With Blizzcon taking up most of everyone’s weekend (understandably so) some of you may have missed a little bit of news in regards to Runic Games, the creative talent behind the award-winning Torchlight, Torchlight 2 and most recently Hob. Two days ago (November 3rd) as I was reading through my twitter feed I came across a post from Runic Games declaring that they were closing up shop. It took a few moments for the news to set in and for the first several minutes I thought I had misread the title of the post. Yet after checking the date ( I was positive it must be April), checking their official twitter post and website, it was true, Runic Games closed.
I could spend the next several paragraphs point fingers at publishers or concoct theories on why I really think they closed their doors but instead I thought it more constructive to take a moment to share my thoughts on what this little studio that could have meant to me as a journalist, a reviewer, and a gamer. So If you’ll indulge me for a moment or two, I wanted to share why I appreciate everything that Runic has brought to the gaming community over its nine-year run.
The Little Studio that Could:
I first heard of Runic when I came across an article previewing the upcoming release of a game I had never heard of. It boasted a nod to ARPG classics like Diablo 2 and Fate and for a lover of all things ARPG, this was good news. What is important to understand is that at the time when Torchlight was being developed us old ARPG’ers were starved for content. Diablo 3 was nothing more than a twinkle in Blizzard’s collective eye and most of us and chewed through all of the ARPGs that were on the market and still found ourselves falling back to D2. Torchlight promised something fresh, unique and yet familiar as some of the lead devs had actually been a part of the team behind D2.
However even with all these exciting things happening what was most inspiring about Torchlight was the studio building it. With only 17 developers (many of whom had just lost jobs at Flagship studios) and no working game engine, Runic set out to produce an excellent ARPG offering in only 11 months at a crazy price tag of only 20 dollars(Canadian pricing ftw). It was an inspiration to gamers and a story that still inspires me to move forward on projects when the odds seem stacked against me. For that, will always appreciate what Runic brought to the table.
For Gamers By Gamers:
Another thing that Runic has always done well is to invest in its community. Even since its early beginnings I have always been impressed by how the team has reached out to it’s community, not just for feedback on the latest patch or beta test but simply to connect. Twitter has been an especially powerful tool that the community team has used to connect and over the years I have watched as they connect with and responded to so many of the everyday gamers that wanted to connect with them. I never had the opportunity to connect with them at shows or con but regardless I have always felt like a part of the Runic community. That is a culture that studios will spend millions trying to replicate but that Runic fostered in its honest, open relationships with its fans. I feel that I am safe in saying thank you to Runic from all of us every day gamers, you helped create and maintain a culture and community that is a rarity in today’s society.
Know Thy Self:
One final note I want to highlight about Runic as a studio is that they were never afraid to be who they were, a rag tag group of passionate gamers who didn’t follow trends but rather pursued their passion. One of my favorite things about their three titles is that each is definitively Runics passion project. I remember when torchlight 2 had been development for a couple of years that there was a mounting pressure from the community to see the release date slapped on the game. Yet time and time again Runic held it’s ground of wanting to make sure that every ounce of passion was fully realized in TL2. There was no compromise or cutting content for time, Runic stuck to its guns and released a game it was proud of.
As a gamer I can ask for nothing more than a company that will take the time necessary to produce something they are happy with. In a world of big budgets, half-baked content releases and DLC madness, any company that is willing to put the effort, time and passion into their project is a company worth holding on to. For that I appreciate what Runic has brought to the table.
Thanks for indulging me over these few paragraphs to share some thoughts. This isn’t a puff piece or a paid advert for some game but rather one gamer expressing his appreciation for a studio that, despite the odds, has impacted the industry in some pretty unique ways. So whether you’re a fan of the Torchlight series and Hob or not I hope you can, at the very least, appreciate the love and passion Runic Games has had for all of its projects, its community and for the industry and tip your hat with me as I say well done Runic, this is one gamer who is thankful for your contribution.