Torchlight II - Eric Schaefer Interview @ The Critical Bit
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July 14th, 2012, 09:42
I agree that balance can make for a very boring experience - and I think he understands the genre better than most.
However, I must say that his approach to story is a potential problem. This was supremely evident in Hellgate - because that game suffered immensely for having such a half-assed story and delivery.
If he has a mental block related to following a story - then that's fair enough, but he's mistaken if he thinks that's a universal problem. I know there are people on the team that are likely to care more about story - but it really should be the lead designer holding the reigns. That vision is what has to be the example for the team - and there's nothing I hate hearing more than a designer go: "Well, I don't really care about that feature - but we have a great team on it."
I could say the same thing about something like multiplayer or PvP - where I often hear about lead designers that aren't into those things, but are confident their team can pull it off because a part of the team is passionate about it. It has to be a unified whole - or the end result will suffer. Most certainly on a team this small - that they've basically created to be of a managable size. That's when you absolutely can't delegate a vital feature like story without being very invested as a lead.
I do understand what he's saying though, and I also have a tendency to ignore the stories in a lot of games. Well, not so much ignore - but I tend to forget them the second I exit the game. I'm not really a big story guy myself - but I would be a fool to deny the power of a story told well.
Even in an action RPG like Torchlight - it would be a fatal mistake to ignore story, if you want to make it the best it can be. Pretty much every game will benefit from an interesting story - and it can hold our attention sometimes, when the actual gameplay grows stale.
Torchlight 1, specifically, was such a boring game - and the mechanics were not very interesting. I put that down to a short development cycle more than anything - and I really hope Torchlight 2 is more like the work they've done in the past. Otherwise, I'll have to write them off completely.