The long-standing dream of an MMO set in the Torchlight universe has died yet again, and I’m unhappy about it.
The original Torchlight was born out of the ashes of two games called Hellgate: London and Mythos.
Hellgate was a big budget loot shooter that was ahead of its time, and Mythos was a side-game at a satellite studio that was both its own online RPG, and a project engineered to help develop Hellgate’s back end.
When Hellgate and its studio died shortly after launch, Mythos was dragged down with them. Both games have gone on to live second and third lives under the auspices of different Asian publishers, and Hellgate is available right now on Steam if you want to see the origins of the loot shooter genre that’s currently well-represented by Borderlands, Destiny and Warframe.
Mythos’ development team had some legendary names on it from the world of action RPGs: Max and Eric Schaefer, two of the lead creators of Diablo, and Travis Baldree, the designer of the acclaimed Fate series.
When Mythos died, the team regrouped as Runic Games. They wanted to make their cool, colorful fantasy action MMO, but now they were back to square one. In order to raise funds, they decided to quickly pump out a Diablo-inspired game to show what their small studio could do in just eleven months, and Torchlight was born.
It turns out that they made one of the best games in the entire action RPG genre, and one of my personal favorite games of all time. It had one hint of the larger MMO that was supposedly coming, in a design concept also used by Mythos. Several of the vendors in the game sell “Mysterious Maps,” which will generate a portal to a new dungeon at your current level with exciting loot tailored to your character class.
These magic maps smartly used the game’s procedural generation system to make new content on-the-spot just for you and could perhaps have been monetized in some hypothetical future as fun optional content which also expanded the scope of the world.