The Blog

Latest from the Team

Torchlight II
Posted on July 20, 2012

Continuing from his previous forum post on the state of the game, Travis takes a look at the scale of Torchlight II compared with its predecessor. No time to read? Then don't miss our infographic that captures the difference in a nutshell.

Howdy again. It's time for this week's promised Not-A-Blog, so here we go!

Last week I talked at some length about what we're working on right now, what that actually means, and the process we go through to kick this out the door.

This week I want to talk a bit about some of the stuff that was accomplished over the week, because I know people want to hear it - but I also want to talk about scale, and I'm going to use Torchlight as a comparison. The numbers are pretty fun.

So, first things first - this week -

I spent most of my time working on Act 2 monsters (the second half of the Act). I polished 13 different monsters, and added 12 new skills for them. I set up or revised spawnclasses for 6 different regions. I worked on destructible elements for a sewer area. I made several particle systems to supplement these things. I fixed some multiplayer boss battle issues in a previous area's boss battle, and various other bugs as they arose. I partially completed polish on one boss battle. For Act 2, I have about 4-6 more monsters to finish polish on, 4 or 5 more regions to spawnclass, and 3 boss battles left to touch. I also have various champion packs left to add.

Similar things are happening throughout the company. Marsh is churning through Act 3. He worked on 4 sidequests, completed work on 5 monsters (2 of them champs), set up 7 new skills for those monsters, and added two new major special events. He also added proximity based health and mana steal effects and damage reductions, and completed several region spawnclasses. Polish continues on every front - it's very satisfying to see the march to completion.

So, I said I wanted to talk a little bit about scale. To satisfy my curiosity, I dug back through Torchlight 1's assets to get some statistics. We are often asked what the size difference between the two games is, and usually end up talking a bit about how the Act 1 content compares to Torchlight 1. I knew that Torchlight II was much bigger than Torchlight 1 - that's obvious - but I was still surprised at what I came away with. Here's a sample.

Torchlight 1 has:

  • 7 Unique areas (not counting secret areas or Phase Beast areas, or random maps )
  • 52 Unique monster variants ( this does not count champion variants )
  • 47 total monster abilities ( this does not count boss abilities - this is for the rank and file )
  • 9 bosses/boss battles
  • About 33 unique wardrobe sets
  • About 230 unique weapon models
  • About 60 unique player skills ( not counting spells )
  • About 330 room layouts for assembling levels ( these are subrandomized as well )
  • About 730 item affixes
  • About 3080 items ( although this includes the goofy 'replicated' elite items that we used to stretch out the content - so a more accurate number is probably about 2000 )
  • 15 music tracks
  • About 83 monster models ( not counting bosses or NPCs - there are more models than unique monsters because this includes player pets, summons, variants, and a few other odds and ends )
  • 1860 room pieces ( the raw props used to build levels )
  • 1612 animation files
  • 2778 texture files

Torchlight II has:

  • 44 Unique areas (not counting secret areas or Phase Beast areas, or random maps )
  • 183 Unique monster variants ( this does not count champion variants, of which there are MANY more than + Torchlight 1 )
  • 148 total monster abilities ( this does not count boss abilities or champion abilities - this is for the rank and file )
  • 27 bosses/boss battles
  • About 85 unique wardrobe sets
  • About 395 unique weapon models
  • About 120 unique player skills ( not counting spells)
  • About 1200 room layouts for assembling levels (these are subrandomized as well)
  • About 1344 item affixes
  • About 5773 items (no goofy item replication!)
  • 62 music tracks
  • About 300 monster models - not counting bosses or NPCs (There are often visual variants to a single monster type, for spice, or champion variants)
  • 5665 room pieces (the raw props used to build levels)
  • 5329 animation files
  • 5444 texture files

To highlight these number differences, we put together a quick little side-by-side infographic, take a look!

In terms of scale, Torchlight II is close to 4x the scale of Torchlight 1 as far as assets go, and probably close to that as far as playtime. Ideally, the multiplayer that everyone has asked for will further increase the longevity of the game (we certainly hope so!) These are all new assets as well ( some monsters and weapons return from Torchlight, but they have all been recreated, or in the case of some individual weapons and shields, updated and repainted )

At any rate, wow. That's a lot of stuff. It makes me tired just looking at it, seeing how far we've come - and makes the last push seem that much less daunting.

So, for anyone who has wanted some more-or-less hard numbers indicating the scale of the game, and what you can expect to get for your 20 bucks, hopefully this is interesting info.

Cheers! Travis

Torchlight II
Posted on July 17, 2012

So, hey there. It's been requested that I bring back the 'Not a Blog' features that I used to do for Mythos, in days of yore.

This won't be exactly like that. I'm not going to spend a lot of time talking about potential features, and so on - because we're way beyond that point in development.

