Thursday, November 12, 2009

Q&A with Torchlight's Matt Lefferts

Today we have the third and final Torchlight interview.  Matt Lefferts, the animator of Torchlight, was kind enough to answer the questions as well.  I think the animations in torchlight really help to get across the feel of the combat.  Thanks Matt!

Werit:  Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m Matt Lefferts.  I’m one of the founding members of Runic Games.  I’m the animator for Torchlight.  I went to the Savannah College of Art and Design and graduated in 06.  I’ve been in the industry for about 2 years and freelanced for 2.5 years before that.  I will be playing the part of Biff in this production of, Death of a Sal… moving on.

Werit:  What sets Torchlight apart from other Action RPG's, like Diablo II?

About 10 years for one.  As kidding as that is, there’s a lot of truth to it.  D2 has been around for a while now as one of the most fundamental games in the ARPG genre.  It set and reset the bar many times over.  Since then, the genre has had time to evolve in different ways but at its heart remains pure kickass fun.  When we set out to make TL that was the number 1 thing we tried to keep in mind.  Let’s not get bogged down with attempting to create a new innovations, let’s stay true to the roots and make it a badass click fest.

Werit:  The infinite dungeon sounds interesting, how does it work?

The Infinite Dungeon is something that becomes available to the players after completing the main story quests.  New quest givers and appear in town, near the graveyard, where there is an entrance through a mausoleum.  Levels and monsters are randomly generated.  This is where someone can really put their skill to the test because as they go deeper, the difficulty ramps up.

Werit:  Torchlight is mod-able by the players.  How much can a player add to the game?  Is it just text files or can they also add art?

We’re putting out the exact same set of in-house created tools we used to make the game.  Pretty much anything we were capable of putting in the game, the player can do too.  We are also releasing some content along with the editor to help get people on their way.  Honestly, looking back at my time working with mod teams, I’ve never seen or heard of a game company putting this kind of stuff out there along with the editor.  It makes me extremely proud and excited to see what people do with it.  The stuff people have managed to do without even having the editor yet has been impressive in its own right.

Werit:  Are there any DLC/Expansion plans for Torchlight before the MMO?

We have already released a patch with some fixes and such, and beyond that I don’t know all too much yet.

Werit:  Will players be able to use anything from the single player game in the MMO?

As far as I know, we don’t have any plans for that yet.  But we ARE in the planning stages of the MMO currently so it’s certainly within a realm of possibility if we think of something cool enough to integrate.

Werit:  Which one of the classes is your favorite and why?

My favorite class has jumped around a lot throughout development but I think I’m back to my first choice.  The Alchemist wins it for me currently because I really love the animations on the ember monkeys and alchbots.

Werit:  Fishing is a surprising feature.  What kind of stuff can you catch?

Anyone who knew of FATE would know that Fishing was going to be an obvious addition to TL.  The cool thing we did with it is let you transform your pet and augment its stats.  For most of the monsters in the game, there is a fish that will transform your pet into it, and for all those fish, there is a special rare fish that will make the transformation permanent.

Werit:  What kind of benefits and perks can your retired character give?  Can they ever come out of retirement?

Currently there’s no way to get a character out of retirement.  The benefits of it are tied to that.  The whole point of retiring a character is to pass down an heirloom item to one of your descendants, the next new character you create.  The item’s requirements are decreased, while it’s damage and bonus effects are increased.  Just like the infinite dungeon it opens up after you beat the game.

Werit:  There is a a lot to like about Torchlight, what is your favorite part of the game?

Totally an overwhelming question.  It’s like getting asked what your favorite song or movie is.  Impossible to answer.  So I usually give top 3 in no particular order.

1: The Dog – the mechanics of sending it back to town and picking up your stuff is very cool.  And that was a tough one to animate but I had a lot of fun doing it.

2: The Final Boss – getting that character’s look and feel right mattered a lot to me.  I think there are still a couple of animations for him that didn’t make it into the final game, but I really enjoy how that guy came out.

3: The Sunken Ruins – this my favorite looking level in the game.  I love it