Tag Archives: Torchlight

Reviewing My 2010 Predictions

Oh yeah, I made a bunch of crazy predictions back in January, didn’t I?

For some reason last year I changed my predictions format from a set of paragraph long generalizations to a series of one line, very specific (well, mostly) guesses at the future.  I think I was pressed for time and the humor muse had not bothered to visit.  Plus it was always hard to score those paragraphs, especially since I seemed to insist on points. (I have accounting in my background, I must quantify everything!)

Now, of course, we’re here at the end of the year and I have discovered the flaw in my plan; I need to go figure out whatinthehell I got right or wrong.  And there are like a bunch of them, some of which I have not bothered to pay attention to and others about which I really didn’t give a damn in the first place but was trying to get to a 200 point total for some maniacal round-number reason.

Anyway, what’s done is done.  Next year I think I am going to go back to big predictions and a pass/fail model.  Or something.

I started on this Thanksgiving weekend and, because of apathy, I haven’t found all the answers yet.  Fortunately, other people have started posting their prediction results, so I can crib from that a bit.  Plus I’ll make you, the reader, correct my mistakes.  How about that?

So let’s see how good that cold medication was last December.  What did I predict?

Predictions for Blizzard in 2010! (5 points each)

  • StarCraft II – Will ship second quarter 2010 – Missed by 27 days, 0 points
  • Cataclysm – Will ship fourth quarter 2010 – A pretty safe guess, 5 points
  • Cataclysm – Will beat WotLK’s 24 hour sales record – Yes indeed.  I do wonder how much digital pre-orders helped.  5 points
  • Diablo III – Will not ship in 2010 – Another safe one, in my opinion, 5 points
  • New MMO – An announcement at BlizzCon with the usual Blizzard mystery build-up – Nothing at BlizzCon, 0 Points

15 out of 25 points

Big Miss – RealID and Battle.net focus?  I’m not sure those were that big in the end.

Sony Online Entertainment predictions! (5 points each)

  • Planetside – Dead by December – Still alive… barely… but I always thought that The Agency had to come online before it went. 0 points
  • Norrath – Official details about the next Norrath based MMORPG some time in 2010 – We artist conceptions and some vague information, so I’m claiming 3 out of 5 points
  • Norrath – The next Norrath based MMORPG won’t be called EverQuest III – Do we have that in writing? No? 0 points
    EverQuest II – All digital distribution after the February expansion – I don’t see Destiny of Velious listed at Amazon.com, so I’m taking this as a yes. – 5 points.
  • EverQuest – The next round of server consolidation will happen, and it will be a good thing – And so it was.  I should have predicted it for EQII as well. – 5 points
  • The Agency – Won’t ship in 2010 – Saying The Agency won’t ship is like betting against the Cubs, and no, the Facebook game does not count – 5 points
  • PlayStation 3 – SOE still won’t have a PS3 MMO title by the end of 2010 – The put Free Realms on the Mac, but no PS3 support yet.  They’ve been talking about stuff on the PS3 since E3 in 2008 at least… go listen to VW Podcast #125… and still nothing.  You guys at SOE work for the PlayStation people now, right? – 5 points

23 out of 30 points

Big Miss – A free to play version of EQII

What will EA do? (5 Points each)

SWTOR – Not in 2010, no no no. – Another safe bet – 5 points

WAR – Won’t die in 2010, but won’t magically spring back to life either.  It will just trudge on with enough resources to keep it going and improve it slightly, but not enough to change anything dramatically. – Vague enough for 5 points

10 out of 10 points

Big miss – Umm… Lord of Ultima?  Was there a UO expansion or something?

Turbine predictions (5 points each)

  • LOTRO – Next expansion, announced in 2010, will be the Riders of Rohan! – Isengard, not Rohan – 0 points
  • LOTRO – Riders of Rohan will feature real mounted combat – 0 points
  • DDO – Continued success under the free to play banner with a push into some overland content – vaguely fulfilled – 1 point
  • New – We’ll hear about Turbine’s next project in 2010. – Not so much – 0 points

1 out of 20 points

Big Miss – LOTRO going free to play

CCP Predictions (5 points each)

  • Station ambulation – Still just a myth in 2010 – Again, like betting against the Cubs – 5 points
  • Dust 514 – Not for 2010 – What was that? – 5 points
  • EVE – Two Content Releases, don’t we always get two a year? – Well, we got 1.1 expansions – 2 points
  • EVE – Tech III ships will finally become common enough that you might actually see one now and again. – I have one and, while flying it, have ended up at a jump gate with another, is that common enough? – 5 points

17 out of 20 points

Big Miss – What was the big CCP story this year?

