What happens when developers lose control of a nearly-finished game just before it's about to launch?
After forming a new studio, Runic Games, many of the developers behind Mythos transitioned to Torchlight
. Now, in a new Gamasutra feature
, art director Jason Beck explores the decisions, steps, and key design elements that have shaped the look of a title striving for big retail production values -- on an aggressive schedule and modest budget.
As the prior project, Mythos
, was described by its creators as being "very much in the Diablo
mold," comparisons between Torchlight
and the gameplay of the classic Blizzard title are unavoidable:
Any fan of ARPGs is aware that Diablo III was announced and is in production. All of us here are fans of the genre, and are very excited to have a new Diablo game to play. We've also already heard comments that Torchlight is trying to "take on" D3 as direct competition -- or even that Torchlight is a "cartoony version of D3".
But both assertions are incorrect, writes Jason Beck -- the team knows full well Diablo III
is coming soon, and plans to be "on a different train track when it comes roaring by." Although there is common ground with the gameplay, the team aims to produce a single-player title as a " launchpad to a free-to-play, hack-and-slash MMO."
But the controversy around Diablo III
's art style actually did help shape Torchlight
My reaction to the first screenshots was that Blizzard had created a beautiful, living painting. To me, it was absolutely gorgeous, and a style that I would have loved to have pursued.
But knowing the direction Blizzard went with the game helped inform our decision to go in a different direction. We didn't want the inevitable comparisons, so in a way... it helped us define which artistic choices were now off limits.
You can now read the full feature
at Gamasutra, which provides a candid look at the issues surrounding Torchlight