Tuesday, 5 January 2010

The Torchlight Thread

I took the opportunity over the Christmas break to play Torchlight - and my thoughts on playing it still haven't crystallized into an actual opinion about the game.

That's a little surprising given Torchlight is what might be considered a commercial version of the genre I design in. I suspect I'm still unsure of what I think, because the game really isn't a roguelike. I'm basing this on a much more intuitive feel than the Berlin Interpretation, and as a result, I reserve the right to change that view at a later date.

So instead, I'd like to solicit your opinions. Have you been playing Torchlight, and if so, what do you think? Feel free to comment below and try and influence my unborn non-opinion.

(Please note I'm playing on Very Hard - as I suspect difficulty level will form part of this discussion).


Hillwaaa said...

I keep trying to play Torchlight - and stopping. Initially I purchased on a whim, played for a few days, then left it. I go back to it from time to time but can't seem to enjoy it.

Theres something about the skills that I don't like, but the main issue for me is that if this was an MMO, it's entirely grind.

Wherein a roguelike has some strategy and newness each game, Torchlight is the same - just clicking and holding the mouse, with a few spells and rightclicks.

I wonder if MMO's have spoiled the Diablo and clones for me - these games now seem to sit in limbo between roguelikes replayability and MMO's social and huge content.

donblas said...

I've played through and finished Torchlight on Very Hard. The game is a very polished Diablo clone, with my only issues being some pathfinding bugs and a shallow skill tree. I think it'd be a great avenue to introduce the masses to roguelikes.

If you play the game on "Hardcore", it keeps the one death per game, with a shared stash for persistence.

The map generator keeps dishing out pretty playable levels, but in the end it was only worth 1 or 2 playthroughs for me, unlike Crawl. I think the killer for me was the lack of depth in the skill tree.

Zack said...

It'a is juat a copy of Fate. Fate being a "casual diablo" though if anything, it's more simplified now in Torchlight. Only it looks way effing better. I have hope for Mod's editing the game into a real Rogue-Like.

As it is by default, good mindless fun.

The Mad Tinkerer said...

I like Torchlight. It's basically Diablo 2 with everything I ever wanted added to it.

The reason I stopped playing is that it's not more than Diablo 2 with everything I ever wanted added to it.

The main problem I have with it is that the town and the NPCs aren't very interesting. The way I see it, if the loot can be very detailed and randomized, why can't they put more variety into the town? Or as others keep pointing out: have several towns and give the player at least the vague impression that he's traveling from place to place instead of ever deeper into a dungeon that, as you keep going down, becomes more and more evident how AWFUL an idea it was to put the town there in the first place and they should all just move somewhere safer. Seriously. (Diablo II justified it by having the monsters all be recent additions to whatever town you travelled to, until you went into Hell in which case it just made sense that all the demons would be hanging around. Despite the whole "Ember" phlebotinum, Torchlight doesn't justify Hey We Built A Town Over A Huge Dungeon thing very well.)

But maybe I'm just thinking too hard about a game that is essentially all about the grind. Very, very, very well done grind. But just grind, and if they'd just put more effort into the parts that aren't grind, it'd be quite spectacular.

Roger said...

I was addicted to Torchlight for a while. At first I found the game to be boring. Someone suggested that I increase the difficulty level, and that made the game more enjoyable.

I have a lot of opinions regarding the game which really can't be summarized, so I'll just list them:

[*] There are at least half a dozen skills which are shared between the classes. This makes the skill tree feel more shallow, and makes the classes feel too similar.

[*] Once you discover the Devastate skill, everything else is garbage. This is especially true if you keep playing past the final boss, as most of the other skills do not scale well enough as you dive deeper.

[*] The game has addictive elements which motivated me to keep playing, but I never felt any satisfaction from having progressed in the game.

[*] The stores in town need a much better interface for browsing their inventory. At the blacksmith you get presented with a huge grid of about 30 different weapons, and as far as I know there's no way to sort them by price or damage or anything. You have to hold your mouse over each item, one at a time, to see if its stats are better than what you're using.

