released its 2013 update, and which was hogging bandwidth.  I paused that, which somehow also paused the Torchlight download, which I didn’t notice immediately.  All told, something that was estimated at about 2 minutes of download time took nearly 20 minutes.

I suspect the popularity of the game was also hindering the download a bit, even on the might Steam.

Meanwhile, the other sign of launch day popularity was that the Torchlight II site was completely overwhelmed.    You couldn’t get there, much less create an account for online play.  Even this morning, while you can now reach the site, it has been configured as a special “low bandwidth” version to facilitate the masses.  This is the extent of the site:

Buy, download, or GTFO

And, because I couldn’t get to their site online, I had to just sit there getting the same error 37 over and over again.

Wait, what?

Ha ha!  Of course not.  I just chose a local game and ran off and played.

I went back to the same class, the berserker, as I did back in May when they had their beta weekend.  A berserker with a ferret pet because… OMFG it is too cute it has little goggles!

Warlimont and Snoogums

And it was good.

I cannot compare the May version side by side with the release version, but my gut and my fragmented memory say that the last few months were well spent on the game, as it feels tight and well put together.

There are still bits that annoy me.  I hate that you cannot click on the action bars to use them, that they respond to keyboard commands only.  You click on them to associate them with a skill, spell, scroll, or potion.  And I know in a click to kill game, your cursor should stay on the bad guys, not the hot bar, but every once in a while I’ll need a scroll and I’ll click on the hot bar by mistake and get the associate options rather than my option to identify  an item.

And I keep pressing “M” for map, which toggles through all the map/mini map on-screen configurations.  Bleh.

Fishing is also a bit odd.  I don’t really like the way it dominates the whole screen.  But my pet likes the fish.

The skill tree is, at least, something of an improvement over the Diablo/Diablo II raw trees.

Berserker Wolf Tree

It isn’t as on-the-fly flexible as Diablo III’s skills, but it also has more depth and you can respect your last three points spent if you make a mistake.  That won’t fix things if you decide you want to go another route, but it is better that the Diablo II “one free respec and you are stuck.”

Minor complaints aside, and I see those all as minor, the game is fun and draws you in with a “I’ll just go a little bit farther” that is completely parallel to the Civilization “just one more turn” and suddenly it is 2am addiction.

I ran around for a couple of hours, finding every corner of the overland maps, which as Gnome said in the comments of yesterday’s post, gives the game a much bigger feeling that the never ending dungeon crawl of the original Torchlight.  Dungeons are spread out amongst the open areas.

Dungeons are good, even if they are well lit. (Cue my atmosphere rant with accompanying Diablo II video clip.)  The ways are constricted but well designed.  There are plenty of urns to break (the Torchlight version of Diablo barrels) and occasional not-all-that-well-hidden secret rooms to find.

And, in a parallel to Diablo III, big bosses always have their own room in dungeons it seems, so if you die you can spawn again just outside to try again.  I had to do that when I went in and realized I only had to health potions.  I had to send Snoogums back for more potions before I tried again.

My daughter watched me run around for a bit and was very keen to play.  This enthusiasm doubled when I told her it was multiplayer and we could play together.  She made me hand over the controls so she could look at the character options.  She decided that an Outlander with a puma pet would suit here.  She was quite excited about the prospect and it was tough getting her off to bed.

This lead to the big disappointment of the night.  After my daughter went to bed, I went to get a copy of the game for her only to find that the Macintosh version is not out yet.

Spoiled again by Blizzard and their simultaneous Mac OS/Windows releases.

Thinking back, this is how it went for the original Torchlight as well, but for some reason that slipped my mind.  So I will have to break the news to her tonight that we won’t be able to play together for a while yet.

I am probably going to have to let her play on my computer for a bit.  Hopefully the Mac version will show up by Christmas.