Runic Games (5 points each)

  • An inexpensive expansion will be released for Torchlight to keep funding going for Runic’s MMO – Nope – 0 points
  • Runic will give us some concrete details about said MMO – Nope – 0 points
  • That MMO won’t ship in 2010 – Well, they didn’t announce it, so 0 points
  • But said details will make some pundit say, “Wow, that’s what Dungeon Runners should have done.” – 0 points

0 out of 20 points.  I thought they would move faster than they are.

Big Miss – Multiplayer Torchlight, sort of the interim step between the first game and the MMO.

NCSoft (5 points each)

  • Aion – Going to seem like a replay of Lineage II, popular in Asia, less so in the west.  Still, it will have enough customers to keep going.  Given how readily NCSoft shuts things down, that will be saying something. – Um, I can’t even answer that – 0 points
  • GuildWars 2 – Not for 2010 – 5 points
  • PlayStation 3 – NCSoft still won’t have a PS3 MMO title by the end of 2010 – I guess I can let that old SCEA/NCSoft agreement die now – 5 points

10 out of 15 points

Other Titles (5 points each)

  • Darkfall – Will continue walking the tightrope between hardcore PvP focus and giving players something to do when they aren’t actively engaged in battle.  Slow growth with at most a single server added to the game for 2010. – Sounds vaguely right, but SynCaine will correct me – 5 points
  • Star Trek Online – Won’t disappoint Trek fans, but we’re all co-dependent on the franchise after years of reckless treatment by the studio.  We’ll all still be there after the first 30 days playing with our pre-order bonus items.  The rest of you people though… – I stopped playing, so there is a big claim I missed – 0 points
  • Hero’s Journey – It was best of show at E3 in 2005, but it will still be a no-show in 2010. – Like betting against the Twins – 5 points (Amusingly, Simutronics now has a somewhat whiny entry in their Hero Engine FAQ about Hero’s Journey, saying that the work for it is all in the Hero Engine so stop bugging them about it already.  Anyway, Star Wars: The Old Republic will be the eventual showcase for their work, pretty much the make or break I’d guess.)

10 out of 15 points

MMO Industry

The following people will have new companies and new projects announced in 2010 (2 point each):

  • Mark Jacobs – No word here – 0 points
  • Richard Garriott – Some awful Facebook thing – 2 points
  • Bill Roper – Still at Cryptic doing… something – 0 points
  • Brian Green – Umm… The Fae’s Wyrd was a project, right?  – 2 points
  • Scott Hartsman – Rift, about which so many are talking of late – 2 points

6 out of 10 points

One of the following companies will announce their first/next project, and it won’t be an MMO (5 points):

  • Aventurine – no announcement
  • Carbine Studios – no announcement
  • Red5 Studios – Firefall – it is an online, co-op shooter, so not really a traditional MMO –   5 points
  • Simutronics – no announcement
  • Turbine – No announcement

5 points

One of the following people will move to Canada (5 points):

  • Scott Jennings
  • Mark Jacobs
  • Brian Green
  • Scott Hartsman
  • Richard Bartle
  • Alan Crosby
  • David Reid

Isn’t there some Canadian sovereign territory at Disneyland?  No?  0 points

Spurious Logic Random neurons firing for the following guesses.

Most subscription MMOs that sell vanity items like pets or appearance gear will sell custom mounts by the end of 2010.  WoW and EQ2 will be the benchmark. (5 points) – erm… can’t really say yes to that – 0 points

“Yahtzee” Croshaw will review exactly ONE muh-more-puh-gah on Zero Punctuation during 2010, and it will be Star Trek Online.  He won’t like it (duh) but the Trekkie humor will be too much for him to resist doing a review. (5 points) – Nope, 0 points

We will find out that the following people will be appearing or doing voice work in the Warcraft movie (IMDB  shows no actors as of this date – 1 point each):

  • Jack Black
  • William Shatner
  • Keanu Reeves
  • Ben Stein
  • James Earl Jones
  • John Ratzenberger
  • Bruce Campbell
  • Sarah Silverman
  • David Spade
  • Lucy Lawless

Nothing – No cast announcements yet.  IMDB puts it as a possible 2013 release – 0 points

0 out of 20 points

Total Points

My first pass, hand-waving total is 97 out of 200 points.

Not bad for my mix of obvious slam-dunks and way off the reservation guesses I suppose.

