Interview: David Brevik discusses all things Torchlight: Infinite, including the challenges of developing a cross-platform game
Torchlight: Infinite launched globally for iOS and Android in May after several rounds of beta testing. It's off to a good start, with over one million downloads on Google Play alone. Of course, it's a storied franchise, so that's probably not too surprising. But another part of the game's appeal lies with some of the people working on it, including David Brevik, who is well-known for his work on Diablo.
We recently spoke with Mr Brevik, who currently works as the Consulting Producer on the ARPG. Together, we discussed the game's journey from beta to global launch, the challenges the development team faced, and the decision to remove character creation.Could you please introduce yourself and your role on Torchlight Infinite to our readers?
I'm David Brevik, long-time game developer, creator of Diablo as well as many other games. I am the Consulting Producer on Torchlight Infinite.Can you tell us about the journey from open beta to global launch? How much has changed in that time? And what challenges did you face along the way?
Since joining the team, going through open beta until now has been a lot of fun. When we talk about design, we often think very similarly. Listening to the community and gathering that feedback and solving the problems is what makes games great. We love interacting with the community and having them help us create a game that is fun for everyone. There are always going to be challenges, but the best way to deal with them is with the help of the community.Torchlight Infinite aims to appeal to both casual and hardcore ARPG fans. In what ways do you believe you have managed to achieve this?
I think Torchlight Infinite achieves this by having a game that is very approachable, yet has a lot of depth. A casual player can pick up the game on their phone and play while on the train or waiting in line and have a really good time. They can get all the way through and experience a lot of the content. The hardcore player can set their sights on the end-game and creating powerful builds. The game has a lot of depth and very difficult end-game challenges that will keep them engaged and happy.
We do listen, a lot. It is vital that a live service game listen to the audience. But I will go even further and say that I believe it is important to play with the audience as well. Get into the game with your own personal account and play and experience the game like a lot of the players. Participate in the events and understand what is working and not working. It is paramount that you understand the game well from the player's and community's standpoint. Only then can you understand the feedback the community is giving and relate to it. You will often feel the same way.
There are often changes we make that are from community feedback. We listen to what they are saying and adjust and prioritize different work for the next big update. We often combine our vision for the product with the feedback from the community to create new and interesting things as well as address concerns from the community. Only working together can we create the best possible game.Torchlight Infinite is a cross-platform game. Is this something you believe will become more common in the future? And, if so, what do you think it brings to the experience?
Cross-platform is the future. Being able to play on any device any time is a great experience for the players. I love being able to work on something while waiting somewhere or getting in a quick level. Having these powerful computers in our pocket has opened up new possibilities and it is really fun to be able to access your game from anywhere, not just at a desk.What challenges does creating a cross-platform game bring?
There are many challenges in making a cross-platform game. The logistics of attaching two or more different tech-systems from major tech companies like Apple, Google, Microsoft and more together is already difficult. Then there is making the UI work on many different sizes and shapes of screens, making the game work and play well with keyboard and mouse and touch-input and controller are all different and have different ways of interacting. It is quite the challenge to get all of the things approved for different platforms and work out the economics. It is not easy, but it is worth it in the end.With Torchlight Infinite you decided to move away from character creation, which will undoubtedly be viewed as a bad move by some people. Why did the team decide to go down this route and what do you believe it brings to the game that a character creator would hinder?
Creating bespoke characters allows us to guide the player into a specific gameplay theme and narrative. We can create a deeper connection with the character's background, motivations and story. When you create a custom character, all of that depth isn't represented in the game. Players end up creating their own story, but it can't be woven into the game in the same way. You can customize your look with skins, but not on the level of other games. We felt that focusing the characters on a theme and intent was a very approachable direction.What can players expect from Torchlight Infinite over the coming months (and beyond if you’re able to speak about that)?
We will continue to interact and engage with the community and create updates. What is in those updates? Well, everyone will have to wait and see.