Torchlight Mobile and its public perception

ZiddersZidders Posts: 14,348 ✭✭✭
edited July 2015 in TL2 General Discussions
I'm posting it here since there's no Torchlight Mobile section and since while Torchlight Mobile's developers have their own forum nobody seems to be active there. That and this is being promoted as a Runic project despite it seeming (to me at least) to be more of a Perfect World/Fedeen thing. The reason I say this is twofold-every article states it that way and Max seems to be promoting it at E3.

The issue I see is that Torchlight Mobile is having a public relations issue in that while the announcement of a new Torchlight IP in the form of a mobile game took people by surprise most fans of the game seemed cautiously optimistic until the bit about it having a microtransaction system based on energy was announced. Then the overwhelming majority of comments I've seen regarding this system turned negative.

What isn't helping is the fact that neither Fedeen nor Runic have been reacting to this negativity. In fact there was one comment made before it was announced that (jokingly) suggested the idea and whoever ran Torchlight Mobile's Facebook page replied with "Thanks for the idea!" before deleting it. To say this worries me is an understatement.

Runic-the fact is when I first came to this community back in 2009 you were a great group of people who seemed authentic in your distaste for greedy corporate types and in your appreciation of your community. You spent a lot of time talking to us and addressing our issues and showed yourself to be a great group of people who cared about your community and who weren't about making money over making enjoyable games. I still believe this is true despite how little you've communicated with your community over the last few years but this recent development worries me.

Why aren't you folks talking to us more? Why aren't you encouraging Fedeen to address peoples concerns? This is your IP and stuff is going down that is making it look bad. That and you've had issues in the past where stuff got announced via other sites despite your core community here having been the most supportive and I can't help but worry that you've shifted focus from being a developer supportive of their community to being a developer more concerned with press than with people.

Maybe I'm making too big an issue over this but I'd rather be overreacting than find out one of the few developers I've ever felt was worth sticking up for had stopped being the developers I came to respect and admire. I want to be able to continue telling all my friends about the great group of folks from Seattle who make amazing games and care more about their community than making cash at the expense of their integrity. I still respect and admire you folks which is why I'm writing all this despite my fear that it will make you not like me anymore. Maybe I care too much but I gotta follow my heart. I don't feel i'd be a good friend or supporter if I didn't. Please allay my fears and give me a reason to keep telling people how awesome you are.
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Comments

  • PhanjamPhanjam Posts: 3,297 ✭✭✭
    Very well put Zids. I too hope for a response from the developer we've come to love.
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  • KilliousKillious Posts: 1,539
    Phanjam wrote:
    Very well put Zids. I too hope for a response from the developer we've come to love.

    I agree with and echo Phanjam's response.

    Runic has thus far been my absolute favorite developer. That's not to say there aren't other amazing studios out there but Runic has been foremost in my heart and mind for quite a while. I'd love to hear their thoughts on the business model that Torchlight Mobile is taking.
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  • D2HansD2Hans Posts: 3,031 ✭✭✭
    Well said Zid.

    I also have concerns how the Torchlight Mobile is going to impact Runic as well. But also that Runic seems to be losing touch with the community. When I first stopped by there was quite a bit more activity from Runic staff, Today it is mostly Brian posting. Yes they are likely hard at work on the next project but still it would be nice if some of them stop by and say hello and maybe let off some steam and relax and maybe take some sage advise from Deckard Cain "Stay Awhile and Listen".
    "Six... one, six... the nuuuumber ooof the beeeaaast!"
  • ChthonChthon Posts: 1,855
    I agree 1000% with Zidders and all of the above posters.

    I absolutely despise the "deliberately crippled game, pay to uncripple it through microtransactions" model. Hate it. Nothing says "greedy money grab" quite like this model does.

    Like Zidders, I'm also concerned that Runic appears to be just standing by while their name and their flagship IP are being lashed to this shady business model, and they haven't said a word about it. Speak up!

    For the sake of being constructive, I want to add this: I understand that making money by making games for mobile is hard. Mobile users have lower loyalty and lower attention spans than PC gamers. It's hard to sell paid apps because many competitors' games are free and piracy is easy. The other option is microtransactions, which everyone hates. But, if your game isn't a paid app and doesn't have microtransactions either, how do you make any money? One answer is to go back and take a really hard second look at doing a paid app. A second answer is that not all microtransactions are created equal. Some are more distasteful than others. "Deliberately crippled game, pay to uncripple it through microtransactions" is the worst of the worst. Seriously, Feeden could not be **** this up more badly. "Pay to win" is the next-worst. Something that's a lot more palatable than either of those is the "pay to be pretty" model from GW1. In this model, visually impressive weapons and armor/costumes are available for purchase through microtransactions. Unlike the "pay to win" model, these items do not have better stats than unpaid items (in fact they should be versions of existing unpaid items with different visuals), they just have more impressive visual appearances. Optionally, to draw in people with the "it's good because it's rare" mindset, the paid items should also be rare drops as unpaid items. Also optionally, if you pay attention to your community, you can observe when a unpaid item becomes popular for its functionality, and then introduce a better-looking paid version. Those are the two best solutions I'm aware of.
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  • Hi guys!