Now, I will look to comments for corrections and will post an updated score once people point out that I was really wrong about those 97 points and that my total should be much lower.

So correct me already.

Meanwhile, I’m working on a less intensive set of predictions for next year.

Torchlight II – Look Out Diablo III

Runic Games, who put out last year’s excellent light dungeon romp, Torchlight (which sold more than half a million copies and which you can now buy in a box on the shelf at Fry’s) has got something new lined up for us.

Torchlight II

Torchlight II is slated for Spring 2011 and it will address some of the “I want” features that many of us asked for.

Key game features listed on the Torchlight II site:

  • Multi-player – Play with your friends over a local area network, or over the Internet. A free matchmaking peer-to-peer service lets you make new friends for exciting co-op play.
  • Customizable Characters – Players create and customize a character from one of four classes available and choose an animal companion. Through cosmetic, class, and gender choices, skill path decisions, and the treasures they acquire, each character can be custom-tailored to each player’s needs.
  • Moddability – Torchlight II will release with an updated version of TorchEd, the Torchlight editor. Players have the option to create their own mods, adding even more content to the world. You and your friends can download the same mod and play together!
  • New User Interface – Torchlight II boasts an entirely new, improved user interface, designed to be easier than ever for new players to pick up and play. Thanks to this intuitive interface, players have immediate access to a rich and varied world, with little experience necessary.
  • Overworld Areas – Torchlight II has large randomized overworld areas to explore with weather, time of day cycles, and random events that provide players with even more content to experience.
  • Random Dungeons – Delve into randomly generated dungeons within the game at any time for extra experience and rare loot. Dungeons in Torchlight II have even more branching paths to explore with friends filled with random events, rewards and dangers.
  • Retirement System – Once characters are sufficiently leveled up, they can “retire” and bestow specific benefits and perks onto new characters.
  • Pets – Players choose a pet to accompany them. Pets level up along with the player, and help in battle, learn spells, carry items, and perform a variety of support services.
  • Fishing – Fishing returns in the sequel! Players can take a break from the high-energy pace of adventuring to relax by one of the many fishing holes and see what they can catch. Fish have unique benefits for the player and pet, while a number of other rewards can also be discovered.

Clearly, multi-player Co-op play is the huge item on the list.  That, for me, was the big missing piece from Torchlight.

And then there is the promised date.  If Runic can make Spring 2011 I am sure they will beat Diablo III to market by a wide margin.

Of course, the team at Runic Games was largely responsible for the Diablo series, so it is no wonder they might be lighter on their feet when creating another game in that genre.

Torchlight – Picking the Wrong Vendor

The weekend has come and gone and Runic released their patch as promised.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t just a patch, it was a full re-build of the installer.  You need to uninstall the original version and install this new version.

This was all done for the right reasons, so I do not know if I can fault them for making this choice.  But it has left me waiting for the update.

The problem is, they say, that each of the digital vendors needs to add in their own DRM scheme.  As of this morning, some of the vendors have done that, and some have not.

TLPS10
Of course, I bought my copy via Direct2Drive, so I do not have access yet to the update yet and there is no word on when that may happen.

Lesson learned?  Try and buy directly from the company if possible I suppose.

Now, on the bright side, I am not suffering from any of the major, game-play stopping issues, so it isn’t critical for me to get this update.  I just have some mild, irrational anxiety knowing that I will have to reinstall.

Until then, I’m waiting for Direct2Drive.

Torchlight Patch Ready This Weekend

Runic Games has posted on the Torchlight Forums that the first patch is for Torchlight is now ready.

This is a full installer so you have to uninstall and re-install the game to do the update.

You also must install the version available from the vendor from whom you purchased the game.  So if, like me, you purchased from Direct2Drive, don’t go download the version for people who bought direct from Runic.

Abstracts from the announcement:

NOTES ON THE PATCH! PLEASE READ!

SUPER-IMPORTANT! YOU MUST USE A PATCH FROM THE VENDOR YOU PURCHASED FROM! Each vendor has their own DRM solution, and none are compatible. If you purchased from Steam, you’ll need the Steam patch , and so on.

This if a FULL REINSTALL. The packaged files for the patch changed entirely to improve loading times, so a full reinstall is necessary. If you are patching, you’ll need to uninstall your previous version.

BACK UP YOUR SAVE GAMES! Your uninstaller may ask you if you want to delete your save games. Make sure that it is UN CHECKED! If you want to be extra safe, you can manually back up your saves – I’d recommend this. Better safe than sorry!

