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Interview: Runic Games give a post-release update on Torchlight

While there were many PC games that came out of left field this year, none surprised us more that Torchlight. The debut game from Runic Games was a major hit when it was released via various downloadable services in October and got near universal acclaim from critics with its solid action-RPG gameplay. In hindsight, it should not have been that much of a surprise since many of the founders of Runic Games used to work at Blizzard on the first two games in the Diablo game series.

Big Download got Max Schaefer, one of the co-founders of Runic Games, to answer some post-release questions about Torchlight including some new details on the game's retail release in January.

Gallery: Torchlight

First, Torchlight has been released for a month now. Do you have any word yet on how many copies you have sold so far and if so has that number met your expectations?

We have six distribution partners and only one of those give us numbers of sales per month. The sales through the official site, however, are doing well and I think it's safe to say we're couldn't be happier with people's response so far! I just saw that Torchlight is still on Steam's top ten bestseller list and that's extremely gratifying to hear.

The reviews for the game have mostly been extremely positive. Was there some worry that some people might not "get" what you were doing with the title?

We were very hopeful that the classic fun of dungeon-clearing, loot hoarding and "just one more level" style of gameplay would be recognizable to veteran gamers and easy to pick up by others, too.

Looking back on the release now, are there some aspects of the game that you would like to go back and improve upon?

Sure, there's always the "I wish we could have added that one boss" moments after release. We've already released a patch that improved a lot of things like load times, but mostly we just have tons of additional things we want to do from here on out.

Runic has also released the mod tools for the game. What's been the response been like from the mod community?

We've had a huge response that has been so fun to see! There's a literal explosion of creativity. We all check out the mods to see what people have done and send around our favorites. Some of the devs here have made their own mods, too! I think people were really ready for this style of game and the huge possibilities within the full suite of tools we released; there have been everything from mine booster packs for more damage, to reskins of characters.

Runic Games is just the latest example of a small indie team that has come out of nowhere to release a downloadable-only game title to great success. Do you see this method as the future of PC gaming?

We definitely know it worked for us, to keep our team streamlined and our goals clear and manageable, to do a few things very well instead of many things ...not so well.

Torchlight is getting a retail release in January. Why did you want to release the game to retail stores?

Digital downloads are always going to be the best way to get a game to the people who really want it, but there's also a certain credibility that comes with a retail version. I think it's really fantastic that an indie studio can also have a retail presence. It's something we're really proud to be able to offer –a real, live box version you can hold in your hands. There's also a whole sector of shoppers that may not even be gamers but are going to see it on the shelf and buy it for someone.

Will the retail version have any extra content compared to the earlier downloadable game?

Just one feature in particular. [Spoiler Alert]. We created a new pet for the retail version. The new pet version is a ferret, actually more about the size of an otter, and sporting a cool pair of Alchemist-style goggles. This is brand new information, so that's the scoop! The ferret pet will be featured on the box art, too, to let folks know of the extra feature.

Has Runic Games perhaps changed its mind and considered releasing some kind of expansion pack for Torchlight?

Not at this point!

How is the MMO project coming along and is it still the plan to base the MMO on the Torchlight universe?

We have an agreement in place to make the MMO version and that's still our number 1 priority. We're still in the pre-production and planning stages. It's going to be exciting!

Finally is there anything else you wish to say about Runic Games and Torchlight?

Merry Christmas from Runic Games, and thank you so much for playing!


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