    I'm here to clear a few things up about the Torchlight Mobile game! Sorry for not getting to this sooner, but E3 was super busy, and I'm just getting caught up. First, a little back story. Torchlight Mobile has been in development for a little while now by the guys at Fedeen in Shanghai. They are working on it like crazy, and didn't know until less than a week before E3 that they'd have their milestone achieved to be able to show it in time. So none of us knew we'd be showing at E3, but it's too important an event to pass up. The guys at Fedeen crunched right up till the last minute working on the build, and then getting it all translated into English. Then, since they didn't know if any of us from Runic could come (I'm just useless enough to be expendable while the rest of Runic grinds away), they hired some PR guys to help show the game.

    So we basically show up to E3 having barely had time to scratch the surface of the game, except enough to figure out that it runs great, it's a lot of fun, and it feels like Torchlight on your mobile device. But that's all it is right now. This is literally the first presentable build in the project. A lot of things are sort of just roughed in right now. The character classes aren't done. There are regions to be built still. PvP isn't in. There are just a ton of details left to get to. And my point in telling you all this is that any and all monetization mechanics and features are 1) just roughed in systems, 2) going to be different in the west than the east, and 3) completely un-developed. It is an issue, obviously, of great importance to you all, and to us at Runic as well. But it's a part of this project that hasn't come up yet. We've had a total of zero official meetings on the matter.

    As for what our plans are, well, we don't have specific ones yet. We'll get farther in development, see how the game plays, and devise with Perfect World and Fedeen a plan that is fair, unobtrusive, non-exploitative, not pay-to-win, and doesn't detract from the fun of the game, but which also provides enough value that people who care to will make purchases. This, for better or worse, is the only viable business model for mobile games like this. In retrospect, we should have anticipated that people would look to get clues as to our monetization, and realized that the "standard template" roughed in systems might cause alarm. This is the first F2P game I've ever showed, and you live and learn. :) But for me, the takeaway from E3 was that the game is fun, it runs smooth and fluidly, it looks and feels like a Torchlight game, and it's fun to kill monsters and find loot with. Honestly, getting all that in order is a lot harder than tweaking a money system so I was just relieved and excited for people to see that.

    So the TL:DR on this is: We haven't even begun to have the monetization discussion yet. Don't worry, we share your concerns and will make sure that TL:M is fairly monetized.

    Thanks for listening!
    Max Schaefer
    CEO, Runic
  • KilliousKillious Posts: 1,539
    Thank you for the response Max! I truly appreciate you taking the time to let us know that the monetization model is not yet in place and that there will be a separate system for the eastern and western versions of the game. I'm looking forward to hearing more about it all once you have had a chance to sit down and make some decisions on it.

    My main request wold be to do away with the energy cost to do quests.
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  • ZiddersZidders Posts: 14,348 ✭✭✭
    Max,

    Thank you so much for the reply. It really means a great deal. As far as the monetization I understand why you needed to show the game and while I guess some damage has been done hopefully there's time to reverse gears on that. I hope that now that there's a dialogue the community can help suggest ways for you to work things out in a way that both helps make the game better and the community happier. I've discussed this with a good friend who is a lot better at coming up with ideas than I am and he felt there were two things you could do that might be far more palatable to your players.

    1. Pay to unlock timers (limited boss fights accessible once a day pay to unlock twice). In an mmo players go through content faster than its developed therefore something like unlocking a boss an additional time per day only gives a player the ability to reach finish first. All other players that would have completed content will still do so long before new content is released without spending money. It's not pay to win as much as its paid to be bored sooner (which a lot of people don't mind and prefer).

    2. Pay to unlock appearances.
    If you're only going to pay for looks you'll lose min/maxxers with this one which is why If you're only getting ego trippers and homebuilders you need to convert the maximum percentage of those groups to paying customers. Therefore especially with ego trippers visually impressive yet similar statted items can't be rare drops. Only purchasable.

    These are just a few ideas. I'm sure the community will have more. Again-thank you so much for caring about us. I know that the world isn't all sunshine and rainbows but I think there's a way for you folks to make some money in a way that will make people want to help you make it. I for one would be willing to spend what little money I have to support this game just as I have your previous games but only as long as it's done in a reasonable manner.

    EDIT:By the way it does look pretty awesome so far graphics-wise. Any chance there's some video of it in action?
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  • SerkevanSerkevan Posts: 1,586
    Well, that clears things up a bit. Thanks a bunch, it lifts a weigh off. Here's hoping Chthon's worst case scenarios (with which I wholeheartedly agree) don't become the final monetization scheme.
  • econ24econ24 Posts: 24
    This announcement saddens me. The Torchlight games are among my favorites and Runic seemed to be an awesome developer; lots of communication, lots of seemingly cool guys, and focused on making cool games. The gem that was Torchlight was an amazing creation so soon after the whole Flagship Studios fiasco (I played and enjoyed both Hellgate: London and Mythos, I even paid for a founder subscription but I digress :| ). When Perfect World bought a majority stake in Runic, I became worried but after playing Torchlight 2 all worries were put to rest. Then began the nearly 4 years of silence...then 2 founders of the company departed...and now we have the announcement of an Asian-developed-pay-to-play abomination (not to knock Asians, it's just that Perfect World and free2play is...evocative...). Maybe this statement is a bit hyperbolic (I know it is). Torchlight Mobile might be a fantastic game but, in my mind, this is the most unexpected and probably the worst direction Torchlight could be taken :/
  • ChthonChthon Posts: 1,855
    So the TL:DR on this is: We haven't even begun to have the monetization discussion yet. Don't worry, we share your concerns and will make sure that TL:M is fairly monetized.

