Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Q&A with Torchlight's Matt Tanwanteng

Torchlight week continues with the second of three developer interviews.  This time we have Matt Tanwanteng, one of the MMO and Toolset developers.  Can you spot the Simpson's reference?  Thanks Matt!

Werit:  Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Hi!  My name is Matt Tanwanteng, and I graduated with a Master's in Computer Science from MIT before coming to Runic and inheriting the Newbie Brick.  Here, I'm officially helping Peter lay out the codebase for the upcoming MMO version of Torchlight.  Most recently, I've been working on testing out and documenting the modding process and have been having fun throwing together little unofficial Torchlight mods.

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

Torchlight is a refinement of the formula that made Diablo II a success, ported to the present with all the amenities that players have been introduced to since Diablo II's release.  Auto-gold pickup, pets that sell your goods, and the ability to run at respectable resolutions immediately come to mind when directly comparing against D2.  What sets it apart from other Action RPG's as a whole is the attention to the core mechanics of the game.  Running around, getting cool loot, and hacking and slashing and blowing stuff up in a satisfying, visceral manner has never felt so good!

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

Even after you clear out the main storyline quests, there's still levels to be gained, enemies to kill, and loot to acquire!  The infinite dungeon lets you fulfill any extra urges you still have to loot and loot and loot until your grubby little mitts can't handle it anymore.  At some point you'll cap out on levels, and then you're on to an endurance test to see just how far you can get before it becomes impossible to progress any deeper. Personally, I'm more of a "create-20-characters-and-try-each-possible-build" kind of guy, but once
those are done...

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?

Torchlight is heavily moddable.  Basic modding is incredibly easy, and you can definitely add in your own art, sound, and skills without a problem.  There are definitely a few things that you won't be able to change (with a caveat that motivated, savvy modders will find a way to do it), but by and large you can do an incredible amount with the tools we give you.

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

All of them are my favorite!  Conceptually, the Alchemist appeals to me the most, but when I'm playing the game I have just as much fun with each of the characters.

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

It's that attention to the basics.  That one-more-level-and-then-I'll-stop-but-gotta-test-this-new-weapon-and-oh-it's-7-AM realization.  It's the blend of animation, sound, and timing that makes just using your normal attack feel like you're down there laying into the enemy.  Coming in at a close second (and other people have said it, but still) is the ability to have your pet summon zombies.  My /pet/ is
/summoning zombies./

I'm not sure if it qualifies as part of the game, but I'll throw in here that the editor is awesome.  I created a skill that shoots bees at enemies, so now... my dog is summoning zombies and barking a swarm of angry bees at my foes.  How much  more can you ask for from an ARPG? Whatever that answer is, you can probably put it in the game with the editor.