Start->run

%appdata% and press return

Then browse to Runic Games\Torchlight\Save – and back up all the files there.

———————————————————————————–

Torchlight 1.12 Patch Notes –

* Fixed several issues which could overwrite saves, and protected against possible save loss. Save backups are now also generated.
* Much reduced load times for many users
* Some minor ingame performance improvements
* Fixed Needle Arc XP exploit
* Fixed Shadow Armor stacking effects
* Fixed vendor dupe bug
* Fixed various fullscreen startup issues
* Fixed broken Brink cinematic on subsequent plays
* Fixed merchant ‘thief’ exploit
* Fixed right clicking in inventory casting certain spells
* Fixed console not activating on Steam builds – this also fixes the fact that subsequent characters didn’t see the random dungeon unlock after the first completion
* Fixed issue with Syl’s cinematic not being “skippable” during first boss fight
* Fixed some DOT deaths not dropping loot
* Quest items no longer allowed in stash
* Several level fixes for a few places where things overlapped, or collision was missing, or stuck-issues cropped up
* Fixed texture/mesh/ replacement issues with mods
* You can now change difficulty level on the fly from the console without being branded a Cheater ( UNLESS you’re playing hardcore )
* Fixed pet minions not awarding fame
* Fixed slow load times when mods were enabled
* Pets inherit your spell masteries
* Magic find takes the max value between you and your pet when pets or pet minions make a kill
* Visible/increasing chance of stripping enchants via enchanter. Price based on # of enchants. Variables tunable in globals.dat
* Troll pet is properly invincible
* Tree Boss could be charmed – fixed
* Fixed issue – Returning to town if you died during Ember Colossus or Medea would make them dormant on return
* weapon + shield doesn’t count as ‘dual wielding’
* Shimmering Scale ( and 2 other socketables ) now work properly when socketed
* Ember lance slight nerf
* Ember lightning slight buff
* Aloe Gel summon provides better healing
* Equippables properly provide bonuses to passive skills
* Fixed display issue where multiple skill bonuses on the same item would collapse into a single display
* Hardware skinning settings respected properly for pet paperdolls
* Fix for potential bad state in the henchman battle
* Enchantments at level 100 now work
* Relabeled difficulty levels, and added tooltips explaining each
* Fixed ‘free spell purchase’ exploit
* Socketables cannot be heirloomed
* Fix for masteries not updating certain spell bonuses until logout/login
* Summon Blood Skeleton has 11 levels now
* Various small grammar and spelling fixes

* ADDITION : Rimlights, HW Skinning, and VSynch can all be altered from the Settings menu now.
* MODDERS: Items can be set to ‘always identified’

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.

logo

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…

Torchlight

I went and grabbed Torchlight from Direct2Drive on Wednesday night, letting the game download while I slept.

Not that it was a huge honking download.  It was just convenient for me to do it that way.  I prefer to let downloads that last more than a minute or two happen while I am away from my computer.

So the next evening I installed it to give it a try.

After about 10 minutes I realized I had been playing for an hour.  It is one of those.

It is slick, smooth, and quite clearly acquired some of the greatness that the Diablo series showed in the past.

If you have played the Diablo games of the past, the learning curve will be very short indeed.  There are some deviations from how things worked in Diablo II, but Diablo II first shipped over nine years ago, so it is quite possible that reflection over that time might have lead the developers to different choices.

The main departures from the Diablo series are in art style and story tone.

The art style is cartoon-y, in the same vein as Team Fortress 2 and Battlefield Heroes.  To wit, my Destroyer:

TLchar

Vikund the Destroyer

Some people won’t be able to get past that I am sure, but it works for me.

And part of the reason that it works is that the tone of everything is a little lighter than it was in Diablo.

Diablo was very dark (though not without humor) while tone of Torchlight is more befitting its look.

If you can get past those two items, the game feels like Diablo II brought forward 9 years.

Click to move, click to attack, right-click for your secondary attack, click to loot, click to do just about anything.

The settings are stone simple for a modern game.

TLsimplesettings

Torchlight Settings

I’m not sure what “Netbook Mode” does, but I gather that Runic is shooting for a large audience by trying to support very low end systems.

You cannot even remap keys.  Not that you need to, since there are not all that many keys to learn, and almost everything you need is clustered on the bar at the bottom of the page.

TLBar

Belly up to the bar!

