Daily Archives: November 2, 2009

Torchlight Troubles

I managed to get in some time with Torchlight over the weekend, in and around pumpkin carving, trick-or-treating, resetting clocks (ahh, the joy of “Fall Back“) and the Planet of the Apes.

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While I had quite a bit of fun with the game over the weekend, all is not bliss.  No game is perfect and Torchlight has its share of flaws.

Bugs

Runic has a list of issues up on the Torchlight forums that they are working on, some of which they say they have fixed, but still have to make their way to end users.  There is no built-in update system, another divergence from Diablo, so unless you bought the game on Steam (grumble) you have to go looking for updates.

I’ve run into a number of the items on their list including the “Brink Bug,” which messes up a quest chain, and the performance related issues.  I’m just glad that I have not run into some of the nastier issues, like the failure to save.

And, as a side note to the developers.  I am happy that you have fixed a number of these issues and I am fine with you putting down the date, and even the exact time in some cases, when you made that fix.  But I know, being on the developer side of things myself, that the first questions will be “When will a patch be available and how do I get it?”  The answers to those (even if the “when” is “we don’t know yet”) should be in the same post (or in its own locked and stickied post) and not many pages into the responses to the fix updates. (And even that was just “no patch yet.”)

I sent an email to support to get some idea of what the patch availability and notification process would be and got a response from Brock Jones, the producer. (He apparently has retired from the superhero biz.)  While I appreciated the timely response, I would have rather been able to find the information myself and not wasted his time.

(Of course, if they put the producer on answering email, maybe they just want to keep him out of the way.)

Story

The more I play Torchlight the less involved I feel with the story.  For me, this is a serious break with its Diablo and Diablo II predecessors.  Diablo II especially had some distractions in it, but with only 6 quests per chapter, you spent a lot of time focused on the main thread of the game, the thread that lead you to the final battle.

The team at Runic however seems to have taken their long term MMO aspirations a bit too seriously.  The current conventional wisdom is that you need lots of quests in an MMO to move people along and give them something to focus on besides grinding mobs.

So there are lots of quests in Torchlight but, at least compared to Diablo II, and they do not feel connected.  One guy, Vasman, is always looking for the next flavor of ember, while a mechanical named Trill-Bot 4000 is always directing me to kill the next boss that is just a level or two down from where, and a guy named Hatch is sending me off in other directions.

But it is the quests for Syl that appear to drive the main story.  Or so I gather.  Unfortunately, one of the bugs causes you to miss a quest or two in that line.  Now, it is nice that you can pick up that thread further on down the line, but I still feel like I am missing something.

So while I am not as down on the game as MBP, I get his point about the feel of the game.

Sharing

The biggest interruption of my time playing Torchlight came when my daughter noticed I was playing a new game.  This lead to me having to relinquish my seat at the computer so that she could play for a while.

And she found the game to be quite fun as well.  I suspect that this is going to remain an issue until they get a version out that will run on Mac OS X or until she gets tired of the game.  And given that she has taken to imitating a zombie walking around my office moaning, “Torchilght…” I am hoping for an early Mac release.

So all is not absolute bliss in the world of Torchlight, but neither am I about to take back anything favorable I have said.  It is still a lot of fun for $20.

Now just waiting for the first patch…