Instead, I'm going to try to give you a general idea of what we're spending time on, why we do it, and why it matters. I may have to rename it tl;dr though.

Many folks are anxious to see the game released - many have preordered, and want a date! We've been deliberately vague on this point. My hope is that if I give you an idea of what we're doing, what it takes to do it, and the scale of it, it will make it apparent why that is.

So, anyway. Immediately after the Beta we spent a good bit of time doing the last big changes that we were comfortable doing. We didn't know how long these would take when presales launched, because, well, we hadn't done the Beta yet. Most of these changes were in response to feedback we received during the Beta and our own observations. The biggest of these had to do with our skill system.

We've talked about the skill changes in previous posts, but to recap, the gist is that there isn't a 'tree' per se. Skills are made available for investment by level (just as they were in the tree), but their unlock level is no longer determined by vertical positioning in the tree, which gives us more flexibility to place them where we want them. In addition, you receive specific bonuses to each skill (apart from standard investment bonuses) at every 5 point mark, or tier, which are hopefully a good enticement to continue investing in a skill.

I'll take the Engineer's Machinegun bot as a quick example (subject to change, of course). At 5 points, his shots begin ricocheting. At 10, they pierce, and at 15 they are tripled. So, a level 15 machinegun bot skill has triple, piercing, ricocheting shots. Way cooler than level 1. Of course, damage, and other properties are improved with every point of investment, but there's a bigger jump every 5. I should stress that we didn't REMOVE cool stuff from skills and ball it all up to make the tiers neater. We have tried to make sure that the skills are designed to be cool as is, and just get a notable 'extra' at the tiers.

The other primary change was to move all passives into their own section so that we could unlock them a lot earlier.

In addition to the skill system changes, we had lots of other alterations we wanted to make after the beta. That is, after all, what the beta is for - to find things you want to fix or change, before it is too late. So we did that.

I don't want to list ALL the changes here, because frankly, I don't remember them all off the top of my head - but some of the bigger ticket items were to do with respecs and how we handle them, how we join games from friend lists, detection of low-ping players, and a bunch of other stuff. We made skills queueable, added Function key binding for skills, added inventory sorting, and so on. Justin spent a lot of time working on additional connectivity improvements and workarounds for funky routers. We also decided we wanted to put more work into our uniques to make them much more special, and so on and so forth.

We had some other items that weren't really finalized yet pre-beta that we wanted to get wrapped up too (item recipes for item combination had some changes to how they function, for instance. We wanted more flexibility in how we could have items cast skills to aid in the creation of niftier uniques).

These changes all took time, of course, and we didn't get back to polishing the rest of the game until we were largely through with them.

There are one or two of these items that are fairly simple that remain to be done (we want to add a checkbox to new game creation in the lobby so you can force a 'reroll', which will reseed your entire game and repopulate it. Handy). We also want to finish setting up our relay server (a relay server bounces messages between players that are having trouble connecting to one another), and we want to handle some specific game-fracture cases where two clients in a larger pool lose connection to one another, but not everyone else (the game has to automatically split them out into their own isolated games).

We finished our primary goals and moved back into polish. There are two main parts to this - skills, and Acts. Skill polish involves making all the tier bonuses interesting, and finishing up the skills that we didn't show in the Beta, and just generally making sure that everything feels good and is reasonably balanced. A pass has already been done to give everything tier bonuses, but some of them are not as nice as we would like, so we are punching them up.

Act polish is the most time consuming. Marsh and I are now focused on polishing Act 2 and Act 3 simultaneously.

So, what does that mean? How 'done' are these acts that we are polishing?

All of the acts exist. (There are 4, but the 4th is quite small in comparison to the previous 3) All of the levels are there, stitched together to form a game. There are events, secret rooms, towns, merchants, the works. They all spawn appropriate monsters, boss events exist, quests, etc. The loot is there. The wardrobes. The NPCs. The cinematics. The 'game' exists.

Polish means taking that and making sure that the individual monsters are fun to fight, that their groupings work well together, that we expose balance issues late in the game (be they from monster leveling, or skill leveling, or what have you) and correct them. We want the individual monsters to each have a 'thing' that makes them unique, and interesting to fight in the context of other monsters around them.

I'm polishing Act 2 right now (the Desert Act - we let people play it at last year's PAX - a lot has happened to it since then). I'm going to guess that I'm about 3/5 of the way complete with my polish pass on that Act. Marsh is deep into his as well on Act 3. It is difficult to predict how long exactly it will take to complete an Act's polish - a monsters' ability might take as little as 20 minutes to make, or as much as a day in rare, difficult cases. Sometimes they just feel 'wrong' and you have to bang on them until they feel right, or get creative about replacing them with something more appropriate.

