We had the chance to talk to Wonder Russel, Minister of Culture at Runic Games and to his collegues Erich Schaefer, John Dunbar and Jason Beck. They told us some interesting new things about Torchlight, the wannabe Diablo - or something like that... Whatever. Read on.
pcgames.de: Tell us something about the birth of Runic. Who were the founders? What is your premise?
Russel: Runic Games was started by the Seattle-based team that had been making Mythos. When Flagship Studios closed its doors, the small, close-knit group of programmers, artists, testers and developers wanted to stay together and keep making games they believed in. In August 2008, after a few uncertain months, they made the leap to form their own company, with Project Lead Travis Baldree coming on as President, and former Condor/Blizzard/Flagship officer Max Schaefer as CEO. Peter Hu and Erich Schaefer, who had been officers at Flagship Studios, also came on in founding roles at Runic Games.
Our premise was to think of our time and effort on Mythos as a very long research and development period, and carry over those experiences into a brand new game, with a goal to create the best game we could - and make sure it shipped.
pcgames.de: Who has joined the company in the last months?
Russel: We have been very fortunate to attract new talent to work on Torchlight. We're still a small company - just 25 folks. Everyone here has worked on some amazing games - we are lucky to have a highly skilled, highly passionate team.
pcgames.de: How do you guys feel about the demise of Flagship? Are you sad or angry? Do you have contact with any other former Flagship members?
Russel: We put a lot of love into Mythos, so of course it was sad to lose it so close to completion. It really sucked to have to start over, but after a few months of work it became clear that Torchlight was going to be a better game, and that made us feel a whole lot better about things. These days, we're just excited about the current project, and we view Mythos as an elaborate test run for what we're making now.
We like to keep in touch with other ex-flagship folk and see how their new projects are going. It's a small industry, and I'm sure we'll work with a lot of them again someday.
pcgames.de: We talked to Bill Roper lately and he described the closure of Flagship as "the darkest, most difficult time” of his life. He also said that Hanbit somehow found a way to acquire intellectual property which they now can't handle. What do you think about Hanbit and the future of Hellgate and Mythos?
Russel: We wish HanbitSoft the best of luck with the continuing development of both Hellgate and Mythos.
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