[*] I hate the arbitrary requirement system for equipment (i.e. you must be level 15 to equip this item). I sortof understand why it's there, but I still hate it.

[*] Way too much junk. This game needs squelch more than Angband. Unfortunately, selling said junk is your primary source of income... Since inventory space is basically infinite due to your pet, I almost wish there were squelch settings that instantly turned items into gold on the floor.

[*] The unique items aren't unique! I found multiple copies of the same item in the same game, multiple times!

[*] Set items are pointless. The odds of finding another item in the same set are ridiculously low. By the time you *do* find one (it never happened for me, although I did manage to find five or six same item in one set) the 1st piece of set equipment is too underpowered. The marginal benefit for wearing two items in a set is not worth what you give up wearing low-level equipment.

[*] Maybe its just me, but I found the final boss to be ridiculously easy with Destroyer and way too difficult with Alchemist. Perhaps it was my poor choice of skills the second time around? With my destroyer I beat him on the first try. With the Alchemist I must have died over a dozen times.

Ok, I'll stop. I've ranted enough for now.

orillian said...

Very Hard with Hardcore mode makes for an interesting game, I find it has a very RL feel to it. I currently have a hardcore Vanquisher That has made it down to level 27, as well as a number of side quests/maps and is sitting at character level 29 playing hardcore really changes how you play the game and ramps up the oh crap moments a lot in the game.

While the town was a bit small and the fishing could have had more flash, it felt very RL to me, the town was in fact more interesting by virtue of being graphical then MOST RL towns. The in dungeon traders and the odd fountain or lectern is cool and every level has at least one good boss fight and some have a good number more.

Overall I find it to be better polished then Fate with minor things like Fates fishing being better. And the dungeons have a much nicer variety. Visually it's a bit cartoony, but you get used to that quickly.

I've personally started playing around with the TorchEd to see what types of changes can be made, and how much effort it takes to make sizable changes. Good fun and well worth the $9.99 I spent to get it on steam.


Andrew Doull said...

orillian: The main reservation I have about hardcore mode is that almost all the times I died while playing very hard was because either I got stuck on scenery and couldn't run away, or because I didn't notice my health was low in time. Basically nothing that the ability to drink potions being mapped to the space bar instead of the 1 key couldn't solve.

I find user interface issues like this more frustrating than rewarding.

Todd D. said...

I enjoy Torchlight much more now that I downloaded a mod to make the in-game map actually visible all the time.

I have had a lot of issues with crash-on-startup and in-game crashes, which mysteriously come and go. Given that I have an older PC, that's what I deserve... but I still expect it to work a little better. If you think the load time is bad, try having the game crash 2 minutes into playing, forcing you to sit through it a second time.

I confess that I have no desire to play any "normal" roguelike now that I have Torchlight, and turn to the Discworld MUD instead on the third crash of the day.

VRBones said...

+1 Zack.

I've played and broken down Fate and Torchlight is the same with shiny things. Actually it's even simpler than Fate, but has some interesting additions:

* Maps to Additional Dungeons: Works well when I thought there was only one pass through it because of no town portal, but sending pet home breaks that. Would have been better if each one had a specific purpose to it (rescue X, kill X, retrieve X, whatever)

* Artifacts can be enchanted: Woohoo! this opens up a whole new side game of risk management for amping up your ageing equipment or keeping it for future runs.

* Prices are borked: I know Fate's shops could be gamed, but really these guys give you nothing. It makes game balancing sense, but I'd slap them around with those artifacts rather than getting ~5% base price for them. Economy highlights how much chaff you have to lug back to town too.

* No way to see health of summoned pets :(

Only down to 15 or so, but I keep putting it down and not picking it back up. There's no hooks in it for me. Bought it in a VERY busy period though. Even Dragon Age is suffering from the same problem.

orillian said...

I never really had an issue with the mapping of the keys since my right had generally is resting on the 1,2 keys anyways. Having the space bar set to heal would be a nice alternative though.