    That's good to hear. Now, may I make a suggestion? Reach out to the various press outlets who have publicized that you were going with a "deliberately crippled game, pay to uncripple it through microtransactions" model and see what you can do to set the record straight before bad press strangles your game in the cradle.
    Zidders wrote:
    2. Pay to unlock appearances.
    If you're only going to pay for looks you'll lose min/maxxers with this one which is why If you're only getting ego trippers and homebuilders you need to convert the maximum percentage of those groups to paying customers. Therefore especially with ego trippers visually impressive yet similar statted items can't be rare drops. Only purchasable.

    Maybe it's just my ego speaking here, but I don't think it's possible to create a microtransactions model that's going to appeal to min-maxxers. Kind of by definition, it would have to be a subspecies of "pay to win" in which you had to pay to hit the maximum on any given axis. I'd like to think that anyone who puts in the mental work to figure out an optimal approach would realize along the way that the game is rigged against them -- They'd notice that all the maximums they're finding just happen to be things you have to pay to get, and that the devs can, and probably will, add new stuff to change the min-max analysis, and that new stuff will also just happen to be things you have to pay to get.

    I think I did a poor job describing the psychology behind making the paid items also appear as unpaid rare drops. Let me give it another go: Aesthetics are subjective. What looks awesome to me may look lame to you. If your objective is to convince a large majority of people that A is cooler than B (such that some fraction of the majority will pay real money to get A), aesthetics alone may not be enough. It helps to add some other signifier to help people make up their minds that A is desirable. Rarity is one way to do this. There are some people who hold the mindset that, "if it's rare, then it has to been good." If left to their own devices, these people might not find A aesthetically cool enough to pay for, but now that "for $5 I can get this sword that it takes 8 months of farming to find with average luck," suddenly they want it. A similar phenomenon could be observed in the GW1 trading community. Patently fugly items commanded very high prices simply because they were rare.
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  • I'm pretty excited for this! Torchlight 2 helped me through a long period of physical recovery (severe broken leg), and I'm stoked to have some Torchlight in a portable form.

    Also, I would love a Torchlight for the 3DS. Drool....
  • D2HansD2Hans Posts: 3,031 ✭✭✭
    Thanks for the post Max.
    "Six... one, six... the nuuuumber ooof the beeeaaast!"
  • ZiddersZidders Posts: 14,348 ✭✭✭
    Good points, Chthon.
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  • SerkevanSerkevan Posts: 1,586
    Can confirm that certain really sought-after armours in GW1 were absolute disgraceful.

    Btw it seems more people are answering on facebook than here (hey zid :D). Shame on them, they miss out on Chthon's posts XD
  • ZiddersZidders Posts: 14,348 ✭✭✭
    Serkevan wrote:
    Can confirm that certain really sought-after armours in GW1 were absolute disgraceful.

    Btw it seems more people are answering on facebook than here (hey zid :D). Shame on them, they miss out on Chthon's posts XD

    They miss out on yours, too. The fact is Runic is a great group of folks and has a great community. I wouldn't put myself out there for them if I didn't still think so. I might be critical sometimes but I mean well. I believe they're worth supporting and are good people who will use their success for good. Maybe that sounds a little unrealistic or whatever but I have always been a bit of a dreamer. I want them to be successful because I've seen what the game industry can do to developers. I don't ever want to see happen to them what I've seen happen to some of my favorite dev teams over the years. It would **** a lot more with Runic obviously since I have so much history here.

    I do feel self-conscious sometimes, though. I worry that I'm being annoying but I know I shouldn't make assumptions.
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  • SerkevanSerkevan Posts: 1,586
    Nah, I try to whack some sense into people over facebook too. Can't really help it. And that's because, as you said, so far Runic has deserved us speaking in their favour. Not in a fanboy-y wa, but still.
  • ZiddersZidders Posts: 14,348 ✭✭✭
    Serkevan wrote:
    Nah, I try to whack some sense into people over facebook too. Can't really help it. And that's because, as you said, so far Runic has deserved us speaking in their favour. Not in a fanboy-y wa, but still.

    That's just it. While Runic have made mistakes in the past they have always been cases of good intentions gone awry. They've never done anything out of malice/as a means to take advantage of their customers/community. This is why this situation caused me to react the way I did and why it caused much of the **** community to react the way they did. It's unfortunate that it's had a negative reaction with casual fans as well but I'm confident they'll do the right thing and win people back.
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  • noy0824noy0824 Posts: 67
    Torchlight mobile on ps vita please..
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