I know this was bot resurrected, but it wasn't THAT long ago, maybe this will help
"When describing the visual style we're pursuing we often talk about "chunky" details: using simplified shapes, streamlined, bold features, and giving things a sense of weight. We also talk about "clean" versus "loose", and how you can create separation between elements that are both aesthetically pleasing and also improve gameplay.
We cover a lot of the fundamentals, as any art team does: silhouettes, color palettes, and the like. But we always return to a design being "fun". If it's a static and mundane object, does it have character? If it's a weapon or piece of gear, is it something we want on our own avatars? If it's a monster, is it something that's going to be a joy to slaughter?
What are the monsters' motivations and how does this impact design and animation? Is a design memorable, and does it reinforce our goals for the game? All of these ideas contribute to the style of the game -- but there is far more."
"With Torchlight, we're also after a tactile, visceral, and emotive style that both supports and is supported by our visuals. How things interact, the way a simple attack feels to the player, the feedback from a perfectly executed audio cue, the mood of the ambient sounds and the musical score -- these are all elements that, when done correctly, are interwoven with the visual style. Breaking this relationship down is best left for another article, but it's important to at least recognize this basic idea."
"One of our goals for the game was to have an incredibly low minimum spec so that we could reach a very broad audience.
Also, this thread viewtopic.php?p=81945
One of the results of that decision was to do everything without shaders; we didn't want a small subset of our users to be seeing the game as intended and the majority of users getting something else.
When we opted to go totally fixed-function, we began exploring a more "artistic" take on texture styles, to not just differentiate our look, but also to try and keep things visually interesting in a hand-painted sort of way. We worked primarily with diffuse maps with spec and self-illumination options.
This choice also contributed to our straightforward art pipeline and allowed us to create a tremendous amount of assets and in a relatively short amount of time.
We had enjoyed the softer environmental tests we had done early on, which had a very painterly appearance, and we also thought a crisp, "comic book coloring" approach that we attempted on early character prototypes was worth pursuing further.
We liked the theory of classic animation: backgrounds which were soft and painterly, combined with moving elements with crisp outlines, a simplified structure, and clean, layered gradients for coloring."
(from http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/4 ... e_art_.php