Here's an idea of what polishing an Act entails. Act 2 has two distinct halves - each one centered around its own large outdoor region.

The first half of the act has about 28 unique monster types in it. (the second half has its OWN unique monsters - although a few from the first half reappear). Each unit has an ability or two (well, they do now), and they are grouped between the 5 spur areas off of the first outdoor region. There are 2 boss battles and 2 'superchampion' battles (these have scripted elements, special skills and areas, and a unique look, but are not quite on the same level as bosses).

Polishing for me meant going through all 28 of those monsters (several of which were newly created where we felt they needed to be), setting up their new abilities to complement one another, tuning health, damage, attack rate, behaviors, spawn density, in many cases altering or adding to their sound sets, new and cooler death particles and explosion particles, weapon alterations, and so on and so forth. Often as we are polishing an act we find a 'gap' - it feels like something new should be there. So we fill it.

Here's an example of how that happens. In the Vault areas (we also showed these at last year's PAX) there are lots of different monsters (Ezrohir) in an area with a decidedly electrical theme. But they didn't really sell that as monsters. They mostly had melee attacks and some ranged stuff, and a few exploding bomb minons. We also had some machine gun and electrical traps in the area, but they were stationary. It felt like we needed more of an electrical vibe. I added a new Ezrohir unit with a shock staff who can shoot bolts of electricity from a distance. We took our machinegun turrets and made mobile versions, which can fire independently of a moving base and follow you. We also added mobile turrets which serve only to spawn 'ezrocopters' - little metallic flying devices that can shock you. Every Ezrohir got a new skill (some of them more than one). Some of them are pretty neat and unlike anything seen in other acts. That area has much more flavor now, the battles are more interesting, and it has a stronger elemental theme which makes it easier to plan for in harder difficulties.

The boss battle already existed, of course. We also let people play it at the previous PAX. But its intro was a little boring (the boss didn't enter in an interesting way), and he didn't have enough skills and they weren't dynamic enough. Now he has 5 new ones, a cool intro, and various elements of the battle have changed to make it more interesting. Polished.

I'm in the second half of the Act now, doing the same sorts of things. Making boss battles more interesting, fleshing out some more monster skills where they seem anemic, strengthening monster groupings, making sure that events have the appropriate kick when they happen. Marsh is in Act 3 doing the same sorts of stuff.

It's progressing well. I'm really happy with how Act 2 is feeling, and I think it will feel very different and fresh compared to the previous Act (which is what we want).

Everyone else in the company is doing the same sorts of things. Mostly, they have the time to add more love because Marsh and I are still finalizing polish on the monsters, bosses, and skills. This lets our Level Design team, for instance, squeeze in some extra rooms, or more neat random events.

Our background team can polish up props that were repurposed and make them unique, or make previously static background elements smashable. They can also add new support props for us to make our boss battles cooler.

Our animators stay busy - because a lot of Monster polish is changing up or adding abilities to them, which goes through our animation team.

Our character artists also stay busy - making better champion variant skins, or helping us fill those 'gaps' by putting together a new weapon, a mesh variant, or what have you.

Erich has been steadily making uniques cooler, and making more special drops for bosses. Those skill-on-item changes I mentioned earlier were done for that reason. You can find uniques that shatter shields, perform skills on strike (or swing), or at other triggering events. This allows for much more interesting uniques that are well and truly unique - instead of just more powerful in terms of a given arrangement of passive properties.

Anyway, I'll try to continue to post on a more-or-less weekly basis until this ships to give you something to chew on, so that you won't have the impression that we're all twiddling our thumbs behind our desks - we really aren't. Nor are we feverishly polishing the doorknobs while the house is yet to be built. We tie things up and we move on, and we do it over and over again until we get to the end.

Thanks for hangin' in there with us. We love ya!

Torchlight II
Posted on July 17, 2012

Congratulations to our winners! You guys are entertaining, pulchritudinous, amusing, and BIG WINNERS. Here are some of the favorite tweets that caught our eye:

@Hawkn93 with a slew of tweets that amused, including a riff that's frequently spouted in the office:

@Nechronox from Canada, who is willing to make the drive (and did so last year!) He won us over with a flurry of enthusiasm:

@rook0x51, the other half of the Canuck Brothers who also put forth a great argument in a winning series of tweets:

@stevenli_notlee who wrote ten haikus. TEN!

@TobyDavis_ already has a Runic tattoo. Now that's a fan.

@Taliabear We never said we were above bribery.

Our most favorite tweet of the whole competition goes to @mmsword for this gem:

And the complete list of winners is:

Winners are being notified, and should make arrangements to pick up their badges in person. Congratulations to you all. See you in Seattle!

You can also search Twitter for #TL2PAX to see all the posts people have made.