I am a little leary about having the hot keys split up the middle.  I tend to memorize the few keys I use all the time and go click on everything else.  On the other hand, having health and mana moved in from my peripheral vision seems to be quite effective.  Many of my Diablo deaths could be attributed my no glancing down to the corner of my screen to check health during a hairy fight.

But most other things will be remarkably similar to Diablo fans.

TLCharsheet

Character Sheet

TLInventory

Inventory Sheet

There are also health potions, mana potions, identify scrolls, town portal scrolls, three skill point trees, and all the equipment in the world dropping in various forms.  There is even a hardcore check box at character creation, which I am going to assume means perma-death.

Which is not to say that there is nothing new.

The simple fact that the game runs on my home system at 1600×1200 versus the 640×480 for Diablo and 800×600 for Diablo II is a big deal to me.  And on my system, a two year old quad-core with an nVidia GTS-250 video card, it runs very well.

It also runs well on my soon-to-be five year old laptop, though the CPU usage is such that I wouldn’t count on doing anything else on the machine while I was playing.

You also get a pet, either a cat or a dog, which fights along side you, has its own inventory slots, and can run back to town and sell stuff for you, though I haven’t check to see if he is getting short changed.

And speaking of inventory, you not only get the usual chest in town to store your excess goodies, but you get a shared chest that your other character can access.

Then, finally, there is fishing.

TLFish

I caught one!

I haven’t actually fed a fish yet to my pet, nor eaten one myself (I’ve been too busy simply smacking stuff), but various fish are supposed to endow you with special benefits.  Something to look into.

Sound great so far?

Now the killer.   No multiplayer.

I know, what do I want for just $20?

But seriously, if the game had multiplayer, I could tell you what the instance group would be doing for the next few weeks.

Without multiplayer however, I get to decide if I go play with my friends or play Torchlight.

So that is a let down.

But, since the plan seems to be to move to a Torchlight based MMO of some sort, we may get multiplayer in some form in the future.

And since the game was designed with MODs in mind, I expect that the game will take on a life of its own if it achieves large scale success.

In the end, for $20, the game delivers enough sheer Diablo-esque joy for me to not fret too much about the missing multiplayer aspect.  I am not that far into the game, but I can already tell I will get my money’s worth out of it.  And there is something to be said for keeping things simple.  I hope it finds enough success to finance the follow-on plans.

If you miss Diablo, you will probably be able to find a home in Torchlight until Diablo III ships.

But if you didn’t care for Diablo, this probably isn’t the game for you.

Diablo! I mean Torchlight!

Diablo ships today!

erm…

I mean Torchlight ships today!

Or whatever the electronic distribution equivalent term is, since they don’t appear to be shipping physical boxes.

Torchlight!  It was done by those guys who did Diablo!

I mean Mythos!

Wait, Mythos was done by some people who did Diablo.

And the same guy did that did the music for Diablo did the music for Torchlight!

But you get my point, which is that whenever we speak of Torchlight, we must also mention Diablo.

Diablo! Diablo! Diablo!

And in my view of the world, comparing it to Diablo, and bringing up the connections with Diablo, is saying something good about the game.

But I really liked Diablo.

And Torchlight does appear to have that Diablo feel to it, at least in the screen shots I have seen.

Torchlight

Screen shot from the Torchlight web site

It has been a PC game drought for me this year.  The only new title I purchased so far in 2009 has been Peggle.  (Yay for being totally behind the curve on that one!)

So Torchlight, with all its Diablo connections, may be my second PC game purchase this year.

If they will let me purchase it.  It is being sold through Perfect World, a Chinese MMO company with some ports in the US (Jade Dynasty, Ether Saga and Perfect World), and they seem to have an issue with my billing information.

They sent me an email telling me that they were sending me another email regarding a billing issue.

I never received that second email which had a key link I need to follow in order to solve this problem.  Or so they said in the first email.

I did, however, receive a third email (which was right in the spam folder that I was watching just in case the second email showed up there) which told me that since I did not respond to the second email (which I am going to guess had some time limit associated with it) my transaction was being canceled and my money refunded.

They took my money, had a problem with it, and are now sending it back.

So Torchlight may not end up being my second PC game purchase this year.

And this billing snafu certainly does not bode well for me looking into the Torchlight MMO franchise that the team at Runic Games, the Diablo pedigreed developers of Torchlight, is talking about.

It does, however, give the publisher’s name, Perfect World, something of an ironic twist for the moment.

Anyway, I’ll see about trying to buy the game again this weekend.  Perhaps they are suffering from the first day rush.

In the mean time, I’ll just watch the game play video over at Game Bunny.

Diablo!